The #1 Question to Ask Yourself BEFORE Creating ANY Piece of Content

Before you record a video…

…Send an email…

…Write a blog post…

You need to ask yourself ONE question:

What do I want my audience to think, do or know as a result of consuming this information?

As a result of reading this email, what do I want my audience to do?

As a result of watching this Facebook live, what do I want my viewers to do?

There should be one primary action or piece of knowledge that you want to pass on.

So many people sit down to write and they’re so consumed with, “Okay, how I’m going to get them to open this email… and how I’m going to catch their attention… and how am I going to make sure they click here and do this or that…?”

They’re looking for tricks and little ninja hacks to get people into the email, to suck them in and be entertaining.

Then, as a result, they completely lose the clarity of the email.

They get so wrapped up in the hoopla that they don’t get their message across! The reader ends up lost, confused, or asking, “So what?”

Before I produce anything, whether it’s for a client or for myself, I ask, “What is it that I want to convey to them? What is the message I want them to take away? What is the action I want them to take?”

If you let that be your guiding principle for everything you do, it’s going to do a couple of things:

First and foremost, it’s going to ensure that you have a clear call to action. You should not be communicating with your audience just to say hi, like “Hey, what’s going on?”

That’s wasting people’s time.

You need to have a reason to be connecting with them, and that reason is the primary message you want to convey to them and the primary action you want them to take.

Start with that action in mind and then move on from there.

Maybe again it’s to click on a link so they can subscribe to your email list (which is what I want you to do after you get through reading this post! Go right here and put in your email so I can communicate with you more directly).

Maybe it’s to go to a sales page.

Maybe it’s to know that the time of a class has changed.

Maybe it’s to know that there are options for them to work with you beyond the ones they’re already using.

There are a million things you might want to convey, and that you COULD convey, but you need to have one primary one and stick to it like glue. Make that your front and center and have it in mind before you sit down to produce any content.

When you do that, the reader or viewer or audience member knows the next step to take. 

Don’t get so tied up in the wrapping that you lose sight of what’s inside the box that they’re going to unwrap. Keep the main thing, the main thing — and then work outward from there.

Once you have the main idea down, you can look at the rest of your communication. You can look at your subject line and see how you’re going to incite curiosity. You can look at your opening and say, “Okay, what’s the question I want to ask them to draw them in? What’s an image I can use for this ad or blog post? What’s a compelling opening?”

All that other stuff has its place, but it comes from that core of the message you want to pass on, the core of that action you want them to take, the core of the knowledge you want to impart to them.

Start with that.

Forget about the tricks. Forget about the ninja hacks. Forget about influence and persuasion. Just share your message clearly and you’re going to be 80% of the way there and head and shoulders over 80% of the audience.

Remember: Simplicity Sells!

P.S. My number one thing I would like you to do today is to subscribe. You’ll get tons of glitter, margarita recipes, and ways to make your communication convert like a boss.

Best Email Subject Lines of the Week

#fastlain feature: “Flop or Fly.”

I get a lot of email. (100+ a day!)

I delete most of it, but a few grab me. Every week I will be announcing 5 winning and losing email subject lines, and why they worked or flopped. Stay tuned to soon start to seeing a pattern — and to review your own subject lines with a more critical eye.

#1:“IPPOLITA for you. Yes, Y-O-U.”

From: Rue La La

Why it works:

Ippolita is a brand I’ve purchased before, so seeing the name come up in the subject line pulls me back in. The unusual Y-O-U makes me look twice.

How you can use this:

Sometimes being eye-catching is as simple as a few h-y-p-h-e-n-s. 🙂 And I totally prefer this brand of personalization versus using my name in the subject line.

#2: “Increase revenue by 7 figures, add publicity as a service”

From: Andrew O’Brien/ The Publicity Guy

Why it works:

Straight shooting here Andrew! This makes it super clear but is also super compelling with the “7 figures.”

How you can use this:

Be straight forward when it comes to topics that don’t need the unnecessary beating around the bush. When we talk about revenue being straight forward with people is your best bet. They will appreciate the honesty and dive right in!

#3: “I can’t believe I got talked into this”

From: Alionka Polanco

Why it works:

So conversational, it looks like a personal email. I don’t want to miss out on any good gossip.

How you can use this:

Everyone wants to be “in the know.” Keep it personal and incite curiosity and you’re good to go. (But you better pay off in the email itself or people will feel duped!)

#4: “How To Procrastinate (Effectively) On Really Hard Projects”

From: Fast Company 

Why it works:

We’ve been bagging on Fast Company for a few weeks. This time, they got it right! I love the obvious value from the how to, the built-in curiosity, and the counterintuitive “procrastinate effectively.”

How can you use this:

Use multiple value points to create the ultimate subject line. Go against the grain and show a unique twist on a common topic.

#5:“What 1,200 Calories Looks Like [Infographic]”

From: My Fitness Pal

Why it works:

A unique value-add from a fitness app. The only thing I’d say is lose the [infographic] suffix. It’s not necessary. 

How you can use this:

Think about how you can add unique value to your audience. Can you help them picture something in a new way? Can you turn words into a photo or image, or vice-versa? Think outside the box.

Now, the flops:

#1:“Ending! Spring Price Strike Sale”

From: Groupon

Why it flops:

They almost had it, but blew it with the “Price Strike” and “Sale.” One or the other is plenty. Put both in and I’m confused.

How you can avoid this: 

Don’t overwhelm people. Keep it simple.

My rewrite: “Ending – Spring Sale!”

#2:“Mastering Project Roadmaps v2.0 is now available”

Why it flops:

This subject line is a mess.

It’s a prime example of assuming your audience is mentally in the same place you are. This came into my inbox between an email from my sister and one from a client with info for a project I’m working on. Right in the middle of that, they pop up with reference to a program (software? app?) I’m not familiar with and don’t (yet) care about. It completely misses.

*IF* this email were sent to me because I’d purchased Mastering Project Roadmaps 1.0, it would be so-so… but even then it says nothing about value to the user. What is new and different in V2.0? Why do I need it?

How you can avoid this:

NEVER assume anything. Remember that you are popping up in their inbox like a jack-in-the-box. Make sure you’re the fun and friendly and welcome clown, not the scary kind that you want to immediately erase.

My rewrite for non-customers: “Ready to streamline your project management?”

My rewrite for customers: “You’re going to LOVE this upgrade – TONS of enhancements!”

#3: “Let’s get started”

Why it flops:

First off, who cares? There is nothing compelling in this email from someone who wants me to invest my time and money in their coaching/course. I don’t want to “get started.” I want to save money/lose weight/change my life…

THEN… the first sentence of this email says, “If you’ve been following my emails from last week…”  

Well, this is just dumb. If the reader HASN’T been following… and over half of your subscribers haven’t even opened your email… you’ve immediately alienated them.

And if the reader HAS been following, it’s repetitive.

How you can avoid this:

Avoid being too general. Avoid making assumptions. Avoid being boring.

My rewrite: “Ready to change your life? The first step is inside…”

#4: “We would love to hear your feedback on Google+!”

From: Elements Message

Why it flops: 

They want something but there’s nothing in it for me (I don’t really care what a nameless, faceless business “would love.”) Also, Google+ is a hassle and most people don’t use it. 

How you can avoid this: 

Have an incentive for people to go out of their way to give you a review! And when you do so, make it on a platform most people are familiar with.

My rewrite: “Share your opinion and save $10 off your next massage.”

#5: “there must be a mistake (did you mean to do that?)”

From: an online fitness membership

Why it flops:

I had checked out an online fitness membership, but logged out before completing registration. This was the THIRD email I received in just a few hours about coming back to complete checkout.


There’s “reminding” and then there’s “harassing.” This felt like harassment!

How you can avoid this: No one likes their inbox to be flooded with harassing emails. One follow up is enough. If you want to send out another, give it time and introduce a new topic.

My rewrite: There isn’t on, because I shouldn’t be getting another email!

The upshot: The subject line is the headline for the email. If you don’t get it right, people aren’t going to read any further.

Got your own submissions? List them in the comments below!

Why Aren’t People Buying Your Stuff?

The goal of marketing comes down to selling more stuff.

“Stuff” = programs, books, services, coaching, fidget spinners, whatever.

If you want to sell more stuff, there are a few things to look at:

1. Do people care? Do they really want what you’re selling? (How you know: A. Someone else is successfully selling something similar that you can deliver better. B. People are asking for you to sell this thing — and not just friends and family who tell you that your mobile ferret washing service is a great idea.)

It seems obvious, but every day I see products that aren’t selling well – but are “me too” products that provide no clear value over existing solutions. You can’t have something “just as good as” what’s out there; it needs to be BETTER — significantly better.

2. Do people know about it? If people don’t know what you sell or do, or how to buy what you do, they’re going to have a hard time giving you money for it. (This is the point of a lot of marketing – to “get the word out.” But that’s not enough – you need the rest of this list, too.)

3. Do the RIGHT people know about it? You can rent a billboard in Times Square to advertise your new housecleaning service in Georgia… but if you’re not getting your message in front of the people who want and need your service, you’re wasting your duckets.

You’d be surprised how often businesses are targeting the WRONG DARNED PEOPLE and don’t even know it.

For instance… in the past week I’ve been targeted on Facebook by ads for:

• Nursing moms (my youngest is almost 13)

• Goth dresses (I own a pair of Doc Martens, but I’m way more prep than punk)

• Colorful cat litter (I have two dogs)

What a waste of money. And it’s annoying.

4. Do people understand it? It’s amazing how much money is spent on Facebook ads, TV commercials, radio spots, and other paid advertising… with no clear message to the target audience. The ads are confusing, too complicated, or simply not clear. Let me make THIS super-clear: IF YOU ARE CONFUSING YOUR MARKET, THEY WILL NOT BUY. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t try to incite curiosity at the expense of clarity. Just SHARE your message clearly and simply.

That means you have to know what you’re selling, why they want it, and how to communicate it in language THEY understand. (NOTE: If you want more help on this topic, check out “Communicating Your Awesomeness: Where Do You Start?“)

5. Are you giving people opportunities to buy? I went to a website the other day that “sells” exercise programs via video and digital delivery. After 3 minutes on the site — which is 12x the amount of time most people will give you — I STILL could not find where to order, or what exactly the offer was. I knew it was exercise videos, I was ready to buy — and I left without spending a dime.

It’s easy to roll our eyes at scenarios like this, but it’s really quite common.

When I review autoresponder email series (the series of emails new subscribers receive when they sign up for your email list), often there is NO clear offer made. When I ask the business owner why they’re hiding their offers, they say stuff like, “I don’t want to be too ‘salesy,'” or “I don’t want them to unsubscribe!” or “I read so-and-so’s book and they say to build a relationship first.”

I get that, but there’s a BALANCE. There’s no specific formula that says, “Send three emails over 75 hours before you ask for the sale.” There are a lot of factors that play into it, from the price point of your offer, the pain the potential customer is in, and how prepared they are to buy.

If you offer a program to help people deal with marriage problems, people may seek you out when they are on the brink of divorce and they’re DESPERATE. By making them go through a five-week “indoctrination” series before you make an offer to help alleviate their pain, you’re actually punishing them.

Yes, it is possible to provide buying opportunities without going overboard and devolving into “used car salesman” territory. I help clients do this every day.

So if you are on a quest to get people to BUY MORE, one or more of these five elements will steer you in the right direction. In my experience, it typically is more than one thing that is not firing right… like it’s an issue of message clarity AND buying opportunity, or product offering AND awareness. But don’t get overwhelmed with trying to do it all at once. Start with one product, one offering, one funnel, and start optimizing. Get the quick wins by addressing the obvious deficiencies, and then move on to the next.

In fact, you can download a free diagnostic worksheet here to walk you through these issues and how you can deal with them.

You got this!

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