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Do you ever feel like what you have to say has already been said? What’s the point of putting your work out there? Why does your voice matter when everyone else is saying the same thing?

If people have written entire books on a subject, who are you to blog about it? Should you even try?

Yes. Emphatically yes!

We’ve all heard that there’s nothing new under the sun but it also takes hearing new information 7 times before it’s retained.

So even if someone else is saying the same thing and even if they’re doing it better, your voice can still be the one to resonate with people. Because of the Magic of 7, your delivery of a message might be someone’s 7th time hearing it.

When you are someone’s 7th time, they actually attribute the value of that thing to you—even if someone before you might have said it better already.

It’s the same with your clients and customers. Competition is a good sign and not anything to be afraid of. They’re actually priming people who are even more ready for you to close the deal.

We’re going to talk about how the Magic of 7 applies to competition, repurposing content, growing an audience, getting clients and selling to customers.

Show Notes
  • 09:21 Sean: Research shows, in order to really hear something and internalize it, you have to be exposed to it 7 times. People are in different stages of hearing and internalizing a particular message. Sometimes, someone is hearing it for the first time when you’re saying it but sometimes they’re hearing it for the first time when someone else says it.
  • 09:59 As Merlin Mann says, every day someone is born who hasn’t seen the Flintstones. Someone might be at their first time hearing a message, while others might be at their 3rd or 4th time. Maybe the first 3 times they heard the message from you or maybe they heard it from someone else, but someone is on the verge of hearing something for that magical 7th time. It could be you delivering that message!
  • When someone hears a message for the 7th time and it resonates with them, they will attribute the value of it to you.

  • 11:04 Sean: If you’re thinking, “Why should I even blog? Why should I try to put my message out there? Why should I put yet another product into this pool of other products that are identical to mine? Someone else has written an entire book on a topic I want to blog about, who am I to blog on that?” Maybe someone in your audience actually read that book or heard a prolific, famous speaker but those people are putting in credits adding up to that 7th time. Even if the author or speaker are way more knowledgable, or say it more eloquently, or they’re better at it, they may not be the magical 7th time.
  • 11:59 Ben: That’s why it’s also important, when you’re thinking about going into an area of business, instead of looking for an area that’s untapped, it’s better to get into a market that has some coverage. People are already primed for the message you’ll deliver in your own unique voice and you get to cash in on the work of others. I can see how people would think they can put in less effort but think about the possibility of you being that magical number 7. The more quality you can pour into that experience, the deeper their connection will be to your unique take on that message.
  • 12:57 Sean: That’s why you don’t have to compare yourself to someone you think is better than you at delivering this message. They’re just priming people, even if they did deliver it better. The person who receives it when you give them that 7th time will associate the value with you. That’s so powerful. That’s all the more reason to put yourself and your work out there.

Why Competition Is Not A Threat

  • 13:27 It takes 7 times for a message to resonate. This applies to people getting on board with your message, signing up to your email list, or buying your product, but you don’t have to personally be the one they’re exposed to all 7 of those times. Other people can contribute to those 7 times and you can be multiple of those 7 times. I used to be afraid of repeating myself because I didn’t want people to get annoyed.
  • 14:25 Ben: People are really worried about that because they’re so familiar with their own message that when they’re communicating it into the world, it can feel like everyone else is having the same experience they’re having with that information. When I look at people who are really good at communicating and converting people, they’re saying the same thing multiple times but they’re being creative about the way they deliver those things.
  • 15:01 Sean, you’re an example of that because I’ve heard you say many of the same things multiple times on this podcast, seanwes tv, and your blog. The more you communicate and write, the more you can narrow your thoughts down to a single point and you’re delivering that to people consistently, but not in a way that’s shoving it down their throats. You position yourself as the person who is going to deliver that 7th time because you’re communicating so consistently with people. Really, if I’m an engaged audience member, I might catch 25-30% of everything you put out.
  • 16:05 Sean: To give you an example, the people within the Community chat are the really engaged people. They’ve listened to the podcast, then signed up to be a Community member, and they regularly engage in the chat. We do have Community members who don’t engage in the chat. Right now we have 50+ people listening live but at any given time, there’s an average of 25 people always in there. Then there are members who don’t even come around during live shows. There are different degrees of engagement.
  • 16:45 You’ll have people who see some of your posts or tweets but don’t actually listen. Then, there’s the people that listen to the podcast and of those listeners, there’s the people who signed up for the Community. Of them, there’s the people that are actually engaged during the shows and of those people, there’s those that are engaged in the chat when there’s not a live show. Every single time I post a link to, my next course I’m working on, in the Community—the most engaged people—there are new subscribers! Even the most engaged people cannot possibly be consuming every single bit of content you put out. It bears repeating. Your message should be repeated by you.
  • For the people in your audience, you should be multiple of the 7 times they hear a message.

  • 17:50 I’ve talked about certain subjects in other episodes and I hesitate bringing it up again because I’ve already talked about it before. But so many people haven’t heard it. The stuff people know me for—that we’ve made jokes and soundbites about—are the things I’ve repeated a bunch of times. Those are things people remember. They might think, “I’ve heard him say that once or twice,” but I’ve probably said it a dozen times for them to think that.
  • 18:39 Ben: When you see a new member show up in the Community chat, you often take the opportunity to reference something you’ve already said before by sharing a post with them. Someone who has been there for months, who by our assumption would be familiar with all these episodes, pipes up and says, “I haven’t seen this before, I’ll have to give this a listen!” That’s just another illustration of your point.
  • 19:23 Sean: A lot of people are really afraid of competitors. They see them as the enemy, which is understandable because sometimes customers, followers, or clients will go over to a competitor, but a healthier way to think about that is competitors can prime people for you. You’re in this world of a bunch of a people saying similar things but you’re all actually contributing to each persons’ 7 times. It actually speeds things up when you’re talking about getting customers, clients, or engaged subscribers. The more competitors you have in your industry, the faster that cycle is. If there’s not much competition, then that’s a bad thing. That means there’s not a pool of people there.
  • 20:36 Ben: A lot of competition that exists in a specific area revolves around being a commodity—offering the best service at the lowest price. There’s a pool of customers looking for that and those are the customers you don’t want. Where that market exists, there are people who have to deal with the commodity model but they’re hungry for the quality model. The quality model is what you can offer that will set you apart from the others who have primed a quality group of customers.

Your Unique Angle

  • 21:41 Sean: There’s so much room to share things more than once, no matter what your industry or niche is. There’s a different context every time you post and talk about something. We’re talking about a subject we discussed a year ago and it’s a different context now. We have new things to share. It’s a different time. There are new people listening. Even if a competitor puts out a certain article, you can put your own unique spin on it.
  • 22:20 You have your own unique voice. You can repurpose content and it won’t be old or stale because you have a unique perspective in your industry and your life. It makes it something fresh when you’re the one to say it and not someone else. You can take inspiration from someone else and repurpose it. Put your own spin on it and don’t see it as, “Someone has already talked about that.”
  • Your angle is valuable.

    You have a unique experience that allows you to come at a topic with a different perspective.

  • 23:30 Ben: How many times have you had the experience of reading an article and you get value out of it but throughout the article you think, “That’s not quite right, it should be said THIS way,” or, “I wish they had gone THAT direction instead.” Take those cues as an opportunity to realize you have a unique way to share the valuable thing that someone else already shared and make it even more purposeful.
  • 24:04 Sean: I love that way of thinking because a lot of people will hear or read something like that and they dismiss it and move on. They think, “Well, good try but I don’t think so,” but that’s an opportunity for you to repurpose that content! How would you say it differently? Let’s say someone in your industry has a lot of great things to say but they curse throughout their material, and you want to make something more family-friendly. You instantly have a niche! You instantly have a family-friendly audience and you’re creating content that reaches a different demographic. You could literally say all of the same things.
  • 24:56 Ben: An example of that is Gary Vaynerchuck. I wanted to listen to him while I was helping my son clean his room but I realized it would be best to listen to it through headphones. How nice would it be if I didn’t have to worry about that? My son isn’t quite old enough to understand the business principles but it would be a lot of fun for him to hear the things I’m hearing.
  • 25:40 Sean: Maybe he doesn’t quite get all of it and it’s over his head but I think there’s a Magic of 7 going on their too. Some of it does resonate with him at his age and it can plant seeds. I believe that could be beneficial and that’s a great example. You wouldn’t be able to play Gary Vee around your kids because of language so someone else could say similar things in a family-friendly way and they instantly would have their own target demographic there.

Growing An Audience

  • 26:29 Don’t be afraid to steal. I’m being serious about this. I don’t mean habitually—don’t look at someone’s list of articles and every single time they come out with an article, write an article just like it. Keep your eye on a bunch of different people from different industries. If you’re a designer, look at blog posts from photographers or marketers. If you’re a marketer, listen to a podcast on art or illustration. Diversify your sources of inspiration and broaden your horizons, that way you’re going to have those things mixing together and what comes out will be a unique combination of all your influences.
  • 27:25 When your sources of inspiration are diversified like that, you can pick any one of those and write an article on it. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing new under the sun but you can still put out a unique combination of all your influences.There’s nothing that says you can’t talk about the Magic of 7 multiple times. There’s nothing that says you can’t talk about email marketing or getting clients as a logo designer. If someone else has already written an article on how to find clients as a logo designer, that’s fine. Write another one. There’s plenty of people who have done it before you.
  • Stop trying to be unique and start trying to be authentic.

    Your own individuality will come out from that.

  • 28:20 Ben: When you hear the phrase, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” it can put you in a mindset that’s harmful to the way you communicate with your audience. The reality is your audience is comprised of newness. There are people in your audience ranging from all kinds of experiences and backgrounds and it’s presumptuous to say, “Everyone in my audience as already heard this,” even if it’s something you’ve said multiple times. That might depend on the size of your audience. If the only person on your newsletter list is your wife, then your audience may have heard everything.
  • 29:48 Sean: I know you’re joking about if your wife is your only subscriber but in the chat room, my wife Laci said, “7 times helps me and seanwes is literally my life.” She listens to all of the podcasts and writes shownotes for them! She is probably, to a degree, sick of the content but even she is saying 7 times helps her. She’s heard us talk about lots of topics before, we’ve done a show for her (Related: e095 Overcoming the Fear of What Other People Think and Doing Your Best Work Anyway), and she’s even been on an episode, but it still takes multiple times.
  • 30:58 In the chat room, Christopher says, “Taking the topics in this show and making them industry specific—that process has been so valuable.” I think that’s what a lot of people who listen to this podcast have done. People have recognized they can apply the deeper principles of why we approach things a certain way to anything. Remember when I used to be a letterer? This podcast isn’t about lettering or even design specifically, even though we do come at things from a perspective of being in the design industry.
  • 31:59 Speaking of diversifying your sources, you’re listening to me—someone who has a background in design—talk about certain principles and professionalism. You can take that and apply it somewhere else. I know I’ve done that when I consume things in different industries from different people. I’m able to take little nuggets and apply it to what I’m doing. I let it inspire what I put out into the world.
  • 32:28 Ben: I’ve even seen people in the Community quote you specifically in what they’re talking about. Attribution is great but if you can internalize the message you’re hearing from your inspiration and you think on it enough to where you form your own unique approach, you don’t necessarily have to attribute that specific thing to the source. Especially, if you’re able to frame it in your own unique voice.
  • 33:13 I used to tell a friend of mine about something I had read along with the pretext of the title and author to make sure I wasn’t taking false credit for something. He said, “One of the best things you can do, Ben, is when you’re talking to someone about this stuff, say it like it was yours. Own it because, to the person who is receiving that information, the content is more important than the person it came from.” If you put the emphasis on where it came from, someone might end up missing what you’re actually saying.
  • 33:56 Sean: How do you balance that with attribution? If I write a post or say something in the podcast and someone wants to basically reiterate what I said, should they take my words and say them as if they’re their own in an article?
  • 34:21 Ben: Honestly, if it’s had a deep impact on you but you haven’t been able to demonstrate those principles in your own life in a way that can prove to people you have a deep understanding of it, independent of the original source, you have to give attribution. You might still want to do it simply because it meant so much to you. It’s a complex thing and I’m not sure if there are strong guidelines you can give to it.
  • 35:00 Sean: If you feel like you are simply reiterating something—such as a takeaway from this podcast resonating with you—don’t go writing an article called the Magic of 7 where you use my exact words without crediting me. But if you want to talk about repurposing content or finding your own unique voice and some of this applies but something from another source—like a book or a tweet—also influences you, you’re speaking to it from a different angle. You’re pulling inspiration but you’re not reiterating the same thing. If you’re able to do that from a different angle or context, then I think it’s fine to just talk about it. If you’re doing a case study on exactly what someone else says, you should attribute them.
  • 36:04 Ben: Honestly, I think there’s a gut check that happens there too. You know when you’re communicating something from deep understanding and you know when you’re sharing information you haven’t fully internalized yet. When you feel in your gut you should credit someone, you should do it.
  • 36:27 Sean: I think about Sarah (in the Community) when we talk about this because I see Sarah writing a lot of blog posts lately and I recognize a lot of the content as being strongly inspired by what we talk about on the podcast or in the Community, but she has her own way of saying things. She may not attribute me but she gives it a unique context. The example she gave in the chat room was, “It’s the difference between ‘There’s no such thing as clients from hell because designers from hell only take on those type of clients’ vs. ‘Stop thinking clients from hell exist. A client from hell is the result of you making him a client, therefore…etc.” It’s putting your own spin on a concept vs. quoting someone exactly.

Getting Clients At The Right Stage

  • 37:46 The Magic of 7 also applies to getting clients. Everyone is in different stages. The stages thing applies to all kinds of different contexts, whether it’s growing an audience, getting people to sign up, or listen to your podcast. Clients are in different stages too. If you’re wanting to get a client, narrow down not just what you’re offering or your specialty, but also narrow down what stage of clients you’re trying to reach. For instance, there are clients who have no idea how to hire anyone. They don’t know what they should be looking for and they don’t know what the difference between a technician and a professional is. You could educate clients in that stage.
  • 38:44 Write a blog post titled, “Are You Thinking About Hiring a Designer?” or “6 Things To Look For When Hiring a Design Professional.” That will reach clients who are in the stage of figuring out how to hire someone but never having done it before. There’s also the stage of having hired designers before—they know the qualifications they’re looking for and they’re frustrated because they’re looking at a bunch of designers portfolios but can’t tell if the designers are competent. The designers don’t have case studies, they’re questionnaire isn’t exhaustive, or their own website looks bad.
  • 39:32 Whatever the struggle is, try to identify it and write an article, do a case study, or do a video on it to reach the person in that stage. Some prospective clients are in stage 6, barely short of ready to sign on the dotted line. If you’re targeting those people, maybe you can close with them. Maybe you’re not getting all of the stages 1 through 5, but if you’re getting a few of them—like stage 6 and stage 7 people—you will be able to convert more of them if you’re targeting them. If you cut straight to where they are—”Are you frustrated trying to vet a designer?”—and speak to exactly what they’re experiencing in that stage, you will resonate with them.
  • 40:28 Ben: Sometimes the client doesn’t know what stage they’re in and they have trouble recognizing that. There was a prospective client that I was talking with and we had gone through all of their goals but I didn’t discuss how I only provide one concept. We agreed on a price and we had the contract drawn up, and they were still confused about concepts because my language wasn’t clear on that. When they came back to me and asked, “You’re going to provide some options along the way, right?” I had to explain to them how I do things and they felt uncomfortable with it.
  • 41:31 They asked to see some examples of my work and I thought they had already seen my work! The better your filtration is and the better you’re able to identify those stages, the sooner you can peg a client in that place. You might get a client that seems like they’re in stage 6 but really, because of the way your on-boarding process works, you’ve identified them as a stage 2. Even if it means you’re not going to enter into a contract right away, it’s valuable to the client for you to identify what stage they’re in before you move forward.
  • 42:19 Sean: I think some people might be hearing us talk about converting clients in stage 6 and that sounds really great because they want clients, but you can’t only be the closer. Sure, you’ll get clients your competitors have primed for you, but you still need to put some credits in.
  • You have to put credits in with prospective clients in the early stages so you establish yourself as someone who’s reputable.

  • 42:46 You’ll build trust with the client. Maybe someone at a stage 6 will see you talking to someone at a stage 2 on your blog and they’ll at least recognize that you’re thinking about it.
  • 43:09 Ben: Earlier, you posted a link to a video in the chat room. It was so belittling of what a graphic designer actually does.
  • 43:22 Sean: It was a montage video of clips from various shows and movies where someone says, “Yeah, I’m a graphic designer,” and, yeah, it was belittling it.
  • 43:34 Ben: It made me not want to say, “I’m a logo designer,” because, at the heart of what I do, I want to come into a business and help identify, through conversation, if a logo is the solution to the problem they’re currently experiencing. I position myself more as a consultant.
  • 44:13 Sean: The reason you wouldn’t just want to be about the stage 6 people and you would want to help the stage 2 get to stage 3, is because you’re building trust and credibility with them. You’re putting those credits in and maybe they’re not ready to buy from you or hire you at that point, and maybe they even go to one of your competitors! They’re going to get in a few credits from someone else and then remember you from an earlier stage and possibly come back at stage 6, then you can close.
  • 44:48 Ben: One of the best things you can do to set yourself apart is to be the person who isn’t focused on the one specific thing you do, but focus on what will be best for the client you’ve come into relationship with. What if you had a blog category that was specifically about customers you didn’t close on? It could talk about each specific scenario like the problem they came to you with and the solution they were looking for vs. the conversation you had and what you determined they really needed. Maybe they weren’t ready for your services. I’m not sure how interesting that would be to prospective clients but landing on someone’s website and seeing a section called Customers I Didn’t Close On, I would be curious to know what didn’t work out. Maybe it would show your care for what’s really important for the client vs. just wanting to close on them.
  • 46:00 Sean: It would be interesting to you because you’re able to identify yourself in that story but what if I was one of those people you didn’t close on? Can I recognize myself in some of those stories?
  • Write what resonates with people in a specific stage instead of throwing out content and hoping it lands with them.

  • 46:23 Who are you trying to reach with this? Think about those stages. If you want someone to listen to your podcast, who is that person? That matters. Has this person ever listened to a podcast? Let’s say they haven’t: that’s a big hurdle. Maybe they don’t listen to your podcast because they don’t know how to listen to podcasts! You’ve got to think about who that person is and where they’re at and bring them to the next stage.

Customers Need Repeat Exposure

  • 47:17 It’s the same with customers—they’re in different stages of being ready to buy. You’re probably making some sales if you have products and you’re making sales by converting the people your content reaches in a specific stage to the next stage. That’s going to work for some people but the more limited the different stages you’re reaching, the fewer people you’re actually going to convert. If you’re only targeting people right on the cusp of buying, then you’re only ever going to convert those people. It’s important to bring people on board through the emotional experience of buying:
    • Why would you want this product?
    • What do you want this product to do?
    • What will your life look like after you have this product?
    • Why wouldn’t you go with someone else’s product?
    • What product have you bought in the past that you had problems with?
    • How will this product solve the problems you’ve previously experienced.
  • 48:20 Walking them through those steps is important and if you’re only hitting on a few of them, you’re only going to convert the people who have had prior exposure to similar material a competitor made. A lot of people only have limited exposure with their potential customers and they’re not bringing them along the journey.
  • People need to hear about your product 7 times before it resonates.

  • 48:54 From a marketing perspective, rather than posting the same link on your twitter account, create content around it. I get so tired of brands and people telling me to go to the same page! I recently made a new design, my Show Up print. I talked about showing up every day for 2 years on the podcast and I repurposed it by doing a video about it. I also did lettering of it on Instagram and wrote a blog post on it. I even did a screen cast recording my writing process of the blog post about showing up that had the same verbiage as the print.
  • 49:52 I came at it from all of those different angles instead of just telling everyone to go to the same page a bunch of times. I had a seanwes tv episode about it and a stand-alone video about it that I uploaded directly to Facebook. It’s unique pieces of content that all say the same thing. I have a print made now and I have 100 people on a notification list, ready to buy it. 100 people! Now, compare that to putting up the print and saying, “Hey everyone, go buy this print.” If you did that and wondered why one one person bought it, it’s because only one person was super ready to buy. They were scrolling through feeds of motivational stuff and they were primed by someone. They were looking for posters or they looked up stuff about dry-mounting posters.
  • 50:43 They happened to be in the right spot at the right time and, by chance, you converted them. What about all the other people? You missed out on all those other people in other stages because you weren’t reaching out to them at each stage. I’ll be switching my email service provider to Infusionsoft and part of the reason I’m switching is because it has complex marketing animation tools and I’m going to be able to deliver more relevant content at the right times, to the right people. A lot of people have customers that they put in a couple of credits with but then that’s it. They release primed prospects into the world for their competitors, then they’re surprised when the customer buys somewhere else.
  • 51:40 Ben: It reminds me of an experience Cory Miller had when he was releasing a T-shirt design a while back. He said, “I feel like I’ve already shared this before,” and a lot of the Community members suggested he write about the process or make a time lapse video of him designing it. You have to get creative but you can’t underestimate how interesting it is to give someone a new angle on something. You might wonder how else you can talk about a product but there’s probably a story there. It would expose audience members to the same product but it offers them a completely different way of experiencing it that will eventually prime them to purchase.
  • 53:04 I have this picture in my head of a conveyer belt with 7 places at the assembly line. Someone goes down the assembly line and if the timing isn’t right for each of the 7 points to do the work that’s needed, they get to the end for a quality check and it cycles them back through the line if they’re not done yet. As they go back through, they don’t have to repeat stages that have already been covered but eventually, they get hit by all 7 points. There’s this fear that putting something out there too many times, will turn people off. The reality is people will automatically ignore what they’ve already heard—given you don’t share it too much—and you’ll capture people who haven’t heard it yet. It underscores the importance of communicating those 7 or more different ways so as people go through your conveyer belt, the get hit by all 7 points and you can prime them to buy.
  • 54:41 Sean: With the conveyer belt analogy, when you grab the final product that’s been cleared and has a check mark on the box, you contribute the check mark to the check mark machine. In reality, it was all of the points along the way that allowed it to deserve the check mark but you think, “Well, the check mark machine said it was good to go so I attribute this value to the check machine.”
  • The last step gets the credit and that could be you if you’re able to overcome the fear of saying something that everyone else has already said.

  • 55:41 Ben: Or even something that you’ve already said before.