Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?

A year or so ago, a dear fellow I know in London, England asked this question on Facebook: “Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?” I imagine he had seen a lot of people get into the business only to struggle and fail in the end.

I’ve seen it myself. It seems to me that most of the spiritual healers I know are broke. Why is that?

It’s an immense question in its own way: we need those in our communities who tend to the spiritual, the meaningful, the beautiful and the mysterious. We need those who tend to our hearts and minds when they’re damaged beyond our own capacity to tend to them.

For humanity, this seems to have begun with shamans and medicine people of various names and descriptions and then it became priests and then psychologists and artists and many other roles besides. But, as much as we need these people in our midst they, for the most part, have not been paid well and certainly, with the exception of those in dominant religions that had become more about control then compassion, they did not get rich.

My sense is that, in traditional communities, these people, these walkers between the worlds, were, if they were any good at their job – taken care of by the community. They were provisioned for and compensated for their work. There was a need for them to work not a need for them to market that work.

But we aren’t there anymore. We aren’t anywhere close to there.

And so, the first question is must be, what befell a people that their sacred workers needed to make money?

Well, of course, this would be many things: literacy and its need to keep track of transactions, the unravelling of gift economies and their dance partners the laws of hospitality and the practice of kinship and the advent of the capitalist mercantile system, the break down of village life and the roads of modernity and progress arrived bearing the wagons of civilization, loaded down with soldiers and the promise of wealth beyond imagination, the discrediting of the function of elderhood, the heralding of the young, the witch burnings and deep suspicion and marginalization of the feminine and so much more.

With it all came the separation of the spiritual from the material. There is the temple which is sacred and then there is that which is outside the temple and it is not.

It lifts up the weighty questions of whether or not those doing spiritual healing work should be paid money for their services and, if not money, then how? I don’t propose to have an answer to these moral quandries.

The question is: “Is it possible for spiritual healers to make a living?”

The first thing we must come to is that, in this dominant civilization, most of us don’t have villages or even communities anymore. We have networks and scenes. We have clubs and meet-up groups. We have jobs. But we do not have community. And if there is no community, bound by and tethered to a shared understanding of the big questions and some semblance of answers to them, then there is no community to take care of the healers.

That’s where we’re at. The healers are on their own and almost entirely so. They must take care of themselves. Virtually no one is showing up at their doorstep with a basket of food or an offer to mow their lawn for them or mend their fence.

And they now, for the most part, live in this modern, capitalist society where money is all but required to buy food and find a place to live. Of course there are those striving to live outside the system still and bless them. But the pressures of modern culture are relentless.

So, here we are and what do we do to pay the bills, and rent and buy some food in the meantime.

Let’s assume you want to go down the fraught path of making money with all of the ethical and cultural questions that brings.

How does one do it?

To me, the first question is: are you any good?

Calling one’s self a spiritual healer does not remove an obligation to actually help people get better.

To tell someone, “I’ll give you healing energy and things might happen or not,” won’t cut it. If you can’t consistently help people improve, if you have no chops and less of a track record, then you shouldn’t be a healer.

So how do you get better? In an ideal situation, you would apprentice to someone directly, and for years. But you likely don’t have such a luxury (if we can call being woken up at 3am every other night by your village shaman to help someone in distress a luxury).

In the modern setting, this means learning. It means doing the healing work without needing too much money from it. It means either being financially supported by family or a spouse or it means having a job that pays your bills while you do the work of becoming a properly qualified healer. It means waiting until you have the cops to charge what you need to charge to sustain yourself.

If people under your care get better then, in the long term, that will be your marketing. If your work is remarkable, people will make remarks about it. This is how most marketing works. It is word of mouth. Again, if you aren’t confident that you can help people get better, what is it, exactly, that you’re offering to them?

And, if your marketing is going to be based on word of mouth then setting yourself up to do your best work becomes vital.

A friend of mine said to this,

“I have seen folks experience or train in a some modality that helps them, then get highly identified with the role of ‘healer,’ or ‘wounded healer,’ or ‘artist,’ etc, and then want to claim that identity as an escape from whatever ‘system’ they now feel is no longer serving them. Identifying with the archetype of healer/artist/shaman/eccentric as a way of validating our unique selfhood, finding a voice, and learning about ourselves is not the same thing as the initiation, commitment, and long apprenticeship that goes into the actual day-to-day practice of healing work. And at the same time, we can all be healers in our own way, wherever we work and live, right now. We don’t need to throw it all over to be ‘spiritual healers’ so to speak.”

And it’s true. Do you need to hang up a shingle as a holistic practitioner or could you be a mechanic who brings healing to that? Could you be a baker, a lawyer, a crafter who brings healing to every interaction you have? Why is it that we all imagine we need to become professional healers rather than attending to bringing healing to whatever we do? Why does healing always have to look like the laying on of hands?

Another friend wrote this,

“It is a unique challenge in energy healing because we as healers KNOW that it works, and yet our clients can still not get results. So much of the process relies on the client being truly willing to receive the healing they are asking for. And what I have found is that many people are willing to pay me good money, spend all that time, but they are still dealing with a lot of unconscious resistance. So the process can take much longer, almost always far longer, than the client really wants to take. So do I produce results? Absolutely. Do I have testimonials, tons and tons. But, will it happen in a linear way that one might be able to measure with a life coach or marketing strategist? Almost always not. That is the key piece of marketing i find the most challenging to get across to my clients.”

This is a vital piece to understand if you want to make your healing work your business: if your pitch is ‘come to me and I’ll offer you up healing energy/facilitate your own and then you might notice some change or you might not. If you do, I’ll take credit for it, if not then I’ll say that that’s your own fear getting in the way’ then just get out of business already. I had a friend offer some healing work to someone and, when they didn’t immediately get better (of their rheumatoid arthritis that they’d had for years) he said to her, “Sounds like you have some fears getting in the way of the healing.”

Of course, this was after he asked her, “So, are you doing cartwheels yet?” To which she silently replied, “Fuck you.”

I’m sorry, but if your best response to someone’s fear is to subtly shame it as getting in the way of your powerful healing, then you shouldn’t be a healer. Your job would be to help those fears come to the surface so that healing can be brought to them. Your job is to get the client ready to receive the healing energies and for them to know that this is a part of the process. This means making sure your point of view includes: 1) identifying where the healing is needed 2) making sure your client understands and is at ease with what is going on and, if it’s important, that they are ready to receive the healing 3) that you help them identify and work through the fears and unconscious resistances to healing that get in the way (and understand that it’s a normal part of the healing process) 4) that, at that point, they will the deeper work. 5) This will likely take longer than they think.

Or something like this. They need to be signing on for all five of those steps. That all needs to be laid out before they buy. Sometimes people sign up because, even though results aren’t quick, they agree with the process. They buy into the point of view. Your point of view becomes a filtering process where people who aren’t up for what the journey would likely look like under your care don’t sign up with you.

If a client is surprised by how long it’s taking, you didn’t filter well.

If a client is surprised that it’s taking a non-linear path, you didn’t filter well.

If a client is surprised about much at all, chances are you didn’t filter well.

This is why I created the Are You Sure? pages for various programs.

So, all of this means that you become extremely clear with your clients about what you expect of them, not taking clients who aren’t serious about getting well, meeting people at the stage of change they’re in (and knowing which stages you work best at), not over-promising, having clear cancellation policies, finding a setting to do your work that brings out your best, firing clients who aren’t a fit and much more.

But, the more I’ve sat with this question, the more it’s come to me that, as long as the above pieces have been contended with, from a marketing perspective there’s not much that is different between being a spiritual healer and any other sort of business.

All of the basics still apply.

You still need to know your niche. A fair question to ask one’s self is “is what I’m offering needed?” As my friend said to me the other day, “Theres a difference between aspiring healers setting up in places that already have plenty of healers per capita (sometimes even, an over saturation) and places where you’re the only one in town, or one of only a few. And its not the same as even massage because everyone “believes” in massage, but not everyone believes in healing. I guess it ties back into niche, in the original sense of the word; because in many places its as if we’ve got a whole lot of ruminants, and not enough grazing to go around.”

How many generic spiritual healers can a market sustain? Not that many. This is why sorting out your niche is so vital.  Who is it you want to serve and are there enough of them locally to sustain your business? If you are a run of the mill spiritual healer who helps everybody with everything then you will struggle because of that. If you are a highly niched healer who, for example, focuses on migraines, in a town of 68 people, you will struggle because of that.

My friend reflected to me that he agreed, “On the marketing niche bit, I’d say most healers have a relationship to their craft and identity as a healer and to healing that is a-niche, or niche resistant. Most practice in a way that is general, and aren’t trained or experienced with specific things; nor are they necessarily also counsellors or life coaches with the ability to work with life scenarios or do inner work with people… which can make a niche seem redundant (unless its the niche of, say, single mothers and the healer provides a free creche and a diaper changing station in the bathroom – that kind of niching).”
 
If you don’t put a great deal of attention on your niche as a spiritual healer, you are almost certain to struggle.

You still need to have a clear point of view (in fact, more-so than almost any other business since it’s the most ephemeral). This would likely not have been such an issue in a village setting. You’d be living inside a deeply held, ancestral cosmology all day, every day. Every ceremony would reinforce it. Today, with no shared cosmology, we must explicitly teach these things and that can take time.

You still need to think through who your best hubs might be.

You still need to think about your business model and the structure of how you do what you do. It means not getting trapped in only working with people one on one if that’s not what you’re wanting and won’t sustain you. It means thinking through group programs, retreats, workshops, talks, being available via texting, VIP days etc. And that almost means thinking through your financing – do you have enough money to sustain you for the first few years while you grow your clientele and their business through the four stages? Most spiritual healers never consider this.

So, is it possible for a spiritual healer to make a living? Yes.

Is it possible for a spiritual healer to make a living without considering these things? I wouldn’t bet my money on it.

Additional Resources:

Who am I to Teach and Get Paid For It?

Am I Ready to Teach? – An Interview with Stephen Jenkinson

On Elderhood – An Interview with Stephen Jenkinson

The Four Things You Need To Do Before Marketing

If you’re struggling with your marketing, it’s likely because of things that have nothing to do with marketing.

If you can’t seem to make the tactics you’re using to promote yourself work, it’s likely not about the tactics.

In order for your marketing to work, there are things that need to be done first. If marketing is the house, then there are foundations. If marketing is the skin, then there is a skeleton.

When people lack those foundational pieces they struggle in their marketing and can’t complete most of the online marketing courses they sign up for.

I asked my friend Rebecca Tracey of TheUncagedLife.com (who has appeared on my blog before) to make a video about this to share with you what she sees as the four biggest things the people need to do before they do any marketing at all. The video is about 14 minutes and it’s well worth your time.

I urge you to check out her program if you’re a coach who is struggling to grow their business. I’ve sent a lot of clients to Rebecca over the years and there’s been nothing but rave reviews. I love this woman dearly and deeply trust her perspective on growing a solid, sustainable business using realistic approaches.

If you’re interested in her program you can learn more at the links below.

Affiliate Link: https://theuncagedlife.com/uncageyourbusiness/ref/127/

Non Affiliate Link: https://theuncagedlife.com/uncageyourbusiness/

Coaching As Activism

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What if your coaching could be a potent, effective and inspiring form of activism?

In asking this question, I am suggesting something to you that might be hard to hear: there’s a good chance that it’s currently not.

Let me make my case: the coaching industry grew out of the personal growth industry and the personal growth industry spawned by such books as Think & Grow Rich by men with deeply questionable ethics like Napoleon Hill.

The personal growth scene has largely been (and just watch The Secret if you don’t believe me) almost entirely led by white men. Seriously. Consider that 28 out of 29 of those featured in The Secret are North American. Consider that 24 our of the 29 are white males. That only 5 of them are female and that only 2 of them are people of colour. This might be a part of their secret.

Think of the most successful authors in the personal growth space. How many (outside of Iyanla Vanzant and Rev. Michael Beckwith) can you name who aren’t white?

Over the past decades, we’ve seen the new age and healing scene grow and be led by primarily by women (who are almost all white). I can testify to this from leading dozens of workshops all over North America and the UK over the past more than a decade.

This uniformity of background, this whiteness, has led to a certain limit in perspective.

There are certain things that people of colour see that white people don’t.

There are certain things people of colour must contend with daily that white people don’t.

There are certain privileges that accrue, and have always accrued, to being white in North America at this time. There are certain disadvantages pulled by the gravitational force of the way it is to darker skin tones.

White people, in North America (and particularly the USA), have benefited the most from the way things are. Are white people screwed by the man too? Yes. But not because they’re white.

But what you see from most of the personal growth scene is largely uncritical of the current system of white supremacy (entangled as it is with capitalism, the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex etc.) because, for most white people, the system of racism is invisible to us. We never have to contend with it. Most of what I see offered up by my peers is about how to succeed within the current capitalist system but not how to change it.

It’s how to manifest what you want without any encouragement or insistence on considering the impact that this might have on the world (e.g. can everyone have that mansion they put on their vision board? Is this actually sustainable?).

To put it another way, many coaches are waking to the realization that the system isn’t neutral but harmful.

The unspoken but impossible to avoid message of much of the personal growth movement is that the universe is your personal slave.

The other implied message is that you are responsible for everything that’s ever happened to you – period. And so, the Jews manifested the holocaust and indigenous people their own genocide.

There is a deeply entrenched and utterly unexamined worldview of individualism in the personal growth scene. Not only are notions of the village absent, they are seen as weakness. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps already and stop whining.

However, in the past few years, we’ve begun to see this change.

As White Nationalism has been on the rise and become more obvious to white people, there’s been a waking up of white people in the coaching industry to how bad it is (and has always been for people of colour).

As the gap between rich and poor grows, those who came from middle class to wealthy families in the coaching industry are having to reckon with the class divide as it’s becoming harder to ignore how hard the poor have it.

And this is leading to a very real and very deep realization that simply coaching people for their own inner growth isn’t enough. The world is on fire. Coaching people on how to be more effective might actually make things worse if what they’re being effective at is predicated on the destructive to the world.

Elder and dedicated social change agent Joanna Macey speaks of the Three Pillars of the Great Turning – one of which is about inner work but the other two (creating alternatives and holding back the juggernaut) are equally important. And not only missed but dismissed in most of the coaching scene. All too often, I hear the message that protesting against the war simply creates more war.

Enter Andrea Ranae, the daughter of a coach, who wrote the provocative blog post Why The Personal Growth Industry Is Not Changing the World.

After writing this piece, she got such a response that she created a program from it called Coaching As Activism on how we can make our coaching a genuinely effective force in contending with the very real troubles of our times.

When I heard about this program, I sat up and took notice. This is a perspective that has been desperately needed in this space for a long time.

And so I asked Andrea if I could do a video interview with her. Sadly, I would be on the road and unable to do it live but she graciously consented to being sent questions and doing the strange and lonely work of talking into a camera. Having just finished watching it I am sad I missed the opportunity to connect with her more directly. The kindness emanates and I find myself having to settle, for the moment, with being so glad she’s in the world.

The Five Levels of This Video:

The video is below but I’d like to make the case for watching it on four levels.

Level One: Meet Andrea! You might be interested in checking out her coaching program and this video is a fine way to meet her and learn more about her story. It’s hard to not like this good woman.

Level Two: Be a Better Coach. I think that her approach can help you be a more effective coach. If your mission is to help create a better world, then how will you do that without a deeper wrestling with how things are? How many books have you read about the interlocking and intersecting issues of injustice? Most coaches have read many and most I know are struggling to come to terms with it all. And they’re trying to do that all on their own. But consider how much more you could help change the systems and challenge your clients if you came from this perspective? What if you were not only holding your clients feet to the fires of their personal commitments but also to the larger fires of this cultural moment? What if an edge of your coaching became about asking people to find their right relationship to the travails of their particular time and place? You think you’re seeing resistance in your clients now? Wait until you ask them to consider the ecological and social consequences of a goal. So, yes, you’d see more resistance but you would also see a much deeper and more meaningful transformation. Imagine the skillfulness it might ask of you to contend with patterns that didn’t start in their childhood but thousands of years ago. I suggest that taking on Coaching as Activism will make you a better coach.

Level Three: Learn about Marketing. So much of what I talk about in marketing is present in her work. Andrea shares her bigger why and her point of view. The title of her program is a deeply compelling message. The whole program is a unique niche. There’s a lot to learn here.

Level Four: The Questions. I emailed Andrea a series of questions. Whether or not you sign up for her program (and I hope you’ll consider it) I invite you to take the time to consider how you personally might answer the questions. You might even pause the video as you watch it to come up with your own answers. Doing that would be a fine step towards coaching as activism.

Level Five: Your Resistance. As you watch this video, I invite you to write down all the places you feel resistant to what Andrea is sharing. Be candid with yourself. If you’re feeling brave, put it in the comments below. You can learn more about yourself from this simple exercise than most workshops you’ve ever taken.

Here’s what in the video:

  • the story behind where this program came from
  • how Andrea defines healing, activism, coaching, justice and liberation
  • three tips to use coaching as a form of activism.
  • the central pitfall of trying to use coaching as activism
  • a short poem

For More Info on Coaching as Activism:

andrearanae.com/invitation

Important Note: There is a Self Study which closes Sept 14th and Community Study (everything from Self Study + live weekly calls) which closes Sept 10th. And spaces are limited. She’s getting close to filling her program.

Helping The Helper

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Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

Sometimes your target market isn’t who you think it is.

Famously, FedEx made the mistake of thinking that their clients were the CEO’s of companies when, of course, it was actually the secretaries and executive assistants who would be using their services. Marketing to the CEO’s failed. Marketing to the administrative staff succeeded. The most brilliant ad directed to the wrong person is doomed to fail.

A colleague of mine, a copy-writer, ran into a problem one day. His wife had come up with a relaxation CD for stressed out brides. He’d written the copy himself. It didn’t sell. He asked high-priced colleagues of his to help him out. It didn’t sell. He was flummoxed. When I looked at the situation, it seemed to me that he had his ladder leaned against the wrong wall to begin with. What bride is so self aware to realize she’s becoming a ‘bridezilla’? How likely is it that, in the midst of the madness that is modern wedding planning, that she would look for a relaxation CD rather than downing a bottle of wine or getting a massage. 

Does that mean it’s a terrible idea? Not necessarily. It might just mean that the bride’s mother or the bride’s maids might have been better target markets.

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

A client of mine works for a mental health organization in a major city in Canada. They would do talks at Universities about mental illness. I suggested that he might get a stronger response if he did a talk about, “How To Help Your Friends Who Are Struggling With Mental Illness,” because those struggling are unlikely to show up at a talk when they could just watch a youtube at home. 

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

Another client of mine is a death doula in Toronto with a background in Non-Violent Communication (NVC). She wanted to work with the dying but those dying are unlikely, in the turmoil they are in, to reach out and hire themselves a death doula. And, how would you market to them without it seeming crass? 

I suggested she create a workshop about, “How To Be With Your Loved Ones As They’re Dying,” in which she could tie together her background in NVC, empathic listening, healing and her death doula work. 

“If you do that,” I suggested. “You might find that these people want to hire you to support their families in helping them out as death begins its courteous but unwanted approach to their loved ones.”

A client who helps people with chronic pain realized that a target market for her might be caregivers to those who are in pain. If you help people with cancer, surely you could create a workshop on “How To Support Loved Ones Struggling With Cancer”.

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

And then sometimes those people will connect you with the ones you really want to help.

Be a Flower, Not a Butterfly Net

 

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I hosted a men’s circle earlier this year and a young man said something brilliant: be a flower, not a butterfly net.

It reminds me of something I heard colleagues say for years: be a lighthouse, not a searchlight.

Butterflies run away from nets. People run away from searchlights.

Of course, it’s dangerous to get into dogma about any of this but it’s worth noticing how much energy we often put into a strategy that is fundamentally about chasing potential clients (who might never be a fit in the first place).

I recall a successful life coach being asked, “What’s your niche?”

And he replied, “People who like me?”

On one level, it’s a shit answer. On another level, that’s absolutely where it’s at.

At the end of the day, you only want to work with people who are a good fit for you. They’ve got to like you.

And, if your strategy is to run around chasing everything that moves with your butterfly net, or swinging your searchlight around and capturing everyone you see, you might just find that most of them have no interest in what you’re offering at all.

It’s so much effort for so little reward.

What if you were to out your effort into being a more beautiful flower or a more known and trusted lighthouse instead?

What if you were to work on honing your niche and point of view so that they were clear and well-known?

What if you were to really focus on bringing your own vibe, quirk, personality and aesthetic into your business (instead of going for the generic look)?

You might find that this is what really wins the long-game and that you win, with less effort, in such a way that no one else has to lose.

Don’t be a butterfly net, be a flower.

Other Blog Posts You Might Enjoy On This Theme:

Get Rejected Faster

Polarize

The Real Reason To Do Intro Workshops

Products On This Theme:

The Niching Nest

Point of View Marketing

Marketing for Hippies 101

“What are your favourite books and authors?”

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This is a simple question that I’ve asked more times than I can count of clients to help them clarify their point of view on an issue: “What are your favourite books and authors?”

Now, when I ask this question, I’m not asking generically. I’m asking it in the context of the work they do. I’m asking them, “Look, you help _____ kinds of people get ______ kinds of results. Who are the authors, what are the books you’ve read, that have most formed your opinions around this all? What are the books that you wish your clients would read because they best express your take on things?”

What I’m trying to get at with this question is a more clear understanding of how they see things.

I’ve had so many clients tell me that their ideal clients would be ‘spiritual’. And I have no idea what they mean by that. I could ask them to tell me their entire cosmology but that’s often a convoluted and nebulous affair. So, instead, I ask them,

“What are your favourite books or authors on this spirituality?”

And you can tell a lot about how a person sees and defines spirituality by their answers:

  • “The Celestine Prophecy, Conversations With God and The Four Agreements.”
  • “Loving What Is, Feeding Your Demons and Debbie Ford.”
  • “The Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson and The Disappearance of the Universe.”
  • “Doreen Virtue and Louise Hay.”
  • “Iyanla Van Zandt, Oprah Winfrey and Rev. Michael Beckwith.”
  • “The Secret, Greg Braden and Deepak Chopra”
  • “Black Elk Speaks, Vine Deloria and Leanne Simpson.”
  • “The Bible, Thomas Merton and Jim Rohr.”
  • “The Tao the Ching.”
  • “Rudolph Steiner, White Eagle and books on Theosophy.”

Each of these compilations gives us a very different picture of what they mean by ‘spirituality’.

My colleague Kel Wil of Showgirl Awakening gives a wonderful example of this on her homepage when she says:

I have a special place in my heart for women who yearn to trust & express themselves with confidence & radiance, who light up whenever they see the intersection of art, psyche and spirit, are drawn to Hafiz & mystic poetry, into typing systems & self-knowledge systems like Enneagram, Archetypes, Astrology, Oracles & Tarot and whose attention is rapt when they read or listen to Ane Axford, Angeles Arrien, Caroline Casey, Sarah Peyton, Cynthia Winton-Henry, Phil Porter, Hafiz, Khalil Gibran, Carl Buchheit, Andrew Harvey and Francois Delsarte and who have well-worn copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

What can you do with this list?:

  • Put Them In Your Homepage or Bio: This list of influences (and, of course, we could ask the same question and have it be about documentaries, websites, blogs, podcasts etc.) could be shared on the About Me page of your website to help people get a sense of where you’re coming from (this is surprisingly effective at helping people figure out if you’re a fit or not). This gives people a sort of mosaic, at-a-glance view of your perspective. They can connect the dots. And, if they’re also into those particular influences, they will be leaning towards working with you.
  • Use Them To Find Hubs: You could also look at each and ask yourself, “Where might I find people who share my interests in these kinds of books?” This could reveal some hubs you’d not thought of before. Perhaps there are book clubs, MeetUp groups, or bookstores that focus on those particular themes.
  • Reach out to them directly: You might be surprised at how accessible certain influencers are. You might be able to foster a relationship with them. Perhaps you could interview them or they might interview you.
  • Use This List to Hone Your Point of View: Sit with this list and ask yourself, “What’s the perspective that these all share? What are the points of overlap? How do all of these authors see _____ issue that I agree with?”

Additional Resources:

Point of View Marketing – Tad Hargrave

Be More Repulsive

 

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A simple, counter-intuitive idea for you today.

You’ve likely been told the importance of niche in marketing. Likely you’ve heard this from myself. You’ve likely heard about the importance of honing in on who you want to reach, to identify your ideal client, chosen audience or target market and maybe even to create a client avatar.

And those are all fine ideas.

But I want to suggest something you might not have considered doing before.

And, until the other day, I hadn’t either.

One of the central roles of marketing is to not just get the attention of your ideal clients but also to make sure you filter out the clients for whom your work will not be a fit in the same way that a window screen allows fresh air in but keeps out the flies.

And so we’re told to write all of our marketing material with our ideal clients in mind. We’re told to write our marketing materials as a sort of letter to them and only them.

And I think that’s good advice. I think it handles 95% of the issue of filtering.

But I’d like to give you an approach to writing sales copy that is the icing on the cake.

Step One: Identify your nightmare client. Get clear on who you never want to work with. Think about all of the worst clients you’ve ever had all rolled into one. Take 20 minutes to map this out a bit.

Step Two: Pick a sales letter or your homepage.

Step Three: Read the sales letter as if you were that Nightmare Client and ask yourself, “Would reading this repel me?” and, if not, rewrite the sales letter so that this person would never even think to call you. Make your materials repulsive to your Nightmare Client, not just attractive to your Ideal Client.

If you’re tired of emotionally needy clients, you might decide to say, “I’m not your mother. I’m not your best-friend. If you’re looking for someone who is touchy feely and who will hold you while you cry for hours and listen to your stories, I’m not it.” Or you might say the opposite, “If you’re looking for a nuts and bolts tactician, that’s not me. I’m here to hold space for your emotional process.”

You might say, “I’m a fundamentalist Christian and so, if my speaking Jesus’ name offends you, then you should stay away.”

You might say, “If you a building a business in the mining, tobacco or oil and gas industry, don’t come to my marketing workshop. This is not for you. I don’t want your business to succeed.”

And you might say all of that less directly but in a more implied manner. I’m not suggesting you intentionally be rude or offensive, but I am inviting you to consider a new level of candour that your ideal clients would love and that your less than ideal clients would be actively repulsed by.

You’ll figure out how but, I can promise you that this will make your sales copy better.

Additional Reading:

Get Rejected Faster

Eight Business Building Thoughts from Rebecca Tracey

Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallRebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (pictured right) is one of my dearest colleagues. She’s produced solid, reliable content with an attitude and personality that is unique to her.

She’s getting ready to launch her program Uncage Your Business in a few days and I wanted to do the best possible job at introducing her and her content.

So here are eight, big business-building thoughts from her.

The first six are quick, straight-to-the-bottom-line blog posts (I’ve included some teaser text for each of them but you can click on the links to read more).

The last two are videos that require (and are worth) an email opt-in.

Thought #1: Don’t Make A Website for Your Business Until Your Read This

“Unless your business is super solid and you are crystal clear on what you do, who you work with, and how you do it, any efforts to build a website or come up with a great logo are a massive waste of your time.”

Thought #2: 3 Reason You Need to Be Selling Packages

“If you’re a coach or any other kind of solopreneur who wants to be able to work online, you might have heard me bang on and on about how to create your packages for your business. But after chatting with some people in my free Facebook community, I realized that the idea of packages may be new to you, and not entirely clear.”

Thought #3: Why Choosing A Niche is So Hard (and how to make it easier)

“My take on niche is simple. Forget avatars. Forget ideal client. Forget age ranges and demographics. Focus on PROBLEMS.”

Thought #4: Your Message And Why It Matters

“The only way you will get clients is if they can understand what you do and see that it’s something they need. If you can’t describe it or get all wordy and stay with the higher level stuff, no one will get it and their eyes will gloss over and they will head for the drink table before you even finish your 5 min rambling elevator pitch.”

Thought #5: The Best Way to Get More Clients Quickly

“I’m all about the slow build and taking the time to build something solid and sustainable – but I’m also all about paying your rent and being able to eat and stuff. So here’s what I recommend for getting clients right NOW in your business, while you work on the more sustainable methods in the meantime.”

Thought #6: 3 Ways to Sell More

“We have all seen it (and let’s be honest, we’re all sick of it). The vague, wishy washy, “sounds nice but I’d never buy it” kind of offers. The ones promising you authenticity, your best life and business, that promise to help you thrive, or raise your vibration, or find vitality, or claiming they will help you leap over the hurdles in your business (and life!), help give you energy for new possibilities. And so on. Hell, you might even be sick of your OWN packages and descriptions of your services (you wouldn’t be the only person reading this who feels that way). And being sick of your own work is NOT good for business. So how to we clear away all the clutter and actually create packages that offer results, and then sell those packages in a way that actually speaks to people?”

Thought #7 (12-min video): Why you’re not making any money in your business

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Thought #8 (20 min video): How I Grew My Business Quickly

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If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out her Uncage Your Business program.

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.

Get Rejected Faster

So many people are scared of getting rejected in business.

I get it.

But the fear of rejection comes from the idea that there’s a way to move through this world without being rejected which isn’t true. What’s really going on in those cases is that the people have figured out only how to delay the inevitable rejection and make it more painful for everyone. This is often a case of collapsing.

Imagine you romantically like someone but, rather than telling them and making it clear at some point early on in the proceedings, your fear of rejection highjacks you and you pretend that all you want is to be their friend. And so you pine away and suffer in their presence until one day you finally speak up and… are either rejected or embraced. The rejection (or embrace) was coming anyway. You were only delaying it.

The strategy to delay rejection is all about being neutral.

It’s about evoking a maybe response from people. We never ask for the business so they can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We never really put out our point of view so we’re always seen as a ‘maybe’ candidate but no one ever hires us. We live in the land of fuzziness but what we don’t see is the cost of this. What we don’t see is that people might actually be rejecting us for our mediocrity. The idea that you can be everything to everyone is a myth. There are those who won’t like you because you’re such a generalist. There’s no way to win the entire marketplace. And so, given that there’s no way to avoid being rejected, given its inevitability…

I recommend the fine art of getting rejected faster.

10891943_10155030148285195_5263621552349272916_nTo be clear, I’m not suggesting your court rejection or seek it out.

But I am suggesting that you take risks that could result in your being rejected.

This means seeing marketing not as being about convincing anyone to say ‘yes’ to you but rather about filtering people out as efficiently and artfully as possible.

In practical terms, this could look like many things.

It could mean that, you start off your cold calls by cutting right to the chase of the problem you help people solve to see if they’re needing help at all.

It could mean that you get really clear about your point of view and clearly communicate it in all of your marketing material.

It could mean tightening up your home page so that people who aren’t a fit leave faster and stop wasting your time.

It could mean being much clearer about what it looks like to work with you.

It could mean creating an Are You Sure? Page that people visit after your sales page so that anyone who isn’t a fit doesn’t sign up.

It could mean letting loose and writing a really good rant.

It could mean saying to someone, “You know… I think I might be able to help you with this issue. Would you be open to hiring me?” and seeing what kinds of conversations it opens or closes.

It likely means getting clearer about your niche.

And it always means being vulnerable. It means having your outcome being to get to the truth of if it’s a fit as directly as possible.

Here’s what else getting rejected faster means.

Less wasted time.

Less suffering.

The end of ‘hope’ being used as a drug as you convince yourself that ‘there’s so much potential business in the pipeline’.

Time freed up to find and work with people who are a better fit.

Freedom.

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