Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Cabopress. It’s a business conference held by Chris Lema at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The topics are strategically organized and the attendees are intentionally curated.
I’ve known Chris since my days in the WordPress space and recently started working with his team on the Coach Factory podcast. I’ve been aware of the event since around 2016 and always thought it would be amazing to go but never thought I would.
This year Chris invited me and I was able to attend.
In short, it was exactly what I needed personally and professionally. It helped me realize the answers to struggles I’ve had in my business over the last year. And it helped me identify issues I didn’t even know existed.
The following is my recap of Cabopress 2023.
First, the easy stuff.
Typically you go to a conference that’s jam-packed with amazing speakers, resources, and new things to implement. They are helpful, but often more overwhelming than relaxing. There is little time to reflect and let rise to the surface.
Cabopress is the opposite of this.
At Cabopress, there are two sessions per day in the morning. Sessions are highly interactive and the overall attendee count is capped so you get more intimacy than the typical conference. Plus, the sessions are held in the pool which means you end up taking less notes and being more engaged.
After the morning sessions, you break for lunch. Lunch groups are consistent and dedicated to discussing what was learned that day. From there you have the entire afternoon to use as you see fit.
For me, that meant connecting with the other attendees.
Finally, we all meet up to go over announcements and break into dinner groups. Chris suggests a way to group up (by motivation type, service or products, etc.) and discuss something new (the AI conversation was a banger!).
The night wraps up with more social and/or relaxation.
I say all of this for context.
The top highlight of most conferences is the information you take from the talks and get to apply to your business.
Cabopress was different. Fantastic talks and helpful takeaways were the baseline.
I attended the following talks:
- Jen Bourne spoke on leveraging case studies and techniques for gaining repeat business.
- Shawn Hesketh spoke on the journey of launching the Coach Factory podcast.
- Joanna Wiebe challenged common website practices with her expert knowledge of conversion copywriting.
- Claire Suellentrop and Georgiana Laudi explored all things customer research.
- Finally, Brennan Dunn discussed the practical and technical importance of segmentation and personalization.
And as a good attendee, I have a short list of things I will do based on the sessions:
- Better leverage my client case studies
- Ask fewer and better questions in my customer research
- Refresh myself on the Jobs-to-be-Done framework
- Rewrite my entire homepage (possibly my entire website)
- Identify a few tiny ways to personalize things for our audience
- Read Forget the Funnel and This is Personal
But if I had to distill it all down to one thing, it would be this:
You are working with and helping other people.
All of the automations you implement, emails you write and landing pages you create, are for someone. It’s easy to get caught up in shiny objects and “best” practices but if it’s not helping the people you serve, it doesn’t matter.
Make decisions in the best interest of your customers and it will work out ok.
It’s all tradeoffs.
Every business has its problems.
There are pros and cons to selling services. There are pros and cons to selling products. Even the most successful looking owners have countless struggles behind the scenes.
Cabopress is unique because it creates an environment where people are open and vulnerable.
The sessions are highly interactive and smaller in group size. You get a more intimate and honest feel. Your lunch and dinner groups are the same way.
I was able to hear and see the questions and struggles of other entrepreneurs. And while I don’t wish ill for anyone, it’s nice to know I’m not the only business wrestling with issues.
Just remember, the grass is rarely greener. It’s all tradeoffs.
Your website copy is like white bread.
I went into Cabopress with few expectations.
Being my first time attending, I wanted to stay open to what might happen. The one thing I was hoping for was some clarity on my website copy. I knew there was hope when I saw Joanna Wiebe, the OG of conversion copywriting, was one of the speakers.
It’s been a whirlwind with my company site this past year.
We decided to do a rebranding mid-2022 and after some research and recommendations, I lined up a killer designer, copywriter, and web dev team. At least I thought the team was killer.
Long story short, the web development team I hired subcontracted to a developer from Fiverr and never paid him. The developer in-turn started actively tearing down pages of our live company website. The event escalated when our entire blog was deleted.
I’m talking 8 years worth of work.
Finally, after recovering everything, realizing the developer added malicious scripts to the site, and losing everything again, I hired a new development team to rebuild it all.
I say all of this because I lost my way with the copy and messaging somewhere in the chaos.
Having a functional website became more important than perfecting the copy. But now that the dust has settled, I have the headspace to deal with it.
Fast forward to the present day.
The copy on our website needs work. The name of the company is Come Alive Creative but you don’t feel anything when you read the homepage. I know there is a dramatic difference between someone talking to me about what we do versus reading our website about what we do.
So I made it a point to connect with Joanna after her talk and she was kind enough to discuss my issue.
I’ll spare the details but she agreed. It’s not good. She told me the website sounds like white bread. 😭
And while that really stung to have someone I respect tell me that, it was needed.
My homework is to dial in what I want our voice to sound like.
I have a Google Doc that lists all of the serious to wacky things I want to influence the voice of our copy. The website might be blah now, but it’s going to be something I’m proud of once this is over.
More on that soon.
You are stupid. Let me tell you why to buy my services.
Sometimes you are too close to what you offer. And sometimes your ego gets in the way (even when you work really hard to not let it).
As I mentioned, every day we broke into the same lunch group (Shout out to Group 11!). We discussed whatever the sessions were that day and we all took turns bringing one of our struggles to the group. On Thursday, I told the group about my disconnect between what we do and our audience’s understanding of what we do.
The conversation went something like this:
Group: So you do everything for me? Choose the equipment? Release the podcast everywhere? Help me interview guests?
Me: Yes. But that’s easy. Let me tell you what really matters…
Group: Can you get me downloads?
Me: Yes. But those aren’t important. Let me tell you what metrics actually matter….
I had 3 of the 4 group members interested in our services and I basically told them everything they cared about was wrong! I was making them feel stupid because I thought I knew better than they did. In reality, I was the stupid one for not listening.
Funny enough, I received closure on this at the airport just before I got on my plane.
After lunch, the group tasked me with talking to at least ten Cabopress attendees. I needed to ask two questions:
- Have you considered doing a podcast?
- What is stopping you?
I ran into Tony Perez from my group at the airport. He asked me about what feedback I received and more importantly, he helped me realize a major pitfall in the way I sell.
I teach too much up front and it’s causing a lot of friction in the buying process. Prospects come to me wanting someone to handle their podcast for them and someone to help grow their audience. To me, those things feel too easy and that we should be focusing elsewhere.
But I’ve been getting in my own way.
Instead of overeducating when a prospect asks if I can get them downloads, I need to simply say yes. Then when it comes to delivery, I can give them the downloads they were looking for AND show them how we achieved great episode to episode retention and episode completion rates as well.
I’ll put it another way, my business coach has been challenging me to deliver way more value than what our clients pay us for. And I’ve been thinking about what more we can do to get there.
But it’s not about doing more. It’s about framing what we already do differently.
If a prospect wants someone to manage their podcast and get them downloads, we can do that.
The added value comes in when I can also prove the listeners we’re getting actually care and are engaged.
Feel like you’re struggling with your business? Step back and see if you’re getting in your own way.
All and nothing.
Cabopress lends itself to awesome talks and environment.
Again, Chris highly curated the talks. I thought he did a particularly great job ordering Conversation Copywriting, followed by Customer Led Growth, then Segmentation and Personalization. Each topic flowed into the next in a way that built on one another.
The lunch and dinner groups as well as the afternoon pool hangout time were fantastic for getting to know each other. It provided a different kind of value than the talks.
Finally, the environment of Cabopress sealed the deal. It took place at the Grand Fiesta Americana resort located on the shore of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. So even when you weren’t doing anything, it was the perfect place to stop, breathe, and clear your mind.
You know when you get a good idea in the shower? It was like that, but on steroids.
Every night I spent hanging out on the beach by myself listening to the waves or journaling by the pool. And the last morning I got up early to walk the shoreline to collect coral for my kids and record for an episode of Outdoor Sounds.
Most conferences are jamming you full of information and don’t give you much downtime to process. With Cabopress, even “doing nothing” is valuable.
You don’t have to feel guilty.
You don’t need to feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
I almost didn’t go to Cabopress. I have four kids and have been dealing with a few personal things this year that made it difficult to step away. I even told Chris upfront that I might need to back out last minute when I first said yes.
Fortunately that didn’t happen and I did attend.
The time away gave me a space to reflect. The time with other entrepreneurs and business owners provided a professional perspective that’s been missing in my solo, remote work life. And everything worked out okay in my absence.
Guilt is something I continue to work on.
It’s easy to look at an event like Cabopress as a vacation. But running a business is tough and Cabopress is much more than sessions by pools. It’s a place to refresh, reset, and discover things you didn’t realize you needed.
Thank you to Chris Lema, his team, the speakers, the attendees, and the hotel staff for making this such a wonderful event.
It’s impacted me in more ways than you probably realize. I’m excited to see how these new relationships and discoveries play out into the future.
Finally, I encourage you to find whatever your Cabopress experience is. We all could use a break and some encouragement. If you’re fortunate enough to attend, amazing. I hope to be there too. 😎
If you can’t, find the people, hobbies, and activities that will help you achieve your best self.
You can thank me later.