Why The Loooooong Sales Letter Works And Other Surprising Sales Hacks – with Ramit Sethi

Ramit put all the material he refers to in this interview on this page.

A few months ago, I noticed that a well-known tech entrepreneur was quickly removing a doc off his computer screen. I guess I have sharp eyes because I saw what it was and quickly asked him, “Why do you have Ramit Sethi’s sales letter on your computer?” He flashed me a smile and said, “That guy knows how to sell!”

Seems he was doing what a lot of other entrepreneurs have done, deconstructing Ramit’s sales letters to figure out how to use Ramit’s tactics in his business. But you won’t have to do that, because you have this interview. In this interview, I asked Ramit to break down his sales tactics and help us understand the psychology of selling online.

Ramit is the best selling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich and a master of behavioral change.

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About Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi is the best selling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. His latest product is Dream Job, a comprehensive course about everything from how to find what your dream job is, to how to answer those tricky interview questions, to how to carry yourself.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Three messages before we get started. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, don’t you have unique legal needs that the average lawyer can’t help you with? That’s why you need Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you read his articles on Venture Beat, you know that he can help you with issues like raising money, or issuing stock options, or even deciding whether to form a corporation. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. See him at walkercorporatelaw.com.

And do you remember when I interviewed Sarah Sutton Fell about how thousands of people pay for her job site? Look at the biggest point that she made. She said that she has a phone number on every page of her site because, and here’s a stat, 95% of the people who call end up buying. Most people, though, don’t call her. But seeing a real number increases their confidence in her and they buy. So, try this, go to grasshopper.com, and get a phone number that will make your company sound professional. Add it to your site and see what happens. Grasshopper.com.

And remember Patrick Buckley who I interviewed? He came up with an idea for an iPad case. He built a store to sell it, and in a few months he generated about a million dollars in sales. Well, the platform he used is Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on shopify.com, because Shopify stores are designed to increase sales. Plus, Shopify makes it easy to set up a beautiful store and manage it. Shopify.com. Here’s the program.

Everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. And you guys know the goal here, the goal here is to bring on successful entrepreneurs, who are going to tell you how they did it, so that you can just steal as many of their ideas as possible, go use them to build your own company, and come back and share what you’ve learned, too, the way today’s guest is doing.

Now, if you know that, you also know that I like to keep things really, really focused because I’m obsessed with making sure that I get what I want. And so, I start off the interview by saying, this is what I want for my guest, and then like a bulldog I go after it. Today, though, I want to go a little bit off of that. I want to riff a little bit with my buddy, Ramit Sethi, and the reason I want to do it is this.

Ramit, I was doing a screen cast with a friend of ours, Hiten Shah, the founder of KISSmetrics, and, as he was setting up his computer screen, he goes, “Oh, you shouldn’t have seen that.” And then he showed me and then I pushed him a little bit and we talked about it. He had your sales letter up on his screen, and he was studying the way that you sell.

Now, I’ve noticed, Ramit, that a lot of people in tech do that. A lot of us who followed Noah Kagan on Twitter, I’ve seen him say thank you to you a few times for stuff that you taught him about marketing. Anyway, you’re the guy that a lot of people go to. I want to, instead of finding out how you built your business today, just, like, step-by-step, I want to go back and ask you questions like, what is it that these guys like Hiten Shaw are trying to pick up on your sales copy? Why does it work? How is it that people, you know, who are trained online to take everything for free, end up buying your stuff for thousands of dollars?

I want to know how you pick the right price. I want to know how you get inside your customer’s minds, and use the language that they are most receptive to, and, more than anything else, I want to come back to how my audience can do it. So, I’m going to riff, and . . . we also did this, because we still are both a little bit anal, we’ve put together this list of topics, that if we go too far off-topic, or if we’re not useful enough, I could say, hey, let’s go and pick a more useful topic. You know, let’s go to the board and pick something to make sure that we’re giving value. So, we want to riff, but we want to give people value.

All right. So, Ramit. First of all, let me make sure that I give you a proper introduction. You’re the best-selling author of the book, ‘I Will Teach You to be Rich.’ A lot of people think of you as a financial adviser, but, as I’ve said here in the beginning, our friends in the tech world, entrepreneurs that I’ve been friends with, consider you a master of behavioral change. And what I want to learn from you is how you do it. Oh, and, you’re not going to ask for this, but I’m going to give you a quick plug. You are the founder and the creator of the upcoming product, ‘Dream Job,’ a comprehensive course about everything from finding out what your dream job is, to how to answer interview questions. All right. With that big intro, welcome.

Ramit: Thank you very much. Good to be here.

Andrew: All right. Copywriting. We are all trying to deconstruct your copy . . . In fact, let me take a step back a second. Let’s do quick numbers. Give people a sense of how much you’ve sold, maybe the first week of sales of one of your previous products. What did you do? Or first hour, even, whatever you feel comfortable with.

Ramit: OK, so, one of my flagship courses is called “Earn 1K on the Side”.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Ramit: It’s an 8-week video course. And it’s a fairly mature product, it’s been around for two years. We’ve put a lot of people through the course, a lot of graduates. The first time we ever opened it up, which was in January of 2010, we sold over $100,000 in one hour.

Andrew: $100,000 within the first hour of launching?

Ramit: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Good. I like numbers. The reasons I like numbers is because I want to prove to the audience that the person who I have on has done something. And the only way I can prove it is to show measurable results.

Ramit: Right.

Andrew: All right. Copy writing. We’re trying to figure out your copy writing from a distance. Some of it goes really long and it’s a lot of work. You help me figure out, what should we understand about the way you do copy writing. What are we missing when we’re looking at it from the outside and how can we do it to?

Ramit: Well, I used to think that copy writing was basically what happens when you go to one of these web 2.0 pages and you see three main things. It says ‘Easy to use. Fast. Secure.’ . And I thought that was copy writing and it took me years to realize that that is not copy writing, that’s just a writer. A copy writer, in particular a direct response copy writer, which means you can directly track how effective my copy is, by conversion testing and things like that. They have to go far deeper.

A direct response copy writer would never just simply say ‘Easy. Fast. Secure.’, because those words don’t mean anything. Especially they don’t mean anything to me, they especially don’t mean anything to the mind of your prospect, or the person that’s reading your stuff.

So what I’ll talk about with copy is that my copy is exhausting, it’s exhaustive. Writing a sales letter will often take several months. My sales letter for earn $1k is 47 pages long, but it converts very well. And when people read it, they will do things like this, they will nod their heads as they are reading the entire thing. We’ll see them stopping and we’ll see them resuming again. They’re really thinking about it.

Andrew: How do you see that they’re stopping and resuming if it’s all online?

Ramit: Because we can do a couple of things. One, we can measure it online, you can see where people are stopping, where they’re going online. Then we also watch people read it. Right?

We’ve done this before. I did this as early as college. I used to write a comedy column, which was modestly called ‘Two guys who are better than you’. And we would actually write our comedy column for the week, and we would actually take it around to people in our dorm and we would watch them read it. Because that’s the only way you can test comedy writing.

And what we would do is if they laughed at the right places, and not just one person, but five or ten, we’d know we nailed it. If they didn’t laugh, the first person we would just be like ‘You’re not funny.’, but if five people didn’t laugh, then we knew we had a problem. So you can measure it qualitatively and quantitatively if this stuff works.

Andrew: So you’re saying that maybe the next time that I’m at a conference and I have a sales letter. I just pull up my computer next to someone else’s at the conference. Chances are he’s a potential customer because he’s at the conference, and I just watch him read it. And the point where it feels a little bit awkward, because he’s doing me a favor, that’s where I need to beef up the copy.

Ramit: Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it. So, let’s deconstruct that. He has to be a prospect. If I showed earn $1K to a senior executive who’s 65 years old, making $200,000 a year, it’s irrelevant to him. And that’s good.

You know I have a friend of mine, her name is Reef Orlio [sp] and she teaches women how to grow their businesses and make money. Actually, I got introduced to here, somehow, years ago, and I saw her videos. She does a lot of videos and she like dances and stuff. I was just like ‘What is this? I totally don’t get this.’ And I closed the window. And I heard about her again and again and what happened was that I showed it to a couple of women, so some female friends I had, and they were like ‘Oh my god! What is the URL for this site?’ . And that’s when I realized that she nailed it. She has the perfect congruency with her audience, and with guys like me, dudes, there just like ‘What is this?’ That is great.

However, what happens is that copy writers, they want to use words like ‘Easy, Secure, and Fast’, because they think it appeals to everyone which is wrong. I want to be able to get into the heart and mind of the people that are reading my stuff, so that they are nodding and they are actually saying ‘Wow! He knew the words I was about to say but I hadn’t even said them.

Andrew: All right. Let’s assume someone in my audience right now has a long form sales letter, because they heard that it works, and it’s not working that well for them.

Ramit: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s the first thing they should do to make it work, to make it convert better?

Ramit: Study the greats.

Andrew: Tell me how you did that? You told me before the interview started, now tell the audience how you did it.

Ramit: Well, I decided about three or four years ago, that I wanted to become world-class at writing copy. I really wanted to be great. And so I started just studying copy. How did I do that? I started buying books. I started studying online copy, and I started studying offline copy. Now there are great, great places to do this. For headlines, Cosmo. OK. Readers Digest, classic, classic magazines. They have some of the best copywriter in the world.

Online there are great, great examples. You know some of the best copywriting happens in the relationship market and in the health market. The financial market as well. So you have to pick apart these things. So for example, in the financial market you’re going to find a lot of doom and gloom. Oh, the sky’s falling, protect yourself with gold. Now I find that relatively unethical since I know that a lot of that is BS. But I want to understand it. Right, I want to….

Andrew: So let me ask you how. I sometimes look at the Huffington Post and they catch me with the headline, with that top big headline, and I click on it. And then I look on the side and even though I have no interest in Brad Pitt, something about the headline and the photo catches me and I click on a Brad Pitt article. And then from there I click and I click and I click. But I still don’t understand why it works. How do we as outsiders deconstruct what’s working online at sites, like The Huffington Post, or financial sites or even offline at Cosmo Magazine. How do we deconstruct it and get value out of it?

Ramit: So if you started hearing a knocking sound in your car, and you heard it from five different cars, do you think you’d be able to diagnose it?

Andrew: No.

Ramit: Of course not. So why would you be able to expect to diagnose copy just by seeing it? That’s not how it works. To become masterful at something usually you need to have guides, teachers, right? And I think both of us honor this because we are both teachers. So here’s what you do. You don’t just look at copy. You want to study the greats because they deconstruct how copy works. I’m actually going to tell you a couple of books that I recommend that are sitting on my table right now.

Andrew: Yup.

Ramit: One is called “Tested Advertising Methods”. Another one is called “My Life in Scientific Advertising”. These two books are old school books and they will teach you a lot about how to understand what it is that you’re reading. So for example, I’ll give you an example right, from my own sales pitch, okay. I’m going to give you a headline. By the way, headlines are some of the most valuable things in copyright. In general we would spend something like, if we’re doing just let’s say, you’ve seen their squeeze pages. If you’re doing just one of those we would spend probably 50% on our time just on the headline. Don’t care about the design as much as the headline. Don’t care about the picture. Don’t care about the rounded corners. Listen up. Everyone’s….

Andrew: You know what, I hear a lot about. I’m sorry, I’ve interrupted you just as you were flowing. But I hear a lot about the need to spend hours and weeks on headlines. When I do that I just stare at the screen for hours going, what am I going to write? And then I go, well let me go to Ramit’s site and I’ll see if I can copy his and then change it to mine. And I go that just doesn’t feel like me at all. And now I’ve gotten something that’s completely disconnected from what I’m creating. What do I do in that time when I’m spending 50% of my time creating that headline?

Ramit: You have two problems. One is that you’ve gotten to this point, if you’re stuck what you should be able to do is go back to your research document. Which we can talk about, so, when we started off, when I created my first mini product I had no research document. Now we’ve gotten much more sophisticated I’ve got a 40 page research document. And that’s collated and cut down from even more.

Andrew: Research on who? Your users, your customers?

Ramit: People who are going to buy or have already bought. I know their age, I know how much they make, I know their hopes, fears and dreams. I know as much as I can possibly know. So I go there and I put myself in their head. I say, what is it that they want, what do they not want. And if I get stuck I’m closing eyes. I’m doing what we call the five minute strait jacket technique. I’m closing eyes, I’m turning off my computer, I’m turning off my phone. I’m saying, all right, I’m a 27 year old guy, I make 50,000 a year. I have tried a couple of online course on earning money, I read a couple of blogs every day, but it’s just not working, and I bought this one course and I felt ripped off. It didn’t work. So what do I respond to?

So let me read you my headline, okay? Finally a proven legitimate program to identify a profitable idea and turn it into a reliable site income of a thousand dollars a month with just five hours a week. Okay. By the way there’s a subhead, let me read that to you too. Use these tested step by step techniques to find a profitable idea and turn your existing skills into direct side income. So, why. Why did I say this? Should I diagnose this?

Andrew: Yes, please.

Ramit: OK. A proven legitimate program. The first thing people think about when they hear about earning money is, what?

Andrew: The first thing they think about when they earn money.

Ramit: Program to earn money.

Andrew: Oh, that it’s going to be a fraud.

Ramit: Exactly. That they think it’s going to be a scam. So let’s address that head on. Head on, okay? Now this is very important. When people think about your product, okay, if you’re building a product. What’s the first thing they think about? If it’s not emotionally impactful that’s a big problem, okay?

Like for example, if you’re building a photo site, I hate photo sites, if you’re building a photo site, guess what, it’s not, I really want a secure way of uploading my photos.
That’s not even in the top ten. Here’s what they say: ‘Sh**, I just ran out of space on my SD card,’ or, ‘Grandma wants these photo, how am I supposed to get them to her?’ That’s what they say. They do not say, ‘I want a secure easy, fast way to do it.’ The rest of the headline,
‘To identify a profitable idea,’ why did I say that? Because, in our research we found that the number one barrier, number one, to earning money on the side, is that people believe that they don’t have a profitable idea.

That’s pretty interesting, don’t you think? If you were going to create a course on earning money, most people only think about the positive, they think about, ‘What can I get there?’ ‘Oh, I’ll promise you ten million dollars a month.’ Whatever, they never think about, ‘Why haven’t these folks already done it?’ So, if you’re building a product, ask yourself, ‘Why haven’t they already done this before?’ Then address that head on in the copy. On and on, that is, you write copy.

Andrew: So, this big research document that you have on your customers, I’m thinking about someone in my audience who has software based website, web app, and they want to create a similar research document on their customers, how would they do that?

Ramit: OK. The good thing, I call this the Craigslist penis effect.
Have you heard this Andrew? Have I told you this . . .?

Andrew: Craigslist penis effect.

Ramit: Yes, I’m glad I got you to say it, because, now we have that audio. We’re going to cut that video and remake them. This is a fascinating phenomenon that most women know. What happens is, they go on Craigslist, not on the adult section, they just go on a normal part of Craigslist, like ‘Hey, I’m looking for a bike, please e-mail Beth1234@gmail.com,’ and within hours they have fifty pictures of penises in their inbox. It’s inexplicable, yet hilarious. Why does this happen? Nobody knows.

However; let’s say they’re on the dating section, forget the bike section. So, they’re like, ‘Hi, I’m new in town. I’m looking to meet some friends, maybe go to a museum,’ fifty penises, OK. However, one guy who writes, even a decent e-mail, he goes, ‘Hey, I’m also new to town. I like the beach. Love to hang out some time. Talk to you soon.’ He wins.

The Craigslist penis effect says, ‘You don’t even have to be the best, often, you just have to be better than most people, because most people, in certain areas, are terrible.’ Like planning events, most people are terrible, so if you’re just a little bit better, you win. Same thing is true in doing your research. Most people were building software, they’re terrible at this. How do you do it, is that the question?

Andrew: Yeah. You’re saying, first of all, you don’t have to do it as well Ramit Sethi does, because most people aren’t doing it anywhere near that well. Your competitors are basically flinging penises out to the internet, if you just do it a little bit better; you’re going to improve your sales. So what’s a little bit better? Frankly, I want to do a lot better, actually. I want to be the handsome guy who comes on the horse and does the whole romantic bit.

Ramit: It’s getting a little hot in here. Hang on everybody. I need a couple minutes to pause here.

Andrew: Yeah, what do we do?

Ramit: First of all, when I say, ‘Who are your users?’ I want you to be able to answer me in this level of detail. I want you to be able to say, ”Ramit, my users are 27 to 34 years old, they tend to be male.’ How much male? ’75 percent male.’ Where do they live? ‘They tend to be on the coast.’ Why is that important? Because people on the coast will probably have a higher income. What do they want? Can you answer this crisply?

If you had asked me about earning more money, what do they want? Yeah, they want to earn more money, but they also want to have, freedom, they want to dominate their friends. By the way, guess what? You don’t find that with women. That’s pretty interesting, right? Why do I use the word ‘dominate’ a lot? Because that’s how guys talk, women don’t talk like that. The language in that, the messaging, it’s all congruent. What do they fear? They fear being ordinary, they fear being in the same job for the next 30 years, and being like that 50 year-old guy sitting next to them.

Andrew: How do I know this stuff? I’m just building my web app; I’m trying to write a good copy. How do I know it? How do I know that my costumers are on the coast? How do I know that my customers want to dominate and not just collaborate?

Ramit: First of all, we talked about what we want to get to, now let’s talk about how to get there. The simple answer is to ask them. Most people don’t ask them. If you say, ‘Hey, why don’t you ask them?’ People have 50 reasons why not. ‘Oh, Ramit, you say you should survey them. Well, I don’t have the incentives to offer.’ Why do you need an incentive? What we do is, at a high level, we basically ask them. We get to know them. We’ll ask them in a variety of ways. We’ll ask them in a variety of channels.

I’ll send out lots of surveys. I just use Survey Monkey. I’ll also email them and ask them a question and I’ll ask them to respond directly to me. I’ll tell them I read every email. Sometimes I’ll do live chats. I’ll ask a question and have people write it there and have someone recording it. Sometimes when I’m hanging out with friends I’ll just ask them.

All these ways, we combine them and that’s what allows us to get this research document together. Which allows us to write our copy. Which allows us to, for example, charge 100 times what our competitors charge. But that’s not even the point. It actually allows us to get better results because we deeply, truly understand the people that we’re writing for.

Andrew: All right. You say ask them in person, ask them in surveys, ask them in conversations. Let’s start with in person and conversations online. Because those are the places where I get my most useless answers when I ask people.

Ramit: What do you ask them?

Andrew: What do I ask them? That’s good question. I would say, you know, I’d say what course should I create on Mixergy? What interviews should I do?

Ramit: No, you already lost. Interviews is a good question but that has nothing to do with products. What course should I create, that’s all about you. Who cares about you? You’re nobody to the average person. Right? I’m nobody. Nobody is nobody. I want to ask them about them.

Let’s say that you have a person who’s in your audience. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s started one company. He’s trying to grow it, whatever. I would start by saying tell me about your business. He’s going to tell you something. What keeps you up at night? He’s going to give you some BS answer. Then you’re going to drill. You’re going say what does that mean? If you sit around, do you look at your bank account? Is that what worries you? Or is it, it must be hard to manage so much staff. You’re kind of probing, right? You’re literally and legitimately interested in what he has to say.

He’s going to be like eh, I don’t really look at my bank account. I’m fine on that. But oh my God, managing a team. I’ve hired three of the wrong people this year and it’s cost me like you would not believe. You’re like really, tell me about that. He’s telling you.

Notice that it’s nothing about you and your courses. Nobody cares. Him. Then, so now you’re getting ideas, right? You talk to ten people maybe you hear some patterns. Maybe you heard four people say oh my God, I can’t manage a staff. It’s my first time. Then you might go out to your lists, or your blog, or whatever and you might say hey, curious for those of who have a staff. I wonder if you might be willing to take a five minute survey. Then you start asking really broad questions. Tell me about your staff. How has your experience been managing a staff? Et cetera.

You start to hear words like it’s the hardest thing I do in my business. I spend way too much time and I wish I had a process. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Then you go deeper. That’s how you’re getting these insights. Right? It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Andrew: OK. In the surveys, though, I end up getting, we all do, and I’m going to bring this back to the guy who has a web app in a moment. I want to understand how he can do the same thing. In the surveys that we get back we end up with such diverse responses. It feels like if we were going to create a spreadsheet with all the answers and a column with all the answers we get and a column with the number of responses we get, each answer would just get a one mark next to it. Which is useless. How do you combine it all into something that tells you 80% of my audience is feeling this way? 80% is bothered by lack of process around staffing.

Ramit: If it were as easy as sending out a few surveys everybody would do it. But they don’t. You have to bring your expertise to bear as well. You have to often read between the lines. What are they really saying?

I’ll give you an example. When I had been writing about money for years, and I wrote a book and it included a couple of parts about earning money, but for years people had been sending me emails like hey, can you talk about earning more money? I was like no, I don’t want to. That’s scammy and I don’t want to do that. Then I went out on book tour and every city I went to I said what do you wish I wrote more about? They’re like love your automation stuff, used your scripts. I want to know how to earn more money. I was like really? That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? They were like I don’t know, I just want to know how to earn more money.

That’s when I went home and started doing this research. What is going on there? Yes, I listened to them and that’s part of it. But also, Andrew, what are you good at, passionate about, and where do you feel you can make a disproportionate impact on the market? You have to combine these things. Not just what do people want. Because people are going to tell you they want anything.

In fact, I guarantee you if you wrote a blog post or an email tomorrow saying hey guys, anyone want to know a new course on how I cut my email down from 150 a day to 146? I would love that Andrew. Please tell me what to do. How did you solve that optimization problem? Well, I’m not going to solve your stupid optimization problem. Find something that they want but also something that you can add immense value to. And then go back out to them and ask them if they’re interested in it.

Andrew: I do see by the way. I think there was a shift in your business around the time that you were getting those responses. It seems like before then you were telling people how to stop being monkey’s with their money. And after that you were telling them how to start earning more money. You went from how to stop wasting your money to how to start earning more money. Did I pick up on that shift properly?

Ramit: It was a shift. It wasn’t exactly that but there was a shift. Until that point a lot of it was building systems to automate your money. And what’s interesting is, you know sometimes, very rarely now, but sometimes in the past in the murky period between right when that shift was happening people would say, where’s the personal finance content. And my answer to that is, I’ve done it. I’ve written it for years and here’s my book. It has the best of the best in it for ten bucks.

So I will always want to grow my audience, right? We can’t just sit around talking about interest rates or automation for years. Let’s apply it to other parts of life. Those principles apply to everything. That’s why the shift was made to earning money. That’s why we’re now shifting to careers, and that’s why we’ll shift to other places as we grow.

Andrew: Let’s talk about Ruben of Bidsketch. Ruben has a website that helps designers create and send out proposals. He wants to use what you’re talking about. So he has a conversation with some designers and he says, what are you guys worried about? Or specifically to each one at a time. What are you worried about, what keeps you up at night? And instead of saying, hey, I don’t, if you ask that kind of question the response won’t be related to sending out proposals. It will be related to anything, you know, it’s a little too broad. How do you narrow it down so it relates to your product?

Ramit: Just start out by asking like how’s business going? Then you’ll say, like, so what’s the big win for this year, what would be amazing if you do? And they’re like, oh it would be amazing if I could get five new clients. Ah ha. By the way that’s really interesting because there’s some people I know who are starting companies to help speakers. And they totally got this question wrong.

This is, by the way, one of the first five questions you ask. What do all professional speakers want? Every single one. They want more speaking gigs, that’s it. It’s as simple as that. These guys decided that they’re going to build a product to help speakers manage all their inbound speaking requests. Well speakers have no speaking gigs. So they got that question wrong from the first day. So you ask them, what would be a huge win for you? And then also like, I always like to make some commentary. I’d say something like, you know it seems like it’s tough competition because there’s a lot of people competing, so how do you stand out? And then you’re getting some valuable answers there.

And then you might say something like, so let’s just assume that, let’s say I’m the average guy coming into this market. I’m not really good at what I do. What do I do differently then what you do? So now I’m trying to figure out what do the best people do versus the worst people. Why am I asking that? You want to figure out who you’re trying to serve. This is very important.

Are you trying to serve people who want like a nine dollar e-book or they just want a piece of the puzzle? Or are you trying to serve people who want the entire solution handed to them, and they have the ability and willingness to pay. That’s my paid certainty technique. So you want to figure out who it is you’re trying to serve because they are going to be profoundly different in the way you create a product for them.

Andrew: OK. All right, Let’s go to the board here. What do you think of this? Which of these items should we hit first?

Ramit: Let’s talk about. So we talked about deep research, right? We talked about cloud research which is when we started researching Earn More Money. Okay, let’s talk about this, Andrew. So alright, you start talking to people and you identify four or five ideas that you think people might want and you cut it down to one or two. You think you have a good idea, right? You want to build a course on, what, teach people how to be more productive?

Andrew: Let’s stick with teams.

Ramit: Teams, great. So we did cloud research. We went out and we started, this is for earning more money, and we were like, okay these people want this weird thing of earning more money. Let’s go see what’s out there. So we started buying all these products, all these books, all these courses, and we identified four major areas in this space. So it was like your jobs, like you could actually raise money, raise your income through negotiation. You could start a web company. There’s this passive internet marketing stuff. And then there was freelancing.

So we looked at it and we didn’t believe first of all in some of these things. Others we just didn’t want to do right now, or weren’t good at it. And we looked at freelancing, we’re like, wait a minute, we’re pretty good at this. Like we raised our rates a hundred times in the last few years and we know stuff that other people don’t know. We think we might be able to do this. So we went deeper into that space. This is cloud research. Why don’t we call it that? We’re trying to understand the universe of options.

So, think about the people who make yet another photo share or a new website or whatever. Have they really used a lot of the other ones? And not just to look . . . What happens is, especially engineering types, they’ll use it and look at the features. ‘Oh! They’re using,’ what do people even talk about these days, ‘Ajax!’ You can tell how dated I am at features. ‘They’re doing this, and they’re storing it in the cloud, and these people are allowing export. I love data portability!’ Who cares?

Let’s talk about the business side. How is it positioned? Is this for grannies? Is this for senior executives with a lot of money and no time? That’s what we want to look at. And, also, is this solving one piece of the puzzle or the whole piece? Why do we keep harping on that? Because the price and the amount of revenue turns out to be profoundly different. So, Andrew, you know we have two courses for earning more money.

One is called ‘Earn 1K on the Side,’ that’s the full course, eight weeks. It’s got everything you need in it. And the goal is, if you join that course, in eight weeks you’ll have three paying clients. So, it has everything, pricing, everything. But, some people don’t want that. And we discovered this when I had all these people who went through my launch and didn’t buy. And I was like, ‘Why are these people not buying?’

So, we realized that they just wanted a smaller piece of the puzzle [coughs]. They just wanted to find their first profitable idea. And we have another product called that. So, who is it that you’re serving, and what do they want? That is what Cloud Research is about, right, what are the other options out there.

Andrew: All right, before we go to the board, let me ask you this question that’s more of a riff. I’ve now listened to a few of your interviews, I’ve watched you on stage, I’ve heard you a lot, and one of the things that I admire about you is that you stay on message. Like I’ve got notes here about how you talked about a friend who wanted to sell an eBook. And you told him, for the same amount of time that he was going to spend investing in creating the eBook, it was a quick eBook, that if he spent just a little bit more time, he could create a product that sold for many thousands of dollars more. And over time it’d be worth millions. I’m not telling the story nearly as well as you, but the point . . .

Ramit: Thanks for butchering my story, by the way.

Andrew: Sorry?

Ramit: Thanks for butchering my story.

Andrew: I thought I butchered it. I wouldn’t even read the others that I have here on my list, but I’ll tell you this, that you are good at staying on message, and getting your point out there and tying it to a story. I’ve been interviewed now because I do a lot of interviews, and it’s hard to get your message out clearly. You end up really going where the interviewer wants you to go, or you end up saying whatever at the moment feels right, and at the end it’s just, you know, hit or miss. You don’t do that. How do you stay on message? Do you program it ahead of time? Do you write your stories out? Do you plan it out? I’m taking too long, but you get my question here.

Ramit: I have an earpiece, actually, right here. And my mom is actually in my ear right now. No, it’s actually a great question. Because we talk about this in ‘Dream Job,’ most people, they make a critical mistake. They think that going into an interview is all about answering the question. And if you do that you’ve already lost. Because, yes, you have to answer the questions, but you also have to answer what we call ‘the question behind the question.’ And how do you do that? You do that with a variety of tactics. You have a story toolbox. So, all of my students, they walk in, they are prepared. They’ve got stories out the ass, right. They know exactly how to filter it. You have different messages. So, let’s say for example that I walk in to an interview with the New York Times, right?

And I have some sense of what it is they’re going to be asking me. How do I know that? Because I’ve read all the columns this guy’s written before, OK? Maybe I studied where he went to college. I’ve done my homework. OK. And I anticipate. It’s just called scenario planning. What possible questions could he ask me? So, he might say, ‘So, Ramit, you make money on the backs of poor people.’ And I’m going to be like, ‘Actually, I don’t allow people with credit card debt to even join my flagship programs.’ So, I’ve got that answered, right.

What am I doing? I’m preparing for every conceivable scenario. And what that allows me to do, is actually, when I get into a conversation, like with you, I can actually riff. I can tell stories. I can be my natural self. Because I don’t have to be like, ‘Oh my God, what did Andrew just say? Oh my God, he asked me about that.’ See what I mean? So . . .

Andrew: So, you have the stories in your story toolbox.

Ramit: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s where it starts. And you have your stories and you have your message. You write these all down and you have a story to go along with each message. And you’re ready to . . .

Ramit: When I started . . . I still have notes from when I started doing interviews. And I would totally . . . I mean, this is how getting good at anything works, right. You start off in a very methodical way, and you have your notes and you’re looking at them on the phone interview or whatever it may be. Over time, it became more intuitive for me. And did you notice, by the way, that you asked me that question, and did you notice how I answered? I answered with a story. I said this is what we teach my Dream Job students because when they walk in blah, blah, blah. How did I do that? That’s because it’s become more natural for me.

What’s the point of this? How do you do the same thing when you’re…

Andrew: Going to be interviewed or going to be talking to potential employees or going to tell your message to anyone.

Ramit: Yeah. Remember this, just answering their questions is not sufficient. Anyone can answer somebody’s questions. We can bring a monkey and they’ll answer your questions. We could bring a high school student in there and they’ll answer your questions. You have a message you need to get across, OK? What is that message? This is what PR firms overcharged people for over the last 50 years. If we go back to our research, it always comes back to that, we know that people want to earn money but they feel a little burned. They don’t know what to do. They don’t have an idea.

If you ask me Ramit, what’s a big problem with our generation today? OK, that’s a pretty broad question so how would I proceed to answer that? I’d say there are three ways I think about it. The first is that some of us feel betrayed. We feel that we’ve been lied to, we did everything right, blah, blah, blah. The second thing is that we’re not financially secure. We walked out of college. We got a degree and now we have $50,000 in student debt. The third thing is there are actually solutions for that. Not only can we automate our money but how come no one’s thinking about earning more money? That’s something I’m really talking about in the last year on my site.

Andrew: OK. Your message, if I were going to prepare in the way that Ramit did in the early days, I would write down my big messages. The messages would tie back to my research on my customers. Then would I have a story ready to go for each one of my big messages?

Ramit: It would be great if you do. By the way, how do you do this? Let me tell you this little insight that I discovered. It’s pretty cool, I think. When I was writing a comedy column in college I was consumed with it. I spent 30 hours a week writing this column. It was funny because every where I went I saw funny stories. Everything was filtered through this comedy column. I started a Word document of just funny stories.

I kept that idea until today. I have a story document, it’s a Google document, and every time I’m out on the subway or I see something funny I email it to myself. It gets added in there. That story document would make no sense to anybody else. If you read my emails or you read my blog posts you know I’m always telling all these ridiculous stories, right? You’re like how does this tie in? Oh, he did it again. That’s because sometimes I can just think of them but sometimes I have them in that document in case I’m really stuck.

Andrew: Why stories? Why not just give people messages or give people how-tos?

Ramit: You know, I used to do that. There is someone I know who works at a very successful company. Like mine but way more successful. We were chatting, and this is one of things that I talk about is study the masters. Too many people go and study these web 2.0 companies who don’t know how to convert or make any money or help any users. I like to find the people who are really good at what they do and deeply get to know them and stuff like that.

I talk to this lady and she goes you know Ramit, your tactical stuff is great but you’re really going to need to connect with the emotional side. I was like you don’t know what you’re talking about! My tactics are amazing. She goes you know, over time tactics become commoditized. But once you can connect on an emotional and psychological level that lasts forever. I kind of dismissed her at that time. I was earlier on. Over time I came to find that she was exactly right.

It’s important, I believe, to still have the best tactics in the world. But you want to be able to connect emotionally with people. That’s why I tell stories. Because facts, like I had this great post the other day, I thought it was great at least, and I was speaking to a friend of mine and she goes you know, the only thing I remember about that post is the Adam Corolla story you told. I was like ah, that old friend of mine was right from five years ago. Because that story stuck with her. The facts disappeared.

Andrew: All right. Now, I’m going back to our board here. We have sales and we have the note about case studies. How do you sell using case studies as stories?

Ramit: Really we had some interesting stuff. When we first launched Earn 1K we had done some testing and stuff like that. Now we have a massive testimonial base. In fact, I have a site, please forgive me for the design. It’s not too great but it has 100′s of testimonials of Earn 1K students. Earn1K.com/preview.

But when we first started we didn’t have that many testimonials, OK? We did a couple of things. One, we had testimonials of people who had used certain parts of my material to earn money so we included those. We also did something else. I wanted people to start realizing that they themselves could have earned money. Don’t care if they use my stuff or anyone else’s. In our research we found that people just didn’t believe that they were the kind of people that could earn money. They thought, if I want to earn money I need to quit my job and start the next Google. And that’s not true.

So we actually just started using case studies of people, not necessarily earn 1K students, who had started earning more money. I remember I had a cast study of someone who, I think the blog post is called, from $17 an hour to $45 an hour, how she did it. And she’s like a conference organizer. And what did this make people think? I wasn’t trying to, I mean, it didn’t make people think, I want Ramit to build a product to do that. No, it just made them say, I could do that. Andrew, what if you’re trying to build an e-mail productivity tool and you just do a case study on someone who’s like, I did these five things and not only did it cut down my e-mail by 50%, but this is how it changed my life.

Andrew: I send that…

Ramit: Imagine you do one of those per week and finally, finally after doing that and some other sales things you come up with a product. How much more effective would that be?

Andrew: You know what? I could, that answers another question that I had. What if you’re just launching a product and you don’t yet have testimonials. And so what you’re saying is the first thing you do is, let’s take like Paras Chopra. Paras Chopra is the founder of Visual Website Optimizer. Sorry?

Ramit: I use it.

Andrew: Great tool. He’s an old friend, he’s finally coming on to do an interview here. He sells a lot through case studies. But if you were to duplicate his success, or in the early days I guess for him before he had those success stories, if you wanted to sell through case studies he would just find stories of someone who used AB testing to improve sales, tell their story and say, if you want to use our tool to do this kind of thing, go and do it.

Ramit: Yeah.

Andrew: Click here and go sign up. And later on he’s looking for stories to tell. How do you keep it from sounding like you’re just patting yourself in the back by telling a story about one of your successful customers?

Ramit: That’s a great question. Before I get to that, let me say, there are two ways to get testimonials if you don’t have them yet. One is, or case studies. One is to just do cast studies about the general concept and make them super valuable. The point of those is to show people that this is possible. The second thing is to actually give away part or all of your product for free in exchange for testimonials or cast studies. I’ve done this repeatedly, okay? I’ve done it everywhere from giving it free. I’ve actually charged people for a Beta test of some eBooks.

What I told them was, I’ll give this to you, I’m going to cut the price. I know it’s weird to charge for a Beta test, but I want people who will pay, aka, take action, and I’ll give you the full course for free. And then I’ve actually done a very high level course, which wasn’t really testing, it was fully fleshed out but it gave us more testimonials. That cost $12,000. And that was a very sort of high touch thing. In answer to your question about Paras, how do you make it sound like it’s not just patting yourself on the back?

Andrew: Yeah, like it’s content that people are willing to read and share with their friends and excited that they got through, and not an ad.

Ramit: There are two things. The case study in and of itself should be useful. Even if you did not mention your product it should be super useful. And you can see this. All of 2011 I did case studies on earning more money. And yes we talk about, we plug earn 1K in there, once in the copy and once at the end. But we are really careful to make them very lengthy and very in depth.

I’m going to tell you a little insight that we learned about that by the way. In our case studies we tested them carefully to see what converted best and what helped people, etc. We would talk about. I actually haven’t revealed this before. We would talk about like how did this person raise their rates from $25 an hour to $125 an hour, okay, which is very impressive. This person would be like, I used the XYZ in module 2. I took the e-mail script, I sent it out, I went in and did the briefcase technique, and then at the end of the case study we’re like, to get the XYZ from module 2 and the briefcase technique enter your e-mail here. Exploded. Why? Because people want to know just that tactic.

So you’re giving them what you want but you also want to give them what they need, right? Because people just want shiny tactics. And in an almost paternalistic way sometimes you have to say, okay, I’m going to give you that ice, who taught me this, a very sophisticated marketer? I’m going to give you the vitamin with the ice cream.

Andrew: Ebbet and Pagan, I’ve heard it here in a couple of interviews.

Ramit: Yeah, that’s right, vitamin with the ice cream exactly. And he’s right on with that. Okay, now, oh, Paras. The other thing how to make it not scammy or not salesy is, you ever see P90X? You know what that is? I love P90X because you go on their website and you can spot yourself in less than five seconds. I’m the skinny dude who got big. Fat guy who got little. Post-pregnancy woman who lost her weight. We create like a matrix of people and their fears, hopes, and dreams and then we case study each of those. See what I mean? If one person who didn’t have an idea, let’s do a case study about someone who found their idea.

Notice how all of this is more strategic than just randomly doing case studies or testimonials. It’s all about, based on your research what do people want? You just create a simple Excel sheet and then let’s put a case study here, let’s do a testimonial there. All of a sudden it’s very comprehensive. You’re answering their questions before they have them.

Andrew: I see. All right. You pick it.

Ramit: Let’s go back to the sheet. What’s the sheet say?

Andrew: Right here. What do you think of this, by the way, as a technique for keeping things focused in future interviews?

Ramit: It’s good for us because we get way off track, right?

Andrew: OK, which of these do you want to talk about? Do you want to talk about testing? Do you want to talk about pricing?

Ramit: Yeah, pricing.

Andrew: Let’s go to pricing.

Ramit: What do people want to know about pricing?

Andrew: You tell me. Actually, this is number one because you felt pretty strongly about us needing to talk about it. Oh, you also have your hot tea.

Ramit: Yeah. I’m running out of water. This is a problem.

Andrew: Right on.

Ramit: By the way, Andrew, how many glasses of water do you refill with one tea bag?

Andrew: Two and then it goes, look I’m now on three. Can you see that it’s.

Ramit: Dude, I refill it like nine times in a day and then people started telling me I’m a cheap ass.

Andrew: You are.

Ramit: I didn’t even realize that was something that people do. Now I’m second guessing my whole life. What else am I doing wrong?

Andrew: Part of your charm is that you’re cheap.

Ramit: I guess. I guess I am cheap with tea bags. OK. All right, what are we talking about? Pricing?

Andrew: Isn’t that part of your personality? In the first book didn’t you say something like learn to negotiate like an Indian and then you told the story of how your dad negotiated?

Ramit: Oh my God, my dad is a master negotiator. My sister, yeah, they’re very good. I learned a lot. I was basically bred to negotiate. I’ve been negotiating with the Macy’s clerk. I try, still to this day I have never successfully negotiated with McDonalds but I will. I will one day. Yeah, I enjoy the process. I enjoy teaching it to my students too.

Andrew: I remember you told us the story of how you negotiated at Macy’s I think in the first Mixergy interview you did. I was so high on it my wife and I both said let’s just try it. Anyone we’re on the phone with, let’s just see if we can negotiate. Let’s see what we can get away with. It became a game.

Ramit: And how did it work?

Andrew: I’m trying to think of a really strong, the strongest example I could have is I was in the hospital in the early part of last year. I didn’t know if you get these bills for a few hundreds bucks you could even negotiate those. I started calling up and negotiating them down to practically nothing. You can negotiate with anyone, I’m discovering. Worst case, especially if you’re on the phone with a credit card, well maybe not a credit card company but just about anybody else, you do it from the safety of your home. You don’t have to worry about the way they look at you. You could always hang up.

Ramit: Yeah, it’s very nice. In this Dream Job course we do a whole thing on a negotiation and one of the best things that my students told me was, we actually brought people up to the hot seat. I was sitting there and I would actually be the mean recruiter and I would have them negotiate with me. I’d give them a salary offer and they’d have to negotiate with me. I’d then tweak them, tune them, show them exactly the language, the body language to use and I would have them do it again. We got them all on camera. We include the before and afters in the whole course.

It is amazing, Andrew. You should see the way that they are so confident and the words they use. We teach them the exact words to use. In a ten minute conversation they’re transformed. Then I also brought in some masters to show them how people do it at a high level. There’s an art and science to negotiating.

Andrew: I saw one of those videos. I love seeing that. I feel like I learn so much more by watching other people do it than just by being told the stories or being given suggestions. Like there’s one thing that one of your guys did that stuck with me. He was going to negotiate for a higher salary but before he said I think I’m worth more, or whatever it was he said, he said I really appreciate this job and I’ve got to tell you I’d love to work here. Then he moved on. I thought wow, that really keeps it from being adversarial. Usually when someone tries to negotiate a salary with me I think you ingrate, this is what everyone else at the company is earning. You don’t love us? Now we’re going to start battling. Sorry, go ahead.

Ramit: This is classic. This is what you do in every type of deep marketing. It’s funny because so many people think marketing is about let’s build our product and then oh, I haven’t done marketing. I see this on Hacker News all the time. I’ve got to figure out the marketing. Or they write a book and they’re like oh, I got to do the marketing now. No, you already lost.

This, in this case, my friend Justin who’s an absolute master and he taught me a lot of what I know. I brought him into the studio and I pretended to be the person giving him the offer, and he . . . By the way, the funny thing was, we had not prepared at all. He even made a joke about it on camera, he said, ‘Thanks for sending me the notes like two minutes ago.’ And so I asked him these questions and he deftly parried and cajoled and answered every question.

And one of the things he teaches, and one of the things I teach as well, as we did the analysis, is, you got a job offer, and if you are legitimately excited, which you should be, you want to tell them that. You want to teach, just like you want to teach your readers to be excited and revere your content, you want to tell people, like, first of all, ‘Thank you so much. This means a lot and I’m really excited to get started. Now, I feel like we’re close, but there are just a few things I wanted to discuss with you.’ That sounded very friendly!

Andrew: Yeah.

Ramit: Right? And then we can go into the details. So that’s, anyway, that’s what we cover in some of ‘The Dream Jobs.’

Andrew: How can people see that video? I got it through Thrillist. I don’t even know how to give people URLs for Thrillist because they mask the URL with their own . . .

Ramit: I’ll give the URL here for your users. ‘Iwillteachyouhowtoberich.com/thrillist.’ And we have a negotiation mini-course there.

Andrew: Ah.

Ramit: Which they should check out soon. We might . . . I don’t know, it’ll probably be up for a little while.

Andrew: All right. I love the production values on that. All right, so, pricing. What do we need to know about pricing? How do we figure out what to charge for what we’re creating?

Ramit: Most people want to start by talking about pricing, and I think that they should actually start two steps prior.

Andrew: OK.

Ramit: One, do your research. Who is it that you’re going after? What do they want? Et cetera. Do they want just one piece of the puzzle? Do they want the whole system?

OK. Two, what’s the modality you want to deliver it in? Do you want to give them an eBook? Do you want to give them a video course? Do you want to have them come to your apartment, one-on-one, one day a month? OK? Once you do those two things the pricing becomes a lot clearer. Right now, most people, they’re just picking prices out of the air. You don’t want to be doing that. You want to have some guideline, and then you can tweak it. And I’ll tell you how we did earn 1K.

So, we started off by saying, what do people want? And it turned out that, in general, people wanted the system. They wanted to earn more money, OK, they wanted the whole thing. So we built that, and also I just wanted to build the whole thing, I don’t want to do some half-ass thing. So, what modality? Well, we realized that, because they wanted the whole thing, we can’t deliver that in a PDF. I can’t teach you how to negotiate with a freelance client on a PDF.

I want to show you the words that I use, where I smile. I want to show you everything, right? I want to show you the emails that I’ve tested. So, we put it in a video course and we, you know, put it in 8 modules, et cetera. And, when we do that, we know that [laughs] this thing is so valuable that it’s going to be more than a 100 bucks. And we actually mispriced it the first time. We sold it at $497, $1497, and I believe it was $2497. And, like I told you, we did, you know, over 100K in an hour, and that was great. More importantly than that, people were thrilled, OK, that we have this.

We collect surveys on every single person who joins the course, and the results they got were tremendous. But we also realized that the conversion rates were too high. Too high! It’s possible to have conversion rates that are too high. So we actually went through and we raised the prices. And we had told people who didn’t buy, I may raise the price. And we did. We doubled it for most of the tiers.

And you know what’s interesting? I met somebody on the street here in Manhattan, and so she . . . I don’t know, she recognized me, whatever. She said, ‘Hello, blah blah blah.’ and I got her name and I went back to search her out in my email. Because isn’t that what everyone does when they meet someone, you go to your email and you search for their name. And it turned out, it’s so interesting, she had bought ‘Earn 1K’ the first time it came out, asked for a refund, and then she bought it later when the price had doubled.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Ramit: Isn’t that interesting? So I actually asked her, like, what’s up with that? And she told me, you know, ‘I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure it was good.’ And then she bought it again later. And that was totally interesting to me. Anyway, just a little weird thing.

Andrew: It’s now almost 9 p.m. on a Friday. I’ve stayed late to do this interview, you’ve stayed late to do this interview. I don’t even do interviews on Fridays. I’m coming in because you were an important guest for me. I want this to really rock. So I’m going to ask you this question that would really make it rock. How much revenue did you generate last year? With ‘How to Teach You to be Rich.’

Ramit: It was more than one dollar and less than one billion dollars.

Andrew: Is it more than five million dollars?

Ramit: I don’t reveal revenue numbers.

Andrew: Nothing at all. Why not?

Ramit: I don’t see the point. It doesn’t do me any good. Recently it was revealed in a Fortune article about me, the general scale of the business, but it doesn’t benefit me at all. I’m a private company. No good can come of it really. Really what I care about is, do my readers like what I’m doing? Do they respect it, are they getting results, and are they telling other people about it? If they are, I’m happy, and I can put food on the table.

It’s interesting, my model, I’m not selling ads against the number of users I have. I’m not doing that. If my stuff doesn’t perform I don’t put food on the table. My stuff has to perform because I give full refunds for anything people buy. I just keep focused on delivering stuff that people love and that they use and my number one goal, behavioral change. In terms of the business I want students for life. That’s it. That’s what I want. They buy my stuff, they get a $40,000 raise, they’re going to be with me for life.

Andrew: On a personal level then, how about this. What’s the best part of having made it? You’ve done really well. This is on the sidelines, we’re all studying your sales copy. A lot of us are on the sidelines trying to valuate how much revenue you’ve done. Estimates are pretty high. Higher than Fortune Magazine seemed to say so maybe people are exaggerating. But on a personal level what do you get to do? Do you get to travel somewhere interesting? Tell me about that.

Ramit: Well, I’ve always said money is a small part of being rich. I’ve said that from day one and I genuinely believe that. For me there’s so many other things with being rich. In fact, I wrote a post years ago ‘what does rich mean to you?’ Helping your parents with their retirement. Being able to travel and visit your friends.

I’ll tell you a couple of things that I guess I’m able to do now that I wasn’t able to do before. The first thing is I’m a cognitive miser. We’re all cognitive misers. We have limited cognition. I always wanted to be able to go and just, if I see something in a grocery store, or I want to take a taxi instead of a subway, I didn’t want to have to think about it. That doesn’t seem like that glamorous of a thing but it really matters to me. I think it’s the freedom thing, the flexibility thing, on a very micro, day to day level. If I see, let’s say I feel like ordering a drink or if I feel like getting an appetizer. I never got appetizers when we were kids. I can do that.

Also, by the way, things don’t change that much. We were a very middle class family and we had a lot of kids in the family. We would eat at Taco Bell sometimes and we would never, ever order the Mexican pizza. You know what that is? What, you don’t eat at Taco Bell, Andrew?

Andrew: No. I’m surprised you do. I’m surprised an Indian family would take you to Taco Bell.

Ramit: Dude, Indians love Taco Bell.

Andrew: I didn’t know that.

Ramit: They eat those crisps, cinnamon twists, all the time. What’s wrong with you?

Andrew: I thought you were a traditional Indian family, your mother would say the same thing my mother said. Those parents who take their kids out to fast food don’t love them enough.

Ramit: You might be right. We go there but we can never order the Mexican pizza because it was too expensive. I still remember, it was $3.45.

Andrew: What is that? It’s a quesadilla, right?

Ramit: I don’t know.

Andrew: Just like a specific item on their menu.

Ramit: Yeah, yeah. To this day I have never ordered a Mexican pizza. I could walk in there and order it without a problem. My friends are like come on, I’ll get it for you. I’m like no. I had that mentality (inaudible).

The big thing, besides just like if I want to get an appetizer I can do that, is, you know, I’m a little bit flexible so I can travel. I guess my one big luxury would be that I have two apartments. One in San Francisco and one in New York. I can travel back there and I can decide that I want to go tomorrow and go to San Francisco. That is possible. Before I would have never dreamed of doing that. I would have been checking on the prices all the time.

Aside from that it becomes less amount money. I have a huge platform to be able to test my ideas and see if they work. To me, that’s a rich life.

Andrew: Yeah, I feel that. That seems to be what comes up over and over again. I think one of the best examples of that is I asked the founder of Carbonite why Mosey sold and why they raised their prices and became all kinds of weird. He goes you know what, the founder there I think he said was on his first start up or he needed the business, he needed the money. He said I’ve built five successful companies. I had a strong history. I could tough it out. I could spend a lot of time thinking about this business. I could spend a lot of time suffering through this business.

That kind of freedom is, I feel, what we’re all doing it for. It’s not necessarily, unfortunately, for the jet. Because I’d frankly like to have a jet plane. It’s not necessarily for the women. But it’s for that freedom. It’s not for what, I’m trying to come up with examples for what else people could want.

Ramit: Well, some people want to be famous, right?

Andrew: Do you want to be famous? You’re on TV a bunch now.

Ramit: To me it’s about really being able to spread the message. I love my online readers, although I mock them relentlessly. There’s also, if you want to get your message out, you still go through traditional channels. That matters. TV matters. Magazines matter. They matter in different ways but they also matter, so the ability to be able to get your message out, to me, that’s kind of exciting, because I’d like to see random people in the street I know [??] warps, I test [??]. I’d like to be able to see them and they’d be like, “Hey, I automated your stuff. I automated my money, I have $100 or $500 a month going in, and things are great.” I would love to see that.

Andrew: All right, how do we send some of my audience to you? Where should we send them? What should we ask them to do?

Ramit: I put together something cool for your audience. We talked about doing research, and really getting to know your audience, so I put together one of the actual surveys we use for Earn1K. This survey alone was responsible for over $100 thousand of revenue. This survey alone. I actually publicly say $100 thousand, but it’s actually more than that. So that’s one, and then the other thing I did…

Andrew: $100 thousand within that first hour of launch.

Ramit: Well we made over $100K over that course of the week or whatever, it was definitely worth that. I also took one of my students who had a survey, and I kind of tore it down, so I learned from seeing before and after, and really seeing that insight. So anyway, I put it together, iwillteachyoutoberich.com/mixergy, and I think if you implement these things, beyond the Craigslist penis effect, you will actually be way more knowledgeable about your users, and yes, you’re business will grow and all that stuff, and that’s great, but you will be able to serve them more. You’ll be able to speak to them, not at them, and that’s how your business can grow explosively.

Andrew: All right, so it’s iwillteachyoutoberich.com/mixergy. Ramit, thanks for doing this interview.

Ramit: Thank you Andrew, always a pleasure.

Andrew: Oh, one more thing, on a personal level, I should have said this earlier in the interview to make sure that everyone hears this, because I’m really grateful to you for doing it. So many times as I built up Mixergy you were there and helped me out in a way that nobody would know, in a way that really you had no reason to ever expect anything in return, and that’s why I feel so indebted to you and want to give you back. When I first launched my paid product you were one of the very few people who encouraged me to keep going. When I was struggling to make that thing grow, I trusted you with my numbers, and I came to you for help, and you helped me really improve it in ways that I don’t ever know how I could repay you. I don’t know how I could ever show my appreciation beyond just saying it right now, but when I get an opportunity I’m looking forward to jumping in and showing how appreciative I am.

Ramit: This makes it all worth it, man. I’m happy it worked out, and I’m always happy to help because your stuff is great. As far as I concerned, as I said, you’re one of the best interviewers on or off line, and if more people can hear your stuff I’m happy to help.

Andrew: All right. I appreciate it. Ramit Sethi at iwillteachyoutoberich.com/mixergy, where you get to see all this stuff and he gets to see if my Mixergy audience is powerful. Hopefully they are and they’ll go over to his site. Thank you all for watching. Bye.

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Share

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1102787 Rachman Blake

    Very nice. I’ve been working on a new sales page. Helpful interview!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Awesome

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I love that!

    Too bad disqus doesn’t let us embed pictures any more

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

    I know right. I’m so used to Reddit when I can use the shortcodes to embed images and use italics, etc. I still love Disqus though.

  • Marcin Niedzwiecki

    One thing I’d love to be mentioned: long sales letter vs video sales letter. Without doubt there’s a trend, most marketers advice to use videos because they have better conversions and I’m curious about Ramit’s opinion.
    PS. Andrew, I said I focus only on my business right now but I just couldn’t resign from watching this interview as a sales page is on my “to-do” list in very near future :) 

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good question.

    Let me know what you think of this interview’s impact on your work.

  • http://www.ShizzleDizzleMagic.com Matthew Jones

    I’ve studied a number of copywriting courses. Everyone says “know your customer”, but this is the first time I’ve heard about tactics to actually do that. 40 page customer research reports? Wow…

    I’m very interested in learning how to do that level of research. 

    Also, “Craigslist Penis Effect” and “Flinging Penises” totally made me think of that interview you did with Neville… lol! ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/trinspa trin salaloy

    Andrew, thanks for always redirecting the questions back to how someone with a web app can use the tactics.

  • Bhargav Patel

    Andrew, is Rubin your favorite Mixergy family member? :( You always use him in your example..
    Great interview Ramit, thank you very much!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Cool o fyou to notice.

  • http://twitter.com/bryanhales bryanhales

    This is, by far, my favorite Mixergy interview. I listened to it in my car on the way home (long commute). When I got home, I watched the interview again and took notes this time. Great stuff with some really actionable ideas and concepts. Thanks!

  • http://www.bidsketch.com Ruben

    Great interview. Ramit’s first Mixergy interview has always been one of my favorites and this one is right up there. 

    I’m glad you guys went deep into the specific questions to ask; that makes it much more concrete. Over the last couple of months I’ve been interviewing customers and sending surveys, but I see I haven’t gone deep enough now. 

    I’m looking forward implementing what I’ve learned here in the next set of surveys and conversations. 

  • http://twitter.com/quellhorst Dan Quellhorst

    So you guys use a tea bag to flavor lukewarm water?

  • Marcin Niedzwiecki

    I see that a big part of my notes regards the importance of empathy, getting inside of customers head. I’ve already knew that it’s crucial but I think I haven’t looked at it in such details, which can make big difference. However, such deep research is (imho) for those, who already have a running business and they want to improve it and get more sales (it’s a constant process). 
    Anyway, I was looking rather for stuff like “pricing” & “headlines”. The part about rising up the prices because the conversion rate was too high was striking! 

  • http://proofreadingpal.com/ Brian Kaldenberg

    I always wondered about those loooooong sales letters. Thanks for the info Ramit.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

    By the way, I keep getting compliments on your course. Thanks for teaching!

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com/ PaulMagee

    Separating our ego from our copy is the trick, especially when we write about ourselves. I love interviews like this because they remind me to do that. Not to throw the baby out with the bath water because a great idea didn’t pan out first time, which is the ego talking. There are so many points of failure in a sales letter, so many alternative ways to position, it’s critical to zoom out and commit to testing every single one, as you’re building a clearer and clearer picture of who your profitable customer is.

    I’ve been running a split test for a few days to test some of the ideas from Clay’s course and the tests are showing that actually my old copy converted pretty well. I don’t need any major changes, but some minor, tiny tweaks. How many times a 1 word change has made a huge difference still blows my mind. I think to be a great copywriter we have to remain very humble students.
    Thanks Ramit, thanks Andrew.

  • http://www.subvertmagazine.com/ PaulMagee

    Marcin, I think the idea that you can wait before really understanding your customers is a fallacy. For most businesses, there is no smooth learning / earning curve where you can make “some money” until you have the time to invest in getting to know them and move into “big money” later. Most companies LOSE money until they really understand their customers. There’s nothing more important to a business that knowing your customers on an insanely deep level.

  • Marcin Niedzwiecki

    “Most companies LOSE money until they really understand their customers. ”
    I agree, 100%. I find myself rephrasing what I wrote a couple of times. I’ve just wanted to say, that if I focused on doing such a deep research on customers (like 40 pages report), I would have to do only this one task. If I had enough resources and time (and most bootstrapped startups don’t), I would definetely get to know even the size of my potential customers shoes :)

  • http://www.kswaterman.com/ Kevin Waterman

    Every week I see a new interview on Mixergy and think this is the best interview I’ve watched so far. This one though is going to be hard to beat. Thanks Andrew and Ramit, great interview.

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  • Marc

    First time here, the quality of your questions was great Andrew.
    Great insights from Ramit, I already implemented some of the advices while listening to the interview and I generated a few hundred dollars (40% paid already).
    Love it.

  • http://iphoneapprockstar.com/ Andreas

    Unbelievably useful stuff – I’ve come away with 3 really actionable ideas – mainly around using the surveys to get far more detailed insight in my audience. It’s something I’ve not done for far too long!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I love to hear that!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Looking forward to getting to know you.

  • http://twitter.com/theGreenStyle Elwood Green III

    Perfect ending quote.  “You are one of the best interviewers on or off-line”.  Agree & your videos are amazing.  Your preparation and anticipation of the questions to ask is always right on point!

  • Guest

    The day of the long sales letter has to come to an end soon.  It’s amazing how stupid people still get sucked in by them.  As soon as I see one I know it’s 99% a scam clickbank product with little to no original value.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

    I’m working on getting even better.

    Better = delivering more results in your life.

  • http://www.mycurls.co.uk/ Vicky

    This is brilliant! Ramit is amazing; every time I read his stuff or open his emails, I learn so so much! 

  • Paul

    Anyone else having trouble getting the audio file on the link?  Keep getting “file not found” error

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Seems to work. Could you try it again?

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