It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

It’s Monday!

When I worked for others, I’ll admit I had the same negative reaction to Mondays as any other worker bee.

But now that I’m doing my own thing, focused on my unique abilities, working on projects I want to work on…  I can’t wait to get back to work!

Yes, I love my weekends, my down time, my family time, my free days…  But…  I also love Mondays, too!

Since it’s Monday, that also means it’s time to check the ol’ Mailbox — because this, my friends, is your weekly Mailbox Monday issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets…

Before we get to the questions du jour, a reminder: Get YOUR questions on business, marketing, selling, copywriting, life, and other related topics answered by emailing them to me at [email protected].  Maybe your question will be featured next Monday!

Today’s question…


The biggest challenge I need to get better at is converting subscribers who opted in for a free thing into paid customers.



I’m about to drop a value bomb!

Okay, so maybe I’m a little full of myself.  But before writing out the answer, I just outlined what I’m going to share with you, and I can already tell it’s going to be powerful.  But I don’t even have 45 minutes to finish writing this essay, so let’s dive in!

Are you attracting buyers, or are you attracting freebie seekers?

When I used to sell IT training, I’d occasionally go to trade shows.  And I distinctly going to a specific government trade show, in Sacramento, CA.

Our booth, by choice, was right in front of the door.  So right when the crowds came in, they’d see us.

Now, here’s a little something you need to know about government trade shows.  They’re an easy few hours off work, sanctioned by your boss.  So while I won’t generalize to all government employees, there were a lot of people who’d show up from the very beginning of the trade show whose primary purpose in being there was to cut work for the next few hours.  Not only that, they didn’t really have any buying intent or abilities, so they weren’t browsing around the trade show floor for solutions to their problems.

What did they want?  Freebies.  Stress balls.  T-shirts.  Pens.  Whatever tchotchkes you had sitting on the table.  They’d show up with a swag bag, and shovel in anything you’d let ‘em take.

In our booth by the door, we were a first target for the first wave of freebie-seekers.  We’d give ‘em stuff, knowing it had zero ROI potential, and manage the crowd with patience.

About an hour later, the freebie seekers mostly dissipated, quiet guys or gals in nice work casual and nothing in their hands would wander toward the booth, and stare from a distance, getting an idea of what it was we did.

“What do you do?”  We’d ask.

“Oh, I’m CIO (or CTO) of XYZ government department.”  They’d reply.

(You could always tell who was there for business, because they didn’t have a swag bag or hands-full of freebies.)

Those conversations made dealing with the rush of the freebie-seekers worth it.

Attend enough trade shows, and you realize the value of FILTERING.  You talk about converting people who ask for free stuff into buyers, but you might just have a list of people who like free stuff.

For example, I know most people who sign up for my free daily emails, even those who read every issue, are freebie seekers.  I’d prefer the list was 100% buyers.  And frankly, those who take me up on offers like BTMSinsiders membership will probably outperform those who don’t.

But I don’t waste too much energy, emotion, or effort on turning freebie seekers into buyers.  I’d rather develop ways to consistently bring the buyers within the audience to the forefront, offering them incredible value.

Which leads us to some questions…

Is your list actually made up of buyers from your market?

I’m going to assume for a minute you’re aiming to convert a warm audience.  That is, you’re not “mailing the white pages,” as Halbert used to say.

You’re looking to have a conversation with members of your market who have expressed some interest in the topic area or problem addressed by your product.

You put the freebie out there on the assumption that will get members of your target market to raise their hand.


Are the people who are raising their hand actually members of the target market?  More specifically, have they spent money in the market in the last, let’s say, six months?  (Insert your own timeline here, as relevant to market purchase frequency.)

In direct mail, you can pay a premium for “hot lists.”  These are people who’ve bought within the last 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, etc.  The more recent the respondent, the more valuable they are.  Because people buy in chunks.  Their interest is piqued, and they buy a flurry of potential solutions, looking for the best.

Is that who is really in your list?  Is that who is requesting the free things from you?

You can run an Ask survey to help you understand your audience.  Also, consider a short email that is — or at least looks — personal, that says, “What have you already tried to solve XYZ problem?”  If nobody responds, you’re not dealing with buyers.  Or if they do and it’s clear they don’t buy solutions, you have your answer, too.

Now assuming you do some digging and realize you are dealing with an engaged audience that probably has some buyers in it…

Is your offer good enough?

Maybe your offer sucks.  Sorry to be blunt here, but if you put an offer in the marketplace that’s worth responding to, even if you’re dealing with perfect prospects you’ll come up short.

Maybe your offer seems too complex.  Maybe the price-value proposition is off.  Maybe you’re asking too much.  Maybe, too little.

How well does your offer map to the core problem the market is struggling with right now?  How fast, easy, and affordable does it make the solution?

Or…  Drum roll…  Are you actually making offers?

It’s all-too-common for people who aren’t as comfortable with selling to put great offers into the marketplace but have them fall flat, just because they don’t actually ask their prospects to take action.

You need to tell the prospect what they’ll get, why they should want that, and how to get it.  With clear, explicit calls to action.

Then, throw some icing on the cake by adding in some kind of urgency element.

Which leads us to…

How is your messaging?  Is your copy compelling?

Okay, if you’ve noticed above, we’ve hit two of the three parts of the marketing trifecta of list, offer, creative.  Now we get into creative.

Are you actually writing compelling copy to get someone to take action?  Having the right audience and the right offer are actually more powerful than having good copy.  (I once heard Gary Bencivenga say, in his great marketing wisdom, that “A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.”)  However, if your copy just isn’t capturing attention and conveying excitement for the product and offer, in a way that resonates with your target market, you can still not get response.

Maybe consider having someone else review your copy.  Ask them to tell you where it’s confusing, unbelievable, or boring.  Where do they stop reading?  Where do they not care?

If they ask you where you can buy, it’s great copy.  If they start talking about grammar or presentation or anything besides wanting the product, you have some work to do.

Which leads me to what may actually be the most important point of all…

Are you getting zero-day conversions?

Now, I’m guessing that you’re trying to grow this organically.  By not paying for traffic.  You’re not spending money because you want to make money first.  And I get that.  Appreciate it.  And it’s something I’ve done myself, including, at times, with these emails.

However: you should throw some money at it.

And, you should try to make it run to generate zero-day revenue, if not profits.

What do I mean?

Well, if you’re running traffic to an offer sequence, and you can get it so for every $1 you spend today, it brings back at least $1, you’re looking at the potential for extreme scale.

Every extra day you wait to get that $1 back is friction in the system.  It means your budget will be limited.  Your scale will be limited.  Your potential will be limited.

To make at least $1 for every $1 spent that day (especially to truly cold traffic) is the Holy Grail of direct response marketing.  It’s what the world’s best copywriters get paid the big bucks to help their clients do.

But back to our original conundrum — why do I ask this question?

Well, even if you’re making pennies on the dollar on zero day, you know you have an offer that’s attractive to at least some segment of your audience.

If you can’t get at least a tiny portion of your audience to buy the day they show up, you have something wrong.  (If you have a longer buying cycle, note that your value indicator here might be an application, booked kick-off call, or some other measure of pre-buying behavior.)

If you are getting some zero-day conversions but not able to make it profitable…

What do your follow-up sequence look like?

I’ve written about this before.  Most people don’t follow up nearly enough.

In one-to-one selling, they may make a handful of follow-up calls, then be done.

In email, they may run a 10-day sequence, then be done.

Ideally, you follow up forever, or until they say stop.

Assuming everything else is right, you’re still going to deal with the vast majority of your audience who aren’t ready to buy yet, even if they might be buyers who will be ready to take action eventually.

In fact, in some cases, someone can start the buying process as many as a couple years before their eventual purchase.  And the person most likely to close the deal is the one who stays in touch with them.

So, you should have a short-term communication plan designed to get immediate action.  And you should have a long-term communication plan that keeps you on their radar for as long as they’re willing to keep hearing from you.

Perry Marshall told me once that he uses the Fibonacci numbers as a guide.  He creates specialty follow-up sequences with this many days between them: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc…

Since these are often going out alongside his more regularly-scheduled broadcasts, this is a great way to occasionally touch base with a prospect on a topic of interest.

If you only have one channel you use to contact them (such as a single email list), you typically don’t want to go more than 3 weeks between contacts.

Find something relevant and interesting to say.  Give them value.  And stick a call-to-action at the end, that’s at least somewhat related.

I don’t know how you could do all of the above and not make money…

Seriously.  I’m sure someone will prove me wrong.  But really, marketing and selling are pretty straightforward.

Find people who are willing and able to buy.  Make a compelling offer for something they’ll value, that also makes them ready to take action.  And give them a way to respond.  And for everyone that didn’t respond right away that might still be interested, stay in touch to help them make the decision in your favor.

There are all kinds of ways to screw this up, and make it not work.  But if you actually follow every step of this process, it’s pretty dang reliable.  Then, you just optimize to get the economics working consistently better in your favor, and you’re gravy.

Want more of my best business-building ideas?  Try BTMSinsiders risk-free and without obligation for the next 30 days.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr