The Campfire Effect: How To Multiply Your Sales With Problem-Education Emails

Written by Danavir Sarria

1182 A.D, Mongolia.

At the age of 20, Genghis Khan made a decision that would forever change the world. He decided it was time to build up an army and unify Mongolia.

This one decision would eventually lead to the building of the biggest empire the world had seen ever seen by that time. It wasn’t until the rise of the British empire, which began during the early 1600’s, that a comparable empire was built.

With that said, it wasn’t the sheer size of the empire that made them known though. It was how they built it…

You see, the Mongols were known for their brutality. They would ride out in hordes, route entire armies, and conquer massive cities at unheard of speeds.

In fact, during certain battle tactics, they would collectively shoot arrows so fast at their enemies that no army could match them until the modern machine gun was invented.

This wasn’t even their real genius though. It was their use of psychological warfare.

The Campfire Illusion

What many people don’t know is that the preferred way Genghis would defeat armies and capture entire cities was to have them surrender before having to attack.

If he could win without having to actually fight, he could conquer his enemies with ease, use up less resources, and further his “legend” as the Mongolian devil.

One famous way he did this was with campfires.

When faced with a walled city, the regular protocol was to siege it day and night. Genghis would add second step to this though…

At night, you would normally have your army camp outside the city walls. This includes setting up your tents, campfires, food, water…etc so your men can recover and be ready for the next day of battle.

With that said, while there were hundreds of campfires already lit due to the size of his army, Genghis took advantage of this situation by ordering his troops to light hundreds of extra campfires along with setting up extra dummy encampments.

With all of that set up, as the enemy guards would look out to the Mongol’s encampment throughout the night, they would see thousands of campfires. As you can imagine, if anyone would look out to Mongol encampment, you would think the Genghis horde was multiple times the size it really was.

Because of this, entire cities would tremble in fear and surrender to avoid the absolute massacre they thought would happen if they didn’t.

Amazingly, this was one of only many ways Genghis would make it seem like his Mongol horde was bigger than it actually was.

Why Increasing Perceived Danger Is One Of The Most Effective Ways To Sell

When comes to acting on decisions, people will respond to two things:

1) They will run towards pleasure
2) They will run away from pain

Most people understand the first one. This is where you focus on your prospects desired result as well as the mechanism that will get there (aka your product).

For example, if you want to get ripped abs in the next 90 days, grab P90X.

This type of motivation is very simple, straightforward, and it flat out works. In fact, this is how all landing pages should be. You will only sell a product successfully by promising a better future for your customers.

However, the second option is the exact opposite and it’s perfect for certain situations, like email.

This is where you focus on your prospects problems and relaying the fact that you not only understand what they are going through, but might just know about it as much or even more than they do themselves.

As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the pain is, the more motivated you’re going to be to get away from it.

This is a basic example, but if you put your hand in a bucket of warm water, you’ll probably be able to keep your hand in there for a while.

However, if you put your hand on a burning hot stove, you’re going to instantly pull it away. It’s only natural, because you know you will seriously burn yourself if you don’t.

In other words, you want to feed into your prospects head that their problem is more like having their hand on a burning hot stove rather than a bucket of warm water.

To do this right though, you can’t lie and you should try to stay away from outright fear (unless that is what your particular market responds too).

What Is A Problem-Education Email?

A problem-education email is an email that focuses on your prospects problems.

Contrary to popular belief, most people either don’t actually fully understand what their problems are or it’s something in the back of their minds, but it’s more of a passing thought they quickly forget about.

So when you write a problem-education email, a couple of things can happen…

First, those who didn’t realize they had a particular problem now realize they have a burning problem that they need to solve immediately.

Second, those who did know they had a problem now realize that their problem is much bigger, badder, and more frightening than what they originally thought.

Third, if they understand that you understand they have a problem, they are more likely to trust that your solution will work for them.

Now, at no point are you lying.

All you are doing is educating your prospect about the problem to the point that they themselves want to act on it.

This is opposed to most marketing, which tries to push benefits and features until they desire what you want.

By doing this in this way, you are essentially allowing people to sell themselves since the psychological pain of having such a huge perceived problem is so great, they’ll actively look for and buy your specific solution to fix it.

The “Symptom-First” Approach To Writing Problem-Education Emails

If you’ve ever seen a regular “problem-solution” ad, especially in an infomercial format, you’re going to be very familiar with this.

I’m talking about things like…

  • Do you have lower back pain?
  • Does it hurt whenever your bend over to pick up something?
  • Does your leg burn when you tweak your lower back?
  • Do sudden moves cause your lower back to act up?
  • Does twisting your torso cause lower back pain?
  • …etc

Another example is the flu. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle Aches
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Runny Nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

What about lack of sales? Check this out:

  • Targeting the wrong audience
  • Not having an irresistible offer
  • Not fully understanding your prospects problems
  • Not having perfect message to market match
  • Unbelievable claims


Everything above is a symptom of much bigger, core problem.

When it comes to the examples similar to lower back pain or the flu, people really only understand and care about eliminating the symptoms.

When it comes to something like lack of sales, people will only really understand the problem, but they need to be educated about the symptoms so that they can fix it.

In other words, symptoms are key to the selling process.

How The Campfire Effect Made Me Buy $1,000 Worth In Products & Services

When I was 18 years old, I felt and heard a rip in my lower back while I was working out.

For the next 2 years after that moment, I had crippling lower back pain. The type that you wish every morning and every night that it would just go away. The type you feel like you were “done” physically for good.

It hurt whenever I would bend at the hips to do anything. Forwards, backwards, side-to-side, circles…everything.

Just picking up a single leaf from the floor would lead to unbearable pain.

Every morning when I woke up and got out of bed, I felt like I was being stabbed multiple times in the lower back with a knife.

Any twisting movement would send me right to floor, except slowly since any sudden movement also just worsened my pain at levels I don’t even want to think about right now.

Heck, just breathing would hurt…

It was the worst 2 years of my life, physically.

I spent hundreds of hours reading articles about lower back pain and it only made things worse. I went from thinking I ripped tissue to thinking I had all sorts of problems beyond “regular” back pain. I thought I had a special case that no one could really help me with.

Suffice to say, I was freaking out.

The worst part? After I had almost given up trying to fix the problem myself, I ended up going to a physical therapist who specialized in sports injuries. His solution? Painkillers. Thirty days later, I was worse off than ever before.

I didn’t quit though…

I was committed to curing my lower back pain for good.

This led to me educating myself as much as possible about my problem… including buying courses on rehab and hiring a strength & conditioning coach I trusted (all of which I bought due to emails that communicated to me about my general problem and symptoms).

Turns out, the real problem was my lack of hip mobility, posture, and overall strength (especially core strength).

By the time I was finally “cured”, I had spent almost $1,000 to solve this problem. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was already a student of strength & conditioning, it would have easily been multiples of that.

And guess what? I was more than happy to spend it. Even today, I’m glad I did everything I needed to do to become pain-free again.

It was the symptoms though that led me to spend all of that money

Now of course, lower back pain is literally a burning problem that you’re reminded of every second of the day.

But if you can educate and remind your prospect about their symptoms, they will also remember the pain that goes along with it… as well as the desire to solve the problem once and for all.

This is why talking about symptoms is so profitable.

What If My Audience Understands The Problem, But Not The Symptoms?

Why do you think I call them “problem-education” emails?

If they don’t know, you educate them about their symptoms!

So lets take my 3rd example of lack of sales.

When a business owner is freaking out over a lack of sales, they usually do NOT understand the underlying symptoms as to why it’s happening.

For example, a lot of business owners don’t know that lack of sales can happen because of…

Targeting the wrong audience
Not having an irresistible offer
Not fully understanding your prospects problems
Not having perfect message to market match
You’re making unbelievable claims


What you do is instead of relaying the symptoms that your prospect is going through and then selling them the solution…

You focus on relaying the fact that you understand their core problem and then educate them about the symptoms that are causing their core problem.

In other words, you’re still taking a “symptom-first” approach. The difference is that you’re going from problem to symptom rather than symptom to problem.

5 Different Ways To Write Problem Education Emails

There are a ton of ways to write problem-education emails.

But for the sake of helping you get started today, here are 5 examples you can use today.

Email #1: You See Someone Displaying The Symptoms/Problem

Depending on the type of problem or symptoms, you’ll be able to clearly see it displayed publicly by someone as you’re roaming about.

For example, I can be sitting in a coffee shop during the winter and see someone sneezing, has a runny nose, and drinking their cup of hot chocolate.

From the looks of it, they might just have a cold… don’t you think?

You know what’s good for that? Nyquil.

Email #2: You Talk About The Symptoms/Problem You Experienced

If you’re selling something, I’m just going to assume that you had the problem and symptoms you’re selling a solution for.

For example, I had lower back pain and I would feel all types of pain including everything from a burning-like feeling to a sudden shocks as if I my lower back was being electrocuted.

I was able to fix my back pain though by improving my hip mobility and general strength. This is what I teach inside my program, “The Lower Back Pain Cure”.

Email #3: A Friend Tells You About His/Her Symptoms/Problems

This is a combination of the first two. With this option, you are telling a story about someone else, but with the details that you only get by being close to the situation.

For example, your friend could be running a business and have a lack of sales. You have a conversation with him and find out that the reason they have a lack of sales is because they aren’t a techie or numbers person, so they don’t know their numbers inside and out.

This is a problem than can easily solved by your SaaS product, which you can get started with today for free.

Email #4: You Saw In A Movie/Read In A Fiction Book About The Symptoms/Problem

You don’t always have to use real people. You can use fictional characters as “symbols” of the real problem and/or symptoms.

For example, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry never received a single piece of mail from his friends because Dobby intercepted them all. Because of this, Harry was basically excommunicated from the wizarding world.

If only wizards used cell phones to text each other… like the ones I sell.

Email #5: You Watched A Documentary To Learn More About The Symptoms/Problem

In this situation, you borrow information and even proof from outside and (hopefully) factual sources like documentaries.

For example, you could have watched a documentary about how people are getting fat and sick from eating so much fast food. People are now dying earlier, insurance rates are going sky high, and the emotional effect it has on some families is now at a breaking point.

Fortunately, your book filled with delicious, easy-to-make, Paleo recipes can fix that.

Of course, in all of the example email topics above, you want to flesh them out a bit for full effect… but you get the idea.


People respond when they have a BIG problem to solve.

Just think back to the last time you made a big purchase or a many individual purchases because you had a specific need.

Chances are, you had a problem that you wanted to solve and the money necessary to solve it was not something you cared much about… at least when compared to solving the problem itself.

Your potential customers go through the same thing.

So if you start implementing problem-education emails to your email marketing strategy, you’ll definitely see an increase in sales.

About the author

Danavir Sarria

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