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Island B – The Results They Crave

People crave things.

Like chocolate. Like love. Like relief. Like security.

And, people aren’t buying from you what you might think they’re buying.

They’re not buying the thing you’re selling – they’re buying what they hope it will do for them. They’re buying it because there’s a result that is self serving to them that they want.

And much of marketing is translating what we’re offering (the boat) into a language they can understand (what it might mean for their lives).

Here’s another piece about ‘the journey’.

Imagine a young man on an island (which we’ll call Island A). It’s not that great a place to be. But, it’s all he knows, so he goes about his days. Then he starts hearing that his is not the only island in the world. That there are other islands. At first he doesn’t believe it, but the more he visits the docks and meets these visitors the clearer it becomes. It’s true. And then, one day, he hears about a particular island (which we’ll call Island B). And his heart leaps. He wants to go there.

Of course, he needs to get a boat to go there.

But there are so many boats to hire! Which one to choose?

Your business is a boat. It helps people like this young man get from Island A where they’re struggling with some problem (i.e. set of symptoms they don’t like) to Island B where they have the result they want (i.e. something they’re craving).

So, they’re not buying a ride on your boat because they love boats so much. They’re buying a ride on your boat because they believe it will help them get to Island B.

So, our marketing must laser focus on articulating Island B.

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

Often this result they’re wanting is something very simple: better sleep, a raise at work, a new job, to travel more, to be in better shape, to be more accepting etc. You can usually sum it up in three words.

Which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Because we keep trying to sell the boat. After all, what if I offer Non Violent Communication (NVC) classes (which I’ve done) and people in Edmonton were looking for classes on NVC (which they were). They’re looking for the boat! So, shouldn’t we just offer up the boat?

In this case, yes. There’s no need to convince them of anything.

But . . . it’s important to remember that the only reason they want a ride on this NVC boat is because they believe it’s going to get them somewhere. In their mind, they have a self serving goal they’re trying to achieve and NVC is just a tool or tactic to get there. If one day they found a new workshop that they thought was better, they’d drop NVC in a New York Minute.

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

But let’s go over a bunch of examples where we can start to untangle the boat from Island B.

Backyard Bounty tried to promote their local ‘microfarming‘ venture. But it was confusing to figure out what they were selling to people because ‘microfarming’ is a bit of jargon. In short, they were trying to sell the boat. So, I rewrote what they were offering, focusing on the benefits and results that I thought might actually mean something to the home owner.


Attention Guelph Homeowners:

do you have a backyard you’re not using?

how your backyard can make you the envy of your neighbours, a hero to your community, provide local jobs and get you free delicious food

Marketing is translating.

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

I recall hearing about a public speaking course that first put out an ad saying, ‘Public Speaking 101’ or some such thing and got an okay response. Then they tweaked it to say, ‘How to Speak Confidently in Public’ – that moves a bit closer to Island B and away from the boat – and got a much better response. Their final version was, ‘How to Get Enthusiastic Applause (Even a Standing Ovation!) Every Time You Speak.’ That spoke much more clearly to what people were secretly craving.

As I wrote this, sitting at my new favourite cafe in town, Noorish, a rep from an herbal company was educating the staff about their products. The owner mentioned that there were so many herbal tinctures they had but, too many for the staff to be truly educated on. Which meant that they weren’t able to educate their customers about them. Which meant they weren’t selling them.

The owner observed that they were selling more of the tinctures that were mixed and focused on particular results. That if there was a tincture, elixir or potion focused on the brain and mental clarity, boosting libido, reducing stress, or boosting the immune system, it tended to sell better. People don’t have the time or interest to learn about every single herb and come up with the perfect combo to give them what they want. Save them time and hassle and do it for them.

Marketing is translating.

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

I think people who do Feng Shui are particularly screwed. After all, it’s a funny word and most people don’t know what it is. It’s a boat that no one really understands. And, to make matters worse, if they do understand, it seems frivolous. Like, ‘okay, you’re going to rearrange my furniture and I’m going to pay you how much?’ Because they’re trying to sell the boat.

But they’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

So, what if instead of leading with the boat of Feng Shui you wrapped that modality and practice around a particular result? What if you said it was about attracting the love of your life? Or attracting financial abundance? Improving your health? Or creating a sanctuary to give you more peace of mind? And what if you packaged in some other elements to help them on the journey, maybe some coaching, some herbs focused on that result, and gave them some daily rituals and maybe even hosted a workshop to help them (perhaps led by someone else). Maybe it was a year long program. You get the idea.

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

FedEx doesn’t bore you trying to educate you on the superiority of their hub system. Instead they make you a solid promise, ‘when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.’

A colleague of mine, Jennifer Pullin from Fibres of Life sells fair trade hand crafted goods (which are quite beautiful). We spoke about why people bought them and one of the things she’d noticed is how much people seem to enjoy the ‘social currency’ they get from having her products. They’re quite attractive and fetching to the eye and they have the most wonderful stories behind them. She’s found that the people who buy the pieces are very interested in knowing the stories of the artists and craft people who made them.

My good friends at Crystal Cradle make incredible jewelry. But people don’t just want jewelry (the boat). They want what they think jewelry will bring them. When I wear their stuff, I get comments and compliments from people. Total strangers sometimes. If you notice that your product often gets comments. We don’t just buy jewelry for the jewelry.

It’s the same with the sweet leather bag (pictured here) I bought from fiveleft.ca. I love it and get comments all the time. I wanted a sturdy bag from them. I wanted something that would last forever. I think this one will but I spent $250 on it because (secretly) I was hoping to get people saying, ‘nice bag!’ And that has happened. I get compliments all the time. Woot.

To quote from the wonderful book Start With Why:

Shackleton’s ad for crew members … did not say what he was looking for. His ad did not say: “Men needed for expedition. Minimum five years’ experience. Must know how to hoist mainsail. Come work for a fantastic captain.”

Rather, Shackleton was looking for those with something more. He was looking for a crew that belonged on such an expedition. His actual ad ran like this: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe returns doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

The only people who applied for the job were those who read the ad and thought it sounded great. They loved insurmountable odds. The only people who applied for the job were survivors. Shackleton hired only people who believed what he believed. Their ability to survive was guaranteed. When employees belong, they will guarantee your success. And they won’t be working hard and looking for innovative solutions for you, they will be doing it for themselves.

Clearasil sells skin care things. They are aware that you don’t particularly (initially) care about the ingredients. But you do care about the results. And, in seven words, they nail it, ‘visibly clearer skin in three days. guaranteed’. I’m not endorsing them but it’s a fine example.

The website RunKeeper makes tracking your workouts fun, social, and easy to understand so that you can improve the quality of your fitness. Simple. Clear.

A website like CouchSurfing helps people a lot of time and money when finding a place to stay when traveling – and meet cool people locally. The website AirBnB was created for empty nesters with empty bedrooms in their homes to help them earn a bit of extra income on that empty room they have by renting it out to people visiting town who want something a bit more affordable and homey than a hotel or motel but a bit more private than a hostel.

Victoria Laine does a simple thing that most entrepreneurs could do but never think of. She hosts tours. Now, she does tours of grocery stores. But maybe you could host a tour of strawbale homes. Maybe you could host a tour of gluten free options in your neighbourhood. A medicinal plant walk. A pub crawl with a theme related to your work. Maybe you could host a tour of all the strawbale homes in your community (even if you’re not a strawbale expert yourself). So many businesses could do this easily.

panties by post 300x210 case study: panty by postTours get you away from your computer, connect you with potential clients, help build your credibility and might also help the people or businesses you’re taking your tours to.

Natalie Grunberg had an idea for a business. Mail women pretty panties. Once a month. This business is a brilliant example of some many things: niche marketing (panties are for women), having a point of view (it’s about confidence), having a simple, well crafted offer (a pretty panty. mailed monthly), doing something provocative that gets people talking (panties!).

The Therapy Vault gives therapists and totally secure place to share the stories they can’t share anywhere else and get it off their chest. Basically, it’s an online forum. But people don’t crave to be a part of online forums. No one says, ‘Wow. I get to go in this thing called the ‘internet’ and talk to total strangers about random things for no particular reason!’

Within yoga there are many different styles and types of centers depending on the results people want. Some are all about getting into good shape and getting those yoga buns. Some are more about cultivating a spiritual practice. Some are more about community and social change. Depends what you’re into.

Beth Martens offers a special class focused on caregivers who are so overwhelmed in their lives and are craving some respite, rest, sactuary and connections with other people who are going through the same things they are.

Another yoga example: Tiina Veer is a client of mine who’s an amazing example of the power of proper niching in action. Instead of trying to make her yoga class appeal to everyone – she chose a very particular niche.

People who don’t look like Barbie Dolls.

There’s a whole community of people with ’round bodies’ who might feel intimidated to go to a typical yoga class. But, with Tiina, they find an incredibly safe and supportive space. And it’s called Yoga for Round Bodies.

When I asked her how the response had been she said this,

“The response has been incredible.  Even people who aren’t in the “round camp” think it’s a great idea, that it makes so much sense.  And it does.  A lot of round women feel judged, or like the third wheel, in “regular” yoga classes.  It makes sense to create a safe, non-judgmental space for us to practice together, with a teacher who knows how to modify poses to the unique needs of a rounder body.  As women discover these classes, workshops and retreats, I get this comment a lot:  “It’s so great there’s a class JUST FOR ME out there!””

The Samarya Center is an amazing community centered yoga center in Seattle that decided to buck the system and do it all differently (go watch an inspiring video about how they’ve created something entirely different).

Yoga is a boat that can take you to a lot of different islands. But as always . . .

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

11sunny A Spa for Mothers with Small ChildrenI just heard about a spa in Toronto called Sunny Mummy at my “Marketing 101 for Green and Local Businesses” in Toronto last night.

It’s a spa. But with a twist.

Take a look at the room pictured on the right. It’s not a room you’d associate with a spa.

But most spa’s don’t cater to mom’s with young children.

And Sunny Mummy does – for mom’s – with childcare built into the costs.

An aquaintance of mine, Michael Rosmer had this to say, ‘your staffing concerns ended in 90 days. guaranteed.’

I have a three hour workshop and i say, “learn the marketing secrets of North America’s most successful green, holistic, community-minded entrepreneurs attract more of the clients you want (without ever sacrificing your integrity or spending a fortune).”

Even clearer is my colleague Callan Rush who has a workshop called, “How to Fill Your Workshops… With Ease!”

Or Max Simon who had a workshop called, “Sold Out Seminars”. Very clear what he’s teaching.

Nobody goes to a workshop just to go to a workshop. Nobody I know is just super into workshops. Nobody says, ‘I love sitting in chairs and listening to people tell me things while they write them on a flipchart!’

They’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

Another Lense: The Four Tracks

Here’s something worth considering. Some people would suggest that there are, at the end of the day, only four results people want.

  1. better health: physical health, more energy, being more strong, more flexible, better digestion, better sleep etc.
  2. more money: this could mean more cash, better money management, ways to save money etc. Can you help them make it or save it? Can you improve their career prospects?
  3. peace of mind: a deeper sense of spirituality and meaning etc. Can you help people feel more relaxed, safe and comfortable in their own skin and at home in the world? Can you help them partake in more meaningful work in their life?
  4. better relationships: dating, marriage, better sex etc.

Which one of those is the primary one you offer? Can you translate what you do into one of those lenses?

Here’s another lense to consider . . . how could your product save them

#1 – SAVE THEM TIME: help them understand how you can you save them time? Can you synthesize what’s happening in your space and industry for busy people?

Can you act as a filter and curator or relevant and valuable content? If you save them half the time you can often charge them twice as much. What can you do in your process to save them time they might have spent elsewhere? What can you do to make what you offer easier and more convenient for people? how many hours did it take you to create the product or service you have? how many hours of training? how long would it take them to get the same result in their lives if they did it on their own?

Eventbrite is a site that makes it so easy to create an RSVP page for your event. It handles the payments, the reminders and even gives you name tags to print. I could spend the time to figure out how to have an online shopping cart and set up reminders on my site but, frankly, I’d rather just use their service and pay them the 5% from any money earned.

My colleague Alex Baisley worked with a woman who was passionate about strawbale but couldn’t really make money teaching how to build them. So, instead, she arranged a tour of the strawbale homes in the area for people who were thinking about building their own strawbale home. She made something possible that likely wouldn’t have been before and saved people a lot of time in trying to arrange that on their own. And the home owners get to meet nice people and show off their home.

11newmoon New Moon SoireeDee Dussault in Toronto saves time by creating a holistic sampler evening. Once a month, on the Friday nearest the new moon, she hosts her New Moon Parties. She describes it this way . . .

Every month on the Friday nearest the new moon, a group of healing-arts practitioners gather at Follow Your Bliss, and offer 20-minute samples of our services. We’ve had Reiki, Pranic Healing, Reflexology, Chair Massage, Reconnective Healing, Palmistry, Tarot readings, Yoga Nidra, Shiatsu, Hypnotism, and Thai Yoga Massage (to name a few!)

These parties allow new clients a chance to see how this eco-conscious, community healing home is developing, and enjoy socializing and networking with a conscious community over some wine, cheese, and great conversation!

With Child Care provided (upon request), it is a great chance to mingle, network, and share resources, while sampling amazing and affordable healing arts in between!

Can you help people do something more quickly? Get something more quickly? I think this is the benefit of certain VIP clubs – you know you’re being taken care of. That, by being a part of the club, they’re going to do the research you don’t have time to do and bring you the best they find. Phew. It’s a relief. I will glad

#2 – SAVE THEM MONEY: because of the way you’ve packaged things and how convenient you make it, might it just save them a bit of money? Might they spend more money if they went a different route? Also, by not handling their problem, might it cost them more money than if they handled it (e.g. putting off retrofitting their home, putting off moving to a no interest credit card etc.).

#3 – SAVE THEM ENERGY: how much emotional energy might it cost them to not deal with this or to take another approach? How much will it drain them to be living constantly with their fear of Island Z?

I had the pleasure seeing Rochelle Grayson speak at a social media conference a while ago and she spoke brilliantly to the kinds of results that people really want. She broke it down into a bit more detail than these four.

12 Additional Things People Might Want Your Product or Service to Do For Them:

PAMPER THEM – Can you do anything to make the experience of working with you more luxurious, beautiful and pampering for them?  I just led a workshop at a space where they had lots of huge comfy couches and so, instead of sitting at plastic tables in plastic chairs we all nestled into couches.  Comfy! Can you make your physical or virtual space a little more pleasing for their sensibilities? Can you remove clutter? Can you, like the SlowFood movement give them a bit more space and slowness in their hectic lives?

BOOST THEIR SELF ESTEEM – How can you make people feel special? People like to be recognized for their contributions and what makes them unique. Can you do that for them? If you do permaculture, can you find a way that they could let their neighbours and friends know?

Let them brag about the wonderful thing they’ve done? Can you take extra special care of your favourite clients?

If you’re a nonprofit how can you help them to boast and brag. Can you give them the tools to do it? What if when they donated, you could have the option of sharing on facebook with a click of a button, “Tad just donated $10 to the David Suzuki foundation!”. It might also inspire their friends to give. Can you become such a safe and non judgmental space that people really get to feel wonderful about who they are around you?

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS – Here’s a twist: can you not only teach them how to have better relationships but can you actually facilitate new relationships for them? Think dating websites like POF.com, Match.com, meetup.com, okcupid.com, or Flattr.com that are all based on connecting like minded people.

What can you do to help people form or retain meaningful relationships with others? If you’re a yoga studio – can you host social events? If you’re a restaurant, can you host parties for your best clients and local food providers? If you’re a holistic practitioner, can you host a party for your favourite clients and hubs?

Can you actively play a role in connecting your clients with other people they need? People are deeply grateful for a good connection. Quirky is a website that was created to support folks with ideas for products to actually make them happen by connecting them with people who can help.

GIVE THEM IMMEDIATE HELP – Can you help them find some relief or something they want right now? Think Netflix. Think Kindle. Think iTunes. Easy to search and find exactly what you want. I try to build my blog like this. Easy to search, lots of cross links. Think a mobile application that let’s you know where you can find independent cafes or free wifi. What can you help them get right now.

GIVE THEM A SENSE OF BELONGING – We all want to belong. Can your business foster a sense of community? What a wonderful idea. And, for the clients and hubs your particularly resonate with might you be able to create a circle that has access to things that are just right for them?

In addition to doing things that are free or cheap to foster community (e.g. hosting events, having a free resources page on your site, generally being helpful, having a bulletin board for community events etc.) ask yourself, “What is it that people would pay to have access to?”

Is there an exclusive perspective you have that you only share with certain people? Can you help them get access to things that might be hard to get access to otherwise? And might they be excited to be a part of a group of like minded people who are of a similar calibre to them? I bet they would.

If you want to create this kind of community then you need to get as clear as you can about the journey you help people on, your point of view and your bigger why because that’s what communities are most often built around.

BRING FUN – people will pay a lot of money to be entertained. Can you come up with fun content that people might enjoy and share? Can you add more variety and fun to their lives? Can you mix it up every once in a while? So many people are bored – can you lift them from that? If you can make it more fun to work with you people will come back a lot more often and send their friends.

SHOW CASE THEM –  What tools or structures are you creating to show case what they do? Could you feature your clients? Your students success stories? Could you invite clients to submit blogs, images or videos? Ask yourself, what do your clients want out of your use of social media vs. what do you want? Maybe they’d be really excited to use your page to express themselves and connect with others than receiving constant ‘buy from me’ messages.

GIVE THEM EASY INSTRUCTIONS – Can you give them precise, step by step ‘how to’ instructions on how to do things? Can you tell them how to write their homepage, make the perfect cup of coffee, pin back their plants without killing them etc. What can you teach them how to do that you’re an expert of? Can you put up free videos, offer paid videos, live classes?

HELP THEM SUCCEED: people will pay you if you can help them increase their chances of success in the world. can you help people do what they do better. Look at the success of a website like Indiegogo that helps people crowdsource money for their projects. You create a page and put up a video saying, ‘We need to raise $______ for this project.’ And then people give whatever they can. $5, $10, $100.

HELP THEM CONTRIBUTE: People have an innate need to give and contribute. We don’t, ultimately, feel fulfilled unless we’re giving to others. And yet, many people walk around feeling like they have no way to make a difference in the world.

So there are two routes here.

First, can you help affirm to people the difference they are already making? Can you remind them of the impact of their current choices? The impact it makes in the world that they’ve decided to work with you or live the kind of lifestyle they’re living?

Second, can you actively give them concrete things that can do to make a difference on an issue they’re passionate about? Maybe that’s hosting a fundraiser, maybe it’s getting a petition going, maybe it’s organizing a river valley clean up or a ‘random acts of kindness’ nice. Maybe you can give a percentage of your profits to a particular cause or sommunity. Maybe you can host an annual party where you connect you restaurant patrons with the growers and producers of their food.

There are so many options.

Tom’s Shoes does this by giving away a pair of shoes to those who really need them for every pair your buy. The contribution is built into the purchase.

HELP THEM GROW: Again, two paths here. First, can you help reflect to the clients all of the ways that they’re already growing? Second, can you give clients opportunities to (safely) risk and step outside of their comfort zone? Can you give them chances to have easy wins? Can you help them track and measure their progress and encourage them along the way? Can you do a thirty day challenge? Can you run a contest where people set a goal and work towards it?

HELP THEM FEEL SECURE: Life is uncertain. It can be scary. Can you be a rock for people? Can you provide a consistent point of view that people can rely on? Can you help give people strategies to feel more safe and secure? Can you offer people protection? Can you be the guardian and shield of your community? It feels so wonderful to know that someone has your back. If you’ve ever been attacked by someone and had another person jump to your defense – you know exactly how incredible it feels. You can do this be reviewing other products and services, by giving people good criteria to make decisions, by giving people heads up on things coming down the pike. Help people feel secure and they will love you forever.

A Few Common Blunders:


One of the biggest blunders is to mistake their craving for our diagnosis of their situation.

They’re sitting their craving to meet their soul mate and we’re trying to sell them on opening their heart chakra.

They’re trying to make more money and we’re trying to sell them on getting over their limiting beliefs.

They’re trying to lose weight and we’re trying to sell them on meditation to become mindful of their thoughts.

They’re struggling to not be so stressed and anxious and we’re trying to tell them about the magic of herbalism.

But they’re not buying the boat – they’re buying the Island.

Instead of making people wrong for not ‘getting’ it we need to work hard to translate what we do into their own language and how it’s relevant to them. Don’t lead with your fancy map and diagnosis – lead with their craving. Acknowledge that they want to get to Island B – then they’ll be all sorts of curious about seeing your map.

People often think, but I couldn’t sum it up in three words. And I’d say, ‘No, you can’t sum up your point of view in three words (or can you?) but you can often sum up what they’re craving in three words (seven at the outside).’ Shocking but true.


It’s easy to sit their and judge someone who’s going to a yoga class to get tight buns and tell ourselves that their motives aren’t as spiritual as ours. Or people who buy green things to assuage their guilt about their lifestyle and to be ‘seen’ as green by their friends.

We can sometimes get a bit precious about it and tell ourselves that they must want to buy what we’re offering out of an enlightened space. Good luck with that. Sometimes people get into things for vanity and then open up to more. We’re all walking around with all sorts of wounds. Let’s make it easy for people to take that first step and honour whatever their motivations might be to begin with (if that’s a fit for us).

If we want to reach people, we must at least acknowledge what they want. You might then offer them another point of view on what you think they really need. Once people are in the door, they’re often surprisingly open to this. But start with where they are. My colleague Jessica O’Reilly taught me this with her sex workshops. She found that by leading workshops focused on techniques and ‘quick fix’ she got a lot of people in the door and, from there, she could take them deeper. But, if she tried to start with deep tantra stuff, they never even got in the door.

When people are in pain, they want relief as soon as possible. It’s easy to judge that until you’re in pain and desperate yourself.

Where to Use Island B in Your Marketing:

  • Headlines: the first words on your sales page, the headline, should ideally speak very directly to the result they’re craving. Could you sum up the result you’re offering into three words? You might be shocked that you can.
  • URL: Man, if your website name can be a statement of the result they want that’s a huge win. Think about the PR consultant who’s website is: http://getknownnow.com/ or the dating coach whose URL is http://www.doubleyourdating.com/.
  • Redesign Your Boat: Once you hone in on a particular result there are often plenty of ways to redesigning your boat to give them what they’re really after. You can create packages of things. You can redo your office. Reimagine your workshops.

The Shadow Side of Island B:

  • Over Promising and Under Delivering: If you tell people you can help them lose 50 pounds in a year and your plan doesn’t work they’re going to be pissed. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
  • Selling a Mirage: All the commercials that pair beer and hot women are selling you a mirage. Drinking that beer will not get you a date. It’s a totally false correlation.
  • Green Washing: Trying to convince people that your super harmful product is more green than it is to appeal to people’s craving to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle is Lamesville.
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