There are two MUST-HAVE components in every effective marketing message. Do you know what they are?

I first learned about these two components from a gentleman by the name of Don Miller. At the beginning of his workshop, Don presented a picture of a beautiful leather bag and he asked us, “how much would you pay for this leather bag?”

There were about fifteen of us in the room at the time and the consensus was that we would pay anywhere between $250 to $400 for this bag.

Then Don showed us a video. It was only about four minutes long but, by the end of the video, we were so emotionally moved that we all wanted the bag. We didn’t care what the price was!



Because now we were viewing the value of the bag from a totally different lens. We connected with the bag on an emotional level.

Don then revealed to us that the bag sells for over a THOUSAND dollars, which was, in many cases, four times higher than what we were willing to pay for it in the beginning.

Here’s the kicker… they CANNOT keep that bag in stock! It is constantly sold out! And the primary driver behind those sales is this emotional video.

It was fascinating to me because, on the surface, the product itself did not change. It’s the same leather bag. What did change was the connection I felt with the bag.

It was an incredible demonstration of how you and I, as business owners, can change the perception of our products simply through our marketing.

The video is effective because it makes perfect use of the two key ingredients that must be included in every marketing message.

Those ingredients are the INTERNAL and EXTERNAL CHALLENGES faced by your customer.

The external challenge is what your customer is likely going to type into Google when they are looking to solve a problem. It’s their literal need.

The internal challenge is what your customer is feeling on an emotional level to motivate their purchase decision.

Internal challenges include things like fear, shame, embarrassment, recognition, the desire to be loved or to belong. These could be limiting beliefs that are holding your customer back.

Internal challenges are often related to confidence; your customer wants to be likeable, they want to be a good spouse, or a good parent, or a good friend. They want their life to stand for something.

For example, an advertisement for a kitchen cleaning product speaks to a logical external need – to clean the kitchen. Yet the imagery, tone, and language of the ad might include themes such as love, happiness, and togetherness, because the desire to keep a clean kitchen can be connected to a deeper desire to provide a safe, comfortable shelter for your family.

In short, internal challenges run deep. When you appeal to these in your marketing, you open up the hearts of your audience in a much bigger way than when you appeal to external challenges alone.



Now, the real marketing magic for you and I is when we blend the two of these together.

When you go too heavy on the external, your customer might understand why they need your product on a logical level, but they feel no emotional compulsion to buy.

On the other hand, when you go too heavy on the internal, your customer might feel connected to your product on an emotional level, but feel no logical reason to buy.

I’ll give you an example from my own business.

I recently launched the TRIBE course, in which I share everything I’ve learned from years of working with membership site owners.

The external challenge faced by my customers is that they want to know the best strategies for running a membership site.

However, just beneath this lies a more powerful internal challenge – the desire to have true financial stability in their business and life, to eliminate the stress of living from sale to sale.

Membership sites generate recurring revenue, and recurring revenue creates financial stability. So it was my job to combine these external and internal challenges in my marketing when I was launching TRIBE, to show potential buyers not only what they would literally learn from the course, but how it would actually feel to implement my teachings.

This snippet from one of the TRIBE launch videos is a good example of this:



Do you see how the literal promise – to launch and grow a thriving membership site – is juxtaposed with words and images to convey the freedom that a thriving membership business would bring?

This is exactly what I want you to strive for in your marketing – a combination of appeals to external and internal challenges, the perfect mix of logic and emotion.

If you truly understand your audience and you master the combination of these elements, your marketing campaigns will be unstoppable.



  • Powerful video and great insight! Thanks for sharing. Now I got to go make $1,000 for that bag. 👊🏽

    • I know right? I never knew I needed a leather bag… until I saw this video 😛

  • Kathy Smith

    fabulous content Stu… keep up the good work.

  • Stu, I followed your Tribe launch and saw you present at Launch Con making this point. I always open your emails, because there is always something to learn. This post is a timely reminder/refresher as I begin to draft emails for PLC #1 of our next launch. Thanks for continuing to give great value!

    • Thanks PJ. And remember, as you gear up for your launch, try to incorporate both the external (which comes naturally) but also the internal. It will boost your results.

  • Love it, Stu. You and Don Miller are at the top of your games! I am but a padawan… always learning. Thanks for sharing your insight, as I’m weaving this into marketing campaigns for my clients and myself right now.

    • Thanks Ryan. The key with this stuff is to continue to look for it. Now that you’re aware of it, you’ll see the internal and external everywhere. In fact, I now keep an Evernote file that specifically keeps track of internal and external challenges that I see pop up in my market. Once you do something like this, your brain is constantly switched on to find it.

  • David Kreutzkamp

    As someone trying to sell what is seen as an expensive experience flying in fighter jets here in Canada this was awesome to read. You gave some great insight into how with the right marketing and message/story you can help people see the value in what it is we are offering to them. Do you or anyone else who may be reading this have a example of a product/service who’s marketing really resonated with them? Be it in print, radio or other media?

    • Dude… I took my team once to fly fighter jets in California. It was an incredible experience. What you’re selling is the thrill of being Tom Cruise in Top Gun 😉

  • Matti

    Loved it Stu. In fact, you and Jeff Walker inspired me to launch a project through our Foundation to teach 1.000.000 kids in Africa, how to fulfill their dreams. We have pie ourselves 10 years to do so. The idea is to subsidize their teachers salaries and teach them our methodology to learn the process. You both achieved this through the video you shared last year. Since then I have been thinking about it until I made the decision to launch the project. Part of the actions following the decision involved talking to you to find out more about your own initiative. Ant chance to talk to you about it and hear and learn from your experience? Warm regards, Matti (

    • That’s awesome Matti. Congrats. Best thing to do is contact Amy and Carey from our charity. You can find their info on our charity website (

  • Bill Miles

    One of the best lessons I’ve seen in a while – thank you Stu!

  • As a Tribe student, I LOVED learning about the difference between internal and external challenges. Massively helpful. Thanks Stu!

    • You’re welcome. I know I keep beating the internal / external drum… but it’s important!

  • Nikki Webster

    Stu – great message! I Also noticed how the music played an important role in pacing the mood of the viewer in both videos…

    • Definitely. Music plays a BIG role in video. It’s the subtle emotional driver.

  • Thank you for this. Great food for thought as we move into the next phases of development!

  • I want to be in your tribe, I want to learn these things but… I will try to do something about it. Thank you Stu. <3

  • Karen Ray

    This is outstanding! I am a personal historian and often work with veterans. This video tells a wonderful life story in a fraction of time in such a moving way. Brought me to tears–thank you.

    • Me too Karen. The room was VERY “dusty” when I saw the video the first time as well 😛

      It’s beautifully done and the story telling is top notch.

  • Nicole H

    Great post Stu and it comes to me at the perfect time. 💜

  • Loved this. It’s kind of like Branded Content. Starting with people stories first, and connecting your message with the hearts and minds of your audience. Love this subtle reminder about what’s important. Thanks for sharing!

  • HOLY!!!!!!!! MIND. BLOWN!!!

  • Tomi Tuel,

    Can you share anything about the video: who wrote the story, who produced it, who marketed it?

  • Sarah Haykel

    This is great Stu, thanks for the reminder!

  • David Faris

    A good reminder to me of WHY the marketing, WHY the ministry… WHY I need to do what I do.

--> .