Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl Why The Message “Follow Your Passions & The Money Will Follow” Is B.S.
00:00:00 00:00:00
  • Episode  91
  • Heather Havenwood


The real formula for starting a successful business and creating success as a digital entrepreneur is not to “follow your passions” and Heather Havenwood, a serial digital entrepreneur, explains why

Transcription Episode 91: Why The Message “Follow Your Passions & The Money Will Follow” Is B.S.

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, a podcast designed to skip the hype, skip all the BS, to give you guys real actionable tips and strategies from actual real entrepreneurs that are building things online, that are actually doing it.

This is your host Derek Gehl.

Today we’re going to be going a lot of different directions. We’re going to be talking about entrepreneurship and what’s working today. I’ve got a really interesting guest, a successful online entrepreneur. This person is a serial entrepreneur, a top authority in internet marketing, digital entrepreneurship and direct response marketing techniques.

She’s been online since ’99. In 2006 she launched into the world of information marketing, grew a company from zero with no list, product or name, to over a million dollars in sales in less than 12 months. She’s known to some as the icon creator, or the wizard behind the curtain, and has instructed, coached, promoted hundreds of entrepreneurs in all kinds of direct response marketing techniques.

She’s produced and managed hundreds, I think over 350 seminars, events, tele-seminars, with some of the biggest names in the online world.

She’s also the author of Sexy Boss, the Empowerment of Women in Changing the Rule Book For Sex, Money and Success, as well as The Game of Dating and How To Play It.

Without further ado, I would like to welcome Heather Havenwood to the show.

Heather, thank you so much for being here.

Thank you. Thanks for having me. Thank you. I appreciate that.
Now let’s just start at the beginning. You’ve been online for a really long time.

We were just talking about that before we started recording, and trying to figure out where we knew each other because we’ve both been online for basically forever. We know we’ve crossed paths.

That said, start at the beginning. Share your story. How did you get online? Walk us through. Give us the Cole’s Notes of your journey that’s brought you to here, this moment today on the podcast discussing direct response marketing techniques.

Got it, so Cliff Notes version, right?
That’s right.

Cliff Notes. Okay, so basically I started like most people. I went to corporate America and I did B2B sales. That was it for four years. Did very well. Then I got my little, what I call pat on the head and, “Congratulations. You did very well.

“I was actually number one in the entire country, in the United States, and I was in what I call a B market. I was beating bigger markets like LA and New York and Dallas. I was beating big markets. I did very well. I created my first funnel, which is really weird. I didn’t know I was doing it.

After I got my pat on the head and I was hoping to get a Rolex, but I didn’t get that, so congratulations, they fired me. I was really confused.

I’m like, “Wait, hold on. I built this huge book of business for four years. I got a pat on the head. I’m making great money. I figured I make you 10 times the money and then you give me a sliver and I’m like, happy.” Right? That’s how it works. You don’t fire me.

I really had this kind of, “Oh my god, what do I do?” All I knew is, I’m sitting here, everyone’s like, “Well go get a new job.” I didn’t want to go get another job because I didn’t want to build something again and have it taken from me. That’s all I knew.

I saw this infomercial, no kidding. I’m sitting at my girlfriend’s house, just got married, her new husband’s flipping a channel on a Sunday and he stops for some reason and goes to the bathroom or gets a chicken wing, and it stops on this infomercial.

All it says is, “Do you want to control your life? Do you want to own your own business?” That’s all they had to say, I’m like, “Yes, yes, yes! Whatever you’re selling, I’m in.” They’re like, “Come tomorrow to this hotel 1 o’clock.” Write it down. I go to the seminar and they’re pitching me on like how to buy and sell houses or something.

I’m thinking to myself, “I don’t have the money for this.” It’s like a $3,000 seminar, and then they say the magic thing at the very, very end, which is Derek, “For a spouse, it’s only $1,000.”

I nudge the guy next to me, total stranger, I’m like, “What’s up Joe, Bob, dude, whatever your name is, can I be your spouse?” He’s like, “what’s your name?” I’m like “Heather.” He’s like, “All right, let’s go.” I started, I got into the seminar business that way, is what happened. I paid my $1,000 and the people behind the table were like winking, uh-huh. “Heather, what is it?” “Yeah, we just married yesterday.”

I went to the seminar and they were all kind of like checking me out. They said, “why don’t you come travel with us?” I started traveling the country doing events and seminars. I was literally walking into seminar rooms and trying to get people to start their own business. I was also doing my own business. I was going into the real estate investing world. That’s how I started into entrepreneurship in the direct response marketing world. That was in 2000, right after 9/11.

In ’99 I had my very first online marketing course at the University of Texas at Arlington. I created an entire business plan on how to start a business online. Super crazy. That’s how I got into it on accident. The direct response marketing, I started learning about Joe Sugarman and Dan Kennedy and Robert Allen, all these crazy people and how they basically sell information online or offline or in front of you, for big box, and that’s how I got into this business and internet marketing, all that kind of good stuff. That’s how it started.

Okay, so now walk us through the journey, because now you’re all over the place, in a good way.
You sound a little ADD there.
I am. You’re in the dating niche, you’re doing tele-seminars. You’re doing all this different stuff. You’ve now got the Sexy Boss. Walk us through how this all happened, because it sounds like you’re ADD too.

I am ADD too. What happened is I was traveling the country and I got tired of that. I was doing 50 weeks out of the year traveling, non stop, and I was in the seminar world. I started developing other events. I actually ended up developing and promoting about 350 events from about 2000, 2001 to about 2008 or ’09.

In that time I started to realize how much online can really help that experience. Meaning we bring people in, we have a legion, we can now bring them into webinar, we can sell them online later on. That’s when I really got started with direct response marketing.

It used to be someone walked in the door, they didn’t buy. They walked in the door, they were a dead lead. Now we can use direct response marketing and email to them the next day, the next hour, the next few days, and drive them to a webinar. We’re making money on the same lead. That’s like woo-woo, right?

I started to really focus on that, and started coaching and consulting other speakers in direct response marketing, is what happened. Then I had a company that went from 0 to a million dollars in 2006. I was a partner with a real estate guy. He was the voice of the company as a real estate dude, and I was the back end.

Everything went really well, went from 0 to a million dollars in a year, but then there’s this thing called contracts and stuff like that, I kind of forgot about. I walked in one day to our office, after a Matt Bacak internet marketing seminar actually, and everything was gone. Merchant accounts were flipped off to his account. My bank accounts were completely emptied, and so I completely went into bankruptcy and foreclosure in 2007 and ’08. Completely flipped my world.

That was one of those moments you’re like, “God, do I want to do this? Should I be an entrepreneur? That corporate America thing looks really good.” I kind of had a “come to Jesus” moment for a couple of years. I lived on an island. I went underground and went zombie. I’m pretty sure my Facebook account was dead. I just kind of tried to figure out who I am.

What I realized is that the skill set of marketing, of direct response marketing, of copy, of all that, can be geared towards any business, it doesn’t matter.

Direct response marketing techniques

A friend of mine, John Alanis, who I knew from Dan Kennedy world, he said, “You know, you should really just redo your information marketing business.” I said, I didn’t want to teach real estate, of course it was 2008, it’s in the toilet. I didn’t want to teach direct response marketing, because it’s kind of weird to say, “Hey, I’m going to teach you internet marketing and make you a millionaire, but I’m broke.”

It felt weird. He said, “Well do something that no one can ever question you on.” I’m like, “What’s that?” “Teach men how to date women.” Done. That’s how that got started. It was actually Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher who said, “Yeah, we’ll help you.” Perry Belcher actually wrote my first sales letter.

Did he?
Yeah. The product, which is so weird, after all these years, it was developed in 2008, no one has figured this out. The entire program, the Only Date Younger Women program, is actually me and Perry Belcher.
It is. He’s like the bad guy and I’m like the good girl kind of thing. It’s so funny. It’s like a huge comedy show. It’s funny.
It’s funny, we’ve both been in this world for a long time. I actually had dinner with Perry in Manila a week ago.
He is one of the most brilliant copywriters, but he’s one of the funniest men I know as well.

He’s hilarious. He created the sales letter, and he’s like, “Okay, now you and I are going to create the chorus.” I’m like, “what?” We did, we sat down in his office and just like, “Okay, we’re going to talk.

“Of course everything I would say I would say about like three sentences and then he would say some smart ass comment. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, but it’s really funny. He’s dirty, so just beware.

Yeah, Perry can go to a dark place.
He can.
Okay, so you created this product in a market that you were not an expert in, but I mean, what is an expert?
Well I’m an expert because I’m a woman, and I’m going to teach you dudes how we think. AKA, I am now an expert.
Totally. The reason I’m sort of honing in on this is because I know we have lots of people who are listening, who are just starting, and there’s always that question of, but I’m not an expert. How do I start information marketing if I’m not an expert?
You’re doing it right. You did it. I have questions about the whole dating niche though. It’s a competitive niche.
It is.
There’s lots of stuff going on in that niche, there always has been. When you launched into that niche, going into a big but competitive niche, how did you differentiate yourself? Okay so you had Perry and you worked with him. You guys created a cool product, awesome sales copy. How did you launch that?

Okay, so what happened is actually that was right at the time when Perry and Ryan were still having other companies that they worked with, like they brought in Jon Benson at the time and some other people. They launched other people with direct response marketing. They launched me at the beginning. The week they were launching is when they had a big change in their company and their new CEO at the time was like, axe, axe, axe.

They axed like me and Jon Benson and like 2 other people. They’re like, “We’re not doing that anymore.” They were very nice and they said, “Oh here’s your company back that’s not launched.” Oh thanks.

Luckily I got connected with a small group in the dating niche, and they’re so awesome. It’s called a syndicate, but it’s so awesome. It’s networking and we all help each other and we all launch each other. That’s kind of how I got started in direct response marketing. I promote other people’s products. They promote my products. Affiliate marketing 101.

That’s how it got started and how it’s still been to this day, really, because that’s really the whole art of that particular business, it’s hard core media buy and hard core email marketing. Those are the two main nuggets you’ve got to really master. Then of course really great VSL’s. Those are the three elements of that particular business.

VSL, media buying and email. That’s the secret to that industry.

Something I want to point out here is this syndicate that you have pointed out. I know a lot of guys in your syndicate, and women in the dating syndicate. Here’s the thing, there’s a lesson to be learned for the listeners here, because I see so many direct response marketing entrepreneurs, particularly in the startup phase, they’re afraid to pick up the phone and call the competitor. They see the competitor as the enemy.

I think, when I see niches like the dating niche, the fact of the matter is everybody, almost everybody is supporting one another, and driving that growth. What you perceive as a competitor in your niche is actually probably a great potential business partner.

Now here’s the question I have for you. When you started, did this syndicate exist or were you sort of an outsider? Did it form while you were part of the industry?

It was 2008, it was already kind of started. It’s bigger now, but it just kind of got started.

Let me point to the competitive thing that you just said though. Here’s why, let me explain it this way. When I was in the real estate industry, where we would be selling how to buy and sell houses basically. There’s only so many ways you can teach someone how to flip a house. Yet that is extremely competitive market, and I’m saying this one because a lot of people can tangibly see it, you know what I mean?

I remember Ron LeGrand, because I used to work for Ron LeGrand, who at the time was one of the top guys. He would have on stage, meaning as his affiliate, have on his platform another person that taught how to buy and sell houses.

Now you’d think, why would he do that? That’s a competitor and you’re having them sell to your people, that’s weird right? No, because it’s a hyper market, so is dating. Meaning, if someone’s in that mood, or that phase saying, “I want to learn how to buy and sell houses.” They’re going to buy, it’s like gobbling up, they’re just going to buy it all. They do that. They don’t buy one, they buy it all.

Same thing with the dating space, meaning if they’re in that mood where they just got divorced or they really want to have that intimacy. They want to date more women, whatever, they’re going to go into that buy, buy, buy. They’re going to buy it all. They’re not going to just buy one product. This is an important direct response marketing technique.

To me, I never saw anything as a competitor, meaning, okay you have another product on online dating, great, I’ll sell it. Why would you say that? Why not? If they’re going to buy mine, they’re going to buy yours. I don’t care, either way they’re going to buy. It doesn’t matter. French fries are french fries. Why not sell more french fries? Is how I view it. There is no competition.

Another niche that’s like that is the health niche. Why would I sell this person’s product to my list when I don’t want them to go down that road? I only want them to stay in my little world. Stupid. It’s not smart, because people might be attracted to this, or they might be to that. Why not make the money on that? I don’t believe in the competition and I think that’s probably why I did well in that space.

Yeah. I think it’s true to most direct response marketing industries, particularly competitive ones, and I think it was something I learned from Dan Kennedy. He would always say, “A buyer is a buyer is a buyer.” You might as well work with those people and benefit from that.

Now, when you first started, you said that the syndicate, shall we call it, was already kind of established. How did you crack that code? How did you get into the syndicate? Because when you’re starting out, you don’t necessarily have the reach that these other people do.

John Alanis, who’s a friend of mine, he was part of it and he did an introduction and said, “This person’s cool.” Whatever. Also I had Perry and Ryan who were going to launch my product, so they’re like, “Awesome.” I think it was just a connection. It was somebody knew somebody and hey you’re in. That’s part of it.

I’m actually in another syndicate that’s a real estate one, believe it or not. I’ve been in that one since, I don’t know, 2004. It’s strong. JV Update. I’m in a few of those, and I never leave.

Even I might move in and out of that particular niche, I never leave because another thing that Ron LeGrand said, I’m pretty sure he got it from Dan Kennedy, there is a statistic, and I’m going to go back to real estate. The average real estate investor spends between $10 to $60,000 on information marketing products and seminars until they do their first deal. No lie. Why not be the company they buy the $60,000 from? Don’t just be the company they only buy a $2,000 product from.


That’s what Ron LeGrand, he was okay with. He launched so many people, meaning he brought them on his stage for the first time and kind of launched their business. Why would he do that? Because he knew that his people were massive followers.

Dan Kane does the same thing. Massive followers that will always come back to him even though they might buy other people’s products. He does such a great job, like Dan Kennedy and other people, of what I call keeping the herd. They might buy 2 or 3 other products outside of his herd, but they’ll always come back, and he knew that. That’s what you have to think about in the information marketing business. It’s okay.

Absolutely. I think it also plays outside the direct response marketing industry as well, right?

Yeah. For instance I have a list of men, honestly, and I sell a lot of what they call dick pills, as we call it. I sell different ones. I don’t have one. If you go to the grocery store, they don’t have like one bread or whatever, one type of juice. Why would they do that? You only get one choice, you can’t have any other juice. You give them choice.

I sell them all different ones. You got these, you got those. These might work for you, these might work for you. I don’t know, buy all of them, whatever. I give you choices. The copy is different on each one. You send them to different landers. One lander might really, oh yeah. Oh, “Oh, I don’t like that one.” You’ve got to give them choices, no matter what the business is in, especially with direct response marketing.
Also cross promoting is great in direct response marketing.

I know one of the guys at the Venus Factor, and I definitely know that they actually promote dating to fitness. Dating does a lot of cross promoting with fitness as well. You look good, you want to feel good with a woman, you want to have 6-pack abs. You want to cross promote of how the consumer, or the buyer, is thinking.

That being said, I think there needs to be a story or a connection somehow. For all the listeners out here, just because you’re doing dating doesn’t mean you should go out there and sell real estate stuff. There is a natural connection there between health, there needs to be a reason why.

That’s such a powerful point, that I think a lot of direct response marketing people are leaving money on the table because they don’t think that way. They don’t go, what else are these people looking for related to this that I could cross promote?

In real estate what we cross promoted a ton was like persuasion and influence for internet marketing. How do you build an online business as well as your real estate business? How do you persuade? Persuasional influence or personal development. How do you get the mindset right? Money mindset.

All those we did a lot of cross promotion as well. I definitely want the listeners, I was in the real estate business for literally almost 10 years or so, and I’ve moved out of that right now. The principals of it cross over into all different niches. The principals go everywhere.

Yeah, and I want to go back to something that you said earlier. That was, the skillset of direct response marketing that you had learned allowed you to go into these other niches. I just really want to drive that home to our listeners.

Once you understand marketing, and not just marketing, but direct response marketing, and obviously today utilizing the internet to do that. The niche, I don’t want to say it becomes irrelevant, because there is definitely some relevancy to that, but it allows you to go into niches that you may not know anything about, but you have the marketing principles to be able to figure that out and create businesses in those.

From what I’m seeing, that’s exactly what you’ve done Heather.

Yeah. I learned quickly, when I was hanging out on the island by myself staring at the ocean for a year, is that the skillset of direct response marketing, meaning understanding why people buy, what’s the problem, how to give them what they want, and then communicate that in such a way where they say yes to you.

That’s the whole process of direct response marketing, which I learned from Sugarman. He’s the forward of my book, Sexy Boss, he wrote the forward. I learned that from Triggers and Dan Kennedy, but specifically Joe Sugarman.

That art, it’s an art and science, and it can be applied everywhere. Right now I have a weight loss company here in Austin. I also have a nutraceutical company that’s all over the country. I have my dating business as well as a coaching business and my own podcast. They all use the same direct response marketing principles. They might look a little different, and their avatars are different, but the principles are all the same across the board.

Yes, absolutely. If you look around, we know a lot of the same people, and if you look at all the 6, 7, 8 figure digital marketers that you know, that I know, that are killing it, most of them don’t exist just in one niche entirely. They learned what you’re talking about, in a niche, and then started applying that across different direct response marketing niches and creating these multiple different businesses using that same skillset, that same formal if you will, to sell the products to work in that niche.

It’s funny, I watch people come online, “I want to make money online.” They focus on, I need to know SEO and I need to know WordPress and I need to know how to use Facebook and stuff like that. It’s like, no. Those are just tools to get your message out there.

You need to understand how to market. You need to understand that direct response marketing process, to do everything that you just talked about. Then those are just simple tools to get your message out there.

Yeah. I think one of the, and I hope I don’t piss people off, but here we go. I don’t like when people say, “If you want to start a business, go after your passion.” I don’t like that.

The reason I don’t like that is, like for me, I love body building. I do body building, I do shows for personal reasons, but it’s not my business. One, because I don’t want to talk about health all day. I don’t want to hang out in a gym all day with other people and coach them. Because then it will no longer be a passion, it’s going to be a bore to me.

The main reason is because when you just think like a marketer, what’s the problem? What are we fixing? What’s the solution? Really kind of like, what I call, give yourself a step back and not be so ingrained as like, “This is your passion.”

If people don’t like me then they freak out. It’s like, okay look, that didn’t work. How can we tweak it? How can we tweak the offer? Maybe the name ain’t right. You’re a step removed, and you can actually look at it as a marketer and not as someone you’re taking it on as your passion and as yourself.

I think that’s the challenge I have with that particular story. “Do you want to start a business? Just start with your passion.” I’m a big “no” on that. You might do something that you’re an expert on. It’s very different than a passion in.

Yeah. I tend to agree with you on this one, and I see us creating this generation that’s coming up going, “I just need to follow my passion.” It’s like yeah, but if your passion is watching TV, you’re screwed.
My passion is sex, I don’t know how to do that.
There’s ways.
Obviously, I guess I could be a porn star. I’m just kidding, it’s not, but you could get the hilariousness of that. I like to cook, doesn’t mean I’m going to go create cookbooks.

Maybe I’m not good at it. Maybe I’m not an expert at it. I know a guy who’s actually a chef. No kidding, he’s a big time chef, used to be in New York. How he makes his money, he consults a huge grocery chains on their food. He’s really good at that, and on the side he likes to play chef.

He’s been able to create an entire consulting business, taking the chef piece, but using his marketing and consulting skills in a whole other level, like how they can actually increase sales. I kind of disagree with the whole, “It’s just about your passion.” I don’t know.

I agree. Look, there’s some people that can, they win. They get the passion. They’re passionate about their business. Their business flourished out of some kind of a passion they had. That’s fantastic, but if you’re sitting there going, “I need to make money. I want to start a business.” Just relying wholeheartedly on finding a passion that you can pursue may get you nowhere.
This goes back to, what I tell people is be passionate about learning the process, the marketing. Once you’re passionate about direct response and marketing and the psychology of moving people through this process, where you build relationships and create customers and build lifetime value. Once you are passionate about that, now you can apply that passion anywhere.

Yeah. I remember, that’s so true, I completely agree. The reason I’m so negative against it is because it kind of got me in a trap. Because you remember hearing I’m broke, I went into foreclosure. My house was gone.

I’m literally broke and I’m sitting on an island. I’m thinking I’m probably listening to some people. I’m listening to some podcast or something and they’re like, “Go after your passion.” It really messed with me because I’m thinking, “I’m not passionate about anything. I just want to make some money. Passion, passion, what’s my passion? Yoga, yoga, I don’t know.” I’m sitting there on the beach like, “What’s my passion God?”

At the end of the day, what I really am good at, I’m really good at understanding the direct response marketing process and sales process. I’m really good at it. I understand it, I get it, I’ve been living and breathing it, doing it for years. When someone said, “Hey, why don’t you take the skills that you’re good at and then do it in an industry that you’re an expert in by default, because you’re a woman. Ta-da.”

It’s like, oh that makes sense to me. It just makes sense. No one can question me on do I understand how women are, because I’m a woman. There you go, there’s my check mark.

Then I’m really good at understanding how the market works. I ask them questions, what are your pain points? What’s going on for you? How can I help you more? I’m open and they tell me, “Oh, I’m having all these problems.” I’m like, “Oh, that’s a product, that’s a product.” I look at it that way.

I don’t look at it as I’m going to save the world. I look at it as, how can I help these people out of their pain, relieve their pain, add value to them and make money? That’s a very healthy way to look at it.

Absolutely. Let’s take a step back to the dating niche then, because the next question that most people have when they go, “Well you have a product in that.” Yes, there’s this syndicate. Yes they promoted you, but how did you differentiate yourself? How did you create something that stood out in that market?

The product is Only Date Younger Women, that’s a specific niche in direct response marketing. That’s an offer, it’s a unique offer. The market specifically is mainly men over 35, 40. Now you have some lists, let’s say, that are what I call the 20-somethings, where they just want to bang a woman in 10 minutes type of thing.

My offer won’t work there. I know that and they know that and it’s all good. My offer really is geared towards, my avatar is a man who just got divorced, he’s back in the dating game and he’s like, “What do I do?” His biggest pain point is, “I have assets now.”

“When I’m 21 years old just hanging out and having a beer and meeting my new wife, I don’t have much to worry about. When I’m 40 and I have now 2 kids, I’ve got a house and I’ve got a mortgage and I’ve got like a 401K and I’ve got assets. She already took half of it and I don’t want that to happen again.”

Pain. It’s a different kind of pain. Then I’m looking for people that have that kind of direct response marketing list. Gabriel Moore’s got a great list for that, because usually it’s married or divorced men. You’re looking for and listening for the direct response marketing lists that are a match for your product. That’s what you’re always doing.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, it’s all good. Talk about list segmentation, just I think is the most brilliant business model ever, is Newsmax. Oh my god.

Wish I had started that business, so amazing. Because everything works to their direct response marketing list, and their list is, I’m just going to say white male conservative dude. That’s the list.

You’re going to sprinkle in some women in there, of course, but really that’s their list. You know what they love? Guns, they love sex, they love pills, they love nutraceuticals. They love so much, buying gold, they love how to buy and sell real estate.

They love it all. It’s just like, oh my god I could go here forever. It’s probably the best direct response marketing list segmentation ever, and they did a great job of capturing that list.

Yeah. I agree, segmentation is so key here. One of the things I want to go back to now real quick and just highlight for the audience, was your positioning in the marketplace.

Because I think how you positioned and the direct response marketing niche you went after was brilliant. Because again, the challenge I see with so many entrepreneurs is they step into these broad markets and try and be the dating guy, the everything to everyone guy. What you did was you honed in on such a specific profile.

One of the key words that you used that I want to highlight to the audience here was your customer avatar. For everybody listening, that was a perfect example of a very smart marketer, because Heather was able to instantly tell us exactly who her customer was, down to very specific details about this person.

That allows you to create such a better, more compelling product and offer and stuff like that.

Now let’s shift a little bit. Let’s drill down a little bit further here. In this space today, you have the products, let’s focus on the one for how to date younger women. What does a direct response marketing sales funnel look like in that for you? What are you leading with? Are you driving straight to trip wires or lead magnets? What’s the direct response marketing process looking like?

Okay, so for me, here’s what I learned quickly Derek, and I think this is an interesting piece. It took me awhile to learn this. I think there’s people in all the direct response marketing niches that are really good at creating bad ass VSLs. You know what I’m talking about?

There’s this like Jon Benson or Chris, they’re just so good at the VSL. They’re just rocking. It became number one in clickbank. I learned quickly, that’s not me. Yes, can I pay Chris 20 grand or 50 grand probably at this point to make me one? Yes. What I learned is that I wanted to create a simple direct response marketing funnel where there is an offer.

I have two direct response marketing landing pages right that kind of go back and forth. One is what I call long form. I use long form styles, no kidding. With a simple opt in long form sales letter and simple opt into a VSL where I’m on camera for half of it and then I’d go to what I call typical VSL.

Now, what I’m interested in, do I want them to buy my offer? Yes, but what I’m really interested in, Derek, is getting them on my direct response marketing list. Way more interested in that than I am having them buy.

With that said, I’m like, okay I know what I’m good at. I’m really good at direct response marketing email copy, and I’ve become kind of like a little mini-master at email copy for the last 8 years. That’s what I honed my direct response marketing skill on, is how do I convert? How do I get you on my list, and then how do I talk to you and communicate with you and connect with you and build a relationship with you so you never really want to leave my list?

That’s my little elixir.

Some people are really good at that direct response marketing VSL, they just drive, drive, drive. They do the ROI of the media buy with the VSL, and I get that model too. That’s not my thing, so I’m not worrying about it.

I had to kind of make that decision and I made that decision. What I do is I do connect with people like Chris and Jon Benson and these people that are just amazing, and I then push their products. That’s where I make a lot of my direct response marketing money. “Great, you’ve got this new offer that’s killing it. Great.”

Or I’m really big on, “Oh you had this offer and you’re testing it? Great, give it to me.” I love that. They’re like, “Oh, you’ll test it for me?” I’m like, “Yeah, come on. Whatever.”

Because one, it’s giving value to them, it’s building a relationship there obviously, in the business. More importantly, I want to see what they’re going to buy.

It’s also me testing their product. What do they like? What do they not like? I want to see that direct response marketing data as well. The reason I’m telling you all this is because I think what happens when you’re starting online, a lot of people get in line and they get overwhelmed. Like, “Oh my god, I’ve got to figure this VSL thing out?” It’s not at a point, when you and I first got started it was pretty simple. It’s really complicated now.

People now are testing every single word, every single letter, every single color of every single word, every single letter. People are getting really detail ingrained about direct response marketing. It’s becoming more of a science. Unless you have the resources to do a ton of media buys and do a ton of testing, I think you need to make a decision, are you great at building products, are you amazing at building the VSL? Are you great at building the relationship? Become really great at one or the other in direct response marketing.

That’s a really interesting take on it. What you’re saying is, effectively what you’re doing is you’re list building, building killer relationships through primarily free communication. Then making the bulk of your income in this specific niche through affiliate relationships. Pushing to the guys that are the pros at the VSL’s. That’s awesome.

Yeah, because I know that they’re going to probably find them anyway, might as well be me to push them, so I make money off of them. Because I know that the big kahuna guys are going to do so much media traffic, that these guys are going to find them anyway, so it might as well be me first to give it to them. That’s how I see it.

I also see it that, like I said, some of these guys, this is all they do. They live and breathe VSL’s, making them, creating them, testing, every day, day in, day out. Great, I want them to continue that. Awesome, keep going. Go for it. Awesome for you. Go for it. I’m not good at that, so let me be your partner in that and make some money off of you.

It’s brilliant too. Here’s the thing, a lot of affiliate marketers, here’s the problem, you see them just referring traffic off, but they’re not building an asset. You’re building the direct response marketing asset, which is the database, and still leveraging it. Still making a lifetime value off of a database, even though you’re not necessarily promoting your own products, which I think is a big lesson for all the listeners here.

Now I want to shift a little further here, as we go down the direct response marketing rabbit hole. Let’s talk about this email mastery that you have for creating and building relationships. I come along to your website, and you capture my information. What kind of direct response marketing stuff are you doing that is creating those relationships that you see other people aren’t doing?

A couple things. First, go to Opt in. Do that. A couple things that I do that are, what I call against principle that a lot of people say, is I email 3 to 4 times a day.

Some people will be like, “God, that’s too much. I don’t want to upset my list.” I get it. Here’s how I see direct response marketing email though, and this was taught to me. I didn’t make this out of my head, it was taught to me. I get it. Email has now turned into our TV Guide, and it has become the TV Guide.

Let me explain. Let’s take it back to 1985, or 1990 or whatever. Pre-internet. You went to the grocery store, you’re like, “What’s on the tube tonight?” Then you go to the Entertainment Weekly or Entertainment, flip, flip. You look for what’s going on.

What do we do now to figure out what’s going on? You either go to Facebook or you go to your email. Click through, you are looking for the TV guide and what you want to click on.

With that said, if you turn on the TV right now, any cable station anywhere in the world. If you do it at 8, 7, 9am, what are you going to get? News. It could be news, news, or what I call entertainment news, like Today Show. What are you going to get around noon? You’re going to get like Judge Judy or the View, which is entertainment with interviews type of thing.

What are you going to get around 4 o’clock? Used to be Oprah, now it’s Ellen. Comedy, entertainment. What are you going to get at 6pm? News. What are you going to get at 10pm? More entertainment. Great. Then mirror match that.

Information, people send information in emails, like an article, our article content marketing, that’s around in the morning, information. Then you want to send something that’s entertaining, maybe a short email that’s like, “Hey guys, check this out, it’s really awesome. It’s this badass thing I got.” Link, real short. No story. Boom.

What do you do around 6 o’clock, 5 o’clock? What do people do after work? They’re now in 6 o’clock mindset, 7 o’clock. Maybe they’re hanging out with their friends having a beer and they’re checking their email. What do you want to send then? A little more entertainment, maybe a little content maybe. A little content in a little email.

Then what do you always send late at night? That’s when you see Jimmy Kimmel or they talk dirty or they talk really funny dirty. They won’t ever do a Jimmy Kimmel at like 8am, it’s always late night. That’s when you want to send something a little different. Maybe a little way more entertaining.

I actually mirror match that. Because I know people are in different mindsets at different times of day. Why not have the email show up in their inbox at that different mindset?

direct response marketing heather havenwood

Smart. That makes a lot of sense. How do you handle that technically though? Because the average email marketing system isn’t smart enough to figure out time zone.
AWeber is.
Okay, so you can do time zone.
You can tell it, “Send it at 9am to local time of the user.”
You can do that in the settings. I do that. That’s what I do. What’s interesting, most of my purchases, affiliated buy or my direct response marketing buys, they’re always at night. Think about that, why not? If you really think about what are you doing at night? Kids are in bed. Home from work, have a glass of wine, you’re on the computer. I’ll hang out at this VSL and listen to it for 45 minutes. Okay I’ll buy it. Are you going to do that at 6am?
You’re going to do that at noon when you’re rushing around? No. It makes sense why most of the purchases are night. Why not do the direct response marketing at night that way? Offers like that, when your hard core, offer, offer, offer, why not focus it at night time? Content marketing in the morning, then what I call quick offer or fun entertainment fact in the middle of the day.
Now if you’re emailing 3 to 4 times a day, when somebody opts in, have you got a sequence that’s automatically set up for the next month or 2, or are you evolving as you go?

Yes. When I first got started I didn’t have that, so I would create the direct response marketing emails and then I would put them into the auto responder as I went. I suggest that, because some people say, “Create all 100 auto responders day 1.” I’m like, oh my god. I can’t do that. For me, it’s in the moment.

Also something I think about too, is any of the emails I put into the auto responder, I have to think that they’re evergreen. I won’t put say a year. I won’t say 2016. I won’t say it’s Christmas time. I won’t say stuff like that in my auto responders. Now I will send stuff that’s unique to what I call today, the election or Christmas, obvious stuff, but those are going to be broadcast, those aren’t direct response marketing auto responders.

Once you think about that through, you want to create more emails that are evergreen and be more selective on your non-evergreen emails that are in the moment.
Yeah, and so how much direct response marketing in the moment are you sending?

In the moment, well per day I’ll send like one in the moment per day. Then the other direct response marketing auto responders will just go out. I also do something that Newsmax taught me. Newsmax is really good at this. If I opt in for Newsmax I’m thinking I’ll just get an email from Newsmax.

If you actually opt in for them you get Newsmax Health, and then you get Newsmax Pro Guns or something. I get emails a day from them, because they start segmenting. I don’t unsubscribe, because I’m like, “I don’t want to unsubscribe from News Health, I like health.” I don’t want to unsubscribe from the gun stuff because I kind of like that too. It might look like, “Oh my god, they’re spamming me.” But they segment it in a way that you don’t feel that way.

The way you can do that, I’ve done it a few different ways. One is I put the email from different people, like my assistant, or, “Oh hey, I’m going to tell you about a coaching client now.” It’s different. It’s not just the same direct response marketing over and over again.

The challenge is people get into email and they don’t know what to write, and so they list other people, content, send them content. I’m like, “No, they’re on your list dude. Send them what you want and persuading them to buy whatever.”

It could be content, but why not send them something about your coaching? “Hey, I’ve got this really cool question from David the other day and here’s what I said back. Here’s my coaching link.” You’ve got to be a little more open to what you’re writing and not be so like, “I’ve got to create an article.” That’s a lot of pressure.

Yeah. It absolutely is. That just stalls most people right in their tracks. Now when you’re sending this volume of direct response marketing, how are you handling the, obviously people unsubscribe they unsubscribe, but as we’re getting into a more advanced world of email marketing, are you automatically purging people out after a certain period of time if they don’t open or engage?

Nope. I don’t. I’ve been told to do that and I don’t. Here’s why. Okay look, you and I have been around a long time. I’m pretty sure I opted in to Dan Kennedy and Alex Mendoza in like 2002. I’m not opting out. Have I read any of their emails in probably the last 3 years? No, but I’m not going to opt out. I might want to.

You never know timing on something. Someone opts in and let’s say it’s a health list. They’re feeling a little low, maybe they want to lose a little weight. They opt in to your health list, and then they don’t open for a year. Maybe they’ve got something going on. Then all of a sudden a year from now, January comes around, “Oh I’ve gained a little weight, didn’t I opt in to that list? Look at that, I should probably buy that now.”

People’s mood changes. It’s like TV. You turn on the TV and then Fox News says to you, “Well you haven’t watched us in a year so we’re going to turn this off.” I mean that’s what it’s like. How dare you, you stopped watching me. I’m Jimmy Kimmel, how dare you not watch me for 2 years. I’m no longer going to allow you to.

People’s mood alters. I feel like watching now Jimmy. Now I want to watch you Fox News. Now I don’t like you anymore. Now I do. People just do that. If they want to subscribe, okay, I’m going to honor that. All good, but I’m not going to unsubscribe them.

Right. Here’s the thing, this is where I’m torn, because I totally agree with everything you just said there, because I can’t count the number of times over the last 15 years that I’ve had somebody come up to me and say, “You know I was on your list for 4 years and I just decided to sign up.” There’s probably periods of time where they were distracted and weren’t opening any emails, but one day, as you said, they were in the mood.

Now we’re struggling against this whole direct response marketing engagement deliverability thing, where the dang email service providers, the Gmails of the world, are saying, “If you keep emailing people and a large percentage isn’t engaging or opening, we’re going to start sticking you in the junk or the promotions and stuff like that.”

That’s why I was curious how you’re handling it, because I’m hearing and seeing and doing the same thing. I endorse your theory entirely, but then the damn email service providers are kind of searing us. It’s a catch-22 there. I’m just interested to see how that affects deliverability in direct response marketing from a real world perspective.

Well, okay it’s a great question. I have different servers. I use AWeber, I use MailChimp. I also have my own personal server. I sometimes will mix up where I email from, for obvious reasons. That’s why I don’t take people off. I don’t purge them. Also I also know, in the world of dating specifically, emotions of the person change.

It’s like, I’m not a, but it’s like a, someone’s single, they sign up for, they all of a sudden are dating, they’re not interested and all of a sudden they break up and now they’re logging back in. I’m now pissed at her and now I’m logging back in. I want to check out that cutie. That’s how people’s lives change. Who are we, as marketers, to go, “Oh, well …” I’m not going to do that.

Now, I understand there’s ISP’s and they’re like, that’s money for them though, the more they push, that’s money for them. I understand their view as well, but as a marketer, I’m going to push back on that. Look well, I’m not going to purge, sorry dude. The guy’s been on my list since 2009. When he wants to unsubscribe, he’ll unsubscribe. Is it bouncing? No, it’s not bouncing. Well then don’t take it off. If it’s bouncing, of course. If they’ve not opened it in 5 years, I’m not taking it off.

That’s my view as a marketer, and I understand there’s other views In the ISP world and money wise. You purge it and you have less number and therefore you have a less monthly. I get all that too, but I just know, on my kind of list, people’s mood changes so much that I wouldn’t do it.

There’s a ton of emails I have unsubscribed to, I’m sure like you and everyone else here. We see them in our, I call it TV Guide, in our inbox. We know they’re there and we don’t open, but we know they’re there. We might read the headline. It’s almost like this weird comfort thing, like, “Oh good, Derek’s still sending me those emails. Good guy. One day I’ll get to that.” You know what I mean?

I get it. My email’s full of those.

Right. I’m still on David DeAngelo’s of course, and Eban’s, I’ve got to know what he’s pushing nowadays. I’m on all that. I’m on Jon Binson’s. Armand’s, all of it. There will go for month I won’t even look, but every now and then I’ll be like, “Hey, what are they doing?” I’ll scroll through the headlines. I might not open, but they haven’t taken me off. Armand has taken me off. It’s been like 10 years. There’s 2 views, but as a marketer, my view is no. They’ll take themselves off.

It’s like direct response marketing mail back in the day. I’m not going to take you off of that. If I get a mail return I’ll take you off, but I’m not going to take you off of the mail unless you tell me. I’m just not going to do It, because you never know when they’re going to buy. Like Victoria’s Secret, you buy once and you get a magazine every damn week. They just keep sending it to you till one day you buy again.

It’s the same thing. The challenge is, I understand from a human brain perspective, they’re like, “I don’t want to upset them.” Well tell that to the newspapers.

It’s not even about upsetting anyone, it’s this whole direct response marketing deliverability thing. I’ve interviewed deliverability guys on this show, and they’re just saying, it’s not even about upsetting people, it’s about if you email too many people that never open your messages, they’ll start filtering you as junk, which is the million dollar question here. We don’t have an answer, and I’m sort of …
I don’t have an answer.
The reason I keep asking is because I hear the theory, but I’m never hearing anybody else say that they’ve proven it to be true.

My open rate is between 10 to 20%. I’m happy with that. I’m just happy with that. I have my own server. Not all my stuff is over there yet. I’m moving to that to really control the deliverability. I know it’s getting harder and harder with direct response marketing.

At the same time, if you view it like a TV Guide, no kidding, literally like a TV Guide, then you won’t get so hung up on that. Cable stations don’t go, “Well, you’re going to pay for us, but if you don’t turn on our station every 6 months we’re going to take it off.” They just, “Are you paying?” Yeah, I’m paying you. I’m paying you, AWeber , to push my stuff. I don’t know.

Yeah. There’s so many direct response marketing opinions out there. I’m always interested in talking to different email marketers and see what they’re doing.

No, it’s good. I don’t disagree with you at all. I think you’re going the right way, I’ve always been, if they haven’t unsubscribed, keep them on the list. Hopefully the Gmails and Yahoos of the world don’t change that for us. Because there’s validity to that. Maybe one day their mood changes and now they’re open to hearing what you have to say.

All right, and I could keep talking to you all day about direct response marketing. This has been a fantastic conversation. We are now running out of time. What I want to do now is give you an opportunity to connect with my listeners and send them somewhere where they can learn more from you, see what you’re doing. Where do they go?

If they want to check out my dating stuff, feel free, Go now, even if you’re a woman, it’s all good. You can go to my website,, and I have my own podcast called The Win with Heather Havenwood. I’d love for you to subscribe on iTunes or Google Play or iHeart Radio.

If you’re like, “Hey, this girl’s kind of cool. Maybe I can learn from her,” I do do coaching. I do marketing consulting specifically, with offers and funnels and things like that. Love to work with you.

You can go to On the upper right hand corner it says, “Work with Heather.” Click on that and it goes to my schedule, you just grab a time that works for you and we’ll get on the phone and have a conversation. Would love the opportunity to work with you.

That’s awesome. For everybody listening, when Heather said go subscribe to her dating stuff, go subscribe. Even if you’re married, just let your wife or husband know you’re doing market research so when they see the emails coming in they’re not going, “Hey, what’s going on?”

When you can subscribe and learn from somebody that’s actually good at this, and read their emails and see how they’re talking, that’s a valuable resource for you. I would recommend definitely checking that out.

Again, Heather, thank you so much for unconditionally sharing your wisdom and experience in direct response marketing today. I really did enjoy our conversation. Thanks for being here.

Thank you Derek.

Awesome. All right. Everyone that was Heather Havenwood, and as always, any of the links that I mentioned in the interview, that Heather mentioned, will be included in the show notes along with the entire transcript of this episode.

As always you can find them at

If you haven’t done so already, you can have all these episodes automatically delivered, you just have to head over to iTunes and subscribe. If you’re an Android user, head over to SoundCloud and subscribe there. If you like what you heard, leave me a rating, leave me a review. I’d love that.

Now it’s time to apply that final essential ingredient to making the strategies, all the direct response marketing information that Heather so generously shared here today work for your business, and that ingredient is action.

Go for it. Take action, apply what you’ve learned, and stay tuned for more info packed episodes of the Project Ignite Podcast.

This is your host, Derek Gehl, signing off.

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