This is how I got good at email…

I used to work in direct mail. Stamps, envelopes and agonising month long turnarounds on campaign results.

When email became a viable selling tool, I leapt on it.

I quit my agency job and went to work for one of the email service providers as a consultant, working with retail and media brands.

Between me, the services team, and the clients using the tool themselves, we turned around hundreds of campaigns each week, and I got to see the results, in hours.

Then I went from doing the campaigns to teaching them in small groups. First to the ESP clients, so they could use the tools themselves, and then to other businesses.

I worked out which businesses could be in a room together and use the same strategies, and which ones couldn’t.

I still run client campaigns and I still teach small workshops, because what the market worries about changes over time.

Some of the boring tasks I’ve seen again and again have turned into software to make them easier as well.

One early one was an app to capture business cards at events and send automated follow-up. I saw people doing a terrible job of follow-up at trade shows and for about £1,000 I built an iPhone app that fixed it.

COVID pretty much killed that product, but there are plenty of other boring tasks I’ve seen that can be turned into tools.

Work with a few clients and sooner or later you’ll see a spreadsheet that someone has to maintain for a report that their tool doesn’t give them, or some data that has to be moved around manually. Those are app opportunities.

This is how you win the game.

Get real face to face experience, with fast feedback

  1. Find out what parts of that process you can teach rather than do for the client. Make that a group workshop
  2. (I’ll talk about that in the next email)
  3. Find out what parts you teach, that don’t need you there to hold their hand. Turn that into a course.
  4. Find out task that are just boring and low-value, and turn them into software.
    Clue. If someone has made a spreadsheet, there’s probably a market to turn it into a SaaS.

Too many people get sold on the ideas of SaaS, courses and scalable business models as “passive income”.

If you’re going to understand what your market wants, you’re going to have to do the hard yards with them, understand why they want the result they do, and understand why they’re so stuck that they have to come to you.

The people who skip this are so easy to see.

Their content has no examples, no depth, and it’s not clear who they’re aiming at because they’ve never tried and failed with a client and realised that the one-size-fits-all-solution doesn’t exist.

Here’s my take:

Chasing passive income is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

Trying to work upwards from books and courses will take forever to build a sound reputation, because there’s no proof of work left behind.

Instead, you can absolutely build yourself as an expert with real experience in a market in 3-6 months if you find a way to get your reps in and get feedback.

That’s all it takes. Fast turnaround of 1:1 projects and the ability to see if they make a difference.

So why do so many marketers talk about the “ascension model”?

Where did this idea come from that you can sell a $10 ebook and work your way up to a $10k consulting gig?

Well, notice that these guys usually have a mature business and now they’re trying to maximise profits?

They started on the ground floor, got the skills, and worked their way down to the ebook.

That book is like a calling card for what they do best.

You can market a book and get plenty of people talking about it, and then the market will segment itself on how much attention they want from the author, and how much they’re prepared to pay.

Books go to the low end, to people who are prepared to spend time figuring it out for themselves. But they also go to people looking for new ideas.

Courses go a bit higher to people who want more depth and some group feedback.

The masterminds are usually not the CEO’s themselves who go. Instead they’ll send their marketing guys along to learn the techniques.

The 1:1 consulting goes to the 1% of the 1% who want it done for them and doing now, just like I talked about in my last email

So, here’s the thing, you need to work 1:1 for a little bit to find out what the market really needs.

But tomorrow I can help shortcut some of that discovery, with the 3rd reason your offer may be failing right now.

Until then, think about the thing you can do for a client that gets done quickly, and gives fast feedback so you can learn what works in days, not months.

Stephen Pratley
Copy & Conversion Consultant
The Conversion Co.


c/o The Conversion Co., 2a The High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom
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