To Entrepreneurs Who Never Ever Give Up.
Content Mavericks is the online education business I built to teach entrepreneurs the 80/20 of growing the two things most critical to any online businesses success — your content and your audience.
Our "greatest hits content" approach is unconventional, and not for everyone.
It's for entrepreneurs who are willing to spend time creating high-converting content assets they can use for years to build an audience they own.
(Not churn out weekly content for SEO and social media cuz every “marketing expert” says to do it.)
It's for entrepreneurs who are willing to do less, but on a “Holy shit! Who is this guy?” ‘nother level.
(You won't find us repurposing content across FB, Twitter, IG, LinkedIn, Reddit, WeChat, Stack Overflow, mySpace, broSpace and our cat's kitty litter tray.)
It's for entrepreneurs who have the discipline to build their business one block at a time and never give up.
(If you get distracted easily and make impulse decisions based on social media vs data our approach won't work you.)
If this is you, I can help you... but first...
You might want to know who I am:
In February 2006 I bought a snow cone machine.
My Mum drove with me in a small Daewoo Lanos to get it and help me negotiate on the price.
(Because I didn't have my driver's license yet.)
I'd been playing soccer at a local soccer club called Peninsula Power in Brisbane, Australia ever since I was a kid.
So that was the first sports club that allowed me to go to their club and sell snow cones to their patrons on February 11, 2006.
In return I'd give them 10% of my snow cone sales.
But I wasn't selling many snow cones at normal fixture games.
There weren't enough KIDS - my ideal target market.
To sell more of my snow cones I thought of where the most kids hang out - sports carnivals.
Lots of kids running around at sports carnivals = thirsty customers who need snow cones.
So I made a list in Microsoft Access (my database) of all the sports clubs running kids sports carnivals within 1-2 hours of my house, and the dates.
Then I cold called the club presidents.
My pitch was simple: "Let me come to your sports carnival and sell snow cones, and I'll donate 50 cents from each one sold back to your club."
That's how I got my first clients.
And went from making $30 a day.
Up to $1,000 a day (at big carnivals on hot, sunny days).
One day at a baseball carnival I was reading a magazine in-between slow patches selling snow cones.
Featured inside the magazine was an interview with a successful entrepreneur.
He talked about how he built his own custom software system to grow his business.
I loved that idea. I love systems.
I thought my process worked so well I paid a development company in Brisbane, Australia $15k (three installments of $5k) to make my own custom system.
(Based on my Microsoft Access database and process).
I was nervous.
It was the most money I'd ever invested in my business.
My system would automatically add sports carnivals from the previous year to a queue so I could follow-up with the carnival organizer months ahead of their event.
Then when I got into the event, I could enter my employees mobile number and text them the event details.
It was great.
I hated cold calling.
Before every call I had a bad feeling of getting rejected.
The rejections came A LOT more often than the "Yes Chris, we'd love you to sell snow cones."
So I hired a virtual assistant from Get Friday in India to help me (after reading the 4-Hour Work Week of course).
Turns out Australian's don't love hearing from Indian cold callers, no matter how nice their Indian accent sounds.
Go figure. Not sure what I was thinking. Thanks Tim :)
So I developed a process for cold emailing sports club organizers.
I did it myself, then made email templates once I found the successful sequence of emails, so I could outsource it.
Then I hired another virtual assistant (this time from the Philippines using Chris Ducker's Virtual Staff Finder).
His name is Jay, and still works at my snow cone business to this day.
After getting that all set up, I started searching for ways to get people to CONTACT ME.
I got a letter from Google with a little voucher for $100 free to spend on AdWords.
I was stoked. No one had ever given me that much money before for free (except my Nanna).
So I signed up and started playing around.
I started bidding on some keywords related to my business.
But I had no idea what I was doing.
I wasted the $100.
Even if it did work, I didn't know.
Because I had no idea how to set up conversion tracking.
I knew nothing about how to use "thank you" pages.
And my website wasn't set up to convert at all.
But I didn't want to give up.
The pain of not being successful was too great.
That's when I came across a piece of software called LeadPages.
I watched a lot of marketing videos by Clay Collins.
Then I came across this idea of sending traffic from Google Ads to a landing page where people need to opt-in to see your pricing sheet.
So that's exactly what I did.
I bid on keywords, and used Google search ads to send people to landing pages to access my pricing sheet.
Then I set up a 10-part autoresponder to turn cold leads into customers.
(This same funnel is still working and running to this day).
At this stage, the business was running good.
In a few years I was able to save about $20k at the age of 20.
I started buying and importing the best commercial-grade snow cone machines from the USA to Australia to expand.
Hello Snowie 3000.
I expanded to 5 snow cones machines, and started selling fairy floss and popcorn as well.
For two years I tried to franchise the business.
I had one franchisee who was relatively successful.
But there was a problem with the business model.
Franchisees were not able to make enough money selling snow cones on weekends at sport events to support a full-time income.
I was able to because I had multiple snow cone machines and part-time employees by this stage.
But even with me doing all the marketing to get my first franchisee into high paying events every weekend, I couldn't make him successful enough.
The business was too weather dependent.
Even if I found great events to attend, no one wants to buy a snow cone when it's windy and raining.
(Except for that one fat kid who would struddle over with cupcake in hand). LMAO
I'm good, but I can't control the weather.
So I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.
Stop focusing on a business I'd focussed on building for 8 years and do something else.
I'd built one of Australia's biggest snow cone businesses.
I'd won Australia 30Under30 for it.
But I felt like I'd failed.
Because I saw no way to fix the business model.
I wanted to grow revenue so badly.
I wanted to make a million dollars with Snowy Joey, but I didn't know how.
My company tax return said I was making $200,000 SELLING SNOW CONES.
But my individual tax return made it seem like I was on minimum wage.
That's when it hit me hard. REVENUE IS A VANITY METRIC.
I thought about going back to the $1,000 days selling snow cones with my ONE snow cone machine.
Life seemed so much easier back then.
No employees. Just my company of one earning "the big bucks" while working weekends.
But deep down I felt like I could do something bigger.
I even got on a call with the founder of 1800-GOT-JUNK who had scaled service businesses into millions of dollars.
But he didn't have a good solution.
So I scaled the business down and gave the business to my Mum to run.
She loves running it. And does a better job than I ever could.
Then I started looking for what I would do next.
I bought a Porsche.
It was kinda convenient.
I'd pack all my snow cone equipment into the back.
And because of how compact the car was, I could get prime position right next to the club canteen to sell my snow cones.
As they say: Location. Location. Location.
When club organizers saw me pack up for the day, they'd say:
"Mate, you should get a van."
I just laughed.
Nothing beats the wind in your air on the highway in a Porsche after a hard day selling snow cones.
After I decided to scale the business down, and focus on something else, I had a realization.
Two things had a major impact on my snow cone business' success:
1- LeadPages (the software I was using to create landing pages to convert Google ad traffic into leads).
2- My custom developed software system (basically my custom CRM to run the whole business).
I always loved how Clay did marketing for LeadPages back in the early days.
Dope, actionable marketing lessons recorded under his staircase.
Then every 2-3 weeks he'd have this amazing promo with bonuses to buy LeadPages.
I never actually bought LeadPages though.
I won a headline writing competition on Pat Flynn's blog.
And Clay gifted me a lifetime license for LeadPages.
I loved his marketing though.
Having got a ton of value from LeadPages.
And a ton of value from my own custom-built CRM.
I decided I wanted to start a software company.
The allure of the SaaS recurring revenue model was too good to pass up.
Especially after my snow cone business had "failed" from a bad business model I couldn't fix.
So I tracked down this dude named Dane Maxwell.
I first heard about him on Pat Flynn's podcast (Pat's most popular episode).
He was running this program called "The Foundation."
He'd built his own SaaS (Paperless Pipeline) to $40k/mo in the real estate niche without knowing how to code.
And now he was teaching others how to do similar in a niche of their choosing.
Dane (and his partner Andy Drish) seemed legit.
So I dropped $5k on their program to try to learn how to build a software company from someone one step ahead of me.
STEP 1: PICKING A NICHE
At first, this was super hard.
I was worried I'd pick the wrong one and waste years of my life going down the wrong path.
In the end I picked "high-performance auto repair shops."
I loved my Porsche 944.
And I figured high-performance sport car shop owners would be makin' bank.
So my software would be an easy sell.
Step 1 done.
STEP 2: IDEA EXTRACTION
A sexy name that Dane came up with for extracting ideas from people in your niche.
The idea is: you MUST talk to people in your market to "extract" the biggest, hairiest problems they face in their business.
Then after conducting the interviews you find what the biggest common problem is across the market.
The solution to that problem then becomes your software idea.
I did 70 phone calls with auto shop owners.
My pitch was: I'd love to interview you for a new Auto Entrepreneur podcast I'm doing, plus ask you some questions about your business for a new product I'm working on.
Landing the calls was HARD.
Most auto shop owners are in the workshop and don't check their email much.
So I'd have to email, then call and say I sent an email.
I was living in China, and trying to speak with business owners in the USA.
So I was killing myself doing calls from 8pm-12am to try find my software idea.
After three months I got all 70 calls done.
But those three months seemed like a lifetime.
I studied all my notes and found one idea that I thought was worthwhile pursuing.
Software to fix auto parts going missing.
15 of the 70 shop owners I spoke to said they had this problem.
Because all these shop owners were working on sports cars, keeping tracking of individual parts for different makes and models was hella hard.
So my software would provide a fix for their parts tracking problem.
Step 2 done.
STEP 3: MOCK-UP THE SOFTWARE
I used a Trello kanban board to mock-up my software solution.
Different columns for the status of the parts.
Then cards holding specific information about each part.
I thought it was a simple, elegant solution to a complex problem.
Step 3 done.
STEP 4: PRE-SELL THE SOFTWARE
Software development can cost $$$.
So to avoid losing money, you need to pre-sell your software first.
You MUST get actual $$$ in your bank account to prove it's a viable idea.
So I emailed and called the 15 shop owners who told me they had the parts tracking problem.
My pitch was: I mocked up a solution to that parts tracking problem you told me you had. Want to take a look?
I got on calls with 8 of them to demo my software via screen share.
At the end of the call I asked if they'd be willing to pay for it.
If they said yes, then I asked for $500 to help me fund it and told them they'd get lifetime access.
One of the shop owners actually got angry at me.
They said "I didn't think you were trying to sell me something" and hung up.
That's when I realized I should have set better expectations from the start.
Instead of pitching "come on my podcast + tell me some of your problems."
The seven others told me they liked it, but there were a few other things it needed first.
I went back to Trello and updated my mock-up based on the feedback.
Then I emailed and called again to do a second demo.
Two people ghosted on me.
Four said they liked it, but weren't willing to pay me $500.
One sent me a PayPal payment of $500.
The one owner who paid said he loved the software.
But I think the real reason he sent me $500 was because he admired the hustle.
At this stage I had a hard decision to make.
Build the software with one customer.
Or give up on six months of hard work, refund the customer, and start from zero again.
I really didn't want to give up.
SIX MONTHS OF MY LIFE.
But I thought even if I build this, I'm going to have a really hard time selling it.
Because I couldn't get enough pre-sales.
So I refunded the $500 and started again.
This time I picked the aged care niche.
The aging population seemed like a good trend to jump on.
Lots of old people with retirement money paying for expensive aged care = MONEY.
So I made a list of aged care facilities in Australia and started emailing the managers at the facilities to do idea extraction AGAIN.
I promised myself: No more late night calls to the U.S.A.
My pitch was: "I'm doing a study for the Australian Aged Care Industry Association about the biggest problems aged care facilities face and would love to chat with you."
I spoke with 10 aged care facility managers.
It was going great.
Then word got around that I wasn't actually associated with the Australian Aged Care Industry Association.
The Australian Aged Care Industry Association emailed all it's members telling them not to deal with anyone named "Chris Von Wilpert."
And with that one email, I instantly lost the trust of the whole market I was trying to serve.
No one was willing to talk to me after that.
In hindsight my pitch was all wrong.
But I had good intentions.
I was actually planning to put my findings into a report and send it to the Australian Aged Care Industry Association as free content for them to send to their members.
Unfortunately, they didn't see my point of view.
And I got permanently BLACKLISTED from the industry.
Another month wasted and I was back to starting from zero again.
I thought about quitting.
Just go get a job like my Uncle told me to do.
But I saw people who were more successful than me.
And there was nothing different about them.
Just ordinary people who "figured it out."
So this time I decide to go after building companies.
I figure there's big money in building homes.
My pitch is: "I'm trying to build a software product to help building companies be more efficient and would love to chat about your biggest problems. Whether I build it or not, I'll send you all my findings after I speak to everyone in the industry."
At first I got on calls with some REALLY big dawgs.
GJ Gardner Homes, Lendlease, BGC. All really big names in Australian construction.
One guy I talk to is a billionaire in the Australian construction industry.
Literally one of the top 100 richest people in Australia.
I get hella nervous before the call.
I'm sitting in my bedroom with my board shorts on, while the receptionist patches me through.
We speak for a good hour.
The billionaire is actually really open to talking about everything in the industry.
I hardly even need to speak.
The more I speak with the big building companies though, I realize I won't be able to solve a problem for them with SaaS.
All their problems are too unique.
So I make a small pivot to idea extracting on custom home builders.
Smaller, independent builders who build one-off custom homes.
I speak to 30 of them.
Except I encounter the same problem again.
None of their problems seem to be common.
Or problems that I think can be solved with SaaS.
It's frustrating AF.
To get on these calls I'm doing follow up after follow up after follow up.
Two months into idea extracting on the building industry and I feel like I've gotten nowhere AGAIN.
So I decided to stop trying to look for a software idea.
At this stage Dane realizes there are some people in The Foundation who've done the work, but haven't built their SaaS yet.
So he puts together a small "Consulting For Cashflow" group inside The Foundation led by John Logar.
CONSULTING FOR CASHFLOW
John Logar is a beast.
He can turn just about any idea extraction call into a sale.
Doesn't matter whether it's SaaS or something custom-built.
If there's a problem, John can pitch a solution and get paid for it.
Most of what I know about sales is from John.
At this stage, I go back to a few builders who told me they had problems, and pitch them on the idea of building a custom software solution to fix their problem.
I get on calls with a few of them.
But none of them are willing to pay a deposit to get their problem fixed.
So I pivot to offering a service I know: Google ads.
Google ads are how I get all the leads for my snow cone business.
That $100 free AdWords voucher I got in the mail was my initiation into the digital marketing world.
Most builders have no idea how to use Google ads.
And one lead to a builder can be worth A LOT... like $400k+ a lot.
Most builders don't understand it and are skeptical.
First I try contacting some of the big builders.
But all of them already have big digital marketing agencies handling all their digital marketing (including Google ads).
So my strategy becomes to take screenshots of builders Google ads in different cities around Australia, then send it to builders not running Google ads.
Basically an "are you aware your competitors are doing this, but you're not" type of email.
This gets their attention.
But also gets a lot of "F&#k off, stop spamming me" replies.
One construction company (Red Dog) agrees to hire me.
But they only want to pay on performance if they make sales.
(But happy to put up the ad spend).
They're afraid of all the leads who are "tire kickers."
I agree to a small set up fee of $1,500, then $5k per sale.
I'm thinking I can make $10k a month with just two sales a month.
It's kinda risky, but I'm confident I can pull it off.
I set up the ads, landing pages, and write them a follow-up email sequence for the leads.
Basically following the same Google ads funnel that works for my snow cone business.
14 days in and a few leads have started coming through.
But no client meetings or sales yet.
The owner emails me and says he wants to pull the plug.
I just got screwed.
I did all the set up work for $1,500.
Now only 14 days in and the owner is running scared.
I set the wrong expectations. And now I'm paying for it.
I lose my only client.
And I'm back starting from zero AGAIN.
One year has passed and I've achieved nothing.
I'm a poor man driving a rich man's sports car.
My girlfriend starts crying.
She's wondering WTF I'm doing on my computer all day.
I tell her to trust me. Everything will be OK.
I meet up with Tai Lopez at a house party in Hollywood Hills.
Right next to Cameron Diaz's crib.
It's my first ever time in America.
I travel 15 hours from Yunnan, China to LAX.
At the airport I buy Tai some local Yunnan Puer tea as a gift.
I arrive in the morning and check-in at a cheap hostel at the bottom of Hollywood Hills.
Then around 8pm I catch an Uber up to Tai's place.
At the door there's some attractive girl with a guest list. haha classic Tai.
I tell her my last name "Von Wilpert" and she let's me in.
I expect it to be some huge mansion with amazing views.
As I walk around it's kinda underwhelming.
The view is alright, not great.
The place is pretty small.
There's a small pool as you walk down some stairs from the 3m balcony.
And then of course there's Tai's garage, where he shot that viral YT video.
Is there really a black Lambo in that garage? I won't spoil the secret.
There are A LOT of people at the party.
The best line I can use to describe what I'm seeing is this line from Biggie in Nasty Girl:
"Dressed, to impress. Spark these bitches interest."
I talk to a few people and ask them what they do.
Just about everyone seems to have done something really dope, and successful.
Now they're working on something new.
I still have emails and notes on a list of four people I met that night in my Mac Contacts app:
Cesar: Sold autoinsurance.com. Now thinking about his next project.
Adam: Sold $30 million dollar finance company he built from scratch. Looking to work on a project to sell for $1 billion now.
Frank: Did TV commercial for Johnson & Johnson. Working on a $1.5 million dollar film now.
Aaron: Owned a Jacuzzi business and two other businesses that weren’t really successful. Grew his Instagram following to 458K followers. Working on a social betting app for the Las Vegas market now.
Everyone seemed to be movin' and shakin'.
While I was just trying to get a new software product off the ground and make my first $1,000/mo.
None of the people I spoke to were working on a SaaS.
So about half way through the party I go introduce myself to Tai.
I ask him: "Yo Tai, are there any software entrepreneurs at the party you can introduce me to."
He tells me: "Just about everyone here is running a software business."
I say "thanks." Walk away and don't speak to Tai again after that.
Tai seems to have an entourage of three girls who follow him around everywhere.
At the end of the night I get to speaking to one of them.
For some reason she loves my Australian accent.
So she invites me to go to breakfast with them tomorrow.
I decline the offer. Get a quick picture with Tai. And give him the Puer Tea.
Then I'm out.
I've experienced Hollywood Hills house party life for one night.
It's not really my cup of tea.
I'd prefer to chill with a few homies and break dance at the dance studio in China every night.
I go back to my cheap hostel, and think about my next move.
When I get back to China I decide to target a new niche.
My niche selection is actually really simple.
I combine two things I love learning about: marketing and software.
Instead of trying to build my own software company, I decide to help people do the marketing to grow their software company.
In hindsight niche selection is that easy.
However at the start I was kinda split between helping software companies and helping people who have strong personal brands.
I built two lists of people:
1- Software companies in Australia I'd love to help.
2- Personal brands I'd love to help.
Then I'd make personalized videos and email them to the founders.
I still remember emailing Seth Godin a 12:50 video about how I could help improve email conversions on his site using a/b testing.
After one follow up, his response was:
"thanks Chris. it may surprise you, but I have no interest in optimizing, a/b testing or in reaching more people directly. sorry."
Now you know: The Purple Cow doesn't a/b test.
In fact, five years later Seth was quoted saying:
“If you do enough A/B testing, sooner or later, your website will become a porn site.”
I sent over 100 of these videos over the course of 1-2 months.
Then I landed one software company as a client.
They started paying me $3,500/mo to manage their Google ads.
My pricing was $1,000 + 15% of ad spend.
After six months getting success, they scaled their ad spend.
And also asked me to manage their SEO and content marketing.
My retainer got up to $13,000/mo with this one client.
While helping them, I also started looking for other software companies to help.
I tried just about every marketing trick in the book to get clients:
- Running Facebook ads to a lead magnet
- Running Facebook ads to a webinar funnel
- Hiring an agency to make and send personalized videos for me
- Hiring an agency for $3k/mo to send cold emails (cause I didn't want to do it myself)
- Posting inspirational and educational photos on Instagram
So I contacted a guy named James Schramko.
He was the only dude I came across who was Australian, and was absolutely killin' it in the online marketing space.
He was all about working less, and making more (while having time to surf everyday).
The trick: Calculating what your effective hourly rate is vs looking at a vanity metric like revenue.
Then working on increasing your effective hourly rate to work less and make more everyday.
I replied to one of James' emails in his autoresponder to set up a call with him.
I wanted to pay him to coach me inside his top level coaching program: Silver Circle.
Back then the price was $1,500/mo.
After chatting for a bit James said my business wasn't at a high enough level yet to be in that program.
He said I was one client dependent, and that my revenue could disappear any day.
He also said that he started in a similar situation:
Working with two AdWords clients who were paying him $5,500/mo each.
He said I needed to work on building a client pipeline and getting more clients to have a more sustainable business.
I really wanted to work with James.
So at the end of the call I offered to pay him $18,000.
(One year of Silver Circle upfront).
Basically all my money.
But he still declined.
So I went back to the drawing board.
In search of how I could actually get clients for my agency without doing all this shit people say work, but doesn't really.
The media buyer millionaires recommend said I can't hire him.
"Your budget wouldn't be a fit for us. Our minimum is $25k/mo bro."
I was thinking "WTF is this guy?"
You see, I'd been getting really successful results for my Google ads client running the software company.
Because of all the leads we were generating...
I'd scaled their advertising budget up to spending $44,000/mo on Google ads.
And now they wanted me to expand to managing their Facebook and Twitter ads as well.
They had a small test budget of $4,000/mo to spend on Facebook and Twitter ads.
But... I had no experience running Facebook or Twitter ads.
So I went on the hunt for someone who could manage it on a white label arrangement.
White label is where the client pays you directly and you manage the client relationship.
But you hire another company to do the actual work.
When you find a baller white label provider, it's a real high profit business.
First I reached out to Michelle MacPhearson from Revolution Tilt.
Her support rep Jeff Weaver told me:
"Sorry, this isn't a service we offer but we recommend Justin Brooke at IMScalable though. :-)"
I'd never heard of the guy.
So I hit up Justin asking if he did white label Facebook and Twitter social ads management.
That's when he threw the hammer down and said his minimum is $25k/mo.
In other words, he doesn't work with ad budgets <$25,000 a month (because his fee wouldn't make sense for someone spending less than that.)
So that was that.
After one email exchange we parted ways.
One year later after I'd tried just about everything to get clients for my agency...
I had that call with James Schramko where he declined my $18k upfront payment for Silver Circle (his high performance coaching program).
On my call with James, he gave me one piece of parting advice:
"Your $1,000 + 15% of ad spend per month offer would come way under budget for some bigger players. Ask a few high level paid advertisers what their "offer that converts" is."
I remembered that guy "Justin Brooke" told me he only manages minimum ad spends of $25k/mo.
So I went back to the email thread from a year ago.
And sent Justin this exact word-for-word email on Feb 17, 2016:
“I just had a chat with James Schramko who advised me to ask a few high level paid advertisers what their "offer that converts" is as my $1,000 + 15% of ad spend offer would come way under budget for some bigger players.
I respect what you've built and heard you on a few podcasts like James' and Nathan Latka's.
Would you be able to let me know what offer you found for your Google ads services has converted the best for your bigger ad spend clients and what the best lead source for your agency has proven to be?”
Justin replies a day later:
Thanks for thinking of me and the compliments.
The question you're asking me for is the keys to the castle. I can't give them to you, but I can tell you where I found them.
I acted like a prospect to many different agencies. I got on the phone with them and got them to pitch me. This is how I learned what prices/offers were effective.
The one secret I will give you is you don't want an offer that everyone wants. You want an offer that only a few specific people want.
I send back a reply saying I'm not looking for free advice.
And ask if I could be a good fit for Justin's consulting.
Justin peaces out from the email convo, and his assistant Molly Medvecky steps in with this reply:
Justin has helped hundreds of agency guys develop their offer and increase how much they earn per client.
Several of his previous students/clients are now earning 7 figures, and dozens earning 6 figures.
The best starting point is his agency sales mastery course.
Or if you'd like to work 1on1 we can do that as well. However, for the first two calls he is pretty much going to teach you exactly what's in the course.
There are testimonials on the page and if you need references to speak with we can do that too.
I check out the course, then send back three quick questions.
The biggest one being:
Can you really make $100k/mo using the methods in the course?
Back then I was all about making that mighty dollar dollar bill y'all.
So the prospect of being able to earn $100k/mo off an agency was wild.
That was 10X what I was making. Bananas.
$100k/mo was the combined income Justin achieved from his own results.
And he had students who had gone on to do similar.
Hot damn JBizzle!
Molly answers my questions, and I sign up for the course.
With the course comes a lifetime membership to Apex Marketer.
Justin's private Slack group.
Now known as the AdSkills Pro League.
The most elite private community of media buyers and millionaires on the internet.
I’m at the biggest break dance battle in China with my homies from X Crew.
When I get an email from the CMO...
"Chris we want to cancel all our digital marketing services with you starting next week."
"Can you hop on a call with Anna and help transition everything over. Thanks."
My stomach sunk.
I started thinking about what I could say to turn things around.
But it was no use.
With that one email, I lost my $13k/mo client.
A new global digital marketing manager got hired at my client's company.
And she thought she could run the ads, SEO, and content marketing better than me.
The CMO (who I was working with previously) listened to her.
So after 18 months successfully growing their biz I was out.
I'd already tried just about every marketing tactic to get new clients over the past year.
(Webinar funnels, Facebook ads, Instagram posts, cold emails).
Nothing good enough that I had a consistent, repeatable flow of clients anyway.
Except, there was ONE thing I hadn't tried yet:
I read a ton of other people's content, and loved it.
In fact, I'd purchased lots of products from other people after being on their email lists and reading their content first.
But never in my wildest dreams did I think of doing content marketing myself.
I didn't know how to write.
I didn't know what to write about.
I thought there was a shitload of content on the internet already.
Covering just about every topic imaginable.
And I didn't need to add to the noise.
But it was getting towards the end of 2016 and I didn't know what to do.
I felt like I'd wasted the last three years of my life trying to start a software company and grow an agency (semi-successfully).
For 1.5 years with my ONE BIG FISH client, agency life was great.
But during that time I was spending A LOT of time on the hunt for new clients.
Now my big fish client was gone, and my marketing didn't work:
I REALLY needed clients.
So I made a New Year's commitment to myself:
Starting Jan 1, 2017 write one blog post a week for 12 weeks to see if this "content marketing thing" actually works.
I didn't want to mess around uploading blog posts to WordPress, and making my blog look all pretty.
So I got started quickly with a Medium publication.
I had 1.5 years past experience growing my software clients business.
So that's what I decided my Medium publication would be focused on:
How hypergrowth SaaS companies grow.
I literally came up with topics based on what I knew (or questions people were asking in Facebook groups):
- 9 ways most people generate leads for their SaaS sales teams
- How to fix SaaS keywords that are not getting enough search volume on AdWords
- The highest ROI AdWords campaign in the world: $1 in, $13 out
I wanted big SaaS companies as my clients, so I wrote about topics I thought SaaS founders and marketers would find helpful.
At the bottom of every post I had a call to action to get a spreadsheet I'd made with 22 Growth Hacks to collect email opt-ins.
After eight posts it wasn't going well.
My posts had a combined 7 comments, and I'd collected about 100 email subscribers.
Writing was taking too much time.
And the results weren't there to justify all the work I was doing.
So I jumped into the Apex Marketer Slack group (now known as the AdSkills Pro League).
And I asked Justin Brooke:
What's the top piece of content you're using to get clients for IMScalable?
He replied with links to two pieces of content:
- A case study reverse engineering Fisher Investment's Media Buying Strategy.
- A strategy post about a 2017 Media Buying Strategy For Direct Response Marketers.
Justin said that's where ALL his client leads come from.
It didn't make sense.
Everyone was saying to create CONSISTENT weekly content.
But here's JBizness doing $100k+/mo and working with the "who's who" in the internet marketing space.
And he's getting all his leads from TWO pieces of content!?!?
Influencers were selling what worked for them, not what worked for everyone.
Everyone was listening and blindly chasing keywords, backlinks, and first page Google rankings.
Writing for keywords wasn't fun.
But everyone shut up, suited up and chased down the rankings anyway.
HubSpot started calling it "inbound marketing", and selling the inbound dream.
In fact, at this time everyone was going bat shit crazy over HubSpot.
I saw the writing on the wall.
So I took JBizzle's case study idea and I wrote a monster case study on HubSpot.
It felt like the perfect topic.
SaaS founders were fascinated with HubSpot.
If I could show how they grew, in the most tactical, intricate detail possible, they'd be all over me like fleas on a hound dog.
While my past eight blog posts only took 1-2 days to write (each).
I spent one full week writing the HubSpot case study.
By the time I'd finished writing it, I was pretty proud of what I'd written.
I was so proud, in fact, I thought every SaaS founder had to read it.
So I started doing everything I could to get it in front of them:
- Email my small list of 100 people.
- Make a Dream 100 list and start emailing it to them.
- Tweet to people who had mentioned HubSpot in the last 12 months.
- FB ads, Twitter ads.
- And More.
- And Morer.
I didn't stop for 30 days.
Then I got a Twitter message from a guy named Noah Kagan:
"hey man. LOVED the hubspot analysis. want to do one and i'll promote it to 300k+ people on okdork?"
I was like "damn 300k+ people is A LOT of people."
So I looked up who this Noah Kagan guy was.
He seemed to be a pretty big deal.
Runs Sumo and AppSumo.
I'd bought some AppSumo deals in the past, and had seen him round the internet.
And remembered he was a pretty cool dude.
So I replied back:
"yeah man, sure I can do one. Who do you want it done on?"
And he replied back:
"dude the hubspot one was :fire:. what's another company you'd love to snipe on?"
In the meantime all these other software founders started contacting me.
"Loved the hubspot post, can you help us out with content?"
I was getting so many inbound leads I had to hire a sales assistant (Page) to do all the pre-qualifying needs analysis calls for me.
I didn't have time to hire.
So I used an outsourcing service called "Leverage" to find the perfect person for me.
I used a simple spreadsheet to keep track of everything.
It had columns for company name, lead, meeting date, who is assigned (me or Page), and status.
To let Page focus on sales calls I also hired an appointment setter named Amanda.
I also found her through the outsourcing service.
Finally I had SALES PIPELINE.
Clients were coming to me.
And it was all off the back of ONE piece of content.
It felt a bit too good to be true.
All these chumps churning out weekly content.
Chasing Google rankings. Being Google's little bitch.
And here I am basking in the glory of one case study I strategically wrote and promoted.
But a man's work is never done.
Now I had to figure out what company I was going to snipe on next for Noah.
I wake up on an air mattress in the AppSumo office in Austin, TX.
I wake up on an air mattress in the AppSumo office in Austin, TX.
Olman is on a sales call. Closing a deal in the boardroom.
How the hell did I get here?
Three months prior Noah Kagan asked me to write a blog post on okdork (after coming across my blog post on HubSpot).
He didn't know who he wanted me to write it on.
He just knew he wanted something similar to what I did with the HubSpot post.
So I jumped into the SaaS Growth Hacks Facebook group and ran a poll:
Hey guys, Noah Kagan asked me to write a blog post reverse engineering the online marketing and growth strategy of a top SaaS company for his blog.
If you had to pick one, which SaaS company's online growth marketing strategy would you most like to see revealed (feel free to add your own option)?
24 hours later...
Five people had voted for Shopify, six for Trello, seven for Basecamp, 17 for Slack, and 28 for Intercom.
I send a message back to Noah:
"I ran a survey today in a SaaS growth hacks group. The people spoke and Intercom won, so I'll do it on them."
"Intercom sounds dope. Send over draft and i'll get you scheduled in our content calendar."
I start working on the draft.
But five days later Noah sends me a message:
"hey boss. adding to my calendar. when ya thinking?"
It's Easter, and I've got a family trip to go on.
I don't want to be on my computer the whole time researching and writing.
Also, I've always believed in outsourcing your own talent.
Document how you do something, then pay someone else to do it.
So I track down a writer (through the outsourcing service "Leverage" where I found my salesperson and appointment setter).
I give very specific instructions about what I want:
- I want the very best marketing writer you've got.
- The quality needs to be better than this HubSpot post: [link]
- You need to use this outline I came up with, and give actionable advice for every step.
- This is not a "normal" blog post. It requires A LOT of in-depth competitive research using these tools: SimilarWeb, SpyFu, BuzzSumo, etc
- Reply with any questions if you aren't clear on anything. This is for a BIG blog.
I get assigned a writer.
We go back and forth on questions she has.
Then one week later I've got the first draft.
I pay the writer $1,800 USD to write the first draft for me.
It feels kinda expensive.
But I don't care. I know I've paid for the best.
None of the big influencers who guest post on Noah's blog will be able to beat this.
I'm hungry to win.
Hungry to prove I'm the best marketer Noah's ever collaborated with.
And if that means I need to pay $1,800 USD for a first draft, that's what I'll do.
I wrote the HubSpot post.
I know what it takes to write world-class content.
It's 40+ hours of in-the-trenches research, writing, reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, finding the golden nuggets no one else is willing to get down on their hands and knees to scurry for.
Then you need to find a way to explain complex ideas and concepts in a simple way.
If you're looking for $200, or even $500 writers.
You're doing it all wrong.
You're treating content like a commodity.
Not like an investment that's going to give you compounding returns for years and years and years to come.
YOU WILL LOSE.
I look over the first draft and make edits.
Then send this message to Noah:
"hey man, here is the finished article: [link to google doc]
here is the folder with the 26 images from the article (labelled from 1 to 26 in the order they appear in the article): [link to google drive folder]
working on a feature image now to match the style of your articles and also a checklist you can use for the post. I'll get those to you on Tuesday.
lemme know if you want me to make any edits."
Noah sends me back a message:
"holy fuck this is good dude. you are a beast. we are editing, suggesting, think about ~30 days and go live. how can i help you more?"
I tell Noah that I'd love to use this content partnership as a case study for my marketing agency.
And ask if he'd be up for giving me a 30 sec video testimonial.
I also send a 4-part marketing plan on how I will promote the post.
Noah says he'll shoot a pro video on Friday.
Then I send back all the extras I promised: feature image, content upgrade, and some extra analysis I added to the post.
I do some background research on what Noah's goals are for okdork.
And see he has a goal to hit 100,000 podcast downloads.
So inside the content upgrade I structure it with:
Page 1: Checklist of the tools I used to reverse engineer Intercom.
Page 2: Call to action telling people to check out Noah's podcast.
I tell Noah:
"I'll be giving it my best shot to make this post one of your ALL TIME best when it goes live!"
"omg. who are you????"
Two weeks later Noah asks if I want to write monthly articles for Sumo.
I decline the offer saying I'm not a writer.
I tell him I don't write a lot of content.
It's not really what I'm best at or like doing a lot of.
So we leave it at that.
The post goes live on okdork and I start doing aggressive promotion of it.
The same stuff I learnt promoting the HubSpot post.
But this time I take it to another level.
My goal: Make this Noah's most shared blog post EVER.
I'm competing against guys and gals who have written on Noah's blog after writing on their own blogs for years.
They have 100k+ email lists to promote to.
One email send and they can drive 10,000+ clicks.
Then call it a day.
Me. I have 242 email subscribers.
So I have to get CRE-A-TIVE.
For 30 days I sit in my apartment in China promoting the blog post.
Every time I hit a home run on a promotion, I send Noah a screenshot.
FB post with 111 likes, 95 comments, and 53 shares. Send screenshot.
Tacos delivered to the Intercom office in Dublin and SF. Send screenshot.
Email to get Des Traynor on Noah's podcast. Send screenshot.
I expect Noah to send an email to his list to promote.
But he's got another promo on that week so can't send right now.
So I put my foot down harder.
I bring in my virtual assistant (Jay) from the Philippines to help.
(He works on my snow cone business, but I got some bigger fish to fry right now).
He tracks down all the people mentioning Intercom in tweets.
And starts tweeting the blog post at them from my account.
At first people are like "WTF is this guy spamming me?"
But once they click and see the blog post, they're blown away.
One tweet at a time, I'm becoming the most hated (then liked) man on Twitter.
I'm on a rampage. And I won't stop till I hit the top.
The top of Noah's most shared articles of all time.
I have no fans, no followers, no influence.
But that doesn't stop me.
I know this article is the best EVER written on Intercom.
And everyone who follows Intercom NEEDS to see it.
I drop $1,000 of my own money to promote the post across FB and TW to Intercom's fans.
By the time I'm done my post has got more shares than Noah's most shared viral giveaway.
Then I get another message from Noah:
"crazy thought. What would it take for you to be full time with Sumo? I'd be personally working with you. I'm 100% serious."
Seven days later I wake up on an air mattress in the AppSumo office in Austin, TX.
I NEED blog traffic to hit my Sumo traffic goal.
So I fly in a 2x world champion Sumo wrestler "Sumo Yama" to Austin, TX.
He's considered to be the heaviest Japanese person ever.
So I buy two plane tickets.
Two seats. One next to each other so Sumo Yama has enough butt room.
Then the next day I catch an Uber to the airport to pick him up.
On the way back I get an Uber XL just to be sure we don't bottom out on the speed bumps.
He doesn't speak much English, so I check him into the Sheraton Hotel in Austin on 11th Street and say "Sayonara" until tomorrow.
Three months earlier I was in China at the dance studio.
Practicing my head spins.
When I get a Skype message from Noah:
"Do you think you can 5x the blog in 6 months? =) Think 500k by end of year for monthly views will be great challenge for you."
"Yeah I can 5x the blog."
Actually though, I had no idea if I could do it.
I'd never done it before.
Noah and I get on a Skype call and map out how we'll scale from 100k to 500k monthly uniques in five months:
Month 1: 200k uniques
Month 2: 250k uniques
Month 3: 350k uniques
Month 4: 450k uniques
Month 5: 500k uniques
Then I put together a content strategy to hit the Month 1 goal.
I get access to Noah's okdork Google Analytics and see his most popular post of all time is a post about "Why I Walked Out on Tony Robbins."
So I come up with the idea to reverse engineer Tony Robbins' marketing strategy.
And give it a super controversial headline:
How Tony Robbins Generates 1,000,000 Website Visitors Per Month.
Tony haters are about to go ballistic.
"Yea right the only problem is you ain't Tony Robbins."
"Step #1: Be a decades long best selling author."
"The guy is a con artist! All he sells is hope! Get real people!!"
The haters fall right into my trap.
Commenting and sharing out of sheer anger.
Then there are the fans who actually clicked into the article:
"Man... talk about in-depth content, actionable insights, and takeaways. This FREE article is on par with many of the courses people are trying to sell to digital marketers. Bookmarked and going to use as one of my many guides."
"Hands down the Best Social Media article I've ever read, F'n Brilliant"
"This is the most valuable post i have seen in a long time. Kudos!"
I wrote the post before I landed in Austin, so I'd have a viral draw card up my sleeve for when we launched.
Then I put together the rest of my plan based on a combination of:
- Viral content.
- Compounding organic content.
SEO. Writing "the best" article on a topic. Link building.
That shit was never going to fly when my goal was to go from 100k to 200k uniques in one month.
So I developed my own viral content series called "Sumo Growth Studies."
And by the end of Month 1, I hit the 200k traffic goal.
Month 2 began and I started tracking towards a 250k traffic goal.
Every week we were promoting dope content.
(Myself, and Dean who was doing part-time content promotion).
But towards the end of Month 2, with three days left I was 50k uniques behind my goal.
I didn't want to let Noah down.
It was Thursday and SumoCon was coming up this weekend.
So I came up with a crazy idea.
Let's get a world champion Sumo wrestler to fight Noah at SumoCon.
I'll hype it up to be bigger than Mayweather vs McGregor.
Noah Kagan vs Sumo Yama.
The Sumo-lings will lovvvvve it.
I get the SumoCon attendee list from AppSumo.
Then I get one of the AppSumo developers (Chandler) to connect Twilio with the attendee's list of phone numbers.
I make a post in the SumoCon Facebook group with our five most popular articles from the Sumo Growth Studies series.
Then I send out a text message linking to the Facebook post.
I ask people to share their favorite Sumo Growth Study if they want to see Noah fight a 2x world champion Sumo wrestler on Sunday after the final speech.
As a bonus, I tell people if they email their list and YAMA comes to SumoCon I will get him to take a photo with them, sign their ass cheek and kiss their baby.
One dude (Taylor Banks) emails his list.
So he can get his ass check signed.
But SumoCon is only a small ~200-person event.
And not everyone is active (or in) the Facebook Group.
So it doesn't work out as well as I originally thought.
But word starts spreading among the SumoCon attendees.
A Sumo wrestling match isn't on the agenda.
So people start coming up to me at the cocktail party on Saturday night and asking what this Sumo Yama post is all about.
Is it real? Where's the Sumo hiding?
It's not the "blog traffic" outcome I was hoping for.
No one started fevericiously jumping into the FB group and sharing my content.
But nonetheless, the buzz about the Sumo was spreading.
On Sunday I ring up five different jumping castle companies.
Looking for a Sumo wrestling mat.
No one has one.
But with five hours to go until the fight I find one from Amanzi Party Rentals in Austin.
They deliver it, and I hide it next to the main SumoCon conference room.
At the end of SumoCon, Ayman (CEO of AppSumo) makes the big announcement.
And I get DJ Nick to play some hype music as big Sumo Yama strolls into the arena.
Three people from the audience get the chance to challenge Sumo Yama to a fight.
All three pushing with all their might, and losing badly.
Then the hype music comes back on as Noah comes running in with his Mawashi and hoodie, while I give him a "warm up" back massage.
I stand at the back of the room while everyone has their phones out shooting Facebook lives.
I grab my phone out of my pocket, and check Sumo Google Analytics to see if I've hit the traffic goal.
Part of me is upset for missing the goal.
Part of me is happy I've added a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle no one at SumoCon will ever forget.
Everyone walks away from the event that day not knowing this was some elaborate attempt by me to drive blog traffic to the Sumo blog to hit my traffic goal.
The next day I buy Sumo Yama 30 breakfast tacos to say thank you.
Cuz you never know how many breakfast tacos a Sumo needs :)
The Sumo team get photos with him.
Then my buddy Seann helps me drive him back to the Austin airport.
Now it's time for me to go back to the Sumo boardroom and report my traffic numbers to Noah for the month.
Noah tells me: We're not going after a traffic target anymore.
Isn't content marketing all about dat sweet, sweet TRAFFIC?
Turns out it's not.
The past two months I'd been pushing insanely hard to hit traffic goals.
I remember staying back at the Sumo office till 11pm.
Writing and editing insanely actionable blog posts I knew would drive big traffic.
Every now and then I'd see Kevin aka KThoughtz (sales superstar at Sumo) pop out of his sales booth late at night.
"Bro, you working hard or hardly working?"
KThoughtz always had those sneaky one liners on tap.
And a big dirty taco grin ready for right after he said it, that only a mother could love.
I kinda wish I spent more time hanging out with the Sumo peeps.
Everyone working at Sumo was insanely smart and talented.
But I was obsessed with hitting aggressive goals.
And I didn't see any other way to do it.
I had to give up dancing for a while, give up social life, give up just about everything to focus.
Noah had a motto he used to tell me:
Shoot for the stars and you'll hit the moon.
It wasn't all work and no play though.
Sumo was all about work/life balance. Unlimited vacations. All expenses paid retreats.
Everyone had lots of time off.
I won the prize for best costume at the Sumo Halloween party.
I ALWAYS WIN.
But I'd been thrown into a company of high-performers.
Everyone thought I was some sort of content marketing expert.
When in actual fact all I'd written was about 12 blog posts on Medium.
And a guest post on Noah's blog.
People were still contacting me to help them with their paid ads.
In fact, at this time I was still running my agency, and working with a handful of clients.
The client who "fired me" six months ago even wanted me to come back and help with another marketing project.
Now, legend says that the fisherman on shore only sees a tsunami a couple of seconds before it hits.
SHOPIFY: "Hey Chris, I'm part of the talent team at Shopify in Toronto. A few folks on our Growth team came across your blog post on our revenue increase, on SUMO, and well, we liked it. I'm wondering if you'd be up for a conversation."
BIGCOMMERCE: "Love the stuff you're writing for Noah. Great in-depth pieces but also really interesting and a nice mix of text+images to hold your attention.
Are you full-time at Sumo or open to helping other companies at the moment? I'm about to launch a new SaaS company and need a content wizard to help amplify our reach + visitors (we had about 10,000 uniques last month to the blog, 6 months into it - I want to get that to 100k/month quickly)."
DRIFT: "I got a personal note from Drift's CEO, David Cancel, copied here, wondering how we can get some of your amazing content on our site. I know you have a huge backlog but we'd love the opportunity to collaborate!"
HUBSPOT: "Hey Chris, would it make it worth your while if we paid you $10k per blog post."
A few months ago I couldn't get people to reply to my emails with 10 minute personalized videos I'd spent three hours making.
Now all my Dream clients were CONTACTING ME.
With every email. Time slows down. I can't think straight.
I want to reply "yeah, let's do it."
It would have been so easy.
Imagine all the logos and "who's who" of digital marketing I could have put up on my website homepage.
As the cool kids say: I could have been THE SHIT.
Yet in the back of my mind I was thinking:
"If I take on these clients, there is no way I can keep hitting these aggressive goals for Noah."
I didn't want to let Noah down.
He'd paid for all my flights, given me a place to stay at AppSumo, and we were crushing some insane marketing goals I'd never hit before.
It was hard.
But I was learning how to hit big marketing goals with limited resources.
So I turned down EVERYONE.
And added them to my client waiting list.
Our next content goal:
How do we drive enough marketing qualified leads to surpass $100k MRR on the content channel?
The Sumo sales team was KILLIN' it.
Magic Matt leading the SDR team had built a system using a combination of VA's and Sumo SDRs to generate a consistent, repeatable flow of leads for the sales team.
Jordache had built a simple Google spreadsheet to prove the ROI of Sumo to ecommerce stores.
Now Bar, Kevin, Jordache, Harty, and Ashley were closing sales calls like mad men (and women).
It was beautiful.
The sales system worked.
If it worked so well, then why not filter content leads into the system as well?
So that's what we did.
We adjusted our content strategy to focus on sales.
We used strategic pieces of presell content to drive traffic onto sales calls.
And it worked.
We tracked first-touch attribution using ChartMogul.
It showed us what content people read, that then led to them converting into new recurring revenue customers on sales calls.
Most people never get to this level.
Because they're too busy focusing on TRAFFIC.
We made that mistake.
Now we're cruising past $100k MRR because we know what content SELLS.
Hint: It ain't got nothing to do with writing for keywords or link building.
As time passes the direction of Sumo changes.
I go back to live in China (because I left my girlfriend for six months).
Noah travels the world on different escapades and builds SendFox.
As Sumo's new product FAM is being built, we decide to focus less on sales for Sumo, and push hard on growing our audience for FAM.
Go from 3k/mo emails to 10k/mo emails on the blog.
To do it, we dog food our own product.
We fully optimize our top 50 organic traffic blog posts with:
- Sumo Click Triggers
- Sumo Welcome Mats
- Sumo Exit Intents
In five months we hit the goal.
10,000 emails PER MONTH.
Without creating any new content, we have a 10k/mo lead machine.
I've now hit aggressive traffic, lead, AND sales goals.
All using content as my weapon of choice.
It wasn't smooth sailing.
There were months where I was behind my goals.
In fact, going into most months I was behind my goals.
There were months where I got lazy. But I was TIRED.
Good friends came and left Sumo.
I'm not sure I'll ever go after such aggressive goals again.
- It pushes you to come up with creative ideas you never would have thought of before.
- People look up to you. You are the leader.
- Everyone wants a piece of you.
- Obsession with goals can lead to loss in other areas of life.
- When's enough ever enough? Once you hit 1M uniques, then what? 2 milly?
- Party nights and boat trips with KThoughtz. You don't get to do enough of them.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
How much traffic/leads/sales do you really need to be happy?
Really, how much?
I can't answer that for you. Only you can.
In the moment you think all the people you hang out with will still be there in 2, 3, 4 years.
That's rarely ever the case.
Don't sacrifice business growth for time with friends and family.
Have goals. But don't obsess over them too badly.
Hire A players. Hire SEO and content marketing agencies. Get a personal VA.
But don't push them so hard they hate working with you.
You're both trying to grow. Both trying to level-up.
The biggest lesson I learnt from Noah wasn't from something he said.
It was from observing WHAT HE DID.
He'd invite me over to his apartment for Shabbat on Friday nights.
He'd hit me up to go do Thanksgiving at his friend Ian's place.
He'd take me out to a boxing class he went to after work.
I wasn't his employee or agency or supplier.
We were friends hanging out, and partnering up to grow a business we both believed in.
Noah had his own unique style, which oozed into his marketing.
He wasn't ever running "the evergreen webinar funnel" or "the E825 funnel."
He was simply doing what felt right, based on his own personality.
Always thinking about how he would feel if he got that email, saw that ad, or read that blog post.
Is it GOOD or GREAT?
If you don't think it's GREAT, then why the f&*k are we sending it?
Damn I miss those Kagan one liners.
And all those inappropriate metaphors.
I remember we were talking about backlinks once.
Noah didn't like sending emails to reach out, so he made a joke that we should "reach around."
That was Noah. All day. Erryday.
Before I thought there was a RIGHT way to do business, talk to clients, write content, send email sequences.
There is no right way. There is only your way.
People buy from you, because you're you.
(And you have a solution to a problem they want to solve).
My biggest accomplishment at Sumo wasn't increasing traffic 100k in one month, growing the email list by 10k subscribers a month, or hitting $100k/mo revenue from the content channel.
It was beating Noah in a push-up battle.
But he'll never admit it :)
I ALWAYS WIN.
I drop $10,000 on a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
I want to see him for myself. Who? The $23 Million Dollar Man.
Justin Brooke was the guy hosting the event.
Justin was teaching:
- How he scaled a clients ad campaign from $0 - $65,000/day.
- How he lands $15k/day consulting deals (without webinars, ads or lead magnets).
I really wasn't sure about going.
30 hour plane ride there. 30 hour plane ride back to Australia.
But when it's Justin and Fernando in the same room, the decision gets a whole lot easier.
There's so much noise in digital marketing.
I wanted to learn from THE BEST.
Fernando had just wrapped up a $23 million dollar webinar campaign.
It was for his company Palm Beach Group, a division of Agora.
Agora is a BILLION dollar company.
It makes Sumo look like a little speck in the digital marketing ocean.
And makes gurus look like the speck on the speck's right butt cheek.
So, as Justin once said:
“If Agora is a BILLION dollar info-product seller and gurus are MILLION dollar info-product sellers, why model the gurus?”
I wasn't interested in doing a big product launch like Fernando.
Or building a billion dollar company.
I wanted to learn the mechanics and efficiencies behind what makes a winning marketing campaign so successful.
($23 milly successful).
I wanted to win just a little bit more at the level I was currently at.
The genius behind Fernando's success wasn't the webinar script he used.
Or the email follow-up sequence his copywriters wrote.
Fernando built a list of 500,000 buyers of front-end products he could promote his webinar to.
Not an email list. A "buyer's list."
Reread that last line. There is a BIG difference.
At that moment, I knew I was on the right path.
I was good at content. But not 500,000 buyers good.
So for the next year I worked harder on being better at content marketing.
- I started posting "golden nuggets" on my personal Facebook wall.
- I started telling stories with actionable marketing takeaways.
- I rewrote Sumo's email follow-up sequence to convert better.
- I rewrote my own email follow-up sequence to convert better.
- I wrote ads driving to strategic content pieces (content I'd written and was proven to convert).
- I got better at tracking the performance of all my content marketing so I could confidently put paid ad spend behind my content without feeling nervous.
- I developed writing templates for my content (content like my HubSpot post that would drive insane amounts of leads for my agency).
- I developed writing templates for presell content (content I'd been using to convert visitors and subscribers into sales).
- I created simple methods for coming up with content ideas. Big ideas that I knew would hit at the heart of my target customer's biggest pain points.
There came a point where I knew:
As soon as my ideal client reads this content, they'll know it's been written just for them.
The rest. I don't care. Those are the people I want to repel.
I didn't stop at content creation though.
I developed a framework for distributing content (based on a blog post I'd promoted myself to get 87,000 visits in 60 days).
Then I recorded myself following the same framework to promote a post.
(Everything I do before, during, and after publishing a piece of content).
I dedicated my life to being the best at CONTENT THAT SELLS.
Not SEO. Not link building. Not copywriting.
This was using content in a new, creative way.
A way that is educational, entertaining, and gets people looking forward to reading your next FB post, email, blog post, whatever.
Content so riveting people will personally message you saying they're having trouble opt-ing in.
Or worried they're missing your emails.
All of a sudden you're the Game of Thrones in your market.
You have your market's attention. Not that influencer writing "10x content."
You have a real BOND with your audience.
Even if your FB posts / emails / blog posts are over 1,500 words long :)
Most marketers think my approach is silly.
They wonder why I run ads to blog posts and not email opt-in pages, webinar landing pages or free book offers.
They wonder why I’m not posting content to my blog 3x per week for SEO.
My content strategy is counterintuitive.
But that’s because I’ve followed the intuitive advice before.
It doesn’t work.
It sounds good in theory, but people aren’t stupid.
They can sense when you’re genuinely trying to help them.
(Or just trying to ram your product down their throat in the first 7 days to get a quick return on your ad spend).
You don’t need to do ALL of these:
- Start a blog
- Start a podcast
- Start a YouTube channel
- Post on social media daily
- Spend $1,000s on Facebook ads
You don't even need to publish content daily, weekly, or even monthly.
All you need to do is create a handful of CONTENT ASSETS and use a few strategic distribution methods.
That is the 80/20.
The 20% that will give you 80% of the results.
If you're used to sending cold emails (or creating content on a consistent schedule), this strategy will require a complete mind shift to how you approach marketing.
You might even start to feel unproductive because you're doing less, but getting more results.
If you’re interested in learning more:
But let’s be honest:
My course will help you.
But you don’t need my course to be successful.
Most people who take courses never follow-through and are never successful.
What you need is a mentor who has hit the goals you want to hit.
(And accountability to follow-through on a simple plan that can work for your business.)
Because the truth is:
Most entrepreneurs are scattered very thin, trying too many things.
They lack direction, expertise, courage and most importantly:
Someone on their side.
If that’s you, it’s not your fault, OK?
I’ve been there.
If you’ve read this far (11,937 words now), I know you have what it takes to be successful… so...
I want to invite you to personally work with me so I can be on your side.
If you think I’m the right person to help you AND you’re the type of person who never ever gives up.
I’ve set up a special application to work with me 1-on-1:
=> Click here to apply for 1-on-1 private coaching.
If my content approach is a good fit to grow your business, I’ll let you know the full coaching deets.
If not, I’ll let you know what you need to do first to get started.
This story has been fun.
I hope I can share it with my son some day.
Until then, I want to leave you with one piece of parting advice:
Getting traffic / rich / happiness / success is a journey, not a destination.
If you focus too hard on the destination, you won't have time to enjoy the journey.
Enjoy the journey bro (or sis).
Chris "Never Ever Give Up" Von Wilpert
P.S. This is the first blog post I made $100,000 from (with $688.71 ad spend).