This is going to be controversial.
I don’t believe that you should “give value first”.
At least, the way it’s popularly taught.
Let me explain why.
Basically, “give value first” is the idea that you have to endlessly give away content for free before you “earn” the right to ask for a sale.
Jab, jab, jab - right hook.
I think this is the most disrespectful thing you can do to a customer - especially a serious customer.
First of all, it’s disingenuous.
Take all these “nurture sequences” and “goodwill emails” and 5 email sales sequences some gurus teach, for example.
Those fake “Here is who I am, I love you, I’m all about giving you actionable advice, here is all the free stuff you can expect from me” emails?
They bug me.
You’re sent these “pure value” emails which are suspiciously free of any reference to that business’s products. But you can see the sale at the end of the funnel from a mile away.
When the pitch finally hits your inbox, something seems icky. Dishonest.
Because it’s the first time you’re hearing about this product... it feels like an ambush.
"Oh so that's why I've been getting all this 'actionable advice' for the last two weeks."
Why hide the fact that something for sale exists?
It makes your customers feel tricked into buying.
This kind of dishonesty is a disease that’s rampant in online marketing, and it’s being propagated by the Cult of Value.
Second, “jab, jab, jab - right hook” seems incredibly selfish to me.
Your customers are searching now for help. They subscribe to your list now for help. And you’re going to make them wait till next week for help!
That’s not about the customer at all. That’s about the marketer’s emotions.
Are you really “nurturing” your customer - or “nursing” your own wounded inner child who is terrified of selling?
I suppose this kind of radical honesty makes me something of a pariah.
It certainly puts me in the minority.
But I’m glad I’m not the *only* one who sees the irony in pretending not to be playing while still trying to play…
I saw email marketing pioneer Ben Settle post this the other day:
“Customers have pains and problems that need to be solved. That’s why they’re on your list. Screwing around spending days or weeks trying to pretend you don’t have something that can benefit their lives while they are suffering seems incredibly selfish to me. Far more selfish than being honest and upfront and telling them there is something for sale that can help them. It makes no sense to not at least let them know your solution exists.”
My loyal subscriber...
If you’re ready to leave the incestuous Cult of Value, and start selling with integrity, then do this instead:
Be upfront about your product.
“You have a problem? Great, I have the solution. You can find it here.”
A few examples:
You can do this at the first point of contact - namely your opt-in page (like I did with 5 Days of Opt(In)Sanity).
You can do it in the lead magnet itself - either:
(a) By telling them that the material they’re consuming is pulled out from your course (like I did in the Litmus Test Workbook), or
(b) By introducing your product as their next logical step (like I did in the Opt-in Idea Bank)
You can - and certainly should - do it in every email you send too.
Sell to people who need the solution now, give value in the form of infotainment, and build a relationship at the same time.
These things are not mutually exclusive.
Always keep the customer in mind.
Let them know you have the solution.
Then offer a free “taster” to allow them to make an informed decision.
To show that you know your shit and can be trusted to fix their problem.
Free content - like an opt-in offer - is about giving prospects who are already interested in what you have to sell the ability to make an informed choice.
It isn’t about nursing freeloaders into a welfare mentality until they feel beholden to buy from you.
That’s not a business. That’s a cult.
Your customers are not dumb. Please don’t treat them that way.
Ultimately, you have a choice to make:
Do you want to build a cult that pretends to have nothing to sell while slyly working to “liberate” its followers from all their worldly possessions?
Or do you want to build a business that treats its customers with integrity, and sells openly, honestly and effectively?
If you want a cult...
Then keep writing the kind of disingenuous sales sequences that induce a sudden urge to take a shower and scrub all that guru oil off one’s skin.
Keep on contaminating your followers’ inboxes with “sales-wolves in value-clothing”.
But if it’s an honestly profitable business that you’re after…
Then learn how to write emails that combine content and promotion - emails that people enjoy buying from.
You can’t write marketing emails that people make time to read, and actually bring in sales?
Well, I have the solution to your problem: