Consistency Builds Brands, Complacency Destroys Them: Inside a Recent Experiment

Consistency propels brands. Complacency destroys them.

Photo by Jessica Hill Photography

 

I’ve now been offering the same business coaching program & methodology for over 3.5 years. We’ve iterated & improved the program every time we launch it. We even changed the name once.

But the program and message have remained consistent.

This spring, we had our best program launch ever. It also fell far below my expectations based on our preliminary data.

When we surveyed potential clients who had not signed up, we got the usual answers–but more than anything else, people told us they were tired of taking courses they didn’t use.

When I originally created the Quiet Power Strategy program, I had this objection in mind. I wanted to create something that wasn’t a course and was more akin to 1:1 coaching but helped you create a wider entrepreneurial network at the same time.

But that selling point had gotten lost as the program scaled, the market was flooded with courses, and our audience grew.

I wanted to remain consistent because I believe in the power of the QPS work to solve your business challenges–but I also knew it was time to change things up, to get creative.

I needed to change things up to keep our work relevant, forward-focused, and supremely useful.

So I got really specific with that core objection:

  • Why aren’t people using the courses they buy? (They’re not making time.)
  • Why aren’t people getting results? (They’re not completing the courses.)
  • Why aren’t they executing? (The course teaches but it doesn’t help them plan. It’s focused on lessons, not implementation.)
  • Why are people feeling so burnt out on learning and even their own businesses? (Courses try to solve surface level problems, not core challenges.)

Then I rebuilt our offer to combat each of these objections:

  • What if you had to make time for the program you purchased?
  • What if the format of the program made it easy to complete?
  • What if the program ended with a customized plan in your hand?
  • What if the program was designed to dig deep into the core problems of a business?

What would it look like to fulfill all of those constraints on the program?

I took my initial concept to my mastermind groups: a 2-day virtual planning retreat that took a group of clients through the process from start-to-finish, with support and coaching from me along the way.

They loved it.

We talked about how to make it even better and then I set the first experiment in motion.

Last week, we ran that experiment.

20 clients worked with me for a total of 16 hours over 2 days. We went through the entire process from start to finish. The energy, peer support, and depth of work were astonishing.

We finished Day 2 with 100% completion by our participants.

Inside the Quiet Power Strategy Virtual Planning Retreat

Inside our 2-day Quiet Power Strategy Virtual Planning Retreat — that’s my buddy Tanya Geisler laying down wisdom about the Impostor Complex!

 

The feedback has been effusive:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.21.20 PM

While it’s too early to know for sure, I have a feeling we’ll see more results for more members of this cohort than we’ve ever seen before.

I’m not telling you about this so that you want to join us for the next Virtual Planning Retreat–though I’ve got more on that soon.

I’m telling you this because, when things are “working,” we wait to change course until we’re forced to change course. 

We grow complacent about our strategy because it’s what always worked.

Consistency does propel brands.

But complacency can ruin brands–even if you’ve grown complacent around something great.

If you’re feeling any part of your business or life constrict around you, there’s a good chance that making a fundamental change could pump new life into the whole endeavor.

This doesn’t mean you change something on a whim, it doesn’t mean you adjust course because you’re bored, it doesn’t mean you do something different because the shiny object over there is calling to you.

Change it, intentionally, when it’s no longer serving you or your customers.

Use creative constraints to discover a new opportunity.

Engineer a new path forward.

In this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., Jennifer Lee gave us an example of necessary change, too. She’s no longer running her popular video summits and she talked about why and how she made that change. Click here to listen or read the interview.

And, if this whole 2-day virtual planning retreat idea sounds pretty cool, click here to learn more about it and sign up to get information on the next enrollment. When you do, we’ll also send you some exclusive free training opportunities.

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads: Behind-the-Scenes of Our Marketing Campaign

How to Court New Customers with Facebook Ads: Inside My Marketing Campaign

I bet you’ve been wondering whether Facebook ads could jump start your outreach, list-building, and revenue.

It seems like everybody is doing it.

Advertising is great. It can fast-track your ability to connect with the right people and grow your influence in the market but…

Most advertisers are going about it all wrong.

Their strategy? It’s the equivalent of going on a first date and then asking the person to marry you on the spot–or at least move in together.That's a dealbreaker! -- How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

**Even if advertising isn’t for you, keep reading. This applies to a lot of the pieces of your marketing campaign.**

Here’s what it looks like:

An ad pops into your Facebook feed with a big promise: “I used to work 12 hour days just to book 2 clients per month. Now I make $150k per year working 2 hours per day. Here’s my exact blueprint.”

Of course, on the next page isn’t the exact blueprint. It’s a landing page asking for your email address.

Who is this person? What do they really do? If I downloaded this blueprint, would I even like what I find inside? What proof do they have that this really works? What proof do I have that any of this is true?

As that scrolls through your mind, you scroll through the ad.

If you want to reach people who haven’t heard of you before, asking them for the equivalent of moving in together isn’t going to work (most of the time).

You need to prove yourself and introduce them to your business first.

Here’s an ad I’m currently running…

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This ad is being shown to people who have never been on my website and don’t know me. But they do know and like Danielle LaPorte.

It’s just a podcast interview.

Advertising just this interview has lead directly to new leads and new customers. It’s growing awareness of my brand and warming up a new audience. And…

It’s been super cheap to run.

Now, I could stop there. But why?! Since this ad has been so successful, I want to show people who click on it another ad.

Anyone who’s been on my website (including folks who clicked the above ad), might see this ad pop up in their feed:

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This ad takes people to the full text of my latest mini-book. There’s a larger call to action for an email address, but anyone can read the full text there. And when they do, they get delighted with GIFs!

The interesting thing here is that this “landing page” has a conversion rate of between 40-70% depending on the day. Even on a page that exclusively asks for an email address, I’d still consider those numbers a victory.

This ad is performing incredibly well–and I know I can make it better!

Finally, anyone who clicks on this ad and visits the landing page for the book is moved into a third ad set. They get shown this:

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This is an ad for our membership community. I’m not asking for a sale here, just an email address to get a personal invitation to the community.

See how each of these ads takes a new prospect further and further into my world?

Now, like I said, you don’t have to use advertising to take advantage of this approach. Think about it every time you write a blog post.

Some blog posts are for people who know, like, and trust you already. Some are for people who have never heard of your business before.

Same thing with webinars, podcast episodes, videos, etc…

If you’re trying to reach new people, make sure that the content you’re creating and promoting is geared to someone who doesn’t already know, like, and trust you–but has an interest that overlaps with what you do (like my interview with Danielle).

Ready to apply this to your own business?

Start with a piece of content that has already received a bunch of “shares.” (Bunch, of course, is relative.)

Shares are a great indicator that people think the content is valuable to others outside your sphere of influence.

Then you can:

  • Place an ad for that piece of content.
  • Ask your friends to share it with their networks.
  • Put it on a regular schedule in your social media feed.

Give it a try! I think you’ll like the results.

For more on this topic, listen or read my interview with Lori Allen, Director of Great Escape Publishing. She’s a master direct response marketer. I asked her about how her company approaches this task–and about so much more! Click here to read or listen.

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3 Ways You Should Be Following Up to Maximize Your Profit

3 Ways You Should Be Following Up to Maximize Profit

Note: I’m not condoning sleeping 3.5 hrs per night. Just remember that your potential customers might be.
And… they may not see all your emails or updates.

Here’s a mantra I’ve been making all my clients repeat this year, so I want you to start repeating it too:

Follow up, follow up, follow up.

When was the last time you sold something to your audience? Last week? Last month? Last quarter? (If it was more than that, we need to have a different talk.)

How many times did you follow up with your audience after you made the pitch? What did you say in those follow-ups? How direct were you?

I’m seeing too many business owners leave money on the table–and leave lives unchanged–because they’re not following up.

In our last big campaign, I sent 3 “last chance” emails on the final day of promotions. 50% of our sales happened on that last day. About 30% of those happened between the 2nd and 3rd email. Yes, a few even occurred after the 3rd email.

Before that, I sent out testimonials, video case studies, FAQs, and additional content to educate readers.

All of that was  after  we made the initial pitch.

Look, I know you don’t want to annoy your readers, fans, and subscribers. But think about how busy you are, how many emails you miss, how many opportunities you’ve beat yourself up for missing in the last few months. 

They’re facing the same thing. 

If you don’t follow up with them, they can’t buy. If they can’t buy, they can’t experience the transformation–big or small–your offer will create for them.

Now, I’ve already mentioned 1 kind of follow-up you need to employ: the Pitch Follow-Up.

Here are 2 more that you’ll want to add to your repertoire to maximize future sales. The good news is that they can be completely automated so you don’t have to do any extra work.

—> I’m hosting a free training on 6 Marketing Automations You Need Today on Thursday, July 14. Sign up here.

1) The Up-Sell Follow-Up

Customers who buy from you once are 2x more likely to buy from you the next time you make an offer. That’s true even immediately after they’re first purchase. 

Your customer has just expressed a specific need. Do you have something else you could sell that further helps to fulfill that need? Maybe it’s 1:1 consulting, a video course, a consultation with a team member, etc…

Follow-up with another offer.

We recently put this Up-Sell Follow-up in place to suggest our entrepreneurial community, The Lab, to new customers. Just 3 quick emails to point out a few of the benefits of the community and tie them to problems we know those customers have–nothing fancy.

3 Ways to Follow Up with Your Audience to Maximize Profit

The application is simple: people who buy certain products are tagged in our ConvertKit system with a label that triggers this automated email sequence. It happens automagically. Even if it only increases sales incrementally, those are sales I don’t have to work harder for and those increments really start to add up!

2) The Referral Follow-Up

I’m often asked how to get more referral business–or how to turn referrals into a dependable system.

The easiest way is to ask. The easiest way to do that is by automating it.

You can set up a short sequence like the one above or use a tool like Boomerang  or Zapier to send referral emails a short time after a client completes with you.

Now your ask is just another part of the process your clients or customers go through in the course of doing business with you. 

And, of course, this doesn’t just apply to service-based businesses. If you have a product-based business, you can ask for referrals, too. Just ask your customers to share your product with friends who might like or need it.

Are you sold? Choose one of these follow-up techniques to implement in your business now.

Connect More With Your Audience By Doing Less: 6 Marketing Automations You Need Today

Want to supercharge your email marketing so that you can create more human interactions with less work? I’m hosting a live workshop with Darrell Vesterfelt from ConvertKit on how you can do exactly that. Click here to register FREE of charge.

How To Talk About Your Products or Services to Generate More Sales

First of all, never badmouth synergy.

“First of all, never badmouth synergy.” — Jack Donaghy, 30Rock

Ever feel like you get tongue-tied when it’s time to talk about what you sell?

Yeah, it happens to the best of us (seriously).

Here’s a better way to do it.

What do your customers ultimately want?

More money? More confidence? More me time? Less hassle? Less confusion?

If you can simply say…

“We offer ________ (your product or service) which helps _______ (your customer) do _________ (what your customers want in their words).”

….you’ll start many more conservations that end in sales than you do now.

Sound simple? It is. Truly.

Here are some examples: first, my friend Andy Hayes who runs Plum Deluxe (and is this week’s guest on PPP):

“We offer a monthly tea subscription which helps busy professionals create more moments that matter.”

Here’s one for Tanya Geisler, a leadership coach & Impostor Complex expert:

“I offer programs and coaching that helps high-performing women identify and achieve their biggest goals.”

And here’s one more for my buddy Megan Auman, a designer & metalsmith:

“I design jewelry that helps professional women show up to everything from board meetings to sales presentations to PTA meetings with the utmost confidence.”

The reason this works so well is because our products and services are merely tools that customers use to get what they want. You don’t need to explain your life philosophy, you don’t need to list our your company values, you don’t even need to explain your process (until they ask).

Definitely don’t use the word synergy. (Or any other industry jargon your competitors are spewing.)

All anyone cares about at first is how your product or service is going to help them get what they want.

When you open a conversation about your product by tying their ultimate desire (or one of them) to your product, you’ve created a context in which they’re open to hearing more. That’s huge.

Now, if this sounds like a “beginner” lesson, I assure you, it is not.

Look around and you’ll see all sorts of businesses that resort to spending tons of money on advertising and annoying marketing practices just to avoid making a simple statement about what their products or services actually do for people.

Don’t be like them.

I’ve also noticed while working with businesses like yours trying to break through to the next stage that refocusing on a simple statement of what they do can make all the difference in the world for identifying new opportunities.

You could completely change the way you see your business (and how it makes money) just by getting clear on what it is that you actually help people do–just like Andy did when he created the tea subscription service for Plum Deluxe.

Give this simple script a try this week and see how it goes! Let me know when you do.

 

Don’t Make This Crucial Branding Mistake In The Name of Growth

Wanna make more money? Do something new! Right?

Wrong.

It’s tempting to think that putting out another new product, repackaging your services in another cool way, or adding yet another new social media platform to your bevy of options will help you rake in more cash.

9 times out of 10, this is completely false.

The #1 branding mistake I see business owners making when it comes to their brands (and their business models) is thinking more equals better.

“More” most often means diluted.

More doesn't mean better when it comes to your brand or business model.

22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries & Laura Ries

 

Another product people just don’t quite get, another form of content they don’t feel the need to keep up with, another message that doesn’t quite hit home. 

What if you put all your energy into staking a claim on just 1 thing?

1 product, 1 service, 1 form of content, 1 message…

You might turn a small initial success into a $2.5m product.

You might publish a book that keeps the speaking gigs rolling in year after year.

Or, you might launch a podcast that skyrockets to the top of the charts and commands higher sponsorship fees than podcasts with larger audiences like this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. guest, Kathleen Shannon, did.

You’ll definitely have a stronger, more recognizable, and more profitable brand than you did before.

The key to a stronger brand, a bigger pay day, and more credibility in your market isn’t more, it’s more focused and more consistency.

What are you going to edit out of your brand or business today for the sake of focusing on the 1 thing that will get you where you want to go?

The Power of Self-Publishing: More Customers, Credibility, and Cash

Tara Gentile on Self-Publishing on Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Tara:  Welcome to a special episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  This week, we’re turning the mic around and welcoming our producer, Michael Karsh into the booth.  Michael asked me about my experience writing and publishing four books, how they’ve led to more credibility, customers, and cash in my business, and the unexpected way those books fit into my business model.  Michael, take it from here.

Michael:  Hey there, my name is Michael Karsh.  I’m the Executive Producer of Content at CreativeLive.  I’ve had the honor of not only producing some episodes of Tara Gentiles podcast, but also producing several of her workshops here at CreativeLive, so I’m honored actually to be talking to her today about self-publishing, and I wanted to ask Tara some questions that she could share with the audience.  So Tara, where was your business at when you decided to publish your first book?

Tara:  Oh, when I decided to publish my first book, it was way back in 2011, and that was a very long time ago it seems like now, but my business was, you know, a fairly successful business coaching business.  Which meant that on a regular basis, I was, you know, working with one-on-one clients, you know, maybe 5 to 10 at a time.  I was also running a blog that had some advertising components to it, and making money through some kind of early stage courses as well, so while I had multiple streams of revenue, the biggest part of my business was just one-to-one services, one-to-one coaching, as it is with many of our listeners’ businesses, and while it was … while I would certainly call it successful, it was paying the bills, and it was much more than paying the bills.  I mean, I had already become our family’s breadwinner at that point.  It also wasn’t, you know, this ticket to wealth and fame, and you know, I wasn’t rolling in money.  Not that I am now, either, but it’s a, you know, my business is very different now.  So I was where a lot of people are.  I was getting traction, certainly, with my blog, with content marketing that I was doing, with social media marketing, but there were a lot of other things that I wanted.  I wanted to move into working in more leveraged solutions, so I wanted to create more programs, I wanted to work with more entrepreneurs and business owners at one time, and most of all, I wanted to book more speaking gigs, because I love being on stage or behind the microphone, and speaking for me was just this big, big goal that I had.  And of course, one of the best ways to book more speaking gigs is to release a book, and of course, it also just happened to be that my other kind of lifelong goal, other than getting on stage, was publishing a book.  And so it just seemed like it was a good time.  Back in 2011, everyone was publishing books, and also, back in 2011, everyone was charging crazy sums of money for books.  It’s very different than it is now, but I was, you know, I was in a market where people were charging anywhere from $40 to $150 for a pdf eBook, and it just seemed like, wow, that’s got to be a pretty easy way to get published, make some money, woo some new clients, establish some more credibility, and that’s what I wanted to do, so that’s why I did it.

Michael:  So, wow.  So it’s 2011, and people are charging $100 for a book, a pdf.  How did you decide what the topic was going to be for the first book you were going to write and self-publish?

Tara Gentile on writing a book on Profit. Power Pursuit.Tara:  Yeah, so the way I decided the first topic was sort of like if you could imagine a Venn diagram of what I was most interested in and the questions that people were asking me most, that’s what my topic ended up being, and it was all about money.  I was really interested in money, because I realized starting to make more and more and more of it, and having to set prices on the value of my time, the value of my work, the value of the results that I was getting for people, I had a lot of money stuff to deal with, and I saw it holding me back.  There were all these limiting beliefs that I had, all these misconceptions about what money was all about, and all of this sort of positive program about money that I had gotten in my childhood that was reprogrammed in just five years of working for someone else, and so those questions were super interesting to me.  It was really what was consuming the vast majority of my time not spent with clients is trying to work through these issues.  But on the flip side of that, as I worked through those issues, and largely, you know, did it very publicly, because that’s what I do, and when there’s things that are on my mind, when there’s questions I’m asking myself, you can bet it’s going to show up on my blog or in my podcast, or you know, wherever I’m creating content.  So I was, you know, wrestling with those questions publicly as well, and people were talking back like crazy.  I was getting emails, I was getting blog comments, people were talking to me on social media.  They just, they wanted to hear more and more and more, and the, seemingly, the demand for this topic was just limitless.  And it was like, okay, that’s very easy, this is what my first book topic is going to be, and what I did is sort of take the work that I had been doing, the questions that I had been asking myself in my head, and I just created a super simple outline.  Like I think these are the 10, 12, 15, I don’t even remember now, topics that I want to kind of cover.  These are the questions I want to ask, answer, and these are the messages that I want to share, the kind of conclusions that I’ve come to.  And I just parsed that out in Evernote.  That’s one thing that has not changed about the way I produce books.  I parsed that out in Evernote, and just wrote a bunch of small essays, answering these questions, dealing with these stories, and kind of sharing the messages that I wanted to share, and that became the very first eBook, The Art of Earning.

Michael:  So did that process, the process of you before you started, or staring down at your computer screen in your Evernote thing, before you started writing versus when you actually wrote the book, was it easier than you thought?  Was it more difficult?  What was going in your mind before you started versus when you had this thing complete?

Tara:  Yeah, great question.  So for me, keep in mind, I had been blogging at that point since 2010, so a year and a half, not a ton of time, but I was producing a lot of content, so I was producing probably anywhere between 500 and 1500 words a day, which is not a lot in and of itself, but you know, over 365 days out of the year, you know, maybe I wasn’t doing every single day, but most days, I was producing quite a lot of content, and I was writing a lot.  So I didn’t think that the process of, you know, creating these I think it was 13,000 words, I didn’t think that was going to be that difficult, and it wasn’t, but at the same time, I realized through the process, and definitely later on with my other books that writing a quote/unquote book is very different than writing for your blog every day.  13,000 words in my blog is very different than a 13,000 word eBook, and maybe that’s obvious to everybody else but me, but I feel like every time I sit down to write a book, it’s sort of this reminder of, like, yeah, I’m switching from short-form content to long-form content, and that’s even from someone like me who my short-form content tends to be between 1500 and 3000 words.  So it’s not that I’m not capable of creating long thoughts, it’s that I’m a little more reticent to creating long thoughts over, you know, long periods of time, over many pages.  So that very first book, that actually wasn’t an issue, because each of the essays, while they certainly, there’s an order to them, there’s an arc to it, it’s not one narrative, it’s multiple essays.  You know, sort of the way, if you think of a short story collection, it’s like that.  There’s a theme, but it’s not … It’s not … It’s not one narrative.  So I wrote that first book basically on two transcontinental flights.  So the summer that I wrote that book, I flew back and forth from Pennsylvania to Portland twice, and that was my writing time.  That was back before there was Wi-Fi on many planes.  Man, geez.  And so I wasn’t bogged down by any of my other work.  I, like I said, I plotted out the outline, and I just went through it, and it was such a work of joy for me to be able to finally get the stuff down on paper in a way, or digital paper, in a way that made sense to me, and allowed me to kind of answer some of the questions in a way that I hadn’t before.

Michael:  Ah, that’s excellent.  So you mentioned that you’ve now published four books.  So how did writing that first book differ from writing all the subsequent books?  You had mentioned that, you know, the first one was really a compilation of many different essays, so how is that different from the subsequent books you’ve written?

Tara:  Yeah.  Each of the books that I have written have become more and more one narrative arc.  So the second book that I wrote was called The Art of Growth, also a very short book.  I think that one was about 15,000 words, and The Art of Growth started as a few content pieces that I had already created, but then I wrote content that bridged those altogether and created one narrative and one kind of argument in this book, and so there’s still some disjointedness in there, there’s still some of that like I’m going to look at this theme from multiple different angles, but there’s also much more of an undercurrent of, you know, here’s what we’re trying to accomplish in this book, which is really looking at how your business evolves as it grows.

The third book was Quiet Power Strategy.  That’s by far my longest book.  It’s a little over 30,000 words, and that’s kind of written in three different parts.

And then my last book, The Observation Engine, which just came out last fall, is a very short book.  That one’s only 8000 words, but it is from start to finish one idea, and so that was actually a big accomplishment.

So that’s one way that the books have changed.  Another way that the books have changed is that when I wrote that first book in 2011, you weren’t able to or maybe just people weren’t publishing directly to the Kindle store, yet.  Kindle was still a very new concept, and so when I published that book, I was specifically publishing it as a pdf.  That’s what everybody else was doing, and it’s one of the reasons we were able to command prices that were so outside of the regular book market, and so that book kind of stood on its own that way.  Every other book that I’ve released, I’ve released a Kindle version at the same time.  I’ve released my … the version on my website.  I’ve also, the pricing has also dramatically changed.  So that very first book I wrote with a suggested retail price of $25, because like I said, that was sort of, you know, that was even on the low side of the market rate, the going rate at the time, but I also published it with a pay what you want model.  So you were able to go into my website and change the price on the book to anything from $5 on up.  $5 was the low end, and so I sold a great number of books based on people talking about, you know, this pay what you want thing.  So that was huge.  It added this whole viral component to it that I didn’t really, I sort of anticipated it, but not to the degree that it created, and so you know, just as a quick aside, interestingly enough, the pay what you want price, the average over the first, I think, three years of that book was about $15.  Which meant that there were a lot of people paying full price for that book, because there were a heck of a lot of people paying $5 for it, and so that $15 mark was one that kind of really stuck out in my brain as like okay, this is about where people feel good about self-published, independent content with a very specific purpose for them and what they want to achieve, and so that’s kind of been the price point, then, that I’ve worked with since then.  But that said, that’s the price point that I use for what I call my multimedia packages, and so now, again, when I release a book, I release a package of things, and so it’s the pdf version, it’s the audiobook, and then it’s multiple mobile files so that you can use it on any device.  What that allows me to do, then, is put it on the Kindle store at a much cheaper price.  So $2.99, $5.99, which is much more in keeping with the marketplace over there, and the price that people expect to pay, but it also allows me then to distribute it too as many people as possible, and that’s really what Amazon has allowed us to accomplish in the last five years that we could not when I published that first book.  So now, when I publish a book, it’s with this dual purpose of both releasing that multimedia package to my audience, because they greatly prefer to just buy it straight through me, get that audio book, get all that good stuff, but also, getting it into the Amazon store, where I can be the number one bestseller in, you know, in a subsection of business for a week, and get in front of people I would have never gotten in front of before, and so that, that to me is kind of the most exciting change in the eBook market over the last five years.

Michael:  So you mentioning the price of a book and how it can drive revenue.  I’m sort of interested in how does publishing fit into your business model?  Fit into what you want in your business?

Tara:  Yeah.  So this is a great question, and it’s a big misconception that people have.  So while I definitely make profit and drive revenue through books in my business, the way I view books in terms of my business model is as marketing.  So I mentioned that we’ve had this huge change where Amazon allows us to put our content in front of more people than ever before, whether that’s as a low-cost eBook, or whether that’s as a free eBook, and you can even do things like the Kindle Select Program, I think I’m saying that right, and I probably got it wrong, but where you can actually promote your Kindle book for free if you agree to not distribute it anywhere else, which I think is, you know, that really works well for people.  It’s not something that I use.  So yeah, so I use books as marketing, and I actually, in several of my large launches, I’ve done several six-figure launches of information and coaching programs over the last couple of years.  My most successful launches have been as the piggy back to a book launch.  So what I’ll do is actually create the book around the conversation that I want to have, the answer to the question that everybody is asking, and share that book with as many people as possible, because people love talking about books.  They love sharing books.  They love reading books.  They love engaging with books and with authors.  And so it allows me to create this amazing momentum and attention at the beginning of a launch, and then once people have been able to digest that a little bit, look further for answers, look, you know, ask new questions.  I’m able to kind of swoop in on the backend of that with a follow-up launch that actually sells my coaching program.  So it’s not like I leave anything out of the books, because I couldn’t do that even if I tried.  I put as much into them as I possibly can, but of course, when you read a book, you have new questions.  That’s sort of the beauty of reading a book is that for all the answers that it can provide to you, it’s also going to spark a whole lot of curiosity and new questions as well, and so then for that curiosity and new questions, I have other offers, and so the books become marketing for the higher-ticket offers that are actually what drives the vast majority of my revenue, even though the customer base, the client base for that is, you know, exponentially smaller.

Michael:  So then can you share with us some of the successes that you’ve had as a direct result of your four self-published books?

Tara:  Yeah.  So this is kind of like it still blows my mind some of the things that I’ve been able to do specifically because of the books that I’ve written.  That very first book, The Art of Earning, got me a keynote talk at Etsy headquarters up in Brooklyn that was livestreamed out to 10s of thousands of their sellers.  I believe that was, I think that was actually in 2011.  If not, it was 2012, and for years afterwards, I actually went looking for it today, and I think they’ve taken it down now, but for years afterwards, I’d get tweets and emails and Facebook messages about that talk, and so yes, books have gotten me speaking gigs, but books have gotten me some really incredible speaking gigs, like that one at Etsy headquarters.  I’ve also gotten to speak in Scotland, in Wales, in Cancun, you know, in Portland, in Austin, in Washington, D.C., all over the place, specifically on the topics of my books.  You know, people still want me to talk about The Art of Earning and money.  They definitely want me to come and talk about Quiet Power Strategy, which is my third book, and so these gigs come directly out of that.  We also get a lot of clients that come to us specifically because of my books as well, and so you know, we’ll get an email that says, you know, are you accepting new clients?  When does your program enroll next?  I just got finished reading Quiet Power Strategy, and I really want to work with you.  Nothing else has spoken to me like your book has spoken to me.  You’re the people I want to work with.  And so that means we’re taking a $10 sale, or even a $7 sale, and it’s translating immediately into a $1500 to $3500 sale.  That is a huge way to, you know, kind of ramp up that customer journey in a very, very, very fast way.  Something that you wouldn’t be able to accomplish with traditional email marketing or with a webinar.  Books can do that very fast.

We just hosted our very first conference, actually, which I suppose is another result of my book, Quiet Power Strategy, but we just hosted our very first conference called Quiet Power Strategy: The Summit, and our opening keynote speaker was a guy named Charlie Gilke, who is also a brilliant self-published author.  He has a book called The Small Business Life Cycle.  I highly recommend it.  But he talked in his keynote about how books are this extremely unique medium that will scale infinitely.  In other words, you know, once you’ve written and published and printed the book, there’s no cost for selling more of them.  You just sell them and sell them and sell them.  But they’re the one thing that scales infinitely that also has this incredibly intimate, almost one-to-one feeling, environment to it, and so that’s how you can work people through your customer journey so fast, or book the speaking gig, or get the media feature, because as soon as they read that book, they have this personal, intimate relationship with you as an author and with your ideas as solutions to their problems, and that means they’re going to want more.  That means they trust you in a way that you cannot accomplish otherwise.  They have this relationship with you that allows them to say yes, she’s the one, he’s the one, they are the people that can help me with this particular problem.  And so for people who want to figure out how to scale their business quickly but maintain that intimacy and relationship, books are the thing that will do that like nothing else.

Michael:  Oh, that’s excellent.  That’s great.  So I want to switch topics just a little bit and ask you about the marketing of the books.

Tara:  Yeah.

Michael:  I know we’ve talked about this before.  So it sounds like when you started writing your first book, like, you had all this content, you were ready to get going, and you did it.  So tell me about actually marketing your books once they’re published.

Tara:  Yes.  So this is where I am the worst.  Self-admittedly.  So for me, I put all of my emphasis, all of my effort, all of my energy into the process of unpacking the ideas and getting them written into a form that’s going to make sense for people, that’s going to be engaging and readable, and help them solve their problems.  And so while marketing is something that in all other cases, I pride myself on, I think about probably more than anything else, when it comes to writing a book, it’s the thing I think about last, and I think you hear that from a lot of authors.  Chris Guillabeau might actually be an exception, where here is a brilliant book marketer, but yeah, a lot of authors that I talk to, our focus is on writing, it’s on creating, it’s on understanding the idea that we’re trying to communicate, and the marketing is kind of the thing that falls by the wayside.

Now, that said, as I said earlier, because books are marketing for me, I don’t need to reach tens of thousands of people with my books to achieve my goals.  I can reach 1000 people.  I could reach 100 people with my book and reach my goals, and there have been times where that has specifically been my goal.  You know, I don’t care if I don’t get 1000 sales on the very first day.  What I care about is that the right ten people or the right 100 people are reading that book, and so I give a lot of books out for free, whether that’s to my membership community, whether that’s at speaking gigs, whether it’s for, you know, as gifts for telesummits that I speak at, or you know, when I’m on CreativeLive, I’m always giving books away for free.  To me, the book is the marketing, and the important thing is that people read it, and so that’s a huge piece of the marketing of the book to me is actually just getting it in people’s hands, letting them read it, and having them talk to their friends about it.  And then also for me, for where I’m at in my business, another piece of marketing for my books is actually speaking gigs.  So speaking gigs come from books, and speaking gigs also lead back to books, and so if I give a talk on Quiet Power Strategy or I give a talk on The Art of Earning, people are going to go and read that book.

Another thing that I’ve done pretty successfully in terms of marketing my books is actually create little business cards for my books.  So Moo lets you do this really, really easily, and one time, probably the time that I executed this best was for my very first book I made a little Moo card that looked like the cover of my book, or resembled the cover of my book, and on the flip side of it, I put a quote from the book.  So there were all sorts of like little pithy quotes throughout the book, and I think I picked like 10 of them, and you know with Moo cards, you can print 10 different things on the backs of the same cards, and so what I would do is I would go around to the different workshops that I was teaching at conferences or locally, and I would just put a Moo card with my book on it on every chair before my workshop, and they could go there and purchase the book, or you know, maybe if I was giving it away for free that time, they’d get it for free, but that way, they not only had this kind of physical reminder of the book, but they also, it was almost like a fortune cookie, you know, the back of the book.  Like this is your money mantra for today, and so that was super, super effective.

Reviews are incredibly effective.  So the more you can ask people to talk about your book on their blog, on their podcast, on their, you know, even just leave a review on Amazon, that’s huge.  And then the other, the, the, probably the biggest way I’ve marketed my books over the years is through interviews.  So interviews like this one, actually, but on other people’s podcasts instead of mine.  Where any time I’ve got a new book coming out, I’ll make a list of 20, 30 different podcasts that I want to be on.  We’ll pitch those people.  The vast majority of them say yes, and you know, they love it, because they know exactly what they want to ask me about, they’ve got sort of an outline for the whole thing.  We can talk about the book, we can talk about other things, but you know, with that as well, I don’t have to pitch it.  All I have to do is talk about it and talk about the ideas, and that makes people want to read it.  So it’s a really great way of, again, of establishing a relationship, creating that intimacy, and then also following that up with the sale.

Michael:  That’s great.  So I wanted to ask you when you’re sitting down to write it, or even before, when you decide you’re going to write a new book, do you … Do you write out clear goals of what you want to occur from this book?  What you want to happen from this book?  Is it that clear?  Or …

Tara:  You know, I should.  I wouldn’t say that I sit down and write them out, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about what I want from a launch, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what the specific purpose of launching this book is right now.  Because at any given time, there’s probably 20 books rattling around in my head that I could write, right?  So if I’ve picked a particular idea, and I’ve picked a particular release date, there’s a reason that I’ve picked those things, and so I want to think about what is that specific intention that I have for this book, this idea, at this moment in time, for my business, for myself personal, and for my customers?  What is that problem that I’m going help them fix with this book, and how does that relate to then their relationship back to my business and with me?  And so while I might have sales goals, financial goals, review goals, you know, five-star goals, whatever it might … whatever metrics you might be using to measure the success of your book launch, for me, it’s much more about the intention and purpose behind that launch than it is about a specific metric, and so that’s what I tend to spend my time goalsetting thinking about.

Michael:  And is that calendar, when you’re looking at that as part of maybe even a further product launch and education product that you might be selling as a result of say a book you publish, are you looking at a calendar six months to a year out?

Tara:  Yeah, I’m always looking at least 12 months out.  So you know, right now, I know at least what I’m going to be launching through this time 2017.  So, you know, June 2016 to June 2017, really, I could tell you what we’re going to be launching to the end of December 2017.  We look pretty far, excuse me, we look pretty out at this point, because we have a pretty big ship to steer.  If you have a younger, less mature business, less moving parts, less people that you have to pay, you know, I think you can easily look three to six months in advance, but especially when you’re thinking about writing books and while, you know, in the CreativeLive class, we’re going to be talking about doing it in five days, which yes, is totally possible, you know, most people want to spend a little bit more time with their books than that, and so you know, maybe it takes you a month to produce your book.  Maybe it takes you six months to produce your book.  The Quiet Power Strategy book really took me almost a year and a half from ideation to publication, and I worked solidly on it for probably about four months.  Books are something that I could always spend more time on.  Michael, we were talking with Jason Womack earlier today, and he posted the question for us, you know, three, six, nine months from now, what would you wish you had spent more time on?  What would you have wished you started earlier?  And for me, it is always the book.  I always wish I started the book earlier, and so planning six, twelve, eighteen months out is really important for me in kind of thinking through where that book is going to fit in my world, in my life, in my customer’s life, and that helps me kind of get, you know, like I said, it’s marketing, for me, and so if it’s going to be part marketing for me, then that means I need to know where it fits in the whole scheme of what my business is creating and offering at any given time.

Michael:  So, now physically, how you actually find the time to do it, and because it is a marketing tactic for you and for your business, how do you schedule that into your life?  So say, for instance, you’re going to be working on a book for the next two months, what are the systems that you use in order to make sure you’re doing the work necessary to hit that launch date?

Tara:  Yeah, so I still write on airplanes. 

Michael:  And you travel a lot.

Tara:  And I travel a lot.  So for me, books are about … books are rarely a part of my eight-hour workday.  For me, books are about those stolen pockets of time where you have motivation, inspiration, and the space to do something different.  For me, that happens on airplanes.  For a lot of my clients, it happens on Saturday mornings, where they’re very happy to not sleep in on the weekend.  They might even be very happy to put their kid in front of Saturday morning cartoons and sit in the office and write for two hours, right?  And so if you give yourself enough time, ahead of time because you’re planning, you can absolutely write your book in eight Saturday mornings.  There’s no reason you can’t do that.  Especially if you’re looking at a ten to fifteen-thousand-word book.  Very, very doable.  I greatly admire people who do the, you know, ass in chair form of writing, you know, as professional writers do, but for as much as I write, for as much money as I make writing and as a result of my writing, I am not a professional writer.  I run a business training company, and so that’s my 9 to 5 job, or my 9 to 5 responsibility, and so I find time outside of that to write my books, whether that’s an hour while I’m drinking a beer at the bar when I write, or whether that’s on an airplane, or whether it’s at a personal retreat.  So you know, if I’m getting closer to a deadline than I would like to be, I will certainly take a writing retreat.  Our mutual friend, Vanessa Van Edwards was just doing a writing retreat to finish up her book that’s due in June, and yeah, I love that.  You know, just two days holed up in a nice hotel with room service, you can bang out a lot of work in that time.  I was recently on a retreat in Austin, and I wrote about, and this was like with a horrible headache and like non-optimal conditions, wrote I think about five to seven thousand words just sort of in one afternoon just banging it out because I knew what I wanted to write, I knew what the intention was behind it, and I had the stolen pocket of time where there was nothing better for me to be doing than this work, and it was really what I wanted to be doing, too.

Michael:  So for all those people out there who might be deciding whether or not they want to write and self-publish their first book or additional books, what are some of the common misconceptions you think are out there regarding writing and self-publishing?

Tara:  Oh, there’s so many misconceptions about this.  I think the first misconception is that you can’t make money self-publishing, and that you can’t get distributed to very many people self-publishing.  So as many people know, I used to work in the bookselling industry.  I managed a Borders Books and Music for five years.  It was a $5 million store.  We had books from all of the major publishers, all the bestsellers.  Oprah mentioned a book, people started streaming through our doors asking for it.  We also had a vibrant local book section, which was my, one of my responsibilities, among many others.  And so it was my job to liaise with the self-published authors at that time, and so we’re talking 2004 to 2009, and all of those books were, yes, not distributed well.  They were … we were the primary place people were selling those books.  For some of those authors, we sold a lot of books and made them a lot of money.  But for most of them, their book just sort of languished on the shelf, and it made them feel really good, but it wasn’t going anywhere, and it didn’t matter what the quality was of it, no one was going to find out about it, no one was going to buy it, and it just, you know, it just sat there.  That is not the case anymore with self-publishing.  You can be a self-published author and hit the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list.  My friend, Srini Rao, has done that in the last year.  Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income just released a self-published book and go it on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list.  That is an incredible accomplishment, and represents thousands and thousands and thousands of books sold, and sure, Pat and Srini both have big platforms, but I think what is … what’s most remarkable about that is not the size of their platform or their ability to move people, but really the accessibility of that amazing goal.  I’ve been on the Amazon Bestseller list.  You know, every time I publish a new book, it gets on the bestseller list there.  I will tell you, it is not that hard, but I will also tell you that when you are ranking in the top 10 in business or the top 10 in leadership or the top 10 in small business or whatever your shelf would be in the bookstore, more people are seeing your work that have never seen your work before, and that’s what’s important, right?  And so that’s one of the big misconceptions that people have about self-publishing, that you can’t make any money, and no one new is going to see your book.  You absolutely can make money.  I make nice amount of money from Amazon every month.  I make a nice amount of money through my own website based on my books every month, and absolutely new people are finding me and my work every day through Amazon.  That’s incredible.

Other misconceptions.  I think that it’s hard, it really could not be easier.  I used a platform called PressBooks.com, which is based on WordPress, that allows me to input my books into an interface that feels extremely familiar to me, because I’ve been a, I guess a digital lifelong WordPress user, and hit a button, and literally get my Kindle book in seconds from there.  Upload it to the Kindle platform and I’m done.  It really is that, that easy.  I think that probably sounds ridiculous, but obviously, in the class, I’m going to show people exactly how to do that, and it is absolutely that easy.  It’s also easy to create a pdf.  You can create a pdf book from Google Docs.  You can create a pdf book from Pages, which is what I use, the Mac word processing.  You can create a pdf from Microsoft Word.  With platforms like Canva or Creative Market or, you know, all of the, 99 Designs, all of those design services that are out there, DIY or done for you, you can get an eBook cover made in no time at all for very little money.  You can even publish a print book very easily.  The last two books I created are available in print as well.  They’re available through CreateSpace, which is an Amazon company, and so they’re right on Amazon.  You can buy a print version of Quiet Power Strategy.  It looks great.  It looks better than what we used to sell at Borders, for sure, and so that, also I think is a misconception, that this is just about eBooks.  Self-publishing is not just about eBooks.  It’s about books, and again, as a former bookseller, I can tell you that, you know, whereas people used to thumb their nose at the idea of an eBook, an eBook doesn’t really exist anymore.  All we have are books.  Sometimes those books are consumed digitally, sometimes those books are consumed as pdfs, also digitally, but let’s maybe think of it a little differently, and sometimes, those books are conceived as… consumed as print books.  They’re all just books, which means that when I self-publish an eBook to, you know, a producer at CNN, or you know, FastCompany or Inc. or Forbes, what they’re seeing is Tara is an author of this book, and that makes her credible, that makes her someone that we can go to as an expert interview, and that’s happened, and so there’s, yeah, there’s also this misconception that self-publishing doesn’t get you as much credibility as publishing with a traditional house, and that is largely not true anymore as well.

So yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to go the traditional publishing route, and we can talk about that as well, but there are so many good reasons to go after self-publishing now, and most of the reasons that you wouldn’t have done it five years ago are completely false now.

Michael:  So you mentioned your upcoming for whoever, whenever, and someone is listening to this, your upcoming CreativeLive class, which will be broadcasting on June 20th through June 24th, 2016.  So if you’re listening to this after, go to CreativeLive and watch a course, if you’re listening before, enroll so you can watch Tara.  Tell us a little bit about this class, and why did you want to teach this class specifically?  This is, I think, your fifth or sixth time coming back to CreativeLive?

Tara:  Yeah, it’s a lot.

Michael:  So why specifically this class?

Tara:  Yeah, so, well, Michael, you asked me what I could teach in five lessons, and I talked about it with Shawn, and I thought, oh, you know, I don’t know what I can teach in five lessons.  I feel like I’ve like put everything out on the table, and then it hit me.  A book.  I can teach someone how to write and publish a book in five days.  In five lessons.  Because there’s really not that much to it, and then I started thinking about things that I’ve done over and over again, and things that have gotten me amazing results over and over again, and it all comes back to self-publishing books, and so that’s why I though this is the perfect class to teach in this format.  This is the perfect class to teach right now.  It’s something I have never done before.  Something I’ve never even considered doing before.  You’d think if you’d published four books.  I’ve turned that into hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last five years, and I’ve never considered putting together a writing and publishing course or program or anything.  This seemed like the perfect time.  The other thing, the other piece of that, too, is I think that while we may not be selling eBooks anymore for $150 apiece, there has never been a better time to publish.  There has never been a better time to put your idea into that kind of format, get it up on Amazon, your own website, Barnes & Noble, wherever you want to sell it, because people are so hungry for ideas, and I think business owners are hungry for their ideas to be consumed, and there is still no better way to do that than a book.

Michael:  That’s excellent.  So okay, as we wrap up here, I have one more question for you.  So is there any advice you’d like to share with listeners who are trying to decide whether or not they’re going to write and publish their first book?

Tara:  Yeah.  I mean, I think you have to think about, well, one, my friend Bridget Lion’s favorite question, which is what do you want to be known for?  And if there is something burning at you, something that you want to be known for, something that you want to say on a stage, or simply, you know, talk to clients about on a daily basis, if that, if the answer to that question is burning at you, or even just the question itself, if you just want to be known for one of the wonderful ideas, one of the brilliant, insightful ideas that you have, for the system that you use with clients, for the conclusion that you’ve made about a big life lesson, that is when it’s time to write a book, and start now.  Don’t wait.  Don’t wait.  You know, like I said, the only, one of the only things in my business that I’m ever saying, “Oh, I should have started that sooner,” is books.  Every single book, I wish I would have started sooner.  I wish I would I would have published sooner.  I wish I would have said what I wanted to say sooner.  So I think the question sort of isn’t if you’re going to write a book, it’s when you’re going to write a book, and I think the answer to that question is now.

Michael:  That’s excellent.  Tara, thank you so much.  I am really looking forward to your class that we have coming up on the 20th.  Other than that, I think that was a wonderful interview, so thank you.

Tara:  Thank you.

Michael:  Excellent.

Tara:  What can boost your credibility, woo new clients, and bring in more cash for your business?  Publishing a book.  Luckily, you don’t have to wait for a big name publisher to tap you on the shoulder.  In my brand new CreativeLive class, I’ll guide you through writing and publishing your book faster than you thought possible.  Find it at CreativeLive.com/EBook.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh at CreativeLive.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shamezu.  Daniel Peterson wrote our theme song and also edited this episode.  I share more insight and ideas about every episode on Facebook.  Let’s connect.  Find me at TaraGentile.com/Facebook.  Finally, every day, you’ll find free broadcasts of game changing classes at CreativeLive.com.