Last Updated onIn episode 21 of the Bootstrap Duel Podcast ‘Million Dollar Bootstrap Ballers’, me & Ben discuss picking the best business models to get to $100k/m as quickly as possible (and win the bet we have). Out of ecommerce, productized services, SAAS and other models we both picked information products as the immediate focus for the challenge.
I’ve now set up the sales funnel for my book Unbreak Yourself which is FB ads > video squeeze page (using leadpages) > 5 part email course > book sales page. I’m also currently building out what will become an authority site for posture, mobility, health & fitness and I will start cross-selling other people’s products as an affiliate until ultimately creating higher ticket items to upsell on the thank you pages such as an online course / membership site. I’ll also be using amazon affiliates (where you get ~ 5% of a sale) and adsense as secondary monetization channels.
We recently had Kevin Koskella on the show from the Freedom Lovin podcast (which I was previously on) who was talking about aiming to scale his triswimcoach.com niche site to $20k/m. My co-host Ben is aiming for $25k/m with a health & fitness info product using his product validation framework he’s currently building; I’m aiming for a more modest $10k/m from the authority site and products within 12 months which isn’t going to get me to $100k/m so I need something that will and after taking a couple of months off from constant prospecting, I’m looking at productized services once again.
And I’m looking at the funnelengine.com business / domain where version 1.0 was selling a sales funnel setup product along with an outbound sales prospecting service which Ben, quite rightly, said had nothing to do with funnels. I’ve realized I set up a business that sets up sales funnels but did not drive them in terms of content; I was selling a car without a tank of fuel. My first customer even said “this is great, now what do I do?” and I had to educate him on how to use the blog to bring in traffic.
My last attempt at selling content / SEO was in the ski niche with snowbistro.com/products in the form of separate content & SEO products. I started off selling content marketing (for their own sites) as believed that was the direction of SEO but customers didn’t understand the value of building up an asset of long-tail posts; so I moved into SEO which was a lot easier to sell even though customers do not actually understand what it is or how it’s done, they just see that they’re not on the first page of google when they type in their 2 word keyword. As I productized bz I therefore moved into selling X number of external pieces of content for $Y that linked back to their money pages and it a ton of of work building up a network and sourcing placements in online ski publications and I found it hard to create a robust process with my VA.
The problem with results-oriented service business models
The trouble with SEO was that success (maintaining the customer) was a direct correlation with something I had no direct control over – rankings. I was locked into a results-dependent business model where the customer (in this case a lifestyle ski business one) doesn’t care if you’re doing the right white-hat activities, they just care about (short-term) results and if you don’t deliver you will not retain them.
And this is one of the main issue I have with results dependent business models: you may never actually make up your customer acquisition cost (of the time taken sending emails, on the phone, onboarding) if the campaign does not work in the first month. This was the case with the outbound sales prospecting model of V1 of Funnel Engine where for $1500/m I would create a list of 200 ideal prospects, create an email cadence in automated prospecting software such as replyboss.com and hope that the copy & product/market fit would work. Success was out of my control which I can personally deal with but it’s stressful when a campaign isn’t delivering results even if you’ve educated your customers sufficiently that you cannot promise anything, that outbound is a numbers game with a huge amount of variance. This can also be the case with adwords or facebook ad management, sometimes there just isn’t the demand or the right profitable acquisition metrics.
Poker taught me not to be results oriented; that how you play the hand is the most important thing; if you get it in with the right equity you will win long term regardless of whether you actually won or lost this time. There’s a great old poker thread talking about results oriented thinking where someone states:
If there was no variance in poker, then it would be ok for everyone to be results oriented. Because variance is so high, you need to look at decisions in the absence of variance.
I see offering a service / consultancy based business the same way – Don’t promise results and don’t be dependent on results: get paid doing the right thing to achieve results today and in the future for customers.
It’s the Process That Matters
Outbound sales prospecting is a lot like poker (a high variance numbers game which will average out over the long-term but cannot predict short term success). Traditional link building certainly does not fit the above description either: that type of SEO is just not demonstrable any more and it has a bad ROI vs creating awesome content for your own blog which will naturally attract links and will be able to promote through a genuine outreach approach (i.e. not asking for links but promoting & sharing content that can provide value to people). And by having content created on your own site you will build up a valuable asset over time that you can sell vs having a link profile at the mercy of google.
The new content packages at funnelengine.com adopt the above approach of producing competitor-beating content that based on keyword research and social share research. I’ve diversified results from just one metric to creating a productized service that will generate leads, links and help grow an audience.