How to sell to repeat customers (even if you’ve never sold a thing!)

My mate Steve sent one email to his list last week and sold 30 memberships.

You see, wh… wait a second…

Are you jumping ahead… thinking this email is going to try and convince you that email marketing is more powerful than Superman with over 3,517 LinkedIn connections…

… before seamlessly seguing into a “…and here’s a link for my email writing course?”

It’s not.

(That said, I will be popping a link to my course in the P.S. if you’re interested. I’m not totally stupid)

No, this is an email about the power of selling to repeat customers, and how to do it… even if you don’t have any.

Statistics vary wildly, with some marketing experts quoting that it’s 16 times easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new one…

… and others, like my next-door neighbour, Doris quoting, “I KNOW IT’S YOU WHO’S BEEN STEALING MY MILK, HOLT!”

Whether you side with the marketing experts or potty mouth, calcium-deficient Doris though, the fact is:

Because they’re further along the magic “know, like, and trust” conveyor belt…

It’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.

It takes effort, attention, and time to get new customers up to the “existing customer” level.

“Ah…”, you might interject, as you remove your monocle. “… that’s OK for you, but I’ve hardly got any customers yet.”

But you’d be wrong.

You might not have a list of people who’ve bought FROM you, but…

You do have a bunch of people who’ve bought INTO you.

You see, physically handing over money is just ONE of the many steps customers take along their way to becoming lifelong fans.

Subscribing to your email list and giving you permission to email them is another.

Sure, they not have contributed anything towards your weekly “big shop” but subscribers are not “new customers”.

They’ve bought into you.

That’s why you can get 30 paying members by sending one email to a list of folk who’ve never paid you any money…

It’s exactly how I managed to sell out the first round of “Sent.” in only 10 emails… from a list of just 300 “non-buyers”.

But this isn’t about “Sent.”.

It’s not even about email.

I bet you’re not even wearing a monocle, are you?

It’s a reminder that while it’s easy to think about your customers in terms of “buyers/non-buyers”, it’s helpful to look deeper… for the people who’ve bought INTO you.

People who:

– Subscribe to your email (the best kind, obvs)

– Reach out to ask questions because they value your opinion

– Leave thoughtful comments on social media posts (i.e. not the “needed this today” crowd)

Whether anyone has ever clicked your magic green “buy now” button or not, if you’ve been putting your ideas out in the world, you DO have people who’ve bought into you more than others…

It’s worth looking out for them.

John Holt

P.S. Of course, I’d be a total dummkopf if I didn’t have a link to my email writing course, “Sent.” SOMEWHERE in this email, so here it is…

Want to learn my simple approach to writing emails that actually sound like YOU wrote them, so you can sell more of your course/product/dog anal gland removal device?

>> Click here to find out more about “Sent.” <<

You’ll have to be quick, as the doors close on Friday at midnight.

And, because I recognise and love you for “buying in” to me and subscribing to my email, you can use the exclusive discount code [SUBSCRIBERS ONLY – SORRY] at checkout to get £10 off.

Never use this approach when asking for directions

I need you to know something…

What I’m about to tell you ACTUALLY happened.

It’s not that this is a crazy story or anything but, when you read it, you’ll definitely think, “yeah, right…”, but honestly…

It happened.

I’ll admit there’s a good chance that selective/exaggerated memory bias or whatever is playing a part in me (mis)remembering this, but honest to [insert your choice of deity here]…

This is EXACTLY how I remember it going down…

(“Going down” does make me sound cool, right?)

– – –

I studied marketing at Uni in 1994.

(Yeah, I know the year probably isn’t relevant, but in seven seconds I’m going to use the words “Sony Discman” and I didn’t want my prehistoric age to shock you)

The journey to Uni took about an hour, so I got myself a Sony Discman (I did warn you) to keep me, and the voices in my head, happy during the commute.

As I was walking to the train station, listening to Enya some banging, hardcore, death metal, a man approached me. I could see he was talking and trying to get my attention but, due to being entranced in the soothing, Celtic melody, I had no idea what he was saying, so…

I reached inside my jacket, pulled out my Glock, and wasted the SOB.

… and by “pulled out my Glock, and wasted the SOB”, I mean “so I could hit stop so I could hear him.”

“Sorry…”, I said, apologising for doing absolutely nothing wrong – a habit I would continue well into my forties. “… I was listening to music, so I didn’t hear you.”

“Yeah, well if you didn’t have fucking headphones in, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself… now can you tell me where the Harrington building is please?”

(I did warn you you wouldn’t believe me, but that’s EXACTLY how I remember it happening)


I couldn’t believe it.

Had listening to music had been made illegal while I was learning about Philip Kotler and his marketing mix*?

(FYI – Phil Kotler’s Marketing Mix… not his best album)

The man stared at me.

It was my turn to speak. I had to say something. The way I saw it, I had two options…

I decided to be the bigger man… to make Gandhi proud… so I kindly and magnanimously gave him directions…

… to the Leighton building… on the opposite side of town.

– – –

Hopefully, you don’t need me to tell you why this guy’s approach isn’t one you should model when asking for directions.

Thing is, it’s the same when you’re asking people to do ANYTHING – it doesn’t matter whether you’re wanting them to click a link to buy your course, share your latest post, or marry your sister to break the evil curse…

There’s a right and a wrong way of asking people to do stuff.

Sure, you could try the “overly aggressive, swearing, and borderline abusive” approach.

If it gets you anywhere, let me know.

I know a lot of business owners worry about “calls to action” in their emails – the part where they ask subscribers to take action. That’s one of the reasons I dive into it on day 10 of “Sent.” – my email writing course for business owners who want to learn how to write an email that actually sounds like them.

Not only do I do my damndest to take all the stress and worry out of CTAs but, to make your life even easier, I give you a simple formula you can follow to create CTAs that get clicked.

The bad news is the deadline to secure your spot in the next class is coming up fast – Friday the 18th June at Midnight (UK time).

Next time around, the course will be a little pricier and have less “hands-on” feedback.

If you want to find out more about how “Sent.” can help you take your email marketing to the next level, so you can get more engagement, maybe more sales, and a much better chance of finding the Harrington Building…

Click here before the doors close on Friday.

(Don’t forget to use your “email club” coupon code [SUBSCRIBERS ONLY] to get an extra tenner off!)

John Holt

P.S. Oh, and if you’re THAT guy… the one that yelled at me all those years ago at uni…

To show there’s no hard feelings… I’ve got a special price for you on this page.

* I’m genuinely amazed I still remember that. DON’T ask me anything about it.

How to come up with an endless bank of content ideas

If you’re not emailing your list as often as you’d like, it might be because you THINK you struggle for content ideas.

I say “think” because that’s a lie.

You DO have enough stories, ideas, hooks, and angles floating around in your head.

In fact, if you wanted to, you could probably be emailing your list 3 or 4 times a day with all the gold inside of you.

The problem is, you probably don’t know it’s there.

On Day 8 of my email writing course “Sent.”, I reveal my super-simple 3-step plan for creating all the content you’ll ever need.

Not only do I hand it to you on a paper plate (sorry, but they didn’t have any silver platters at Lidl), but I also PROVE it too…

… by showing you how I came up with seven email hooks just thinking about visiting a hotel.

I also include an “over the shoulder” video walkthrough of me showing, step-by-step, how I turned one of these hooks into an ACTUAL email I sent to my ACTUAL list, so you can copy this ACTUAL process for your ACTUAL self…


You don’t need a shelf full of content planners, prompts, and journals to create an endless bank of stories to talk about in your emails or social posts.

You just need three steps, and on day 8 of “Sent.”, I’ll give ‘em you.

You can find out more about “Sent.” by clicking here.

“Sent.” is my writing course for business owners who wants to learn a simple approach to writing an email that actually sounds like they wrote it.

It’s 15 daily emails (and a whole bunch of extra goodies) taking you through the approach, with daily exercises AND my “hands-on” help and feedback every step of the way.

There are no templates (actually, that’s a lie… there is one, and when you click the link, you’ll see what it is).

If you’re a copywriter or a business owner who’s happy sitting down facing the blank page and cranking out an email, “Sent.” probably isn’t for you.

Sure, you will probably learn some cool things, but if you have an approach that’s working for you, my advice is to stick with it.

(If it ain’t broke, right?)

But if you’re a business owner, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants a simple system to help them write engaging emails that don’t sound the same as every bugger else…

AND get my personal critique and feedback on your emails as you progress… 

“Sent.” could be for you.

No pressure, but the doors close for the next class on Friday, 18th June at midnight (UK time).

If you’ve got any questions, please ask. I’m happy to help as much as I can.

Have a great Sunday!

iOS 15 is coming… here’s why I don’t care (and you shouldn’t either)

Have you heard?

Apple’s releasing a new iOS and it’s the death knell for email marketing.

Apparently, it’ll allow Apple users the chance to opt-out of metrics, such as open rates and click rates.

(I also heard a rumour it’s also going to relabel all your spices, so you’ll never be able to find nutmeg again)

There’s a lot of scaremongering going on right now, with business owners abandoning the good ship HMS Mailchimp, looking for other platforms to jump to. 

(“Can anyone remember what email I used to login to MySpace?”)

And for what?

Because you won’t be able to see how many people opened your email?

Or because you’re subject line split test won’t be as accurate as before?

Pish posh, balderdash, and hookum.

Wanna know why I’m not worried?

Because I know that, while open rates and click-through rates do provide useful data, it’s not the most important metric.

What is?

How much money you make.

You see, no matter what iOS 15 throws at us, there’s nothing Apple can do to stop me from tracking how many sales each email makes.

They can’t do anything to stop me from opening my inbox in the morning and seeing this:

You what? I’m GLAD this is happening.

If iOS 15 forces people to stop distracting themselves with vanity metrics and focus on the stuff that really matters – writing emails that SELL…

It can’t happen soon enough for me.

Bring. It. On.

How about you?

How do you feel about sitting down and confidently cranking out an email that sells… without needing to look at your metrics?

Good? Bad? Terrified?

If it’s the latter, now’s the time to start upping your email game.

There are lots of great courses, articles, and podcasts out there to help you do this.

Being the shameless, profit-centred marketer I am, I also have something that might help – my email writing course “Sent.”

It’s not a complete guide to email marketing, nor is it a behemoth of a copywriting course.

it’s a simple system business owners can use to learn how to write emails that actually sound like they wrote them.

There are no templates.

(Actually, that’s a lie – there is ONE. You can see what it is on the sales page)

If you’re looking for a lazy-ass “can you give me a load of fill-in-the-blank templates I can ‘blast’ (ergh!)) to my list?”

“Sent.” is not for you.

But if you want to know how to write the kind of emails that your subscribers love to read (regardless of whether your stats let you know or not)…

It could be exactly what you’re after.

The doors close for the next class in less than a week. 

The next time I offer “Sent.”, two things will be different:

1. It’ll be more expensive

2. There won’t be as much hands-on help and feedback.

Bottom line – if you want to learn a simple system for writing emails that help you stand out from the competition – with my feedback every step of the way – here’s the link you need:

Don’t forget to save yourself a tenner by using the code [SORRY – SUBSCRIBERS ONLY] at checkout.

If you have any questions, hit reply and ask. 

John Holt

P.S. It’s been a while since I fired some bullets at you, so here’s a whole bunch of stuff you’ll discover in “Sent.”:

– Why the words you use don’t matter half as much as you think they do (turns out there are two more important  things that matter waaaaaaay more)

– The ONLY lesson you can learn from the big shot gurus (apart from “where is a good place to rent a Lambo?”)

– The simplest “customer avatar” exercise you’ll ever see (this one will take you about 10 seconds – no research required!)

– The best copywriting tip I ever learned that acts like a “writer’s GPS” (think I learned this with one of the big names in marketing? Nope! I picked it up from school!)

– Why you should NEVER ask someone to “Buy my Hungarian for beginners course now!” (If  you sell Bulgarian language courses, this tip could be worth the price alone!)

– Why you’ll never have to struggle with the blank page ever again (best start practicing your evil laugh now, so you can mock the flashing cursor of doom on day 8!)

– The two words behind every successful “call to action” (I’ll give you a clue.. one of them isn’t “pllllleeeeease!”)

– Why you SHOULDN’T be emailing your list every single day… and what you need to be focusing on instead (you’ll learn this on day 3)

– How to write emails faster than ever… WITHOUT writing any faster (confused? You won’t be)

– Why you need to ENCOURAGE unsubscribes… and the easiest way to do it. (I give you a simple exercise that, once done, makes this process automatic!)

– Why I don’t have an email “list”… and neither should you (Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to switch back to Bebo – you’ll see why)

– The single, most important question you need to answer before you sit down and write ANY email. Getting clear on this question will transform your email writing life. You’ll not only write better emails faster than ever… but they’ll be easier to write too!

– The truth about “consistency”. Most business owners think they’re being consistent, but they’re not. I’ll reveal what’s REALLY going on, PLUS give you a simple way to tick the “consistency” box.

– Three simple words that not only make your emails more compelling but virtually hook the reader in, right from the first line. Sick of subscribers bouncing out of your emails before they get to the good stuff? These three words will help you.

– A simple answer to the “what the hell do I talk about?” problem. (Good news – you don’t need to buy a truckload of content planners and journals… you just need to go to your local newsagent)

– The comedian’s guide to creating all the content and stories you’ll ever need. When it comes to panning for gold, comedians are the BEST… and I’m sharing their “backstage” writing secrets with you.

… and MUCH more!

Find out more about “Sent,” and check out the rave reviews here.

What I learned from looking at Private Parts

At one time in my life, I wanted to be a radio presenter.

And despite living in the UK, the internet not quite being a thing yet, and never having listened to any of his shows in full, I decided Howard Stern would be a perfect role model.

(It was a close call between him and Mark Goodier, but I once heard Goodier split an infinitive while interviewing the Spice Girls, so that was him out of the running)

I wasn’t completely clueless about this whole radio thing though.

At the time, I was volunteering on hospital radio, hosting the much-coveted cardiac ward request show on Thursday night, between 9 – 10 pm.

In 1997, I’d finally get a chance to learn a bit more about Stern, when his movie, Private Parts, hit the cinema.

Hidden in the 109 minutes is a lesson that not only helped me forge a half-decent career as a local, tinpot radio presenter…

(In MY CV, two years in one job looks like a lifelong commitment)

… it also gave me a pretty good marketing lesson.

In the film, a radio station executive, affectionately named “Pig Vomit”, played by Paul Giamatti, is trying to get Stern to toe the line.

In one of the scenes, he discovers that the average radio listener tunes in for 18 minutes a day.

Stern’s fans? They listen for one hour and twenty minutes.


“Answer most commonly given – ‘I want to see what he’s going to say next.’”

But there’s a group of people who listen to Stern even more than his die-hard fans…

His haters.

The people who hate Stern listened for TWO and a half hours every day.

“If they hate him, why do they listen?”, a frustrated Giamatti asks.

“Answer most commonly given – ‘I want to see what he’s going to say next.’”

– – –

I’m a bugger for zoning out if I think I know how a sentence is going to vegetarian jacuzzi flip-flop.

It’s the same in radio… and email marketing.

If I know what you’re going to say… why should I bother tuning in to listen/read/Chumbawamba?

I was always envious of the slick DJs – the ones who never stumbled over their words and were able to talk right up to the vocals on songs.

I tried my best to do that, but I never got the hang of it. I’d either finish speaking with 34 seconds of instrumental music to go or…


(aaaaaand breathe)

The truth is though, no one remembers the “technically” perfect radio presenters.

Howard Stern… Chris Evans… Chris Moyles…

Celebrity DJs like those guys didn’t become famous and build huge audiences because they could talk right up to the vocals.

They got where they did because they were always surprising and delighting their audience with unexpected moments.

The audience was compelled to tune in because they wanted to see what happened next.

It’s the same with your email and social posts.

If you’re trotting out the same, predictable stuff as everyone else, people are going to switch off before they reach the end of the sen…orita.

Being as shocking as Howard Stern in your emails probably isn’t a good plan for most businesses, but…

It serves as a handy reminder that EVERY interaction you have as a business owner is a chance to delight and surprise your customers… to keep them on their toes… and force them to pay attention because they have no idea what’s going to happen bumfuzzle.

Have a bloody awesome weekend,

John Holt

P.S. Yep, standing out from the crowd and being different IS one of the things my email writing course “Sent.” can help you with.

The deadline for the next class is just one week away. Next time around, the course will be more expensive, so…

If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-follow approach to writing emails that actually sound like you wrote them…

I’d love for you to click here and find out more about “Sent.”

And if you do decide to jump in, don’t forget to use code [subscribers only] at checkout to get £10 off.