While most online companies struggle to get hits to their sites, Chance Barnett is attracting customers and racking up sales.
Most people don’t know Chance. Direct marketers like him aren’t covered by the cool bloggers because their businesses aren’t as sexy as Twitter’s. But spend a few minutes with Chance and you’ll see that he’s refined a system for dependably launching online products — profitably.
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Chance Barnett, GIG.FM
Chance Barnett is the founder of GIG.FM. He is also Founder & President at Catch Him Inc and Marketing Guru at Hot Topic Media. In his career, he has built 7-figure email subscriber-bases and personally created products and marketing that have sold over $25 million via direct sales and marketing methods.
Andrew: Hi, everyone. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart, and this is my whole interview with Chance Barnett. Chance Barnett is one of the most successful direct marketers. He has sold over $25 million in direct sales and marketing, and in this program he is going to talk to you about how he does that, how he comes up with his products, how he knows whether a product is going to be successful before he launches it. Before he even creates the product, he knows whether it’s going to be successful or not and what you can learn from his experience in your business.
Even if you’re not in direct sales, even if you have no interest in making any kind of sales online, I know that there is a lot you can learn from the way he creates products, the way that he markets them, the way that he gets people not to just come to his website but take their credit cards out and order. And he does that on a regular basis.
I’m so grateful to Chance for coming on Mixergy. I know he doesn’t ordinarily do programs like this, and I know he’s doing this as a favor to me to help you grow so that I can grow Mixergy.com. Thank you, Chance, and here’s my interview with Chance Barnett.
In my introduction for you on Mixergy I said that you sold over $25 million via direct sales. How do you mean? How have you done that?
Chance: I helped start a business with one of my mentors and my business partner, Eben Pagan which was the Date Angel and the Double Your Dating Brand, and that’s dating and relationship advice, mostly dating advice for men. I worked with Eben for several years and then started up our women’s side of the business. So while I was working with Eben, I worked on the business, the operations, and some of the technical aspects of the business. When I started the women’s side of our business, I also became fascinated and have always been fascinated with psychology, learning, how people create transformation in their lives and create more fulfilling lives for themselves.
So I used a variety of skills to build, what a lot of us call information products. And have done that to create eBooks, CDs, and DVDs and market those online through a variety of processes, most of which are landing pages, e-mail, and newsletters and then fulfilling those products. What we don’t do is try and drive a lot of traffic, try and sell advertising against it, and sell a bunch of other people’s products, too. In fact, we never do that, and our commitment is delivering real value to the people who come to our sites and are actually looking for change in their lives.
Andrew: Okay. Where do you get most of your audience?
Chance: It’s a mixture of things. We certainly have a big focus on paid search. So our business I consider the people that we work with on our team have a lot of direct marketing expertise. That’s a lot of the mentorship I’ve received from Eben and a lot of the learning and the networking and the growth and studying that I’ve done over the years. It’s really more in the predictable sources of traffic, Google, of course, being a big one of those.
Andrew: One of the reasons that I was excited about having you here is that you have a different mentality from the way that most people on the Internet think of business. They think of business as, “How do I make the company a little bit more viral? How do I build a cool product that people are going to talk about? How do I get on TechCrunch?” And you’re thinking of, “Where can I find a dependable source of traffic that I can then convert into customers and monetize and hopefully build a business off of in the long-term,” right?
Chance: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I’ll say a couple of things to that point. One, I want to be and I want to learn the most about and know the most about who my customers are. If I’m hoping to get to someone else who is getting to know them and getting data about them and delivering value, I’m only hoping to scratch the surface of who they are and what they’re really looking for.
So when I think about marketing our business and the businesses we’ve grown, I want to go directly to those people, and I want to know from them what they want. I don’t want a third party just being able to channel me some help and assistance. In fact, I’m going to focus on sharing here some really quick, simple ways to do that for your business so that you’re not the one in a million, hopefully, that TechCrunch likes and you become their baby. You’re the one that knows about your market and your audience, and you could actually help people and related audiences because of the insights that you are able to glean from search marketing, if you know how to use these tools.
Andrew: And when we did this pre-interview, the first question I asked you was, “Alright, Chance. Tell me what’s the secret to building a great landing page?” You said, “Hold on there, Andrew.” It actually goes back before that to the person. Can you tell the people what you told me?
Chance: Sure. I’ll actually say that it goes way back to. . . there’s important aspects to a landing page, both to a person which is your potential customer or your prospect, however, you want to call them and actually to who your business is as a whole, what your product is, what your market is, what your position in that market is. So let’s talk first about what your business is, because, I think if you’re considering landing pages and you’re not also considering what your product or service is and how it’s positioned to people that you’re positioning to fail already. That you’ve already lost the game of developing a good landing page and hoping to create a business that you can monetize over time.
So, you know, there’s a story I tell about a really great guy, in fact, I’m going to give him just a gross blatant recommendation here, my friend, Drew Kosas. Drew’s probably brought more value and made me and my business partners more money than any one person. Drew’s gone out and been able to find us deals and advertising deals, like, partnerships to grow our business. But, that’s all to the point that about three and half, four years ago.
Actually, about five years ago I started the Christian Carter and catch them and keep them business which is my female relationship advice business. And about a year and a half prior to that, Drew, who’s a really savvy online marketer had started a business that also targeted women. And Drew had what I would call some interesting success, in fact, for most people it’s life changing success. He had a business that was doing I think roughly 40 thousand dollars a month in sales. Could live a comfortable life on that, but, Drew’s not the kind of guy to sit on that and say isn’t this great and hangout and move to Mexico and surf a lot on the beach like I do. He’s the kind of guy that says I want this to be big. I want a 20 million, 40, 50 million dollar company, I want it all. I want a house in the Beverly Hills and I want to enjoy my life.
Well, after Drew started his business a year and a half into it I came along and I started my business, which was in the women’s space. And within I would say about three and a half months, I’d already caught up to the amount of revenue he was doing in his business. And I can’t tell you since Drew is a competitive and smart guy the level to which this must have bothered him. And I love Drew and he’s such a good guy.
He came to me and he pulled me aside one day and said. “Hey Chance, you know, I want to talk to you about something.” It was kind of bothering him. I was like what’s going on? And Drew said. “Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I’ll have to tell you I was really jealous about your business when you started it because I thought in so many different ways, wow Chance must be better than me and me must be a better marketer than me and he’s smarter at business. He’s doing something that I’m not.”
And while I like to think that’s totally true, the reality is more that I happened to pick the right market. That my business was positioned in a certain way and to a certain market that was a hungrier crowd. That had a higher likelihood of success and a lot of elements that were already there that positioned us for very quick growth. Whereas Drew’s market just didn’t have that. No matter how good he got at what he does, his business wasn’t going to afford that type and that scale of success.
Andrew: Even though you were both marketing information products to women?
Andrew: And I didn’t know that you and I were allowed to talk in this program about Christian Carter. I’m allowed to talk about it here?
Chance: Sure. Of course.
Andrew: Okay. So for people who don’t know, you showed this to me yesterday, Christian Carter is a name that you gave yourself on a website where you create information products, mostly CD’s right? For women, on how to have relationships. Then come on this website and they read a sales letter. They hopefully will buy an E-Book and then from there hopefully they’ll buy some CD’s from you and hopefully they’ll sign up for some kind of membership program. And I say hopefully, but, in reality, it’s all really scientifically thought out.
You’ve tested here and tested there and now, you’re telling us that you and Drew are in the same business and for some reason your business worked better than his, even though he’s ambitious, even though he’s driven, even though he had some success. So he’s not just some schmo coming from nowhere and that of course makes me wonder why? Why were you so successful?
Chance: Well, like I said, we weren’t in the exact same business, but, were in a very similar market. So, the subtle differences were about exactly how we decided to approach the women’s market and what we thought the real burning need and desire was. By the way I just have to throw an important piece of this out there. I got into this not solely because I saw a good market opportunity. I happened to feel like I’m the right person to be doing what I’m doing. I have a history of being around a lot of women and seeing that I could help them.
And I also have a very vested personal interest in (?) in relationships and communication. So, that set me up into having an interesting product and market that I realized I was the right person for. So, Drew’s market was a little bit different. I don’t know if Drew wants me to talk about his market so I can’t say exactly what he did. If you want to get in touch with him, he’ll probably tell you. But, the main point was that, when you look at the numbers and you look at the metrics, when you look at the existing demand for what the, our two products were, mine just had a bigger existing demand so I didn’t have to go around conflating it and go around trying to create that demand. I was able to test and market at it, and then meet that demand.
Andrew: Okay, so the point here isn’t so much you versus Drew as you finding the right market, and if you find the right market, you don’t have to work as hard at it and you don’t have to try to convince people to buy something that their not already ready to buy.
Chance: Absolutely. So that’s really my first tip here is if you’re an entrepreneur , and your about to start a business or your launching a business, think really hard about what your market is and what your position in that market is. And make sure that you can identify and that you have a real story, that personal experience, and the need that your solving for people. So for example, I have a new start-up that’s called GiG.FM.
Andrew: Actually, before we move on from that, and I want to talk about GiG.FM, but going back to Christian Carter, what was the audience that you targeted there? You said that you targeted women, but it seems like… Why were you able to target an audience of women that were ready to buy this? What was so special about the way that you found your audience?
Chance: Well, first I utilized mechanisms that allowed me to learn and to see not just one little aspect of who and what might be interested, but also get insides that allowed me to see related areas to the tune of millions of people online searching for related things each month. So it expanded my market to be a lot broader than his.
Andrew: So you’re saying that before you even built your first product, you researched to find out who your audience should be, and what they were looking for. What did you use to find that?
Chance: So this is exactly the tip that’s kind of that one bullet that you said was interested. What can you do that only takes an hour that can give you more insights and give yourself a higher likelihood of success, and teach you more about your business than your finished product, or any marketing expert or consultant ever could. And that one thing is being able to do research on existing search demand. So, here’s a little formula I’ll give you and I’ve learned this from a bunch of affiliate marketers. I’ve learned it from my business partner up in Pagan. This is what great business people, online business marketers do when they have an idea and their thinking about it.
They don’t rush out and go spend three, six, 12 months building a product. What they do is sit down and say, you know what I want to know more about this market and I want to find out about in an hour. They turn on a Google ad word campaign. They build a series of a few landing pages that are directly targeted to that market or that product and then they find 3 or 4, or maybe even its just 1, related affiliate product that they can sell, so that he can get a window into what that business is. So, if you think about this, it’s a simple process. Most of us know how to do that. We know how to get a website up. We know how to create a landing page, even if it’s not a great converting one, and we know how to link to an affiliate program. So then what’s the value?
Why is it so significant if so many of us can do it? Well, the value is in understanding and recognizing the importance of the numbers that you get out of this. You can learn that you have a great market, and start to test and optimize against that with that traffic that’s coming, and you can learn exactly what words, language, hooks, frames, and positioning of your product that people respond to or don’t before you ever even have to figure out exactly what your product is and how to market it.
Andrew: OK, so if you guys are watching and want us to use your companies, and websites as examples, just put them in the [??] box and I’ll bring them up. Since no one has yet, I haven’t asked for them it, but keep sending…keep telling us about your websites. But since we don’t have one from the audience, I’m going to use one from a friend of mine. My friend Otis Chandler runs a site called good reads. Good reads is a social networking community of people that are into books. Let’s suppose that he were going to start it today.
The first step that he would take today isn’t to code up a first version of good reads. You’re saying the first thing he should do is buy an ad on Google promoting a social network for books, maybe try out a different subset of the community. Maybe Sci-fi first, or maybe business books first, and see what draws in the most audience and then what are they most engaged in. That’s the first step. The second step you say is to find an affiliate program. There’s no affiliate program in the book space.
Andrew: He can create a name site quickly and see if people will join that, or he could create a fake registration page, or… I’m answering all the questions for you.
Chance: There you go.
Andrew: What am I doing here?
Chance: So for example, one thing I did when I made catch them and keep them is I didn’t write my first book and do all the research and really go out and ask questions of women and get feedback, and imagine that I knew the answer to what my market really wanted. I spent a year writing my book, and all that time I did Google AdWords, marketing, to relationship advice, all of these important keywords, and then some of the less obvious ones.
I spent; let’s call it, three to five hundred dollars a month. Not crazy money at all, and I built an email subscriber list during that process. I would email that list at least once a week and say “Here’s what I’m working on, here’s what I’m writing about. Let me give you some of my best stuff from what I’m working on, and please give me your feedback.”
Not only did I get the value of, by the way, going to Google and being able to test headlines just in my Google ads, and see why and how women would respond to one word differently than another, which taught me a lot to begin with, that was the start of my learning process. Then I actually got real feedback about my product development, and started building it for my audience, not pretending that I knew what they really wanted.
Andrew: This whole time that you were spending three, four, five hundred dollars a month on advertising, that was just an investment in the future, you weren’t bringing in any revenue in along the way?
Chance: Zero revenue. Just looking to get information, and value from people who would be my future customers, and trying to give as much value back as I could. I knew that was a no-lose formula because guess what? If I’m doing the work already, I don’t lose anything by giving it away to them. In fact I get to build a lot of rapport and trust, and I get so much back, I’m actually the winner, even though some people look at it as you’re giving things away for free. I see it as the opposite.
Andrew: Okay. We have ResumeBucket on the line, they’re asking us how could we use this for ResumeBucket? ResumeBucket is a website where you can go on, you create your resume, and you can create your resume for anyone to see online. Let’s suppose they were adding a new feature, or thinking of a new feature. How would they use this technique?
Chance: Well, one of the first things I would do is either- you know, today is a different world than when I started my business six years ago. There is so much more you can do to engage a community. You don’t have to build an email newsletter list. In fact, that’s kind of a static world. So if you build an email newsletter list, you have an advantage, because you have this one-way push type of communication, where if you get people signing up, you can get in their email box any time you choose to. That’s an important aspect. But if you build a community, you can push stuff to them but you’re not always sure that people are coming back to that community or destination.
One of the things I would recommend specifically for a resume builder, off the top of my head, is what does the end benefit, the end result look like for your prospect or customer? It’s not building a resume, by the way. It has nothing to do with building a resume. It has everything to do with when they’re seated in a chair, at a job, making a great salary, and they love the job that they’re doing. That’s the thing that you should be leading with, and helping them imagine and get to with your service. Even though your service is really about building them a resume.
Andrew: You gave me a good example of how you did this when you helped a business plan company promote their product. Can you tell people about that story?
Chance: Sure. I feel like I skipped out just for a second, because I have a very specific tip for a resume builder.
Andrew: Oh, please.
Chance: I think you think your business, in part, is great tools to build your resume, when your opportunity is a lot bigger than that. If you’re going to engage people, have them writing in and talking about what their biggest frustration is in interviewing in the current market, and finding the right places to interview. Your market is a lot bigger than just building a resume, so make sure you at least speak to those things in your process.
You can engage your community around that, and get a lot of free attention from other places if you do that in a social type of way. Or you could do it with an email list, and just get feedback from your customers about what they’re liking, what they need help with, and what they don’t. I just wanted to wrap a little bow around that and move onto this next question.
What was it about it; because I have a lot of things I could talk to you about how I helped that company with their business plan. What is it that you’d like to know, Andrew?
Andrew: Let’s talk about the way that they were trying to- what was their product, first of all?
Chance: These guys, I hope they don’t mind me talking about them, and in fact I’ll give them an endorsement since I am talking about them. This is Jay Turo and Dave Lavinsky over at Growthink. They do a couple of things. One, they have a consulting business, where they actually help people with search marketing, with S.E.O., and in building businesses. That’s one aspect of their business.
The other aspect of their business is they actually have a fund that they’ve raised from several thousand investors. They invest in startup and medium-stage companies. They have an investment fund that they also both get people in and get returns for, and they also teach them to invest. Not high net worth investors, even though I think they have some of those; they have the more midrange.
So what I really did with them is they came to me and said, “Hey, we’re doing a lot of consulting and some of the consulting work we do is helping people write business plans and get funding.” That’s interesting, but they’ve done it so much and they’ve helped over 2,000 entrepreneurs do that, that they decided to create a product for this. And low and behold, guess what? This is an info product, an info product about how to write a great business plan.
So I started talking to them and they wanted to market this online. And so I really went through a process of helping them write an engaging letter that would have people really ready to buy and understand the value of what they could bring to them. Now the interesting part is I felt kind of funny because, well, these are guys who are better than I am about teaching people how to build businesses and have been doing it a whole lot longer. But guess what? I was better at helping them communicate what they were great at. And so that’s what I got to do with them.
Andrew: Tell us more because you were saying to me that they were promoting their product and how good the product was, but you had a different angle. You said, “Think about the end goal,” right?
Chance: So I call this the power of the finished story. I never want to talk about it if I’m writing a landing page, if I’m writing a sales letter, if I’m communicating to a potential prospect or customer, I never want to talk about just the thing or the feature that they’re going to get if they buy my product. That’s kind of a Sales 101 no-no. Don’t talk about features; talk about benefits.
Well, there’s a more powerful way to go and take this to the next level, kind of a more meta level, which is talking about and helping a person visual what it’s going to be like when they get that end result, and also how they’re going to feel and how their life is going to be transformed. So for Growth Inc., they were focused on “How do we sell this business plan template?” And it’s a great template and I like their product, and I like the value they can really bring and they’re focused on that.
But what they weren’t really focused on was that power of the finished story. And the finished story came out after I talked to them. They kind of knew it but they hadn’t flagged it as the important crux of what they should market to, which was, it’s not about helping someone write a business plan; it’s about helping someone get funded and even more important than getting funded, growing their business.
And that’s the thing you need to have your prospect thinking about when you’re marketing a business plan template. There’re a million business plan templates out there, but there aren’t a million people who can really help you and have been able to get people to that place of post-funding bliss. And so leading all the way up to that end point is the differentiator in the kind of content or product or marketing that converts and one that doesn’t.
Andrew: Okay, I interrupted you when you were talking about GiG.FM.
Andrew: I’ll ask you about that in a second and then what we’ll do is go from beginning to end – how you come up with an idea, run those ads that you were talking about, get people over to the website, and then get them from just being visitors on your website to taking out their credit cards and buying something. But let’s go back to GiG.FM. You were going to use your site as an example. What is GiG.FM?
Chance: GiG.FM is a personalized concert alerts and recommendation service that reads your iTunes library and gets your zip code and email address, and then can send you targeted messages when the artists that you like are playing in your area. So it’s a free consumer service. And what we’re doing is looking to build a great community there and do great targeted direct marketing around live music events, so it’s personalized to the individual. It’s also an online kind of content play, because we get a lot of great data to play with in order to optimize our website, both from an SEO perspective and from a paid search prospective, in order to drive those subscribers. And then as we build our community, our longer-term vision I’ll share, a tiny bit of it is to build tools to help venues and artists market better into our community and out on the Web.
Andrew: Okay, and so how can you use these techniques at your site on GiG.FM? Before you built it, how’d you use the techniques you talked to us about?
Chance: Sure, well, I started the business not because I think it’s cool, even though I do think it’s cool and I want to be around live music and I love live music. I started because there was a real human need that was going unserved and was talked about. And that need looked like – I would sit down with a person, or I’d seen it all the time – people sit down at lunch and someone says, “Oh, this weekend I went and saw Coldplay’s concert and it was so great.” And the person across at the table says, “Oh, man, I own all their albums. How come I didn’t know they were playing? That’s kind of ridiculous. I really would have loved to have gone.”
So that’s the real need that I’m feeling. But it’s not a huge, dying need. The interesting part is that you can have that need fulfilled across every artist in every city that you can imagine in North America, or actually all over the world. So our vision is to fill on that need or that goal, to have people in touch and in sync with those things. It’s kind of a funny place in the music businesses in where they’re crying that they’re having a hard time monetizing, and they’re losing a lot of sales.
And I’m sympathetic to that. But there are also mountains of data sitting on everyone’s computer. And no one’s crunching that data and really saying, I want to go after and create a very personalized experience to give you what you want. And I hope and I think that you’ll be willing to pay for some aspect of that. No one’s doing that really, really well.
Andrew: So how did you test it? I’m not sure that I follow. Did you run the Google ads before you started?
Andrew: Did you get those results?
Chance: I did. So, like I said, I think, not just the Coldplay instance, but every instance of an artist across all of, we’re just taking North America, if you go to Google, you can very quickly search for an artist’s name and see how many searches there are on a monthly basis. As you can imagine, some artists get more searches. Some get less. Well, there’s also regional searches, and so you can look for those things and see how many people are looking for those things in Los Angeles.
And that’s a competitive market where you can bid for those things in Google. So I spent time researching it, and looking at those things, and saying, is this a competitive market? Are there too many people in it? How good of a job are they doing? And what are their landing pages, their services, their ads and their product look like.
And in that whole mix, I would start with a simple search result. If you go to Google right now, and you type in, let’s take a specific product. Let’s take a resume building as our example from before. You’re going to learn a whole lot, more than most people realize if you type that into Google right now and hit return.
If you think about it, that’s actually a landing page unto itself. And you get to learn a whole lot about what’s going on in your market by who’s there in the first place, and what you can do better or what someone else is already doing well. You might see that who are the top five people on that first page? And what are the keywords they’re using? And what kind of content have they developed? And what did their ad look like that you clicked on? Those are all pieces of data that you can start collecting for yourself that are freely available on the web, and that you get to learn from if you’re just willing to pay attention.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Actually, no, I’m going to move on to the beginning to end but I’m not sure that I follow this completely. Because it seems like that’s just standard market research. And you might even be better off, instead of looking at Google’s search results, at looking at how big the music market is, at looking at who the competitors are, at doing the standard market research. How is this better than regular market research?
Chance: I’m focused on building a business through automated online systems. So I’m not going to look at the entire market and say, are people willing and going to concerts. I know they are and I’ve done that research. But what I know importantly is how many search terms are out there? How competitive are those search terms? And can I do a better job of creating content and competing for those?
So the difference is, not that there’s not competitors. It’s executing. And that’s why I want to talk to how to build a landing page. And even a system around landing pages. To be better than other people in your niche or your market.
Andrew: Okay. So let’s get into that. The first step in this process is creating that ad on, let’s say, Google. Because they’re the biggest player right now. Right?
Chance: Yeah, they probably represent 70 plus percent of . . .
Andrew: Before we go into what’s in the landing page, how do we optimize that ad so that we get lots of clicks, and don’t have to pay a lot per click? How do we know what keywords to put in there? How do we know how to present the information that we’re going to offer people?
Chance: Well, anyone who tells you that they know exactly what that is is lying to you. So always be wary of people who know exactly what that is. But experience will trump everything in this area, especially tested experience. So there are great copywriters in the world. But how to do that, you can start and find keywords that aren’t the main keyword for your area. I imagine resume or resume builder is pretty competitive in cost.
I would imagine a minimum 50 cent CPC, if not a dollar, these days. Something like that. So how can you find a related term that you can bid on, and spend that $50 a day testing and getting to significant testing results on just, maybe it might even be, three ads?
And here’s the important part. If you’re only going to spend a little bit of money but you want bang for your buck. You need to test, let’s call it, only a few ads against each other. For example, you might take three ads, and you might take your first version of that ad and write a headline and then the two subheads, which are the 35 characters.
And then for your second ad, just change the top headline, which is the 25 character headline. So you’re testing and making sure that you’re identifying one element to test against each other. And then you might take one other variation. And if you test that, I promise you if you test that for even a day and spend $50, you’re going to learn something about what converts better in your market.
Now you should, and you want to, spend time before you even place that ad thinking about what’s out there and how to write a great ad. So there are great resources out there. There are tons of those. One of the best resources is, in any market, look at the top-ranked ads. You’ll find that, since Google is an optimized algorithm, that’s the highest clickthrough rate ad often, with some exceptions of people who bid really, really high CPCs and get up to the top of those rankings.
So, on average, you’re going to find that those ads are the higher performing, higher clickthrough rate ads. Start to emulate those. See the language. See the formatting of that. There is a lot of things that people, when they’re starting to write ads, don’t even pay attention to.
Here’s the number one gotcha. You never see an exclamation point on any high performing ad. Yet, when everyone starts writing an ad, that’s the first thing they want to do, or a landing page, or a sales letter. So that’s the ultimate newbie mistake. The other one is just not understanding simple formatting things that are invisible to you unless you’re really looking at an ad to see that there’s something deeper going on there.
For example, initial caps on your headlines. It’s not just because marketers like to feels salesy, or that they have this scummy union where they all get together and say, this is the way things are done. The reason why you’ll see initial caps on all of the headlines is because it performs better. So use the things that people have already figured out.
There’s hundreds of trillions of tests that have already been done to get you that you can piggyback on and use. So get out there and build what’s called your swipe file. And that’s a listing and examples and printouts of ads that you know that convert well. It’s all there for you. It’s just there for you to start becoming aware of and pay attention to.
Andrew: Okay. So we experiment. We copy from other people. We experiment some more. We end up with a set of keywords and a set of ads that will drive traffic to our site. Once people come over to our site, that come to the landing page, what do we do then? What do we need to know?
Chance: Well, sure. We set out talking about the things that matter before you build your landing page. And the first one we just covered pretty in- depth is, what was your business? And then now we’re getting into, who’s your customer? So what you want to think about first is, who is that person? And that their life is still going on before they see your ad.
There’s a fallacy that most people have that think that, well, if I write an ad and press submit, it just goes out into ether, and then it’s just displayed. What most people have the inability to understand before they have experience in marketing and advertising is that someone ended up there because they did something, and were in a space in their life before they got there.
So that’s the first place you need to start in thinking about your landing page. How did they get there? This takes us back to, for a simple example, a Google search. So the context of that that you have to understand, is that there’s a human being sitting at home alone. And they, for whatever reason, were compelled to type in a very specific set of words. They didn’t type in anything. They didn’t just end up there. They typed in everything they wanted to tell someone about themselves in order to get a result.
So that’s yours to interpret. You can interpret that so many ways. In fact, anything that someone says can mean anything. So if someone typed in how to create a landing page, there’s a million meanings of what they mean, or what they intend and want to learn by typing in that same thing. I need to choose one, and choose it wisely, and go after that and speak to it very directly.
So it does matter what happens before your landing page, because you’re actually setting up an experience, and a level of potential commitment and consistency when someone sees your ad and clicks on it. So, for example, there’s a lot of, what’s called, negative qualifiers that internet marketers use. And this actually saves the money on Google campaigns.
This is an interesting little tip that a lot of people use. If you’re a newbie, you might not know this. You can use a negative qualifier in your text on your ad to say, if you’re only looking for people who are going to buy a product, you might have something in your ad that says, Resume Builder Service, proven to help people find jobs. You know, “pay me for help only.” “Pay for help only” is the negative qualifier that will make sure that only serious people who are willing to commit and want to find a job click on your ad, and therefore, you have to pay money for that.
So you’re not wasting your money on people who aren’t serious. And the flip side of that is for that person who’s having that experience and did click on it, that person is so much more likely to actually convert on your site and be willing to do the rarest of all human actions, which is this one I’ll do right here – pull out their credit card and put it into a blank form on a computer – very risky behavior. So, if you’re setting up a process that gets someone to commit on psychological levels, you’re actually dramatically increasing the likelihood that they take an action that’s that risky.
Andrew: How do you know what they’re thinking on a psychological level? All we’ve got is the key words that they’ve typed into Google and we’ve got a couple of theories on who they are, but how do we know deeper who the person is behind that and then how can we know it well enough that we can then say, it’s not just this one person who’s feeling this, but there’s a big audience of people who are all feeling the same paying point and are willing to do what you just did, which is pull out their credit cards.
Chance: You know, I’ll say first, that’s mostly a function of projection. But joking aside, I think that’s such a difficult thing for human beings to understand the scale at which these things are operating – advertising, online advertising, how many impressions and views are happening and the experience people are having – that until you start doing it, there’s not going to be any way for you to really wrap your mind around it.
So I could talk to you all day about my theories of understanding people and psychology, but there are some good models, but the most important thing that will give you that quick, steep, hockey stick learning experience is getting in and starting to spend, even if it’s 30, 50 dollars a day for a week and learn and start to become aware of what’s going on.
Once you’ve done that, you need to start making – and this is the really important point for me in writing good copy – I want to make assertions and I want to drive distinctions. And so, these are two parts of great copywriting. And, I think design too. Assertions and distinctions. I’m not ever guessing right, unless I’m really lucky as a marketer, exactly what the best thing to write is, or the best ad. It’s all a guessing game and anyone who isn’t is more experienced and has marketed that area before. But what you do need to do is place a very direct assertion and bet that this is what they’re thinking about.
So what a bad marketer does in an ad and in a landing page, is not make that assertion and they want to stay very general. They want to say, “Oh, you’re probably interested in this thing, so maybe try this,” and they’re afraid to ask for you to engage. What a very good marketer does is boils it down to assuming they know exactly who you are and what you’re looking for and trying different versions of that assertion and that direct, speaking directly to you model. So, maybe I can give you a couple of examples if you just ask me some types of landing pages or ads or businesses. In fact, if someone has one, I’d love to do that.
Andrew: Please, if you guys are posting your links to your websites, can you also say what the product is that you want to sell on the site or what the product is that you’d want to go through this process with? Let me create a fake product here.
Andrew: You and I see that there are lots of bloggers that are making money with blogging, and they’re buying all kinds of CDs and informational products about how to make money with blogging. We also recognized that more people are going to video the way I am here with you. And more of those people are going to enjoy video, but they’re going to find a way to make money from it, right?
Andrew: So we decide we’re going to become, like, the pro-blogger of video. We’re going to teach people how to do video well, but we want to get paid. [SS] So, the first thing that we do is, we go and we look up, we type in some words into Google, right?
Andrew: And, what that shows us is who’s buying those words. And maybe we type in video blogger, maybe we type in money from blogging, professional blogging, well, professional video blogging, we should say, and we see the key words that people have, and we test them. And we understand that you and I aren’t smart enough to be able to anticipate everything that people are going to click on…
Andrew: … so we commit a few dollars a day to testing and we try it.
Andrew: Now, we get the person up on our website and we realize that what they care about is make money and passion. They want to keep doing video because they’re passionate about it, but they want to see some revenue. They’re on our site. How do we design a site, or how do we design a few tests pages that will convert them hopefully?
Chance: Sure. I’m glad we’re finally getting to the question that’s the crux of this interview, supposedly. So, what I’ll say first is kind of an overarching approach or philosophy about landing pages and testing in general, which is creating a great landing page is a function of your testing approach, more than it is a function of your ability to write great copy. I’ll say that again, because it’s really important: Creating a great landing page is more a function of your testing approach than it is your ability to write great copy. At least, that’s the most true, initially, when you’re getting started.
As you become a better copy writer, that’s less true. So what I mean by that is, if you’re getting started and you think “Well, I’m just going small, and I don’t need to test,” that’s absolutely failure to begin with. What you need to recognize is, no-one’s smart enough, you’re not smart enough to know what you need to know while you’re getting started. Take the time to set yourself up with two things.
One, the technology to test, and more importantly, and I can’t overemphasize this enough how many people make this mistake, even in really big successful businesses. Make sure to measure and report on those every single day, and then pay attention to them, and draw interpretations, and use them iteratively in your process of development. It sounds so silly, but if you have a simple Excel spreadsheet, and daily columns that just says date, page, result, number of visitors, and number of subscribers or whatever your conversion mechanism is, start looking at that every day, and start looking at each ad in that exact same way.
You will start to understand how to write the best copy. Because guess what? No-one else knows, especially if you’re in a very specific niche, no- one else knows what the best copy is. Even if you went to a great copywriter, even if you tried to pay someone a thousand, ten thousand dollars to write all your copy, this is the process they would go through in order to learn your market. That’s getting started, set yourself up to test and measure. That’s the fallacy that most people have about great marketing.
Moving on from that, there are some very specific elements that you want to make sure and include in your landing page. First of all, you need to understand that just being online and leaving Google, or leaving a trusted site, or leaving Amazon, wherever you are, is a risky behavior. In fact, clicking on a link is a risky behavior because I don’t know where I’m going, and I’ll argue that there’s a mild level of unconscious anxiety that every internet user is suffering each time they click on a link because they don’t know what to anticipate.
Human beings really, really, really like certainty and knowing where they’re going. With that said, what you want to do and address is remove that risk as much as possible. You can remove that risk by building trust. Now what are the best ways to build trust? Well, there are a few elements to include in your page that help you build trust. Some of the most important ones are actual, real knowledge and value. This is something that gets away from some people when they just approach a business as an internet marketing or business opportunity. They’re just thinking “How do I create a landing page to convert people?”
If you’re in that game and you’re sitting with your cursor on your landing page and you haven’t done your homework, and you haven’t sat around and thought about who people really are, and what they’re doing out in the world, and what’s happening for them tomorrow, and what they want to have happen in a week after they interact with you, you’re not going to be able to write great copy. Why? Because you’re not going to be able to build trust, and deliver the value you need to deliver to them in order to have them comfortable to stay and convert with you. That’s your first goal, to remove risk and to build trust. There’s no shortcut for that. You need to sit around and read great books from the great minds in your area. You have to do that.
Andrew: You’re one of the great minds in my area, and you’ve done this often enough to know that there are certain things that do build trust and reduce concern. One of them, you’ve said to me before, is that any logos of programs that you might have been on, you put those on, right? Any website, even if it’s a top blog that you were on, put their logo on and put “As seen on,” right?
Chance: Sure. I include those all under the category of what I think of as social proof elements. There are a few of those, and always, always, always test versions of your landing pages that include social proof elements. I will give you two off the top of my head: the one that you just mentioned, which the generic version converts really well and works for most people to raise conversion, is “As seen on” and then the logos of the companies that are notable, trusted sources. Again, it’s a little thing that seems very simple, but what does this do? Unconsciously for the reader, it gives them the exact level of trust and comfort that they have with those sites.
In fact, they are attributing and moving that relationship they have, if it says “As seen on CNN” or “As seen on Business Week,” they actually unconsciously think you’re also that person, that business. And so you get the value of that. So a lot of us don’t understand why these things work. We just know that, through testing, that they do. That’s why things like that work. So it leads you to imagine, then, what are other elements that I can create that do that same type of thing?
Chance: As powerful a one that’s a second element of social proof that I really like to test and use is the good old testimonial. So a generic one looks like a picture of a human being with a quote of what they had to say with quote marks around it, and their name and where they’re from. I can’t tell you how many people miss out on this and see it in sales letters and seeing it on landing pages, and then never really get to doing it themselves.
And, in fact, I’m guilty of this because I should have it on some of my landing pages right now, and I don’t, and I’m kicking myself. [laughs] Because I know I’m missing a lot of opportunity. So that’s the other element. The most powerful social proof elements are ones that unconsciously take something that’s trustable that is not you, not your business, and not you, and is a third party endorsing unit. And that’s how all of these social proof elements work.
Andrew: Okay. Let’s take some of the people’s sites here who submitted them. Let’s start with Dave Behner.[SP] He says he’s got adoptmybaby.com, [SP] an online baby scrapbooking site for parents. Landing page to convert a person to a subscriber at 50 bucks a year. Interesting. So you’ve got him as a client. You know that he wants to build a business, and he also wants to earn money from his customers, not just run some ads [??]. What do you do?
Chance: First, I ask him how much he’s spending with new mothers. And then if he’s not, I either go and I spend a lot of time around new mothers and just watch them and say, this might sound a little weird, but can I just hang out with you a couple of days? And I’m a very observant person. In fact, I would argue it’s not because I’m a better learner than most people. I don’t read more books than other people, such as one of my business partners who’s, like, voracious and an amazing learner. I’m just a better observer and I’m hyper-aware.
So I would suggest to him if he’s not spending time around newborn mothers, he’s guessing at everything. And he’s not going to come to that moment of aha, of ah, that’s one of the biggest things I can really focus in on and help them on. And that could turn into his entire business altogether.
So in building a landing page, he might have thought about using social proof elements already. If he had a video of a mom with a happy, giggly baby, and she was talking about, not generally how using his site had kind of made her happy, or whatever, but gave very specific feedback and tips of things that worked for her that he recommended that their site did for them.
That level of endorsement is almost like cocaine straight to the brain. The consumer seen on a landing page cannot deny that that’s so true. So I’ll reiterate what the important element is in a testimonial like that. It is not, wow, you changed my life and I’m better. And thank you. You’re cool. Or this site is great. It is the very specific measurable actionable item that they took, used, and then can tell you about using it and how it changed their lives. That’s the very specific formula that all the great marketers understand and use as social proof in their marketing.
Andrew: Let’s have a look here at one more. Who was the person with the shirts? Okay. We’ve got one here. And now my page is scrolling up to.
Andrew: Okay. For some reason, my page is scrolling up inappropriately. So let’s talk about a friend of mine’s site, flexalist.com. [??] security applications for mobile phones.
Andrew: The way to do it today you’d think is to create a security app, toss it in the app store on Apple and hope that people buy it.
Andrew: What I like about the way you do business is, it’s a little more secure. It’s a little more dependable. You can find a steady stream of customers. You can find a steady way to convert them into paying customers . . .
Andrew: . . . and you could build a business off of it. So if he came to you and said, I don’t want to be a cool kid who’s going on TechCrunch. We want to be a profitable businessman who’s going into building a great company. What would you tell them?
Chance: Nice. I know exactly what I’d tell him, and it would be a radical departure in a way that annoys me when people do it to me, but I’m going to recommend it to him anyway. I would recommend that, he can continue with finding a way and marketing through the channels of I am technology and use my technology and use my technology and it’ll help you and here’s what it does.
And there’s a lot of value. There’s ways to be very successful on that model, but it’s a different model and it’s a different play as a business. I think you can augment that model with, again, a more direct marketing, direct to a need model. So I’ll throw one out off the top of my head that I just thought of. Who is the hungry crowd? Who is, in this example, let’s draw a distinction. Let’s say that the previous model is the one that I can only get to $50,000 a month with a lot of hustle. And this other hungry crowd model is the one that’s very scalable.
Well, what’s that hungry crowd? If we’re using the same models simply looking at Google, at existing demand, I would say that security is one thing. And people like it. But security is another thing when it has an application to prevent something. And this becomes then wired up in a demand or a real-life experience or story that people have. So if you’re selling security, you’re not selling security. We talked about this before. If we’re talking about the business plan, we’re selling funding, not the business plan.
So how is that true here? Well, I would argue that you’re not selling security with your phone, you’re preventing problems. So what are those specific problems? Your market might be, and this is a crazy assertion, your market might be jealous partners who want to know what their partner is doing on their phone.
Or it might be a protective parent who wants to know that their kids aren’t sexting and aren’t browsing bad stuff, or have other people texting them on their phone who shouldn’t be, like an older adult. So it’s never just the product. It’s always the positioning of the product, and finding the real need and story around that.
So I would argue, if you put a gun to my head and I had to take his product and I had to make it a $50,000,000 a year business, I probably wouldn’t go the way of trying to go through channels and licensing and go direct to a carrier, long sales cycle, very complex and challenging to do. Although it could be really rewarding and then very scalable.
If you put a gun to my head and said I had to do it tomorrow, I would go the route of, how can I market really well, and find if there’s demand in mothers who are protective about their son’s usage of their cell phone. And therefore, the security application doesn’t just secure your phone, but it prevents some type of things that mothers are worried about.
Andrew: I see. So you see what is it that you think that they’re worried about and that you can help them prevent, run a bunch of ads to see which of those get the most clicks? You create landing pages where you reassure people that this is a problem that we can solve, and show specific examples of how you solve it. Have some testimonials.
Andrew: Have some logos up showing that you really can do this.
Andrew: And then is the first step to get the order and get people to take out their credit card? Or is it what I’m seeing online a lot? The first step is to get an email address so that if you can’t close the deal today, you might be able to close it down the road.
Chance: The first step is to test both of those things against each other. Create a free report that gives the top ten tips about how to protect your child from abuses. And you actually might want to want to dial up the danger level and pain of what those dangers are to a parent, because they’re not aware of them.
So it might be the top things that can happen to a child if you don’t protect them on their cell phone, and the top ten ways quickly and easily to prevent those from happening. That free report, combined with the right search traffic driving ads to that as a free download for a capture or even a mobile address could convert really well. I don’t know. I’ve never written that report, and I’ve never tested it. But I would imagine testing that versus testing a more general landing page, that is we have a solution for this problem.
This problem is X. You’re worried about your son. And that they might be engaged with the kind of people that they shouldn’t be on their phone. With one easy click, you can put this application and know what they’re doing, and block them from dangerous stuff, and never have to worry about it again. That would be a great test. Absolutely.
So right there I see an existing market. I know there’s demand. All I have to do now is go onto Google and type in a related keyword. And Google is going to spit out a hundred different keywords and tell me intelligence about all of those. And I can go through and use those keywords to write ads and test for a few hundred dollars if that’s really a market and if I can get response on these landing pages.
Andrew: And you would do all that before you build out the program? Right? If it was an iPhone app, you wouldn’t start by creating the iPhone app. You would start by creating the ad on Google, the landing page on your site. Maybe a report that addresses some of these concerns, and then, once you see these are the concerns that are hurting people so badly that they’re willing to take the risk and give me their email address. That they’re willing to take the risk and maybe even buy a report that solves it, that’s when I know that I can build my app and I’m not wasting time building it before that. . . .[SS] . . .
Chance: Absolutely. If you were going to go to college and you knew for a fact, and this will be true if anyone does any computer science or technical development, I just like that example, and you knew you were going to study computer science in college, but you were in high school. Do you not pick up a computer to learn about computers before you go to college to take those classes and to start your business, which is your education?
Absolutely not. You’re there gathering, learning and becoming an expert as much as possible, and then you get the scaled learning of getting the quick, getting real time feedback and being in the mix with people who are doing it.
That’s what a business is. That’s the highest value of your business. It’s not having a product, it’s having a product that gives you feedback all the time from your market so you can take that, leverage what you learn from that data, and get better and better at it. That’s what a business is for.
Andrew: And it must be so hard for people to resist going in the other direction. You’ve got an idea for a product. You want to create the product. You imagine that if people only saw the actual product they would love it. But you’re saying, “Hold off. Create the sell process. Make sure that they really love it before you build it. It’s so much easier to buy a few ads on Google and create a cheap [3D] landing page than it is to even hire in India or Eastern Europe.
Chance: I am saying that, and let me do what I’ve learned that all open, honest, authentic and good teachers will do in an area is contradict themselves. This is important because there are a lot of people who’ve said. . . I think it was Einstein who said that the sign of a good mind is that it can hold two conflicting ideas in at the same time.
So I’m going to give you a conflicting idea. This actually comes from an email I got from one of your readers who emailed me when he found out we were going to be doing an interview. He emailed me and he said, “Hey, I’m curious about what you’re doing. It seems like you have a great skill set and I want to know if you’ve been working on this. Here’s a tiny bit about what I’m working on. What do you think? Is it a challenge to go into this market?”
One of the questions that stood out to me was, “Should I be developing products if they’re not just market-focused the way that you’re talking about them, but it’s what I think I really want to do and it’s my ‘passion’?”
I really want to speak to that, because if you’re serious about that, you know you have something that’s unique, I believe you can be successful. But, you can’t sit around and hope to build a business. You have to be so personally invested in that that you’re willing to, for example, blog and do videos, and be out every night networking with the experts and the smartest people in your area and related areas and build your own tribe.
If you can do that, then you’re going to find ways to success that aren’t the traditional, “If I spend a dollar, I get 50 cents back in 10 days, and then another 50 cents back in 20 days, and then I make money from there.” That’s only one approach.
Another approach is: do something really unique. Be really passionate about it and know that you’re doing it for the long-term, and you don’t have to make a giant bet again. In fact, you can start small and do what I think of as a slow build, that a lot of people are talking about now.
You don’t need $100,000 to start a business today. You don’t need $50,000 to start a business today. You need internet access and you need passion. I want to say, if you’re doing this, you can apply a lot of these things in the non-paid world. If you’re doing SEO, there’s a whole lot of direct marketing you can and should be doing.
I want to speak to that and get back to your question, but I have a couple of really great tips that I want to give people if they’re in that world of, “You know what? I don’t have a budget. I don’t want to just be a ghoul paid search marketer and live that life and build my business that way.”
Well, I would say, test it and get the learnings and see if you can make it work, but there’s another way to go about it. If you’re doing SEO, these are my best SEO tips. I’m not an SEO expert, but I’m going to give you some good stuff.
The one area that everyone pays attention to is on page factors. We all know about it. If you don’t know about SEO, go through, and really quickly, on page factors you have your URL, which is important. Its index should be full of keywords. You have your page title, which should be targeted, full of keywords, and you have your page description.
Well, everyone thinks about, “Well, yes. I need to target those, too, my keywords, and so they fill it with all kinds of language to make sure they’re matching. What they’re completely missing is how that’s actually represented. That’s represented by a search engine. Where is it represented? It’s not just scored by a search engine, it’s represented. It’s represented on a search engine results page, a SERP.
When you type in Google for any term, if you’re ranked for SEO, your ad is actually your page title and description, except you’re not paying for it. What people do is try to stuff their page title and description with keywords and language, not understanding that the context of that, how it’s going to be displayed, is an ad itself.
So, I want anyone listening right now to type in a search, anything, and then look at the results that you see. You’ll see, in the blue highlighted, at the top of the free natural search listing, the page title, and a lot of times you’ll see that trickle off and not finish. It’s not a succinct thing, in fact it’s too long to display all of it. Big mistake, and guess what? That’s area where you should be thinking about the real specific needs and maybe even the finished story of the customer. That’s the first version of the landing page that they see.
Then you also have a lot of power in the page’s description. This is your first element of your landing page, and most people only think of it as an on-page factor that sits in the meta area of search engines. No, it’s really, really, really important for conversion, and can get you two times the traffic from the exact same ranking.
Andrew: Are you now starting to see more of your traffic come in from natural searches than from ad buys?
Chance: I’m not, because I’ve been so lazy, because I’ve been I would say fortunate, when I started the business, to learn and have a good area, and then gotten really good at paid search. I just love the model of being able to control and know and dictate what you’re doing. I’ve really doubled down our efforts in our business, and we have a great team that’s focused on that. Admittedly I would say we don’t have a team that’s been focused and rallied around SEO.
I personally haven’t helped rally our team, and I’ve been thinking a lot more and doing a lot more about that outside of my Christian Carter world, and some new areas where I’ve been just helping people I like who have great businesses, and in my new gig.fm business. I would say if you’re that passionate person, you want to and need to get good at this game, and you need to understand actually the highest are of leverage once you figure out those on page factors, which is the one thing that’s the hardest to do well, which is external links. Who is linking to your site, and what is the link text? This is all just a function about relationship building.
Andrew: I’m sorry. I know that we don’t have much time in this interview, so I’ll leave the SEO for now. I want to take one more question from the audience, and I want to get into the promises that we made to people if they listened to this program. I want to make sure that every promise that we made, that we live up to.
Andrew: But first, Paul Magee from Subvert Magazine is such a big supporter of Mixergy, I wanted to take his question before we get into anything else. He says “Does Chance bother with social media marketing, or do you just focus on search?”
Chance: It depends on which business. In one of my businesses I don’t at all, because I like to build a one-to-one, no-one knows except for me and them that we’re interacting, and that’s my relationship advice business. I’m not sure and I haven’t tested, but I don’t believe that a lot of the women that I’ve helped, or that I do help in that business, want to broadcast to the world and join my Facebook fan page and say “I’m getting relationship advice because I’m not having success and I’m single.”
So there’s a context to those things that’s important, but I do say that’s the most burgeoning and important opportunity that you need to get good at if you’re serious about starting a scalable business and you don’t have a big budget. If you’re not paying attention to Facebook Connect, start. Let me give you some quick numbers on that. Actually I was up at Facebook about three weeks ago and had a great meeting with a few people up there.
These numbers, and numbers are what get me, because they’re hard evidence, and these numbers got me. Citysearch did an integration of Facebook Connect. They said “We’re going to integrate Facebook Connect, but hey, what features should we have?” Well, the integrated one feature where, when anyone posts a comment on Citysearch, let’s say it’s a restaurant review. Right after that’s posted, it says “Would you also like to post this to Facebook?” with a pre-checked box, so it’s already opted in. 94% of the commenters, when presented with that, clicked yes, and accepted that, so that their comment was posted to Facebook. What happens then, how does that have impact?
Well, it went out to Facebook, and it had an average per single post, of 40 impressions, and of those 40 impressions, 28 people, 28 uniques, were driven back to the site. If you think about it, there’s a 1-28 ratio, and it’s targeted to people in that local area, likely, and people who like that person’s taste, and they’re interested in that restaurant by qualifying themselves. If you’re not paying attention to that value and the scalability of those kinds of multiples, you really need to start doing that because it’s not available anywhere else in marketing. Unless you’re great at creating viral campaigns, which are very hard to do and very one- off, when they’re good.
Andrew: Thanks for that question, Paul. Okay, let’s get into the promises that we made to people before we started. One of the things that we said we would talk about today is why most entrepreneurs make the same multi- million dollar mistake before they even build their product or service. Why?
Chance: Why? Well, that’s really the point of that story that I told you about Drew is the mistake that most entrepreneurs make is not spending the time to make sure that their business and the reality of what the market of that business is, matches their dreams, desire and their goals of what that business is going to be. So the multimillion dollar mistake is not picking the positioning and the product that you’re going to develop.
So if I was that guy earlier who had the security device, I would love to build the blanket security software package for mobile devices. And that’s probably my goal, and he’s probably a technical guy and he understands how it’s possible. But the multimillion dollar mistake that I think is possible to make there is not getting positioning right, and knowing that you need to start somewhere small in order to get somewhere big in this noisy economy.
And that place of starting a little bit smaller is through positioning to an existing need. That how do I market to the mom who’s freaked out and needs to protect her son. And she’s going to buy anything as long as it’s less than a hundred dollars, and all I have to do is click download and install. And I make it easy for her. That’s a sure bet. That is going straight to your market. And that is very engaging and meeting a real need.
Whereas the other one takes a while. The multimillion dollar mistake is not building incrementally and thinking how do I go from A to Z. You need to think about how you’re going all the steps along the way. So build short. Think about iterations, and think about the demand and the different positioning that you can get to in your business. Instead of thinking all the way out to imagining with your business plan that you have a fifty or a hundred million dollar a year business down the road.
How does it start? Is it all one of the same thing? And if you don’t ask yourself these questions, you’re going to miss out on the probably the real opportunity to meet existing demand in your area and grow your business. What I think of as a more organic type of business that is profitable from the get-go.
Andrew: Okay. Next question is, the one thing that can literally double or triple your sales and revenue from the same amount of effort? You, by the way, wrote these notes. I love the way you wrote these. I told you, as soon as I saw them, I got curious. So what’s the one thing that can literally double or triple sales and revenue from the same amount of effort?
Chance: Understanding how human beings like to be communicated with. Evan Pagan, one of my mentors, talks about this as the ultimate area of leverage in a business. There’s nothing else you can do that can almost instantly take your business from the existing amount of visitors, traffic, attention that you have, create two times, three times the amount of results that you get from that.
So if you have a landing page, it’s possible that your homepage or your landing page is bad enough that if you changed it and got good at it, you could have two to three times either the subscribers or the sales from that page. There’s nothing else in business. Creating a better product, being a better manager, fine tuning your operations. All great stuff but not going to have this same area of return.
So focus and make sure, even if you don’t see yourself as this person, take it as your own mission to become the person in your business that understands your customer best. And that means spending time in their world, and being very observant to what their real frustrations are.
Andrew: All right. Physically, you’re saying, go into their world. In the example of the mother’s side earlier, you said go and sit with mothers. And you would go and do that for a few days.
Chance: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then you have so much available to you online. I think I posted something earlier that Eric Schmidt had. It was a quote from Eric Schmidt from Google, and it said, “It’s amazing that in our lifetime, all of the knowledge on the planet will be available to anyone sitting in front of a terminal at a computer.” It’s out there. Answers are there for you. So it’s more about being very deliberate and focused on a narrow area of knowledge and getting good at that. So for you, if you’re the, what was the site about babies? Newbornmoms?
Andrew: Let’s see. The mom’s, I don’t remember the domain name.
Andrew: But it was a scrapbook site.
Chance: Okay. So what is it that they’re most passionate about? Sure, they like the scrapbooking and the pictures, but there’s some other aspect to that. I think someone who nailed that, Neil Battell works with. Icon has a cheeseburger. I think he’s a partner in that business. Right? It’s hard to put your finger on, but they nailed a certain aspect and they’re so good at it. About a small community that is actually big enough to sustain a really vibrant ecosphere because they tapped into it in the right way.
What do those people like? They like the cuteness and the humor, and there’s something sarcastic. But you would never find that if you hadn’t done tons of blogging and tons of testing pictures in order to find out that that’s the thing that gets the most response. Once in a while, you’re enough of a talent that you’re the one in a million blog that you just had it right from the beginning and people love you. But I don’t want to be one in a million, I want to be one in one, I want to ensure my success, so testing gets you there.
Andrew: Alright. And by the way, Neil Patel who does have shares in I Can Haz Cheezburger keeps having to tell people “It’s not all luck, it’s not happenstance.” People see this website full of kittens and some cute words and they think “Oh, these guys just lucked on success.” But spend a little time with Neil and he’ll tell you all the hard work that went into figuring out exactly what’s going to trigger parents or mothers or anyone to start sending those pictures of kittens around the internet. OK, next you say “How to understand the risk that people feel when they’re confronted with a sign-up form or a buy now button, and more importantly, the way to remove that risk?” I understand that risk, but how do I remove the risk from people?
Chance: Well, there are really simple ways to do it actually. Let’s say it’s a buy now button. You might have, right before or after, an explanation of what your offer really is. If you don’t have an offer that you know of in your business, then you’re not removing risk, and you need to get an offer, and you need to write it down and explain it in very simple terms to your prospective customer, what that offer is. That offer should include clear pricing, it most likely should include a guarantee that if it doesn’t work for them that they won’t have to pay, and maybe even include a free trial so they can try it without even having to invest in it. These things can add several double-digit increases to your performance really quickly.
A lot of people want to put this on a page, and have an offer, but they’re not highlighting it in the right way. There’s a funny thing that happens when it comes to money. Whenever anyone is presented with the fact of “Wow, I might have to part with some of my precious cash,” they become very anxious. You have to be very clear about what they’re getting, and how they’re not getting trapped or screwed.
In fact, I would say that the default negative mindset, if I had to build a worst-case scenario, is: approach your sales and your landing pages and your opt-ins with the view that everyone is worried that they are getting screwed all the time, and they’re worried that every time they create a profile or put their email somewhere, that’s almost guaranteeing that they are going to get tons of spam. You need to say deliberately, right next to an email sign-up form, “I will not spam you, ever.”
Then what more can you do to that point? Well, maybe you could go get approved at the Better Business Bureau, or someone like that who actually verifies people who are vendors of trust, and then get their logo. That builds trust, and these things are really important. These are really quick ways to remove all that risk, especially if you are that type of business who has that philosophy of “We care about our customers and you aren’t a dollar to us, you’re a human being.” Make sure you communicate that, and that you’re treating them that way, that you care that they’re a human being.
Andrew: Final note here is “How to avoid building a business with your time and hard-earned money that no-one subscribes to or buys from.” Oh, this is so painful. How to avoid building a business that nobody cares about.
Chance: Well, this goes back to what we were talking about with the slow build. Don’t build that cool app and then go live, and for the first time people see and interact and understand what it is. Understand who you are going to be marketing to before, and test and see if there is a real market there. Then, how can you roll out small ways of doing it before you’ve done everything?
For example, there are a million features that I want to build in, and functions I want to build into my GiG.FM platform, but you know what? I deliberately choose, and say “That’s way out into the future, I know that’s going to take me more months, I just want to provide some of the core value, and I want people to use it.” I know I’m going to get smarter and learn things that I could have never guessed if I had just rolled it out, and just said “Where am I? What are people doing?” Don’t guess that you’re going to know everything about what people are going to love about you or your business.
Let them tell you, and make sure you’re paying attention. That’s the surest way, and if you can do that in smaller and smaller increments, your likelihood of success grows exponentially. In fact, I’m the most guilty of this because I worked a lot of my career either with a chip on my shoulder or just not knowing how to work with teams. I didn’t get the level of learning and engagement and feedback that would have allowed me to advance a lot faster had I been really open about my ideas, and open about everything I was trying to do and even more specifically, what wasn’t working, and had people around me wanting to support me who were smart and said “Well, maybe you should try this.”
The mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs or people who are having some failures make, is to contract. They don’t want to share it, they want to protect their idea, and they’re worried. You need to do the opposite. You need to open up. You need to get to market faster. You need to be more transparent. And a lot of this sounds like mumbo jumbo, but it’s not when you’re actually doing it and you, as a smart businessperson, start getting the value and the learning that come from it. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about being transparent, even though I think it’s important. It’s about what people are going to tell you and then paying attention to that and doing something about it. You can’t pay for those lessons.
Andrew: And yet, if people go to GiG.FM today, they don’t see a site that’s built.
Andrew: And I wanted to see GiG.FM, and the way that I’ll get to see it is you and I are going to go sit down and have coffee. I’m not saying this to contradict you. I’m saying this because there’s something else going on here. I know that you’re living this, and you have people looking at this site and interacting with it. But I can’t see it, and the people who are listening to us today can’t see it. Why? How are you getting the feedback? So we’ll keep them from making mistakes.
Chance: I am doing demos with people that I really like and respect. You’re one of those people and I want you to have input and to say, oh, well, that wasn’t that wowful or isn’t there something like it, and see what you think. But I’m hedging myself, and I guess I’ll use one of my favorite cheesy business idioms and open up the kimono here a little bit. You and I talked a while back about these two communities of people which are you mentioned earlier the cool kids. And the other community, the internet marketers.
Andrew: And the cool kids are always on TechCrunch, and they always have the latest iPhone. And they’re always building the slick apps that tie into Twitter.
Andrew: And the marketers are the ones who are actually making money on the internet who are sometimes bending the rules, who are putting up landing pages which offer a whole lot of stuff and getting the money. But they’re the ones who make money. The cool kids aren’t. Sorry. Go ahead.
Chance: Yeah. So thanks for describing all of that. My plan is, you know what, I’m building all the functions that let me be the great internet marketer that I can be and to have great landing pages that are optimized, and that I can test from the get-go.
But there’s another important element that I want that’s important for success, and that is you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. I want to have a great first impression and the scalability that comes for free with being somewhat in the cool kid area and being an app that people just start talking about.
If you want to include those approaches, in the past those communities have almost been exclusive, but they didn’t marry. I’m really excited that I’m seeing a lot more smart businesspeople marrying those areas. So my goal in the launch of gig.fm is, well, I have all these functions, and I can get to market quickly once I open up. But I also know that I need to include those elements of stuffing a lot of attention into a short window. Getting a lot of great press, and playing that game that I never even played before because I didn’t feel like I had to. But I really want to because there’s a lot of value in that cool kid world.
Andrew: What you’re doing is, we’ve talked about this before, so I’ve got a sense of it. You’re marrying the world. You’re bringing together the cool kid website that gets all the attention, that gets people buzzing about it, with the direct marketing understanding which will allow you to scale faster, which will allow you to see this as a real business, which hopefully will let you earn a profit faster.
But what I’m asking is, how are you testing along the way? How are you getting, not just me who doesn’t go to that many concerts, but is interested in internet businesses, how are getting real users to test out your site and give you real feedback while you’re building it up? Are you buying ads on Google and sending people over to landing pages to test them out? Are you bringing people into your office . . .
Andrew: . . . and sitting down with them as they use your site? Actual potential customers?
Chance: Sure. Great question. One thing I’m doing, it’s totally under the radar, is I’m testing Google page search sending them to landing pages which I will have in the future for artists for specific concerts. And I’m seeing what copy converts and what doesn’t. And I’m learning a lot from the ads and from the placement of those ads.
So I’m already getting my feel for that market on the Google marketing site, and I’m getting to develop for a very small cost from that, what works on a landing page to convert someone to a subscriber for our service. That’s what my big first goal is. I need to be really good at marketing and using this sure channel.
Because I can try and go for the cool kid launch and hope people pay attention and get buzz and that it grows my subscriber base. But that’s again the one in a million opportunity. I’m going for the one in one where I have this predictable system. So I’m spending time testing and going to landing pages. And those are designed in a way that it looks like you get them, but it’s at a different site. And I’m getting subscribers that then convert, and then I’m just moving those over in the future and putting them in that database.
Now the thing that I don’t get in the future from that, that I don’t get now, but I will get in the future, is I don’t get to do the messaging. I don’t get the full site experience. And so there are things that, without a real product, you can’t guess and that you won’t even have once you bill your product. But, for me, the big half and the leverage of the business is all in the knowing where and how to get people and then getting them in is also an art and a science too. Once they’re in then there’s a whole lot of things you can do to optimize them and be focused on how the site experience works and testing and optimizing that. Then also focused on how or messaging works and optimizing that.
But I can’t do a lot of that without the complex system to automate that. But I am also using social networks to test some of these things. So I do know that we have a social media strategy about how we share some of our information, and then putting out little things to at least get numbers and ideas of how much are people willing and responding to click-on links around things like concerts.
And so I do little tests that are kind of, hey just out to 500 people that I know in my community and see what, even though it’s not that statistically significant, it’s enough for me to say okay, those numbers hold true if I know that if I put a leak out there about a show, and that X percent of people will click on it each time, can I build a business and a revenue model around that. So there are a lot of ways that you can…
Andrew: That’s what I was getting at. I don’t want to get too deep into this because it’s private and we haven’t agreed that we can talk about what you’re doing with Gig.FM to test, but there’s stealth mode and then there’s stealth mode as I talked with Eric Ries. That if stealth mode means you’re just building the website on your own and nobody’s touching it except may be a couple of your friends who are going to say nice things about it then you’re getting yourself into trouble.
If stealth mode means that there is a splash screen on your site that says coming soon but behind the scenes you’re running tests the way I’m sensing, the way that I know actually, that you’re doing by running ads in Google, by testing it with real users, by creating landing pages to test different marketing and different approaches then that seems to be the way that does work and it seems to be what guys like Eric Ries of the lead startup and others are advocating.
Alright, there are people here who asked questions who we didn’t get a chance to answer their questions, mostly because I had some technical trouble here. I’m constantly battling with my computer while I’m doing this interview. So let me ask you for this favor. Will you take some of the questions that people have asked us during this interview and we didn’t get a chance to answer and answer it somewhere after this. Do you have a blog that you can answer on?
Chance: Sure, absolutely. I’d be happy to. If you go to my blog chancebarnett.com, yeah, I’ll promise you I’ll take, you pick the three questions and I’ll do minimum two pages, maybe longer, in fact I tend to go long so It’ll probably be five about a real specific answer to a specific question, and I’ll post it there for you guys to see.
Andrew: Wow. So if anyone here had a question that we couldn’t get to, you’ll get a shot at having a full blog post written. You’re going to write three to five pages on these people’s questions?
Chance: Hey, that’s been my discipline for seven years, writing three to five pages in a few hours is nothing.
Andrew: Well, thank you. Thank you for doing this interview, thank you for committing so much of your time here, I appreciate it. And you’ve talked about things that I wasn’t even sure we were about to talk about like Christian Carter, like what you’re doing about GiG.FM, and I know the people learned a lot because I have.
Chance: Hey, thanks for having me.
Andrew: Thank you. Alright and there’s the interview. Thank you for watching or listening depending on the medium you picked. Check out Chance’s upcoming website, it’s called GiG.FM, not dot com, GiG.FM. GiG.FM. Check out ChanceBarnett.com, where you can read more of his ideas and of course come back to mixergy.com and give me as much feedback as possible.
What did you think about this interview, what did you think about the ideas, what did you think of the ways I did the interview, what did you think of the subject as a whole. The more feedback you give me the better I can be for next time, so I look forward to getting as much information from you as possible, especially the harsh stuff. Alright, thank you and I’ll see you on mixergy.com.
Text excerpt: What you can learn from direct marketers
#1 They ensure success before they even start
This is what great online business marketers do when they have an idea, when they’re just thinking about it. They don’t rush out and go spend three, six, twelve months building a product.
What they do is sit down and say, “You know what? I want to know more about this market, and I want to find out about it in about an hour”. They turn on a Google Adwords campaign. They build a series of a few landing pages that are directly targeted to that market, or that product.
Then they find three or four, maybe even it’s just one, related affiliate product that they can sell. So that they can get a window into what that business is.
So, now if you think about this, that’s a simple process; most of know how to do that. We know how to get a web site up. We know how to create a landing page, even if it’s not a great converting one. And we know how to link to an affiliate program. Well, so then what’s the value? Why is it so significant, if so many of us can do it?
Well, the value is in understanding and recognizing the importance of the numbers that you get out of this. You can learn that you have a great market, and start to test and optimize against that, with that traffic that’s coming, and you can learn exactly what words, and language, and hooks, and frames, and positioning of your product people will respond to, or don’t.
You do that before you even have to figure out exactly what your product is, or how to market it.
#2 They read their customers’ minds
Understanding how human beings like to be communicated with, this is the ultimate arena.
Evan Pagan, one of my mentors, talks about this as the ultimate area of leverage in a business there’s nothing else you can do that can almost instantly take your business and from the existing amount of visitors, traffic, attention that you have create 2 times, 3 times the amount of results that you get from that.
Focus and make sure even if you don’t see yourself as this person take it as your own mission to become the person in your business that understands your customer best and that means spending time in their world and being very observant to what their real frustrations are.
#3 They make TEST a good first impression
So what I’ll say first is kind of an over-arcing approach or a philosophy about landing pages and testing in general. Which is creating a great landing page is a function of your testing approach more than it is a function of your ability to write great copy. I’ll say that again, because it’s really important. Creating a great landing page is more a function of your testing approach than it is about your ability to write great copy. And that’s the most true initially when you’re getting started. As you become a better copywriter, that’s less true.
So what I mean by that, is if you’re getting started and you think, “Well, I’m just going small and I don’t need to test”, that’s absolutely failure to begin with. What you need to recognize is no one’s smart enough — you’re not smart enough — to know what you need to know while you’re getting started. So take the time to set yourself up with two things. One, the technology to test. And more importantly, and I can’t over-emphasize this enough how many people make this mistake, even in really big successful businesses, make sure to measure and report on those every single day. And then pay attention to them and then draw interpretations and use them iteratively in your process of development.
It sounds so silly but if you have a simple piece — an Excel spreadsheet. And you have a daily column that just says “date” and then it says “page” and “results” and “number of visitors” and then “number of subscribers” or whatever your conversion mechanism is. Start looking at that every day and start looking at each ad in that exact same way. And you will start to understand how to write the best copy. Because, guess what? No one else knows, especially if you’re in a very specific niche, no one else knows what the best copy is. So even if you tried a great copy writer, even if you pay someone a thousand or ten thousand dollars to write all your copy, this is the process they would go through in order to learn your market. So, that’s getting started. Set yourself up to test and measure. That’s the fallacy that most people have about great marketing.
#4 They know people are anxious online
You need to understand that just being online and leaving Google — or leaving a trusted site or leaving Amazon, wherever you are — is a risky behavior. And in fact, clicking on a link is a very risky behavior because I don’t know where I’m going. And I’ll argue that there’s a mild level of unconscious anxiety that every Internet user is suffering, each time they click on a link because they don’t know what to anticipate. And human beings really, really, really like certainty and knowing where they’re going. So with that said, what you want to do and address is remove that risk as much as possible. And you can remove that risk by building trust.
Now, what are the best ways to build trust? Well, there’s a few elements to include in your page that help you build trust. Some of the most important ones are actual real knowledge and value. This is something that gets away from some people when they just approach a business as an Internet marketing or business opportunity. They’re just thinking, “How do I create a landing page to convert people?” If you’re in that game and you’re sitting with your cursor on your landing page and you haven’t done your homework. And you haven’t sat around and thought about who people really are and what they’re doing out in the world, and what’s happening for them tomorrow. And what they want to have happen in a week after they interact with you, you’re not going to write great copy. Why? Because you’re not going to be able to build trust and deliver the value you need to deliver to them in order to have them comfortable to stay and convert with you.
So that’s your first goal, is to remove risk and to build trust.
Update: Get detailed answers from Chance
We didn’t get to all the viewer questions in the live program, so Chance very generously offered to write up a detailed answer to 2 or 3 of your questions.
He started with this response to an issue that kept coming up in the live show comments: Landing Pages That Convert.
Ask your questions in the comments here and we’ll pick the ones that he can answer. We’ll give priority to people who watched live.
Full program includes
- Why most entrepreneurs make the same multi-million dollar mistake before they ever build their product or service
- The one thing that can literally double or triple your sales and revenue from the same amount of effort
- How to understand the â€œriskâ€ that people feel when confronted with a sign up form or buy now button — and the way to remove this risk
- The actual experience and dialog inside peopleâ€™s head when they come to your company/website/information — and how to literally force them to pay attention
- How to setup a simple test in 1 hour that tells you more about your business viability and your audience than any consultant, marketer or your perfect finished product ever could
- How to avoid building a business with your time and hard earned money that no one subscribes to or buys from