sacred economics

Charles Eisenstein has written one of the most beautiful and honest books on economics that I’ve ever come across. I’ve rarely heard a take on money and economics that I resonate with more strongly. It’s so deeply in line with my pay what you can philosophy.

I first came across him on a video he did for the Occupy Wallstreet movement.

It’s called Sacred Economics (order a copy at your local book store) and here’s a ten minute video all about it.

I share it because . . .

1) if you’re thinking of writing a book, consider how powerful a pink spoon a well produced online video might be in promoting it.

2) i think you’re going to love what it’s about and it might just help you get clearer in your own relationship to this odd thing called ‘money’.

3) this is a brilliant example of a lucid and clear point of view.


An Honest Sales Letter from a First Timer

Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallMy new friend Rebecca Tracey just wrote a sales letter.

I think it’s rather good. So, I’m going to share it with you – with commentary.

We spoke the other day about her doing a PWYC offer on her nutritional consulting – and the next day – she’s putting it out there.

Writing to promote ourselves (websites, brochures, emails or sales letters) can feel mind numbingly hard. That’s why professional copy writers are paid so well. Or speech writers. The ability to put our notions to words is highly prized. It’s why we love poetry so much I think. Or good authors. They articulate things we can only sense.

So, articulating what we do is tricky.

But it’s harder than that. How do we do it without it feeling slimy? How do we sell ourselves without coming across as cheesy, schmaltzy or crass?

I think Rebecca’s first attempt is actually really full of brilliance. Read along as I comment on things . . .


REBECCA’S LETTER (from facebook)

Hello friends!

In the past week a few exciting things have happened to me! I sprained my ankle, and I finished nutrition school! I can’t work at my other job right now, so I am combining these events into one great offer for you :)

This is such a great first paragraph. In any sales letter or ad the most important part of it is the ‘headline’. The headline can literally be a headline like a newspaper headline  – but basically it’s the first thing they read. The only purpose of the headline is the get them to read further. Rebecca does this by having us wonder, ‘how will she combine these two things into an offer?’

She creates curiousity and open up a ‘mental loop’ for us.

Also, she bolds “I sprained my ankle, and I finished nutrition school!” This is good. Bold fonts are all too often only used when we’re pitching. “Buy Now!” sort of thing. But she’s calling attention to the two unusual things.

The other things to lift up here: she’s telling us a story. A true story. From her life. The best marketing is all about storytelling. We’re drawn in by good stories.

Another thing: she uses an honest to god happening in her life to offer a special deal. Great businesses do this all the time. Halloween specials, first anniversary specials, ‘we had a baby’ specials. Her angle is saying, ‘my problem is your opportunity’. This is a great angle to use. Whenever minor tragedy befalls you or your business – it can often be turned into a great promotion. Even cheeky ones like this.

Notice how much there is to comment on just in this first paragraph!

First, a little bit on what I do…

I love this. She piques our interest and hooks us with her broken ankle and joblessness but then says, ‘before I tell you about that . . .’ We keep paying attention because we want to hear about the offer. She opens the loop but then talks about something else. She teases with the offer, gets our attention and then opens up another loop for us. Great story telling.

A holistic approach to nutrition recognizes that everything we put into our bodies affects our physical and emotional well-being. Health isn’t the same as “not being sick” – it really is a continuum, and everything we eat, think, and do has the potential to push us down towards the deep dark trenches of disease, or upwards towards amazing and fabulous health. Whether you have a specific health concern (gas and bloating, skin conditions, joint pain, hypoglycemia, trouble sleeping etc etc), or just have low energy, need a boost, or know you could eat/feel better but aren’t sure where to start, a nutritionist (that’s me) will determine what YOUR body needs, and can help implement changes that will immediately affect your health and well-being! And the most amazing thing about this is – WE HAVE A CHOICE about how we want to feel! Can you believe it? We get to choose which way we go on this continuum.

Here she makes a case not just for her particular offer (which she still hasn’t told us yet) but for her industry. She not only makes the case for the consultation with her – but the importance of getting such a consultation. Important! If someone’s not open to having this kind of consult before they aren’t even going to be open to hearing about working with you in particular.

Often before we educate people about our particular approach, perspective or offers – we need to educate them on the importance of our entire field.

Before they could sell any Palm Pilots (remember those?) they had to market the category of Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s – remember when that meant public display of affection?). Before Apple could market their particular brand of personal computers, they had to market the IDEA of personal computers.

Marketing is all about education. And sometimes we need to start with a higher level of education than we might expect.

Technical note: a copywriters rule. No paragraph should have more than five lines. Visually it’s easier to read if you break up the text into smaller chunks.

So – What do you choose?

…. Did I fool you with that trick question? Obviously you would choose to feel amazing!

I love her charm, humour and quirk here. This letter really comes alive with her personality and genuineness. She asks a leading question and then jokes about it being a leading question. Fun.

I’m excited to extend an offer to all my friends, family, friends of friends and anyone who wants great health (pass this on to anyone you know who may be interested!)

She’s just starting out and so she’s working her own network first. This is a natural place to start. It’s certainly the easiest. As she develops – she’ll likely start to honing in on particular niches.


I am offering a limited number (10 only!) of nutritional consults avec moi on a pay-what-you-can (PWYC) basis.

At last! The offer! But the nature of the offer hooks us again.


Two reasons:

1) Genuine scarcity. Robert Cialdini speaks about the power of scarcity to influence people ethically (and not so ethically). In this case, it’s ethical. She genuinely only wants to offer ten of these consultations. Due to her schedule, desires and whims – there are only ten of these spaces. Fair enough. But being real – having only ten available makes us pay attention more. If she’d said ‘there are 100’ we’d all sit back and relax. ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’ we’d tell ourselves. And likely – we never would.

2) Pay what you can basis? What? Tell me more. The nature of this offer raises questions immediately. ‘What does she mean? Why is she offering this?’ And this makes us want to read on.

Normally, a one hour nutrition consult, complete with personalized recommendations and handouts with healthy tips, recipes, and the chance to ask all your burning health questions, would come at a cost of anywhere from $125-150.

A full-on Nutribody assessment, which includes a personalized nutrition, supplement, and lifestyle protocol  (with meal plan and recipes) based on your specific biochemical imbalances, would run you around $300.

I love this. Immediately – she establishes the value of the session. This is so vital if you’re doing pay what you can or sliding scale. Or offering any sort of deal. It’s too easy for people to devalue what you’re offering, see it as ‘free’ or think of their payment as a good hearted donation (and aren’t you lucky to get it).

I am offering both of these services, and you can decide which one you want and how much you pay me for them.

Great. This is really clear. Now she’s told us what she promised to tell us at the start. But we find ourselves wondering, ‘why?’ And next she answers that. And this is a key in copywriting. Sales letters should be read like conversations – raising points and anticipating their questions and then answering them.

Why would I offer you such a great deal?

Well, 3 reasons actually.

1. I am a recent graduate and am still looking to get experience. This doesn’t mean you will get a lesser  quality service than what anyone else would offer. It just means that I am tweaking my style and need you wonderful people to help me learn what works best to serve my clients.

This is really honest. It’s transparent. It’s open. And it’s self respecting. It makes sense. And this is vital. Our offers must make logical sense to people. If it seems ‘too good to be true‘ they won’t buy. Or if it seems like we’re setting ourselves up to be taken advantage of – people often won’t want to participate.

Or if they think, ‘oh. it’s cheaper so it won’t be as good‘ they won’t buy. If you are making an offer with a price different than the norm – charging less than normal, more than normal or in a different way than normal (e.g. PWYC) then we need to explain why or it can be unsettling for people.

2. I recently sprained my ankle (ouch!) and am off work for the time being. What a great gift the universe has given me – the time to really focus on getting my nutrition practice started! And because I want to make it really easy for you to take advantage of this, I’m offering it on the assumption that you will pay what you reasonably think it was worth based on what you can afford.

Again – quirky. Honest. Real. Positive.

3. Everyone is entitled to good health, no matter how rich or broke you are. Unfortunately, the cost of service of many natural health care providers deters people from visiting them, which keeps them in a state of mediocre health. Everyone deserves to feel great! If you have the money to pay me what it would normally cost – wonderful. If you can only afford less than that, I trust that you will be honest and fair in what you decide to pay me.

Two great things about this.

First of all, she’s sharing her politics. Her worldview. She speaks to her desire for fairness and accessibility. This is something that will resonate with everyone. It also shows that she’s got an interest in this beyond the selfish, ‘i’m in it for myself‘ motives many ascribe to business. This makes her more trustworthy. She’s naming a larger cause than profit.

Second of all, for the second time in this letter she’s saying, ‘I trust you.’ And that’s far more trust inducing than saying, ‘trust me.’ When people say, ‘trust me’ we start to back away. That’s what politicians say. But when someone says, ‘I trust you’ we melt. We open. We feel seen and cared for. And, there’s something about the way she says it that let’s us know that she respects herself greatly. In all walks of life, self respect is attractive.

Building trust is the hardest thing to do in marketing. And we build trust by honesty.

So what’s the catch? (there is always a catch :)

I love this. She names what we’re thinking. ‘PWYC? Really? This seems too good to be true. Plus, if it is true, I don’t want to take advantage of her. Maybe someone else could afford to pay her more – yes. I’ll let them have a spot.’

I need you to agree to a few pretty simple conditions:

Aha! She puts conditions on the offer. Self respect! Ironically, these boundaries actually make her offer seem more credible, believable and attractive.

1. You record a food journal of everything you eat for 5 days, and send it to me 24 hours before our first meeting. This is not optional. No food journal, no deal. (Trust me, this is for both of our benefits. I can explain when we meet why this is SO important for your health).

Bam. Clear boundaries. Clear conditions. This one condition will eliminate tire kickers and people who aren’t serious about their health. This will save Rebecca immense amounts of time and frustration (and disappointment). But it will also have the people she consults with showing up ready to go. They’ll be invested in the process in a way that they wouldn’t be without the homework.

2. You tell at least 3 close family members or friends that you will be meeting with me, and ask them for their support along the way. You will work together with them to make a plan that works for you to help keep you connected to why you want to make a change in your life. Changing your diet isn’t always easy. Compliance is a bitch in this industry, and no one should have to do it alone. The more people you have on your team, the more likely you are to stick with it when times get tough. Yes, you can count on me to be here for you, but having friends and family involved is part of the process. You will receive a copy of an email that you can send to your support team. Before we meet, I want to know specifically what you have done to set up this accountability. This shows that you are committed to making the changes required for a happy healthy life!

Brilliant. She’s setting another clear expectation – but this one, like the first, is dual purposed. It sees if they’re serious about the process – but is not random. It’s actually designed to help them integrate it – to get more value from the process. When I read those two I get excited – it feels like, ‘yes. If I did those two things – I can already see myself making progress I’ve not yet been able to make.’

Again – this could be broken up into smaller chunks visually.

3. You must be willing to give me honest feedback (good or bad) within 48 hours of our consult. I want to learn from this too, and your input is essential in helping me help you the best way that I can, and in a way that works for you.

I love this. Love this. This is such a genuine request. By stating this upfront, she’s naming the kind of relationship she’s wanting with her clients. To make this easier – she could write out three questions and email it to them immediately after the session. Sometimes when we ask for feedback, it can feel overwhelming for people. They don’t know where to start. They stare at a blank computer screen wondering what to type to you. Make it easier for them by asking specific questions.

Here are a few of my favourite.

  1. What did you honestly think about working with me before the session? What do you think now?
  2. What is the single most important result or impact that came from our session?
  3. What is it that you see is unique or special about the way I do what I do?

4. You must be able to meet me in the Annex area of Toronto. I have a bum foot and am not so mobile, so I can’t travel far.

Again. Charming and honest. And reasonable.

And that’s important – if you’re going to put in ‘catches’ to your deals (and I suggest they do – they make offers seem more believable) then the catches should make sense. They should feel reasonable.

5. I need you to understand that this is not a free service. PWYC does not = invaluable or free. These services would normally cost $125-300, however, this does not mean that you have to pay this much. This is why it is pay what you CAN… Payment will be made to me 3 days after the consult. You will mail me a check for an amount that you choose, based on what you feel my service was worth and also what you can afford.

I love this! She’s articulating PWYC like an old pro. This is vital. PWYC runs the risk of being seen as ‘free’ or ‘donation’. She is commanding respect here. She speaks right to this. Head on. This. is. not. free. Communicating the value of what we offer can be so hard – especially when it’s pay what you can.

That’s it. Sound fair? It is :)

If you are interested in booking an appointment, I will be offering this to 10 clients only.

She reminds us of the scarcity. Smart.

Give me a call or send me an email if you want to take advantage of my busted foot graduation offer!!

Please include you name and contact info, and  a brief note about why you want to see me, what you hope to get out of our consult, and any specific health conditions you are working with.

416. 660. 0453

xx becca


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When Your Customers Set the Price – Chris Guillebeau

Here’s a piece from Business Week written by Chris Guillebeau, Blogger and owner in Seattle.

On the morning of her 41st birthday, author Danielle LaPorte posted a promotion on her blog and then went to the spa in her home city of Vancouver, B.C. She had prepared something special for her readers that day—a “Pay-what-you-will” offer for her Firestarter Sessions help package, a digital strategy session for entrepreneurs, which normally retails at $150. How would it go over? She hoped it would do well, of course, but it was an unusual experiment.

An hour later, Danielle couldn’t resist the urge to see what was happening. Leaving her spa appointment, she flipped open her iPhone—and flipped out. From all over the world, offers to purchase her Firestarter were streaming in by the hundreds.

Danielle is a smart marketer (“I came out of the womb with a press release,” she likes to say), but she didn’t expect the response to be as great as it was. How great? Based on previous offers and a moderate but growing readership, she expected about 70 offers. Instead, over the course of 24 hours, Danielle received more than 700 offers, for a total of $30,000 in new income.

How did this experiment work so well? What went on behind the scenes to create such a big success?

Offers were made through public comments. Danielle encouraged her readers to post comments on the site containing their offer. Anonymity was available for those who wanted it, but 500-plus comments proved that most people were comfortable going live. The comments also provided social proof (“everyone’s doing it”) and public validity.

All offers accepted … almost. The smart marketer in Danielle didn’t tell people what amount to offer, but she did make clear that she wasn’t giving the goods away for free. “One person offered to pay $10 on their Visa card,” she said. “I told them, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’” By making a clear value proposition in the blog post, she set expectations for high offers without disqualifying most lower ones.

Community reigns supreme. Several of Danielle’s first readers proposed creative offers, which in turn encouraged other creative offers. Someone kicked off a trend of donating on behalf of others; someone offered $40 and a shipment of vegan baked goods; someone offered one amount to Danielle along with another contribution to Gulf cleanup efforts. The variety made it fun and interesting.

Danielle’s pay-what-you-will experiment was a big hit based on a risky principle: Throw out a creative idea, and let your customers loose. By embracing risk—while carefully defining a few parameters—she earned a nice payday while also strengthening the bond with her readers. If you’re willing to follow Danielle’s lead and take a creative risk in your business, watch out. You’ll definitely send a signal that business-as-usual is changing, and you might even end up starting a fire of new sales.

For more tips like this you can check out:


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Oakland Doctor Gives “GIFT” of Healthcare


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The Biggest Mistake You Can Do With Pay What You Can Workshops

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: What are some of the mistakes that you might make with Pay What You Can? What have you seen?

Tad: The biggest one I call the “Put the Money in the Basket.” People will do an event or concert or whatever it is. Then they say, “Everybody, thanks for coming. Thanks so much. There’s a basket at the back of the room. Put some money in it if you want to put some money in. You don’t have to. There’s no pressure. Please, don’t bother. You’re probably broke. Don’t put any money in. It’s cool. In fact, if there’s money in the basket and you need some, just take some out. In fact, I have $5 here. Who wants some money?

There’s this crazy awkwardness about it, and it’s very disorganized. There’s so many challenges with that. One of the biggest ones is you’ll have people who want to give you money who will just forget.

They genuinely are like, “I’m going to give $20.” They’ll have it in their hand and walk by. They just get caught up in a conversation. They’ll feel bad about it later. So there’s that.

Robert: So don’t do that.

Tad: Don’t do that. The other mistake I’ve seen, there’s so many, one is this. It’s funny. I was talking with a street performer, Nick Nickolas, who’s this brilliant guy from Australia, and I asked him. You know street performers will do their whole show. They’ll do their pitch at the end. I noticed how different street performers had a different pitch at the end. You know how they phrase it differently. His pitch was really short. A lot of performers would be really long.

I asked him, “Nick, what do you say is the biggest mistake street performers make when they do their pitch? “He said, “They save too much of it for the end. They do this whole show and then there is this whole thing. If you watch my show, you’ll notice that I’m sort of doing the pitch throughout the show.”

So he’ll do a trick, and he’ll be like, “An old lady saw me do that trick, and came up to me and said, ‘I like that. That show was really good. That show was worth $5.’” Then he looks at the audience, “I just thought I’d point that out.

He may make a reference, “If you’d seen me do this at a pub, you’d buy me a beer and a beer is $5. I just thought I point that out.” He’s naming it.

Robert: He’s priming the audience for them to expect that he’s going to ask for some money, but it’s going to be reasonable.

Tad: Yeah and he’s also saying, “Here’s what I think it’s worth. Here’s what you’d pay anywhere else.” He gives a number of examples throughout the show.

When I do a weekend workshop, it’s not like, “Hey, it’s a Pay What You Can workshop,” and then at the very end, “By the way, you’d pay $2,000 anywhere else.” That would be a real shock for people.

In the sales letter and in the flow of the weekend, I’m making reference to it. I’m saying, “I was at this Jay Abraham marketing workshop. It was $5,000 for five days, and he had 600 people there.” I’m using it to illustrate the principle of risk reversal, but I’m naming that so there’s some understanding as we go through.

I think another mistake people make is pretty rare, but I’ve still seen it. People say it’s basically a free event, and then they pass the hat at the end. That’s terrible. Or they charge something at the door and then do a pass-the-hat as well. That’s a terrible mistake.

Also a mistake is giving no context for what it’s worth and then being shocked at how little they receive at the end. It’s like I do a whole weekend, but if they have no idea what to pay, they will generally pay like $20 or $50. There’s got to be a context.

And not developing their back end. Pay what you can is great, especially as a lead generator, but like you’re saying, they may go through the weekend and then decide to work with you one on one or sign up for an advanced thing. It’s really important to think about what’s going to happen after.

Robert: In marketing we call that the back end. The front end is the initial sell. The back end is long-term sales and business that you generate.

Tad: I think it really is a mistake to think about doing everything as a Pay What You Can. It just isn’t going to be appropriate in every situation.

I think a mistake, too, is giving up after one event because it didn’t make the money they thought they deserved, versus getting really curious. “How can I tweak this to make this even better and make it more valuable?

I think actually one of the bigger mistakes is when people who are using Pay What You Can treat it too casually. It’s sort of like, “Pay whatever you want,” versus really, especially in a workshop setting, creating the space to talk about it. I take about half an hour at the end of my workshop to talk about money and to talk about the payment for the workshop.


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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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