How to use free software to sell services

Joining me is a listener who’s built a business I admire. Bryan Harris is the founder of GrowthTools which coaches online businesses how to grow.

He’s been using software in a new way and I want to learn how he’s doing it. I thought he MUST be charging for these products somewhere…but he’s not. We’re going to find out how he’s making money in this interview.

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Bryan Harris

Bryan Harris

GrowthTools

Bryan Harris is the founder of GrowthTools which coaches online businesses how to grow. You can listen to his podcast here.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Joining me is a listener who is now someone whose business I admire and I’m so looking forward to having him on here to talk about his company. Here’s why. It’s all because of Neil Patel. A little while back, Neil Patel, a guy who started so many software companies funded, not funded, the works, said, “You know, Andrew. I feel like software is not what it used to be. It is not the revenue profit generator that it used to be because there’s so many people who are creating software for so little that it’s a race to the bottom on pricing, and then you don’t really make much money, but you feel like you’re going to at some point in the future because it’s worked for other people.”

I said, “Neil, what are you doing instead?” He goes, “I’m doing services.” And to get people to sign up for services, the guy is creating . . . He has one or maybe two pieces of software. They’re free. They’re great. People online sometimes will say . . . I just saw someone on Twitter say, “How’s he offering it for free?” He opened my eyes to this new world.

But long before my eyes were open to it, today’s guest, Bryan Harris built a business on that. And I don’t know how intentional he was on it, but he’s got this collection of tools that are so good that I keep thinking he must be charging for them somewhere. And I just assumed there was some, like, freemium thing where eventually you get triggered to pay. And then I heard a podcast that he does where he was just talking into the mic and publishing it, where he’s just talking through his thoughts. He goes, “I realized my vision, my business is to create this awesome piece of software that help people grow their business, give it away for free, and then if they want to hire me and my team for one-on-one coaching or group education, they could do that.” And I thought, “This is so emblematic of a future that I’m seeing. I’ve got to interview Bryan about how he came up with this, and how he’s building up this collection of products.”

Bryan Harris is the founder of Growth Tools. Here’s his official not official description that he gave me. They coach online businesses about how to double their revenue in a year. What’s interesting to me is that they have this collection of tools like DripScripts, which allows you to write highly converting email sequences in record time. He’s got . . . What’s another one, Bryan, that I should bring up?

Bryan: Attract.io. It helps make really pretty lead magnets that convert.

Andrew: Yeah, attract.io. We’ve got so many others. We’re going to find out about how he built up his business, how far along he is with the business, thanks to two phenomenal companies. And frankly, for anyone else who is not a developer like Bryan who says, “I see a new world here. How do I get in on it?” We’re going to find out how Bryan did it so that we can both learn. And we can do it thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first if you’re looking to collect email addresses, if you’re looking to convert those leads into sales, ClickFunnels is amazing tool. I did one funnel with them over $1 million in sales. They just did it for me. And the second is if you’re on a Mac, you got to hear about this collection of apps, it’s called Setapp. But first, Bryan, good to have you here.

Bryan: Thanks for having me, Andrew. It’s good to be back. It’s been five years since I was on. So I couldn’t even muster up the courage to go back and listen to the original interview. Listening to yourself talk is pretty brutal. But thanks for having me on.

Andrew: It was March 26, 2014. You were part of the 10K series where entrepreneurs were talking about how they got their first $10,000 in sales. Where are you now by the way in revenue?

Bryan: We’re on pace this year to do right about $2.5 million.

Andrew: Okay. And which of these tools is the biggest . . . is the one that’s most used?

Bryan: DripScripts has the most users, it’s around 40,000 users. The problem we’re trying to solve with DripScripts is one of the core problems that our ideal customer has, which is knowing how to structure an email sequence. And that could be an email sequence to do anything here, get people to show up for a webinar, sell a product, a welcome sequence for your email list. So two problems, number one, how to structure it, and number two, what to say in it.

And the bar for solving that problem is pretty low because not many people have even attempted to solve it surprisingly enough. So we spent about four months building the first version of the tool . . . Or the first version took about a month and then over the years, we’ve rebuilt it a few times and now it is our best tool we’ve made. There’s some not-so-good ones in the suite. And there’s the A level and the B level and DripScripts is definitely in the A level of tools we built. So if you have any use for an email sequence at all, sales sequence, webinar sequence, welcome sequence, definitely go try it out. It’s free for everyone. We’ll never charge for it.

Andrew: What’s the URL on that?

Bryan: DripScripts.

Andrew: And the reason that I want to ask you for that dripscripts.com is that I bet if I go to the very bottom of it, I will see created in . . . No, this one doesn’t have . . . A lot of . . .

Bryan: Yeah. That’s one doesn’t have . . . You go to attract.io and see that.

Andrew: Okay. Yeah. So a lot of your tools if I go to the bottom of them attract.io will probably say, “Done in conjunction with Leadpages, right?

Bryan: Yep.

Andrew: And so the way I understand it, you go to a partner and you say, “I’m going to create this incredible tool. I will build it for us. I will then promote it. You promoted too, and we’re going to share the leads that come through because the people who are attracted to this tool are good customers of mine and good customers of yours.” Am I right?

Bryan: Yeah. So a few years ago I was trying to answer the question that every business tries to answer which is, how do we grow? And just kind of looking back at something a mentor of mine, Noah Kagan, has said for years is like, “Find out what works and do more of that.” So we’re looking back at, like, what has brought people to us and it’s partnerships? And a partnership could be anything from an interview with you. You’re going to take and tell your entire audience about me via this interview, it could be a guest post, it could be a webinar. It could be a speaking engagement on stage at a conference, any number of things.

But partnerships was by far our number one lead gen channel, the way that people found out about us. So we just get really intentional on how we did partnerships. We did a write up several years ago about how ConvertKit grew. I think it was 2016 was their huge growth year. They went from . . . These numbers might not be 100% accurate, but basic gist, they went from somewhere around $20,000 a month of revenue to over $100,000 a month in revenue. And what they did that year was do over 100 partnerships with different companies. I think it was 125. Just Google “Videofruit webinar” and go read the article there. It gives all the numbers and details and everything.

But they just did partnership after partnership after partnership after partnership. There was a guy named Darrell Vesterfelt, another guy named Blake Stratton that led that. And they said they’ve teamed up with other audiences and did a free teaching webinar with them and then offered a free version of ConvertKit off the backend, and they grew revenue about 5, 10X that year.

So we’re retrospecting on ourself, looking at what worked for other companies and found that partnerships . . . If you just think about the basis of a partnership, you have three main sources of traffic. You got SEO, so someone that’s never heard of you before google something, goes to your website with no relationship at all and then something happens, they sign up or they don’t sign up or they bounce off or whatever.

The other channel is paid ads, so someone is scrolling on Facebook or Google, they interrupt their feed and they see an ad, they’ve never heard of you before, they come to your site. So completely cold traffic. Or you have . . . You’ve listened to Mixergy for three years, you’ve listened to all these great interviews, you hear Andrew introduce me, you hear an hour-long conversation with us and you go check out DripScripts. And I know from this interview, three of you will wind up hiring us to do something for you as a result of listening to me and Andrew blab on for an hour about our business model. It could be interesting enough. Hopefully, you’ll go try out one of our tools. You’ll be impressed by it. Relationship with me will be strong since you’ve heard me talk. And then you go buy stuff from us.

So a partnership is a warm introduction from someone you already trust. So what will convert better? Someone that is . . . Somebody you already trust introducing you to the company or an ad or a random Google result introducing you? But obviously, the partnership works better. So we just get really intentional about doing partnerships. So I don’t know if you want to hear this part of the story yet, but this is how the tool concept came about. I’ll spare you.

Andrew: Where were you just before . . . ? I do actually want to get into that. That’s one of the key ideas that I’ve written down for myself that I want to get out of this conversation. Where was the business just before you had that realization? What were you doing?

Bryan: We were selling online courses. We had a course and a software product. I would put these as the wandering around trying to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up years, which has been the majority of the years of the company. So we were selling a course called Get 10,000 Subscribers. It was successful. We sold several million dollars with it. And then we’d had our first paid software product we launched. It went okay. And that year, we’re trying to figure out like, “All right. What . . . Are we going to be a software company? Are we going to be a course company?” I don’t really know.

Andrew: And the course that you had, Get 10,000 Subscribers, was about how to get people to 10,000 email subscribers because once they had that, they had a business. What was the software that you created?

Bryan: It was called Slingshot. So the concept was, you could come to Slingshot, say, “Hey, I want to launch my SaaS product like ConvertKit launched theirs. I want to use their campaign.” You click the ConvertKit campaign, you click the date you want to launch on, and it shows you every task with an explanation of detail on how to do that campaign, so how to write the sales page, how to book the webinar, how to create, like, every piece of the concept. You could say, “I want to launch my podcast like Andrew launched his.” You click a button and choose a date, boom, you just followed the instruction. So it’s kind of a hybrid software information product. We just didn’t know how to do or even think about software enough to do that what I would consider now is right.

Andrew: So, I actually talked to Nathan, the founder of ConvertKit, here on Mixergy in the interview, and I kept saying to him that I thought what you wanted was to get out of the education space and get into the software space, that you just kept trying different things to get there. But that’s not what it was. For you, you were just trying to figure out what you were about. Why not stick with education if that was working as you said, a few million dollars in sales from Get 10,000 Subscribers of course?

Bryan: We ultimately did. Because now, like, we have a kind of an upside-down business model. We have free software and we sell paid training.

Andrew: And it’s upside down because most people will do free-ed training as a way of getting you to sign up for their software. But what I’m trying to get . . . And so you’ve got the upside-down version of it. What I’m trying to get at is, what were you looking for when you experimented outside of the education lane? What was it that you were hunting for?

Bryan: I think at that stage of business, I was just trying to find something that resonated with . . . something that just seemed fun, something we could sell, something I felt good about. And as a first-time founder, I think it just takes some experimentation to figure that out. So I had been in software development classes when I was in 10th grade going to college at night and learning that.

So I’ve always been interested in software. I didn’t love the vibe around online course world. It was . . . I don’t know. You can . . . I mean, if anybody has been around that world, seen ads in that world, been in any of the products, they’re generally not really great. They’re generally made by people who are most interested in making money themselves, not necessarily educating and hyper-focused on their customer. I love the soft . . . I love the theoretical nature of the software world and that there are a lot of . . . They’re purists, generally. They care about the product, and they usually suck at marketing. But there’s something nice about that and that they actually care about making something good.

And a lot of the people in the education space that I followed or pay attention to, just in the conversations, they generally cared way more about the marketing than they cared about the product. So I think it was just trying . . . I mean, it’s like asking, “How did you finally pick your spouse? How did you know that they were the one?” I just dated 20 people and they passed the criteria. I don’t know.

Andrew: So that’s another part of it. You were dating, you were trying different things. I get it. And so you had these two different products, were you . . . When you were saying, “We had to figure out how to promote it,” were you at that point trying to figure out more growth for yourself and is that what sent you out to hunt to figure out what worked and what didn’t?

Bryan: Yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: It’s also this. And I put this at the top end of . . . If I were to go do it all over again, this is where I would start or attempt to start, and this is one of the aha moments I had throughout that three or four years of just wild experimentation. I was watching a video by a guy named Stu McLaren, a great guy. I think you’ve interviewed him here.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bryan: And he was launching a new memberships I think it was called Tribe. And it was the first launch of that. He put out one of these great pre-launch videos. And in the first video, it said something to the effect of, “And we all know that the reason we started our company and that we wanted to be entrepreneurs in the first place, is because we wanted more freedom and time and to work less and just taking vacations more,” something to that effect. And it was literally like a gut-level reaction to that. I said the word “no” out loud. Like, that wasn’t why I started this at all.

The reason I started this was . . . This might sound fluffy or weird, but I know that I’m supposed to be building a business and that I know that I’m supposed to be . . . I know I was put here to make things. And it was, obviously, want a good lifestyle. I don’t think a lifestyle business and a real business or whatever you want to call them are mutually exclusive things at all. I think you can build a good fast-growing business and have a good lifestyle.

But for me, that wasn’t my primary driver at all. And when I got clear on that, I hired a business coach, his name is Casey Graham, I think you’ve interviewed him as well here. Go listen to his podcast. His episode is really good. But one thing he got me really clear on is, what do you believe? Like, what are the core values of what you’re trying to do? And throughout several years of just meditating on that question and working through it, I realized . . . Well, actually, man, that’s too political. I don’t want to go there. But I realized that . . .

Andrew: Don’t censor yourself. Do go there. And understand that this audience will understand that it’s not a definition of who you are.

Bryan: Yeah. Okay. It was 2016, Trump has been elected. I come from southern Alabama, so you can guess what the political leanings are in that area. And I would put myself more just in the middle, which today who knows what some people call that? But I remember all the wall stuff he was talking about was coming up a ton. And I was like, “Man, he can’t be . . . ” And this is early on when everybody is thinking this has got to be a joke, like, this is not serious. So I go to his website and the number one . . . I saw the screenshot of this because I put it in an email or [inaudible 00:14:23] a whole email out of this, which got great responses.

But the number one thing was “We’re going to build a wall.” And whatever policy things need to be done to help immigration, illegal immigration went out to the side. But something hit me at that point. And definitely, since then, I’ve had three kids. And it hit me and occurred to me that I am a different kind of person when I make things. We don’t need to build walls. We need to encourage people to build things.

Like, we have a four-year-old and a two-year-old and both of them go to school two times a week. And every time they come home, they come home today, came home today and both of them they had got pumpkins because as we’re recording this we’re near Halloween. They got pumpkins, they’ve painted on them, they’ve made like a thing to put on . . . I don’t even know what all the stuff is. And they are just geeked out of their mind to go and make things.

And since our four-year-old he was in that little preschool things as he was two, three and four, every day they got home, they have a new painting, they have a new drawing, they have new arts and crafts thing and they’re geeked out of their mind to make them. And as we start observing as we get older, we stopped doing any of that stuff. We stop making things at all. We start going to school and we study and we take tests and we start building things.

And I realize the people I like the most and the people I enjoy being around the most, people I just enjoy following, people like Elon. I just watched the new Bill Gates documentary. And those people fascinate me. Obviously, there’s unicorns in that group, those too. But even people like Cathryn Lavery who’s built a great company called BestSelf, and they make these calendars and planners and have this new card game that me and my wife play all the time. We pull three or four out and ask each other’s questions.

But the point of that is the people I enjoy the most, the people that have the most impact on the world are people that make things, they find a problem and then make a thing to fix it. So one of my biggest aha moments was watching that Stu video and then the next year or so of just reflection on that of why. Why did I have such a gut-level no-reaction to that? And I think it was because that was all internally focused on me and not externally focused on actual customers and actual problems and the people that I love, the people that I like being around, and Stu is one of those people for sure, is people who make things. They find problems and they make things and that makes life fun.

The fact that Elon is trying to build these two insane companies. I mean, both of them are so ridiculously big that they’re almost borderline dumb to even try to fix, but it gives me so much joy and entertainment just to watch it. The fact that they re-landed rockets and made a self-driving car. That stuff is fun. And the fact that Cathryn made this little card game . . . I can’t remember the name of the thing now, but BestSelf and you can see them, that I can pull out four or five a day and ask my wife questions and we can connect longer. Like, there’s so many actual problems to solve in the world.

Andrew: So you’re saying this is where you were. You said, “I am somebody who needs to make things and that . . .

Bryan: And our company needs to be about helping people do that.

Andrew: Got it. And so that’s why you gave yourself permission to create more than just that one course. And I understand why you went for software. To promote this though, what did you try when you were at that point in your life where you said, “I got to find the one thing that’s going to work instead of spreading myself all over”? I know you were trying some Facebook ads. I know you’re trying some other stuff. Talk about the chaos that was going on until you discovered it’s going to be partnerships.

Bryan: We tried every marketing strategy you’ve ever read or thought of . . .

Andrew: Like what?

Bryan: . . . or considered before. We tried Facebook ads and miserably failed with them for three years and lost a lot of money from that where everything . . .

Andrew: How much is a lot?

Bryan: I don’t have the exact number. Hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Andrew: Wow. Okay. All right. Keep going. What else did you try and didn’t work?

Bryan: We tried ramping up a partnership webinar system like ConvertKit did, found out that takes a lot of logistical effort and you need full-time people to run that. We didn’t have those full-time or the experience in hiring to run that. We tried . . . Even selling Slingshot, we tried several different things. We tried . . . Here’s one of the best failures we had. We had a big summer launch that went well. Went into the holidays thinking, “We need a big, like, New Year’s promotion of this, new business, people want to launch things or whatever.” So we thought, it’s hard to sell a product that does so many things on so many different campaigns. So what if we sold one of the campaigns you could run inside of it? And we sold it for $99. And then off the backend, you get a free 30 days of the software, and then it would auto-renew us some notices off the backend of that.

So we tried that. I mean, you’re talking about pissing some people off. Like, even if you’re super-clear and send a lot of emails to remind them, they’re going to renew into the thing, like, people lose their mind when they get auto-renewed into something. So we got a lot . . . That was probably the most backlash in six years of doing something we got from that, so we’ve learned from that. Just thing after every little small tactical marketing thing. We tried SEO, we tried paid ads, we tried all different forms of partnerships, and some of them worked, some of them didn’t.

Andrew: I remember Pinterest being one where . . .

Bryan: Pinterest. Oh, yeah, we did a Pinterest experiment. Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: So, here’s the thing about you. So we used to get on weekly calls. I freaking love and admire the way that you think. Anytime we’d have a conversation and you want to refer to something, within five seconds you could bring it up on your screen and screen share it. You were that organized with your Evernote and other documents. When you had your strategy for Pinterest, it wasn’t just, “I hear Pinterest is good. I’m going to go for Pinterest.” You had a whole process created where images were going to be added to each one of your blog posts and so on. You invested time, you had the right strategy to work for someone else. It didn’t work for you.

Bryan: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. Why don’t you give up by the way those . . . You didn’t just say, “I’m going to try Pinterest.” You gave more effort into that one marketing technique than most people give to their whole businesses in a year. Why Bryan, at that point, do you think that you’re . . . You didn’t say, “This just doesn’t work. I’m done.”

Bryan: I didn’t run out of money. So that was one reason. If I had I run out of money, I would have had to. And I think also, if I was in it for purely myself and my own lifestyle, I would have. But I think that’s why I shared that in the beginning of feeling a really strong purpose for why I’m doing that and be really drawn to that and just not wanting to fail. So, I mean, any successful . . . If you listen to any of the interviews with any successful entrepreneur, business owner, things fail all the time. And just developing a thick skin for that learning how to fail quickly so you can find the stuff that works, I think, is just developing that skill set.

But ultimately, it’s because I didn’t run out of money. If I would have been . . . If I’d had investors behind me or if I’d had a short . . . or not had that much money in the bank, that kind of thing, that I had built up over time from doing freelance work and service work, not that I had any built-in advantage at that at all. But just being conservative with finances so if I did an experiment and fail, it didn’t wipe out the bank account. I didn’t go spend 100,000 on Facebook ads because I had $100,000 in bank. This was all bootstrapped over time from selling coaching and courses from several years.

Andrew: You were doing those coaching calls, which, again, when I was just getting to a sense of you, you gave me a recording of some of the things that you told the people you were coaching back when it was just you doing one-on-one coaching, trying to figure out your model. And I just love the organization . . . I like how organized of a thinker you are. As someone who loves conversation, I find that people who are organized thinkers helped me understand their process, even if it’s not mine, helped me understand what they’ve done in a way that I can use instead of just leading me around to the thoughts and feelings that were around what they did and lead me to go put together that set of puzzle pieces into something meaningful.

Bryan: Yeah, I agree. That’s why I like reading books. I’ve started . . . I just realized that. I was reflecting on this year and what I really . . . Like, what I actually just personally executionally enjoyed. And Lars Lofgren, he wrote an article, he left Ramit recently. And he went to work at Crazy Egg I believe. Anyway, he mentioned a book in one of his retrospective posts called “Great Leads.” It’s just a copywriting book. But I’ve really enjoyed reading through it, underlining everything in it, and then making a nice summary doc of the main points so years later I can refer back to it. And it’s just for effectiveness sake. It’s just that, hey, I could . . . People can read 100 books a year, but how many of you actually remember and execute on it all? Like, you can probably read two, really pay attention to them and have a lot better results.

Andrew: Okay. And so you read them, underline them, put it together in a doc for yourself to remember what you want out of it. And it also forces you or trains you as you’re reading it to look for those key ideas that you’re going to use. Okay. I understand it. You looked and you said, “We’re doing a lot of things. What is actually working for us?” Partnerships was the thing that was working for you. And then I want to know what you did that got it to the place where you are creating software for partnerships because I’d never seen that done before.

But let me take a moment and talk about my first sponsor. It’s company called Setapp. Bryan, I have this thing. Do you do your taxes on paper or how do you . . . Your accountant gives you a paperwork. How do you do your taxes?

Bryan: I pay her money, something magically shows up in my email, I’ll sign doc, and then money comes out of the account.

Andrew: My accountant send over, no exaggeration, an 80-page set of paid papers with all these things that I need to give them. I hate it. Yeah, you just did a shot gun to the head. But inevitably as I go through it, it takes me about an hour to go through it. There’s always something that comes up that I realized, “Oh, yeah, I need that.” And the way that I mark it up is I use whatever PDF editor comes with my Mac. And I know that there’s better software on the Mac that will allow me to put clear checkmarks instead of writing an X on the keyboard and then dragging it over to the . . . But the good app is called PDFpen. It costs $79 for that app. And I’ve already spent money on other apps for PDF editing that sucked and I go, “I don’t want to spend on that.”

Bryan: Okay. So this is a big pain point for me. Can you actually like load it up in a browser window and mark on it? Is it an individual app or . . . ?

Andrew: No. It’s a Mac desktop app.

Bryan: Mac . . .

Andrew: But it’s like this thing that’s created by a company that’s been in the Macworld, creating lots of different apps. I’m not here to sell you on PDFpen. Here’s why. Because that’s just one little problem that I’ve had. Another problem that I’ve had is, I need to move files from Google Drive to Dropbox. Well, anytime I drag a folder over, there’s a problem where I get an alert that tells me, “This is not working. That’s not working. Skip alert.” And I don’t know where it dropped off, where it stopped dragging over the files, so I have to delete them all and drag them from one folder to the other on my desktop.

I have all these little issues. And I know that there are beautiful Mac apps created to solve this. My problem is I’m tired of spending money on an app that doesn’t work. Well, there’s a company that I never heard of before called Setapp. What they do is they have a collection of these artisan Mac apps, so over 100 of them, and they say, “You just try it out for free. If you like it, pay us a monthly fee. Get all these apps included for free for you to use on . . . ” Not for free. It’s part of this bundle.

And so I’ve been going through it and I’ve been using it and I’ve been freaking loving it. Anyone out there who wants to get a collection of tools that will make you more productive at your desktop, you’ve got to go to teams.setapp.com/mixergy. If you’re on a Mac, they’re going to give you all this software to use for free for a limited time, and then if you like you can pay them a monthly fee to get them all. I found the paying is more than worth it because I get so many tools that help me speed things up, help me be more productive at my desk.

My favorite one is one that I neglected for years, it’s called Clean My Mac. I had this Mac that was sitting here that just does nothing but busy work for me, like move files around, like process documents, like organize things on my Google Drive. Clean My Mac. I was actually going to toss it out because it was running too slow. I installed Clean My Mac on it, it deleted whatever piece of garbage I had on there that was slowing down the computer. It now moves super-fast like a brand new computer. And it’s all because I use Clean My Mac on it. And Clean My Mac is a software that speeds up my computer by getting rid of all cruft. Tons of great apps like that.

Bryan: So I just went to their product page. There’s . . . I didn’t even know the same company made all these, but there’s one called Bartender that is super . . . I’ve used that for years. It consolidates all the icons in your menu bar. Oh, it’s so nice. And [iStat 00:26:13] too is one I use.

Andrew: They do one.

Bryan: Yeah, they’re both good.

Andrew: Actually, they don’t . . .

Bryan: I had no idea it was maybe the same company.

Andrew: Actually, they don’t make it. What they did was, this is a company that has a lot of credibility in the Mac space, they went to all these top app makers and they said, “How about you let us give your stuff out as part of our bundle?” And so like Ulysses, a great writing app, costs a little bit of money. I don’t want to go and tie all these and pay all this money. With one app I get to install them all easily. If I don’t like one, I get to remove it easily and it works beautifully. It’s teams.setapp.com/mixergy. You can see that they never do this type of thing because they have a long URL, Bryan.

Bryan: That’s pretty brutal.

Andrew: But they’re experimenting with us. If there was a company that did this a lot, they would get down to a point where they could say setapp.com/mixergy, but they don’t do this enough. All right. So, partnerships. What’s the first approach to partnerships that you took?

Bryan: Over the years we tried a lot. But the thing that landed us on a software partnership, which I’d never . . . Actually, saw one . . . two examples of before. If you go to C-O-O-L-O-R-S, I think that’s pronounced coolers, but it’s colors.

Andrew: I know. I think they mean for it to be pronounced colors, coolars.co.

Bryan: I don’t think there’s “a”. I think it’s C-O-O-L-O-R-S. I don’t know. You can link it up, put in the show notes below. But they have a partnership. It’s this really cool . . . I think it’s a tool for designers. You can put one color in the hex code and it spits out a whole palette that matches it. You can keep refreshing. So if you’re doing the design or if your designer just trying to do stuff yourself, you can find colors that match up with your primary color. Anyway . . .

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: . . . cool niche app done really well, but their spot if you look at a site in the top-left corner, it says, “Colors, coolers,” however you pronounce it. Plus Skillshare. So this company, I don’t actually know that full backstory on this, so I’m just assuming some things here, but it looks like a company built Coolors and then partnered with Skillshare or maybe Skillshare acquire them. And now Skillshare has ads, really nice well-done ads all across the site.

Another one was this tool built by a company named Shakr. I think that is spelled S-H-A-K-R. When Instagram’s stories first came out they built an in-app desktop editor where you could upload a video file and build a stories video out of it. And when I first found it, I think it was Product Hunt and I went back a few months later to use it and I noticed HubSpot has sponsored it. So it was Shakr presented by HubSpot. So I happen to know the guy that does partnerships with HubSpot, so I messaged him and ask him how it worked. He’s like, “Yeah. We just do a straight lead share on it and share back and forth.”

And that triggered the idea because we’d get decent at starting to . . . I just hired our first full-time engineer. He’d built on Slingshot a little bit. We finally gave that up. And we were messing around with a few little products. And then at that time a guy from Infusionsoft reached out and he said, “Hey, Bryan, we want to do a partnership with you guys, do a webinar with you and promote your Get 10,000 Subscribers’ course.” Obviously, that was a decent fit. We teach you how to grow an email list. They have a service that makes more money as you grow your email list.

So we talked back and forth. I was digging into what would make it a win for him. He was asking me what would make it a win for me. And finally I said, “Hey, man, how about instead of doing a webinar, what if, since your people’s number one pain point is not actually how to grow the list, but the thing you get asked for the most, the most lead magnet you had downloaded, the most blog post visited, are all about how to create email sequences. What if we built a tool that just did it for them? Like, Mad Libs for email sequences. You’ll click one, you fill in a few blanks, you hit a button, and they’re all spit out.” “That would be cool.” He’s like, “Yeah, let’s do that.”

So we’ve literally spent the next month building the tool, partnered up with them, they promoted it on their homepage, sent emails out about it, promoted in blog post, and we got thousands and thousands of leads from it. And at that point a light bulb went off. That was a aha moment of “What if instead of having like ConvertKit did . . . ” We had 152 partners in our first year because we don’t have the manpower to even do that. What if instead, we just had like five partners? But instead of sending us 1,000 to 2,000 leads, each one sent us 10,000 leads. And I did that every month for years on end.

To do that, we’d have to build something and make something that was totally different than any other form of partnership. It couldn’t be a webinar. No one’s going to promote it at that level. But what if we build an entire tool that solved one of the main problems that their entire audience had? One that’d be pretty hard to compete with, like, a lot of people aren’t doing that, you’d have to build a whole team to do it. One, I don’t even know if we could do it, but I think that would work. So we did it with Infusionsoft was our first trial of that and it went really well. So we just started doing it. And over the next 12 months, I think we built something like 14 different tools and we got really good at building really mediocre MVP-level tools, and we spent the last two years basically learning how to actually build world-class solutions to problems. And I think we’ve gotten pretty good at that in the niche that we’re serving now.

Andrew: Before . . . What was the tool that you built with Infusionsoft?

Bryan: DripScripts.

Andrew: DripScripts. Before you got to that, well, how did you develop your software when you didn’t have a full-time engineer?

Bryan: I outsourced. So the first tool I ever built was called, well, in this company it was called List Goal. And actually, the very first tool, so this is interesting. So Trello had just come out and you couldn’t send an email into Trello. And this is when Trello had . . .

Andrew: But you could. Actually, I know this tool because I was looking for it and I remember finding it just on my own before I had any idea that it was you behind. You could send it in, but you can only send it to one column for each board. What you did . . . Tell me if I’m wrong.

Bryan: So, Trello added that on after the fact.

Andrew: Oh, really?

Bryan: When we started, you couldn’t even do that. Yeah, they added that on and then our tool let you do more. So, yeah. It was when, I mean, Trello had 50,000 users, now they have 10 million-plus, but . . .

Andrew: So you saw that you couldn’t email into Trello but you wanted to email a card or a to-do into Trello.

Bryan: Yeah.

Andrew: And so . . .

Bryan: And it’s because your email inbox winds up being a to-do-list and I wanted to get it in my actual to-do-list. So I just hired a dude off of I think it was called oDesk at the time, now it’s Upwork and I paid his $500. I built this Chrome extension that allowed you just to click an email, select the drop-down, send it into the Trello. And I just posted it. Since Trello was so new, they were very open, so we posted in a few boards on Trello and got like $1,000 a month on accident not having no idea what I was doing. So the first couple apps I built were like that. I found people on Upwork, or I had a cousin-in-law that knew how to code, so we built a few things, but very much just kind of experimenting around with it.

Andrew: Okay. I see. And so you were figuring this stuff out on your own. How did you figure out how to get product built in 30 days that was good enough for Infusionsoft, this major company to go and stand behind it and share it?

Bryan: So, after several years of building these email . . . It was called Emailo and . . . What was the other one called? Gmailo. I don’t think either one of those work anymore. We built a tool called List Goal which is still an active tool that we keep up. I’ve kind of get the basics . . . Like, I don’t know how to code. I took some classes in college, but I’ve never pursued it more. But I get really good or decent on the MVP level of mocking up concepts, writing spec docs of how I wanted it to work. Wave a magic wand, what does the screen look like? What does it do? And then handing that to someone to build it.

So with those reps over several years, we just started the basics. And this has been another aha moment for me with product development, which is something. The first five years of this business, I geeked out on marketing. These next five years, I want to geek out on product. And I’ve really just tried to become a student of that. Hiten Shah is someone who’s been really great, a really good influence, introducing people and concepts and books and all that stuff.

But, anyway, so starting with the problem, what problem are we solving? So to do that, we had to investigate, what do people really want to learn from me and what do people really want to learn from Infusionsoft and where do those intersect? And it was at the point of email sequences. So we literally wrote down on a piece of paper. What is the best solution ever invented that allows people to know how to structure a sequence and write a sequence or something to that effect? And then we spent a full-day me and our developer researching what other people have done. One of your sponsors, ClickFunnels had built a tool or product or . . . I don’t really know what you would call it. I called funnel scripts, which was the only thing we could find outside of just straight, like, swipe file that even attempted to solve it.

So, we investigated that and studied that a little bit and then put together. We did some customer interviews to ask people how they wrote them now. And then just literally wrote it on a whiteboard, what does this thing need to look like? So how did we figure it out? I think it was the culmination of several years of dabbling around on different things, and then getting laser-focused on one problem and asking the question . . . And I actually wrote this down. The question was . . . Actually, two quotes. I like these. Both of these are good product dev quotes. “You’ve got to constantly build the best possible solution that’s ever existed for your customers.” So if we’re going to build [inaudible 00:34:50] that allows people to write email sequences, structure them and write them, what is the best possible solution that could exist for that? And then . . . Yeah, this other one. This is like the tangent. But there’s only one way to successfully grow a company, people talking highly about it to others.

So that kind of goes into just the tool concept. One, is really no one does that own scale at all. So just having a suite of tools that are really well done, that are free, that’s something people talk about. So that’s . . . The organic word of mouth of that has been better than anything we’ve ever done, and we layer on partnerships on top of that and obviously helps as well.

Andrew: With DripScripts, Infusionsoft started promoting it on their site, you promoted it on your site. And I know you went out into your list and I think you went to Product Hunt and a couple of other places and you talked about it. But no matter what you did, Infusionsoft had more people than you, right? Weren’t they going to send more people to this?

Bryan: Yeah, they send more people. We built an entire tool from scratch and supported it for them.

Andrew: Oh, got it.

Bryan: Here’s the sales pitch. Like, we’re actually looking for a partner for DripScripts right now. Our main contact at Infusionsoft left about eight months after that partnership started. We wound up keeping the Infusionsoft name on it, and we kept sending them leads, but we didn’t have any official partnership after that point, mainly because we wanted the name Infusionsoft when we go to talk to other partners.

But currently that tool doesn’t have a partner, but here’s the sales pitch. DripScripts right now gets 8,000 new signups a month, has over 40,000 people in the tool, over 12,000 people actively using the tool every month, has a community of 5, maybe 10,000 people on Facebook and we have a VIP community just for DripScripts. So when we approach a partner, we say, “Hey, do you want us to share 8,000 leads with you and to promote you to the list of 40,000 people every month?” It’s a really easy pitch. Like, most pitches are, “Do you want us to sell your product? Do you want us to do this?” But we will just introduce you to and give you 8,000 leads a month, you just have to partner and promote the tool as well.

Andrew: I’m actually going to my other computer here. I’ve got literally three computers here in front of me today. I’m going over to see. How are you getting 8,000 subs . . . 8,000 new people enter their email address and register on DripScripts every month?

Bryan: Yes. So two main sources, number one is paid ads, and number two is organic traffic. That’s word of mouth SEO.

Andrew: You’re getting a lot of direct traffic too but I’m guessing that’s repeat traffic. There are people who are searching . . . Yeah, I see are searching for it. Facebook is sending a lot of traffic. Yeah, I see. Wow. All right. There’s no . . . I shouldn’t say there are no. We don’t see a lot of ebooks that you register for or white papers that do these types of numbers especially on the repeat visits and devotion and join a Facebook group and talk about. Okay. So you figured this stuff out. You started creating a bunch of others and partnering up with what type of companies? What was your process for getting more products built and more companies?

Bryan: Yeah. So we went way too fast to begin with. We, me and Chris, the developer, like, “Hey, let’s build a new and every month.” So we did that for maybe 8, 9 months, 10 months. I forget the exact time range now. And what we found was we built a lot of really good MVPs but we wanted to be like world-class product because the whole concept is the piece of software is a lead magnet, like, on the business side for us. It is something that attracts people to the business, they talk about, they share. We can run traffic to. We can find partner, a giant lead funnel.

But the process for finding a partner was simply building the tool and then approaching people that had audiences that would be like . . . Another partner we have is Michael Hyatt for our tool GoViral, so goviral.io. And we literally go to Michael and say, “Hey, Michael, we have this tool. It’s really good at what it does, and now is.” It’s one of the three good tools, like, really good tools we have. Attract, GoViral, DripScripts, those are the three. If you’re going to test this out, test one of those three. The other ones are good. They’re in kind of an MVP ugly, awkward teenager stages.

But we go to Michael and say, “Hey, Michael, we have several thousand people signing up for this. This solves a core problem that your business, your ideal customer has. We’d like to send you those leads, and we’d like you to promote it as well. Would you like to do that?” It’s just an easy yes. It such a . . . Like, we want our tool to be one of their primary growth channels. They have their Facebook ads, they have their webinars, they have their SEO and they have our tool. And it’s a lead gen channel for them to sell their products to.

And obviously, we want on the customer side for that to be matched up really well. We don’t want to do anything awkward or weird for them, so we do a good job of introducing them and making sure they know what’s going on and all that stuff. But it’s not a hard sell because the value prop for the . . . A lot of times we have to educate them more because it seems almost too good to be true, which is exactly what we want in a partnership. We want to give them more value. We want to give them 8,000 leads a month, and they give us 4,000 leads a month because I want them never to leave.

Andrew: You do want that. You don’t feel like . . .

Bryan: I want them to feel like they’re getting such a [important 00:39:38] deal that when that Director of Marketing that’s in charge of that partnership goes to bat that next year for their budget and for what they’re going to do, ultimately, go to bat for us. Because I don’t want a one-off webinar where we’re going to promote one time and be done. I want something we can put effort into and it to work for the next 10 years.

Andrew: I’ve got to say, so we do masterclasses at Mixergy for people who are premium members. We asked you if you would teach how to do partnerships and you walked us through this. And one of the things that we noticed was, you were so good and so generous and so prepared and so condensing down this whole partnership stuff into an hour-long session, and so good about following up and giving us all the documents, all the everything that anyone would need in order to put together partnerships like this that we actually felt, I know I did, felt incredibly indebted to you. I said, “How do I repay Bryan? What do I do?”

And then I read every word of the transcript, like, I had it all transcribed because I wanted to go and underline it and read it and follow through and see what your partnership style was. And I realized, “Oh, this is what he wants out of partnerships.” Part of what he’s teaching in this masterclass for us at Mixergy and what he’s teaching his people is what he’s doing himself, which is giving so much that they feel guilty almost if they don’t come through. And I have to say that usually, online or I guess . . . I don’t know what it is for me. Maybe it’s growing up in New York, maybe it’s going to business school. There was a sense of if you gave it has to be equal back.

Bryan: Yeah.

Andrew: And it’s the wrong approach. It’s got to be excessive and if you do it without thinking about it, it’ll come back on the internet. And sure some people will take advantage but the truth is if you talked to so many people, you won’t even remember the people who’ve taken advantage of it, but you’ll absolutely remember the people who haven’t taken advantage and come through. So, I’ve got to remember to do that more without any hesitation and just let it go. Do you find that people on your team worry for you? I know that that happens for me. If I give people something for free that they don’t deserve, someone on my team will say, “Andrew, but we should be charging for it.”

Bryan: I mean, one of the rules we have on partnerships and just in life is, this is what we teach in that masterclass, you can go watch it, is never do online what you wouldn’t do in real life. Like, don’t do something online you wouldn’t do in real life. And if you just . . . Like, most people are just good people, man. Like, they don’t want to be indebted to you. And we don’t want that to be in a negative context. We don’t want to do so much they feel guilty, but there is a reciprocity factor there that we want.

And I think in general, like, I want to do more for my wife than she does for me, like, not because it’s like a tit for tat thing, I just, I want to have a good relationship. At the end of the day, the sales process in marketing and helping people with the products you have is a relationship. And if they always feel like I’m asking them for things, like, they’re not going to buy and I’m not going to be able to help them. And I want both . . . Like, I’m [inaudible 00:42:20] because I want money from that so I can have a better life and so I can reinvest in my business. And I want them to have the transformation they can have when they go to one of our amazing teaching products. So I think that’s just a good life principle, like, never do online what you wouldn’t do in real life or what you would never do . . . Whatever that is. You get the point.

Andrew: I get it. Never do online what you would do in real life.

Bryan: There you go. Yeah, that’s the easier way to say it.

Andrew: I should say, anyone who wants to go see this masterclass that you did for us and even a great sample of it, it’s just available at mixergy.com/growth or it will be available once we’re done. By the way, I had the founder of ConvertKit here at the office for scotch. He told us that he went over to your place. It’s ConvertKit. Great product, great opportunity for you guys to partner up. You don’t talk to him. You guys fixed a truck or something together.

Bryan: We did. We weren’t partners at the time, but yeah, he came over to the house.

Andrew: But still, like, he’s a friend that you could partner up with in the future. Why did you just have him come over to your house and fix it? He wasn’t bothered by it. He was just like, “This is what I did. I went to Bryan’s house and I helped him fix the truck.” What’s your thinking on that?

Bryan: Man, that’s been so many years ago, I totally forgot about that. I forget what was . . . It was before ConvertKit blew up. I don’t know if Nathan would come hang in my house today. But he was in town for something and I said, “Hey, man, you should come over and . . . ” I think he slept at our house that night, I want to say.

Andrew: I so too.

Bryan: I was just driving this old beat-up Jeep and something wasn’t working and I was like, “Hey, man, you want to go fix this thing?” So we spent a couple of hours working on my old Jeep.”

Andrew: But is that a way for you to bond with someone by being more active with them?

Bryan: I mean, that wasn’t that intentional. It was mainly I needed to drive my car the next day and it wasn’t running well, so Nathan just happened to be at the house so we worked on it together. But yeah. I mean, I think you just think about the people you actually enjoy being around. Those could be business people, those could be live people, whoever you hang out with. Like, it’s people you just do random stuff with. Like, you can go and have scotch, you can go to . . . Like, I just went on, spur of the moment, football game with my buddy Grant and Shane this weekend, I’m a big Auburn football fan, and they had the biggest game in the country last weekend, so it was on the spur of the moment, went down there. Just the relationships.

I love having relationships with people. I love . . . Not like . . . Actual genuine relationships, not people we do business with, but actually people enjoy. Like, we have this partnership with Leadpages now. And although me and Bob as the main contact there, Bob Sparkins, like, we’ve known each other for years. We enjoy talking with each other. Like, it’s fun doing life together with people. And I think too many times in the past I have been focused on the short-term and not the long-term.

And Gary V. does a good job of reminding people of that. You’re going to be alive for . . . Unless you’re going to be hit by a bus tomorrow, which, you know, wildcard factor, we have 50 more years doing this, and reputation and relationships are the thing that matter beyond everything else. So that’s where a lot of this online course hyper marketing, black hat, grey hat world just annoys me is they’re so short-term focus, like, none of these people will last doing that stuff. It’s just not going to work. It’s not something I wanted. It’s not something I feel good telling my kids about. Like, I want to do things that my kids will be proud of, that I will be proud of talking about for 20 years, and that are fun. And that usually comes down to relationship with people.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about ClickFunnels and I’ll come back and see . . . Once you’d figured out that it was going to be tools as a way of getting people in the door, how did you figure out what you were going to sell and why not have a freemium model?

And my second sponsor is a company called ClickFunnels. You know what? Why don’t I ask you this? Do you have any tips for somebody . . . Here’s what ClickFunnels does. It creates landing pages, but it’s more than that. I always thought of them as just landing pages that convert. They also have, like, this follow-up set of pages where you can ask someone for a credit card to get them to buy something for $5 and then afterwards upsell even more or downsell and all that. What’s a good thought-process that you have about how to onboard people using these types of pages?

Bryan: Yeah. I think that’s the most innovative thing ClickFunnels did was having not just individual landing . . . Like, Leadpages was by far the market leader before they came on the scene and got distracted with other stuff. But ClickFunnels came with the concept of having . . . like, build the whole funnel for you, not just the landing page, but also the thank you page and the upsell page and all the stuff that goes into it. They’ve done a great job with that.

And I think in general, my approach to business, and this goes to ClickFunnels’ concept that’s been great, is model stuff that’s already worked as your starting point. And they’ve even double down on that with the funnel hacking concepts and all that over the years. But I think that in general works, like, find what works and do more of it. And I love that feature of ClickFunnels.

I wish their software is a little easier to use. I wish they’ll do more customer interviews and work on that piece. But they have features that no other landing page builder has and I think that’s the core piece is you can start a funnel from scratch with one click. And that was the core concept on Slingshot. The core concept on our teaching products is that. And I love that they made it really easy to do that.

Andrew: You know, you’re right. And for a long time, I said, “That is good for other people, this follow-up sell something, this bump sale, this all that.” It’s not me. I’m just here for a landing page to collect email addresses. And then I think it was Rebecca on our team said, “Let’s just drag it in there.” And I go, “Come on. No, Rebecca.” She says, “What? You hired me to come up with good ideas here. I’m really excited about this. Let me try it.” So I let her go through it. And basically what she did was she found a template that worked for someone else, she said, “Let’s try it for us. We don’t have this product that they have. What do we have that’s similar? Let’s put it in. The design is already in there. We don’t have to do that much. Let’s just try it and see.” And before we knew it, we ended up with over $1 million in sales. They sent me one of those gold record things.

Bryan: Wow. That’s impressive. Good job.

Andrew: Isn’t this a smart idea, by the way? This is the thing that when I first interviewed Russell, I thought it was brilliant. I also never thought this was me. Look at me. I got one of these gold records. Dude, I tossed everything in the garbage, like, even my kid’s pictures, I shouldn’t say it. My kid’s pictures, I take a picture of it, I added to this photo album that we have, and then I toss it in the garbage. I can’t bring myself to throw this away. It just feels like such a prize that I won because I sold over $1 million worth of funnel. They sent me a gold record with two commas in it. I’m in the Two Comma Club.

Bryan: I mean, Russell is one of the smartest marketers that’s ever lived. The dude is a freaking genius at marketing, so that’s the best thing he’s done is the seven comma, six comma, two comma club.

Andrew: Two Comma Club for people who do over $1 million . . . Now I think they’re going to go even more, but it’s more than that. They’re so caring that I feel overwhelmed by it. I posted on Facebook that I lost my AirPods because I was on swings with my kids. They sent me this. Dave and Russell sent me a box of EarPods, of AirPods. This is the ones without the wires with a note that says, “Look, Andrew, no strings attached,” because this is before they were advertising and said, “Andrew, I know you don’t like to get things, but we feel bad. Here it is.” And they even put a string here that’s just . . .

Bryan: That’s amazing.

Andrew: . . . untied. “No strings attached, Andrew. Here.”

Bryan: Yeah. That’s the good stuff right there. Like, forget the records, forget the Two Comma Club, like, that level of attention right there, that’s awesome. That’s relationships that . . .

Andrew: And how do they do that? How do they do that? They got a business to run. Anyway, if you go to clickfunnels.com/mixergy, you can try the software that I used for free for 14 days. You’ll also get a bunch of stuff that you get to keep including my interview with Russell Brunson, I flew out to do an interview with him. It is one of the best . . . I’m going to say, the . . . It’s definitely one of the top five. I wouldn’t say the best but it’s not nice to say anything is the best. Definitely, one of the best interviews that I’ve ever done. And you’ll get all the pages in the funnel that have worked for me and maybe you’ll be like me and you say, “I don’t need it. That’s good, Andrew. Screw that.” Or maybe you’ll be like the new me which is, “Let’s try it and see,” and you’ll start to get results the way that I did. It’s all available for you at clickfunnels.com/mixergy.

All right. Bryan, why didn’t you decide to do the whole freemium model? You’re finally in software heaven.

Bryan: I learned a lesson when we built Slingshot that I wasn’t . . . there’s a difference in doing something free and doing something paid. Like, the level of . . . I didn’t think we were ready to do a paid software product yet, but I knew that we were really good at teaching people. So, instead of doubling down on software as a paid product, our thought was, “Let’s get really good at building software, building software that solves the problem is trying to solve better than anyone has ever solved it before.

And then, hey, maybe 5 to 10 years down the road, we’ll turn one of these, we’ll make a paid version of it, or build another SaaS product with all the skill sets that we’ve developed. But let’s take the actual unfair advantage we have which is being able to teach people to do things in a way that I don’t think many people are equipped to do. Like, we’re really good at that. And let’s make that our paid offering.”

So, instead of having paid tools at the bottom of the funnel, we have paid tools at the top. That’s how people learn about us. They’re blown away, relationship is through the roof immediately. And then we have paid training products that work really, really well that they can pay for. So I think down the road, we’ll eventually do some paid software item. We won’t turn . . . We won’t make any [better 00:51:00] that’s on a current software product like pay for what they’re getting now. But I got a feeling one tool out of this Growth Tool suite will wind up being separated and turned into a full-blown SaaS product over time, but we’ll see. We’ll just look. I like those ideas coming to us and us not chasing them down. I think the best stuff is found that way.

Andrew: So I’m on growthtools.com/tools. By the way, the new homepage is so good. It is . . . I liked your last one. It was very blogy, but it was really clear and not a lot of distractions that people have just because they have a blog. This new one is a whole other world, growthtools.com.

Bryan: Thank you.

Andrew: I love that when I go to growthtools.com, you think about, “Well, you came here for tool, a tip on how to grow, hit this button.” And when I hit the button, on the right, there’s a card that comes up that says, “Here’s a tip.” And this one that I happen to get on . . . It’s always random. This one happens to be 30 seconds long . . . No, 30 minutes or less to complete. So, I’m going to hit Refresh because I’m going to be lazy right now. And here’s . . . Oh, this one is about two hours. Okay. I’m going to hit Refresh again. I’m going to keep hitting refresh.

There’s some that take just a minute, but you can keep going through them and finding them and then hit a button and go to a video of you explaining it often, a checklist underneath that is actually a working checklist. And then underneath that is, “Hey, if you want a free consultation with us that will help you, hit this button and get that.” That’s the model for the site. And then somewhere on the site is a list of tools. And it’s all available at growthtools.com.

Bryan: It’s a little tricky trying to talk about 10 tools and at your actual paid software as well. I don’t think we’ve mastered that yet. But what we try to do is build the new website like we build a tool. So what problem does it solve? What do people actually want? The problem we solve as a company is we help people double their business in 12 months or less.

Andrew: Wait. How did you get to that? So it was going to be, we are the company that helps you get more email addresses.

Bryan: Sure.

Andrew: Your software was guided towards that. Your free blog posts were, your paid . . . How did you figure out “We got to go beyond email”?

Bryan: We found that . . . We just listened to customers. We talked with them, we looked at their results, their survey results when they entered our product. The thing they actually wanted, email list was a means to an end. The end was more customers. We had to do a lot of education on why you would want an email list. Obviously, there’s a part of the market that’s super aware of that problem. And there’s enough of that to build a business off that obviously, ESPs have.

But what we found with our existing audience is what they really wanted was to sell more product. So, we could either try to force them down the thing we already had, which is how to grow an email list or we can make that simply a path in order to get more customers. So when we’re starting to build a new site, we’re just asked the question like, “What are people want? They want strategies.” Like, the thing that work best content-wise, tool-wise better than anything else has been really practical bite-sized . . . Excuse me. Really practical bite-sized strategies that help you grow your business.

So give me something I haven’t thought of before. Give me some strategies, some cool hacks, some cool tips, some cool strategy. Obviously, to systematically grow your business over time, you need more than cobbled together strategy. But as an introductory point to us, I don’t care about your tool. Give me . . . Tell me how to set up my welcome sequence. So that’s an actual problem I have. I don’t care about another tool. Like, Neil did a good job of outlining that in his interview. I love that interview, by the way.

Andrew: Thanks.

Bryan: Like, people don’t want another software, they don’t want another freemium thing, they don’t want another email sequence. What they want is, “I don’t have a welcome sequence, help me write one.” What they want is “My website doesn’t convert anybody to leads right now. Tell me what to do.” So when you go to the site, instead of introducing you to our tools and instead of introducing you to the four-week classes we run or the one-on-one coaching we run, which you won’t believe any of the claims we make about them up front. Instead of doing that, how about we introduce you to what you want, which is a super simple bite-sized tip that, oh, by the way, every one introduces you to a tool because the tools we have are simply means to execute those specific strategies? And that’s worked really well. There’s been a great introductory point to everything else we do.

Andrew: And when you say, “We talk to our customer,” how do you do that?

Bryan: So, a couple of ways. Number one, we do one-on-one coaching. So we physically talk to our customers regularly. Also, when we’re building tools, we do it more systematically with tool building than we do via some other mechanisms. But we’ll actually go and, like, get people to . . . Well, actually, two stages. In the very beginning stage of concept we’ll actually get on the horn and talk with them and ask them, “Hey, do you write email sequences now? If so, turn on your screen share and show me what you do. I want to see your workflow, because that then informs us of how we’re going to build the tool because we want to start at some basic level of familiarity.”

And otherwise, once we built a tool we’ll actually get on and watch them use it and talk with them through that process. We also survey . . . And obviously, people in our coaching and people in our four-week classes, they all take surveys and information like that just to learn like “Why did you join? Why did you sign up for this tool? Why did you pay us money for our trainings?” And the answer to those questions is very rarely even for 10K Subs the course on growing an email list, was very rarely, “I want to grow my email list.” It was almost always, “I want to sell more of my SaaS or my e-com or my course so that I can X, Y, Z.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Bryan: So, that was always the end point. The end point was more sales. The end point was never or very rarely grow my email list. So we still teach a ton list building stuff because you got to have leads coming in the door if you want to sell anything. So that’s a core piece of it. It’s just the first piece. You got to have leads, you got to have relationship, and you got to have a way to turn them into customers.

Andrew: You also do not at your own pace, watch these videos, do it by yourself training. You do it differently. How did you come up with that model and what’s . . . Why don’t we start . . . Actually, before with how you came up with that model, what’s the success rate on that?

Bryan: Yes. So, instead of doing online courses now, self-paced, we now do these four-week classes. Our online course to give you context. We had less than 10% of . . . And I think we had around 3,000 customers over the two and a half, three years we sold it. It was around 3,000 people. Less than 300 people ever finished it, like ever, actually, completed the course at all.

Andrew: Meaning, actually, watch it all or get the result that they’re looking for?

Bryan: Watch it all. Results was less than 1% ever actually got what they wanted when they came in. And there’s several reasons for that. Number one, we should have been better at teaching. Number two, it’s self-paced. I think this is the biggest. It’s like when you buy a book, if you get a book and like, I got this book in my desk right now it’s called “Never Split the Difference.” Great negotiating book.

Andrew: Great book. Yeah.

Bryan: So good. I need to read back through and take my notes like I was talking about because I was going to use it recently and I can’t remember anything in it, so I got to do my notes so I actually remember. But anyway, so if you read “Never Split the . . . ” If you buy “Never Split the Difference” and never opened it, I don’t feel negatively toward “Never Split the Difference” at all. Like, if an author judged their success as an author based on the number of people that finished the book or even took action on the book, they would be depressed and never write a book again.

I think I finally realized online courses are the same way. They are not methods to achieve a result. They’re simply reference material. And our mission as a company, our goal as a company is to help our clients grow their revenue by $100 million. And if that’s the case, we need people actually doing stuff. We don’t need reference material. We need material that actually gets you results.

So we went through a whole brainstorming exercise about a year ago, did research and whatnot, and came for the concept, what if we had a teaching product that had a 100% success rate? Right now we have a less than 1%. Let’s just like a Tim Ferriss thought exercise. Like, what if we just did it totally different? What if we had 100% success? And what if the price was half as much as our current product? Like, can we do that? Obviously, that would stand out in the marketplace and be something that people are talking about if we could. So, how do we do that?

So I came with the concept of what if we did a four-week class, that’s all live, we’ll break any concept so the first one is partnership since that’s kind of a unique concept not a ton of people talk about in the way we talked about it or teach it and the way we teach it. Partnerships a lead gen channel. A lot of people talk about Facebook, a lot of people talk about SEO. Not many people talk about partnerships.

So we’ve broke it into four chunks. And on Monday, we taught you how to do it. You had to be there live. On Wednesday, we did it while you watched. And on Friday, we had a deep work session where you completed the project for the week. So your goal in these four-week classes is simply to complete four projects. And the culmination of those four projects equals the result we promise. And if you don’t get the result we promise, you get a refund back. So we’ve now taught that partnership accelerator. We just finished our sixth class of that. That sixth class had a 97% success rate with 60 . . .

Andrew: Ninety-seven percent of people went through it got a partner.

Bryan: Got a partner, yep.

Andrew: And a partner is someone who does what?

Bryan: They’re an influencer or company in their industry that agree to promote them to their audience.

Andrew: And so at first it was a week or less. Is that what it was?

Bryan: Four weeks.

Andrew: Oh, four weeks.

Bryan: It’s hard to do anything in a week meaningful complex, so it takes four weeks. We can’t go longer than four weeks. People lose their attention. Four weeks is about the sweet spot where you can take any . . .

Andrew: And was it weekly session?

Bryan: Three times a week, four weeks long.

Andrew: Three times a week for four weeks.

Bryan: And we then do stuff for them. So, with the partnership, we actually find . . . We make a list of 10 . . . We start their dream 50 for them, find 10 partners for them, record a video of the whole research process, draft their first pitch for them and then review three more pitches for them throughout the partnership accelerator. Because our goal of the partnership accelerator one is to make sure they get a partner that says yes to them and starts the process of the promotion. Number two is at the end of that, they’re so blown away by the result of it because the bar for online education is so freaking low, it’s so terrible. Like, it doesn’t take much to blow people’s minds. But blow their minds so that they will then hire us to coach them. Like, the know-like trust factor is through the roof after an accelerator because they have just experience . . .

Andrew: Oh, you’re saying, after they went to the accelerator, they’re more likely to hire you guys as an ongoing consulting?

Bryan: A hundred percent.

Andrew: To do what? What’s the consulting after that?

Bryan: So then we work with them, we audit their entire business, all the marketing stuff they’re doing, put together a plan that will double their business in 12 months or less, give them all our playbooks, they need to execute it and then coach them through the entire process.

Andrew: I had no idea you did that. I think that that’s what I’m discovering that with Growth Tools with your company, there’s an easy onboard and then there’s another step and another step and another step but it’s not all visible. You’re really good about making it . . . putting it where I need it.

Bryan: But I don’t know if that’s feature or a bug, but . . .

Andrew: I feel like in some cases it’s a feature and other cases it’s a, “Wait, I’m not sure I want to start with this free software unless I know why it’s free.” I was hesitant with some of the software to go in because I thought at some point there’s a switch into paying and I don’t know where it is, so I don’t . . . Like, I’m walking consciously into it. In that sense, it’s a little bit . . . It makes me a little unsure. In the sense that you’re not flooding me with everything you have, but instead letting you discover it when I need it, I think that makes sense. But if I wanted to go send someone to Growth University. Is that what it’s called? No. Partnership Accelerator.

Bryan: So think about the business in two layers. You have the software at the top, that’s lead gen, you have the four-week introductory classes that guarantee a specific result, we have partnership accelerator; land a partner, list building accelerator; get your first 100 subscribers, and conversion accelerator which is double the number of leads to your website in the period of time, and we’re starting up a couple of others next year. And then out of that, anybody that finishes that, we then invite them to one-on-one coaching if it seems to make sense.

So, I’ll just share this, like, I think with a unique business model, it’s important just to be clear, or people do get confused. They’re wondering what the catch is. So that’s something we want to improve on, something we want to make sure that people can come to the website and in less than five minutes get it. And right now you have a good experience, you found cool marketing strategies you never thought of before, you get introduced to free tools that are the best in class, and you will eventually be promoted to an accelerator, and if you went through that you get our coaching.

But all that isn’t super clear and I think that does create sometimes, like, “What’s the catch here?” And that’s what’s interesting. Sometimes there is a catch. In our case, there’s really not. It’s just free. We just figured out a business model that supports that, but sometimes . . . I was just reading the book, that “Great Leads” book I was telling you about a while ago, and they were talking about this advert . . . This is a super interesting.

So, DieHard battery, I think Sears made that. I don’t know. Whoever created the DieHard battery back in the day. They’re doing an advertisement campaign for it. And in the commercial, they had 10 cars hooked up to the same battery and they all cranked the cars. And it was like crazy. I mean, that was like not something that could happen at the time. And people didn’t believe it. Like, it was too good to be true.

So, they started doing this testing and then the final commercial the one that we were running was three cars switched up to the battery because that was more believable.

Andrew: Because people didn’t believe that 10 cars . . .

Bryan: They didn’t 10 could work.

Andrew: . . . could be powered by one battery, so, you just don’t do it.

Bryan: So I think there’s that . . . Like, I would rather . . . I think philosophically, I would rather our product far outpace our marketing than vice versa. I’d rather people come in like and the marketing be subpar, but the product be completely baller than for the marketing to sound amazing and the product to be meh. So right now in several of our products the marketing is severely lagging behind the product and that’s totally fine. Like, that’s okay phase to be and hopefully, over the next 6, 12 months we’ll get better at that, but I think that’s a good stage currently.

Andrew: How do you get people in show up live for 12 sessions?

Bryan: There’s an application process. You can’t just buy it. So, like, of course, you go buy the course immediately. You have to fill out a short application, be approved, and then pay. That’s 500 bucks for each accelerator. Again, guaranteed if they don’t get the result, they get their money back.

Andrew: That’s not a lot of money, by the way, 500 bucks.

Bryan: It’s not. It’s cheap, but the backend makes it work with the coaching. So, that’s . . .

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: I mean, it’s a cash flow positive product by itself. When we add the coaching element upgrades from that it’s a very profitable product. But we also . . . One piece, and this is interesting piece from research and online education that we found was that a lot of people just want accountability, but a lot of what you see in the online world is a Facebook group where someone goes live once a week. That’s not accountability at all.

What people want is to be held accountable to do the stuff that they committed to do. So one thing we do inside of there and their application and in throughout the accelerator, you are required, and we’re very clear on this, throughout the whole process, remind people that of this, is your goal, your only job is to complete these four projects. Our job is to make sure these four projects equals the result that we guarantee. But if you don’t complete a project, we’re going to have a problem. Like, if you don’t complete one project, you get fined $100 and we donate the money to a charity you hate. Second project you don’t completely get kicked out.

But we have very few . . . I think in our last class of 67 we had one person kicked out. So it wasn’t a big deal at all. And they were very clear and knew about it, apologize about it and everything, but people, it just holds their feet to the fire to do the stuff they want to do. It’s like me and dieting and stuff, man. Like, I want to eat right, I want to work out, but sometimes life gets in the way. But by knowing I’m committed to someone, I have to show up in the gym or I’m going to have money on the line, it happens then.

So I think the online course thing has its place, for sure. We might do online courses again at some point, but I know this, this model produces successful students. Like, people love it. They absolutely go crazy over it and they get results. I think the accountability piece plus really structured easy-to-follow teaching are the two elements that just make the thing work.

Andrew: I also like that you do some of the work for them.

Bryan: Yeah.

Andrew: So I just realized that when I cleared out my podcast app, I forgot to re-subscribe to your podcast.

Bryan: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: You still do that where you just record into your phone?

Bryan: I haven’t in about three weeks.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: I knew you were going to ask me about it and I almost recorded an episode today.

Andrew: There was . . . I really like it. I think most people can’t carry a podcast where it just them talking. It’s just a little too boring. But you’re really good at just thinking through what you’re doing almost like you’re journaling it for yourself, but we happen to get to listen. In one of them you said, I’ve got this idea where I think we’re just going to have a service as a lead magnet, we will do the thing for you. I wonder how did that work out for you? Free . . .

Bryan: I haven’t actually execute it yet.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: This is the concept was the base premise on how accelerators work so well is we get them a crazy result, and then we upsell, and that sounds marketing, but we basically introduce you to the coaching and 30% of people buy it. But the concept was, could we do that a lot quicker? Could we . . . Like, imagine an ad that says, “Hey, we’ll write your entire welcome sequence for you for free, but you have to probably qualify in some kind of way because you don’t want a bunch of tire kickers in there.” But you get in, you fill out some information like, “Yeah, we’ll do that for you.”

And then 48 hours later, you get on the phone with someone, they walk into your welcome sequence and say, “Hey, by the way, if you’d like for us to audit your entire marketing plan, come up with a strategy that will double your business in 12 months or less, coach you through the entire process, we can do that. Are you interested?” And they set to a sales call and then we convert them into coaching. That was the concept. We just haven’t had the bandwidth quite yet to run it. Kind of like the Pinterest strategy. We know the strategy, is just the who. It’s not what problems, it’s who problems, like, who do we have that’s going to run that right now? We’re maxed out on what is actually working currently.

Andrew: I can’t even get the podcast in the podcast app that comes up . . . in the podcast app that comes with my iPhone. I just typed in “Bryan Harris”. Everybody else is so good at SEOing your name. I guess you appeared on a few other podcasts.

Bryan: Go to the lessonsandideas.com. That’ll redirect you to iTunes.

Andrew: Oh, lessonsandideas.com. All right. Why don’t I close out with this?

Bryan: Yeah.

Andrew: One of the things that I watch you do methodically is hire. You put together a scorecard for somebody who’s going to work in your house because you put together a scorecard for everyone you hire at home. I mean, at work. What is the scorecard? What happened when you created one for someone in your house?

Bryan: So, I’ll give you a link to this so you can link up because this has been . . . Like, I started from a book that I actually took good notes of “Who: The A Method for Hiring” by a guy named Geoff Smart. I literally just do it. I’ve come up with some different spins from different people that have told me about it over the years. But here’s one of the biggest pieces. One is to get clear on what you need. So I will include a link below and you can look through the house manager example. We’re about to have our third kid and I’ve been working with my wife for years to convince her to hire this, and finally, at a low point, the pregnancy she’s like, “All right. Let’s do it.” So that afternoon we had a job hiring post up.

But first is getting clear. So what are the core areas you want them to work within? So for the house manager it was, we want you to handle food, shopping, meal planning, cooking. We want you to handle the house, so clean, laundry, sweep the floors, do the dishes. We want you to help with the kids, so when Stacy is stressed out or just throughout the week or whatnot, take them off on adventures and do stuff with them, give Stacey a break. And then work with house vendors, so the lawn guy or whatever, just talk with those random people. So we just get really clear on it.

But here’s the key piece. So, that’s the discipline piece that produces everything else. We’ll give you the example that. But one of the most interesting things . . . I forget who’s . . . I think I read it on Twitter. I can’t even attribute the right person. But they said, “Job description like a sales letter to the ideal person you’d like to hire.” And if you start thinking about that a little bit, it’s like, “All right. How would I write a sales letter?”

Well, first, I figure out, like, what their pains are. Like, what do typical nannies or house managers are the different types of people, what do they not like about their current job? Go interview a few people and ask and build that into the job description. Find out what the main value prop is like. Actually, write this sells, write this job description, not like bullet point and what are you going to do, bullet point a salary, bullet point a location, all that crap. Like, that’s fine. You include that, but, like, actually write a sales letter to your people. So that’s . . .

Andrew: So you interviewed people before people who did this before putting together the . . .

Bryan: Yep. I interviewed three different people who had been nannies in the past.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And so you did all that.

Bryan: And I was actually asking about pay, like, “I don’t know how to pay these people. Tell me what you like. Tell me what you don’t like. Who is the best boss you ever had?” And then I just . . . I’m like, “Okay. Let’s just do things like that and then bake it all back into the scorecard and the external job description.” So the scorecard is an internal document that you write first to get clear on what you need, and then as you interview people, you grade them against the score, can they do these things? And ideally, they’ve done them before.

So, we had a girl apply and we wound up hiring her. Her name is Jo. And, man, dude, there’s one question we asked in application that is, “Why are you a good fit for this position?” I have found, this is over a year and a half now using this question, that is the number one indicator of whether they’re going to be hired or not. Like, the last three hires I’ve called at the initial screening phase based on the answer to that question. So here’s . . . Like, the typical response to that answer would be, “I’ve been a nanny for 20 years. I love kids.” Really short, two to three sentences like all about them. Hers was . . . Oh, dude. It was, “My life’s calling is to bring peace to a family. And that could be if the pregnant mom just needs a break, I’ll just take the kids. That could be if you’re stressed about food, I’ll cook an apple pie. That could be done . . . I grew up in a family full of kids and being with kids brings me joy and my life’s mission is to bring peace to families.” I didn’t even know my house needed peace, but by the end of that, like, I just wanted nothing but peace in my family.

We brought her in the next day and hired her and she’s worked with us for four or five months now and has been the single best hire I’ve ever made by a mile. If you have the means to do that, don’t even think about it, go do it. It is the best position ever. Oh, yeah. Job scorecard, job description. Get clear on the job scorecard, know the core areas, four, five areas and the details under them and the outcomes you want. And then what is the external job description which is a sales letter to your ideal candidate?

Once you get past that $500,000 to $1 million range, everything in your business becomes who questions not what questions. It’s not about what strategy you use, it’s not about whether you do webinars or partnerships, all those things are great, [research 01:12:06] formed about them, but it’s not . . . Like, you don’t have the bandwidth to do it yourself, so you have to have people to do that, and ideally, have people who are sold out for the vision you have for us. We believe people are built to make things, and we want to have the best education products ever made online so that we can help our clients grow by $100 million a year. And we believe in doing that by not working over 40 hours a week because we don’t believe that’s the thing you have to do it all and living balanced lives.

So, like, when we let that ooze out of the job description and we let ooze out of the job description all the pains they’ve ever had and the position they worked before, I mean, I’m . . . We were wrapping up a director of marketing hire, and I’m blown away by the number of people that said, “I wasn’t even looking for a job. I just kind of skimmed your job description, showed it to my wife and she said I had to apply.” That’s what we want right there, like that. That’s the number one thing I focused on now is people because the people will lead us to . . . People are way smarter than me. Like, I had ideas, but 10 great people are way smarter than I ever could be.

Andrew: All right. The website . . .

Bryan: If you want to work for Growth Tools, let me know me. I’d love to have you.

Andrew: You almost used your past name.

Bryan: Yeah.

Andrew: Where? Actually, I don’t see it on your site. There’s no place to apply.

Bryan: Yeah. Go to growthtools.com/jobs.

Andrew: Growthtools.com/jobs and . . .

Bryan: Any open positions we have will be there. Or feel free to pitch me directly at bryan@growthtools.com. If you have a position, a job you’d like to do for us, just let me know.

Andrew: All right. And the website for anyone who didn’t get it, it’s Growth Tools because that’s what they’ve got, tools to help you grow. Check them out at growthtools.com. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, really, is the company that sent me AirPods and did so many of the nice things like that for me, go check out clickfunnels.com/mixergy for the in-depth interview I did with the founder. It’s a great follow up to this interview, founder of ClickFunnels and you’ll see all the templates that I used. Even if you don’t want to use their software, you’re going to get a lot out of clickfunnels.com/mixergy.

And the second, if you’re a Mac person, stop everything, go look at teams.setapp.com/mixergy. You’ll get all the tools that you need even if you just sign up, try it and aren’t sure you ever want to pay them, you’ll get a lot out of that free trial that I’m giving you exclusively at teams.setapp.com/mixergy. All right. Bryan, this was fan-freaking-tastic. You’re so good at this.

Bryan: Thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it. This was fun.

Andrew: Thanks for being on. And I know we went a little over.

Bryan: Let’s do it again in five years. We’ll do another day.

Andrew: See you then.

Bryan: Bye, brother.

Andrew: Bye.

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