When They Try to Sell You a Free Lunch

And email I received yesterday, basically saying:

“Hi Martin, we’re hosting an online event, and we would absolutely love for you to join our line-up of accomplished speakers, authors and coaches”.

Ah, a nice bit of stroking for my ego.

So I replied that maybe, why not. Came a reply from the organiser, saying that I could only join if I have an email list of 5000 readers or more.

Which I don’t, but that’s not the point.

So I sent them this:

“I’ll decline: if the promotional contribution I could make is more important than the value I could deliver, it’s not for me”.

Arrogant maybe, thinking that I have ‘so much’ value to deliver, but hey. I do. I got a great story to tell, and valuable stuff to share, for
those who are able to listen.

And it’s not that I object to promoting someone else’s event, if I’m speaking there. Goes without saying.

But something about these setups (and I get these invitations almost every month) just isn’t right.

It’s like when a gallery contacts an artist: “We love your work! You’re special, we must have your work in our gallery!”

And then the artist finds out that there’s a hefty fee to pay – basically, renting wall-space.

Or last year, when someone offered me to co-author a book, along with a few others.

For the honour of which, I’d have to pay $5000. Yeah, what about: No.

The problem isn’t that someone is trying to earn money from third party cash or third party promotion.

The problem is that it’s not done overtly. It’s presented as an awesome opportunity, under the guise of “You’re so special”.  And that’s simply uncouth.

And the biggest problem is that this kind of thing works. Plenty of people fall prey to rackets like that.

So if someone shows up with an awesome opportunity, and they do it in a way that clearly is meant to stroke your ego, be wary.

Ask for the fine print, and if there’s a cost: you might want to pass on by and get back to work.

Of course you might be offered free lunch at some point. That kind of miracle does happen.

Just beware of people who are trying to sell you a free lunch.

And when they do?


Your time is too valuable to be building somebody else’s business.

I say build your own.

Want some help with that?

You know where to find me…



Did I Actually Destroy My Own System?

Remember that email the other day, where I said it’s a good idea to stop explaining so much and listen instead, when you are looking to find buyers?

It’s ironic, because “Explain” is actually part 2 of my LEAP marketing system.

(I haven’t talked about it in the last year or so because I discontinued the LEAP marketing newsletter, but “LEAP” stands for “Listen, Explain, Ask, Prosper”.

And so, yes: explaining matters when you’re trying to sell your work.

Except most people skip over the first part.

Which part is that? Oh, the one called ‘Listen’ – have you not been listening?

Joking aside, listening really does come first, in the sales process.

You need to know who you’re dealing with, what they need, what keeps your buyer up at night, and what kind of solution they’re looking for.

Only once you really get that (and this applies no matter what you’re selling – art too solves a problem for those who buy it), do you get to explain.

So when your sales are lacking, use this benchmark:

Listen: Have I spent enough time listening to this individual, or to my ideal market?

Explain: Have I adequately explained that I get this person’s/demographics painpoints? (I.e. have I listened so much that *they* feel understood when I explain?)

Ask: Am I actually asking for the sale? (plenty of people skip over this one)

Prosper: Am I doing those three things consistently enough to prosper? Are my prices and my Terms&conditions set up to allow for prosperity in my life?

It’s a simple system, but it’s effective: use it in your sales process, your conversations, and your overall business planning.

And use me if you want to get that system set up and running like a machine.

Because there’s nothing as useful and as much fun as having a system that you can run, test, adapt and iterate, when it comes to being in business.



Tell Me…

How can I help?

What are you struggling with?

What’s going on in your life?

How can I serve you better?

What do you need from me?

How can I make your life and your business better?

What questions do you have that urgently need an answer… any answer?

Tell me.

I’m here to help.



P.s. The lesson here? That if you’re in business, you earn your living by helping people. Whatever you may create or deliver as a business owner, your primary mission is to help and/or serve.

So whenever you get stuck and you need direction, start with that question:

“How can I help?”

When All Seems Grim and Dreary… Remember This:

I know, the world is in a messy state these days.

And if you follow the news (which I recommend you don’t – you’ll hear what you need to hear anyway and the news only depresses anyway) it seems like everything is going to hell in a handbasket with bells on.

So it’s no surprise that so many people feel that there’s really no purpose, no use to anything.

And if you tend to get beset by feelings like that, remember this:

While you aren’t looking because you’re overwhelmed with all the bad news, there’s amazing and wonderful things happening.

Some examples:

Digital currency is disrupting the financial industry, and I believe that in our lifetime we’ll see a much healthier economic model evolve, where we’re not slaves to money-grabbers, but in control of our cash.

Job security is disappearing and as a consequence, the age of the entrepreneur is in full swing, which gives you power to earn your keep on your own terms, instead of being beholden to a boss.

Science is on overdrive, discovering more and more about the mind, the body, our planet and our cosmos and our health, at breakneck speed.

Countries in Northern Europe are planning to build an artificial island with thousands of electrical windmills on it.

Solar energy is getting cheaper every day.

People and companies with deep pockets and oodles of ethics are working to solve big and important problems for humanity.

So while I’m not saying you should stick your head in the sand, it does make sense to not let yourself feel defeated just because the bad news gets the most press.

Because there’s a lot of good things happening.

And if you feel it’s not enough, then I courteously invite and urge you to chip in and add your own two cents.

Like that story the Sufi’s tell.

Once there was a big fire in a forest. All the animals were in uproar, and elephants kept running to the river to fetch water.

A tiny bird joined in, snapping up a few drops at a time with its beak, and dropping it on the flames.

One of the elephants said: “You silly little bird, do you think that helps?”

“I don’t know”, said the bird. “But it’s all I can do. Would you rather I didn’t?”

And for you and me, it’s the same.

I’ll never send people to Mars, like Elon Musk is planning to do.

But I’m doing what I can, within my means. Because that’s my duty.

So what about you?

What can you do?



On Marketing, Scarcity and Ethics

Comes another question about what is and isn’t ethical in marketing:

Specifically, around the topic of scarcity.

You’ll have seen the offers and pitches:

“While supplies last”.

“Offer ends at midnight”.

“One time only offer”.

So is that kind of thing right? Is it ethical?

It depends.

Of course it’s tempting to create an offer based on scarcity.

And as long as it’s genuine, I don’t see a problem with it.

An artist for example can have a limited edition of prints. Nothing wrong with that. Get one before they’re gone.

But if the artist then creates another limited edition run, that’s where it gets dubious. Limited means limited, and if you are an ethical business person, you have to stick with what you said.

I’ve made offers based on scarcity too.

For example, my 2,5 hour masterclass on marketing: that was $25 before the event, 50 afterwards, and at some point I announced that the price would go up to 100 by a certain date.

But if I were to say ‘while supplies last’, that would be deceitful, because they are videos, and there’s no end to the supply, they won’t run out.

And I could invent another thing that makes it scarce, but why would I?

It’s good to offer something special at a special price, with a limit on time or volume.

But only if the scarcity is real, and not a lie.

Because nobody likes a liar, and there are far too many unethical business people out there. You don’t want to be one of them.

Meanwhile, if you want that masterclass, it’s still available. No scarcity there.

It’s a workshop I gave to a group of artists last year, but the lessons and methods for communication, marketing and selling in it, apply to any (ethical) business.

And you can get the full 2,5 hours here: https://gumroad.com/l/artmarketingmasterclass#



Everybody Does It

A client in the Cabal mastermind group I run asked the group’s opinion.

She’d been to an art show, where someone had put up a sign saying that prices were 50% off.

Except the final salesprice was what the works had originally been priced at.

In other words, an artificial price hike, in order to make the work appear more valuable.

Before posting her question in the group, she asked a few people their opinion, and she heard things like:

“That’s just marketing”.

Um, no. It isn’t.

It’s deceitful and unethical. It’s marketing done wrong.

Very wrong, in my not at all humble, ethical opinion.

Others said: “Everyone does it”.

Which is just plain silly, and infantile to boot. What’s next: “They started it”?

Come on.

Obviously, I was pleased to see that the Cabal members didn’t think that way, and called it wrong.

Smart bunch, ethical too.

If you want to give discounts, give them on the original price, whatever it is that you sell.

But I say, don’t give discounts.

You’re not Walmart, you’ll never win big if you try to compete on price.

And also: if you’re reading me, I doubt that your work (art or coaching or training or whatever) falls in the low-price category.

Here’s what to do instead: give more value.

Deliver stellar service. Give something extra for free. Be your buyer’s best purchase ever.

That’s the ethical way.

There’s a wide grey area in what is and isn’t ethical, and that’s exactly the problem.

There’s no clear defining line between what is and isn’t. Like ‘white lies’, there’s arguments and justifications you can make. “Ah, just a little bit wrong. That’s not so bad”.

Except it is.

My recommendation is to always stay very far away from the entire grey area.

You’ll feel better about yourself, and in the end it’s better for business.



Buy This or the Puppy Gets It: the Dirty Little Secret of the Business World, and How You Can Prosper Despite of It

The more time I spend being in business, and especially online, the more I’m confronted with the unethical behaviour of some people.

Now, I happen to like marketing.

Used right, it’s a force for good.

Martin Luther King for example was an excellent marketer, so let’s call this point QED.

And I like selling too, and I’m good at it.

But I often walk away from a sale.

Because that’s my code of ethics: if someone isn’t ready and eager to work with me, I shouldn’t have their business or their money.

I shouldn’t and won’t persuade people into working with me.

So what’s that dirty secret in the business world?

It’s this: manipulating people into buying by leveraging the wrong element of the human psyche.

We’re built, hardwired and programmed, to a) avoid pain and b) move towards pleasure.

That’s deeply ingrained in our subconscious, and it has an influence (and often a mandate) in literally everything we do.

But a LOT of marketing works on that first one: avoiding pain.

In a narrower sense: loss aversion. The fear of missing out.

“Get this now or you’ll never build a business!”

“Buy this or you’ll be a loser forever!”

“If you don’t enroll today, this offer will go away forever!”

“Buy this or the puppy gets it”. (Hat tip to Hugh MacLeod)

And that’s wrong.

Sure it’s good to have a limited time offer, to make a special deal that will disappear, or to create an offer at a one-time-only discount.

But to pummel people into compliance by ruthlessly pushing that button that tells your gut “Your life won’t work without this” ?

That’s trying too hard.

But, the fact that so many people do this and do it aggressively, gives you an advantage.

Because you get to show up as an ethical business professional, with an interest in your client’s well-being.

That allows you to build relationships with people.

And over time, those relationships will turn into sales.

So when you see people driving hard sales based on the human tendency to avoid loss and pain, do this:

1: Close the page and move on. I don’t feel that kind of person deserves your business and even if they do: if you were to buy, you’d do it because you’re being manipulated. And you deserve better than that.

2: Smile, knowing that you’re not like that, and that while those folk have to advertise and sell sell sell and work intricate systems of adwords and SEO and conversion rates, you’re building an audience and relationships and therefore: a healthy and ethical business.

3: Write an email to your list. Because whatever your business and whatever your audience, email marketing is a fun and non-pushy way to show up to people who just might want to work with you.

And if now or at any point you want to work with me, you know what to do.



The Problem With Complex Things

“I want to be a coach”, she says.

“It’s becoming really popular here in Spain”.

I smile and think that this is a good thing.

Because the way I see it, everybody should have a coach.

The effect it has on one’s life is amazing and large and life-changing.

The more coaches in the world, the better.

It’s not always easy though, so I tell her:

“It’s fun work, but it’s complex”.

To which she replies: “I like complex things”.

And I wonder: with that attitude, things could easily get complicated for her.

Because complex things aren’t bad, but they just so easily can turn into complicated things.

And complicated things are a whole bunch of no fun, in my opinion.

I’ll go for simple over complex any day of the week.

For example, when applied to your business.

Do you want it complex, potentially complicated – or would you rather have it simple?

If the latter, here’s what a simple business setup looks like:

1: Have something people already want.

2: Have a website that showcases what you do, and where you show enough of yourself for people to be able to relate to you. That  website is the hub of a wheel.

3: The spokes of the wheel are the various ways in which you attract people to your website. Social media, ads, brochures, books you publish, speaking gigs, charity contributions – whatever method is best for you to get in front of the right audience.

4: Make your website’s primary mission to invite people to sign up to your list.

5: Communicate in ways that are valuable with your list, by way of email. Can be written, videos, audio recordings – whatever it is you prefer: create something that helps people and that asks for the sale. Communicate with consistent frequency – once a week at a minimum, but once a day is better.

Keep driving people to your site, and keep talking to your list, until you reach velocity.

Meaning, until the size of your list is big enough, and the relationship with your subscribers strong enough, for them to want to do business with you.

There. A simple, adaptable, testable business model, built for growth and prosperity.

And without any risk of getting complex or complicated.

And fun too: you  won’t believe how wonderful it is when people start to reply to your emails – either with money in hand, or simply with positive feedback and thanks.

You get to show up with helpful and inspiring information, and you get to make a living because of it – what could be better?

Hm. Maybe having a coach to guide you through the process – maybe that would be better?

Let me know if that’s what you want…



Ew! What Kind of Girl Do You Think I Am?

If you know me, you know that I’m not shy about marketing, or asking for a sale.
But at the same time, I’m not a pushy marketer-type either.

I’m just not that kind of girl.

Besides: there’s no need to be pushy.

Your customers are smart enough to make up their own mind, when it comes to doing business with you.

Because people love to buy, but they resent being sold to.

That said, if you don’t *look* open for business, you’re not likely to *get* a lot of business.

Proven yesterday, during two separate conversations – one with a coaching client, and one during my weekly mastermind meeting.

In both cases, the ‘not enough sales’ problem was down to a very simple thing:

Not asking for the sale.

Which, again, has nothing to do with being pushy or spammy.

But if on your optin form there’s no call to action (CTA) that says ‘Subscribe and you’ll get ABC’ or something similar, the number of people who’ll subscribe will be low.

Similarly in your emails: Sure the primary purpose is to build a relationship with people, by giving sharing something valuable – but if you sign off without a message such as ‘and if you want this (or: want to work with me), then do XYZ next’.

Where XYZ can be to get in touch, or click on over to your website, or download a digital product, or whatever action you hope people will take.

Same thing on your website – your checkout page, your work-with-me page, or whatever the case may be.

People on that page have taken in the info, they are likely to have an interest, and you asking them simply ‘Want this? Then do *this*’ is the most logical and natural closing line.

It’s not a good idea to force people into taking action – but never be afraid to ask for the sale.

Like this for instance:

Want to work with a coach who will change your life and your business for the better?

Ok then. Hit reply and let’s talk.


That didn’t hurt.



Call In the Missionairies!

Most everyone I work with has a big mission, something important they want to put into the world.

In fact, I deliberately seek out people who want to manifest something meaningful, something beyond ‘making a living’.

It’s what fires me up, when someone has some form of ‘a better world’ as part of their goal.

But at the same time, this ‘do-good’ attitude can also be an Achilles’ heel.

Especially when we give too much of ourselves.

Yes, I said that.

It is possible to give too much of ourselves.

Which might be odd, coming from an ex-monk who spent his life practising self-effacement and putting the other first.

But let’s face it: if you don’t put your own oxygen mask on first, how are you going to help anyone else?

You need to take care of yourself, or else none of your good intentions will have any effect.

And sadly, many people with a big passion for helping others seem unable to take care of themselves properly.

You know: the Mother Theresa complex – where something tells you that you need to give give give, no matter the cost or the return.

And out you go, serving and giving and helping – and you come home empty and depleted.

So should we become selfish?

Not in the least.

The thing to do when your desire to change the world isn’t working?

Two things.

First: give to matchers and givers, and be very careful not to give to takers.

Because takers keep it for themselves, instead of sharing forward or giving back.


Give to people who want your help.

Listen for the call, the request, the sign that – spoken or unspoken – says: Can you help me?

Because when you give and help to people who aren’t looking for help, aren’t receptive, what will happen?

You burn out, is what.

And believe me, I’ve spent many years making that mistake.

All the time forcing help onto others, when those people just had no need or interest or receptivity.

And it resulted in nothing but fatigue.

Thing is, we’re not a one-man religion.

It’s not our purpose to convert the entire world to accepting our help, like some sort of missionary-movement.

So sometimes, you need to call in the missionaries.

That’s my term for ‘stop giving without aim, take care of self, and give deliberately and purposefully’.

When you do that, when you ‘call in the missionaries’, you can truly give, and truly help, those who are looking for help.

Are you looking for help?

Then I’m here for you.

Just ask.



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