Here’s what I really think about income claims in marketing

Vicky Shilling headshot wearing blue dress

March 16, 2022

I'm Vicky Shilling

A wellness business mentor, podcast host, author and I help you start and grow a successful wellness business.

My magic is in being able to break down the practical and strategic parts of business building, coupled with helping you cultivate a mindset that supports those actions to get the outcomes you desire.

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This blog isn’t so much about advice you can apply to your own business. It’s pointers, musings and a bit of a rant about how to find the right support for you. And not get sucked into tempting but impossible marketing promises that a lot of people use right now in the coaching and mentoring space.  

I want to say, here and now, I hate marketing that uses income claims.

I’m talking things like:

  • “I’m going to share my exact multiple 5 figure launch strategy!”

  • “My client had a £61k launch – DM me to chat!”

  • “Taking this course helped me make nearly £100k!”

All claims that I have seen shared just today on social media. Barely even hard to find.  

Let’s talk about today, shall we?

 Because, like you, solopreneur business owner, I woke up this morning and instead of sensibly putting on a short meditation and getting myself and my daughter ready for the day, what did I do?

I picked up the phone and I scrolled through Instagram before my feet even hit the floor

Always, always an error. Particularly first thing in the morning.

And as I browsed, someone I followed shared enthusiastically about how their business was doubling and doubling again year on year, and that their own clients were having 5-6 figure launches of their programmes and offers with their help.

Now, the logical part of my brain, and after all the work I’ve done on myself and my money stories and beliefs said:

  • This is just evidence of what is possible for me

  • If it’s triggering you, it’s telling you something about what you want for yourself

  • Hooray for them, women should cheer each other on for creating wealth

 

But the other, sadly louder, part of my brain screamed:

  • What am I doing wrong?

  • No-one will ever buy from me if I can’t make claims like that

  • Why am I even bothering when there’s clearly more successful people out there?

 

The frustrating part of income claims is they work.

A lot of the people I see as my ideal clients are struggling to make things work financially, to turn their incredible knowledge and expertise into an income. They feel lost and confused about where to start and are becoming increasingly desperate to see any return on all their investment. They’re sick of it feeling hard.

So it is naturally incredibly attractive to hear there’s a secret formula or a person you can work with who knows how to make killer money and will show you how.

And don’t think I’m infallible. I’m not immune to this sort of numbers-led messaging either!

I feel I make good money now in my business, and yet even I see these claims and feel there must be something I’m missing, that I’m lacking somehow, that the money I earn is somehow not good enough, that I’m ‘leaving money on the table’ and being stupid, or am not as brave and courageous as these clever marketers who tell me about all the cash they make for themselves and their clients.

The story I tell myself when I see this stuff?

That I’m the low-level, playing small gal, to their high-flying success

If income claims and messaging are making me feel like this when I’m earning already, how are they making you feel if you have barely started earning?

And yet the same people that get sucked in to these marketing messages also tell me:

  • I’ve bought hundreds of courses like this and I don’t actually follow through on them, I’m still no better off  

  • I’ve paid high-ticket for advice on how to make 6 figures before, and the methods were all things that felt really gross and I wasn’t willing to do

  • I joined and felt totally demoralised and like I was doing something wrong when others were making more than me, and was just told I was the problem when I didn’t get results

 

To me, marketing using income claims is dangerous.

 Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t tell the whole story of what is necessary to make that level of income. You cannot follow someone’s launch strategy and get the exact same results, because you don’t start from the same place, have the same strengths or want the same business outcomes.

  • It can appeal to the most vulnerable who feel they need a quick-win or a secret tip to suddenly turn their fortunes around, when the answer is not, in fact, in someone else’s method or formula. This sort of marketing can result in impulse purchasing and buyers remorse, or worse, a serious cash-flow problem or debt.

  • It perpetuates a sense of not-enough-ness. That the money you make is not enough, that the knowledge and skills you have are not enough and that you will never be a ‘real’ business owner until you reach these giddy figures 

I don’t want to be part of this problem.

 I don’t want to perpetuate the ‘not enough-ness.’

The system we work in is capitalism, I do get that. Capitalism thrives on not-enough-ness. That’s why we’re always feeling we should get the latest iPhone, more clothes, a bigger house or generally more stuff, things and knowledge.

There are some elements of selling and working within the frame-work we’re given that we can never escape from.

In order to sell we do have to help people identify the ‘knowledge gap’ that they have in getting from where they are right now, to where they want to be.

For you that knowledge gap might be, for example, helping someone struggling with crippling IBS understand the tools and life-style changes they need to implement to live a life where they no longer have to worry about where the nearest toilet is and can go out for wonderful meals with their friends.

For me that’s helping someone like you that’s qualified and amazing as a health practitioner, understand both the practical tools and mindset shifts they need to undergo to reach a sustainable income in a way that feels good.

But for me, I don’t want to make transformational promises with money.

I don’t want the outcome you think you’re working towards, or the outcome you think you should be working towards with my help, to be purely about profit. Or a nominal “£10k months / 6 figure year” that someone else inserted into your brain.

I don’t want to put a figure in there.

Committing to not using income claims means my business will grow slower. Because I’m not willing to dangle numbers in front of people. Or use my own growth or income as a reason you should work with me.

I can see that sort of marketing works. I know why it works. But I don’t want to use it.

 

What I want for myself and for my clients is less tangible yet more valuable than numbers:

  • A business where you’re working with great clients and doing what feels good, not ‘icky in order to connect and convert them

  • A reduction in shiny-object syndrome and a commitment to your own path that makes marketing and selling feel easier

  • A realisation that the ‘knowledge gap’ is not a secret sauce I’m going to give you, it’s actually self-belief, something that will keep fuelling you and a successful business years beyond our time together

 

Income claims are sexy. When you’re not earning what you want, they’re really appealing.

But please, check yourself. Take a beat.

If the income claim wasn’t there, do you still want what they’re offering? Is it, long term, going to get you what you want?

Is the person using the income claim talking methods and doing things in their own business you are going to be willing to do?

If you had all the money in the world already, what support and outcomes are you actually looking for with your business right now?

This morning after I watched that content on Instagram I gave myself some time to meditate and journal. In the end I wrote three affirmations for the day to re-programme the negativity:

  • I am worthy

  • My value is not determined by the money I make

  • My people need my way of doing things

I’d love to know what you think. Are you sucked in by income claims? Have you had a bad experience in the past? Or perhaps a good one and found it helpful? I’d love to know.  

You can find out more about my values, privileges and practices here which covers what I will and won’t do to market to you.

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