Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy. And I’m doing this interview because frankly, there’s someone on our team, Sachit Gupta, who sells a bunch of ads, who has been pestering me about this woman. Apparently, he went to take this course at CreativeLive, sat through this course for three days and it was revolutionary for him.
Since Sachit is a guy who sells our ads, I said, “Look, revolutionary because it helped you find your soul, your spirit, your what?” He goes, “No, no, it helped me actually grow sales. This is why I can sell ads better for you at Mixergy.” I said, “What do you mean?” He says, “Well, this woman, Vanessa Van Edwards, is so good at teaching you how to express yourself through body language, how to understand what people who you’re talking to are saying when they’re not using words with micro gestures,” I think was the phrase. Is that right, Vanessa, micro gesture?
Vanessa: Micro gesture and micro expression, yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. So he just went on and on and on. I said, “Look, that’s not what we’re about here at Mixergy. It’s about business.” He goes, “Dude, do you know how many of these courses she’s sold?” Are you the number one most sold course on CreativeLive?
Vanessa: I think so, on a good month.
Andrew: Right? This is a real business. I said, “All right. Let’s look into.” So my team and I looked into it. Yes, it’s big on CreativeLive. She’s got a very powerful, very successful blog. She’s the author of an upcoming book. I’ve got to have her one here and find out how much of a business is this.
So that’s what we’re going to find out today. Her name is Vanessa Van Edwards. She started out being a blogger. What made her really interesting and allowed her business to grow is she said, “I’m going to do research, not just blogging, but I’m actually going to do research. I’m going to publish it on my blog, publish it on YouTube, other places, do courses.”
We’re going to find out how she did it. Did I say the name of the book already? Maybe I didn’t, “Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.” And her blog and I guess her course is called the Science of People.
This interview is sponsored by two sponsors that Sachit Gupta sold ads to. The first is the company that will help you get your next great developer. It’s called Toptal. The second is the company that will help you close sales. It’s a CRM called Pipedrive.
Vanessa: Thanks so much for having me.
Andrew: Bottom line–I should say thank you being here–bottom line, though, how much money can you make? You’re on CreativeLive, Udemy. What kind of money are we talking about here?
Vanessa: Yeah. It’s the Wild West. This is the time. I do think that there is a window. I think that right now, there are millions on the table. I was hoping to sell 30 courses in the first three or four months. We sold over 500 in the first 48 hours, actually 72 hours.
Andrew: That’s on Udemy.
Vanessa: That’s on Udemy, yeah. And CreativeLive is a different kind of niche, which we can talk about. That’s where you’re getting higher end courses, $100 to $200 per sale. You don’t make that full amount. It’s very much like a publishing deal. But I think there are millions available in online courses.
Andrew: So the CreativeLive course right now is selling for $200. How many of those did you sell?
Vanessa: We have three different courses on CreativeLive. We have a fourth coming up. We have about 40,000 to 45,000 students. There are discounts and things like that, so you do the math.
Andrew: Are any of them less than $200?
Vanessa: Yes. Actually, I have Power of Body Language I think is $129. I think one is $179. And then the new one that’s coming out, I think, will be $50. So we’re trying a lower one.
Andrew: Okay. And that one hasn’t sold yet. So let’s take the cheapest of the ones that are sold, $129 times 40,000 classes sold. We end up with $5.1 million, $5.2 million in sales. You don’t keep all of it. You split it with CreativeLive. What is it, like a 50-50 deal? They don’t even talk about that.
Vanessa: They won’t let me talk about specific numbers. But I can say think of it just like a publishing deal. So Udemy is like Amazon. It’s like self-publishing. You keep a lot of the percent for a little bit to give away to be on the platform. CreativeLive is like a traditional publisher. So they keep a majority of the percent, but they help you promote it, they help you edit it, they help you market it and build it. So it’s very similar breakdowns.
Andrew: Where do you make more money, Udemy or CreativeLive?
Vanessa: So I make more money on Udemy. I know that shocks people.
Vanessa: It’s really surprising. So Udemy has an interesting play. I’ve learned a lot from their model. They make up for the discounting with volume. And their whole thing is, “We would much rather have 100 people buy a course discounted than 10 people who buy a course quality.” Now, they also don’t have as good watch rates.
I can see every single student and how much of my course they watch, which in a way has helped me be a better teacher. What I do at the end of the month is I download my Excel spreadsheet and I look and see exactly what video people dropped out on. Then I’m like something is wrong with this video. So I download it. I try to change it up, add some animations, add some–
Vanessa: So that’s how we’ve been able to maximize Udemy. So the biggest mistake people make with online courses is they think, “Once I make it, I’m done.” But it is not like a book. It’s not like you publish the first version and then it’s out there. If you do it right, I think it’s constant adding and changing because it’s so easy to take down a video, change it up.
So what we do is I am a huge data nerd. We look at every single video and drop off rates. That also is where I figure out where we’re getting bad reviews. So every single person who gives me a one, two or three-star review, I message them personally or my team messages them personally and says, “Hey, we saw you gave us a review for this, that and the other,” when did we lose you. What was the video that we lost you?
So, because of that, we got people to reverse the reviews and we got people to stay longer. That’s huge because what most people don’t realize is that Udemy has an algorithm, different than CreativeLive–we can talk about CreativeLive in a second–Udemy has an algorithm. So if you have one, two or three-star reviews, they put you lower in the search results. They don’t put you in as many Facebook ads. They don’t put you in as many emails. So you have to go in and get those reviews reversed, or else you will be punished for them with later sales. So I work constantly updating them.
Andrew: But doesn’t the video need to look consistent from segment to segment? So, if you take out the third piece in a five-piece series, it won’t like the other four pieces, right?
Vanessa: Actually, so there are a couple things you can think about here. One is slide templates. So I use the same slides throughout. It’s my face as well as my slides. I also try to use the same lighting and sound equipment. So, even if I’ve filmed a video three years later, unless I have a haircut or something like that, it’s brand consistent.
That’s what you’re looking for is you want someone to be like, “The brand is consistent.” Sometimes I’ll add a video and say, “Hey, this video wasn’t in this course when you first bought it, but I added it because of so many people who requested it.” Then people are like, “Yes. This is like great.”
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: Then it builds your reviews even more. I’ll say we got a couple bad reviews–I’m very transparent. I uploaded this video to address every single hesitation. If you like this video, I would love you to give me a good review. Then we get a lot of good reviews.
Andrew: Man, that is insanely impressive. I like the attention to detail.
Andrew: As you’re watching me, are you aware of my gestures? Are you picking up on something that you can point out to the audience?
Vanessa: Yes. Actually I played a trick on you earlier.
Andrew: What did you do? I’m actually a little bit aware of my gestures because of this conversation.
Vanessa: Okay. So, forgive me. I played a trick on your earlier. So, earlier before we got on here, you said, “Hey, could you read me in the interview?” I didn’t want to make me paranoid of me reading you. So I said, “Let’s use your social media profile instead.”
Andrew: I see. Yes.
Vanessa: Actually, I was reading you. Okay, so the first thing I wanted to tell you, which was really good and I’ve noticed you do this in other interviews too. is I don’t know if you remember, you started the interview by going like this, “Hey.”
Vanessa: I think you might have done it for lighting or I’m not sure. But what that does is a couple things. Your hand gestures, when you first meet someone, the first place we look as humans is our hands.
Andrew: Really? I thought you were going to say–and for anyone who’s listening, the hey is I put my hand up on the camera like a big hi. So people are looking at hands before eyes, before mouth?
Vanessa: So, using eye tracking studies–most people believe it’s eyes or mouth–but actually it’s hands. The reason is we think it’s a survival mechanism. Think back to our caveman days. If we were approached by a stranger caveman, we wanted to see are they friend or foe? Are they carrying a rock or a spear? Are they going to reach out?
Vanessa: So we are very aware of people’s hands because we want to know intention and explanation. So, if I say, “I have three things to tell you, your brain is like, “Three things.” I’m holding up three fingers. If I were to say, “I have a really big idea. It’s really big,” and I held up my fingers to be really small while saying big, your brain is like, “What?” It’s an incongruence. So, when you hold up your hand like that for me, basically what you’re saying is, “Friend, friend, friend, friend, friend.” So it’s for me and it’s for the audience. It’s incredibly, incredibly charismatic and very subtly so.
Andrew: Interesting. I always thought that me putting up my hand–the reason I do it is so Joe, the editor, in the old days he used to have to go past my conversation with the guest before the interview and look for the point where he’s supposed to drop off. The hand is like, “Hey, Joe, my hand’s up. Cut it before here.” I always thought it was coming across as rude to put my hand up on camera. No?
Vanessa: No. It’s really, really good. In fact, if I don’t speak with my hands now, it’s interesting. For those of you who are listening, I want you to also listen for my vocal power. So I’m sitting on my hands right now. That actually makes me sound more memorized and makes me sound more stiff.
Vanessa: I’m more boring to watch, whereas the moment I bring my hands out, that’s so much better because you can see more, you can hear more, it adds more vocal charisma to my voice for those of you who are just listening. So hand gestures, it’s a feedback loop. It’s not just for you. It’s also for me, which helps you, which helps me. So it’s also for your editors.
Andrew: What’s another tip that you can give us that anyone who’s listening to us can use to be more charismatic? I know you’ve done some videos on YouTube about that.
Vanessa: Yes. It’s one of my favorites. I’m obsessed with charisma. We can talk about it all day. The other thing that you did, I don’t know if you realized you were doing it, but you very briefly touched the side of your forehead.
Andrew: I didn’t.
Vanessa: That’s actually the universal gesture for embarrassment or shame. It’s called a shame tap. So, for example, if you watch an embarrassing prank show and someone is so embarrassed, they usually will put their hand to their forehead and go, “Ugh, I’m so embarrassed.”
Andrew: Yeah, half a forehead covered with their hands.
Vanessa: Almost like you’re shielding your eyes in shame. So, when that happens, whether or not you had an itch or not–you might have just had an itch–it signals to someone low power. That is the case with any kind of head touch.
Andrew: Any kind of head touch?
Vanessa: Any kind of head touch–there is an except–any kind of head touch, especially that’s like a fidget, so like a rub, an eye thing, a hair tuck. The only one that’s not is the thinking gesture.
Andrew: The hand on my chin, like this.
Vanessa: Steve Jobs, his famous sort of–
Vanessa: Hillary Clinton, she does this sometimes. The thinking gesture is the exception if it’s still. If it’s really still, I’m like, “I’m so concentrated on Andrew. Tell me more.”
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: Where if I’m like, “Um. . .” That’s nervous.
Andrew: So, if I was on a date and I put my hand on my chin or on a business meeting and I put my hand on my chin like this, it would come across as I’m thinking and paying attention, not like I’m too much of a nerd that I can’t just chill out.
Vanessa: Correct. Now, with any emblems–what we’re talking about right now are emblems and body language–when you look at body language science, there are things that represent an emotion, thinking, shame tap, there are things like that.
What you have to be careful of is if it’s inauthentic, if you’re like, “I’m going to look like I’m thinking, but I’m not thinking at all,” it actually comes across as worse because it’s an incongruence then. This is saying thinking, but in your head, you’re actually thinking about your to-do list, they can see that in your eyes, your responses to them. They’re like, “Whoa, this person was lying to me non-verbally.”
Andrew: Is that what’s in your book? I tried to go buy your book. It’s not available until April 25th. Are you showing me pictures in your book of–I couldn’t even see screen shots.
Vanessa: I’ll send you a sneak peek. In terms of body language, we have about three or four chapters that are body language specific. That’s most of our new research. There’s a lot of amazing body language books out there that I love. This is experiments we did. Doing my own experiments was one of the biggest differentiators in our business model, actually, that moved me from just being a writer, journalist to being a scientist.
So we have about four chapters on body language. The rest are actually on verbal psychology, persuasion tactics. We did a research study analyzing TED Talks, where we analyzed every TED Talk from 2010 looking for patterns. So, it’s that kind of research.
Andrew: I saw you on like–you’re actually watching those TED Talks, not just you, but you have other people who help you out, right?
Vanessa: I didn’t actually watch them. It was all my coders.
Andrew: Your coders, meaning you bring people in and say, “Here’s what I want you to pay attention for and mark this down on a special whatever sheet.” That’s what you do.
Andrew: I saw you do that with “Shark Tank” too. There was a video where you and your assistant or you and another researcher broke it down. This is part of the stuff you do. This is what transformed you?
Vanessa: Yes. So José Piña was my partner on “Shark Tank.” He’s amazing. So what I realized was there was this time in my business where we weren’t making very much money, barely any money, mostly through like affiliates and awful revenue generators like ads–horrible.
Andrew: That’s on this business you were doing this? Sorry, the connection suddenly just got a little bit bad.
Vanessa: Yeah, Science of People.
Andrew: Let me call you right back. Sorry, the connection just got bad.
Andrew: There. It’s back. Forget it. You’re saying that affiliate deals you were doing on this site, on the Science of People?
Vanessa: Yes. So it was originally ScienceOfPeople.org until I could buy the .com. I was just blogging. I was taking a very journalistic approach, grabbing the best science articles and writing about them. I realized I was blending–that was Psychology Today, that was Popular Science, that was every other magazine out there. I realized that the sweet spot, the articles that were the best were when I tied in some aspect of my own experimentation. In the beginning, it was just me. So it was me saying I read a study on how men love the smell of women who smell like food.
Vanessa: Like men love women who smell like popcorn.
Vanessa: So I went out and I got a bag of popcorn and I rubbed the popcorn on my neck, and I did one night where I smelled like cucumbers and I did like a little experiment. It was funny and those did well. So I started to do bigger and bigger experiments. That was a tipping point when other media began to cover us as opposed to me trying to pitch media.
Andrew: I see. How did you get the media to even cover you, to pay attention to the fact that you’re doing this?
Vanessa: Typically and the way I always pitch journalists is I usually try and add them into the experiment in some way, shape or form.
Andrew: Interesting. Clever. Tell me about that.
Vanessa: Okay. So, for example, if I want to pitch someone at Science Magazine about like a study that they covered, I might email the journalist who covered that study and say, “Hey, you did this study on facial expressions. I got three of your profile pictures and I downloaded them. We’ve analyzed them for body language patterns compared to the CEO head shots, Fortune 500 CEO head shots. Here’s how yours breaks down. We have a further study of CEO head shots if you’d like to check it out. We think it would be a really cool follow up article to your article. We almost always got hits that way. So I would try to use them in the research first.
Andrew: You said scientific, but how scientific is it when you just rub popcorn on yourself and go out and test things?
Vanessa: Yes, I totally agree. So we differentiate between citizen science experiments and science experiments. So, typically when we’re talking about research, I am talking about academic research, peer reviewed research. We actually have a database. I think it’s the largest database of body language science in the world. We have I think over 3,000 studies now in there that are purely peer reviewed journal research. So we differentiate between that and our playful citizen science experiments. We always say, “Here’s the real science. Here’s how we actually tried to use it in real life.”
Andrew: I see. So, if I read your experience with popcorn, I also have some backup where someone has done some deeper research and it’s less playful.
Vanessa: We literally separate it like that. I know we have two different kinds of readers. We have the readers who are obsessed with the science. Then we have readers who are like, “Data schmatta. Just tell me the story.” So I give them whichever one they want.
Andrew: What about the fact that I don’t smile in interviews. I’m so deeply in the conversation that later on when I look for thumbnails, if I want to post it on YouTube or Facebook or whatever, I can’t find myself just smiling. I’m definitely having a good time. I can’t find myself smiling. I’m forcing a smile now. Does that actually–how does that influence the person who I’m talking to and more importantly the audience?
Vanessa: Yeah. I can actually speak to the academic research on this. So research is found–this is academic research, not Vanessa Van Edwards’s playful experience–that people who smile less are typically considered higher in power. The reason for this is when you think about smiling, it’s an appeasement body language. If you’re smiling to someone, you’re saying, “Let’s build rapport. I like you. Do you like me?”
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: So the largest of the micro expressions or facial expressions we can see a smile from 200 yards away. So, if someone is trying to appeal to a boss or a fellow employee and they smile, it’s basically saying, “Like me, like me.” Leaders usually are alphas, bosses, are not thinking, “Like me.” They’re usually thinking, “Respect me.”
So they might have a much more serious facial expression, which is okay. So what I say is none of this is right or wrong. It’s not wrong body language to smile or not smile. What I hate is when people have it different in their personal brand. So there are multiple flavors of charisma. Charisma is not just one type. Think about the difference between Mark Cuban–if you watch “Shark Tank”–Mark Cuban and–
Andrew: Daymond John.
Vanessa: Daymond John.
Vanessa: Totally different brands of charisma, but I would say both incredibly charismatic gentlemen. The reason for this is because if you are very high in power, high in competence, which is one facet of charisma, you’re going to smile less. You’re going to have less movement and you’re going to have way less self-touch. You’re not going to touch almost any part of your body. You’re also going to be very still, very little head movement and you’re going to listen quietly. Whereas if you’re high on warmth like Barbara Corcoran, she’s very high on warmth, you’ll notice when a shark walks in the tank, she goes like this.
Andrew: Smile to greet them. Yeah.
Vanessa: She smiles and nods, right? It’s very high in warmth. That is totally different for Barbara Corcoran. It works for her. So you have to think about what works for you and never take a body language tip alone. Don’t sit thinking–
Andrew: In isolation and try to manipulate it that way. The reason, by the way, that I brought up Daymond John is he’s coming on tomorrow to do an interview with me. We’ll publish it a little later in the future. The thing that drives me nuts is he’s okay doing it Skype. He will not hit that video button for me. I have tried so much to get him to just hit the video button so I can see him because that helps me know, “Am I asking a question that’s a little pushy and he digs the pushiness or am I asking a question that’s a little pushy and I’ve lost him?” that way I know how to continue the conversation.
Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor. My first sponsor, anyone who’s listening to me who’s selling has got to at least try them. I never heard of these guys until a guest came on and I asked him about how he grew his sales.
He said, “Well, I signed up for this thing called Pipedrive and then all my sales people suddenly got organized and were able to sell more.” I said, “All right, that’s kind of interesting.” Then he talked about how it was like a systemized sales process. Again, I filed it away in my head. I said, “There are so many different CRMs, so many different ways to store people’s contact information. Who cares if this guy found one that really works for him?”
Then I went and I tried it just to see, “Why is this guy so into it?” And it made so much sense. The whole sales process is organized in Pipedrive. They force you to say, “What are the steps to close the sale?” So, you lay it out. The first time you lay it out, it’s kind of a bad layout for your sales process, but at least you’ve got something. Then you say, “Okay, every time you get a new lead, I want you to put that lead in this column right here.”
Any time you do something with that person and you move them closer to the sale, I want you to move them over one more column to the right until you get all the right, to the finish line and you’ve closed the sale with them. Anyone on the team can help collaborate with you and help you move the person forward.
So, if it takes a phone call to get a customer who’s expressed an interest via email to get them to buy or do a demo, then someone else on the team could make a phone call or schedule a demo and then move them over. Anyway, it’s so freaking helpful. I’ve used it for both–in the past I’ve said I’ve used it just to book guests here on Mixergy. I’m now using it to close sales for new courses when I want to understand why people are buying it. I want to understand what they’re looking for. It’s so effective.
I’m going to give you guys a URL where you can go and if you want to try it the way that I did, just experiment with it. I wasn’t sure it was going to be a good fit for me. It turned out it was. Maybe try it and you discover it’s not a great fit for you, but I think you owe it to yourself if you’re selling one on one–I mean like not mass emails, but really one on one individual emails sent to people, individual phone calls sent to people, that kind of thing, you’ve got to check out Pipedrive. It’s available at Pipedrive.com/Mixergy.
I’ve been talking about them for years before they ever sponsored. I think they finally said, “What do we have to lose? We’ve made so much money from Andrew talking about us that we might as well take that money and put it in ads.” Then it’s working and so they keep buying ads. But it’s a really good company and I’m glad they keep supporting Mixergy because I love them–Pipedrive.com/Mixergy.
All right. Going back to your business experience, you started out the way that I kind of did. I did a lot of telemarketing sales in college. What was your experience in telemarketing? When did you do it?
Vanessa: Yeah, did it in college as well. It was the best job because we got to make commissions off of our sales, plus a small hourly. So, I started telemarketing. It was probably one of the best early decisions I ever made because I had to learn sales and I had to learn it incredibly quickly. I was terrible at it at first, like I was not even making my minimums. Everyone hung up on me in the first three seconds and typically yelled at me right before they hung up.
Andrew: What were you selling them? What were you doing that was so bad?
Vanessa: So it was Emory Telefunds. I was actually calling alumni, so warm leads. I went to Emory University in Atlanta, calling, “Hi, this is Vanessa, freshman at Emory University. Please donate to your alma mater.”
Andrew: I get those calls now from NYU all the time.
Vanessa: I know. I loved Emory. So, there was this disconnect because I loved what I was doing, but I couldn’t get people on the phone. Even if I got them on the phone, they would sit and talk to me for 30 minutes and then not donate, which was like worse than them hanging up and yelling at me.
So I finally–that was the way that I started to get really good at sales and start to read people incredibly quickly. I do believe in vocal power. I spent a lot of time on the phone. That’s where I was cold pitching my business originally. Now we don’t have to. I think your first impression is everything in, “Hello?” It’s done.
Andrew: They can tell in that voice whether they want to listen to you or not?
Vanessa: 100%. Actually, we’re just finishing this now. We did a vocal power study to back up my idea on this, where what we did is we took five different people and we had them record, “Hello,” with a couple different body language moves. So, for example, we had someone make a really big smile–I’m smiling right now–and say, “Hello?” Then we had someone do a sadness micro expression, which is when you pinch the inner corners of your eyebrows together and you frown and you puff out your lower lip and say, “Hello?”
Andrew: And you’re just recording the audio?
Vanessa: Just recording the audio, but we knew they were making those. We also did a very broad power pose and a real low power pose. We had over 1,000 people who play in our lab–you’re welcome to go listen to it, if you want–listen to the hellos and rate them on charisma, likeability, intelligence and, “Would you be friends with this person?” It was incredible, even though they were just hello. People rated the participants who smiled and power posed much more highly than those who were making the sadness or anger micro expressions. So, that was the very first time I had this idea there was more to the story.
Andrew: Before you go on with the story, I know you do this kind of research. I don’t know where on your site I would find that. Like if I wanted to go and see the different hello experiences, where would I find it? If I wanted to see some of your experiments on YouTube, where would I find it? I’ve seen some of your stuff on YouTube, not all of it. I can’t figure out where the lab stuff is.
Vanessa: So on my website, it’s the tab called play.
Andrew: There, I see it. Okay.
Vanessa: So we’re always running different ones. So we have, I think, five up right now. So you can go into our–I think vocal power test is on there. You can go to play. On YouTube, we have a playlist, I think, that’s called experiments, where we kind of review our latest experiments that when we’re asking for things, we just posted one.
Andrew: It’s a playlist called experiments?
Vanessa: I think so. It might have to–
Andrew: For the playlist what I see is science facts and Vanessa hacks–no, that’s not even a playlist. Where is that playlist?
Vanessa: If not, I will make sure that we have a playlist called experiment so by the time people–
Andrew: I’d love to see that. That’s what I was hunting for.
Vanessa: We should have it, but if we don’t, I will make sure we have it. So those are where we put up asks, like for example, we just ask people to lie to us. We’re doing a huge, huge big research experiment on life detection. We’ve gotten, I think, about 60 people now to lie to us on camera. We have like a lying game we make them play. Then we’ve been coding them for things. So that’s when we post the asks as well as the results. So, you can get to watch both, if you want.
Andrew: I see. It looks like that is also these experiments are a good way for you to grow your mailing list.
Vanessa: So what’s interesting is the experiments, they feed a lot of birds with two seeds–I like that better than the stone analogy–which is one, they get people to subscribe to our YouTube channel. YouTube has been the single biggest lead generator for us for all of our online courses, for all of our books and for all of my speaking engagements.
Andrew: Let’s hold off on that. I love that you gave our producer so much substance on how to do YouTube right. We’re going to have a whole section on that because it’s so good in this conversation, I promise.
Andrew: So, it feeds people into YouTube because they want to see it. What else does it do?
Vanessa: It feeds people into YouTube. Second, it’s incredibly sticky. So I love “Hooked,” Nir Eyal’s book, which talks about this rewards, how you reward people.
Vanessa: People are very rewarded when they can give you information, so they feel more invested, and then get back a result. It feels so good. So our tests, we give them fun results either about themselves or about other things. So it creates incredible brand loyalty. It’s very, very sticky and we get lots of information about each reader. So, after every test, we segment them and then we’re able to send them emails that are very, very tailored to them–so, daters, entrepreneurs, whatever.
Andrew: Interesting. So, if I fill out this–this is the one on who is most popular.
Andrew: I gave my name, I gave my email address. Now I select who I think is most popular. At the end of this, you’re going to ask me a little bit about myself and then that’s how you know what to email me.
Vanessa: Yes, and your answers. So, for example, on our PQ quiz, it’s like your general people intelligence, we have a couple questions that are like, “I am an extrovert. I am an introvert.” If you say extrovert, we’re not going to send you tips on how to overcome shyness. That would be irrelevant to you.
Andrew: I saw that. Yeah.
Vanessa: Then you would unsubscribe. Where if you say, “I’m an introvert and I have a really hard time making conversation,” we are going to make sure we send you conversation starters. We have a conversational map, which is very different. So we have different sort of segments based on interests which then everyone wins, I think.
Andrew: I see. Okay. So one of the things you learned when you were doing telemarketing is the way that you come across when you say, “Hello,” is really important. The other one was about questions.
Andrew: Talk about that.
Vanessa: That was when I learned that asking the right questions was far more important than giving the right answers. So what happened was is I would–right when I got someone on the phone, I would try to pitch them. That was like the first thing in my script. But I realized actually asking them things like, “What was your best memory at Emory?” Usually they were either delighted to tell me or they were like, “I’ve never been asked that before.” Even factual questions, “What did you major in at Emory? Do you still keep in touch with a lot of Emory people?” I realized that I could unlock someone based on their first impression with the right questions. So, if someone, for example, answered–see if you can read what this hello would be like–“Hello.”
Andrew: They are disinterested but not angry.
Vanessa: Agreed, which means I should ask them a very quick one-word answer type of question.
Andrew: I see, because they’re disinterested and they’re disengaged. Okay.
Vanessa: They’re like, “Hello,” like, “Tell me. Get it over with.” I would say, “Hey, this is Vanessa from Emory, just doing a quick call. I would love to know what was your major at Emory?” something like that. That would give them that very quick answer because usually they would say, “I was in the dental school.” Okay. I got them for a little bit. So, it was a slow build and I had a couple different funnels, if you will, for each of them.
Andrew: You know what? I could see that being helpful for me because there are times when I sit down here to do an interview. I know because of the type of day that my guest had, they are not there for me, not that they hate me, hate me is a whole other thing, but that they’re not there for me is interesting.
Andrew: I need to think of a way to get them to fully wake up so that we could have a good interview and they can be themselves. Asking them a long question is not helpful, teaching them something, in that case, I don’t think is very helpful because they just don’t care that much. Maybe a simple question that deserves a one-word answer is helpful.
Vanessa: Yeah. So, the best thing you want to do to warm someone up, there’s a difference between fact-based questions and rapport building questions. So, fact-based questions, if you have someone who had a really hard day, they’re real quick answers, they’ve already thought about them and answered them a million times before. Those are actually better because they’re not having to access. You’re really giving them a transition time. You’re basically saying, “I know you had a bad day. This is going to be an easy, fun interview. Let’s transition in to getting you talking.”
Then you say, “Tell me how many years it took you to start your business.” “Seven years.” “Great. So tell me, who was your first customer?” They know that. They’ve done that before. They tell you. Then you listen for those little hot button issues. Especially if you’re watching them if you can interview them, when they lean in, when they have more eyebrow raises, when their volume or vocal power goes up, you realize, “I’ve got them,” and that’s where you can get into some of the longer questions.
Andrew: That’s what I would pay attention to.
Andrew: Got it. So someone like Sachit, if he’s talking a SaaS company about buying an ad and he sees the person is not fully engaged, what he could say is, “How many users do you have?” or, “What ads have worked for you?” then they give a quick answer, maybe a couple of more until he sees they get lit up when they talk about this specific kind of ad and then he can keep going.
Vanessa: It’s a subtle version of the yes ladder. Everyone in persuasion knows the yes ladder of get little yes.’ I actually prefer little infromations. So, it’s like the information ladder.
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: Little tiny bits and then they get bigger and bigger.
Andrew: I see. All right. That’s one of the things you learned by doing telemarketing. I think everyone at some point in their lives should do telemarketing. It’s definitely harder today than it was two years ago and five years ago because people aren’t picking up the phone, but I think that’s what makes it even better.
There was a period in my life where I was experimenting with different things. One of the things I did was telemarket for a candidate. I don’t even know what party they were. I don’t know who the candidate was. I was just trying something new. That was also helpful. There’s a little bit of a warmth there, but not enough. It got me to push myself.
Vanessa: Also try street canvassing. So, even for like your own business or a made up cause, working on vocal power is one thing, working on body language is another. Watch the difference if you stand with your clipboard tied across your chest versus open like this versus down by your sides, like practice that as well. It’s amazing the difference.
Andrew: So then you started writing this site. Among other sites, you were doing like parent blogs, you told our producer. What were you doing, doing parent blogs? You don’t have kids.
Vanessa: So I was doing as many passive income businesses I could think of. Passive income was the buzzword back then. So I was like, “Okay, I’m going to try a couple different niches. I had written a very, very small little eBook when I was grounded as a teenager. So, when I was 16, I was grounded and I couldn’t do anything, so I wrote a book basically for my parents of all the things I wish they knew about me and all the things I wish they knew about parenting.
Then I got other teenagers to write things too. It went viral in the sense of as much as you could go viral in 2002. So I self-published it with my allowance. That was what started the seed of the parenting blog and made a little money for me. That was one of the many passive income blogs I had at the time.
Andrew: I see. It was parenting from the point of view of a student, of a child and other children too. That and other things are what you were doing. Then you told our producer, “Once I started to focus, that’s when things got better, then when I became more than someone who was reporting on other research but actually producing something of my own, that’s when I really started to flourish.” Is that right?
Vanessa: That’s when we got our first true fans. So I was getting passive, passive readers and watchers until I found the niche and my voice, which was that kind of tweak on it. That’s when we got even five or six true fans. You can do a lot with five or six. That was that tipping point.
Andrew: I’m looking at early versions of your site. You were using the same Woo theme that I used to have on AndrewWarner.com. I see. You’ve got like long articles on sarcasm, how to tell if someone is lying to you part three, but it’s all you researching what’s out there. Actually at the time, you weren’t always linking out to your research–oh no, you were. You know what you did? This is interesting. Right below, who the hell does that?
Vanessa: I know. You know who does that? An academic. So, I wrote a thesis in college. To graduate cum laude at Emory, you had to write a thesis. What did you do in a thesis? You had end notes. So I thought, “Of course, in an article you still have end notes.” That just shows you that academic mindset that I was in.
Andrew: You even included the page number. It was Haggard, EAN, Isaacs, KS, 1966, etc.
Andrew: And then a page number for “Psychotherapy,” I guess is their book, page number 150. I see. I get where you’re coming from on that. At what point did you decide, “I’m going to create a course?”
Vanessa: Yeah. So, when I started doing live training, so I was working for small, medium sized corporations, doing a couple trainings on body language and people skills, I was like, “I already have these slides. It’s so much easier to teach body language in person.” I was like, “Writing about it is so hard. I should try to do some videos.” That’s when I think it was my husband who said, “You should try this new platform called Udemy. You can do a video course.”
So I took the exact corporate training that I was doing that at the time I think I was being paid $1,000 or $2,000 for. Okay, right? I thought, “If I can make $1,000 or $2,000 from selling however many of these courses, it would be a breakeven, and it’s like doing a real event.” I recorded them on my iPhone in my kitchen.
I had no professional lights. I had a $39 microphone from Amazon. I uploaded them to Udemy. It took about 72 hours for it to get in the Udemy store in the platform. That’s when it was an immediate tipping point. Hundreds and hundreds of sales in the first 72 hours, and then after that, it’s been continuous revenue, I would say $6,000 to $12,000 a month doing nothing.
Andrew: The thing I always heard about Udemy was no one sells their course on Udemy. It’s just extra revenue, and no one really makes it big on Udemy is what I’ve heard because they charge so little. I even had Ankur from Teachable.com, another platform, who said, “Look, I’ll show you my numbers. Everything that’s expensive does well. Anything that’s cheap does not.” I’m surprised.
Vanessa: I’m happy to show you my numbers, if you’d like. Udemy I can show you some numbers.
Andrew: You can? Good. I’d love to see it.
Vanessa: Yeah. So I’ve heard that too. I’ve absolutely heard that too. I luckily have had the opposite experience, huge revenue generator, huge I don’t even know if I can even share screens.
Andrew: Don’t. Let’s save it for the end because I’m afraid of losing whatever connection we have right now. If you can show it, I would love to see it. How many monitors do you have in front of you? It looks like you’re looking up at another monitor?
Vanessa: I have a surround sound curved monitor.
Andrew: You do?
Vanessa: I do.
Andrew: What’s the name of that monitor? I want to see a picture. If it’s not handy, it’s okay.
Vanessa: It’s a Dell. I don’t know. My husband bought it for me. I’m so technically unsound, but it’s really cool.
Andrew: And it’s round?
Vanessa: It’s curved.
Andrew: Curved? Impressive. I use two iMacs partially because I want to have one that I use just for recording with none of the BS and another one for everything else. Partially for me that’s really important because my fans will create software that I put on my computer and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The latest one that I’m trying, it’s called Nylas Mail by Sachin, not Sachit, the guy who sells ads, but another Sachin. It’s pretty good. But I’ve sent some bug reports in too. I don’t want that on my computer that I do interviews.
But I’ve got to talk about my second sponsor and then we’ll continue with what happened with Udemy and so on. The second sponsor is a company called Toptal. Let’s suppose you wanted to create your own version of Teachable or Udemy, where you want to actually start to create your own courses and have your own software with your ideal version. Well, you could start, Vanessa, placing ads everywhere looking for good developers.
Frankly, what you’d find are good developers, people who could take what you want and do it for you, sometimes a little bit slow, sometimes a little bit fast. Ideally, if you’ve done good work to find them, they’re not going to run away. They’re actually going to finish the job. But they’re not going to do a great job. They’re not going to do like a Google-level job. Most people will hire okay developers. What Toptal said was, “Look, the guys that Google get, the guys at Facebook,” frankly women too, though I’m seeing their diversity reports, it’s mostly the guys.
The guys these big companies get are so much better than the good people that we want to find a way to bring those great people to other companies. So, they had a lot of credibility in the space. They started to put together a list of the best developers. These men and women were on what was like their little black book at Toptal. They started to say to companies, “Look, you want to hire great developers. Come to us. We’ll hook you up.”
I’ve gone to them. Man, they’ve got good people. They up our game so much because we just said, “Look. . .” I went to their developer. I said, “I need you to create good search.” This guy said, “Andrew, I think what you want is not just good search, but a tagging system and you want someone to start typing and you want the results to show up in a certain way and you want them to actually be able to see what they’re looking for as they’re looking for it.” I said, “Okay, can you do that?” He goes, “Yeah.”
A couple of days later, he gives me the result. We redesigned our whole site just because of the software that this guy from Toptal did. We also hired a designer from Toptal. I thought we need an iPhone app. We need an Android app. I have no designer on staff. How do I get somebody good?
I went to Toptal. I told them what I was looking for. They got us somebody who turned our site into an iPhone app design and then we coded it up. Really good people. If you’re looking for the best of the best, you don’t have to be a Google. You could go to Toptal. They will get you the top three percent of developers. Often you can start within a matter of days.
I urge you to go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy. They’ve got an incredible offer for Mixergy people. Frankly, here’s the thing. There is no obligation. All you have to do is go to Toptal.com/Mixergy. The first thing that they’re going to do is get you on a call with somebody from their office. You can talk to them. You can tell them what you’re working on. Is it a small project, big project, whatever? And then they’ll match you up and say, “Let me connect you with someone.” If you like them, you can keep working, if not, no harm, no foul.
Here’s the URL to get a special offer that they’re offering Mixergy listeners. They’re going to give us 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when we pay for our first 80 hours and that’s in addition a no risk trial period of up to two weeks, a no risk trial period. Go to Toptal.com/Mixergy and get that deal. Really good company–top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy.
By the way, why didn’t you–actually, I think I know the answer–you had to go to Udemy because Udemy would actually sell. You could have done what I did. You could have created your own software to serve up your course, but you said, “I want help getting customers. Is that right?”
Vanessa: Yes. Exactly. Now we actually do sell our own courses on my own platform. So we sell on Udemy. We sell on our LMS, which just use Thinkific. We also sell on CreativeLive. So we have three different ways we sell.
Andrew: Why’d you pick Thinkific? They’re competitive with Teachable. Actually, those are the two big ones, right?
Vanessa: Yeah. Teachable, Thinkific, Skillshare.
Andrew: What’s another one?
Vanessa: Everpath is another one.
Andrew: Summit Evergreen is one that also is good. It goes beyond course delivery. It actually will even help you sell the courses.
Vanessa: Yeah, Zippy Courses is another one. I picked Thinkific purely because it got highly recommended for a couple of other people who were selling their own courses. I always take friends before anything. Then Ankur had contacted me after I was already all set up on Thinkific. So, now given the current environment–this was three or four years ago–now there are a lot more options than there were when I first started.
Andrew: Okay. So then you sign up with Udemy. You start doing well. One of the issues you have with Udemy was you weren’t getting people back to your site, right? Talk about that. Why is that a problem?
Vanessa: It’s really hard. The problem is that Udemy changes their rules on how you can do that. They know that you’re on Udemy to get leads and to get money. So what I realized is I did the opposite. So I think a lot of people start with free stuff. They go from freemium up to paid. So I did the opposite.
Andrew: Free on their site?
Vanessa: They’ll do like a free eBook or a free download or a free course then either way on their site or Udemy and then kind of graduate people up to paid. So what I did is the opposite, which I had paid courses and then I offered free courses, so basically getting people into the free course and then offering additional free bonus material on my website.
I have to be very careful on Udemy–I get it, they don’t want their students pitched all the time–to offer bonus material in a way that’s not going to be poaching email addresses. So I would offer a free course and say, “Here are seven steps. If you want three bonus steps, check them out on my website, ScienceOfPeople.com.”
Andrew: You did a free course that led to the seven steps on your site that got them to give your email address that continued your funnel, but also a paid course that led?
Vanessa: Yes. So, it’s a nice circle. So I have a free course on Udemy that if you want bonus material for that free course, you go on my website, which then leads to a couple paid courses which leads to the free course which leads to the. . .
Andrew: Got it. I see how it all circles around. What do you use to manage all that? Do you use Infusionsoft, Drip, ActiveCampaign?
Vanessa: No. We were on from AWeber to Infusionsoft, never use Infusionsoft ever, ever, ever, ever.
Andrew: I’m on them. They are so painful. Yes.
Vanessa: They are so awful. They will ruin your business and not care. Ruin your business.
Andrew: How did they ruin your business?
Vanessa: They on a random day sent us an email, one email, “We’ve shut off all your email.” We’re collecting emails from people submitting on the forms. We have 102,000 people on our email list. We were in pre-launch. No emails go out. People who submitted their emails who thought they submitted their emails weren’t actually collected emails. One email. Thank god I see it within an hour. Then we say, “We’d love to get this turned back on.” They’re like, “Call us.” It took us three days and me having to pull strings.
By the way, I used to pay a lot for Infusionsoft. They didn’t care. They didn’t care that we lost money. They didn’t care we lost emails. They did it again. They did it once and they did it again. So I left them. So now we are on ConvertKit. We’ve been on for a couple months. They’ve been good so far. I love Nathan. So that’s kind of where we’re at.
Andrew: I’ve got to say–I’m looking for–we’re promoting other companies, alternatives to Infusionsoft. At times, I know it sounds weird for me to say I’m not on these companies. I’m on Infusionsoft. But don’t listen to what I do. Listen to what I say. I know it sounds like I’m getting paid to promote a competitor. I really secretly like my company. I don’t.
I’m telling you. This is not an ad for a competitor right now. Even though you see me using Infusionsoft, don’t use it because I’m using it. I know I’m cutting off a potential great sponsor in Infusionsoft. I refuse to take Infusionsoft as a sponsor. There’s a lot of features in there. There’s a lot of features in there. That’s an upside. But it’s also very confusing. It causes issues.
They’ve got a ton of customers, but also it means you don’t know the founder the way that you know Nathan, right? You can call Nathan, you can go to freaking Nathan’s house and say, “Nathan, my site is down.” You can get empathy from Nathan if there’s a problem, right? Nathan is not a sponsor. I guess he was at one point. I’m not saying it because of that.
All their competitors are better and the reason that Infusionsoft was doing so well for a long time is they were the only one offering tags and sorting and funnels. Today you get it from a lot of other companies. Really, don’t listen to what I do. Listen to what I say in this case. I am in pain with Infusionsoft. It’s just hard to move. You can’t easily move it.
Vanessa: I know. It took us six months.
Andrew: I paid $12,000 for one consulting company to make Infusionsoft work for my company, now for me to rip it out and go somewhere else is very tough and painful. So we’re committed to some degree, but really, guys, trust me on this. Infusionsoft, very painful.
Vanessa: Totally agree. So we track it. We track all the different courses kind of on ConvertKit. Really, we use Google Documents to track everything.
Andrew: Google Docs?
Andrew: How do you use Google Docs to track orders?
Vanessa: So we have–we actually setup a spreadsheet that pulls information from Google Analytics and pulls information from like a couple of our different sites. So Ben Cook is the guy who helped me set that up. So we have a spreadsheet that’s kind of an active–
Andrew: Is it manual or is it like a Zapier connection?
Vanessa: So I’m not technical.
Andrew: Is there a human being typing or copying and pasting?
Andrew: Okay. So it’s probably like a Zapier connection. I can see how that would work.
Vanessa: I think so. It pulls into this massive spreadsheet because we have three different LMSs. We have the sales on downloads on eBooks and all that kind of stuff. That all goes into these big spreadsheets.
Andrew: I see. Wow. Okay. I love how Google spreadsheets are used for all these different things. I go nuts when people use Google spreadsheets with me because it’s so hard to add. There’s a woman who’s helping me book guests, Sarah Shaw, one of my past interviewees. She’s helping me book guests. She wants me to write in a Google spreadsheet, that’s her CRM, why I want guests to come in. I totally respect it because she’s good at what she does, but now I have to have like these multi-paragraph why I want a guest in a single cell, but that’s the way people use spreadsheets.
Andrew: Let’s talk a little bit about pricing. You experimented with one price. You tried a little here and there and then you hit on your sweet spot. Talk a little bit about what happened there.
Vanessa: Yeah. We have really only two tiers. It’s the $100 sandbox, so $100 to $200. That’s one sandbox. Then we have a $5,000 product. That’s pretty much–
Andrew: That’s it. The reason you got to that when you started at $19 or $10 a pop is what?
Vanessa: I found that if people paid $10, $19, even $49, people didn’t watch it. They didn’t use it. They didn’t value it. They didn’t give me a review because they were like, “I don’t even have to think about this money really.” It’s in that book category or that audio book category. Whereas in the $100 sandbox, you don’t have to save up for it. You don’t have to set aside a bank goal, but you are like, “I better get my use out of this course.” So, you end up watching the whole thing, doing the homework, leaving a review, tweeting us your experiment. So, that’s a really good one.
I realize for super fans, for true fans–I call them like my family, they’re sort of our family–there had to be a really, really premium product for people who are serious. We started at $3,000, did a beta class. We sold out. It was like, “Okay.” We went to $4,000, sold out. I was like, “Okay.” $4,500, sold out. So, now we’re at $5,000. We might bump it up again. My goal is to get up to $10,000. We keep seeing if we sell out every course. That’s what we do.
Andrew: One of the things that you’re doing with your courses is you’re certifying people because of corporate demand. What’s the corporate demand?
Vanessa: Huge. So, corporate demand is really interesting. You’d be shocked, but we get most of our corporate bookings from YouTube.
Andrew: From YouTube? Someone will watch you on YouTube and then go and say, “I want to have her come in to speak to our company,” to do what, what kind of speaking?
Vanessa: Typically one hour keynotes, three-hour workshops, half-day, full day.
Andrew: Why do they want their people to get this kind of training?
Vanessa: Because there’s so much focus on the technical skills, I think that they want–literally people will say in emails, I get this maybe two or three times a week, “I want a TED Talk-style talk.” Translation–entertaining, pretty slides, theatrical that will actually help my bottom line. So, what we do in our presentations–I’m allergic to boring is what I like to say. I do try jokes. We combine science, boring science that actually helps your bottom line with the razzle dazzle of a really beautiful TED Talk. That’s exactly where our sweet spot is.
Andrew: So now, because you don’t want to go to all these companies, what you’re doing is you’re certifying people. If someone wants to hire someone to give this kind of presentation, they can go to one of your people.
Vanessa: I can only do so many a month. I can usually only do three a month.
Andrew: What do you charge?
Vanessa: We charge $5,000 for local events right now. Our rates go up every year, $5,000 for local events and usually $10,000 to $15,000 for out of Portland events. That’s my rate. So, my trainers obviously set their own rates. So, for example, for a new trainer in Chicago, they’re just getting their business started. They might charge $1,500 and they’re local.
Andrew: How did they get discovered?
Vanessa: Usually through our website. Typically it will be someone who watches our YouTube videos, they go to our website and they’re like, “We would like to book you.” They see it. We have a trainer in Sydney, Australia. I think we’re in 14 countries now.
Andrew: Are they clicking the work with me link? Is that what it is?
Andrew: I see. Then it’s book a private workshop with Vanessa. She’s done Comcast, Intel, American Express, etc. I see the video. Let me scroll down to the bottom.
Vanessa: Typically they’ll email us right where it says please contact, that manager email. They’ll say, “I’m in Chicago, I’m in Orlando, I’m in Sydney, I’m in Germany,” whatever. Then we’ll write back and say, “Here’s Vanessa’s rate. We know it’s high. If you’d like a local trainer, we have this amazing local trainer. His name is Todd.”
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: Then we hook them up with a local trainer. That’s usually how it goes. We also have a page where we have by location, which is not on our main website, but it’s like everywhere we have a trainer.
Andrew: I see. That’s pretty hidden, actually, on the page. It seems like that’s intentional.
Vanessa: Yes, because I have found that if it’s just on the page, people, they’re not curious enough. They’re like, “We have enough information here,” where if it’s just the manager email with a bunch of beautiful videos, they see what our branding is like. They see what our presentation is like. If we can get them to email us, we can almost always close the sale. I can almost always close the sale with a phone call. I cannot do it on a webpage. I can’t do it
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: Especially for $5,000, $10,000, $15,000. I can’t close that on a webpage, right? No way.
Andrew: So who does that? Who manages those sales?
Vanessa: Yeah. So we have a chief trainer, Danielle Baker. So she’s sort of in charge of all of our trainers. So what we’ll do is when we get an email, she sort of sees where our trainer is, who would be a good fit for it, sees the date, sees if they’re free.
Andrew: Do you guys get a commission if you book one of your trainers?
Vanessa: Sometimes. If I have new trainers, I don’t take a commission because I just want them to build their business. All I want them to do is get videos, photographs and testimonials. So, in the beginning, if it’s $1,500, I’m not going to take a commission for $1,500. But if it’s a bigger event that maybe I really would have wanted to do, then we’ll take a commission, but we’ve only done that maybe like 10 or 12 times, so very little.
Andrew: I feel like once “Captivate” comes out, the number is just going to shoot up. Once “Captivate” comes out, it’s published by who? Portfolio is publishing it, right?
Andrew: It’s that kind of a book. I know Nir Eyal, since you mentioned him, said that once his book came out, suddenly the rates went up. People were willing to pay more, people discovered him more. It gave him that opportunity to say, “Look, take the book, show it to whoever it is that hires at the company and say this is who I think we should bring in to help us.” I get that.
Vanessa: I hope what you say is right.
Andrew: It’s so interesting. I see customers that bought your book, what else did they buy? There’s “Why Men Don’t Listen and Why Women Can’t Read Maps” and David Sedaris.
Vanessa: You know what’s really weird about that? I’m going to give you two interesting pieces of data. This is why data can sometimes not be real. So David Sedaris’ book–so, Apple chose “Captivate” as the most anticipated book of 2017 for nonfiction.
Vanessa: Second was David Sedaris.
Andrew: Oh, so that’s why they’re looking at both of those. The rest of it makes sense. Sorry, go ahead.
Vanessa: They’re just clicking first and second.
Andrew: Got it. They’re just looking. If I look at the rest of it, it’s “Made to Stick,” makes sense, it’s “Spy the Lie,” “High Performance Habits” by Brendon Burchard, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. I get the connection with the rest.
Vanessa: The other one is funny, the first one, “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps,” when people ask me on podcasts–I get this question a lot–what inspired your career? I say that book.
Andrew: Interesting. Really? Why?
Vanessa: That was on my mom’s bed stand and it seemed really like mysterious. So, when I was 14 years old, I picked up that book, I secretly read it and I was like, “I want to do this.”
Andrew: I see.
Vanessa: I think data has a story. Those are the two stories.
Andrew: Is it a book worth reading now? It seems like it might be sexist or something. I might get in trouble for even reading that book.
Vanessa: I really enjoyed it. I love Barbara and Allen Pease. I would recommend it. Yes.
Andrew: Okay. So, speaking of, if you like this, you might like that, one of the things you do to get people to watch your YouTube videos is you create these playlists that include videos that aren’t just your video. Why do you do that and how does that help grow?
Vanessa: One thing we found on YouTube is that yes, likes, comments, obviously we get that. The one thing we’ve found in this algorithm is really important is what the process of a viewer is. So, if a viewer watches a BuzzFeed video and then watches my video, even if they didn’t see them on the same page, it teaches YouTube, “This person likes this flow.” That can even be from an email I happen to send them. So, we’re like, “Let’s teach in the flow.”
So we started to look up videos we thought would be our perfect demographic. By the way, my perfect demographic, my dream avatar is a highly technical either founder, CTO, graphic designer, developer, programmer, male, typically between the ages of 25 and 45 who’s intensely book smart brilliant but wants to catch up on his people skills.
Andrew: You described Sachit there, at least Sachit a few years ago.
Vanessa: Not anymore.
Andrew: No. Now he’s like–Noah Kagan wanted to buy an ad from us. Sachit knew how to tell Noah Kagan, “No, you can’t have even $1 off,” and have Noah Kagan like it so much he sent me a message about how funny Sachit is. Sachit is basically telling them, “No, you can’t buy ads from us. No, you can’t have a discount No, you can’t.” And then Noah bought the ads. So, yeah, that’s the person he is now. He wasn’t a few years ago.
Vanessa: Noah is an example of someone who I’m pitching with his own profile picture. So I just was talking to Noah. I’m like, “Can I use three of your profile pictures and analyze them for which is the best?” He gave me a maybe. If you know Noah, just like–
Andrew: I’m going to see him here. You know what he’s good with? His new podcast, it’s like Noah Kagan Presents, I think is the name of it. He changed it since he started. He wants to do experiments like you.
Vanessa: Yes. I told him we could do it.
Andrew: Try pitching him maybe for his audience. I’ll talk to him about it. So, continue. So,I get the sense of who you’re looking for. Keep going.
Vanessa: I took that guy on his lunch break. I was like, “What videos is he watching? I want the big boys.” So, a BuzzFeed or a Jimmy Kimmel or Big Daws TV is another really big one. He also does experiments. I took their videos and I started adding them within playlists. So, it was like three of them for every seven of mine.
So, when my viewers would watch my videos and then see Big Daws, they’d be like, “It’s not Vanessa, but this is a great video.” So they liked my recommendation, then it taught YouTube. It goes the other way too. So people who watch Big Daws might also like this other video. So, I started creating these webs basically behind YouTube to teach YouTube what I wanted viewers to see.
Andrew: I see. And you also do not just on your playlists, on your homepage, I’ve never seen anyone do this on the homepage of a YouTube page, you can create these different categories like the most recent uploads, your most popular uploads, videos for your brain is what you call one of them. Then there’s one where it’s you linking out to other people, which I didn’t know was possible. That explains why you’ll have a BuzzFeed video on your home page.
Vanessa: So that’s why we created one called Laughing Lunch, which is like funny videos during lunch. We have a couple of ours, a couple of other people’s to teach YouTube. Also, I really like creating playlists, like that category, that are painkiller playlists.
Basically I think of when does someone desperately need a video? Okay. When they’re getting for a date and they need dating advice, when they have a pitch or an interview–so, I create a playlist called “I Have a Date” and then add six different videos that someone would want to watch when they’re putting on makeup or getting ready or pumping themselves up. Then people know that whenever they get an invite, they come to us.
Andrew: The other thing you’re doing I can’t stop watching. I’ve been obsessed with YouTube lately. It really is so powerful for dragging traffic over that I didn’t realize it. How do you get someone who watches your video to come to your website? I don’t do that much when I watch YouTube videos and I watch a bunch of them.
Andrew: Okay. Tell me. So experiment where you do what? Talk about that process.
Vanessa: So, for example, I might say we’re actually putting up a video I think in two weeks on this, where we creating a lie spotting quiz. We had a bunch of people play two truths and one lie with us, sexy games. Everyone loves playing that game. We put a couple of them on YouTube. We’re like, “Guess the lie.” So I’d show the person and they’d guess and I’d give them the answer. On the last one, I’m like, “Guess.”
But I don’t give them the answer on the last one and I say, “Test your official skills on our lie spotting experiment.” They go to the website because they want to test their skills and get their score. That’s how we do it. The conversion rate is insane.
Andrew: Are you also linking from the description or just telling them in the video?
Vanessa: Usually both. So usually we’re linking in the description. I try to give them a real easy link on YouTube. The other thing I’ve learned to do–this is a really good tip–is teaching Google from YouTube what search terms I want to appear for. So, for example, I really want to appear for the term ambivert on Google. Ambivert is between an introvert and extrovert.
So, instead of telling people on YouTube, “Go to ScienceOfPeople.com/ambivert,” instead I said, “Go to Google, type in ambivert and look for the ScienceOfPeople link.” That made us go from link eight to link number two because I forced my YouTubers–thank you, YouTubers–to teach Google what search terms I wanted.
Andrew: I see. What about–I’m watching this one video, “I Want You to Lie to Me.” You’re telling people to go email you, Manager@ScienceOfPeople.com with the subject “Lie to Me.” Why are you doing that? Why email?
Vanessa: So that is how I find my super fans.
Andrew: Because they’re willing to email, that makes the super fans?
Vanessa: Yes, because someone who’s watching a video and is like, “I’m willing to both lie and create a video for her but also email her,” I get them to have a person relationship with that person or my manager does. Lauren is the one who gets all those emails. So she’s like, “Oh, thank you so much for sending us this email. Here are some details on the experiment. It’s really fun. Here’s how you create a video.” So, it creates this really personal dialogue where it allows me to take YouTube–we have 10 million views on YouTube, we just hit 100,000–and get the top 100, 200 and create actual email relationships with them that often turn into $5,000 buys, trainers.
Andrew: Really? You guys have that kind of time to respond to every one of them individually? Because you’re not getting thousands a week. You’re getting hundreds maybe.
Vanessa: Exactly. We have canned responses, there are individual responses but we have sort of–it’s kind of a funnel within Gmail again.
Andrew: Wow. That is unreal. Okay. Let’s see what else. Advertising–one of my pet peeves is advertising in YouTube videos. It just drives me nuts. I’ve got ways around it. Tell me about what you do?
Vanessa: We do no advertising. We don’t do ads on our YouTube videos. My whole goal is to get them to watch the YouTube video and then do something, download a magnet or hire us or whatever. So, we don’t make any money directly on YouTube and I love that.
Andrew: The thing that bothers me about ads on YouTube is like I’ll put a YouTube video for my two-year old, which I do no more than ten a year. But he doesn’t know what to do with the ads that come on. It’s like this random ad that comes up and you have to then hit–or the other time that I watch YouTube videos is sometimes for inspiration. I’m running and ad will come on I have to hit that little button, I’m running on a treadmill, to skip it.
Vanessa: It’s not worth it. That’s my bottom line on that. It’s not worth putting the ad up.
Andrew: For super fans of YouTube, I’ve got to recommend something. It’s this iPhone browser. There must be something better for Android because Android is so good with this stuff. It will let you play videos in a little window while you’re browsing the web.
Sometimes at night, I want to veg out. I’ll watch a short video that teaches me something, but also lets me tune out for ten minutes. While I do that, I want to look at Hacker News and Techmeme for the day and see what’s up with the WallStreetJournal.com. So, I use UC Browser. It will eliminate ads. It will make that little video go small even on an iPhone so you can browse other websites, so it’s like really good for mindless stuff.
When I was preparing for an interview, I needed to watch an hour long video. There was nothing really visual about it. UC Browser lets me just listen to the audio while I’m walking around, such a good little iPhone app and completely free and ad free. I heard it was made by a Chinese company that I don’t know much about and has some of their traffic go through their server. So, I said, “You know what? I’m not logging in on UC Browser. They don’t have my username and password, nothing private. I want that for videos. Really good.”
How about one more tip? We talked about the pains. Actually, I think we covered everything in my notes. How about this? So, since we covered so much in our notes and you’ve got a whole website where I can learn more and the YouTube channel, why does anyone even need the freaking book? Why do I have to go to “Captivate?” What else is there that you haven’t told us online for free?
Vanessa: Yeah. So “Captivate” is the only place where I’m publishing some of the official results of some studies we’ve run. I’m trying to keep it so that if you read every blog post, you watch every video, you’ve done everything ever, you’re still going to get new content. I actually have a deal with my team and my publisher that I will never share that in another medium.
Andrew: So, it’s just in the book.
Vanessa: There is exclusive content that’s just in the book. I also think I do a lot of the work for you. YouTube videos is like piece here, piece there. I want it to be like your playbook, like this is the textbook you wish you had in school that has all the people skills in one place.
Andrew: You know what? I’m just a reader. I prefer to have everything all in one place. I hate hunting through blog posts one at a time. My friend, Brian Harris, has got a really good blog. I don’t read it as often because I’m not good at like clicking to one and going back to the previous page and getting the next article.
I wish that thing Amazon put together where they would convert blog posts into books would even be available. Maybe, as I say this, someone will come up with a good solution. I just want to page through. I don’t want to think and click. I just want to read, read, read in an organized way. That’s partially why I’m looking forward to reading this book because that’s the way I like to consume information. The other reason is that you’re saying there’s stuff in there I can’t get anywhere else.
Vanessa: That’s right. I so appreciate you. Thank you for having me.
Andrew: Thanks for being on. I’ll be honest with you. Now that we’re at the end, I wasn’t sure if we should have you on. It’s a little bit different from the usual topic, but as I was talking to you, I kept thinking, “I’ve got to thank Sachit.” This is really good. I like how you’ve got substantive answers. You’ve got real examples of how you’ve used the technology that you’re talking about, how you’ve grown your business, but also specifics about what we can do with body language that we can use tomorrow or right now.
Vanessa: Any time. Always happy to help.
Andrew: Thanks. No. You’d be a fool to pass up this conversation. All right. Anyone who wants to go check her out, Vanessa’s website is the Science of People. Her book is called “Captivate.” You can just pre-order it on Amazon and get it directly on your Kindle or hardcover.
My two sponsors for this interview are the company that will help you close more sales. It did for us. It did for–Max Teitelbaum, that’s the guy who told me about it. I’ve got to thank Max. 2011 he told me about them and I’ve used them ever since. It’s called Pipedrive. Go check out Pipedrive.com/Mixergy to grow your sales.
If you want to hire a great developer and I’m telling you you’re going to love them, go to Toptal.com/Mixergy. Frankly, if you want me to introduce you to my guy over at Toptal, email me, Andrew@Mixergy.com. I will personally you introduce you to my friend over at Toptal. I’ve gotten to know them the more I’ve worked with them and referred customers to them. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.
Thank you all for listening. Vanessa, thanks for doing this.
Vanessa: Thanks. Bye.
Andrew: Bye, everyone.