Non-creepy love for Philip at 9:01 am EST

List member Tricia shared her experience with being on the receiving end of daily emails. Emails that she started out not really even wanting…

I’ve been wanting to email you for a little while with this little story. 

Initially I kind of hated your emails. I sneered at them and celebrated a little every time I DIDN’T click the link to your offer (kinda sad).  After all, I didn’t really know you that well (I found you via Brennan’s podcast).  Thought it was a little crazy that you were emailing me every day AND had a link to your offer each and every time.  I contemplated unsubscribing, but never did. 

Over time I started to get to know you a little and eventually like you.  Then I bit the bullet and became a customer in November, some email correspondence followed and interaction in Brennan’s DYFA.  Somewhere along the way I started to love you in a non-creepy, you’re-about-to-change-my-biz/life kinda way (Btw, the audio response to one of my emails is what made me an INSTANT raving fan.  I told EVERYONE about that.).

Now I look forward to my 9:01 EST emails!  I think one came later in the day a little while ago and I actually wondered where was Philip?  I figured you were taking some time off. My two fave subject lines so far is this one and the man-boobs!!!  Such good little stories + tidbits that reinforce the positioning mindset.  Love it.

I’m not inside Tricia’s head so I can’t explain why this shift from hating to loving the emails happened for her, but I can speculate:

  1. I actually care about the problems facing Tricia and others in the self-employed software developer world. Yeah, I sell every day in my emails. Yeah, I have fun and even get very goofy sometimes with these emails. But I actually care enough to show up via my emails every weekday, and over time that creates an emotional bond between the ~30% of my email list that consistently reads my emails and me.
  2. I provide a “balanced diet” of value. It’s not all cold, hard, actionable how-to information. “What?!?!” I hear you saying? “There are other forms of value other than cold, hard, actionable how-to information!?!?!” Why yes, there are! Consuming a diet of 100% cold, hard, actionable, how-to information would be like eating nothing but Kale salads for every meal. Or speaking to your loved ones only about balancing the checkbook. If you’re interested in the paradox of trust and how trust is actually built, go to Google, search for 100 most trusted people in America, and then tell me why you think that list is skewed so heavily towards entertainers.
  3. I am willing to be polarizing and provocative in the viewpoints, content, and writing style I use with this list.  Contrast creates interest.

Should you use email marketing in the way that I am?

Maybe… I don’t know. Depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –>

“Wouldn’t I be lying if I said I had that kind of expertise?”

I get this question about positioning sometimes:

“If I focus on a market vertical where I don’t have much or any experience, am I lying?”

Usually the actual question isn’t stated quite so bluntly, but that’s really what’s being asked.

The actual question might look more like one of the following:

    • “How can I focus on a specific market vertical if I don’t have prior experience in that vertical?”
    • “The imposter syndrome kicks in real hard when I think about narrowing down my focus to a market vertical I don’t have previous experience in.”

If you say something that’s not true, then yes, you are lying. 🙂 But focusing on a market vertical where you have little or no experience is not lying. It’s choosing, and it’s the beginning of a process. Let me explain…

In my 20’s I visited Mexico several times. Despite my Spanish being at about the same level as a 2-year old native speaker, the locals always appreciated that I at least tried to communicate in Spanish.

That’s what it’s like when you focus on a market vertical. You are visiting a “foreign country” and learning their native language. At first it is awkward.

However, it does not take very long to learn the basics of their “native language”. And the people in this “foreign country” (the market vertical you are focused on) really appreciate that you have taken an interest in them, and are attempting to learn their “language” (the specifics of their business, how their business works, and the problems that can be solved with software or technology).

So at first, that’s all you’re doing when you focus on a specific market vertical. You are choosing to visit their world and learn a little of their language.

You are not claiming to be a lifelong resident, or to know everything there is to know about their world. The process goes a little like this:

    1. You decide on a market vertical to focus on. For this example, let’s say you are a Rails developer and you’ve chosen to focus on logistics companies.
    2. At first, your positioning statement is: “Custom Rails apps for logistics companies”. When asked why you chose to focus on logistics companies, you might say something like this: “I find the challenge of creating custom software to minimize cost a very interesting one, and logistics companies usually seem to need help with that problem.” No potential client is going to interrogate you for 30 minutes about why you chose your focus. A simple answer like this is all you’ll usually need.
    3. After you build up a bit of a track record with logistics companies, you can start to narrow your positioning statement a bit. It might become: “I help logistics companies reduce lost freight insurance claims by up to 38% with custom software”. If someone is still curious why you chose logistic companies, you can provide any number of compelling reasons why. You might say, “At first it was kind of random, but after doing a few projects I saw that building just the right amount of custom software can dramatically reduce lost freight claims, so I decided to really specialize in this kind of work.” Or you might say, “Each time I did a project for a logistics company the results were better, so naturally I decided to focus 100% on logistics companies.”
    4. At some point, you may start declining or referring away projects that fall outside your area of expertise. You do this when you are ready. Before that point, you do whatever makes sense for your cashflow needs and available bandwidth. You resist the temptation to dilute your positioning or messaging during this “chasm crossing” period, which can last for 6 to 18 months in some cases.

Want more information on navigating this kind of transition in your business?:

Talk to you soon,

Growing a beard

They wanted to put Chuck Norris’s face on Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t hard enough for his beard.

Chuck Norris doesn’t shave, his beard grows to the perfect length and stops.

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

Chuck Norris’s beard can type 140 wpm.

There you have it, in descending order of length, the best Chuck Norris beard jokes I could find.

It takes me 8 months to grow a wispy excuse of a beard. Chuck Norris can probably do it in a week. Should I feel bad?

I dunno… the same task takes different people different amounts of time. Changing your market position is the same way.

The fastest I’ve seen is about 3 months. That’s the “Chuck Norris beard” version of a change in positioning. All the pieces were in place, this person just needed to make a decision about how to narrow their focus.

With most people, it’s like the “Philip Morgan beard” version of things. It takes a while and feels kind of slow. And they shouldn’t feel bad about that.

They should start sooner, though. 🙂

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you should start making the most important decision in your business sooner.

Who are your services focused on? What kind of improvement are you making to their condition?

If you need help making that decision, you’re not alone! –>

Talk to you soon,

The size-speed illusion

Ever wonder why people die at railroad crossings?

Somewhere around 2,000 to 3,000 collisions, around 1,000 injuries, and around 250 deaths per year happen at railroad crossings. Along with many other things, those numbers were even worse in the 80’s.

It seems so simple! See train coming, get out of the way before the train crushes you. Simple, right?

The speed-size illusion make this not so simple:

Leibowitz (1985) maintained that a large object seems to be moving slower than a small object travelling at the same speed. Support has been provided for Leibowitz’s theory from studies using simple shapes on a screen. However, the reasons behind the size-speed illusion remain unknown and there is no experimental evidence that it applies to an approaching train situation. To investigate these issues, we tested observers’ relative speed estimation performance for a train and a car approaching at a range of speeds and distances, in a simulated environment. The data show that participants significantly underestimated the speed of the train, compared to the car. 

That’s from a 2013 paper on the speed-size illusion and railway crossings.

The bigger it is, the slower it appears to be moving.

That applies to the future too.

The future is this massive thing that is steadily approaching you at the rate of 1 day per day, 1 year per year. That doesn’t seem fast until you look away for what seems like a moment and then BAM! that event that seemed so far away is right on top of you.

BAM! You’re up late the night before a deadline.

BAM! You’re cranking up velocity to try to hit an important milestone.

Most people tackle the long, slow work of specializing their services when they’ve gotten tired of their business stagnating. That’s not ideal. It’s kind of like jumping off the train tracks at the very last moment before the train passes by, without much margin for safety.

I hope you’ll consider specializing your services starting now, well before your business feels stagnated or stuck.

I’ve baked the most reliable, low-risk way to specialize your services into a course:


Talk to you soon,

Being Michael Jordan

Replicating Michael Jordan’s career is like getting struck three times by lightning. Closer to an act of God than anything you have control over.

Being a sought-after expert consultant is a job you can hire yourself for. It’s something you can dream, plan, execute on, achieve, and get better at. It’s 99% under your control.

Get started here:

Talk to you soon,


Impulse buy

It’s easier said than done, but in your positioning statement, avoid fancy language.

Instead, opt for plain, clear descriptions of whatever it is you’re describing.

At the Whole Foods checkout today I noticed something that made me think of you and how you might describe your market position.

Everybody knows that items displayed in a grocery store checkout line are chosen to go there because they’re “impulse buys”. They’re things that you didn’t plan to buy but oh well you’re here waiting in line you may as well pick one up.

They’re (almost) never labeled that way, though.

Check this out:

Impulse buy

That’s an impulse buy product labeled as such.

Again, that’s what you should do in your positioning. Avoid fancy, vague, or unclear language. Always opt to be plain, clear, and as precise as possible.

Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that:


Talk to you soon,

It’s bigger on the inside


Most niches are bigger on the inside than they appear from the outside.

I’m not sure I can prove this to you. You’re just gonna have to trust me.

Want to attract better clients? Identifying a strong market position is step #1. Learn how here:
Talk to you soon,

PS – The recording from the Dev Shop Marketing Briefing with Frank Rietta on content marketing is available for you to check out: I’ve made it possible to download these videos now in case you’re in a situation where you want to download and view them offline. Just click to start playing the video and check out the control bar at the bottom of the video. You’ll see a download icon there.

“clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing”

“A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.”

I’m pretty sure when Cormac McCarthy wrote the passage above for Blood Meridian he was actually describing the members of Congress who voted yesterday to allow ISPs to sell customer browsing history.


That’s also got to be the longest single sentence I’ve ever seen. Holy cow!

When you’re writing a positioning statement, look for opportunities to remove words to make it shorter and more punchy.

I’ve seen a few good positioning statements that use the word “and”, but not many. Usually the word “and” in a positioning statement means you’re shrinking back from being 100% clear about your ideal client or what you do for them.

Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that:

Talk to you soon,

2 weeks with a sheet of plastic taped over where the window *should* go

Some guys came by the house recently to replace the old crappy garden window in bathroom.

Here’s an artsy picture of the window:

garden window

I was working from home in order to give the contractor access to the house and was in the other room. I did not hear any power tools for the first 40 minutes or so.

This was unnerving at first, then VERY reassuring. Why?

It was unnerving because they’d already come out a few weeks ago to do measurements to order the right window, and in my mind this meant that when they arrived today with the window they’d hit the ground running.

But instead, they did MORE measuring, more careful checking, more thinking, more stuff that reduced the very real risk (anyone who has paid for a construction project of any size knows this) of my wife and I spending 2 weeks with a sheet of plastic taped over where the window should go because the window was off by 1/2” or whatever and they had to re-order and come back later to install.

What about you? What do you do to reassure your clients that the time and effort spent on up-front planing work is well-invested?

Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that:

Talk to you soon,

…Also Expert Shoe Repair

I hope you’re starting a week of challenging, interesting work done either for your own product(s) or for wonderful clients who highly value your expertise.

If not, maybe this will lighten your spirits:

lionel hutz, attorney and also expert shoe repair

If you’re stuck being like “Lionel Hutz Attorney Also Expert Shoe Repair”, I’d like to help you get unstuck and moving towards a market position that will bring you wonderful clients who highly value your expertise, check out my Positioning Accelerator Program:

Talk to you soon,