Even the polar bears wore mittens

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Do you have power over your customers?

As in, do they play by your rules…or do you bend to theirs?

I’m asking because, last month I got a live demo in sovereignty: how to set your own unbreakable rules…and charge eye-watering fees.

Twas in Ohio.

I was out there for a conference hosted by my favourite bald genius Jon McCulloch, and marketing god of gods Dan Kennedy himself.

Dan, if you don’t know him, is the smartest marketer on the planet. I think he’s from another world, because the human head is way too small for a brain in his size.

Anyway – Dan is famous for doing business his own way. Like:

…He won’t travel to give seminars. He hauled us over to his home town, because he ain’t gonna budge.

…Same if you want to consult with him. If he accepts you, you’re flying out to Cleveland. You’re dropping him $20k for the day. And you’ll stay in the hotel he chooses for you! No arguments.

…When he’s working, he won’t take unscheduled calls. Won’t answer the door. Gets zero interruptions…so gets a whole lot done.

…Oh yeah, and he doesn’t own a mobile. Or use email. If you want him, you send a fax – and it could be a week before he sees it.

Dan is in charge.

So no surprise at the event when he said “The thermostat is mine”. He likes it cold. So even though it was snowing outside, with a wind chill of -15C, we put up with it.

Really – 30 grown adults, sat there obediently. Hanging on his every word, as icicles formed on our teeth.

It was freezing!

After the first break, we were all in balaclavas.

Polar bears would have dug out mittens and bobble hats by lunch.

But no-one complained.

Didn’t dare.

Because what Dan says, Dan gets.

So, back to my question: do you have this power with your customers – or do you let them set the rules?

It doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Take me. I can’t get clients to pack themselves in ice till their tongues snap in two…but I still dictate a few basic terms. Like:

– No minions. I deal directly with decision makers, right through the project.
– No feedback by committee. (That one is a biggie!)
– I get paid in advance.
– You can change the facts, but structure and phrasing is my call.
– If you piss me off, it’s one strike and you’re out. Life’s too short for tantrums.

Them’s my rules. And I dropped a client yesterday for transgressing.

It wasn’t always so. Time was, you could hire me for half a crown and whip me till I squealed like a little pig.

But that was way back when. ‘Nother lifetime.

I’m not saying I’ve nailed this sovereignty thing. I’m still light years behind Dan, and McCulloch just beat me with a stick for being too lenient. But I’m more in charge of my own life, and my own business, than ever before.

And resistance? Well, the good clients respect it. And the shit ones go.


How about you? Could you bend less, and steer more?

Summat to think on, come the next client trauma.

UK Copywriter James Daniel

James Daniel

You might not know who I am, but no doubt you've read my copy. If you've ever bought a hearing aid, a pizza oven, flat roof or vacuum cleaner. If you've hired a will writer, an IT guy or accountant. If you've been to events on marketing, acting or how to buy a business. There's every chance it started with a bit of my copy - a few simple, chatty, gently persuasive words. Ring any bells?

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