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  • John Kuhlman

How Getting My Ass Kicked Helps You Make More Money


A simple shooting diagnostic tool. Two lines = not good. One line = good

A properly applied blood choke will put you in la-la land in about six seconds.


I started feeling something was not quite right in about one second.


As I was getting choked, there was no pain. Just that same light-headed feeling you get when you stand up too fast. In this case, however, instead of everything normalizing after a couple of seconds, you get more light-headed. Your vision narrows, and you go nighty-night just as your brain is processing the fact that you're screwed.


Believe it or not, I thought this was really cool.


At about the third second, my rapidly fading cognitive powers realized I could make a tie-in to choking and email marketing.


Yeah, I probably need professional help.


But, let me wind back the clock to a more conscious state.


The choke was courtesy of one of my classmates during our second 10-hour day of combatives training with one of my clients, Sheepdog Response. Sheepdog was in Las Vegas to run a week-long series of self-defense grappling and shooting courses. Their objective is to make law enforcement personnel and regular ol' civilians "hard to kill."


The instructors are UFC champions, police officers, as well as former and active-duty U.S. Special Forces operators.


The experience was simultaneously humbling and inspiring. If you ever get a chance to attend a course, do it.


So, what does all of this combatives stuff have to do with email marketing?


Actually, a lot.


No, email marketing does not involve choking people out...as tempting as that may be at times.


Being successful at combatives and marketing both require a mastery of the fundamentals. While it may make you feel awesome to learn all of the high-speed, low-drag ninja stuff, it's the proper and fast execution of the fundamentals that wins the fight.


Every time.


You also need to be able to put your ego in check to honestly self-diagnose your assets and liabilities.


The same goes for marketing. It's easy to get sucked into the latest sexy social media trend, SEO trick du jour, or magical advertising platform (Facebook videos anyone?).


It’s also easy to trick yourself into thinking your marketing efforts are getting results when they aren’t. If you’ve caught yourself excusing poor sales with “Yeah, but we’re building our brand and increasing awareness,” keep reading.


Let me give you an example I learned from the Sheepdog class. One of the fundamentals of accurately shooting a pistol is hand placement. In a two-handed grip, there should be no space between the meaty part of your thumbs when you’re holding the pistol on target. If there's a gap, there's room for movement, and that means the gun shifts in your hand. And that means bullets aren't going where you want them to go.


Not a good thing.


To help me keep my attention on those fundamentals, one of the instructors asked me to put my hands in the perfect position on the pistol. He then used a black Sharpie to draw a line across the back of my thumbs. If I saw a gap and two lines, my grip was jacked up. If I saw one continuous line, all was good. A quick glimpse at my hands would instantly tell me if my grip was where it needed to be. There was no mental calculus needed to decide if my left hand was applying 60 percent pressure and my right 40 percent (people do teach this). And there was no need to cock my head around to look for the gap. The line in front of my eyes told me everything I needed to know in a fraction of a second.


Apply this simple diagnostic approach to your email marketing.


Let's say you're sending emails to your list, and you're not getting the results you want. You think you're doing everything right, but you're not hitting the target. Sales suck, and people are unsubscribing left and right.


It's easy to get overwhelmed with the analytics available to you. Instead, step back, and take a glimpse at the email marketing fundamentals and quickly adjust your "grip":


John's Email Analytics Hierarchy


1) Subject Line - If your open rates are down, look at your subject line first. Is it dry and corporate bland? Or is it too hardcore sales? Each list has its own behaviors and preferences. You should know yours. If you don't, start A/B (split) testing subject lines to your list.


2) Call to Action - If people are opening your email but not purchasing, how is your Call to Action (CTA) worded? Where is it in the email? If you're getting a reasonable click rate to the landing/sales page, but the conversions are still low, then you have identified the landing page as the likely culprit. And vice versa. If you click rates suck, your CTA most likely sucks.


3) Hook - If your hook -- the opening few sentences in your email -- isn't strong, your reader won't make it to the CTA. Your hook should create an open loop that makes your reader want to read more.


4) Design - Most copywriters think sales come exclusively from their words. Words are only part of the picture, and I would argue that design is even more critical. If the email looks like it was created by a 3rd grader who wanted to use every color in her box of crayons, then your credibility is at risk. Research what others in your industry are doing (yes, you need to be on your competitor's email list), and I bet you'll notice a design trend. Learn from that.


5) Body - There are many ways to tell an engaging story in the body of your email. You can do the classic Problem-Solution, Q&A, Testimonial(s), Limited Time Offer, or a combination of some or all of these. Use your campaign history to decide which style has worked best for you and which sucked eggs.


5-½) Link Location - Where are you putting your CTA link? At the beginning, middle, or end of your message? Your analytics will tell you which link your readers are clicking, so use that to your advantage. Do they need to read through your entire pitch before clicking the link?


Or do they already know what they want, and your email is only serving as a reminder to take action?


That's it.


You don’t need to enroll in a combatives course (although it is a literal blast) to figure this out.


If you need help kicking some email marketing ass, always go back to those fundamentals before wasting time sweating over the cool kid analytics. The basics win the fight and close the sale every time.


If you still feel overwhelmed and need help reviewing those fundamentals or need someone to draw that virtual black Sharpie line for you, let's talk.


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