#Ultimate Sales Engine Boot Camp
Takes place over two days, with four 90-minute sessions on each day.
The aim is to give delegates a complete business model they can take away and implement.
Outline the purpose of the Boot Camp
Go through the Running Order and set out the rules
Why you’ve come to Cork
- Gets you out of your normal environment.
- You’re part of a captive audience. No-one gets to go home, not even me.
- Traditionally, you get as much from your time in the bar as you do from the presentations and sessions. Drinking like a fish and staying up until 0400 is not mandatory.
Purpose of the Ultimate Sales Engine Boot Camp
Running Order for Day 1
0900 to 10:30 Session 1
10:30 to 11:00 Break
11:00 to 12:30 Session 2
12:30 to 13:30 Lunch
13:30 to 15:00 Session 3
15:00 to 15:30 Break
15:30 to 17:00 Session 4
19:00 to late Dinner and Bar
Running Order for Day 2
0900 to 10:30 Session 1
10:30 to 11:00 Break
11:00 to 12:30 Session 2
12:30 to 13:30 Lunch
13:30 to 15:00 Session 3
15:00 to 15:30 Break
15:30 to 17:00 Session 4
- Phones off in the room.
- Don’t type on laptops because it annoys others. If you must do it, move to the back of the room.
- No recording. You’ll be stealing my IP and you’ll be a real fucking joy sitting there with your iPad held up like a Japanese tourist in London.
- Photos if you like, but don’t distract me or be a dick.
- I am recording this. I’ll likely use it for products and promotion. If you ask questions then they’ll be included. If you want your voice, etc. edited out, say. If you don’t want to appear on camera then I’ll get the video guy to do his best, but no promises. If you’re that worried, then you know where the door is. By turning up at the Boot Camp and participating in it you waive your right to compensation for appearing in any of the recordings. This also applies to your guest if you bring one.
- No moaning.
- No “opinions”.
- Network but don’t pitch. It’s great if you can find people to do business with, but please don’t bug people like some crazed Amway Zombie. Some people go to seminars and stuff just for this purpose… don’t you be one of them. It’s sad, ugly, and really annoying for everyone else.
- No hassling! I’ll be available in the evenings in the bar, but please don’t hassle me during the breaks or at lunch unless I say I’ll take questions. You’re going to need that time to think on and assimilate what you’ve just learned… and I’m going to need the time to gather my wits.
- Respect confidentiality and privacy. What we say, do, and share as a group stays within the group.
- You will enjoy yourself, Or Else. It’s work, and it’s serious. But we won’t be solemn about things. It’s meant to be fun.
- Problems with the hotel etc. talk to Samantha (or whoever it is).
Principles, Strategies, and Systems
The first day is going to focus on the six core principles of successful businesses as we teach in Elite:
- Premium Pricing and Premier Positioning.
- Relentless Marketing (with Product Pyramid).
- Transformational vs Transactional Selling.
- Continuity (with Ascension).
- Persistent Implementation
The Ultimate Sales Engine
A simple process of lead-capture, follow-up and sales that’ll work for any business.
The Elite Process
How we do it all as a group
Give an overview of the Boot Camp and what we’re going to achieve.
The questions we need to answer are:
- What makes businesses successful?
- What makes businesses unsuccessful?
- How do we find out what works and what doesn’t?
Overview of Boot Camp
- Principles of business success and failure.
- The six secrets of Elite success.
- The Ultimate Sales Engine.
- Ultimate Email Marketing — putting everything we’ve learned into practice in one practical system.
What Makes Businesses Successful?
Business are successful when they find what works and keep repeating it. This applies to both marketing and operations.
And it usually comes down to a surprisingly small number of actions repeated daily, and a certain attitude embedded in the culture of the people who work in the business (this is also true for one-man-bands).
All other things being equal…
- You can’t expect different results by repeating past behaviour.
- You can’t expect to different results from everyone else by copying their behaviour.
- You can’t expect extraordinary results from ordinary behaviour.
- Extraordinary success requires extraordinary thinking and behaviour.
If the business is viable
- There are very few problems you can’t solve with good marketing and systems.
- Your competitors are irrelevant.
What Makes Businesses Unsuccessful?
Making mistakes big and small over a long period of time without a studied or rational attempt to change behaviour.
You don’t get fat overnight; and your business doesn’t fail overnight (even though the final event can be swift and catastrophic. It’s like metal-fatigue in a de Havilland Comet.
All other things being equal…
- You can’t market your way out of an economically unviable business.
- Doing what you love and hoping the money comes is doomed to failure (if no one wants to buy, you won’t be able to sell).
- Copying your competitors is like the blind leading the blind
- Copying is “normal”. Normal is 80% of businesses going out of business within the first five years of trading.
How Do We Find Out What Works and What Doesn’t?
We start with what we know and move forward with testing, evaluating progress and results at every stage.
It’s called “testing and measuring”.
Testing and Measuring
There are strategies and tactics we know tend to work most of the time in most situations. But this is on a continuum, and we find while strategies are almost always infallible, tactics sometimes fail.
This is why we have to test.
For example, we know the strategy of relentless follow-up by email works. And I have yet to see it fail.
But the tactic of swearing like a trooper and calling people ‘fat cunts’ when they complain probably isn’t going to work in every market (even though the strategy of authenticity will).
What stops us testing?
- Having an emotional position on things (we contrive to find logical reasons for it not to work but have no actual evidence to support our opinion).
- Fear of failure (but it’s only feedback)
- Fear of looking stupid.
- Fear of making a mistake.
- Need for certainty (the only certainty is death, and the fact Slade will be on the radio at Christmas).
Six Principles of Elite Success
These six areas are what we focus on most in Elite. As I’ve said before, Elite is less about knowing and more about doing.
In classic 80/20 style, if you focus on these five Principles you’re going to make incredible leaps forward in your business.
1. The 80/20 Principle
It’s a (perhaps) universal law that most of our results come from a disproportionately small number of our efforts.
Harnessing the power of this in our businesses is fundamental to our success.
Thing is, it’s extremely counterintuitive so even when business owners are presented with the facts, they’ll still ignore them.
2. Premium Pricing and Premier Positioning
These two simple but extremely powerful strategies go hand in hand to make you more money with less work, less hassle, and fewer headaches.
They capitalise on various innate aspects of human psychology to both filter and influence our target market so we command premium prices, are viewed as experts in our chosen areas of endeavour, and ultimately end up working with a better class of customer and client.
3. Relentless Marketing
Marketing is the one activity that keeps business coming in through the door. If you stop marketing, then pretty soon you have no clients. Not long after that, you have no business.
4. Transformational vs Transactional Selling
Takes a different approach to doing business. Rather than focusing on the sale as an event, it’s seen more as the beginning of a process of transformation.
The practice of getting your customers and clients to buy from you in a pre-determined series of regular sales.
You can do this with products or services.
Continuity is a life-changer
6. Persistent Implementation
Nothing happens until someone does something. Action is at the root of all success, because the best idea not acted upon is just so many words lost in the whirlwind of life.
The 80/20 Principle (Law of the Vital Few)
Also known as “the Pareto Principle”.
Discovered by Vilfredo Pareto around the start of the 20th Century as he studied the distribution of land ownership in Italy — 80% of the land was owned by just 20% of the people.
When he looked more widely he saw it cropped up everywhere. In the time since then we’ve seen it seems to be an all-pervasive phenomenon in this little universe of ours.
It’s a real phenomenon and to ignore, discount, or refuse to accept it can be fatal.
The numbers don’t have to be 80 and 20 and they don’t have to add up to 100. They can be 80/10, 99/1, and so on.
In many ways it’s fractal: the top 20% of your clients have their own top 20%. This continues to a point where the sample size gets too small to be meaningful (a point some proponents of 80/20 selling should note).
Examples of the 80/20 Principle in real life
- 20% of your clothes get worn 80% of the time.
- 80% of road accidents involve just 20% of the population.
- 80% of that population lives in just 20% of the cities.
- 80% of the income goes to just 20% of the workers.
- In software… 20% of the functions get used 80% of the time.
- 80% of deaths result from just 20% of causes.
Why you should care
- 80% of your sales are made to just 20% of your clients.
- Of those sales, 80% of them are going to be of the same product or service.
- Your profits will be distributed similarly — 80% of them coming from 20% of sales (and clients).
- Of all the complaints and headaches you get, 80% of them will come from just 20% of your clients.
- 20% of businesses will enjoy 80% of the market-share.
Harsh Reality Time
- It’s not fair.
- You can’t change the numbers.
- You can only make choices about what you want to do in the face of them.
The Bottom Line
- Not all clients are created equal.
- In any market there is a top, a middle, and a bottom.
- You get to choose which part of that market you want to serve.
- You are free to choose anything you like… but you’re not free to escape the consequences of your choices.
Examine everything you do through the 80/20 lens because it will dramatically improve your fortunes.
The art of selling your products and services at higher prices than your competitors, without losing sales or clients (other than the ones you want to lose), and all the while making a lot more money, to boot.
Who buys on price?
- Almost no one is a pathological price buyer.
- If everyone bought on price all the time, then there would be only one model or kind of anything — the cheapest.
- We’ll all pay whatever we’re asked to pay for the things we desperately want.
- And so what we’re buying on is value not price.
- If someone’s querying the price it’s a good thing, because it doesn’t mean they don’t want it. All it means is they can’t see the value in your proposition.
- Fundamentally, people want three things: top quality, exceptional service, and low price. You can have any two. Most people when offered the choice won’t pick low price and give up one of the others.
Why sell at premium prices?
You make more money
- Effects of a 10% price cut.
- What happens when you don’t increase prices?
- Effects of a 10% price increase.
You deal with a better class of client
- People who push you down on price are hard to please and slow to pay (if they pay at all).
- People with “skin in the game” are more amenable to your suggestions.
It’s in buyers’ favour
- You get better compliance and consumption
- People with “skin in the game”are more likely to use what they’ve paid for.
- In healthcare this is especially important because of the natural resistance to asking people to pay for “necessary services”.
- You can spend more time and effort on serving a smaller number of more committed clients.
How to sell at higher prices
- Sell to a different market
- Change the experience
- Simply ask more
- Build relationships
- Offer exceptional levels of service
Premier Positioning covers two main areas: being seen as an expert; and being seen as someone worthy of respect.
These two areas do often overlap, but you can easily be one without the other. I am sure we can all think of experts we think are utter dicks, and people we respect greatly who are experts in nothing at all.
- If you’re seen as the expert, then your perceived worth increases
- The quickest and easiest way to establish yourself as an expert is with a book
- The next easiest way is with publicity
- Higher prices in and of themselves imply expert status
- Simply don the mantle
- As Dan Kennedy says: “no one crawls over broken glass to meet the guy sitting at the bottom of the mountain”.
- In any negotiation someone is going to be the most prepared to walk away. That person has all the power.
- Everyone who comes into your business does so by invitation. If you have crap clients, that’s your fault. If you find yourself up with penny-pinching price-buyers… that’s your fault, too.
- People will treat you in exactly the ways you allow them to (if you answer the phone at 7pm, that tells people you answer the phone at 7pm).
- Your business, your rules.
- There are no victims — only volunteers.
- Most businesses engage in “me too” marketing
- Any business that positions itself in any meaningful way immediately makes a powerful statement of differentiation (especially in a commoditised industry).
- Very few business owners have a spine.
- Personality-driven marketing is one of the most powerful strategies you can adopt (unless you have no personality).
Force of Polarisation
- People respect courage, integrity and passion.
- Pushmepullyou Positioning
- For everyone you push away, you pull another a little closer
- Helps you build a “tribe”.
Simple Positioning Strategies
- Have and publicise a set of rules and standards and enforce them rigorously and consistently.
- Don’t be constantly available.
- Receive phone calls by appointment only.
- Meet people only if you’re being paid.
- Don’t give free advice or rise to challenges to “prove yourself”.
- Charge premium prices and brag about it.
- Remember: the party most willing to walk away from any negotiation holds all the power
Relentless Marketing (with Product Pyramid)
Most business owners engage in marketing either when they have to or opportunistically when an ad-rep happens to call.
Smart business owners realise marketing should be a constant activity and the very best time to be doing it is when you’re busy, not when you’re quiet.
The Marketing Machine
- Should run 24/7.
- No marketing means no new business; no new business means no sales; no sales means you very soon have no business.
When You’re Quiet…
- You’re operating from a condition of vulnerability. This is terrible for your peace of mind and your positioning.
- You’re strapped for cash.
- Often you’ll capitulate and take on chavs, peasants, and commoners.
When You’re Busy…
- You have the cash-flow to run your marketing machine.
- You’re in a position of strength (it makes your internal positioning stronger).
- You can pick and choose whom you work with and sell to.
The Product Pyramid
- A structured approach to maximising the sales in any given niche in your business.
Takes the buyer from the unknown to the known: “I don’t know or care where you are or what your problem is, but my stuff is the answer”.
- Single ad hoc sales.
- A focus on sales events rather than marketing processes.
- “One size fits all” solutions.
- High turnover of clients.
- Short-term views of business and relationships.
- Low-end pricing.
- Selling “off the page”.
- A business driven by clients and not by the business owner.
- Much unhappiness and constant scrabbling for new clients and sales. Often you end up dealing with chavs, peasants, and commoners.
Takes the buyer from the known to the unknown: “We’ve taken time and made the effort to determine where you are now and what your challenges are, now let’s see what we can do, where we can go, and what we can achieve.”
- A structured approach to sales and upsells (see the Product Pyramid).
- A focus on processes.
- Bespoke, detailed solutions.
- A focus on the LCV.
- Long-term view of business and relationships.
- High-end pricing.
- Lead generation.
- A business driven by the business owner for the business owner.
- Much happiness and lots of money made by dealing with top-quality, appreciative clients.
- Guaranteed income.
- Aids ongoing sales.
- Makes your business more saleable
There are several different continuity models you can implement.
- Consumer Model.
- Membership Model.
- Publisher Model.
- Poor choice of topic.
- Low bar to entry.
- Simply where you have higher levels of Membership, with a correspondingly higher price and level of commitment required.
Continuity Success Secrets
- “Unending story”.
- High quality.
- Higher bar to entry.
- Personal engagement.
- Group engagement.
- Pain of disconnect.
Ultimate Sales Engine
It’s essentially a system, comprising a set of strategies and processes that implement them.
The USE is an end-to-end structured approach to lead generation, sales, ascension, and continuity.
It comprises these parts:
- Target Market
- Lead Generation
- Education and Entertainment
- Relationship Building
- Sales (including the Product Pyramid)
- Continuity (with Ascension)
- The most important question to answer: whom are you selling to?
- Most business owners spend no time on this at all and take whatever business comes their way.
- The more you know about your ideal client, the more money you’ll make.
- Once you know who you’re selling to and what makes them tick, you’ll know how to speak to them.
- Describe your ideal client.
- Describe your worst nightmare client.
- It’s an iterative process based on experience, desire, and extrapolation.
- Where they live.
- How old they are.
- Relationship status.
- Anything else you can find out or infer about them.
- Getting the people matching your “ideal client” Avatar in your target market to raise their hands and say “Yes, I’m interested!”
- Getting the people matching your “nightmare client” Avatar in your target market to run the other way.
- The typical way of generating a lead is to offer something for free in return for their contact details.
- The more information you ask for, the lower the response (but the higher the quality of the lead).
- If you sell “off the page”, then consider the sale as you being paid to acquire a lead.
- You’re not paying for marketing or buying customers… you’re investing in future relationships with clients.
- Easiest business you’ll ever get (you have to try to lose it).
- Low cost of acquisition, low price-resistance, very profitable, and tends to fit your Avatar closely.
- You need a system to generate referrals.
- People are happy to give them in the main because it makes them look good to other people.
- Ask for them!
- Encourage them!
- Set up the expectation at the beginning of your relationship with every new client.
- PPC advertising (either in the newsfeed or on the right hand side).
- Exceptionally fine controls on targeting.
- Click-through rate is low — because it’s interruption advertising.
- More suited to some niches than others (but you’ll have to test).
- PPC advertising (either in the newsfeed or on the right hand side).
- Exceptionally fine controls on targeting.
- Click-through rate is low — because it’s interruption advertising.
- Generally more suited to B2B niches.
- Search based adverting — ads shown are selected according to the context of the search and the keywords specified by the advertiser.
- Bing is vastly underused — older demographic with cheaper clicks.
- Traffic quality is not always as high as you might expect.
- Your ads are shown on so-called ‘partner sites’.
- Loads of others
- Banner ads shown to previous website visitors.
- Ads are selected and shown according to the rules you set up.
- It’s a very powerful way of engaging with website visitors who don’t leave you their details.
Newspapers and Magazines
- Print advertising still works, especially with the older demographics.
- Benn’s Media (list of magazines and other publications).
- Go with the readership, NOT the topic.
- Still works for some niches and with the older demographics.
- Works best for local services where the requirement is immediate.
- Direct mail still works despite what the Online Zombies tell you.
- Lead generation to targeted lists (cheap and simple postcards, for instance).
- Sales letters to your existing list.
- The quickest way to go broke is to send the same thing to everyone all the time. Segmentation is a must.
JVs (inc. direct mail, endorsed mailings)
- Still works for some niches where there’s a demand for information that’s not being met.
- Short 500-word articles sending visitors to a landing page.
- Severely hit by the Google updates.
- Find relevant forums on your topic or where your demographic meets and discusses it.
- See what questions are being asked and answer them. Have a link in your signature.
- Don’t spam, and don’t get into arguments.
- You get links to you site sent out on others’ lists as a paid service.
JVs to Others’ Lists
You get links to you site sent out on others’ lists in return for a revenue-share.
Radio & TV
- You’ll all be familiar with these.
- High cost and often speculative.
- Still should follow direct response principles.
Free PR (my plan)
Articles in the local press
Free Standing Inserts
- On the phone
- In person
- Dropping info in
- Less said about these the better.
- No control.
- Not scaleable.
- Not reliable.
- Definitely NOT free.
- You can never over-educate or over-inform your clients and prospects.
- You don’t have to give away the farm.
- Rule of thumb: give them the what, give them the why, make them pay for the how.
- People buy from other people, not businesses.
- People buy from people they like and trust.
- People like and trust people who are like they are.
- We attract people like us by weaving the thread of our personalities through everything we do.
- People will not buy from you until they buy into you.
- Your list is your business’s most valuable asset. Nurture and cosset it.
The Myth of Professionalism
- Sharing your personality, swearing, and being ballsy is not unprofessional.
- Professionalism is an attitude to business, not a vocabulary or a manner of dress.
- A list you don’t contact is no list at all.
- Regular communication is essential.
- A newsletter is a particularly effective way to throw a fence around your tribe.
Sales (Product Pyramid)
- Start with a “wallet opener”.
- Upsell to the middle-tier.
- Upsell to the top tier.
- Encourage “consumption”.
- Note there is a “hyper pyramid” comprising all your “hyper-responders” — the top 1% of your clients who’ll buy everything and anything you ask them to.
- If you are not selling to your existing clients you are leaving lots of lovely money on the table.
Making the most of your client list
- Take the top 20% of your clients and treat them like Royalty.
- Ask them what they need that they’re not getting.
- Take the bottom 20% of your clients and fire them.
Continuity (with Ascension)
All the Elites are looking for ways to add Continuity into their businesses.
- Dental lab supplies.
- Business coaching and mentoring.
- Knives, forks, and spoons.
- You name it, they’re trying to do it.
I can’t see any reason why any business cannot make Continuity work.
It just takes a bit of effort and implementation.
The Elite Process
A very simple structured process for getting all this done.
It boils down to three distinct areas:
Knowledge (what we know)
- Surprisingly little more than you get from the Inner Circle.
- Many books and programmes are out there to learn from.
- The combined experience of the other people in the group.
- Above all… this is not rocket science.
Activity (what we do)
- Persistent Implementation of the Six Principles.
- Yes, it’s that simple.
Method (how we do it)
- We pick a major one-year goal for the business.
- Each quarter we pick a subsidiary goal supporting the main goal.
- We identify the three main challenges we perceive as standing between us and the quarterly goal.
- We have HotSeats at the Elite Meetings where everyone else in the group offers their advice, knowledge, and experience to help overcome the challenges.
- Each month every Member gets the chance to speak to me for 30 minutes one-on-one on the phone.
- Members informally pair themselves off as “Buddies” and have regular calls to keep them on track (and they meet informally in larger groups).
- Ongoing discussion and support in the Email Discussion Group.
- Although we do this formally as a group, you can do it yourselves with a bunch of friends or people from the Inner Circle.
The watch-word is accountability
Ultimate Email Marketing
A live and extended version of the original Email Supremacy Programme, including segments on Funnels, and Advanced Email Marketing strategies.
Fundamentals of Relentless Followup (daily!)
- You are there when they are ready to buy.
- You are “top of consciousness”.
- By writing conversational emails, written as you speak, you attract people who are like you.
- Your emails are like the emails they get from friends.
- You’re selling not just telling.
Why Email Marketing?
But it’s not a panacea!
There is nothing special about Email Marketing. You would get the same results if you were able to do the same kind of follow-up with the same consistency and frequency.
Email just makes it very simple to do.
Myths of Email Marketing
There are lots of reasons business owners resist email marketing, especially done The EBG Way:
- They’ll think I’m a spammer
- They won’t want to receive so many emails
- My audience is too sophisticated to be sold
- I can’t write
- I don’t know what to write
Six Core Principles of Email Marketing
1. People don’t buy for their own reasons
- And it’s almost never you or what you’re selling.
2. Follow up Relentlessly
- Email frequently
- Email regularly
3. Keep Things Simple
- Don’t “worrythink” things.
- Write ‘em, queue ‘em up, and send ‘em.
4. Use the Whole Pig
- Nothing bad ever happens to an email marketer
5. Grow a Thick Skin
- You will get complaints.
- You will get “opinions”.
- You don’t have to read them, respond to them, or give them the time of day.
6. Focus on Process, not Events
- Individual emails might or might not work.
- As an ongoing dialogue, they do.
1. From line
- The most important part of your email.
- Always from you or a named individual.
2. Subject line
- Second most important thing about your email.
3. Body copy
- Keep it conversational, entertaining, and informative.
- Remember it’s not about “the thing”.
4. Tie in
- This is where you tie the ‘story’ in with the thing.
5. Call to action
- Rule: every email MUST have a call to action.
- Break this rule only rarely.
6. The PS
Subject Line Secrets
- They telegraph what the email is about.
- They can make an explicit promise (e.g. “How to…”).
- They can make an implicit promise (they imply the email is going to be worth reading).
The most powerful emotion for Subject lines
- Explicit curiosity. This where you ask a direct question “Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Subject Lines?”, “You Seen This? It’s Wicked”, and “Ever wondered why your response rates suck? This could be one reason”
- Implicit curiosity. “Why Your Patients Don’t Want to Pay”, “I’ve been a very naughty boy” and “Stupid bald idiot makes TWO rookie blunders (eats own foot in shame)”
- Instructional curiosity. e.g. “How to Remove Haemorrhoids Without Pain or Surgery”, “Celebrity Secrets to a Fabulous Beach Body This Summer”, and “9 Ways to Dump a High-Maintenance Girlfriend”
Subject Lines - things to watch for
- Mix Subject lines up — otherwise they stop working.* In all of these Subject lines there is an implied value for reading especially if they are used to getting your regular emails and they enjoy them.
- This is one reason I say your Subject line, your style, your content and your name all work together synergistically.
- Once people get to know you and your style, and the kind of content you produce, they’re going to have some idea of the kind of email they can expect from you.
- This of course harks right back to why putting your personality in there is so important.
The trick is to give enough value to keep them interested, and yet not so much they can just up sticks and leave and take all our knowledge with them.
For me it’s a two-part process.
I give entertainment value. Not everyone agrees with everything I say. Some people think so very differently from me they just don’t last long on my list at all. But I don’t think anyone would say my emails are actually boring. And I get plenty or reports of belly-laughs, so that’s good. I also include snippets of useless but interesting information, anecdotes and other stuff to ensure people just have a good time.
I give educational value. I show people the mistakes they’re making in their marketing, sales and copywriting. I tell them what they should be doing instead. I’ll even tell them why these things are wrong and why the things they ought to be doing will work better
What I don’t do is give them the how. Sometimes I will, just to keep them on their toes and to prove I know what I’m doing. But the general rule is I give them the what, I’ll give them the why if I can, but they have to pay for the how.
Now, there are times when you can and should give them everything – Steve Shaw is a good example. Any time you’re selling a product or service they can’t easily replicate is a good time to give them everything.
This process naturally leads to sales!
You don’t have to be clever to get the link in there. The whole email does not have to be leading up to this moment.
You can be as simple and straightforward as you like. You can simply tie it in like this:
- “And while I’m here”, or
- “Oh, and by the way”, or
- “While we’re on the topic of…”
- and so on…
- If all fails… “apropos nothing”
Calls to Action
Email Content (where do you get your ideas, EBG?)
There are hundreds of places to get ideas for emails.
The best places in my opinion from stories from your past and anecdotes from the things that happened to you every day, as well as the things you hear happening to others, and read about in the newspapers or on television.
But aside from these, there are many places for you to get great ideas.
Where I have my best ideas
- I have most of my best ideas while out on my bike. As I’ve said to some of you in the past, I consider my bike to be an extension of my office because I do some of my best work while I’m out cycling.
- Many people have told me they have their best ideas for emails and other insights while doing something definitely not worklike, and while the details differ, there are some commonalities I think are probably important.
- It’s always a physical activity that doesn’t involve much effort or brain power (e.g. cycling, running, hanging out the washing, cleaning windows or anything along those lines).
- It doesn’t need much physical exertion. Not when I’m pumping iron.
- Although it’s automatic now, I have in the past said to myself “go off and find an idea”. You can say it out loud or just in your head. Just let your mind wander and it tends to come up with the story, the content and the way it relates to your offer or whatever.
31 Simple Sources of Great Email Ideas
- A topical news piece. I don’t think I need to say a lot more about this, do I?
- Something about your day or weekend.
- Write about a habit you have now or have had in the past. Good or bad. Makes no difference.
- Some big mistake you’ve made in the past (most people make the error of only ever mentioning long-past mistakes in an effort to distance themselves from it. But the more recent the mistake you admit to, the more people will be drawn to you).
- Lists. People LOVE lists. And you can make them as sensible or as daft as you like, from “7 Ways to Kill a Zombie” to “The 10 Most Painful Things I Ever Did”. These are always entertaining.
- Something (good or bad) that’s happened to you or someone you know in the past.
- Your latest client. You don’t have to break client confidentiality, but there’s nothing to stop you writing about the challenge they faced or the problem you’re solving for them.
- Your latest product or service, or what you’re working on right now. The latter of these two is a great way to get people’s interest showing without being too overt about it.
- Something not many people know about you (e.g. “where I met my wife”, “my strange experience in a gay bar”, etc.)
- Your latest member of staff.
- How you structure your day (“a day in the life of”).
- FAQ about you personally.
- FAQ about your business.
- FAQ about a product or service.
- FAQ about your industry as a whole.
- FAQ about the clients you have and what qualifies them to work with you.
- A list email specifically about YOU (e.g. “7 things I hate on my dinner plate”, “5 things I am REALLY bad at doing”, “11 ways I’ve messed up with _”, “3 things that really piss me off about __”, “19 different ways to get me to reject you as a client”, “The strangest place I ever kissed my husband” – the choice is unlimited).
- An opinion piece. Yeah, some people won’t like your opinion (no matter what it is) but that’s the point. You’re very effectively polarising people.
- A “how to” email. I don’t often do “hard teaching” but sometimes I do. It’s worth doing it occasionally for all the reasons I gave in the Session.
- Industry news. What’s going on in your industry that could interest your readers. New developments, new laws, new rules and regulations, etc.
- Answer an emailed-in question.
- A commentary about bad practice in your industry. You’ll notice I do this quite often, writing about pond-slime gurus and the like.
- Pick a current event everyone loves and is excited about and write about it with the opposite sentiment, (e.g. “Why I hate the Olympics”, “Why I’m glad they shot Bambi’s mother”)
- Pick a current event everyone hates about and write about it with the opposite sentiment, (e.g. “Why I love traffic jams”, “The cool thing about Ryanair”, “Why I love paying Google more money”)
- Take a picture and write about it. Anything is fair game.
- An expose of common myths in your industry (e.g. “The myth of muscle toning”, “The myths of inheritance”, “Who really buys sex-toys?”) and so on.
- A link to some other page you think they’ll be interested in or get some value from.
- An endorsement of someone who’s done a great job for you.
- A link to one of your own blog posts or articles (which goes into more detail on a given topic. The reason for this is comments can be useful, as can G+ and FB likes).
- Ask a question. This is especially useful in getting the information you need to create new products. We’ll look at this in detail in the fifth Session.
- Reviews. Of anything, from books and CDs to products, services, films, restaurants and even massage-parlours and gyms.
The Little Book of Great Email Ideas
- The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book, by H. Jackson Brown Jr.
The Ultimate Collection of Bizarre Email Ideas
- The Giant Book of facts & Trivia, edited by Isaac Asimov
You are not writing formal sales emails in what people call “business language”. The trick is to have an ongoing personality filled dialogue with your reader.
Keep your emails:
- Full of your personality
Developing Your Own Email Style
- Write like you speak.
- Express your opinions (and be opinionated).
- Share of yourself and your life — warts and all.
- The more you share, the more you’ll sell.
- The most important I’ve given you already: write like you speak.
- Write from “me” to “you” never a group. It’s dead easy to open your email with something like “you’re all going to love this…”, and that’s a big mistake.
- Try writing your emails for a test without using any first-person pronouns at all. No I, me, we, or us. You probably won’t want to send that email, but writing it is a good exercise, because you’ll realise how often you’re writing about yourself.
- Write in the active voice, not the passive. For example, “orders are always sent out by the team on the same day they’ve been received” compared with “I always send out orders the same day I get them”.
- Use concrete nouns and phrases. So instead of saying, say, “the sending of daily emails is great for the increasing of profits”. The phrases “the sending” and “the increasing” are pretty much abstract. So it would be better to write, “Sending daily emails is great for increasing profits”
- Remove extraneous instances of “that” e.g. compare “The day that I do that is the day that I die” with “The day I do that is the day I die”. When you’re using it as a subordinating conjunction, for example, it’s OK.
- Likewise, we can usually remove “will” but it takes a bit more work than removing “that”. But it’s worth doing. “Turning the key means the engine will start” versus “Turning the key starts the engine”.
- Use apostrophes.
- Use slang (where appropriate)
- Swear (where appropriate)
- Use simple words where simple words are good enough; but use complex ones where long ones are better.
- Stick to good grammar when you can… but all things in moderation, including moderation itself.
- Two books I highly recommend: The Complete Plain Words, Ernest Gowers; The Right Word at the Right Time, Reader’s Digest.
How to add personality
- By writing as we speak (hence the speed writing)
- By writing about ourselves – many of the content ideas I shared with you last week are deliberately designed as “personality pieces” e.g.
- A list email specifically about YOU (e.g. “7 things I hate on my dinner plate”)
- An opinion piece
- A habit you have now or have had in the past. Good or bad. Makes no difference.
- Some big mistake you’ve made in the past
- And so on…
Just remember what I said before: you might resist doing this, but if you do, then you pay a price.
Why adding your personality works
- If we write like we speak and show our personalities, we’ll attract people like ourselves.
- We tend to like and trust people who are like we are.
- We tend to buy from people we like and trust.
Excuses for not adding your personality
- My list is too sophisticated (it’s not. You don’t have a list. More on this in a moment).
- It’s unprofessional (it’s not).
- No one will be interested (they will).
- I doubt it will work (it will. Your doubt is not based on any rational evidence).
- I like my privacy (that’s fine. Just be aware it comes at a price).
No matter how you write, you are going to imply at some kind of personality. It’s not a matter of shall I show a personality, but a matter of which personality shall I show?
Given we’re going to show a personality, then, doesn’t it make sense to show the one we’re most familiar with, most comfortable with and the one which is going to attract the people we most want to do business with?
You’re NOT trying to write with MY personality. Write with your own! Unless you’re a doormat, in which case you’ll have to fake it till you make it.
Unless you have no personality or are suffering from some genuine problem, such as personality disorder, it does work.
Loads of people tell me how hard it is to write.
- Speed Writing
- Get your iPhone and record your Stream of Consciousness, then edit.
- Invest in Dragon Dictation and cut out the middle man.
Speed Writing Exercise
- Pick three words (nouns).
- Write for 5 minutes solid without thinking or editing.
- First word must be one of the three; the other two must appear in the first sentence.
A Simple Autoresponder Formula
- Opt in with a “bribe”.
- Send them a dozen or two emails with NO selling.
- Then sell, asking them three times.
- Add them to your daily email list.
Nearly every email marketing course I’ve ever seen except my own, neglects this area. I think that is a big mistake. The reason it’s a mistake is what you don’t know can destroy your campaigns.
You cannot afford to ignore this just because it’s boring and geeky.
- Simple “list based” autoresponders like Aweber, Constant Contact, etc.
- More complex “contact based” autoresponders like Ontraport and Infusionsoft.
- Avoid all but the simplest HTML.
- Let the client side choose the font.
- Justify emails, indent the first line, and use a sans-serif font.
- Don’t use images (unless you can embed them).
- Ignore open rates (useful for comparison only).
- Ignore click-through rates.
- Only sales matter.
- If your emails aren’t being delivered, you’re toast.
The battle for your inbox
- Users and their email clients dropping emails in the SPAM folder.
- Internet Service Providers (and why you need to be very careful of self-hosting)
- Email Service Providers (if their own systems decide you’re spamming their users, then they’ll stop delivering your emails, and you’ll never know).
- YOU. How you write and send your emails is vitally important.
Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t spam. Meaning, don’t tell them they’re getting a free report and then bombard them will crap they weren’t expecting. When they opt-in make sure they know they’re going to get regular and frequent emails and offers from you.
- Don’t buy lists or “gather” them from people. Email only people who have specifically asked you to and make sure you have a record of it. Always use double optin.
- Send from your own IP address. If you’re not using an autoresponder firm and your system is hosted on a shared IP address then the other people sharing your address can effectively get your emails blocked by sending spam. You all get tarred with the same brush.
- Watch bounces. One red-flag to ISPs and ESPs is a lot of bounced emails from your list (many spammers blitz domains with millions of randomly generated email addresses, knowing some will find a working inbox).
* Don’t use URLs as anchor text in your emails. For deep and subtle reasons this is bad. Just don’t do it.
- Use standard HTML and use “clean” copy. In other words, don’t copy from Word and other word processors straight into your email program because you’ll include all sorts of control characters that make no sense to the system and look like you’re trying to do naughty things.
- Encourage people to “whitelist” your email address. Not only will this mean your emails get through but it also positively enhances your reputation with the ESP and the ISP.
Advanced Email Marketing
Segmentation (including self segmentation)
- Getting people on your list to show their interest in different topics.
- A smart way of letting members of your list choose their own adventure.
Deadlines (with login from auto responder)
- You can create a login account with access to a sales page.
Closed and Open Loops
- Strategies to keep people reading and looking forward to the next email.
- Three links in the body, one in the PS
- By explicit direction
- Self-selection on behaviour
- Self-contained narratives with a clear beginning and end.
- Begin an arbitrary topic in an email and leave it unfinished before returning to it later.
- Stories played out within the PS of consecutive emails
Closed Loop Example
Open Loop Example