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Building a Doorway—for New Storytelling Customers

Building a New Doorway logo A Three-and-a-half-day Workshop
for all whose storytelling is a source of income

Led by Doug Lipman

morning mist seen from our deck on Lewis PondNovember 13–16, 2009
(Friday evening through Monday afternoon).
Held at my home in Marshfield, Massachusetts, USA

Triple-Profit Guarantee!

I guarantee that you'll earn at least three times the cost of this workshop—as a direct result of what you learn—within 6 months of the end of the follow-up activities. Or I'll refund every cent you paid!

"I am already a successful storyteller and marketer. But I was able to use a single idea from Doug's seminar to get eight new bookings, the very next day!"Kathy Gathercole, Miami, Florida

Do you need more storytelling customers?

Said another way, do you need more allies for your storytelling who "get" and value what you offer? Would you like those new customers to be hungry for your work—and to become long-term partners in developing and presenting it to the world?

Too many marketing workshops start from the latest technology ("blogging will make you rich!") or from the latest fad in presentation ("I parlayed my monthly salon performances into a full year's worth of bookings") or just rehash the conventional marketing wisdom developed for carpet cleaners and accounting firms.

Such approaches are fine as far as they go—but they don't take into account two key concepts that are essential to storytelling success:

  1. Marketing is about building non-exploitative relationships; and
  2. What's easy for a corporation or other business—or even for other storytellers—may be unsuited for you, with your individual needs, abilities, and resources.

I know that those other approaches don't work for me, because I've tried them. And I know what does work—because I long ago realized that I either had to make marketing work for me. Or give up.

In 33 years, I noticed that…

I've made my living as a full-time freelancer since 1976. That's 33 years of trying stuff out! (Not including the five years before that when I was a half-time freelancer.)

Over those years, I've tried marketing approaches that didn't work at all. I've also tried tactics that worked just well enough to allow me to support myself, but at the cost of such great exhaustion that I was ready to quit, anyway.

But I've always believed that there had to be some way to market that was fun. If marketing couldn't be quite as much fun as telling stories, then at least it should feel like a continuation of the same endeavor. Like a slightly less enjoyable part of my work.

I noticed that 1) earning a living as an artist and 2) building a community of supporters are, in fact, essentially the same kind of work.

The Five Rings Breakthrough

five rings diagramThe breakthrough came a few years ago when, while consulting to the International Storytelling Center, I articulated the Five Ring approach to marketing, which divides customers into relationship groups shown in the diagram to the right (click the diagram for a larger version).

This approach treats people in accordance with the key elements in common to marketing and community building:

  1. Building mutually beneficial relationships with people who share a common interest or goal;
  2. Nurturing relationships with lots of people at once by seeing them as individuals but also grouping them into categories;
  3. Getting to know people's interests and abilities, and supporting those who are the most interested in my unique offerings;
  4. Helping people get to know me, so they can make an informed decision whether I'm what they're looking for.

Once I had the above list, it was obvious that there was no place for untruths or exaggerated claims. It was obvious that I had to stand by everything I did and put my best work out for people to experience. It was also obvious that the relationshops with customers need to be two-way: I need to learn from and enjoy them just as they need to learn from and enjoy me.

The Missing Link

There was only one piece still missing: how could I create structures that would make it easy and attractive for people to enter into relationship with me? Even further, how could I create opportunities for them to get close to me both in ways that individual customers will respond to—and to the degree that suits them best?

doorways into the fifth ring - diagramFaced with the Five Ring diagram, I realized that the key was NOT the rings (or categories) themselves. Rather, it was the doorways from one ring to another. (Click on the diagram for a larger version.)

Suddenly, I realized that I needed to put the bulk of my energy toward creating a series of doorways that reflected two things;

  1. The needs of different kinds of customers; and
  2. The kinds of next steps appropriate to people with whom I have relationships of varying degrees of closeness.

Think about it! You wouldn't write the same birthday card to someone you just met and to someone you've travelled cross-country with, would you? So why should you try to sell the same kind of product to them?

As a result, I have come to think of each workshop, product, and newsletter issue as a doorway. Only certain people will want to go through that doorway. So I can create each doorway in response to the needs and interests of a particular kind of customer, with a particular level of trust and interest in my work.

Thus, I create some doorways for people I don't know at all, but who have a particular interest (e.g., free downloads of a white paper on storytelling in business). I create some for folks who know me well, and want lots of help with a particular subject (e.g., the Image Riding Toolkit, Monthly Version, for those interested in creating stories from images and who are willing to study 22 consecutive monthly lessons in order to master the technique).

A Breakthrough Workshop

I have based several workshops and online courses on helping people learn the 5-Rings framework and applying it to reaching out through direct mail. But I have never before offered a workshop that zeros in on the key activity that builds your 5-ring community and therefore your living:

The Key Marketing Activity: Ceating doorways from ring to ring.

In November, I will offer a new workshop at my new home. The workshop will take you—start to finish—through what you need in order to invite the ideal customers into relationship with you. In other words, it gives you everything you need to create a new "doorway" for your storytelling customers.

For most people, this will be a new doorway into your fifth ring. But if you already have enough effective doorways into the fifth ring, it might be a doorway into your fourth or even your third ring. I'll help you create whatever makes sense for your exact situation.

The doorway you create will be unique to you. This is not a cookie-cutter workshop. Instead, I'll help you craft a doorway based on your unique needs, desires, and situation, including:

  1. What kind of people you most want to attract into your storytelling life and/or deepen your relationships with;
  2. What benefits such people (or roughly similar people) have been thrilled to get from you in the past;
  3. The state of your community of supporters, whether well-developed or fledgling and with what strengths;
  4. The amount of time you can devote to creating and maintaining your new doorway;
  5. Your budget;
  6. Your skills and interests in content creation;
  7. What sorts of activities energize you;
  8. What forms of communication energize you;
  9. What resources you have around you with regard to technology, including your own skills as well as people to do work for you and people to coach you when you hit a snag;
  10. How much money you need to earn, and how quickly you need it.

Before the workshop, I'll begin collecting all this information from you. Once you arrive, your fellow participants and I will help you continue to answer those sometimes difficult questions. By the end of the first day, we'll have a complete picture of your needs, desires, skills, and resources. This, in itself, is invaluable self-knowledge—and the kind that is very difficult to compile about yourself, by yourself.

On the second and third days, I'll help you create a full plan for a doorway that will suit your answers to all nine questions. This will be completely individualized. The doorway I help you choose may be a complete surprise to you, or it may be something you suspected all along you'd like to do. But I guarantee that it will be suited to all nine of your needs and desires.

The last half of the final day, we'll work hard to plan your next steps, so that you'll leave Marshfield (my new hometown) with a complete, six-part plan for success through your new doorway:

  1. Your goals for this plan;
  2. Your mission statement for this doorway;
  3. A detailed description of your plan;
  4. The resources you'll need, and your first draft of where you'll get them;
  5. An accountabiliity plan (who will help you stay on track, and when and how you'll keep in touch with them;
  6. A detailed schedule of next steps to make your new doorway a reality.

Not only that, you'll leave with more resources for completing your plan than you have now. You'll have my help, and the help of the other participants. Your follow-up resources will include:

a. A follow-up call with me (and the chance for a series of calls at a reduced rate, if you want them);
b. The online community space just for attendees at this workshop, including easy ways to ask questions of me and each other; to ask for and offer help; and to report your progress.
c. As many (or as few) "acountability buddy" relationships with other participants, where you can report on your progress and any struggles, and think through any needed adjustments to your plan.

Marketing can be fun, but it is also hard (just like storytelling). It involves thinking well about others and also being objective about yourself. It means seeing yourself as others might see you who are hungry for your strengths.

Thinking creatively about your marketing can be too hard to do alone. But it is not too hard to do with skilled, committed help.

Since building a new doorway requires having already built a solid house (your storytelling needs to be at a high enough level that getting the word out will be a favor to you and to others) and having some time and money available to invest in "renovations and expansion", admission to this workshop is by application. (Once you have registered at my online store, you'll be sent an application. If your application is not accepted, I'll refund your registration fee immediately.)

Since this workshop requires my individual attention to each participant, I am limiting the enrollment to 8.

And since Pam's and my new home sleeps six guests, only the first six who request lodging will be able to sleep at the workshop site at a very reasonable rate. (If you'd rather stay at a local motel or bed and breakfast, I can supply recommendations.)

How Much Does This Cost?

The tuition for the workshop is $495. Given that times are hard for many, I have tried to make the additional costs as low as possible, by:

  • Offering lodging in Pam's and my home at a low rate;
  • Instead of eating in restaurants, we'll eat at home. Pam (who tries to keep her excellence as a cook a secret, lest she be called on to cook too often!) has agreed to make us home-made meals featuring hearty, home-baked breads—all for a "meal-plan" rate much less than restaurant meals would cost.
  • Including a free hour of follow-up coaching in the tuition.

Consider what you get for the tuition:

  1. Pre-work to help establish your energies, communication styles, and more;
  2. A 3-and-a-half day workshop (Friday evening through Monday afternoon) at my pond-side home;
  3. Individual attention in front of the group, which is limited to 8 participants;
  4. Six months of ongoing online and telephone work with me and the other participants;
  5. After the workshop, optional "accountability buddy" relationships with other participants, where you can report on your progress and any struggles, and think through any needed adjustments to your plan; and
  6. One free hour of individual, follow-up telephone coaching with me.

Plus, you have these low-cost options:

  1. An additional 2 hours of individual coaching after the workshop—for half price ($195 for 2 hours);
  2. Lodging during the workshop at Pam's and my house ($25–$50 per night, depending on your choice of rooms);
  3. Optional (but highly recommended) "meal plan," consisting of home-made meals: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, and snacks throughout the three days. ($87.50 total.)

Isn't This a Big Risk?

Even a reasonable cost can feel like a lot, if you don't feel sure it will really help your marketing.

You might be thinking, "How do I know this will really work?"

I don't blame you for thinking that. But I know this will pay off, since it uses your passions and energies and matches them to the needs of your customers.

So I will assume the risk for you: I offer a triple-profit guarantee. If, six months after completing the workshop and the six-months of follow-up, you haven't made at least three (3) times the tuition as a direct result of your new doorway, I'll refund every penny of tuition you paid, plus $100 to defray your expenses and time.

How can I afford to make such a guarantee? Because I know two things:

  1. This is sound marketing practice that uses your unique gifts and that my own experience has proven many times.
  2. I will help you succeed, myself—both during and after the workshop.

In my mind, your question should be: "Wouldn't I be throwing away money, if I didn't become one of the eight to take advantage of this rare opportunity?"

What's the Catch?

The "catch" is that this workshop is not for everybody. To take advantage of this information, you need to be solid enough in your storytelling that you can really meet the needs of your listeners. That you've learned enough about storytelling to be ready to take it into the world.

To be sure you're not just wasting your (and my) money and time, I require you to fill out an application, once you've registered and paid. (Don't worry: if I don't accept your application, I'll immediately refund your payment.) I'll respond to your application within three business days after you email it back to me.

What About You?

This is a breakthrough workshop, focusing your energy and time where it makes the most difference, the most quickly!

Interested? Click this button to go to the registration page (and to read details about lodging, food, transportation, etc.):

click this button to register for the Building a New Storytelling Doorway workshop

Remember: only eight will be accepted into this workshop.

Your Next Step

To attend, first register. Second, fill out the application I'll send you. Third, if your application is approved, do the pre-work I'll send. You'll have already begun the workshop!

(If I don't approve your application, I'll refund your payment within 24 hours.)

I look forward to hearing from you. I believe that our movement will grow best if more and more of us overcome our prejudices against marketing and learn to spread the word effectively.

Yours in storytelling

Doug's signature


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"During the workshop, I suddenly had a personal revelation about how much of my energy and time gets siphoned off by activities that do not advance me towards achieving my dream. I came away far more committed to achieving what I really want....I have found it much easier to say no to things which do not advance my major goals. I am getting more accomplished - and really nurturing my relationships with my peers." - Connie Dodge, Atlanta, GA

"Since our last session I have been quite busy with my business bringing in $ between the raindrops this summer so I can have a security blanket for a tour I am planning for next summer. I have more clearly defined my market and distilled it...and am familiar with the specific benefits I have to offer. Thanks again for your support!" -Wesley August, Moultonboro, NH
"I loved your workshop and the way you so gently and positively worked with us. I am so full of your excellent attention! I appreciate all you did to help me on my path to publication." - Gail Herman, Swanton, MD
"I am amazed at your business skills along with your knowledge of the world and the powers of storytelling. Keep doing what you do best!" - Mary Jo Huff, Newburgh, Indiana

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Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

This page was last updated on October 20, 2009
Copyright©2002-2004 Doug Lipman