Toastmasters

Conference and Next Model

It’s be a little while since my last post. If you were wondering what happened to me, I was chairing a Toastmasters District Conference.

As chair, I took a large role in the marketing as you can imagine. Our typical attendance over the past few years has been 80-100 people. Most of those conference lost a substantial amount of money. We budgeted for 125. People were saying we were too optimistic and needed to make plans for what to do if fewer people showed up.

I put NLP marketing to the test… and we ended up with 202 paid registrations. I credit much of that to the quality of the speakers, the offer we created and that we focused on creating a good value for people. Of course people wouldn’t have known about all that without the marketing.

You might be surprised to know we had no budget for marketing. We’re a non-profit. We were supposed to break even for the conference when it was all said and done. So far, we’ve made a profit and will have more money coming in from audio recordings we’ll be offering our members. Our biggest problem now is what to do with the extra money so we can bring it back down to break even.

This event consumed most of my time the past couple of months. I should be done with all the final wrap ups in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a model for graphic design. I’m actually meeting with my exemplar for the last look at the model to make sure it’s all an accurate representation of what she does. It includes everything from project planning and management to what she actually does to make it look good. I’ve learned a lot about it myself.

I’m also going to be working on a model of using violence to save your life. I realize it’s not marketing but I’ve had an interest in self defense for years. I’ve found a couple of fighting systems that are principle rather than technique based so I can model them. The trick to this one will be connecting kinesthetic knowledge through hearing. I think as long as it’s anchored to movements the listener is already familiar with, it will work. One idea I’ve been wondering about is whether “muscle memory” is simply subconscious knowledge.

I’m thinking of doing another business skill after that. I haven’t settled on one in particular so if you have any preferences, let me know – either comment or email me.

That’s all for now.

Louis

PS. If you’re wondering how I got so many links to my prior post, I submitted it to a bunch of blog carnivals. I’ll do that again for the next post with more universal appeal.

Flowing Customer Experiences

I’ve been reading the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

In writing the first draft of my copywriting model acquisition instructions, I realized a way that Flow applies to marketing. First, an example:

In Toastmasters, we just launched our fiscal year. One of my positions allows me to create and promote incentives and competitions for members to be recognized. During the discussions that proceeded the adoption of one in particular, there was a lot of back and forth over the rules.

The point I was trying to make was that we had to make it fair or people wouldn’t do it. One competition in particular, Toastmaster of the Year, was tricky because we were trying to decide how we would choose the winner. The first idea was that all the criteria would count equally and receive a single point talley. I knew that wouldn’t work because one criteria is attending a weekly meeting while another one is mentoring a new club (a six month committment).

We ended up deciding to keep the judging subjective. Several experienced Toastmasters will have to subjectively weight all the criteria against each other and pick a relative winner.

Flow experiences are the intersection of skills and challenges. If your skills are high and the challenge is low, you’re bored. If your skills are low and the challenge is high, you’re anxious. Flow is the happy medium between the two extremes where high skill and high challenge intersect.

For a challenge to be legitimate, the rules must be established and easy enough for people to navigate. If you think about any sporting event, that’s what allows it to be recognized as a challenge. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of guys fighting over a ball without a point. And if you don’t know the rules, that’s probably what it looks like to you.

The reason I mentioned the Toastmaster example is that the rules have to not only be clear but they have to be fair. No one is going to play a game where their reasonable efforts won’t be fairly recognized. It’s impossible to get into a flow state that way because the challenge isn’t well defined.

The marketing application is that your message will be most effective when it helps create a flow experience for your prospect. Your ideal customer will be one who is at the skill level to recognize the solution to a challenge your product offers. Said another way… people buy when your product helps them overcome a challenge. And the particular challenge will be determined by their current skills.

No doubt there are all sorts of other applications to things like customer service as well.

When I just checked Amazon, they have used copies of Flow for $2.60.

Volunteering and profiles

Sorry I let it go almost 2 weeks without posting. I had a birthday weekend and my major volunteer effort – Toastmasters – started a new year.

I’ve got a club and a district officer role this time around and it all came down at the same time. When I told one of our new club officers that, she asked why anyone would want to do that. Everyone has their reasons for joining Toastmasters (a communication and leadership organization if you didn’t know). Serving in a leadership capacity is a totally different level though. It wasn’t until I got into district leadership that I started taking the program seriously and speaking regularly.

My reason for the "extra" involvement is that after all the different organizations I’ve been a part of… churches, corporations, the army, the public school system, soccer teams… I consider Toastmasters to be one of the best. It gives people the opportunity to improve themselves. You don’t have to have a set of beliefs or be coerced into anything. You show up… you’re challenged… you have fun… you get better.  If anything promotes world peace, it’s empowering people to act on their own beliefs.

If you’re a copywriter or anyone who wants low risk practice in persuasion, I can’t recommend Toastmasters more highly. You can write your speech and get immediate feedback from an audience.

On to profiles… Ryan Healy wrote on how to know if you have the traits of a freelance copywriter. It’s good stuff. As I’ve been working on an NLP model for copywriters, I’ve noticed a few things. One is that there’s almost NO consistent trait among copywriters other than having a creative process that consists of researching, writing and editing. Beyond that, everyone’s an individual.

So while the grandmasters of copywriting enjoy describing what makes a great copywriter, what they’re probably really saying is what they believe makes them a good copywriter. Every master in any field will write about what unique traits they have. The truth is that there are lots of good copywriters out there who don’t fit any mold.

And then if you consider yourself an entrepreneur first, there’s even more variety there. Somehow most of those guys keep pounding out bad ads year after year and still make money. Of course they’d make more if they improved their marketing skills but just about everyone knows a story like that.

One consistent across almost all organizations and professions is value and influence. Where are you providing value and how are you influencing others to convey that value?

Trying NLP out in a Speech

Over the weekend I got to announce the Toastmasters District Fall Conference since I’m chairing it.

I only had a few hours until I was to make the announcement (due to procrastination on my part) and most of that time was already accounted for in other events.

I decided to throw some patterns in there anyway just to see what would happen.

Here’s what I scratched together on 3 pocket sized spiral note pad pages:

Do you… remember a time when learning was fun.

You’re excited and fascinated with both the journey and the destination.

Imagine a day devoted to your improvement. Do you want to…

  • Improve your voice
  • Relax your body
  • Iron out internal resistance
  • Resolve external conflict
  • Align yourself with what you really want out of life

The theme of the fall conference is, "Your Best Self Ever."

We’re taking a value based approach where you could easily pay the full price just to hear any of the speakers we have lined up. It will be a one day conference.

As you’re getting your [registration] fliers, you’re probably already thinking about other members who’d like to come as well.

Then I talked about how to sign up and who to give the money to.

Did it work? Who knows. We had more than the usual number of early registrations but that could have as easily been due to the fact that the price was lower than usual and the value was higher than usual. It was fun trying it out.

Coming up…

Okay guys, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…

I’ve decided to go ahead and create a series of DVDs on NLP copywriting and here’s why: after looking around the internet, I’ve found a pretty large gap in the training available.

  • Harlan Kilstein is hands down the grandfather of NLP copywriting. If you have $1000s to plunk down, go to him. I went through his live NLP certification seminar and was completely blown away. I got almost no sleep (my fault, not his) but still was completely enthralled. He’s targeting high level copywriters and marketers.
  • Kenrick Cleveland is the cream of the crop when it comes to learning NLP for face to face sales. I recently found his blog and really like what I see. Getting and using his course is on my list of things to do. The thing of it is that (as Harlan will attest) there are things you can do in spoken NLP that you can’t do in writing and vise versa.
  • Frank Kern is currently running his Mass Control campaign. You can watch the progress at his blog. He’s been part of some pretty spectacular product launches mostly through his down to earth (and sneaky) uses of persuasion. In a recent audio he release, he actually says what he’s doing isn’t NLP and he wishes someone would create an NLP product that would be fun to learn though. I have to agree that most of the materials I’ve been methodically plowing through would be of more interest to a therapist than a marketer. Additionally, the uses of NLP in some of his material actually originated with Harlan anyway.
  • Other miscellaneous marketers and NLP practitioners are selling their advice as well. Again, we have the delimma of either being extremely expensive ranging in the thousands OR being of low quality. And then there’s the fact that aside from Harlan, no one is really teaching the nuances of using NLP in copywriting.

So…

I’m going to go ahead and finally do what I’ve been reading from James Brausch and create some entry level NLP products for entrepreneurs and marketers. Again, if you want to learn the whole enchilada, you’ll still need to go to Harlan. For spoken NLP, go to Kenrick. For product launches or campaigns, go to Frank. If there’s someone else I should be recommending, let me know.

I’m thinking of including the basics and a lot of case studies – good and bad. There are tons of different patterns. Most people would see dramatic improvements with a foundational understanding and a handful of techniques done well.

I plan to make it as fun as I can as Frank said. He’s in good company too. The founder of Toastmasters is often quoted:

"We learn best in moments of enjoyment."

If there’s anything you’d like to see included as far as techniques or learning styles, feel free to comment or email me at writing@louisrburns.com.