Application of Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid” within a Hypnosis Practice

Hypnotist Steve Roh

by Steve Roh

Hello, my name is Steve Roh, and I’m happy to offer my second article for the Banyan Hypnosis E-Zine. This series is intended to help hypnosis professionals by briefly summarizing helpful books from sources outside of the field, and describing how the information can be applied within a hypnosis practice.

In this issue, Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid” is the subject. This book is subtitled “The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling”. Now, I don’t know if those superlatives are true or not… but Port’s material is something that I think can be of great value to any service provider who deals directly with clients.

The system that Port describes is quite complete. It encompasses areas such as positioning, personal branding, trust and credibility, and a number of solid self-promotion strategies. Many of these topics are commonly covered in haphazard fashion by dime-a-dozen marketing blogs, books and gurus. But “Book Yourself Solid” stands out because it’s all put together in a practical framework without a lot of fluff.

But what really makes Port’s material so interesting and useful is the foundation that all these topics are built upon. The foundation or core philosophy of his system is what he calls the “Red Velvet Rope” policy and the importance of only working with Ideal Clients.

Ideal Clients are the clients who energize you, challenge you, and who you look forward to working with, so you naturally do your best work with them. According to Port, one of the first things a service provider should do is to purposefully create a psychographic profile of their Ideal Client in their mind.

Then a Red Velvet Rope policy is crafted which is designed to do two things:

  1. Discourage people who do not fit that profile from entering your world

  2. Encourage people who fit that profile to make a personal connection with you

Now, many folks may think: “Why would you want to discourage anyone from becoming a client?? I’m struggling with getting clients as it is… that’s crazy to limit my prospects like that.”

Aside from the basic fact that humans tend to want something more if they perceive it to be scarce, here are a few reasons:

  1. It is not fair to clients if you find that they “turn you off”, but you continue a charade of giving them best possible service. I know that in theory, we should all be professionals and treat everyone the same, no matter if we can’t stand someone’s personality… but in reality, you know hypnotists are as human as everyone else and this sort of dislike cannot help but seep into and negatively influence results, especially given the nature of the work.

    It is doubly unfair to a client if they have a frustrating experience with you, because that may have prevented them from having gotten help from another practitioner who may have been much better suited for them.

  2. It is not fair to the hypnotist. Working with people who you dislike day after day is pointless. If you wanted to do that, why not get a government job? Besides, working with less-than-ideal clients, where there is no “chemistry”, will not lead to positive word-of-mouth at all.

  3. Properly positioning yourself as the solution provider for a specific personality profile has the almost magical effect of creating a personal connection between you and the prospect, before even meeting them. This is key to creating an efficient marketing funnel… otherwise you may spend your valuable time “consulting” (aka “chatting”) with people, just to build a level of comfort, only to find that you are completely unsuited to working with each other.

  4. Hypnosis practitioners often seem to be promoting themselves to other practitioners, by talking about things that other people in their field would be interested in. There seems to be a head-scratching tendency of practitioners to go on and on about things that would only interest people who are already in the “health and wellness” industry (ie. presenting themselves as “certified in hypnosis, NLP, EFT, massage, nutritional counseling, energy healing, abundance coaching, etc…”). Keeping the focus on the Ideal Client reminds you that your target client is not a hypnotist and does not really care about hypnosis (or “holistic wellness” in general) in the same way you do.


Identifying your Ideal Client and designing your Velvet Rope Policy are basically means to prequalify potential clients in a structured manner. The importance of prequalifying prospects is often overlooked, because too much emphasis is placed on how to get warm bodies through the door. In fact, I think prequalification (or more likely, total lack of it) is one of the major factors which accounts for differences between practitioners’ “success rates”. I will go so far as to say this is probably as important a factor as training or techniques. Many hypnotists with the same training or who use the same techniques can get wildly different results, and I think this is because some hypnotists aggressively prequalify and filter more than others.

Imagine a practitioner who works with every single person they can get their hands on, for an issue like smoking cessation. Perhaps the hypnotist feels that they need to make all sorts of promises in order to “get” them as a client. So you get the people who aren’t too sure they want to quit, the people who get nagged by their spouses, etc. Not surprisingly getting weak results.

Now, anyone who has worked a lot with smokers should know how important it is to work only with people who are actually motivated to stop smoking for their own reasons, and who are willing to do what it takes to stop smoking (whether it’s some type of homework, changing their environment in some small way, self-hypnosis, etc.).

A lot of people understand that concept in the context of smoking. But this should also be applied in general, in every aspect of marketing your practice. The key is whether or not a hypnotist actually has the guts to turn people away, for everyone’s benefit.

A big problem with working with everyone and anyone is that it eventually wears down the confidence of the hypnotist, and a hypnotist with no confidence is one of the most pathetic creatures known to mankind. Imagine a hypnotist who wants to grow their practice in the specialty of weight loss (just like every other hypnotist it seems), and who wants to work with as many people as possible, and so promotes hypnosis as if it were like a “magic pill” that burns fat “while you sleep!”, while offering things like guarantees and sliding scale fees.

Well, of course that hypnotist would see many clients who were lazy, indulgent, and unwilling to change anything about themselves. There is of course an endless supply of humans like that, so the hypnotist actually might find many people who were enticed by that kind of nonsense. But certainly the results would be disappointing, and I assume that if you care about not cheating people who pay you money for service, that this would eventually wear you down, and maybe even cause you (the so-called hypnotist) to question whether or not hypnosis actually works!


So, if you are struggling with your hypnosis practice, perhaps the solution is not to try to “get more” clients, but rather to properly structure your marketing so that you “attract” the right clients for YOU. Because there is only one YOU, if you present yourself authentically, that means you do not really need to worry about competition. Of course, if you try to copy another practitioner’s personality you come off as a transparent fake.

Anyway, think about perception… have you ever passed by a restaurant in a touristy part of town, where the host or hostess is on the street trying to beg people to come in and have a meal? I can report with conviction that every meal I’ve had at a place like that, has been mind-bogglingly terrible.

Here is a big thing about the Red Velvet Rope: although the idea may seem snobby or arrogant at first glance, it is not about only letting affluent people or “high class” people into your club… it is not like the old stories about that Manhattan nightclub Studio 54 where the doorman would take sadistic pleasure in picking some lucky people to let in, while mocking those who didn’t have the right look.

This approach needs to be applied with the entire purpose in mind being the long-term interest and benefit for clients and also for your own sanity, not so that you can play power games with prospects, or worse, using it as an excuse for blaming a client or rationalizing poor performance on your part.

In conclusion, the principles in Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid” may sound kind of scary to apply at first, especially since hypnotists have a tendency to want to be feel-good do-gooders who are loving and accepting of everyone. So the idea of identifying and separating the Ideal Clients from the “duds” can seem a bit unnatural. But if your goal is to grow a sustainable and rewarding practice that helps many more people in the long run, you may find yourself doing uncomfortable things.

The “Love All, Serve All” slogan of a popular restaurant chain may be great for people who are selling hamburgers and buffalo wings, but hypnotists may want to consider that the best way to serve (and love) your clients may be to not serve them at all!

Well, I hope these perspectives are of use to you in your practice. Some of the opinions may be harsh, but I’m sure you can handle it.

© 2009 Steve Roh Scripts