Stealing the best practices of Self-help Gurus

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Self-help gurus have harnessed technology to build huge businesses. Along the way they are iteratively improving their use of technology, methods of collaboration and ways of crafting a consumer experience. How can we use their tactics to expand impact and revenue for our causes?

Notes: Self help products can seem too salesy, but with social change agents, you can get ppl to realize the urgency in attending an event, donating to a cause. the tactics are effective so we should see how we can adapt.

Big (800-1000 ppl in attendance) conferences have an extra level of rigor in getting the word out, so this is a difference from how other conferences message.

There is a personal connection btw the attendee and the guru about generating trust. and relevance with the life of the attendee

The way they share info is different in that they don't let you see any content without signing up, and it's also different b/c they structure their message in a *framework and they re-use the framework. The pattern of the info they use, and they repeat it, the menomics are the same and the pattern is the same.

There is a priority to providing a lot of value without asking someone to buy something, for example, thru videos where they talk about a scenario or a guide. They give a lot of stuff in order to earn the right to ask you to buy something. This is different from nonprofits who may ask for donations repeatedly, without providing value in between.

  • providing value without asking for something deepens the relationship.
    • For ex, Peggy Duvette from wiser earth says she takes 6 or 7 emails before asking for anything.
  • They give PDFs, ebooks or videos, in exchange for signing up for an email list. They intentionally give away more than they sell.

The spirit of generosity and the notion that everyone wants to be a good person is there.

Brendan Berchard's talks focus on how to make a career out of your expertise. There is a level of a sense of superiority around people who are subject matter experts and are marketing their own content.

His ladder of engagement is long and spans several years. He has a three year plan for everyone who signs up, a plan for people to keep providing value, even if you never buy from him. If someone goes from signing up to invest in his coursework, the ladder is long.

  • They let you qualify for free stuff (like event tickets) as you buy more stuff like books or videos.

Jeff Walker, specializes in how to launch a product.

Keep in mind: these could be best practices or they could be things that worked for successful outliers like Burchard and Walker.

How can nonprofits improve the process of how to get the word out?

  • Tip: they never use capital letters in a subj line ever (b/c it makes the email more casual.
  • Successful Self-help gurus also always use social optimization with their videos, like facebook commenting.

Some Guru Tactics

How many of these are you open to trying?

1. Would you be able to have your website look ugly if it converted more users? (Craigslist or big action buttons encouraging you to click and sign up, linear long scrolling w/250 lines down of text)

2. Would you not allow people to see any content on your website unless they signed up on the mailing list?

3. Would you be willing to provide value in exchange (a reward or a bribe) for a sign-up or a like, providing exclusivity?

4. Would you be willing to have a video start playing automatically if it added more users (self-help gurus do it and the videos are 30 min talking heads)?

5. Would you disable the feature on the video which allows a user to skip ahead? The top guys says it works better to do this.

6. Would you as individual be willing to be a face for your community, and talk on a video for your cause?

7. Would you be willing to share profits with ppl who promote your product?

  • The reward is your reputation, the price is the commission.
  • Self-gurus do this affiliate recommendation stuff often. The sign-ups have affiliate links


  • They use propriatary software.
    • Kajabi, around creating space for online courses, so ppl can access yr coursework, only after paying.
    • infusionsoft, mailinglist management,
    • Optimize Press: wordpress theme and plugin, desginsed around "squeeze page" - when you arrive at a web page and the window pops up asking you to sign-up,