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Look, I get it. You’ve worked hard to build up your expertise. You’ve put a lot of effort into making your product. You know it’s good! You know you can help people! Can’t they just pay and see for themselves? Must you really go through the awkwardness of selling? It seems so… dirty.
The trouble is, you do have to sell. It’s a noisy world and selling is the cost of entry if you want to do business. You have to promote. You have to market. But you can do it in a way that doesn’t make you feel gross.
In this episode, I tell you how to market your products and services without feeling like a slimy salesman. You’ll hear a trick for how to market every day without feeling like you’re selling every day.
I give you a way to keep from feeling spammy when you promote, two ways to prevent over-spamming (and how I plan to do the second one), as well as the reason I only ever make a single promotional post on social media for any one given thing.
Lastly, we talk about why you feel bad selling, I share my “don’t be afraid to sell” email, and explain why it’s not self-promotion unless you’re selfish.
- Launched: seanwes tv
- 01:15 Sean: When this episode goes out, seanwes tv will have launched just a couple days ago. I got a super cool domain for it too: seanwes.tv
- 02:08 I got my developer, Justin, to help me write a redirect script that will allow you to go to seanwes.tv/1 for episode 1, seanwes.tv/5 for episode 5, etc., so that’s pretty neat!
- 02:47 I launched with 5 episodes and will be sharing new episodes daily, Monday–Friday.
- Marketing Without Feeling Like Slimy Salesman
- 04:01 Do feel gross sharing your own stuff? Does it feels slimy? Does it feel narcissistic? Do you feel awkward promoting your own stuff?
- 04:22 Someone in the chat mentioned that they even feel awkward admitting they have stuff to promote. I believe this stems from the slimy salesman picture we get in our mind: a guy who’s trying to push something out on you and will do whatever whatever it takes to make the sale. But the difference is, he is a career salesman. He’s working for a company. He has one job: to sell this product. To get you to buy this thing. If you don’t end up liking it, that’s customer support. He’s not even making the products, he’s just selling to you, and we associate that salesmanship with selling itself. But selling isn’t this inherently bad thing. You’re not just the person selling, you’re the one making this thing. You believe in it.
- 05:46 I have some theories as to why it feels awkward to sell and we’re going to get to those but I just marketed to you. I don’t even know if you noticed. I just promoted my new seanwes tv daily video show!
- 06:07 Ben: “Oh, I thought we were just having a conversation about it.”
- 06:10 Sean: What do you know!
- 06:12 Ben: “So you were actually making a sales pitch. I thought we were just talking about it.”
- 06:17 Sean: It felt so normal, right? In this case, it’s a little bit easier for me because it’s a longer-term play and I’m not exactly charging you for these episodes. I’m providing value—they’re chock-full of valuable information—and giving it to you for free. So I’m not marketing a paid product, but I am marketing something of myself. I’m promoting my own show but it didn’t feel awkward. Most people listening didn’t even notice. They didn’t even feel sold to. They didn’t feel like they were pushed because they’ve heard me plant seeds in the past talking about this video show. They’ve heard me say I want to distill down the nuggets of things we talk about on the podcast and the things I write about into these shorter-form videos. They known this is something that’s going to benefit them, so they’re not seeing it as me pushing something. They’re not seeing it as me trying to take.
- 07:16 Ben: “Yeah. I’ve been reading this book again called Influence.”
- 07:44 Sean: Robert Cialdini.
- 07:45 Ben: “Yeah, great book. He talks about the Rule of Reciprocity. The idea is basically that when you receive something for free, you feel an obligation to return an even greater amount than what you received.”
- 08:05 Sean: Yes, so just to illustrate that for people who haven’t heard it: if you buy someone coffee, this person not only feels an obligation to buy you a coffee, they actually feel an obligation to slightly overcompensate to make it completely clear that they are no longer indebted to you. Which means they will be more likely to turn around and buy you lunch.
- 08:27 Ben: “And this is a cultural norm. People feel this way because historically, it’s in our best interest not to be indebted to one another. When you post or share something of value that you’re giving away for free, that feeling of obligation comes into play.”
- 09:04 Sean: It’s a very natural thing. Like what we’ve talked about with relationship marketing. When a new friend says, “Oh hey, my car has a flat, can you drive me to work?” and you help them out, you’re just being a friend, right? You’re just providing value. You’re investing in them as a person and it builds this relationship. They see you as someone who wants to invest and it becomes a mutual thing. They want to invest right back into you. That’s just a natural feeling of obligation.
- 09:36 Ben: “I wonder if the reason it feels gross is maybe we don’t want to have people indebted to us? We don’t want to create that sense of obligation in others by offering them the free gift of value that we can provide.”
- 09:54 Sean: Which is a greater disservice though? You are my friend and you are stranded. Your car has a flat, you don’t have a spare tire, you need help to get to a meeting. Which is a greater disservice: to leave you stranded or to provide value to you in the form of a ride that gives you some sense of obligation to me as a friend?
- 10:36 Ben: “Yeah, I don’t think I would want to be left stranded. I would probably take the ride.”
- The #1 Thing is Providing Value
- 12:02 Sean: Whenever you’re putting something out, you want to make sure it provides value. Something that can help give you clarity is coming up what’s called an avatar. Imagine a certain person or a persona. Actually define everything about them: how old they are, what their name is, where they live, if they have kids, what they do for work, how much money they make, what their problems are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and ultimately thinking of this one person. It’s even easier to come up with a real person that you know. Maybe it’s your brother. Think of writing to your brother.
- 12:47 Do you feel awkward sending something to your email list? Does it feel awkward promoting your own stuff? Maybe you feel like you’re just blasting something to 1,000 people. Don’t think about it as 1,000 people. Think about writing to your brother. How would you write to your brother if you wanted to share something that was perfect for him? Maybe he’s into this certain thing and he’s trying to learn it and you have something that would help him out. Open up new email compose window and start typing. How do you talk? What language do you use? Think of this one person, this persona, this avatar. Write to them. Don’t write to 1,000 people.
- 13:42 That’s how it should read. That’s how it should feel. You want to make sure that when you’re contacting them, if you’re going to go out of your way to “bother” someone, or share something with someone, or promote something, or push your message, make sure the message itself provides value. Even beyond the value of whatever it is that you’re promoting, make sure the promotion itself provides value.
- 14:08 Ben: “If you’re thinking about addressing a 1,000-person audience, or a 100-person audience, or a 10,000-person audience, the way that you communicate will contain subtle things that will make your recipient feel like they are either 1 of 100, or 1 of 1,000, or 1 of 10,000, or—if you think about it the right way—a single individual that you are specifically communicating with.”
- Trick: Schedule Out Your Marketing
- 14:56 Sean: Here’s a trick that can help you feel a little bit better about marketing in general. If you’re wanting to promote things or get things in front of people on a daily basis, it can really feel exhausting when you’re not in the practice of doing it. Something you can do is schedule out your marketing.
- 15:28 Instead of writing a new email newsletter every single day or week, you can schedule out your marketing so you don’t have to consistently put yourself in a place of feeling like you’re selling. It’s automated. It’s happening. You are going to sell on this day because you have something scheduled to go out, but you don’t have to put yourself in that place personally.
- 16:01 Take your time getting yourself mentally to a place where you feel good selling this thing that you have because you know that it provides value. When you’re in that place, take the time to write out those messages and schedule them so you don’t have to you have to mentally reach that place every single time that you want a message to go out.
- 16:23 To take that a step further, autoresponder series are really powerful. They’re beneficial not only to you but to the reader. You can craft these narratives, you can craft these stories and bring people in by offering to give them something that is helpful and then continue to build on that. Send them another email that provides more value, then yet another email that lets them know about a product or service that you have. That’s going to prime the pump and build that trust. They’re going to want to buy from you because they perceive you as someone who has something that’s valuable to offer to them.
- Curating Your Output Keeps You From Feeling Spammy
- 17:01 Ben: “You may have a pre-existing audience that doesn’t fit the description of who you’d like to communicate your specific value to. That makes things a little bit complicated because then you know that if you talk about something there’s going to be a large portion of folks to whom this is going to be noise. Whereas if you were curating your output over time consistently, eventually your audience would conform to what you’re sharing. Then you don’t have to feel bad or like you’re putting noise out there to the people who follow your because that’s what they follow you for.”
- 18:37 Sean: That’s an excellent point. It’s great to tie in because a lot of people are not curating their output (Related: e074 Curate What You Share). They’re not curating what they share and because they’re just streaming consciousness and spamming a bunch of random stuff, the halfhearted audience they’ve kind of, sort of attracted is interested in all kinds of different things. Which means the stuff that you put out is much less likely to resonate with them which increases your feeling of being spammy.
- 19:08 You know that if you put something out on a specific topic that it can help some people, but you feel sleazy or dirty because to all of the rest of the people, this is irrelevant to them. You’re basically trying to push something on them that isn’t relevant and they don’t want.
- Option 1: Create New Things Every Day
- 20:04 Sean: The easiest way to not feel like you’re over-spamming something or annoying people and being “that marketer” is to create something new every day. If you’re sharing something new every day, you’re not exhausting people. You’re not over-promoting something. We all know the guy that always tweets the one thing he has and you’re just thinking, “We get it, dude.” One way to combat that is to continue creating new things.
- 20:43 Of course, creating new things every day certainly isn’t the only way. It’s one way and it’s a great way, but let’s say you’ve got one really big thing that’s very valuable and you worked hard to build this up. How do you promote this on an ongoing basis without feeling gross and without feeling awkward? Maybe you just tweeted it yesterday and told people about it—how do you say it again? You need sales, you need money, you want to get some revenue this month, how do you mention it again?
- Option 2: Tell Stories
- 21:11 You want to tell stories (Related: e111 Courting Your Clients and Customers). Something I have not done that I’m really looking forward to doing once Laci starts working for me and I have more time to do non-show note writing is to flesh out my Learn Lettering autoresponder series. Right now, it’s just a free guide and I send a couple free video lessons, tell them what’s in the course, show some testimonials, and that’s it. There’s just five emails over five days. The unsubscribe rate is incredibly tiny. Every single day, 80 people subscribe. Maybe one person unsubscribes every once in awhile.
- 22:07 Since I consolidated my lists, there are 7,000 new people on the list. I’m sending them five emails in those first five days. A lot of people say you shouldn’t email that often and that you should only email once a week, yet no one’s unsubscribing. That’s because it’s relevant content. They signed up for this because it’s what they’re looking for and I’m giving them what they want.
- 22:45 The problem is, I’ve got this little, wimpy, five-email autoresponder and apparently people are going through it and certainly people are still buying—I’m not disappointed with my monthly revenue—but there’s 7,000 people sitting on there that are not getting anything from me now because I haven’t fleshed that out.
- 23:04 So I’m talking about telling stories here. What I would do—what I’m about to do—is write emails that tell stories. I have Learn Lettering: it’s there on the site, nothing’s changing about it. How do I keep promoting this? How do I tell people about it again and again? You wrap stories around it. You it put inside of a story.
- 23:22 Within the Custom Type Logo course of my Master Class, I show people the exact emails I send the clients. They get to see the correspondence, they get to see how I’m talking with them and I go step-by-step through my questionnaire. There’s a ton of value in here. I could tell a relatable story about a client who’s wondering how you work but isn’t really sure about your process or hasn’t seen anything like what you have before. I’m just making this up on the fly, but you get people’s attention that way by telling a story and then you end with the pitch: “Hey, I’ve got this for you. It’s is going to show you exactly how to do this.”
- 24:08 Ben: “You can’t connect to a product or service nearly as well as you can connect to a personal story. The more someone is able to see themselves in that story, the more someone is able to replace the main character with themselves and the more likely they are to follow that story to its conclusion which is your solution.”
- I Post Things to Social Media Once
- 24:48 Sean: When it comes to social, I actually only ever share something once. I’m not sure if people notice, but for instance on Twitter, if I have something to promote like a new blog post, or new video, or a new podcast, I promote it once. You will see one post from me in my feed for everything, not multiple. Now this goes against what a lot of people say and what a lot to do. They’ll tell you, “Oh! But what about the people on the other side of the world? It might be night for them! All 5,000 people they follow cloud their feed.”
- 25:24 You know what? I don’t care about that because I follow 30 or 40 people and I know there are other people who follow a reasonable amount too. When I say reasonable, I’m talking hundreds not thousands. Maybe even two figures [gasp]. Maybe enough people that you can actually pay attention to. I am not willing to spam the people who follow a reasonable amount of people just to reach everyone else who decides to over-follow. You cannot follow 1,000 or 5000 people. You cannot follow that many people. I don’t care what the number says next to your Twitter account. You cannot follow that many people. It’s information overload. It’s too much. You can’t consume that, you can’t interact with that, you can’t engage on that level, and I’m not going to cater to that. I’m going to cater to the people that really want to engage with me.
- 26:21 I’m not saying you should never promote something more than once. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are to promote something more than once, what you want to do is provide new and relevant value every single time.
- 27:47 I have a friend who will promote his launch for something like new products by linking to it multiple times on the launch day, but he comes up with something new to say around it each time. For instance he’ll say, “Everyone, thanks so much for all the support with your purchases yesterday!” and there’s a link at the end. What that does is it engages and expresses gratitude to the followers who actually supported you. When they see that message, they’ll think, “Okay, he’s grateful, that’s cool,” but there’s a link there. They don’t have to click that link, but the people who never saw it in the first place can click that link. What he’s doing is providing new and relevant value.
- 28:40 Maybe that’s a case study. If you already launched your product and you want to talk about it again without feeling spammy, write a blog post about how you did some aspect of the product-building. How did you make this one part? How did that work out for you? Write a case study and now you’ve got a blog post. Link to the blog post so that way the people who have already bought from you or already know about your product will get more value, and the people who don’t know about it yet will follow the funnel.
- The Valid Line Between Feeling Spammy and Not
- 29:08 You might be experiencing a legitimate spammy feeling—because you actually are being legitimately spammy.
- 29:59 Are you just posting on all the platforms and sharing the same thing the next day? That’s a red flag. That is spammy. Even if your product is valuable, just saying the exact same thing is spammy.
- 30:22 Every time you contact someone, every time you push out content to someone, every time you share a message with someone, you need to provide value. If someone already saw your last post and you say the exact same thing again, is that providing value? Of course it’s not for that person. You need to decide: how much you’re going to compromise to get those new people? How much are you going to compromise the more engaged followers you have to get the new people?
- Topical Relevancy
- 30:53 We were having a conversation in the chat room and someone mentioned they feel awkward even admitting they had something to promote. They said:
I have awesome products selling on Amazon, right now that I’m unwilling to tell you about because I think it would be unfair self promotion. That’s a bad place to be.
- 31:20 I have to agree—that is a bad place to be. He says he has awesome products but he even feels awkward telling you. He doesn’t want to tell you because it feels like “unfair self-promotion.”
- Why Do We Feel Bad Selling?
- 31:38 It feels awkward bringing up your products and mentioning things you have to sell because that’s something that serves us. If someone buys your product, that serves you! Inherently, this feels selfish. It feels exploitative.
- 31:58 There’s a reason you feel that way. Not only is it bad for business if you’re doing things that only serve you, but it’s going to come across wrong to other people and it’s going to feel gross to you.
- 32:11 You need to ask yourself: is this for me or is this for the person I’m trying to reach?
- My “Don’t Be Afraid to Sell” Email
- 33:22 After the recent client episode (Related: e122 10 Mistakes You’re Making With Clients That Cost You), someone emailed me and told me how much that that episode helped. I put a ton of effort into the episode.
- 32:44 This person followed up and said they were a hand lettering artist and they were about to act really unprofessionally until they heard this particular podcast. They said they would love to be able to see an example of contracts and a questionnaire because they’re a visual person and they want to know what to ask and what to include.
- 33:07 Of course, it just so happens that I go into much more depth on the questionnaire, contract, and client communication process within the Learn Lettering Master Class. I show you my exact emails with the client, and even provide for you a time-tested contract template that you can download, modify, and use yourself.
- 33:26 I like to think of it this way: I put in a lot of effort to make great products that help people. I believe in those products. I provide provide up front and they benefit from it (for free), then I provide even more value (in the form of my products) and allow them to compensate me for it. She needs help on contract terms and questionnaire questions. I’ve created a solution for her. It would be a disservice for me not to make her aware of it. Otherwise, she’ll go back to unprofessionalism and letting clients walk all over her and not get paid what she’s worth.
- 34:07 Ben: “Even if that solution happens to be nestled in the package that’s the most expensive, the amount that she would pay to get it just for those specific pieces of relevant information is still more than worth the cost—by multiple factors.”
- 34:43 Sean: That’s the beauty of having the goal of making a product of worth 20 times the asking price. I actually did say exactly what you just said, Ben. I said even if all you want is just the contracts, the questionnaire, and the client communication stuff, you’re going to get more than your money’s worth. Yes, all of the other courses are immensely valuable but even for just that one piece, you’ll immediately get your money right back.
- 35:21 Ben: “The thing here is just to be realistic with yourself about how valuable your service or product is.
- 35:42 Ben: “We discount in our own minds what it’s really worth. I think it’s a good exercise just to sit down and really think about if somebody had a problem and my product or service could be a solution to that problem, what could it mean for them monetarily? What could it mean for their ability to grow as a professional? What could it mean for their ability to experience something that they would enjoy? Put a price tag on and say that’s what it’s actually worth.”
- The Magic of Scrivener and Knowing Your Target Audience
- 36:28 Sean: I recently bought a course for the software called Scrivener. The course was Learn Scrivener Fast. Did I tell this story on the air, Ben?
- 37:40 Ben: “I can’t remember if you did, go ahead and tell it.”
- 36:45 Sean: Okay, well Scrivener is a program that basically makes it immensely easy to write something like a book. You’ve got these outline views, these draft views, this cork board view with virtual 3 x 5 cards that you can write on. You’re typing, but you can move them around digitally and reorder them and structure them, it’s got research folders—it’s just amazing. It’s like heaven for anyone who wants to write a book, write courses, or write an autoresponder series.
- 37:34 Previously, I had the first 20,000 words of my book in plaintext documents strewn everywhere all across my folders. It was terrible. I had no idea how I was actually going to compile it into a book because is was just text everywhere. I knew I had to get there and at some point I’d do it, but I didn’t know how. I’d heard people say, “Oh, are you using Scrivener for your book?” I’d reply that I wasn’t and I was just writing it in text documents. I kept hearing more people say, “Are you using Scrivener? Are you using Scrivener?”
- 38:05 I get an email from a guy responding to my newsletter saying, “Hey Sean, thanks so much for this. I don’t know how you’re able to put out this much value so frequently, but it’s really helpful.” That’s all he said, but I look to his email and the domain of his email had Scrivener in it (Hi Joseph, if you’re reading this!). That was a little trigger for me. I had never downloaded the program. All I knew is that it was very complicated, very advanced, and had a very steep learning curve, but everyone swore by it.
- 38:44 So I just went to his website and landed on this page that’s a huge sales page. It’s even longer than Learn Lettering. I watch the little video at the top and immediately it spoke directly to me. Because it spoke directly to me, I also know that it didn’t speak directly to a lot of people, but he targeted so well it was exactly what I wanted. It was saying, “Are you trying to write a book?” It was perfect.
- 39:17 Ben: “Like it was asking if your name was Sean McCabe?”
- 38:19 Sean: It literally felt like that. I just scrolled past this beautiful sales page and all the testimonials—I didn’t even care—I just went to the bottom, found the biggest package and I bought it. It was a course that taught you how to do virtually everything in this program. I mean even the pros were saying, “I didn’t even know you could do tricks like he’s showed me.” I went through all of those modules in a day. A day later, I was a pro at this thing. I knew how to do everything. Yes, I could have stumbled around and figured it out myself over a week and maybe got to 80% of all the little details and tricks that he showed me, but I did that in a day. It was like a matrix download. I paid something like $147 for this.
- 40:11 Ben: “That’s it?”
- 40:12 Sean: $147 and I was immediately a master at this (note: I actually decided to upgrade to the higher tier at $199 for the extra tricks and tips). If I put a price on the time it would have taken me, it would’ve been a whole week. 40 hours of work just on this program to get to 80% of that knowledge. I did it in a day.
- 40:29 Ben: “Sean, how much is an hour of your time worth?”
- 40:37 Sean: For consulting it’s $1,000/hr.
- 40:39 Ben: “Okay. For roughly 10–20% of your normal hourly rate, you were able to get this thing that saved you tons of time.”
- 40:55 Sean: Exactly.
- 40:56 Ben: “That’s outstanding.”
- 40:57 Sean: That’s what I’m trying to say. It would be a disservice for this guy not to tell me about this product. Because otherwise he’s letting me spend a whole week figuring it out on my own and wasting my time. I’m literally wasting money.
- It’s Not Self-Promotion Unless You’re Selfish
- 47:15 Here’s the question:
- 47:31 If you made it for you and everything about this is about you and nothing is to help anyone and provide value, then you are selfish. You should feel selfish.
- 47:42 But if you poured your heart and soul into building something that makes someone else’s life better, then it’s not self promotion! You’re helping someone out. You’re doing them a favor.
- 47:52 You have to promote! It’s a noisy world. It’s not wrong, it’s not bad, you don’t need to feel gross. Unless you’re totally selfish, and you just made this for you, and you actually are trying to exploit people, then you shouldn’t feel selfish. It’s not self-promotion.
When you send a newsletter, don’t write as if you’re speaking to a crowd of 1,000 people.
It’s one person opening one email from one other person.
The way you think about your audience as you are writing translates big time into the way that they read it.
If you want an excuse to promote something that you’ve already promoted, you need to come up with a way to provide new value.
“I think we do this thing sometimes where we’re a little bit self-deprecating because it feels like humility.”
Did you make this thing to serve you or did you make this thing to serve the customer?