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I was not expecting 769 subscribers in the launch week of The Brand Alchemist.

I had no marketing campaign, no convoluted strategy.

And I would have been grateful even for just one subscriber (my mother not included).

This first week has been every solopreneurs dream; I opened the doors, and they came in droves.

It has not just been the number of subscribers that surprised me. It is the hundreds of messages I’ve received from people, telling me how inspired they feel, and how my work has touched their hearts. It is the people who have reached out to me to tell me that they will be sharing my work with their communities and clients.

And perhaps most surprisingly – it is the number of emails I’ve had from admirers of my opt-in, and questions from people wanting to know how I created such a powerful incentive for people to join my list.

Some even asked me how I could justify giving away so much ‘for free’ – others kindly suggested I consider selling the PDF guides.

I thought I would share my experience with you in this post – with the sincerest hope that it inspires you in some way to create an opt-in offer that will bring you the level of subscribers I’m currently enjoying.

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Many have complemented the test software (‘How DID you build that??’). But the truth is, the software and implementation of this opt-in was super-duper easy. The test was created using a WordPress plugin called Viral Quiz Builder, and even those with little to no coding experience would find it a breeze (plus, the support at VQB has been awesome).

I believe the secret to the success of this opt-in incentive lies in a couple of significant mindset shifts I had prior to developing it.

Mindset shift #1:

What does my ideal customer REALLY STRUGGLE WITH?

Mindset shift #2:

How can I offer SO MUCH VALUE that it would be a complete no-brainer for someone to want to opt in to my list?

Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail, and break down the thought process behind the incentive.

#1 What does my ideal customer REALLY STRUGGLE WITH?

Up until recently, I thought I knew the answer to this question. But when I really, really examined the evidence – it turns out I had made some foolish assumptions.

I thought I knew what she wanted.

The very first step to creating this opt-in incentive was to go waaaaaay back to the drawing board. I quit thinking I knew best, and I became a detective. I dug out all of the customer research I’ve ever done, and I studied it. I dissected it – ruthlessly. I looked for patterns – words and phrases that repeated themselves. I identified the major pain points of my ideal customer.

Once I had figured out what would help my ideal customer most, it was time to ask the next question.

#2 How can I offer SO MUCH VALUE that it would be a complete no-brainer for someone to opt in to my list?

Previously, I had tried to figure out what I ‘should’ give away freely, and what ‘should’ be paid material.

I stressed about it – a lot.

In creating this incentive, I decided to run with an experiment – I dropped these barriers altogether. Just like that. I decided I would pay more attention to the journey I want my visitors to have. Instead, the question became:

What can I share that will make a real difference to the visitors’ life (even in some small way), and establish the heartfelt relationship I want to grow with them?

Once I had removed the roadblock of deciding what to share for free, and started thinking about the incentive in terms of the relationship I want to have with my subscribers, the rest fell into place naturally. I decided to develop a test that would help my visitor connect with their Primary Archetype (the logical first step of their archetypal branding journey), and then give them a real taste of what this could mean for them in the form of the PDF guide. I developed and designed 12 guides – one for each of the Primary Archetypes. This took me around about a month to complete.

All in all, this incentive cost me very little to implement – the cost of the plugin was around $40, and that was the only physical cost involved. Granted the PDF guides would likely have cost me a fair amount had I not had my design background, but the point here is that I drew on my own resources, and got creative.

There is one additional part of my strategy that I haven’t mentioned so far – and that is that I used my Primary and Secondary Archetypal Blend as the basis for the whole opt-in and incentive.

For me, as an Alchemist, curiosity is my best friend. Even just the word ‘Alchemy’ conjures up a sense of mystery, and I knew that I wanted this to be woven in to my opt-in. I understood that visitors would be curious to find out what their Primary Archetype is, and I knew that this initial curiosity would hopefully become the first step on their journey to soulful branding with me.

And here was the real secret that guided the whole development of this incentive:

Once I have a visitor curious, I want to give them a REAL taste of what I’m all about. And, more importantly, even if that person never, ever buys a single thing from me, I want them to leave my site feeling like they have learned something truly valuable.

The other factor was my Sage Secondary Archetype – I knew I wanted to provide information that would lead the reader to ask bigger questions, and open their minds to discover new ways of thinking.

For me, inspiring others to transform their mindset through sharing my insights and knowledge is the Holy Grail – if I achieve this with everything I do, then I am fulfilling my brand (and life) purpose.

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My top five tips for creating a super-powerful opt-in:

1. Spend the majority of the time creating your opt-in on ideal customer research. Attempt to identify and really understand her pain points, and attempt to address these pain points in your incentive – generously.

2. Stop thinking of your opt-in purely as a way to ‘reel them in’, and focus on how you can make it an important part of the journey you’d like your visitor to go on. What’s more – make it as high quality as you possibly can. Just because you’re giving it away for free, does not mean you should skimp on quality.

3. Don’t worry that you’re giving away too much for free – so long as it makes logical sense for you to give away this information // product // gift at this time in your visitors’ journey, that’s all that matters.

4. Understand where you want them to go from here. There’s little point in inviting people into your world, and then leaving them cold with no way to deepen their relationship with you. If you don’t have any offerings yet, point visitors in the direction of your blog so they can start to learn more about you.

5. Get creative! Don’t use lack of technical knowledge as an excuse to not create something amazing. Identify your strengths, pay close attention to what your audience really wants and deliver something unique and of lasting value.

YOUR TURN:

When the time comes for you to create an opt-in and incentive for your website, take out your Primary Archetype Guide and use it to brainstorm ways in which you can align the incentive with your Primary Archetype. In particular, pay attention to the sections ‘Your Brand’ and ‘Your Audience’. Leave your insights in the comments below!

UPDATE: As of today (23rd April 2014) everything I detailed above has taken my list to an incredible 7500…although of course it’s not all about the numbers, but I’m so grateful to each and every subscriber for their support and interest in my work <3