The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want from Online Marketing

The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want from Online Marketing

Reader Comments (103)

  1. Sonia:

    I like the two stories you started out with. I recently read a story by Carline Anglade-Cole, who collects annual royalties over 1 million, for her copywriting campaigns she wrote. But she mentioned that several earlier pieces bombed. The reason? She was too soft in asking for the order. Once she fixed that issue, her promotions took off.

    Yes, running a business is expensive. And I can relate to your fear of selling. I read books by freelance commercial writer Peter Bowerman. In his books, his key method of getting new business is cold calling. He says to make 30 calls a day. But you get a lot of rejections. This is something you must deal with in sell.

    The online pests you mention never get off the ground. They don’t offer anything of substance. And wanting customers that want me? Let you say – they are the ones buying from you and paying the bills.

    Good thoughts and ideas in your post.


    • I made a typo in this post. It should read “Like you say” instead of “Let you say”. This can happen when:
      1. You are multi-tasking.
      2. It’s still early in the morning.
      3. You are doing “steam-of-consciousness” (see Wiki) blog post commenting.
      4. I’m awaiting the BBC news to air. They are better than American media, like Fox News, CNN, etc. I must be a Benedict Arnold, since I’m an American.

        • Yes. Stream. Like I said – when typing fast, I make typos, due to reasons noted. I also agree about PBS. I listen to WBEZ in Chicago, which is public radio. In addition, I hear news on WDCB (COD college station) and WFMT (classical music, listener supported station).

  2. Great advice! I’m glad to know there’s a tribe of us out there who feel uncomfortable with coming across too strong. I thought for sure I was the only one who felt pushy when writing click here.

    Refreshing to know I have company!

  3. Someone just contacted me through my blog, saying thanks and expressing amazement that I’m giving away such quality stuff for free.

    I really believe that if I had a simple widget for sale he would have purchased it, just out of gratitude.

    But I don’t have a widget for sale. I’m taking my time trying to make the most awesome widget my audience has ever seen.

    I hope my work comes from a place of wanting to give value and not from fear of making the sale.

  4. Love this, Sonia.

    This here:

    They’ve got something valuable to offer. But they’ve over-internalized the advice to “give before you get.?

    They give and give and give and give and give. But when it comes time for the “get? part, they freak out.

    I see this all the time. ALL THE TIME. And what that means is that the people who push and shove and ask and nearly make people buy their stuff…

    … get all the money.

    And when you finally do stop freaking out and squeak out a little, “I have this really nice thing that could help you…” a lot of people say, “I wish I would have known about that sooner. I spent all my money on this thing here… and it wasn’t useful.”

    Get over freaking out. Ask people to buy. Tell them you sell. And for the love of Pete, don’t let the louder guys with the useless stuff get all the money.

    • “Get over freaking out. Ask people to buy. Tell them you sell. And for the love of Pete, don’t let the louder guys with the useless stuff get all the money.”

      Love that! I was just feeling yucky yesterday because I thought someone else had better stuff than mine. It’s not better, he’s just louder.

    • Yeah, it sucks when the nice people with better stuff lose out to the ones who’ve just learned to speak up.

      So I like to teach people to speak up when I can. 🙂 Or at least teach that it’s ok to speak up, and it doesn’t make you a loudmouth.

      • Sonia,

        You have great stuff and a soft touch. You seem to have found the balance.

        Just listened to the interview with Gary (don’t remember his last name) and two people who were starting their own businesses. What struck me was your analysis that they were both seeking the same business advice–but one person was shy and the more other aggressive. The solutions were similar to this post. Be confident, have good stuff and ship.

  5. As a creative professional, you want the work to speak for itself but I realized a long time ago you have to stand up and say “Hey look at me, I’m talented” or something like that. Self-promotion is not braggadocio. It’s a necessary evil that becomes easier to deal with having to do as you mature.

    I’m an artist. I never wanted to ask people to pay me, do admin, be a manager, be a salesman, etc. But if you want to accomplish anything professionally, you have to do better than just holding your nose.

    I’m just glad the stubborn, idealistic version of myself from 15 years ago can’t visit the future and beat me to a pulp!

  6. Great post.

    Although I know a lot of big names out there, I was hesitant to ask Chris Brogan to participate in my creative writing website recently. Even though we exchanged several Twitter dms in the past, I felt he was too busy, too big, too(insert fear here, etc) to bother. Finally, I told myself to just ask him, so I did, and he instantly agreed. Silly me.

    If your dreams are big enough, nobody is too big to ask for help.

  7. Now this is a hot, hot, hot post! And I am not talking about the being naked with your massage therapist part of it. Yes, raise your hand and ask sometimes, especially for referrals. Thanks for the simplicity and very naked truth.

  8. Great post, great advice. I love Copyblogger so much. I’m never disappointed. It is always a challenge to balance the push and pull of sales. But you have to ask for the sale and you have to ask with confidence. Otherwise, you’re letting the customer know that what you’re hawking is junk and you know it. That’s my take. You have to believe in your product.

  9. Thank you Sonia!! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I have printed it and posted it above my desk as a daily reminder. I am one of those lovely but broke people with a unique product that people actually want – if they can find us!! I am forwarding your post to my Maine Women’s Network group.
    I think I remember from a Dan Kennedy CD that you have a daughter. Is that correct? If so please check out our website Lisa

  10. Every . small . business . owner . needs . to . read . this . post.

    I run workshops for female business owners and am always amazed at how afraid they are to sell and promote their products. If you think your product/service is the most amazing fantastic thing ever (and if you don’t, then make it so!) then you’re actually doing people a favour by telling them about it. It’s easy to sell the best product in your industry.

    • Indeed. And take a look at the number of women in the comments today. 🙂 Although this is not just a women’s problem by any means, it does seem to tend to hit us a bit harder.

      • That makes sense. Women are traditionally “helpers” and “givers”. Psychologically, they tend to empathize, listen and give assistance or support.

        So when it comes to business… they help, they give, they empathize, they listen and they give support.

        Who’s supporting them?

        Themselves. It’s the only person who will make things happen for those women – and you CAN help others and give to them… by helping them know that what you sell makes their life better.

        Win-win, n’est pas?

  11. Such good, good stuff!

    There is no magic formula between giving and asking people to buy. It’s a constantly evoloving thing as our offers change and our list make-up changes. We also need to look at where people are entering our circle. We want to make sure wherever they come in, they do get some good, free stuff before they’re asked to buy, buy, buy.

    I think it all starts with believing in your products and services. If I know I’ve got great stuff, I’m not ashamed to tell people about it. But if I don’t fully believe in what I’m pushing, I can’t help but come across as inauthentic.

    That’s where many of the online “gurus” fall down — I don’t think they believe in the offers they’re promoting. How could they possibly have tried them all? And how can they tell me one day, “This is the best thing ever — the only traffic/lead gen/copywriting/membership/etc. package you’ll ever need!” and then promote something else the next week?

    Start with servicing your audience. Give them good stuff. Sell them good stuff. Keep giving and selling what YOU believe in, and the rest follows.

  12. This post came at the perfect time. I was just looking at some of the “test” messages for the broadcasts I’m sending over the next week to let the people on my list know about the awesome coaching programs I’m offering.

    My broadcast for today actually offers a token of appreciation (free gift) in honor of Thanksgiving (thus acting on a tip you and Gary Barnes offered in your “traction” call on Tuesday). At first I was going to leave it at that, but then I added a short P.S. about my program with a “click here” to learn more.

    I almost didn’t add the P.S. but I really believe I’m offering a great service with my coaching programs and I want people to know about it.

    Thanks so much for offering just the encouragement I needed to raise my hand.

  13. Love this post! Your story of the two women really hit home with me. You’re absolutely right that if we don’t ask how will the customer know what we want? Now I’m motivated to ask for “help” from my customers to get the word out about my products!

  14. This is a great post. It all comes down to beliefs. If you believe you can’t ask for what you want, you are right and… as the post says, people won’t read your mind so you will have limited sales.

    If you are uncomfortable sharing your value, ask yourself: what belief is underlying this feeling? Until you know the belief, you can’t change it.

    Once you do know the beliefs that are limiting you, there is a simple, elegant and highly effective process for changing them. You can learn more at

    Beyond the above, it is possible to learn and practice a model of sales that it fun, effective, powerful, high integrity, from the heart and based on a relationship model. It is ideal for you if you are one of the people who fits the above profile, i.e. lots of valuable resources but afraid of being pushy.

    Ask me about it and I’ll be happy to share more.


  15. I’m guilty of not asking. Finally, some of my blog readers stared asking me, “Hey, where’s the product? We’re ready to PAY YOU!” That was a clear sign that I had the problem :-). So I put out the product, priced it higher than anything I had offered before and sold a bunch.

    That asking technique really works! 🙂

  16. Sonia! Kudos for this amazing article. I have posted a few times in Third Tribe about asking. There have been so many times when people say to me, “you are lucky because you get to do….” Well, there is no secret to what I get to do or not. It all comes down to asking. I view it this way: if you do not ask, then you will never know and the worst that can happen is you get told “no”.

    Big deal and you move on and perhaps ask again later.

    I like your story because it also points out that asking alerts you as well. How would you have ever known your massage therapist was seeking that as well? You wouldn’t unless she asked.

    We get uncomfortable asking for things in business but the reality is that we do it all the time – when you advertise a product or service, you are essentially “asking” for the sale. I look at it as an opportunity rather than an uncomfortable situation.

    Thanks for this!

    • You have a great mindset around it.

      We forget that often we’re doing a favor by asking. When we ask, we don’t just give ourselves an opportunity, we often give someone else an opportunity, just like I would have been very happy to have the chance to do something nice for my massage gal.

  17. To do internet marketing in its entirety, you definitely have to have a holistic plan of action in place in order to maximize the benefits and your ROI. Most marketers just concentrate on one area of Internet marketing and fail to capitalize on the other areas.

  18. Don’t ask don’t get, how very true Sonia.

    The story of your hairdresser and masseuse highlighted it very well.

    I’ve always been a little shy of asking people to do something for me, but slowly i’m getting the hang of it. In fact the other day someone left me a comment on my blog poining out a glitch that can happen with a plugin i was talking about in my post. So i asked them if they would write a guest post on how they achieve the same results without the plugin, next day i had the post all ready for me.

    All because I asked the question.

    I’ll be asking more as well now,


  19. I have another story. This one is about a failed salesman. He was great at reaching out, great at explaining his product and its benefits, great at painting pictures of the results people got from it – but he never got any sales. Turns out he never asked.

  20. Hi Sonia,
    I’ve had ‘assertiveness training’ in an attempt to transform into the sort of person who can stand up and ask for a sale. It didn’t work and I’d still rather not try to sell my services. I really do shy away from behaving like an ‘aggressive type’ to get a sale.

    It’s not that I’m terrified, it’s just something about sales people irritates me greatly and behaving ‘aggressively’ sits at odds with my personality.

    I’m a regular follower of Copyblogger and I’ve realised that although you ask for the sale it’s never in an aggressive manner. I imagine that the time you stood up in front of a ‘cold crowd’ you spent 90% of your time teaching them something, 5% selling to them and 5% thanking them for listening.

    That’s the kind of selling I could get on board with. Great post as always 🙂

    • That’s exactly right — more specifically, I had 70 minutes and I spent 60 of them teaching valuable stuff.

      I know a couple of salespeople who make tons of money (some of them 7 figures a year) — none of them is the “aggressive” stereotype. They’re helpful, thoughtful, and they LISTEN.

  21. Enlightening post, Sonia. I definitely fall face-first into the second camp. I’m uncomfortable when it comes to asking for the sale. I don’t want to come across as pushy or annoying. But, I’ve never really considered that I’m expecting clients and prospects to read my mind by not asking.

    Thanks for the eye opening kick in the butt. While I want to be a lovely person, the last thing I want is to be lovely and broke!

    • Ha! The good news is, this stuff can be learned. It feels a little weird at first, but there are totally ways to ethically and respectfully ask for the sale.

      I’ve been right there with ya. 🙂

  22. It is kind of funny to do what I do. My first thought when I saw my massage therapist’s banner was, “oh no!”

    And my second thoughts was, “Hey, I can get a post out of that.”


  23. Re: “You Don’t Get If You Don’t Ask”

    Gotta tell ya, this is entirely true! Once you step out of that comfort zone, you’re good to go. Then you build a little bit of confidence and it makes all of the difference. The truth is, you *have* to ask for the sale at some point. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. It doesn’t sound salesy. It’s just business. The more comfortable you get, and the more confident you get, the better.

  24. OMG..I needed that this AM, truth be told -I always think I am the only ONE! with that affliction..(that is asking for what I want, need, oh just everything.)…Thanks Sonia for a great article..

  25. Oooh, you got me on this one. I’m wrapping up final edits on an ebook that will be the first I’ve offered for sale, after giving a couple away on my site. But I’m already practicing in my mind for its failure (“Well, who will want it?” and “You haven’t even built a list yet” and “Maybe you’ve misspelled something and you’re an alleged editor!” and on), rather than just moving toward putting it out there and positively stating what it is, and asking for its purchase.

    You mean, they really can’t read my mind? Thank god, and thanks for the post.

  26. Sonia,

    This issue has plagued me for my entire life. I tend to be the kind of guy who mumbles and grumbles to myself after being overlooked, even though I’ve done everything I possibly can to stay out of sight! That’s why making the jump to freelancing and selling my writing has been a thrilling, but scary, challenge. Blogging, too, has been a scary adventure because I’m really putting myself out there more regularly and (I hope) controversially than ever before. I have several upcoming projects in the works that will result in the dreaded transition from all-free to monetized blogging, and I truly dread the day I need to urge my readers to “click here”. Thanks for giving me another nudge in the right direction!

    • I was completely the same! Too often overlooked, and PO’ed about it but having a hard time seeing the part I was playing.

      I got over it. 🙂

      And one reason I like talking to folks who have that challenge is that I think it’s easier to get over this part than it is to learn the “give before you get” part. It’s hard to teach generosity if it’s not part of your makeup, but learning to ask for the sale is really a question of technique and a dash of mindset.

  27. When I was younger I worked at a company selling sponsorships to technology conferences. Getting on the phone and trying to get someone to shell out $40,000 on a conference sponsorship is hard as heck. But here’s a little trick I used when I started my call: I would research the company I was pitching and find some noteworthy news item. Then I’d call and say:

    “Hey John, my name is Raza from XYZ Corp and I read about you the other day in XYZ Technology Publication.”

    Honestly, that was enough to turn a frightening cold call into a fun, engaging conversation. It didn’t always lead to a sale, but it made the process a whole lot easier, and a whole lot more fun.

    I think if you show your customers that you care about them and are really trying to help them, asking for a sale doesn’t seem like as big of a hurdle.


  28. People continue to use the phrase “ask for the sale”. I believe that this is very disempowering language.

    For those people who are reluctant, resistant or skill challenged in”closing the sale”, there is a much better and easier way to proceed.

    How about just asking the prospect “when would you like to get started?” On an unconscious level, everyone wants to get started. It is non threatening. Asking someone will you buy this now or some equivalent, invites resistance and doubt.

    The bottom line is that all buying decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally so we are always speaking to the unconscious when we are selling. When we convey the message that you will be safe, people are much more apt to move forward.

    While we are learning a new set of relationship oriented sales skills, we need to simultaneously identify and shift our limiting beliefs. Beliefs are the code programmed into our human bio-computer. For many, this software runs on automatic until it is changed. Fortunately, there are now easy, elegant and powerful methods for shifting limiting beliefs.

    If you would like to chat about these ideas, we have a linkedin discussion group called The No Convincing Zone. It is accessible at


  29. Yup. I believe–quite seriously–that I’m the best source of websites for small business owners (think: rotary club.)

    If I don’t sell with all I have, and set the best example, these people can wind up in harm’s way.

    I am harming them by not being aggressive and doing what it takes to make them my customers. Because when they become my customers…realtors get listings, and lawyers get clients etc.

    If I don’t do what it takes, they could spend more, get less and be worse off.

    This means this: if you want to sell hard, it starts with making your service the very best thing on the planet. Then you are hurting the world by letting them slip away and go to your competitors.

  30. Sonia, I’m never disappointed in your posts (or your comments on other blogs :-).

    I will admit, I give more than I make, and I have been procrastinating on my ebook.

    Time to get to work!

    • This may or may not hold true for you — I find I sometimes procrastinate a lot on a project if I’m going to end up selling it.

      If that’s the case for you, I’ll just send lots of encouragement. 🙂 Being able to see it helps somewhat in moving through the resistance.

    • Hi Carolee,

      Speaking of procrastinating on ebooks, see Tom Bentley’s comment above. He confesses to procrastinating using the age-old technique of perfectionism, a personal favorite of mine 🙂 Yours too?

      Sounds like you’re ready to dig in a get it done. Best of luck.


  31. Sonia,

    I have been guilty of not asking before as I did not wanted to be overbearing and annoying. It is master skill which I am still trying to master. There have been an occasions where I have asked and people did not delivered. I guess that is worse about asking is, some people may not follow up, but then again some may help.

  32. You bring up great points about having to ask if you want something. I think it is something so simple that many people forget about. I have been told by people before that they didn’t ask or they don’t want to ask because they do not want to seem like they should get a favor just because they know me. They bring up a good point, even though it is not relevant all of the time. For example, family and friends have the tendency to want me to name drop their business, write website copy for them or various other tasks. It always turns out the same way: they tell me no rush since I am doing them a favor and literally 12 hours later I am being asked if it is done yet, even if it was impossible to get the task done in 12 hours without a break.

  33. The idea and concept of online marketing is firstly, making the offline concept work first.If you have no business experience in offline , then it might take a while to understand and getting grasp on it.The online marketing is no different than online, its just that you don’t have to wonder a round seeking your customer, caught up in traffic jamned.Getting that loyal visitor requires good content of your sites, and believe me it is as difficult on offline too.So the path is most likely the same, need patience and persistency

  34. I needed this whole post, but the best part is the story you told about your massage therapist and hairdresser. That struck home because it reminded me that when I think I’m asking a big favor, it’s something someone is happy to do. Selling has always been way out of my comfort zone, so it’s obviously something I need to do more. This post was a big help!

  35. Just learning this lesson this week with my ‘corporate’ business.

    I wanted more business from a friend/client who is seriously senior in a seriously big client. We’d run some classes for them before, everyone got excited, then nothing happened.

    After months of procrastinating, I finally emailed her.

    She immediately replied with plans to introduce me to a bunch more people. No hesitation whatsoever.

    (Also, I’m hiring someone to do the asking for me – finally realised that asking strangers inside organisations is not going to be my strong point in the near future, so why not ask someone else to do it?!)

    Sheesh. This is really really a lesson I would like to settle in my bones.

  36. Sell, Sell, Sell!…You might hear that a real-estate convention or even a home and garden show before the doors open. I even walked into a retail chain early one morning and the “team? was doing warm-up exercises and pep talks.
    I hear this all the time “I don’t like selling? or “Selling makes me uncomfortable?. When I first started a small PC business I said those same things about asking for 150 to 200 for my work.

    Why? I have learned over the years that 1. It is okay to ask for market value 2. It comes down to “self worth? and the ability or lack thereof to just receive and allow the process to happen. The problem stems much deeper. Ever hear of the phrase “It’s better to give then receive?. What does that say to the subconscious mind?
    I too am a recovering procrastinator. What really helped me has been the development of the skill “letting things go?. I use to load my mind with so many things I wanted to do or “needed? to get done that really nothing ever got finished. It was all a perception, try it out just toss things out or forget about them. If they have not served you or cannot serve you any longer.Trash it. Wooo Hoo. Sell, Sell, Sell..!

  37. Ah, the fear barrier… Great post if you don’t ask is so true. I mean it always comes down to what is the worst they say no… ouch 🙂

    Thanks for sharing great reminder to embrace that fear and ask.

  38. They’ve got something valuable to offer. But they’ve over-internalized the advice to “give before you get.?

    They give and give and give and give and give. But when it comes time for the “get? part, they freak out.

    Not coincidentally, many of these people are broke. Lovely, but broke.

    Have you been spying on me?

    I so need to work on self-promotion. You are absolutely right- to some extent I’m expecting people to read my mind.

  39. Great stuff Sonia. You learn this very fast when you’re in sales. The problem is, not everyone’s in sales, so it’s gotta be taught.

    Eventually everyone will become a marketer… by necessity. 🙂

  40. Sonia, you’ve shared one of my business secret weapons with this post: pleasant persistence.

    People don’t know you want something unless you tell them. Sometimes you have to tell them more than once. But pleasant persistence, and not giving up on yourself or the person you’re asking … moves mountains.

  41. From reading the comments, the post seems to be more about fear than about sales technique. Or maybe it resonates because it addresses how good sales techniques can combat those fears. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


  42. Hi Sonia,

    This is a well-written, thought-provoking piece. For a while there, I asked myself: to which “camp” do I belong?

    The point is, we just have to get the message across. No harm done. And you’ll never really know how successful you will be until you try.

  43. The bottom line is that all buying decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally so we are always speaking to the unconscious when we are selling.

  44. I found your post at an opportune moment. I am terrible at “working my list” and find it really hard to know how often to send a mail and what to write, how to offer things and get a sale. Perhaps I should stop worrying about it and start doing! Anything is better than nothing, right?

  45. John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing released a book earlier this year called “The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Marketing Itself”. It centered around asking your existing customers for referrals. It was such a great book. We just assume that if our customers or clients like us, they will refer others. But in reality, that isn’t something that necessarily comes to mind…until we ask.

  46. We see so many people advertising to buy now their crappy stuff, that we feel bad to tell our customers to buy from us. If you don’t ask for anything, then that is exactly what you get.

    Vaclav Gregor

  47. Wow, thanks. Truly a wake up call.

    I do sell product off my site, but of course I want more 😉

    I make recommendations, ect… But don’t think I ever *ask* out of fear of becoming too pushy. I know my content is good, and I don’t want to risk demeaning it over a sale.

    Thanks again, truly helpful.

  48. Hi Sonia, that is a brilliant post, I was having a debate at the weekend with a small group of internet marketers, and this very topic came up. I make sure I provide a ratio of between 4-5 content emails before I promote a product, this makes sure I add value, however I was in the minority of one!
    So it is refreshing to read your post this morning
    Taking on board what you have said, please could I post an article on your blog? If you are happy to do that, please let me know what I could do to reciprocate.

  49. One more gret post Sonia… will you ever stop? Just kidding…

    I felt the same when I started to develop the mailing list on one blog of mine. At first, I just had “Newsletter” link in my sidebar and mentioned the newsletter in a couple of posts. This did not produced great results.

    Then I moved to something way more “aggressive”, namely a plug-in that shows a pop-up to encourage readers to subscribe to the newsletter. I was quite reluctant, because I’m not a fan of such pop-ups on blogs I visit and I was a worried about my readers reactions.

    One months later, the results are outstanding. The number of subscribers is growing constantly and the traffic remains steady. I see more unsubscripton than usual because of people that fill in the form without knowing what they do, but that’s fine. I got no complaints. And it is in the interest of the whole community around my blog to have more readers for the newsletter.

  50. Sonia – Just came across your post via a friend on an #usguys chat. Excellent idea, style, content. Every one of your key points articulated all that is right, and wrong, with so many businesses today. “You don’t get if you don’t ask” says it all. If you can do that in a casual, honest and open manner, you can get the answer you want – and need.



This article's comments are closed.