A 16-Point Outline of a Solid Sales Letter

13285456_sSales letters get a bad rap.

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

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

It’s a dojo.

Sales letters force clarity on what might otherwise remain fuzzy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A 16-Point Outline of a Solid Sales Letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Who It’s Not For: This section should likely employ bullet points as well. This is such an important part of the sales letter. If there are certain things that would disqualify people from using this, name them clearly. If there is a certain worldview that isn’t a fit for what you’re offering, name that. Again, avoid banal statements like, “This isn’t a fit for you if you’re not someone who is willing to look honestly at their life.” Boo. Say something specific like, “This isn’t a fit for you if you don’t currently have 5 hours per week to put into this work.”

BONUS TIP: Whenever someone asks for a refund, ask them, “What was missing from my salesletter that could have let you known in advance that this wasn’t a fit for you?” Genuinely consider the client’s response and use it to clarify or flesh out this section.

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

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

10. Reasons to Buy Now: This is the section where you break down the core features and benefits of what you’re offering. This is where you paint the potential client a picture of how it might look, sound, and feel for them to go through your program and enjoy the results it’s offering. You tell them what’s included in the program and what it could mean for their life. If there are only so many copies or spaces, name that.

Really sit with this one and ask yourself, “What are all of the real and compelling reasons why someone for whom this is a fit might want to strongly consider buying this now?” This will include all of the facets of the program but might also include early bird specials.

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

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

13. Lower the Wall of Risk: There they are, your potential clients, wanting to walk over to you now and hand you their money, but there is this wall of risk in between you. That risk can look like a lot of things. It can look like, “Will this be worth it?” or “What if it breaks or doesn’t work?” or “What if it makes things worse?” or “What will others think if they hear I’ve spent money on this?”

At this point in the sales letter, it’s important to name those risks and directly address them. Now, if you’ve written the rest of the sales letter well, you’ve been subtly assuaging these as you’ve gone along. But now it’s time to be very blunt about it. This is typically where you would put a strong guarantee. This is where you say, “Hey. I know you’re not sure about this. I know it’s a risk for you, so here’s what I’m going to do to reduce the risk/eliminate the risk/take the risk off of you and onto myself.”

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

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

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

Suggested Additional Reading:

Nine Thoughts on CopyWriting for Hippies

Blog Posts I’ve Written About Sales Letters

My Sales Letter for The Meantime 30 Day Cashflow Challenge

My Sales Letter for my Marketing for Hippies 101 Program

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

Easy is the new free

ease_of_use1A few years ago my friend Brandy Burdeniuk said something to me that I’ve repeated many times since.

“Easy is the new free.”

Are there a lot of free things out there on the internet these days? Sure.

But while that might save you money it could be very expensive in terms of your time.

People love free things but what they often want even more is easy.

But not easy in an abstract sense. They want a particular thing to be easy. They’re trying to achieve something and it’s hard for them. If you can make that thing easy for them, they won’t mind paying you a bit extra (even a lot extra).

And this is where the lack of niche is a business often shows up. There’s no particular result they’re offering that they’re trying to make easier.

What might particular results look like?

  • “I have gallstones and want to keep my gallbladder but lose the stones and do it without surgery.”
  • “I had a heart attack but don’t want to be on medications for the rest of my life. I want to heal naturally.”
  • “I have been depressed and on medications and want to wean my way off and use a more holistic approach.”
  • “I want to get rid of this back pain.”
  • “I want to feel comfortable and confident in dating.”
  • “I want to learn to say no without being wracked with guilt.”
  • “I am still wracked with shame for something I did. I want to find a way to move forward in my life.”
  • “I want to get over this heartbreak.”
  • “I want to get good at selling.”
  • “I want to sleep better.”

What’s often there in the place of those specific kinds of results is…

“I offer a broad array of modalities and approaches that subtly balance your whole system.”

And that focuses on what you are doing to them. It is focused on what you think they need. It’s not focused on what they are craving. And so, even if you offer that for free, it will not be as compelling as offering them help to get what they’re actually wanting in an easier, sweeter and gentler way.

Once you have a clear result you’re offering then it’s just a matter of coming up with a clear, compelling and credible offering, package, system or approach that can help them get what they want more easily.

I think of my friend Crystal’s husband in Vancouver who offers to help people identify and get of any allergy in three sessions (or he’ll keep working with you for free until it’s gone).

I think of my Niching Spiral Home Study course which is about helping people find a workable and profitable niche in 90 days.

I think of my colleague Corrina Gordon-Barnes and her ideas on how to have your blog attract more actual clients or Brad Morris’ approach to making it easier to craft your e-courses.

But, if there’s no specific result you’re offering, then there’s nothing to make easy and, because you need clients and no one seems to be responding to your generic offering of “I offer a broad array of modalities and approaches that subtly balance your whole system.” you will find yourself forced to keep reducing your price and moving closer and closer to giving it away for free.

If your business isn’t growing as fast as you’d like as yourself: am I trying to be free or to make things easy?

What if I Can’t Guarantee a Result?

GuaranteeThis is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for years.

Fairly often, in workshops, the question (and it’s a very good one) comes up: “What if I can’t guarantee a result?”

That question usually emerges from the shiny palace of conversations about creating guarantees, and better than risk free guarantees, doing clever and bold risk reversals etc. But, of course, not all kinds of work are suited for these kinds of marketing manoeuvres.

Recently, in the Meantime Program I’m leading, someone shared the following comment which contains this same admirable problem.

“It’s difficult/impossible to predict an outcome from Reiki treatments. There are 2 reasons for this: 1. If I did identify a specific condition that Reiki could help people with I probably couldn’t advertise the fact due to the Advertising Standards Agency not accepting that Reiki is effective for any medical condition (without the ‘robust’ research to back it up they say it’s not acceptable). 2. Probably the stronger reason is that what happens as a result of Reiki treatment is not predicable because it’s not under my control: what the Reiki energy does for each individual depends on their sub-conscious need on that particular day. I cannot, in all integrity, promise any specific result, because I don’t know what it will be. I know that I can offer a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space where change is possible, but nothing can be guaranteed.  There’s a more predictable outcome for people I teach Reiki to: that they will have healing in their own hands. So should I focus on this instead? However that doesn’t really work in terms of the funnel because most people need to receive treatment first.”
So, you can see the sticky wicket here.
 
Let’s retrace our steps a bit.
 
Your business is like a boat that can take people from Island A (where they’re suffering from some problem) to Island B (where they have some result they are craving). These are the basics I delve into in the Marketing for Hippies 101 program.
 
That’s the essence of a business, that journey.
 
Stated another way: without the journey, there’s not much of a business. There’s just a boat.
 
Stated another way: every business exists to solve a problem. If there’s no problem to be solved, there’s no business.
 

Stated yet another way: if there’s no result being offered, then it begs the question if there is a problem or if what one is offering is, in fact, a solution in search of one.So, in this case, she can’t advertise to treat a specific condition because a) it’s illegal and b) it’s unpredictable.

What to do?
 
Consider this, as it is always vital to do, from the side of the customer and imagine how it might feel to them for someone to say, “Pay me money. Then you’ll lie down. I’ll do some things on you. You may or may not notice anything. It can be very subtle. But, if, in the next few weeks, something good happens, then I’ll take credit for that. If nothing happens or something bad, I’ll say it’s either so subtle and powerful you can’t notice it or that your fear is getting in the way.”
 
Consider how that might sound less than accountable or desirable to most people.
 
So, what does that tell us? First of all, that her ideal client is not going to be most people. That her ideal clients are going to need to be people who are already open to, at worst, and irresistibly drawn to, at best, energy work – in particular, Reiki. These are people who will understand the idea that energy work is unpredictable and not be bothered by it.
 
That’s distinction number one.
 
Tied to that, fundamentally, her target market is going to need to be people who want to get on her boat (even just to sail around). They will need to be people who want a reiki session and be happy to pay for it. They need to be people who wouldn’t need or even want any kind of guarantee. People who want to enjoy a “a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space.” And she will absolutely get clients based on this alone. There will be people who want those things. There will be people who meet her and think she’s so lovely and want to hire her. She will meet people who have been dying to try out reiki and say ‘yes’ to her. That will all happen.
 
The only question is, will it be enough to sustain her. If it is, then I would encourage her to just enjoy that.
 
But if not, it’s likely got something to do with what we’re left with in her scenario. We’re left with someone saying, “My boat is beautiful. I can’t promise to take you anywhere, but it’s cozy inside. And everyone is welcome.”
 
Which isn’t bad (truly). But it’s not great (double truly).
 
That offer is the offer of a “generic healer.” Of which there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, within 50 miles of where she lives. And more and more every year.
 
Of course, the immediate response is often going to be something like, “But this can heal anyone! That’s the best part of this modality! It’s for everyone!”
 
It’s for everyone? Maybe so. But you could make the same case for yoga and I could give you a lot of examples of different niches people have found in that world. Or permaculture. Or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
 
The ‘it’s for everyone!’ approach will work if you want to do reiki as a hobby for friends, but you are unlikely to build much of a business out of it. To continue the boat analogy, it would be like someone going down to the harbour and seeing thousands of identical boats. How are they supposed to choose? I’ll tell you how . . . price. They will go for the cheapest one.
 
In terms of the Four Stages of Business Growth, this is classic stage one.
 
What that means is that, as it stands, her marketing plan needs to be geared towards finding people who want “a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space.”
 
Huh.
 
And where would you find those people? Is it possible that this is actually code for every human on the planet? And why would they want it from her vs. someone else? And, if they want that but haven’t tried reiki yet, how do you get them to try?
 
It could also be that her target market, a bit more narrowly, could be those who just want a straight up reiki session. But, again, many of the same questions arise. Where do you find them? What makes her different than the thousands of others who do reiki?
 
You see the marketing questions that immediately arise.
 
So, what’s clear is that, to make the marketing planning easier, a bit more focus and definition in her niche could be useful.
 
There are, fundamentally, two different approaches to this. The Artistic approach and the Entrepreneurial approach. I got into these in much more depth in my book The Niching Nest.
 

The Artistic Approach: I would encourage her to clarify what it is she most wants to give and how. I’d encourage her to look in the marketplace and notice what she sees is missing that she’d like to offer. I’d want her to clarify her point of view, find her voice, bring her personality more to the forefront, tell her story and speak about why this work matters to her so much. And I’d want to know all about what kind of lifestyle she might want. I’d be so curious about which parts of her work she loves the most and which parts she wouldn’t mind losing. I’d want to know which conversations come up between herself and clients that she’d love to explore more. I’d want to see her try to sum up her platform in a page. And then to weave that together into the most clear and beautifully offering she can manage. It would end up looking something like these. Then, the basic pitch is, “Here’s the art I make. If you like it, great. If not, I bless and release you.”

And, once she was done that, I’d invite her to consider who might be most interested in that.
 
Thomas Leonard, the grandfather of the modern life coaching movement operated in this way. And he was a business coach. People would ask him what results he would guarantee and he’d tell them he didn’t guarantee anything but that he was pretty sure they’d be happy with the results. They’d ask him why on earth they should hire him at his high rates then. He’d tell them, “You probably shouldn’t.” And often they’d hire him anyway. He refused to get caught in the trap of promising something that was out of his control.
 
But, and this is an enormously important part of it, he had the skills and competence to back that swagger up. He was incredibly good.
 
The Entrepreneurial Approach: I would encourage her to hone in on one particular target market (i.e. a particular group of people struggling with a particular problem). She might ask herself, “who needs a compassionate, non-judgmental healing space who I most want to help?” and then focus her marketing efforts on them. Then, the basic pitch is, “I’ve created this thing to help you solve your problem and here’s why it’s so good.” It would end up looking something like these.

And, once she was done that, I’d invite her to create the most wonderful and creative offer she could.But, for this to become a solid business, one of those needs to move.

Until one has a solid niche, it’s difficult for much to happen. I can promise that, as her niche gets clear, many of these questions will answer themselves.
 
You can find a lot of free help on your niche at NichingSpiral.com
 
Seven Things to Look at When You’re Struggling With “But I Can’t Guarantee my Offers!”
 
When people say, “But I can’t guarantee anything.” It’s often code for:
  • competency: real talk. This is the big one. It’s very easy to hide incompetence underneath a blanket of jargon and bullshit and claims that the process is unknowable. Facilitators, consultants and healers do it all the time. But, as shaman Martin Prechtel said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If people don’t get better, don’t call yourself a shaman.” Not that it’s controllable but, if there’s never any measurable or noticeabable result, then who are you kidding? The truth is that if you help people get better, if you help them produce a measurable, noticeable, and meaningful result in their life that they’ve been craving but could not produce on their own, you won’t need to worry much about marketing or worrying about not being able to guarantee your offers because the word of mouth will be so strong. If people come to you with back pain and leave without it, if they come to you suspecting an emotional cause to their physical ailment and you help them solve it, if they come to you with heartbreak and you help them find some meaning or peace in it, if they come to you struggling with their finances and you help them find clarity . . . they will tell everyone they know about you and, because the recommendation is coming from a friend, asking for guarantees are likely to be the last thing in their mind.
  • niche: as you can see above, the lack of a niche means there’s no particular journey being offered. This makes it impossible to guarantee anything. Because there’s no “thing” to guarantee. After reading a draft of this post, the Meantime participant who had emailed me about the issue with reiki wrote me the following:

Wow thanks for writing the blog about my question Tad. Yes I understand your points. I think my issues are 1) not wanting to opt for a niche in the past, still lingering a bit – because yes Reiki can help anyone with anything if they are up for it 2) Not being clear enough about the niche I want to serve – and perhaps not daring to 3) Not having clear packages/free stuff/funnel although this started to evolve at the beginning of this year and I think more clarity on this will help. Perhaps a shift from seeing what I offer as just Reiki and more as a wider ‘package’ – something about self care and self honoring perhaps. Healing seems too vague as an offering, so I know I have to try to get down to who I really love to help.”

  • your map: If you’re taking people on a journey from Island A to Island B, they may not need a guarantee if they trust your map and the route you have plotted out. Sometimes them just knowing you’ve got a clear plan, process, perspective, approach, philosophy or set of principles on which you base your work is enough to eliminate any need for a solid guarantee. Not sure how to do that? Here are Five Steps to Identify Your Point of View.
  • how safe your clients are feeling: fundamentally what’s being hinted at here is the sense that people perceive some risk in spending their time and money with her. And so, to address it, we offer guarantees. What’s important not to lose sight of is the fact that the guarantees are just a tactics to address the underlying issue of fear. They’re a tactic to help people feel more confident in their investment. And they’re one of many tactics. Other ways to reduce risk include testimonials, online video, writing blogs, certifications, public speaking and leading workshops etc. Any kind of free sample you can create will be a huge help. Creating compelling packages is another way to reduce risk. All of these tactics will do ten times more for you with less effort if you have a clear sense of your niche.
  • are the results you’re offering big and vague?: if you’re making vague they will come across as untrustworthy. If you claim to be able to help everyone with everything, you will absolutely come across as a charlatan. It’s such an unbelievable claim. Sometimes the result we’re offering is too big. And sometimes while we’re not guaranteeing any particular big result, we’re implying it with phrases like, “this can help anyone with anything.” And when people feel uncertain they’re going to want more reassurances from you (such as guarantees). I recall being at a networking meeting in Calgary where everyone introduced themselves. One lady shared her work which was so incredibly vague, new agey and ungrounded and, when she was done there was silence and everyone sat there in an uncomfortable trance of trying to understand what she’d said and also not wanting to make eye contact with her at all. Then my friend Adrian Buckley shared about his incredible permaculture work where they’d do permablitzes and install an entire permacultured landscape in a day and the room broke out into applause. People knew something real when they heard it.
  • what can be guaranteed: you can’t guarantee everything, but there are often parts of it that you can. The whole conversation around guarantees is bigger than this blog post can handle but, in this context she might be able to guarantee that she’ll do everything in her power to make the space as compassion, non-judgmental and healing as possible. She could even get specific about how she does that. She could set agreements between herself and her client that would have them feel safe. She could guarantee her part of the process (e.g. “I commit to spending 30 minute in meditation at the start of each day and showing up to sessions well rested. I commit to continuing to grow in healing my own life. I commit to continuing education”).
  • what your clients can guarantee: sometimes we can’t guarantee things because our clients actions are out of our control. You can make it clear what you need from them for the results to happen as promised and, if they’re unwilling or unable to do that, that you are free from any promises you made. That could look like committing to some basic health and stress relieving tactics everyday. It could look like showing up to sessions on time. Being willing to do some reading.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this below in the comments.

 

Seven Lessons that Daily Dance Can Teach You About Making Better Offers

 
Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 5.04.15 PMIf you’re thinking of creating online programs (or are super into dance) check this out.
 
My dear friend, colleague and client Erica Ross and her partner in crime Vanya Laporte has just co-created a wonderful new online program that I think nails things from a marketing perspective. I’ve known Erica for many years. We met when she came to one of my first ever weekend workshops in Toronto and she’s done nothing but flourish since. I hope to one day come up with an offering as simple and good as this. 
 
Her new offering is called Daily Dance. You can check it out on her brand new website designed by one of my favourite web designers, Kim Tanasichuk.
 
This is the deal: for 21 days you get an email with a video explaining a new ‘dance of the day’ and a song (approx. 4-6 min.) to use to dance to it.  
 
You also get suggestions to explore the intention behind the dance further, a playlist of additional songs, and a link to a private Daily Dance Facebook group where you can share your experiences.
 
Note: I am not an affiliate of this program. Just a fan of Erica Ross and thought her offer would be a great way to talk about offers in general. 
 
Here’s why this works so well (and the four lessons you can learn from it):
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #1: The offer is simple and easy to understand. 
 
I can’t overstate the importance of this.
 
If marketing were like baseball, then first base would be clarity. That people get what it is you’re offering to them. It is amazing how seldom businesses even get to first base. There is no clear understanding of the problem they’re solving, the results they’re offering or even… what they’re offering. 
 
And the confused mind says ‘no’. 
 
The name is simple (and alliterative which is helpful for remembering it): Daily Dance. The name tells you what it is.
 
Such a simple idea. 21 days where you get a new dance video every day. Easy. I get that. I can picture that. Is there more to it? Sure. But that’s the core of it.
 
Want more examples?
 
How about FedEx? The idea is simple: overnight delivery. Easy to understand. Or clearasil (not that I am, in any way endorsing clearasil). In seven words, they state what they’re offering, ‘visibly clearer skin in three days. guaranteed.’ Simple. Easy to understand. 
 
In Edmonton, we have Origami Accounting which offers a flat monthly rate for book keeping. Their website is a delight to go to because it makes it so simple. 
 
And, of course, there’s Dollar Shave club known for its edgy online commercials. You pay them one dollar per month and they mail you the razors you need for that month. 
 
And there’s Panty by Post where for about $15 per month you get a pretty panty mailed to you.
 
Calgary’s Bava juice makes cleansing easy because they just mail you the bottles of (extremely delicious) fresh pressed juices. 
 
These ideas are winners because they’re so simple. And that means people can talk about them. And, for word of mouth marketing (which is the basis of all marketing) that is a must. 
 
It’s a good question to ask yourself, ‘How easy to understand is my offer?’
 
If you’re struggling with articulating your offer, here are sixteen questions you can ask yourself to hone in. And if you generally struggle to articulate what you do then I strongly recommend you get and read this
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #2: It’s offered at a clear and incredibly affordable price.
 
Daily Dance is $21. That’s their launch price so it will go up, but that’s a bargain. If you can set your price at a level that makes you a fair profit but is also a no-brainer for people, your business is likely to do very well. 
 
People don’t like to be confused and it amazes me how many people’s pricing structures are mind numbingly confusing. 
 
And clear pricing is critical. 
 
Why?
 
First, it makes it more likely that those who want to buy will buy. But, far more importantly, it avoids the number one thing that people hate around pricing: surprises. To be quoted one price and then invoiced for a higher price makes people cranky. If you can develop a straightforward and easy to understand pricing structure, people are a lot more likely to buy.
 
Regardless of how much you charge, people must feel as though they are getting a bargain for the money. They need to believe that they are going to get back at least as much if not more than what they’re putting out in terms of money. There must be a clear and solid return on investment.
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #3: It’s a great example of basing your niche on what you do vs. picking one target market.
 
Some niches are based on a very particular target market (e.g. single dads, divorce lawyers, yoga teachers etc) but other niches aren’t so much based on who as ‘what’ is being offered. In this case, they have a very clear offering – 21 days of dance. In a general sense, their ‘who’ is going to be people who are drawn to bringing more dance into their lives. Their ideal clients are the kinds of people who would see this offer and get excited. That may seem obvious, but it’s a critical distinction between two different paths of niching. 
 
What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Niching Spiral.

This is something I’ve come aware of over the years and my colleague George Kao stumbled upon a similar awareness.

One path is that of the Artist. The other is the path of the Entrepreneur. 

The Artist creates from the inside out.

The Entrepreneur creates from the outside in.  

On the Entrepreneur Path You start with identifying an explicit, consciously chosen hungry crowd and you bring them food. 

The explicit niche means you say, “I want to work with this group of people who are struggling with these kinds of problems or craving these kind of results”. A burning problem, demographics, psychographics – you’ve got it all laid out.

You find the target market and then you figure out what to offer them. At its extreme, the Yang style of business is the cynical-business-man, Donald Trump school of thought. It’s very cynical, follows fads, and doesn’t tend to have much heart in it. It’s all about going for the money. And, honestly, is often more successful at creating money quickly. 

The upside of this path is that you can move very quickly. The clarity about who you’re reaching makes designing your offers and figuring our where to find them so easy. The goal is clear and it’s an exciting process.

The challenge is that what’s trending now may change, and if you’re not that excited about it anyway, you’re likely to jump to something else soon. If you need a whole new business and niche every time you do that, that can be a whole lot of work.

At its extreme, as exciting as it can be as a game – it can feel so empty. There’s not much heart to it, and so there’s not a lot of creativity involved, which often leads to a lack of sustainability and satisfaction. Also, when people choose a niche based on what’s popular or trending at a particular time, there’s not much connection from their own life or much experience they have with the problem they’re solving, and so there can be a huge, steep learning curve.

The Artists Spiral of niching is about going inside, asking yourself what it is you want to create and then giving that to the world. This inside-out approach often is a better fit for life coaches, holistic practitioners, permaculture practitioners, etc. It’s where you start with who you are, and what you most want to give to the world, and then you look at who might need that. The extreme version of this style of niching is like Vincent Van Gogh. Amazing art is produced and the world is made more beautiful, but you die broke and unappreciated.  

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” 

Andy Warhol

What the artist is always looking for is the mode of existence in which soul and body are one.” 

– Oscar Wilde

The challenge here is that there’s no explicit who here. And that can make marketing feel impossible. Where do you start?

In the end, it’s not really an either/or. We all end up needing to dance back and forth between these two. There’s a looking at what we want to give, and then a looking at what’s needed. Then we design the thing that we think can meet that need, and trust our taste and aesthetics around it all. 

If you want more meaning – lean towards the Artist’s Spiral.

If you want more money – lean towards the Entrepreneur Spiral.

If you’re really clear about the exact target market you want to serve, the precise problems they’re struggling with and the result they are craving, you’re likely on the Entrepreneur Spiral.

If you’re really clear about what you want to offer (e.g. massage, reiki, life coaching, permaculture) but you haven’t figured out exactly how or to whom, then you’re likely on the Artists Spiral.

 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #4: They offer a three day trial.
 
I love it when people offer free trials. It’s simultaneously a very smart and strategic thing to do but also a very generous thing to do. 
 
I won’t write much about it here, but if you’re interested in why creating free ways to sample your work is so vital click here. If you want to know how to do it click here
 
 
OFFER MAKING LESSON #5:  It’s a very well thought through and well put together offer that people actually want. 
 
There are many aspects to this that are very well thought out. First of all, only 21 days. That’s not too overwhelming.
 
Second, an online offering for people who feel too busy or intimidated to follow their interest in dance. They don’t have to go to a big class and risk embarrassment. They can start small.
 
Each day is scalable. There’s a video. There’s a song and, if they want more? There’s an extended playlist to explore. 
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #6: It’s visually beautiful, polished and professional. 
 
The most important thing is that the core offer is good. I’d rather have a solid offer with a rough presentation than a bad offer with a beautiful presentation. In terms of sales, if the core idea works, it can still fly in spite of bad design. But a bad idea with beautiful design? It’ll never last. If you have to spend your money on a good copywriter or a good designer, there is no doubt in my mind it should go, in almost all cases, to the copywriter. 
 
However, having said that, I’m a big believer in making things as beautiful as possible. Or, to be more accurate, making sure the design captures the vibe of the business. Knowing Erica as I do, the website as a whole and the sales page for the offer nail it. 
 
I see so many websites that make me wince. They don’t look professional and it hurts the credibility of the site. It has me trust the offers a little less. 
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #7: It is a heart and soul-based offering at it’s purist.
 
Kim Tanasichuk had this to say, “It’s fun, it had so much depth and beauty, it reflects the care and love they put into all that they do, and it reflects them and their sacred life’s work. And it’s setup in a way where it allows people to unfold themselves – their emotions, their hearts, their being and feel nurtured while doing this. The offer matches the creator. Because of this primarily — it is an “Offer” at it’s finest.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sales Letter Case Study: Mission Traction


Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 6.33.58 PMOne of my favourite things to do for clients is to help them redo their salesletters. 

Your sales letter is your marketing dojo. It’s where we start to find out how clear you are. 

Marketing is about translation. You’re trying to communicate something you know intimately well from the inside to people on the outside. And that’s not always as easy as it seems. 

The following piece is a sales letter I did with my clients Daniel and Cecile of Round Sky Solutions for a seven week course they were running called Mission Traction.

What you’ll read first is the original letter with which they came to me. Indented, you will read my comments on the letter. Then you’ll read a redo of the letter with my commentary as to why I made the changes I did. 

You can read of my thoughts on writing a good sales letter (including more examples of sales letter make overs) here

I hope reading this will help give you some insights onto how to articulate your own work with more clarity. And if you want help to write your sales letter, I can’t recommend anything more highly than Carrie Klassen’s ebook on the subject. 

An important note: writing sales letters is incredibly difficult. We are so close to what we do and, after a few drafts of it, it is virtually impossible to see it clearly. Most of us, myself included, can benefit immensely from some outside, considered and thoughtful feedback from someone who knows what they’re talking about (if you’d like me to look over your sales letter, my rates are here). My feedback may seem terse, sassy and mocking at times but what I’m trying to convey is my honest reaction upon reading it and what I imagine will be the visceral reaction of their ideal client reading it. It’s so incredibly important that we are real with ourselves about how our marketing is received. I go over the top to make a point. Daniel and Cecile are two of the loveliest and most sincere good hearted people. But, I suppose this proves the point: we can be such good people and our marketing can still miss the mark. 

Also, the new draft we came up with isn’t perfect. There is still work to be done – but we did the best we could given the time constraints with which we were working. But the progress is enough that it makes an excellent case study in two areas in particular: 1) how much jargon can create confusion and 2) the power of a good metaphor in your marketing. 

 

Original Sales Letter:

 

 

Mission Traction:

Build Skillful Means to Drive Effective Change

 

So, here is problem number one. The headline confuses me. What does ‘Mission Traction’ mean? I have no idea… And then ‘Build Skillful Means to Drive Effective Change’. This sounds so wordsmithed. So polished. But I have no idea if this is relevant to me. And this is the very, very, very, very, very first thing that needs to be established in a sales letter – relevance. Can this help me with a problem I’m facing? Or help me get a result I want? I have no idea. 

Join us for this 7-week online course for change makers who are looking to increase their effectiveness and develop the skills for working adeptly with widespread resistance to change.

A 7 week online course! Ok! I know what it is! But who are change makers? Am I one? I don’t know. It promises I’ll be better at working with ‘widespread resistance to change’ which would be amazing… if I had any idea at all what they were talking about. What kind of change? What kind of resistance? #fuzzinessisnotyourfriend

At our best, we feel energized and curious, creative and open. Our work in the world is an expression of our highest values, and it sustains and inspires us.

At our best? Who’s best? We still haven’t established who this letter is to so I have no idea what that means. Or the rest of that line. Because I don’t know this, it sounds jargony. And sure, that might be true in a generic sense but why do I care?

We show up fully in our working relationships and respond effectively to challenges, and as a result, we see ourselves making a positive impact on the world around us.

 Who is we, again?

When our way of being and working is generative, we can feel ourselves learning and see our core competencies increasing. We can handle more complexity, we display greater wisdom, and we meet and exceed our highest priority milestones.

 And here comes the jargon. What does generative mean? And ‘way of being’ for that matter. At this point, the confusion is building and it’s a downward spiral. Core competencies? Highest priority milestones? This is a lot of industry jargon – words that mean so much to the person writing the sales letter and next to nothing for the person reading it. Remember: the confused mind says ‘no’.

Our working relationships are more rewarding, and as a result, our engagements are more collaborative and more productive.

Engagements with whom? And who am I again?…

At our best, we wake up every day with a sense of momentum that grows because we can see ourselves making real, tangible and meaningful progress.

 I do? But I don’t even know who I ammmmmmm… Tell me who I am, I beg of you kind sir. You can’t keep me shackled in this Dungeon of Confusion forever you monster!

When we marry our vision and values with a demonstrated ability to make lasting and effective change in the world, we get to experience the unparalleled fulfillment of having TRACTION.

Was that phrase generated by the Dilbert industry-speak jargon generator? This sounds so wordsmithed again. A good sales letter is conversational. It should read at a 12 year old level. Simple words. 

What makes a change leader effective?

Aha! I’m a change leader! … whatisthat?

When your personal and organizational systems are optimized to remove process obstacles, your creativity, strategic thinking and capacity to magnify key leverage points increases.

 (brain explodes from jargon overload)

What makes a team collaborative?

 (please. whatever it is. find it. i beg of you. you’ll need a team to put my brains back in my head).

When you and your team are liberated from inefficiencies and bureaucratic inertia, you feel empowered by a clear sense of purpose and direction, your confidence increases, and you have more energy available to focus on highest leverage priorities.

(he stared vacantly into the distance. his torturers attempts to inflict more confusion and pain had no effect. he could feel his soul slowly drifting from his body as the sun set outside the centuries old dungeon window. it wouldn’t be long now. he smelled toast).  

Can an organization become a source of energy and inspiration for its members?

I no longer care.

When the system you’re working in is set up to support fluidity and agility, it allows you to be clearer and more centered in your intentions, more organized in your approach, and lets you increase the time you spend on the projects that matter most.

(sound of a heart monitor flatlining)I recommended they cut the whole section above out of the next draft of the sales letter which, blessedly, they did. Nothing in that section did anything to establish relevance. And, this is the key bit, I really have no idea who I am as the reader. I don’t know who it’s for and so I don’t really understand the overall context. 

How can we respond better to complexity?

Of this sales letter? I hope you’ll tell me.  Some other complexity? I really, genuinely have no idea. 

When the human dimension of your work life is fine tuned for greater flow, you get along better—and making better mission-aligned decisions—with your business partners and colleagues.

 Jargon: human dimension, greater flow, mission-aligned decisions. 29 words in that sentence and 7 of them were jargon. If your sales letters are 25% jargon then stick a fork in it because it. is. done. (but like, not ‘good done’. Bad done). 

Liberated from bottlenecks and inefficient bureaucracies, we feel more appreciated for the work we do. We can trust that others are going to follow through on their commitments and depend on the systems around us to set us up for success.

 Jargon: Liberated from bottlenecks and inefficient bureaucracies (such as what? give me details that help me understand), depend on the systems around us to set us up for success (which system? what kind of success?)

Traction is a deeply fulfilling and effective alignment between your personal vision, approach, your behavior, and your environment.

When your working environment is organized in service of your highest priorities, you experience a “virtuous cycle” of effectiveness. As you see yourself gaining traction, you gain energy and your capacity and skillfulness grows exponentially.

“And the award for most jargon in a salesletter goes to…. ROUND SKY SOLUTIONS!!! Oh my god! Get up here!” (swelling theme music ensues).

You may be a director, organizer, facilitator, advocate, intra/entrepreneur, coach, or consultant. But no matter where you find yourself, what defines your work is that you are mission-driven. You are committed to creating a sustainable, healthy, and socially just planet.

Now I know who I am!!! Why didn’t you tell me this sooner you sadistic bastards… The words above would have made so much more sense. They do a really good job here of giving very specific names to the kinds of people their work is for. This is critical: your marketing must make clear, immediately, who it’s for. When you name them precisely, you don’t to hype things up. You don’t need jargon. You can whisper your message and people hear it. So, in a sales letter, these kinds of words should be very, very near the top (if not in the headline). 

You have an inspiring vision and hard-working, well-developed talent. Yet, like so many change catalysts, you face a unique struggle: the path can be painfully hard to walk.

Okay. You’re winning me over a bit. It can be hard.

In spite of your efforts, you feel like you continue to struggle to bridge the gap between the overwhelming need you see, and vision you’re trying to bring to life.

I think I understand from your sort of confusing words that you’re empathizing with me.  

Chances are, you’ve struggled to deal with inefficient processes and procedures that can’t change, or leaders who bottleneck team operations. And it’s likely that you’ve been frustrated by decision-making processes that don’t seek enough input or are dominated by strong personalities.

Again, your strange words confuse me but I think you’re meaning to say that my organization could work a lot better than it does. Agreed.  

You’ve probably noticed interpersonal conflict consuming more than it’s fair share of attention and impacting deliverables. And it’s very likely that you’ve endured lengthy meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency that ultimately don’t generate any clear outcomes.

Jargon: interpersonal conflict, impacting deliverables, inefficiency, clear outcomes. But I loved this: “you’ve endured lengthy meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency”. YES! This is the first thing I’ve read that I can absolutely connect with. I have fully been there and done that. This is what we want sales letters to do – speak to people’s lived experience, what they are actually going through, not to speak in abstract terms. Being real will draw people in. Being abstract will lose people. 

Time and again, you’ve seen a lot of talk and no action. You’ve watched organizations falter, unable to keep up with rapidly changing operating landscapes. You’ve suffered with siloed teams, finger pointing, workplace politicking and lack of follow-through.

Okay. Again, this is drawing me in. I’ve totally seen this. Yes!  

And you’ve probably felt disheartened by the tendency you see towards institutional conservatism and bureaucracy.

Jargon: institutional conservatism and bureaucracy. But I think I get it and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this. 

Regardless of what organizational context you find yourself in, you also probably feel like you’re always struggling to keep up.

Jargon: organizational context.

  • You feel like you take on too much, yet you’re not doing enough. You keep trying to put yourself out there, yet you struggle not to become overwhelmed.
  • You strive to be more organized, yet you always feel short on time, and want to be more adept and sorting out priorities for highest impact.

Totally true. You feel me! 

Sometimes, uncertainty hits and you question the path you’re on. The loneliness of being one of the few people who sees how things aren’t working can make you question whether there’s anything you can do and yearn to figure out how to make a bigger impact.

  • You long for support and maturity in your community and your organizations, and you work hard to take care of yourself, maintain gratitude, positivity, and keep your sights set on the solutions.
  • You’re willing to keep going, but sometimes it feels like despite your best intentions, we’re all taking one step forward, and two steps back.

Often it feels as if there’s no end in sight— you have growing questions about how to ramp up your traction and increase your personal resilience as you move forward.

Jargon: traction, personal resilience. But overall, yes. You’re speaking for me.  

What the world needs from us

It doesn’t take much looking around at our world’s social, economic and environmental state to recognize that collectively, we face unprecedented challenges as a species. Widespread change is coming—whether we’ve chosen it, or like it, or not. And in many areas of life and for much of the world’s population, calamity isn’t a distant possibility, but a living reality.

We live in a surreal age where we have the information and tools to change course for a new and different future—yet we struggle to do so.

Around the world, there are a great many ideas available to us, and many amazing people devoting their days and nights to creating positive outcomes.

Right. I already get that. I’m a changemaker. Why are you telling me this?

So why aren’t our efforts yielding more results?

Ohhhhh. I see what you did there. Good question! When I read this I thought, “Ah! There’s the heart of this sales letter. That question.” This is what I’m always looking for in a sales letter… the heart of it. What’s it about? What’s the point of it?

Our story, our mission

Over more than 25 years of devoting ourselves to bringing about this kind of change, we’ve researched and experientially studied this question in depth. Not only have we passionately worked towards a healthy planet, we’ve actively studied the forces of inertia in ourselves and in our society.

Jargon: forces of inertia. But your credibility is growing. 25 years is a long time. I feel a bit more connected to you now. 

Together, we have:

  • Started and run an organic farm,
  • Been outdoor educators and studied team building and adventure education,
  • Served as members and leaders of intentional communities, where we made and grew everything we needed to sustain ourselves,
  • Explored the world’s esoteric traditions on a path of personal growth and spiritual curiosity.

As entrepreneurs, we have 

  • Started and successfully ran an ecological landscaping and design business,
  • Studied adult development, systems thinking, power dynamics, cultural evolution and Integral Theory.
  • Worked with internet startups and progressive organizational design thinkers.
  • Explored every single organizational process and decision making system we could find, looking for the best tools, skills and principles that could liberate and elevate the innate creativity of groups and organizations.

 Whoa. That’s all cool stuff. You’re way more legit to me now.

We’ve struggled to get traction, struggled to balance the demands on our time and energy, and fought against “burnout.”

BUT, we’ve never stopped valuing the importance of succeeding—even though it’s been a long road to figure out how to bring success within reach in the face of widespread system inertia.

Ok. This was another place it hit me. What they’re really offering is to help change makers actually succeed in making change. This is what they’re most craving. It’s amazing to me that innocuously buried here in the midst of the sales letter, in the middle of a sentence is the white hot center of this sales letter. It should be in the headline.  

Our journey has lead us to focus on one the most often overlooked, yet essential keys to sustainable change making: the human dimension.

Ok. I’m intrigued…. Tell me more. 

Instead of simply struggling harder, we want to liberate human creativity from the forces of inertia that erode our effectiveness and enthusiasm for a better world.

… wut? Your strange language has returned… I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Now, our mission is to share what we’ve found—so that we can help change makers everywhere gain traction.

What do you mean by gaining traction?… And what did you find? I’m still not clear. Something about the dimensions of humans?

So we’ve created this 7-week course as an intensive specifically designed for change catalysts who are hungry for mission traction and ready to roll up their sleeves and make it happen.

What is mission traction? I saw this near the top and it gave me a headache. Then I almost died. Then you won me over. Then I liked you. Now I’m confused again. Our relationship has certainly been a roller coaster… 

Introducing Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

After working with leaders, individuals, teams and organizations of all shapes and sizes, we developed our 7-week Mission Traction course to give change makers the core skills, tools and processes they need. 

Based on our extensive experience as coaches, consultants, managers, entrepreneurs and transformative educators, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned about effective organization, leadership and collaboration, and synthesized it into a targeted learning sequence for change makers.

Mission Traction is a live, highly-interactive course that includes balanced and integrated focus on both individual skills and organizational process.

Okay. I think I get it… The title confuses me but I think I basically get it…

As a learner, you will:

  • Develop and refine your own suite of personal development practices that will re-shape the way you work, collaborate and lead.
  • Apply your learning and get hands-on practice through carefully-crafted meeting and decision making simulations.
  • Be able to share your experiences and get support and feedback from a rigorous, confidential community of fellow change makers who really understand your struggle from the inside.
  • Receive individualized attention, coaching, feedback and guidance from our highly skilled and experienced team.
  • Be supported to expand your understanding of what causes effective change
  • Gain a suite of new tools, capacities and techniques that will empower you to better bring your mission to life each and every day.

A bit jargony but I basically get it. That sounds good. 

We expect all participants to achieve the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Insightful understanding of what causes inertia
  • Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change
  • Improved ability to deliver on intended goals
  • Increased agility and effectiveness in group decision making
  • Increased personal enthusiasm and energy
  • Greater coherence, fun, focus, and collaboration in your efforts
  • Improved capacity to drive peer-based accountability towards the intended mission
  • Capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities
  • More engaged, productive, enjoyable meetings with your teams
  • A robust framework for measuring progress in yourself and your teams
  • More powerful ability to set and maintain your priorities in the face of multiple competing demands

Jargon: learning outcomes, coherence, capacity to drive peer-based accountability towards the intended mission, capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities.But overall, this sounds good.

Now. their sales letter continued with some more logistical pieces about the course but we’ll stop here. 

 

 

Redone Sales Letter:

 

 

stock-footage-car-stuck-in-the-mud2Attention Change Makers:
Ever feel like you’re spinning your tires trying to do good?

Why is it so hard to make positive change in your organization and the world when everybody seems to want it?

So, as with all sales letters, we start with the headlines. The headlines need to capture people’s attention and quickly move to establish relevance. They need to read it and immediately know if they should read further. I think of the headline as the great filterer. The goal of the headline is not to sell people or convince people. It’s to filter people. If what you’re offering is a fit for them, it should powerfully draw them in closer and fill them with curiousity. If it’s not a fit? They should lose interest. So, we named the generic group immediately, ‘change makers’. Honestly, this is not a super useful marketing term. It’s fairly broad and generic, but it’s better than what was there which was the name of the course. This lifts up a larger point: the headline isn’t about you and your name. It’s about them. Whose name should be at the top of your sales letters, homepages, sales pages, brochures etc? Theirs. Not yours. They don’t care about your name until they know you can help them. Then we address the ‘traction’ piece. While I was reading their sales letter, it finally hit me what it was about . “Oh!” I thought. “Traction! They mean that most change makers feel like they can’t get it. Like they’re spinning their tires!” And there are few things in marketing more powerful than identifying your core metaphor. Once that clicked, it all made sense. If you can start your sales letter with a solid, clear metaphor they can relate to, it allows them to make sense of everything that follows. It’s like it gives them a way to organize all of the info. Then we jumped straight to the big question which we know these people are struggling with, ‘why is it so hard to make change?’. If you can articulate a question that keeps your people up at night, and articulate it better than they can, you will immediately gain relevance and credibility. 


Introducing
Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

Okay. So now we introduce the name of the program. I’m still not a huge fan of it (I think they may eventually find an even better name) but now, with the tire spinning metaphor the notion of traction makes a tonne of sense. Now it’s just the name of the program. Before it was the headline and was trying to bear an unfair load. The headline has to carry everything, but the title and tagline might not be able to.


A 7-week online course to help people who want to do good be more skillful and effective in dealing with people’s often unexplainable, illogical and irrational resistance to change. 

So, here we tweaked the one sentence description of the program. Honestly, I think we could come up with something better but this will do. 

Hey there!If you’re reading this, then you’re someone who is working hard to make the world a better place.You might be a director, organizer, facilitator, advocate, intra/entrepreneur, coach, or consultant. But no matter where you find yourself, what defines your work is that you are mission-driven. You are committed to creating a sustainable, healthy, and socially just planet.

As soon as possible, we are naming them as clearly as we can. We’re letting them know, ‘You’re in the right place! Keep reading.’ If you are using a generic term like, ‘change maker’ or ‘conscious entrepreneur’ or ‘cultural creative’ I highly encourage you to, as soon as possible, throw in some more specific target markets. Give them examples of what a change maker might be – which kinds are you most wanting to speak to? Name them explicitly. 

You have an inspiring vision and hard-working, well-developed talent. Yet, like so many change catalysts, in spite of your best efforts, you feel like you continue to struggle to bridge the gap between the overwhelming need you see, and vision you’re trying to bring to life – the gap between what you know is possible and what you’re able to make happen.In short, it’s like your organization is a truck and you’ve sunk into the mud and, no matter how hard you step on the gas, you feel like you’re just spinning your tires and getting nowhere. You’re getting no traction at all and you’re running out of gas.

Here we name and explicitly explore how the metaphor relates to them. 

Chances are, you’ve struggled to deal with…

  • the disheartening feeling of inefficient processes and procedures that can’t change due to institutional conservatism and bureaucracy.
  • other inept leaders who bottleneck team operations
  • crappy decision-making processes that don’t seek enough input or are dominated by strong personalities.
  • interpersonal conflicts that are like black holes which take over everything and mean the job doesn’t get done
  • lengthy, useless, time wasting meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency that produce nothing. Nada. Zilch.
  • siloed teams, finger pointing, workplace politicking. Boo.
  • a total lack of follow-through
  • having to watch good organizations full of good people, falter, unable to keep up with rapidly changing operating landscapes.

Frustrating.

Okay. So here, I went through their sales letter and pulled out all of the problems I could see named that would be frustrating to a change maker. These are what I call Island A in my work. Business exists to solve a problem. Period. If you can’t name the problem your clients have or the result they’re craving then you don’t have a business. You have a hobby. And you want to be able to name their experience (whether what they don’t want anymore or what they do – either works) as clearly as possible. You want to speak about it in such a way that they’re sitting there reading your sales letter saying, ‘Wow. That’s so totally me.’ So, when I gathered and rewrote these problems I did my best to write them in a way I imagined they might. Conversationally. Normal person language. So, instead of saying something like, ‘inefficient decision making processes’ I just say ‘crappy decision making processes’. And I tried to not only name the problem but the impact of those problems (e.g. “interpersonal conflicts that are like black holes which take over everything and mean the job doesn’t get done.”)

 
Time and again, you’ve seen a lot of talk and no action. Regardless of what kind of work you do, you also probably feel like you’re always struggling to keep up. Many of the clients we work with have, for years, felt like they take on too much, and yet, somehow, that they’re not doing enough. They strive to be more organized, yet they always feel short on time, and want to be more adept at sorting out priorities for highest impact. It can feel overwhelming. Eventually, for some of them, uncertainty hits and they question the path they’re on. The loneliness of being one of the few people who sees how things aren’t working makes them question whether there’s anything they actually can do. They yearn to figure out how to make a bigger impact and yet, over the years, begin to doubt that they ever really will. It often feels like one step forward and then two steps back. They fall asleep each night wondering how they can get more results in what they do but without burning out like they have seen so many others do.

Here, we’re just furthering the empathy to let them know that we get it. We’re continuing to paint the picture of what it’s like to be them so they can keep saying, ‘That’s me’ not ‘so what?’ It’s a powerful exercise to see if you can tell their story. I gave myself this challenge once for holistic practitioners – could I tell the typical story of what it was like to be them? I wrote it up here and many practitioners have told me how eerily accurate it is.  

Honest Question: Why Aren’t Your Efforts Getting Better Results?

I hope we can be candid with you here.

I really wanted to just cut to the chase and address the reader directly with a question they’ve been secretly wondering for years. I wanted to talk to them like an adult. Enough empathy now. Now, let’s get down to business. 

Here’s what you know better than most: collectively, we face unprecedented challenges as a species. Widespread change is coming—whether we’ve chosen it, or like it, or not. And in many areas of life and for much of the world’s population, calamity isn’t a distant possibility, but a living reality.We live in a surreal age where we have the information and tools to change course for a new and different future—yet we struggle to do so.Around the world, there are a so many incredible ideas available to us, and millions of amazing people are devoting their days and nights to creating positive outcomes.So why aren’t your efforts yielding more results?We’ve asked this question to dozens of changemakers over the years. Here’s a sampling of the answers we get…

  • “I just can’t seem to get and stay organized.”
  • “I’m too busy, distracted and scattered with all the projects to which I’ve committed.”
  • “I work with people who have varying schedules, mental and emotional needs, and working styles.”
  • “I don’t manage my time strategically and end up spending time on projects that aren’t consistent with what I think is really important.”
  • “The general overwhelm of life just keeps getting in my way.”
  • “I constantly feel disempowered and manipulated at work, I just need to find a better place to work.”
  • “I don’t know enough people in enough politically powerful positions to make a change.”
  • “I need to have a steady income for my family, and so I’m stuck in a career that isn’t aligned with my values.”

I can guarantee that their ideal client will read those and identify with at least two of those statements. Again, this is how people begin to know if we’re a fit for them or not. This is how the logic in their mind goes, ‘If they understand my problem that well, then I can trust their solution too’. 

And while we think all of those are a factor, we have found that they aren’t the most important element.So what is that most important piece?We’ll tell you in just a moment, but first, we’d like to tell you who are we and how we come up to the answer we did.

Here I wanted to use the old story telling trick of hooking people in and then saying, ‘We’ll come back to that later’.  

Our story, our mission

img_cecile-and-danielLet us introduce ourselves. We are Daniel Little and Cecile Green and we’ve been social entrepreneurs since we were in our early twenties. We love to dance, grow awe inspiring veggie gardens and concoct great food, we can get lost in the woods for hours bushwhacking in the gorgeous mountains around our home, and we have passionate discussions around big ideas!Over more than 25 years of devoting ourselves to bringing about real change, we’ve researched and experientially studied this question in depth. Not only have we passionately worked towards a healthy planet, we’ve actively studied why making change is so hard.Together, we have:

  • Started and run an organic farm,
  • Been outdoor educators and studied team building and adventure education,
  • Served as members and leaders of intentional communities, where we made and grew everything we needed to sustain ourselves,
  • Explored the world’s esoteric traditions on a path of personal growth and spiritual curiosity.

As entrepreneurs, we have:

  • Started and successfully ran an ecological landscaping and design business,
  • Studied adult development, systems thinking, power dynamics, cultural evolution and Integral Theory.
  • Worked with internet startups and progressive organizational design thinkers.
  • Explored every single organizational process and decision making system we could find, looking for the best tools, skills and principles that could liberate and elevate the innate creativity of groups and organizations.

We’ve struggled to get traction, struggled to balance the demands on our time and energy, and fought against “burnout.”BUT, we’ve never stopped valuing the importance of actually succeeding.What’s the point of working for a better world if our efforts don’t make any difference?What’s the point of spinning our tires? Unless we get traction, there is none.

Here, I just hit home the message of the importance of success a little bit harder and more directly. 

Our journey has lead us to focus on one the most often overlooked, yet essential keys to sustainable change making: the human dimension.

This may sound obvious, but, in our experience, this soft stuff of the human elements of making change can either be the smooth road we drive on or the mud that sucks us deeper down the harder we try. When it’s handled really poorly, it is 100% quicksand.Instead of simply struggling harder which can have you sink faster we need to deal with the mud directly.

Again, using the spinning the tires metaphor. Having a core metaphor makes writing a sales letter so much easier. 

So what we’ve discovered through our research and experiential application is that at the heart of all individual and collective inertia is a lack of understanding and capacity for generative power. Now, power means a lot of different things to different people and that’s part of the problem. We aren’t talking the same language. It’s the tower of Babel, which we all know didn’t end well.

They snuck in the word ‘generative’ again. I think that’s jargon and would use something simpler. I think that last paragraph is a bit confusing. 

But that’s not the whole of the problem.

As individuals our power gets derailed when we aren’t clear about what key forces in ourselves we are wrestling with and most importantly when we can’t see, understand, value, and move beyond the hidden assumptions and competing commitments that are getting in our way.

That paragraph begins to lose me too. 

Getting a handle on this for ourselves is like opening up the trunk of our stuck car and finding some boards in there that we can get under our wheels and get moving again under our own power.

Tying it back to the metaphor gives me a way to be able to picture it that makes sense. 

In organizations, power is frequently frozen in structures that are outmoded and no longer serving a healthy mission. Sometimes this is explicit and other times its implicit, making it even harder to get a handle on. And one of the most significant breakthroughs we’ve engineered in the human dimension, is understanding that we can’t change how power is used one person at a time… we have to change the group mind.And we can’t change how we all think about it just thorough better rhetoric or new principles. All to often at workshops we get bombarded with new information and injunctions to “do it better” and are somehow expected to walk out of the room using power differently!Changing power use as an organization needs to be done through a new set of practices, an organizational operating system, that delivers generative results in action every day, whether or not the individuals involved ‘get it’ immediately or it takes them years…that’s what a practice is all about.

That sentence loses me again.

We become like a disaster response team, whose truck, stuck in the mudslide on the way to the village, jumps into action. We know right where the tow rope, the chains, the shovels are stowed and can immediately put them to good use for ourselves and others we are serving, because we’ve trained for this over time, and we know how to move!

I think this could be said more clearly, but it keeps expanding on a metaphor they understand, so that’s good. This is on the right track.

Sooooo exciting!We can start this training and get powerful results and effectiveness immediately. We no longer have to be held back by individuals who don’t want to participate, can’t stop talking, or who yank power for their own purposes regardless of consequences to the whole, instead we include the value in everyone’s perspective and roll that into powerful, compelling traction for our mission.

I think that could be tightened and said with a bit more clarity but I basically get it. 

This is big stuff! And despite it’s deeply researched theoretical grounding, it’s application is 100% practical and embodied. Which is what we feel the people and planet need most right now.

Jargon: embodied.

Now, our mission is to share what we’ve found—so that we can help change makers everywhere gain traction.

Great! Clear!

So we’ve created this 7-week Mission Traction course as an intensive specifically designed for people like you.You might be a perfect fit for our Mission Traction Program if you also …

  • long for support and maturity in your community and your organizations
  • work hard to take care of yourself, maintain gratitude, and positivity
  • face the hard facts of our multiple crises and keep your sights set on the solutions
  • know this world needs your talents and yearn for more meaningful impact
  • have done a lot of work on yourself already, know you’ve got more work to do, but are also aware that it’s about changing the collective too
  • are fed up with big egos running the show
  • are ready to get laser focused on your priorities to make a difference and are ready to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.

This program is likely not a fit for you if…

  • find the thrill of power more valuable than the results
  • don’t want to be uncomfortable with the stretch of new ideas and practical steps you can take right now
  • are in the midst of multiple major personal changes like moving, finding a new job, health crises, divorce, or other. The emphasis being multiple, one may be fine. We’ve been here, we know what it’s like, and we wish you grace and flow through the eye of the needle. This program requires some bandwidth, take it for best results when you can breathe and think. We’ll be here.
  • find using your mind in addition to your heart and body untasteful or distracting for where you are at

 The above addition of ‘This might be a fit for you if…’ and ‘This might not be a fit for you if…’ is something I think should be in every single sales letter ever. Super critical for this to be clear.

 

Introducing Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

Tuesdays from October 14th to November 25th
6:30pm to 9pm Eastern Time
 

After working with leaders, individuals, teams and organizations of all shapes and sizes, we developed a highly interactive, step by step, 7-week Mission Traction course to give you the core skills, tools and processes you need to have the impact you crave.

 

As a learner, you will:

  • Develop and refine your own suite of personal development practices that will re-shape the way you work, collaborate and lead.
  • Apply your learning and get hands-on practice through carefully-crafted meeting and decision making simulations.
  • Be able to share your experiences and get support and feedback from a rigorous, confidential community of fellow change makers who really understand your struggle from the inside.
  • Receive individualized attention, coaching, feedback and guidance from our highly skilled and experienced team.
  • Be supported to expand your understanding of what causes effective change
  • Gain a suite of new tools, capacities and techniques that will empower you to better bring your mission to life each and every day.

We expect all participants to achieve the following:

  • Learning Outcomes: Insightful understanding of why you’ve been so stuck in the mud for so long
  • Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change (you’ll feel like you learned Jedi skills from Obi Wan himself “this is not the drama you’re looking for…:”)
  • Improved ability to deliver on intended goals (which will have you walk taller and feel more bad ass with every passing week).
  • Increased agility and effectiveness in group decision making which create more engaged, productive, enjoyable meetings with your teams (no more useless meetings!). Imagine having your team actively look forward to going to meetings because so much gets done!
  • Increased personal enthusiasm and energy (because you’ll be getting better results and nothing is more motivating than that).
  • Improved capacity to obtain collaborative accountability (you know what top down accountability looks and feels like, but what about an effective means of being accountable to each other?)
  • Capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities so that you can keep your teams running smoothly even when you realize that people have totally been given the wrong job
  • A robust framework for measuring progress in yourself and your teams. No more leaving it to chance that you move forward.
  • More powerful ability to set and maintain your priorities in the face of multiple competing demands. With each passing week, you’ll feel your spine getting stronger and stronger and your gut instinct being more and more finely tunes. All while staying limber and flexible.

Again, I’ve reworded the bulleted points here to speak a bit more to the impact and benefit of all of these things (e.g. “Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change (you’ll feel like you learned Jedi skills from Obi Wan himself “this is not the drama you’re looking for…:”)). This is really important. It’s an old sales idea of the distinction between features and benefits. The feature is what you are offering them, but the benefit is what it means to them. People are infinitely more interested in the benefits. 

You can learn more about their good work by reading their sales letter in full here or listening to a replay of an hour long interview I did with them about their Mission Traction program. 

 

 

 

 

Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home Retreat

Russell Touched Up 1Writing sales letters is hard. 

I wrote a whole blog post on my thoughts on how to do it in a warmer and yet still effective way years ago called Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies. So, I’ve got opinions but there’s no denying that writing a good sales letter is one of the toughest nuts to crack in any business. A sales letter is the dojo of the marketing world. It’s where you find out exactly how clear you are or not. The best resource I’ve come across on how to write a good sales letter is by Carrie Klassen and it’s called Selling Sweetly

Writing a sales letter is especially hard when you’re writing it around very personal issues such as spirituality. How can selling spirituality not feel gross?

And yet, if you run these kinds of retreats (and it’s where your income comes from) it’s only fair you articulate what it is you’re doing. 

But how?

This was the conundrum of a colleague and dear friend, Russell Scott (the handsome rogue pictured here) who I recently worked with to reword his sales letter. Here’s what he had to say about the process: “I wrote a sales letter based on a copying template I had downloaded from another coach but I just couldn’t get it right. It was awkward. In some sections it was too clinical in some it got far too personal. I was totally stuck in getting it right. I gave what I’d written to Tad and he worked it over. When I read how he had re-written it I literally cried. The whole sales letter had come alive! It was as if Tad had reached into my heart and translated into words all the compassion, care and understanding I have for the people I serve and put it on paper.” 

So, what I’d like to do is walk you through the sales letter with my commentary and show you what I came up with as an alternative that Russell loved so much. I should qualify that this was done in a couple of hours and that there is likely much more that could be done by far better copy writers than I to make this sales letter sing. But I am pretty happy with what came out. 

Coming Home

-an enlightenment intensive –

So, right away, I don’t like the phrase ‘enlightenment intensive’. It sounds like it’s promising enlightenment. Which sounds like hype. 

Ending the search.  Living a deeper life.

Ending the search? That for sure sounds like hype. Like one weekend is going to end a search humanity has been on since time immemorial? Sounds too good to be true – and therefore untrue.

A lot of people secretly wish that they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of.

Meh. This sounds ok. But a bit generic to me. It sounds like a set up for a pitch.

If they could, they’d feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They’d would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

Generic promise. I’m already not feeling much of Russell’s wonderful personality.

But right now, you walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. At the end of the week, you stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. You don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Yet something deep inside is calling your true self to come out and play but you’re trapped in the social way you are supposed to be. You’ve come to the conclusion you don’t know the one that’s been living your life. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. You hide it well but it’s deep…slowly eating your soul.

Here’s where I start to pull back even more. It feels like a bit of an assault. A pitch. It’s trying to be empathetic and yet I feel defensive. I feel like I’m being set up. I don’t identify with everything I’m reading. I find myself leaning away. And part of this comes from the fact that he’s speaking directly to me. He’s saying ‘you’. Which is, ironically, how we’re taught to write sales letters. Speak directly to the other person. We’re admonished, wisely I think, to remember that every sales letter we write will be read one person at a time. So, we should be writing it to our ideal clients and no one else. Sales letters aren’t read by ‘the masses’. They’re read by individuals. So, let’s write to them. Fine so far. But it’s a very modern conception of sales and communication with others to imagine that every conversation with someone should be talking directly to them using ‘you’. We forget that, since time immemorial, humans have best communicated with stories. In a story, people can identify with the parts they do, and leave the rest. A story doesn’t get your hackles up. A story doesn’t make you defensive because it’s not about you. But, in a sales letter or video when we start saying, ‘Do you ever struggle with…’ it can trigger people’s shame around those issues and also ignore how vulnerable they might feel about the issue. It forces them to confront something they may not be ready to confront. 

You’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they don’t do the trick. They actually make you more confused. The hype hurts. Maybe you’ve explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Maybe you have tried a religious path for awhile. You’ve gotten calmer and more relaxed but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened. (you’ve been told it takes a long time). Or maybe the whole guru/student thing gives you a rash so you’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But you’ve gotten lost and alone.

This might all feel true enough but it also feels like it’s setting me up for the pitch, ‘and this will be the thing to finally solve all of your issues’. 

What you really need to do is give up.

This sounds flip and condescending. He’s already telling me what to do? How the hell does he know? It seems like he’s being clever with his language on an issue that isn’t ‘fun’ for me.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the ridiculous idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That’s just another belief to trap you.

Intellectually, I get where he’s going but I’m feeling a bit offended by the tone. Like it’s so easy. 

I know what it’s like

That sounds salesy come out of the set up I just went through. A bit too formulaic. 

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library. I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. My head I was so much in the clouds I was no earthly good.

Again, that sounds clever. Like something he’s said a lot of times. It’s kind of funny. But the issue we’re talking about doesn’t feel funny to me when I’m the one suffering. 

I just got more confused about myself and life. One day I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself.

I’m feeling connected.

It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life.

And now the sales pitch.

I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am!

Every day? Every. Single. Day? He’s enlightened now? This sounds hyped up.

I trained in this method called the Enlightenment Intensive. Since then I changed the name of the retreat to Coming Home and have mastered over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Whoa! That’s a lot of retreats! Maybe the man has something to say.

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is an accelerated process of transformation that takes you to the pinnacle of self-actualization –the direct consciousness of your true Self and Life! 

Pet peeve. Exclamation marks. I hate these in sales letters. Imagine you get three of these that you ever get to use in any sales letter for the rest of your life. Ever. All too often, they trigger hype. Mostly, I  suggest people cut them out entirely.

Second thing, this claim sounds like hype. Big time. This sounds like some flavour of the month spiritual technique.

This illumination is simple, obvious and indisputable, enveloping you with sense of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness.

Obvious and indisputable? Indisputable? This sounds like he’s not very open to feedback or dispute. And it sounds like a generic, new age pitch.

It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself. 

I do like the idea of coming home. That sounds lovely.

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

I like the specifics. Though there’s an abrupt tone shift from salesy to academic here that’s a bit jarring. But it’s nice to finally get to the nuts and bolts of this. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you.

That actually kind of makes sense. I like it. Tell me more.

You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy taught. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance. It is not psychotherapy.

I like this. 

In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days you can spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of your true self!

Bah! Another huge claim that sounds inflated. And an exclamation mark. Grrr. My trust drops. 

Awakening

This phenomenon in the west has been called by Abraham Maslow “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques.

Not sold. Sounds like a vague attempt to rationalize hyped up new age bullshit.

When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. Self-realization usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. You no longer have to spend months, years or even a lifetime to awaken. 

It’s promising I’m going to awaken. Blurgh.

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

Yes. That’s what it sounds like you’re saying. I’m glad you’re self aware enough to see that.

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life.

What? You said you had this experience every day. This now seems like the bait and switch. I’m feeling lied to a bit. 

What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. Coming home to your true self is the most precious gift you can ever give to yourself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world!

Exclamation mark. Vague platitudes. Interest fading fast. 

 “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart can not save this sales letter right now. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

That all feels a bit vague. 

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

Again, a bit vague to me.

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

Good question!

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? There is a paradox here: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

I love that phrase. 

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy.

That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

That actually makes sense to me. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self.

That is indeed credibility building.

I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years.

Humility is nice. And credibility is building.

Why spend any longer being blocked?

That sounds dismissive of how much I’m suffering.

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

Now I’m so confused with what he means by enlightenment. How is he defining this?

Awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over.

Wait. So you’re just offering me a taste of who I am? I’ve had some ‘peak moments’ before. Is this just another one? What happens when I come down from the mountain top and get lost in the valley again?

Then the next project is to start living from the real you.

Ah. That makes sense.

That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

Very curious what advice he’d offer here. 

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family

 Something about the bullet points here feels salesy but enough are specific enough (especially the last two) that these could really help me figure out if it’s a fit. 

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat. 

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.

I like this. That feels personalized. I like that he says ‘no subtle sales techniques’. Huge building of trust. 

 

– END OF SALES LETTER #1 – 

 

So,that was what Russell sent me. Here’s what I sent him back as a rewrite. He’s made a few changes since.

Coming Home

Ending the search. Living a deeper life.

with 

Russell Scott

If you’re reading this, you already know something: life is hard. 

I wanted to start with the truest thing I knew that might resonate with the place Russell’s people are in.

It’s full of beauty and wonderful things – but it’s also full of heartbreak.

Life feeds us but it can also break us.

So, how do we deal with it?

I wanted to acknowledge the complexity of life and the experience of the person reading it. 

In truth, I don’t completely know. But I can share what I’ve discovered in the hopes it will be useful.

For me, when people admit they don’t know everything, it’s so credibility building. I trust them more. And it’s such an ‘anti-sales’ thing to say. I felt like his first letter simplified things too much. I wanted to complicate it a bit and bring more openness to it. 

It’s not an answer but a paradox I want to invite you to sit with as you read this (we’ll come back to it later): You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

This is an old story telling trick of starting a story and then starting another story inside of that story while promising to come back to it. It grabs people in a bit closer. It’s a nice hook. Bring something provocative or compelling up as a tease and promise to get back to it later. 

If you’re reading this, then my guess is that you have been broken a down a little or a lot by life (maybe slowly over years or maybe all at once) to a point where you know you need to dig deeper. But there’s a good chance you feel lost as to how to go about that.

To me the key phrase is here is ‘my guess’. Not making assumptions.

And I’d like to talk about a different path to spiritual growth you may not have tried (or even considered). And to invite you to come to a retreat that’s coming up soon. 

This is the beauty of being direct. The other sales letter didn’t directly say it was about the retreat until the end. Be direct. Tell them that you’ve got something to offer and that you’re going to make your best case for it to help them figure out if it might be a fit for them.

A lot of people I speak with secretly wish they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of. They want to feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

But right now, they walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. 

At the end of the week, they may stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. They don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Something deep inside is calling their true self to come out and play but they feel trapped in the way they are socially supposed to be. 

This is the exact same as the words above, but I changed it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. It’s more a story now. It’s less an accusation or pitch and it’s more of him relating what he’s experienced. 

Some of them tell me that they’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t know the one that’s been living their life. They just have no idea. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. Most of them hide it well (some very well and you’d never guess) but it’s deep…slowly eating their soul.

As Stephen Jenkinson said, “It’s in the nature of being human to forget how to be one on occasion.” But what happens when we forget for a long time? And how do we remember. Many of the people I have worked with are in the midst of the forgetting and don’t know how to get on track.

I wanted to seed the idea that we forget and that remembering is important. 

And it’s not for a lack of trying. 

They’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they didn’t do the trick. They actually made them more confused. The hype hurts. Some have explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Some have tried a religious path for awhile. For most, it’s helped them become calmer and more relaxed… but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened (they’ve been told it takes a long time). 

Again, I switched it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. No need for the reader to get defensive. 

And, for many of them, the whole guru/student thing gives them a rash so they’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But they’ve gotten lost and the truth is that the solitary approach feels incredibly lonely.

It’s not just that they’re alone. It’s that it feels lonely. It’s vital to remember that we’re talking to human beings. Their problems are not mechanical. They are deeply felt. I’ve written about this extensively in my blog post Empathy in Marketing

I’m guessing that, in some way, you can relate to this.

Again, guessing. Not stating definitely. Just supposing. This lets the reader confirm that it’s true. 

And if you can, this is what I want to say to you: What you really need to do is give up.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That might just be another belief to become trapped in.

I left  this in because it didn’t feeling quite as abrupt and insensitive with a more sensitive intro. Reading it now, I’d probably still want to rework this. 

I know what it’s like…

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library.

And I learned something very important – that the easiest way to avoid meditation… is to read books about meditation. A wise Hawai’ian Kahuna once said, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

This felt like another important premise to seed. The difference between theory and experience. He’s offering an experiential retreat. This distinction needs to be crystal clear. 

I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. I was so much in my head I was no earthly good. I just got more confused about myself and life. One day, I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself. It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life. I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am. I trained in this method (called the Enlightenment Intensive). Since then I changed the name of the retreat to something that felt more true to what my experience of it was: ‘Coming Home’ and have led over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Coming Home

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is a simple but beautiful process that weaves together community and inner contemplation to bring you back to an experience of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness. It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself.  

“community and inner contemplation” seemed like a simple way to put it. 

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

It sounds so simple. But, I think that’s why it works so well. 

If you know that something you’re saying sound ‘too simple’ acknowledge that immediately. A good sales letter should read like a dialogue where you are making statements and then anticipating their responses and respond to them. A good sales letter is a wonderful experience where you find yourself constantly saying to yourself, ‘Yes. I was wondering that.’

“It’s like I did ten years of meditation in 3 days.”

Beth Clark, Kingston

Testimonials. These add so much credibility to this letter. If you say it, it could be hype. If someone else says it? Much more credible. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you. You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy to be learned. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance (if you need it). It is not psychotherapy. In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days many people (more than you might think just reading this) spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of their true self. Or that’s how I’d describe it. 

“Or that’s how I’d describe it.” Again. Taking the pressure out of it. Just sharing his experience rather than saying, ‘this is the truth’. More like, ‘this is how I see it’. 

What I see when I work with people is their eyes widening, broad smiles, tears of joy and their bodies melting as the thousand stresses caused by the expectations of who they think they need to be evaporate from their bodies. 

This is using the senses. When you’re describing the result you offer, paint me a picture. Help me see it. Help me hear it, taste it, touch it, feel it. Use all five senses. 

“Words are so inadequate when I try to describe the immense gratitude I feel. I am now moving through my life with new eyes, new ears, and a new voice; and feeling so much more peaceful, alive, and present in this world. Thank you for holding the retreat space in such a patient, gentle, loving, and compassionate way.” Sekoiaa Lake, Peterborough, On

To be honest, I’m not sure I understand it still. But maybe that’s the point. Some things aren’t meant to be understood. Some things can only be experienced and lose everything in the translation. 

Russell is a humble fellow. And I wanted that to come through. Admit that you don’t understand everything. Admit your limits. Admit your faults. And watch people lean in and trust you more. 

Again, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

If you have a core message that is central to your offer, bring it back again and again – make it a familiar refrain you return to. This message of knowledge vs. theory is vital to his workshops. If people don’t buy that idea, they won’t buy his retreat. 

I think what most of us need isn’t more theory. What we need is a dedicated space where we can be supported in doing the one thing we need most – go within. As the old saying goes, ‘if you don’t go within, you go without.’ And it’s the one thing we don’t actually do enough of. We think about it. We read about it. We talk about it. But when we sit down to do it, we get bored, lost or lose steam. We have to do it ourselves but, in reality, it’s hard to do it alone.

This is where I hit people a bit harder. More directly. I’m driving the point home and framing the foundational assumption and premise upon which this retreat is built. In Russell’s first letter, this premise is implicit. But sometimes you need to make these things explicit. Often times, we don’t even realize what the premises are; we don’t understand the point of view upon which our work is based. But a clear point of view is one of the key elements of people figuring out if we’re a fit for them or not. 

In my experience, we all have this internal compass, this part of us that knows the truth (and even more so, is the truth). And what’s causing so much of our suffering in our lives is the inconsistency between the will of our soul and the will of our personality. We need to bring the former out. As it says in the Gospel of Matthew, ‘That which you bring forth will save you. That which you do not bring forth will destroy you.’ And for many people, that experience of destruction is all too real. 

Awakening

But here’s my best take at explaining it: This phenomenon of ‘coming home’ in the west has been called, by Abraham Maslow, “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques. When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. That moment of ‘coming home’ usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. Many of them are caught off guard and amazed at no longer having to spend months, years or even a lifetime to have that moment of ‘awakening’.

Here I make sure to frame it as a ‘moment’ of awakening so it doesn’t seem like a bait and switch later. 

Eckhart Tolle says this about awakening; “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life. What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. 

For me it’s this: Coming home to my true self (the real experience of it in my body not the theory of it) is the most precious gift I have ever given to myself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

“Within one year of the retreat I left my business and took a chance on a new career…money is not important, nor is status. What is important is the feeling that I am now doing what I was originally meant to do with my life!” Mel Steiner -Toronto

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

“I discovered a bond linking myself with others, that we are all beings trapped within our minds trying to communicate our fears and need for love. I am becoming more loving, more real, more open, truthful and trustworthy” Doug Tyler -Toronto

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? 

And we’re back to the paradox: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone. 

Aaaaannd we’ve brought it back. Remember that piece I teased earlier?

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy. That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self. I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years. 

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

I would define awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. This is my belief (as well as the experience of myself and many others): You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  

So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over. Then the next project is to start living from the real you. That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

But the first step is to find it. And, for most of us, that’s been a very hard first step. After all, many of us have spent a lifetime losing ourselves and being misled.

Step One: come home. This doesn’t need to take as long as many think.

Step Two: live in that home. This is a lifetime practice. This is where your life becomes a work of art, an ongoing practice of deepening and expressing who we are in the world.

Again, I didn’t want it to get lost that there were two steps here. 

As the old African proverb goes: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it.”

Is there any support for me after the retreat when I meet the challenges of my life?

It’s quite common after any spiritual or personal development program for the retreat “high” to fade, after a few days or weeks. People are in a more open space and see life more clearly They can have difficulty bringing their new breakthroughs into their lives where their family, friends and work are still the same. All too often people are sent home after other retreats with little guidance and support. 

This is not the case with Coming Home.

The main self inquiry practice in the retreat ends usually on a Sunday evening. In the next half day you are re-introduced to your normal way of relating to others. You are made aware of the challenges you may face and given strategies to deal with them. You then “graduate” into the Enlifenment Program that is designed to help you live in a deeper connection to your true self. (as in step 2 above).

This program includes a guided meditation CD, two follow-up mentorship from me calls a month apart, a six week program of self-inquiry exercises paired with a fellow participant and 2 one or two day re-connection seminars through-out the next year. I am also available for one-to-one sessions (at an addition cost) for anyone that needs this. 

You can choose to become part of a non-dogmatic community of true spiritual friends who have shared deeply in your profound transformation journey. Once again, you have to do this by yourself but now you don’t have to do this alone.

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?”
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are a seeker and not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family
  • You resonate with what you’ve read here so far and feel open to exploring the process for yourself. 
  • You resonate with the idea that, deep down, we know (or are) the truth. We just often need support in finding it.

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat.

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.  

 

– END OF SALES LETTER #2 – 

 

So, that’s it. That’s my quick ‘redo’ of a sales letter to make it less salesy and more reflective of the wonderful man Russell Scott is. He’s one of the kindest, most unassuming, gentle and clear fellows I’ve ever met. You’d be hard pressed to find better as a mentor and support in your inner growth. You can learn more about him and his wonderful work (which I have directly experienced and can attest to) here: www.truesourceseminars.com 

An Interview with Vrinda Normand: The Three Biggest Online Marketing Blindspots

June2013EventDay2V2Vrinda Normand is probably one of the best known copywriters in the whole conscious business scene.

She’s got the goods. Years ago, she did a 30 minute review of my sales copy for a new program I was launching and just tore it to shreds (and helped make it much better). So, I’ve seen her work first hand. She told me about the four stages that a potential clients needs to go through to want to work with you. And you can see seven mini samples of her work in this post.

And if you’d like to check out a series of free educational videos she’s recently put out on how to grow your business by creating virtual programs and products, you can check them out here.

She’s got a new program coming up that I want to make sure you knew about and so I did a little interview with her so you could get a sense of who she is and where she’s come from.

Vrinda speaks a lot about growing her business to seven figures – that might not be what you want but, believe me, she knows what she’s talking about and, at the very least, she can help you be a lot more effective at achieving whatever your marketing goals might be. As much as I am not drawn to the discussion of six and seven figures at this point in my life, I think it’s a mistake to dismiss it and the people sharing it. 

A big message she has here that is worth heeding is to stop winging it. Stop trying to make up the path to success by cobbling it together from things you see around you (that you might not fully understand). Vrinda is big on proven systems, checklists and making it easy for her clients. I’ve got a lot of respect for her.

Where did this program come from? What was the need you saw in the community that had you create this?

It all started when I was an investigative journalist for a Silicon Valley newspaper. I was getting burned out in my job, working too hard and not seeing the cover stories I wrote making a big difference in the world. Important political issues were brought to light but never significantly improved, and I started feeling unfulfilled and out of alignment with my purpose.

My career crisis collided with a health crisis – I became fatigued and my hair started falling out. I barely had enough energy to drag myself off the couch. I discovered I have a serious liver illness and I realized I could no longer keep living the same way – faced with constant deadlines in an underpaying job that made it very hard for me to take care of myself.

So I took a medical leave for a few months and started looking for a new career path. At the same time, I was getting natural healing treatments from a few holistic practitioners. They knew my career background and my situation and told me, “Vrinda, we need help with our marketing writing and YOU know how to write.”

They both invited me to attend a business seminar to learn more about how I could help them grow their businesses with my writing skills. That’s when I realized there was a whole new way I could help people and make a more positive difference.

When I attended the seminar – which was really the biggest eye-opener for me – I learned I could start my own business offering information products and group training programs to help people. This leveraged business model would allow me to break out of the dollars-for-hours cycle that kept me so overworked and underpaid.

I KNEW this was the right path for me. I was so excited to start my business. I invested in my first mentor that weekend and got the training I needed to create info products and programs.

The first product I sold, “E-Zine Articles Made Easy,” got a great response right away, and I knew I was on the right track for helping my clients get the support they needed. 

So in a way, my niche found me and told me how I could help them!  I now work with 1,000’s of holistic practitioners, coaches, consultants and other heart-based entrepreneurs empowering them to grow their businesses online with irresistible marketing messages and strategies.

I’m curious about your learning curve in doing online sales? Were you a natural at this or were there some hard learning curves for you?

As with anything, learning something takes practice and the results in the beginning are likely to be smaller as you’re still becoming competent at a new system or practice. 

My first program launches selling courses online were smaller, generating $20,000, then $50,000 and now we usually bring in about $200,000 with a successful online program launch. 

To get results and keep them growing, you need to follow a proven system – get one laid out for you by a mentor who’s accomplished what you aspire to. Don’t try to “wing it” by copying various things you see others doing online. This will just cause you a lot of headaches and lost income potential. I’ve seen too many people struggle this way.

The people who really master online sales success are those who invest in mentoring, put it into action and stick with it. You also need to be unstoppable – create your product or program and your online sales system, and get the professional mentoring and coaching to improve it as you grow. It’s a constantly evolving process.

And remember to have fun! No matter what level you’re at, growing your business online means you’re helping more people.

What are the three biggest blunders you see people making in online sales?

Great question!

BLIND SPOT #1 – SKIMPY COPY:  The first biggest blunder – or what I call “blind spot” – to watch out for is making your marketing copy (the words on your website) too skimpy, too short. 

Well, let me clarify. You want to write your promotional messaging in a succinct way, which means you use the fewest words to describe your point clearly, so it’s easy and quick for people to understand.

However too “skimpy” means you left a lot of important information out of your copy and people don’t have enough clarity about the value of your offer to take action and buy from you online. This is very common with online sales pages, especially when entrepreneurs are shy about making their page “too long” because they think people won’t read it.

The reality is, sales page copy can never be too long, it can only be too boring. So if you’re afraid people aren’t reading your stuff, you need to take a closer look at making your writing more irresistible, more compelling to your ideal clients.

And you need to make sure you have a complete formula to follow so you don’t miss any important pieces when enrolling clients online. Don’t be afraid to make your page long. Instead, make it thorough and highly engaging.

BLIND SPOT #2 – TALKING ABOUT PROCESS TOO MUCH:  The second “blind spot” is making your sales page too process driven. You focus too much of your messaging on the delivery of your program or product, so it’s all about your solution and how it works. 

That’s not very attractive to your ideal clients. They don’t care so much about process. What they care about is getting a solution to their problem and getting the end-results of the process. 

So focus on your ideal client and what they WANT, show them what outcomes are possible for them if they say yes to your program or product. 

This is very related to the first blind spot – process-driven copy is boring. So to make it more exciting, focus on the results and pleasures your ideal clients can look forward to.

BLIND SPOT #3 – TALKING TO EVERYONE: A third blind spot to avoid is making your copy too vague, not having a clear focus on a specific ideal client. 

You’d be surprised how many people think they know what a “niche” is but are still making this common mistake. 

When you try to please too many people at the same time, making your copy speak to different types of ideal clients because you don’t want to leave anyone out, the power of your message becomes watered down.

And even though you think you may attract more clients when you broaden your focus, you actually attract far less people because very few will be able to see how your message is relevant for them.

When your sales page has what I call “multiple personality disorder” your potential clients will become confused – they’ll see something that describes their situation but then they’ll see something else that’s very different. They’ll think your program isn’t right for them and go away without buying. 

 So to get the best results and truly serve people with your online sales copy, focus your page on 1 specific ideal client, and write as if you’re crafting a personal letter to 1 person. Imagine them in your head – this will make your page so much more intimate, conversational, and pleasing to read.

You’ve got a program coming up about online sales, can you tell us a bit about it and why you structured it the way you have?

My Irresistible Online Sales System enrollments are open for a few weeks this month (August 2013) – and I LOVE offering this program because it’s my most popular, most effective training to help entrepreneurs discover their irresistible marketing messages, create programs and sell them online. I specialize in working with entrepreneurs who want their marketing voice to be authentic, feel natural, and at the same time, be irresistible so clients respond and take action.

I’ve been evolving this program for the past 6 years and over 1,000 entrepreneurs have graduated from it. I feel it’s the strongest it has ever been in terms of teaching effectively and breaking down the proven step-by-step system to sell online. 

The program is taught with 7 virtual training modules, focused on the 7 key stages to enroll paying client online:

  • Market research to create the right offer for the right people 
  • Package your program for wildly successful sales
  • Craft your Irresistible Sales Page to Inspire a YES
  • Create your Compelling Offer Video that enrolls paying clients on the spot
  • Build Trust and Desire with Your Educational Videos
  • Get the proven launch plan to attract a rush of online sales
  • Get the team and technology to support you

The program also includes several forms of implementation support, coaching and Q&A opportunities that give my clients accountability, clarity and inspiration to fully implement the system.

I find that people need both a clear system to follow and the guidance to get it done right – that includes getting professional feedback on your marketing messages to make them compelling to your ideal clients. We also devote a significant portion of the training to helping people clarify who their ideal clients are and what program or product to offer – this is the most important foundation of any online sales system and that’s where we start with the program.

The Irresistible Online Sales System is right for any entrepreneur who wants to create leveraged income by selling an information product or group program online. If you don’t know what to offer yet but you know you want to grow in this direction, that’s great – I can help you with this program. It’s valuable for entrepreneurs with new or established businesses – both can create leveraged income online with success.

To learn more about how The Irresistible Online Sales System can benefit you, come to my complimentary webinar on “How to Enroll Paying Clients Online 24-7.”

It’s happening very soon! Save your spot now by clicking here

 

80 Minute Video Interview with George Kao – The Seven Steps to True Livelihood

george kaoOn August 6th, I hosted a video interview with my dear colleague George Kao.

George is consistently one of the innovative colleagues I’ve ever met.

He’s launching a new initiative in the personal growth & business space using a co-op business model which is really inspiring for me and we had a conversation about the seven steps he takes people through to identify their true livelihood – a business or career that feels good to them, uses their gifts and sustains them.

You can check out his initiative here: http://www.truelivelihoodcommunity.com/join.html and watch the eighty minute video interview below. 

 

Interview: Life Coaching is Not a Business with Rebecca and Ellen

Screen-shot-2013-07-04-at-9.14.13-AMMy colleague and dear friend Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (and her colleague Ellen Ercolini) have come out with a new program for Life Coaches that I wanted to share with you. Rebecca has been featured on my blog a number of times.

They have a really interesting take on helping coaches get more clients that I’ve never heard before (e.g. “We believe that “coaching” in and of itself isn’t a business.” and the idea of picking your expertise before choosing your niche).

If you’re a life coach (or holistic practitioner) I invite you to give this a read. 

Why did you choose Coaches to work with? What types of challenges do Coaches tend to have?

Ellen: We picked coaches because we both come from coaching backgrounds and we’ve watched our peers struggle, which totally sucks.  Coaches have a very strong drive to help the world – they really, really care about it.  They really want to make people’s lives  happier and positively impact the world.  Who doesn’t want to help those folks accomplish their dreams faster? It’s such a gratifying circle of positive impact.

What they don’t have, by and large, is strong marketing and entrepreneurial skills.   SO many coaches graduate coaching school (ourselves included!) thinking “I can change the world! I can do anything!” And, without the biz skills to back that up, it’s not true. Which leads to really talented people getting depressed and sad about their perceived lack of coaching skills, when in reality it’s the marketing and business skills  they are missing.  

We figured it out pretty early on in our business development, so now we’re on a mission to short circuit that learning curve for other coaches.

Becca: Ditto what Ellen said. And I’d add that coaches tend to be really timid with their marketing. They often have this view that doing good shouldn’t make them a lot of money. That they don’t need money. Which is totally ridiculous. There’s nothing noble about being broke. And there’s nothing “bad” about wanting to make not just a good living, but a damn good living. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy some freedom to travel, volunteer, give back, and provide for your family. Those things feel pretty noble to me! 

What’s the system you offer to help coaches solve those problems?

Becca: We believe that “coaching” in and of itself isn’t a business. Coaching is a skill that you use in your business to help bring your clients some kind of result. So in a sense, we’re helping coaches actually figure out what their business is – where their expertise lies.

Once they get clear on their expertise (which includes their niche), we teach them to talk about coaching in a way that gets them clients. Coaches have the habit of using really jargon-y words, so we teach them how to talk about what they so that people perk up and listen (and then ask for their card!). We like to make it EASY for coaches to get referrals, so we teach them how to get known as an expert in their field. Then we  teach them how to use their expertise to create packages that their clients are begging for. No more having to go hunt down your clients. And this all may sound intimidating, but it’s actually really simple, and anyone can do it.

Ellen: YES!  We both use this method in our businesses and have seen huge growth.  When you start speaking clearly about the problems you solve in a way that your clients resonate with, people actually start remembering what you do.  

What’s the number one mistake you see coaches make when they are first starting businesses?

Ellen: They try to help everyone.  Here’s the deal – when people hear ‘I  work with everyone!’ it gets interpreted as ‘no one’.  I see new coaches all the time saying they help people live a ‘more fulfilled life’ – when I ask who specifically they work with they say ‘oh everyone!’ – when I ask how many clients they have it gets really quiet.  

Another huge roadblock for new coaches like Becca mentioned, is talking with too much coaching jargon.  Coaches understand what ‘shifting perspectives to align with values’ means, but it’s because we’ve all gone through classes!  New coaches need to be vigilant about explaining what they do in language that their ideal clients use.  So I guess that’s two mistakes, but they go hand in hand.

Becca: Trying to work with everyone. Gahhh, it drives me nuts! Not only does it not help with their marketing, but I can guarantee that they also don’t WANT to work with everyone. We’re allowed to be selfish in our businesses for the sake of our clients. What I mean is that by only working with clients who totally light you up, you’ll do WAY better coaching, you clients will get more out of it, and work will always feel good for you.

New coaches also tend to have these open ended packages (typically 2-4 sessions a month, for minimum 3 months, on an ongoing, seemingly never-ending basis. No one wants to buy a never-ending service! I don’t know who started with that model, but those don’t sell. New coaches are often reluctant to break away from the way it’s typically done, but we show them a way to structure their packages that makes WAY more sense, and that gets them more clients.

What’s your view on coaches choosing a niche? How should they go about that?

Becca: We believe in expertise first, niche second. Most people go about it backwards – they want to come up with a niche first, before they are even really clear on what they want to do.

So for example, instead of saying “I help single moms”, they might say “I’m an expert organizer and I help people with really busy lives to fit all the millions of things they need to do into their days without getting totally overwhelmed”. That leaves them lots of room to work with different kinds of people (if they don’t want to choose just one niche), but also positions them as the expert in something, so they get known faster for what they do. So YES – choose a niche, but make sure it’s grounded in your expertise.

Ellen: Exactly! Because as we know, businesses evolve.  Developing your business around your expertise makes it simple to apply it to different groups (niches) – and if you want to transition niches, it’s a simple pivot, not an re-brand.  It’s also much more of a natural extension of who the business owner is as a whole person, so it makes the marketing and sales aspect a lot smoother.  

How will this help Coaches in terms of Marketing?

Ellen: Using this system coaches become super clear about where and how to market themselves, and they’ve got the words to make people hear them.   It enables the coaches to speak clearly about the problems they solve, and articulate the results they offer.  Which is totally what people want!  They want you to swoop in and solve their problems!  Which our coaches do now.  Many of the coaches that have gone through Coaching Business Jumpstart have landed new clients the next day because they finally knew how to talk to potential clients.  How’s that for short-cutting the learning curve?

Becca: Most coaches don’t even know what the term “marketing” really means (I certainly didn’t when I got started!). But marketing is really all grounded in being specific about what you do – so in that sense, everything we teach them will help with their marketing! Especially because we help coaches get confident in what they are doing. Too many coaches don’t see their true value, they tend to leave out all their past experiences and just see themselves as new coaches. But we teach them to integrate ALL parts of who they are into their business, so that they feel totally confident in what they do and how they offer it to people, and confidence is KEY in marketing yourself. If you don’t believe in what you do, how can you expect anyone else to?

Where can people find you ladies and learn more about the Coaching Business Jumpstart?

You can get in on the program and find out more about our individual coaching businesses at www.coachingbusinessjumpstart.com. We currently have a self-study version for sale, and will be running the live event again on September 14.


If you’re a coach struggling to make your business work, Becca + Ellen have your answer with Coaching Business Jumpstart. This program is your ticket to making the business side of coaching feel fun and easy. You will learn exactly where you need to start, lay out a plan for moving forward, and leave with the skills and knowledge to make your dream coaching business a reality. You’re great at what you do. You KNOW you can help people. Now if only you knew who those people were, where to find them, and how to get them to hire you! Coaching Business Jumpstart teaches you how.

case study: 10 lessons on making a no hype compelling sales video

My dear friend and colleague Ryan Eliason has put together a video presentation about his upcoming business training for social entrepreneurs. I just finished watching it. And it. is. good.

I want to encourage you to watch this (whether or not you decide to participate in his training). I think this video is a great example of a few key marketing lessons. Ten of them in fact.

I’ve laid out the ten lessons below that I’d love for you to take from this and, as per usual, I’ve loaded this blog with a tonne of links to posts I’ve written on key topics and useful resources to help you get the most out of this as possible.

Context is important here. If Ryan were simply to make this video, put it on his website and hope that people signed up, he’d get very little response. This video is a part of a campaign with a start date and an end date. It is being introduced to people (like you) through people they trust (like me). It’s also being shown to people who have taken part of five very content rich teleseminars that have been leading up to Ryan’s 21 week program. That’s important. People aren’t seeing this video with no context. And they’re only watching it because they’re a socially conscious solopreneur who wants more money and more free time and they are curious about what Ryan has to offer at this point.

There are lots of kinds of videos you can make. You can make a video for your homepage, a bio video, a blog video of just you sharing to the webcam some new thing you’ve learned. But you can also use a video as a direct ‘here’s what I’ve got and here’s how much it is’ offer.

In marketing baseball terms, most people are already on second or third base by the time they watch this video. There’s already at least curiousity but likely some trust and excitment by the time they hit it.

Here’s the video  . . .

 

LESSON #1: Tone.

Ryan demonstrates how to be respectful, direct, understated, down to earth, grounded and matter of fact in your presentation (vs. over the top, too enthusiastic, pushy, aggressive and hyped up). This is something my colleague Lynn Serafinn wrote about in her book, ‘The Seven Graces of Marketing‘. And I’ve written about it in some blog posts about this idea of resonance and also in a recent blog post ‘Nine Thoughts of Copywriting for Hippies‘. He does this by acknowledging that not everyone will be able to get the same results. He acknowledges the limitations of his own program based on where people are at. To me that is so incredibly credibility building.

 

LESSON #2: Fit.

What if we used marketing as a filtering process of attracting only who’s a perfect fit (vs. trying to sell everyone into your programs). If you’re just in it for money? It’s not a fit. It’s powerful to not only say, ‘Here’s who my program is a fit for,’ but also ‘Here’s who my program is not a fit for.’ People feel immensely respected when you let go of your attachment to making the sale just lay out clearly who your program is a good match for.

 

LESSON #3: Stories.

This video powerfully uses the power of case studies and success stories of your clients (e.g. in his case a naturopath, fair trade tea company CEO and a relationship coach). These establish credibility but also give clarity about who his program might be a fit for. Stories are so powerful in marketing. My colleague Casey Hibbard wrote a brilliant ebook on this at www.storiesthatsellguide.com. And you can also check out the excellent work of Michael Margolis at www.getstoried.com or read my blog posts about using stories effectively in marketing.

 

LESSON #4: Point of View.

Here’s where I think this video really excels. It demonstrates the power of sharing your clear point of view about the best system to get from Island A to Island B.

Ryan does a solid job of laying out his take on why most socially conscious entrepreneurs don’t get the results they are craving. He breaks down the elements (in his case eight of them) and makes the case that if you’re missing even one of these it’s like a leak in your boat (which is a great example of effectively using a metaphor to sum up your business).

And so, if you are missing multiple elements then you have multiple holes in your boat. In my workshops, I will talk about the three foundations of your marketing or the six elements of a successful platform. These types of maps and systems are extremely useful in helping people self diagnose themselves and see if what you’re offering can be a fit. Think also of: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the seven chakras, the five elements of chinese medicine, the four directions etc. Maps.

After all, someone might watch this video and think, ‘You know what? I’m really solid in all eight of these.’ and, wonderfully, realize that Ryan’s program isn’t a fit for them (thus saving dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars that would have been wasted if they’d been hyped or pressured into it.

But, if they are lacking in some of these areas then it’s likely they’ll lean into wanting to work with him. Ryan doesn’t just list the outline of his course and hope that people ‘get it’. He makes his case. He says, ‘Here’s what I think you need to make this journey and here’s why I think you need it.’ Again, he’s very direct. And direct is respectful.

 

LESSON #5: Sharing your Why.

Ryan does a great job hear of repeatedly coming back to his ‘why’ of making the world a better place through seeing socially conscious businesses succeed. His why comes through in a number of ways. Many programs wax on and on about ‘don’t you yearn to make a difference? have a bigger impact?’ and it honestly makes me gag sometimes because it seems soooooo overly, earnestly sincere and like it’s trying so hard not to be marketing.

I’d rather someone just made their case directly. And, frankly, I don’t think trying to sell someone on your services based on altruism and ‘doing the right thing’ ever works. People do things because there’s something in it for them. Find that. Speak to that. But, if people get that you can help them get a result they’re craving and relevance has been established then your ‘why’ (the deeper cause of your business) becomes incredibly compelling. How does Ryan communicate his why?

It comes through in his voice.

His program is targeted towards socially conscious entrepreneurs.

His case studies of socially conscious entrepreneurs.

It’s not enough to just mention your ‘why’ once. If you really want it to land for people then you need to come back to that again and again and again.

 

LESSON #6: Speak to the Impact.

Ryan doesn’t just give his map – he reemphasizes the impact of what happens if people follow his kind of advice (whether from him or someone else) and when they don’t. The basic formula is, “If you don’t implement these these then ______ is likely to happen but if you do implement these things then _______ is likely to happen.”

You need to speak to the impact. You need to speak directly to ‘here’s what’s in it for you.’ If all Ryan did was speak to how cool he thought his program was he’d lose people. And that’s a huge mistake that so many people make. Instead of talking about the journey they take people on from Island A to Island B – they talk about the boat. And, as I wrote about in a recent blog post, no one cares about your boat initially.

Even the title of Ryan’s program, “Double Your Income and Your Time Off” speaks directly to this. People don’t want to sign up for a business coaching program. But people do want more money and more free time. They want to feel more confident. They want to make a bigger different. Speak directly to what people are craving.

 

LESSON #7: Anticipate Concerns.

Ryan anticipates a very likely concern that will come up for most people who’d be drawn to his course, ‘But my business is different.’ And then he addresses it directly. If there are common questions and concerns that come up from people, risks they’re afraid they’ll have to take in if they work with you, address those head on. It will have your sales letters feel like much more of a conversation because you’re acknowledging what’s happening for them on their side.

 

LESSON #8: Know Your Niche.

Okay. This should be #1 really. This program is focused on a particular niche. It’s a bit broad but it seems to work for him. It’s for socially conscious solopreneurs. It’s what I’d call a big circle (and in the video he lists lots of the little circles that fit inside of it). You can read my thoughts on Big & Little Circles in niching here. But Ryan is not niching by industry or age or geography (demographics) he’s niching by type of business (socially conscious solopreneurs), a core problem (not enough clients, time or money) and focuses heavily on psychographics (the internal values, worldview and communities they’re a part of).

 

LESSON #9: Establish the Value. 

Ryan takes the time to go through his program and make sure that people get the impact each piece could have. He makes sure that people know how much each piece is worth on its own so that, when you get to the final price, it’s clear that you’re getting good value for your money. If I had to sum up marketing in a single sentence, I’d borrow Mac Ross’s words, ‘Marketing is about establishing the value beyond the immediately apparent.’ Don’t assume that people ‘get’ how valuable your stuff is. If they don’t appreciate it, that’s your fault, not theirs.

Ryan also does something compelling in the powerful reframing of the cost of his course as an investment. And he doesn’t do this in an offhanded way. He makes the case systematically. Communicate the value of what you do.

 

LESSON #10: Video Sales Letters.

This lesson is sort of implicit in the presentation itself but I want to flag it.

Your programs that you offer likely have a lot of of aspects to them. They’re not so simple. And, sometimes, it just takes a while to really communicate everything you’ve put together to help people. But many people are sick of the long scrolling sales letters. So, Ryan lays out another option in dealing with this – put it into a video. If you were to take the transcript of this video and put it into a long copy sales letter – it would be pretty long. But, for some reason, video is often easier to digest for people. It’s something to consider as an option. You can read my posts about writing sales letters here.

If you’d like to see other posts of mine on the power of video marketing just click here.

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/