Tarzan Kay

<tarzan@tarzankay.com>

November 21, 2023

to you

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Subject:

how to *not* be the next Jeff + Shaleia

Okay. Have you watched Escaping Twin Flames yet? 

It’s a new cult doc on Netflix about a couple of self-styled gurus named Jeff and Shaleia who help customers find “harmonious twin flame union” aka their soulmate aka everlasting love. 

Of all the cult docs I’ve watched, this one has the most obvious ties to the online business world I inhabit daily. 

…huge promises of transformation—“We guarantee you will meet your twin flame.”

…a coaching certification program that’s based on [???].

…charismatic leadership (actually in this case just assholes in designer clothes). 

…a community where dissent is not tolerated and students are told they are to blame if they don’t get the result they paid for.

…an inclusive-sounding message that, when you dig deeper, is actually the opposite (in this case, the disturbingly anti-trans notion that their customers may require outside input about their own gender). 

I can imagine people shaking their heads at this series and wondering, “Who in the hell would take these jokers seriously?” I mean, c’mon—Jeff literally tells people that he is Jesus but also wears a Porsche hat.

 

A white man appearing to be in his thirties with a messy beard and long stringy brown hair, nods at the camera and tips his black baseball cap with a neon Porsche logo. In the background is a large stone fireplace with several framed pictures of Indian men on the mantle.

 

But not me. This grift makes absolute sense to me.

I watched the 3-part documentary nodding along like, “Give it to me, Shaleia. Tell me exactly why I should show up on my ex-lover’s doorstep in the middle of the night with my guitar, belt out Eternal Flame and beg him to take me back because I really, really, really want to. Should I also text him 149 times a day, once for every time I start thinking about him and wish I wasn’t???”

I totally get why people hand over their bank accounts and credit cards to Twin Flames Universe: They’re vulnerable and the promise of waking up next to someone who loves you unconditionally is difficult to walk away from. 

Vulnerability is something many business owners forget to factor in when looking at ways to decrease pressure tactics in their promotions. 

Say, if your customers have a chronic illness or you’re working with people experiencing infertility. A person longing for a child will gladly bypass critical thinking because they want so badly for what you are saying to be true. 

Ditto for people experiencing poverty. 

Ditto for a lot of people in the world right now because, collectively, we have been through, and are going through, a lot. 

If you are serving customers who fit that description and you want to practice a style of marketing the respects your customer’s critical thinking ability, here are three things you can start doing right now:

      1. Slow.   The.   Eff.   Right.   Down. 

Give customers a longer decision-making window. Don’t ask for a deposit on a sales call. Remind your customer how long they have to make a decision, and give them time to talk it through with someone they trust.

      2. Don’t be passive about higher-ticket sales (whatever “high-ticket” means for your customers). Offer to talk to people before taking their money. 

Almost every course I ever purchased teaches passive selling, but in the coaching world that’s not always what’s best for the customer. Offer a call. Any fast-action bonuses should be paired with a generous refund policy. 

      3. Save your best testimonials for your private smile file, and leave them there. 

Let’s assume you’ve been crystal clear that your solution is not a magic trick, but are you featuring testimonials that suggest otherwise? Take those down. It’s confusing for your potential customers. 

Also – on the coaching side – Trudi Lebron wrote in a recent email, “I don't see conversations about what is actually happening in these coaching calls and why they are so harmful. Because what you might not realize is that these techniques are being used everywhere, to create minor to major manipulations, and create power imbalances right under your nose.

Trudi is hosting a FREE training and discussion for all coaches (life, wellness, business, marketing, etc) where she’ll break down some of what we're seeing in this documentary, explore the psychological basis for some of the techniques, and examine where these tools turn into weapons.”

That’s tomorrow and you can register here for free. I’ll be attending for sure. 

YOUR TURN

What do you do to protect your customers ability to think critically about their spending decisions? And how many times have you made a bad one because you felt pressured and craved a solution too badly to let yourself think too hard about it? 

I’m here for your stories.  

The last few minutes of Escaping Twin Flames absolutely chilled me. It’s so obvious where the story is going, especially if you watched director Cecelia Peck’s previous series Seduced. Even so, I’m encouraged by the fact that the people in this series are sharing their stories early, identifying and calling out cult leaders before they are able to commit the crimes that Keith Raniere of NXIVM did. 

Maybe it means we’re getting somewhere. 

I choose to believe that we are, and I see evidence of that every day. 

But I sure would love to hear the evidence straight from you. Hit “reply” and talk to me. 

XOT

P.S. Copy Caboose is on sale for $300 until the end of the month. Check it out here

P.P.S. This month’s inclusive copywriting workshop Write This Way is available to watch until the end of the month too (at which point it’ll get bumped into Copy Caboose, which has a whole module on inclusive copy). 

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