Making small positioning bets

People — me included — get scared when it comes to taking steps with positioning.

Niching down is hard. It feels like an important public exercise and that’s scary. (“Isn’t everyone going to pay attention? Won’t everyone see if we/I/you fail?” Na. That’s why you need both positioning and marketing.)

As I get to work growing Double Your Ecommerce (, I’m trying out different positioning statements and taglines to see what resonates with my target audience.

You always hear the advice, “Try it out on LinkedIn!” but LinkedIn is a more thirsty cesspool than Tinder — and I try not to use either.

So, what’s left?

What about Slack?

(Please note: this approach will not work if you’re, say, only in your company or team’s Slack and no others. However, if you use Slack the way I do — to idle and participate in business-focused Slack communities — then this tip might help you try out your positioning and see what resonates with your target market.)

The big idea: test out your positioning statement in a small way

What if you take your display name in Slack:

And use it as a place to test out your tagline and or positioning statement?

What happens if you make it that easy for people to know what you do and who you can help?

Well, when you do that, it’s easy for people:

  • To know what you do
  • Have that ‘Ah ha!’ reaction to your positioning
  • And reach out and start a conversation

For example:


Na. It ain’t growth hacking.

Don’t expect a huge amount of leads to suddenly burst down your doors when you change your Slack display name.

What this is is a way to put on a metaphorical name tag when you’re interacting with your target market.

That makes it easier for people to know who you are and how you can help them.

And when you make it easy for a small, specific group of your total target market to know how you can help them, people will start to take notice. And then great things will start to happen.

And what should you do when people start to take notice?

How should you start to work with them? What should you offer them as your initial service offering?

One way to offer value to a new target market is by offering a paid roadmapping/discovery engagement.

When you sell roadmapping, you’re selling strategy. You’re leveraging your years of expertise, insight, and knowledge to help your clients overcome a painful challenge they’re facing.

With Quick Start Roadmapping, you’ll learn how to:

  • Start selling paid strategy-focused ‘roadmapping’ projects
  • Stop writing proposals (and start charging for your insight)
  • Radically differentiate yourself from your competitors (you aren’t ‘just’ a pair of hands)

You’ll see a fantastic return on your investment when you sell your first paid roadmap, no matter if you sell it for $500, $1500, or $5000+.

Read more about Quick Start Roadmapping right here →



the ‘easy referral’ button

So, how do you make it easy for people to send you referrals?

In my worldview, you start by thinking about two primary elements:

  1. First, you need to get really, exceptionally specific on who you want your referral sources to refer to you
  2. Second, you need to build the resources, assets, etc., that make it easy for people to send you referrals

Getting Specific On Referrals

Before you start asking for referrals, you need to understand which clients you want more of.

The wider you make your criteria (e.g., ‘anyone with a business!’), the thinner your referrals will get. Why?

When you’re less specific about your referrals, you get crappier referrals.

  • No clue who you want sending referrals your way? You’ll struggle to reach the right people in your network consistently.
  • No clue who you want referred to you? Your ‘squishy’ positioning will result in lower quality, less focused referrals.

“Would Bob be a good fit? How about Jane? Uuuh… I’m going to check Twitter.”

When you hand the work of deciding who would be a good fit over to your referral source, you make it harder for them to send good people your way. That means you’ll end up receiving fewer quality referrals.

Thus, if you want to get more referrals or better quality referrals, the first step for you to take is to get CRYSTAL clear on who you want referred to you.

  • Is it everyone? (Hint: nope.)
  • Is it a subset of people who are like your best/highest spending/most enjoyable clients? (Hint: yup).

Once you get specific, you can start communicating this to your referral sources. At a minimum, you want to make sure you and they are clear on:

  • Who you help (e.g., Shopify store owners doing 7-figures in revenue selling pet supply products!)
  • How you help/what problems you solve (e.g., help you outrank your competitors and get found in Google by people who need your products, content, and resources)
  • How to get in touch with you (e.g., fill out this form and…)

If all you do is take a few hours to get specific on who you want as a referral and then tell a dozen or two dozen people in your network about who to refer your way, you’ll start to get more referrals.

But there’s another part to this approach that will help you get even more referrals (and make it even easier to refer people to you). More on that in tomorrow’s letter.

If you want to make the rest of 2021 your ‘Year of the Referral’, I encourage you to take action.

Referral Systems will answer your referral marketing questions; arm you with knowledge, strategy, and tactics; and give you a head start on setting up your referral system.

Read more about everything that’s included with Referral Systems right here:



One small trick to get more referrals

Sometimes referrals show up, and they’re great! But other times, referrals show up that are far from great. (They 💩.)

What gives? What makes some referrals shine and some referrals stink?

And, where’s the button to get more or higher quality referrals? You should be able to turn the dial up a few quality spots, right? (e.g., from a 3/10 referral quality to a 5/10 quality).

Reader, it’s possible. It’s doable. It just takes a little effort on your part.

See, similar to the takeaway in Monday’s letter (, if you want better referrals, you need to get more specific about who your ideal referrals are.

Put another way, who do you even want to knock on your door? Have you ever sat down and answered this question?

What type of clients do you want to be referred to you? What kind of project do you want to be sent your way?

Beyond that, have you ever taken the time to tell people in your industry who an ideal referral is for you? The types of clients with who you work best? What projects to send your way? How to send a referral to you?

If you’re like 79.9% of indie consultants, experienced freelancers, and service providers, the answer is ‘nope.’

It’s no wonder that people malign referrals as a terrible source of leads. Reader, that’s because most of us approach attracting referrals with the same intention and precision of making a 3 am snack (cheese… done…).

Get more referrals with intentional referrals

The trick to getting more referrals? Get more intentional about who you talk to about sending referrals and what you tell them.

The more specific and intentional you make your system for sharing your marketing message about referrals, the more_referrals you’ll receive, and the better quality_ referrals you’ll receive.

If, for example, you get specific about who you want as a referral and talk to a dozen people, explain who you help and the problems you solve and tell them how they can refer people to you, you’ll get more referrals.

But who are you supposed to talk to? What are you supposed to say? And what resources should you put together to help them have an easy time knowing who to refer to you?

To answer that question (and help you and me both get the most out of our referral marketing), I put together Referral Systems (

With Referral Systems, you’ll learn exactly how to get specific when you ask for referrals, how to put your referral marketing on autopilot, and how to set up your own ‘referral system’ for your business.

_Referral Systems_is an actionable, informational video course designed to help you take action and level up your referral marketing.

What would another 3-6 clients over the next 12 months mean for your business? Heck, what would be the value of those additional clients? For most of us, those other referrals would mean the difference between feast and famine.

Learn how to put your referrals on autopilot with Referral Systems.



That ol’ referral black magic

When’s the last time you asked for a referral to a service provider (like a lawyer, coach, or developer)? How did it turn out?

If it didn’t go so great (e.g., you couldn’t find a referral, the service providers you were referred to didn’t quite hit the mark), have you ever asked yourself why it turned out that way? Or what could you change about how you ask for referrals to service providers so that you get connected with great people next time?

I’ve learned over the years that when I ask for a referral to a service provider, I get more and better referrals when I make two optimizations.

First, get more specific about who you’re looking for

  • Example #1, a ‘squishy’ ask: “Hey Kai, know any coders?”
  • Example #2, a ‘specific’ ask: “Hey Kai, know any PHP developers who specialize in Payment Gateway Integration?”

The more specific you get, the easier it will be for the people you ask to go, “I know exactly who I should connect you with.” And then they can connect you with them.

Why? Because when you make a squishy ask, it’s much more challenging for the person you’re asking to think of a match. When you make your ask more specific, it’s easier for the person you’re asking to think of and share their answer, no matter the topic:

  • “Know any good books?” vs. “Know any collections of short stories about time travel by science fiction authors?”
  • “What’s a good place to eat in town?” vs. “What’s a good sushi restaurant in town that has vegan options?”
  • “Know any single people?” vs. “Know any single people who are into mountain biking and rock climbing, love tea, and don’t drink alcohol?”

Second, ask more people

The number of people you get connected with is a function of the number of people you ask. As you ask more people, you’ll get connected with more referrals. And the more people you get connected with, the better chance you’ll find that fantastic fit.

So, ask more people.

Next time you’re seeking a referral to a service provider, the above advice will help you connect with more + better people.

But it has radical implications for how you can get more client referrals in your business. In tomorrow’s letter, more on how you can get more referrals, build referral systems to put your referral marketing on autopilot, and start to ask for intentional referrals.



Plus, Eight Magical Treasures

“Give a person an email template, help them for a day. Teach a person how to do email outreach, help them for their entire life.” — Kaifucious

My favorite part about Raise Clients From The Dead ( is how laser-focused and effective it is. Customers report that the email templates help them restart conversations with past clients and bring those client relationships back to life.

But, an email template alone can only do so much. Raise Clients From The Dead alone won’t teach you the strategy and tactics behind email outreach, how to follow-up effectively, or how to use email outreach to get more leads or referrals.

Bundled in with the book of eldritch magic that is Raise Clients From The Dead, you’ll receive eight magic bonuses, including:

  • Steli Efti on Effective Follow-Up (60-minute video interview). Steli (sales expert and founder of and I sat down to talk through the elements of effective follow-up.
  • A Freelancer’s Guide to Outreach (90-minute webinar) Recorded with Bryce Bladon of Clients From Hell, we discussed the topic of using Outreach to help freelancers fill their pipeline.
  • Pipedrive Sales CRM 45-Day Gold Trial. If you need a Sales CRM, I strongly recommend Pipedrive. You’ll get a 45-day trial for their Gold plan ($30+ value).
  • How to Generate More Referral Business Through Outreach. Enjoy this recording where I was interviewed on how to generate more referrals from your existing clients.

Check the complete list of the eight bonuses included with Raise Clients From The Dead right here:

With this book of necromancy, you’ll gain the power to bring your old client relationships back from the dead. You’ll love the four email template library with the exact words to use to bring new life to old conversations with past clients — with instructions on how to copy, customize, and use the email templates.

If your investment today helps you land one additional $500 project, that would be a 10x return on investment for you.

Think about the potential return on investment you’ll see with the average value of a project in your business (e.g., $5,000 would mean a 100x return on investment. $50,000 would mean a 1,000x return on investment).

Read more right here:



“I don’t know if I can sell strategy”

One common objection that crops up when someone starts to contemplate ditching the proposal, launching a roadmapping service (, and selling strategy is:

“I don’t know if I can sell strategy. I’m not a strategic thinker. What if the client needs strategic help on something I don’t know how to do?! Ahhh!”

Which, fair objection.

If you, for example, sell SEO services to Shopify stores and someone shows up and asks for your strategic insights on, e.g., solving the environmental impacts of their product packaging, you might struggle.

If you’re looking to sell roadmapping (and strategy) on easy mode, this is where specialization, expensive problems, and the law of raspberry jam come into the picture.

#1: Avoid Problems You Can’t Solve

See, barring some exceptions, you shouldn’t attempt to sell strategy to everyone for everything. That way lies madness and spreading yourself across a million different topics, diffusing any strategic insight you might be able to share.

The law of raspberry jam tells us:

“The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets” — Gerald Weinberg

If you have too wide of a stance with your strategy-focused service offering, you’re going to struggle to make your service and marketing resonant with your target market.

Instead, you need to make your strategic offering _ laser-focused_ on places you can provide strategic insight.

How can you do that? Three ways:

#2: Focus On Problems You Can Solve

A) You need to be specialized

If you aren’t specialized, you’re going to be selling to too many people for your marketing message to cut through the noise.

And when you’re marketing to too many different target markets, the problems people ask you to help with can get very dissonant, which leads to you working on problems you can’t solve.

Instead, you need to focus your strategic roadmapping offering (and all your marketing and services, really) on a specific target market, platform, or vertical (e.g., SEO Growth Strategy for Shopify+ Stores, Digital PR Strategy for THC and CBD Brands).

That specialized focus allows you to target the strategic problems you already have insight into solving.

What contributed to that insight? You picked it up from:

  • The years of work you’ve done in this space
  • The experience you’ve had solving problems for your clients
  • The knowledge you’ve picked up reading and researching in this line of business

All that adds up to strategic insight on a specialized, expensive problem.

But specialization alone isn’t enough.

B) You need to focus on a painful problem

You need to focus your strategic offering on a painful problem your target market is experiencing. The problem, ideally, should be costing your clients/the market time or money or preventing them from making money.

Why? Because if you aren’t focusing on a painful problem, the value math doesn’t work out for your service.

Imagine that you’re focused on sharing strategy for a problem costing your prospective clients, e.g., $50/yr. You’re charging $500 for your strategic offering to help them define a plan to solve this problem.

Why should they purchase? The math doesn’t work out in anyone’s favor.

But if the problem they’re facing is costing them $5000/year, suddenly your $500 (or $1,500) strategy-offering looks good. Invest a bit of money, get strategic insight, and understand how to approach solving this high-cost problem in a way that will make an impact.

3) You need to align your strategic offering with the implementation services you already sell

The easiest way to sell strategy on easy mode? Align it with the implementation services you already sell (if you sell done-for-you implementation services).

Let’s say that you sell rolls dice something like one of the following done-for-you implementation-focused services:

  • SEO services for Shopify Plus stores
  • Digital Public Relations for THC and CBD Brands
  • Brand and Web Design services for early-stage YCombinator Startups

If you want to launch a strategy-focused roadmapping offering, make it the precursor step to what you already sell. That might look like:

  • SEO Growth Strategy for Shopify Plus stores
  • Digital PR Strategy for THC and CBD Brands
  • Brand Strategy for YCombinator Startups

You already know that you’re successful selling these done-for-you services. So, launching a strategy-focused offering that’s a precursor step to your done-for-you implementation services aligns everything so nicely.

Some clients will show up and already have a clear understanding of their strategy.

With those clients, you can jump to the done-for-you implementation services. They don’t need a strategy (or don’t need a lot of strategy), so you can focus on implementation

But other clients will show up with a need for a clear strategy.

Maybe they need someone to define a plan for them. Or perhaps they’re searching for someone who can clearly explain the issue and the best approach to them.

For those clients? You want to direct them to your strategy and discovery-focused roadmapping offering. It’s what they need.

Putting this all together

If you want to get started selling roadmapping and strategy-focused services (, ditch the proposal, and protect yourself from time-wasting tire kickers, you need to focus on:

  • A specific, specialized target market
  • An expensive problem that’s costing your target market money
  • Offering a strategic roadmapping service that aligns with the implementation services you sell

That’s the high-level strategy, but what does the implementation look like? How do you get started selling roadmapping?

  • What questions should you ask?
  • What should you charge for your roadmap?
  • What documents, emails, templates, or resources will you need?

If you’re looking for additional perspective, guidance, or direction on how to get started selling roadmapping services, then I recommend you check out Quick Start Roadmapping.

Quick Start Roadmapping will give you the tools, resources, templates, and guidance you need to get started with roadmapping.

One bonus included with your purchase? A 50-minute video interview with Kurt Elster (of Ethercycle) about how Ethercycle uses roadmapping in their service offerings. You’ll love learning how a successful agency is succeeding with roadmapping. You can watch the recorded video interview or read the human-generated transcript.

Read more about Quick Start Roadmapping, what you’ll receive with your purchase, and the all-new ‘Quick Start Roadmapping plus Strategy Call’ bundle right here:



p.s., here’s that link one more time:

National Hammock Day

Today is a holiday. Roadmaps are excellent, and tomorrow we’ll return to our usually scheduled letters about the benefits of selling strategy — but today?

Today, I want to evangelize to you about something near and dear to my heart.

Hammock Time

Hammock Time has become one of the essential, non-negotiable parts of my life and business.

What I’ve discovered over the years is that many of my most profitable and productive business ideas happen when I’m stretched out in my hammock, watching the clouds, and just enjoying the sun and breeze. The muse rarely shows up when I barricade myself in my office with a persistent thought that, ‘if I just put in a few more hours, I’ll figure it out.’


Humans need to rest.

We are meat-computer-brain thinking machines. And like any high-powered machine, occasionally you need to flip your switch to ‘idle,’ grab a drink, park yourself somewhere lovely with a view in the sun, and just rest.

That’s why I love Hammock Time.

Hammock Time allows me to say, “You know what? There’s a lot going on right now and a bunch I could focus on, but if I don’t take a break and rest, how much good work am I going to be able to do?”

Right now, I have the hammock set up in my backyard. ~2-4+ times a week, I find myself stretched out in the hammock after a call to just idle, rest, think, and contemplate. It’s one of the best parts of my day.

  • Taking a call on my phone? Into the hammock!
  • Need a short nap in the sun? Into the hammock!
  • Need a short lay down after lunch? Into the hammock!
  • Extra time between Zoom meetings? Into the hammock!
  • Need to think about a problem/opportunity and don’t want to be distracted? Into the hammock!

Procuring Your Hammock

I suffered for years as one of the hammock-less masses. And then my buddy Eric Davis (no relation) of Little Stream Software clued me into portable hammocks.

One of the best purchases I ever made (back in 2018, ~10 years ago) was a portable hammock like this one.


If you (like me) have an internet job where your schedule is often a choose your adventure, why not treat yourself to a bit of relaxation along the way?

You could get a hammock and plop it in your yard — or put it indoors/in your office. The location doesn’t matter.

What’s important is that you’ve made space for Hammock Time for when you need it.



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