EP 172: Reapproaching High-Touch Services With Perfect Planning Events Founder, Tara Melvin

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Imagine making money in your sleep.

When I first started selling ebooks and courses that’s all anyone could talk about, and I’ll admit that the first time I woke up to money having been deposited in my PayPal account over night, I was pretty damn excited.

But what I realized soon after was that there was nothing passive about passive income.

Whether you’re making money through ads, online courses, ebooks or apps, you had to work. Sure, the revenue might come in over night, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t spend the whole day before at your desk.

Now while many still promise an infinitely scalable business built on online education, most people have wised up. It’s not that information marketing doesn’t work in terms of creating a scalable and profitable business, it’s just that there are other ways to make scalable and profitable work for you.

Many of the most successful small business owners today run high-touch service-based businesses.

Instead of scaling their businesses digitally, they’re building smart teams, honing their procedures, and filling out a niche.

They find profit in optimization and being able to deliver impeccable outcomes. They’re signing big clients to long term deals and enjoying steady income. They’re minimizing the costs of software and marketing in favor of investing time in relationships.

Now all of that might sound pretty good even if it’s a bit intimidating, but it gets better.

All of the business owners that I’ve talked to who have decided to go all in on high-touch services and forgo the often empty promises of information marketing feel a huge sense of relief. Plus, they’re enjoying balancing running a smart business with honing their craft.

For many, it’s a win-win.

Now running a high-touch service-based business might not be what works for you, but I think this trend still has something to offer you. Use it to challenge your assumptions about what you should be doing to generate revenue, earn trust, and serve customers. Look for opportunities you might have quickly dismissed while being herded into an information marketing model and ask yourself whether they might still have legs.

And, if you’re happily and profitably running an information marketing business, wonderful! I still think that there’s something to take away here.

Successful high-touch service-based businesses are highly structured and organized.

Consider how your information marketing business could optimize for experiences while continuing to systematize and automate. Or, consider where you might need to pull back on automation in favor of more human experiences.

When I looked through our archives to share an example of this with you, I had plenty of options.

I looked at Jennie Nash whose company Author Accelerator is paring book coaches with aspiring authors using a framework Jenny herself pioneered as a coach.

I looked at Autumn Witt Boyd who has built a full service law firm by honing in on her strengths.

I considered Arianne Foulks who has been raising the bar on ecommerce web design for years, and Jason Van Orden who exited one of the first online information marketing companies only to start delivering coaching and teaching experiences.

Ultimately, I decided on Tara Melvin, the founder of Perfect Planning Events. Tara has masterfully built her business and her team to produce exquisite events in the greater DC region. In her business, she can’t help but be high-touch and she’s managed to do it in a way that’s both sustainable and profitable.

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support