STOP “HELPING” PEOPLE

Hi, this is Clay. Welcome to episode number three of the Marketing Show. This Marketing Show is all about counter-intuitive advice. And in the spirit of, I guess, counter-intuitiveness, I’m wearing this Charlie Sheen t-shirt. It says something pretty counter-intuitive on the bottom which is winning. We’ve all heard jokes about this on Twitter and such.

But my counter-intuitive piece of advice for you today is this.

Okay, here it is, “Stop helping people.” I see lots of coaches and consultants and people who sell information products and people who sell advice, and people who position themselves as experts saying things like, “I help you lose weight,” and “I help you change your life,” and “I help you set goals,” “I help you create the life you want.”

And whenever I hear people say this about themselves, I cringe, okay, I cringe. And the reason for it is this. Most people will not buy from you if you say you are going to help them. We hire helpers to help us move, okay. We hire helpers to help us set up a video studio, like, the video studio I have here.

But when people want to lose weight, when people want big transformation in their lives, when people want to grow their business, they do not want a helper. They want a visionary. They want someone who has a bigger vision for them than they have for themselves. Because when you say you’re a helper and when you position yourself as a helper, you are implying that you are in charge and someone else is helping you reach a destination that you already have in mind.

But the truth is most people are stuck where they are because they do not have a bigger vision for their life. And I’ve seen over and over and over again that people who have books, people who have e-books, information products, DVDs, people who teach frameworks end up getting the most amount of consulting clients and the most amount of, you know, coaching clients because people read their e-books or people read, you know, whatever information that they have out there and they get a bigger vision for their life than they already had by reading an expert’s book and then they hire that expert to help them sort of incarnate that vision in their life that the expert put out in that book.

So most people, just to reiterate, if you say you help people, most people will not hire you because they’re not looking for someone to help them; they’re looking for someone to have a bigger vision than they already have for themselves and they’re looking for that person with the bigger vision to help incarnate that vision in their lives.

For example, back in the day, I needed an SEO strategy, I needed a search engine optimization strategy for my business. I was not looking for a helper; I was not looking for someone to help me do SEO. I was looking for someone who had an SEO vision that could bring that vision to my business and make it come to pass. If someone said they were going to help me do SEO, I would have never hired them.

You also, you know, decrease your value when you say you’re hiring a helper, a CEO of a company is not a helper, a lead expert in any field is not a helper.

So just to conclude this up, just to wrap it up, stop calling yourself a helper; you are a visionary; you are not a helper. And that’s my input for the day. This is going to radically help your positioning. This is going to increase the amount you can charge just by changing this one small word alone.

So with that, thanks so much. Thanks for watching the Marketing Show. This has been episode number three. It’s so great to have you here. Take care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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  • http://twitter.com/NathLussier Nathalie Lussier

    Definitely counter intuitive, and made me want to watch this even more. ;) Love the way you pick up on these things Clay, and glad you’re not a helper. :)

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Thanks, Nathalie! I’m more excited about this Marketing Show project that I’ve been about a project in a long long time.

  • http://www.pursuitofchange.com/ Mike Tiojanco

    Love the subtle insights you share that make all the difference. Thanks!

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Thanks, Mike! I’m grateful.

  • Jack Price

    You are so right! (Sound of palm slapping forehead) I’m going to run a universal search-and-replace on my entire computer and get the H-word out of there.Well told!

  • http://mynourishmentor.com Lia

    Uh oh … have you been looking at my sales page! ;-)

    Thanks, Clay!

  • http://www.theinteractiveoffer.com/ Eugenia Wang

    This is a great tip Clay. And you’re right – so easy to fall into the ‘helping’ mode when the reality is that people really want to work with others that can pull them forward into a bigger vision of themselves. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • Andrei

    Clay – this is a fantastic point and one that I will share with an entrepreneur that I know. Thank you for this!

  • http://twitter.com/CharlieGilkey Charlie Gilkey

    Eek! You called me out. Or did I call you out? Either way.

    From a purely marketing POV, you’re right, and since this is “The Marketing Show,” it makes sense. Plus you’ve always known how much I respect your marketing Fu, too, especially given that it’s never been a strength for me.

    There’s a difference between the marketing tactic of not using the word “help” and the strategy of helping people. That’s all my different perspective boils down to. (I couldn’t help but notice your positive use of “help” at 4:01.)

    I’m loving the project, too.

    Oh, and believe that I’ll be scanning some of my recent copy for the H word, too. Thanks!

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      I totally agree that it’s good to help people. I just think the best way to do this for some people is through leadership, not through assistance (err… not that they’re mutually exclusive). I’ll leave the semantics to real philosophers :-), which I am not.

      • http://twitter.com/CharlieGilkey Charlie Gilkey

        Lol, language is slippery. We say one thing but mean another – but few people make buying decisions by referencing the dictionary.

        • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ AndyFossett

          True, but they absolutely make buying decisions based on their unconscious understanding and feelings of what words imply to them.

          Language is especially slippery when we use it without giving thought to how it will be received and interpreted. I think you, Charlie, are pretty deliberate about how you describe your services, but many, many coaches are extremely vague about what help they can provide and how they do so.

  • http://twitter.com/DrShannonReece Dr. Shannon Reece

    Major brain shift! I needed that! Thanks. :)

  • MarshaS

    Yowza! Thanks for the h—, er, advice. Will do!

  • http://www.MarketingBlogger.com/ David Frey

    Yeah, this is spot on. I want to hire someone who is battle tested. Scars on the back. Been there and done it..person who will grab my hand and take me in the right direction.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Thanks for stopping by, David! Yeah, this is well said. I think “guide” is a better word than helper. Or maybe drill sergent?

  • http://www.LauraRoeder.com Laura Roeder

    Really good stuff, this is something I actively scan for in my copy.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Thanks a lot, Laura. And thanks again for your advice earlier.

  • http://twitter.com/solarjetpro Sean Jeremy Palmer

    Well said. I do hope that we don’t go through a new phase of pseudo-self-appointed-visionaries, like a bunch of hopeful Cindarella-wannabes-in-waiting hoping the glass slipper fits.

    To ‘help’ can undoubtedly hurt and vision is a key ingredient to success. Not all marketers are visionaries, though and I think it would also be great for marketing companies and professionals to identify what they do and label it correctly, otherwise they might end up with pie in the eye.

    My thought is: Have a vision, but unless your work truly warrants it, perhaps there is value in letting the ‘visionary’ moniker come from the crowd. Looking forward to the next episode.

  • http://twitter.com/solarjetpro Sean Jeremy Palmer

    Well said. I do hope that we don’t go through a new phase of pseudo-self-appointed-visionaries, like a bunch of hopeful Cindarella-wannabes-in-waiting hoping the glass slipper fits.

    To ‘help’ can undoubtedly hurt and vision is a key ingredient to success. Not all marketers are visionaries, though and I think it would also be great for marketing companies and professionals to identify what they do and label it correctly, otherwise they might end up with pie in the eye.

    My thought is: Have a vision, but unless your work truly warrants it, perhaps there is value in letting the ‘visionary’ moniker come from the crowd. Looking forward to the next episode.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      I think that every visionary is self-appointed. Too many people wait around for permission to do the things they’re REALLY good at. And it’s unfortunate.

  • http://twitter.com/amberjadams Amber J. Adams

    Clay,

    I’ve been following you for quite some time, and I continue to be amazed at your advice. I’m not a marketer by trade (I’m actually a journalist so I never sell anything!). but I have a vision for a business I want to create. Can you do a piece for people who aren’t natural marketers? I need some help1

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Heh, I actually have an entire course for people who aren’t natural marketers. It’s called “The Marketing Program.”

  • http://www.rolandwijnen.com/blog/ Roland Wijnen

    I was talking about the use of language with a friend a while ago. She’s a coach and said that she avoids the word ‘help’ for another reason. By using the word ‘help’ you’re labeling your potential clients as helpless people, she said. Most coaches probably don’t want clients that are helpless. I couldn’t agree more with her. As a coach, my ideal clients are pro-active people who are seeking support so that they can move to the next level in their business or lives. That boils down to the point you’re making: they don’t need helpers.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      exactly

  • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

    Or general.

  • http://snapwebmarketing.com Karri Flatla

    Interesting post from a copywriting / messaging perspective!

    I agree with what you’re saying in principle. But I noticed you couldn’t “help” but use the word “help” when talking about hiring a visionary (e.g. “the visionary will help incarnate the vision” etc.)

    Being a little sassy here but it’s noteworthy how difficult it is to talk about giving value without using the word “help.” It’s possible but definitely a challenge.

    I’ll tuck this one away though … because I think we collectively tend to fall back on the word “help” a little too often, rather than digging deeper for real specificity in our value promise.

    Thought provoking video. Thanks for sharing!
    Karri

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Good point. Yup, I slipped up. A better word would have been “guide.”

  • http://twitter.com/CaseySharp CaseySharp

    This reminds me a bit of Ramit Sethi’s Do It For Them (DIFT) technique that he taught in his Earn1k program. That technique is essentially to make it really easy for them to say yes and keep giving you work. Example: instead of waiting for them to propose future work you go to them and say “hey! I noticed this problem here. I’d like to address it for you and here is how I’d like to do so. Is that alright with you?” That lays out the problem as well as why you’re the solution and it makes it very easy for them to give you the answer that you want. It also takes you from being a “helper” to being an adviser to your client as you spoke of.

    I’ve used this technique and it has made me money. Highly recommended.

  • Jonathan Mead

    This is something I’ve felt for a while, but it took me a long time to implement into my business. When I started doing this with potential coaching clients, my rate of sign up increased dramatically.

    Thanks for communicating this so succinctly. I don’t think “helping” people is bad, it just doesn’t quite distill our objective as well as providing a bigger vision does.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      “I don’t think “helping” people is bad, it just doesn’t quite distill our objective as well as providing a bigger vision does.”

      Well said . . . and I agree.

    • Nate

      I agree Jonathan. Helping isn’t bad at all…and in fact, I think a lot of what Clay is saying is semantics. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. So, doing all of the things that Clay suggests…having a larger vision, portraying yourself as a leader, etc..are all ways to actually help. Maybe the key is literally not using the word ‘help?’

      I would hope all of our goals is revolved around helping other people, however, I do agree that it can be much more beneficial to frame it in a way that’s not ‘I’m going to help you solve x problem,’ but rather ‘I have a completely different vision and outlook on life (or whatever) and my unique outlook might be just what you need to enable…and push forward the change you want in your life.”

      I mean, that’s horribly generic and not really marketing speak, but maybe that’s getting more to the message.

  • http://theSocialMediaPros.com/ Chuck Kossuth

    Clay, I agree on the ‘visionary’ theory, however that term is somewhat tough to market with. “Visionaries who >help< local businesses to harness the power of…" Or something like "Look no further, we are the professionals for you." To me, it sounds rather pretentious, at least in one's own marketing efforts. What wording would you suggest in place of help or assist?

    You mentioned 'guide' below?

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Yup. I’d suggest saying you “guide people to . . .”. The word “lead” is also good.

  • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ AndyFossett

    Oh no, it’s Clay’s famous “help” rant!

    OK, so you didn’t actually rant this time. And it’s sage advice for people who sell their products and services from an expert position. Of course, we all (…most of us?) want to help people, but the way we go about doing so might entail any number of visionary/leader/guide-type activities.

    That vision, experience, and perspective is more valuable than assistance.

    The proof is in your inbox. When people send me notes when we work together, it’s very rare that they’ll write “Thanks for your help.” Usually, it’s more like “Thanks for showing me the right way to do this,” “Thanks for pushing me to make this happen,” “Thanks for your insight,” etc. It may seem like a silly semantic preference, the people who value my work tell me again and again (even if subconsciously) that I’m doing much more than helping.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      I really like the inbox example. Wish I had this comment BEFORE I made this episode so I could quote you.

  • http://twitter.com/balexandros Bryann

    Hah, I liked the tweeted headline. You have a point though and I agree. It’s an interesting twist of looking at the language side of things. I think sometimes we default to the word “help” to cut down on pretension and avoid magnanimity with our prospects. It’s tough, as Chuck mentioned. But on the flipside, the pith and power of a vision or message can still be retained without using the word “help,” and without using dry corpspeak or inflated visionary-speak.

    Looking forward to the next eps!

  • http://twitter.com/duffmcduffee Duff McDuffee

    “…when you say you’re a helper, and when you position yourself as a helper, you are implying that you [the client] are in charge, and someone else is helping you reach a destination that you already have in mind.”

    Yes, I think this is true. I also think it is the best way to do business as a coach or consultant. In therapy this is called “client-directed” psychotherapy, and it is widely considered to be the most helpful and ethical model that doesn’t impose on the client’s worldview.

    I also think vision is good, and it’s worth holding a positive vision for your client that is more than they can see from their perspective. In fact, I don’t see helping and holding a vision as in conflict at all. For instance, a psychotherapist can be client-directed and also see how it is possible to recover from depression, having seen many clients do exactly that in the past. The psychotherapist can also see ways in which the client can become much more emotionally mature that the client wouldn’t be capable of understanding given their limited perspective.

    I’ve also seen that corrupt psychotherapists have a vision for the client’s life that requires the client to change their values or worldview in a destructive way, for instance when a psychotherapist starts a cult aimed at healing the world, or when a therapist abuses the power differential to enter into a sexual relationship with a vulnerable client, etc. Similar abuses of power occur in business consulting when consultants steer the business away from it’s mission, take the reigns of important decisions, or massively overcharge for their services. It’s important to know where your vision for your client should stop.

    There are also of course tons of coaches and consultants who create frameworks, ebooks, and philosophies that are poorly conceived, rehashed garbage. Only a few take the time to really think through what is helpful and/or truly unique. Few people are truly visionaries.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      I’ve always been impressed by how thoughtful and deliberate you are as a coach, Duff. The work I did with you back in the day remains the best experience I’ve had with a life coach. I stumbled across the testimonial I left for you the other day and it brought back good memories: http://precisionchange.com/coaching/

  • http://www.melodygranger.com Melody Granger

    How do you come up with these little tidbits of information that are so darn useful? Thanks Clay!

  • Neil

    Another great video, thanks Clay.

  • Mark

    If you want to play with words:
    People who help, are doers – I applaud them… for their inspiration.
    People who are self-proclaimed “visionaries”, wave their arms around pretentiously.

    Now, to be insightful… that’s something you can aim to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.flood Paul Flood

    Clay,

    Great perspective and insights into the power of words as well as a reminder for me to always check my copy to insure action and results are the focus.

  • http://www.cshughes.com C.S. Hughes

    Clay, I met you at the PLF event a couple months ago. You invited me to join you for a drink in the bar later, but I had to catch a plane, and I regret not being able to meet up. Maybe another time? Anyway, loved this concept of not being a helper, when you shared it at PLF. QUESTION: How do you present what it is that you do for people without using the word help? And how do you incorporate the word/term vision in your pitch to your prospects. Brenden Bruchard tells his students to begin each of their videos with, Hi my  name is ______ and I HELP _________ accomplish ___________ so that they can ____________. He’s doing pretty well. Could you speak to this. Just trying to get some clarity. Thanks tons and thanks for the awesome marketing vids.