Trying Not to Drown During a Triathalon

True confession: I can’t swim.

At summer camp, I was in the Advanced Beginner’s group for about seven years in a row. All my friends were doing Advanced Lifesaving Skills and I was still using the kickboard and practicing the elementary backstroke.

Don’t think it was easy telling you that. I’ve been ashamed of my inability to put my head below the water as well as my aversion to cold water (and any pool below body temperature qualifies as cold water in my book).

But I’ve recently begun a fitness training regimen, and as part of it I got the crazy idea in my head that I’d like to participate in a triathlon in about a year.  The only flaw in my plan is, I can’t swim (see above).  So I joined a pool, found a swim coach, and started learning about how to swim effectively.

What I’ve discovered so far has turned out to be a very important marketing secret.

What Does This Have to Do with Marketing?

Here’s what I learned from Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible. There are two ways to increase your swimming speed: increase your power, or decrease your drag.  Your power is the force and pace of your arm strokes and leg kicks.  Your drag is the resistance of the water against your body.

Which do you think makes the biggest difference?

As land creatures, we focus almost exclusively on power and effort. After all, that works in running.  If you want to run faster, just put more effort into your running.  Makes sense, for swimming too, no?


Studies show that improving your technique to reduce drag is a much more effective strategy. Increasing your power will increase your speed a little, but moving your body through the water with less resistance will increase your speed a lot.  That’s why some of the world’s best swimmers look like they’re going really slowly when the camera focuses on them at the Olympics. They’re using  outstanding technique to gain maximum advantage from their power.

Swimming is Like Marketing

In all my years as a marketer, I’ve never gotten water up my nose on the job, but aside from that the similarities to effective swimming are striking.  Your marketing communication consists of two things: the message itself, and the reaction to it (sometimes resistance) by your prospect.  We focus on the message, and very little on the resistance of the medium.

Did you know that some of the world’s best marketers and copywriters send out incredibly powerful sales letters that get a positive response from two tenths of one percent of recipients? And that the marketers are often thrilled with that response?  That’s one yes and 499 no’s.

Why are the numbers so bad, even for such great marketing copy? Because of the high level of sales resistance they are creating by sending direct mail to strangers.  But if you have a good relationship with your prospects and you send them a poorly written offer with unclear directions and an apologetic tone, you’re still likely to get a pretty good response rate.

Could it be higher? Of course. A lot higher. Learning how to write sales copy and how to craft powerful messages will certainly increase your profits. But simple steps you can take to reduce sales resistance will pay off much more handsomely. It’s another example of the 80/20 rule.  Reducing resistance will typically be five times more effective than increasing the power of your message.

The world’s most powerful swimmer can’t keep up with my casual jogging, not because they’re weaker than me, but because the resistance of my air is insignificant compared to the resistance of their water.

And the world’s most powerful marketer cold calling a stranger can’t get the response that a you can get from a prospect who’s called you.

Proof From My Business

I sell a product called "Leads into Gold," which teaches people a system for all but eliminating sales resistance. In a nutshell, it creates a dynamic in which you aren’t chasing your prospects, but dangling bait so that they’ll chase you.

Obviously, I can’t sell this product by cold calling. Somebody would point out the irony, and then I’d have to feel sheepish.

So I run pay per click ads on search engines, and offer visitors to my web site a sneak peak at the course – two free chapters of Leads into Gold that teach the general principles and invite people to order the full product.

Almost all my prospects are searching for a way to eliminate cold calling in their businesses. To get to the point of typing "no cold calling" or "end cold calling" into google, some of them are at the end of their handset cords. They hate it, it’s not working, they’re spending way too much time doing it, etc. They’re desperate for a solution. So after signing up for the two free chapters, a lot of them call me and ask, "Does this stuff really work?"

At some point the conversation goes like this:

Howie:     You’re pretty motivated to find an alternative to cold calling, right?

Prospect: Yes, absolutely.

Howie:      So you called me, and we’re having this conversation.

Prospect: (clearly puzzled, thinks that I’m an imbecile by this point) Er, yes.

Howie:       (moving in for the marketing coup de grace, which is a funny French phrase that literally means "stroke of mercy" but makes me think of the Princess of Monaco in a chicken house) You’re a very qualified prospect of mine, right? I mean, you’ve got a pain, you think that my solution might end your pain, you’ve got the money to pay for it or else you wouldn’t be calling, and you’re basically asking me to give you my sales pitch. Right?

Prospect: Um, yeah.

Howie:      What if I had called you? What if I had supernatural marketing powers, and could just tell when anyone in the English-speaking world felt like you feel right now, and I could get their phone number and actually get them on the phone, in spite of however busy they are?  That would be a pretty neat trick. But if I had called you just before you found me on the internet, would we be having the same conversation?

Prospect: No. I probably wouldn’t take your call.

Howie:     Aha!

How receptive are they to my message after they’ve called me? How receptive would they be if I had called them first? Is there a different dynamic?  In which situation is my chance of making the sale higher – when I’ve called them, or when they’ve called me?

That’s what I mean by improving your marketing technique to reduce resistance. If you can make your prospects feel like they’ve discovered you, like they’re in control of the sales process, if they need you more than you need them, your message will cut through the clutter of their confusion and skepticism.

To learn how to set up your marketing to reduce resistance by getting them to call you, keep reading.  And if you want to call me to talk about it, I’ll be at the bottom of the pool. Growing fins.


Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
– George Santayana

The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
– Lin Yutang

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.
– David Dunham

It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.
– William of Occam

I am the world’s worst salesman, therefore, I must make it easy for people to buy.
– F. W. Woolworth

Marketing Motivators on Increasing Your Marketing Speed

1. Stop selling your product or service. Instead, sell a risk-free, "I’d have to be nuts to say no" offer that your prospects can get by raising their hands.  For examples of this, visit Leads into Gold and read the report on ending cold calling forever.

2. If you must cold call, don’t sell. Instead, do survey research for an article. Ask your prospect about their situation as it relates to your product or service, and promise to get back to them with the survey results. Ask them what they hate about people in your industry, and what they would love. Then come back with the survey results, and unveil your offering based on their feedback.

3. If you haven’t yet, get my free CD, "How to Attract All the Business You Can Handle and End Cold Calling Forever." You pay only $2.95 for shipping, handling, and wear and tear on my knuckles for using a spring loaded CD label application.  Click here to order.

Bonus Quotes

If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.
– Sue Grafton

If you want to catch a trout, don’t fish in a herring barrel.
– Ann Landers, on singles bars

If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.
– Anonymous

Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.
– Dave Barry

Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.
– George Carlin

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