All Posts by Ben Hunt

Demo of ClickFunnels

(26 minutes)

PWDA member Brian McFarlane demonstrates how he uses ClickFunnels, a platform that helps you rapidly…

  • Deploy appealing and effective landing pages, squeeze pages, or extended marketing funnels.
  • Integrate with most standard email management platforms.
  • Publish to WordPress sites, or standalone.
  • And even set up advanced funnels (premium level).

Try ClickFunnels for yourself (Brian’s affiliate link)

Does having tools like ClickFunnels make traditional web production skills redundant?

No, not at all! As I explain in “Web Design is Dead”, we still need professional web designers, producers and developers who understand HTML, CSS etc. However, they should be more concerned with building reusable (and re-sellable) products, like themes, plugins and online tools, not hand-crafting bespoke websites.

Client-facing web professionals should use these production skills less and less, preferring to use platforms and bought design components, which make far more sense economically, because they can benefit from hundreds or thousands of hours of design, development and testing.

Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Roadmap for Experts

1. Circuit Interview (26 October, 2014)

“Roadmap for Experts” is a new business venture created by Daniel Stouffer and Nigel Evans. Daniel is a well-educated online marketing expert, and Nigel has a lot of experience in staging PR events.

“Roadmap for Experts” is a fascinating concept. They offer a complete marketing and business back-end to subject-matter authorities, typically authors who are experts in their niche but who do not have any existing information marketing channels.

(Note, this is mostly me and Daniel, as Nigel was having technical issues connecting to this call.)

1.1 Overview (MP3 | 86 minutes)

2. Circuit Review

They have two parallel offerings, one for the commercial world, and another for the charity sector. While the propositions may appear to be similar in form, the markets are actually very different. We agreed that they should probably focus on the more profitable commercial market initially, and maybe return to the non-profit market later.

Here’s my high-level Circuit assessment:

The “Who we are” is pretty clear. The name is quite descriptive, although I would question whether “Roadmap” has any “What’s in it for me?” value. Do Experts want a “Roadmap”? Or do they want something else, i.e. “I want to get to that place.” What Daniel and Nigel ARE is a complete business and marketing solution (“Just add expert”). That is a lot more than just “roadmap” in my opinion, so I might want to explore further with them how they might more accurately – and more boldly – name their overall business and its implicit global proposition.

The Package (Product/Service) is fairly clear. There is a question over what evidence they can provide to back up their claims of being able to deliver on the promise. They have a good level of expertise in a range of important disciplines, and they are confident in their outsourcing skills, however they haven’t ever delivered this type of programme end-to-end. That could be a critical missing piece in their proposition.

The Proposition is great. “You’re an expert in your thing, but you suck at marketing yourself. That’s not unusual. We’re experts in marketing people like you. We have a complete, ready-to-roll business model for experts just like you. In fact, we promise to build a profitable information business around you and your niche.” All very powerful, except for the problem already identified: no real evidence of having done this for an expert already.

The Problem is, “I’m really great at my thing, but I just don’t know how to turn that into financial success.” What’s interesting here is that the degree to which their target experts may be feeling that problem is likely to vary widely.

The Market is potentially very big, and they only need a handful of great experts. In fact, applying the 80:20 principle, they really ought to be very discerning about the experts they take on (as personal hands-on projects at least). I advised that they should go counter to the natural instinct and deliberately target a narrow slice of their potential market: people who are feeling that problem acutely.

Do we know where the market congregates? Because it’s so broad, a horizontal slice that spans just about every possible subject, it’s impossible to target people by subject matter. They will have a profile of the type of person they’re looking for: well-respected, knowledgeable, dynamic and ambitious, but who clearly finds it very difficult to turn their obvious expertise into a business.

Summary of the Challenge

Clearly, this is a great overall proposition. One of the biggest challenges will be finding the market (although, because they could make large profits from the right clients and therefore don’t need a large customer base, I suspect this can be done through a combination of PR and then direct one-to-one sales).

But probably the most significant challenge is the lack of end-to-end proof that they can do this. That is the major gap in the overall business proposition, so filling or bridging that gap has to be our priority before going to market.

Kicking Around Ideas

For that reason, following the initial call, I was interested in putting myself forward as a potential first client for “Roadmap for Experts”. However, there may be a conflict with a similar programme that is also kicking off within my team, so we have shelved that idea.

The second idea I pitched to Nigel and Daniel was maybe to run a launch for the “Testimonials First” product that has been developed within the Pro Web Design Alliance group. That is not an ideal solution either, partly because the product has a relatively limited scope for generating profits, but also because it would not prove the entire end-to-end service.

2.1 Thinking Bigger (4 November, 2014)

We then had a follow-up call, initially to discuss the possibility of using Testimonials First as a case study. (I did not record this call.)

After it became clear that perhaps TF was not a great fit, we started to think bigger.

Over the past few days, I have been developing ideas around how to improve things (whether businesses or personal brands) by going back to the root of “Who Are You?” as being the source of everything else, as we’re seeing with using the Circuit.

One of the major ideas I’ve been playing with is the idea that it is actually easier to go to market with an outrageous, bold, superlative identity than it is with an ordinary, average one.

For example, I had been thinking about the Circuit for this course! Work through the logic with me…

  1. The “Ultimate Web Design” proposition is, “That old way of doing web design is going extinct… Come and master the right way!”
  2. The gap in the Circuit for that proposition is that the people who have the problem don’t necessarily know it. (i.e. They’re at Step Zero on the awareness ladder.)
  3. When we find an awareness gap like that (usually between Proposition-and-Problem or Problem-and-Market, as in this case) we must ensure we address bridging that gap in our Campaign.
  4. So the campaign for the “Ultimate Web Design” proposition must bridge between the Market (web designers) and the Problem (“Look! your market is drying up! You all need to retrain NOW!”)
  5. Next we must ask, “What’s the best way to fill that gap?”
  6. My starting point was the usual… Let’s publish a series of videos that educate the viewer… A free course called “Web Design Is Dead”.
  7. But then I had to think, “OK, what if we dialled that up to eleven? What would it look like if we MAXed that idea?”
  8. One way of MAXing something is to turn it into more of an event. (That’s one of the reasons why Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula” works… because it creates an event. Daniel Levis also argues for making things events in his excellent “Effortless Influence” course, because events are meaningful to our brains, they have cultural significance and can be something we feel we belong to.)
  9. So why publish inert videos if we could do it as live webinars?
  10. But then… “webinars” are ten-a-penny these days too. So what’s next? What happens to a webinar if you put it through Doctor Hunt’s Patent Maxifier?
  11. What if “Web Design Is Dead” was an online conference, not “webinars”. A “conference” is even MORE of an event than a webinar, right? Even though the technology may be identical. But this is the power of WORD at work.
  12. Plus, a conference is a one-off event. You can say, “I was there in 2015 when we announced that web design was dead”, in the same way people talk about seeing The Beatles play at the Cavern Club, or the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976.
  13. Furthermore, a conference typically costs around $1000 to attend. It has perceived value. Sure, some people make some money with paid webinars, but how much more valuable is an online conference than a webinar (perceived)?
  14. Then, webinars have “presenters” (yawn), but conferences have “hosts” and “panelists” and “speakers”. That sounds bigger, bolder, and more confident, doesn’t it? And being a speaker at an event confers a certain level of authority.
  15. And, if you’re the organiser of a conference, you get to name those people. So we can put ourselves up as the experts.

There’s an element of “Be-Do-Have” at play here.

Instead of waiting until you have the breaks, the cash, the opportunity, which lets you do what you really what you want to do, which will then let you be what you really want (like acknowledged as an expert in a field)…

“Be-Do-Have” says it’s much more powerful to start with the “Be”. If you want to BE an expert, BE an expert!

Okay, so what does an expert do? Well, they speak at interesting-sounding conferences. Great, so lets stage a conference! See how it works?

This is all about thinking bigger, asking what it would look like if we took it to the limit, and then asking, “So why don’t we do that?”

Remember, the technology is so powerful today, we are more limited by our imaginations than by the tech! So, using Google’s Hangouts on Air, anyone can publish an online conference to an unlimited number of participants. Think about how you would have done that three years ago, and how much it would have cost!

So, by thinking bigger, and taking advantage of today’s cheap, powerful technology, we could actually create one of the mechanisms we have identified we need to help bridge a marketing gap.

Stacking Offerings

One of the things the guys have mentioned in passing in our conversations is “stacking” product or service offerings for their expert clients. (Also see my article on Web Design From Scratch.)

This might take the form of something like Ken McCarthy’s football game metaphor: You can spend nothing, a 2-figure sum, a 3-figure sum, or even a 4-figure sum to watch the same football game. What you’re paying for is the product to be packaged in a way that suits your needs and your budget.

This is a principle we’ll apply quite often in marketing strategies. Package “what you do” (i.e. the products or services element of the Circuit) in a variety of Propositions, priced at different points.

A stack of offerings might take a form like this…

  • A free (or low-cost) “introduction” series
    • Could take the form of ebook, email sequence, videos, or webinars.
    • The ultimate goal is to generate qualified, warm leads, which it does through in three ways:
    • To qualify the target market (anyone who is interested in this offering would naturally be in the target market for paid offerings too);
    • To deliver some value, thereby demonstrating what you can deliver;
    • And thirdly also to educate the prospect about a problem or opportunity they didn’t know they had, or to present a solution that they didn’t know existed.
    • For Roadmap for Experts, this might be ebooks on subjects like, “The 5 Steps to Monetizing Your Expertise”, “Why You Should Get Paid For Your Expert Knowledge”, or “The 5 Most Common Mistakes That Throttle Experts’ Earning Potential.”
    • The free/low-cost offering should always up-sell the prospect to premium alternatives.
    • Generally, think in terms of “This is what you need to do… But not exactly how to do it.”)
  • A “DIY” offering,
    • Often a book or video course.
    • This is for clients who think they need the benefits you promise, and who probably think they don’t have the budget to spend more, so they’re happy to try to do it themselves.
    • This should always be some kind of information product, which means it will have a high profit margin (so profitable at any price).
    • It might include worksheets, online spreadsheets, and other resources that might help the DIY customer.
    • In the case of Roadmap for Experts, this might be a “Roadmap for Experts” product. If there is a generic, one-size-fits-all model that would work for most experts, why not package that as a DIY offering?
    • “This is how to do it, if you can!”
  • A Group-Access Membership product
    • Now we get into providing some service time (which is costly). But we want to get the most benefit for time spent, so we’re dealing with a group.
    • The market is more able to pay, or keener, than the DIY market.
    • This might be a subscription product, where the provider (the Roadmap for Experts guys) personally coach a group of experts on how to take their expertise to the market. This product might use popular technology like forums, Google Hangouts, Skype, and even Google Docs to provide access to materials, together with one of the many membership site platforms (such as Rainmaker or Kajabi).
    • If done right, these membership offerings can often provide the raw materials for other products lower down the stack (free lead-gen or DIY courses).
    • “We’ll tell you how to do this, together.”
  • Direct Coaching
    • More of the bosses’ time, so more costly.
    • This is for people who want quicker or better results, and have the ability to pay the fee.
    • “We’ll tell you exactly what you need to be doing.”
  • Done For You
    • This is the ultimate offering, where you become a client and get everything done for you.

3. Campaign Design (04 December 2014)

Following on from my earlier thoughts around how we might MAX the Roadmap for Experts overall proposition to the market, including stacking their offerings, I started the Campaign Design with the standard whiteboard. (It’s not very readable, but you don’t need to read it all.)

RfE-CD-board

 

I’m doing two things here…

  1. Figuring out how we might deliver on each of the major Objectives in a forthcoming campaign (in blue).
  2. And seeing if there are any of those Objectives where we may struggle (in red).

All the blue writing is pretty straightforward. I’m making notes on ideas and copy we might use to back up each point that needs to be made. The details are not highly important at this time, because we can pull out those notes when it comes to building an actual campaign. What really matters is that we’re confident we’ve got those areas covered.

However, if you look for the red marks on the board, you’ll see that I’ve highlighted the Objectives “REACH” and “EVIDENCE” as problematic.

We’re talking to a horizontal market, i.e. experts in something who are failing to capitalise financially on their skills. The challenge there is that they don’t really congregate anywhere. There are no organisations, publications, or events for people who are like that.

Secondly, as already identified in my Circuit Review, we face a challenge with the fact that the client has never delivered this exact end-to-end suite of services for a single partner. They have great experience in all the components, but cannot demonstrate the package’s success.

I’ll deal with each of these challenges in turn.

Challenge 1: Broad, Undefined Market

When there’s no reason for a target audience to congregate, you only have a few options:

  1. Broadcast to everyone (which could be very expensive).
  2. Access a mailing list (hard to do without a proven affiliate offer).
  3. Use the crowd.
  4. Hunt them down individually.

Using the Crowd?

I’m initially drawn to the third option: using the crowd. That means creating an offer that’s so interesting that people WANT to pass it on to their friends. If you can get something to go viral on e.g. Facebook, it’s possible to reach a lot of people very quickly.

That raises another question, though. We really want experts who have a high degree of skill, for example who may be published authors. These people are not likely to be on Facebook in great numbers.

For something to go properly viral, it needs to have general appeal. Put another way, it only works if each person who sees the message passes that on to an average of at least one other person. So, taking into account that many people who see the message will not act, it means that each person who does act needs to know many people who might be interested.

Could Roadmap for Experts come up with a Facebook campaign along the lines of, “Who do you know who has a special skill that others would pay to master?” and see how many people tag their friends?

It certainly wouldn’t be very costly to test.

However, a broad or mass-market offering would probably need to be a digital product. The guys couldn’t afford to coach every pedestrian kind-of-expert personally. So we’d need to be looking at a product that sits lower in the stack (see my article!). And that would require a “broad-base” stack, i.e. one that has more high-volume/lower-cost information products at its base.

Hunting Prospects Individually?

This may seem like a labour-intensive method, and it is, so you have to think carefully about the size of the prize, to know whether any practice is worth pursuing.

Clearly it wouldn’t make sense to do this for high-volume/low-cost products. But, the RfE guys know they can potentially make good profits from just a few of the right experts. (That matches the 80:20 principle.)

How might we discover these prospects individually?

  1. I would probably start by focusing on niches where Daniel and Nigel already have experience and a good story to tell.
  2. If they’re right that having a good book on the market is a common factor among their target market, Amazon might be a good place to start. Simply spend a few evenings browsing Amazon and looking for books that were published in the past few years and are well reviewed, but where a quick search for the author reveals no other significant activity.
  3. I would then reach out and try to contact those authors individually, maybe via LinkedIn, email, or even phone. We could arrange a later meeting to go over the offer. It could be worth making dozens of calls to get one really good partner on board.

Or maybe it’s possible to do both, by clever stacking of propositions?

Example of the RfE Stack

The stack applies the idea, based on the 80:20 principle, of stacking products to suit prospects at all levels in the market.

Imagine a pyramid that builds from the low-investment-high-volume broad base up to a pinnacle

We might picture a broad-base RfE stack to be something like this…

  1. (Free) YouTube videos that explain the problem and promise a free (or low-cost) course. These could be promoted on Facebook etc. (So this might apply the “Use the Crowd” technique mentioned above.)
  2. (Low-cost) Webinar series. The advantage of using webinars is that you can run it the first time using a just-in-time method, i.e. you don’t have to create all the content before you start taking payment. This gets people engaged, gets their contact details, and highlights the problem. Then it would take the viewers through what they need to do to sell their skills as information products. Note we’re not necessarily showing them exactly how to do it. That’s an important distinction. What content can be useful to someone with enough motivation and time to figure out the details. But some of the people who view that will want more help, so they’ll qualify themselves for the next level.
  3. (Medium-cost) Coached program. This is for people with maybe less time and more money (or more desire/motivation). The webinar series will end with an up-sell to a new (also just-in-time “JIT”) coaching program. Some attendees will want to join this, and really it shouldn’t take too much time, using Google Hangouts or webinars. Again, using JIT, the material can be crafted as you go along.
  4. Hand-picked Partner Program. Finally, the RfE guys can hand-pick the most promising (and most motivated) candidates directly from their coached program. The stack can then be seen as a way of filtering the best prospects, not only on raw potential and willingness to pay, but also on factors like commitment and strength of will. The ones who really want to commit and to go the distance will naturally rise through the stack.
Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Kids Jukebox

1. Circuit Interview (20 October, 2014)

Craig Baughen is an entrepreneur, originally from New Zealand, who has been living and building businesses in Germany for the last decade. Craig sells a range of products (mostly in German language) to the children’s gift market. The products are all personalised with kids’ names in some way.

1.1 Overview (MP3 | 43 minutes | Download: 19MB)

 

As you’ll quickly realise, Craig has multiple offerings on the market. In any situation like that, it is likely that one of the offerings has the potential to make more than all the others (applying the 80/20 principle).

The trick is to discover which, so that you know where to focus your energy, because the 80/20 principle also suggests that splitting attention and energy in multiple directions is unlikely to deliver the optimum results.

Craig told me and Tashi that his christening bible product already sells pretty well (a good sign!) and is profitable (also a good sign!), so we decided to do a bit of keyword research to find out the scale of the opportunity. What we discovered surprised us…

1.2 Keyword Research (MP4 | 35 minutes)

In this video, I demonstrate the keyword research method I developed for my “SEO from Scratch” approach, and which I later had to adapt following changes to Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Report (which does cause me some issues in the video).

We only had to check two target search phrases to find one that seems to be great low-hanging fruit!

2. Circuit Review (25 November, 2014)

In many ways, a full Circuit Review would seem unnecessary at this point. Partly because the client is already trading, but mainly because he has so many products (and brands) on the market, that each one would need a separate Circuit model.

However, I think it is helpful to use the Circuit model for the children’s christening bible product. The Circuit is such a flexible and powerful tool that I have not found any circumstance where it does not offer useful insights.

Obviously, I have not gone through every question in the Circuit Questionnaire for this particular product. So let’s look at the current sales page (http://www.dein-taufgeschenk.de/) and see how it lines up on the major Circuit elements.

(Note that the screenshot below shows Google’s automatic German-to-English translation, which is clunky. The actual sales page will read better in the original German.)

DT-screenshot

Simply working through the Circuit Questionnaire prompted the following ideas…

Brand

  • Who is making the offer? There is no logo or other real identity on the page, except the domain name (which means “Your Baptism Gift.de”)
  • So there’s actually no personality associated with the offerer, and no reason why I should feel affinity with them, or trust them.
  • (On the subject of trust, it would be helpful to see credit card and other trust icons on this page.)
  • Why does this product exist? It would be great to have some background story, even if it’s only a single sentence.

Product

  • The features of the product itself are pretty well described.
  • The little white callout box does a good job of bringing attention to some of the features. It might be even better if green check/tick marks were used instead of ordinary bullet points.
  • However the images of the product are small and look “Photoshopped”. I think actual photographs of a real version of the book would seem more credible. It would also be great to see the book in the hands of a child, reading along with a parent or relative.
  • Some of the details are described on linked pages. I would definitely want to test a single-page version of this site, where the whole story is told on one easy-to-read page, which includes nice large close-up photographs of the personalisation in detail.

Proposition

  • The subhead, “You are looking for a special baptism gift” does a good job of framing the proposition, i.e. “That’s your present concern, and here’s the answer!”
  • I have to say that €14.90 seems quite cheap to me. That’s about US$18.50 or £11.80, which is not much for a personalised gift for a special occasion.
    • One of the questions in the Circuit Questionnaire asks whether the product is suitable for a gift. This is exclusively for that purpose. What we find with gifts is significantly more “price elasticity”, i.e. people are willing to pay more, because what they’re buying is often not the gift itself, rather the peace-of-mind to know that they’ve got that covered.
    • For that reason, I would be inclined to add more emotion to the sales page, say how this is a gift the child can treasure for a lifetime, how it’s a uniquely special thing to offer a child. Maybe describe the sense of satisfaction that the buyer will feel when their book arrives and they see its quality, knowing their loved one will have a really special item to treasure.
    • We might also go for the angle, which might be appealing to Christian family members, of saying that including the child as a character in the Bible stories really helps them to see talking to God/Jesus as a normal part of life, which they may continue to do.
  • Probably the most important message to get across is that this is a totally unique product. We don’t want people going back to the search engine to try to find alternatives to compare.
  • The page mentions free shipping in Germany, but how quickly will my book arrive if I order today? The service element is part of the proposition, and remember the customer is buying a solution to their problem (“I need a gift”), so it really matters to them that it arrive in time for the event.
    • I would also add, “Order today to get your gift in {timescale} – guaranteed!”
  • Again, a photo of a happy child reading the book would visually demonstrate the end-result.
  • Perhaps suggest that the child’s parents will also find this a very special gift. (It’s likely that the child will not be able to appreciate this gift for years to come, but the parents will, and pleasing or impressing the parents may be a conscious motivation for the giver.)
  • Can we say how many of these have been given as baptism gifts? Would it be helpful, as a way to suggest, “Look! People are switching on to this great idea!”?
  • One of the biggest omissions on this page is that the “order” action is a plain link in the side navigation.
    • We need a big “Order Now” button in a bold, contrasting colour that stands out from everything else on the page.
      • The button could also be paired with a reminder of delivery speed, and also payment “trust” icons.
  • It would be great to add testimonials to the page, particularly from the parents of children who have received the gift.
    • Ideally, add photos, names, and towns, all of which will add credibility.

Problem

  • Maybe acknowledge that there are plenty of traditional baptism gifts for children. But what if you want to be sure you’re giving something unique? (i.e. focus on the problem and the risk of giving the same as someone else.)
  • We can create or stress urgency by saying that the customisation takes {N} days, so “order now to avoid disappointment”.

Market

  • The market is friends or family members, who need a baptism/christening gift for a child or infant.
  • They are certainly at Step 2, i.e. they know many solutions exist, but (by definition) they don’t have a favoured solution.
  • We don’t need to deliver much of a shift of thinking. They have a clear need, and all we need to do is let them know that this product perfectly meets that need.
    • To do that, we just need to cover all the bases, as I’ve detailed above.
    • I believe all this can be done in a single sales page.
Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Center for Leadership Excellence

1. Circuit Interview (16 October, 2014)

Bill Paradis is an extremely experienced business leader. He set up the Center for Leadership Excellence in 1999 to share his proprietary insights into how leaders and managers can improve their performance.

Initially providing its services through consultancy, the business grew rapidly, only to get hit hard by the dotcom bubble.

Now approaching retirement, Bill is working on a way to deliver his extremely valuable guidance via an online subscription product: CLE Samurai. This requires a very different way of marketing that brings its own challenges.

I recorded this call in two sections. The first 65-minute section was mainly focused on the Brand element, but touched on a lot of other content. That meant the second part of the call was actually pretty quick. Plus, Bill has already identified some distinct target markets.

Another interesting aspect of this project is that this is a broad solution that can address an enormous range of problems (related to communication and performance). By the same token, the respective promised outcomes will be equally fuzzy. Overall, this is shaping up to be a fascinating case study.

1.1 Part One (MP3 | 65 minutes | Download: 29MB)

1.2 Part Two (MP3 | 38 minutes | Download: 17MB)

2. Circuit Review (23 October, 2014)

This is proving to be a fascinating case study – and a great use of the Circuit model!

For fun, here’s my whiteboard after I went through the Circuit Interview recordings again. In this case, I did not work through every question in the document, because I knew after an initial high-level review that we had issues with the Problem and Proposition elements.

cle-whiteboard

Despite the shine, you can see that what I’m primarily doing is evaluating the five elements (with the check mark for “good”, question mark for “questionable”, or cross for “problems”).

The purpose of a marketing campaign is twofold:

  1. Reach your target market.
  2. And do what it takes to bridge the awareness gap between where they are now and where they have to buy what you’re offering.

In this case, the product is pretty good (although the options are confusing), but the material is actually excellent, and has a long proven track record.

However, if we were to address all the conscious problems that managers and leaders could potentially face that might reveal a need for leadership development, we would need a million problems. Then we’d need a million propositions to target those problems. Clearly, that’s a non-runner.

In a Circuit Review, when we identify one or more weak, unclear, or misaligned elements, we STOP and think about how else we might arrange the elements to form a strong Circuit. In this case, the client already has a tool for identifying the specific problems: their own version of the 360-degree appraisal.

Here’s my review call with Bill Paradis, where I present my proposals:

  • Simplified product & pricing (single, all-you-can-eat access, but as a recurring subscription).
  • Focus on the market of HR Directors (more attractive big-spend, allowing for more sales investment)
  • And using the mechanism of the 360-degree review in order get each customer to discover their own specific problems (thus helping to bridge the awareness gap!)

2.1 Review Call with Client (MP3 | 54 minutes | Download: 24MB)

The next steps are to analyse the new Circuit, i.e. our proposition to the HR Director market. It is interesting how you can apply the Circuit method to any proposition or business model, and even to break down a sale into a sequence of multiple smaller “conversion events” (e.g. signing up for a free course > buying an online assessment > final subscription).

2.2 Second Review Call with Client (MP3 | 65 minutes | Download: 30MB)

I spent another hour reviewing the Circuit again, in the light of focusing on the new market, and made notes on how we might position the other elements for optimum impact. The Problem element was the unknown.

However, in our next follow-up call, Bill and I made some significant breakthroughs! This call contains a lot of new insights, which will take me a few days to process. Well worth a listen!

3. Campaign Design

11 November: I just reviewed the last call (2.2) with the client, and made a few more notes…

  • Overall, I think we should aim to do less, and do it better by focusing the product and the whole message.
  • The brand should be “Center for Leadership Excellence”, and I think the product should be the same (like e.g. Infusionsoft). There are many reasons for this.
    • Applying the 80:20 principle, we should focus the company’s attention and resources on the product that’s most likely to succeed.
    • And we’re defining success by creating a business that’s going to deliver a reliable revenue stream without Bill’s presence. So we must clearly look at the distinctive online product, not the traditional service offering, because any service business has far stronger limits on scalability than a product business – and particularly a digital information product business.
  • The Product (Center for Leadership Excellence) becomes something that you can belong to (adding value), and could grow over time, with an element of interactivity. Members could submit questions about real-life situations, and the CLE experts could post their responses, thereby making the product more useful, ensuring it has real-world applicability, and building the library of materials over time.
  • The product will be simplified, so everyone gets the 360-degree review, and everyone gets full access to the whole library of resources. This will make pricing, sales, and administration much easier.
  • Bill told me that the Market that is most likely to be responsive is actually the board-level executive that has responsibility for HR performance, often the CFO.
  • However, we still have the issue that the Problem could be one of many. Bill described two likely scenarios:
    • The business is going through a significant change, and the leadership want to ensure everyone is on board and working well together. This is not a constant issue, but not uncommon.
    • Secondly, there could be a significant issue with one particular person. My concern here is that, in this very time-based situation, it is extremely unlikely that someone will ask the questions that will lead them to CLE! In fact, that is hard to visualise at all.
  • I wonder whether there is a third approach to the Problem: that is, to go for the “Vitamin” angle, not the “Painkiller” angle. This makes the CLE product more akin to insurance than to problem-solving. What I like about this approach is that it does not depend on a current issue, i.e. a temporal issue. We can reach out to any large organisation at any time with a preventative proposition. We don’t have to wait for them to have a bleeding-neck problem. This is the approach I currently favour. In other words, we’re presenting an opportunity, not solving an immediate problem.
  • That then changes the Proposition. We were already happy with, “The most cost-effective way to deliver practical professional development to all your leaders and managers.” That still holds true. But, if we’re asking people to make a pre-emptive investment, that has a bearing on the proposition. In our call, Bill and I talked about, “It’s like having your leadership consulting team on-site 24/7,” which could be an angle to use in sales.

Next, we need to focus on the Campaign Design. How are we going to reach our target market, engage with them, and lead them to the point of being ready to buy CLE?

If we were going for the problem-solution-focused offering, we would need to ask, “Where do our prospects turn when they have this need?” But I don’t think that’s the way to go, as it is too fleeting.

If we’re going to favour a more pro-active preventative message, we need to reach out to the market instead. (In Awareness Ladder language, we’re going for a Step Zero market, which always means we need to go out and meet them where they are.) So first we should ask, “Where does our target market congregate?

3.1 Where Does the Market Congregate?

We’re looking at a horizontal slice across all larger businesses (probably focusing on the US). So they are not related in terms of sector. So where do top-level executives (and HR directors) congregate?

LinkedIn is one obvious candidate, and I think there are good possibilities here. Bill has already done some great groundwork in joining some likely groups, and building direct relationships with potential clients and influencers. There seem to be plenty of groups for top-level execs, such as CFO Network (with 224,000 members).

Another obvious possibility is publications. Are there magazines or journals that are specifically for top-level executives? (Yes, a quick Google search reveals Chief Executive magazine, for example, with PageRank of 5.) According to its media kit, this magazine sells a full-page ad in black and white for around $19,000, and is distributed to 33,000 companies with $10M annual turnover.

The next question is, “How to reach them?

3.2 How to Reach the Market

We must always be conscious of how much of a gap we have to bridge for our prospects. The size of the awareness gap can really help guide our choice of outreach channels and techniques.

Can the proposition be summed up, or suggested, in a few words for an AdWords ad, for example? Would a 3-minute video get the message across? Or maybe a 30-minute video? Would a sales letter be more appropriate? Or, does a customer need a sales meeting?

For the CLE offering, the initial proposition is simple and powerful: “The most cost-effective way to deliver practical professional development to all your leaders and managers.”

However, to get a prospect from their starting point to the position of wanting to buy will involve a lot more information, particularly for a ~$6k monthly investment. At a minimum, they will want to know:

  • why they can trust CLE,
  • how it will work,
  • what results they should expect,
  • and what guarantees or support structures are being offered.

I tend to weigh up this “awareness or information gap” in terms of the length of time it would take to talk somebody through everything. In this case, I would imagine the initial “conversation” being in the 20-minute conversation timeframe, which would generate a lead that would probably be followed by a closing sequence over the phone.

We also need to bear in mind the size of the sale. In this case, I am recommending we focus on the larger-scale enterprise sale, which should provide the most return on investment of sales effort. Considering the wide range of possible return and the size of the gap we need to bridge, why go to the effort of selling to individuals, when you can sell 200 or 500 seats at a time? A 200-seat license for CLE might cost in the region of $6000 per month. Considering we have a target of $80,000 monthly revenue, we don’t need a huge number of subscribers to deliver the result we want. (Additionally, Bill told me the timeline to hit this target could be as much as two years, provided he sees early validation that the target will be met!)

The initial step is outreach: How do we make first contact with potential leads?

One attractive possibility for this scale of initial conversation is the magazine article or ad, which is good considering we have identified publications as one possible channel.

A second is, as we’ve already seen, could be direct marketing through LinkedIn.

A third, as Bill and I discussed on our call, is to use affiliates. If we’re going for sales worth typically $6000 per month, if we were to offer affiliates a 20% lifetime referral fee, that could be worth $1200 per month on-going, which I think is very attractive.

Affiliates would be people in a position of influence with reference to the target market, and might include:

  • Publications, such as the Chief Executive magazine, who could help to promote the offer through editorial copy, or through direct email outreach;
  • Bloggers and industry commentators;
  • Coaches, which Bill mentioned previously as a potential target market in their own right, but who would need an incentive to promote what might be viewed as a competitor;
  • Also LinkedIn group administrators, who could promote the offer directly to their members.

How would an affiliate channel work in practice? Generally, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for affiliates. If they can simply encourage their followers to click a link through to a warm-up sequence of some kind, then we can track who follows the link with a cookie, and if the prospect progresses through the sales funnel, we can identify the referring affiliate. There are trusted affiliate networks that can provide the affiliate admin, or we can develop custom affiliate functionality. (I would probably advise using third-party systems, which are tried-and-tested and which will be more likely to be trusted by serious affiliates. Shareasale is a good example.)

3.3 Planning Communications (14 Nov)

Designing a Campaign will nearly always involve multiple communications. (That’s why it is so important to try to get the prospect’s contact details as early as possible, so that you can contact them again directly with the next communication and don’t have to rely on them reaching back out to you.)

In the case of CLE, I can visualise the following sequence:

  1. Prospect hears about CLE offering, either via Advertising, LinkedIn, or an Affiliate.
  2. They go to a second source, where they get the CLE story / pitch in detail. This is where most of the heavy lifting is done, but we are never going to close a 4-figure sale via a webinar / sales video / sales page, etc., which means we shouldn’t even try (it could put people off). So we’ll need to provide a more direct sales channel to close prospects.
  3. Telephone or Skype meetings with consultants to close the deal.

Considering our “low bar” target would be to be on track to get a $1M business (approx. $80,000 monthly turnover) within two years, and assuming we can retain signed-up customers and minimise subscription cancellation, and also assuming a ~$6000 mean monthly subscription… One new subscription per month over 24 months would built into a $144,000 monthly revenue, almost double our low-bar target.

So we should be aiming to close a handful of new accounts each month. That brings a few implications:

  • It means we can afford to invest time in the sales process. We don’t have to rush, and can nurture prospects over weeks or months if necessary.
  • We don’t have to try too hard to close an individual prospect, for example by resorting to discounts or free trials.
  • We can also apply serious 80:20, and be highly discriminating about the target prospect. One benefit of being discriminating is “polarisation”, which I define as, “The extent to which you specify your ideal prospect will result in attracting those that are a fit – and repelling those who are not a fit – in equal measure.” In practice, this means we can be explicit about the size of company and the level of executive we’ll talk to. This can lead to a, “Do you qualify?” type of mechanism.

A Note on The Velvet Rope Tactic

The “Velvet Rope” is a technique used the world over to get people to want something more, so that they’ll go to extra lengths (such as wait longer or pay more) to get it.

Imagine a club, restaurant, or event where there is a “VIP Area” roped off with one of these velvet ropes. You’ll want to be in that area, partly because you’ll imagine that’s where the highest-level conversations are happening (not necessarily true), and partly because it would make you feel special (subjectively true).

Here’s the important truth: Even if the space beyond the velvet rope is no different to the general space (i.e. the food, tables, atmosphere etc. are all the same), if we are told we may not qualify for something extra, we’ll want to qualify! That’s practically a psychological law.

So this Campaign will be highly targeted, carefully filtering the right prospects early, so that we can afford to invest enough of our best people’s time in closing deals.

Sketching The Campaign

Here’s my first pass at the Campaign flow.

Photo of my whiteboard shCampaign Design for CLE

Photo of my whiteboard showing the first pass at the Campaign Design for CLE

We’re dealing with a Step Zero market (i.e. they don’t necessarily have a conscious problem or need yet), so the whiteboard has column areas for Steps 0 through 5. I’ve added all the Major Objectives, so that I can make sure every one is addressed.

The first, critical Objective is “REACH”, against which I’ve written (in blue) “Affiliates / LinkedIn / Advertising”. Right now, I think any of these channels may work well. We might end up trying them all, or going with one preferred route to start. The minimum this first message has to do is to pique the prospect’s interest and get them to click through to the “INITIAL MESSAGE”.

“INITIAL MESSAGE” covers Step 0 through to Step 3. My note (all my notes are in blue, for clarity) says, “No pricing, typically ~2%” because cost is not the question at this point. The goal is to build up the need to the point where cost turns into “investment”.

Under Step 1 (identifying the problem), I have, “You’re a forward thinker and careful with investing $” (as a guide to the ideal target prospect, because it will be the more pro-active and technology-aware senior exec that sees the value in this).

I also have “People aren’t aware of their issues – TRUE” because that is one of the building blocks of the problem.

The problem might be defined in this way (possibly with each point illustrated with Bill’s real-world experience)…

  • You are responsible for the performance of hundreds of team leaders and managers.
  • None of us is perfect. I have never come across a manager who was born with the full skillset required to get the best performance and results in ever situation. We all have our shortcomings and blind spots, which may only show up in certain scenarios.
  • The problem is, we can’t see our own areas of weakness. And colleagues or subordinates may not feel able to point them out.
  • So we have a situation where people at all levels of management may be under-performing, without even knowing they are under-performing! This is unfortunately all too common.
  • Usually, it is only when matters escalate to crisis point that consultants like us are brought in. Now, we can invariably deliver a solution, but there are a few drawbacks with using that kind of solution
    • We’re expensive (five figures per day).
    • There are very few leadership performance specialists with our degree of experience.
    • By the time you have a crisis on your hands, it has probably already done significant damage.
  • We have seen this time and time again, even in organisations that generally have great leadership, great resources, and a great spirit.

You can see how that logical argument sets up the need: a gap that needs to be filled. This description of the Problem could form the first experience, leaving the prospect with a problem that needs solving.

Under Step 2 (where we acknowledge and aim to discredit alternative solutions to the problem), I have written “Books are blunt and you don’t action” and “Consultants very expensive.”

We may have already mentioned why bringing in consultants is extremely inefficient (so, in a way, we’re putting CLE’s historical business up as a straw man to knock down too).

Below “Set up ideal solution,” I’ve added, “Use new technology.” The angle here will be to say that the Internet has revolutionised so many areas of work (e.g. CRM, lead generation, PR through social media to name a few), delivering incredible cost savings and efficiencies. But the world of leadership development has so far lagged behind the technology revolution. (Now we’ve started to set up what the ideal solution may look like.)

We might then go on to say, “Imagine if you didn’t have to wait for a management crisis to bring in the top experts. What would your business look like if every single manager on your team had access to a targeted leadership development program every hour of every single day? What would be the impact on your results if you had access to a system that pro-actively identified your managers’ next growth opportunity, and delivered the ideal guidance they need, whenever they need it, on a rolling basis?”

What we’re doing there is both “Setting up the ideal solution” and “Visualising the outcome” – two of the Major Objectives. If you can get your prospect to visualise what something would mean to them (in terms of personal benefits), you are halfway to a sale.

Under Step 3 (where we have presented our alternative, better solution), I’ve added the note “Targeted” to “Benefits” as a reminder that we need to make our benefits very specific to our target prospect. (Note: That’s another great reason to discriminate and focus your target audience. The more you know whom you’re talking to, the better you can focus your message to that exact persona. A generic message designed not to exclude anybody will attract nobody! That’s what polarisation is all about, and that’s also why the logo of Ultimate Web Design is a magnet!)

I’ve added “Case study descriptions” to “Evidence” because it isn’t good enough to claim that you can deliver some benefit. It’s much better to prove it, and the best way is to demonstrate that you’ve done it many times before.

There’s also a comment saying, “Any testimonials?” to which the answer is yes. Here are CLE’s past client testimonials.

After that point, we need to be presenting the call to action to get the prospect to contact CLE to register their interest, and begin the closing process. So later Objectives (Risk reversal, Scarcity, Urgency, Final call to action) will actually be delivered through that process.

Next Steps in Campaign Design

  1. Design the first exposure (which might be a magazine article, letter, affiliate post to a LinkedIn group).
  2. Design the “Initial Message” (video, sales page?)
  3. Set out the scope for the closing call.

Here is the script I’ve written for the Initial Message

This copywriting work represents the conclusion of the initial Strategy & Campaign Design engagement with the client, by agreement. Total time spent: 15 hours.

#1. Initial Ad

Context

A high-level executive sees this, either in an executive leadership magazine, or on a LinkedIn group. It is interesting enough to get them to click through to the pre-sales video (2).

We’re speaking to a progressive and forward-thinking leader, so our language should polarize in favour of that audience.

The ad should either offer a problem, new information, or an opportunity.

Like any ad, it should suggest at something that the target market doesn’t think they already know, but shouldn’t try to make them feel ignorant either.

(Of course, the great thing about online ads is that they can be split-tested. That doesn’t necessarily hold so true in organic promotion on LinkedIn, but we might be able to do some form of testing.)

Headline Ideas

  • How You Can Get Leadership Consultants On-Site 24/7 For Just 2% Of Usual Cost
  • The Radical New Way Forward-Thinking CEOs Are Developing The Leadership Skills Of All Their Managers
  • How Smart Leaders Prevent Costly Management Crises Before They Occur
  • Why I’m Closing The Doors On My Leadership Development Consultancy
  • Why You Should Never Hire Another Leadership Development Consultant
  • The End of Leadership Development As We Know It
  • Is This The Future Of Leadership Development?

The ad body, if any, simply develops the theme of the headline, or could use one of the alternative headline angles.

Clicking on the ad will go straight through to a simple video page. (It might make sense to have a dedicated domain name for this pre-sales video, which can be easily typed in by someone who sees the ad in print.)

#2. Pre-Sales Video

This video is the critical step in the marketing campaign.

It will probably be hosted on a simple, plain page. It takes the prospect from their initial stage of curiosity (still unaware of the problem or our proposed solution) to the point of thinking that they should seriously look into the CLE package for their business.

So the video must deliver all the key Objectives from the Campaign Design.

  • Distinguish who needs to hear this message
  • Establish and highlight the problem and its consequences
  • Discredit alternatives (including doing nothing)
  • Set up criteria for an ideal solution
  • Present our solution, which fits the criteria
  • Illustrate the benefits of that solution (Note: Our job is not to get someone ready to buy, but interested and ready to find out more.)
  • Provide a next step

Script

Hello. My name is Bill Paradis.

I have spent four decades at the sharp end of business leadership. Since 1999 I have delivered specialized leadership development to a selection of large businesses through my consulting firm.

But on one day in {late 2014}, we shut it all down.

It is not because we were not successful. On the contrary. In fact, our methods worked so well that we were able to guarantee to deliver the results that our clients needed, and we did that time after time. It was very good, profitable business.

We didn’t close it down due to lack of demand. Corporations in this country need effective leaders and managers more than ever.

The reason we shut down that business is due to something else. Something that is shaking up the way business works. This is a sea change, a true game changer, and it’s impacting every single sector and every business function.

Some of our smartest leaders can see the way the tide is going and are embracing the change. Others are ignoring it, which I think is a mistake.

Of course I’m talking about the digital information revolution. The new technology is overturning the way we share information, at every level of our businesses.

The most forward-thinking senior executives really get the scale of what the digital content revolution means for business. You know that it goes far beyond simply reducing the costs of information delivery, increasing speed, and scalability. Sure, those factors are dramatic, but they are really only the tip of the iceberg…

You know that the challenge for leadership is not a lack of information. There is no shortage of information, we’re drowning in information, we’re tapped into an endless stream coming at us in real time.

But we know we don’t need a firehose of data. In fact, too much data can impair our performance.

No. What we need is intelligence.

The true value that digital media promises is in delivering targeted intelligence,
where it is most needed, and when it is needed.

How does this relate to leadership development and how did it lead to me throwing out a highly profitable business model?

I think the consulting sector is one of the last to feel the impact of the digital revolution. Of course, there is no shortage of consultants ready to sell you reports, advice, or a range of other services about digital, but this sector assumed it was immune from having to adapt its own models.

Take my specialty: leadership development. Our methods have always depended on gathering a significant amount of information, providing intuitive diagnoses, and setting out customized development plans for every unique problem. Surely such a sensitive and specialized service could only be carried out by highly experienced consultants, and could only happen on-site.

That’s what consulting firms would have you believe, and — if true — it would certainly justify fees of $15,000 or more per day to have teams like mine come in to help you resolve your leadership challenges.

Well, I now believe that is based on false assumptions. In fact, in my experience, the majority of leadership development problems are not unique. And that realization has radical implications.

Back in 1999, when I founded my first management consultancy, I developed a proprietary conceptual model for leadership, based on detailed analysis, the input of a number of psychologists, and of course 25 years’ experience in transforming businesses.

Over the past fifteen years, I have continued to develop and improve this model. This unique piece of intellectual property gave us a real advantage, which has continued to prove its value right up to the present day.

Let me share with you what I realized. The more leaders I worked with, the more I saw the same problems coming up again and again.

Then, when I analyzed the patterns, I realized that success in leadership rests on just seven core principles, and that each one has a very specific set of skills that can be easily developed.

But, as I’m sure you know, you can only develop a skill if you can first identify that it needs to be developed. When we’re in a position of authority, when we’re successful, it’s easy to think we’re . And who’s going to tell us we’re not too good at something? So as leaders we need a robust method for revealing the blind spots in our skillsets.

That’s why we developed methods for identifying those areas that need development, using our own 360-degree review, together with highly specific targeted training materials for each skill.

What I want you to know is, that’s the exact process we used again and again in our consulting business for fifteen years, and it delivered great results every time.

{Maybe mention a few client testimonials here?}

It was in {2012??} when I got the big realization, which hit me like a train

It seemed we had modeled this seemingly incredibly complex discipline to a level that just maybe it could be adapted to digital media!

If we could find a way first to deliver the crucial analysis that would help leaders and managers to identify areas for improvement, and then to provide targeted skills training… all digitally, that would enable us to reach far more than the small group of hand-picked corporations that could afford our services.

It would enable us to reach every business that needed that support, and it could be delivered in an entirely new way.

If we could do that, it would mean the game-changing power of the digital media revolution could transform the way that corporations accessed leadership development.

Of course, instead of paying five-figure fees for in-person, on-site consulting, the analysis and training could be delivered digitally, for a tiny fraction of the cost.

But, more importantly, it would mean that companies wouldn’t need to wait until they had a management crisis on their hands, or were facing huge change, to call in help.

Affordable 24/7 access would mean that every manager, every leader, every executive, could develop their leadership skills proactively, when and where it suited them. And that would have profound implications for corporate performance.

And that’s exactly what we did. We have spent three years building a platform that would allow managers and leaders at every level in any medium-sized or large organization to access the exact same development methods that previously had only been available to a select few.

And on that day in late 2014, we were able to take the step of moving our leadership development consulting business 100% online.

We’re starting small, honing our platform with just a few of the right kind of organizations. But the feedback we have already received is extremely encouraging.

If you’re a business leader, what does this mean to your business?

Well, it depends what type of leader you are.

I know that not everyone is ready to move from high-ticket in-person consulting to an online model. It requires a particular type of attitude: one that sees every team leader at every level as valuable enough to invest in proactively, and that acknowledges that each person can be responsible for their own development.

Not every business has that kind of culture. Many still use battle-tested top-down command-and-control structures, and they can still get results. Don’t get me wrong. Calling in leadership consultants when things get rocky works as well today as it ever did. It’s just that now, there’s an alternative.

So if you’re one of those who are not afraid to challenge long-held beliefs, who’s ready to embrace new, radical ways of doing business, maybe we can help you to realize the change you want to see, to create a culture that values every leader, and to see the development of every individual as an on-going process — not a lifeline for times of crisis.

If that’s you, I would invite you to get in touch with us at the Center for Leadership Excellence. We have no salesmen. You’ll speak to an experienced leadership consultant.

 

 

Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Partners in Pregnancy

1. Circuit Interview (14 October, 2014)

Liz Earle started to train as a midwife in the UK’s NHS (National Health Service), but quit the profession when she noticed that the reality of modern midwifery was overwhelmingly negative, concerned with minimizing risk, rather than taking a qualitative and positive attitude, offering pregnant women options that could deliver the best quality of birth.

Liz trained in hypnobirthing, and is now trying to build a small social enterprise (a for-profit business run like a non-profit), which can let her have a much more positive impact on parents.

It emerged that the crux of Liz’s business challenge is trying too many ideas (she has at least seven offerings), but not enough time to do them all. I am proposing she develop her single product idea (all the other offerings are service), which has the most potential to scale and to deliver the kind of cashflow she needs to see sustained growth and to have the maximum possible impact in the world.

1.1 Overview (MP3 | 16 minutes | Download: 27MB)

1.2 The Brand (MP3 | 41 minutes | Download: 66MB)

1.3 Products and Services (MP3 | 27 minutes | Download: 43MB)

1.4 Market (MP3 | 17 minutes | Download: 28MB)

1.5 Problem (MP3 | 24 minutes | Download: 38MB)

1.6 Propositions (MP3 | 39 minutes | Download: 18MB)


2. Circuit Review (21 October, 2014)

2.1 General Direction (MP3 | 12 minutes | Download: 5MB)

Here’s a summary of my analysis of the PiP Circuit, with the reasoning why I am proposing they focus on the only online product option.

Essentially, this fledgling business has multiple potential business streams (i.e. Circuits). The service ones all share the same limitations. The product option is far more appealing, not only in terms of profit  (and what that may make possible for the business), but also for getting this vital information to as many new mums-to-be as possible.

Circuit Breakdown

  1. Brand
    • Origin story is powerful (walking out on midwifery training for reasons of conscience); puts the rights of pregnant women first; that should connect with the WHY of the target audience.
    • Name: “Partners in Pregnancy” is appropriate to everything they want to offer.
    • There’s clearly passion there, a strong desire to make a real difference (not just to make a profit), which I think people will connect with, if the story is told boldly.
    • The brand stands for women’s right to have “your birth, your way,” championing natural / home births wherever possible, and also taking a stand that giving birth does not need to be scary or distressing (in most cases).
    • It stands against the default (NHS) approach that is overwhelmingly concerned with minimising risk (to the NHS), and is only partially concerned with the potential to make birthing a positive experience. The outcome is that mothers are rushed through an industrialised birthing factory, have pain relief pushed on them (even if they don’t need it), and sent into theatre for C-sections far too frequently. All these factors can have long-term detrimental impact on the mother and on the baby.
    • What would maxing the WHY look like? Giving tens or hundreds of thousands of women access to the support they really need in order to prepare for great births.
    • The global proposition = “You Deserve Your Birth, Your Way”
    • The immediate goal seems to be for Liz Earle to be able to work on developing PiP full-time. Longer-term, it would be to reach many times more women than she can do now.
  2. Products & Services
    • This is where the Circuit breaks down. We have too many P&S. It’s clear to me that the “Online Antenatal Classes” are definitely the way to go, for the simple reason that digital products have natural strengths over services:
      • Digital products are not limited by the usual service limit: hourly rate x # people x # hours.
      • Most services are limited by geography. DP are not. (In fact, we might think about rolling this model out to other countries.)
      • Record once, sell many times over, means that there’s no real limit to the number of times an hour’s work can be consumed, or can benefit a customer.
      • Marginal cost-of-sale means that gross profits are almost 100 percent.
      • Also, sales funnels can be entirely online, which means they’re scalable too.
      • Bottom line… We could get one, a hundred, or a thousand new customers per day.
    • Just sticking with the “Online Antenatal Classes” for now. These offer:
      • Access to ALL the pregnancy, birth preparation, birthing, and post-natal advice you need – provided by independent professionals.
      • So that you can make fully-informed choices about what’s BEST for YOU and best for your baby, not just what’s best for the National Health Service’s statistics.
    • Trustmarks are somewhat limited. We can show qualifications, and probably have some great testimonials.
    • Note: the product does not have a name yet.
  3. Proposition
    • There are multiple benefits of the “Online Antenatal Classes”
      • Affordable (could be delivered for under £50, compared to £145-£300 for NCT courses)
      • Universally accessible. Doesn’t matter if you’re housebound in the inner city, or in a remote cottage on the Isle of Lewis. If you’ve got Internet, you can get the course.
      • Universally available. NHS classes tend to book up early. There’s no limit to availability with online courses. And you don’t have to wait for one starting near you. You can join instantly on any day.
      • No travel required (which may be an issue with most courses that are delivered in the third trimester).
      • Accessible 24/7, i.e. when YOU need support or advice.
      • Available for a FULL 12 months (possibly), not just in the last 12 weeks. That means you can get informed and start making your choices and preparations earlier. Plus, you get plenty of support after your birth.
      • No time limit. You can get dozens (even hundreds) of hours of recorded videos from multiple professionals (not just one midwife or community health worker), plus with professionally-staffed forums you can ask as many questions as YOU need to, without embarrassment. Most NHS or NCT classes are limited to 7-20 hours, and that may not be enough time for you to get the answers to all your questions that you really need in order to be confident you’ve made fully-informed choices.
      • If we could do live video chat rooms, available 24/7, that would be an incredible comfort and benefit to anyone who needs support NOW.
    • The product’s uniqueness is that it offers far more information and guidance than any other provider, all from professionals, that’s completely unbiased, so that women get ALL the information they need, WHEN they need it, so that they can be 100% sure they’re ready for the birth they want, their way (i.e. the promised outcome).
    • Scarcity does not apply. Urgency is an effect of the natural timing of pregnancy. But we would aim to enrol customers as early as possible.
    • The sell should not need much conversation or Q&A. A free taster of material would give a good idea, backed up with as much social proof as we can muster.
    • This would be a long-term, rolling promotion (making SEO and organic-social appealing).
  4. Problem we solve
    • Overall problem: “How can I know I’ve got all the information and support I need to plan the right birth for me and for my baby?”
    • Additional problem factors:
      • NHS classes fill up quickly.
      • They’re limited to a few hours, so you may not get all your questions answered.
      • There may not be one starting near you.
      • It may be a hassle to attend.
      • There may be a charge for NHS classes. NCT classes cost a lot more.
      • You may not get on with the individual presenting the classes (look up reviews of NHS classes, which are generally a lot more negative than I expected).
    • The problem is not persistent (outside the pregnancy period) and is very unlikely to be frequent, as most mothers approaching their second or subsequent births should already feel informed.
    • There are many potential negative consequences if the problem (of lack of timely information) is not addressed. However, there is a lack of education around these consequences. While we do not want to be too negative (or scare-mongering), we ought to outline the consequences of making the wrong decisions as part of the pre-sale education process. It’s natural pre-sale (free) content as it helps to define the need.
  5. Market
    • The market is large and easily distinguished (focusing on first-time mothers):
      • There are about 750,000 live births in the UK each year. It is likely that over 150,000 of these are first births.
    • The market is overwhelmingly at Step Two: They know that NHS classes exist, and possibly NCT classes.
    • Liz finds that the majority of customers who are interested in positive birthing are white, middle class, and fairly well educated. They’re probably not young mums, so over 20?
    • There is a shift of thinking required to convince them of the benefits of our offering:
      • It may be that lack of availability of physical classes is enough.
      • However, we need to distinguish this offering from other online courses too.
      • The main difference should be the solid focus on providing ALL the information mums-to-be need, without sugar coating, and 100% honest. That’s our edge, and we should keep it sharp!
      • The precursor or matching worldview to our offering is, “I deserve my birth, my way… (Not the way the medical establishment wants me to do it)”
      • I’m sure we can find plenty of horror stories to taint the default NHS route.
    • Do they congregate online?
      • There are a LOT of pregnancy groups and pages on Facebook.
      • e.g. Pregnancy Corner has over 1.1 million likes.
      • There are also plenty of alternative health and healthy living groups.
      • There should be plenty of scope for affiliate marketing, maybe also “guerillaffiliates“?
      • Plus, EVERY mum-to-be is given the “Emma’s Diary” book as part of their “bounty pack” by midwives. We can advertise in here for a few £thousand.

3. Campaign Design

This is turning out to be a fascinating campaign. (I’m beginning to wonder if every potential business campaign is truly fascinating, if you take the time to dig beneath the surface and get into the heart of what they want to achieve.)

Clearly, after the Circuit Review, the Product option (online antenatal classes) was the right proposition to take to market first, because it’s a digital/information product, so can therefore be sold an unlimited number of times, in theory. The strategy should be for that product to generate working capital, which can then be used to develop other areas of the PiP business.

Problem of No Product

Our challenge, then, is to take a brand new product to market. The product doesn’t exist in any form today, and it will eventually be significant in size. That means it will require a significant amount of work (i.e. investment) to complete.

That fact introduces restrictions, but fortunately there is one good proven model that we can draw on…

“J-I-T” Product Building Tactic

The first model is “Just-in-time”, which I used for the original Pro Web Design Course. This means that you go to market with an offer for an information product that doesn’t exist yet, and enter into a special trade.

Take the case of the PWDC. I started with a simple sales letter, saying I was about to start a six-month programme, and that I was looking for a restricted group of (in this case, 20) members for my “Foundation Group”.

Those early-bird or foundation members would not get instant access to an existing product. That’s the downside. And whenever we have a downside, we need to flip the perceived negative into a positive.

In this case, as with PWDC, the positive spin is that “you can be part of the group that we build the product around.” So you could get one-to-one interaction, which future participants won’t get.

In fact, this approach also benefits the product maker, because it lets them both design and tailor the material thanks to getting significant real-time input from a group of highly engaged real users. So it’s a win-win.

Vox Pop Styling

I thought that, particularly if we weren’t going to produce a lot of content up-front, that it might make sense to go against the default high-production-value video product that we’re used to seeing from Internet marketers, and instead to go with the YouTube-style “vox pop” approach.

We’re now living in a world where everyone can be not only a publisher, but a video publisher, thanks to carrying fully-featured audio-video recording devices literally in our pockets, and the ability to publish our videos with a few taps so that they can be seen by everyone in the online world, via YouTube, Facebook, and countless other channels.

This is just one example of how we’re moving away from top-down models to bottom-up models that empower individuals. So we don’t have to copy the way that media conglomerates produce and distribute content.

My idea is that we can go for a more interactive, sharing type of model, where members can post questions that get answered by a panel of experts using cheap (or free) webinar channels, and which can then be retrospectively sliced into short instructive videos on the various topics, which build over time into a comprehensive library of broad expert advice.

A quick domain search revealed that Antenatal.tv was available, so we snapped that up. (“Antenatal” is the British equivalent of “Prenatal” in American English.)

We also decided that, if we do go multinational over time, there should be different sites for different territories. One of the main reasons is that certain terminology differs, but also the way that medical and legal systems work would make some content redundant. It would also be easier to use a single currency. If we do have multiple sites, much of the content might be repurposed across several of them, but other content will require localised (or localized) versions :-)

Route to Market

So that J-I-T model informs the actual proposition. The next question is how actually to fund the development. The project will need some cash up-front to cover basic investment in hosting, web design, and the time that the founding experts will need to invest.

The first option I considered was a classic product launch, modeled on Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula”. I won’t reveal too much of Jeff’s proprietary IP here, but I would encourage to visit ProductLaunchFormula.com and enter your email to get Jeff’s pre-sales video sequence, where he explains the fundamentals far better than I could.

In brief, the PLF tactic centres on what Jeff Walker calls the “sideways sales letter”. Instead of presenting a long sales letter (which is vertical), you break the steps down and present them in a follow-up sequence, usually consisting of three videos, which entice prospects to enter their email address, join your list, and thereby receive the sequence (and of course more content over time if they don’t buy).

This is a proven tactic, but it can have its drawbacks. One is that you have to promise enough value up-front to get people ready to trade their email address. That requires an obvious, easily communicated problem or opportunity.

Now, the PLF sales page (as it currently stands) is using the following appeal, which is strong (and also honest)…

Do You Know The One Critical Strategy Behind The Most Successful Product Launches?

Does that apply to the Antenatal.tv proposition? We might find a simple appeal like that, and discussed ideas like, “The (three) things the NHS doesn’t want you to know about childbirth”, which is admittedly rather a confrontational angle.

Then I realised there was a potentially simpler route to market, which we could try before going down the conventional product launch route, which is…

Crowdfunding

Partners in Pregnancy is a self-proclaimed “social enterprise”, which means that its primary purpose is social good, and that surplus profits will always be channeled to further that mission.

With that in mind, and also considering the fact that ANTV is a campaign that people could get passionate about, I wondered if we could try crowdfunding first. We also have something to offer (in the form of early-bird / foundation membership), which might make a useful offer to give supporters.

I reviewed a few of the bigger platforms, including Start Some Good and Kickstarter, but selected IndieGoGo as the best fit. (Kickstarter is positioned to fund creative projects, and Start Some Good just felt a bit low-end for us, while IndieGoGo seemed to be both great for a social project and big and professional enough to get good exposure.)

Turning to the actual campaign design, the crowdfunding channel gives us a fixed structure to work within, simplifying many of the choices we might otherwise have to make.

  1. Reaching people: We can drive prospects to the campaign page, through social media, email, etc., but IndieGoGo also makes it easy for people to browse interesting projects to fund, which is a bonus.
  2. The Campaign page: This is the home of the “reason-why” story, usually including a video, which will take people from whatever their starting awareness step is (0-3) through framing the problem, explaining why the existing solutions are unsatisfactory, and presenting Antenatal.tv as an ideal solution, in other words taking them right through to Step 4 or even 5.
  3. Perks: These are the bonuses or bribes you offer people who pledge to fund the campaign. It’s good to have a range of perks that enable people to pledge anything they can afford, from small “tip” amounts to much larger bids.

There are several advantages to trying the crowdfunding route:

  • Less management for us. All the bidding and money handling is done for you, in return for around a 5% fee. (A lot less than, setting up the sales page, video hosting, payment processing, etc. for a new launch.)
  • There’s little up-front cost, although it’s still important to invest good time into your offer!
  • Because of that it’s really a no-lose option. We could raise tens of thousands, or very little, and all it really costs is our time to design the crowdfunding campaign, which is never time lost, as we should be able to repurpose some of the work in future alternative campaigns if needed.
  • There’s a ready-made channel that can reach new audience of people willing to fund social projects.
  • Plus we get some kudos from being featured on a recognised platform.

Next Step: Script the “Reason Why” Story Video » (Coming soon)

Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Skunk Ape Base

1. Circuit Interview (14 October, 2014)

Extreme sportsman Jeff Whitt has started Skunk Ape Base, a small business to manufacture and sell his innovative base jumping container.

The Circuit Review delivered one particularly important insight into Jeff’s target market, using the “Technology Adoption Curve” model, which could deliver huge cost savings for Jeff’s marketing campaign.

As a consequence, we realised that we might reach the true target market (for this phase in the product’s TAC lifecycle) with a cheap and easy PR campaign, rather than spending resources trying to reach out to the entire possible market.

1.1 Overview (MP3 | 22 minutes | Download: 10MB)

1.2 Look at the Product (Part 1) (MP4 | 4 minutes)

1.3 Product Origin Story (MP3 | 2 minutes)

1.4 Look at the Product (Part 2) (MP4 | 2 minutes)

1.5 Business and Positioning (MP3 | 44 minutes)

1.6 Market, Problem, and Proposition (MP3 | 45 minutes)

2. Circuit Review (24 October, 2014)

When you listen to the recordings above, you’ll know that Jeff and I made early progress on analysing the Circuit during the Interview call.

  • The brand is good (clear and distinctive): small, enthusiast, possibly marketable as “obsessive”?
  • The product itself is also good: exclusive, original design, should be safer than competition. The “all-in” pricing should be attractive, and SAB as a supplier promises to be responsive, quick to deliver, and happy to customise.
  • We then identified the ideal market as innovators / early adopters, and that significantly informs the other decisions.
  • Let’s consider the problem… Clearly, base jumpers are happy to jump with the gear that they’ve got, so we can assume the issue that a handful of chutes have failed to deploy is not a present and urgent problem to solve. If we take the innovator market, though, what do they crave? In general, that personality type wants: the latest and best.
  • So… the proposition should then be, “This is the latest and best: a new, innovative design that’s available only to an exclusive group of hardcore jumpers.”

Important: It is subtle insights like “We should be targeting innovators” that can make the difference between success and failure of a marketing campaign. And they’re very easy to overlook without a comprehensive questioning process.

One note I’d add: I don’t think the suggested strap line, “Your Next Base Jumping Container” is targeted well enough at the innovator market. It’s too generic and populist. Something like, “A Jump in Evolution” might work better, suggesting exclusivity, innovation, and novelty, which is what turns our innovator crowd on.

3. Campaign Design (24 October, 2014)

We can even start to make some decisions about how to take this to market.

Because we’re not going for the mass market, only the leading edge of innovators, we don’t need to cast a wide net (e.g. Facebook ads).

SAB-FB-projection

The first question should always be, “Where do these people congregate?” and the most likely first port of call would be magazines, particularly (as this is a small sport):

  • BLINC magazine (seems to be the leader, not a huge site in general Internet terms)
  • EDGE magazine (probably very new, barely established)

So the way forward should be to write a great origin story, which is specifically written to target the interests of the innovator sub-group. If a few of them buy, they will in turn influence the early adopters, who are the key to the early majority of the market.

That story should be offered to the specialist base jumping magazines first, probably with an interview. It might also then be offered to any other relevant extreme sports publications, and even possibly tangential publications interested in technology and design (such as Wired?). However, any other publications must have credibility with the innovator crowd.

Note: It is possible that a new, edge sport like base jumping may have a greater representation in the innovator / early adopter segments, compared to the typical technology adoption curve.

Then, any exposure should be deliberately amplified on social media, using Jeff’s network of friends (i.e. guerilla marketing).

It might also be interesting to make a video about the product and to try to get that featured by YouTube channels, such as Turbolenza (30,000 subscribers). The reasoning is that our target audience may need to be exposed to the brand/product more than once in order to get their attention (however, that factor is not such an issue when you’re looking at the early adoption market, because they actually seek out the unique and exclusive).

So, overall, we’re looking at a low-cost PR campaign with a strong personality element.

3.1 Campaign Design continued (25 November, 2014)

Here’s my circuit design whiteboard for Skunk Ape Base. We’re starting with a Step Zero market, so I have all the steps from zero to five marked out, with the major objectives shown in black. (You don’t have to read all the words, I’m really just sharing my method.)

SAB-CD-board

I’ll talk you through what I’ve put for each step.

Step Zero

  • The major objective  is to Reach the target audience, who are “Early adopter / innovator base jumping enthusiasts”.
  • This depends on where they congregate, and right now we can only guess. It may be that they don’t congregate in great numbers, as it’s a fringe sport. But we should cover all the bases (no pun intended), with magazines, and YouTube in particular.
    • We also have the option of using YouTube advertising, which is great if your primary medium is likely to be video, as I think ours will be. However, I do see a problem. The number of people who like watching base jumping on YouTube is far larger than our target market: the people who participate in the sport! Jeff says there are maybe 2000 active participants in the United States. But this video alone (ranking #1 on YouTube for “base juping”) has had over 10 million views and over 58,000 likes (that means likes from 58,000 Google accounts).
    • I looked up “base jumping” on Google’s AdWords research tool, and that reports just 1900 searches per month (exact-match) on the Google search engine (which does not include YouTube!) But just that top video has been seen 10 million times in 23 months since it was posted on December 25th, 2012. That’s over 400,000 views per month, way more than the size of the active base jumping community.
    • Taking all that information, if we promote with YouTube ads (shown before base jumping videos) we’re likely only to be hitting our target market less than 4% of the time (2000 into 58,000)!
    • I’ve added “Mark’s boost method” under YouTube, because my buddy Mark Attwood has been playing with a technique to boost the rankings of videos on YouTube (and, by extension, Google’s general results as well!), by getting a group of people to search for a term and then watch and like a particular video on YouTube, giving that video a short-term relevance boost that may generate compound benefits over time (the higher you rank, the more views and likes you’ll get). So I’m favouring YouTube organic promotion over YouTube ads at this point.
  • The second major objective (which may happen anywhere) is Enlist. In other words, can we get people to give us their contact details, so that we can continue the conversation with them, instead of waiting for them to come across our messaging again?
    • I’ve written, “Email for product news + updates when we can take orders.” Right now, Jeff’s site only has an email signup box. Obviously, not many people are going to find their way to skunkapebase.com today. Why would they? So maybe enlisting could be our first conversion event, after they’ve seen our initial message?
  • Key question: What are we going to serve up as this initial experience?
    • My gut feel is that video is the best medium, partly because it’s a dynamic and very visual sport, but also because that’s how we can show how it works (which we know is much better than claiming that it works). (For evidence, we only need to consider how popular base jumping videos are compared to base jumping itself!)
    • I’m also coming to the conclusion that the best way to tell Jeff’s story will be to create a short documentary. Video is a better format than text these days, particularly when the experience can be shown visual. (Text or audio might be great to communicate abstract ideas, but are clearly weaker in this case.)
    • If we do go with video, we should be seriously considering the Facebook platform, both organic and promoted posts. There is no reason to think our target market isn’t using Facebook. In fact, you can test this by typing “Groups named base jumping” into Facebook’s search box. I spotted at least three groups with over a thousand members. That may be a great channel to reach our target market.

Step One

  • Really, our video should take viewers all the way from Step Zero (where we emphasise the problem) to at least Step Four (where they realise the benefits of the product to them).
  • We need to get people to Step One by showing there’s a problem. That’s fairly straightforward, and would happen near the start of our documentary video. The problem is well defined: “There have been several fatalities caused by flap failure.” We only need to reference the official worldwide fatality roll call here.
    • I should point out that, while there are almost 250 fatalities listed there (six in September 2014 alone), many of the more recent ones seem to be related to flying with wingsuits, which is highly dangerous, and unrelated to equipment failure. However, Jeff says it is generally acknowledged that these failures have accounted for numerous deaths.
    • (It may or may not be necessary to emphasise that base jumpers only carry one ‘chute.)
  • The cost of the problem should not need to be stressed.

Step Two

  • We don’t really need to get people to Step Two. It’s pretty much automatic once you acknowledge the problem. The reason is, there are really no other solutions (aside from Jeff’s). You either jump with the existing kit designs, or you don’t.
  • Our job at Step Two is to show why the existing solutions are not acceptable (Discrediting). That is pretty much a case of showing visually why the current dominant design of release flap inherits an important weakness, which can lead (in rare cases) to failure to deploy the ‘chute.
  • It might make sense to cite a couple of fatal accidents where this has been the acknowledged cause (all this is in our documentary video).
  • The next major S2 objective is “Visualise Outcome“. In this case, the outcome we’re selling is the feeling of being able to have maximum trust in your kit. That just leaves the sport down to your skill and judgement. I would pitch this as a statement of belief, something like, “When you’re preparing to jump, there are enough factors to worry about: like wind, trajectory, and visualising your landing… Your equipment shouldn’t be one of them.” That should resonate positively with the right kind of target customer. They should be nodding along in agreement.
  • That really leads naturally into the final major objective at S2: Set up the Ideal Solution. Jeff simply needs to say, along the lines of, “I realized we needed a better kind of pack design, which would open under all conditions without jamming.” (Could say more here, also this could be added by a narrator.)
  • Upon completing Step Two, the viewer should be experiencing a sense of dissatisfaction and need, which we will now proceed to fill.

Step Three

  • At S3, we introduce our solution, and show how it perfectly fills the space we left open at S2.
  • To Present our solution, all we need to do here is to show how the SAB design works, and why it helps to avoid the problem of failure. This should be done visually.
    • Show the product in hand, and explain in detail why the flap design is preferable.
  • I’ve put the general objective “Show authority and credibility” here, but it could be inserted earlier.
    • Our evidence is really: how long Jeff has been skydiving and base jumping; why he is a core member of the US base jumping community; and how his life is all about the sport, travelling the globe to pursue his passion.
    • Viewers should know they can trust Jeff because of his passion and commitment to serving the community.
  • I’ve also added “Why?” at this point, although it may also be established earlier.
    • This means, what is Jeff’s motivation? Why does the company exist?
    • We always want our WHY to resonate with the target market’s WHY. In this case, particularly because we’re talking to an innovator / early adopter market, we should focus on the “obsession with making the very best, high-performance rig possible“.

Step Four

  • At S4, our overall job is to Convince the prospect of the benefits of our product over alternatives. That should not be difficult at this point, but there are various things we can do to allay any doubts:
    • Show the care that goes into the build of each rig (time and materials used). (That may be common to all products on the market, i.e. a “Price of entry” feature, but it can’t harm to communicate it.)
    • We must show a video of the rig in action, i.e. Jeff jumping it. We should also show a slow-motion segment of how it deploys.
  • We should also Prove the value of our offer. Again, this should be fairly obvious, i.e. It could save your life, and what’s that worth?
    • But we can state that this is an affordable package, with all the usual options included.
  • Are there any objections to overcome?
    • We’ve seen the product works.
    • It’s affordable.
    • We should add any other reassurance, possibly focusing on the service element. For example, the care that goes into sizing and fitting, how you can return it for repair, etc.
  • After the offer has been explained, the prospect will either be at Step Five (ready to buy), or not (either they’re not in the target market, or they’re not in a position to buy right now).

Step Five

  • At S5, we should provide the Call to action, and also remove any last obstacles or reasons to say no.
  • Adding scarcity and urgency can help here, and the good news is that we have natural scarcity (which can also create urgency), because Jeff’s throughput is limited. So we should stress that fact.
  • I don’t think we necessarily need to try to invite people to buy at this point! If we’re going for a stand-off stance, saying, “We can only make one every few weeks, so they’re for the keenest jumpers who want the very best,” then we can afford to give a slightly more aloof call to action, such as, “To find out more, please visit SkunkApeBase.com” and offer a link to the site.
    • At the site, they can get further immersed in the brand experience: movies and photos of existing users (which should reinforce the target market segment), more photos of manufacture, and some idea of how to order and how long you’ll need to wait.
    • The more aloof, less needy, sales position could actually make our true target market more keen to place an order, because it fits in with the position we want to project: exclusive, cutting-edge, artisan, and obsessive.
  • At this point, we should be trying to get the prospect’s email address, or at least get them to follow the brand on Facebook. Then we can drip-feed news and updates that support the brand positioning, until they’re at the point where they simply must buy.
  •  One other point to make clear is that this is a position where manipulations such as discounting should never be used! That would dissolve the credibility of the artisan, challenger posture.
Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Testimonials First

1. Strategy

1.1 Circuit Interview

9 October, 2014

Recording of a PWDA Pro Group hangout, where the group discusses the Circuit for a new product we’re planning to launch.

MP3 (1 hour 45 minutes | Download: 48MB)

1.2 Circuit Review

Here’s a brief analysis of the “Testimonials First” Circuit (as explored in the recording above).

Who / Brand

  • We agreed that “Testimonials First” comes from the “Ultimate Web Design” stable.
  • Brand is “Web Design the Right Way”, which is synonymous with “Ultimate Web Design”. (That is a phrase we could think about owning.)
  • We believe in what works.
  • We’re against “cowboy web design”.
  • WHY = making the world a better place, by providing SMBs with the best marketing guidance in an affordable way.

Result: Yes, we’re happy that we know who is offering the product, what we’re about, and why someone would choose to believe in us. Green light!

Product / Service

  • The deliverable is the Testimonials First course, which is a bundle comprising a “Manual” (not “eBook”) together with some recorded video case studies of real-life projects. The Manual tells you what you need to do – the case studies show you how to do it in reality.
  • All early-bird buyers go into a draw to win the TF service done for you (for your own business or for one of your clients).
  • Origin story:
    • It started when Jordan and Sarah were collaborating on a couple of websites, and realised they didn’t have any decent testimonials, so decided to go direct to the customers.
    • Jordan said, “We were doing customer interviews for a few clients. Then, later, when we were trying to come up with a value proposition for the client, we revisited the recordings of the interviews, and had an epiphany. We were getting customer motivation, and better insight into what the client’s value proposition might be than even the client had.”
    • Sarah adds, “It was so much easier than trying to come up with the information ourselves, or trying to go with what the client told us, especially when we realised we could use testimonial content as great headlines. We started thinking that, if we could make the same thing happen again and again, it would make our lives so much easier!”
    • They then mentioned the process in one of our group meetings and told the team how well it seemed to work. So we developed it into a process that we could follow to get the same great results again and again.
  • Pricing: Thinking around $297, but reduced for early-bird launch.
  • (Sarah and Jordan are also planning a “done for you” TF service.)

Result: We’re starting with a single product that is well defined. The launch will have a service element as a prize. There is room to “stack” offerings (e.g. Manual-only, Course, Group coaching program, Done-for-you). We know what we’re selling… Green light!

Proposition

  • The proposition is unique, and radically different, with no direct competition (other than the status quo).
  • This is a method that sets you apart from every other web designer or copywriter, increasing your market value and your rates (Jordan’s words).
  • Here’s a process for getting great content and great websites more easily, every time.
  • Makes your clients happy and excited to hear true, uninhibited customer feedback (Sarah).
  • It’s a trick or shortcut to getting believable and powerful content.
  • (We need to communicate how buyers can use this and profit from it.)
  • Pricing ($99-$299) should be affordable for the target market.
  • Up to 75% of the content creation is done for you.
  • Can provide content ideas for years to come.
  • Get clients who love working with you, and a stronger portfolio.
  • Be more relaxed, confident, and in control over your work.
  • Stop waiting on your clients for website content. Complete projects earlier with less stress and get paid faster. (Clients often don’t really want to write website content either, so it’s rarely their priority.)
  • Value for money: Modest investment should repay itself many times over on your next web design project – and on every project after that!
  • One weakness is that there exists no independent proof we can show that it works, because it’s so new.
    • So we always look to flip weaknesses into strengths! The flip-side of that is, also because it’s so new, you will be among the first few people in the world who’s using this. And, when you speak to prospects, you’ll be able to offer them something that no one else is offering.
  • We have some great testimonials from Ken McCarthy, Perry Marshall, Daniel Levis.
  • The only evidence we have is anecdotal, from Sarah & Jordan.

Green light!

Problem

  • No matter how skilled you are, without the right raw material, you can’t create a highly successful client website, based on highly emotive content.
  • That holds back your portfolio, your client testimonials, and ultimately your rates.
  • Creating content from scratch is laborious, time-consuming, and painful.
  • Asking the client for website content can also be problematic, because clients can tend to use “sector-speak” vocabulary.
  • You’re often guessing at objections. The client may not even know why people don’t buy.
  • It’s hard for the client to get true customer feedback, because their customers may not be totally forthcoming.
  • Website owners and designers/copywriters/PPC or CRO consultants don’t know the words that their real customers use, particularly how they emotionally describe their needs etc.
  • Getting copy for your websites can be a bottleneck, slowing down your projects and messing with your cashflow (?)
  • We’re more presenting an attractive opportunity than addressing a conscious problem.
  • No real urgency or scarcity, because this is a Step Zero problem!
    • We could go for the problem: “How many more years do you think you’ll be able to stay in business, facing more competition every month, turning out the kind of websites you are now?” On-going pain… keep having to sell to new clients all the time, facing squeezed margins…
    • Having a launch window for the original launch should generate some urgency (although not for the rolling sale afterwards).

Green light!

Market

  • Our core target market is the web marketing professional: web designers, copywriters.
    • Who appreciate the importance of content! (i.e. Racking the Shotgun)
  • Secondary markets might include…
    • Business coaches who advise small businesses on marketing.
    • AdWords/Pay-per-click and Conversion Rate Optimisation professionals.
    • Additionally, people with the right manner and aptitude could do this, without necessarily having relevant marketing/design training.
  • Awareness step is Zero or One. Prospect may have nagging doubts about their profitability or lack of growth… maybe a nagging concern that you can’t really put into words.
  • Scale of shift of thinking is fairly modest and straightforward…
    • “Are you still making these mistakes in your website copy?” (We have to give them a problem > Step One).
    • Then we should highlight the impact of the problem (unsatisfying projects, poor testimonials and referrals).
    • You could carry on that way, where will that get you eventually? > Step Two.
    • Did you know there is great, powerful, compelling content that’s out there for the taking? We’ve figured out a way to do that (> Step Three), and here are the ways you’ll benefit (> Step Four).
  • Size of market is large.
  • We only need a few conversions to succeed (i.e. to make it worth our while to run the launch). We would like to make at least $10,000 in launch sales.
  • Congregation? Facebook groups, forums on web design and/or copywriting. (Lots of potential affiliates.)
  • Objections?
    • I’m doing okay right now, getting this from my clients.
    • Will I need to hook up with a copywriter in order to do this? (i.e. “Can I do this” meta-objection.)
    • How much time is this going to take? (A: Probably just a little more time than you’re spending now.)
    • How much will recording equipment and transcription cost me? (A: Lots of recording options: iPhone app, Pamela for Skype, QuickTime player, or digital recorders; and then you can get transcription done for $1/minute. So the costs are very affordable, and will easily be accommodated by the higher fees you can charge.)
  • What’s their WHY?
    • Do good work.
    • Earn a good living (maybe support family).
    • All with minimum grief.
    • Don’t want to spend too much time doing sales. Would prefer doing good work for fewer clients who stick around longer.

Green light!

 

Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago

Tactics

There is a huge number of tactics available to marketers today, and that number will only increase over time, as new channels and technologies come onto the market, and as entrepreneurs come up with new methods.

We need ways to filter down the plethora of options. If we’ve done a thorough Circuit exercise, that will give us a number of factors that should help us to disqualify some of the options, and also to spot the ones that are particularly appropriate.

Posted by Ben Hunt
a couple of years ago