The real reason to do intro workshops (and what this can teach you about the rest of your marketing).

52128490 - speaker giving a talk at business meeting. audience in the conference hall. business and entrepreneurship.

I’m a big fan of the intro workshop – that two to three hour experience that gives people a good taste of who you are and what you do.

In the first seven or so years of my business, these kinds of workshops were my bread and butter. I did them for free and used them as a way to fill up my weekend workshops (which I offered on a Pay What You Can basis). Sometimes I still do them.

The model, though lean, worked well enough and I toured happily for years.

Of course, in the first few years, I was still sorting out what exactly it was that I had to say about marketing. It took me five years for things to really gel. And then I felt it. It all came together. My intros felt more clear, coherent and solid.

Right around that time, people started paying me money for these free workshops.

I would look up surprised as they were filling out a $50 cheque to me, “This is a free workshop.” I’d tell them.

They’d look at me, nod and say, “Uh huh…” and then finish filling out the cheque.

After that point, I began to charge for the intros.

I’ve led dozens if not hundreds of these kinds of intro sessions over the years and so I’m well acquainted with them. Of course, I never went to a workshop on how to do them or structure them. I just mucked about until I landed on something I liked and that made sense.

But it wasn’t until a few months ago when it really clicked for me as to why we even do these intro workshops in the first place.

It’s a good question to ask:

Why bother? What’s the point of doing an intro workshop? How would you know if they were successful? What are we trying to accomplish in doing them?

Well, it’s good to contextualize all of this in a bigger picture of marketing.

I imagine you want to have a sustainable business and fill up your workshops and coaching programs and so you’re doing intro workshops to support that. The intro workshops are a way of getting more clients.

Fair enough.

So let’s step back a bit. There are three things that must be established in your marketing for it to work: relevance, credibility and value.

Relevance means that they see a fit for them.

Credibility means that they trust you.

Value means that they see what you’re offering as a good deal.

In an intro workshop, your workshop title, poster, sales letter etc. is what will establish the relevance. People will look at it and say, “Aha! Yes! A workshop for people with fibromyalgia! That’s for me!” Relevance comes from a clear niche.

If you do your marketing right, they walk into the room with relevance established.

This is why it feels so off when you show up at a live, intro workshop and the first half hour is spent establishing relevance. Or the whole event. I remember I went to one workshop about, in a nutshell, how to make more money.

And the first thing the presenter asked when he came out was, “Who here wants to make more money?” And then proceeded, in a variety of ways to ask that question over the first few minutes and to tell us a lot of stories about how making more money was a really important thing. I sat there baffled. I looked down at the handout which had the name of the workshop written on it and thought, “Why the hell would I be here if it wasn’t because I wanted to learn how to make more money?”

So, the content of your intro workshop is not there to establish relevance primarily.

Some people would suggest that the whole point of an intro workshop is to establish the value of your offer (e.g. “Come to my weekend workshop!”, “Come to my retreat!” or “Sign up for my coaching package.”).

And certainly I’ve been to some of these and you might have too. The intro workshop (or teleseminar) promises a lot but delivers on very little. It’s frustrating. By the end, you realize it’s been a long pitch. You kept thinking the substance and content was about to appear but it never did.

I once hosted a colleague and realized part way through that he was, literally, reading out his sales letter. The same colleague was offering a free eBook in the lead up to a program of his and the eBook, despite having a lovely cover, was, very literally, a sales letter for his program. Even formatted as a sales letter. I shook my head at the bait and switch.

When people come for content but get a commercial they’re bound to feel tricked and upset.

So, no, I don’t think that our intro workshops are primarily about establishing the value of our offers. Who wants to sit through a two hour, covert pitch.

So, what is the point? Well, if it’s not relevance or value, then it must be credibility.

And this is the freeing realization: your intro workshops are there to help people get to know, like and trust you. Your intro workshops are there for people to get a sense of your vibe. They are there for people to see if there’s an alignment between the way they see things and the way you see things. They are there for people to decide if you’re a fit for them. They are there for people to learn about your point of view and see if that makes sense for them.

That’s really about it.

If they like you and resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘yes’ to it.

If they do not like you or resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘no’ to it.

It’s that simple.

Perhaps this is why so many people in their intro workshops, tele seminars, and sales letters skip this credibility piece (beyond testimonials). They skip sharing their point of view entirely.

I’ve read sales letters that, basically, say,

“Are you struggling with _________ problem? Doesn’t it hurt? Let me tell you my story about how bad it was and then some stories of clients. And shit… doesn’t it cost you a lot to have this unresolved? Here’s how it cost me. And don’t you want _________ result? I mean imagine your life without it! Imagine you died without getting this result. Wouldn’t you feel like an asshole on your death bed. But this result can be yours when you sign up for my package and learn my top secret method.”

The whole sales letter is heavy on relevance and value but there’s so little credibility in it. It’s big on hitting the pain points and painting a picture of how it might be and very low on offering any meaningful take on how that might happen.

Your intro workshops are a form of marketing, that’s true. But the text marketing, in my mind, is educational. It teaches them something.

Am I saying that you should give away all of your content for free?

No.

You couldn’t fit it all into an intro workshop.

I am saying to give all of the context away for free.

Now, ‘all’ might be overstatement.

But you can give people the 30,000 foot view. You can let them know how you see the big picture of it all. You can give them a chance to ask you questions for the 100 foot or 10 foot view on places they’re struggling. You give show them your overall map to help them make sense of why they’re so damned stuck.

If they want to sail from Island A to Island B, you don’t teach them how to build and sail a boat in your intro. You bust out your map and show them the route you’d suggest and make your case for that route instead of others. You first make the case for your point of view, not your programs, products or packages. You don’t market yourself. You market your message.

If you do this, you will engender more trust.

If you do this, people will want to know about your offers.

If you do this, people will be more likely to spend more money with you.

If you do this, people will feel confident in your approach to these issues.

And this doesn’t mean that you need to make massive changes in your marketing.

But consider the subtle difference between these two approaches.

Approach #1: Selling Your Workshop – “If you come to my weekend workshop you’ll learn the following seven things!”

Approach #2: Sharing Your Point of View – “If you want to get ______ result, here are seven things you need to understand.” and then at the end of the workshop, “If that approach and those seven things make sense to you, you might enjoy my weekend workshop because we go deeper into all of those things.”

It’s a subtle shift in framing but the impact is powerful.

To take it back to my friend who was offering the eBook that was, actually, a sales letter. It was selling his course about how to get more clients through offering discovery sessions. That was the orientation of the ‘eBook’ – making the case for them to spend a lot of money in his program.

I emailed them and suggested that they might make a subtle shift and reorientation towards making the case for his point of view. The whole eBook could have been making the case for a business model in which all of the marketing led people to a one hour ‘discovery session’. That’s a solid point of view. There is a strong case to be made for that. Once he had convinced people of this approach, then he might find them very open to signing up for his program.

I was met with a frosty response.

Ah well.

To sum it up: Make the case for your point of view first (credibility). Make the case for your services, programs, packages and products second (value).

Additional Free Resources:

Video Interview on Point of View Marketing (70 min)

Point of View Marketing Primer Video (10 min)

Products to Consider:

The Workshop Package: A collection of my best resources on filling up your workshops and events.

The Art of the Full House

Point of View Marketing

Don’t Market Yourself. Market Your Message.

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.

The Israeli Dutch Man’s Amazing Shrinking Business Workshop

m2q4sAxFA few weeks ago, I had lunch with the good Govert van Ginkel, a fine facilitator and practitioner of goodwill amongst people through his workshops and one on one work.

He told me the story of a Business Bootcamp he attended in Holland last year.

It was led by an Israeli man who had moved to Holland twenty years before.

Holland has about 16 million people and a full million of them have had to become independent contractors, without pensions or benefits, due to the economy and layoffs.

Seeing this, this fellow decided this might be a group of people in need of help from the kind of business workshops he did.

And so Govert saw this workshop flash across his Facebook over and over again until he finally decided to sign up. It was a full weekend workshop, including lunch and snacks. He was charging $65. Govert knew that this would barely make the man anything.

In the end, the man got 1,000 people signed up. So that’s $65,000. But, once you take out the cost of the venue, materials, food and time put into it… it’s money but it’s not as much as it might seem at first glance.

By the end of the weekend, there were only about 400 people left. This might seem like a story of an embarrassing failure but it’s actually the story of a strange kind of business success.

Govert told me that, when they’d come back from every break, there would be fewer chairs. Numbers were being tracked and paid attention to. So, it never felt like the numbers were dwindling. There was never that deflating feeling even though it was clear there were fewer people.

The trainer pointed out that a big mistake people made in sales were to meet strangers and try to sell them, but that this missed two steps. That the first step was, yes, to meet strangers but then to become friends with them, to foster some kind of trust between you and then to sell to them and then, finally, to invite them to be ambassadors of your work. He was advocating a sort of slow marketing of the kind Robert Middleton outlines in his Marketing Ball metaphor.

At one point, he was challenged as to why he was leading the workshop in English and not Dutch. Hadn’t he learned the language? He expressed that he had but that, when he spoke Dutch, because of his accent, people thought it was ‘cute’ and he felt like that diminished his stature and authority as a professional. I imagine some people didn’t like that answer and others of his answers.

But he wasn’t there asking for people’s vote.

He wasn’t going for approval from anyone.

He was sharing himself and giving every bit of value he could that weekend knowing that his style and approach wouldn’t be for everyone. He was willing to have his personality and content get a polarized response. He was willing to be rejected. He knew that the 400 people left at the end of his workshop would be there because they liked him and what he had to say. He knew that they would be the most likely people to say ‘yes’ to his offer of coaching packages at the end of the workshop.

It’s a different way of looking at things. Most people would look at more than half the people leaving the workshop early as a sign of failure. But what if it was a strange sort of success?

He realized that marketing is about filtering, not seduction.

And so he began with generosity. He offered a full weekend to people at a bargain price. He did it knowing he might lose money on the front end. He did that instead of trying to sell a bunch of strangers into an expensive weekend workshop. He allowed for slowness by creating a space for people to get to know him and see if it was a fit for them.

NOTE: This blog post is not an endorsement for this man or his content (neither of which I know). I am not suggesting I would be aligned with the marketing approaches he teaches in his workshops or his style. I am not suggesting I wouldn’t be either. 

Blog for Clients: An Interview with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.21.53 PMI’ve known Corrina Gordon-Barnes for a few years now and my respect and affection for her have only deepened. She coaches, consults and runs a very fine blog for conscious service providers. She’s got a lot of thoughts worth hearing about how to create a blog for yourself and how to do it in such a way that it actually gets you clients rather than wasting your time (In fact, she’s made her popular Blog for Clients course available as a self-study training course).

Blogging is something I know a bit about, having written 600+ blog posts myself. However, I can tell you that I’ve written precisely zero of them with any sense of strategy. It’s been a way for me to get clear on my own thoughts. What Corrina is offering here is a far more strategic, wise and profitable investment of time than anything I’ve done.

So, I thought I would invite her to share her thoughts on the matter.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.27.36 PMTad: What is the difference between blogging and blogging for clients?

Corrina: I like to use the analogy of cooking.

Scenario one: I’m by myself. I’m cooking a soup. Yum, I’m going to really enjoy this soup. I’ll just cook according to my taste, I won’t consider quantities, I’ll just focus completely for myself; my and my soup is what I’m all about.

Scenario two: I want to feed my friends. They’re hungry. They’re coming over in two hours. I think about their allergies, their taste preferences. I plan out my cooking so I have enough provision for all of them and so that it’s ready on time for them.

This is the difference. Blogging is for me; blogging for clients is when I focus on others, think about their needs, think about how I can serve them, and then work backwards, getting strategic? about how to meet their needs through what I’m offering.

When we’re blogging for clients, we blog in such a way that it gives potential clients a taste of our approach, plus – importantly – what we have to offer through our paid-for products and services. When we blog, we give our potential clients an opportunity to fall in love with us, to feel safe with us, to feel that somehow we’re aligned and belong together. We’re in the same resonance.

Blogging might be fun in and of itself, but blogging for clients actually leads to clients, increased credibility and increased income. Blogging for clients is not about writing as a hobby; it’s about blogging as your key marketing activity. It actually works for you, supporting your business to grow and flourish and become profitable. AND it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Why do most people’s blogs get so little engagement and no clients for them? What are they missing?

They don’t first decide what they’re selling and then work backwards from there. They don’t reverse engineer their blogs. In my self-study training course, Blog for Clients, we start with the product or service you want to sell more of, or have people hire you more frequently for, and then we choose blog topics and structure the blogs with this end in mind.

Wow. That’s so simple. Totally.

People at first worry about being strategic or having structure, they worry it’s going to limit their freedom or creativity, but here’s the truth: the writing of the blog actually can be more creative and free-flowing, once you’re writing from strategy and structure.

Another thing people miss is that they don’t give blogging enough of a chance. They give up too soon. And they don’t learn how to do it properly, from people who’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. They stumble along, trying to figure it out themselves, rather than giving themselves the chance to invest in a learning journey with this incredible marketing approach.

Blogging is the #1 way I built my business over the decade I’ve been self-employed. People look at the word “blogging” and think it looks like something teenagers do, or people who have too much time on their hands. They don’t realize the power at their finger-tips!

What are the top three blunders people make when blogging for clients? And what should they be doing differently?

Blunder #1: They try to speak to everyone, a “spray and pray” kind of approach, rather than honing in on ONE ideal client and writing every blog for them.

Solution: Write each blog to ONE person. I actually start my blogs, “Hey Hannah”, picture my ideal client, write the blog, and then delete the greeting at the end!

Blunder #2: They don’t blog consistently. It’s sporadic, impulsive; they’ll write a flurry and then go awol for months. Think about your favourite TV show or magazine; we love that feeling of regularity, of being able to expect something will show up in our inbox or letter box or screen. We come to trust the producers.

Solution: Commit to an editorial calendar; hold yourself accountable for contributing great value regularly to your community. Be in it for the long-game.

Blunder #3: They forget that a blog is a conversation. We have a whole module in Blog for Clients about how to inspire more comments and what to do about them (because people worry about spam and trolls and negative comments).

Solution: In the way you write, and in your encouragement of comments, remember that a blog is powerful because it’s a heart-to-heart two-way conversation.

Any last advice of thoughts to people who are building their blogs to get clients?

We’re not born knowing how to do marketing.

Likewise, we’re not born knowing how to do blogging.

I often hear from people after they’ve taken Blog for Clients, they say something like: “I nearly didn’t take this course. I knew how to write. I liked writing. I didn’t realize there was actually an art and science to blogging; I thought I could just figure it out” – and they’re so grateful that they learned how to do it so it actually WORKS for them, business-wise. Otherwise, we can enjoy blogging but we won’t see the fruits of our labour. And our business won’t reach the level it can go to, with blogging as the catalyst.

About Corrina:

Corrina Gordon-Barnes wants to live in a world where marketing is fun, clients turn up easily, and money flows to those who do work that helps and heals.

As a certified coach, marketing teacher and self-employment champion, she’s been featured on MindBodyGreen, The Daily Muse, LifeByMe and MarketingForHippies and published in The Ecologist, OM Yoga, Diva, and The London Paper. She’s author of Turn Your Passion to Profit: a step-by-step guide to getting your business off the ground.

When she’s not writing blogs and teaching courses, you can find her reading chick-lit, making vegan blueberry cheesecake, and trying to catch her niece and nephew on the monkey bars.

Take her self-study training course – Blog for Clients – and read her book – Turn Your Passion to Profit – to discover how to stay happy and profitable on the self-employment path at http://youinspireme.co.uk

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing

10596261_10154474180875195_1614989293_nYou can try to bully business out of clients. But very few people will ever do that.

However, many of us – often without knowing we’re doing it – try to manipulate and seduce our clients.

If you’re reading this, then my guess is that you hate option one (seduction). So, if bullying is out and seduction is out . . . what’s left? Manipulation?

I want to lift up another option: courting them.

Simon Sinek lays the groundwork for this notion in his brilliant book Start With Why:

Typical manipulations include: dropping the price; running a promotion; using fear, peer pressure or aspirational messages; and promising innovation to influence behaviour – be it a purchase, a vote or support. When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. It’s because manipulations work.

If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable. Marketers often talk about the importance of being aspirational, offering someone something they desire to achieve and the ability to get their more easily with a particular product or service.

  • Six steps to a happier life!
  • Work those abs to your dream dress size!
  • In six short weeks you can be rich!

All these messages manipulate.

They tempt us with the things we want to have or to be the person we wish we were.

I cannot dispute that manipulations work.

Every one of them can indeed help influence behaviour and every one of them can help a company become quite successful. But there are trade offs.

Not a single one of them breeds loyalty.

Over the course of time, they cost more and more. The gains are only short term. And they increase the level of stress for both the buyer and the seller. If you have exceptionally deep pockets or are looking to achieve only a short term gain with no consideration for the long term, then these strategies and tactics are perfect.

Beyond the business world, manipulations are the norm in politics today as well. Just as manipulations can drive a sale but not create loyalty, so too can they help a candidate get elected, but they don’t create a foundation for leadership. Leadership requires people to stick with you through thick and thin. Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years. [Manipulative] tactics win elections, but they do not seed loyalties among the voters.

In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up. If manipulation is the only strategy, what happens the next time a purchase decision is required. What happens after the election is won?

There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers don’t often bother to research to the competition or entertain other options. Loyalty is not easily won. Repeat business, however, is. All it takes is more manipulations.

Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.

So, if manipulations don’t work to create loyalty, what does? If manipulating and seducing people ultimately doesn’t feel good, what does?

*

A True Story About Courting

Ron Walker, program coordinator at the Native Friendship Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, shared a story that speaks so beautifully to this notion of courting. I share this abridged version of Ron’s story here with his kind permission:

A long time ago, there was once a young man in love with a woman in his village who did not return his affections. Unable to deal with the pain of this rejection he left the village and went far, far away into the woods, where he was guided to a beautifully carved flute and told to go and listen to the sounds the animals there made and to learn how to play them on the flute. They were sounds that neither himself nor anyone in his village had heard before. Once he had done this, he was told to take those sound-songs back. And so he did. And, when he returned to his village, he climbed up a hill, pulled out his flute, and began to play. The people of the village sat up in notice of this beautiful and strange music they’d never heard before. And the woman who’d had no interest in him before, found her way up the hill and sat next to him signifying her desire to be with him.

It’s a good and true story.

In the story, the young man isn’t told that by learning this music, he’d win her back. It wasn’t a tool of seduction. It was a gift for his community and the learning and sharing of it had, I’m sure, made him more beautiful in the process. When he returned, his own heart had been healed. He wasn’t grasping at the woman anymore and so she felt safe to come towards him.

It’s a strange truth I’ve found in life and marketing: if you try to strong-arm a particular person into doing business with you, it rarely works but if you bring something good, unique and beautiful to a community and give it in service to that community, many of the people you would have been chasing actually come towards you of their own accord. I have experienced this many times.

And, of course, the Western Mind wants to turn that story into a formula: if I go out into nature, find something beautiful and bring it back to the community, or if I go on some walk or pilgrimage and find some clarity, then, when I come back, I’ll get “the girl” (aka the client) or whatever I had desired.

But I don’t think that’s what the story is saying.

I don’t think that story is making any promises at all.

*

A Tale of Two Bookstores

Marianne Williamson once spoke about working in a bookstore. She saw it as her job to love the people who came in. And she did. And they loved her for it and came back over and over because it just felt so good to be there. Once in a while people would come in and offer her business advice and the tactics she could be using to get customers to come back. The tactics never made sense to her and then one day she realized, “Oh! They think this is a bookstore!” But for her, it had always been her church and a chance to minister to people. She was courting people, not seducing them.

There’s new age bookstore I’ve been to where every time I walk in, I feel anything but a sense of serenity. I feel on edge and I am immediately assaulted with offers to join their email list and FB group. I’m being sold from the second I walk in. If I’m going to buy something, the owner is so loving and full of smiles, but the second it becomes clear I’m just browsing? The love shuts off entirely and she goes cold and I feel like my presence there is an imposition on her time and space. I’ve talked with dozens of others who feel the same way about this place. I genuinely have no idea how she’s still in business.

*

Seduction vs. Courtship

Elder Stephen Jenkinson distinguishes between seduction and courting thus: “Seduction sounds like the quiet padding of the thief’s feet on the path as they run away into the night having stolen from you something very precious you won’t even know is missing until you reach for it next.”

Seduction is polish and charm.

Courting is the deep insistence of being of some use to the thing or person you love whether or not it benefits you at all.

It is a combination of being observant, deep listening, and earnest craftsmanship to bring the one you love something that they need without ever once having had to ask.

And maybe this is the heart of courting – generosity. That courting begins and ends with giving whereas seduction begins and ends with taking (and any giving which is done is used itself as misdirection to distract you from the taking).

Seduction is the buying of votes and the false “I love you.” It’s the playing on people’s hopes to get something we want from them without them knowing we took it. Seduction is a beautiful, carefully stitched bag emptied of all respect and regard for the other so that it can hold the very thing the one you love might have given you freely, had you courted them well. The things seduction throws aside are the very things that might have inspired the giving. The cost of walking the path of seduction, which we all (if we are honest) know intimately, is that we are constantly scared of being caught. Seduction requires stealth where stealth shouldn’t be.

The worst of salesmanship is seduction, not courting. It’s ninja tactics, secret linguistic tricks, and “closing techniques.” Seduction is about sitting across from someone and trying to get people to see things your way (e.g. to see how valuable what you’re offering is, to see what a great person you are, etc.), while courting begins with sitting down next to them and trying to see what they see.

The worst of dating advice is seduction, pick up tricks, and sneaking.

The worst of parenting advice is seduction, bribery and bullying. It’s us standing toe to toe with our child trying to get them to see things our way instead of sitting beside them and trying to see what they see.

Seduction is, in short, trying to get away with something.

Courting is trying to give to something. Trying, often futilely and often failing, to give something worthy and beautiful to those we love. But even in the most disastrous attempts to give where we fail extravagantly, there’s something in the extravagance itself that feeds something good in us. Courting is about leaving space so that the one you are courting has room to move towards you of their own volition, leaving room for them to come closer to you. It also allows for the courted one to move away – it is an invitation, and allows space for choice in the recipient.

And so if you experience someone seducing you and you let them know that it doesn’t feel good, you are meeting their seduction with courting. You’re giving them your truth and courting better behaviour from them in the future.

If you’re treated poorly in a dating scenario, you make someone more human by letting them know your feelings and not letting them behave so poorly in your presence.

And we don’t share our feelings about people’s behaviour in order that they will love us for being so wise and helpful. If we’re doing it to get their approval then we’ve already begun to slide down the hill of seduction without noticing it.

We can share the impact their actions had on us and then let go gracefully of the need for them to do anything in particular with that information. I think the not being attached to a result is central to courtesy.

*

The Soft Handshake

b6dc12b8a87ce0db3c0397f1ad0b0201I recall receiving a handshake from a Blackfoot activist in Alberta. It was the limpest handshake I’ve ever received and it felt incredibly gross. Like I was shaking hands with a dead fish. Didn’t he know about the importance of making a good first impression on someone?

And then, many years later, I heard Stephen Jenkinson talking about this. He explained that it was a very old style of handshake that meant to express the utmost consideration and respect. It was saying, “I’m not going to try and make any big impression on you. I’m not going to assume we’re going to get along. Let’s just take our time and get to know each other and see how it goes.” No assumptions. No burdens placed.

I think it’s a good thing to take into our interactions with clients. Not carrying in this urgent need to impress them right away. Not having the focus be on how they see us and our reputation. That approach is guided by the mirror of narcissism and self concern and it’s hard to move forward skillfully while looking into a mirror. Instead we are guided by our love of and concern for them.

*

Courting is not collapsing.

None of this means you collapse and give away the store.

It doesn’t mean you work for free.

It doesn’t mean that you aren’t strategic and thoughtful in how you plan your marketing.

It doesn’t mean you don’t put a lot of time into thinking out your sales funnels and business model.

It doesn’t mean you don’t track and measure your numbers and results and change your strategy accordingly.

It doesn’t mean that your tone has to be gentle and you can’t be outrageous or have fun. It doesn’t mean you throw out your edginess and sass. None of that.

No no no.

It means you might do all of those things but that you take care of yourself well while you do them.

It means you build a thoughtful and well considered business plan. It means you get really clear on your niche. It means you write the best sales letters anyone had every seen. It means that you get really good at having conversations with interested people that help you both decide if there’s a fit there or not.

It actually means that you need to raise your game as an entrepreneur substantially.

If you want to court your clients graciously, then consider creating free things for them that could be useful to them before they spend money with you to let them know that you have their needs in mind first and foremost.

If you want to court hubs and influencers, consider the same approach. Be useful to them in a way that is meaningful to them before you ask anything of them.

Find a way for them to get to know you from a distance and to approach you as it feels safe for them, so that you can both see if you resonate with one other.

*

You business is a house. Your customers can’t relax in a collapsing house. 

It’s like this. You build the house of your business solidly like a house instead of having it always sit at the edge of collapse. If you build your house (or business) strong, then people walk in and just enjoy the beauty in it. They notice how good it feels to be there. I remember once being in Fairfield, Iowa where I did one of my first workshops ever. I went to house that was build according to Vedic design principles even older than Feng Shui. It was a thing of beauty. Timbre framed. Rammed earth floors. Big windows. It felt so good to just be in the thing. We were just there as a part of a tour but no one want to leave it when it was time to go.

Here’s what no one felt while in that Vedic home – pressure to hold that house up.

Could you imagine the tour if the framing was weak. “So as you can see here in the kitchen . . . shit, sorry! Could you hold this beam? It’s about to collapse. Thanks. So, this kitchen was built with . . . shit! Could you two hold up that wall? Must not have nailed that in right and FUCK! Everyone else hold up the roof!”

That’s how it feels to be in a poorly constructed business. Like you’ve been giving the job of saving the business provider, and left holding it all up. So, the first responsibility in courting is to build your business well so it’s not relying on your clients to hold it up.

And also, how can you ever leave your home to invite anyone to it if it’s going to collapse when you leave it? If you’re always patching it together in a constant crisis, how can you give out invitations to the wonderful parties you want to throw? How can you be present to your guests, have empathy and put yourself in their shoes when you’re in crisis?

It seems to me  that we move to seduction out of the desperation of a house with a leaky roof falling apart. The key is not to get better at seducing. The key is to find ourselves some simple and stable place to live so we can have the time and space we need to practice our courting of who and what matters to us.

Perhaps, the central and unspoken fear that drives seduction is the belief that the other person has something without which you cannot survive and that you simply couldn’t get on your own. This fear creates desperation – it makes these situations into life or death matters.

We come to believe, in a confused sort of way, that we need to get a sale from this particular person or that we need sex from that person, love and acceptance from this person, and attention from that person. If we believe this, then we will seduce at best – or simply steal at worst. If we believe this, then we will be unable to let go gracefully if that is what’s required.

I think a first step to even being able to consider courting anyone or anything is to see more widely, to see that our needs can be met in many ways rather than making one person responsible for them.

Sometimes what this all means (and no one wants to hear this) is that you need to live somewhere else while you build this dream home. Or that you need to build a tiny home and add extensions as you can afford to. Sometimes you need to have a job to earn your income while you build your dream business. Or sometimes you need to start really small and grow your business as you are able.

*

What Are You Feeding? 

Courting acknowledges that there are things that matter beyond us and our businesses bottom line.

It acknowledges that the way we engage with others not only has consequences for us (do we get the sale or not) but also for the other (do they feel honoured or violated).

But there is something else that is profoundly missing in most of the marketing material I see. The understanding that our actions impact anything bigger than ourselves.

Certainly, it has consequences for the marketplace at large. If everyone used seduction and manipulation, the marketplace would feel even worse than it does – trust would be at an all time low. But, perhaps there’s something even bigger, something that is fed by the beauty we make and that is starved when we don’t. The way we proceed with each other is not free of consequence.

Looked at from another angle, I think that courting has big consequences for the kind of person we become. And the kind of person we become has big consequences for the world. When we move through the world trying to seduce people I think we increasingly become the embodiment of the absence of the  very thing we were seducing, using our hands and words to grasp at and trap what was never ours in the first place. When we move through the world trying to court people I think we increasingly become the embodiment of the thing we have been courting from the practice of using our hands and our words to craft gifts for what we love. Somehow the practice of crafting gifts transforms us into a gift as well.

*

“. . . the rental rate for this gift of being allowed to flourish and reside in this continuum with the rest of the world is that we do everything possible to be indigenously beautiful, promising that we make ourselves spiritually full and delicious so as to feed the next ones to appear in the ongoing river on the occasion of our passing.”

– Martin Prechtel, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic

 

Graciousness, Permission and Hijacking in Marketing

Graciousness.jpgGraciousness isn’t always noticed in marketing but its absence is usually keenly felt.

The notion of permission marketing was coined, so far as I know, in Seth Godin’s blog post Permission Marketing. His notion was that we need people’s permission to market to them. Without permission, our marketing is spam.

Susan Hyatt wrote of this dynamic in the coaching world in her piece Unsolicited Coaching. Please. Make it stop and it’s a thread I wove into my extensive blog post on Empathy in Marketing. Unasked for advice is the spam of social relationships.

When it’s missing, it feels like a keen violation.

Years ago I hosted, as I often do, a potluck. A fellow came, I think brought by a friend. He was a fitness trainer keen to build his business. Clearly, somewhere along the way he learned that building your email list is the most important thing you can do these days. And so, he spoke to all twenty five or so people at the potluck and invited them to sign up for his email list and get a free, healthy recipe for a chocolate and peanut butter dessert.

It was so blatant, so hijacking of my party and using the trust in the space for his own purposes. Most people, I am sure, signed up because it felt incredibly awkward to say ‘no’ to his face. I imagine most of them thought, “I’ll just sign up and then unsubscribe or ignore him.”

The approach was forceful. It didn’t authentically grow out of the conversation. It was smuggled into every conversation.

Another example: I was recently in Kelowna where I led a day long workshop. When I got back from lunch I saw that one of the participants, a realtor, had left his business card and a pen (with his contact info on it) on every seat. I went up to him and let him know I felt uncomfortable with it and would appreciate it if he removed them, which he then did. On one hand, there’s something commendable here – hustle. He’s not just sitting back and hoping people call him. He’s being active.

And, the way he’s doing it isn’t, in my mind, gracious.

I am the one who brought everyone together. It was my efforts and the trust I’d built with people that had created that room full of people and by not asking me if it was alright, he was hijacking those efforts and using them for himself. But he certainly doesn’t need my permission to market himself at my event. The real permission he needed was from the people to whom he was marketing. They didn’t ask to find the pen and business card on their chair. What are they going to do with it? He spammed them.

If the realtor had wanted my endorsement, he could have courted it by showing up early and helping to set up and paying attention to how he could be useful to me. He could have bought everyone lunch at the workshop. He could have brought a gift for everyone at the workshop. He could have reached out to me in advance and shared his appreciation of my work and some useful links to things. He could have honoured the incredible time and effort it took me to get the people there and build my business.

The nonchalantness of trying to benefit from other people’s labours without acknowledging those labours is being a parasite, not a guest.

In short, he could have built a relationship with me based on giving and generosity first which would have, almost certainly, been reciprocated.

Antoine Palmer is one of the finest men I know. I met him at a large picnic I was hosting. He helped carry tables into the community centre afterwards. He was just incredibly helpful without being asked. It’s a fine way to introduce yourself to someone, not by trying to impress them but by paying attention to what’s needed and trying to be helpful to them.

I remember meeting Julia Butterfly Hill, who was on her book tour for her book The Legacy of Luna about her two year tree sit, with my friend Michele at Bookshop Santa Cruz and really hoping to impress her because we thought she was kind of the coolest and we were hoping she might come to an event we were organizing.  So we just helped out with her book signing. The next night, she was in Berkeley. I showed up and learned that she was mostly raw vegan and went grocery shopping to salad supplies figuring that she might be hungry after the event. She was and her face lit up with delight in seeing what I’d done. We’ve been friends since. And she came to the event.

While I was staying at my friend Sean’s in Vancouver, I noticed they had an empty, large jar of coconut oil. So I picked up a new one for them. I asked them casually if they’d ever tried Hendrix Gin (the best gin of all times) and when they said ‘no’ I knew to pick up a bottle of it the next day for a dinner we were having.

This can look so many different ways. I’m sure you’ve had your own experiences of both sides of this coin.

The bottom line: When you are gracious in your marketing, then your marketing doesn’t seem like marketing, it occurs to people for what it really is: a generous spirit building relationships – which is what all marketing should be.

 

Further Suggested Reading:

31 Paths of Graciousness – Tad Hargrave

Groundhog Day – Take Two – Vicki Robin

Guest Post: How to Approach Hubs and Potential Clients Cold

 A few months ago, Tova Payne reached out to me to see if she could write a guest post.

I say ‘no’ to most of these. I get a lot of requests.

But, the way she reached out and the subject piqued my interest. Only today, did I dig into what she sent and I am incredibly impressed. As someone who is a hub in a number of arena’s I can attest strongly to the importance of what Tova is articulating here. It’s very aligned with a post Ari Galper wrote years ago. I wish everyone reached out to me in the way she is suggesting.

I don’t recommend the cold approach as a core tactic in your marketing, but, sometimes, it’s what you have to do. And there are ways to do the cold approach that feel classy and other ways that feel slimy, awkward, confusing and uncomfortable.

If you are thinking of reaching out to potential hubs or clients via email, please read this first.

This approach, tailored for your own voice, is pressure free and will help to build trust and position you as a generosity based business. This is a beautiful slow marketing approach.

This type of approach highlights the importance of creating a ‘free gift’ that you can offer people. Mostly, you’ll use it as thanks for people signing up to your email list but you could also use it as a gift in an approach like this. And, once you’ve made contact in this way, you’re ready to open up a conversation about working together.

And her post inspired me to share a bunch more examples that are aligned with her approach. 

 

Guest Post: Slimy vs. Classy Marketing & Sales

by Tova Payne

Have you ever experienced slimy marketing? 

I have. It makes my stomach churn just thinking about it. Someone I had interacted with in an online networking group took a jab at me with a sleazy sales tactic. I thought: this is pretty lame and showcases a clear example of what NOT to do when it comes to marketing and sales. 

I’m turning my experience into today’s lesson:

We’ll take a look at the difference between slimy vs. classy marketing, and showcase how class and integrity go a long way in building a successful business.

Here’s what happened:

I got an e-mail out of the blue (which is what cold-calling is internet-style), that basically said: “Looks like your programs are fantastic. But until you fix you’re website I can’t refer anybody to you eventhough I want to. Luckily my course will help fix you right up. Join my course, you need it.”

Let’s break down why this kind of marketing is so bad (if you aren’t already laughing in disbelief). 

First of all, she never opened up a dialogue with me. 

Since business is about relationships—you first need to meet the person. 

If you are going to write somebody out of the blue—somebody who has never been a past client, or somebody who has never reached out to you for help, you need to start off saying hi. Introduce yourself first. And then, ask them if they want to hear more about your topic. 

Basically—say hi and find out if they even want to know what you have to offer. Don’t force-feed your opinions on others. 

Don’t be manipulative. Telling someone their work is great, but that you can’t refer people because of image is bullshit (or extremely shallow). When you believe someone’s work is great, and if you really want to refer others—you will. So please—don’t ever buy into this line. It is total B.S

Don’t put someone down just to show off how you can be the saviour. That stinks. Seriously, this is where the negative connotations and images of marketing come from. 

Basically, don’t try to bully someone into thinking they need you. Don’t ever put somebody down to sell your product. That is what Slimy Marketing 101 is about. It doesn’t work. And if you get someone who falls for it, it won’t last for long-term business building (and p.s—please don’t fall for this). 

Look—if you’re in business you need to participate in marketing and sales, especially if you’re a start-up. However there is a classy and kind way to do it.

Here’s the thing: marketing is another way of saying: sharing and sales is another word for saying caring.

Seriously—if you have something you think is fantastic—you will tell everyone about it (marketing) and if you really care about helping someone you will do your best to make sure they recieve what they need (sales).

This is why it’s important to create a positive mindset around marketing and sales. If you see it from the eyes of sharing and caring—of course you’d wake up everyday excited to get your message, product, and service out there.

But it’s important that you market and sell from a place of humanity and kindness. 

Mean marketing stinks of desperation. Don’t do it. You’re better than that. Instead be kind. You can share what you have with the world in a kind and classy way.

So it’s all about how you do it.

Let me spell it out

Marketing + Sales = Sharing + Caring

This means: 

Yes, tell people about what you have to offer. This is what newsletters, blogs, webinars, videos, and sales pages are for.

Yes, contact people who you think may be a good fit for what you have to offer and people who have reached out to you asking for help.

Yes, you can “cold call” or “cold write” someobody. But do it from a place of caring and focus on building a relationship first. Remember, if you met someone in real-life—how would you start the conversation? Treat people like humans. They are real and they have feelings. Be kind.

If you cold-call/cold-write—come from a place of curiosity. Ask the prospect if they are interested in hearing more about your subject matter. This is a good lead into building the relationship and seeing if they are even interested in the product or service you have.

Yes, share some free advice to show people that you know what you’re talking about.

Yes, be kind and loving when you tell people what you have to offer.

Here is what NOT to do:

Do not put someone down to try to make them feel bad and vulnerable so that their confidence takes a hit and they feel they need your product or service to get better.

Do not tell someone that they are doing something wrong if they haven’t asked.

Do not give unsolicited advice in a private e-mail if the prospect never reached out to you.

If you sincerely feel you can help somebody introduce yourself. You can let someone know about what you do and what you’re passionate about. There is no need to put a prospect down in order to share what you have to offer. 

If you truly believe somebody is doing something that can hurt them, share with them some free information that can truly help them.

So let’s put this all into perspective. Had that e-mail I recieved gone something like this, it would have been classy:

E-mail 1:

Hi. I think your work is fantastic. Let me know if you’re interested in some free tips that I think you may find helpful.

Aha! That would have piqued my curiosity and probably would have recieved a reply.

Email 2:(remember this is what relationship building is)

Oh awesome, Im so excited to share this with you. Ok here are 3 things that I think you might find helpful: {list 3 helpful things} … Please let me know what you think. I hope that helps!

That’s what it means to be helpful and show off your expertise. Dont tell someone you’re amazing, SHOW them.

Then, I’d definitely reply to such a helpful e-mail. When somebody is helpful, they are memorable and seen in a positive light. In my mind, I would have seen this person as generous, smart, and may have even gone on to hire them or refer them!

And finally, Email 3:

Oh Great. I’m so happy that helped. If you want more tips or strategies I have a course you may be interested in—here is the link. Let me know if you want to talk about it and we can set up a time to chat. Otherwise, I wish you the best.

Aha. You know what? Whether I purchased or not, in my mind I’d see this person as kind, helpful, be a possible future customer or defintley help support and refer her. 

Do you see the difference now between slimy marketing versus classy marketing?

What I received was a sample of slimy marketing—there’s no need to put someone down in order to go for the sale.

What would have worked? The example I just gave you—build rapport, be helpful, and then move towards discovery: find out if the person is interested in what you have.

Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it takes more effort. Yes, it takes generosity, and seeing the other person as a human and not just a pocket-book.

Remember—slimy marketing oozes of desperation. It may work on some people, but it won’t take you far. And it could earn you a bad reputation.

Be kind first. Open the dialogue. Give first. If you are truly helpful—people will remember you, buy from you or atleast support and tell others about you (which is worth way more than a quick sale).

Now go on—get out there. Market and sell with kindness and class. There are people who need you. 

tovaTova Payne Bio:

Tova’s an Author and Business Coach to Soulful Entrepreneurs. She helps her clients turn business dreams to reality by giving the practical strategies and soulful practices that help you go from idea to finished product. For your free guide on 5 Keys to Starting and Finishing your Dream Project and weekly tips to grow your business sign up with Tova at www.tovapayne.com

Come hang out with Tova on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TovaPayneEmpoweredLiving

And say on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TovaPayne

 

 

Personally, I would reword Email #1 in this way:

Hi. I think you’re work is fantastic. I came across it (tell them how you did and how long ago). I really love (tell them specifically what you love). I was wondering if you were wanting to/struggling with (name the problem you think you might be able to help them solve or the result you think you could help them achieve)? I was looking at your website/ebook etc. and had some thoughts I thought might be useful. Regardless, thank you so much for all of your good work.

The key thing here is that we don’t make the assumption that we can absolutely help them. We don’t assume they are even having the problem we can solve or want the result we offer. We’re genuinely asking just to see if it’s a fit. When we come from this place and, instead of trying to force everything into a single email, it becomes a conversation not a pitch.

This is the identical approach that I have used myself for years and years when approaching hubs. 

Start with a very brief, non-assumptive email to see if there’s a baseline fit and let it flow from there. Hubs are busy. Potential clients (even if not as busy as hubs) have no idea who the hell you are.

Like Tova, I’ve been approached in ways that instantly turned me off. And, I’ve saved a number of them because I knew that, one day, I would write a post like this. I’ve changed or removed the names.

Some people think I email them too many things from colleagues. But they have no idea how much I filter out. 

Let the horrors begin…

 

Eleven Examples of How Not to Approach a Hub:

Example #1: MLM Company

Hi!

Don’t worry this is not a spam message, I am the Webmaster of _________, just inquiring on selected high quality blogs like yours if you are open for guest posting opportunities. I have read your blog and thought that it is related to my site and therefore I am asking if I can share some insights or an article on your blog.

With this venture, we can help you in sharing your blog through our social networks and get some links for your site plus I can also get some exposure for my company.

I’ve actually prepared a proposed topic for your blog:

*Online Marketing: Money in Every Click
*Earn Money the Fast Way with Internet
*Market Online, Earn Big Time
*Building A Career Through Multi-level Networking
*MLM is The Ladder to Success
*MLM: The Secret of Rising Companies

Just choose a topic that you like but if you want me to write a different topic, I will be glad doing that also. For reference of my writing style, kindly visit my personal blog: (http://website.com)

Thank you for your time and consideration. Just e-mail me back for your response.

Sincerely,
__________ Webmaster

My take: This reads like a form email. But only, to be fair, because it is a form email. I’m a selected ‘high quality blog’? How wonderful. I’m so flattered by the generic compliment. So meaningful. He asks if I’m open to guest posting opportunities. He could have just sent that as an email and he would have gotten a response. ‘Hey there, are you open to guest posts?’. Short and sweet. It’s not the best option but it likely would have gotten a reply like, ‘Sometimes. Can you tell me more?’ And then we’re in a conversation.

He tells me he’d share my blog through his social networks but I have no idea if they’re a fit or how large his networks are. And then, he shares to topics. They’re all MLM focused. None of them resonate with me in particular. 

This isn’t the worst email but it would have worked better with a shorter first email.

Example #2: Promote My Book, Please?

Greetings Tad, I am Jane Doe I am a book author and writer aged 20. My Book is called __________. the book is an inspirational book aimed at anyone who has a dream to achieve. The reason I am contacting you is that I need a hand with marketing, can you email your fans and bloggers and inform them about my book?God Bless!

This email is very sweet and sincere. But I’m not going to email my entire list about a book I’ve never read from a stranger. I love that she had the gumption to ask and a slower, relationship building approach might have yielded more fruit. 

Example #3:  Share My Page, Please?

Hey, i’m just getting my page going and was wondering if you could please help me out with a share? Thanks a ton

Is it too much to ask for some foreplay?

I’ve never met this person. I have no idea who they are. Why would I share their page? What’s in it for me? The spirit of this kind of email misses, so deeply, the nature of being a hub. When you’re a hub, you are very careful about what you endorse or send out. 

Example #4: Share My Blog, Please?

Hello,
Would you be interested in networking?
It would be awesome if you could write a blog post about my business www.website.com with a couple anchored keywords.
In exchange I would give your Facebook page a bunch of shares on www.Facebook.com/pagename
or on www.facebook.com/otherpagename
or on www.facebook.com/stillanotherpagename
or a combination of them, whatever helps you the most.
Let me know if you’re interested? Thanks!

“It would be awesome if you could write a blog post about my business”… something about that didn’t feel great. Very assumptive. Like, “You know what would be awesome. You dating me. It would be awesome if you could do that.”

If, instead, they’d said something like the following, they’d have gotten a response.

“Hey there, I am a big fan of your blog and I have a few businesses that I thought might be a fit to be featured on it but I wasn’t sure and wasn’t even sure if you do that sort of thing. So, I thought I’d touch base. Thanks for all that you do.”

Example  #4: Share My Completely Irrelevant Blog, Please?

Hi there,

How are you? This is NAME from USA. I have a keen interest in studying metal treatment and I love to share my knowledge with people. I have my personalized Blog specially dealing with Metal Rust.
Basically, I wanted to touch base with you to check if you accept posts from other writers to publish on your blog? I would too like to contribute my uniquely written creative posts about Metal Treatment on your site. We all know that metals have become a part of our daily life, especially Stainless Steel. I would like to share a few points about how they can be maintained. That will offer a real value to your readers as well.

The following link will lead you to a recent Guest Post that I have written.
http://completelyirrelevantblogpost.com/

Please let me know your thoughts. Looking forward to hear from you soon!

No response was given.

Example #5: Want to Share a Totally Off Topic Blog, Please?

Hi

I have noticed you’ve had a number of guest blogs on http://marketingforhippies.com before, including this post on eco-friendly advertising:

http://marketingforhippies.com/eco-friendly-advertising/

I just wondered if you would be interested in publishing a blog on “Seven appliances you didn’t know were costing you money”?

I’ve attached the blog for your consideration.

If you have any questions or feedback then please get in touch. Alternatively, if you’re interested in any other type of guest blog, please let me know also.

Thanks,

Ahhh! He started so strong! He mentioned my website name! He even named a particular blog he liked! And then …. what? How did he think that topic would fit a blog about marketing. It makes no sense. And why would I contact him for another type of blog post? Who are you appliance man? Who arrrre youuuuu?

Example #6: May I Totally Confuse You, Please?

Hi Tad,

Hope all is well.

I recently attended an event with Kenny and his wife who are wonderful heart-centered people. I made them aware of a Consciousness Party that I Am hosting in Calgary that I would love to drop into a deeper conversation with you around.

If this is something that feels right for you can reach me at  .

Take good care.

in Heartfelt Appreciation,
Name
P.S. You can also text me at __________

What? I have no idea what she’s asked about. At all. What is the Consciousness Party? Why should I care? What kind of conversation does she want to have with me and why? Whaaaa?

So, in confusion, I replied.

hey there,

sorry for the delay. can you give me a nutshell of what it is you’d like to talk with me about around this?

– t

To which she replied.

Hello Tad,

Hope all is well in your world.

I appreciate You taking the time to get back to my request.

I Am at an Amazing part in my life and fully embracing that the challenges I’ve experienced are now my gift. I Am honouring my true authentic power and my desire to align myself with those that embody the same essence.

Kenny had mentioned that You would be a powerful connection for the Consciousness Party that I Am creating in Calgary the evening of DATE. I Am flying up a woman who has been doing training for Google to share some of her expertise with those that attend.

I would love the opportunity to share more about this experience with You and if it feels right intention for You then You may choose to share it with your community.

Take good care.

WHAT IS THIS PARTY?! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME?!

Pro Tip: Never ever, ever confuse a hub. They will write you off so fast. For a hub, the most valuable commodity is their time. Do not waste it. 

Her follow up email confused me even more. Why is there a woman doing a training for Google at a party? Why do I care? And what’s up with all of the strange capitalization?

Example #7: Can We Book a Time to Talk, Please?

This one isn’t bad! I’d make it shorter first see if I’m even open to exploring join ventures but this email is okay.

Hello Tad,

My name is ______ and I’m the Joint Venture Manager for _________, founder of Coaching Business Name. We found your website and your work seems to be aligned with us and what we love to promote! I’d like to connect with you to see how we can best support each other in 2013! I’d like to learn what you’re planning for this year and share a few things from our promotional calendar.

To schedule an appointment, could you fill out some brief information by clicking on the link below. This will help us see what may be a best match and how to best serve your organization.

http://websitename.com/jvsurvey

Our goal is to build synergistic relationships that are profitable and fun on all levels using the spiritual principles we teach and practice. We have an experienced JV Team in place capable of handling every aspect of any type of campaign or promotion.

Hope to speak to you or someone in your organization soon!

So, this one isn’t terrible but it’s a bit assumptive. I don’t know why it feels like a fit for them. There’s an assumption in the email that there is a fit here and we just need to figure it out. And, for me, whenever a stranger emails me saying ‘How can I help you?’ I read that as ‘I actually want you to help me but I figure that I’ve got a better chance of getting that if it seems like I want to help you.’ 

Example #8: Can You Promote My Unrelated Program, Please?

Okay. This one is longer so I’ll pull it apart piece by piece.

Aug. 30, 2012

Hello Ted Hargrave,

You misspelled my name. And used my full name (this makes you seem like spam or my angry mother and neither of associations those help you).

My name is ______; I’m a high school principal with an area of expertise that I believe many on your list of contacts would welcome hearing about: Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

What? How do you see the connection between Emotional Intelligence and marketing? I don’t get it. What problem does this solve for my clients?

I’ve created a School for Emotional Intelligence with a 6 week program entitled _____________. It’s a telecourse so people living anywhere can access it. I deliver it live weekly, repeat it regularly, and I provide e-mail support and enrichment after every lesson.

Why do I care about the details when I don’t see the relevance of the offer? I don’t.

My program sells for $197 and the affiliate commission for each referral is $100. Would you like to partner with me as an affiliate in a joint venture by informing your contacts my course exists?

This fellow is making the false assumption that the only reason I would spread the word about something is to make some money. I’m not against making money but, talking commission comes in Email #2 at the earliest. Likely not til Email #3. The most important thing is, ‘Is there even a fit?’. 

If so, I’d be honored to work with you.

Naturally, before you’ll consider promoting my program, you’ll want to know these 3 things:

You’re already telling me what I want? Old Man Ted Hargrave is cranky.

1 – That having high Emotional Intelligence is a great asset which will interest a significant percentage of those whom you contact. (Many people already realize that Emotional Intelligence is strongly correlated with performance and productivity – at work, at home, and at school – so they will understand its value either for themselves, or their children, or both.)

How is this relevant to my people???? I don’t care how abstractly valuable this is. I care if this is useful to my clientele.

2 – That I have the knowledge and skill to teach my program at a high level. (My websites include my qualifications and testimonials.)

I don’t care unless this is relevant. But I’m sure that will be your next point.

3 – That you’ll be assured of receiving your commissions. You can collect the tuitions yourself if you prefer, and send me my share when the course is over. Or I can do that using a company with affiliate tracking software to identify all your referrals and credit them to you (they’d register via your affiliate link).

I don’t care. Strike three.

If you wish, I’d be happy to help you promote my program to your contacts. How?

I’m sure you would. 

1 – I could conduct a free preview teleseminar so they could easily judge for themselves if my program is a good fit for them or their children. If they then want to register for it, they would, of course use your unique affiliate link to ensure you are properly credited.

2 – I can provide a sales e-mail for you to copy, and then forward to your contacts. (Modify it any way you wish.)

I don’t care. 

You can view the details of my program – and its benefits – on either of my websites. One is for adults who desire to enhance their own Emotional Intelligence; the other is for their teenage children.

Ah. I see. To see how this might be relevant I need to go to your website. So, you’re making me work for something in which I currently see no value at all. Right.

www.websitename.com (specifically for youth)

www.websitename2.com (for adults)

Thank you for whatever consideration you grant this proposal. If you are interested, please contact me. And if you have no interest, I’d really appreciate an e-mail just to say, “No thanks,” so I’ll know not to bother you with any follow-up to this.

Say what? You’re now pushing me to respond? You’re putting that subtle obligation on me after totally wasting my time in reading this? No sir.

I can’t offer a cross promotion of what you offer (I’m on your list) since I lack any list of my own. That’s why I’m reaching out to you as a potential affiliate. I believe we can both benefit.

Sincerely,

name

contact info

P.S. If you promote my program, it will prove to be a win-win-win:

1 – Those completing the course – teens or adults – will enhance their EQ (and EQ correlates with happiness more than IQ).
2 – You’ll be providing value to your contacts, and you’ll also receive $100 for all who take the course.
3 – I’ll earn a portion of each tuition, plus the opportunity to share my expertise with a new audience.

You have not shown me how this will be a win to my list. I do not see the fit at all.

Thanks again for considering this. I look forward to your response – either way. And should you choose not to become involved, I wish you every success in what you are already doing.

I like this last line. That’s very kind of him.

I have no doubt he is a very good man who is offering something very good to the world. But, the email he sent is a pitch, not an opening of a conversation. It’s so long. And he doesn’t clarify why he thinks it’s relevant to my people. When a hub gets the feeling that, ‘this email could be going to anyone… this is a template…’ the chances are extremely high that you will lose their attention.

Example #9: Can You Promote My TeleSummit, Please?

Hi Tad,

I hope you are doing well. I would like to invite you to collaborate with us at “WebsiteName.com” and speak in one of our upcoming virtual events, possibly in January.

My name is John Doe, I have developed BusinessName to provide valuable and relevant marketing and personal development information and resources to coaches, consultants, and other service professionals and connect them with the best experts in the industry.

I was on one of your calls and would love to collaborate and share your thoughts with others. Also, I would like to invite you to our January Virtual Event that is about developing a 6 figure business.

http://www.websitename.com/jan-2013-6-figure-marketing-mindset-strategies

I would like to discuss these opportunities with you as soon as possible, when would be a good time to connect with you?

Mike

This one isn’t too bad. But, when someone says, ‘We’d like to invite you to speak at an event’ how I hear that (as someone who is approached all the time) is ‘We’d like you to promote our event with at least one solo email to your list and we figure getting you, who has a sizable following, to do that is to have you as a guest speaker.’  This actually seems like it could be relevant to my people. But, again, if it had started with some brief and specific appreciation and an opening question like, ‘Do you speak in telesummits these days?’ or ‘I’ve been working on something that I think could be of some use to the life coach and service provider types on your list in helping them with _______ problem’ or something, it might have grabbed me more. This seems relevant but generic. And, the whole six figure thing feels a bit burned out these days for me.

Example #10: I’m Famous So Promote Me, Please?

Again, I’m going to insert comments throughout this one because it’s a bit longer.

Hi Tad:

You spelled my name right! You’re doing much better than that last fellow…

You were recommended! Some points:

Wait… recommended by whom? For what?

¨ We live in Brentwood Bay, BC – just a few seconds away from Butchart Gardens

Nice.

¨ We have run an international company for 20 years

Okay…

¨ We are known for our Life and Business Coach Training

Are you?…

¨ I am famous in India as NAME but not well known outside of India

Okay… That sounds feasible but also kind of bragging. And… I think India is full of a lot of famous people.

¨ I am a Canadian best-selling author of many books including my latest release Book Name

Hrmm. It’s not hard to become a best seller by getting #1 on Amazon for two minutes. But that’s different than being a best seller for a few weeks. 

¨ I am the developer of multi-award winning coaching and leadership methodologies

You seem to be working very hard to impress me and I still have no idea why you’re writing me. 

¨ I am the developer of human potential products that would blow your mind. They are very powerful. For example, Product Name.

Aaaand you’re really starting to lose me. Arrogance is incredibly unattractive.

¨ We would like to work with an ethical company who is willing to make several million dollars from our human potential products.

This sounds like someone on the edge of delusion and who takes themselves very seriously. Danger Will Robinson. Danger.

¨ I have many of these human potential products wishing to come out of my head as soon as we launch the current ones! (My husband and Co-President John tells me to stop creating and start marketing!)

Your husband is a wise man. And I know the feeling about having so many products in your head. Totally. I’m feeling connected to you here.

¨ We would like this ethical marketing company to work on the basis of “you develop the strategies and implement them to make the millions and you then share in the financial glory”.

Ahhh. Translation, ‘You work for free for a long time and maybe make some money. If it fails it will be 100% because of your terrible marketing. Definitely not because of us. Because we’re amazing. As I think we might have mentioned (amazing!)’

¨ Please don’t look at our main website and think “Oh my God, these people need work.” We know we need work and are working on it.

Thank you for being human! I feel connected to you again.

¨ Your job would not be to help us fix our main website which is mainly about our services. Your job is to help us market our incredible products – not our services.

Ah! I am finally getting clear about what you want! And I totally don’t offer that service. If she had just emailed me saying, “I was wondering if you help other people market their products for them. Is that something you do?” she would have gotten her answer so much faster.  

If you are interested in this fab opportunity to work with some very cool, spiritual and values-based folks, let’s set up an interview .

I think I’d think you were cooler and more spiritual if you didn’t keep telling me you were. 

We require that you be honest, loving and compassionate. Only marketing tactics with integrity are tolerated.

Oh! Requirements on me already? I’m already being asked to jump through hoops to prove myself so you can bring me on to work for free?

PS Are you raw vegan? Just noticed a mention on your site. I have been vegan for years and love the raw vegan movement. Very cool.

Not anymore. 

With God’s Love from another Hippie!

I like that ending.

So I replied to make sure I was clear.

hey there,

thanks for reaching out. just home from a big trip to the uk. just to clarify, you’re wanting to get some marketing support and guidance and are considering me and your thought is for the payment to be in commissions in some way?

– t

She wrote back…

Hi Tad: 

Happy Friday to you!

When we work with apps builders, we give them 50% of the revenue because of the enormous amount of work they put into the creation of the end product.

It’s a sound partnership because everyone has the same amount of influence in the success of the product.

For the rest of our products, where possible, we see a similar relationship. It’s a partnership. We have developed these extraordinary products. You, if the shoe fits, would develop the strategy to take them to the world in multiple languages and implement the strategy.

For the shoe to fit, you must be honest, ethical, passionate about our products and be noble in your marketing efforts. Nothing less would be accepted.

The company who wears the shoe would have the opportunity to put these products into the hands of all ages, in every country. From that opportunity they would see huge transformation happening in hearts and minds of corporate and government folks as well as Moms, Dads and children.

This, more than the revenue which would be substantial, is the real reason for joining hands with us. J

Blessings,

Again. The demands on me don’t feel great. I feel like I’m already being scolded. And her level of belief in the power of her products to change the world… is a bit disconcerting. I don’t feel a lot of humility and humanity here. I didn’t pursue this further.

Example #11: Promote My Women’s Group, Please?

The following email came from a woman who I didn’t know very well. Just out of the blue.

 

“Namaste Tad, I’m starting a free women’s group in CityName, including one hour meditation, sharing info, workshop, and just listening and receiving, we would love it if you could send me the first five female leaders that come to your mind, via Facebook, thanks, have a super fabulous day in the sunshine.”

What this has going for it is that it’s short and to the point. I’m very clear what she’s doing and what she’s asking of me. But this felt a little bit too assumptive and she posted it on my new profile picture rather than in a message. That felt strange. If you want to ask a favour, ask me personally and in private Why would I connect her with my key women’s leaders in her city (and I know many) if I don’t know her? This is an example of asking for too much too soon.

 

Four Examples of How to Reach Out To Hubs Well

Example #1: Can I Speak at Your Venue?

My dear colleague and client Russell Scott of www.truesourceseminars.com is looking to book a lot of talks for his wonderful work. Below are the emails we came up with together that he would use when reaching out to new age bookstores, yoga studios etc. This approach is deeply inspired by the work of Ari Galper on Cold Calling which you can learn more about at www.unlockthegame.com. His end of the whole conversation is basically mapped out. He can tweak these to suit their response, but their responses are going to be fairly predictable. 

Having this all mapped out makes the process of reaching out to hubs better for them and so much easier for you. We do a similar things when reaching out to guest experts for www.GreenDrinksYeg.com 

E-mail 1

I was wondering if you can help me out?

I was wondering if you ever bring in guest speakers or facilitators to present talks or workshops and who would I ask about this? (I am an author and an international seminar/retreat leader.)

I wasn’t sure if you book speakers or who to talk about this?

E-mail 1 (a) if they don’t get back 

I was just following up on my e-mail a few days ago.

No pressure but I was wondering if you ever bring in guest speakers or facilitators to present talks or workshops and who would I ask about this? (I am an author and an international seminar/retreat leader.)

I wasn’t sure if you book speakers or who to talk about this?

E-mail 2

Thanks so much for taking the time to get back to me.  I am sure you are very busy.

Here’s the nutshell: I am the author of the book “Awakening the Guru in You” and I have a new talk (related to my book) that is getting a great response and that I thought might be of interest to your community. There’s more info at this link: http://www.truesourceseminars.com/articles/from-confusion-to-clarity-an-experiential-workshop.html

I am not sure if it is a fit for your community but I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

I also give talks on other topics:

The Fulfillment Factor – the one thing that affects everything else in life

Beyond Belief – how to get unstuck and get moving in your life

Deep Calling – finding meaning and purpose in life

And, if these aren’t a fit, I’d be grateful for your guidance on good places to explore. Any support is warmly appreciated. 

Email 3

Here’s what has worked in the past for people like yourself in a similar business:

Let me know how long you want the talk. I can craft the talk to fit an hour or 2 hour time slot.

We set a date and time for the workshop preferably 6 to 8 weeks from now. 

You charge what you want for the talk and keep the proceeds or give a percentage to me according to what you usually do.  It would be good to have a discount for people that sign-up before the event. I can set-up a notice on Eventbrite for you if you like.

I’ll promote the talk to my network and provide you with a link to my website and promotional material: a poster, timed e-mails you can send to your list, pre-written facebook and twitter notices and even a blog-post if you want.

You promote the talk to your network of contacts and any other way you choose to let your community of people know about the event. This way the more people you get, the better it is for you.

At the beginning of the talk you can take a few minutes to tell the attendees about your business and then introduce me. I’ll provide you with a short bio.

At the end of the talk I’ll pass out a feedback form and let people know that they can sign-up for a complimentary mentorship session with me or request more information about what I do. I will not be doing any enrolling of people into any of my offerings at the workshop.

I’ll make my book available for purchase at the end of the talk.

How does this all sound to you? Do you have any questions?

 

Example #2: Can You Help Promote My Workshop Tour, Please?

When I was doing a tour of the Kootenays with my workshops I was faced with the reality that I knew almost no one. So, one thing I did was find a local New Age Magazine and start emailing people who had ads in it. A 100% cold approach. I normally wouldn’t recommend this but my options were slim.

hey jennifer,

i was wondering if you could help me.

i saw your profile in the holistic section of In The Koots and i thought you might have some ideas.

there’s a day long, pay what you can, marketing workshop i’m leading for holistic practitioners in Nelson this Friday (last minute – tied into a roadtrip and thought ‘why not?’) and it’s my first time doing anything in nelson. and i thought you might have some ideas on good places to spread the word about it. any guidance is so warmly appreciated. and nooo pressure. im sure you’re busy.

i hope your summer is going well :-)

Notice the lack of assumption in that email. And notice that I’m not even asking her for her help directly. I’m just asking for advice. My friend Julian Faid once shared some advice his father had given him, ‘If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.’ This is so true. If you ask someone for money, they’ll often say, “You know how you get money…” and give you ideas. If you ask for their advice on how to get it, it takes all the pressure off and, if they see that it’s a fit for the kind of thing they might want to fund, they’ll say, “I could fund this…”.

I’ve found that starting with asking humbly for advice opens up conversations in a much warmer way (and results in you getting some amazing leads and ideas you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise). 

When someone gave me a name of someone to reach out to for the tour, I’d send some version of the following:

hey there ali,

aga suggested i drop you a line.

there’s a day long, pay what you can, marketing workshop i’m leading for holistic practitioners in Nelson this Friday (last minute – tied into a roadtrip and thought ‘why not?’) and it’s my first time doing anything in nelson. and aga thought you might have some ideas on good places to spread the word about it. any guidance is so warmly appreciated. and nooo pressure. im sure you’re busy.

i hope your summer is going well :-)

– tad

And, of course, The Kootenays are full of holistic healing schools which are a huge hub for me. So I’d send them some version of this email.

hey there,

i was wondering if you could help me.

there’s a workshop in Nelson this Friday that i thought might be of interest to some of your students and alumni – but i wasn’t sure who to talk to at your academy.

i hope your summer is going well.

warmest,
– tad

And then there were the holistic centers, spas and massage studios. They got this kind of email:

hey there,

i was wondering if you could help me.

there’s a workshop in Nelson this Friday that i thought might be of interest to some of your staff and associates – but i wasn’t sure who to talk to at your center about it all.

i hope your summer is going well.

warmest,
– tad

I got a very positive and helpful response to all of these emails and responses from most of the people. 

 

Example #3: Would You Help Me Promote My Workshop, Please?

When I was leading a workshop in Toronto that wasn’t filling as fast as I would have liked, I sent out some emails like this to local hubs. Please note: these are all friends and colleagues with whom there’s already some existing trust. And these were sent as individual emails, not a big group email. Though, in a pinch, you can get away with a group email to hubs who know and love you. 

hey there,

I’m going to be running another weekend workshop for holistic practitioners (and also invited eco-permaculture practitioner types too). It’s happening Nov 25-27th.

I think it’s going to be swell.

I could totally use a hand spreading the word about it. I was wondering if you would have five minutes to help? I’ve got something prewritten you can send out. I find it works best when people just email like 3-5 folks personally who they think might benefit and enjoy. and i figured you might know some folks in the scene.

Would you be down?

Warmest,
Tad

The typical response?

Dear Tad:
Of course. Just send it on!
Hope you’re doing well.

My response to that (already pre-written) was…

thank you!

so, this is the generic thing – feel free to tweak it as needed. putting it on facebook helps but i still find that the very most useful thing is when people take a minute or two to really consider particular folks who might be a fit for this and then send a personal email (edited template) to them telling them about it. it only takes five minutes but seems to have so much more impact. i’m super grateful.

‘Hey there,

A colleague of mine, Tad Hargrave, is holding a marketing workshop designed just for holistic practitioners and permaculture practitioner types and I thought you might be interested in attending yourself. It’s happening next weekend.

for more info or to register you can go to: http://www.marketing101forholisticpractitioners.com/weekend.php

let me know if you decide to go?

Again, instead of putting it all into one big pitch-based email, break it up into a few emails. Let is breathe a bit. 

 

Example #4: How Tova Approached Me to Write this Guest Blog Post

This blog post would certainly not be complete without showing how gracefully and graciously Tova landed this guest blog post (which I have, appallingly, hijacked).

Here was the first email she sent me on April 20th.

Hi Tad
My name is Tova, a fellow-Canadian out here in Vancouver :)
I love what you’re about, and especially love that you focus on marketing without sacrificing our integrity.
I wrote a post about this, which has not yet been published anywhere. I thought of you & your audience first, and wanted to see if you were interested in giving it a view. 
The subject is: Slimy VS Classy Marketing & Sales.
Please let me know if you would like me to send it over for your review.
And I wish you a wonderful weekend. Thanks for your consideration!
 
This whole email is perfect. She introduces herself warmly and makes the fellow Canadian connection. She moves to a specific appreciation that lets me know this is not a form email. And then she tells me about a post she’s already written. Honestly, when I saw that this was about a guest post, my heart sank a bit. I get so many of these requests. But then I saw the title. ‘That’s perfect for my audience!’ I thought. She then asked if I’d like to see it and ended with warm wishes and a humbled ‘thanks for your consideration!’. What’s not to love?
 
I replied.
 

tova,i’d love to explore that. can you send it to me in early june? i’m about to go into a busy season and don’t want to lose it.- t

 
She agreed and on June 3rd sent me the blog post. Which it then took me two weeks to read. And was brilliant. I’m so glad she didn’t offer it to anyone else and that I get to share it with you here.

 

Eight Key Points to Take from All of This:

  • A Short First Email: Make the goal of the first email to cut straight to the chase to see if there’s any possibility of a fit. If they’re even open to what you’re offering at all.
  • A Non Assumptive Approach: Don’t assume it’s a fit. Don’t assume they want what you’re offering.
  • Make it a Conversation: Instead of sending them a pitch, send them an invitation to open a conversation. And then let the conversation flow naturally. Take your time with hubs. They may need to get to know you first. It’s worth the investment. Take your time. Don’t propose marriage in the first email.
  • Be Okay With No: I might not want to say yes to this but there might be something i could say yes to down the road. If you’re gracious about my refusal, I am way more likely to be open to you in the future.  
  • Be Humble: Do not position it as an honour to work with you. That makes you seem arrogant. What impresses people isn’t over-confidence, it’s meeting someone who is composed and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Be Clear: Don’t confuse your hubs. 
  • Be Patient: Hubs are busy. It will take a long time to get a reply. Let it wait. Don’t push it. It’s okay to check in but don’t guilt trip them.
  • Ask for Advice: Consider asking for advice before asking for support from them. It gives them time to get to know you. If you ask for my advice and show me how well you used it, this will win me over big time. 

 

The Three Roles of Marketing

This is one of those things that is actually very important to get about marketing that I talk about really seldomly but should probably talk about more. 

When people are working on their marketing, I think that, often, they don’t really understand the role that their marketing needs to play. Or I should say ‘roles’ because there’s more than one. 

To give credit where it’s due, I learned this first from the incredibly useful marketing book Monopolize Your Marketplace by Richard Harshaw.

Most ads fail to meet these criteria. They talk all about the business. Which no one cares about. People care about their problems and the results they want. That’s it. 

 

The Three Roles of Marketing

 

The First Role of Marketing: Get their attention.

This one is, of course, primary. If we don’t have people’s attention, there’s no conversation to be had. Marketing must, first and foremost, get their attention. 

This is much harder than it looks because of the sheer number of marketing messages people get every day. And the number of stimuli people receive even outside of that (e.g. social media, texts, friends, emails etc.). People are already overwhelmed and in a bit of a haze. To break through that haze is difficult. Certainly you can use the shock factor to do it. But that doesn’t last. You can use pictures of naked people. You can use expletives. But those lose their effect over time. You can write a shocking (but ultimately misleading) headline, but it will result in people feeling tricked and then you become the little boy who cried wolf. You say in your email subject line, “A vulnerable secret I’ve never shared with anyone before . . .” and then the secret you share is clearly not that. People feel duped. It’s why we hate and distrust marketing so much. We are feeling constantly lied to and played with.

But here are some thoughts that are vital.

  • do a good job and get word of mouth: this is the bottom line. If you help a lot of people solve a problem they have or get a result they’re craving, they will tell everyone they know about you. That’s how word of mouth works and, ultimately, how the most sustainable businesses grow. 
  • have a niche: nothing gets attention better than good old fashioned relevance. If your headline speaks directly to their life, they will want to read the rest. If they can see, right away (from your business name, the headline of your ads or the images you use) that you specialize in people just like them . . . you will have their attention. 
  • figure out where their attention is already going: the core of everything I know about marketing is all about identifying and working with hubs effectively. Meaning . . . getting attention is hard when you take the cold approach of cold calling, direct mail etc. They already see you as marketing. But, if you can figure out where their attention is already going, you’ve got a much better chance. If you can figure out where they’re already looking for solutions to the problems you solves, they’re more likely to notice you. If, instead of sending a direct mail piece out to a list you bought, you got someone who your ideal clients deeply respected to send out a letter endorsing you . . . You’ll likely be flooded with business. There are seven general types of hubs. 

 

The Second Role of Marketing: Help them figure out if it’s a fit. 

Once you have their attention, you don’t have it for long. Now they’re noticing you but . . . are you actually relevant to them?

In direct response marketing they talk about the AIDA formula. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Once you’ve got their attention you need to move on to interest. 

But, here’s where I disagree with many of my colleagues. I don’t think that the role of marketing is to get them interested. After all, who is ‘them’? Them could be anyone. Them is everyone. And you don’t want everyone as a client (you really, really don’t). 

Why not?

Not everyone is going to be a fit for you. And, if they’re not a fit, they will be clients from hell. They’ll have bad experiences and tell their friends about it. Too many clients who aren’t a bad fit will kill your business.

You want clients who are a perfect fit for your business.

So, the purpose of marketing should not be about convincing everyone to buy from you. It should be about helping everyone decide if you’re a good fit for them or not. In the book Monopolize Your Marketplace, they word it as ‘facilitating the decision making process’ meaning that your marketing should help make it easier for potential customers to decide whether hiring your is the right thing or not. 

But to do that, we need to understand who would be a perfect fit for us. And to do that we need to really understand what it is we are offering and how we want to offer it because, ultimately, your ideal client (and this is so incredibly obvious that we often miss it) will have to be (absolutely, truly has so to be) someone who needs what you’re offering and loves how you offer it. 

And that level of clarity can take time to come to. 

But, once that clarity is there, then marketing becomes less about seducing and more about filtering. 

I wrote an epic blog post you can use to ask yourself some key questions about who your ideal client might be here

 

The Third Role of Marketing: Lower the risk of taking the next step. 

This is something that used to be the core of what I teach and that I haven’t written about much but intend to in the coming year. 

It’s vital.

I first came across this concept from Jay Abraham. But it shows up everywhere in marketing.

Here’s why this role matters. 

Someone could come across what you offer (you have their attention) and totally fall in love with it (it’s a fit) and still not buy.

Sometimes that has to do with timing. Sometimes it just takes awhile for it to be the right time. I imagine there’s a workshop or two you’d love to attend but the timing hasn’t worked out yet. Normal.

But very often it’s a matter of risk. Meaning: they’re scared that if they buy from you they’re going to either lose out on something they have or they won’t get something they want.

Those risks can be everything from: the fear of looking stupid, having to explain such a big purchase to a spouse, losing money on it, it not working and being a huge waste of time, the fear of getting ones hopes up only to be disappointed (again). So many risks. 

And most entrepreneurs are totally blind to this. They’re never put themselves in the shoes of their clients and asked themselves, ‘what might be scary about making this purchase?’.

It’s why bakeries, grocery stores and perfume shops give out free samples. It’s why you see so many ‘enter your email to get this ebook/video/free gift’ on people’s websites (I wrote a guide on how to build your email list by doing this for your website here). It’s why ice cream shops let you try a pink spoon of ice cream before you buy. ‘Try before you buy’ is not a new idea. It helps people move beyond just an intellectual relevance into action. It’s why you see so many websites with lots of videos. It’s why blogs work. They build the know like and trust factor. It’s why it’s important to not only offer big expensive things, but to also offer less expensive ones – so people can get to know you and take a step towards working with you. 

*

So, that’s it. Those are the three steps.

Look at every piece of marketing you ever do through the lense of these three roles.

Look at every part of your marketing strategy through the lense of these three roles. Every tactic.

 

 

 

 

 

40 minute video interview on authentic marketing with nash ryker

The other day I did a forty minute video interview with Nash Ryker of http://yourepicdestinytv.com/.

We got to talk about some new ideas I have been having around authentic marketing, especially:

You can watch it here

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 1.01.52 PM

the four generations of opt in marketing

2182_Four-generations-20120811-1-958x538This is an email primarily about how to build a solid following and, primarily, how to get people to ‘opt in’ to receive your email newsletter.

I want to submit that there have been four generations of approaches to getting permission to be in touch with potential clients. And that what worked four generations ago, isn’t the best approach today.

But let’s start here: A lot of people focus on ‘getting their name out there’ in marketing.

And they justify a lot of useless activity with it. They go to networking events and not only give their cards to everyone but leave them on every table and they think, ‘Yup! Sure got my name out there tonight!’ They put their brochures in bookshoppes and cafes all over town, they put ads in all sorts of places, and try to drive people to their website (maybe even successfully) and they think, ‘Awesome. I am so getting my name out there.’

This kind of thinking might result in some business but I think it’s the wrong goal. I think that we want to get their name in here.

Let me explain: If you’re at a networking event, it is far more powerful to get 10 business cards from others into your pocket than to get a hundred of your business cards into their pockets. Because, if you have their business cards, you can follow up with them. You can take a next step in building a relationship with them. If not, you are stuck waiting and hoping.

And hope is not a strategy.

Put another way, let’s say you got a million people to visit your website in the next month. Sounds awesome, right?

But what if, instead of a million visitors, I gave you 10,000 new perfect-fit people for your email list?

The 10,000 on your email list is more valuable in the long-term. These are people you can stay in touch with and build a relationship with over time. These are the people who will spend money on you, hire you and tell their friends about you.

If I sent a million people to your website not much would happen.

Unless . . . unless you had a system to get those people to join your email list (and get their names in here). 

I want to suggest that there have been four generations of approaches on how to get people to opt in to be in touch with you and allow you to be in touch with them.

Generation #1: The Contact Me Page

When websites first began, there were no email newsletters. There was just a page with your contact info and, if they wanted to reach you they could email or call you.

The Downside: It’s a viable option but includes a bit of risk for the person reaching out. It also would only have people call you who were very close to being ready to buy. And if people were just shopping around, that’s a lot of your personal time answering questions. 

Generation #2: The Free Email Newsletter.

People have signed up to have newsletters mailed to them for many years. That’s not new, but, with the advent of email marketing, those newsletters could be free. I remember the first ‘free email newsletter‘ I saw was something simple like, ‘get a free inspirational quote every day’. And, at the time, that was really novel and exciting. For the first time, you could, for very little money, stay in touch with a large number of people and regularly add value to their lives. 

The Downside: The challenge with this approach now is that there are literally millions of email newsletters you could be on. Most of us are on so many lists that we don’t read. Some we got on because we participated in a telesummit or teleseminar and now we’re on their list, or because we joined years ago and have ignored it since. And some we follow regularly. 

But the bottom line is this: no one is excited to sign up for another free newsletter. No one. Now, if your website is extremely niched and your newsletter is targeted to helping a particular kind of person with a particular kind of problem people might want to. But, the idea of a free newsletter itself is absolutely no longer compelling. 

Generation #3: The Free ‘Opt In’ Gift

So, if an email newsletter isn’t that compelling, but to grow your business you need to stay in touch with people, what do you do? Should you just stop having the email newsletter? 

I don’t think so. I think your email list is the most valuable piece of property your business has. Social media lets you stay in touch but it won’t get the kinds of response rates an email list will have (unless you have a huge following). And, if your ideal client were to give it a try, they might really love.

So, how to get them to give it an honest try?

What a lot of people, myself included, have done is to offer a free gift to people for signing up. In some ways, free gift is a bit of a misnomer because what you’re really offering is a fair trade, ‘I’ll give you a lot of free advice and information if you sign up for my email list and give it a try’. 

The Free Opt In Gift could be an ebook, audio, a video, a quiz/assessment etc. There are a lot of options. The key is that it costs them no money, asks no risk of them and takes you no time to deliver. It’s a sample of your work that they can try to get a taste of what you do. It’s a pink spoon type offer that I spoke about in my blog ‘do you have a pink spoon in your marketing?

And the difference you’ll see between just saying, ‘sign up for my free email newsletter’ and ‘enter your email here to get this free gift and you’ll be added to my email newsletter too’ is huge. You will get very few sign ups with the former approach and many more with the latter. You’ll be shocked at the difference it makes if you take this approach.

The Downside: More and more people are doing this too. The idea of the free opt in gift is no longer rare. It’s almost expected. And, here’s the surprising twist, even resented.

That’s right, increasingly, people might even resent your free opt in gift.

And here’s why.

Imagine you come across a website. It seems like it’s targeted to people just like you! Amazing.

This website definitely seems relevant to what you’re going through. Now you want to find out more. So you read a bunch of generic stuff about the business but then there’s nothing else to read. No blog. No articles. No videos. You want to know more about their point of view and approach. You want to know their take on your situation.

But there’s nothing that tells you that. Which means you’re going to have to go through the rigamaroll of emailing them and asking them and who knows when they’ll respond and . . . WAIT there it is! There’s some free info – they’re offering a free video series on how to take some first steps at handling your issue.

Great!

But . . . wait . . . you have to enter your email for it. Shit. You’re already on too many email lists. You resent that, to just check them out, you have to sign up to be on another email list that you aren’t even sure you want to be on.

To make it clearer why this is an issue: imagine you go to an ice cream shop and you ask to try a sample of their ice cream – just a little pink spoon. But, instead of having you the pink spoon they hand you an iPad and ask you to enter your email first. You say, ‘Uhm. Why? I just want to see if I even like this flavour . . .’ And they inform you that you need to be on their email list before you try it. Holy backfiring coercion.

Another downside, a lot of people will just sign up for your free gift and then unsubscribe at the next email. This might be unavoidable but if they see you regularly have new content on your site or at least a tonne of free content, they’ll be a lot more likely to come back of their own accord to check you out.

Generation #4: The Non-Opt In Free Gifts + Opt In

So, what the hell? . . .

What are you supposed to do?

I don’t know for sure but here’s my theory on what’s next: a mix of opt in and non-opt in pink spoons for people to try. 

Give people some things they can check out for free, without having to sign up for a damn thing on your website. Let them try free samples of your bread at your bakery or soup at your restaurant. Let them get a taste of you without having to commit to anything. But also give them the option to get some extra special if they’re willing to take the risk to sign up. 

On this website you can read over 500 posts on my blog for free. There are case studies. There are over three hours of free video. And there’s also a 195 ebook called The Way of the Radical Business you can get if you sign up for my email list. 

I am a big fan of the idea of being a generosity based business. But, being real, I give away a lot more than I need to. You don’t need to offer even a fraction of what I do (out of laziness of turning them into sellable products (actually true)). You just need to offer people a taste. A sample. A way of understanding your point of view. Enough that they can know if it’s a fit to take the next step. 

People will respect this. They love it. They love being able to explore your take on things and get a bit of help without having to pay anything and it will build trust in you.

When people email me to ask for coaching, they’ve likely already been following me for years. They don’t haggle over price. They’ve decided they want to work with me. They’re also often very familiar with my approach to marketing which is wonderful and allows me to help them more. 

Now, if you’ve got a single teleseminar or course, it’s fine to have a squeeze page – just a simple page where the only option is to sign up. But, I think of your website as more your home. It’s a place where people can come to learn about you and if, overall, you are a fit for them. 

And this isn’t even to speak to the benefits of blogging and how that free content can drive traffic to your website or give you little pink spoons you can send to people at networking events and have you feel even more proud of your website.

I want to submit that this fourth generation will build a more solid relationship with your people over time than insisting they sign up for your email newsletter to find out anything about you.

If you want help developing your free opt-in gift, you might want to check out my ‘How To Create Your Free Gift‘ workbook.