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Force people to make a choice about you


How the Most “Offensive” Email I Ever Sent Brought in $60,000 in Sales

My finger hovered above the “Send” button for what seemed like an hour.

The email I was about to send would be a powerful one. It had the potential to inspire and help a lot of people.

It was written in the same honest and plain-talking voice that we’ve used to attract and built a relationship with our tribe over time.

And yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to send it.


Well, it was written to challenge people a little. (Well, a lot! 🙂

It was written to our core tribe to ask them specifically why they weren’t yet quite where they wanted to be in life.

And, if they truly wanted to get there, the email asked them to accept that it was going to be necessary to make some changes. To step up, to redouble efforts, to not give in, to raise their game, and to make the changes they needed to make in order to change the course they were on.

Or else… they’d be in the same place in 10 years from now.

And in 20.

And then I painted a picture of what THAT might be like — for themselves, and their family.

In copywriting, they say that to inspire people take action to change something in their lives, there are basically 2 ways to do it. Through pleasure or pain.

And this email was written specifically to “twist the knife” — to make my readers feel the pain of staying where they were, to feel the pain of NOT ever getting to help those they were put here to help, and the pain of not building the business and life that they most desired and deserved, not just for themselves, but for their entire family for years to come.

It was the perfect time to send such a message (the New Year period of 2016), and I knew that a good portion of our tribe respond gratefully when we “kick ’em the behind” to get them moving, and those were the people I was writing to.

And yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to send it — I knew that not everyone would be ready to face what I had to say.

It’s common wisdom that you need to be ready to turn some people “off” if you’re going to turn your true fans “on” and draw them to you. And in theory, it’s easy to nod and agree with that.

But in the moment when your next email could easily bring thousands of unsubscribes or even hate mail it’s not so simple. I knew in the pit of my stomach that there were others for whom it was going to be a controversial message to read. Perhaps even offensive.

What if our audience just wasn’t ready to hear what I had to tell them?

What if I’d miscalculated them completely.

The consequences to our business would be catastrophic. It could take years to recover.

I sat with that thought for half a day, and for the entire time, something deep down told me that I was on the right track and that it was a message our tribe needed to hear, and I needed to take a chance that our brand voice was strong enough, and that we’d built enough trust with our people that they would accept hearing this message from us.

So I held my breath, and I hit send.

And then I waited.

Nothing happened for about 20 minutes, and then the deluge came.

But it wasn’t what I was expecting… Instead of rage or anger as I’d feared, it was an outpouring of love and gratitude.

Here’s just a selection of the emails we received over a 3 day period.

Wow, this is very cool. Love this :) - Liam Austin

You sir, win the internet. - Matthew Turton

You guys win the best email ever competition. Though as it appears I wrote it in 10 yrs, I guess I won? That email had me from the start, couldn't stop reading. Loved it so much I'm going back for another read. - Ivy Lane

Yes, that email was quite unique! - Ann Jennett

Good letter for introspection and really thinking about the future! - Linda Arrandt

I appreciate that you care and are being who you are. Love,  - Sangita

Thank you Marissa!!! much from the bottom of my heart. :)  This is such a thoughtful message of encouragement... and yes, a BIG confirmation. Let's make it happen then. :) Let's DO IT in 2016! With much gratitude and love, - Anolia

Love this subject line and theme…very clever! :) - Janice Hostager

Yes, I'm on to it. But, hey, thanks, anyway! - Shoshana

hello won't be signing up but loved this email. it got me to click the link. very creative. way to go! - Maxwell Ivey

Such a great email babe! Love you guys. - Alexis N.

Marisa, this was a really smart subject line and fun email. :) - Chris Elam

I loved the e-mail! Sadly, this program isn’t for me right now, but I wanted to let you know I enjoyed the message and your dedication to the character ;) - Kelly Meulenberg

Well This was NOT what I expected to see in my inbox this morning! Great email marketing! Love it! 10 years in my future suddenly looks really exciting! Love your disclaimer also.. I am so taking notes on this! Have an Awesome day!​ - Sandy Kaye Moss

This is a brilliant EMAIL! Bravo whoever creative wrote this. Genius. Seriously, writing talent whoever is the author behind this. If you get any shitty emails today (as we all do), remember this ONE. Your writing copy is amazing! Don't let anyone tell you you need a copy editor ever. - Amanda Linette Meder

Great message, thanks ;) Very imaginative. - Pascal Jappy

This one of the most powerful and clever emails I've ever received. Thank you! - Dwaneise Simmons

The email from our future selves you sent today was BRILLIANT, Marisa Murgatroyd! <3 - Julie Lowe

I don’t know how you did this Marisa.. This was one of the most incredible emails I have ever received. Awesome... Thank you for all you do to inspire us! oh..yes! I am on my way...more focused, more determined than ever!  With God, I have a great guide! And awesome people like you cheering me on!! Thank you once again. - Sunu Philip

Fucking Brilliant. - Narayani Gaia

Absolutely great email! Wish I had $$ to sign up... - Young(er) Lee

Astounding!!  Absolutely gives me Goddess bps all over my body mind I could write this. Every word. Amazing. Timing is impeccable. I leave MN on 30th arriving I n a new life back on west coast - not the life I had three before and not just another chapter in same book A Whole New Book - a total leap into the future. Into Epich 6. You are.  I AM. We are Awesome.  Here's to dancing with you in the song of the Universal Shift - Roxanna B.

Hah, that one was an interesting twist... I'm going to put it in my swipe file, but I'd have to be pretty brave to put one out like that to parents of autistic children.  Maybe do it as a thank you letter from their child of the future?  Interesting. - Jackie McMillan

Good letter for introspection and really thinking about the future! - Larrandt

Well done Marisa! (or should I give credit to the other half) I love the angle! What a great concept ... tactic .... idea! This is probably one of the few emails that really hits a nerve .... but I am to excited by the tactic to let it get me down. Guess I better stay more focused for my Old(er) - Don Evans

Omg thank you! ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡ - Stefanie

It was brilliant. I loved it. But the Old(er) really caught my attention. Loved it! - Vanessa H.

Yes, there were a few members of the tribe who weren’t ready to hear the message — and they made it known to us. 🙂

Man, you guys are lame!!! Unsubscribe! - Stuart M.

Are you kidding?! This is your marketing? Does this kind of 'you don't have it without me' actually make you feel good?  By all means block me from this page, this way of doing manipulation, oh sorry 'business' isn't for me. - Liz Stewart

I do like the encouragement that I usually receive through your e-mails.  Sadly though I didn't like this one. It felt like emotional blackmail and way too guilt-laden.     For you to presume an 'older' me (whom you have never met by the way) and suggest that she would have some to offer to my 'younger' me just doesn't sit right. At all. - Deirdre

Merrisa as much as I like you I hate this email you sent. How dare you make statements like "You're going to go up against obstacles that you've never imagined... Are you my God?  Have you looked into my life destiny to make such careless statement. You don't even know me. Am just an email address to you. That email marketing software allows you to make personalisation with my First name doesn't mean you know me.  Don't send such emails again. Don't psycho analyse people, you're no God. - Idiom Illoh

This is insulting. - Suzy P.

Those were people to whom we were happy to say goodbye with our sincere best wishes and a real desire to rejoin with them later on, down the road if our paths should meet again.

So, what did it mean to our business in real terms?

In terms of real impact on our business, it was like nothing else we’ve ever seen before.

First the numbers:

– Open rate: we got a whopping 30% open rate (double our usual good email) and an overall 7% click rate across the entire database which is insanely good

– Unsubscribe rate was around 1%, which was only about double our usual rate

– The email contained a single text link, right at the bottom which went to a video and an application form to join the LYM Mentorship program, my year-long mentoring and business-building program

15 people left a $197 deposit to get on the phone to speak to us about the possibility of investing $10K or $18K

– We filled the last 10 spots of the program in 10 days

This means that within 2 weeks the email generated $60K in sales

Now, many months later, as I reflect back, there are much more valuable lessons I learned from sending that email.

1. Being someone’s “shot of whiskey” rather than trying to be everyone’s “cup of tea” can be challenging at times, especially in the face of LOSING subscribers, offending people or being rejected

2. The moment you refuse to censor yourself any longer, stop holding yourself back from what you really want to say, refuse to choose the easier path is the moment your true tribe will finally see you, run to you, embrace you, and do business with you

3. These people will THANK YOU for it, and never let you go.

I know it can be scary as hell to force people to make a choice about you, but the moment when you refuse to be like everyone else and be authentically you is the moment you start living.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Dolores Storness-Bliss Avatar
    Dolores Storness-Bliss

    Thanks for being our Superhero and bravely stepping out into the uncertain and leading the charge for us.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  2. Nicole Avatar

    Marisa, I remember that email well. I LOVED that email. I found it so inspiring! Let me tell you, although I always read your emails, the “Old(er) Nicole” really caught my eye and made me click right away. What else? It made me watch BOTH of the videos and download the full information booklet. It also made me rearrange my life so I can be ready to apply for the program when you offer it next year. I even saved that email in my “Marisa Murgatroyd” file, and I’ve reread it three times already. And just so you know, I’ll take a shot of whiskey over a cup of tea any day!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks so much for the feedback Nicole! I look forward to receiving your application in February 2017… and we can celebrate with a shot of whiskey 😉

  3. Michael Avatar

    Appreciate honest writing, no matter where it comes from, or how harsh it may seem.

    I would love to take advantage of half of the good material I have discovered online. As a fine artist/illustrator, my dream and goal is to have at least a $100,000/year income. Due to chronic unemployment and downsizing, I have trouble buying groceries from week to week, and am months behind on our mortgage. I fight despair, but still believe that success is around the corner. Keep writing honestly!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks for sharing Michael. I know many artists who have found a way to create a profitable business by serving a real audience. I will be offering a webinar in July about How to Find Your Business Superpower that will include several examples of artists. I recommend you attend. Watch your inbox. 🙂

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