Today I’m interviewing Bushra Azhar from thepersuasionrevolution. It is not G rated, it’s PG-13, possibly R. So if you have little ones around, you might want a headset, or you might want to save this for later. And tune in and listen to all her insight on How Persuasion Can Help you Attract your Ideal Clients
PREFER TO READ? HERE’S THE TRANSCRIPT OF MY INTERVIEW WITH Bushra Azhar.
Sylvie: Hey, everybody. It's Sylvie from sylviemccracken.com, and today I have a really special guest with me, Bushra Azhar from thepersuasionrevolution.com, and also The Persuasion Show on iTunes. Hey, Bushra. Thank you for being here today.
Bushra: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here. Finally, we got to meet behind the screen as well. We met in person. For once, I've met someone in person, so …
Sylvie: For sure. Yeah, Bushra and I met in person in Dubai, actually, when I was living there. Bushra lives in Saudi Arabia, so she came to Dubai for a visit, and I'm glad I was able to stalk her and track her down and have lunch with her. It was a great, great time. Bushra is a persuasion strategist, which is what, exactly? How would you explain persuasion strategy?
Bushra: Thank you for that question. When I started this whole online thing, one of the things that I wanted to do, because that was something that I was still do, I was working and consulting, and that was something that I was doing anyway. We would go for pitches, we would go to lock contracts, and kind of having a grip on how you want to persuade, how to plan your pitches, how to build arguments, how to negotiate, was something that I did anyway. I was really interested in the topic, and I had, I read a ton of books, about 307 books by last count. I've read a ton of books on this, and the idea, really, in my head was, anytime you go for a pitch, you should come back with a yes. There is no. We used to lock up million-dollar contracts. When I started dabbling into online business, I thought, “Okay, so that's an offline skill that I can actually take online,” but everywhere I looked, there were people who were doing it, but they were mostly doing it under the umbrella of copywriting. Whereas what I teach is a lot more than just copywriting, because for me, the way I describe persuasion and the way I teach persuasion, it kind of ties into the whole idea of being non-icky persuasion, is that people think that persuasion is something that one person does to the other, right? That's what you think. “Oh, you persuaded me into something. Oh, I didn't want you to.”
Sylvie: Yeah, and it sounds sleazy, just by definitely.
Bushra: Exactly. Just by making
Sylvie: It sounds like, “Wait, you're going to make me do something that I didn't want to do already?”
Sylvie: “What is this, you're forcing me?”
Bushra: “Are you forcing me? Are you playing some mind games to get me to say yes?” Right? This is how we see persuasion. Really, the way I describe persuasion, honestly, is that persuasion is not something that one person does to the other person. Persuasion really is what one person does to herself in response to a stimulus that you expose them to. Your control only extends to the point where you expose them to the right stimulus. You cannot force anyone to do anything. We, no one can force anyone to do anything, but what you have in your hand, what you have control over, is what stimulus do you expose them to. Really, what I teach is exposing people to the right stimulus, so not only do you get a yes, it is also a yes that comes with delight. It's not a yes that comes with, “Uh … ” Because the problem with those forced yeses is that you may get it now, but then 3 months down the road or 6 months down the road, or even a month, or even the next week, you're hit by something called buyer's remorse. Which means that the person will come back and say, “You know what? I'm sorry I made this decision. I didn't want to make this decision,” and that happens a lot. I was just writing about this in a group, in my group, yesterday, about this whole idea of people not being ready for your products or services, then, but others telling them, “You should buy, because this is just resistance. You're resisting it because you have some sort of a block, or some sort of a money block,” but the reality is, sometimes the person is resisting because they're not really ready, and we need to know how far we can go, what stimulus can we expose them to in order to get a happy, delighted yes.
Sylvie: Yeah. Well, I like that, because I feel like, I mean, and here's the thing. Like I consider Bushra not only a friend, but I'm also a client of, I'm an EPS, which is, remind me what it is, what it's called, what it stands for.
Bushra: Email persuasion sequence.
Sylvie: Email persuasion sequence, and also PH Lab, Persuasion Hacker's Lab. I'm a customer of Bushra's more than once over, in those groups with your clients. I mean, you've got those, like you said, I mean, those people are happy to be there, they are ride or die. They gave you a yes, and they are, 3 years later they're ecstatic that they gave you that yes. What I love is that, here's the thing with this kind of, with this technique, or this skill, persuasion. It can be used for good or evil, right?
Bushra: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Sylvie: You know what I mean?
Sylvie: When you're good at this, I mean, that's sort of knowing the line, right, so knowing what, believing in your service, knowing that it has results, and also knowing up until when, and how can you help people make the best decision for them, if it's right for them, at the right time. Right?
Bushra: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Bushra: Because it's really easy, like you said, once you know how it works, it's really easy for you to cross that line. You know what makes people tick, right? When you've been in business and start like some secret formula, when you've been in business long, you understand your audience. You know what kind of phrases, what kind of offers, what kind of positioning pushes them over the edge. Right?
Bushra: You know how to get people to buy. Now, there's nothing wrong with using those skills, but you need to be doing it from a position of compassion, and understand that if someone is not ready, then they are not ready. It could be you know I hear this a lot of people say, “Oh, money is never an object.” People don't say no because of money issues. Money is never an issue. Money is an issue.
Bushra: 100%, and just this message that is so prevalent in online business right now, this whole idea of, “Money is not an issue. Put it on your credit card,” someone actually had a coach that told her, “Where would you get the money if your kid was sick?”
Sylvie: Oh, God.
Bushra: I freaking lost my shit. I'm like, I would spend my own money, travel to your country, and bash your ass in person if you said that.
Sylvie: Oh, my God, yeah, that's really bad.
Bushra: It's unbelievable, the kind of things people do. I received an email from someone, and one of the line in the email was like, “If you don't buy this,” or, “If you don't invest in this,” or something, “You will regret it on your deathbed.” I was like, “What? I will not be thinking about you or your shitty program when I'm about to die. Trust me, I have a lot of other shitty things to worry about. I've done a lot of crappy stuff in my life. I worry about those. I'm not going to worry about not investing in your program.”
Bushra: People use these lines because they know these lines work on certain people, but they do it without remorse, they do it without worrying about what that does to the other person, so, they're not really, this is not really persuasion, but this is more, I would say this is more compassion business, compassionate business, which is something that you stand for, right?
Bushra: Value-based business. Compassionate business, which …
Sylvie: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, I probably spend an inordinate amount of time, or my team does, a lot of the times, telling people not to join my course. I mean, I do have a, on my sales page, is, I do a who it's right for, who it's not right for, and I still have the people that fall into the who it's not right for emailing us saying, “Look, I don't have this, this and this, which you recommend before joining. Should I still join?” I'm like, “No. Exactly what I said on the sales page. You shouldn't, because you're not going to get results, and I'm not here for you to just give me the money for the fun of it. That's just not what we're doing.” In terms of like, so backtracking a bit, for people that might not have met you online already, tell us about that transition. You were working like a maniac full time in your day job back 2 years ago, whatever, however long it was, and you were building your business, no, like if you combine both too, I think maniac is the correct word. You were working more than Gary V. Tell people how you did it, kind of how you started this business in your, as your side hustle, and grew it to replace your day job and how you transitioned, how you made the leap.
Bushra: I'm going to go back to the word maniac, because you lived in the Middle East. You know there is no one in the Middle East, what, even remotely like a maniac, so …
Sylvie: Right. Right. Okay.
Bushra: I think … Okay, so you kind of …
Sylvie: No, but I've seen you in person too, and you're a hustler, man. You talk fast, you walk fast, you get stuff done, right?
Bushra: Yeah, always.
Sylvie: You move quickly.
Bushra: Yeah. Okay, so okay, I do get work done, and when I started this, I think the only reason it grew so quickly, because I gave myself a really tight deadline, so that was March, April of 2014, and I gave myself 3 months, and I said, “Okay, if in 3 months something happens, the business takes off, great. If it doesn't, I just forget about it and never think about starting a business ever again.”
Sylvie: Wow. That's hardcore.
Bushra: This was how, what I did was, the very first thing that I did was, because it was really hardcore, was that I pretended I was ill, and I basically took sick leave from the office. See, that's the thing. I'm a cheater, because see, I only have limited days of vacation, and I need to travel back home. I can't just take a vacation to build a business. I just had to pretend to be sick, which incidentally, interestingly, I became sick for real, which was not part of the plan, but I
Sylvie: You manifested a sickness.
Bushra: That's why I was like, well, someone's like, “You could have just taken a regular leave.” I was like, “No, no, no. I'm saving my vacation days,” anyway, but that's how crappy things are when you're in the 9 to 5. I gave myself 3 months, I was like, “Okay, I'm going to start”. It was April, May I kind of goofed around a bit, June, mid-May to June was when I was like, “Okay, I'm going to do something. I'm going to put together a website,” and then I didn't want to spend any money on online business, because I just, it was a test. It was a bet with myself, so I put together my entire website on my own, everything I used MailChimp, it was crazy. Then July 2014 was really when I kind of opened the doors in the sense that I started guest blogging, I started getting traffic.
Sylvie: You were not selling anything. You were just growing.
Bushra: I don't know, I was, I didn't have anything to sell, so it was interesting, because one of my guest posts on Copy Hackers it did so well that I got my first client from that, from the guest post. Someone read the guest post, and she emailed me, she got on my list, and then she emailed me and she said, “I'm looking for your services page, and I want to work with you, and I don't see it.” I was like, “What? Services page? I don't have a services page.” I was like, “Okay, I don't even have a PayPal account. I don't even know how to receive the dang money, so … “
Bushra: Okay, so overnight, I was like, “Put something together. Put something, Oh, what do people charge? I don't even know what people charge for something like this.”
Bushra: That was interesting. I made my first 500 dollars. I did a shit ton of work for her for 500 dollars, because it was unbelievable for me that someone from the internet. They don't know you, they have not seen you, and they're willing to send you money, so that's how the first client happened. July, August, September. I was only working one-on-one with people. I then did a ton of free work, which is something that people, they think it's beneath them, and there are a lot of people who say, “Oh, you shouldn't be selling out your work for free.” I did 3 website reviews for 100 people in 3 weeks.
Bushra: Because I wanted to build my credibility. I wanted to be in a position where I could say, “I have these testimonials, this is my before and after.” I could do it if no one knew me, right?
Sylvie: A hundred percent.
Bushra: From July to October, this is what happened. In October, I launched my first program. It was a $47 program. Really simple. I launched in collaboration with someone, and then since then, I am kind of a lazy puss, and I almost launch something probably every month, every other month.
Bushra: I kind of the portfolio of products over the last 2 years.
Sylvie: Yeah, I mean, and you're really quick. You're quick with launching them, and you're quick with selling them out as well, which is incredible.
Bushra: Yeah, because I sell them first, and I build them later, because that's kind of my approach. The focus, before I sell it, my entire focus is on selling it. When I sold it, then my entire focus is on building it and giving it a great experience, because I don't know, I know there are people who build it, and then they sell it, but I work best on deadlines, so for me, that works best.
Sylvie: Right, and once you have a group of people that have paid you money and are waiting for it, the motivation and the lack of time excuses go away, right, because the motivation is there, you have a fire under your butt, you have something to deliver, you have a due date now.
Bushra: Yeah, but then you shouldn't wait until the last minute, because I did once, and then my computer crashed, and it was not the best thing.
Sylvie: Yeah, I bet.
Bushra: Yeah. That was a story too.
Sylvie: A lot of people watching are probably not selling high-priced programs yet, but they're selling something like an eBook, or they're selling via their newsletters, or with the sales page. Are there any quick tips that you can give in order to kind of sell that non-sleazy way, using persuasion, using it for a beginner who doesn't really understand the concept of persuasion, or in depth, but wants to kind of improve and, improve conversions on a sales page, improve conversions on an email copy. What would you suggest?
Bushra: Most of my programs are, I don't believe in only selling premiums. My first program is $47. I still have programs that are for $25. I am a firm believer in casting a wider net, of selling a lot of entry-level products, and kind of building your tribe, as people call it, but I would call it, I call it my 1002 fans. Using those low-ticket items. I am a huge fan of those, and even though a lot of people say, and I see that a lot in online, where you know how you have a $27 product, or a $9 eBook, and the sales page is a freaking nightmare. It's so freaking long, and I am like, “Okay, where do I stop?” It's a really long sales page. I'm sure there are benefits to having that kind of sales page, but the way I see a sales page, no matter what you're selling, the way I see a sales page is, it's like a building, and when you put elements on a sales page, they're like building blocks for an argument. You're building an argument for a particular thing, and then every piece that goes onto that sales page has to contribute to building that argument. That means that the order of the sales page is important, as well as the contents of the sales page, but for a low-ticket item, especially something like an eBook, a few things that I think are super important, and unfortunately even in those 20 pages of sales page, I don't see enough of that. That is what I like to call, I have a name for that principle, let us say, contrast is the new black. The idea behind contrast is the new black, that no matter what you're selling, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what you're selling, I don't care what you're selling. You're always competing against something, and even if you're not competing against a certain competitor, you're still competing against a “no”, so just don't think that just because you have a $9 or $11 or a $19 product, the person, the sale is going to be easy, because even though there may not be other competitors, you are still competing against a “no”. The person has the option to close the browser, delete your email and move on, and not basically give you their money. My biggest advice on this is, whether on sales pages or on emails, is to do what I like to call a parity switch, so basically show them how this is different from the other options, from the other substitutes. All Sold Out Launch, which I just launched in July, in June, actually I had it on the sales page. I had a table on the sales page that said, “This is Sold Out Launch. This is other launch programs.” Like we used to do in high school, right? You do a compare and contrast. Do this compare and contrast in your email, on your sales page, because see, the person who's reading that sales page, she's doing the comparison in her head anyway. She's looking at your course and thinking, “Why can't I just Google this information? Why can't I just get this from Wikipedia?” Right? She's already doing this comparison in her head. Now, your job is to facilitate that comparison, because if she does a comparison on her own, she may arrive at a conclusion that will not be favorable to you, that may not be favorable to you, but if you facilitate that comparison, if you do that comparison for her, why can't, it could simply be as, “Why can't you just, ” If I had an eBook on something, and there is no other competitor, I would actually just put it, “Why can't I Google this?” My eBook versus Wikipedia or Google. This is to the extent how.
Bushra: Obvious you could make it, because people are doing this comparison in their heads anyway, and if you don't.
Sylvie: Yeah, I actually get emails saying, sometimes, “Is this, does this eBook contain, more than is on your site already.” Yeah.
Bushra: Yeah, yeah, exactly. “How is this different from, why should I be paying for this? How is this different from,” or when I launched Sold Out Launch, even though I had that table on my sales page, even though I had it there, I still had people email me, oh, because there are a lot of launch programs out there, and this is especially important, and then in an area where there is a lot of noise, where there are a lot of other programs. Launch programs, I know there are, a dime a dozen. There are so many launch programs, and across the board, the pricing. Mine, incidentally, was expensive than all the others, just it had different things, but it was more expensive than all the other launch programs, and I used to get those emails. “How is this different from this? How is this different from this?” Despite the fact that I had the table, so absolutely keep this in mind. You're always competing against someone or something, and if you're not competing against anyone, you're still competing against a “no”, so you need to kind of draw that comparison.
Sylvie: Overcoming those objections, right? In the sales page.
Bushra: Overcoming those objections. Overcoming those objections on the sales page, but I think just this comparison table, if you decide to do it in an email or whatever, just doing it, because we, there are people who are visual learners. When they see, they already have those questions in their heads, but when they see the questions that are in their head, when they see it on the screen, they're like, “Oh, my God, she gets me.” Right?
Bushra: You want that response. “Oh, my God, she gets me. She understands me.” That's why I really think the contrast principle has to be established, has to be addressed in our sales conversations.
Sylvie: Yeah, and what I love about your style, too, is that you bring in, well, humor, for me, is really important. I feel like we didn't get into this, into our own businesses to have this buttoned-up, corporate stuffiness. Right?
Sylvie: I mean, that's the thing, is like you can still interject your personality, and your humor, into the subject lines, or, I mean, you bring up things like, you bring up examples like using, like selling your used pantyhose on eBay. This is what I love about Bushra, is if you listen into her podcast, or you're on her email list, I mean, the emails, you're going to open them, just because you're like, “What the hell is she talking about?” Yeah, so I love that your approach is not this like, “Here is the template, and you have to follow A, B, and C.” I fall asleep by the time, yeah.
Bushra: I've had, I've had enough, I think not just, the corporate culture. I think it's the same everywhere, because there's all these extraordinarily conservative, but I think the corporate culture's the same everywhere. I think I've done enough of those, so I'm like, “I'm almost forty. Come on! When am I going to swear? It's, now is the time. I'm ready.”
Sylvie: It's a great filter. People are in or out on your email list.
Bushra: Yes. Yes.
Sylvie: You're either in or you're out.
Bushra: Yeah, and there's a funny story to this, because someone I met in Canada, so I was at their event. There were about a hundred people. Then there was this one girl who was a roommate with one of my first clients, and my client, she came all the way from Amsterdam just to meet me.
Bushra: She was in Canada just to meet me, and she was staying in the room. She was sharing the room with someone who absolutely hated me. That was like, she was like, “I don't understand. The girl is so negative. She's bitching about everything. She's such a whiner. How can you like her?” I'm like, “Okay. That's interesting,” but it's so funny, because 2 people have 2 such extreme reaction to the same person.
Sylvie: That's fine. Not everybody's going to like you, and I think that that's one of the things that we have to get over, right, when you're putting yourself out there. It's just one of those mindset switch, and I think it's what holds a lot of people back is, but what if people don't like me? They will. There are people. Yes. There is a group of people that won't like you, because some people like strawberries, some people like vanilla, some people like chocolate. It's just the way it is, so that's.
Bushra: Yeah, but not just like there will be some people who will absolutely crush your soul. I don't know whether you get those emails, but I get a lot of those.
Sylvie: Girl, you need an assistant. I've got to get you on board with this. Most of the time, I don't see them, because I'm not the first person to see my emails, so, but every once in a while, when I've had to figure out, “Why is this tech issue not working,” or whatever, I've come across one, but usually it'll be like 6 months later, and I'll be like, “Oh, that came in in July,” and it’s kind of hysterical, but yeah. We definitely get them, for sure, for sure. I just don't usually see them too often, unless it's like.
Bushra: I always see them, and whenever I'm PMSing and I want to torture myself, I got to this folder called hate mail, and I read all the emails over and over again, and they tell me how shitty I am.
Sylvie: Oh, you're a masochist. Okay.
Bushra: Yeah. I love doing that.
Sylvie: Bushra, you're very modest about your results and all of that, but I want my people to know kind of why is it that you put out programs like A Sold Out Launch? I mean, is it fair to say that you, I mean, you consistently, when I see you putting stuff out there, it feels like you're consistently doing 6-figure launches almost effortlessly, from what I can see. Is that an accurate description? Is that what I'm seeing?
Bushra: That's okay. Okay, so no, not consistent 6-figure launches at all. I've only had 2 6-figure launches. The first one was because it was the first time I launched a premium product, right, but I build up to that. My first product was 47. My second was 49. Then I lost confidence, because I don't have a lot of confidence in myself, so I scaled back. I went back to a $7 launch, PH Lab, and I launched, it was $7. Then I scaled up to 297. From there, I went to 497, so the first time I launched my $497 product, and I want to kind of emphasize that when people say effortless. The first time I launched my 44-49 product, that was the first six figure launch. I was like, “Oh, my God, this is like the best thing ever. This is going to sell out.” It did not sell out. It sold a few things, but because I was expecting to make 100k from that launch, and because it was the first time I launched something that was that high value, it did not sell out initially. What I ended up doing was, I had already done 3, that was basically the first time I did the Jeff Walker style 3-part video. That kind of thing. I did that kind of launch, and everyone was saying, “Oh, my God, that's the best thing to do,” and I did, and I didn't sell a lot. Then I was like, “Okay, what do I do?” Midway through the launch. I was like, “You know what? I'm going to do another series of live webinars,” and I killed myself. I did 5 day of live webinars, because I wanted to get to that number. I think in retrospect, that was a really stupid thing, because what I did with that was not only did I, I depleted my goodwill account, a little bit, with that launch. That's my opinion. Because when you jump from 297 to 499, you can't expect people to buy right off the bat. Right? You have trained them to pay you small amounts of money, so if you go directly to 499, and they don't buy, and then you do 6 webinars, and then you did 20 emails, you're basically literally going completely opposite to what you stand for. Right? Not only are you selling something that's more expensive, you're also doing all sorts of crazy launch gymnastics. That was kind of a wake-up call for me in the sense that even though I made that 6 figure, it was not a happy, that was not a happy 100k. Some of amounts are like, “Oh, my God,” so your first sale, or the first time I had Sold Out Launch, only $7. I sold 400, and I was ecstatic, so that 100k was not effortless and it was not happy. It was not a happy, delightful 100k, so no, I don't think it is effortless. The only reason it seems effortless is because I have an attitude of playfulness around this thing, around the whole thing.
Sylvie: Yeah. Well, I appreciate you sharing that, because yeah, I mean, from this end, it just looks so easy, but of course, behind the scenes, there's a lot of work involved. There's a lot of late nights, and …
Bushra: I think the more, the bigger issue is, can we curse on this?
Sylvie: Yeah, go for it. They've been warned now
Bushra: Okay, so I think the bigger issue is, really, not the work as such. The bigger issue is the mindfuck, because we, at least I, associate all my talent, all my everything, I just peg it to the launch, and if it doesn't do well, I begin to question everything, and that is so much more poisonous than the late nights.
Sylvie: Yeah, you tie your self-worth to this product.
Bushra: Yes. Yes.
Sylvie: Whatever product.
Bushra: Everything is pegged. Everything is pegged to this launch number, so that part, I think, is, that mindfuck is a bigger issue than just the late nights. That stress, that anxiety that, I think that's the bigger issue, and if anyone tells you, and again I could have a team of 200 people, and it would still be, because they can take away the work, but they cannot take away the anxiety. No one can take away the anxiety, because that's your own. That's the one that you sleep with every single night, so no wonder.
Sylvie: Yeah, you're the one on the line. It's you that's tied to it, and you're the only one that is tying your self-worth. The designer doesn't care the thing didn't sell out. Their self-worth is not tied to it, or whatever. Of course, we shouldn't be tying our self-worth to these things. That's just sharing the real deal of what happens behind the scenes, for sure.
Bushra: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Sylvie: Some of the mindset work, which I like that you talk about that. You talk a little bit about money mindset in your podcast, and when you're talking about overcoming objections, you're talking about these things of like, a lot of us grew up in households where we were told money doesn't grow on trees, and all of these things, so those are all important things that we go through and that our customers that are reading our sales pages are also going through, so I really appreciate that. Bushra, if people want to find out a little bit more about you, or maybe tune in to your podcast, or see what it is that you have currently available to help them with, where can they find you?
Bushra: I don't have anything for sale right now…
Bushra: But the Persuasion Hacks Lab opens every month, every other month, if I remember to open it. It's persuasionhackslab.com. The podcast is thepersuasionshow.com, but I would just say, just come to the group, because that's really where the fun happens. I have a free Facebook group that's called 60 Second Persuasion. I don't normally sell. I do a lot of crazy Facebook Live, so I think that it's going to be a lot of fun, if your people aren't opposed to cursing, then …
Sylvie: Yeah, exactly. Well, if they've listened this far, then they probably aren't, so awesome. Thank you so much for being so real, for sharing so much, and not just tips that we can implement right away, but also behind the scenes a little bit and sharing what it is that you go through on your end. Thank you so much for being here, Bushra, and we'll put all those links for you guys below. You can find The Persuasion Show on iTunes and thepersuasionrevolution.com, and we'll put that right below so you can find Bushra. Thanks so much for being here, Bushra.
Bushra: Thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Sylvie: Glad we did it finally.
Sylvie: All right. Bye.