She says what I’m thinking

“She was saying the things that I had been thinking and feeling and experiencing for quite a while.”

This is what Melissa Hanna, founder + CEO of Mahmee, said recently of Arlan Hamilton, VC founder / total rule-breaker {~10min in on Startup}. And it sparked me. I know that feeling.

For Melissa and Arlan, this helped sew the seeds of a pivotal relationship. {Spoiler alert...} Arlan cut Melissa her first VC check. And put Melissa on the path to confidently growing a business that was not getting funded by the old guard.

the secret to marketing that works

That’s powerful. But this story isn't about startup funding. This story is about that moment.

That moment when you hear {or read} someone saying what you’ve been ‘thinking and feeling and experiencing.’

Have you ever had a moment like that? Think back to who inspired that feeling for you. What were they saying? Why is it memorable, even now?

Maybe it was a teacher in college, or a mentor in your office, or someone you follow online who doesn’t even know you exist...yet. For my friend, Maggie, it was when she heard Brene Brown speak for the first time. And she had to tell everyone about it. Immediately.  

Think about that. Maggie went from being, at best, indifferent to Brene Brown’s being a true believer. And gratis brand ambassador. Because she heard that woman say what she herself had been feeling for quite a while.

How do you do that? How do you say that one thing {or bunch of things} that people have been thinking and feeling? How do you inspire spontaneous brand ambassadors like Maggie?

This isn’t magic. It isn’t kismet. It’s marketing at its best.

@@The magic in marketing happens when it’s not marketing. Not the way most people think of marketing, anyway.@@

The magic in marketing is one person saying things that resonate deeply with another person. So deeply that it feels like you’re hearing someone else say what you think and feel. {It helps if it’s not just any mundane little thing, but one of those things that keeps you up at night or sets your heart on fire.}

When you hear someone put into words what you’ve got in your head, you know they get you. So you trust them. You’re convinced they get your problems and just might know how to solve them. So, besides all of that, you just want more from them. You’re hooked, as they say.

That’s what happened in that moment when Melissa Hanna heard Arlan Hamilton speak. It’s what happened when Maggie heard Brene Brown. It’s what happens when I decide to buy someone’s book, sign up for their list, enroll in their course, or join their virtual coworking community. It’s what you want to make happen for the right people, too.

In every email, every blog, every video, every word on your website, your aim is to make this moment happen.

And it is really hard to do.

Putting yourself into the minds of the people you want to move {most likely, that’s your clients}, but also getting deeply in touch with what’s in your own mind; writing like you think and like you talk, but also saying things that feel like you’re inside other people’s heads…it’s a lot.

It doesn’t come easy for anyone. At least I don’t think it does.

As a writer, as a business owner, as a freelancer, as the boss...this is one of the most important and quite possibly hardest things you’ll try to do. And because it’s so hard, a lot of people don’t even try.

Most people don’t even know they’re not bothering to attempt this feat. They just...go with what they know, do what they do.

It’s easier to make people meet you where you are. But it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Imagine...your friend, bereft over his sudden divorce, visits you seeking a shoulder to cry on. While your tearful friend speaks, an eager puppy demands a game of fetch.

As your friend continues to reveal heart-wrenching details, one after another, the puppy becomes increasingly insistent.

That puppy doesn’t get your friend at all, does he? What's that puppy's deal?

This story, crafted by the hilarious Merrill Markoe for This American Life {~53min in}, explains it to us. {I warn you, this might feel painfully accurate if you've ever made a website that no one clicked on, put out an email that no one responded to, or launched a sales page that generated zero sale.}

“Hello, new seated person...I can see that you are very upset for some reason. But I have something on my mind. I am going out on a limb here and tell you that it is the most important thing I have ever had to say. And it is this: I have placed a thing on you that you must throw….Please listen to me when I tell you that this is a thing that you cannot pass up...The only possible explanation for your puzzling lack of interest is that you are purposely ignoring me. And why would you do that? Especially since you are really hurting yourself more than you are hurting me. Because let’s face it, you are passing up a really great opportunity...”

The puppy knows what he knows: ‘I have a ball. I want to play. You will enjoy playing with me.’ And is incapable of thinking through what your friend is thinking and feeling and experiencing.

Like I said, I think I’ve read some sales pages written by this puppy.

This is what it looks like when you focus on what you know best -- yourself. When you only take your own point of view into what you say, you miss a lot of what's happening right in front of you.

A lot of businesses do this -- they talk about the things that are cool about what they do; what problems they’re solving; what people will get out of what they do. They talk to people as customers, not whole people.

You talk to people from where you are and about who you are, instead of meeting them where they are and acknowledging who they are.

Want to spark spontaneous brand ambassadors? Get what the right people are thinking and feeling.

If the stuff you’re writing isn’t resonating with people...or not the right people, the first step is to ask some people. {And we’re all always writing. Websites, emails, Facebook posts…Magic takes words.}


If you don’t know what’s on people’s minds, ask them.

You can keep it simple. Reach out to a few trusted friends, colleagues, or clients. People who represent the people you want to find more of. Or go all out. Design a survey. Launch a Facebook ads campaign. Create an email drip. If that’s all your jam. Do what you need to do to get outside of your own head and into theirs. And then...find your common ground.


Think about people as...people.

Most people start by thinking about people as customers. Here’s the problem I’m going to solve for them. Here’s why they should want to pay me to solve it. But that’s not going to give anyone that you get what I’m thinking and feeling moment.

Putting yourself into the minds of the people you want to move {most likely, that’s your clients} takes thinking of them as people. That’s why I always have my clients start with thinking about their clients. Not themselves.

We think about who these people are, what they care about, what they worry about, and a whole bunch of other things that make how they experience life. We don’t even get into why they’d care about a business until we’ve gotten into who they are as people.


Do the work to get clear on what you think and feel. And how to express it in words.

The best marketing isn’t marketing. It’s one person saying something true that resonates deeply with another person. You have to be able to know what’s true to you.

You have to get in touch with what’s in your own mind. Connect your work to what’s true within you. And then learn how to write about your work like you think and like you talk. Once you do that, you’ll probably find that the right people find you. Because you’re not the only one thinking and feeling these things that are so deeply true to you. But you might be the only one saying them.

struggling to get out of your own way...and get growing?

If no one's picking up on what you're putting out there...if you feel like you're saying what you think people want you to say...if you just can't get to the right words...It’s time for some help.

Get it in line with notes from the 929…

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