Episode 278

How to Deliver Group Coaching To Pull Your Product Out of Your Audience Instead of Pushing Product on Them with StartupBros Entrepreneur Will Mitchell

Learn how to deliver group coaching to pull your product out of your audience instead of pushing product on them with StartupBros entrepreneur Will Mitchell in this LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Will’s company is all about helping entrepreneurs become self-reliant, independent people by escaping the rat race and making money online.

How to deliver group coaching to pull your product out of your audience instead of pushing product on them with StartupBros entrepreneur Will Mitchell

StartupBros isn’t Will’s main business. His main business is actually an ecommerce company called Simply Organic Beauty. With StartupBros, Will teaches people how to make the ecommerce business model successful. The mission behind StartupBros is to help aspiring entrepreneurs learn about the opportunities available to make money outside of the 9 to 5 rat race and to help people become self-reliant and independent.

Many online course creators build their product before they build out their audience. This can often lead to a course that doesn’t end up going anywhere, but which may have taken a great deal of time to create. The idea that if you build it, they will come is rarely the correct approach when building online courses or membership programs.

Will shares his strategy for how he pulled his online course topic out of his audience and built a program targeted towards what they wanted to learn. Experimentation is key when finding out what ideas will work and what ideas won’t end up working. Figuring out how to get an idea to the point of failure as fast as possible is a great way to find what programs will sell in your industry and to audiences online.

Another great way to decide what product you should develop is to ask people, “Which of these three products would you like to see first?” That will really help pull you in the right direction of what communities are interested in. Taking this approach where you focus on what audiences are asking for makes developing killer products very easy. At that point your students are pulling the course out of you, rather than you pushing your course on them.

This episode is a gold mine of great information and stories from Will that dive into the world of publishing products online, so be sure to listen to the full episode.

One great quote from this episode is that, “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” And that’s what Will and his team are all about with helping people level up their businesses. Be sure to check them out at StartupBros.com, and you can always email Will directly.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

This episode was sponsored by WP Tonic Managed WordPress LMS hosting. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code wptonichosting50 to save 50% on any annual plan.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today we’re joined by a special guest, Will Mitchell, from the startupbros.com. Welcome to the show, Will.

Will Mitchell:

Hello, how’s it going, my friend? Happy to be here.

Chris Badgett:

It’s great to talk to you. I’m really excited to inspire the course-building community with your journey. You have a lot going on in terms of building a large business, building an audience, building educational products. And I just kind of wanted to take a tour around what you’ve been up to so people can learn from what you’ve been doing and also pick up little tips and tricks on the various components that you do. But when someone says to you, “What does StartupBros do?” How do you even answer that? What is it?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, thanks for the glowing introduction. Yeah, in terms of what StartupBros does… StartupBros isn’t my main business. My main business is a company called Simply Organic Beauty. It’s our e-commerce company. It’s one of the two kinds of business models that we teach people how to build over at StartupBros. But StartupBros, we have the luxury of really just focusing on the mission and how we want it to change the world and how we want it to affect things. And what we’re trying to do at StartupBros is get people out of corporate enslavement, get them out of the school system, the corporate system, the 9:00 to 5:00, the rat race, whatever you want to call it. These things are all this old world of success. And all the time we see children, literal children will go out and start making crazy amounts of money. And literally their parents are sitting there paying off their house struggling and the kid’s sitting there on Instagram making all this money.

Will Mitchell:

The world is changing so quickly and it’s so dynamic now. Every day there’s 50 new ways to make money. So what we want to help people do is capture the magic of this new economy, escape the 9:00 to 5:00 rat race, become really self-reliant and independent people. And that’s really what the goal is at StartupBros. We do that through business coaching and a couple of different business models. But at the core, it’s about taking control of your life and living it how you want to.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I appreciate what you’re saying. I love that quote that the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Like you said, you’re coming in to help people level up. Yeah, there’s kids that you see these things taking off that don’t make sense, but there’s a new world happening and the rate of change is accelerating. I mean we’ve all heard build an audience, build an email list, the money’s in the list, but give us some audience truth. What’s the counterintuitive insight about what to do with the audience, how to build it, and when to build it?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, so the big thing I advocate that not many people do is building the audience first, especially if you have the time to invest into that. If you’re at school and you have your parents paying for things or you have a stable job and it’s just kind of driving you crazy but you’re not desperate, build the audience first. Because the audience is ultimately going to tell you what they want. And there’s a great book called The Lean Startup, which I’m sure has been mentioned on your podcast many times, Chris. But the lean startup is this whole concept of just how do we get this idea to the point of failure as quickly as possible? Because most ideas we think are going to work but they’re not actually going to work.

Will Mitchell:

We want to keep on rolling the dice and find those ideas that do work and keep experimenting. And building an audience first really makes the lean-startup methodology really easy because all you do is go out and ask people, “What do you want today? Hey, our company has all this free time. Hey, we’re going to be developing three new products, come vote on which ones you want to see first.” Simple little things like this are obvious when you say them, but most people out there are focused on the product first, and it’s just a very expensive way to figure out how to build a business. Most people are trying to build it, and they will come. I’m saying step on the soapbox first, declare what your mission is. Tell people, “Gather around me because we’re going to go do something,” and then go lead them to your business. Right? And you’ll end up in a much better place than you just sitting alone trying to figure it out.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, I love that. I see a lot of people focusing on the product first and getting into marketing tactics and conversion optimization. But, like you were talking about in our pre-chat, you put yourself out there as a personal brand who has this experience as an Amazon seller and also believes in the power of entrepreneurship to transform the world. And you started getting lots of questions and you were like, “Well, am I just going to answer these same questions over and over again?” Because you also do something which is awesome, which is you make yourself, as an expert, accessible to the public. You didn’t build this automated thing that a live human being couldn’t get to the wall and talk to you. And so they, literally, it sounds like to me that they’ve pulled the courses and the coaching out of you, as opposed to you trying to push it on them. Is that an accurate synopsis?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, absolutely. And two interesting points there is, yeah, kind of like the origin story of StartupBros and also the automation comment. Because, yeah, when StartupBros really started blowing up, I actually did get to a point where I pretty much automated everything. And it got to a point where I wasn’t really interacting with people. Customers, I would always interact with because I’m doing coaching webinars and hanging out in the community and stuff. But in terms of people that are in the audience, people that haven’t taken that leap yet and taken that investment yet, I automated myself out of that completely, and the business just really suffered for it. Just recently I’ve gone back and torn down all the automation, and we’re going really heavy into personalization now. And it’s much less scalable and it takes a lot more time just talking to people, but to me that’s what a business is. All a business is is an abstract entity for you to interface with customers and the public, right? So, yeah, I’m pushing people a lot towards personalization.

Will Mitchell:

And like you said, conversion optimization and the algorithm this and the feedback genius that, there’s always going to be 50,000 different tactics that are coming and going every day. The thing that stays the same in business is what kind of emotional impact do you have on these people? Do you actually touch their lives? Are they going to remember you? Do you stand out? Is it clear that you care more than everyone else? These are the things that they’re going to remember, and people just really forget about this. So, yeah, that’s something I’m really pushing lately.

Will Mitchell:

I have a list of over 200,000 people that I email, maybe once every three months. Something on my list of things to change in 2020 is to start emailing people more. But I almost never get in touch with my audience. And StartupBros continues to grow and grow and grow. How is that? If I have this list, shouldn’t I be using it all the time? It’s the fact that when I do have something to say, people remember who I am and they say, “Oh, I care about what that person has to say.” If I started blasting people three times a week with the latest blog post and latest tidbit, people would just tune me out and they would file Will Mitchell in the ignore section. But if you do things that are really valuable for people and really set out in this business for their best interests rather than trying to make a buck, you’re going to end up building the best of both worlds, right?

Will Mitchell:

So, yeah, quick thing on the automation there.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. Go ahead. You had a second part?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. Well, if you want to get into the StartupBros origin story and how the audience came first, we can talk about that too.

Chris Badgett:

Let’s do it. Let’s do it.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. So, yeah, the StartupBros origin story is an interesting one. Because, like I said, StartupBros is not my main business. So I was already kind of rocking and rolling. I had started selling on Amazon way back in 2002.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Will Mitchell:

So way back when, I started buying. It started out with counterfeits, and figured out that didn’t work. And so I had played around with e-commerce from a very early stage in my life. I actually dropped out of high school to do e-commerce and build Amazon businesses and stuff. So when I got into it, it was a much different world. And in terms of how that led to StartupBros and everything, so I was already kind of rocking and rolling in my e-commerce businesses, and the business that we had built at that point is the same business that I’m running today. And it had just gotten to a point where the target customer, I didn’t have fun hanging out with them. I wouldn’t go get a beer with a lot of my target customers because it’s hair salons and hairstylists. I get along with them just fine but it wasn’t like I really… One of my goals in life is to do work that I really loved, that it was really like to go to work every day.

Will Mitchell:

So out of an outlet, I just started posting on this site, startupbros.com. I launched the site and it was just kind of a personal blog. Me and my buddy, we were both working at jobs that we didn’t really like, like I said, just every day in the office working at the beauty company. So it was kind of an outlet for both of us. And we started just writing about all of our entrepreneurship experience, talking about how we were using Alibaba and selling on… Back then, no one even cared about Amazon. It was all about importing from China. So we talked about how we would import from China and sell these products online. And the blog post just started blowing up. And all of a sudden, fast forward six months, I’m getting 50 to 100 emails a week, just people asking me about this blog post. And I’m getting comments all the time. So it got to a point where it was essentially a full-time job for me to sit there and just answer people and explain how does this business work and everything.

Will Mitchell:

And so, once it got to that point, I kind of had a choice to make. I could sit there and respond to emails for free all day, which means the current business goes under. I could not respond to anyone, and then everyone just kind of files Will Mitchell, not in the ignore category but in the, “This dick didn’t even answer my email.” Or the third option was I need to figure out some scalable way to teach people this. And that’s essentially what led to StartupBros becoming a business. It was kind of out of necessity and we realized that the only way to do this was some type of course or a group training program.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I love that story. So I mean it’s really just something you did for yourself, and others were like, “Hey, I want to do that too.” And they literally pulled the product out of you. What was the first thing you did to try to make it more scalable? Was it a webinar or a course or a coaching, group coaching, private coaching? What did you do?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, so it’s even a funny story. If you have the audience and the audience likes you and you’ve already given them a lot of value, you have so much leeway with the audience. So when I got started in this course world, I knew how to sell products on Amazon and eBay and stuff. I didn’t know how to launch a membership site or I didn’t know how to do LifterLMS, and I didn’t know all this stuff. So what I ended up doing was basically I said, “All right, I don’t know how this business works, but we got lots of friends who are in the industry and we could probably figure it out. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to schedule a webinar.”

Will Mitchell:

And I think the webinar was on April 19th, 2014, or something. I think I still remember the day. But we scheduled this webinar three months in advance, in January, and we started emailing about it. And we said, “Hey guys, we’re going to have this webinar.” And all the people that were emailing us, we would respond and say, “Hey, here’s the answer and, hey, here’s a link to this webinar.” So really just personally answering people and saying, “Hey, here’s the link to the webinar.” And, come April, we had 1,700 people or something signed up for this webinar off this one little blog post. I really didn’t have an email list.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Will Mitchell:

It was just hustling and grinding. And we had 1,700 people signed up for this webinar. Again, I wouldn’t recommend, in hindsight, scheduling a webinar three months in advance and pushing it. People are going to forget about that. But again, we didn’t know what we were doing. So pushed this webinar for three months, get 1,700 people, and we were smart enough to schedule the webinar three days after we had just moved into a new house. And so I barely had internet set up. I didn’t have an office set up. So the webinar rolls around the night before I was moving in and stuff. So I go to bed late, I wake up, and I woke up late. I forgot how much time I had. I had like 90 minutes or two hours at the most. But it was two hours until this webinar, I literally had nothing. I had no slides. I had no offer, I had no checkout pages.

Will Mitchell:

Oh, sorry Chris, my camera just shut off. We’re going to turn that back on.

Chris Badgett:

There you are.

Will Mitchell:

All right. We’re going to seamlessly… I had no checkout pages. I had nothing, no slides, no offer, nothing at all.

Chris Badgett:

What was the topic of the webinar?

Will Mitchell:

Literally the webinar was How to Import Products from China and Make Big Money. The headline of my blog post was How I Made Big Money Importing from China, or something, so it was literally just like an extension of that. Didn’t put much effort into it. And it just goes to show you, if people really care about what you’re saying, they’re not going to care about the headline, they’re not going to care about any of this stuff. They just want to be there and hear you talk. This is why people like Joe Rogan and podcasts in general are blowing up right now. People want authentic conversations where they can really detect in the body language and the tonality, does this person know what they’re talking about? How exciting is this?

Chris Badgett:

Joe Rogan’s a pretty authentic guy. I think that’s a good example. There’s only one Joe Rogan.

Will Mitchell:

Exactly. And it’s like the ultimate competitive advantage too. Five years from now, everyone’s going to have this podcast format of two people sitting at a table, but there’s never going to be a Joe Rogan, right?

Chris Badgett:

Right.

Will Mitchell:

So, yeah, I had nothing waking up two hours before this webinar, and I freaked out. I went on Google and I literally googled webinar course, webinar template, did a few different Google searches, and I came up with this one, literally some random guy, don’t even know who it was. Not a big marketer at all, but he had a template. I was like, “All right, I’m going to get this template, I’m going to fill it out and we’re going to do this webinar. It’s going to be terrible.” This is all worst case, horrible things are happening. So it’s closed. I can’t buy this thing, the courses, closed access. So I emailed this guy, I’m like, “Dude, I need access to this right now. Please give it to me.” Get nothing. I call the guy, luckily get him on the phone and he’s like, “All right, man. Yeah, we’ll give you access.”

Will Mitchell:

So I paid him, got access to it maybe 90 minutes left until the webinar, and I literally didn’t have time to do anything. I just went through and changed out the fill-in-the-blank stuff. It was just black text on a white screen with a couple images. And a lot of it was me just like, “Here’s a slide where it says show product research,” I’d jump off and show product research. So I did that webinar, and it was great. 500 people, 700 people showed up or something. And going into the close, going into the offer, again, I had nothing 90 minutes before this even to offer these people, and going into the offer my laptop battery actually dies as well.

Chris Badgett:

Oh, wow.

Will Mitchell:

So now I have 700 people that just heard the entire webinar, and right as I’m like, “And guys, here’s the program,” cuts out and now I have to recharge my laptop. I jumped back in 10 minutes later like, “All right, everyone’s going to be gone. This whole thing was a waste. The whole business is shot.” So I jumped back in and almost everyone was still there. And people are like, “Oh man, your battery died.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know.” So I went in to the offer, and the offer was legitimately like, “Hey guys, we’re going to do a,” I think it was like a nine week. No, it was 12 week. “We’re going to do a 12-week group coaching program, and each week we’re going to have a different guest expert that we bring in. And here’s what each week’s topic is going to be. And it’s going to start four weeks from today, and that’s it. PayPal us if you want to buy it.”

Chris Badgett:

So you were pre-selling, this didn’t exist. You hadn’t worked out the agreements with the guest experts yet maybe?

Will Mitchell:

Nothing. I woke up two hours before.

Chris Badgett:

You gave them an offer. You gave them a specific offer, which is amazing. So what happened? What happened from there?

Will Mitchell:

So, yeah, I mean I walked out of my office and my business partner at the time and my girlfriend were out there and I was like, “Oh my god, it was horrible. This must have went so bad. Close up shop. What’s the PayPal look like?” And my buddy was like, “Dude, there’s $47,000 in the PayPal,” or I think $37,000 in the PayPal.

Chris Badgett:

Oh my god.

Will Mitchell:

I’m like, “Really?” And he’s like, “Yeah, dude. And they’re mostly payment plans.” So it’s like $79,000 of accrued revenue. And at that point I was like, “Holy cow, this is a business. We got something here.” And that’s how it all started. And then, from that point forward, we just went on a webinar blitz and a training blitz and just helped as many people as we could, got them into this big community. And, yeah, that group coaching program, that community is still running to this day.

Will Mitchell:

That’s another thing I think people really don’t do enough in this industry. So many people just start a program and then, a year, two years later, they abandon it. They’ll still sell it, but they’re not supporting it. There’s no community around it. Ours, we’re constantly, every six months we do a big update of the program, the actual course, always adding new, different bonuses and freebies and things like that. And, yeah, still doing the group coaching and the community. So that community now, over 6,500 successful Amazon sellers in that community now who started with us, that’s a competitive advantage that no other Amazon course can touch. We have all of the Amazon sellers.

Chris Badgett:

And this is called E-Commerce Empire, correct?

Will Mitchell:

Yep, E-Commerce Empire. And then the new one is E-Commerce Empire 2020, coming out for the new year.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. And this is over at startupbros.com. What was it like for the first group of group coaching people? You had four weeks to put a program together, or at least organize the calls. What was that first run like?

Will Mitchell:

I’ll be honest, it was better for them. It was a better experience. Most people would think that when you buy a static course that that’s going to be the way to do it. In my experience, it’s the group coaching, the interactive courses, the kind of things that are built out as they’re going, those tend to be the best programs because those are actually on the cutting edge and they’re really built for that group of people to succeed. So, honestly, we had the easiest time making those people successful. We have a better success rate now with our course, but oh my god was it difficult to get there. To get a good success rate out of a course that isn’t being made as you go, we have to do a lot of coaching, we have to do a lot of work in the community, a lot of tools. There’s a lot of work and investment that goes into building a static program that works. Whereas a group coaching program, if the person teaching it is honest and authentic, you’re going to learn things that no course will ever be able to teach you.

Will Mitchell:

So, yeah, I’m still a big fan of the group coaching model. And anytime we launch a new program, this is still what we do, still to this day if we’re launching something new. This year we have something called ProductivePrenuer. It’s basically a productivity program specifically for entrepreneurs. There’s so many different productivity and goal-setting things out there. None of them are for leaders and strong entrepreneurs. They’re typically built for very fragile people that want to feel good but not be elite performers. So ProductivePreneur was something that I wanted to do and build out.

Will Mitchell:

How do we figure out what to put into this course? Do people care about sleeping habits? Do people care about what alarm clock to buy? What do they care about? Do they want more of how to set up software on their computer? Do they want to know what equipment I have in my office? So there’s so many different angles I can take this thing. And the way that we figured out what to build was, previously last year during New Years, we did ProductivePreneur Alpha. And that was a a six week group coaching program where we took people through and really interacted with them, and really learned about their struggles and productivity and helped them through everything. And it was only through that were we able to build a really, really good program that is useful.

Will Mitchell:

There’s so many programs out there that it’s just some guru trying to prove to you that they know what they’re talking about, so it’s just information for no reason. And I really try to avoid that. I want the most valuable and effective programs, but I want them to be tight and fluff-free. I don’t need people wasting six hours to learn about how smart I am or something, you know?

Chris Badgett:

Keep listening, this podcast is not over. This is just a special message about this episode’s sponsor, WP-Tonic Managed WordPress LMS Hosting. Think of it as everything you need to have a professional, online-course training platform right out of the box, ready to go. Find out more about WP-Tonics’s Managed WordPress LMS Hosting by going to lifterlikes.com/tonic. Now back to the show.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well, I’d love to dive into that part actually a little deeper. If you were advising me, I’m an expert and I’m taking your advice… The way I frame it is people go into what I call the course-creation cave and sometimes they never come out or they’re in there for two years and they come out with a product that doesn’t do well in the market. So if someone is listening to this moment and heeding the advice of maybe you should try selling a six-week group coaching thing and then create it as you go with an interactive audience, what does that actually look like when you do a live call? And then do you have Q&A? Can you just give us more detail of the format? And, at the end of that, do you just take those recordings and put them evergreen inside a vault or a course structure? Give us some more detail on the how to do a six-week group coaching program.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, so you do need to make somewhat of an offer, right? So you do have to somehow make it sexy. The way I’ve always done business though… And people can jump on YouTube and see the webinar that I did to launch the group coaching program. And what it basically was was me sitting down for a full day or two and just building the best possible presentation I could on productivity. And people were interested enough in that and they thought that the ideas were valuable enough and new enough and they hadn’t heard them or they were presented in a different way, whatever it was, people were interested enough in those ideas to pretty much say, “Listen, if there’s a way to work with you on this, let’s do it.” I mean that’s basically what it was. So you do need to make an offer but it really comes down to reciprocity, authenticity, and trust.

Will Mitchell:

And the truth of the matter is it is difficult, because the more of a thought leader you are, the easier it is to do this, right? The more actually cutting edge and valuable the stuff you’re saying is, the easier it is to do this. But I always try to just blow people’s socks off. This was something I learned very early in business. There’s two ways to build a business, right? You can build a net or you can build a magnet. Most people are trying to build nets. Most people are out there just desperately winging away at every butterfly that flies past, trying to catch something. What I’ve always focused on is ignoring all of that buzz, ignoring the shiny objects, ignoring all the noise, and just focusing on building a really good magnet.

Will Mitchell:

And it might take me an extra few months to get my magnet going, it might take me some tweaking, but once my magnet’s going I’m literally going to sit here and put my magnet out and things are going to be attracted to me. And that’s how I want to do business, right? So that’s the approach I took in StartupBros as well. But in terms of the format and everything, I mean I’m jumping on a webinar, giving them the best I can, and then saying, “Hey guys, I’m going to do-“

Chris Badgett:

So even if they don’t buy, it’s just an awesome training about productivity…

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Badgett:

… in the webinar.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, I have people all the time that reach out and they’re like, “Dude, the productivity training you did on YouTube, it’s literally the best thing I’ve ever seen.” I have people all the time that email me, “I don’t know if there’s anything that I can buy from you, but if you do have something [inaudible 00:27:55].” Because, yeah, I mean how rare is it that… I mean we’re all just so drowned in content now, how rare is it that you see content that actually makes an impact, actually shifts your paradigm a little bit, shifts your perception? So try to create those perception shifts, and then just make it obvious to people that you’re available to work with and there’s cool things you’re doing. And I always try to not be a very hard sales person too. People really trust when I try to sell them something because a lot of times people reach out to me trying to buy something, I say, “Hey, don’t buy this right now. This is not the right time for you to buy this.”

Will Mitchell:

Because, again, my goal is to make people successful in life. I want to get people out of the corporate enslavement system. I don’t want them to be dependent on a 9:00 to 5:00 job. I want them to be able to go make money and invest it in the world and grow the world, right? Make their communities a better place and all this jazz. So that’s what I want for people. And for me to do that, if that’s the prime directive, if that’s the mission, a lot of the times people are going to email me I’m not going to sell them a course. A lot of times I’m just going to record them a video and say like, “Here’s what I think you should do. Email me in a year, let me know how it goes.” And a lot of the times the people email back and they say, “Hey, I’m doing really well now. Let me know if you have some type of program I can get in,” because reciprocity reigns supreme.

Chris Badgett:

When you’re doing the the six-week program, how do you handle the coaching part? Are you taking questions constantly as you’re presenting or do you save Q&A to the end? If there’s a lot of questions, will you just go until there’s no more questions or do you hard stop it at the time you promised or whatever? What are some ideas around the logistics of it all?

Will Mitchell:

So, yeah, in terms of the logistics of it all. So on the webinar, obviously we’re selling them into a six-week program of some sort. You can literally do it manually and pull the emails off of PayPal and stuff. Obviously at this point we have it all synced up, doing it automatically. But we basically get them into a member’s area. And, again, the first time I did this, I didn’t have a members area yet. That was like, “Put it on the to-do list. I have to have a members area.” What’s the actual deadline for a members area? The day after the first-week webinar, right? No one needs to see the recording until the recording is actually made.

Chris Badgett:

I just want to put a pin on that one. A lot of people go and they build all this stuff, but you’re doing it the opposite way. You’re selling the program, getting people ready, and then that’s the last piece of the pie.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, pretty much.

Chris Badgett:

So people do it in a different order sometimes, and I really like that way you’re talking about. It’s more like just-in-time technology instead of I’m going to just build this technology thing and then go fill it with something.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. The problem is if you set out to build a members’ area, like you said, Chris, you will go into that cave and come out six months later with forums and a gamification system and badges. How do I know this? Because I did it. I literally had forums and I had this crazy little gamification badge system where each event and conference that someone went to of ours, they would get a badge for it that would show on the forums. So my idea was, over time, there’s going to be these elite people that have been to all of our events. Too much complication.

Will Mitchell:

A fun idea I like to think about is if your customers were collectively the CEO, if they were all the board of directors, they’re all funding the company, and you have to sit there and tell them what you’re spending your time and money on, are they going to think that’s a good investment? Go get 50 customers for a group coaching program, imagine they’re the board of directors. What’s more important to them? You focusing on the training and getting the best week-one session possible and making sure that’s perfect or having a really shiny members area? They don’t care. Send them a link to a Vimeo video and they don’t care.

Will Mitchell:

You just have to be authentic with people. And where this goes wrong is because people set these expectations of, “Oh, you’re going to have the instant access to the shiny members area and stuff.” If you don’t have that, just don’t say you have it. And the more authentic you are with your customers and the more interactive and intimate you are with them, the more leeway they’re going to give you. Nobody cares if the members’ area is not up if you’re sitting there in a Facebook group explaining, “Hey guys, I’m focusing on the week-one session.” No one cares if that’s the case. When they care is you’re not in the Facebook group, you’re not answering the emails, there’s no phone number to call. They don’t have a login. When they do log in, half the videos are missing. That’s when they start to care, right? Not if you’re holding their hand and saying, “Hey, here’s why it’s like this, but just trust me, I’m building the best possible program for you. It’s going to be awesome.” That’s how to do it, I think.

Chris Badgett:

Well, you made it to the lightning round. So if you could just rapid fire some quick tips on productivity that’s a little different for entrepreneurs. I love to learn from you and to also inspire the education entrepreneurs in the audience here and the site builders who build these kinds of platforms for the expert industry that are also entrepreneurs. What can we do to be more productive?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, we can talk about that. Let me throw in one lightning-round tip that kind of piggybacks on what we were talking about before, and then we’ll jump into that. Refund periods. There’s this whole trend in this industry now to start shortening refund periods, putting all this fine print around refunds and stuff. Guys, you want the easiest way to make sure you don’t get bad reviews and your conversion rate goes up and no one hates you? Just offer a really good refund policy. Stand by it. I hope nobody, none of my customers hear this podcast, but we have a 90-day, money-back guarantee. But I have literally had customers that I’ve refunded and went back years, like three years, and refunded $5,000+ of expenses because they were in a tough situation and they forgot the card was charging, and all this stuff, right?

Will Mitchell:

I could have just refunded six months. I could have refunded a year. I went back and refunded three years because it’s the right thing to do. It’s just the right thing to do and I care about these people. I’m not just trying to nickel and dime people. So I think having a really good, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. We have 90 days on everything we do. And I’ve almost never seen anyone do 90 days. I have no idea why more people don’t do it. If you’re confident in your program and you’re confident in your training, give people the longest refund period you possibly can, the most lenient refund period you possibly can, and you’re going to give more people the opportunity to give this business a shot.

Will Mitchell:

And for us at StartupBros, that’s really the goal is just letting people take a real shot at this thing. And if they find that this business model is not right for them or it doesn’t work out for some reason, they didn’t have the time or whatever, they get all their money back and they leave better entrepreneurs and they leave closer to that end goal of escaping the 9:00 to 5:00 system. So long refund periods are something I would really recommend. I don’t know why people are going against it now. Maybe you know, Chris.

Chris Badgett:

Well, I’m like you. Well, first of all, a bad review is way worse than giving somebody their money back. And, at the end of the day, if you really care about your product and your movement and your people, you’re not in the business of holding money hostage of somebody who’s not happy. So that’s my approach to it. The reason, I don’t know. I have also noticed this trend you’re talking about with refund policies and the fine print and everything, but it’s not my style. I don’t really have any other insight besides that. Some of it I think is a lot of markets, especially really expensive products, the market’s almost trained to go get it. I think we have a problem with information hoarding where people go get it and then they request a… There’s a type of buyer out there that has become a problem in some industries. I think that might be part of it.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. Yeah, I think you’re right. Our approach to this was let’s figure out how to make something so good that people don’t want to leave. I think most people are so stuck in the course mentality where they just want to do a course and nothing else. If you just have a course then, yeah, people are just going to jump in and download all the videos and refund, or get their VA to do it, you know? And this is where the industry is kind of going away from courses and into coaching. You need the courses there obviously. But [crosstalk 00:37:45] foundation.

Chris Badgett:

And that community too. And community too, course plus coaching plus community. And if somebody is a really good fit and they get into your coaching and also build a network of peers in the community, that has a lot of sticking power.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. It’s almost a different approach. I think you can tell a lot about a company based on what kind of refund policy they give. Do they give a really lenient refund policy? Because then they’re probably trying to actually achieve their mission of getting people through it, right? If they have this crazy, wacky refund policy, it’s a good sign that they’re just trying to sell things. They’re not trying to really work with people and these sorts of things.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. And I’m a big believer in course plus coaching plus community. And even right now with LifterLMS, I actually need to wrap this podcast episode up because I have a weekly office-hours mastermind I call, where I’m on the front lines with my best customers that’s starting up in five minutes.

Will Mitchell:

Oh, nice.

Chris Badgett:

So the idea of coaching and just being on the front lines with your people and being committed to their success. I have people in there that are… I mean people have started businesses with each other because I created the space for this community to emerge and for coaching and mastermind and ideas to share. It’s a part of it. And I think the big thing is the main mindset shift for people is making money online. Not a bad thing, but that’s not the first thing. Create results for another human being, for others, as long as that’s at the top of the pyramid the money will happen. But where people get into trouble is where the I want to make money online is above helping others. If you reverse it, the success goes way up.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, exactly. It goes full circle of what we were talking about at the beginning. People want companies that are passionate about what they do. If you see hanging out with your customers as work, it’s going to be really tough to develop any cutting-edge products or marketing strategies or anything. If you are hanging out with your customers on coaching webinars and at events and stuff all the time, you’re going to be tapped into the target audience better than anyone else and you’re inevitably going to be the market leader.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Well, one micro-productivity tip before we go. And can you let people know where to connect with you? And before you do that, I just want to say thank you. Will, this has been an amazing conversation. I’m really glad we got to get into it, and I love your story. It’s super inspiring and there’s so many good ideas. For you that are listening, I’d encourage you to re-listen and just follow Will’s journey and how his community pulled the product out of him and how he has high contact and high touch with his people. What’s your one productivity tip and how can people find you?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. Yeah, I appreciate all that. In terms of one productivity tip, it’s so hard to pick just one.

Chris Badgett:

For an entrepreneur, one that’s counterintuitive, not that we hear a lot, I guess.

Will Mitchell:

I would say that for some reason my mind’s going to hardware and devices right now, probably because we’re in Black Friday Christmas mode when we’re recording this. But one thing I would say is check out this thing called the X-keys keyboard. It’s a macro keyboard. You said things people don’t hear often, so the macro keys, X-keys keyboard. I have one right over here. I don’t know if I’ll be able to bring it up here. Let me see. Oh, it’s so close. Yeah, I can’t. But it’s basically a blank keyboard where you can go in and program each of the keys individually. So I have one of my keys set up to open up and log into every single one of my bank accounts and credit cards. I have one button that clocks in and out of Hubstaff, which is my time tracking software. I have one that opens up ActiveCampaign for what I want to send out an email to my list.

Will Mitchell:

So a really, really big productivity tool that I’ve gotten into because, oh my god, does it get annoying. Okay, you need to go check your finances. All right, now I’ve got to go log into 16 different sites, you know? So you just make one button, click it, it goes and does it all. It’s beautiful.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well, how can the good people find you? You’re at startupbros.com. Is there anything specific they should check out?

Will Mitchell:

Yeah, for sure. If you guys are interested in productivity tips, I have a webinar that’s four hours of just straight productivity gold. My webinars tend to go way too long. So, yeah, check that one out. I’ll throw you a link as well, Chris, but if you google StartupBros productivity webinar or something, it’ll probably come up. There’s a Terminator robot in the thumbnail. So that’s a really good webinar on productivity. Yeah, check out startupbros.com. If you guys are into the Amazon space, I have a new, four-part free video course about how to start an Amazon business in 2020, because it has changed quite a bit in the last few years. So you can check that out at startupbros.com. And feel free to reach out anytime, [email protected] I’m always answering emails. It might take me a day or two, but I’ll always answer your email. So [email protected]

Chris Badgett:

Awesome, Will. Well thank you so much, we really appreciate it.

Will Mitchell:

Yeah. Thanks again, Chris.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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