Note: Next week we will be reopening a 2015 session of our coaches’ class, Fast Track To Fully Booked. This means I have coaches on the brain at the moment. Which brings us to …
This is what happens when I pick up the phone on your average Monday.
Every time I get on the phone with a coach or consultant (well, not every time, but enough to qualify for “your average Monday”), the question comes up:
“I need to get more clients. What should I do?”
Pretty straightforward question, right?
So I ask back, “Sure, how many clients do you need?” or “Absolutely. How many billable hours are you looking to get to?”
Usually I get an immediate answer, but it’s not from the person on the other end of the phone – it’s from the crickets, chirping away in the background.
This happens, say, 70% of the time. It’s not everybody, but it’s everybody enough.
It seems like this can be a tough question to answer.
If you’re a coach, or a consultant, or a person who finds themselves saying, “I hate the word coach, I’m really more of a mentor” a lot, generally the thing you want is a full book.
But a full book means something.
It means a concrete number. 14 clients. 22 billable hours a week. It’s not a concept. It’s a number. A number is something you can work towards, and something you can track.
But “more clients” is not something you can work for. The only thing you can do with “more” is hope for it. It rarely tends to get you taking the specific actions that will move you forward, because there’s nothing tangible to move towards. (You also never know when you’ll get to the end, but that’s another story.)
Here’s what would happen if you got “more.”
Tony Robbins has a little vignette that he refers to a lot, about a particular attendee at one of his seminars.
This attendee told Tony something like, “I’d be a lot happier if I made more money, but I just can’t seem to make it happen.”
Tony double checked with him. “So you KNOW you’d be happier if you had more money?”
The man agreed.
“I’m sure.” (I would imagine the man is looking at Tony like he’s got three heads at this point.)
Tony reaches into his pocket, plunks a quarter into the man’s hand, and says, “Poof! You have more money. So you’re happier now, right?”
The man replies something to the tune of, “Tony, you know what I mean.”
No. Tony does NOT know what you mean. And the man probably didn’t either, which is why he said “more money” rather than “what I really want is to make $18,000 more a year.”
“Naomi, you know what I mean.”
Sadly, I don’t. And if you don’t know what a full book looks like, neither do you.
If you don’t know what you want, and how to measure when you truly have it, then chances are high that you will not get it.
There are many, many reasons we resist setting those SPECIFIC numbers in stone. It can be scary, because what we really want feels like it might be unattainable.
Or we try and think about the number, but we don’t really know if that number will be too low, which will keep us broke, or too high, which will stress us out.
We might simply be afraid to set a number because we know that the things we’re doing in the hopes of getting “more” will actually not get us that concrete number. So “more” or “a lot” or “enough” seems a lot easier to wrap our heads around.
(I’d also venture to add that “more” anything has never made anybody happier, and deep down we know that, but we’d like to cling to the belief anyway. But that’s outside of the scope of marketing consulting.)
That is all true. It’s hard and scary and unpleasant and forces us to face uncomfortable truths.
But it is also true that vague, amorphous goals are generally impossible to achieve. If that were not the case, I would not be getting phone calls from clients asking why what they’re doing isn’t working.
You don’t want “clients” anymore than you would want a quarter from Tony Robbins.
There are a specific number of clients (or billable hours) that you want.
There is a specific spectrum of people who you would find acceptable to work with. (More on this later.)
That’s what you want. But if you don’t put it into words – the kind of words that would make a jury of your peers agree you’re being theoretically reasonable – it’s not going to happen.
Your homework for today
Today I want you to quantitatively define your goal for what counts as “getting enough clients.”
How many hours are you billing now? How many do you want to be billing? What’s the gap between here and there?
There. That’s a goal with numbers. Now we have something we can work with.
Hello, and welcome. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz, and you are listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers. This track is called Training People To Be Trained By You.
At the beginning of the launch multipliers, way back in Month 4, we mentioned that some of the multipliers would apply more to some industries or businesses than others, and some would only apply to specific types of products. Of course, you’re always welcome and often encouraged to listen to the multipliers that don’t necessarily apply directly because with some inspiration, some extrapolation and some creativity, things that shouldn’t apply turn into things that can apply very quickly.
This is one of those tracks. Today, we’re talking to people who are in training, teaching, coaching, guiding, education or leadership situations. It’s the serious information product seller, yes, but it’s also the marriage counsellor running a training heavy blog. If you’re gently encouraging people to get in touch with their feelings, you’re not necessarily in training, sure.
But if you’re in the business of teaching hard skills – negotiation skills, communication skills, or anything that could theoretically include a checklist – congratulations, you’re a trainer. So this might apply even if you think you’re too touchy feely to call yourself a trainer. You might be surprised.
Maybe you’re teaching people to knit. Maybe you’re training corporate employees in workplace sensitivity. Maybe you’re giving leadership seminars, or career counselling, or public speaking guidance. Basically, there’s a room, and you’re at the front of it.
Today we’re talking about creating an environment in which people are accustomed to being trained by you. We’ve talked in other multipliers about the concept that, once people are in the habit of buying, they tend to continue to do so. Well, the same is true here. Once people are in the habit of learning, they tend to continue to do so. So we’re going to talk about getting them in the habit of learning – specifically, learning from you.
One of the beautiful things about the era of push button publishing – whether you’re publishing blog posts or podcasts or videos or whatever – is that pretty much everybody in the world has the opportunity to get on a soapbox at the front of the room. There isn’t anybody who can’t stand at the lectern or the podium or the microphone and let loose on what’s what. (Or what they think is what, anyway.)
This is wonderful, and it has resulted in a smorgasbord of learning content that these days, means there’s nothing you can’t learn. The content producer can produce and publish at the touch of a button, and the consumer can consume at the touch of a button.
There are a few problems with this state of affairs, though.
First, there’s too much content. Way too much content. We’re drowning in it.
Second, just because somebody has an opinion on how something should be done, that doesn’t mean they’re a good or trustworthy or reliable or effective teacher. There are plenty of people out there willing to teach you how to half-double crochet. I’m guessing there aren’t many of them you’d pay cash money and sit down, at a regular time, to have them teach you.
And third, the combination of the other two – since there are so many people with opinions and soapboxes and lecterns and podiums out there, it’s really hard to differentiate which ones are the good teachers you want to learn from, and which are the writers of great blogs.
One of the ways we can get around these issues is by cutting back on acting like a blogger or a podcaster or a video producer, and start acting like a teacher.
So, today we’re going to talk about a few elements that make up teaching and training – some things that differentiate teaching and training from spouting off opinions and tips. We’re going to give you five of them. And we’re going to give you three places you might want to incorporate these elements to improve the likelihood that, when you suggest people give you money in exchange for you to tell them how to do stuff or solve problems, they might take you up on it.
Good? Good. Let’s get started with the elements. It starts with thinking to what we associate as a learning environment. School would be a good place to begin. Think back to elementary school, or secondary school, or college if you took something practical. (If you have a liberal arts degree, do not think about college. Think about something like sixth grade social studies.)
Here are some elements that took place while you were learning, rather than simply reading a book or watching a cooking show for fun.
1. Teaching occurs at a specific time, place or both.
There are plenty of things you learn throughout your life. You know the expression, “You learn something new every day?” That’s because, generally, you learn something new every day. But when you learn that the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1976, you don’t consider the source of that fact to be your teacher. Now, if you signed up to go to a place, at a certain time, and be told a lot of facts about Montreal, or the 1970s, or the Stanley Cup, or hockey, that would be different. The person dispensing the information would seem very much like a teacher.
There is a formality, organization and structure associated with training that isn’t there when you’re just reading an article. So if you want to get people in the habit of seeing you as their trainer, it makes sense to incorporate that structure into what you do. This could be announcing on your website that you’re going to have a five part series next week on a certain learning outcome, or it could be getting people to come to a webinar at a certain time. You could lead a freaking Twitter chat on Tuesdays at 8, if you wanted to. But formal training and learning usually has a specific time and/or place.
2. Trainers give specific instructions.
Bloggers and pundits and thought leaders tend to give opinions, philosophies, or tips – fairly random tidbits of instruction at best, a motley crew of random information at worst. If you read a crochet blog, you’re going to see a bunch about crochet, the crochet world, the pattern the blogger is making right now, pictures from the yarn show she went to, and so on. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The crochet blogger can still be a trainer – if she also trains.
If she gives tutorials that have specific instructions, rather than a big list of tips. If she starts at the beginning of something and moves through to the end. If she has a library of sorts that people can find numerous pieces of training in. These are the marks of a trainer, rather than a talker. And when people get used to being trained by her, then when she comes out with a paid version of her training, her readers or viewers or listeners are more likely to already have an established association of being trained, rather than simply chatted to.
3. Trainers incorporate interactivity.
Teachers let you ask questions. There is usually some kind of forum or channel or process for getting help. If you don’t understand something, or your situation is unique, or you need some extra help, a trainer or a teacher is there for you.
In the real world, a corporate trainer lets you wait until after class to get some extra support. A teacher lets you raise your hand. Even your TA in college had hours where you could go and say, “I’m an idiot and I don’t get this.”
Creating a semblance of interactivity in your materials makes it much more likely that people view you as somebody training them, rather than somebody who talks and if you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, you don’t.
(Incidentally, very few people tend to take you up on this element, whether you’re teaching high school or launch training. But the presence of it indicates that it’s there if the learner needs it, and also shows you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. It’s a guarantee of sorts, and it ups conversion, even for those who are pretty sure they’ll never take you up on it.)
4. Trainers give you something to do.
Generally speaking, when we’re learning something out there in the big, bad world, good trainers understand that in order to learn, there’s at least a marginal level of doing required on the part of the learner. It’s pretty accepted that to learn, you have to try. And trying requires more than simply thinking.
Exercises, worksheets, homework – even “try saying this to the grocery store clerk tonight” or “take a bubble bath and report back” are things to do, to reinforce learning. You don’t have to incorporate tons of this if it’s not your style – some of us are more cerebral than others, and accordingly attract a more cerebral audience or customer base – but if you want to be more than just a wannabe thought leader, you’re going to have to get them to do something.
(Incidentally, this is a constant struggle for me. Dave, on the other hand, was telling people what to do in the womb.)
5. Trainers offer deliverables.
The last key difference we’re going to touch on today is the idea of specific deliverables. Nobody goes to a $1400 seminar to learn “about marketing” – well, not when they’re paying for it themselves, they don’t. Nobody goes to a workshop at the local craft store to learn “about crochet”. Nobody attends a webinar to learn “about public speaking”. It just doesn’t happen.
The basic idea behind training – which often feels forgotten by the majority of the internet – is that training is about learning to do something. There is a thing you have at the end that you did not have at the beginning. Before you attend – whether attendance is literal or metaphorical – there is a promise that is made to you, and you decide to attend based on whether or not you want what’s being promised.
We would all be very much happier if we could earn a living selling things like “Mindful Pregnancy.” That would be great, for trainers everywhere. The reality of the situation is that if you want to be seen as a trainer or a teacher, and eventually get paid accordingly, you’re going to have to train. And you train people to do things. Specific things. With names. You can probably sell “Create Your Own Mindful Birth Plan” or “Sleeping Through The Night The Mindful Way” or “The Mindful Way To Swing Your Gender Odds”. Those are things you’re training people to do. People pay to do, to have concrete deliverables they didn’t have before.
(Hint: If, in describing what you’re training, you find yourself using the verb “to be”, you’re probably not offering a concrete deliverable. “I train people to be more mindful during their pregnancy” is not a thing. “I train people to create and implement mindful birth plans” is.)
So those are the five elements to integrate. Now, let’s talk about where you can implement them.
If we’re going to be trying to train people to be trained by you so that they’ll see you as a competent trainer who trains them, we’re going to have to do it before they buy, yes? Yes. So let’s talk about how we’re going to do that. We’ve got three places for you – two obvious, and one less so.
We’ll start with the time period leading up to your launch. Before your launch – whether we’re calling it the pre-launch period, or whether we’re simply going to call it normal life before you launch something – before you’re launching anything is really the best time to start anything. The best time to plant a tree was forty years ago, and the second best time is today? This is true. And the best time to get people accustomed to being trained by you was before you wanted to hit them up for money. There’s no official time to start. This isn’t like the lead time for the Christmas issue of a magazine. It’s simply that far in advance is better than at the last minute.
You can start incorporating the five elements of training in advance of launch in all manner of ways. Make a series, or a series of them. Start giving people homework at the end of your podcasts, even if it’s only in a tongue in cheek way. (Although bonus points for not tongue in cheek at all. People tend to take homework pretty seriously, as a rule.) Schedule a free seminar for them to attend, and include standard teacher-student elements like worksheets or even homework buddy groups.
The further in advance of launch that you start incorporating these elements into your communication with your audience, the more they’ll have the opportunity to take your training and actually benefit from it. If they take your free training, and incorporate what they’ve learned, their situation is going to improve. They’re going to know how to knock out stage fright, or how to add a fringe to a granny square, or communicate assertively with waitresses. They’re going to experience the changes that your training can facilitate, and the more times they’ve experienced that, the more likely they are to make the jump come launch time. I mean, you’ve helped them how many times before? They may as well make it one more.
Next, we’re going to address teaching during launch.
This should be obvious, and for many of you, it’s going to be. If you’ve been around the internet marketing community for a while, you’ve probably seen the training heavy launches that the big boys are doing, and you’ve seen the high profile, probably high spectacle, shows that they’re putting on.
Training exclusively during launch is a popular choice for a lot of internet marketing types for a few reasons. One, training all the time takes a lot of resources. It’s an energy heavy activity. And the “bigger” an internet marketer is, the more likely they are to be more involved in the statistical end of running a business and less involved in the community engagement part. The average big shot internet marketer is writing ads, and split-testing sales page copy, and basically working on the nerdy end of the business. Focusing on content during non-launch periods is low priority for a lot of internet marketers.
On the other hand, though, launch period is a great period to work on heavy training initiatives. Especially if they’re not training the rest of the time, when they start, they tend to get a whole lot of traffic. People pay attention, and they tell their friends to pay attention, too. Shares go up, both publicly, like on Facebook, but also privately, in private forums and via email and direct messages. Good training, especially good training with a promise at the end of more good training to come if you sign up for their email list, is basically Product Launch 101.
So training during launch is the second item. Generally speaking, you’re going to want to go with standard launch content rules, which means your content is going to be a lot more compelling than it is on a daily basis. Longer content, more details, teaching more advanced concepts, teaching the stuff nobody else is teaching, teaching stuff that’s normally paid content and making it free – that’s an information product launch for you. Obviously, you’ve already had a lot of multipliers devoted to launch content, so go back and give yourself a refresher on those when you’re ready to start making your training content.
Last, we’re going to address the weird one, the one that most people wouldn’t think about, and that’s the sales page.
Training on your sales page can bring sales up – sometimes way up – and it can capture a lot of those almost buyers we’re talking about.
Now, training on a sales page has to be a modified version of what we’ve discussed so far in this module. You’re going to have a tough time giving homework, or setting a date and time for people to come up and read your sales materials. But training elements can be incorporated, to the surprise and, yes, even delight of your customers and customers to be.
We did this way back in the day with our old sales page for How to Launch the **** Out Of Your Ebook. Now, that page was an old-school sales page, and if you saw it back then, you might be laughing now at the memory. It was pretty spectacular in its spectacle. But the first thing we did on that page, before we even introduced ourselves, was give a few thousand words of literal launch training in how to do the basics.
The premise was that we’d give them a bunch of good information before they even got to the introduction – hi, I’m Dave, and this is Naomi, and here’s why you might be inclined to listen to us – and that would be so surprising and so useful that they’d want to read more. And it worked. They did want to read more, and your customers might feel the same way.
If you’re going to put this into practice, the best way is to create a basic step by step tutorial of some sort on a topic that is HIGHLY relevant to the topic at hand. If we were going to do it for BIG LAUNCH, we might start with seven steps to a great product launch. (Or, in our case, we’d go with nine, to tie in with the Nine Decisions.) We’d talk about the first decision a little, give a few options, give a few places where this option might be better than that one, and then move on to the next one.
Then, at the end of that section, we would say that those nine steps are the foundation for the course we’re about to introduce. And then we’d move on with the sales page.
This doesn’t just have to be for big products either. If you’re selling a $47 Clean Your Closets class, you could have six steps to a cleaner closet, and introduce each element of the six week seminar. You wouldn’t talk about the seminar during that section of the class at all.
You’d just say that number one is to eliminate everything that doesn’t belong in that closet, number two is to eliminate everything that doesn’t fit your body, then everything that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, and so on. It’s not just for the big stuff – it works just as well and sometimes better with the little stuff.
So there you have it. Five ways to create a conducive training environment and three places to train your customers to get trained by you. You are now smarter, but don’t worry – you’re just as pretty as you were before.
Thank you so much for being here with us today. You’ve been listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers, Training People To Be Trained By You. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz, and I’ll talk to you very soon.
Subject lines for emails are an easy thing to overthink. There’s a certain mystique around how to write them – and no one can be blamed for this, because life is life, and many topics carry this mystique . There’s an understandable belief that there is a very specific and mathematically ideal way to write the perfect subject line for your emails.
This leads to the natural assumption for the average ittybiz owner that until they master the art and science of this particular aspect of marketing, they kind of suck and are just a little bit doomed.
However! We would like you to feel un-doomed.
So we have for your perusal, our advice on how to write much better email subject lines than you may be using right now.
1. What do you want people to do?
Your subject line will usually have some form of call to action, whether it’s overt or implied. Subject lines on the overt side will generally be direct, like “Please read this – it’s important” or “Open this email before this deal expires.”
But they can also be implied call to actions that don’t actually address opening the email. This is where you see “Save 50% today – details inside” or “This story made me laugh so hard milk came out my nose”. The implication here is that you’ve identified something that evokes enough interest or curiosity to merit opening the email.
Think of the outcome you want for your reader. What do you want them to do? Read something interesting? Save money? Be entertained? People don’t generally open emails unless something in the subject line clearly tells them what they will do or experience. So check to see if your subject line is doing that.
2. What do you want them to feel?
Your subject line can act as a mechanism to prime readers to be ready for a particular feeling. When Jack comes into the office and says “Hey, do you want to dear a funny joke?”, he’s priming me to be in the mood for fun. When he says “Do you want to see the most exciting video ever?”, he’s priming me to start anticipating something exciting.
Your subject line will either prime someone to have a particular feeling, or it won’t. Sometimes you won’t want it to. An email titled “Updates on today’s stocks” doesn’t prime you for a feeling, though it does prime you to be interested in new information. Some things don’t merit evoking emotion. Sometimes you just want people to notice you’re still sending emails, and you don’t want to stir them up (or you have nothing that’s stir-worthy).
But! Very often you will want to start some magic happening for your readers, and if you aren’t intentional about it, it’s not going to happen by itself. So consider what kind of state you want to prime your readers to have, and see what words you can include to set the mood.
3. When do you want them to do it?
Some emails merit urgency – the standard “Get your discount before it’s gone” comes to mind – and some emails you just want people to open at a particular time “Here’s something to start your Monday morning with”. When that’s the case, you’ll want to include some sort of phrasing that indicates when you want them to do whatever it is you have in mind.
People respond to specific timeframes more often then they’ll respond to generalities. You say to your partner “Can you pick up some extra milk next time you have a chance?”, there’s a lower chance of it sticking than if you say “Can you pick up some milk before you get home from work today?”
You don’t have to use urgency to get people to open your emails, but if urgency is an issue you’ll want to include reference to it in your subject line. And if it’s not an issue, but you kind of want to make sure they open it, it will only help if you give some indicator of when you want it to happen.
4. How strongly do you want to come off?
Your subject line represents what might be the most miniaturized sales job in the world – in just a few words you’re trying to sell someone on taking a particular action. How much you want (or need) them to take action can help dictate the strength of that sales job.
When it matters, you’ll likely want to come off on the stronger, more direct side. Throw in an exclamation point. Really play up some urgency. Use words you wouldn’t use in day to day communication.
But if it doesn’t matter, you want to consider how strongly you’re coming off in your subject line. There are branding implications over time as well as the immediate reader reaction that’s going to occur for this particular email. Check to see if the level of intensity in your subject line matches up with what you think the email merits.
5. How do you want people to think about you?
In regular life, people use different phrasings when they talk specific people. If someone is an authority figure like a parent or teacher or parole officer, they’re going to talk to their people in a way that establishes a more authoritarian relationship. If someone is a best friend, they’re going to talk much more casually.
People in the same positions will also use different tones in how they communicate as well. The best friend who looks up to you is going to talk to you using different words than the best friend who is trying to be a know-it-all.
The words you choose reinforce a particular kind of branding and positioning, and affect the kind of relationship your readers will develop with you. Think about how you want readers to view you, and adjust your subject lines to reinforce that positioning.
6. Do you want this email shared?
When someone shares an email, they evaluate how the email will reflect on them. This happens in blog posts as well. People are less likely to share a blog post with a heavy-handed advertisement in the closing paragraphs than one that’s purely content. (Actually, that usually applies mostly to personality brands that have not gained high enough traction. A salesy message for Red Bull at the end is different than a salesy message for an up-and-coming life coach. Oprah could probably get away with it, though.)
Depending on your industry and audience, certain words or phrases can increase or decrease your chances of getting your email shared. Cursing or being racy in the subject line might kill your chances of getting shared. But that’s “might”. If your brand is one that’s racy and laced with profanity, you might actually see shares go up because it doesn’t reflect poorly on fans of that brand to share that kind of content. In that case, you might even lose shares if you don’t push the envelope. (Not likely, but it’s a crazy world.)
The same goes for sales messages. In some cases, any indication of sales will kill a chance for sharing, unless it is actually to the sharer’s advantage to forward an email.” Again, it depends on the industry and audience. “$40 off at The Gap for Friends and Family” might get a lot of shares, whereas “$40 off my new webinar” might get fewer (or none). The traction level of your business influences this.
So if getting a particular email shared is important to you, look at your phrasing and ask yourself if people would be excited – or uncomfortable – spreading the word on your behalf.
7. How important is it to you?
This is where a lot of the rules go out the window. If a particular email is very important to you – maybe it’s the last email of your launch, or you’re trying to get everybody on your list to take an urgent action that matters, or you don’t care if you burn your list a little because the bank is about to foreclose your house – you can push the envelope far, far past where you normally would.
Sometimes you have to do that. Sometimes the need to get that email opened is worth taking a bit of damage. Sometimes Jimmy needs a kidney NOW, and you don’t care if half your list unsubscribes. In that case you can pay less attention to the points above that are cautionary and more attention to the ones that are about conversion.
This is something you do sparingly. Only when the negative implications are worth getting the open for you. Otherwise people will just start to tune you out if you make a big deal about things that are not a big deal. (People who send 5 emails a year saying “This may be my most important message ever”, I’m talking to you.)
If you always act like it’s the last call for BIG LAUNCH, you’re the boy who cried wolf. Everything can’t be the most important thing.
When it all comes down to it, however, you shouldn’t lose sleep over your subject lines.
Subject lines are opening volleys. They are bids for communication. Nothing more.
Consider how you talk to real, live humans on a day-to-day basis when you want to get their attention.
These humans could include your partner, your children, your mother, the inattentive clerk at the register, the person on the corner you need to ask for directions from.
You already know intuitively how sometimes, you have to choose your words consciously.
Sometimes you play around with how you’re going to broach the subject, but you don’t panic about doing it “perfectly”.
You just think about how to do it “well enough to get the job done”.
Subject lines are no different. Start with “good enough”, and adjust them accordingly if you want to.