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Ask The Expert featuring Adrian Ulsh

by | Adrian Ulsh, Business Coaching Fundamentals

Q. Hi Adrian, I’m really struggling with marketing. I have a client that wants to generate more leads online. Can you throw some suggestions my way?

-Tim Laurent

Hi Tim,

Generating leads is a vital component of any business. Unfortunately, it’s often the most difficult and expensive part of owning and operating a business. Let me provide you with the framework you need to begin generating leads for your clients so you can help them make more sales. To begin. consider how professional publications do it.

Ask yourself what type of article tends to attract reader attention… bringing you more traffic and more eyeballs to your page? Which articles convert… bringing you more customers and more sales? And what’s the secret formula that maximizes the twin impact of attraction and conversion?

Want an easy answer? Just head to your local newsstand. The best attraction and conversion techniques are hidden between the pages of two very different magazines: Cosmopolitan and The New Yorker.

Cosmo style articles

Cosmopolitan articles attract attention. Look at these recent headlines

75 Crazy-Hot Dance Moves

10 Cheap Fun Date Ideas

117 Style Ideas Already in Your Wardrobe

Seriously … 75 crazy hot dance moves? I’m lucky if I can pull off three in an entire night. But that isn’t what’s actually attracting readers. We find it impossible to walk past anything that gives us seven, seventeen or seven hundred ways to do or achieve something. As human beings, we’re greedy, and we’re attracted to articles that feed our lust for excess… even excess information.

Most of the articles in Cosmopolitan are just bullet points stacked up against each other that go on forever. Sometimes there’s some meat to the bullet points, but often, especially in Cosmo, it’s just bullet points. This gives you the feeling that you’re learning something, but there’s no depth to the knowledge. Cosmo-type articles are light reading. And we like light reading. Gossip magazines sell like hotcakes for a reason. And just in case you’re thinking attraction is strictly a women’s interest magazine strategy, you’ll find men’s magazines do it too.

Men’s Health and Money always include light-reading articles on their covers like “How to Get Rock-Hard Abs” and “7 Secrets to a Richer Retirement.” In fact, for years Men’s Health ran essentially the same four covers over and over again. They figured out the headlines and formats that were the most effective and they just kept running the same ones. Add light reading and a huge list together and what do you get? The promise of a lot of information without putting much work in to get it.

No wonder we find them so attractive. Cosmo-style content gets retweeted… shared on Facebook… and sent around all the other social media channels more often because everyone knows other people are attracted to this kind of format. And by sending it on, it makes the person who posted it seem more attractive by association.

If you create content that offers Cosmopolitan-style headlines and light, easy-reading body copy, you will get the same results that Cosmo has gotten for decades. And those results are very good indeed.

New Yorker style

But New Yorker articles convert leads into actual sales. The New Yorker produces in-depth, well-written articles that drive home a specific point. When you write content in that same style, you impress the heck out of your reader. They see that you’re smart. They see that you know what’s going on. And they see that you can tell them something they don’t already know. That impression is so powerful that the reader is compelled to investigate further to see what else you can tell them.

The more in-depth content they find, the more they think you’re a smart person to check in with often… and the harder it is for them to resist your “subscribe” or “buy” offer. This doesn’t just apply to text, but to video and audio as well. An in-depth piece in text, audio or video sucks you in. The more time you spend reading, listening or watching something, the more likely you are to follow up with the source.

Those of you who have read the back-of-magazine articles at The New Yorker might be worried this means you have to write incredibly long articles. You don’t. Being interesting is far more important than going on and on about a topic, and even The New Yorker has plenty of short pieces that still offer great insight.

For New Yorker-type content, you need depth, detail and analysis. Those three things empower your reader a lot more than Cosmo-style fluff. Put more in-depth detail and analysis in your writing, and you’ll see your conversion rates skyrocket.

So which of these is the best strategy?

It depends on your client, of course. Their free offers… or their website— just like some print publications — are driven almost entirely by Cosmopolitan-style headlines and copy. Others are driven by the New Yorker style. But you don’t actually have to choose.

You’ll notice that even Cosmo includes at least one in-depth article per issue. And The New Yorker always has a couple of short, lighter items up front. Even Playboy made a name for in-depth articles and attention-getting pin-ups.

You can use both of these strategies at the same time. And you should. A strategic mixture of both types of content will not only attract a larger number of clients, but also get you much greater conversion. You can also interlink content so that Cosmo-style content leads to more in-depth New Yorker-type content. Or a Cosmo-influenced headline can pull the reader into a piece with more depth than Cosmopolitan ever dreamed of.

In print, magazines normally separate the two styles. The front of the magazine has mostly short, light pieces; the back has longer, more in-depth pieces. Online, you get to be more flexible. You can drive them from light material to deeper, more detailed content so they get a brilliant mix of both kinds of pieces… not to mention that you’ll get great SEO benefits as well. They’ll be more attracted to you at the same time they’re inclined to convert and check in with you daily.

If you want to attract more attention, more traffic, more readers and more social media sharing, go with Cosmo-style articles. At a minimum, make sure you’ve crafted a drop-dead attention-grabbing headline. If you want conversion… meaning more subscribers and paying customers, lean toward New Yorker-influenced articles with plenty of depth, detail, and thoughtful analysis. And if you want both, give your readers both. Why settle for just one approach?

Consider this client case study. We recently had a client that had been conducting stress-relief and meditation classes, but their attendance had been dwindling in the last few years due to increased competition.

They wanted to find a way to rejuvenate their marketing efforts using the Internet. They had a beautiful website and were following all the marketing rules – good copy, a call-to-action, landing pages and so on. They even collected email addresses of prospects by coaxing them to sign-up to receive emails about special offers.

We observed that their method for collecting the email addresses of their prospects was OK… but they were going about it in the wrong way. They had prospects register to receive free offers, but those offers weren’t really related to what they did… teaching meditation techniques. We suggested that they STOP allowing prospects to sign up for special offers… and instead, allow prospects to sign up to receive a free online course on meditation.

In short – we suggested they give away a portion of their seminar for free.

Next, we observed their website over several weeks and studied their signup and sales statistics. The copy they had posted on their current site was attempting to push their prospects for an immediate sale. Their prospects also had the option to get on a reminder list for future offers.

Shortly thereafter, they started offering the free course we had recommended. Prospects to their main page no longer had the option to sign up for those special offers. Instead, they could sign up for that free online meditation course that our client would conduct over 3 short weeks. At the end of that mini-course, the prospects would receive an email promoting a special offer for our client’s full meditation seminar.

So, in effect our client stopped asking for their prospects to sign up for cheesy sales promotions… and instead, asked them to first sign up for actual, useful lessons on meditation and stress relief.

We had them do this for several reasons. First and foremost, when prospects today first visit your site, they don’t know you, like you or trust you. They also want to work with a specialist… someone they feel has expertise that directly applies to their specific situation. The three week course established our client’s level of expertise, while simultaneously building rapport, respect and trust during that entire period through multiple “touch” points.

Most prospects don’t buy on their initial visit. In fact, many of them now require anywhere from seven to fifteen touch points before they feel comfortable enough with you and your business to part with their hard earned money. So for our client, the sales promotion came after they had offered their prospects a sample taste of their program in the form of the free online course.

But did this strategy actually produce results? Sign ups for the free course soared. They more than doubled overnight. But here was the surprising result. Within a week of the prospects signing up for the free 3 week course… sales started soaring as well. Sales went up by a whopping 95%. In essence, the company literally doubled its revenue!

Rather than cannibalizing sales as they originally feared, offering the free course had actually doubled their sales.

This was completely counter-intuitive to our client’s present business model. Why did this work so well? Just answer this question… how often have you wanted to try out a product or a service before you purchased it? Prospects want to feel comfortable with their purchase decision… and that means they want to make sure that what they get works… adds value… and is worth the price.

As crazy as this may sound, the quickest way to a sale may be to initially avoid one! Ask for the sale before you have established trust, respect, rapport and especially value, and you’re doomed to fail.

Instead of focusing on persuading your prospects to ‘buy’… you could focus on getting them to ‘subscribe’ to a trial version of your product. Many online business owners have started offering free sneak previews of their products or services. You see these examples everywhere, including a free trial version of a software application, a free online course or, in the case of an author selling their book, offering several chapters in that book for free so they can hook you on the story.

After all, free sells… IF you make it compelling and give it the perception of value. The idea behind this strategy of delayed consumption is to introduce prospects to the features and benefits of your product or service. That gets them excited and curious enough so that they will eventually purchase it. Even retailers are getting in on the act… ranging from vacuum cleaners to Sleepmaster beds. For many business owners… this technique works better than the traditional model of scarcity selling which basically implies it’s ‘now or never.’

But why ask for an email address?

Even on top sites, up to 96% of visitors will not make a purchase on their first visit. Rather than lose those visitors forever it’s usually a good idea to develop… and then maintain a relationship with them so that you can lure them back to your site in the future.

This is most easily accomplished by asking for their email address in exchange for valuable free information, usually in the form of a sample of your product or service delivered by email.

Selling is all about trust and relationship building. It’s because of the explosion of marketing messages over the past several years that you need to connect with a prospect between seven times and possibly as many as fifteen times by email before they’re willing to purchase.

This process of relationship building is essential to getting the prospect to trust you… to try out your product or service without the pressure of a tough sell… and to form a marketing relationship that will allow you to later sell to them. Now before you start giving away your content, keep this in mind. To work properly, the free content needs to be designed according to certain specific principles. Following these exact principles will help you make incredible gains.

When designing your free offer, here are 2 rules to guide you.

Rule 1: give away just enough to create desire. The first thing you need to do is decide what type of information, product or service you’re going to give away. You want to give away just enough to entice the prospect to purchase what you sell. Try to craft your free offer so that it allows you to email the subscriber with free information a minimum of seven times.

Rule 2: give it away slowly. You must spread the information out over several days… or in some cases… several weeks. Let’s say you’re selling a book on competitive cycling. Your book contains 29 chapters. You decide to give out seven chapters for free. You DO NOT want to let the subscriber download ALL seven chapters at one time. Let them sign up to receive one chapter every 2 – 3 days.

By spreading it out this way, you allow yourself more time to form a relationship with the reader. You also make it easier for them to consume the seven free chapters by spreading them out rather than handing it to them all at once. Remember – you need to contact the subscriber around seven times on average before generating a sale. This process works no matter what you offer. That offer could be for a free report, a free trial or a free online course you conduct by webinar.

If your free course is a software product, then you can let the subscriber download a limited version of the product… possibly with some of the more advanced features turned off. You should always require subscribers to provide an email address before downloading.

Then begin what is called a drip campaign where you email them a friendly tip or suggestion every few days. The purpose of the email is to remind them of the extraordinary value of your product or service… such as how it can solve a problem, frustration or concern in their life… and begin to build rapport with them.

Simply allowing your subscribers to download a software product and then forgetting about them is not the smart thing to do. Create a relationship! One thing that attracts prospects like a magnet is when they find “the expert.” Most businesses today promise everything under the sun… and then deliver none of it.

When prospects find someone they feel is an expert… someone highly knowledgeable that speaks their language and can anticipate their wants and needs, they will flock to that business like flies to honey. Positioning yourself as an industry expert is a concept often referred to as “preeminence.” Let’s face it… standing out in a crowd is difficult to do. Here’s a quick and highly effective way to position your business… and yourself as the premier authority in your market.

To effectively establish preeminence, you must…

  • first, establish credibility & trust with visitors and prospects
  • second, highlight the difference between you and your competitors
  • third, create desire for your product or service… instantly!
  • and fourth, decrease or eliminate any need to “sell”

This process moves suspects from ignorance… to qualified prospects… and finally, to buyers. You’ll position yourself as a trusted advisor and friend instead of a salesperson.

This is what marketing is all about… lead generation, lead qualification and lead conversion. The best clients are educated clients who instantly see the value in what you sell… and end up BEGGING you to sell them something!

Try it… it works every time! Good luck.

 About Adrian Ulsh

Adrian Ulsh is the CEO for Leader Publishing Worldwide, the largest online provider of coaching services worldwide. Adrian currently works with more than 500 coaches in 24 countries advising them on building 6 and 7 figure coaching practices.

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