Three Headshot Photo Scenarios

Regarding your business headshot, here are three possible scenarios:

SCENARIO #1: No Photo. This is terrible. Reading a bio without a photo feels hollow. They get no sense of you as a ‘person’. You will seem abstract.

SCENARIO #2: A Bad Photo.
This might even be worse. I can’t tell you how many ads I’ve seen for holistic practitioners where they practitioner looks unhealthy. That’s worse than ‘no photo’. It’s like screaming at them ‘this doesn’t work’.

Or like a happiness coach with a photo of them that makes them look too serious. No go. Start over. Or a photo that is ‘tooooo professional’. You know the type. it looks like they’re trying soooo hard to seem powerful. Maybe the photo is blurry, grainy, shadowy etc. Or the photo is fine but what they’re wearing isn’t working. Or they really could have used a bit of makeup to take some of the shine off their face.

The wrong photo can absolutely kill an ad dead and send people reeling in horror from your website.

SCENARIO #3: A Great Photo. When you have a GREAT photo – people are actually drawn to look at your ad. They are drawn to the words. They look at you and think, “wow. this person looks radiant, happy, friendly, powerful and like they embody what their business is about”.

Your credibility goes through the roof. Your marketing materials come alive with a warmth and vibrancy they’ve never had before. They are excited to meet you. And YOU are excited to give out your materials and send people to your website (instead of feeling subtly embarrassed by them and needing to make excuses for the poor quality photos). Are your photos great right now? If people aren’t actively telling you, “wow! what great photos” then they probably aren’t.

To see some great examples of photo headshots just click here.


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Examples of Great Headshot Photos

Ingrid Crynz

Michael Talbott Kelly

Let me give you some before and after examples of good and bad photos with explanations from my pal and genius photographer in Toronto, Donna Santos. To the right is an example of a great photo. It’s of my friend Ingrid Crynz. This is how good you want your photo to be. To the left is that of Vancouver therapist Michael Talbott Kelly. These photos are great.

For years I had a picture up on my website. And I had clients actively finding ways to tell me how much they hated it. Like inserting it awkwardly into conversations. But I felt a bit helpless. I had amateur friends take photos here and there but nothing ever really felt ‘right’ for me.

Until I met Donna.

As soon as my new photos went up on facebook I started getting attention. I got lots of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaahhhs’. So when I hosted one of these Headshot Days my clients were already sold. They loved my new photos so much. Including every photo on this website.

“When first saw Tad’s before photo (left) I felt he had a question mark on his face, the confidence is not there and it doesn’t reflect the ‘expert’ that he says he is. After spending just a few minutes with Tad,  I realized that we needed to capture his wits, confidence and his sense of humor. His groundedness made him a magnet to all types of people so I wanted to keep that as the central theme of our photo shoot. I also wanted this photo to speak to his clients, so from lighting, wardrobe and set-up, I kept it minimal that conveys openness. I think the after photo really captures Tad as the person and as the marketing expert for the hippies.” -Donna Santos

Jaime Almond

“Jaime’s photo on the left is not that bad but it also is not good enough to justify her classic traits, beauty and brains. Instead of hiding behind a computer, pulled away in this dimly photo, I made Jaime come out and face the world in full confidence and with no hesitation. Her expressive eyes now speak more directly to her audience – reassuring and worthy of trust.” Donna Santos

And here are some more examples of what a great photo looks like . . .

A Sample of Donna Santos' Work

Check out Donna Santos’ website for more examples and maybe to get a photo session if you’re in Toronto.

And if you want a refresher on why a good photo matters click here.


Do you know of someone with a great headshot? Let me know! I’d love to add it here and give them some free publicity.


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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini used to be a patsy. He’d fall for every sales trick in the book. He just couldn’t say ‘no’ to the door to door salesman. But then one day he wondered if it was because he was a patsy or because they were using covert tools on him that made it very hard to say ‘no’. In his research he discovered six unconscious tools of persuasion – tools that had ethical and wise uses and also darker more manipulative uses. He also uncovered how to identify and counter them when they are used against us.

This is a most fascinating read.

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, has spent over fifteen years in the scientific investigation of the processes whereby people are persuaded and reach their decisions. He enumerates six fundamental social and psychological principles underlying the thousands of individual tactics that successful persuaders or compliance practitioners use every day to get us to say yes.

*These principles are:

Rule of Reciprocity

According to sociologists and anthropologists, one of the most widespread and basic norms of human culture is embodied in the rule of reciprocity.

The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided.

By obligating the recipient of an act to repayment in the future, the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with confidence that it is not being lost. This sense of future obligation within the rule makes possible the development of various kinds of continuing relationships, transactions, and exchanges that are beneficial to the society.

Consequently, all members of the society are trained from childhood to abide by the rule or suffer serious social disapproval. The decision to comply with another’s request is frequently influenced by the reciprocity rule. One favorite and profitable tactic of certain compliance professionals is to give something to another before asking for a return favor. The exploitability of this tactic is due to three characteristics of the rule for reciprocation:

  1. the rule is extremely powerful, often overwhelming the influence of other factors that normally determine compliance with a request;
  2. the rule applies even to uninvited first favors, thereby reducing our ability to decide whom we wish to owe and putting the choice in the hands of others;
  3. the rule can spur unequal exchanges; to be rid of the uncomfortable feeling of indebtedness, an individual will often agree to a request for a substantially larger favor than the one he or she received.

Another way that the rule for reciprocity can increase compliance involves a simple variation on the basic theme: instead of providing a first favor that stimulates a return favor, an individual can make an initial concession that stimulates a return concession.

One compliance procedure, called the rejection-then-retreat technique, or door-in-the-face technique, relies heavily on the pressure to reciprocate concessions. By starting with an extreme request that is sure to be rejected, a requester can then profitably retreat to a smaller request (the one that was desired all along), which is likely to be accepted because it appears to be a concession.

Research indicates that, aside from increasing the likelihood that a person will say yes to a request, the rejection-then-retreat technique also increases the likelihood that the person will carry out the request a will agree to future such requests. Our best defense against the use of reciprocity pressure to gain compliance is not systematic rejection of the initial offers of others.

Rather, we should accept initial favors or concessions in good faith, but be ready to redefine them as tricks should they later be proved as such. Once they are redefined in this way, we will no longer feel a need to respond with a favor or concession of our own.

Commitment and Consistency

People have a desire to look consistent within their words, beliefs, attitudes and deeds…this tendency is fed from three sources:

  1. good personal consistency is highly valued by society;
  2. consistent conduct provides a beneficial approach to daily life;
  3. a consistent orientation affords a valuable shortcut through the complexity of modern existence: by being consistent with earlier decisions, one reduces the need to process all the relevant information in future similar situations; instead, one merely needs to recall the earlier decision and respond consistently with it.

The key to using consistency pressures for profit is the initial commitment: after making a commitment (that is taking a stand or position), people are more willing to agree to requests that are in keeping with the prior commitment.

Many compliance professionals try to induce people to take an initial position that is consistent with a behavior they will later request from these people. Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and viewed as internally motivated (uncoerced).

Once a stand is taken, there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand. The drive to be (and look) consistent constitutes a highly potent weapon of social influence, often causing us to act in ways that are clearly contrary to our own best interests.

Commitment decisions, even erroneous ones, have a tendency to be self-perpetuating because they can “grow their own legs.” That is, people often add new reasons and justifications to support the wisdom of commitments they have already made. As a consequence, some commitments remain in effect long after the conditions that spurred them have changed.

This phenomenon explains the effectiveness of certain deceptive compliance practices. To recognize and resist the undue influence of consistency pressures on our compliance decisions, we should listen for signals coming from two places within us: our stomachs and our heart of hearts.

Stomach signs appear when we realize that we are being pushed by commitment and consistency pressures to agree to requests we know we don’t want to perform. Heart of heart signs are best employed when it is not clear to us that an initial commitment was wrongheaded. Here, we should ask ourselves a crucial question, “Knowing what I know, if I could go back in time, would I make the same commitment?”

Social Proof

One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.

We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see other performing it. The principle of social proof can be used to stimulate a person’s compliance with a request by informing the person that many other individuals (the more, the better, the more “famous” the better) are or have been complying with it.

This weapon of influence provides us with a shortcut for determining how to behave, but, as the same time, makes one who uses the shortcut vulnerable to the attacks of profiteers who lie in wait along its path (introduction seminars or guest dinners, retreats to recruit cult members–provide the models of the behavior the group wants to produce in the new recruit).

Social proof is most influential under two conditions:

  1. uncertainty (when people are unsure, when the situation is ambiguous, they are more likely to attend to the actions of others and to accept those actions as correct);
  2. similarity (people are more inclined to follow the lead of similar others) Recommendations on how to reduce our susceptibility to faulty social proof include a sensitivity to clearly counterfeit evidence of what similar others are doing and a recognition that the actions of similar others should not form the sole basis for our decisions.


People prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like.

This simple rules enables us to learn about factors that influence the liking process by examining which factors compliance professionals emphasize to increase their overall attractiveness and their consequent effectiveness.

Compliance practitioners regularly use several such factors.

One feature of a person that influences overall attractiveness is physical attractiveness. Although it has long been suspected that physical beauty provides an advantage in social interaction, research indicates that the advantage may be greater than supposed.

Physical attractiveness seems to engender a “halo” effect that extends to favorable impressions of other traits such as talent, kindness, and intelligence.

As a result, attractive people are more persuasive both in terms of getting what they request and in changing others’ attitudes. A second factor that influences liking and compliance is similarity. We like people who are like us and are more willing to say yes to their requests, often in an unthinking manner.

Another factor that produces liking is praise; although they can sometimes backfire when crudely transparent, compliments general enhance liking, and thus, compliance. Increased familiarity through repeated contact with a person or thing is yet another factor that normally facilitates liking.

But this relationship holds true principally when the contact takes place under positive rather than negative circumstances. One positive circumstance that works especially well is mutual and successful cooperation. A fifth factor linked to like is mere association. By connecting themselves or their products with positive things, merchants of influence frequently seek to share in the positivity through the process of association.

Other individuals as well appear to recognize the effect of simple connections and try to associate themselves with favorable events and distance themselves from unfavorable events in the eyes of observers. A potentially effective strategy for reducing the unwanted influence of liking on compliance decisions requires a special sensitivity to the experience of undue liking for a requester.

Upon recognizing that we like a requester inordinately well under the circumstances, we should step back from the social interaction, mentally separate the requester from his or her offer, and make any compliance decision based solely on the merits of the offer


In the Milgram studies of obedience, we can see evidence of a strong pressure in our society for compliance with the requests of an authority. The strength of this tendency to obey legitimate authorities comes from systematic socialization practices designed to instill in society members the perception that such obedience constitutes correct conduct.

In addition, it is frequently adaptive to obey the dictates of genuine authorities because such individuals usually possess high levels of knowledge, wisdom, and power. For these reasons, deference to authorities can occur in a mindless fashion as a kind of decision-making shortcut. When reacting to authority in an automatic fashion, there is a tendency to do so in response to the mere symbols of authority rather than to its substance.

Three kinds of symbols that have been shown by research to be effective in this regard are

  1. titles;
  2. clothing;
  3. automobiles.

In separate studies investigating the influence of these symbols, individuals possessing one or another of them (and no other legitimizing credentials) were accorded more deference or obedience by those they encountered.

Moreover, in each instance, those individuals who deferred or obeyed underestimated the effect of authority pressures on their behaviors. It is possible to defend ourselves against the detrimental effects of authority influence by asking two questions: Is this authority truly an expert? How truthful can we expect this expert to be here?

The first question directs our attention away from symbols and toward evidence for authority status. The second advises us to consider not just the expert’s knowledge in the situation but also his or her trustworthiness. With regard to this second consideration, we should be alert to the trust-enhancing tactic in which a communicator first provides some mildly negative information about him- or herself.

Through this strategy the person creates a perception of honesty that makes all subsequent information seem even more credible to observers.


According to the scarcity principle, people assign more value to opportunities when they are less available. The use of this principle for profit can be seen in such compliance techniques as the “limited number” and “deadline” tactics, wherein practitioners try to convince us that access to what they are offering is restricted by amount or time.

The scarcity principle holds true for two reasons:

  1. because things that are difficult to attain are typically more valuable, the availability of an item or experience can serve as a shortcut cue to its quality;
  2. as things become less accessible, we lose freedoms. According to psychological reactance theory, we respond to the loss of freedoms by wanting to have them (along with the goods and services connected to them) more than before.

As a motivator, psychological reactance is present throughout the great majority of the life span.

However, it is especially evident at a pair of ages: “the terrible twos” and the teenage years. Both of these times are characterized by an emerging sense of individuality, which brings to prominence such issues as control, rights, and freedom. Consequently, individuals at these ages are especially sensitive to restrictions.

In addition to its effect on the valuation of commodities, the scarcity principle also applies to the way that information is evaluated. Research indicates that the act of limiting access to a message causes individuals to want to receive it more and to become more favorable to it. The latter of these findings–that limited information is more persuasive–seems the more interesting.

In the case of censorship, this effect occurs even when the message has not been received. When a message has been received, it is more effective if it is perceived as consisting of exclusive information. (“We” have the truth….we have special knowledge)

The scarcity principle is most likely to hold true under two optimizing conditions:

  1. scarce items are heightened in value when they are newly scarce (we value those things that have become recently restricted more than those that were restricted all along);
  2. we are most attracted to scarce resources when we compete with others for them.

It is difficult to steel ourselves cognitively against scarcity pressures because they have an emotion-arousing quality that makes thinking difficult. In defense, we might try to be alert to a rush of arousal in situations involving scarcity. Once so alerted, we can take steps to calm the arousal and assess the merits of the opportunity in terms of why we want it.

Taken from Influence. Science and Practice, Robert B. Cialdini, Scott, Foresman and Company, 1985; Summary notes.


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The Top 10 Ways to Market Your Talents Shamelessly

Thomas Leonard (1955 - 2003)

If you’re like me – you hate hype. You hate slick anything. You hate pressure and pushing.

And yet – you’ve got something valuable to offer.

This is the quandry of many a hippie in business. The need to market – and yet the shame surrounding the marketing.

Here’s a provocative question that Thomas Leonard invites us to ask – ‘what if we took the shame out of marketing?

What does it look like to market your talents shamelessly? No one I ever knew could speak to this better than Thomas. What follows are brilliant notions on marketing.

Market shamelessly?

How can this be at all related to Attraction? Good question! Attraction is not a passive process as some might assume. It is very much an active process — planting seeds, adding value, telling (vs selling), responding and yes, even marketing. In this Top 10 List, you’ll learn how to market yourself in a very attractive way, because you’ll feel incredibly attractive as you market yourself.

1. Know what it is exactly that you provide/deliver to others.

Do you know what you offer to others? If you’re a physician, for example, do you offer relief from suffering? Wellness? Referrals? Diagnostic services? Stern lectures about smoking? Medicines? Preventive care?

All of the above, perhaps. But how do you share this with your patients in a way that they can remember it and benefit from it? Work on the exact description of what you offer and you’ll never hesitate to share it with anyone at any time. And you’ll smile while you’re sharing it because you believe in it so much.

The phrasing makes it even more real for you and the client. It becomes a meme.

2. Make it impossible for potential buyers not to buy or leave with something.

What if you decided to provide some service or product to everyone who expressed some interest in what you offer? Take Coach University for example. Don’t want to plunk down $2995 for 2 years of training to be a coach? How about a 3 month course on Attraction for $295? Still too much of a commitment? How about a LazerPhrazing tape set for $59? Still not ready? No problem! Let’s get you signed up for a free TeleClass so you can learn the basics of coaching for 4 weeks at no charge at all.

Too busy, you say? Then, how about a free subscription to the DailyCoach, where you’ll learn a bit about coaching every day for as long as you want, no charge. See the point here? If they come near you, make it impossible for them to say no to something you feel good about providing them, whether they buy your premier product/service or not.

In many cases, they will upgrade when they are ready — requiring absolutely no effort on your part. Just make sure that you have something to offer everyone who may come calling on you for help.

3. Feel incredibly proud of what you do and what you offer.

I was a Certified Financial Planner and I didn’t do very well at it financially.


Because I didn’t believe in what I was doing. I was primarily a product salesman/stock broker. Nothing is wrong with that, but I wasn’t excited about it; I wasn’t proud enough of it to tell the world. So, I tried to fake the enthusiasm for it and I barely got by. (Of course, it led me to coaching, which I became VERY proud of because I enjoyed doing it and I saw that by direct efforts, my clients measurably and consistently benefited, at almost no risk to them.)

If you don’t totally love what you do, are not proud of exactly how you do it or don’t feel good enough to tell the world about it, it’s going to be difficult to be very attractive. Either you need to change jobs/occupations/employers, or you’ll need to master your craft until you do.

4. Become a model of what you’re selling.

If you’re a marketing expert and your brochure is a dud, you’re not going to be very attractive. If you’re a coach and your life’s not up to snuff, who’s going to hire you without a hardsell? This point is probably obvious, but the more you have personally benefited from what it is that you offer to others, the better brochure you will become! Printing not required.

5. Perfect, or customize, what you’re selling so that it fits perfectly for you.

In another one of the Attraction Principles, I talk about the value in customizing what you offer so that it can fit for more than just a single set of clients. But this is a bit different than that. Here, I am suggesting that you perfect or customize what you do so that it’s a better expression of your talents — a better fit for you.

You see this happening a lot in most professions. The MD who learns chiropractic and becomes a much more thorough healer. The PhD psychologist who becomes a coach and can better diagnose and accelerate their clients’ progress. And, in addition to the synthesis of professions, you can also take a product or service and customize it around a special talent you have. And we all have them.

6. Know what you want people to do, tell them to do it and show them how.

Forgive me for saying this, but people need, and benefit greatly from, direction. There are so many choices out there, it’s overwhelming for most. And none of us had Goal Selection 101 in high school. And if you did, I want to know about it! The point is that, for better or worse, people (clients, prospective clients) respond to direction, whether during the selling process or when using the product itself.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what to do! It’s a huge way to add value. And the few who don’t want help will let you know. If you feel the buyer should buy your product or service and you feel good about selling it them, don’t take no for an answer.

7. Show customers how to sell for you.

I almost never ask my clients or customers to refer their friends or associates to me. But they do. A lot. Why? Because I show them how to sell for me, without being blunt about it.

And so can you.

What I often do is tell very quick stories about what some of my clients have gone through and how I advised them. I don’t talk about the client, nor do I talk about the client’s situation, because that would be against the ethics of confidentiality. Rather, I describe the feelings and spaces my clients had to move through.

This strikes a chord with almost any listener and credibility is established. Plus, the person I’m sharing this with (usually a client), now knows who else they can refer to me! (I don’t mean to make this sound devious; I only share the stories as a way to educate my client on themselves. But it does have a nice ‘byproduct bonus!’)

8. Make certain the client knows all of the value they are receiving.

My clients, as well informed as they are about what we’re doing together and the value they are receiving, still only understand about 30% of the value that they are getting. (But, hey, I’m working on it!) I want clients to really feel/see/understand 100% of how what we’re doing together is benefiting them today, next month, next year and next lifetime.

Not because I need the kudos, but because then they’ll take our work that much more seriously. (I’m so altruistic…) One of the ways that I lock in the value is to say something like….”The reason X is so important right now, John, is that…..”…or….”What you did right here, Jane, was called a ……”. See how this works?

9. Always have a comeback for those who doubt or criticize you.

You may not need to have a collection of comebacks, but I do. Having these in my quiver gives me the extra confidence to market shamelessly. If someone thinks that coaching is a sham, I say, “Hmm, why do you think then that every single gold medalist credits their coach for the win?” Or, that coaching is a luxury or only for Californians. I say, “Yes, coaching is worthless for those who don’t want much out of life.” (Meow.) Or, that my fees are too high. I say, respectfully this time, looking innocent and inquisitive, “Have you no goal worth that much?” (Double meow.) I almost never have to use these, but they are available, and that is emotionally helpful.

10. Develop a Capillary System to sell, screen and filter for you.

I think if I had my way, my Capillary System would handle every part of the sales/buying process so all I had to do was to do my coaching, at $400 an hour. I spend zero time selling my services, but I do spend the equivalent of 10% of my billable time feeding my Capillary System pipeline.

I have about 25,000 daily subscribers to various newsletters, I teach several free TeleClasses each month on subjects that I find interesting or need to develop further (so, it’s really R&D time, not selling), and I add to several dozen web sites with various foci. The point is, I refuse to sell.

Not interested.

But I am interested in providing value for all who want it and so I use a Capillary System as a way to nourish and attract others. By the time they reach me and e-mail or call me, they’re ready to hire me or buy something. I don’t mean this to sound cold.

But isn’t this a better way to build a business than becoming an expert at cold calls or networking? And one of the benefits of having a strong Capillary System is that I add so much value to so many people that I don’t feel badly/weird/hesitant about charging a fairly high fee. I know the client will get at least ten times the financial value-equivalent from our time together. Because by the time they’ve come through the Capillary System, they are ready to.

– by Thomas Leonard


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Promote the Why

By Corwin Hiebert, an entrepreneur from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in strategic event design, marketing, and creative talent management. His company, Red Wagon Management, produces and hosts CREATIVEMIX – Vancouver’s Ideation Conference. You can follow Corwin at

In the midst of all the planning, we event managers often have the difficult task of leading the marketing effort for our projects. Generating demand for an event is no simple task, but it’s even harder when we spin our wheels promoting the wrong thing. When advertising efforts focus on registration (and ticket sales), they are a liability rather than an asset to the marketing plan because they require the most difficult type of commitment from our target audience: a financial decision.

Event promotions that overly emphasize registration details (price, discounts, deadlines, special offers, etc.) are in fact eliciting the simplest reaction possible: one of dismissal. Instead of trying to appeal to a potential attendee’s pocketbook, we should focus on piquing their interest on an experience they can’t easily find elsewhere. When we message our event in such a way so as to build up their expectations, we can minimize the advertising noise and create more meaningful collateral. Content-rich e-mail blasts, blog posts, tweets, updates, posters, and press releases are far more successful than ones full of registration pitches. By planting in their minds an image or emotion of what they will do, who they will see, and what kinds of memories or benefits they’ll receive, we’re connecting people to the true value of the event, not the cost.

Marketing collateral shouldn’t be that different than from verbal promotion. Think of it this way: if I were in a massive auditorium, standing in front of my target audience, and had 10 seconds to convince people to attend my event, I would not say something as moronic as, “Hello people, our big event is just $25, plus tax of course. So would you please sign-up today?! It should be lots of fun and, if you register right now, we’ll give you the early-bird free drink special package.” Silly, I know! I’d speak to what makes my event special and why people should want to be there; I wouldn’t even bring up the price. Posters, e-mail campaigns, advertisements and the like are a waste of time and money if I spend too much space promoting registration.

It’s common for sales people to be trained to elicit the word “yes” three times from their prospects before asking them if they would like to buy. Event marketing should take on the same tactic. If we can show our target audience that our event will meet at least three of their felt needs, that the pricing is reasonable, and the registration process is simple, then I think collecting their money will become the easiest task in our event plan.

Here are some helpful tips for your next event marketing effort:

1. Smaller is better. Decrease your need for ticket sales; adjust your budget and event space and focus on critical mass.

2. Less is more. Ensure your collateral is simple and visually compelling. Don’t get into the details; that’s what your event website is for.

3. Push it to the side. When sending an e-mail campaign, use an HTML template that has a sidebar—highlight your registration links and details separately from your primary message. With the majority of your e-mail body focusing on building excitement, your invitation will be perceived as subtle yet well-connected to the value of the experience you’re offering.

4. Use testimonials. Promote positive feedback from attendees at a previous event. Make sure you list their names (and their companies if possible)—anonymous quotes are useless.

5. Feature faces. Use images from previous events showing people having a lot of fun (they should be close-ups of faces, not a documentation of the activity).

6. Build partnerships. Develop a small, loyal affiliate base from people or groups who benefit from a successful event. Highlight them, and their stories, instead of always talking about the event. Treat them well, and they’ll become ambassadors who are passionate and motivated to spread the word. Be a fan of theirs and they’ll return the love.

7. Add value, don’t discount. Consider removing early-bird rates or special offers—set the value of the event and stick to your guns. If you need to boost sales, add benefits and give attendees more for their money.

Primetime marketing space shouldn’t be gobbled up with the details about dollars and deadlines. Instead, put the effort into creating a meaningful call to action. Dial down the registration hype and beef up the “why” hype.

By Corwin Hiebert. Be sure to read his event planning eBook, Eleven and a Half Ways to Help Make Your Next Event a Huge Success. The downloadable PDF is only $3 when you use the special promotional code eventbrite2. Purchases can be made at


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The Four Keys to Getting New Clients

Each of these components can help you attract more brand new clients and each level can help you get the most out of your existing relationships.

The first component is the niche. The niche is your target market. It’s who you’re going after. This is the center of any marketing. When I talked to Dominic he and I were both commiserating that whenever we would get confused in terms of helping clients or clients would get fuzzy about a next step, not being sure what to do, it always came back to this. About looking at the niche of who are you going after.

The second component is the irresistible offer. What are you offering to this niche? A lot of people make the mistake in marketing of thinking, “Oh, I’m going to design this product and service,” and then it’s like, “How do I market it?” is a separate step.

I think if we’re going to be successful in business we need to step back and think of the marketing in the design process itself. Meaning, how can we make the product so irresistible inherently, that it’s easy to sell, versus just a generic sort of bland, boring product and service and then figuring out how we can sort of sell the sizzle and not the steak. That’s the second component is the offer.

The third component is the hubs. This was one of the things that really made so much sense to me when I was talking with Dominic. A lot of people at my trainings would say, “Well where do I advertise? Where do I market? How do I find people?”

I never really knew how to answer that. I always give kind of vague answers but now the answer’s really clear for me. Where you find them depends entirely on who you’re looking for. One group of people is going to hang out in one place. Another group’s going to hang out in another place.

It’s not just about where to find them. It’s also about a way to build trust with them. That’s a lot more powerful than other things you may have tried. So that’s the third component, the hubs.

The first is the niche. Second, what are we offering them? Third the hubs, where do we find them?

And fourth, word of mouth strategies. Again you’re already getting passive word of mouth but are there things you can do to accelerate it and get more word of mouth? Yes.


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Where is Pay What You Can Most Useful?

The following is an excerpt taken from an interview I did with the brilliant Robert Middleton. A lot of my core marketing philosophy, I got from this man. This material will be compiled into a book called “Pay What You Want” in 2011.

Robert: Tad, where does Pay What You Can seem to work best? We talked about workshops, but that is not the only thing. What are some other kinds of services that you could use this for?

Tad: You can use it for special events, like it’s a one-time sort of thing.

Here’s the biggest overall thing that I’ve found. Pay what you can seems to work best in situations where people have a really clear sense of what it already costs. If it’s a Pay What You Can restaurant, people kind of know what they’re going to pay at a restaurant generally. If it’s an album, people know.

But if it’s a marketing workshop or it’s a retreat or it’s a consultation, people don’t necessarily know. In that case you have to educate them.

I think it works really well for group events. I do some one-on-one Pay What You Can, and it works okay, but I definitely think with group things it’s more financially viable.

It tends to work really well in the industries where no one else is doing it. If you’re a theater and you’re like, “Hey, cutting edge new thing: We’ve got a Pay What You Can matinee.” Well, everybody does that.

So I think it also does exceptionally well in traditionally high-ticket industries where you’re just expected to pay a lot. If you suddenly say, “Hey look, you’d be spending $3,000 anywhere else for this, but I’m going to offer it on a Pay What You Can basis,” that’s great.

Robert: Something I noticed in your letter about your workshop is that you give a little comparison chart of what some of the high-end marketing workshops are charging. They’re charging anywhere from $5,000 to $1,500, or something in that ballpark.

People are seeing, “For this workshop, we’re going to give you comparative value and you Pay What You Can,” so you create the perception that, “Wow! This sounds like a really good deal. I’m not sure I’d risk $5,000, and there seems to be so much hype. You’re not giving me so much hype and it sounds good anyway, so why not try?

That’s sort of how the mind thinks through this before you sign up.

Tad: Yes, and I think obviously Pay What You Can is best placed for people who are really wanting to grow their business and attract more clients, versus doing more with the clients they have.

Even so, this could be used with existing clients. You say, “Hey, there is this new second-level thing and I want to try it out. I’m willing to try it for the first one on a Pay What You Can basis.”

It can be used as a gift for existing clients like a reward. “You’re some of my favorite clients, so I wanted to offer you this on a Pay What You Can.”

If you’re rolling out something new and you want feedback on it, this is practice time for people who feel like they’re still apprenticing.

You know, I just feel like real humility is not our biggest virtue in this culture. For people who are starting out, I think sometimes there can be this pretense of needing to position themselves more strongly as an expert than they are and try to charge the same rates.

I was probably guilty of that when I started. When I started doing Pay What You Can, it felt so good. I really felt like I was apprenticing. I thought, “I am still learning this, and let me figure out from other people what this is worth. Let me get that real feedback.”

It’s funny. I’ve done some crap weekends where I tried it. I thought, “I’m going to try this new exercise.” It was a disaster. I got paid less, and I thought, “How appropriate.”

Robert: If you do stuff that’s not so good, they’re going to pay you less. You’re always thinking, “How can I put this together to give the most value so they’ll reciprocate?” That’s great. That makes a lot of sense.

I think there are a lot of people in this club who are coaches. I can see beginning coaches using this as not-a-forever strategy but for a beginning strategy.

I’m starting coaching. Most coaches charge X hundred dollars a month. What I’m doing is offering the first three months totally based on a Pay What You Can basis. Pay what you think it is worth. Then after that, we’ll continue it on a slightly different format perhaps.” It’s a good way to get started and get some initial clients.

Tad: I would almost recommend for coaches the Christian Mickelsen thing, “The 3 Sessions that Sell.” It’s so brilliant. I love that interview with him. (This material is included in Part 4.5 of the Fast Track – Selling Conversations.)

I think part of the challenge of Pay What You Can is when it’s a continual thing. I think what you’re saying about doing it for three months is probably the most I would do it for. I haven’t tried it. My sense is that it would start to feel weird. But if you sell it as a package, I think that could work really well.

Robert: Especially if you can look back and measure the results. We’re going to talk about conditions whereby you offer this. That’s very important. But nevertheless, that’s a possibility. Are there some businesses or situations where it doesn’t work as well?

Tad: I think ongoing situations I would just raise the flag on. Memberships or a series of workshops, I’m not sure.

Robert: I have this Marketing Club which is $29 a month. If I told everyone every month, “Pay what you can,” it would probably fall apart. It would also be very hard to administer.

Tad: Exactly and I think it would be stressful for people every time having to reevaluate.

Robert: I didn’t use it this month, so I won’t pay this month, etc.

Tad: I think also situations where people have no idea what to pay. Again, if you’re getting a magazine or staying at a hotel, you kind of look at it and say, “I have a sense of what this could be worth.” But if it’s something where people don’t know, that’s trouble.

Industries where it’s very low-ticket, where things have been commoditized so much that it’s really cheap, could be trouble. Then you do Pay What You Can, and people are going to look at everyone doing it and say, “It’s just worth this because that’s what everyone else is doing.

If you’re in that kind of industry, you really have to innovate and differentiate yourself from that industry and say, “I know it would normally be this. Here’s how we’re different and better.”

I guess if an entrepreneur has a really huge list and they can’t handle any more clients or, you know, they’re not wanting to grow at all, it’s probably not a good thing. It’s probably better to just change to a finite amount.

Robert: Yes. For instance, I have a high-ticket program called the Marketing Mastery Program, and I can easily fill that and at the price that I want to get. Pay what you can just wouldn’t make sense for me.

Tad: Exactly.

Robert: But if I was maybe starting it the first time, it was experimental, and I wanted to see how it worked, then it might work in that situation. You really have to think through this. It’s not an overall blanket pricing strategy for your business, but it really can be used in certain places to get things going.

After all, if you did it as a workshop, you had a lot of people at the workshop, and then those workshop participants were people you talked to later who converted into one-on-one clients, it could be a fabulous marketing strategy.

One of the first things I did years ago when I moved my business from San Francisco to Silicon Valley was a couple of one-day workshops. I actually offered them completely for free, Tad.

If I’d known this, maybe I would have done this, but I didn’t want any resistance whatsoever. A ridiculous number of people showed up. Approximately 180 people showed up for these things.

I gave them a good one-day workshop, but it warmed it up for my business. I got clients from it. The next year, I did it again. I launched my InfoGuru Marketing Manual and started to sell hundreds of them. Things just took off.

Tad: People can get so precious. It’s funny. I want to see people getting their needs met in their business, and there can be a bit of ego in it. People think, “I am going to be paid what I’m worth.”

I remember Thomas Leonard. Some people are probably familiar with him. I was talking with him one time, and he was telling me how he started. He’d been doing it for awhile and he had this workshop.

He just was like, “I want to offer it for free,” and his branding coach was freaked out, “No, you’ll destroy your brand. People won’t perceive the value.” He said, “Whatever. I still want to do it for free.” He packed it so full with so many people.

Robert: He created some energy. I was in the same office as him.

Tad: No kidding?

Robert: It was in the late 1980s when he did that, and I actually attended one of those workshops.

Tad: That’s a trip.

Robert: It’s interesting. The difference between Pay What You Can, or even free up front, is infinity compared to even a low price like $50. If you do a Pay What You Can, you’ll get more people than even a low price of $50.

Tad: I’ll tell you, when I started I was doing a lot of the free intros. It took me honestly about five years to really figure out the intro that I wanted to do. I did a lot of them. I kept tinkering, and a lot of it was me figuring my own understanding of marketing.

I just did it for free, and I kept tinkering and fiddling. Then just in the last couple of years, people started paying me for them. I was like, “No, this is a free intro,” and they said, “Yeah, but I need to pay you.” I’d say, “No, no! It’s free.” They’d say, “Really, shut up and just take my money.”

Robert: They felt they got a lot of value obviously.

Tad: Yeah, that’s when I decided I’d start charging for it. Now I do my intros, which used to be free, on a sliding scale of $1 to $40, which is sort of a strategy.

If you’re going to do a sliding scale, why not make it the lower end? Again, if you have enough clients and can fill it easily, don’t worry about it, but why not make it $1 to $40? Nobody is going to pay $1, but the fact that it is $1, who’s going to say no to it?


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The Benefits of Pay What You Can

The following is an excerpt taken from an interview I did with the brilliant Robert Middleton. A lot of my core marketing philosophy, I got from this man.  This material will be compiled into a book called “Pay What You Want” in 2011.

Robert: We’ll talk later about what you’re making now and how you structure it because it’s not just Pay What You Can. There’s a lot of structure around this. In all of my interviews, we really get into the hands-on, how-to stuff. Let’s talk. What are the benefits of this? Why do it in the first place?

Tad: Well, there’s a number of benefits about it. The first is that with Pay What You Can, sometimes you’ll make less money per person than you might if you charged the full industry rates, but you’re going to attract so many more people because the risk is so low.

Number two is a lot of people really feel like they’re getting a deal. In fact, they’re guaranteed to feel like they’re getting a deal because they’re choosing the amount that they pay. So nobody is going to feel ripped off, which is really important.

That was my stress. If I was charging $2,000 for a weekend, I was like, “Damn, this better be good.” Of course, it had to be good but sometimes it’s not a fit, and I just found myself very anxious during the workshops wanting to make sure that they were getting the value.

Robert: You know, Tad, I also find in these expensive workshops that when you read the sales letter, it seems there has to be more hype. It has to be more over the top with more miracles and more breakthroughs to justify it. Often the average person isn’t necessarily going to get that kind of breakthrough result, but for that price you have to promise the earth, the sun and the stars.

Tad: Yeah, I think there’s a whole separate conversation around authenticity. It’s one of the things I love about your sales copy and your materials. It’s very nuts and bolts and very down-to-earth.

Yeah, when you charge that amount, you do have to do it. I think there’s a way it can sway people’s moral compasses a little bit in how authentic they’re being willing to be. There’s this idea that you’re going to get this information from a weekend and it will change everything when the reality is a lot of them are still going to need handholding in different places.

One of the other benefits of Pay What You Can is there’s so much goodwill in it. It engenders so much gratitude, versus with the very hyper-expensive there’s the sense that they’re just in it to get rich. People might go, but there’s not the same goodwill.

People really see you as a hero, which is a good thing. What I also love about it too is it aligns really well with people’s politics, left and right. Everybody loves this. Everybody respects you for it and because of the goodwill, it’s very talkable in a word-of-mouth sense. People will tell their friends about it.

The main driver of word-of-mouth is that people want to tell their friends about cool stuff and help their friends out. If they just went to a workshop that was $5,000 for five days or whatever and then they try to tell their friends, it’s a real weird conversation. “You should go to this workshop. It’s $5,000.”

Robert: It’s only $5,000.” “That’s too much.”

Tad: Versus, “I went to this workshop. It was amazing. It was so good. You could totally pay whatever you want. I went to it. I thought it was a scam, but I could really just pay whatever I wanted to pay and there was no funny business.” It’s very talkable.

I think part of why Pay What You Can works is because most entrepreneurs are pretty cash-flow poor.

Robert: Often that’s the case.

Tad: They’re rich in so many ways, but not necessarily in cash on hand in the moment. I think it works because there is just a genuine process of reciprocation. When people receive something, they want to give something back.

Pay what you can really works on inspiring people to give instead of demanding it, “Look, I’m worth this much.” It’s saying, “I think I’m worth this much. I think I’m good, but you decide.”

It really puts the decision in their hands, which is the whole flip. And I think it’s funny because there’s this myth in marketing that people don’t value things unless they pay for it. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s a misnomer.

I think the truth is that people value things they invest in, or the more they invest in it, the more they value it. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be money. We’ll talk about it.

With Pay What You Can, this is the potential downside if you don’t think about it strategically. If it’s just like, “Show up, Pay What You Can,” there’s a way that people could see that as, “Oh, it’s free,” and then they don’t value it. There are things we want look at around that.


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Where is Pay What You Can Done?

The following is an excerpt taken from an interview I did with the brilliant Robert Middleton. A lot of my core marketing philosophy, I got from this man.Pay What You Want” in 2011. This material will be compiled into a book called “

Tad: It’s funny. I think it’s actually used a lot more than people would think. We’re all familiar with buskers. Street performers will do it, especially the best street performers. They’ll do a whole, hour-long show and then ask you for money at the end. It’s funny.

Actually the reason and one of the inspirations for me to do the Pay What You Can was I got mentored years ago by this guy named Gazzo Macee, who’s a British street performer from Oxford.

I saw him do his show, and I was so inspired. He mentored me over the years in doing close-up magic. I only found out years later that he’s actually one of the top. He’s probably considered one of the top street performers in the world, in the top three or five street performers.

I remember at the end of his show he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, you just saw this show. Anywhere else you would have gone to see a show like this or if you go to the theater, you’re going to pay $10 to $15 dollars to see a show. You have to pay it in advance. If you don’t like the show you can’t leave. You just got to see the whole show for nothing. I think street theater is one of the most honest forms of theater in the world because you get to see the show first and then you decide what it was worth. I think if you saw this show in a bar, you’d buy me a beer. Beer’s $5. I think this show’s worth $5. If you don’t have $5, $1 or $2 is fine. If you can’t even afford that, please, this show is my gift to you.”

I thought that was so generous and so beautiful. Buskers and street performers use it. Even giving tips at restaurants, I think there’s a bit of a little tipping on performance.

Robert: You pay what you think it’s worth.

Tad: A lot of the live theaters have Pay What You Can matinees. There’s a number. I’m surprised at how many Pay What You Can restaurants there are where literally you go, you eat the whole meal, and at the end there’s no bill. There’s just a pay by donation.

Robert: These restaurants actually survive doing that?

Tad: Yeah.

Robert: That’s amazing.

Tad: It’s kind of funny. It’s something I want to do more research into, so I’m not too familiar with it, but I’ve seen enough examples of these restaurants so there’s got to be something to it. A lot of them seem to have been around for years. There’s a magazine I just heard about that’s Pay What You Can. Radiohead, the band, released one of its latest albums online.

Robert: It was “In Rainbows.”

Tad: Right and allowed people to just pay whatever they wanted for it. There’s the Vipassana meditation retreats that some people may be familiar with where people go for this meditation retreat and then pay whatever they can based on what they can afford. There’s a hotel I heard about that did a Pay What You Can promotion. It seems fairly common.

It’s interesting because I think we’re about to see it get a lot more common, just with the economy in such a rocky place right now. There’s a recession and all these woes and everything happening. People are losing jobs. People get a lot more tight with their money. It’s funny. That tightness has to do with the direction of things.

If things are bad but they’re getting slightly better, people get more generous. But when things are great and they get a little worse, people get more tight and are less willing to take risks with their money.

But if they can try it out before paying, hands down one of the most powerful tools or principles that I can ever give anybody in marketing is this idea of risk reversals. It’s identifying what the risks are that somebody might have and addressing those head on.

To me Pay What You Can is not totally risk free, which we’ll get to I guess a bit later, but it really handles a lot of the risk.

It’s funny. When you were talking about workshops, I thought, “My hope is that actually some people might hear this who have been wanting to do workshops but not sure how to fill it.” This might actually inspire them to do it. You can fill a workshop a lot more easily on Pay What You Can than you could charging full rates, and make more money sometimes.


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The Zen of Attraction – Thomas Leonard

1. Promise nothing. Just do what you most enjoy doing.

2. Sign nothing. Just do what doesn’t require a signature of any kind.

3. Offer nothing. Just share what you have with those who express an interest.

4. Expect nothing. Just enjoy what you already have; it’s plenty.

5. Need nothing. Just build up your reserves and your needs will disappear.

6. Create nothing. Just respond well to what comes to you.

7. Seduce no one. Just enjoy them.

8. Adrenalize nothing. Just add value and get excited about that.

9. Hype nothing. Just let quality sell by itself.

10. Fix nothing. Just heal yourself.

11. Plan nothing. Just take the path of least resistance.

12. Learn nothing. Just let your body absorb it all on your behalf.

13. Become no one. Just be more of yourself.

14. Change nothing. Just tell the truth and things will change by themselves.


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CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of
my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


The Zen of Attraction
by Thomas J. Leonard
1. Promise nothing. Just do what you
most enjoy doing.
2. Sign nothing. Just do what doesn’t
require a signature of any kind.
3. Offer nothing. Just share what you
have with those who express an
4. Expect nothing. Just enjoy what you
already have; it’s plenty.
5. Need nothing. Just build up your
reserves and your needs will disappear.
6. Create nothing. Just respond well to
what comes to you.
7. Seduce no one. Just enjoy them.
8. Adrenalize nothing. Just add value
and get excited about that.
9. Hype nothing. Just let quality sell by
10. Fix nothing. Just heal yourself.
11. Plan nothing. Just take the path of
least resistance.
12. Learn nothing. Just let your body
absorb it all on your behalf.
13. Become no one. Just be more of
14. Change nothing. Just tell the truth
and things will change by themselves.