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    Man, I need to change my diet!

    Crap man, these nightmares keep happening!! Maybe I need to look into what I’m eating for dinner at night!This time my nightmare was that Donal Trump got elected president and immediately signed an executive order outlawing podcast guesting by anyone that isn’t him. Crud! How would I get high quality leads for my business now?In fact, how would you do that? I’m bullish on podcast guesting because it can build trust very rapidly, and in my nightmare you’d now be missing out on 1 very high quality lead gen channel (if you’re not Donald Trump)!The first thing I’d do is substitute some other lead generation activity from I’d look for something:

    1. That has a high trust velocity score
    2. That is repeatable and sustainable for me (consistency is super important with most lead-gen techniques)
    3. That I can execute on well

    Here’s what I think that would look like for me:ImageI’ve highlighted the lead-gen techniques that would be sustainable for me, but obviously your choices would be different. Because I live in the fairly densely populated San Francisco Bay Area, things like in-person educational events are an option.If I was in a hurry to start building a pipeline of opportunities, I would sort this list by what I call bootstrap coefficient instead (that puts fast starter lead-gen techniques at the top of the list).Now what if the Ministry of Truth forced me to relocate to Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, which is the least populous county in the US of A (pop of 5,588 but it’s the LARGEST county in the country at 147,805 square miles)? What then?That would definitely take in-person educational events off the table for me, unless I wanted to get on an airplane to deliver those. I don’t. :)But there are several other really good lead generation techniques on that can be delivered remotely, and I’d stick with those.As always, the key isn’t the specific tools you use, it’s all about combining the following elements: narrow market position + way to demonstrate your expertise and build trust over time + way for prospects to take action and ultimately give you money.Need help figuring out a powerful market position? You should read: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    Heart attack

    Janis was one of the few Oregon coast natives that I met while living there who was nice to outsiders.She worked at the health food store in Lincoln City, and after she noticed that we weren’t tourists (that took about 6 months), she warmed up to my wife and I.She told me about the time she had a heart attack.She was driving to work when she felt it coming on. She worked a few hours of her shift at the health food store before a co-worker noticed that she was sweating a lot. She told them she was having a heart attack and they somehow convinced her to go home where she spent another hour or so drinking an herbal tea that was supposed to reduce inflammation or something like that.I asked her how much the heart attack hurt. “A lot”, she said, adding that “it also made my left arm numb”. I forget where she rated it on the pain scale vs. childbirth, but I think she said it was pretty close.That’s one tough woman!! I think she eventually went to the ER to get it looked at.5 years later when she told me this story, she was going great, although she doesn’t drive much because she’s worried about having another heart attack, losing consciousness, and hurting others in a car crash.If your business is pretty new, you will probably go through a painful, difficult period. Maybe it will be a protracted dry spell, an insanely busy spell, or one where you feel like you’ve lost your original drive and purpose.The best time to prepare for difficulties like that is now. This can help: http://thepositioningmanual.comTo your business’ health,-P

    Woke up in a cold sweat again…

    Oh man, I had another nightmare last night!This time I dreamt I had committed a different thoughtcrime in a 1984-like world.I had written in a private forum that I thought the government-provided CMS was inferior to WordPress. As a result, the Ministry of Truth banned me from using WordPress, SquareSpace, or any conventional CMS. I could use the government-provided CMS if I wanted, but it was so bad that I decided anything would be worse, including not using a modern CMS at all.That meant that,, and my numerous other vanity domain names could resolve to any IP address I like or could 301 to any other domain name I liked, but no conventional CMS for you, Philip.If this actually happened, what would I do to keep my business running?The first thing I’d do is set up a group of linked landing pages. I suspect this would skirt the Ministry of Truth’s conventional CMS ban for me. Here’s what that would look like… would resolve to a relatively simple landing page hosted on something like LeadPages, Unbounce, or one of their numerous alternatives. The landing page would be a simple email list opt-in and some third-party proof that joining my list is a good idea. I’d also include something of value given away for free if you join the list. I think something like the Positioning Troubleshooting Guide from The Positioning Manual would probably work well because it aligns closely with one of the core themes of my list, which should avoid new subscribers getting “culture shock” after they spend some time on my list. is the main “mouth” of my online marketing funnel, and because that’s performing so well I’d keep it exactly the same, just hosted somewhere else. I’d code it up from scratch in HTML if I had to!My book sales page would be the same content, just hosted on a landing page provider.I’d do all my trust-building and demonstrations of credibility via my email list. For payment processing for my book and mentoring program, I’d just point people to a hosted solution like SendOwl or MoonClerk. I could probably embed “Buy Now” buttons for those items in simple landing pages to make the process easy for my customers.I’d acquire leads in the same way I do now, favoring high Trust Velocity activities from, let’s imagine that the Ministry of Truth blocked me from uploading to or downloading anything using HTTP or HTTPS! Doesn’t matter where I go or whose internet connection I use–those protocols are 100% off limits. What would I do then to market my services?Shit dawg, that makes things pretty challenging!!In this case, I think I’d have to convince third parties to promote my email address. So instead of giving a URL as my call to action when I guest on a podcast, I’d provide my email address, and then ask anyone who emails me in response if they wanted to join my list. I could do the same in print.On the one hand, this no-HTTP/HTTPS thing feels really limiting! Next to SMTP, HTTP is the uber-protocol in today’s internet.On the other hand, not being able to do anything with HTTP/HTTPS would free up a lot of time. I could funnel that time into other marketing methods like writing articles for niche publications (see for details on this), guest posting, and podcast guesting.As always, the key isn’t the specific tools you use, it’s combining the following elements: narrow market position + way to demonstrate your expertise and build trust over time + way for prospects to take action and ultimately give you money.Even if the Ministry of Truth had it in for me, I think I could get those three elements in front of potential clients for me services. You can too. :)Need help figuring out a powerful market position? You should read: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    A clever lead generation campaign

    Check out this clever lead generation campaign I recently saw on Facebook:ImageThere’s a lot going on in this campaign.PositioningNotice how it’s positioned as “Life Insurance for Cyclists”. Would this company write a policy for a non-cyclist? Probably.But they’ve narrowed the focus of this ad in order to get a better response rate.You can do the same. Instead of “betting the farm” by changing your entire business focus, you can narrowly focus your lead generation efforts to see how that narrow focus works out for you. In a year you could try out 2 or 3 potential areas of focus for your business.QuizThis ad leads to a quiz, which can work very well for a B2C lead generation campaign. It can also work well for B2B, but needs to be handled differently for that use case.All About ThemIs this ad touting the benefits of the company’s product? Nope!It’s connecting with the prospect by celebrating their health choices, and then linking those choices to a benefit (“save money on life insurance”, “lower premium that you deserve”).Remember that your marketing needs to be 100% about your prospects, their needs, and their particular way of seeing the world.The Market Research Handbook in the Complete Bundle of will help you learn what your best prospects really care about.

    Gettin sideways

    A friend of mine in high school got a traffic ticket.In the part of the ticket where the officer described why the ticket was issued, he wrote: Gettin sideways.I still laugh when I remember this. I guess my friend was doing donuts in a parking lot or something.It might help to know that I grew up in rural North Carolina, and my first after school job involved picking up bales of straw and throwing them onto a truck.That’s how people talk there. :)Before your marketing can be properly focused on your ideal client you need to be keenly aware of how they talk.

    • What problems are truly critical for them and which are merely annoying?
    • Is your client aware that there’s a solution to the problem, are they aware only of the problem, or are they not even aware of the problem itself? (the latter is the hardest to sell to)
    • What special language do they use when describing their business?

    The Market Research Handbook in the Complete Bundle of can help you figure this stuff out. It walks you through how to do research, which is the key to moving into a new market position where you have no contacts.Gettin sideways :)-P

    How to make me wake up in a cold sweat

    I woke up in a cold sweat this morning.I had a nightmare that I lived in George Orwell’s highly surveilled “1984” and Drip had cancelled my account for the thoughtcrime of wondering if their recent acquisition by LeadPages would be beneficial to me in the long term.This got me thinking… what would I do if my Drip account actually did disappear overnight? Assuming I couldn’t set up a new account with them and import my email list, what would I do instead?In fact, let’s make this thought experiment even more interesting. What would I do if I couldn’t use any kind of email marketing software at all? How would I continue to market my services in a scalable way?Of course I’d first try to hack the system and just run a small email list off my Gmail account. I’m a big enough believer in the power of email marketing that I’d want to continue email marketing even if it was less automated or less scalable.My calls to action (CTA) on stuff like would change from an opt-in form to a mailto: link. People would email me a request to join my email list list, and then I’d manually add them to a Gmail group or a list I manually copy/paste into the BCC field of every email I send my list.My email course would have to change to a different delivery format since that’s currently delivered via an email autoresponder. That’d be a bummer, but not the end of the world by any means.I’d miss being able to do list segmentation (send one thing to book customers and a different thing to people who haven’t bought my book) or I’d have to do it manually by moving people from one list to another. I’d also miss out on email automation like automatically sending a new email sequence to follow up with book customers, but I think the benefits of continuing to market over email would outweigh those drawbacks.But let’s say the Ministry of Truth found out about my usage of Gmail instead of Drip and blocked my ability to send any kind of email at all. What then?I’d start publishing a short (5 to 15m) daily podcast instead. The content would be the same as what I send out via email, combined with weekly featured interviews or guests. I’d syndicate this podcast heavily any way I could, starting with social media. The podcast CTA couldn’t be to email me thanks to the Ministry of Truth’s meddling, so it would probably point people to some kind of social media property where I could interact with my audience in both a one-to-many and a one-to-one fashion.BOOM! Take that, Ministry of Truth!ImageThis all points out an important lesson about marketing.The key to marketing your business effectively isn’t the specific tools you use, it’s combining the following elements: narrow market position + way to demonstrate your expertise and build trust over time + way for prospects to take action and ultimately give you money.If you get those three elements working consistently, then you’ll be in a dramatically better situation than if you just rely on luck, referrals alone, and doing good work (which is necessary but not sufficient to keep your pipeline full).Need help figuring out a powerful market position? You should read: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    Developer on Fire

    Dave Rael, host of the Developer on Fire podcast, asked me if I would talk about positioning with him.I of course said yes because I will talk to anyone about positioning.Want me to talk to your retired nurse’s knitting group about positioning? I’m there. Want me to talk to your group of at-risk youth about positioning? Count me in! :)Dave and I had a really interesting chat, covering topics from my greatest professional failure(s) to, of course, how positioning helps developers cultivate a stronger pipeline and a better business.Each time I do a podcast interview like this I get more comfortable sharing the nitty gritty realities of learning how to do self-employment the hard way (so you don’t have to), so check out my conversation with Dave here: to you soon,-P


    I recently test-drove a Lexus CT 200h and I hated it.Well, hate is probably too strong a word for what I felt, but I really was turned off by the car.I wanted to like it! The salesman said it’s built on the Prius platform: same chassis, same drivetrain, different body, different interior, and probably a different suspension tuning. Seems like it should have felt good but…The whole thing felt too heavy, too mushy, and out of balance.As I’ve been asked more and more to teach groups about positioning, one of the points I make early on is that developing a narrow market position is a way to increase the value you deliver to clients.The increased value is the thing that increases the demand for your services and allows you to justify premium rates.Simply narrowing your focus arbitrarily and hoping for better rates is as out of balance as the Lexus CT 200h.Instead, you have to narrow your focus to things that your clients really value. If you know what that is and there’s some overlap with your skills, great! Go for it! If you need help figuring out what that is, my book on positioning will help: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    If the only tool you have is a hammer…

    If you specialize, won’t you fall into the trap of mis-applying your expertise?In other words, won’t the old saying (If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail) start to apply to you? Won’t you be the person who only has a hammer?No. Here’s why:

    1. Every specialist doctor or lawyer has been through the general, broad curriculum of medical school. You have probably been operating as a generalist for years, which gives you a broad background to draw from even as you become a more highly paid, in-demand specialist.
    2. You’re not a dingaling. As specialist you deeply understand what problems you can solve and which you can’t. After the demand for your services increases, you’ll be able to politely decline projects that aren’t really the “nail” your “hammer” is best suited to. In fact, at a certain point I find that specialist businesses must decline a good percentage of the work that comes their way simply because they don’t have the time to take it on, even if it’s a good fit for them.
    3. Specialization is both a deepening of your most valuable skills and a narrowing of your marketing. You still retain (and may actually frequently use) secondary and tertiary skills. In other words, you don’t become an assembly line worker who literally does only one thing over and over again. But you do narrow down your marketing to focus on that single most valuable skill, and that narrow focus makes your marketing far more effective.

    So again, no. You don’t start to go around hammering the wrong problems with your specialized skill. :)Which skill should you choose to specialize in? My book The Positioning Manual is the only book aimed at helping solo freelancers and small dev shops figure that out. Get a copy here: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    Proof train recap

    Now that the proof train is receding into the distance, I want to recap it for you.Here are the 9 proof elements that you can use to make your marketing claims more effective:

    1. Relevant testimonials, case studies, reference accounts, or other social proof.
    2. A demonstration of expertise. Real, live, unscripted demonstrations are best, but other things like blog articles or email courses can work.
    3. A guarantee that undoes most or all of the damage that could be created if hiring you was a bad idea.
    4. Explain why your specific approach is superior to others. Explain how your approach will deliver great results.
    5. Exacting specificity in every aspect of your marketing. If you look at your marketing message and say, “wow, there are probably only 10 companies out there that fit that profile”, then you are in the right ballpark in terms of specificity. The reality is that there will be far more than 10 good-fit clients, and those 50 or 100 truly ideal clients will find your marketing extremely compelling. Trust me, they won’t find it compelling if you don’t have the courage to be extremely specific.
    6. Be willing to be contrarian. It takes a bad status quo to provoke a “whistleblower”, and we know that by standing up and saying something, the whistleblower puts themselves at risk. Unless we have a vested interest in preserving the status quo, it’s almost impossible not to at least respect the whistleblower’s courage or at least listen to their viewpoint. See if you can be that whistleblower who is pointing out a negative status quo in your marketing and trying to improve it in real life with your service offering.
    7. Acknowledge your weaknesses or anything that your prospective clients could doubt about your claims. Just say it straight out. Ex: “I know it’s hard to believe that we can save you 30% on your AWS hosting bill, but allow me to explain…”. Ex: “We have no clients stories to tell you about because this approach is so new that we’re currently only working with a few pilot clients. We developed this approach in [other market vertical] and you can check out our dozens of success stories here.” Then use the opportunity to demonstrate expertise, reveal the “mechanism” by which your approach produces results, or offer some other form of proof. Be 100% candid. Sometimes weaker promises are more believable, especially in the complex, risky world of technology. Ex: “We won’t get your app launched the fastest, but it’ll launch with the fewest bugs possible, which will boost reliability and user satisfaction.”
    8. Reference highly believable sources when doing so helps your cause. Ex: “TechCrunch reports that startups using [thing you do] have a 37% greater chance of gaining traction.”
    9. Play up your specialization. Make it obvious that you are 100% focused on the market vertical/audience/problem you are trying to get traction with.

    If you need help fashioning a strong claim of expertise, check out: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P