Guy is a therapist specializing in trauma, but his goals of helping people extend beyond just one-on-one counseling. He’s been working to build an amazing community, Trauma Therapist 2.0, to offer resources about treating trauma and connect folks all over the country who are wrestling with the same challenge. He also hosts the Trauma Therapist Podcast, which has gained a following discussing these issues with industry experts. However, while it seems like he’s doing all the right things, membership on his platform has stagnated leaving him asking himself, what is preventing my success?
One of Guy’s challenges with growing his membership, and a problem that we all face at some point when we’re trying to win over new customers, is feeling too salesy. What that comes down to is confidence, but it’s a little more nuanced than that. It’s about making a mental shift in how you think about your business, what it stands for, and how to communicate that to others.
If you believe that your business can truly help people, then it’s only natural to want to help as many people as you possibly can. Your sales message needs to come from that belief and make the case for why that’s true. Suddenly, it won’t seem so “salesy” after all.
We go into a lot in this episode, including what someone really means when they say “I haven’t got the money” or “I haven’t got the time,” and how removing those barriers can help you pinpoint what the issue actually is. Guy and I really get to the heart of how to translate your belief in your business into a powerful, open, and welcoming message, and I’m excited to see how he’ll put these insights into action.
What You’ll Learn:
Making something you believe in is only the first step, you also need to learn how to use your enthusiasm to drive your marketing message.
Pat Flynn: What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 1064 of AskPat 2.0. You’re about to listen in on a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. Today, we’re talking with Guy Macpherson and he’s got a business that needs some help.
It’s going well, it’s for a great cause, he’s helping people through trauma and helping people who actually help people with trauma. But he’s got all the right things, he just needs to put it together. He even has a membership site with people who are saying it’s just life-changing for them. But it’s not taken off like he thought it would. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, and by the end of the call, you’re going to hear, he’s got some huge realizations and some great things that are going to happen as a result.
Make sure you stick around. Hit subscribe to AskPat if you haven’t already. I appreciate you so much. I also appreciate today’s sponsor, which is FreshBooks, an amazing company that helps you with your business accounting. It’s an accounting software in the cloud to help you through all the headaches that might be required related to your business from managing your income, categorizing everything as they come in, expenses, and then also invoicing. I use it for invoicing as well. In less than thirty seconds you can have a professional-looking invoice and send it to whoever you’re sending bills to: coaching students, clients, anything for consultations, that sort of stuff. And so make sure to check it out.
If you want to check out FreshBooks for free for thirty days, an all-access free thirty-day free trial, all you have to do is go to Freshbooks.com/askpat and just make sure you enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. All right, let’s get talking to Guy. Here he is.
Hey, Guy. Thanks so much for joining me today on to AskPat 2.0. Welcome to the show.
Guy Macpherson: What’s up, man? Thank you, Pat, so much for having me on here. It’s an honor.
Pat: Absolutely. Why don’t you introduce yourself really quick and what you do and kind of the quick story behind it?
Guy: Sure. Before I do that, I just want to thank you for the work you’re doing and have done and continue to do. It’s really inspired me and also the integrity with which you do it is super inspiring. I want to say that before I get going here.
Pat: Thank you for that, Guy. That means the world to me. I mean, this is why I do what I do, to just pay it forward for the honest and authentic people that helped me get my start. That’s why I’m here, I appreciate you for that.
Guy: Awesome awesome. Yeah, you’re welcome. My name is Guy McPherson. I’m up here in Oakland, California. I have a family. I’m a husband to my wife, Lauren. I have two kids, three and ten, which is crazy but great. My background is in psychology. I went to back to school, kind of as in “older student” at thirty-six, got my BA then went to graduate school, got my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and out of graduate school started working up here in a clinic in Northern California for five years.
And then really specializing in trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder. And then a lot of things happened for me and I decided I wanted to create a platform to help newer clinicians, newer therapists learn about trauma. So that’s what I did. I mean, I started a podcast and a membership community. What I do is I help clinicians of all kinds—therapists, counselors, psychologists, coaches—learn about trauma. I help them find community. I’ve created a community through which I help them get educated and find inspiration, and I do that through specifically my membership community, Trauma Therapist 2.0, and have a podcast and courses and so forth. So, in a nutshell, that’s what I’m doing.
Pat: That’s really great. Well, thank you for doing that. You’re obviously helping a ton of people. The podcast, what’s the name of it?
Guy: The Trauma Therapist Podcast.
Pat: The Trauma Therapist Podcast. You said it’s to help new therapists, other clinicians, learn about trauma, get inspired by you and your teachings, so that what?
Guy: Well, before I answer that question there, the membership community—membership site, specifically—is to help newer trauma therapists. The podcast is a little broader. But to answer your question, so that they can do this work, they can step into this work, they can begin to say, “Yes, I can help people who’ve been impacted by trauma.” There’s a hesitancy for a lot of clinicians, a lot of therapists, to even acknowledge trauma and to learn about it, and then to get into the field. That’s what I, hopefully, am doing and trying to do.
Pat: That’s very well said. Thank you, Guy. Tell me what’s on your mind? What’s kind of been blocking you these days?
Guy: The podcast I feel has been going well. The membership site, Trauma Therapist 2.0, which I wanted to talk about, I just feel like it’s . . . I have a hundred fifty members in there. I just feel it’s on the runway and has been on the runway. It’s like a plane that’s on the runway and then it goes up a little and then it comes down a little. And it’s just like, staying on the runway. I just feel like something’s off, like my true north is off with what to do. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, I feel like I don’t know what to do. I joined a membership site to help other membership site owners and some people were like, “Oh, your video on your sales page, you’re not looking at the camera enough.”
These little tweaks that . . . I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’ve tried a lot of things and sometimes it feels like I’ve tried maybe too many things and haven’t focused on one thing enough. There have been things that have “worked.” I finally got to a point, I think maybe a couple of years ago, where I finally had enough, I don’t know, guts or gumption or self-belief to like actually do a launch “launch” to my email list. In other words, I sent out an email every day for over the course of a week and maybe even two emails the last day and people actually jumped on board. But that kind of seems to be where it started. I haven’t really had much luck with any kind of ROI with Facebook ads though my targeting seems to be good.
I’m at a loss. I mean, part of me feels like do I have the only hundred fifty to two hundred people out there who are going to join this membership, and that’s it? And Guy, that’s it, hang it up, go start flipping hamburgers somewhere or whatever. But I don’t believe that and part of me does believe that. I’m simultaneously like really inspired by what I’m doing and the feedback I’m getting, but also kind of frustrated.
Pat: Makes complete sense. I remember feeling those same things when I first started out in 2008 when I was making sales for my ebook. There’d be periods of time where I wouldn’t have a sale for a number of hours or even a few days and I would just wonder, “Oh, I guess that was the last person who ever needed my guide, and I guess I should go back to architecture.” But of course, that wasn’t the case, and I kept going, and I think it’s important that we’re having this conversation now because we can begin to unpack sort of okay, well, where might the next steps be, and what that true North is. And I want to start with that.
I think it’s really important for all entrepreneurs to understand what our true North is. And for those of you who don’t really know what that means, that means kind of direction, like the North Star in the sky. It’s the thing that’s there and guiding us the whole way. I’d be curious to know, Guy, what would you say is your North Star, meaning, what are your goals here with this? Because that’s going to help inform what you do. And I think a large amount of unhappiness for a lot of entrepreneurs as well is just realizing that they actually haven’t set those goals. And if you don’t set those goals, and you don’t have direction, then you’re always going to be unhappy. Even if, when you really think about it, you’ve actually met some of those goals. I think this is a really important topic. What would you say would be your goals and really your North Star here with this project?
Guy: I mean, my goal with this project, if I look out maybe five years or so, is to really create a platform that consists of conferences and workshops, even the podcast and the membership community that really focuses on inspiring clinicians who are working with trauma. And also increasing the awareness of trauma to do that on a larger scale, in a sense, and in a thriving way. I mean, I love working with people and interviewing more seasoned clinicians and finding out how the heck did they get into this field, what drives them in this, in working with people who’ve been impacted by trauma which is, in and of itself, a crazy topic. But there are people who are doing this amazing work and I just love bringing people together and creating a platform to do that.
That’s my true north, and I feel that because I don’t feel that . . . I kind of feel my plane in a sense is just hovering above the runway. I feel something must be off. Something’s got to be off, like I’m missing something. Am I missing something?
Pat: What would it feel like for you . . . What would be happening in your business if, to use the analogy, the plane was in the sky, and it was taking off. What does that actually mean to you in the business?
Guy: I think that’s a really good question. I think it would mean that there was an effective way that people were coming into the membership site.
Pat: Okay, that’s good.
Guy: There was a clear way. I feel like I don’t even have a way, even though I’ve tried certain things. I think if that was happening, I would feel that okay, so now things are going yeah, there’s maybe some churn here and that’s understandable, but given the positive feedback I’ve had on it, I’m in a quandary. It’s not like people are joining and going, “Dude, what are you doing? This doesn’t make any sense—”
Pat: It’s almost more frustrating because you know it can be helpful and nobody’s coming in.
Guy: Exactly. Exactly. I don’t know if it’s just like, well you need to . . . It’s marketing or it’s messaging . . .
Pat: That’s part of it . . . but it’s not the whole thing.
Guy: Yeah. To go back to your question, I think if the plane was going up in a gradual way, it would be like, yes this is working, this feels right, things feel congruent. People are coming in, people are hearing about it. I’ve surveyed my audience and I asked them, I said, “You’ve been on my email list for several months, I’ve often mentioned the membership site,” I forget the exact wording of it, but in short, “why haven’t you joined? What’s been your obstacle?”
And a lot of people were like, “Money. I’m a new therapist, I don’t have the money, the time,” those common answers that a lot of other podcasters have said are the answers that people give, but are not the real answers. But anyway—
Pat: First of all, you’re doing a great job communicating with your audience and you’re asking all the exact questions. I was actually going to lead to that, but you’re already doing that. You’re getting feedback from the people who are in your target audience, but who have yet to join this membership. Like you were hinting at earlier, this is potentially a messaging problem. Because usually when people go, “Oh, I just don’t have the time, or, “I don’t have the money,” that’s code for, “I don’t see the value in me investing in that right now. It is not, in my eyes, in the current state that it has been told to me, worth it for me at the moment.”
Now, you know it’s worth it for people because you’ve gotten people in there and it’s helping them. So you know it’s worth it, but these people are coming from the outside. And so having these conversations is the exact first step. A good follow up question to ask on that would be, “Well, what would make it worth it for you?” It’s always a good follow up question that we often forget to ask. Because I think a lot of us are worried that like, that means you’ve sort of given up, and have understood that you haven’t let them know or haven’t included what they need. And so we are often afraid to ask that question because it almost feels like, “Okay, I know this isn’t what you wanted, but what would you want?” But if you just position it as, “I know this is helpful, but what would it take for me to show you that this is something that will be helpful?”
Sometimes you get answers like, “Well, I just, I’m not sure. I’m not sure.” And there’s a couple of ways to tackle that. Well, here is a list of all the things that is directly going to impact the kind of thing that you do because it’s speaking their language. And part of this is maybe, and I’m not assuming anything, but maybe you haven’t quite hit the nail on the head with why this would be helpful for them. What are their needs? What are their selfish needs that you can sort of cater to when it comes to their practice, their work?
For me, it was a little easier in the architecture exam space because there was a very clear selfish need of my customers. It was: they want to pass the exam as soon as possible. So it’s very quick and easy for me to go, “Okay, here’s the guide, this is the quickest way to learn this, and you will pass.” Boom, they got the thing that they wanted done. With the membership and with what you have versus what people are looking for, maybe that’s where you can start thinking about the messaging. How do I cater to exactly what their needs are? Because people want to come in for them, and knowing what their needs are is really important. But going back to what I was saying earlier about the research and going in there and asking questions, even just one or two phone conversations can go a very long way.
Another way to respond to a person who goes, “I’m not quite sure yet,” is to go, “Okay, well, you said price is an issue? Here we go, I’m going to give you a free trial, a free thirty-day trial to the membership, or a free fourteen-day trial to the membership.” So you can actually see the value that’s in here. Because then when you do that, a couple of things will happen. They’ll go, “Okay, I told you it was the money excuse, and you’re telling me there’s value, let me go try it and test it out.” And obviously, you want to blow them away when they get in there and make it very clear to them that there is massive value there.
Other people might go, “Well, I know I said the money thing was the issue, and I know you’re giving this to me for free, but it actually wasn’t the money. I’m still hesitant to go in.” And then you can kind of unpack why. You’re in such a good position to start having these conversations, and way further ahead than most people who are struggling to sort of sell anything, because you have, A, customers who have already proven themselves in there who love it. And then, B, you have people who are speaking with you on the other side of it who haven’t yet joined, but they are your target customers. I just want to share all this to kind of give you encouragement and congratulate you for what you’ve built.
You can’t fly a plane if you don’t have a plane or a runway yet, and you have that. You’re just kind of floating over there, like you said. As discouraged as you sounded up front, I want to encourage you with what you’ve done so far. And just, hopefully, this shows you that there are next steps, and they are right there in front of you.
Guy: Yeah, well, I appreciate that. It means a lot. I sent out the survey and I’ve got eighty, ninety people reply back, which was cool, but it was like they’re all saying, “Well, this is why we haven’t joined.” I think what you’re suggesting here, I like the idea of jumping on the phone. The people who are in the membership, I’ve asked them, why have they joined? That’s one of the things when people first join, one of the emails is like take a moment, let me know why you joined, how you heard about this membership site et cetera. And people are like, “I wanted community, I wanted . . .” Basically a lot of what is already in the membership site. They’re saying that’s what they’re seeking.
So I don’t know, and I think this is one of the reasons why I’m so frustrated, this messaging question is very . . . it’s ghost-like, it’s amorphous. It’s like very elusive to me because it’s not like on my sales page I’m talking about what, tractor trailers or something. I’m talking about what it is. It feels like I’m micro-millimeters off. It doesn’t feel like I’m too far, but it feels like I’m off enough such that the ship’s going off course.
Pat: I think the community element . . . I mean, that’s why people join memberships. I mean, you either have one of two options that I see in my eyes at this point in addition to the research that you’d be doing, which is always going to be helpful no matter what you choose to do. Number one would be to really begin to hone in on the messaging for the membership to the people who are not members yet. Make them feel like they are missing out on something that they just cannot get anywhere else. Information is one thing, because anybody can get information anywhere, they can ask anybody. But community is the thing that would be likely the very unique thing that people would want to get access to.
This is a great thing to do and you are setup for this. You have a podcast, your subscribers are listening to that, and that’s great. Invite people who are in the community already to come talk about whatever it is that they’re working on. Feature them, make them look like a hero, but also have them talk up the community and the membership and what it’s like to be in there and how valuable it’s been. It’s going to be a lot stronger coming from them than you. That’s always going to be the case.
The most popular episodes that I’ve done that have been the most profitable have been the ones where I featured students of my courses. And you don’t even have to really tee them up, they’re going to talk about it if they love it on their own, and it’s going to just seem more natural. And like I said, it makes others who aren’t involved feel like they should be involved. And you have the podcast. I mean, for people who do coaching or have online courses, I always say, “Start a podcast. It doesn’t even matter if you get new listeners. It just matters that your people are hearing how great you are at serving those who are in your ecosystem, and they’re going to want to be a part of that too. They’re going to feel like an outsider and they’re going to want to come in. And to me, that’s something that is of high value. What are your thoughts on that?
Guy: Yeah, I think that is dead on. It’s really interesting, Pat, because prior to this year, I wasn’t doing that. I mean, where are we now? March. Prior to the start of this new year I wasn’t doing that. I don’t know, I felt it was too salesy for me, but I was like, “Okay, something’s gotta shift. I cannot continue to do what I’m doing because things need to change,” and I started doing that. And it has been working. People are like, “Oh, I heard about the membership site on the podcast.” But I think I need to do that more. I feel I need to do that more, so I think that’s a really good thought.
Pat: Yeah great, and to continue on that, you have something amazing that is going to help a lot of people. You are doing a disservice to these people by not giving them the opportunity to understand exactly the value in the community that’s inside. And if you were starting to feel a little salesy, then you got to flip it in your head and just go, “I have to sell this.” Selling is not bad, you can sell and serve at the same time, and obviously, you could try different things and adjust it along the way as you’d like, but if people hear your confidence in it, they’re going to feel confident in that purchase. And it’s when we start to—and trust me, this is coming from directly me four years ago and just being very afraid of selling. When you are afraid to sell something, people are afraid to buy from you.
I can imagine that—whether it’s an interview or just a little spot in your podcast where you feature the story of or even invite that person who is in your community already on your show—the excitement and the intonation of your voice after that conversation when you close that show and go, “My gosh, I love this community so much. There are so many great things happening in here. I cannot wait to feature some more stories for you. And hey, you know what? You always have an open invite to be a part of this membership too, to join me, and Jane, and everybody else who’s in there. We’re talking about things daily and there’s content in there and there’s information there to help you, but really we’re all here to help each other. And by the way, this month only, I’m reducing your first-month payment. So if you want to get in now, get in now, and in if you don’t, that’s okay, but this community is going to be here and growing. And all of us here who are really dedicated to not each other but serving those who are dealing with trauma, knowing that we have special superpowers to help them, I mean again, I’d love for you to be a part of that with us.”
So you see how it’s like an invitation? It’s not salesy, it’s like join us in this movement versus here’s a membership, which membership alone just sounds so dry, right? It’s like who needs another membership to things? It’s not about that. It’s just maybe you’re so connected to the space that I’m in and entrepreneurship that we call it that when it’s more than just a membership. It’s a community of people, everything I just said.
Guy: It’s interesting. Hearing you talk about it in that way makes me think about how—I don’t want to say insecure—but how I haven’t talked about it like that in that kind of confident way. I think that is . . . I mean, like you said, if you’re not confident about what you’re selling, people are not going to buy. They’re going to sense that. And I think that, in a sense, has a role in this, too.
Pat: Yeah, I would say that’s probably the root of a lot of this, which would lead to people saying, “Well, I don’t know, it’s too expensive.” And then what happens is we start to believe that like, oh, maybe they’re right. And then you start to be even less confident. It’s like a downward spiral. But the cool thing about this is, you can have upward spirals too. And so hopefully, this gives you a little bit of guidance.
I was saying that there’s one of two ways that you could go about sort of moving from this point. The first one, I think, is the answer, what we just talked about. The other option would be to, and the reason I wouldn’t recommend this—but it is an option—is because you have this community and that’s seemingly what the big draw is going to be. The second way would be to do what I did, which is I didn’t want another sort of community to manage beyond the communities I already have to manage. So I turned my membership sites essentially into one-off solutions for specific problems, i.e., online courses, and that’s definitely not the direction I think you should go based on what we’ve talked about.
Guy: Yeah, I mean, I agree. I really resonated with not only what you said in describing the membership community, but how you said it, and it got me excited to do it, which feels weird because it feels . . . I came into this thinking, well, there had to be this like concrete puzzle piece that needed to be fit into my puzzle that was missing a piece or pieces, but it feels more like a certain confidence or belief, or this kind of—
Pat: Even going back to what somebody had said about . . . like in the membership that you’re a part of like, “Oh, you’re not even looking at the camera.” I don’t know what that video looks like, but—and it may be just a result of you looking at the screen versus the webcam or something on your desktop. But if you are confident you’re going to have open eyes, you’re going to look at the person on the other end of that video, and it’s going to come across like you said, everything with more confidence, I think that’s going to be the start of a lot of great things. And yes, there are strategies that you can use, there are other things, but if you don’t get this part of it, then none of that stuff matters. It just kind of amplifies that there’s a lack of confidence there. Remember that you’re helping so many people, so help so many people. Basically, the one word is just to own it. I guess it’s two words, but own it. Own what you’ve built, and I think that’ll inform a lot of decisions moving forward that are going to help you see that plane take off.
Guy: Awesome, awesome man. I appreciate it.
Pat: Amazing. Can you tell us one more time where people can go to check out all these great things?
Guy: Yeah, it’s TraumaTherapist2.com. The podcast is the Trauma Therapist Podcast.
Pat: Awesome, Guy. Keep going. Thank you so much. Do you mind if we reach out to you maybe in a few months to check in on you and hopefully get a positive update?
Guy: I’d love to, man. It would be awesome. Thanks so much, Pat.
Pat: Cool. Thanks, Guy. I appreciate you.
Guy: All right. Take care.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode. Guy, I cannot wait to see what you do with this new energy. And I think this is a huge lesson for all of us. You know, when you have something that you know is helpful, and of course if you have served people with it and they tell you, but even if not, if you know that what you’re creating is helpful, you need to put it out there and sell it. Selling is not bad. Selling is only seemingly bad to us because we’ve been terribly sold to before. It is when you know you have something to serve your audience with that you need to get it in front of them, and Guy, cannot wait to see the results too. I look forward to following up with you in several months here so we can get an update on how things are going. For now, just keep on keeping on everybody, all of us. Thank you so much.
If you want to get coached like Guy did today, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com, fill out the application there on that page, and I might reach out to you and then we can have a chat just like I did with Guy today. Definitely not going to happen if you don’t try, and that’s all you got to do. Go to askpat.com. Also, make sure you hit Subscribe to the show if you haven’t already because we got a lot of great content coming your way and coaching calls that you can listen in on. And again, I want to thank you so much for doing that, and just hit Subscribe. That’s all I ask. Cheers. Thanks so much. I appreciate you and Team Flynn for the win.
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