How to stand out when everyone else is selling, too

Headshot woman in a bathtub

(AKA “What is it about crying in the bath that’s so exquisitely painful?”)

Headshot woman in a bathtub

I sat at my desk, finger hovering over my mouse and feeling sick.

In the words of my friend Holly, I used to sell my services like I was trying to sell drugs in a back alley. Back in my first year of business, I’d whisper what was on offer once, then never mention it again. In case you’re wondering, I did not have a steady stream of customers.

But, after some tough love from my sales coach (Kendrick Shope), here I was, about to send an email to my list, where I was openly — in my mind, aggressively — asking for the sale. I was terrified. I had started with a story, because I always start things with a story. But then I had very clearly spelled out why the person reading should hire me. I felt so pushy.

Frowning at the screen, I was totally convinced that, within minutes, all 200 people on my mailing list would unsubscribe. Perhaps some of them might appear outside my house with picket signs and tomatoes to throw. I took a deep breath and hit “send”.

No unsubscribes. No protestors. Instead, I made more sales than I ever had in one week. But even better, I got a bunch of emails from people —  who weren’t buying from me but who actively enjoyed the emai.— saying:

“Thank you. I feel so much better knowing that you’ve been through this, too.”

Instead of feeling sold to, they felt seen. All because of the story I told. I’m pretty sure that’s also what got me the actual sales. And here’s the thing — the story wasn’t even epic. I’ll post the whole thing below, but literally, here’s the narrative:

One time, I sat in the bath crying and listened to the radio.

There’s a little more that comes after, where I end up getting a job I’d really wanted. But that wasn’t what those readers were moved by. They cared about the first part. Me, sitting in a bath, crying and feeling like a loser. Because they could relate to it. They’d also had — or were still having — that experience. Knowing that they weren’t alone made them feel a little bit less loser-y.

If you’re trying to sell in a sea of others who are too, THIS is how you stand out.

Tell stories. Small stories about hard times you’ve been through that your clients are going through now.

Show them that they’re not alone. Make them feel seen.

Then let them come to you.

(Want some help? Self-study: you can read my free five-part blog series on how to tell compelling stories or listen to my audio training.

Want some tailored help from me? Let’s chat! Click HERE to book a free, no-strings 15 min call with me)

You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want my PDF guide to learn the magic bullet for powerful storytelling? And free email coaching on how to tell compelling stories? Join the Yes Yes Family — for free! — by popping your details in below:

Here’s the original story I told in that email. A note that at the time I was (a) selling Networking coaching and (b) REALLY into bolding things and making certain sentences IN BIG TEXT :)


A question for you:

What is it about the feeling of utter despair, that it loves the night time, and LOVES turning up when you’re in the bath or shower?

Partly, I wonder if it’s about the vulnerability of being naked.

But mostly, I think it’s to do with the fact that, on the outside, you’re the cleanest you could be; but on the inside, you feel like mud.

The pain is in that juxtaposition. Like feeling the crush of loneliness even when you’re in a crowded room – or lying in bed with someone, looking at their back.

So, it’s 2am, and I’m in the bath at my mum’s house. At 26 years old, I was once again living in my childhood bedroom in London.

The despair circling me on this occasion wasn’t grief or heartbreak, but that crushing disappointment that comes from dreams unrealised, and expectations unmet.

Six months before this, I’d left a job – where I had a boss I adored and the guarantee of promotion – to move from my beloved Edinburgh to London (a city where I’d grown up but never really felt at home), in order to try get a gig as a DJ on Xfm, my dream radio station.

For some reason – even though every single person I knew also wanted to work there – I expected to walk straight into the job.

I think I even imagined I might not have to apply – that news of my arrival would spread like wildfire along the Radio Grapevine, and the Program Director (the guy that hires the DJs) would call me up with a job offer, ecstatic:

“Marsha! You’re HERE! We’ve been waiting so long!!”

It didn’t quite happen like that.

Instead, I found myself completely unemployed for the first time since I was a teenager, spending my days pacing the corridors of my mum’s house while regretting having left my job – and, sometimes, crying in bath at two in the morning.

Crying, and listening to Anthony Sweetwater’s radio show. The radio show that I knew – knew – I should have been the host of.

One of worst things about having your career not go the way you expected it to, is how it brings out in you envy and bitterness – truly, two of the ugliest emotions there are.

But when you’re feeling like it didn’t happen for you the way you’d hoped – and you hear someone else succeeding, and making a hash of it, it’s hard not to think ugly thoughts.

The song that’s playing ends, and Anthony bloody Sweetwater does yet another rambling four-minute chat – that I know I could have done in two, and been funnier, more informative and more engaging.

“I’m better than you,” I mutter out loud. (I would have shouted it, but it was late at night, my ma was asleep, and bathrooms are echoey). “I’m better than you! I should be doing this job, not you!”

He can’t hear me. No one can hear me except me. Another fat tear rolls down my cheek and plops into the water. I hold my nose, bend my legs and slide under the surface, trying to block out both the sound of him talking, and my own bitter, disappointed thoughts.

My dream didn’t end there. I didn’t get a different job, and spend my life wondering, ‘What if?’.

Well, actually, I did briefly get a different job, but it was a job in radio, where I got practise at being on-air and getting myself match-fit for making demo CDs for Xfm.

Then I got another job, where there was a spare studio I could use at night, to make those demos.

Then I got the demos handed to the Program Controller.

Then I got the job. 

With pleasant irony, I replaced Sweetwater (who moved to a station in another town) on that 1-3am show.

I soon moved up the schedule and across the schedule, and after eight years – one of the longest stints any DJ has had on that station – I left, but only because I was moving to Canada (and because my idea of a dream job had morphed into doing this: writing stories every week to friends like you).

And how did I get those jobs that got me the jobs? And how did I get my demo to the Program Controller? And how did I have him trust me enough to put me on air with no formal audition or interview?


And not in the schmoozy, self-promoting way I used to imagine I’d have to. But just by making friends with people I liked – and a little extra hustle in all the right places.

*|FNAME|*, I’m going to be honest: I don’t actually know where you are right now.

Maybe you’re still working out what your dream career or business looks like. If that’s where you are, I’m not your lady.

Or maybe you’re fucking NAILING it right now, and your work life is exactly where you want it to be. If so: HIGH FIVE AND BODY SLAM! (And: I’m not your lady).

But just in case you’re where I was at 26 years old and lying in that bath: 

You know – really know – that you’re fantastic at what you do.
Your clients love the work you do and give you great feedback.

But you’re not quite getting the success you know you’re capable of.

(maybe you’re even feeling some of those ugly envious or bitterness feelings when you see wildly successful people doing what you do, but not as well).

If this is where you are, I’d love to help you.

I learned how to get up to that next level in a really tough-to-crack (and very male-oriented) industry. 

Then, once I was there, I became that person who got hundreds of emails asking for help – and I learned which emails got responses and which didn’t, how to get a busy person’s attention and interest and how not to.

I want to pass this stuff on. 

I’m already doing it in these emails and in the blog. You’ve seen it in my email templates and my free guides.

 – But (and I’m sure you get this): there’s SO much more I can do when I work with someone one-on-one. This week I updated my testimonials page, with some quotes like:

“Since working with Marsha, I’ve secured reviews with over-extended bloggers, sponsorship for an event, and got a job for myself that required a networking expert!”

“I have been able to move my career into a new and bigger phase. I didn’t realize I could make that happen so quickly”

and my favourite: “I seriously regret the time I spent ballsing up this stuff before Marsha set me on the right track”
(Not just because she used the word “ballsing”)
If you want to see a few more, have a look HERE.

Also: the price for a one-on-one session (which, just now, is the only way you can work with me) is going up in December by a hundred bucks. Two weeks away.

So if you’re feeling like it’s your time, hit reply. 

If you’re ready to take the thing that you’re passionate about doing – the thing you know you do brilliantly – to the place where you know you could be, hit reply.


…and at this point, I also gave them links to find out more, did all the “PS! CALL ME!” bits etc etc etc

Would you have enjoyed that email? Maybe even been sold on it? Or has it inspired you to tell a story next time you have something to sell? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading. If you know anyone else who you think needs to hear this, it would be lovely if you could share it with them using one of the round buttons below or click here to share on Facebook.

And if you’d like a little help telling stories, I’d love to. Click HERE to find out more, or book yourself in for a free chat here:

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS I send out advice on how to tell stories (or examples of good ones) every week to the Yes Yes Family. Want to join plus get my PDF and video guide for the Magic Bullet when it comes to telling ANY story — all for free? Pop your details in below and I’ll MAKE IT HAPPEN:

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