The Two Skills of Gift Giving

Well, for many people on this list, Christmas will have just happened and gifts will have been, in some fashion, given and received. If you got any gifts, there’s a good chance that you loved some of them and other ones had you utterly question your friendship with that person and wonder if they even knew you at all.

There’s that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where one of the students gets, yet again, the same Christmas gift from his father that he got last year. And the year before. And the year before that. I remember growing up and one of my aunt’s sending me books that bore no mark of her knowing of me or perhaps the full mark of her not knowing me at all. I remember looking at them, books for adults by an author who, at twelve years old, I’d never heard of and wondering, “Why?”

I am writing to you about marketing though it may not seem like it at first.

Let me come to it slowly.

Gift giving, that old, reliable, village-making and culture-feeding institution, is a big moment in a friendship but it is rarely understood as such and so rarely occurs as such. Gift giving, what gift is selected, when it is given and how, is where the whole rest of the friendship is called to appear – it’s where one finds out how much of a friendship was there in the first place.

Sadly, what is revealed, when many gifts are given, is that they were not paying much attention to you over the past year at all.

This isn’t to blame anyone. The pace of modern life is relentless, the pressures are well and truly unmanageable and we certainly carry an entitlement to the attention of others that seduces down the hill of narcissism with its constant whispers of how worthy, central and important we are while, in truth, in this fast-food, single-serving, modern world, we are lucky to be on the receiving end of the attention of others whenever it happens. There’s so much pressure on us all.

Even if the pressure is off for a while, in the dominant cultures in the world we are deeply unskilled at being on the receiving, observing, and regarding side of the world and other people.

And so this is the first of the two skills needed for gift giving.

The first is the real skill of being able to sit there and let another person’s ways have their ways with us. We live in a culture where, instead of looking at the blank screen for what it is, we project onto it. The mountain is no longer a mountain – it becomes a metaphor for struggle and triumph. A coyote is not longer a coyote, it’s a spiritual messenger meant just for us whose message we can decipher by looking it up in a book about ‘messages from spirit animals’ or calling up that native friend of ours who knows so much. The meat we eat was never a live animal. Our parents aren’t human beings who had complete lives before we showed up, they were only ever that.

And there it is, this strip-malled Empire we walk around in daily, constantly telling us, “If it’s in the world, it must be there for you.”

There is more to see but our capacity to project our unmet needs, unfulfilled desires and unprocessed feelings onto others stops us from ever, truly learning them.

How can one get a gift that would truly touch the heart of another if one doesn’t understand them at all because one has never really seen them at all for who and what they are without all of our mad and insistent projections?

It becomes further complicated because, even if we did truly see someone, we truly set aside our habitual lenses and filters, or grace descends and allows us to be on the receiving end of one we admire… in a year they’ve changed and in ten years they may resemble who they were very little.

A simple example of this being: you were vegetarian ten years ago but then stopped. You’ve eaten meat ever since. And then, for Christmas, your uncle gets you a vegetarian cookbook and you look up at him and wonder how he missed the last ten years. Then you recall eating steak with him two years ago but it didn’t seem to register.

And here is the secret: people are telling you who they are all the time. People are telling you what gifts they might want all the time. If you leave a conversation with someone with no sense of what a perfect gift for them might be, then I would submit it either wasn’t much of a conversation or you weren’t listening well or both.

It’s a fine orientation to come to an interaction with, as you sit there in their presence, to wonder, ‘What gift might I get this person that would touch their heart and show them, conclusively, that I was paying attention?’

My brother loves cooking and so, one Christmas, I got him one of those fancy, folded steel, Japanese cooking knives. I think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever given.

The secret to it was that I never asked him once if he wanted one or had considered them. I just paid attention. This is the test, are you attending well enough, obedient (from the roots that pertain to ‘listening’) to what they say and what goes unsaid, that you could choose a gift that would stun them with its thoughtfulness.

My friend Olenka was leaving Edmonton. She hosted a farewell potluck during which nothing was happening. There was no orchestrated farewell. And so I gave her one. I asked those present to miss her to her face. I invited them to tell her that they didn’t want her to go and to help her understand the size of the hole that she would be leaving when she left. This was my gift to Olenka. That she could be wept over and not cry alone as she’d been doing for weeks with the fears that no one would miss her and that she’d be forgotten. When my dear friend Hannah left Edmonton I wept in front of her too. This is a gift you can give to people. 

I recall Martin Shaw talking about the biggest gift you can give to friends and lovers from the past who, of their own volition, moved on from your life. “Let them go,” he said. “Let them go.”

Sometimes the best gift you can give is advice and sometimes the best advice is to give absolutely no advice at all but to just listen and give empathy instead.

I was recently up in Northern Alberta and, at the end of a daylong workshop, I was gifted the most beautiful, hand-made, felted vest. It made me cry right up there in front of everyone. The night before we had sat in a small, log cabin owned by a couple named Tim and Linda. Tim had been wearing one of these fine vests, and I fawned over it fiercely, admiring the time and energy it must have take to make it. Raising the sheep, shearing the wool by hand, washing the wool, carding it and then felting it and then cutting and sewing and embroidering it. And my new friend, Kolby, my host for the event, had bought one the next day for me and gave it to me. That is how you give a gift. I never told her I wanted it. I never asked for it. I showered it with appreciation out loud and she heard me. 

It’s not so hard. People are always telling you what they want.

You go out to a bar and you hear a friend rave about the Sake there and how rarely they get to drink it. So, next Christmas, you wrap up a bottle of it for them. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I paid attention. I am glad to know you. Here’s my proof.”

You have a friend who runs an indigenous arts festival and they are always struggling for money and so you invite them for coffee to share a fundraising model you know of that might help change things for them forever. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to make this festival happen and to carry your community on your back and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

You have a friend who is a single parent and you send them a bit of money out of the blue or tell them you’d be happy to watch the kids one night so that they can hit the town and do whatever they want. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to feed your children and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

You go over to a friend’s house and are fed an amazing dinner and so you do the dishes and clean their kitchen. You are showing them, without saying anything, “I see the labour you put in to feed me and this is my way of acknowledging that.”

People are telling you all the time what they want.

This happens all the time. We assume that we already know people and so we stop learning them.

Learning how to do this is a cultural thing. The failure to do so is a cultural failing. This is a skill that must be taught.

But then there is a second skill, the skill of translating what one has witnessed into a gift for them that they didn’t see coming. A gift can be a way of saying, “I was watching. I was listening.”

And that is its own immense skill. There is a craftsmanship here. There is a capacity to select, of all the options, the perfect one or, if no options exist, to create one.

But that second skills hinges on the first.

So these are the two skills: the first to receive the person and the second to give to them something that confirms the fact of the first. Without the first, there can be no second. And without the second, what was the point of the first? The first skill is hearing them. The second skill is offering the proof that you did.

Without these twin skills, we are left with “No no. I was listening. Trust me. I heard you.” But why should anyone trust us that we were paying attention in the face of mounting evidence saying that we haven’t been paying attention at all? It’s an unkind approach to constantly demand trust in the face of evidence to the contrary. This is called gaslighting. That fellow in the Whitehouse currently does it all of the time. Better to prove it and to do so consistently.

It could be so that your appearance amongst us is all the proof we need that our ancestors are still with us. They looked at the troubles of the times we found ourselves in and they crafted their response – you. It could be, as my Cree friend Lewis often says, “My elders told me that the reason babies come into the world with their fist closed is because they are coming with gifts to give us.”

And the communities willingness and capacity to take care of you is the proof to you that we see what a gift you are and the gifts you were laden with before you made your way here. Our caring for you and fostering those gifts is our way of saying to our ancestors, “We see you. We see what you have done for us. We are grateful. Our proof is that we take care of this one.”

Being on the receiving end of a good gift is so very rare that it stops us in our tracks when it happens. Again, it says so much more about this culture than it does about us as people.

These two skills show up in business (or they don’t) all the time.

You can translate the word ‘gift’ into the word ‘offer’ with great accuracy.

Our offers that we make to our email list and to our virtual and live audiences, are our gifts to them.

They are the proof of all of the ways that we have, or have not, being paying attention to them.

I remember hearing a story about British Airways asking their trans-atlantic, first class customers what they wanted most during the long flights. “To be left alone! Let us sleep!” was the resounding answer. They were tired of being woken up every 30 minutes by the overly helpful flight attendants.

Disney Hotels came to a similar recognition years ago when their customers told them they didn’t want or need for their rooms to be cleaned every night.

When you offer a payment plan, or PWYC option or sliding scale, it’s your way of saying, “I get it. Money can be tight.”

When you come up with a package focused on a very particular issue it’s a way of saying to your people, “I know you don’t have the time or energy to learn all of this and translate it to your own situation and so I’ve done it for you.”

When you create an online version of a popular live program, it’s a way of saying, “I know you’d love to travel to come to my workshop but I know that costs so much time and money. So let me offer it this way.”

Offering a lot of free content on your website is a way of saying, “I see how scary it is to approach someone like me. I see the risks involved. And so let me do what I can to lower that risk.”

Good customer service is your proof to your customers that you see the immense frustration they’re going through and what it has cost them.

What is it that is actually meaningful to me? A handwritten note, the kind that Mark Silver of Heart of Business sends me from time to time.

What is not meaningful to me? A card from with a printed signature – the exact same card they send to every client. Those make me angry. Why did they waste the time, money and paper on this? They could have given a meal to a homeless person for the price of this. I throw them out, unread, every single time The message these cards send is, “We are trying to do the right thing but we are too lazy to do the real thing so we thought we’d send you this facsimile.” I remember another colleague of mine sending me a video card. You opened it and a video played. It was a video of him speaking directly to me. It was clever. It was personal. And yet… it was a single use of precious resources that had to be thrown out after. Why would he send me something that couldn’t be recycled?

You customers, if you are in touch with them, are telling you what they want all the time: in every coaching session, in every workshop and on your social media feed. They are telling you – directly and indirectly – how to make the perfect offer to them.

What might the opposite of gift giving be?

Perhaps it might be theft. Perhaps when we are not thoughtful in our gift giving we aren’t giving people something that will bless them but something that will frustrate them. We are burdening them with something to deal with not something that will delight them.

When we don’t offer a payment plan, or PWYC option or sliding scale, it might be our way of saying, “I don’t get it. Just pony up. If you won’t pay the money then it’s because you clearly don’t value me and yourself.”

When we come up with a package focused on a very particular issue we might be robbing people of their time.

When we won’t create an online version of a popular live program it could be a way of robbing people of their time and money by making them fly across the world to see us.

A refusal to create free content on our websites could be a way of robbing people of their safety.

Bad customer service is your proof to your customers that you see the immense frustration they’re going through and what it has cost them. We rob them of relief.

When our copy writing is fuzzy we rob people of time and inner peace and replace it with confusion and frustration. 

It’s worth considering.

And so, you haven’t gotten an email from me over the past ten days.

Why might that be?

It could be laziness. But it could also be that it is my way of saying, “I think what you most want over the holidays is to not be disturbed. I hear about how many emails you get. I see all of the Christmas offers and my guess is that what you would prefer over another offer, during a time you are deluged with offers, is silence and space.”

It’s a small way of letting you know that I see you and what you are going through.

Further Reading:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing
Wrapping Your Gifts
Generous Gifts vs. Free Samples
Stop Wasting People’s Time: The Incredible Cost of Being Fuzzy

90 Min Video – The Art of eCourse Creation

If you’ve been thinking about creating an eCourse I think you’ll love this.

A well thought out eCourse can be a perfect addition to your business model and bring in hundreds if not thousands more dollars per month.

And there is no one I recommend more strongly to lead people in the creation of this than Brad Morris at The Great eCourse Adventure.

This entertaining and content rich, 90-minute video will give you a solid foundation to get started in creating your own.


You can learn more about their work at and

And here is the workbook mentioned in the video:


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

Guest Post: From Information to Transformation: Reimagining Online Education

If you’re thinking of creating an online product but have no idea how yours will stand out, this blog may be just what you need right now.

I’ve known Brad Morris for a number of years now. He’s been a guest blogger twice before here with his 7 Top Lessons I learned from Creating my Online Product and Seven Lessons from my Marketing Vision Quest. He’s one of the most genuine and creative people I know. He and his friend Andy (who has been helping me design my Niching Spiral Homestudy Course) just launched a new course called the Great eCourse Adventure and I thought it was such a creative approach to doing an eCourse that it might inspire you. 

In this guest post you’ll read of the six big challenges facing the online education world today but also twenty hard won lessons that Brad and Andy have wrestled from their pursuits of doing something that’s very different from other things out there.

Note: all of the links below are affiliate links which means I am paid something if you sign up for his program. If that sits funny with you or feels off for any reason but you’d still like to check it out, you can do that here and nothing will be tracked back to me.

By Bradley Morris & Andy Freist

eCourse Adventure Guides at The Great eCourse Adventure

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 5.20.50 PMSo you’ve been thinking about creating an eCourse huh?

Of course you have. Who hasn’t?

Creating a freedom lifestyle by teaching what you love (and living off the passive income from eCourse sales) is a pretty wicked dream… and a doable one at that.

There’s a bit of a Gold Rush happening right now as the online education industry surpasses the $100 billion mark this year.

With massive growth comes some big challenges.

One challenge is, everyone’s hunting for gold in the same river and the river is getting crowded.

What happens when the river gets too crowded?

Challenge #1: Everything Starts Looking the Same

In this sea of sameness, it can be hard to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.

If your intended audience can’t tell you apart from the rest of the eCourses and offerings like you because you’ve taken the cookie-cutter approach, how will they find you?

Yes, it is important that you come up with your own unique way of sharing, teaching or saying what everyone else in your market is doing.

And, what can you do to innovate the online learning experience for your customers that sets you apart from everyone else doing what you do?

Challenge #2: Over Promises, Under Delivery

Because everyone is trying to stand out as the expert of all experts, many are creating promises they can’t or have no intention of keeping.

Titles like, “The Six Figure this,” “The Everything Blueprint,” “The Make More Money Formula,” and “The Seven Steps to You Name It” are definitely thrown around a lot these days.

The problem with trying to fit in with the status quo is there is so much noise. Everyone is yelling over top of each other and they’re all essentially shouting the same thing.

How does this show up? Lots of hype and false promises in order to “get noticed” and make the sale. The eCourse Industry is quickly becoming a sort of breeding grounds for what feels annoyingly similar to the modern day car salesman.

You can sure feel it when the teacher’s main motives are driven by an undercurrent of financial gain, rather than being driven by the authentic desire of truly wanting to serve their students.

How can we create digital experiences for our tribes that are so transformational, unique and service-focused that they sell themselves without ever needing to “sell” anything?

Challenge #3: Information Overload

Let’s be honest, we’re all a little overwhelmed from information these days. It’s easy to impress people with knowledge, but that does not always guarantee results.

The typical formula for eCourses is to create a series of videos that dump an indigestible amount of information on the student, mixed with an overwhelming number of action steps or to-do’s, and then a PDF that rarely ever gets printed out and worked on.

This strategy has worked in the past, however people are becoming less inspired and more numb by the formula. It’s quickly losing it’s effectiveness.

There’s nothing wrong with videos and PDF’s. We use them too and they are an important tool in the digital learning experience.

We have found that delivering the lessons in bite-sized, digestible amounts, with a clear call to action results in a higher engagement rate.

The key is giving our students the right amount of information at the right time, in the right order.  Then to come up with creative ways to deliver the lessons and support your customer to actually integrate the lesson into their life or business. (we have examples later in this article)

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

How can we as teachers and coaches, craft highly engaging multi-media educational processes that focus on the experience, rather than just relaying information?

Challenge #4: High Customer Failure Rate

The whole purpose of creating eCourses is to improve people’s lives. However, that’s not the message or approach that’s being practiced across the board. Many eCourse creators out there are more focused on “making sales” rather than creating the ultimate customer experience.

There is a kind of desperation in the air, when you really look at what’s being said on many of the sales pages we get sent to. When there’s not a desperation, there is a “holier than thou” complex that these internet gurus hold in order to posture themselves as the savior.

We believe the focus should be on providing massive value and a transformational experience for the customer.

If we do this, then we don’t have to hype ourselves up like the Inflatable Tube Man because our customers will do the talking for us.

What happens a lot of the time though, is people sign up for an eCourse that seems promising due to a free give-away and great sales copy.

They start off excited, but when it comes time to “do the work”, they don’t feel genuine support from the teacher or they get disinterested with the content. Many unfortunately leave the experience beating themselves up and feeling discouraged because they didn’t fulfill their intention.

This has been a huge frustration of our’s with the different courses we’ve created. All we want is for our participants to achieve the transformation they signed up for. When they don’t, we do everything in our power to find out what happened and make improvements accordingly.

With eCourses generally being self paced, it’s common for participants to feel overwhelmed with the huge amount of resistance that surfaces from doing this big new thing.

If the eCourse does not have the right support systems in place or the content isn’t engaging enough, participants will find it hard to follow through… unless they’re incredibly motivated or passionate about the topic.

If customer engagement drops, so does retention. Customer retention is what keeps the business alive and growing.

How can we facilitate the ultimate experience that supports our customers through their resistance, fear and the necessary growth that’s required to succeed with your course?

Challenge #5: Trust is Declining

I’ve personally become a bit jaded in the whole online learning world. I honestly don’t trust much of what I see because of all the dis-honesty and sleazy marketing gimmicks that try to push people into buying.

Being jaded sucks. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great teachers and amazing opportunities to learn and grow due to my silly paranoia.

I also know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I talk to more people all the time who are tired of being flushed down sales funnels and slammed with high pressure emails like inbox tsunamis.

In business, trust is our most valuable asset with our customers. It’s also something that is earned over time. This means we have to be in it for the long haul, rather than the quick sale approach.

How can we create rich, authentic experiences for our customers that build a strong foundation of trust?

Challenge #6: The Homogenization of our Industry

Basically, what’s happening is the teachers at the top of the food chain in the eCourse industry set the standard for how eCourses are created, marketed, priced and presented.

Everyone else is stepping into the mold that those leaders have created for them, usually without even realizing it.

This keeps the cycle of sameness going and delays the inevitable change that’s coming…

How can we break away from the mold and come up with innovative, new ways to educate, market and inspire?

The Good News?

With Big Challenges, Come Big Opportunities

If you caught yourself cringing or nodding in agreement while reading the problems we listed above, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

These are the problems most eCourse Creators are facing right now and it seems that nobody really knows what to do to break the cycle of sameness.

The entire eCourse industry is ripe for a massive shift. The tools that are available to us now for creating incredible online experiences, compared to five years ago, are incomparably better. All of the “problems” we’ve mentioned up above are perfect and fine.

They’ve served their purpose up to here and they’re now becoming outdated.

What’s awesome about this is, there is an opportunity to decide where we go next in the eCourse Frontier.

Rather than feeding people information, we believe (Andy and I), the challenge and solution lies in our ability to inspire and lead people to achieve lasting transformation. We know we’re not the only ones who think this way.

“With transformations, the economic offering of a company is the individual person or company changed as the result of what the company does. With transformations, the customer is the product! The individual buyer of the transformation essentially says, ‘change me’.” – The Experience Economy (Pine and Gilmore)

The transformation can be learning a new skill, overcoming an illness or struggle, even gaining a new perspective on life or a situation. It can even be learning to create an incredible eCourse that aligns with your truth. The key is that it is a deep, meaningful and lasting change. If the student “loses” the transformation after the training, it wasn’t a true transformation.

Going through a transformational process can often be extremely uncomfortable for our customer. This is true even when they have a high desire for the change.

It is our instinctual human nature to resist what causes us to grow and change.

For example: A lot of the people when starting out on the eCourse Creation journey come to us thinking it’s going to be as easy as writing a few PDF’s, shooting some videos and slapping a $1,000-2,000 price tag on their course. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When the reality sets in and they realize the massive investment of time, creativity and energy it takes to build something remarkable, professional and transformational, most people tend to get overwhelmed or experience a mega-ton of resistance…

If your motivations aren’t clear enough, then the resistance can be bigger than your WHY, causing you to give up, seek out an easier opportunity or cop out and create something that doesn’t live up to your potential (or heart’s desire).

Resistance is a natural part of the process when we set out to achieve something big and awesome.

Why? Because we have to step up, show up and become the person we need to be in order to achieve that goal.

This requires growth, learning and change. A few things the good ol’ ego hates.

eCourse Mastery happens when we can guide people on a deeply transformative process in a way that supports them to overcome their resistance, internal obstacles and achieve the original promise you made that inspired them to sign up for your eCourse.

Our primary duty as eCourse Creators and guides is to do whatever it takes to facilitate that transformational process for our tribe.

If we can not do this, then we have failed. We’re only successful when our students or customers are successful.

From Information to Transformation

When coming up with the idea for our latest project, the Great eCourse Adventure, our number one priority was to create an experience that keeps our customers engaged and excited for all the steps they have to take and hard work that lies ahead.

We also wanted to find a way to incorporate all of our passions and creative gifts into the creation of our eCourse. Mostly because what we were doing before with our previous courses still felt like “work”. They weren’t fully stoking our creative fun fire.

The other question we pondered was, “how do we actually create something that stands apart from anything else in the industry?”  We wanted to build something original for our tribe.

We were extremely clear that whatever our next eCourse was going to be, it had to be fun (for us to create and for our participants to go through) and it had to be transformational. The days of sitting in front of a camera and talking at our participants about our step-by-step blueprint were over. Hallelujah!

These intentions and the questions we asked ourselves led to some of the biggest breakthroughs of our lives.

We said goodbye to “the box” and hello to stoking the flame of possibility that lives within all our imaginations.

Are you ready to hear what we did?

So how did we create our ultimate eCourse experience?

Before you read what we did, I will tell you how we did it…

It wasn’t until we got crystal clear on our WHY – our key motivations for creating this eCourse, that the puzzle pieces came together.

Disclaimer: if you’re getting into building transformational eCourses, you can’t make your motivations about money or your own personal freedom. It is 100% about your customer’s experience. Not yours.

Now that we’ve got that little piece out of the way, here’s what we did…

We have combined our love for entertainment, skit comedy, gamification, education, transformation, art, business, marketing, and being over the top creative to fuel “The Great eCourse Adventure.”

Here are the ways we utilized the power of media to create a truly unique, creative and transformational learning experience:

We decided that our eCourse is a work of art. The true underlying motivation for creating our course is to craft a masterpiece. By plugging in our innate talents and passions, the entire process has been an absolute joy. It is no different than a painter immersed in the act of placing paint on a canvas. This is our art.

We built a virtual world and storyline about our eCourse participants climbing a mountain to the peaks of “Launch Summit”. We bring this world to life through every single aspect of how we facilitate the course (videos, sound effects, online platform, languaging, community, emails, etc). It’s all about the adventure!

We made our video lessons entertaining, fun and engaging. Some of the lessons are even taught by mystical creatures and outlandish characters. Participants never know what surprise we have in store next. ?Hello engagement and fun!

We gamified the entire journey to make action-taking an even more enjoyable, rewarding experience for participants. Let’s face it, we all love games. Our commitment is to bring more play to the business world. ?

We got super creative with our auto-responder emails, making it a fun and exciting experience for our adventurers to open their inbox.?

We created an amazing journaling system that goes above and beyond the standard PDF, allowing participants to plan, build and organize their entire eCourse in one location. We’ve never seen any other courses use the system we’ve created.?

We’re growing an immersive online community that inspires the kind of intimacy amongst participants that you’d experience if you were going to summer camp. We called this magical place for conversation and connection, “The Campfire.” ?

We understand the need for support on adventures like this, which is why we built into the community experience opportunities for Adventurers to do spontaneous masterminds together (at no extra cost), pair up with an Adventure Buddy for accountability purposes and all sorts of other incredible things that pack on the support to help our tribe succeed.

We also give our participants an Adventure Map instead of a to-do list. This little map will help them track their progress and get a sweet visual of what excitement lies ahead. It’s also an extremely fulfilling way to cross off the steps you’ve taken.

With all these moving parts working together, we believe we’ve found a solution that will make “doing the work” more enjoyable than binge-watching Netflix.

What we’ve built is just the beginning of this new style of digital learning experiences and we’re excited to see the wild, magical courses that our work inspires in the world.

What we’ve created could never be duplicated or copied by anyone. It is 100% unique and has never been done (as far as we know). Yet the process of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is entirely teachable!

Twenty Lessons

Here are 20 lessons we’ve learned from building The Great eCourse Adventure:

  1. Rather than creating an eCourse, create an entire world that immerses your participants in the learning experience. ?This can be done easier than one might think.
  2. Facilitating a transformation has nothing to do with the information you present. It’s all about the experiences and journey you take your customer through. ?
  3. The ‘Ultimate Transformation’ your eCourse or brand promises does not happen all at once. It happens over a series of carefully planned and facilitated experiences.? This is why the power of eCourses is only beginning to be understood. With a workshop or coaching experience, you can support a breakthrough. With eCourses, you can facilitate multiple breakthroughs and help them be fully integrated into your customer’s life.
  4. Building a successful eCourse is not about making a million dollars in sales, it’s about transforming the lives of those who need your course.?
  5. Information is less valuable than tangible Transformations. ?
  6. It’s important that you dig deep and find your own creative flavor. This is what brings your eCourse to life and gives it personality. ?
  7. Don’t ever try to be like everybody else. Otherwise you’ll miss all the people looking for you.?
  8. Build a team that you love, trust and enjoy working with. If you want to build something that is wildly unique and awesome, then it’s going to require more people being involved than just you alone.
  9. Don’t make an eCourse to create quick cash. Take your time, be methodical and when inspiration strikes take tons of action.?
  10. Focus on building a community and culture around your creation.
  11. If you’re planning on building a successful online business, be prepared to spend exorbitant numbers of hours in front of a computer screen. Be sure to balance that with plenty of exercise, nature time and by doing things you love on your breaks.
  12. Don’t try to get it perfect the first time. There is always time to improve and refine once you’ve created the first version of your idea. ?Perfect is a verb.You are Perfect’ing!
  13. Keep it fun. If you’re unable to have fun doing the thing you apparently love, then why the hell are you doing it? Honestly.?
  14. There’s no need to get lost in the hustle or the hype. If you create an experience that is truly transformational and unique, your customer will know if your thing is for them or not and they’ll be excited to spread the word.  
  15. Pricing your eCourse is one of the hardest parts of the process. Deep down inside though, you’ll know what to charge. Don’t sell it for more than what you would honestly buy it for.
  16. Gratitude for the journey. Take your time and enjoy each step along the way. This is not a race, it is an adventure. Enjoy it.
  17. Until your WHY is clear, your WHAT will remain a mystery.
  18. When dreaming into your WHAT, take the shackles of limitation off of yourself. Anything is possible in the digital Universe. Dream it, then find the people (hopefully friends) to create it with. If you can’t find them right away, then create your first version as best as you can with the resources you have available.
  19. ABC = Always Be Creating. If you want to create your freedom lifestyle building transformational eCourses, then start creating today and never stop. Learn from doing.
  20. Value yourself. There are people who are waiting for your truth, wisdom and experience. If don’t create the ways for them to hear your voice and find you, then you’re doing them a disservice. All voices, all stories, all people matter. Honour and value the gifts you have to share by sharing them.

We recognize that the experience we’ve created with the Great eCourse Adventure is just one example of what’s possible. Since embarking on this creative journey, we’ve thought of so many other awesome eCourse ideas that we’ll never have time to build, but hope others will.

Here’s a few questions to journal about:

  1. What do you imagine this next chapter of online learning and eCourse creation looking like?
  2. What lessons can you take from this article and apply to your business or eCourses immediately?
  3. What is your motivating WHY to invest the necessary time and energy required to craft a highly engaging, transformational experience for others?

Want to experience the Great eCourse Adventure?

Join the first three checkpoints on the mountain for FREE -or- get the full Launch Summit Trail Pass for our $299 Beta Launch.

*Registration closes at 11:59pm PST January 9th. 150 full Trail Passes available.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about what we’ve shared in this article. Let’s imagine what’s possible for the world of online learning together. Join the conversation below.

About The Authors:

Bradley T Morris

Inspired by freedom, fun and a dream to sponsor himself to play Professional Golf, Bradley dropped out of college at the age of 21 to start his first online business. Skip forward after a decade of entrepreneurial adventures and he now makes his living creating transformational eCourses and coaching adventurous entrepreneurs to develop engaging, unique and creatively inspired eCourses that transform people’s lives. His various eCourses have now supported thousands of customers in more than 30 countries across the globe.  More about Bradley at

Andy Freist:

Part tech geek, part musician, part entrepreneur, and part artist. When he’s not out playing music and producing dance events, Andy spends his days channeling his love for technology and artistry into the online space. He supports visionary entrepreneurs in creating powerful eCourse platforms and potent customer experiences.? His specialty is online design, brand architecture and crafting engaging customer experiences from websites, eCourses to in person events and beyond.? More about Andy at

Industry Report: The State of Online Course Creation

At some point in your life as a conscious entrepreneur, teaching an online course may be to be the next logical step.

You’ll want to help many more people, without the constraints of space and time. You’ll want to make an impact beyond your live group workshops or one-on-one sessions.

The best thing is, marketing your online course won’t feel gross when you know it will change your students’ lives. As someone who has sold online training programs, I can tell you it feels wonderful to promote and deliver a product when you’re confident it will truly help others.

Many online course creators believe their students’ success is the most important measure of their own success, as a recent survey by Firepole Marketing found. The rest of the findings are summarized in the infographic below. If you’ve tried making your own online course, or are thinking of doing so in the near future, these findings will interest you. You can learn more about what Firepole Marketing is up to here and read the full study here.

firepole OK

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

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

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

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

The Artist creates from the inside out.

The Entrepreneur creates from the outside in.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Warhol

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

– Oscar Wilde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great question!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


do you have a pink spoon in your marketing?


A few questions for you:

  • When people hit your website, do they stick around?
  • Do they sign up to your email list?
  • When you meet someone at a networking party who is curious about your work, do you have a way to give them a taste of what you do that doesn’t involve giving away your time for free?
  • When you host a teleseminar or are interviewed, do you have an incentive to offer people to go and check out your website?
  • Does your business card get you any business? I mean really?
  • Do you have things your clients can pass onto their friends to get them interested in what you do?

If you don’t, then this might be the most important blog post you’ve read in a while.

A lot of people make the mistake of seeing marketing as about trying to change minds rather than seeing who naturally resonates with what they offer.

Or they expect people to jump into the deep end of their incredibly profound work without any shallow end of the pool to explore. They expect people to sign up for their full weekend intensive workshop without knowing anything about them or their work. They have a booth at a craft show with everything flat on the table and wonder why no one approaches them.

Or they just give out a tonne of business cards and brochures and expect people to sign up and buy.

Everything above is all about the same thing – the same blunder committed by countless entrepreneurs.

What we eventually find is that safety is incredibly important in marketing.

The first thing marketing needs to do is get the attention of your ideal client. 

But then we need to lower the risk of them taking a first step in working with us. We need to make it so easy for them to check us out to see if it feels like a fit. 

So, the main idea in this blog post is about the importance of creating a free gift you can offer to people to help them figure out if your work is a fit for them.

I first really got this from reading It is a colleague of mine, Andrea Lee, who is a lovely, lovely lady.

She is the one who introduced me to the idea of a sales funnel and the ‘pink spoon’ in marketing.


You will notice the image on top is like an ice cream store. You have the pink spoon (the literal little pink spoon that gives you a sample taste of ice cream), an ice cream cone, a little bucket of ice cream, ice cream cake, and the calendar which is like for some ice cream stores, believe it or not, have a club you can join where every month you get mailed a coupon for a new delicious flavor of ice cream. It costs a bunch of money because it is really rare, but that’s what you get.

There are different levels of the funnel. You will notice that it is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. Wider at the top is of course more people are going to try the free thing; less people will try the cone, less people will get a gallon, and very few people will go for the club.

Think of it as a yoga studio. The pink spoon would be a free class. The ice cream cone might be a drop in class. The bucket of ice cream might be a ten pass or a monthly pass. The cake might be a weekend workshop. The club would be the teacher training. Interesting fact, if you take out the teacher training at the sales funnel of most yoga studios, they will collapse within six months to a year. They will just totally not last. It is that important.

There is the bronze, silver, and gold sort of levels. You have seen this all sorts of places. You will see the image below and it gives you a sense of what the price points might be. The pink spoon is free. The next level is anywhere from $5 to $50, then $50 to $200 for the level after that, and then $200 to $500, and then the bottom level of $500 plus, as an example. It may vary.

The important thing is having levels.

There are a few reasons this matters so much.

First of all, consider the impact of trying to remove levels from the sales funnel. Think of it as just pink spoons. Cover with your hand the whole sales funnel and all you have is the pink spoons. You are kind of popular for awhile, but you are broke at the end and you have no ice cream. 

And it is actually really frustrating for people who then discover a flavour they like and they want more. You tell them they can have another little sample, but that is all they can have. Eventually, that gets very frustrating for people. 

But, on the other side of it, a yoga studio would collapse without the teacher training because that is where most of their money comes from. The yoga studio actually doesn’t make that much money from the regular classes because the teacher needs to be paid, there is overhead etc. Teacher trainings are thousands of dollars so that is where they make most of their money. 

Imagine covering the sales funnel, except the calendar at the bottom of the funnel. That would be like walking into a yoga studio and saying, “Hey, I was wondering if I could do a drop-in class?”

They would say, “We don’t do that, but if you would like to sign up for our $3,000 teacher training you can.” You get what a huge leap that is. You walk in to a studio where you don’t know the teachers, you don’t know their philosophy, you don’t know anything about their platform or who they are, and they are immediately expecting you to make that kind of a leap.

Here is the really compelling piece that will just nail some of you. Take out everything, cover up the pink spoon, cover up everything below the ice cream cone. I would suggest that the situation most holistic practitioners are in, most holistic practitioners are in is a position of just selling ice cream cones.  

That sounds like this:  “Hey, thanks for coming in for the session. Would you like to book another session?” and then when they come back, “Would you like to book another session?” And figuratively, it is just selling ice cream cones. 

I want to submit that that isn’t as safe for people as you would think. You don’t know if they want to try a whole cone. They just want to try a sample first. So it is not safe for them and it is not that sustainable for you.

Now you are stuck just trying to get new people in all the time, trying to rebook people, having that uncomfortable conversation. Having a sales funnel makes it much safer for people to engage at the level that feels comfortable for them. It also makes your work much more sustainable for you. 

I will tell you a bit about my personal experience with this. When I first started off I was just doing workshops. I had no pink spoons. It was kind of hard to get people in my workshops. I had one workshop, this one weekend workshop called the Radical Business Intensive. Then I started developing some pink spoons.

I came up with my Niche Workbook. I came up with The Horrible Hundred, the Radical Business 180, these early diagnostics that are a part of the eBook that you can download on my Web site. I had those and those were great.

Then I had this intro workshop that I was doing. One day, I thought, I just need to record this, get it transcribed, so I can offer it as a pink spoon as a free thing on my Web site. I had that. People immediately loved having that. It didn’t make me any money but it helped me grow my list.

I combined the quizzes plus the transcript of that plus a few other things into this 200-page eBook (which is overkill). You don’t need that much content for a pink spoon. It might be too much, but a lot of people say they love it. 

My blog has become a huge pink spoon. The great thing with the blog is that I am getting to a point where I can take some of those posts from my blog and move them into products. I take them off my blog, turn them into a product that I can charge for, but I got to share it and it got to be useful for people in the meantime, which I feel really wonderful about.

Then I noticed that I was getting a lot of people who were holistic practitioners. I created this workshop, Marketing 101 for Holistic Practitioners. That was another revenue stream. I had this other sort of more green business thing and the holistic practitioner workshop.

Then I created the “How to Create a Free Gift on Your Website”, basically, how to create the pink spoon on your Web site. That was a little bit additional revenue.

Then I was seeing that I had so many of my favourite clients who were just never going to come back to the same old workshop – so I designed a workshop called The HotBox which was invite only for my favourite clients. Five clients per workshop. 100% based in hotseats. Each person gets an hour of the groups time. I’ve done three of them so far and the results have been really powerful. I charge a sliding scale of $250 – $500 for it.

Then I got this crazy idea to package my weekend workshop, the Marketing 101 for Holistic Practitioners, into this six-week online course, which I have been enjoying so much, and that you are a part of. That has been really good financially, sustainably, etc. I charged $200 for a basic level and then offered the group course plus an hour of coaching for $300 and six coaching sessions for $700. I made $8400 or so. That’s more profitable than most weekends I’ve ever done (no costs for venue, travel, accommodations etc.). 

Then I led a Niching for Hippies virtual course. The first time I led it, I charged $300 per person and got about 45 people. So, that was about $13,000 when it was all said and done. I did it again six months later and charged $600 for it and got 45 people. In the end, that was about $23,000 of profit.

My situation used to be, “I’m broke. I need to hit the road and do some more workshops.” But now I am actually hitting the road with money in my bank instead of the tank being dry. 

As my sales funnel has become more robust, I can’t tell you the relief it is. It feels like the boat is getting so much more solid. It is not leaking as much. Again, not just being safer for people to check me out, but to uphold me. Also, I created a bunch of these case studies that are on my Web site for free.

But, it all starts with the pink spoons. It all starts with the free gift you can offer people. This is not a new idea. Ice cream stores do it. Bakeries do it. Grocery stores do it. Authors do it with ‘free chapters’ of their books and blogs. You should do it too.

It starts with giving people a way to sample what you have to offer with no risk, at no cost and that take zero time from you.

There’s nothing I know of that will help you build your list, deepen trust, connect with people and develop a following that having a thoughtful, well put together pink spoon.

If you’d like some help in creating one for your website, check out the “How to Create a Free Gift on Your Website”. I think you’ll love it. 

And if you’re a service provider interested in how to create packages (rather than just selling individual sessions) then I highly recommend check out Rebecca Tracey’s program Hey, Nice Package!

And, if you’ve got a pink spoon you use successfully, please share it with us below in the comments. 

Guest Post: What You DON’T Need To Be A Published Expert

By Alison Marks, Business Building Mentor

There’s a conversation going on inside most business owners about creating a book, ebook, CD, CD set or video series. It goes something like this:

Internal Voice #1: Yeah. I like that idea. I’ve worked really hard and lived a lot of life to know what I know, and it would be really great to share this with other people. And it would be really cool to make some money from it! And then that would also position me as an expert and grow my business. What’s not to love?

Internal Voice #2: Oh, let’s be real. I’m just entertaining myself. I know that this is going to be like so many other things – I’ll think about it, but never actually do it.

Anything in there sound familiar?

We like Voice #1. Voice #2… well, Voice #2 has good intentions. At its core, it wants to keep you safe – nice and cozy where things are familiar and comfortable. It’s going to say things that you might believe, just because they sound like the truth.

But they’re not. Paying attention to Voice #2 is just going to keep you small. Playing it safe will mean that you never get to spread your wings and fly, that you’ll never see what’s really possible in your business and your life. That you just won’t enjoy the kind of success that’s possible just beyond that voice.

A Conversation

Let’s have a little conversation with YOUR Voice #2, shall we?  Here are some things that your Voice #2 might say… and how you might respond.

You: Ok, Voice #2… why do you think it’s just not in the cards for me to enjoy the income and success that come from creating an information product?

Voice #2: You’re just not expert enough.

You: I don’t buy it. I know that if I have the inkling to create an information product, it means there are people out there who need to what I have to share.

Voice #2: Well, I’m just not clear enough about what your topic would be. I’m not even really sure what your business is about. Or if you even want to be in business.

You: That’s ok. Perfect, actually. I know that going through the process of creating an information product will actually help me clarify what my “thing” is – not just for this product, but for my business in general.

Voice #2: Ok, maybe. But you’re just not techie enough to pull it off.

You: Your instincts are right here. There is a LOT of information out there about all the things involved in creating lucrative information products and running a successful online business.  Here’s the truth about it, though: most of the hard part is not actually doing the techie stuff. The tech skills to create a basic information product are actually very minimal, and can be learned and completed by following easy step-by-step instructions. The difficult part is making decisions about things that I have no experience in. I have faith that when I have good guidance in WHAT TO DO and HOW TO DO IT, it’s just not true that I’m not techie enough.

Voice #2: Hmm… I didn’t know that. Well, even if you can master the computer skills, you just don’t have the MONEY to invest in creating a book or CD or video series or anything else, for that matter.

You: You’d be surprised at how little it can cost to create an information product! Gone are the days when I would have had to order hard copy products in bulk, hundreds or thousands at a time, and store them in the garage. At a most basic level, since I have a computer and internet connection, I can create, sell, and deliver a great info product for under $100. There are a lot of free programs available today to help me at every step along the way to becoming a published expert.  I can even produce hard-copy products through a fulfillment house by spending virtually no money out-of-pocket. Of course, there are lots of ways to upgrade, but not having the money absolutely doesn’t hold water as an excuse.

Voice #2: Well, it’s sounding good. But you’re just not supported enough, experienced enough, or educated enough to move forward confidently.

You: I know I can do it with the right support!

Alison: I’m going to step in here and interrupt! I’ve got the perfect solution… a gift actually. You can download my “Info Product Essentials Checklist: What You Must Know To Create An eBook, Audio Program or Video Series That People Will Rush To Buy.”  Just click here and learn about the exact steps you need to take to create an information product that will make great money, position you as an expert in your field, and help lots of people.

Whether you’ve been thinking about creating an information product for a while, or you’re just trying on the idea for the first time, you don’t have to let Voice #2 hold you back any more. Learning how to do this can launch your business like you never imagined. Be sure to pick up your free Info Product Checklist. I look forward to sharing what I know with you.

Guest Post: How To Pick An Irresistible Topic For Your Information Product

By Alison Marks, Business Building Mentor

There’s a certain mistake I see a lot of entrepreneurs make when they set out to create a new information product or other program. And it kills me!  Probably because I did it, too, and I don’t want to see them have to learn the hard way, too. The mistake is…

They pick a topic that interests them – not necessarily the people they want to buy it.

In order to create something that’s really going to give you some traction in building your business – and not just be a cool thing you’ve done – it must solve a particular problem for a particular group of people.

Here are 5 steps that will help you pick a hot topic so your information product is set up for success!

1. Understand what information products are and how they can help you build your business in multiple ways.

Did you know that in addition to making you money directly, you can strategically leverage your info product as a tool to help you establish partnerships with powerful people, build your list, get speaking engagements, upsell folks into higher lever investments with you, and so much more?

2. Determine the niche you are targeting in your business and find out what their biggest challenges are.

Don’t take too much time here or you’ll never get anything done. It’s ok if you’re not 100% sure. Decide on a group/problem that’s at least heading you in the right direction, and decide that it’s “good enough” for now. Know that it’ll change down the road, and choose to just commit for now.

3. Find the sweet spot between what people in your niche need help with and what you are passionate about doing or helping people with.

Notice I’m not saying you should take yourself out of the equation! But you should know that the key to connecting with people and ultimately selling a good number of products is speaking to people in your niche where they are by helping them solve a  specific problem that’s important to them to fix.

4. Make a decision: What problem will you help your people solve?

5. Choose your irresistible topic.  (Hint: once you know what problem you’ll help people solve, this step is verrrry easy.)


Picking an irresistible topic for your information product is just the first of 5 Steps To Creating Your Lucrative Information Product. Want to know what’s next and how to do it?

Pick up my “Info Product Essentials Checklist: What You Must Know To Create An eBook, Audio Program or Video Series That People Will Rush To Buy.”  

This is my gift to you (and it contains some really nice goodies, including a link to my Tech Resources Bank, where I list the products, programs, services and professionals I use in my own business).

Click here to get your free download.

When created right, an information product will be a powerful tool for you to make great money, position yourself as an expert in your field, and help lots of people.

Becoming a published expert is within your reach! If you’ve ever felt called to do this, you can, and this is a great opportunity to learn how.