Is it just me or are you tired of seeing “come and join our FREE masterclass training; learn all the secrets of how to be/do X with us for FREE.” My personal favourite, “learn to drive your tribe wild without any icky selling.” Really is that a plausible position to pretend we don’t need to sell; that we can disguise ‘the selling’ under some convoluted warm, get to trust us (laughable considering we are effectively ‘misleading’ the listening/watching audience) marketing strategy. Shhhhh don’t say we are selling it’s FREE, FREE, FREE, gifted out of the goodness of our corporate heart; they won’t notice the sledge hammer selling push at the end because by then they will be all googley eyed with trust and overwhelmed by our free advice.

YES THEY WILL! Do you know why they will notice because when you are inauthentic people can feel it, always! They may choose to ignore it, because they want the ‘trinket’ on offer, but they can feel it. Even if you aren’t an intuitive type the massive crescendo of emails flooding your inbox towards the end of the ‘free’ masterclass series telling you “we know you’re the real deal, are 100% committed and we are here to help you” is a bit of a tell tale sign it’s not free. Oh and I forgot the incessant international calls to schedule your ‘free’ coaching session that came post ‘free’ training, get the hint when I didn’t answer the first 5 times I DON’T WANT THE FREE COACHING SESSION! Leave me the hell alone!

So it’s not free it’s a sales funnel; why can’t we be honest? Why can’t we say hey you want a cool read/watch, then here it is. You’ll get to know me because it’s a sample of my work, insert relevant published article, videos or any other ‘good’ content, this is who we are and this is what we do. BTW by ‘good’ I mean something you have genuinely created to be useful to another, that you developed with integrity and the intent was it would be received by a paying customer rather than a freeby’ite.

The trend seems to be you have to bust you b*lls to grow your ‘tribe’ then post loads of free ‘value’ (ahem less) content. BTW have you downloaded some of that free ‘value’ content? A 10 page ebook that told you 1 obvious nugget, with lots of padding, that you could have learnt from Google/You Tube if you have plugged in the same question into the search engine? However, you go for it and you have to trade your email address to get it, (Spoiler alert: IT’S ALREADY STOPPED BEING FREE RIGHT THERE; definition of a value exchange you give something in exchange for receiving something.) I also guarantee 30 secs later ‘exchanging’ your email address, for said ebook, you will have started to received the sales funnel emails and the onslaught continues, reference the 1300 unread emails in my inbox, until you unsubscribe.

Have I signed up for this stuff, clearly see unread email reference above. I’m always keen to learn and if it is free, like most human beings out there, I’ll take a look. I can already hear the indigent cries of the ‘pure’ souls; “how can you say that my free content is created without heart and my free training is genuinely not free, I’m not looking to drive sales”. Wow well you must be living in a place I haven’t visited yet as people that write great content do so, in my experience, with an end agenda of selling or at the very least to publish and hence establish their brand as an expert or thought leader in their niche market. With the end goal, yep you guessed it to sell to their ideal clients. A thought pops in 1300 unread emails, so not only are we potentially selling our souls but just how effective is it?

I find myself in a quandary looking for how to market a luxury, mission based, just out of the ideas ether into concrete reality project. This is a luxury service for savvy women and all the marketing gurus are telling me that THESE women, these savvy, know what they want, used to premium service, and I predict ‘don’t BS’ me type women will jump into that free training/competition/free give away circus? My ‘ideal’ clients will jump though all the hoops, learn to trust and ‘love’ me from my, let’s be honest, free sh*t content? Why will it be sh*t content? Cos girlfriend I busted my guts and spent the equivalent of buying a small house, >£100K, on my relevant education over the years, so I could offer top notch expertise to my clients; not to mention the decades of practice in crafting my skills around the globe. So honestly I’m not that motivated to offer up the good stuff for free!

The reality is no these women wont, they just wont jump on the free sales funnel marketing band wagon with any real intention to see it out the other end and buy; this will be nothing more than some idle curiosity. How do I know that? Because I’ve done it and the moment the inauthentic trap door falls away and the sell starts I’m out of there quicker than a quick thing. As I would consider myself representative of the type of women in my target market it begs the question why bother with this marketing strategy; in addition all the cool women I know don’t want to do that stuff, I’ve asked them!

That leaves me thinking if you do get your 5000 strong tribe, they do jump through all the hoops (taking what free stuff they can) then when you do finally make your sales offer and you get your 1-2% conversion; and here’s the kicker they probably aren’t ideal clients! They may be too sparkley, too needy or some other adjective that again, if we are being honest as service providers, we all have the picture in our minds of the kind of peeps we want to work with. I’ve worked with them all and there are just clients who you work with that make you skip out of bed and there are others where you just have to tell yourself think of the fee. I’m done with the thinking of the fee clients. I want to take incredible savvy women on an incredible luxe journey (literally and developmentally) and leave an indelibly positive imprint (ethical mission) on the world as we do it.

So here’s my quandary how to sell without selling out? Many online marketing ‘experts’ are, no doubt, wagging their fingers at me right now, at my naivety, at my audacity to shine a light onto this inauthentic elephant. The honest answer is I don’t know. Yep I DON’T KNOW, but one thing I do know is selling my soul is not a price I’m willing to pay. Also I’ve figured tough stuff out before, this is just one more journey of discovery to find out which path will lead to destination Luxe, Savvy, Authentic, Mission. What I do know is I intend to have fun along the way, be authentic in the process, not do anything that feels like I’m selling out in order to gain someone else’s dollar, otherwise it completely negates the very point of what I do. When I get to the illusive destination, that is the reason for all the marketing quandary, I am certain it will be with incredible savvy, authentic women and we will be able to have a positive impact on each other as well as the people and community in which we find ourselves. Until then I’ll just show up; kick ass, be kind; repeat!