Category : Personal Branding

Branding Business Lifestyle Content Marketing Personal Branding

4 Life and Death Marketing Lessons: How to Stand Out in a Cut-Throat Market


Let’s face it, competition is tough. Really tough.

With the Internet changing the game and lowering the barrier to entry, you no longer have a couple of competitors – you have hundreds or even thousands.

But here’s a simple story of a guy and some smart positioning to make a BIG sale… and it has nothing to do with fancy software, google “loopholes” or push-button autoblogging software. It’s good old-fashioned positioning and marketing.


My wife and I decided it was time to repave our driveway. Of course, as a smart consumer, you have to get multiple bids – so I put an ad on craigslist and waited.

Within a few hours – I received about 10 or so emails. And of the 10, there was ONE that quickly become the obvious choice. His name is “Jerry”. Let me explain why (and the marketing lessons you can take).

#1. EASY: I am hiring someone to repave my driveway because I don’t want to do it myself. I have zero desire to do any of that stuff. Seriously, I hate all the “handyman” work around the house.

Jerry said he will come out TODAY (on Easter Sunday) and take all the measurements. Ok – easy enough. He came a few hours later and measured every inch of the driveway with a rolling tape. It took him about 20 minutes because it’s a pretty big driveway.

But here was the surprising part – 5 of the other people who emailed me asked ME to go outside and do all the measurements. Then, they will give me a quote without even talking to me or seeing the job.

Huh? There are 2 things that stuck out from those replies. The first is they are not willing to get in their car to meet someone for a $3K or so job. And second, they want me to do their job.

So rule #1 – make it EASY for people to work with you.

If it’s a product, don’t make me download special software to view your videos. Don’t ask me to create 5 usernames. Don’t tell me it’s for a PC only. Make it easy.

#2. FOCUSED: Jerry ONLY does paving. In fact, his business is called Jerry’s Paving. Every other person who replied to my ad said they do “all types of construction, contracting, etc.”.

Just because Jerry only does paving, does it necessarily mean he’s better? No. But it does make you assume if that’s his only business – he must be good at it.

That’s 2 for Jerry and 0 for the other pros.

Marketing lesson #2 – be niched and focused. And dominate that one industry. Sure, Jerry could probably do other “handyman” services – but by being THE paving guy, he is scooping up that slice of the market. And they are not cheap jobs either. Let the other guys sheetrock the walls, Jerry will gladly corner the paving market.

#3. THE GUARANTEE: Jerry was also the ONLY person who said his work is guaranteed. And guaranteed for up to 2 years.

The other bidders – not even a hint of a guarantee.

Jerry = 3. Competition = 0.

Marketing lesson #3 – you should always guarantee your work and offer the purchase back if not satisfied. Don’t ever fight refunds (even if they are wrong) and offer quality follow-up service.

#4. SOCIAL PROOF: Here was the icing on the cake. Jerry even had a link to his Facebook Fanpage. That’s right, a local paving guy has a fanpage on FB with real, live fans.

You can bet it makes me feel better about working with Jerry.

Jerry = 4. Competition = 0.

Marketing lesson #4 – create a social media presence. And get lots of lots of testimonials and case studies online. It’s no longer an option – it’s a necessity.

I am still waiting for all the final bids, but you can be sure that even if Jerry is 10% or higher on the project, I will hire him.

I love sharing stories like these. And even though Jerry doesn’t have a web site with his own domain (yes, he should), he is still miles ahead of his competition.

If he can position himself as the clear winner using only Craigslist and a simple Facebook page – imagine what YOU can do? He found a clear want/need – and he filled it. It’s as simple as that.

It’s not about tricks and gimmicks – it’s about building TRUST with your potential customer. Nothing else matters.

Kudos Jerry – that’s the way you handle your business.

P.S. A story like Jerry, who was not born in the U.S., is the reason why I love this country so much. There is virtually unlimited opportunity for people who hustle and go after their dreams.

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Business Lifestyle Personal Branding

The Biggest Jerk in the World (The Law of Accessibility)


For years, I bought into the hype.

That you must be really hard to reach in order to run your business.

Create several layers of communication. Make people jump through lots of hoops to reach you.

And I was wrong. Dead wrong.


stopsignHere’s the biggest problem with setting up your business like that – you can become a jerk. And I felt myself becoming a jerk too.

I started this business to HELP people – and here I was turning them away. I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.

Some of the people who teach this way of doing business are the crankiest people I’ve ever met – and they are NOT the people I want to model. And it’s not the legacy I want to leave.

Now, let me give a quick disclaimer.

I still agree there should be some boundaries. And I still set the tone for how I choose to work with people.

No one gets my cell number (that’s for my wife and a handful of family and close friends). And my Titanium group knows I’m not online on the weekends (that’s 100% family time). So they know their questions will be answered on Monday.

For other communication – if you are a client (or someone from the media who want to interview me), you must email Jennifer as she is in control of my calendar. If you have an issue with your account (login, etc.), then Demetria will take care of you.

So you see, I do have some structure in place – otherwise things could get out of control.

But otherwise I’m pretty accessible during the afternoons (after my hard-core work time).

Skype. Email. Facebook.

If you want to reach me – I’m now there to help (Disclaimer – please don’t ask to “pick my brain”. You must respect my time and if you want coaching, then I have packages available).

And the response has been incredible. Not just building goodwill – but also for my sales.

More membership signups. More product sales. More workshop signups. People signing up for my programs right through skype – without any sales letters.

Yes, it does pay to giveback. And yes, you CAN actually make more money by being accessible and helping people. I know it’s so cliched – but it really is a “win/win” for everyone.


Rock on,


P.S. My preferred method of contact is skype (my skype is “coachryanlee”). If you have a question about one of my coaching groups or workshops – you can reach me there.

P.P.S. If this resonates with you, please like, share and tweet below

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Content Marketing Personal Branding

How to Connect with ANYBODY In One Simple Step


One of my Titanium members (I’ll keep his name confidential) recently asked for an introduction to one of my friends.

snoopyThey are in the same industry and can definitely help each other.

After I made the email introduction, since my member is new to this world, asked if I could review his email reply.

99% of the email was perfect – but here was his EXACT last 2 sentences…

I’d love to be introduced to your audience and introduce you and KRE8 to mine. I think we have very complimentary services so this could potentialy be a wonderful way for each to send customers to one another.

Can you see what’s wrong with this? I immediately spotted the mistake.

He asked “I’d love to be introduced to your audience”.

Remember, they were just connected by me but haven’t met, spoken or communicated with each other yet. And right away, he’s asking a favor.

If I got that email, it would be a major turn off. Big time.

Why should I “introduce you” to my audience if I don’t know anything about you yet?

I told him, flat-out, you must GIVE first.

Ask if you can interview HIM. Offer to promote HIM to your audience. Ask how you can support HIS business.

Give. Give. Give.

Don’t ask for anything in return. You are building a relationship – and that takes time. And you should extend a hand first.

When I’m asked how I know so many people in both the fitness and marketing industries – it’s because this is how I build relationships.

It’s not being manipulative, it’s doing the right thing. It’s being a good person first.

So simple, yet so powerful.

Oh yeah, or you can ask them to promote your awesome product for a 50% commission and $2.00 EPC that will make the rich. Rich I tell you, rich! That’s theother way to connect.

It’s your choice.


Rock on,


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Branding Business Lifestyle Content Marketing Personal Branding

Here’s Why You Are Kicking Butt.. Or Failing Miserably


Since launching my first web site back in 1999 I’ve met A LOT of people. Thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life through my membership sites, my newsletters, webinars and live events.

I remember some that started at zero online and have generated tens of millions of dollars in sales (one of the biggest success stories is Mike Geary).

But for every success story like Mike Geary or Zach Even-esh or Brain Grasso or Amy Ahlers – there are thousands of others who haven’t reached their potential. And some have flat-out falled on their faces.


Why are some of my students so successful while others who go through the EXACT same programs are not?

I have come to this conclusion.

I have no idea.

It’s just one of those things that can’t be explained…. or can it be…

Maybe they didn’t want to put in the effort necessary?

rockstairsMaybe they had low self-esteem and lacked confidence?

Maybe they ignored my advice because they “know better”?

Maybe they thought you had to write a 25 page business plan first?

Maybe they took 3 months to write one blog post?

Maybe they waited until their product was perfect?

Maybe they were hoping for a big, fat button to push and make them millions?

Maybe they were on every “guru” list and kept getting distracted?

Maybe they hate selling and think it’s beneath them?

Maybe they spend too much time on the warrior forum?

Maybe they tried to re-invent the wheel instead of sticking to what works?

Maybe they only focus on getting new customers and ignored their current ones?

Maybe they are terrified to “take a stance” and say something that matters?

Maybe they are so focused on “extracting” money from people instead of delivering value?


Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a combination of some (or all) of the above?

If your business is not where you want it to be. Or if you’ve seen other people leapfrog right over you, then please re-read this post as many times as necessary until it sinks in.

Your coach has spoken.



Rock on,


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Content Marketing Personal Branding

The Magic 3-Step “Niche Marketing” Formula


Before you create your product. Before you build your marketing funnels. Before you create your web site. Before you even think about choosing a domain name  – you must answer this one question…

“WHO am I selling to?”

That, my friend, is the question.

But how narrow or wide do you go?


niche marketingNICHE FIRST

When I talk to my clients about choosing a narrow niche – they get scared.

They’ll usually say something like, “but if I just target golfers, isn’t that too small?”. Or, “if I only focus on helping moms, aren’t I losing 1/2 of my potential market?”.

When I give example after example of success stories of people who have done very well in a narrow market, they will often come back with things like, “well, what about Facebook – they attract everyone”. Or even you, Ryan, your business isn’t very narrow.



Sure, there are companies that reach the masses and rack up billions in sales in the process. But sometimes it’s not what it seems.

Let’s look at Facebook.

As you may know, when Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, it was only open to Harvard students. Talk about an narrow, exclusive niche. Only 2,000 new freshman are admitted each year.

But after he got traction in Harvard, he opened Facebook to other Ivy League schools. And then, more colleges and universities. And finally, the rest of the world (including me).

Even my business started narrow servicing just fitness professionals. And since I always look at business like a living, breathing organism – it’s now become what it is now.



Here’s a simple exercise I use with my clients.

It’s about going three levels deep into your market.

For example – if you say your market is “weight loss”, how can you go deeper?

Maybe you can choose a sex – so it’s “weight loss for women”. That’s level one.

Let’s go deeper.

Maybe it’s a specific type of woman. It could be by age. Or even just for moms. Or perhaps by profession – like for female attorneys.

So now, you it’s “weight loss for new moms”. That’s the second level.

What about a specific type of equipment you use? Perhaps it’s the TRX.

So now, you show women how to lose weight using the TRX.

Finally, on the third level it’s “weight loss for new moms using the TRX”.

Do you see what I did there?

It takes a few minutes of just drilling down. It’s not perfect, but it will start you thinking narrow.



You are much better off choosing a narrow, niched market that is easy to reach.

And after you start to gain some traction – you can explore opening it up to other markets.

But when you come out with a product that’s for “everybody”, it’s becoming more difficult to gain a foothold in a fractured public.

Be nimble. Be small. Be focused. And be PROFITABLE.

It’s not the only way to run a business – but I think it’s the best.



P.S. If you like this, please share and tweet below.


Rock on,


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Branding Content Marketing Personal Branding

Growing Your Email List… Offline?


Yesterday, our town of New Canaan, CT held it’s annual Halloween parade.

All of the kids get dressed up in their customs and walk down our main street. It’s just one of those days that makes me realize how blessed I am to live in this community.

Then something caught my eye.

A woman with a clipboard approaching virtually every mom that walked by (I’m a marketer so naturally all of my focus went directly to see what she was doing – while promptly ignoring my four kids).

It looked like a typical “survey” until I realized she was actually promoting her email newsletter and asking for people to signup on the spot.

It was a newsletter for kid’s activities in the area – but something about the approach felt wrong.

Of course, I was watching this for a few minutes – and I didn’t see even one mom give their email address. They all said things like “no thanks” and “my inbox is so crowded already”.

And when she approached our group, we all politely declined as well.

My eyes fixated on the sheet attached to her clipboard. And out of the hundreds and hundreds of parent’s at the parade, she might have had about 5 names on the paper.


This was her ideal market. It seems everyone in town has 3-4 kids. Affluent. And 100% family focused.

Yet, no one wanted her FREE email newsletter featuring fun family activities.



While I applaud this woman from getting away from her computer and hitting the pavement, here’s how she could have made it better…

1. Better Reason to Signup: She just said “we have a great email newsletter”, but that’s no longer a good enough reason for people to subscribe. She could have offered some type of gift right there… water bottles, pens, pads. Something.Anything.

In fact, there are over 100 gifts that cost less than $1 she could have given away here at 4Imprint with the newsletter logo. If she knows her lifetime value per customer, it’s easy to figure out how much you could spend on each subscriber.

The one to the below starts at $.56 cents.. and as a dad, I can tell you how much my kids love little pouches to store everything you can imagine (from loose change to my car keys!!)



2. Get Attention and Buzz: The woman didn’t have any special shirt or graphics to know she was with a company. She was dressed like any other mom in the crowd – with the exception of a clipboard. Even a fun custom could have gotten some attention. Maybe even as some type of flight attendant or tour guide (it took me a few minutes to find the inexpensive costume below).

On a related note, Joe’s Pizza did it right. They are a local pizza joint and they had someone dressed as a giant slice of pizza with “Joe’s Pizza” and their phone number on the back. And there were kid’s were taking pictures with him in the street. That got attention.



3. Print Copy: I would have printed up something from the newsletter. Maybe a sample issue that was typeset to look like a high-quality newsletter. And simply given them out with a large CTA (call-t0-action) featured prominently on the newsletter.

This would have been an instant TRUST-BUILDER – since we don’t know her or her newsletter. And if we don’t know her, chances are low we will just give out our email address to someone on the street.



Again, I think she deserved a lot of credit for getting outside her comfort zone and thinking differently about list building.

But with a few changes – she could have built lots of buzz and generated hundreds more qualified email subscribers.


Rock on,


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Content Marketing Personal Branding

You Are a Marketer


No matter what you do or sell – you are in the MARKETING business. Pure and simple.

Sure, if you are a personal trainer, you might think you are in the fitness business. You are not.

You are marketing results. Those results might be weight loss. Or a higher vertical jump. Or more muscle.

You are not an “author”, you are marketing your books (which also sell a result… even a fiction book is selling a fantasy or escape from the real-world fora  few hours).

Make no mistake, you are a marketer. You MUST get this point. And the people who “get it” – succeed. It’s that simple.



nikejordanThe biggest sneaker company in the world right now is Nike with yearly sales of $24 billion.

Nike is a MARKETING company. That’s right, a marketing company.

They are NOT a manufacturer.

You probably think Nike has millions of employees in their factories all over the world assembling sneakers and sewing clothes, but you’d be wrong.

In fact, Nike even says on their own site (in their own words): “We do not own these factories.”.

They are in the business of marketing their sneakers. I should know… from my first Air Jordans back in 1985 to around 30 pairs of track sneakers during my competitive running days – I have been a customer of theirs for decades. And they are a very smart marketing company.

I had no idea they didn’t own their factories until a couple of years ago – and I’m obsessed with business.

I’m sure most of their days are spent planning marketing and advertising campaigns. Signing new athletes to their roster. Coming up with grassroots programs to reach new lifetime customers. You can bet they don’t spend 90% of their resources just designing sneakers.

But just “developing” products is how most digital entrepreneurs spend their day. Then the product comes out and it barely registers on the radar. It’s because they have it backwards.

Once you make this shift to becoming a marketing company – things change quickly.


So the next time you planning how you will spend your day – think about Nike.




Rock on,


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Personal Branding

How to Survive as a Fitness Guru Online (and Have Thick Skin)

This video was from 2010 – and some things never change.

In addition to all the great content my subscribers get (at least I think it’s great!), I also offered a free report as an ‘ethical bribe’ to stay on my list.

But watch the video to see what happens.. and the lesson in it for you..


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