Guest Post: A Simple Way to Keep Track of Your Hub Marketing

By Lisa Baker

What would it mean for your business if your email subscriber list doubled next month?

What if your client list doubled?

Better yet, what if you knew you could double your client list whenever you wanted, with just a few simple steps – and you could do it without spending any money on your marketing?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, that would transform your business (not to mention your wallet).

And that’s the kind of results you can expect when you partner with influencers to implement a hubs marketing strategy.

Hubs marketing is simple: it just means finding the people your customers already listen to and the places where they already are, and asking those people and places to share and recommend your products and services.

Hubs are the influential people whom your ideal customer is listening to. They’re the famous bloggers, the citywide farmers’ markets, the healing festivals, and the big nonprofits where your ideal customer is hanging out, listening, and spending time.

Like the hub of a wheel, they’re the centre where many spokes branch out — a whole network of places and people where your customers already are.

And when hubs talk about you, people come to you.

But how do you get hubs to talk about you?

Many people believe it’s pure luck: You have to already know the right people.

Others think it’s networking: You have to slowly schmooze and network your way into the influential “cool kids” club.

But I believe that connecting with hubs is very simple: You ask.

Sound terrifying? It doesn’t need to be. If you have the right elements in place first, you can reach out to hubs with confidence and connect with them simply and naturally.

You just need three things.

First, you need a truly valuable offer.

Creating this mostly has to do with deeply understanding your niche. Once you understand exactly what’s unique and different about what you’re offering in your business, and you’re able to articulate that in a clear way, then it’s easy to attract the attention of a hub. The key here is being different – if you reach out to a hub asking them to share something that’s exactly like what everyone else is doing, they won’t be intrigued or interested; they’ll be annoyed.

Discovering and articulating your niche is a lot of work, and it can take some time. Here are some ways you’ll know when your niche is ready for you to reach out to hubs:

  • When you meet someone at a networking event and you tell them briefly what you do, their response is something like, “Wow! Tell me more?” or “Whoa. What does that mean exactly?” or “Oh! I know someone who needs that!”
  • When you look at the message and offerings of the most influential and well-known people in your industry, your response is, “That’s a great start, but they’re leaving out this really important thing…” or “I disagree with their approach; it’s much better to…” In other words, you can clearly describe what you feel is missing from what most people in your industry do, and the missing thing is something you offer.
  • You’ve studied the major influencers and players in your industry, and you can honestly say you are the only business you know of who does [fill in the blank] for [whoever you do it for]. The thing in the blank could be the specific thing you do, the exact way you do it, or the people you’re doing it for, but either way, it’s definitely, truly unique.

Your niche doesn’t have to be perfect before you start reaching out to hubs, but it needs to be close. It needs to be about 70% of the way there. You need to have a pretty solid idea of what your message is and why it’s different.

I recommend that before you start reaching out to hubs, you test your niche description at a networking event. Go to an event focused on people in your industry, and see how they respond to your introduction of yourself and what you do. If they aren’t immediately intrigued by your one-sentence description of your work, then your niche isn’t quite ready yet.

Second, you need hubs who are a great fit for you.

Marketing is always about finding the right fit with customers, and hubs marketing is about finding the right fit with hubs.

Just like finding a fit with customers, the right fit with a hub encompasses two things: the how and the what. How means your approach, your mindset, your vibe, and your general worldview. What means the specific thing you offer and whom you offer it for. Both of these need to align for you and the hub to be a good fit.

“General worldview” is a broad filter that can be hard to discern from a distance, but my rule of thumb is always this: If you don’t truly, honestly admire a hub, then don’t try to partner with them.

Skim through their website and social media, and check with your gut. Do you like the things they’re sharing? Do you get a good feeling from their language and their message? Is your instinctive reaction “Wow, I want to be friends with them!” or “Ick?”

Find the partners whose online presence makes you feel like you can’t wait to go out for a beer with them. Sure, you can’t really tell from their online presence or reputation. Yes, you’re just guessing. But anyone who’s influential will have some kind of public persona. And your reaction to the public persona they project will often be an accurate indicator of whether your general approaches are aligned. Go with your gut.

The what of fit is often harder at first, but it’s actually easier to determine.

Many entrepreneurs, when looking for hubs, think first of the influencers who do basically the same thing they themselves do, only bigger and better. If you run an organic fruit stand, your first instinct when looking for hubs is to think of influencers in the organic fruit space.

But this is a mistake.

If you’re offering the same thing – or essentially the same thing – that the hub is offering, then why would they need your offer?

They don’t.

Instead, you need to find hubs that offer something similar but different . . . or who offer something different to the same people you serve . . . or who offer something related that adds to your offer.

In other words: If you sell organic fruit, look for hubs that sell organic vegetables. Or look for hubs that teach how to make organic jam from fresh fruit. Or look for nutritionist and dieticians and personal trainers who help people eat more healthy. Or look for publications that feature local organic food sources. Or look for vegan and raw food meetups for people whose main diet is fruits and vegetables.

The key here is finding the little circles of your niche – the small, specific groups of people who might be interested in what you have to offer. These circles need to be more specific than you think they should be. You’ll know you’ve found a good little circle when ideas for hubs start to immediately come to mind.

For example, say you’re an animal intuitive helping busy owners take better care of their pets. Who are your people? Pet owners, obviously – but that’s your broad, big circle. Dog owners? That’s still too broad. But how about dog owners who want to bring their dogs to work? Now you’re talking – and you can search for companies in your city with dog-friendly policies.

Third, you need a system for reaching out to hubs.

Here’s the reality: Hubs marketing is much faster than any marketing you do within your own networks, but it still takes time. And even when you do it right, it takes a minimum number of hubs before you start to see results.

Sending one email to one hub is not an effective strategy for growing your business.

On average, you should be able to do a partner promotion with about one hub for every ten emails you send to hubs you don’t already have a connection with.

That means, if you want to do one partner promotion a month, you need to send at least two emails a week.

For each hub, you’ll need to find the hub, the right contact person, and the email address.

You’ll need to keep track where you are in conversation with each hub so you know who you should follow up with, who is waiting for information from you, and what you need to do to prepare for each partnership.

And, if you want to continue to grow and scale your business, you’ll need to keep records of what types of partnerships you did, what worked and what didn’t, and what the results were for each partnership.

If you do all that, then over time, your hubs outreach will become easier and easier, because you’ll quickly be able to see exactly what type of hub is best for your offer, as well as what type of partnership helps you gain new customers and subscribers.

But for all this, you need a system: you need some kind of hubs database.

Your database needs to do three things.

First, it needs to be a “mind dump” spot where you can add any ideas you have for a new hub you could reach out to.

Second, it needs to help you track exactly where each conversation is with each hub, so you know when the ball is in your court and what your next step is for each partnership.

And third, it needs to help you track the results you get from each partnership, so you know which types of hubs you should find more of, which types of partnerships you should do more of, and which types of hubs and partnerships you shouldn’t do.

When you’re first getting started, I recommend a really simple system for this: a Google spreadsheet.

Here’s the spreadsheet I give my clients when they’re first getting started with hubs outreach.

The first tab of the spreadsheet is for finding hubs. It looks like this:

The first column is how you found the hub. This is useful because if a partnership does particularly well, it’s valuable to go back and look to see how you found that hub in the first place. Where the spreadsheet says “Google ‘keyword’”, change “keyword” to the phrase you used in Google to find that hub (like “dog-friendly offices Atlanta”).

The second column is for the category or little circle. It’s best to keep these down to two or three at first, so you don’t go wildly pitching every type of hub. Going back to the organic fruit stand, the type of partnership you would propose with a meetup group will be different from the partnership you would propose with an organic vegetable grower. Choose no more than two or three little circles to start with to keep your search focused.

The next three columns are “Biggest Platform Size,” “Platform of Biggest Audience,” and “Past Partnership Example.”

These form the foundation for your initial hubs research.

“Platform” means the place where the hubs’ audience is most concentrated. For example, some hubs have a huge Facebook audience but almost no Instagram audience. Others have a huge email list and very few blog followers. There are various ways to research the size of a hub’s audience on each platform, but all you need to do right now is glance through their social followings and website and make an educated guess.

The main thing you’re looking for is where the best place would be for them to host a partnership with you. Ideally, you want to do a partnership on a platform where the hub has a big audience, where they regularly host promotions, and where you know your audience is likely to be.

For example, if they have a lot of Facebook followers, and they frequently interview expert guests on Facebook live posts, and you know that many of your ideal customers are on Facebook, then put their number of Facebook followers under “Biggest Platform Size,” put “Facebook” under “Biggest Platform Example,” and put a link to one of their expert interviews under “Past Partnership Example.”

Then it’s easy to fill out the next column: you want to propose that they interview you on a Facebook live.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time on these columns figuring out the perfect partnership, because often, you won’t know until you talk with them. Even if you think something would be an ideal partnership from your perspective, it might not fit their business model (they might have recently decided they don’t want to do Facebook lives anymore). Right now, you’re just trying to make an educated guess about the kind of thing they might be willing to do.

For example:

  • Do they have a blog?
    • If so, how many comments on average does each post have? This will give you a general idea of the size of their blog readership. (You can note this simply as “5 comments average per blog post” for “Platform size.”)
    • Do they publish guest posts on their blog? You can easily find this out by googling their website (“website.com”) and then the words “guest post.”
    • If they publish guest posts, do they include a bio at the end with a link to the author’s website? This gives you an indication of whether you would be likely to get any visitors to your site or new subscribers if you wrote a blog post for them.
    • If the answers to #2 and #3 are yes, and each post has at least 5-10 comments, then you can make an educated guess that they would be open to a guest post proposal.
  • Do they have a podcast?
    • If so, how popular is it? This is very difficult to judge, but you can look at the number of reviews on iTunes, and you can look at iTunes rankings to see where the podcast shows up. You can also look at their blog to see if they publish podcast episodes there, and if so, how many comments are on each podcast post. You can also look at the host’s social media following and make a guess about their podcast audience size from that.
    • Do they interview guests on their podcast? If so, would your topic be a good fit compared to the other guests they’ve interviewed?
    • If they do interview guests, do they publish a link to the guest’s website on a post about the podcast? Do they talk about the guest’s website and services in their interview?
    • If the answers to the second two questions are yes, then you can make an educated guess that they might be open to a pitch for you being a podcast guest.  
  • Do they have a community/forum/membership group that people can join?
    • If so, how big is it, and is it paid or free? Paid membership sites are great places to offer workshops or be interviewed, since all the members there are already spending money on the kind of thing you want to sell.
    • Can you find any information about what content is inside the group, and if so, does it mention expert guests or interviews? Does it list any examples of guests?
    • If so, then they might be open to a pitch for you to be an expert guest inside their community.
  • Do they have a Facebook page or group?
    • If so, how many fans or members does it have?
    • Do they host interviews or workshops with experts on their page?
    • If they do, then they might be willing to host a workshop with you.
  • Do they have an Instagram page?
    • If so, how many followers does it have, and how many comments/likes does each post get on average?
    • Do they ever post about other experts or brands on their page?
    • Do they host live videos on their page?
    • If so, then they might be open to posting about your offer or posting a live video of you.

Again, don’t spend too much time on each of these. Think about where you most want to promote your business (if you don’t have a visual brand, then Instagram probably isn’t for you). As you discover a new hub, skim through the platforms where you most want to promote your business, and see if it looks like they ever do partnerships there. If they do, or if you think they might be open to it, add them to your list. If not, move on and find another hub to add.

The last two columns on this tab are “Why I like them” and “Why they will like me.” For these, you’re making a note to yourself of two things: what attracted you to them (this is the “worldview” level fit), and how you feel your offer is complementary to theirs. Again, don’t spend a lot of time; just write a quick note to yourself so you’ll remember when it’s time to reach out.

This first tab in the spreadsheet is your brainstorm list. It’s your note to yourself about the hubs you think you might want to get in touch with.

Once you have 10 or 20 on the list, it’s time to move them to the second tab – the tab at the bottom labeled “Outreach.”

This tab has seven columns. If you click in a box in the first column, “Stage,” you’ll notice there’s a drop down:

The “Stage” column is to help you know exactly where you are in conversation with each potential partner: lead (you’re still just researching), contacted (you’ve sent them an initial pitch), followed up (they didn’t reply, so you emailed again), discussing (they’ve replied and you’ve sent them information), call scheduled (you’ve scheduled a call with them to talk through the details of a partnership), said yes, or said no.

The drop-down helps you keep track of your own process throughout the conversation with a hub. It’s a guide to your workflow. If you aren’t sure what you should do next in a conversation with a hub, it gives you a guide on what you want the next step to be.

The rest of the columns are for the information you’ll need to reach out: The name of the company or organization, the name of the best contact person, their preferred name you’ll use to address them, their email address, and the type of partnership you plan to suggest (based on your research from the last tab). Finally, the “date last emailed” will help you keep track if you drop the ball on a conversation and need to touch base with them to follow up.

Once you schedule a promotion with a partner, you can move them to the third tab: the “Results” tab. Here, you’ll track the results of your partnership:

These columns are designed for a coach whose goals are new email subscribers, discovery calls with new prospects, and new clients. But you can change the columns to match your own business goals.

As you do more promotions, you can start to see patterns on this tab, and you can use those patterns to refine what types of partners you look for in the future.

For example, suppose you did a promotion with a hub who has about 5,000 subscribers on their email list. They hosted an online workshop for you. You might want to add a column with “# Workshop Attendees” to your tracking tab so you can include that information here – I’ll explain why in a moment.

Let’s say your results look like this:

Suppose you also did a similar promotion with another partner who has about 20,000 subscribers on their email list, and the results look like this:

There are a lot of numbers you can look at here to evaluate which promotions did better.

First, you can look at the conversion rate of email subscribers on your partner’s list to attendees on your workshop. You can calculate this by dividing the number of workshop attendees by the number of email subscribers each partner has on their list. Dawn sent more attendees, but she only sent 0.5% of her list, while Tara sent 1%. So even though the number of attendees from Tara was half as many as those from Dawn, a much bigger percentage of Tara’s list was interested in your offer. This means that as Tara’s list grows, she’s likely to send even more people to your workshops in the future.

Next, look at the conversion rate of workshop attendees to email subscribers. This is the number of people who signed up your email list, divided by the number of people who attended the workshop. At Tara’s workshop, an incredible 60% of the people who attended signed up for your list. At Dawn’s workshop, only 20% did. This tells you that either your presentation was much better for Tara’s workshop, or your message is much more aligned with Tara and her followers.

The other conversion rates are similar: 10% of the attendees at Tara’s workshop signed up for a discovery call, while only 1% of Dawn’s attendees got on the phone with you.

And then, of course, 4% of your calls with Tara’s followers led to new clients and revenue. None of Dawn’s did, but the number of calls was so low, you can’t really conclude anything from that.

But what can you conclude from looking at these numbers, and how can you use this information to plan your future promotions?

First, obviously, you can conclude that Tara is a better partner than Dawn, even though her audience is smaller. Assuming that the presentation in your workshop was essentially identical for both partners, you can use this information a variety of ways:

  • First, analyze why you think Tara is a better partner. It probably has to do with her messaging and brand and its similarity to yours, so if you compare her brand, her emails, and her message and offers to Dawn’s, you can draw conclusions about what aligns with you and what doesn’t. For example, if Dawn talks a lot about higher consciousness and manifesting, while Tara talks a lot about girl power and uses cuss words, then it’s a solid guess that you should look for more edgy partners who are into girl power.
  • Next, look back at your first tab and notice how you found each of these partners. Look at how you found Tara, and use the same method to find more potential partners. Don’t repeat the method you used to find Dawn.
  • Finally, consider each step of your potential customer’s sales path in this worksheet, and think about whether you can improve things at any point along this path. For example, only 1% of workshop attendees at Dawn’s workshop signed up for a call with you. This could be because your messages aren’t aligned, but it could also be because of something you did differently. It’s possible that a small change in your presentation would result in a lot more calls. Do you have any other partners who are similar to Dawn that did send you clients? If so, what did you differently with them?

The more you track details like this, the more you can improve your promotions with hubs over time. Eventually, as you build up a record of numbers from past partnerships, you’ll be able to accurately estimate how many clients you should get from a new partner just by looking at their platform numbers on the first tab of this spreadsheet. That will enable you to predict your future income from the hubs partnerships you have scheduled, and you can adjust your marketing ahead of time to make sure you meet your income goals.

Remember those questions I asked at the beginning of this post, about what it would mean for your business if you got more email subscribers or clients? The reality is that for most entrepreneurs, the answer to those questions was “I don’t know.”

What would it mean for your business if your email list doubled from a hubs partnership you did tomorrow? If you haven’t been tracking these numbers, then you probably don’t know.

But if you start today, then a year from now you could have a solid foundation for accurately predicting exactly what it would mean for your business and your income. If you keep filling out this spreadsheet as you launch into your hubs marketing, you’ll also be able to predict how many outreach emails you need to send to get a promotion, as well as how many new clients you’re likely to get from a promotion.

And eventually, that means that instead of haphazardly hoping for new clients, you can create a system that predictably, sustainably brings you new clients at the rate you want, in exactly the timing you need.

Want to know what to say to hubs once you start reaching out to them? Join Lisa’s email list and get a free 5-day email course, “How to Email Any Influencer.” You’ll also get a copy of her book about her philosophy of connecting with influencers, How to Grow Your Business and Be a Better Human. Also consider taking Lisa’s quiz What Type Of Influencer Partnership Is Best For Your Business?

About Lisa Baker: Lisa’s dream is to end homelessness, racism, and climate change (not necessarily in that order). She’s a marketing consultant for small businesses who works on saving the world as a side gig. She’d like to change that.

Interview with Kundan Chhabra: How to Make it Easier to Get Business by Creating a Context of Good Will, Nurturance, Trust and Alignment

A few months ago, my Facebook friend Kundan Chhabra posted something that caught my eye. It was about creating a context of good will in your business. I messaged him asking if he would be willing to write a guest post for my blog about it. It took a few months of conversation but what you see below is the result of those back and forths.

Kundan is someone I met online with whom I’ve been consistently impressed. His ethics on business and marketing and his commitment to social justice are values I wish I saw in more entrepreneurs.

The approach Kundan outlines is true in my experience.

I hope you enjoy.

*

Tad: We were connecting recently about an ‘aha’ you’d had about the connection between one’s dating and romantic life and marketing. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share it.

Kundan: I’ve been thinking of my love life recently and how it’s starting to have parallels with my business as I go through the soft launch of my new site. And I’ve been pondering a new model of dating that I like to call “contextual dating” or “communal dating”.

I once asked a client: “When you go to a party or an event, do you talk to everyone or only to the women you’re attracted to?”

“Only the women,” he said.

“Talk to everyone. And be a Source of Stability for everyone in the room. And be fully your True Self.” I suggested.

This is the lifestyle I live and teach.

As a result, I’ve had some great experiences.

The number one thing I have noticed is that by the time I talk to a woman, they have already seen me, felt me, known me and become attracted to me (or not). Often, they saw me before I saw them. For example, one time I was dancing on my own during blues dancing (I often dance on my own in between dancing with partners to rejuvenate and recharge myself. Sounds strange but I am also doing energy-work on myself and the room as I dance. That’s why it actually recharges me).

Through the mirror, I could see a woman sitting by the wall and looking at me with complete admiration on her face. It just so happened that I was also attracted to her. So I eventually went up to talk to her as I sat next to her. At some point, she said, “I like the way you dance.” That, I already knew. So eventually I asked her to dance with me. And it was enjoyable.

Another time, I was dancing at another event, and I heard a voice from behind me say, “Thank you.” I turned around and saw this beautiful woman. I’ve had a wonderful intimate connection with her for 2 years since that day.

I’ve been noticing a Parallel with my business as well.

How so?

Lately, as I dive deep into the deepest depths of what I call my Heart Virtue and Super Power, and create content from that, I’ve been noticing a similar effect.

(Your “Super Power” is your most powerful strength, your greatest gift to the world and simultaneously the number one way you desire to be loved. Your “Heart Virtue” is your deepest Why, your most meaningful “virtue” you were born to embody, experience and express).

Clients and prospects reach out to me first.

By the time they are on a Discovery Call with me, they tell me, within the first 5 minutes of the call, “You don’t need to sell me anything. I already know I want to work with you.”

So, there’s no fight, no war, and no “overcoming objections”.

There’s also no “being a stand for them”.

What’s your take on what ‘being a stand for them’ is all about? Why is this taught so often?

“Being a stand for them” is a popular tactic these days that supposedly replaces NLP manipulation in the teaching lore about enrollment conversations. I think this still comes from a Warrior mindset of seeing it as a fight (Supposedly a fight between the client’s Ego defenses/fears and what they really desire which is apparently your program or offer).

It sounds compelling. Is it that it frames you as the hero and them the victim?

Yes. It does.

But it is not necessary if you set a proper context long before the enrollment conversation. In some  cases, the enrollment conversation is not even needed if there is a proper context: people sometimes go directly to the sales page and buy. In fact, for all sales below $200, I am able to completely eliminate the enrollment conversation altogether.

How do you do that? And why?

How? By having a crystal clear point of view, problem, solution, story and offer are so that they create deep empathy in the client: that it, they feel fully seen, gotten and understood. In other words: through the social context itself that we’ve been talking about.

Why do I do this? Because I’d rather not give away an hour of my time for free just to make a $200 sale (or below) when my rates are at $1000 an hour.. Plus, it’s unnecessary when it’s clear to the client that either this is all the money they want to spend or that particular session/offer is what they want. My enrollment conversations are not to convince people to buy from me. They are already convinced when they contact me. So, it’s just a question of helping them decide which offer is right for them.

“My enrollment conversations are not to convince people to buy from me.” Amen.

This is why I ask the following pre-enrollment question when they fill out the enrollment form when they schedule the enrollment call with me on Calendly: “Do you have capital or a budget to invest in your education? “Yes I do. I have: 1. $1000 to $5000 2. $5000+” Choose one. (Minimum Investment of $1000 required to work 1-1 long-term with me. Are you prepared for this?).”

If they say, “No” to this, I message them and re-direct them to an offer that’s below $200.. (Although I may raise this to $333 soon. No reason in particular for this. Just my Intuition).

I have absolutely no desire to convince a client to get a loan or credit card or some other way of ‘making it happen’ if they are already convinced that anything above $1000 is too much. I used to do the convincing in the past. Not any more. This is why I’ve created this “social context system” of getting business in the first place.

That sounds like a lot less work. How are you defining ‘context’?

I see context as the entire container for why we are having the enrollment conversation. It’s the Facebook groups we are both a part of, the Facebook Live videos they have watched before and/or other content, prior comment threads and PM messages, and the larger conversation about our deeper reasons for doing the work we do.

And I am learning that Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence”, says pretty much the same thing in his book “Pre-suasion” – that most of the ‘sale’ occurs long before the sales conversation even takes place as a result of the context you set or don’t set.

So, how do you create a social context of goodwill in your business?

You become a source of stability, nurturance and transformation for your industry.

You be fully your true self.

And, tactically, how does this show up in your business?

You share relevant content that authentically expresses your unique point of view about how your people can best address their issues. You share your own stories of transformation or those of your clients.

Do you have a different take on this than others who talk about ‘content marketing’?

I think of this as being a ‘key holder’.

Let me expand upon this. Imagine your clients have a treasure box. In this treasure box lies the solutions to their problems and the specific thing they desire in this specific area of their life that you have expertise in.

But that treasure box has a lock. Your expertise (especially your Super Power) is the key that unlocks this box for them. I can’t emphasize this enough. When it comes to business, your content actually has to be relevant to your audience. Not just relevant. It has to exactly fit what they are searching for: like a key to their lock. This is how you create the good will that specifically inspires your audience’s Deep Intuition to be activated so that they go: “Wow! This person is my Keyholder for this specific problem.”

And it’s all from the content I create which sets up the context for the enrollment conversation.

But, it can’t be just random good will. It can’t be like Santa Claus shouting “Ho Ho Ho” and spreading good cheer. It’s more like Being a Yoda to the Luke Skywalker in them or being a Morpheus to the “Neo” in them.

Frank Kern calls this creating Good Will by providing “Results in Advance”. If they want to go from A to Z, you create content that takes them from A to C. My model is more about providing a way for them to do it all themselves (for most of the stuff I teach anyways) but if they want to go deeper and be even more effective, they can hire me as their coach.

This is where prior work around Niching and Point of View Marketing is vitally important (which Tad Hargrave can help you with).

What’s your take on niching?

Your niche is the group of people for whom your Super Power is the key to unlocking their treasure, and because your Super Power is completely unique (no one else in the world has it), you magnetise a very specific audience that is specifically attuned to you: your Super Power can’t solve any other problems: only their problems. So it’s also important to know the number one problem you’re born to solve. So this is where deep Inner Self-Connection is critical: a lot of this is based on deep Self-Discovery work.

So, just to recap: it sounds like most people put most of their effort in sales towards the actual sales conversation and you’re suggesting that the focus be moved to much earlier in the process in the creating of a context of good will. Is that right?

Yes, that’s right.

What are the three biggest factors that contribute to this?

The three biggest factors that contribute to this are:

Self-Connection (whether through the meditation I recommend here or the deeper work I do regarding “Heart Virtues” and “Super Power“).

Relevant Content to your “1000 True Fans” AKA “Brand Heroes” which brings up:

Niching (Again, I have a slightly different take on this. My definition today is that your niche is the group of people for whom your Super Power is the key to solving their biggest problem. So it’s an inside-out approach rather than outside-in).
And regarding niching: if you really got your niche right, there is also less struggle and manipulation or even “taking a stand for you” conversations.

Can you give more real life examples of this that you’ve witnessed in others? I’d love to hear times you saw people destroy the social context of goodwill too and how it hurt them and others.

Yes. I was once on a Discovery Call with a woman who claimed she could help me find exactly what my niche is: she apparently had a magical power to immediately tell exactly what my niche is. I was told (by the person who recommended me who it turned out was her coach) that clients cried in their sessions with her because it was apparently so powerful and eye-opening.

That’s why I reached out.

She immediately asked me to be on a Discovery Call with her – even though I didn’t know her at all, which itself felt odd to me. So there was no prior social context of Good Will, Nurturance and Good Will at all.

During the call, she wouldn’t let me off the phone. She wanted a $1000 sale right on that phone call.

And she kept saying, “This may be uncomfortable for you. But I am putting a fire on your butt so that you take action. I am taking a stand for you.” I ended up not hiring her even when I eventually did have the money.

And it sounds like, the way you see creating this context of good will has a lot to do with you being very attuned to yourself, being stable inside, so that you’re coming from a place of generosity rather than being a vampire?

Bingo!

I’m also hearing that your sense of it is that when you figure out your Super Power which, by its nature, solves a very particular problem for people, and you share that with the world more freely, you’ll be coming not only from a place of strength but your ideal clients will recognize that and be drawn to it?

Exactly!

So, is your Super Power related to your take on things? Your point of view? Is it connected to your diagnosis of their issues or is it some other thing?

Yes. It’s part of my Point of View when it comes to helping other coaches and healers make a sale.

It’s how I create content when it comes to my own business. When I write a post or, especially, when I make a Facebook Live or Live series, I tune in to who I want to communicate to. And I do that by tuning in to who best my Super Power can serve, what Purpose I serve, and what treasure I am unlocking. And so, I am not particularly worried about Facebook algorithms or visibility.

For me, it’s not about how many people I reach but exactly whom I reach: I set the intention to reach exactly the right people for whom I am either their Keyholder, OR their audience includes people for whom I am their Keyholder.

So it’s a mixture of Inner Alchemy with outer Business Strategy. So there’s a certainly a certain level of “Co-Creation Magic” – what some people might call “manifestation” but I prefer calling it “co-creation”.

And it’s not always about attracting a client.

For example, one time I posted my poem called “A Love Letter to Anger”. Within 2 minutes of that post, someone with a large mailing list immediately messaged me and asked if she can mail it to her mailing list with complete credit and links of course. Another great example is you yourself reaching out to me to write this article for Marketing for Hippies, Tad. Right? You did that as a result of my post in Awarepreneurs.

So it may not always directly attract a client yet but it certainly increases credibility, visibility and good will with our target audience or “brand hero”, which creates a cumulative context of Good Will, Nurturance and sense of Alignment with me.

Anyways, I just wanted to offer this up an alternative path because this is a topic that has come up often in the Conscious Business community regarding manipulation in sales, marketing, sales calls and selling from the stage, etc.

To summarize: it’s about setting up a Social Context of Good Will, Nurturance and Specifically Relevant Alignment with our “Brand Hero” and sets us up as their Mentor in the Epic Story of their Lives long before they even get to the sales page or the enrollment conversation, whatever the case may be.

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About Kundan: Kundan helps you simplify your business as a vehicle for creating that more beautiful free world that you had a glimpse of in your Awakening, mystical, psychedelic and flow experiences.

He does this by helping you discover your Greatest Gift (your Unique Super Power) and Deepest Why that had been created out of your Greatest Longing. Your Greatest Longing that had been born and grown out of your Greatest Struggle the way diamonds and pearls are created.

He then helps you embody your Remarkable Legacy in communion with exactly and only the people with whom you can create the optimum collaboration. Out of this service to the exact people whom you were born to serve, you experience the Deepest Spacious Fulfilling Intimacy with yourself, others and the world. You can learn more about his work at: kundanchhabra.com.

Note: If you sign up for his email list you’ll get the pre-enrolment and enrolment questions he refers to above.

26 Min Video: Point of View Marketing Overview

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

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

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

You can watch the video below.

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

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

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

Trust and the Taxi Driver

13618562_sI caught a cab the other day.

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

But there are always issues.

I was heading to visit my grandmother in the hospital.

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

“By the Save On?” He asked.

“That’s the one!”

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

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

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

“Do you want me to go back?”

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

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

The trust was broken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, when we do, we are incredibly vulnerable.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

Three Hub Marketing Case Studies from the Farmer’s Market

Farmers-Market

This is a late edition to the Farmer’s Market Marketing Series.

A few weeks ago, I was invited out to Fort Saskatchewan to speak to some good folks who sold their goods via the Farmer’s Market.

I’d done a presentation of this type a few months back and, in the last fifteen minutes, I realized that the main conversation that seemed to be landing was that of Hub Marketing.

Too many entrepreneurs are solopreneurs.

They try to do everything themselves. But partnership is where it’s at.

I’ve written a lot about Hub Marketing before and you can read that here.

But I thought it would be fun for you to see some of what we came up with.

The Set Up: 

I asked each of them to reflect on who their hubs might be for their business.

Stated another way: I asked them to think about the kinds of people who would buy their products and then to ask themselves, “Where else might these people spend their time, their money and their attention?”

Stated another way still: “Where else can we find the people who buy your stuff?”

Three brave souls were willing to come up to the front of the room and share what they’d come up with and let us do some more brainstorming for them. I share these not as an authoritative strategy but to get your mind thinking about some of the ways that hubs and partnerships can look and work.

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Case Study #1: Gloria’s Edible Flowers

Gloria had a few businesses on the go, but we decided to focus on her cut flowers business.

 

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The hubs we came up with for her were:

  • vegetarians: maybe they’re tired of their friends condemning their penchant for boring salads? Wanting to make a vegetarian meal to impress the family and mix it up a bit. There are lots of vegetarian groups, newsletters, blogs etc. in local areas.
  • wedding planners & caterers: you’d better believe that catering companies would love to have a local provider of edible flowers on file just in case someone asks for them.
  • flower shops: if I were to want to find edible flowers in town, where would I go? I’d think it would have to be a local flower shop. Now they may not want to stock them, but they’d likely be glad to have her contact info so they could refer out to her.
  • lounges & cocktail bars: maybe some of those fancy hipster cocktail bars might enjoy knowing where to get some flowers for their drinks!
  • herbalists: I’m sure the questions must be asked to herbalists about medicinal uses of flowers. Perhaps she could co-host a workshop with a local herbalist or hire them to write some informative articles or blog posts about the benefits of the top five flowers they sell.
  • chefs at fancy hotels and restaurants: again, a solid contact for such a niche product might be just the kind of thing a chef would like to have in their back pocket.
  • extreme eating clubs: maybe flowers aren’t super extreme but their are clubs in most cities of people who like to eat adventurously, why not reach out?
  • culinary schools: could she go in and do a presentation for them? Could she host a competition for students to find who can come up with the best use of her flowers?
  • cake decorators: sure! Why not?

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Case Study #2: Gord’s Beef Jerky

IMG_1647

The hubs we came up with for him were:

  • Agriculture Fairs and Tradeshows: this seemed to have worked well in the past. Just showing up and having a booth at these things might end up being his bread and butter. Just because it’s a hub doesn’t mean it needs to be out of left field and ‘never done before’. Most hubs are hiding in plain sight. Some of the best hubs are ‘old reliable’.
  • ATV Clubs: this makes a tonne of sense to me. If there’s an ATV event, he could show up and sell it from the back of his truck, or set up a table. It doesn’t need to be fancy and formal to work.
  • aboriginal groups: there’s certainly possibility here. I don’t know the politics of who is allowed to vend at Pow Wows and aboriginal conferences and events but it’s an option.
  • convenience stores: sure! Why not approach a local corner store, especially if it’s independently owned, and invite them to support a local beef jerky provider rather than the factory farmed crap version they’re currently selling.
  • school cafeterias: I’m not as sure about this one or how it would work, but maybe?
  • food groups (e.g. celiac, paleo): right! There are certain groups who’d be biased to eating beef jerky as a snack over fruit, sandwiches or other things. If he could find them, go to their events and sell some merch but then, importantly, make sure they know which farmers’ market he’ll be at and to invite them to come and visit his booth… well, this is how it’s done in one on one sales. They come to say ‘hi’ and become regulars and now you’re the place they get their jerky from.
  • the Department of National Defence: heavens. I don’t even know where to start but that could be a large order if he was able to secure it.
  • bars: I’m really not as sure about how this one would work.
  • surveyors: a whole profession of people just standing around and getting hungry. Maybe he could sell directly to the companies for them to give as snacks for their bored workers? Could be.
  • ski resorts: again, this could be a big order if he landed even one ski lodge for repeat business.
  • work camps: why not call up the local industrial work camps and ask to speak to the person in charge of feeding everyone and see if there’s not some business to be drummed up?
  • forest rangers: they must have conventions. Why not go to one? I’m not as big a fan of this one because his business will likely best be built with larger orders instead of one on one. I’ve never in my life felt loyal to a particular, local brand of jerky and I don’t know if I ever will. I’ll just buy whatever’s closest to me that seems ethically raised.
  • sports clubs: could be. Again, this becomes individual sales but having a booth at larger sports events and inviting people to visit at the farmers’ market? Why not.
  • university Forestry Programs: Maybe. I’m not stoked about this one.
  • BBQ Stores: Could be! If they’re into BBQ then they’re into meat. Could be some regular business here.
  • tree planting companies: this could be big. They have workers who are out all day working hard and they need snacks. Could be worthwhile exploring.
  • campers: I personally wouldn’t be trying to find individual campers but to approach camping supply stores like MEC, REI and smaller more independent ones.
  • farmers: maybe? This seems obvious but it’s not as exciting to me.
  • rodeos: hells yes. Go and set up a booth at one of these and watch it rain money.
  • hunters: meh.
  • sports stores: sure! This could be solid.

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Case Study #3: John’s ‘Dandy Joe‘ Roasted Dandelion Root Blend Coffee Substitute

IMG_1648

The hubs we came up with for him were:

  • coffee and tea shops: bulk orders. He approaches them and says, “hey! Here’s a unique, local coffee substitute that’s like nothing else and it’s local!” Boom.
  • farmers’ markets: this is where most of his business has come from and where most of it will continue to. No reason to stop.
  • Chinese stores: Joe said he’d had an order from a woman in China who loved it and thought maybe Chinese shops might dig it. Who knows! Worth exploring.
  • spas: an interesting idea. “Instead of serving your clients coffee full of caffeine or the same old boring herbal teas, why not offer this local super food to them?”
  • the sleep center: pitching it as something to drink late at night instead of coffee and offering them tins to offer as upsells to people who buy beds and want to sleep better. Maybe?
  • yoga studios and events: all these yogi’s are trying to kick coffee and give their adrenals some peace. What if he found out the top yoga events in town each year and set up a booth there? What if he identified the top ten yogi’s in town and approached them with a free tin to try out themselves? He could win over a whole community here who is likely to be going to farmer’s markets anyway.
  • tea wholesalers: this could become all of his business if it fell into place:
  • thelocalgood.ca: I co-founded a local network to connect good, forward thinking Edmontonians and we could maybe feature him on our blog.
  • the Organic Box: Sure! Why not get himself listed as a product people could order in a monthly, organic, grocery delivery service?
  • ski lodges and restaurants: maybe some indy restaurants or ski lodges might love having a unique, hot drink like this to offer their clientele?
  • dandelion root growers: I’m not sure why this is on the list…
  • church groups: could be? This doesn’t feel really compelling to me.
  • herbologists: they might not buy a lot but they could likely be a great source of referrals to others.
  • Costco: Oh man. They’d eat him alive on margin. He’d make no money. Stay away from the bright lights!
  • heath food stores: an obvious one. Yes.
  • hemp producers: could he partner with a local hemp seed producer to make a local, superfood smoothie mix of dandelion, hemp and some other things? Maybe!
  • holistic health practitioners: of course. Yes. The more of these who know about him and his product the better. He could have a booth at the local new age, holistic health consumer expos and spend all day working that room and make sure they know which markets to find him at and his website and, in the long term, that could be very solid for business.

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.

The Israeli Dutch Man’s Amazing Shrinking Business Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wasn’t going for approval from anyone.

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

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

He realized that marketing is about filtering, not seduction.

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

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

Blog for Clients: An Interview with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

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

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

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

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

Corrina: I like to use the analogy of cooking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. That’s so simple. Totally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re not born knowing how to do marketing.

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

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

About Corrina:

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: The Background of Your Website That No One Talks About But Everyone Feels

I’ve connected with Tim Gray a few times over the years, and always gotten the loveliest vibe from him. We got into a conversation about websites and it turned out he had some things to say which I thought were important enough that I wanted to share them with you all.

This notion of the unspoken messages dominating the conversation is so important. It’s what underwrites my recent posts Stop Wasting People’s Time: The Incredible Cost of Being Fuzzy and How to Approach Hubs and Potential Clients Cold.

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macbook-2What do you see as the purpose of having a website?

It’s the hub of your online world. All your social media and whatnot connect to it. And it’s the only online place where you can completely control what you say and how it’s presented.

This feels key. Especially in a time where people are getting increasingly frustrated with Facebook and other social media outlets for constantly changing their rules and making it harder to reach people (without paying money to them to boost your posts or pay for ads). We’re just not in control of what Facebook or other tools do but we are in control of our website.

Exactly. So the website’s purpose is to be your representative. When you’re not there in person, it shows people who you are and what you do, and acts as the concierge showing them where your stuff is.

It’s a place for your community to come back to and feel on familiar ground. It’s also a non-scary way for people to see if they’re interested in you before they break cover.

Websites = Safety

I think that’s so important. The notion of safety in marketing is often ignored or overlooked. People often push harder, shout louder and try to generate more hype when they might actually be better served in making it safer to approach them. And I think you’re right. The website plays this function perhaps more than anything else in your business.

What do you see as the top three mistakes people make with their website?

  1. Not showing up, or showing up but not giving out the right authentic message.
  2. Not taking account of the perspective of their audience, so they don’t give people what they want and need to engage with the site.
  3. Not putting attention into the practicalities of writing and design – which are what give your visitors whatever impressions they get.

You say that, “a lot of websites don’t pay attention to these ideas. Even sites that are counted successful, by people who ought to know what they’re doing. They miss out on connection with visitors that they could have had”. Could you say more about that?

People come to your site genuinely interested in something they think you might have. But they know to protect their time and processing capacity by not spending too long on wrong turnings, so they’re alert for alarm signals. If it seems like they have to put a lot of work in and not get much back, they’ll be off.

If you want them to stay and build a connection, you have to pay attention to the psychology and the user experience.

But our minds love to take shortcuts. People get caught in their own perspective, start taking things for granted, and bits of serving their audience get lost. We get caught up in doing things and forget to make reality checks.

Sites with a high profile are still run by humans. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about shiny whizzy things and forget the basics.

Look at your website through their eyes. 

What do you see as the most common ‘shiny whizzy things’ on websites?

Things like image sliders that take up most of the first screenful. Autoplaying videos. Festooning a page with ads, and having things popping up while the visitor is trying to read. Or just filling the page with lots of blocks of information. Floating social media sharing bars that cover the article text. It’s the old ‘interruption marketing’ mindset that won’t let go.

So, you visit their site and get frustrated because parts of the experience are bad or you can’t find answers to your questions. And that frustration becomes part of their brand for you.

Don’t let ‘they have a frustrating website’ be what you’re known for. 

That’s so real.

What I’m saying is that everyone has the opportunity to avoid those problems by understanding the foundations. That isn’t even techy stuff: it’s about how you plan your site and set it out so that you serve your users.

You speak about people having a message. What is a message in your mind?

It became one of my big building block terms after clicking together with my long-ago physics education. It was probably in the shower!

In physics there are vectors, which are quantities with direction, like velocity. A message is information with direction. It’s a story with places to go and people to see.

I like that.

You’re not just saying it: you want it to do something. That means just sitting in a corner for reference isn’t enough. You care about it reaching people and having an effect when it does.

We often talk about a message as a person’s unique contribution to the world, grown from their experiences and insights. It bubbles together and makes connections and eventually wants to come out.

It makes me think of seeds and how they are the condensed information of the lifetime of not only the plant they came from but all of the ancestors of that plant. And that information doesn’t just want to lie dormant in the seed and rot but to be planted and grow. It wants to do something very particular.

Yes, that relates to everything from personal story work to the hero’s journey to the idea of what you’re born to do. You can put it in different ways. You know, being a giant so people can stand on your shoulders rather than having to work it all out from scratch.

You can also talk about messages in a smaller way, as signals people pick up and process.

One of the ideas I talk about is foreground and background messages. Foreground messages are the things you think you’re telling people, like: “My yoga classes have these five health benefits.”

Background messages are what they’re picking up about you, usually more quickly and powerfully. Like, ‘Friendly person who takes people as they are’ or ‘Expert who pushes people to technical mastery’. It’s important to take charge of those background messages and recognise that they’re part of what you’re saying to people. You can’t choose not to project anything!

background > foreground

Right. So if you went on a date, the foreground messages you give off might be, “Yes, I’m a very successful business man and I make lots of money. Did I tell you the funny story about that time Barack Obama and I went fishing?” but the sub communications might be, “I’m insecure and desperately needing your approval.” And you’re suggesting that those implicit, unspoken messages might actually have more impact than the ones you’re trying so hard to explicitly lay out.

Yes. That’s the more familiar version of how it works face to face. I think those subconscious detective processes are still working when we read your writing.

You say, “Too often these messages get lost in the background noise and don’t make the difference they could have”. Lost in the background noise of the marketplace? Their own website? Both?

The world, actually. It frustrates me that humanity isn’t further on in making a better world. Why are we still looking at the same problems as twenty years ago?

I’m gradually understanding more about the reasons for that. And one big part of it is that people who have the jigsaw pieces of the good stuff have not been good at communicating and persuading. We haven’t had the skills. In the meantime, the people with the bad old messages have done pretty well by being loud and persistent.

Yes. Instead of us helping green things seem normal, they’ve been better at making normal things seem green.

But you’re right, part of that is the marketplace and part of it is their own website. It’s easy to not be visible even when people are looking in your direction.

Huh. Good point.

It’s about knowing what you want to say, and who you want to show yourself to be, and how to use words and visual design to make that happen. Because then you can connect with your audience and make a difference.

Goodness knows, this can be hard, with obstacles inside yourself and in the practicalities. It’s certainly an ongoing journey for me.  

Earlier you spoke about the importance of showing up “in person on your site”. What is this and why does it matter so much?

This is the whole big piece about the way marketing has changed and is changing. Terms fly around like ‘relationship marketing’ and ‘personal branding’ and ‘story’.

People want to connect with people. I’ll buy my soy milk from the supermarket, but for coaching or training I want to know who I’m dealing with. What sort of person are they? What are their values? Will we get on? Will their style be a good fit?

People want to connect with people. 

This is everything to me. I think people tend to see marketing as being about convincing people to ‘say yes’ but I see it as about getting to the truth of if there’s a good fit. But this asks a lot of us. It asks us to be vulnerable and open ourselves to a lot of rejection.

It certainly means there are different skills involved: maybe not what we used to think marketing was. And it means personal development is part of it.

But you can turn this around too. It means people with different skills come to the forefront: people who have done the personal development and are good at connecting with people and building community can make a big difference. Sometimes those people have significant internal obstacle that they need to work through so they can show up.

It’s become a bit of a cliche, but still true: we’re within a few clicks of lots of people who can offer your product, service or ideas. So we choose based on who we think we like most.

Right. Or trust the most. Respect the most. Feel the most aligned with.

Exactly. When people visit your site, they want to see you there. The most obvious example is to have a good ‘About’ page where they can learn a bit about you. But you also want to show up in the way you write, the way you present it, the things you choose to talk about.

Too often, people hide out. This may be a particular problem in a culture like we’ve got here in Britain, where people are trained to fit in and not make a fuss. And most people have seen examples of marketing that’s shouty and in your face, and they don’t want to be like that.

And you don’t have to be shouty. But it’s also a bit off if people come round to see you and you’re hiding in the cupboard. You can be politely brilliant!

Make yourself visible on your website.

Ha. I like that. I speak about this a lot in my marketing workshops. This dynamic of either collapsing or posturing.

So, what are three simple things that people can do to make their websites better right away?

Well, these are three things to check, because if you’re getting them wrong you’ll be turning people off.

  1. As we’ve just been talking about it, have an ‘About’ page that visitors can find easily. Use it to introduce yourself as a human being. What’s important to you, what do you like to spend time doing, what has been the journey of your life? Just a few paragraphs about key points, with a nice photo.
  1. On your home page, on the first screenful a new visitor sees, can they tell what the site’s about? It sounds silly, but people get it wrong often, and it’s because they don’t put themselves in the visitor’s shoes.
  1. A pleasant reading experience depends on lots of things about layout, colour and how to write for the web. But for a specific part of it, one of my bugbears is that so many sites have text that’s too small to read comfortably. So check yours, ideally on a couple of different devices. Maybe get opinions from people with different eyesight. If necessary, change your design or theme.

I should say, getting your site really good is a learning process. It certainly is for me. I sometimes say it changes at the speed of perspective, as I try different things and later see more clearly what’s good or bad about them.

Can you give three examples of websites you love and say a bit about why you love them so much?

I find this one difficult, because my brain insists on telling me how things could be better. Let me give examples of sites getting particular things right that I’ve looked at recently.

Henneke Duistermaat’s enchantingmarketing.com made a big impression on me the other day for the freebie sign-up on the home page. The more I look at it, the stronger it is.

I quite like heartofbusiness.com by your friends Mark Silver & co. They’ve got the language and the visuals working together, for a feel of hearth and home and simplicity. Though the design has that American magazine feel – probably comforting to a US audience but niggles my European sensibilities!

Lisa Barber’s site at rootsandwings.biz is great for the graphics (by Lisa McLoughlin – I know both of them from t’internet) and the way she talks to the reader. It creates a really cohesive vibe of specialist marketing knowledge delivered in a sensitive and understanding way for small helping businesses.

Those are great examples. I’d add Carrie Klassen of www.PinkElephantCommunications.com for her very clear visual aesthetic and clear voice in how she writes. It’s charming and kind. I also love Michael Margolis’ site http://www.getstoried.com/ because it’s so clean and clear. You know exactly what it’s about when you arrive. And Rebecca Tracey has done an incredible thing with her site http://www.theuncagedlife.com/. At the very top of the site she invites you to choose from one of four boxes to immediately direct you to whatever services are most likely to be of use to you.

Those are good too. I noticed Get Storied had a redesign recently, and the vibe made a huge shift from home-grown to professional, bordering on corporate.

Uncaged’s filtering visitors to different content is well done. People will arrive with different questions in mind. But also, the whole front page is a strong audience filter: smart-talking, occasionally sweary, zappy visuals. Most people will know whether they’re drawn in or put off. (That “no pants” thing is different over here, you know…)

Pink Elephant is almost the opposite, with a more traditional and ‘quieter’ design, but covering similar topics.

When you’re browsing the web and sites or pages make you feel a certain way, it’s worth thinking about why that is. It’s not magic. You can learn to get better at it, a step at a time.

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Tim Gray 8728 2x3in web 200Tim Gray is a writer, finer world advocate and geek living in Nottingham, UK.

He helps people who are working on their corner of a better world to connect with their audience through their writing and how they present it in channels like websites, documents and ebooks.

You can find Tim at wordsthatchangetheworld.com.

There’s a short free guide about writing for the web to turn visitors into readers.

If you’d like to follow up the issues in this interview, take a look at Tim’s e-course ‘Website Foundations for Stories in Action’.

 

 

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