I promised that I’d detail what I was studying as I work to re-structure my business to take it to the next level. The first thing I had to do was look at the structure of my life, and see where the business fit in. The next was to look at the different aspects of a business. I had NEVER done this from the perspective of a business owner. Always, ALWAYS, it was working “Up” from the lifestyle of an artist. In other words, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. The total picture included things like finances, customer service, innovation and development, marketing, sales, culture, and more. All of these are “areas of constant improvement” that have to be looked at constantly, or the entire business fails.
Money is made most directly by marketing and sales (customer service and satisfaction KEEPS a customer, but attracting those customers in the first place is marketing. Convincing them that their money is best spent NOW by exchanging it for your goods and services is sales.)
About seven years ago, while I was living in Atlanta, I first decided to get serious about this, and my marketing friend Andy Duncan introduced me to a concept called the “N-POD”, for “Net Profits On Demand”. Basically they are virtual vending machines, linking up about ten different “steps” in marketing into an overall cycle, each supporting a different product. No one of them necessarily makes a ton of money, any more than one gum-ball machine pays your rent. But if you have a hundred of them? A thousand? Well, you make a bit from each, right?
Except with the N-Pods (also called “sales funnels”) there are advantages.
- You learn from each one. Invest everything you learn from building one and put it into the next. They should get a little bit better every time.
- They won’t all do the same. Some will do better. Study what you did there. If the analytics are right, you should be able to fold more money into advertising and increase revenue. In other words, if you determine that you get $2 for every $1 you invest in advertising, put 90% of the profit back, and you’ll roll that cash up FAST.
- Once I saw what the overall pattern was (eleven steps) I could see clearly why most marketing efforts fail miserably. Further, I could look at ANY successful marketing effort, and see how they were using the same principles. Every article, speech, book, or whatever on the subject related to the same principles. It seemed a very sound way to finally learn the ENTIRE PROCESS rather than focusing on a piece of it.
- I knew, and I mean KNEW that the overall structure was what I needed. And that I needed to create 100 of them to really learn it. This was just like “The Machine”, right? Where you write 100 short stories, one after another, and keep your eyes on THAT ball. And over and over again, I FORGOT THIS. The minute I started making money, I forgot the overall structure and concentrated on the pieces that seemed to be working.
I never, ever ever created even a single complete “N-Pod” or “funnel.” Making money? Yes. But actually building my business? No. I was juggling too damned many balls, and just couldn’t hold it all in my head at one time.
Fast forward several years, and I started my new business, “MasteryPlus”, and once again realized I needed to build “complete N-Pods.” Dammit, I said it outright to my partners. And again…as soon as we actually created a cash flow, I focused there, on WHAT WAS IMPERATIVE RATHER THAN WHAT WAS IMPORTANT.
I needed to focus on the OVERALL structure. Build cars, then take them on the track and test them. I got stuck selling parts. Arrgh.
Fast forward again, and by building an overall pattern for my personal life (multiple arenas: finance, business, health, family, emotions, spirit, etc) then focusing in on business, defining those 7-10 categories, and then committing to rotate between them on a weekly basis, I hope to God I’ve finally got a structure to keep things in balance.
Focusing on Marketing, I went all the way around Robin’s barn (heck, what does that even mean?) to the “N-Pod” concept, this time called a “sales funnel.” Again, it was a way of hooking together a vast swath of different technologies, things that might have taken a HUNDRED professional programmers and artists and bookkeepers just ten years ago. Dear God, it’s complicated. No wonder I couldn’t hold it all in my head!!
Maybe you could juggle it all. I obviously cannot. But need to, or my business CANNOT reach my core goal, fulfill my core value. So what I looked for was one product or service that covers as much of this stuff as possible. The best one would replace multiple pieces of technology I’m currently using, which includes: web site, sales pages, shopping cart, webinar software, membership software, autoresponder, analytics software, bookkeeping software, digital product delivery software, traffic manager…
Count ’em up. That’s TEN DIFFERENT PIECES right there. The human mind can handle +-7 pieces at one time. I’d estimate that my artist’s brain can’t even count that high. I can probably handle THREE plus or minus two pieces. Over that, and my brain just freaks out.
This is desperation time. What the %^$$. So I decided to focus down, and focus down, and find one thing to concentrate on that covered the entire pattern. And the closest thing I’ve found is Russell Brunson’s “Click Funnels” product. It can’t possibly be perfect, but with the single exception of traffic management (advertising), it covers the whole thing. Everything. And covers enough different pieces that it can actually save me money IF IT WORKS.
How do I test it? How about by building 10 funnels in 100 days? Each of them complete, even if clumsy. They provide an entire pattern, and swear that you can build a full funnel in less than a day. MUCH less. Is this true? Will it work? I don’t know. But I’m gonna find out, dammit. My family’s security, AND MY LIFE MISSION depends upon it. So I’m going to detail what I’m learning about the “N-Pod” process AND about Brunson’s specific approach to it, with full disclosure: IN ORDER TO GET ACCESS TO HIS FULL TRAINING, I’M BECOMING AN AFFILIATE FOR HIS PRODUCT. By doing that, I get access to a couple of thousand dollars worth of his training in the full power of his system. Why? Because he’s hoping I’ll spread the word for him, and make him money. Well, I share every good thing I find. If THIS is good, you couldn’t stop me from telling every entrepreneur out there “here is a real pathway to power!”
But I have to be 100% honest, or I’m betraying your trust, and that I will not do.
So first, here is the link to Brunson’s company if you want to try a FREE two-week test-drive, like I’m doing.
The plan is to do the free two weeks, followed by three months of paid membership. About 100 days. Then I’ll evaluate what has happened and see if I believe this is the route I want to go. Remember: the intent is to build funnels, test the company, and overlearn the entire process so that it no longer feels so damned complicated.
In the first 14 days I’m committing to build three funnels, then one a week thereafter. You’ll watch me create the first 3-4 of them.
Here are my choice for the first:
- Lifewriting for Writers (this is a product Tananarive and I taped at the LASFS clubhouse early last year. We did well with it, but it has languished.)
- Revolutionary Writing. (This course is the one teaching how to express your personal philosophy or politics without destroying the entertainment value of your work.)
- The Soulmate Process. Super proud of this one. Nothing is more important than love, and I believe we can ALL find that core connection, that it is a human right, requiring only honesty and self-love to open the door.
- The Lifewriting Membership group. Very proud of this, currently nurturing it. Just hired our first part-time employee (a “community manager”) but this MIGHT not be a separate “funnel”. It might be an “add on” to another purchase.
Whew. A lot, huh? Yeah, it is. It’s complicated enough that it makes me feel stupid. I don’t like feeling stupid. Do you?
As we go, let’s also talk about the eleven “N-Pod” steps I learned seven years ago. I’m sure that Brunson’s process will be similar…but maybe not. We’ll see. This process should work for ANY legal product or service, to one degree or another. Heck, you could probably adapt it to illegal products and services. But drug dealers and professional assassins will have to work that out for themselves.
Let me know how it works for you though, will you?
THE FIRST STEP IS PASSION.
You have to find something you care about. PASSIONATELY. Because EMOTION IS THE FUEL OF SUCCESS. When you hear a salesman, or a Hollywood executive, or a market saying “I’m SO excited!!” jumping up and down, this is because PASSION is critical to access creativity and also keep you going when things get tough. SALES IS A TRANSFER OF ENTHUSIASM FROM ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER. There may be dishonest approaches, but this is the only one I’ll even let into my mind. I have to believe something I’m doing or selling is OUTSTANDING. Then all I have to do is find the people out there who are like me. This needs to all be tied into my core beliefs, values, and life plan, right? What is my greatest goal? ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS. Yeah. That inspires me, every day.
“Lifewriting for Writers” “Revolutionary Writing”, “The Soulmate Process” and “The Lifewriting Membership Group” ALL tie directly into this. Are means to that end. Would I give them away for free if I could afford it? Hell, I’d PAY people to take them if I could afford it! And that means it is honest, in alignment with my soul, to make them a part of my business.
So start by asking how YOUR product or service expresses YOUR passion. Why you believe in it. Would you sell it to your closest friend? Your mother or father or brother or sister? Would you PAY someone to use it if you could afford to? Do you feel like you have the “cure” for a real social ill, can relieve some real pain in the world, or bring some genuine and lasting pleasure?
If not…find something else to sell. Your soul is at risk if you don’t.