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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Michael Port and the Red Velvet Rope Policy

Written By: Catherine Morgan | No Comments

Today is a really fun day for me because I get to share probably the most valuable strategy I learned from one of my mentors, Michael Port. For those of you who don’t know Michael, he is the New York Times bestselling author of Book Yourself Solid, a must-read for any professional with a service-based business. He also is a sought-after keynote speaker, and he wrote the Foreword for Carol’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation.

Michael is launching his new book, Book Yourself Solid Illustrated, and I feel like I had a small part in this because I was at the event with Michael and Carol where Michael met the illustrator, Jocelyn Wallace, who he collaborated with on this project.

In fact, it was her illustration of the Red Velvet Rope Policy that got Michael’s attention. I was sitting next to Michael and pointed to the picture on the screen saying, “That’s great!” And then he went up to talk to her.

I wanted Michael to share some of his best advice about his Red Velvet Rope Policy here at Business Unplugged™ because it is so important.

Catherine: Michael, you begin Book Yourself Solid talking about the value of having a Red Velvet Rope Policy (RVRP) in place. Can you share a little about what that is and why it is important?

Michael: I think it is so important that you only work with clients you love. I often say that Book Yourself Solid is a love story disguised as a business book. The RVRP is a way to ensure that you only work with people that you want to serve. People with whom you can do your best work.

Think about a red carpet event. They only let certain people through, and the people who do come through feel like VIPs. That’s how your clients should feel – like they are incredibly fortunate to be working with you.

Catherine: When you have lots of clients and a waiting list, it is easy to stick to your RVRP. But what about people who are new in their business? They need to get some money coming in. Do they need one too?

Michael: Absolutely. I understand that when you are first starting out it is so tempting to work with anyone with a pulse and a checkbook. But I would have you consider the following: Clients who are not a good fit will suck your energy dry and will take up space in your calendar, leaving less room for the right clients. The right clients are the clients who will energize and inspire you. The clients who make work seem like fun.

It is counterintuitive, but I always encourage professionals to “dump the duds” (or better yet, not take them in the first place), and create space for their ideal clients. The biggest constraint a service provider has is their time. There’s only so much time in a day.

So don’t waste your valuable time working with people who aren’t your ideal clients. I promise that this never works out well. Get very clear on who you want to work with and only work with those clients. Your business will thrive when you work with the right people.

CatherineBook Yourself Solid has been a huge success and you already released an updated version. What made you decide to do the illustrated version?

Michael: Take Book Yourself Solid, for example. It was first published in 2006 and I released a second edition in 2010. The book has earned a 5 star ranking on Amazon with hundreds of reviews. It has even been the #2 bestselling book on all of Amazon.

So, it’s effective. It works. And it will continue to work.

However, I meet people all over the world who tell me they love the book but they haven’t finished it. Why? They don’t love to read and are short on time.

I’ve been obsessing on this for years.

We all have different learning styles and sometimes just reading or hearing something isn’t enough, with this book you will be able to visualize how the concepts work and how they fit together.

I’ve never seen another marketing book (for people who don’t love marketing) like it. It’s 453 pages of illustrations but you can read it in a few hours. I, along with a visual strategist named Jocelyn Wallace, have cut two thirds of the text and replaced it with illustrations that make it so much easier to remember what you’ve seen and do something with it.

Catherine: My Red Velvet Rope is firm and tight and I only work with people I love – and have for the last three years. I have fired or referred out clients who ended up not being a fit. (Just because someone isn’t a fit for you, doesn’t mean they aren’t someone else’s ideal client!) It is a strategy I can’t recommend highly enough. It makes you feel great.

Do you need to “dump the duds”? Do you take anybody or actively screen potential clients? I would love to hear what works well for your business. 

Article written by
Catherine Morgan is the editor of Business Unplugged ™ and the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc., a virtual provider of coaching services to individuals who are in business or career transition. Catherine is the author of the eBook Re-Launch You: Discovering Your Point B and Embracing Possibility. An experienced independent consultant who was employed by three of the former Big Five consulting firms, Catherine combines job search strategy development with accountability coaching. Catherine speaks frequently on topics related to career transition, small business, productivity, and entrepreneurship. She doesn’t take herself seriously, but takes her subject matter very seriously.