Marketing Feels Bad Because We’re Ashamed Not Because It’s Shameful

11488605 - little girl playing hide and seek behind the sofa bed

The other day, I was wondering about why there was such an appeal to marketing courses that taught secrets of unconscious persuasion, stealth tactics, invisible influence, secret closes, ninja strategies etc.

The implication of all of these approaches was that no one would notice what you were doing. No one would notice that you were steering them towards buying from you. They would just, unexplainably, feel compelled to trust and buy from you. They’d just leave the conversation with your product proudly in their hand thinking that they had made the decision when, in fact, it was all you and the secret arsenal of tactics you’d deployed throughout the conversation.

Neuro Linguistic Programming comes to mind in this.

I think the reason that these workshops are so popular (and why even the most conscious of us have taken them or been drawn to them) is because we think marketing is bad. We think we are doing something bad by sharing our products or services with others. And so, we’re trying not to get caught (but, of course, we need to do it to pay rent).

It strikes me as a similar dynamic to what I’ve seen in the pick-up workshops offered to men. This same offering of ways to get what we want, as men, without being noticed.

I’m sure there are workshops out there for women that offer the same things.

I see this often in human interactions when someone is deeply ashamed of their own needs and scared to make any requests of others that might meet them.

And so much of it seems to be rooted in shame.

So much of it seems to be rooted in the deep sense that I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

And so, of course, we are drawn to anything that promises that our actions will have the intended effect while going unnoticed.

When this is at play, I notice that we, as humans, tend to become all manner of fake, sneaky, passive aggressive, creepy, controlling, underhanded, plastic and worse.

Recently a friend asked a favour of me she was terrified to ask. She was in a conflict with a mutual friend and she asked me if I’d be willing to commit to not vetting any letters this friend might want to send her way. She wanted me not to get involved in between. I was happy to agree to that as I knew this other friend had plenty of other people who would be happy to read whatever letters she might send and to give feedback on them.

My friend broke down into tears. She had been so scared to ask me. She felt it was wrong. When I said ‘yes’ so easily, some switch flipped in her.

What if there was nothing wrong with asking for what you want?

What if there was nothing wrong with expressing your desires?

What if there was nothing wrong with sharing what you have?

What if it was just a matter of learning how to do so skillfully?

What if it actually felt better to be direct in some matters than indirect?

What if we’re all craving candour and directness?

What if marketing was just saying, “I’m a needy human like you. I have needs. You have needs. Here’s what I’d like to offer you in exchange for your money. Does this feel fair?

What if the reason it feels ‘off’ is because we’re ashamed of doing it not because it’s inherently shameful to do it?

What if marketing could feel good? What if marketing wasn’t about getting anyone to say ‘yes’ but about having a human conversation about whether or not it was a fit? What if this was true about dating too? What if our attention was more focused on the truth of the moment than our goal of what we think we want? What would marketing look like without shame? What would it look like if we felt no need to hide what we were doing?

What if marketing felt bad not because it was shameful but because we were ashamed of it.

Additional Resources:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing

The Three Roles of Marketing

The Heart of Selling

Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take on Selling and Enrolment Conversations

Are You More Comfortable Being Salesy or Subtle?

Be More Repulsive

Get Rejected Faster

 

Interview: Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take On Selling and Enrollment Conversations

greg-faxonI came across Greg Faxon (pictured here) about a year ago when someone shared his brilliant article Why You Don’t Need A Niche (And 11 Simple Alternatives). Well, as it turned out, Greg got a few clients from my sharing that article and we ended up connecting on Facebook and decided to get on the phone with each other to have a call. During the call, I learned that his central passion was about selling and how to have effective enrollment conversations. This got my attention because it’s not something I do in my own business model but it’s a place of much struggle for so many of my clients.

The first group of clients this is a struggle for are those who’ve never learned how to do them. They’re winging it every time. They get on the phone with a potential client and hope for the best. They’re terrified with being too pushy and often end up giving their client a free session to try to solve the whole thing right there. It’s a kind of collapsed, over giving. 

The second group of clients for whom this is a struggle are those who have learned how to do these processes and, even though they were taught to them by ostensibly conscious marketing gurus, they still feel uneasy about it. It still feels pushy and salesy.

The rest sort of beat around the bush with people in indirect ways or avoid conversations around their business like the plague as if this is a sign of enlightenment.

Personally, I’d rather build my business model so that I don’t have to have these conversations. As Peter Drucker put it, “The purpose of marketing is to make selling redundant.”

Additionally, I’m not a fan of wasting my time in conversations with people who aren’t likely to buy. I’ve got no interest in trying to convince anyone of anything. This is why I’m so big on people figuring out and clearly communicating their point of view, figuring out their niche and creating things like an Are You Sure? page to filter out those clients who aren’t likely to be a good match. There’s a lot you can do to make sure that, by the time you’re talking to them one on one, it’s likely going to go somewhere.

And, even if you filter a whole lot, there are going to be times where people are going to need to talk to you directly about what you’re offering and times when you’re going to want to talk to them to make sure they’re actually a fit. You can call that conversation a lot of things (e.g. sales conversation, enrollment conversation etc.) but sometimes two humans have to talk it out a bit. 

Greg submitted himself to a rigorous interview with me and has given his insights extremely generously here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did talking with him.

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What’s your story? How did you get so nerdy about enrollment conversations?

The short version is that I’m a guy who has always been really obsessed with transformation. I’ve always been fascinated by what allows people to grow and evolve in different areas of their lives. And so when I found out there was this thing called “coaching”, where that’s what you help people do all day, it was obviously really compelling for me.

I started holding small personal development workshops, and I even picked up a client or two. The problem was, I only made about $1,000 in the first 6 months of my business. In some ways it was really cool to have made money helping people. But I also knew that it wasn’t going to be sustainable.

What I realized was, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at the coaching piece if you don’t have coaching clients. I had been avoiding enrollment conversations because it felt safer to work on my website and think about URL names and get logos designed. That all changed when I invested in my first group coaching program and my coach called me out on the fact that I wasn’t spending time in conversation.

So over the next month I had over fifty enrollment conversations, got some great longer-term clients, and left my consulting job. I actually made twice as much from my coaching business the month after I left my job. In the process, I became really interested in how to hold an enrollment conversation that not only results in an ideal client, but actually transforms the person in front of me. And so that’s where my passion to teach this stuff comes from.

What have been your major influences in selling?

I’ve had a lot of great coaches and mentors throughout the years, but there are three books that I’d recommend for people who want to really understand how sales works in business.

  1. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  2. SPIN Selling
  3. Getting Naked

I’ll be honest though. A lot of the stuff I found around selling just didn’t work that well for me when I applied it to my coaching business specifically. And so that’s why I eventually reached a point where I decided I was going to have to create my own system.

What is sales? What is the role of selling in a business?

Sales is not just the process of exchanging money for a product or service.

Sales is about helping someone visualize and take action towards a future outcome that they want.

Sales is the lifeblood of every business. If you do not sell, you do not make money. If you don’t make money, you don’t get to keep playing the game of business. And if you don’t get to keep playing, you don’t get to keep serving people through that business.

If you want to create transformation in people’s lives, but you don’t know how to enroll people in what that transformation requires, it’s game over.

Here’s the good news:

Sales is not something that you do before the real work starts. Sales is the work. It’s what we do as leaders, coaches, and human beings every day.

What if instead of viewing sales as a necessary evil, you learned to love it instead?

Why do people hate the idea of selling so much?

A couple of reasons:

  1. They see sales as inherently pushy and inauthentic. The fix here is to reframe selling from something manipulative to something transformative. Selling can be one of the most important services you provide for your customers and clients. If you don’t help them make the decision about whether your offer is right for them, or if they don’t know what you have to offer them in the first place, they will never experience the benefit of it. When you view selling as an extension of the product or service you offer, you put more intention into the sale.
  2. They haven’t discovered their own way of selling. One that feels authentic to them. Everyone has their own unique style, and the way I sell will look different from the way you sell. The problem with scripts is that they take us out of the moment with our potential clients and we end up sounding stilted and awkward. The solution is having a system that allows you to play to your natural strengths. That’s what I give people. I really believe that if you don’t like selling, you’re doing it wrong.

You say that sales is one of the best ways to provide people with the transformation they’re looking for. How so?

When someone comes to us with a problem they haven’t yet solved, or a vision they haven’t yet achieved, there’s a reason they haven’t gotten the results they want yet. And it’s rarely because they don’t have enough information.

Often the reason is simply indecision. They say they want something, but they haven’t truly “thrown their hat over the fence” and committed to getting it handled. It’s our job to figure out what’s stopping them from making that commitment. Often times, indecision comes down to fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being judged.

I find myself wondering if this is really ‘indecision’. It sounds like they’ve decided not to, or, at least, not decided to. I notice a resistance to framing it as indecisive when it sounds like, for very good reasons, they’ve decided not to proceed.

I’m not sure I agree. Think about the person who really wants to lose weight, but they haven’t lost it yet. Is that because they’ve decided not to lose weight? Or is it because they haven’t committed to what the transformation requires? If people have already decided, then why do we shoot videos and write marketing copy? Other example: if people haven’t chosen a niche, is it because they’ve decided not to choose a niche? Is it because they shouldn’t choose a niche? Or is there an opportunity to support them in that decision making process? Are there irrational fears holding them back from specializing?

Got it. And I’m curious about your thoughts on this blog post I wrote, “But aren’t people indecisive?” 

I’ve actually shared this post with some of my groups, and I like and agree with the overall thesis. People are not indecisive by nature. But they do need help making the decision – that’s why sales exists.

“They’re not indecisive, they’re just not sure it’s a fit. They’re not sure it’s worth the investment. They’re not sure it’s the best use of their money. They’re not indecisive, they’re deciding. And our job is to facilitate the decision-making process (whether that’s towards a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’).”

I think the lines become blurred here, because if they’re not sure it’s a fit, that to me is what indecision means. They’re not sure what decision to make. The barrier is indecision. That’s why we are having a conversation about their challenges and goals and dreams. In a way where they are not being controlled by their own fear or limitations.

By helping them see clearly what it’s costing them to stay where they are, and all the positive ramifications of accomplishing their goals, we make it easier to throw their hat over the fence emotionally, logically and financially. We make it easier to confront that fear head on – whether they decide to work with us or not.

If we get this part wrong – if we don’t uncover their deeper challenges and motivations enough to flip the commitment switch – then it will be very hard to support them through the rest of the journey (even if we get them to commit temporarily).

If we get the enrollment conversation right, though – if by the end of the enrollment call they’ve committed 100% to accomplishing what they want – then everything after that becomes way easier because we can see when they are falling into old patterns and we can remind them why they are taking this journey.

By helping them confront the truth of their situation, and by inspiring them into action, we provide one of the greatest services one human being can for another.

This seems to me to be where this conversation can go horribly wrong and this piece of digging into the pain and building up the future is one of the parts that often feels like the most manipulative to people on the giving and receiving end. What are your thoughts about this?

You’re right. This is one of those times where we have to be very careful about the power we yield as marketers and salespeople. Because it’s absolutely possible to do this in a manipulative way. This makes me think of a brilliant Seth Godin post called Marketing Morality.

Consider this. If a client comes to me who is wanting to create a certain result in their life, we’re going to discuss the exact same things. That’s how you create momentum and gravity for them. You’re going to discuss why they want this thing now, why they are seeking change. You’re going to talk about the future they see for themselves.

The line that separates manipulation from transformation here is your agenda as the coach. Are you doing this in service to your client or in service to you? Don’t confuse the tool of sales or the tool of marketing with how different people might use it.

These days, I notice people are leery about ‘discovery sessions’ because they’re pitched as a ‘high value coaching session’ and yet – they end up being an hour long sales pitch. What’s your take on this?

You’re right. And I think it’s understandable that some people are leery. But I actually see that as a good thing; it means that if you really overdeliver during that session, you’ll set yourself apart from all of the other coaches out there.

The best way to combat that hesitancy is to build trust before you offer a strategy session and then to be very specific about what you will cover during the session itself. If you know the right way to frame your discovery sessions, you’ll have no problem getting the right people to sign up.

What do you see as the top three mistakes people make in enrollment conversations?

  1. Not having a framework. If you don’t have a consistent, proven system to walk your potential client through, you’ll get inconsistent results. That’s because you’ll be flying on the seat of your pants every time. You’ll be more confident and more effective once you’ve learned the exact steps to take someone through. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to use a script. But you need to understand the optimal flow of an enrollment conversation so that you can inspire your ideal clients to step forward and pay you if it turns out that you are a fit.
  2. Not having your inner game handled. It’s one thing to understand the external strategies of enrollment. But the truth is, you’re not going to be able to enroll many people if you haven’t also installed the key mindsets of successful coaches. Our clients are a mirror for our own doubt, fear, and insecurities. So for example, if you have blocks around money or around your own value, it’s going to be really hard to make any system work for you.
  3. Not leaving enough time. I’m not a big fan of 15 or 30 minute taster sessions. I suggest leaving up to 90 minutes to have your enrollment conversation unless you are very well established and have a lot of demand for what you offer (in which case the enrollment conversation is just more of a formality/sanity check). A good enrollment conversation requires depth, and you need time to go deep. You also need to leave enough time at the end to propose your services if it turns out they are a fit. There’s nothing worse than being all teed up to propose right when one of you has to hop on another call.

This notion of ‘fit’ feels central. I’m curious what you do or recommend that people do in order to really identify and make sure that there is a fit between yourself and your potential client. What do you before the call and during the call to facilitate clarity around this?

One of the most important things here is for you to know your ideal client criteria. So asking yourself in the Connect phase:

  1. Can I help this person?
  2. Do I want to help this person?

You can figure out what the red flags are by looking back at previous clients and seeing what the most successful ones had in common, and which one’s you enjoyed working with most.

Amen. I teach the same thing in my workshops. So important. So, what are the Three C’s? We discussed this in a call we had a while ago. This seems to be central to your point of view on selling.

The 3C Sales System is something that I initially developed just for myself because I had studied all of these complex sales frameworks and I needed something really simple to follow so that I could focus on the person I was talking to. It all came into place when I noticed that virtually all effective enrollment conversations followed the same three steps. When I focused on following my own system, I started getting a lot more clients. And then I shared it with my fiance, who is a teacher and permaculture practitioner, and she made her first sale right off the bat. That’s when I realized I was onto something and so I started sharing it with other coaches and service providers.

The Three C’s are Clarify, Connect, and Commit.

The first step, Clarify, is about getting really clear about the other person’s problems, vision, and challenges. Plus the deeper impacts and motivations behind all of those things. So not only do you get clearer about what the person needs, but they get to step back and finally see the truth of their situation, which is really valuable. Often we can’t see our relationship to our problems and goals because we are so close to them. Think about the person who shows up at the doctor and their arm is hurting, so they want some pain medication. If the doctor finds out that their arm is broken, that’s really important information because the prescription will be different. So the final thing we do in the Clarify stage is to recap what we are hearing, both to make sure we are on the same page and to have them understand what’s really going on. That’s our bridge to the next step.

The second step is Connect. This piece is something that almost no other sales trainers I know even talk about, but it’s one of the most important parts. Connect is all about connecting what they need to the service that you offer. If you get this stage right, they’ll see you as the best fit for their situation (if in fact you are the best fit).

Finally we have Commit. This is where we propose a solution and support them in making a decision to either get this area of their life handled with you or continue to work through it on their own. It’s also where we’ll help address whatever concerns come up for them in a non-pushy way. A lot of people focus on the “closing” phase of the conversation, but the truth is you should spend most of your time in the first two C’s. That way when it finally comes time to make a decision they are totally clear on what they want and need.

So that’s the high-level summary. The cool part about the Three C’s is it can expand or contract based on what you need from it. If you just need to remember the general flow of the conversation, then you have a really simple process to follow. And all of it is expandable, so my clients and I can go deep into each section and learn how to be most effective in that phase of the enrollment conversation.

More on the Three C’s here.

This piece about ‘connecting’ is so compelling. What are the consequences of skipping this step?

The Connect step is all about building a bridge.

Most people go straight from clarifying to closing. The problem with doing that is the person won’t be able to see the connection between their situation and the thing you are offering them. If you get this step wrong, then the person will be really clear on what they need, but they won’t understand why you’re solution is relevant to them.  They may even assume that there’s nothing special about them and that you are just proposing the same thing to everyone you talk to, which shouldn’t be the case.

You shouldn’t be proposing the same thing to each person? How so?

So depending on what your offerings are, you probably have a few ways of helping people. It’s possible that the program you are enrolling for isn’t actually the best fit for that person. It’s possible that your 1:1 coaching is all bespoke, in which case you are customizing each proposal. It’s possible that this person isn’t a good fit for you in general, in which case you shouldn’t be proposing your stuff at all.

Basically, what you are helping them commit to should be different depending on what you helped them clarify.

When we spoke before, you related this to dating, could you share this?

Sure thing. So in dating, there are different levels of intimacy, right? And each step that you go through in the relationship needs to be bridged in just the right way or you’ll get stuck. A great example of this is in the later stages of a relationship, during a marriage proposal. It would be pretty strange if things were going well in the relationship and one person just went ahead and asked “Hey, want to get married? I have the ring here.” Not many people would do that, and it probably wouldn’t be successful. Actually it would be really jarring because there’s no connection between the good time you’ve been having and marriage.

Most couples talk about what the future would look like together. And they tell each other what they like about the other person. This all culminates in the actual proposal, where traditionally one person gets down on a knee and connects the experience they’ve been having up to this point to the life they imagine with the other person. They talk about why it’s such a great fit, and how they’re feeling about the relationship. So when they finally pop the question, there is a clear connection that’s been established.

That’s exactly what we want to do before we propose to a potential client. Minus the ring.

What are some of the things you do to help people see the connection between where they’re at and what you offer?

Remember that the goal of the Connect stage is for them to connect their problems and desires to the solution you are about to propose.

One of the questions I like to ask at this point is “What’s been the most helpful part of the conversation so far for you?” Whatever answer they give here, it reinforces the fact that they’ve gotten clarity as a result of speaking with you. They start to build that bridge themselves between their situation and you as a trusted advisor.

The second thing I do is suggest a game plan for them based on what we’ve learned in the Clarify stage. So I’ll boil down the insights we’ve gotten into a strategy, adding my own insights as I go. At this point I still haven’t offered them anything paid. What I’m doing is giving them a sense of what we would want to work on together, and connecting those things to the results that they’ve said they want. So it looks something like “It sounds like here’s what you need ______ and here’s what we’d do moving forward if we were to work together.”

The final thing I do here is what I call the “Yes Test” (learn more here – it’s tip #4).

You speak about telling people something like, “I feel like we could be a really fit. You’re my ideal client and here’s why…” – Can you say more about this and why it matters?

So one of the really important parts of Connect is that you have to figure out if there actually is a strong connection between what this person needs and what you offer. If there isn’t, you need to send them to something or someone who can better serve them.

A big part of this decision is figuring out if this person could be an ideal client. Can you help this person? Do you want to help this person?

If the answer is yes, then I want you to tell them why. Why are they such an ideal client for you? What specifically tipped you off?

This isn’t just about stroking their ego. It’s really about demonstrating that you have standards, and that they have met those standards. When we feel as though we’ve been chosen for a specific reason, that opportunity is now much more appealing to us. To use the relationship metaphor, this isn’t someone just looking for a one night stand with anyone. This is someone who is interested in me for a specific reason. There’s a fit here.

What are objections all about and what do we do with them?

Objections are a natural response to any commitment that we are considering in our life. Often, right before people get engaged or married, they have doubts and concerns. A lot of times these aren’t rational concerns, but what we’re doing is processing them in advance because we know that once we’re in, that’s it. So objections are actually a healthy part of any good decision making process.

The role of the coach or service provider here is to be a mirror for the potential client as they bring up their concerns. The most common objections are usually lack of time, lack of money, or lack of certainty. This is when people often say “I need to think about it.”

Your goal in the Commit phase is not necessarily to get them to say yes, it’s just to get the truth so that they can commit to a Yes or a No.

What are they really concerned about? What are they scared of? For example, someone who says they can’t afford it might actually be saying that they don’t know how to justify it to their spouse. If you know this, you can help coach them through that concern directly.

The biggest mistake people make in this phase is trying to justify themselves or make the potential client wrong. All this does is create something for them to push back against. So what we want to do is continue asking questions, reminding them of what they talked about in the Clarify stage, and giving them lots of space to process the decision.

One thing I often find when I’m selling coaching is that the objection the person gives is actually pointing right to the thing that’s holding them back from their goals. If they feel like they don’t have enough time, for example, I’ll often ask, “Is that a pattern that comes up for you often? Not having enough time? How might that be affecting your results in this area.” The truth is that we all have the same amount of time, but we get to choose our priorities.

If the person decides not to move forward, it’s because they don’t believe that the amount of money they would have to pay is worth what they think they would be getting. If they say yes, it’s because the perceived value of what you offer, or the cost of staying where they are, is more than what they would have to pay. So helping them see that value and that cost is really important in this phase.

Sometimes people get into this grey zone of ‘should I? shouldn’t i?’ You have thoughts that this might not actually be a good thing. Why not let people stay in the grey zone? And can you speak about the difference between the micro and the macro?

The thing about sitting on the fence is that it’s really uncomfortable. We waste a lot of time and energy there. There’s a lot of power that comes from making a decision one way or the other. There are lots of ways we can combat this, but one obvious way is deadlines. Deadlines are the best. I love deadlines. Because instead of dragging that decision out forever, I have to commit to making a decision by a certain date and time. And then I can put my focus back on actually doing the work.

Part of your duty as the service provider is helping the person make a sound decision. And neglecting that duty, just because you’re scared to stay in that tension with them, I think is a cop out.

So on the macro level, we need to help them commit to doing something different in this area of their life. If nothing changes, nothing changes. So if they’re talking to you it’s probably because something’s not working as well as it could be. They need to really get this loud and clear by the time you end the conversation. Maybe they don’t actually want to make a change, and they’ve just kind of been saying that they will. Well, now we know that and so they can give that up. Either way, how are we moving forward?

Then on a micro level, we need to help them decide whether our solution is what they want and need. This is really critical, because, if it is, we want to get started helping them right away. And if it’s not, they’re going to need to find another solution right away. Wasting time in indecision is usually what gets us stuck in the first place. And that’s where fear and doubt start to creep in. That’s why I’m not a fan of the grey zone.

Do you tell people that one of the goals you have for the conversation with them is to help them make a decision one way or the other? How explicit are you with them about this and your opinion about the grey zone before the call begins or during the call? This seems like it could be an important piece of filtering information for them. I could imagine some people being drawn to that and others being repelled by that like, “It’s not your business to decide what I need.”

The entire time I’m asking permission.

So when I offer the session, I talk about why it will be valuable for them as well as why I am offering the session.

At the beginning of the session, I talk about what I’d like to cover and that, if after that it seems like we might be a good fit, that we can talk about that.

Towards the end of the session, I ask if they would like to hear more about what it might look like to continue working together.

At the very end, I ask what they would need to know in order to be able to make a decision. If that’s something I can address on the call, then we do that. If not, I ask if we can schedule a specific time to follow up together.

I’m never deciding what they need. I’m telling them what I see, asking if they see it, and offering my perspective on what next steps they might consider.

I love that last sentence so much. That’s beautiful. You speak about helping people understand what’s required of them? Why does this matter and how do you do this?

As I’m about to process their payment, I stop and say “Hey, are you really sure about this? Because this is going to take more than just your money. It’s going to take time and energy and bravery. So I want to make sure you’re committed to doing whatever it takes.” I don’t necessarily get specific unless I know something about that person that is a red flag for me. But I do have them re-affirm their commitment. This pause upfront makes the rest of the engagement a lot easier.

If people want to learn more about your work, where do they go and what are the main options?

The best place to go to learn more about me is my website.

One article that I think your readers might enjoy is “How To Fill Your Calendar With Potential Clients (Without Being Needy)”.

And if they want to go deeper into all this stuff, they’re welcome to reach out here and ask about my group and individual programs.

 

Gifts vs. Tools

10025966 - stone age axe

Gifts and tools are different things.

Gifts are those things that come to you naturally. Those capacities, inclination, tendencies and abilities you were born with. These are the things you do that feel effortless for you where you lose track of time. We are, in some mysterious way, born with these. They are woven into who we are. Identical twins can be born and yet have such different gifts – one a good listener and the other a good speaker. Same DNA. Born into the same when and the same where and yet… so different. It’s one of life’s most enduring mysteries.

If you are thwarted in the expression of your gifts, you will suffer. If these are identified and fostered and you’re given chances to express them, you will thrive.

Tools are an entirely different beat all together. In the context I’m speaking of, a tool might be a modality you use in your healing practice (e.g. massage, reiki, NLP, yoga therapy, Non-Violent Communication, The Work of Byron Katie, life coaching etc.)

While I was in Iceland for a session of the Orphan Wisdom school, Stephen Jenkinson was sharing with us his understand of what a ‘tool’ is. The gist of it was that a tool is something basic, small and simple with few moving parts. It’s something primitive. It’s not complicated. A tool extends the grasp of the hand, augments the strength of the grip (e.g. plyers) but it does so in a way that the hand recognizes itself in the extension – in kind not degree. A tool makes the hand more able. The work you do with tools is a devotional act. You can see this in the incredible care that people took of their tools in traditional cultures and the veneration they gave them. They treated them as ones who are just alive as they were. A tool is a sacred thing. But not a ‘thing’. A sacred ‘one’. 

And so the techniques, skills, processes and modalities we learn are tools and they extend, strengthen, magnify and enhance the grasp of our gifts. They allow the capacity for more detail and nuance in our work.

And so our tools are in a deep relationship with our gifts.

If you are doing work that isn’t built around your natural gifts and you have no tools you’re using, this is called ‘winging it at something you’re mediocre at.’ Your work will only ever be functional. It’ll be okay at best.

If you are doing work that isn’t built around your natural gifts and you have a lot of really good tools you’re using, this is called competent. You’ll only ever be ‘good’.

If you are doing work that is built around your natural gifts and you have no tools you’re using, this is called ‘winging it at something you’re naturally great at.’ Your work will only ever be good but unpredictable. It’ll be inconsistently amazing at best. This is the mad genius, the unpracticed artistic genius, the untutored savant.

If you are doing work that is built around your natural gifts and you have plenty of tools you’re practiced in, this is closer to the neighbourhood of mastery or, better yet, a deep devotion to the expression of your gifts in this world in the most skillful and articulated way possible.

And so, this is the goal, to find the right tools to help you express your gifts and become skillful in using them.

This is how you become trustworthy.

26 Min Video: Point of View Marketing Overview

19882902_sI’ve been working on a new eBook called Point of View Marketing: The Subtle, Underestimated & Credibility-Building Power of Articulating Why You Do What You Do the Way You Do It.

I’m really proud of how it’s coming along. I think it will be done by the end of the month.

So I thought I’d sit down to record a video distilling the key points so you could get a sense of where I’m headed with this and so that I could get your thoughts and reflections on it as I work to finish the eBook.

You can watch the video below.

I have three, upcoming teleseminars delving into this material. You can learn about them here: marketingforhippies.com/povteleseminar

I also have a 30-Day Point of View Challenge starting on May 17th. You can learn about that here: marketingforhippies.com/pov30day

If you have any ideas, stories, reflections or questions, please post them below and there’s a good chance they’ll make it into the eBook or at least help to shape it.

Trust and the Taxi Driver

13618562_sI caught a cab the other day.

Actually a TappCar (Edmonton’s response to the terrible taxi cab industry and Uber). They have priced themselves in between the two. I could give you ten reasons why I love them.

But there are always issues.

I was heading to visit my grandmother in the hospital.

“I want to stop at the Booster Juice on 104 St and 78 Ave.” I told him as we pulled away from my home. I knew I’d be at the hospital for at least six hours tonight and I hadn’t eaten much lunch and wouldn’t be able to get away for dinner.

“By the Save On?” He asked.

“That’s the one!”

After a few minutes I looked up from my phone and realized he’d never made the turn to go to Booster Juice. I was hungry and he was busy following his GPS taking me to the hospital.

“I asked you to go to Booster Juice first.”

From his response, it was as if I’d never asked him about it at all. I sat there confused. It was the first thing I’d told him. He’d seemed to understand and, as we were clarifying the issue and how that had been missed, which I never figured out, he kept driving down 109 St. taking us further and further away.

“Do you want me to go back?”

I shook my head and pulled out my phone. “I’ll see if I can find one closer to the hospital.”

It’s not the first time this has happened to me in a cab. Maybe it was that their English wasn’t good and they didn’t want to admit they’d not understood me. Maybe it was that they didn’t listen. Maybe they had something big going on in their life and they just weren’t able to listen. Maybe all of that. Maybe something else. But result was the same.

The trust was broken.

And I know it’s a small thing. I know that any upset I had was, in part, fueled by being hungry. I also know it’s petty and emotionally small of me. I get all of that. But it’s how it is for most of us.

This happens all the time in business and in life. A trust is given and then it’s broken. It happens in big ways like infidelity in a relationship and in very small ways like this.

I remember hearing my friend Decker Cunov telling the story of an event he’d been at where a man had picked up a woman by her hand and foot and was spinning her around as she laughed and giggled. And then her head hit the concrete pole with a sickening and loud sound. It wasn’t the pain that hurt the most. It was the betrayal. She’s surrendered to the moment, trusting him to look after her and he had let her down. He wasn’t careful with that trust.

It’s what we all want in life sometimes. To be able to relax and know we’re being taken care of. We want to know we’re in good hands. We want to get in the cab, zone out and trust they’ll get us there without our having to direct them. We want to tell the massage therapist what feels good and doesn’t to us and then relax into the massage, trusting that they heard us. We want to go to a therapist and trust they’ll hear what we say and, if we’re really lucky, pick up on what we aren’t saying. Sometimes we just want to surrender to the process.

But, as soon as we realize that someone can’t be trusted, we can’t relax. We have to remain vigilant which may defeat the purpose or rob much of the joy from the experience.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in a black cab in London, it’s remarkable. You’re in such good hands. They spend three years studying London until they know the entire map of the city inside and out. You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

If you’ve ever been served by a world class server at a restaurant, it’s something to experience. It inspires your utter relaxation. Everything they do says, “You relax. I’ve got this.”

I recall reading an article that suggested that the three sexiest words a man could say to a woman were, “I’ve got this.” And it doesn’t have to be a binary gendered, heteronormative relationship to feel good about hearing those words.

And, when we do, we are incredibly vulnerable.

Your clients are like this with you. They’re coming in scared, ashamed, overwhelmed or heartbroken. Or all of them. If we are very lucky, they trust us. If you’re aware it’s been placed on you, you come to see, very quickly, that it’s less of a gold medal being pinned to your lapel for all the good that you’ve done and more of a heavy, lopsided burden for you to carry into the future.

The trust is not there to make our heads big or gratify our ego. It’s the human making burden that tells you, ‘You have an impact on others. Be careful now.’ It’s not asking us to be fearful, but careful. Full of care for those around us as we know that small touches from us on those people will have a larger impact than others. Being praised or trusted puts the responsibility on your shoulders. It’s telling you that you’re in a different phase of your life now and that something else, beyond your youthful carelessness, is asked for. When someone praises you or trusts you, you should feel the weight of it on you and how it asks you to be stronger. It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for

It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for thing that you carry with you as you go.

If you do carry it well, you are fulfilling the unspoken promise you’ve made to them. You’re fulfilling the agreement.

If you carry it masterfully, if you consistently under-promise and over-deliver, you will never want for business.

 

 

A 16-Point Outline of a Solid Sales Letter

13285456_sSales letters get a bad rap.

They are often avoided by good-hearted people because they have the appearance of bad things they’ve seen and with which they never want to be associated.

But here’s my take: a sales letter is actually an integrity check.

It’s a dojo.

Sales letters force clarity on what might otherwise remain fuzzy.

Sales letters are like very curious potential customers who are insistent on getting answers to all of their detail-oriented and big picture questions before they buy. And you will either have the answers to their questions or you won’t.

Sales letters are faithful friends who refuse to broker fuzziness. They don’t put up with your generic and nebulous offerings. They are mercifully merciless.

Sales letters work or they don’t. They get a response or they don’t. They are so incredibly honest with you.

Sales letters are a living document. They aren’t something you write once and forget. They are something you update as you get feedback from customers to ensure that they are as clear, clean and honest as possible. They’re things you look at, a year after you’ve written them, like you look at High School photos and think, “Gah! What was I thinking!” and totally rewrite them.

A sales letter is one-on-one conversation with your ideal client in which you do your best to authentically play both sides of the conversation. It’s a letter you’re writing to your ideal client in which you’re anticipating their questions and answering them.

A sales letter does the heavy lifting of playing translator. It takes what you’re offering and translates it into what it might mean for that client in their own context.

The best and simplest guide I know for writing sales letters is Carrie Klassen’s beautiful workbook How to Write a Sales Page With Sweetness.

For this post, I also owe a debt of thanks to Brendan Burchard for his 10 Steps to a Good Sales Message which inspired the rough outline for this.

Sales letters are a chance to bring your own unique style to bear. And everyone has their own style and voice in writing sales letters. So, this post isn’t a definitive set of rules. This isn’t an ironclad structure but a suggested outline and set of elements worthy of consideration when you write your next sales letter.

*

A 15 Point Outline of a Solid Sales Letter

The Headline: the purpose of the headline is to make them a promise of certain results or benefits that they are craving. It’s got to be something that your ideal clients would read and say, “I want that!” The headline could also speak directly to the particular symptoms they are experiencing that you help them with.

Introduction: here you’ll give them an overview of the particular results they will get if they buy. It’s more specific than the headline but it’s not in rich detail yet. If the headline is the 30,000 foot view, this is the 10,000 foot view. Again, you can speak to the problem but it’s good to weave it into the solution and result you’re offering. This can take the form of a subheadline and/or introductory paragraph. I also am a fan of naming the basics of the offer here. No details, but, if it’s a teleseminar, say that. If it’s a five-day retreat in Maui, then say that. If it’s a 30-Day Challenge, say that. Give them enough context to understand what it is you’re talking about.

The Story: this is the heart of any good sales letter. The story is where you get to flesh out the symptoms and cravings your ideal clients are experiencing.This is the place you can introduce yourself and explain your credibility in addressing these issues. Without a solid story, sales letters will read like infomercials full “Are you tired of _____ problem and want ______ result?” In my experience, too much “you” can feel like a pitch whereas storytelling can get across the same points more subtly. This is where you share:

  • the personal struggles you have faced and overcome that relate to what you’re offering, or how it was you came to learn what you’re sharing. You get to share all of the things you tried that didn’t work before discovering what it is that you’re offering and what it meant to you, in real, tangible ways, when you did.
  • the struggles you witnessed in friends, colleagues, loved ones or others and how it felt for you to see that.

Your Point of View: Here you briefly and concisely state your core premise, perspective, and philosophy that you have arrived at for solving the problem. This can be woven into the story and it’s not a bad idea to make it explicit.

Your Offer: This is where you spell out the offer you’re putting forth and name it, if you haven’t already. You give the who, what, where, when, and how.

Who It’s For: The goal of the sales letter is not to have everyone say “yes.” It’s to make it easy for the right people to say ‘yes’. The goal of the sales letter should be about helping people sort out if it’s a fit or not for them to sign up. This section should likely be bullet points. Avoid generic statements like, “This could be a fit for you if you’re willing to take responsibility for your life.” Boo. Go for specifics like, “This is for restaurant owners in Chicago,” or “This is for life coaches who are wanting more clients,” or “You’ll need to be on Facebook to use this.” Ask yourself, “What would need to be true of someone for this product or service to be a perfect fit for them.

Who It’s Not For: This section should likely use bullet points as well. This is such an important part of the sales letter. If there are certain things that would disqualify people from using this, name them clearly. If there is a certain worldview that isn’t a fit for what you’re offering, name that. Again, avoid banal statements like, “This isn’t a fit for you if you’re not someone who is willing to look honestly at their life.” Boo. Whenever someone asks for a refund, ask them, “What was missing from the salesletter that could have let you known in advance that this wasn’t a fit for you,” and then add that thing to this section.

Testimonials & Case Studies: It’s important to make sure people know that this didn’t only work for yourself but others as well. It’s important for them to see that, not only have you gotten the results, but you have helped others to achieve the same results with some degree of consistency. Of course, this assumes that you have. If you haven’t, this might be a good time to re-evaluate the integrity of what you are doing.

Paint the Picture: Tell them the story of what it will be like to use your product, avail themselves of your service, or attend your workshop. Put them in the experience. Use vivid, sensory rich words. “You walk into the room and see all the friendly people.” or “You set down the cup on your favourite coffee on your kitchen table and open your laptop.” Don’t leave it to them to imagine what it might be like, tell them. Put them in the driver’s seat of the car they’re thinking of buying with your words.

Reasons to Buy Now: This is the section where you break down the core features and benefits of what you’re offering. This is where you paint them a picture of how it might look, sound and feel for them to go through your program and enjoy the results it’s offering. You tell them what’s included in the program and what it could mean to their life. If there are only so many copies or spaces, name that. Really sit with this one and ask yourself, “What are all of the real and compelling reasons why someone for whom this is a fit might want to strongly consider for buying now?” This will include all of the facets of the program but might also include early bird specials.

Contextualize the Price: This can be the trickiest bit. This is where you name the price and help them see the value they’re getting for the money. Of course, this assumes you are offering them value that is equal to, if not greater than, the cost. This can be done by contrasting the price of a group program to the price of working with you individually. You can speak to what you have charged for it in the past.

Bonuses: Once you have established the value of what you’re offering, it can be a wise idea to offering an additional bonus to lower the risk of signing up for them and sweeten the deal.

Lower the Wall of Risk: There they are, wanting to walk over to you now and hand you their money but there is this wall of risk in between you both. That risk can look like a lot of things. It can look like, “Will this be worth it?” or “What if it breaks or doesn’t work?” or “What if it makes things worse?” or “What will others think if they hear I’ve spent money on this?” At this point in the sales letter, it’s important to name those risks and directly address them. Now, if you’ve written the rest of the sales letter well, you’ve been subtly assuaging these as you’ve gone along. But now it’s time to be very blunt about it. This is typically where you would put a strong guarantee. This is where you say, “Hey. I know you’re not sure about this. I know it’s a risk for you, so here’s what I’m going to do to reduce the risk/eliminate the risk/take the risk off of you and onto myself.”

Call To Action: Here’s where you let them know how to order and remind them of any important and time-sensitive reasons to do so. Make sure this is very clear and unmissable. I’ve read sales pages where, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where to buy. Not good. Note: on my sales letters, when they click on the “Buy Now” button, they aren’t taken to the payment page. They are taken to what I call my “Are You Sure?” page. It’s a practice I commend to you for your consideration.

The Downsell: Maybe this offer will be too rich for them but you’ve got a cheaper something you could offer them which would still help. If you’re promoting a seven-day retreat, you might offer a video homestudy series. If you’re selling a video homestudy series and they can’t afford that, you could offer them an eBook. If you’re offering one on one coaching and that’s too rich for them, maybe you’ve got some group programs you could offer. The point is that you are likely losing money on your sales letters from people whomight have actually wanted to spend money on you but didn’t because they had no idea what other options there were.

The P.S.: The two most read parts of any sales letter will be the beginning and ending, the top of the page and the bottom. So make sure that, in the very end, you remind them of the most important points of why they might want to sign up now.

Suggested Additional Reading:

Nine Thoughts on CopyWriting for Hippies

Blog Posts I’ve Written About Sales Letters

My Sales Letter for The Meantime 30 Day Cashflow Challenge

My Sales Letter for my Marketing for Hippies 101 Program

My Sales Letter for my Niching Spiral 90-Day Homestudy Program

Intake Forms & Earning Trust

Trust

I went to see a therapist the other day.

It was my first time making an appointment with her.

I arrived early to the old house, renovated to be a clinic where my naturopath is also housed, and was offered some tea while I filled out the intake form.

Some of the questions were straight forward but some of them were incredibly personal, asking about addictions and relationship status. Neither of which, to my knowledge, have anything to do with what I was there for. I left them both blank for the most part and gave only partial answers to other questions. They felt immensely assumptive.

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

I realized that, aside from the basics, I only wanted one question on the intake form, “What brings you to see me today?”

“Can you pay before the session? I’ll be on my lunch break when you get out.”

“Sure,” I said and then caught my breath at the $180 price tag for the hour. Shit. I had not realized it was going to be that much. Rule #1 of Pricing: never surprise people unless it’s with a discount. Sighing, I paid and followed the receptionist upstairs.

The therapist came out a few minutes later and invited me into her office. She had a good vibe and I liked her right away.

“So, this first session is mostly to go over the intake form, the policies and to answer any questions you have and then to maybe do a bit of work.”

I hate this.

This happened to me a few months ago when, on a friend’s suggestion, I went to see a therapist who spent the entire session talking about the theory of the treatment and the ethics of the whole thing.

In both cases, I sat there thinking, “What the fuck? Why am I paying $180 to have her go over things she could have emailed me in advance?”

“Did you read up the technique we’ll be using?” she asked.

I shook my head. It would have been a good idea. “I wasn’t given anything on it to read.”

“You didn’t take any of the flyers at the front desk?”

I shook my head.

From a marketing and business standpoint, this is such a gap.

When I booked the appointment, the therapist sent me the following email:

I am sending you an email to welcome you and also to pass along some information prior to our first session. If you have had counseling before, this may be familiar. In general, the first appointment is primarily a paperwork, history-taking and get-to-know-you session.
 
However, if there is something that you want to make sure we address specifically in that first session, please let me know either ahead of time via email or at the start of the session so that we can budget enough time.The first session is also an opportunity to clarify your goals for coming for counseling. Sometimes a good way to frame this is to ask yourself how you will know you’re done with counseling? How will you feel? What will your life be like?
 
It is best to approach counseling as a process and to allow sufficient time for you to work through what you need to work through. This time-frame varies from person to person, depending on issue(s), personality, and history. In general, however, you should notice some positive change in the first 3 sessions and more substantive change in 8-10 sessions.
 
My job is to support you in your process, offering expertise and feedback. If you are finding that my approach is not working for you, I welcome your feedback, as a means to learn and grow myself, and to see if I can better address your needs.
 
I look forward to meeting you.
Warm regards,

 

It was a fine email to get and set the context well and, I would have loved it if she had added a link to a 10-15 minute video about the modality and asked that I make sure I watch it before the session. It would have been wonderful if it was a video of herself explaining it. I might have watched the video and decided that due to her vibe or her description of the modality that it wasn’t a fit. I might also have gotten even more excited to see her. And there could have been another video that would go over all of the ethics and other typical things discussed in a first session.

And then, two days before, if she’d sent me a reminder email with those two links asking me to make sure I set aside thirty minutes to go over these before the session but that, if I didn’t have him, it was alright, we’d just go over the content together in the session – then I would have had the choice.

As a client, I deeply resent paying money to sit through something I could do better at home.

She began to go through my intake form which had me wonder why I bothered writing it down in the first place. Couldn’t she have just had it and written it down as we talked?

Stop being cranky I told myself.

“So it says here your last relationship…” and she begins to ask me about whether I’m dating or if that’s something I’m looking for.

I narrow my eyes.

“I am confused by this line of questioning.” I say. I’m not particularly trying to be nice about this.

I’m paying her $180 for this time and she hasn’t even asked me why I’m there. It’s reminding me of the pulse reader from last week. But it’s also different. These are issues that seem to, in no way, relate to why I’m there. They are immensely personal issues to be divulging to someone I’ve just met. Perhaps most therapists assume that they are trustworthy. Maybe they’ve lost touch with how vulnerable these issues are for people and it’s become rote for them.

I don’t know why.

But I sat there resenting her questions wondering, “Who do you think you are to ask me such questions with no context of why you’re asking them or how they relate to why I’m here? And why haven’t you asked me why I’m here?”

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

She is thrown off for a second but seems to collect herself quickly, “Oh, it’s just taking your history for what we’re going to be working on.”

“Why don’t we skip to that?” I say.

“Sure.” And, to her credit, we do.

The good Bill Baren suggests starting off your first session with a client with two questions: “Why me? Why now?”

I wish all sessions would start this way.

If she’d asked, “Why me?” I would have said, “Well, I’ve heard good things about the modality you use and my naturopath recommended you as someone who could help me with some things I’ve been struggling with.”

If she’d said, “Why now?” it would have been a doorway into my symptoms and struggles.

She didn’t ask those questions but I took the opening in her conversation to lay it all out for her. She listened well and I immediately relax to not be sitting there and waiting or regretting having shared something so personal.

If there are other issues related to this that come up, I think to myself, I’ll be happy to share them. But I didn’t walk into this room with an agreement to share every secret I have.

Trust is such a precious thing. And it’s earned. Our unwillingness to go slowly, in the beginning, is so much of what kills trust in both a therapist-client relationship or a customer-business relationship. You are rarely done much harm by going slowly.

By the end of the session, I really liked her and she had earned some portion of my trust.

But it lifts up questions for all of us: where in our business or helping processes are we assuming trust? Where are we asking questions we have not yet earned the right to ask? Where could we give more context into the reasons for our asking the questions we ask. Can we trust the process in that the right information will come up at the right time?

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

Additional Reading:

Marketing for Psychotherapists

Slow Marketing

Case Study: Hidden Gems (good thoughts on personalizing intake forms here)

I Don’t Care How Good You Are At What You Do

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 1.51.40 PM

I recently went to see a holistic health practitioner in town about whom I’d heard good things.

I arrived at his office and was welcomed to sit down.

He opened his laptop and asked me for my email and then for my wrist. “We start with taking your pulse,” he explained.

So he took my pulse for about a minute and then, for the next 45 minutes told me what was going on and what I needed to do about it based on my particular constitution and body type. As he made these suggestions, he typed them into the email he was going to send me.

And I sat there having an incredibly mixed experience. 

On one hand, his words were incredibly accurate to what I was experiencing and I was appreciative to have him taking such great notes on the particulars to send me. It’s the worst to see a practitioner who rattles off all of the things you are supposed to do and then expects you to remember them all.

On the other hand, he never asked me what had brought me to see him that day. Not once.

There was no intake form for me to fill out.

On the table in front of us was some tea. He never offered it to me. I had to ask about it.

And so I sat there, wondering, “Is he actually going to ask me why I came in the first place?” for the entire session feeling increasingly annoyed and confused. 

I don’t care how good you are at what you do.

For 45 minutes, I sat there while he talked at me, asked me focused questions, and then typed out the homework he was giving me. On one hand, the homework and suggestions were specific and generous. There was no sales pitch for a huge program. He wasn’t holding back the good stuff. And, on the other hand, I had to finally speak up towards the end to say, “Just to let you know, I’m on the edge of overwhelm right now.”

He seemed to get it. He made a few more suggestions and then, finally, he paused and said, “Any questions?”

But he seemed to mean, “Do you have any questions about what I told you?”. He still wasn’t asking me why I’d come.

In truth, it might not have changed anything he told me. I can’t know. And it’s his practice, so I am a guest in his practice. I’m not there to tell him how to run his business. And, despite the frustration I felt, I genuinely like the fellow. 

It lifted up for me the importance of empathy in our interactions with our clients. As the old adage goes, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”

I don’t care how good you are at what you do.

Empathy before education.

But there’s something else: I’m not sure how much I trusted his advice given how little context he had about me and my life and what had brought me there. There could have been many causes of my pulse reading. Maybe I’d come there just to see if we were a fit. Maybe I’d come to get his take on a particular symptom I was having. From reading my pulse there are so many thing he couldn’t have known (or at least that I couldn’t have known he might know).

If people don’t trust your diagnosis, they won’t trust your prescriptions.

And so, when we first meet with a client, it’s vital that they feel we understand their situation and why they are there. It’s vital that the trust that we are clear about their symptoms and that we are taking them seriously. It vital not only that we understand but that they feel understood – that they know we’re both on the same page.

This can be done in ways as simple as restating what you heard them say and asking them, “Did I get it right? Am I missing anything?”

When they feel clear that we ‘get’ them, they will automatically relax and be open to our guidance. Until that moment, no matter how brilliant and skilled we are, they will be sitting there, tense, waiting and resentful of their assumptions. Our assumption that we ‘get it’ will likely be read as our arrogance. Our job isn’t just to give good advice, it’s to foster an openness to it.

I don’t care how good you are at what you do.

My colleague Bill Baren suggests weaving these two questions into the early part of your session with a client, “Why me? Why now?”

These questions do two things: They let us know their reasons for coming to us but they also remind our client of why they chose us and why this issue matters so much to them.

If that’s not your style, it’s okay. But you might want to tell them that before they come to see you. You might want to make sure they understand that before they show up. If, when I’d asked to book an appointment, I was sent to a webpage letting me know his style, I would have been able to make a choice if that was the style I wanted or to at least be ready for it. If the page had said something like the following, I would have likely still done the session and felt much better about it.

“So, my style is that I don’t do intake forms and I don’t ask you questions before we get started. When we begin, I will ask you for your wrist and take your pulse. After twenty five years of doing this, I’ve found that the less I know the better when it comes to getting a clear pulse reading. Once I’ve taken your pulse, I will start working on an email to send you with my advice. It might sound strange but, after all these years, I can take your pulse, look at your body type and get a very strong sense of where you’re at and what’s needed. If I need to ask clarifying questions I will. There will be some tea ready for you and, being wrapped up in helping you, I will likely forget to offer you some, so please help yourself.”

If your style differs from how everyone else does it (e.g. no intake forms) it’s good to explain it to people. Let them know your reasons why.

I don’t care how good you are at what you do.

I mean, of course I do, but I don’t just care about that.

It’s vital to see our role as not being just to give advice but to make our case for what we’re saying. To lay out the logic. To break down our point of view so it all makes sense.

But, before we can even do that, we need to earn their trust for that advice. And that comes from listening to where they’re at until they feel clear that we understand their situation.

I printed off the suggestions he sent me and they’re incredibly useful. I’ll be diving into them over the coming months. Isn’t it funny how things can be such a mix?

My final thought…

What if, instead of trying to prove how good we were at solving the problem, we first focused on proving how good we were at understanding it?

The Marketing Mistake The Spice Store Made

Row of spice jars

A few weeks ago, I went to a spice store.

I didn’t need more spices. I needed a spice rack. I figured they might have one. Or know where to find one.

I walked in and asked a woman who worked there. 

She apologetically shook her head and told me they didn’t carry any racks and had no idea where I might find one in town beyond a local Home Depot. 

I was struck by the loss of the marketing opportunity.

Consider this: if you find a spice store and fall in love with it, you’ll be a customer for life. You don’t want to have to go through the work of finding a new one, you enjoy how knowledgable and passionate they are and you love that they know you by name. You trust these people when it comes to spices.

So, what if they did their research and found their ten favourite spice racks and made a little, in store catalogue to show people, or had those pages book marked on their computer or even stocked some and sold them directly to you for a small profit. And maybe they could tell you where in town to find them or where to order them online. Or they could order them for you.

I would have loved it if they’d said to me, “So you want on that hangs over the door? Okay. So there are ten basic models of these on the market. Five of them are worthless and fall apart instantly or their hooks don’t actually fit over regular size doors. Three of the remaining ones are pretty good but we’ve found two that everyone seems to be thrilled with. Why don’t I show you those?

They could make a video about this and put it on youtube and then, when customers asked about it, they could email them the link to look at.

And what if they found those places that sold them locally and befriended the staff so that, when people were looking for spice racks, they might be inclined to mention their store.

I recall a doula in Canmore, Angie Evans (who’s now in Regina), who got a surprising amount of business from referrals from the people who worked in the supplement section of Nutters (the organic grocery store in Canmore). She befriended them, told them what she did and then, when the staff would see people looking at prenatal vitamins or other products that indicated they were preparing for a child, the staff would often ask them if they were considering hiring a doula or midwife and if so who. If they were considering one but hadn’t decided yet, they would often suggest reach out to Angie.

My friend Ron Pearson is a magician in Edmonton who does corporate magic shows. But corporate event planners call him all the time to ask his opinion of other performers.

My dear friend Monika runs Reset Wellness in Edmonton which has a very science based approach to wellness. It’s more osteopathy than energy work. But you’d better believe that people will come to trust Monika and ask for her opinion on, “Who’s a good reiki practitioner in town?” A few weeks ago, Monika and I had a conversation about how she could create a referral list of people she trusts so that she would be ready for these questions.

Consider what people keep asking you for that you don’t offer. Consider what kinds of recommendations they ask you for that you don’t have answers to. Consider building yourself up a referral resource list of people you trust.

You can just sell what you sell.

But you can also become a trusted advisor. You can become a hub. You can become the go to person on a certain issue.

Jay Abraham makes the distinction between customers and clients. In his worldview, a customer was just someone you sold things to. A client was someone who was under the care of a fiduciary. A client is someone you were there to guide and protect on the matters surrounding what you do.

If everything you recommend is gold, people’s trust in you will deepen and they’ll spend more money with you and refer more people to you.

Stop Trying To Be So Authentic

Authenticity1Authenticity is not a goal.

It’s a byproduct of something else.

It’s not something you can put on like a coat. It’s not a strategy. It’s something you can posture at. It’s not even the goal. It’s the result of something else that you’re doing.

There’s the old story of the archer who misses his shot because his eye is on the trophy he wants to win and not the bullseye. If you try to get the trophy, you miss the target. The only way to get the trophy is to stop focusing on it.

Every once in a while, I will hear people say things like, “I’m a very authentic person.” or “Well, to be really authentic about it…” and I see courses on how to learn to market authentically.

I’ve seen email subject lines say things like…

This is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever shared” or “I’m really scared to share this with you . . .” only to read it and have the vulnerable thing be something salesy that is clearly not very vulnerable at all. They used my caring of them as a hook to get me to open the email. That didn’t feel good. As another colleague of mine, Teray, shared, “When someone sends too many “vulnerable”, “embarrassing” subject headings in a row…it starts to feel like me me me me.”

Some of it rings a bit hollow. Some if it seems like they are trying really, really hard to be authentic.

Authentic also doesn’t mean hippie, conscious, new age, spiritual or any of that.

Want to know who has the most authentic marketing of anyone I’ve ever seen? Jay Abraham.

Jay Abraham is a hardcore capitalist and doesn’t hide this at all. His offers are direct, candid and he is extremely transparent about his own selfish motives for making the offers he makes.

Nothing is being hidden.

His marketing, though my political views couldn’t be more different than his, feels authentic to me.

Being authentic doesn’t mean speaking in soft and sweet tones all the time. It can sound salesy too. Believe it.

Authentic doesn’t look a particular way.

But when you use the language of authenticity and you aren’t actually being authentic… it’s the worst.

So what is the bullseye on which we need to focus?

In marketing, I think it’s the truth.

But a particular kind of truth. It’s the truth of ‘is this a fit?’ rather than ‘how can I get the sale?’.

If your agenda is to get the sale then no matter what you do, short of telling people, “I really just want the sale,” your actions will be manipulative and land as inauthentic.

Most sales training is an attempt to cover this original sin, the type one error of focusing on the sale. It’s all about how to build rapport, elicit buying strategies, overcome objections etc. So much of marketing is about trying to seem authentic while we pick their pocket. It’s full of justifications for our own selfishness and desperation. It’s full of rationalizations for doing things that don’t actually feel right for us.

Having said that, collapsing and giving away the store for free isn’t particular noble or authentic either.

But what if our focus wasn’t on trying to seem authentic.

What if it wasn’t even on trying to be authentic.

What if our focus was just on creating something wonderful, giving great customer service and getting the word out? What if our focus was, in those wonderful moments when someone expressed an interest in our work, on helping them sort out if it was really the best thing for them or not?

What if we looked at marketing as filtering and not seduction?

Let your focus on providing value for your customer be the most authentic thing about you. Don’t use authenticity to sell something.

 

Recommended Resources:

The Seven Graces of Marketing – Lynn Serafinn

Marketing for Hippies 101 – Tad Hargrave

On Fake Vulnerability and Giving a Crap (Dear Marketing Guru…) – Ling Wong