Hey Rainmaker, I’ve been buried in today’s Mailbox Monday topic for a while now, so I think you’re going to want to read carefully (maybe even print it out!) because this one is going to be JUICY!
Just a reminder: Mailbox Monday can only be AWESOME with YOUR HELP. Send me your best questions on copywriting, selling, business-building, marketing, life to [email protected], and I’ll answer them in an upcoming issue of Mailbox Monday.
Okay, let’s talk about how to turn your copywriting or marketing skills into a leveraged, scalable publishing business that makes you money 24/7.
Here’s Jesse with the question to start us off…
Right now I’m listening to “Ready, Fire, Aim” and I keep wiping the drool off my lip, thinking about the money Mark Ford continues to make.
The same thing happens every time I get another email from the many subsidiaries of Agora…
Or another message from ETF (didn’t Ford sell that one for $20mill?)…
The thread I see here is that “publishing” is where the (real) money is.
Sure, it’s great fun to be a copywriter, but I’d like to learn more about becoming a publisher. An owner…
And that’s why I’m writing:
I don’t know beans about it. But you do. You’re friends with Brian Kurtz and you’re an industry insider!
What advice would you give on places I can look and learn more about the exciting and rich publishing industry?
Thanks — bought your new book this morning — keep up the amazing work, and see you at October’s AWAI event (Brendan Talty says you’ll be there).
All the best,
Jesse, awesome questions, and I’m going to start by really quickly providing a couple quick reactions to non-core points in your note.
— Ready, Fire, Aim is near the top of my list of best business books I’ve ever read. Someone I respect immensely (who reads these emails, you know who you are), came back to me a couple years after I recommended it and told me it gave him immense clarity, and is now doing things in business that I totally admire. And he credited a lot of that clarity to that book. If you’re a reader of these daily emails and you don’t have that book right now, stop being short-sighted. Get it, and read it. Now!
— I can’t speak to how much Mark got for ETR, but he built it, enjoyed a lot of success with it, and I believe had a very nice exit as icing on the cake.
— Publishing is an awesome industry, and what we’ll talk about below. Its margins (especially with digital content that has almost zero incremental cost of goods sold) make it especially appealing. But don’t get caught up in HAVING to go the publishing route. Selling physical products can be a bigger challenge in terms of logistics, but they’re actually easier to sell. Buyers do their own cost justification, and the value is usually more apparent. This makes great sales or copywriting chops a nice advantage, but unnecessary (which is kinda nice!). I have friends and clients who sell just physical products. I have one client who has very successfully bridged selling information and physical products to the same audience. You can even sell a service that’s delivered by others, and make a lot of money. The (real) money isn’t in a specific industry, it’s in leverage and scalability — income opportunities that are not tied directly to how much work or effort you put in.
— A friend of Brendan is a friend of mine. Brendan is an awesome guy. And yes, I plan to lurk around the AWAI Bootcamp — I try to be there every year that I can!
Okay, the fastest, easiest, and probably most beneficial way I can describe how to build a highly-profitable publishing business is to let you in and give you a super-secret sneak peek into something I’m doing right now…
Jesse, you mentioned that you picked up a copy of “The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid.” (If YOU haven’t yet, my dear Rainmaker, why not? Your copy is free when you pay a small shipping and handling charge here.)
You’re about to experience me building out a published product funnel around that topic. But before you get in there and experience it, I’m going to show my hand. To give you 100% transparency on the offers I’m making, why I’m making them, and how to translate that to your business.
Here’s the thing…
Gary Halbert is famous for the lesson that “One good sales letter can make you rich.”
Today, that probably translates best to “One good funnel can make you rich.”
How to build a funnel designed to give you automatic income for months or years…
Funnel basics: you want to build an ascending series of offers that allows you to maximize the total number of new customers coming into the front of your business, as well as maximize the total value (for customers) and profits (for you) coming out of the back of the business.
This is typically done with an ascending series of offers, ranging from the very cheap (even free) to the very expensive.
At each subsequent level, less people will take you up on the offer, but the price and profits will be much higher.
(And if you’re already familiar with this concept, bear with me. Refreshers never hurt and I may provide a new angle, insight, or revelation.)
Level one, you typically offer something free.
This is often called a “lead magnet.” This is a free report, audio, or some other valuable piece of information about the topic you’re going to publish on. The way your potential customer gets this lead magnet is by giving you their email address.
This can also be a free email newsletter (like this one) or an autoresponder series or “email course.”
My favorite, favorite, favorite topic for these based on my most up-to-the-minute thinking is “THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…” Or, in faddy internet advertising terms, “ONE WEIRD TRICK TO…” Or perhaps, “THE SINGLE-MOST IMPORTANT SECRET TO…”
This should be your very best actionable idea for getting at least some result, fast. Don’t be afraid to give away your best. It’s counter-intuitive, but it will make people want more, not less. Compare that to holding back on your best. If your first advice isn’t awesome, why would they stick around to see what else you’ve got?
Level two, you make what Ryan Deiss calls a “tripwire” offer, or what Ryan Lee nicely renamed to a “welcome mat” offer.
This is where you take someone from spending nothing with you, to spending something with you. I think the very best possible offer you can make here is a free book plus shipping offer.
You’ve seen it for yourself with the Copywriter’s Guide book. You paid a nominal shipping and handling charge. You get a physical, hold-in-your-hands copy of the book, SHIPPED to you.
I like this because it establishes our relationship in multiple media. It makes me feel more real to you. Even if everything else I deliver from here forward is digital, you have at least one solid, tangible experience of me and my offerings being real.
Don’t underestimate this! In our age of digital clutter, it’s getting harder and harder to consistently cut through. But the easiest inbox to get noticed in is the one we grew up with (hat tip to Brian Kurtz!).
In other markets, maybe there’s another kind of physical product you can offer. There’s a lot of cheap but high perceived value stuff you can buy wholesale for a couple bucks that would fit within this.
Or, if you just can’t bring yourself to putting a book together, make it a CD. Or a USB thumb drive with something of value on it.
My main point is to make it tangible!
The “lead magnet” was free, the price on this “welcome mat” offer should be, ideally, under $10. I like $4.99 (though I can’t make international shipping work there, so it’s a bit higher).
Level three, make a sub-$100 offer that really delivers a ton of value…
Up until this point, you haven’t made a profit. In fact, you’ve probably gone into the hole with every customer you’ve acquired.
This is where you make it up.
Once you’ve laid out the “welcome mat” and gotten a certain subset of your leads to start spending money with you, you need a natural next step.
I want to be transparent without giving too much away here.
With my book, I went through a ton of information about the business side of the copywriting business, and how to build a copywriting career based on sound business principles.
But just as I was hitting “publish” on the book, I had a huge realization about the single-biggest factor that holds more copywriters back than anything else.
This is one of those lessons that’s blindingly-obvious in hindsight, but so many copywriters struggle for years (maybe decades) to make a good income at this, because they haven’t figured it out.
Well, what I’m going to do is put together an in-depth webinar to teach this lesson in a way that it’s immediately applicable to building your copywriting business.
And even before that, I’m going to do a webinar meant to both introduce the lesson, and to sell the higher-level program.
Think of it this way…
Let’s say you’ve been wandering in the woods. You entered the woods because you were told that on the other side, there was a place you really wanted to get to.
But now that you’ve been wandering for a while, you’ve lost your sense of direction.
You don’t know where you’re going.
The sales webinar I’m going to do will be like giving you a COMPASS, and telling you exactly which direction you want to be headed.
After being lost, wandering in the woods for so long, this will be enough that you can probably get to your destination on your own.
But if you really want to get to that destination, having a MAP to go with that compass will help you get out of the woods and to your destination even faster and easier.
And so the sub-$100 offer I’m going to make… After I’ve just handed webinar attendees the compass that they can use to get where they want to go… Is a map for how to get there.
The compass will be free to people who’ve bought the book.
The map will probably sell for $49.
This will be a “break even” or even “make my first profits” offer I can use to really support being able to offer that book for free plus shipping.
But my funnel won’t stop at level three, and yours shouldn’t necessarily, either.
Level four, make an offer that provides a ton more value still, for a much higher price…
There will always be a subset of your total customer base who is willing to spend more, if you make a compelling enough offer.
Let me continue my metaphor of the map and compass.
My level four training will be much more in line with being a GUIDE.
The compass, with a sense of direction, can point you to where you need to go on your own.
The map shows the lay of the land, the path to get you there.
And the guide walks you through in a much more detailed way, taking you through to your destination.
My current thoughts with this level four training is to price it at $499. Not very subtle. 10X what came before it, and that’s 10X what came before that.
It’ll be worth every penny, because my goal with this whole series of offers is to help you have a clear path to making $5,000 or more every month as a copywriter. The only question is how much I help you along the way.
This is how you should structure a good funnel.
At the very top, widest part of the funnel, where you send all your paid traffic, is one really good idea that is a huge help to the recipient.
Whatever problem they have, it should help them solve it, at least temporarily. Whatever confusion the have, it should give them clarity.
Then, there’s the “welcome mat,” their first opportunity to engage with you. I like taking this offline, because it makes you feel more real. This works well as a general guide, pointing them to that outcome they’re looking for in the end.
Then — and we’re at level three already — you want to sell them into a higher-level program that goes deep on the one major solution you have to the problem. Give them a map to solving the problem and overcoming the challenge for themselves.
Then, at the higher levels, give them an even more thorough step-by-step guide to solving the problem.
All along the way, step up how much help you offer. Step up how many details you cover. And, step up the price.
How do you know what to cover in your funnel?
In short, Ask.
And by that, I mean…
Read Ryan Levesque’s Ask book. (That’s a free + shipping offer, too!)
Follow his process for a deep dive survey, to figure out what the biggest challenges and questions are in your market.
And solve them.
Build a funnel around solving your market’s biggest problems.
It really is pretty straightforward.
It’s what I’ve used to help identify what solutions I’m offering to copywriters, as part of this funnel.
I actually have secret plans to take it into a few other markets.
Now, a couple other thoughts…
I actually got thrown off in this essay, because we thought my daughter was better, so she went to school, then she came home again, sick. And now is resting while I finish.
But I want to make sure I include a couple final thoughts before I hit send.
— Not all markets work with the pricing structure above. The structure I gave is great for ROI markets. When you’re helping your clients make more money, it’s obviously easier to charge more. Your funnel can be built differently for different markets.
— I’m not necessarily interested in selling a lot more copywriting coaching. But if I were, it would make a ton of sense to add that as a higher-level service in this funnel. This funnel would feed perfectly into that. No matter what you’re selling information-wise, it might be worth adding some kind of higher-level coaching/consulting/done-for-you service on top of this. In fact, this is a perfect feeder system for selling services. You go broad with your published products, and the best customers keep going through your funnel until the point where they make a good prospect for services, and you make that offer then.
— Right now I’m choosing not to do it for this funnel, but adding a monthly continuity program into your funnel is the single-best way to build a sustainable business. The best way to build wealth for the long term — especially in publishing, but applicable in any business and I challenge you to name an industry I couldn’t turn into continuity — is to reach a continuity agreement with your customers. You keep paying me, and I keep providing value. We can both stop at any time, but we won’t want to!
— Finally, the “funnel” approach is just one way. There are a lot of ways to structure your business that can lead to making a lot of money. The idea of ascending offers though applies almost anywhere. In MOST (not all!) cases, you want to make it as easy as possible for as many good customers as possible to come through the front door. And you also want to make it as easy as possible for your whales — your players with money — your biggest, most eager-to-buy customers — to spend as much money with you as they want to spend, as fast as they want to spend it.
Okay, I think that’s about it for now.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this massive issue! Thanks Jesse for the question that spurred it.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets