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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a good question to ask:

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

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

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

Fair enough.

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

Relevance means that they see a fit for them.

Credibility means that they trust you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s really about it.

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

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

It’s that simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

Now, ‘all’ might be overstatement.

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

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

If you do this, you will engender more trust.

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

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

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

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

But consider the subtle difference between these two approaches.

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

Approach #2: Sharing Your Point of View – “If you want to get ______ result, here are seven things you need to understand.” and then at the end of the workshop, “If that approach and those seven things make sense to you, you might enjoy my weekend workshop because we go deeper into all of those things.” Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life fame has done a brilliant job of this with a free checklist she offers of eight things you need to have in place to get more clients. “The checklist itself,” she says, “is a simple list of all the steps we complete in our Uncage Your Business program, with a note at the end that they can work on this with me live and a link to get on the UYB waitlist.”

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

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

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

I was met with a frosty response.

Ah well.

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

Additional Free Resources:

Video Interview on Point of View Marketing (70 min)

Point of View Marketing Primer Video (10 min)

Products to Consider:

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

The Art of the Full House

Point of View Marketing

Don’t Market Yourself. Market Your Message.

On Promises

38592537 - a mother and her child hooking their fingers to make a promise, vintage style

The purpose of marketing is to make promises.

The purpose of your business is to keep them.

Most traditional cultures in the world are overflowing with proverbs around the importance of keeping your word and doing what you say you will do.

It’s certainly true for my own Scottish and Celtic ancestry.

“If I break faith, may the skies fall upon me, may the seas drown me, may the earth rise up and swallow me.” – ancient Gaulish oath of the elements

“We of the Fianna never told a lie. Falsehood was never attributed to them. But by truth and the strength of our hands, we came safe out of every combat.” – Ladaoidh Chunaic an Air, anon. Irish Poem

And the following Scottish Gaelic seanfhaclan (literally ‘old words’ or proverbs)…

B’fheàrr gun tòiseachadh na sguir gun chrìochnachadh.
(Better not to begin than stop without finishing).

Am fear as mò a gheallas, ‘s e as lugha cho-gheallas.
(He that promises the most will perform the least).

Gealladh gun a’choimhghealladh, is miosa sin na dhiùltadh
(Promising but not fulfilling, is worse than refusing).

Am fear a tha grad gu gealladh, ‘s tric leis mealladh.
(Quick to promise often deceives).

Chan eil fealladh ann cho mòr ris an gealladh gun choimhlionadh.
(There is no deceit/fraud so great as the promise unfullfilled).

My guess is that, if you looked to your own ancestry, you’d find similar things. Without the ability to trust the words of others, there is no capacity for culture.

There are four levels of relating to your promises:

  1. You over-promise and under-deliver. This is the worst. It creates disappointment and a terrible reputation.
  2. You promise and deliver. This is solid and will get you a fine reputation as someone who is reliable. This is the bare minimum for being in business.
  3. You under-promise and over-deliver. This is rare. This will earn you rave reviews and endless word of mouth.
  4. You don’t promise at all. You just deliver value for the joy of it. Imagine the utter delight of your clients to get something from you that they didn’t even expect. 

Your reputation, and thus the amount of word of mouth you receive, will be largely be determined by the degree to which you are able to deliver (or over-deliver) on your promises.

What are you promising people? Is this clear?

And what level are you at right now in terms of your delivering?

Additional Reading: 

Are you marketing the journey or the boat?

The Art of Relevance

Gifts vs. Tools

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Gifts and tools are different things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are doing work that isn’t built around your natural gifts and you have a lot of really good tools you’re using, you’re probably “competent.” But you’ll likely only ever be good at it.

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

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

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

This is how you become trustworthy.

26 Min Video: Point of View Marketing Overview

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

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

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

You can watch the video below.

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

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

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

Intake Forms & Earning Trust

Trust

I went to see a therapist the other day.

It was my first time making an appointment with her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate this.

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

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

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

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

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

I shook my head.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Stop being cranky I told myself.

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

I narrow my eyes.

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

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

I don’t know why.

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

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

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

“Why don’t we skip to that?” I say.

“Sure.” And, to her credit, we do.

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

I wish all sessions would start this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Reading:

Marketing for Psychotherapists

Slow Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I sat there having an incredibly mixed experience. 

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

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

There was no intake form for me to fill out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy before education.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My final thought…

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

The Marketing Mistake The Spice Store Made

Row of spice jars

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

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

I walked in and asked a woman who worked there. 

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

I was struck by the loss of the marketing opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can just sell what you sell.

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

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

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

Stop Trying To Be So Authentic

Authenticity is not a goal.

It’s a byproduct of something else.

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

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

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

I’ve seen email subject lines say things like:

This is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever shared.” 

Or, “I’m really scared to share this with you . . .

Then I read it and that vulnerable thing is something so sales-y that is clearly not very vulnerable at all. They used my caring for them as a hook to get me to open the email. That didn’t feel good. As another colleague of mine, Teray, shared, “When someone sends too many “vulnerable,” and, “embarrassing” subject headings in a row, it starts to feel like me-me-me-me.”

Often this strategy rings hollow. Some of it makes the person marketing seem like they’re trying really, really hard to be authentic.

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

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

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

Nothing is being hidden.

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

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

Authentic doesn’t look a particular or specific way.

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

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

In marketing, I think it’s the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Resources:

The Seven Graces of Marketing – Lynn Serafinn

Marketing for Hippies 101 – Tad Hargrave

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

The Power of Sticking Around Long Enough

patience1-1It’s happened a number of times to me now.

I meet someone or some across a business which provides a product or service that I see as needed and that I might want to recommend.

And then they go out of business. Or they stop doing that thing.

And it’s often before I’ve really had the chance to get to know them or had much occasion to spread the word about them. It’s frustrating because I love knowing who to send people to if I can’t help them.

I’d be speaking with someone and say, “Oh yeah. John does that kind of work. He’s great.”

And then someone would overhear me and say, “Oh. John stopped doing that a few months ago. Now he’s onto this other thing.”

Niche switching is a natural thing to do. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s often exactly what you need to do.

But it takes a while for a reputation to be made. It just takes time and most people quick or change direction before they get there. They’re digging a well and, a foot before they hit water, discouraged, they stop digging there and start digging somewhere else and so they never reach the life replenishing stream under the ground.

In business, those waters are the natural flow of word of mouth that sends you business without you even lifting a finger. It’s the power of becoming a hub, becoming a trusted advisor, expert or ‘go to person’ in any particular arena. That does the marketing for you. If you stick around long enough, hustle while you do it and connect with other hubs in a good way, without three years, everyone knows who you are and what you’re about.

If you work on the issue of trauma for three years in a community and do your best to get the word out there, keep at it.

If you do a unique kind of yoga, have a niched permaculture business, have a business based on a particular target market, or based on a particular thing you’re offering, if you have anything even close to resembling a niche, you do a great job and you stick around long enough in business, you will develop a reputation as someone to go to for particular issues or for particular things. Just by having stuck it out long enough you will have a name in town for doing things. Most people give up on this too soon.

But it takes time.

Most entrepreneurs don’t stick around long enough to really get known for anything.

Most entrepreneurs do not persist and play the long game.

Guest Post: The Resume Is Dead, The Bio Is King

storyThis article was originally published on The99Percent.com and went viral with 6,000+ retweets/shares. It has been republished on LifeHacker and across the web.

Written by: Michael Margolis      Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

If you’re a designer, entrepreneur, or creative — you probably haven’t been asked for your resume in a long time. Instead, people Google you — and quickly assess your talents based on your website, portfolio, and social media profiles.

Do they resonate with what you’re sharing? Do they identify with your story? Are you even giving them a story to wrap their head around?

Gone are the days of “Just the facts, Ma’am.” Instead we’re all trying to suss each other out in the relationship economy. Do I share something in common with you? How do we relate to each other? Are you relevant to my work?

That’s why the resume is on the out, and the bio is on the rise.

People work with people they can relate to and identify with. Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resume. Your bio needs to tell the bigger story. Especially, when you’re in business for yourself, or in the business of relationships. It’s your bio that’s read first.

To help you with this, your bio should address the following five questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. How can I help you?
  3. How did I get here (i.e. know what I know)?
  4. Why can you trust me?
  5. What do we share in common?

Your bio is the linchpin for expanding your thought leadership and recognition, especially online. It frames the conversation and sets the tone. It’s your job to reveal a bit about yourself and how you see the world. Do this well, and people will eagerly want to engage with you further.

Here’s the challenge: who taught you how to write your bio?

Admittedly, most of us never got a lesson in this essential task. You’re not alone. Even the most skilled communicators get tongue-tied and twisted when trying to represent themselves in writing. We fear the two extremes: obnoxious self-importance or boring earnestness.

It gets further complicated when you’re in the midst of a career or business reinvention. You have to reconcile the different twists and turns of your past into a coherent professional storyline.

The personal branding industry has only muddied the waters. It’s easy to feel turned off by the heavy-handed acts of self-promotion that the various gurus out there say you’re supposed to do. We’ve been told to carefully construct a persona that will differentiate and trademark our skills into a unique value proposition.

That’s mostly a bunch of buzzword bingo bullshit.

Instead, share more of what you really care about.

And then write your bio in service to your reader, not just ego validation.

Imagine that: A compelling reason to tell your story beyond bragging to the world that you’re “kind of a big deal.” Embrace the holy-grail of storytelling: tell a story that people can identify with as their own – and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears.

With all this in mind, here’s a few key pointers for reinventing your bio as a story:

1. Share a Point of View.

You’re a creative. Having something to say is the ultimate proof. What’s missing from the larger conversation? Speak to that. Don’t be afraid to tell the bigger story. We want to know how you see the world. Show us that you have a unique perspective or fresh vantage point on the things that matter most.

2. Create a Backstory.

Explain the origin for how you came to see the world in this way. Maybe it was something that happened to you as a kid or early in your career. Consider your superhero origins. How did you come into these powers? What set you off on this quest or journey? What’s the riddle or mystery you are still trying to solve? When you tell the story of who you were meant to be, it becomes an undeniable story. Natural authority is speaking from the place of what you know and have lived.

3. Incorporate External Validators.

Think frugally here. To paraphrase the artist De La Vega, we spend too much time trying to convince others, instead of believing in ourselves. Nonetheless, if you’re doing something new, different, or innovative — you have to anchor it into the familiar. Help people see that your novel ideas are connected to things they recognize and trust. That might be your notable clients, press, publications, or things you’ve created. Just enough to show people your story is for real.

4. Invite people into relationship.

Now that you’ve established you’ve got something to share, remind people you’re not so different from them. Vulnerability is the new black. Share some guilty pleasures. Describe what you like to geek out on. Reveal a couple things you obsess about as hobbies or interests. This will make you more approachable and relatable. You’re human, too. Help people find the invisible lines of connection.

To revamp your bio, start with these simple storytelling principles and questions above.

In the process, you’ll discover a greater potential to shift how you see yourself and how the world sees you. Your story sets the boundaries for everything else that follows.

If you’re having trouble being heard, recognized, or understood, it’s probably an issue related to your story and identity.

SAMPLE COPY ADDED to promote webinar:

The good news? I want to help you tell your story.

Join my friend Michael for his new FREE webinar called, RE-STORY YOURSELF: How to Attract Your Future with a Better Bio.

This webinar will teach you simple storytelling shortcuts to creating a standout yet authentic bio that attracts more of what you want. Discover the right tone, structure, and how to craft an interesting point of view. You’ll learn how to use story to position your work, attract opportunities, and get paid for being the real you.

Click here to sign up for my FREE webinar now!

It’s never too late to reinvent your story.

Story on!