Defying The “Proven Recipe” When Your Bacon Is On The Line

A few years back, I was brazen (or crazy) enough to host a series of FREE half-day sales training workshops in NYC.


(And this city isn’t known for free A N Y T H I N G — except great tap water.)

In the process, I decided to throw a crap-ton of common “industry” formulas out the window. You know what I mean. Those practices regarded as the holy grail for running a successful, money making event.

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The biggest rule I ignored was that “refundable deposit” trick that’s so widely endorsed by the gurus. 

One risk associated with that decision was that people would claim a free ticket, but flake out on attending, leaving empty seats.

I’d tried that tactic for past events, but it felt icky and manipulative. And there’s no way it felt aligned with the experience I wanted to create — or a feeling I was willing to perpetuate.

Instead, I conceived an entirely different way to appeal to kickass business owners — while hoping to minimize no-shows. 

Going against the grain was slightly nerve-racking because there was no proven formula.

But the times I’d tried the “proven” tactics never really got me fab results, anyway. So I calculated, “what do I have to lose (besides my Bacon, obvi) by shaking things up and trying things MY way?”

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Offering something so unexpected and generous was a complete blast.

And deciding to host those events in a comedy club 20x’d the fun factor — for me and hundreds of women. It was a business party!



It was a business risk, no doubt. But I had several reasons I was willing to go out on a limb to try it…

#1

Because I know exactly the value I bring to the table. I deeply understand the value I deliver. I know how to articulate it. And I OWN it — which hasn’t always been the case. And it’s most definitely NOT the case for the majority of women business owners I meet — which negatively impacts their results (over and over and over again) because it infiltrates every pore of their business and self worth.

#2

Because it was an innovative and (at the time) relatively low-hassle way to build goodwill by solving a common problem — and connecting with my ideal peeps. I loooooooved it!!!

#3

It wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve hosted dozens and dozens of events — from 8 person retreats — to 1500 person, multi-day conferences. I’ve learned a load about what works for me and my perfect peeps. And I’ve learned even MORE about what doesn’t work through my many missteps along the way.

#4

I’m a massive risk taker, darer and experimenter. I’ve taken more bullets than I’ve dodged in my 15+ years as a business owner. There was a big downside in the form of opportunity cost  but I wasn’t willing to compromise my values or relationships to do it any other way.

#5

Because offering it completely, no-strings-attached FREE made sense in the BIG picture of my overall business modelYou sell more when your various offers are well-connected — and sales training is the tip of the Carolyn iceberg. This is NOT a decision I would’ve made even 3 years earlier when sales training was pretty much my entire iceberg.

In this case, my strategy paid off.

The “flake rate” was only 8%. Not bad for ticket holders who had no skin in the game if they skipped it. They did, however, have much to gain. I’d had higher no-show rates using the refundable ticket tactic — so it was clear over the course of those series of events — that my ticket granting approach consistently worked better.

Those free events fed other parts of my business because many of the attendees like my approach and wanted other services I had available for them — without requiring a hard sell or other yuck-inducing tactics.

It built significant goodwill. Three years later, women are still telling me about their memories and takeaways from that day. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday. *Unless it was bacon.*

Demand was high because the word spread. The first one was such a success that I offered another. And another. And…

It expanded my visibility and reach because other women business organizations invited me to deliver that same training to their member communities.

If results aren’t fully meeting expectations, we’ve got to give ourselves honest answers to these questions…

Is it possible I am not communicating my value clearly? Do I deliver value that my potential clients care about — but I don’t see it?

Is there room for me to create offers that are better priced to reflect my deeper value vs. those surface-y, sounds-like-everyone-else blah-blahs programs?

Is there enough opportunity for me to 2x, 5x or even (gasp!) 10x my business by scooping up the money I’m leaving on the table because I’m busy pursuing tactics that aren’t true to me?

THE PROBLEM IS that many business owners are missing out on reaching ideal clients.

Because they repeatedly choose to follow other peoples’ recipes — without a complete grasp of what makes their own ingredients mouthwatering to others. 

Sure, I’d rather pursue the promise of “proven” from someone who’s already figured it all out.

But after 15+ years of making more mistakes than I can count in pursuit of someone else’s cookie, this girl has learned a thing — or two *million. Most importantly…

Until I fully understood and owned my value — AND figured out to best package and charge for it— nothing else mattered.

Since then, I’ve made far more money ignoring (and/or overhauling) the recipes  than following them without consideration for my own spice.

You with me in makin’ more bacon?

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Posted In: Business Model Design