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Why join yet another online programme (and how plain text emails still work)

May 5, 2017

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On Tuesday of this week, I sat there looking at our list of members for the new Content Marketer intake and wondering to myself why it’s so much harder for people to understand its value online (as opposed to when they talk to us about it in person or on a Zoom call).

When we’ve been at an event, or I’m doing a speaking engagement, people sign up straight away. They got it – they saw what it was about – they were in – they clicked the button, off they went.

But when we share it online, it takes people a lot longer. Members were joining so randomly we felt there was no rhyme or reason to it. What made this person finally decide on a Saturday morning to go for it? That person to ask a question on email and then sign up?

I got to thinking about how I wished I could simply speak personally to every accountant on our list, and give them a few thoughts.

“Well,” my brain replies, “why can’t you?”

So I pulled out the trusty keyboard and dashed off a few thoughts on why I started the programme and what questions accountants asked me and told a few stories, and I didn’t stop to edit it. Entered it into Infusionsoft text-only, picked everyone on our list, clicked send.

Job done.

Within the first 5 minutes we had 2 new members. Within the first four hours we had 4 new members.

Here’s why:

Reality works. No matter how well-branded your well-crafted emails are (and they’re still good to send here and there), people often respond better to personal communication from the owner. It’s real, it’s personal, and you can tell that they wrote it.

Urgency works. I sent the email on Tuesday at 4.45pm. The first live session of our new Content Marketer intake kicked off on Wednesday at 3pm. There was a day to decide. No more messing about and dithering. Get in or get out. Decide.

They ask, you answer. It’s a concept from Marcus Sheridan’s book of the same title, and the idea is that you craft your marketing around what people talk to you about. Questions clients ask. Problems they come to you with. Worries. Fears. Confusions. Take it all to your website or your marketing and you win.

Below is the email I sent.

My challenge to you today is: what email could you send out – a personal one, with real content from your own head, about something you care passionately about? What one thing could you call them to do, and what might happen if you simply clicked send?

Email content with bonus thoughts from Karen as to why I included this or that.

Subject: Hey guys – happy Tuesday. A few non-salesy thoughts for you.

I created the subject line to be friendly, specific, and relevant. Nothing about the programme I was going to mention, because some people might not even know what it is yet.

How’s it going? Are you busy at 3pm tomorrow?

I wanted to make it sound like something I would write to one person on the list, not all.

Of course you’re busy. The world is busy. The last thing you need is yet another online programme….

I was pretty sure this is how most accountants feel. “Great – yet another programme. What are they flogging now??”

But here’s the thing. Our 12-month Content Marketer programme kicks off another intake tomorrow and I’ve been thinking about how to share with you what it’s really about, and help you decide if it would genuinely kick start your own firm marketing.

The problem is, anything I can put together to share with you feels “salesy” – and as most of you know, I’ve got a particular horror of that. And in my experience working with accountants for well over 15 years, I’ve learned that you – much like myself – also hate pushy sales stuff.

“I’ll join when and if I please,” I tell myself. “You don’t need to harp on about it, filling up my inbox and telling me to buy, buy, buy.”

Literally the words that I said to one of the team members when we were discussing what I’d been thinking about the programme recently.

But I’ve also noticed that life itself fills up so incredibly fast that even with the best intentions in the world to consider something good, it usually takes me three (or five, or six, or twelve, or fifteen) reminders of different kinds before I even click on the link, much less the order form.

So I thought I’d send this personal email with a few thoughts on why I started the programme, what I’ve seen from those who have joined it and carried on right through to the end, and remind you (in an ever-so-non-pushy-way) that if you’re going to join, tomorrow is the first session and it would be a shame to miss that.

It may be a non-salesy email, but I did want people reading it to know what I hoped they would do.

Every item below was based on questions that I’d been asked before, or comments made. “Why did you create this – where did it come from?”  “I don’t have time.”  “I joined because I’m tired of having ideas all cobbled together with no structure.”  “I’m risk averse: what if I want to leave partway through?”   I accepted the fact that I would miss some questions, and more would come, and dashed off the ones that came to mind.

I created the Content Marketer because there are marketing principles that apply to every single accountancy firm, anywhere in the world.

I found I was saying the same things to accountants day in and day out. Content marketing is what works best. You need to be crystal clear about your audience and their issues before you start writing or designing things. You absolutely need a niche, but it doesn’t have to be an industry. Social media is the best way to get that content out in front of your world. And on it went. So I put together the 12 elements, in order, and hey presto! Out came the Content Marketer programme.

Most accountants tell me they don’t have time for an online programme: but we know you’re spending time on marketing already. This helps you spend it better.

You are going to do marketing for your firm. Somehow, somewhere, in some way – it will happen. You might sit down and spend six hours on it one afternoon, or you might try every day to implement something new. But you will spend time on it and you are already spending time on it. This programme has been built to focus your time better. To take two hours of your time a month, and make it worth about ten hours of trying to bash it together on your own, with no help and no support and no idea if it’s going to work or not.

I personally review any marketing efforts our members send to me.

One of our members mentioned the other day that the reason she joined was that we don’t simply run a live session and give out homework – we’ll review it for you, too. If you prepare content for a new website page and want our content writer or web developer to cast an eye over it and give you advice, we’ll happily do that. I hold one on one sessions with members when they need them – one of our members sent me a list of 7 questions she wanted to ask and she was able to get things done that had been outstanding for months, if not years.

Many accountants are doing lots of marketing: but it’s all cobbled together with no consistency or focus. This programme changes that.

Chances are you love structure. You feel more comfortable if you’re following a pattern rather than firing off something new and hoping that it works. The sessions follow logically in order, and for the first time you can see patterns and consistency to all the marketing you’re doing. One of our members said in session 11, “Oh! Now I see some things I missed at the start about how it all comes together! I’m going to go back and listen to all the recordings again in order, with new eyes.”

Live sessions mean you get the latest and best advice and ideas – not a recording left over from years ago.

One of the reasons I decided to run live sessions every month instead of recording a series of videos that you watch “at your convenience” (ie, never) was that although the principles of content marketing are tried and tested, there are new ideas and concepts to share every single month. A session I ran on blogging a year ago is going to be different from the one I would run this month. Plus, you get to ask questions and engage personally with us. It would be a lot more profitable (and easy) to record everything and leave it to run, but it’s far more profitable for you that we run the sessions live. So that’s why we do it. (Of course we record the sessions so you can watch them again anytime – even after the programme ends.)

Not every marketing thing you try is going to work perfectly – and you can’t know for sure beforehand. It’s a risk, as all marketing is a risk.

Many of you have become a bit jaded when it comes to marketing, and I don’t blame you. You feel you’ve been pressured into more marketing ploys, tactics, techniques, programmes, and software, and not all of it has worked. One of the things we’re going to discuss in the programme is the fact that you have to try things – and I’ve got no guarantees for you that this or that approach will absolutely work, or how well it will work. I’ve got principles and concepts that are completely proven – but those who applied them have had some fails along the way. That’s normal. That’s business. That’s life. And that’s marketing. Today I’d encourage you to think, instead of the worst, “What’s the best that could happen?” Maybe, like one of our members, you’ll put out quotes for £35k in the first month or two, and sign £14k in a few weeks. Maybe you’ll simply identify your niche at long last.

I really, really want to help accountants.

This is why the sales-y thing doesn’t work for us at the Profitable Firm. More than anything else, I’d love to see you doing great things and seeing results (like many of our members are). But I don’t throw around guarantees, because it’s a partnership. I do my part to share what works for accountants and for us at the Profitable Firm, and you put in the effort and are willing to try. The firms who do that – show up for the live sessions, and do the homework and send it to us – are unsurprisingly the firms getting the best results. If you do all of those things and you are getting nothing and it’s not working, we’ll chat and make some changes. And if you keep doing that and it’s still not working, we’ll figure out something else. You’re not being chained to the programme – hopefully, it’s setting you free. I would love to have you there.

It’s only £99+VAT per month.

The first kick off session is tomorrow, at 3pm on Wednesday 3rd May.

The critical information. I debated saying “If you can’t afford £99/month…” and then realised that’s not the point. It’s not about the money. Those who want to join, and see it as valuable, will make it work even if it’s hard. Those who don’t, well, it doesn’t matter how much the price is anyway.

I’d love to see you there.

Here’s the link to join.

Love from,

Karen

P.S. Don’t you hate those carefully crafted marketing P.S.’s that end up sounding sort of cheesy? Yeah, me too. So I won’t make this one of those. Have a really nice day.

I thought about something like “P.S. It all starts tomorrow blah blah blah..” but I realised I hate reading those. So I figured I’d say that, instead.

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