Episode 224

How to Validate Your Online Course and Master The Marketing Fundamentals with Justin Wise of Think Digital

Learn about how to validate your online course and master the marketing fundamentals with Justin Wise of Think Digital in this episode of the LMScast podcast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Chris and Justin discuss what makes effective marketing for online courses, and how you can incorporate these best practices into your strategy.

How to validate your online course and master the marketing fundamentals with Justin Wise of Think DigitalJustin has been involved with digital marketing since 2007, so he has seen a lot of changes in the industry over time. He shares a framework in this episode that he has noticed stand the test of time in the business space online.

The structure Justin shares is comprised of four points (the four Ps). The first tenant is purpose. That focuses on why you do what you do. The second is the persona. The persona focuses on the people behind the company. Third is the process where you focus on the structure of the business and aspects like the sales funnel and nurture sequence. Then last is the product, which is actually what you sell and how you deliver that.

A lot of successful course creators and developers start out by creating solutions that scratch their own itch. Then over time they can offer these products or services to others who have a similar problem. It does make it a lot easier to start by scratching your own itch, because you know the issues facing you in your situation.

For the product aspect of the four Ps, the product is systematically the least important aspect of the four Ps, because once you have your purpose, persona, and process down, you can experiment with different products as a means to deliver value predicated on your purpose.

Validation for your business or product is important. What defines validation is something Chris and Justin go into as well. Having someone pay for your product is what Justin considers to be true validation. Selling your product via an order form on a Google Doc you send traffic to is one way Justin suggests for validating. It is very simple and can be a crude setup, but you don’t want to go through all the work of creating a course to find that no one wants it, as that creates desperation.

When Chris and Justin talk about validating a course or membership, that does not mean you have to have a finished product and have a tremendous amount of sales to consider it validated. If you have 10 sales on a course or product you have not yet produced, then you have a successful validation.

To learn more about Justin Wise, head to ThinkDigital.co. You can also find him on Twitter at @JustinWise and Instagram at @JustinWise.

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. You can subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

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.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest Justin Wise from ThinkDigital.co. He’s a marketer, he’s a trainer, he’s a content creator, and he’s also a course creator. I wanted to get into his story, but also to kind of kick it off, first let me welcome you to the show, Justin.

Justin Wise: Hey, Chris. Last time we saw each other we were soaking up the rays on the beach.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it was …

Justin Wise: Just a slightly different setting.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I’m actually on the coast of Maine. Where do you live?

Justin Wise: Oh, yeah. The thriving metropolis of Des Moines, Iowa.

Chris Badgett: That’s right. That’s right. Cool. Yeah, it’s a long way from Cabo, Mexico. So, one of the things I loved getting to know you about was just your experience as a marketer and your experience with Facebook ads, but as a marketer myself I’m really busy and I appreciate a good structure and rubric when I see one. That was one of the first things I learned about you, is you have a marketing structure that you follow that has stood the test of time for you. Can you lay it on the course creators out there so that hopefully it can help them relax, be a little bit more efficient and know what to do next?

Justin Wise: Yeah, it is. It’s really simple. I’m glad you pointed that out because I’ve been in digital marketing really since 2007, professionally anyway, and that makes me feel like a grandpa of the digital marketing generation because that’s 11 years ago now.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Anything over 10 years is like a century on the internet.

Justin Wise: Yeah. The truth is, we’ve had so much … You know, there’s just been so much that has happened in this field in those 11 years. You know, it may be more depending on when people listen to this, that everything that hasn’t worked has just melted away. So, the marketing structure we use is not very sexy in the sense that it doesn’t have 50 different levers, it doesn’t have 100 different tactics. It’s not a 97 point check list. It’s four things. It’s four components.

If you think of a triangle or a pyramid, that’s how we look at it. The bottom layer of that pyramid is purpose. What’s your purpose? Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Chris Badgett: Like, why are you in business? Why are you making this course?

Justin Wise: Yeah. I mean, that’s one half of it. So, it’s really twofold and this has kind of evolved. The purpose component anyway. It has to first and foremost start with you. In this case, as a course creator. Why am I doing this? What is exciting about this? What is my purpose in investing the time, energy, attention into creating this material? Because if the purpose isn’t there you will lose interest. You will lose drive. You will lose passion. All the hard work you do will be for not. I know this because I have created more … There are more courses in our digital graveyard than most people ever create in their entire lives. The ones that didn’t make it weren’t formed on purpose. My purpose as a business owner, because, yeah, the other component is what purpose is this serving in the marketplace? Right?

Chris Badgett: Like, what job needs to be done here? Why is this important to somebody?

Justin Wise: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally. Why would someone take this? What’s the purpose? What do they hope to achieve out of it? What are they going to get out of it? I think a lot of people focus on that aspect. It’s a good place to focus. It’s a good question to ask, but they don’t take into account … They don’t count the cost of being the driver. Being the spark, the energy. That energy comes from really knowing what your purpose is as a human being. As a person. Then, you know, depending on where you’re at that same sense of purpose also translates into your company if you’re big enough. So, what’s the purpose of the company? Almost always the founders’ purpose somehow makes its way into the company’s purpose.

So, that for us, is foundational. It’s pivotal. If you don’t have the purpose question answered everything else is 10 times more difficult.

Chris Badgett: I like that, and I like the two faces of it. That it’s the inner game or the personal thing but also the mirror reflection of why would this inspire somebody else? Like, how does it help them with their purpose and get them rolling? It reminds me of …

Justin Wise: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: The start with why Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. When I saw that video, the TED Talk, whenever it was a long time ago I was like, “Yeah, I get it.” Yeah, the why is fundamental to everything. “If people don’t buy what we do they buy why we do it,” he would say. I believe that to be true too, based on my experience.

Justin Wise: Yeah. I mean, this marketing structure, it’s like there’s nothing new under the sun. We borrow heavily and are influenced heavily by people like Simon, who’s message …

Chris Badgett: As you should be. Stand on the shoulders of what’s already working.

Justin Wise: The power of his message is the simplicity of his message.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: ‘Cause it’s so doggone simple. It really is. I mean, he draws three concentric circles.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: [inaudible] made a million bucks, you know, drawing concentric circles.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I actually … This is just a small … We’re going on a small tangent here but I got this book called The Decision Book. This is a book full of things like diagrams that have three concentric circles. It’s basically the playbook that big consulting companies use to create valuable insights. When you read this book and get all these different ways … You know, we’re all familiar with the Venn diagram and these axis’s and stuff like that, but an idea explained simply and visually is extremely powerful. If it’s true. So, just throwing that out there. Well, what’s number two? After purpose. What else is in that that’s essentially in marketing structure?

Justin Wise: After purpose then you look at persona.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: All these, by the way, for the people keeping track at home, all these start with P. The letter P.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, persona is obviously marketing 101. Before you can even get to the sexy, fun part of marketing, which is selling in my opinion … We don’t need to go into discussion of what’s the difference between marketing and sales, but you have to know who it is that you’re aiming the purpose at.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: You know, I think a lot of people would pay a lip service to persona.

Chris Badgett: Or avatars is another name for it.

Justin Wise: Yeah. Or avatars. You know, you can call them 100 different things.

Chris Badgett: Customer story.

Justin Wise: Yeah, yeah. All that good stuff. All the jargon. But basically it’s … Hey, when you sit down and you think about your purpose, who are you impacting with your purpose? Who is that focused on? For us, it’s a person that comes with a first name and a last name. It’s not some, you know, made up person. It’s an actual human being that you can see and preferably that you know and that you can really think to yourself, “What would a conversation with this person sound like?”

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, for us, doing the hard work of distilling down your purpose and then understanding who it is that you’re targeting. You know, those are foundational principles. Period. In marketing.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s easy to make the mistake that our students or learners that we’re targeting are just like us, but they’re not. I just got back from another conference that we were sponsoring and some of our users were there. I love meeting them in person, like getting out of the building and meeting them in person and just realizing how different they are. They’re not like … Sometimes I’ve heard the saying we see the world as we are, not as it is. So, if you can really get past that and really realize the differences out there, there’s a lot of differences out there. Not everybody’s like you.

Justin Wise: You know, it’s interesting though. To piggyback off that, is what I have found to be true in working with at this point hundreds of course creators, hundreds of entrepreneurs, hundreds of digital professionals, even thousands at this point, I don’t know. You know, people are … What I have found is like … Let’s take course creators for instance. I love course creators because … I started out as a course creator. What I found myself doing was creating a course that I wish I had when I started.

Chris Badgett: Scratch your own itch. It’s a classic, “Well, which course should I build?”

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: Well, build the one that you wish you had. Whatever. Yeah.

Justin Wise: Yes. I mean, that’s certainly not the case for everyone, but I think a lot of people listening … You know, if they are having issues or trouble or they’re confused about who that ideal persona is, it usually stands to reason that if you take a really hard look and you look at what you naturally gravitate towards in your course or what type of material you like to teach or instruct, it’s almost always that you’re doing everything that you said. Which was scratching your own itch and wishing that you had this material when you first started out doing whatever it is that you’re doing now.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, that’s persona. Like I said, real basic. Real simple, but simple gets executed. So, purpose, persona. Then we have the layer that everybody in the world wants to get to. That’s process.

Chris Badgett: Okay. Like, the tactics? Or what is process?

Justin Wise: Yes. Yes.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Process is tactics. Everybody wants to start with tactics, and it is the last place to start. It’s the last place to go to because tactics can’t answer the purpose question. Tactics can’t answer the persona question. Those two elements need to be in place for you to be as effective as you can be in the long term.

So, the process though is super important right. The process for us … Without going into the nuts and bolts of it, the process for us is how you reach the persona with your purpose. What needs to be in place? For pretty much anyone listening the basics are going to be something like manufacture attention, generate attention either through organic content or paid content. You move people into a landing page with either some sort of lead magnet or bait offer. You move people into a CTA call to action situation where you’re putting the offer in front of them. For those who don’t buy, you’re moving them into a nurture sequence of some sort. That’s as basic as it gets. Then lining up the tools and systems that you need to execute those different levels. Very simple.

Chris Badgett: Is there another P or is that the framework right there?

Justin Wise: Well, the last one is product.

Chris Badgett: Okay. So, what is that?

Justin Wise: Product is basically what you sell. So, product for people listening, most people listening to this podcast it’s going to be their course. You know, there’s ways to go about putting your product together, but the thing of it is … This is where we borrowed from Simon, is the product is the thing that everybody sees but it’s actually the least important in that structure. Because hey, if you have your purpose down and you know who you’re going after and you’ve got a rock solid process, I don’t want to say the product’s a formality at this point and it’s not a forgone conclusion that people will buy, but if you do those three elements really well … Like for us anyway, we don’t create a course until we know people are going to buy it. So, we’ll go through those three first layers and we won’t even create the product.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: This is, you know … I’m sure a lot of people listening to this follow this methodology but I’m not going to take the time. It’s a lot of time to create a course.

Chris Badgett: That’s not validated.

Justin Wise: That’s not validated. I’m not going to spend the energy to do that unless I know people are going to buy it. The thing about it is …

Chris Badgett: That’s a classic course creator mistake, to build it without doing that other stuff.

Justin Wise: Yes. You have to learn this lesson sometimes the hard way.

Chris Badgett: Most people do in my experience. I’m just sharing ’cause I see it. I have optics into the industry and I see it happen over and over and over again.

Justin Wise: Everyone listening to this, you should never create a course unless someone has purchased it from you already.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: How about that for a nugget?

Chris Badgett: That’s good. Well, let me … I want to come back to validating ’cause I have some questions around that specifically. Before we get into that, just to give an insight into the course creator community that I use when I’m talking to somebody to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, the challenge to the course creator is they’re very busy, they’re sharp, they’ve got a lot going on. They have to be five people at once, or what I call they have to wear five hats. The unicorn that can do all these doesn’t really exist, so they have to build a team or they have to actively develop skills. Those five hats are you have to be an expert at something. You have to be a teacher. You have to be a community builder, so that’s like building an email list before the sale and building community after the sale for social learning. Then the fourth one is you have to be a technologist. I mean, you’ve gotta have websites and do stuff on the internet. Then the fifth … You got hardware and microphones and cameras and all that stuff. Then the fifth one is you have to be and entrepreneur, which includes marketing skills.

Depending upon who you’re talking to they might be … If they’re jumping straight to product and they’re skipping purpose, persona and process they’re lacking basic entrepreneur skills.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: That’s okay, but that’s one of the course creator archetypes. Or if somebody has all entrepreneur skills but they don’t really have their expert or their niche figured out or they don’t know what they’re passionate about, they’re missing like expert skills or they don’t know how to teach or whatever. There’s all these different levers of what are you good at, what are you not so good at? But going back to your question, I use that framework. That’s one of my frameworks that I use to just help people get better results by understanding where they’re at on those different levels.

Justin Wise: That’s so good.

Chris Badgett: If we are going to validate our course, how do we do that? I had a question for you about using Facebook ads for validation versus scaling. I don’t know if that’s relevant to where we are right now but how would you validate?

Justin Wise: Oh man. I mean, I’ll tell you how we validated every single course.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: This is why we have a graveyard. A bone yard.

Chris Badgett: You did … So, you have to let things not work out.

Justin Wise: Yes. 100%. Most won’t. Most will not work. You know, what bums me out is course creator’s think, “Well, gosh. I’m lousy. No one wanted this or no one bought it. No one validated this offer.” I’ll get to the practicality side of how to validate here in a second. I just want to paint a picture here that especially now, this wasn’t so hard back in 2012 or 2013 when I launched my first course, which was just five years ago.

Chris Badgett: ‘Cause there wasn’t as much competition, or what?

Justin Wise: Yeah. There wasn’t as many people doing this type of stuff. Yeah, there was a lot of people that were getting interested and activated in the market but in terms of completed courses it was not as mature as it is now.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: It was still in its infancy. This was back, you know, when Copyblogger was still writing about blogging for instance.

Chris Badgett: Right. Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, in a lot of ways the market has matured quite a bit but I just want people who are out there listening to not get frustrated, is to say, it’s normal for an idea not to pop. That’s normal. You know, I think of this in terms of a VC firm or something. You know, the VC firms, they’ll invest in 10 companies. Eight of them will go belly up, one will be a moderate hit and the last one will be a complete out of the park grand slam that makes up for all those other losses.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: [inaudible] courses, I don’t know if it’s 10. I don’t know if that’s the magic number, but I feel like courses are the exact same way. Where you have to be able to say … The materials here, no one’s thinking to themselves … I don’t want people to think, “Oh, I have to go learn all this new stuff.” Whatever your skillset is, whatever your topic of expertise is, that is set. But coming up with how to package that and present it to the market in a way that the market responds, that’s what I’m talking about.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: How you’re going to bundle that. Those different variations are going to … Most of them are not going to work.

Chris Badgett: To your VC example. I mean, those businesses that get funded have contact with reality. They get outside just the office of the people that work at the company [inaudible] … They’re literally … If they are struggling they’re doing that out in the real world or if they’re succeeding they’re shipping and they’re working on it, seeing if they can make tweaks to make it work.

Justin Wise: So, you had asked in terms of validating. I want to make sure I say this, ’cause a lot of times we’ll press people on this and this is way before people becomes clients. In fact, this is how we vet a lot of our clients, is we will ask some variation of this question: “Hey, do you have a validated product?” They’ll say something like … They’ll squirm around this. So, when I get someone who squirms around it I know this is probably not a good fit.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. So, if I say, “Well, I’ve been doing this thing for 30 years.” I’m not answering your question. I know you’re passionate about it but is it validated?

Justin Wise: Is it validated?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Validation is very, very simple. It’s a very easy test. Have people given you a credit card for this product?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Have they said, “Here’s my money. I want that thing that you’re making. Here’s my money.” That means it’s validated. Not, “Hey, someone said I think this is a really good idea.” Someone said that they would be willing to buy this. Someone said, “Oh hey, that content sounds really amazing.” That is not validation. Validation is a prospect says, “Here’s my credit card. Here’s my debit card. Here’s a cheque. Here’s a money order. Here’s cash. Now, give me the course.”

Chris Badgett: Just another rabbit hole I want to mention, is validation is not talking to your spouse or your friends or other people who are in the same industry as you and a Facebook book like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” It’s the real target market that you have to even know who they are, the personas.

Justin Wise: Yes. That is so important. There are so many people who use that soft language of, “Well, so and so said it would be a good idea” or, “This industry expert said such and such and this thing.” Do not care about any of that. It will save you so much heartache for you to say something like … This is exactly how we launch courses. By the way, we have by no means perfected this. I had a course seven months ago I wanted to do and I did more than I usually do for this to get it ready. We launched it to our list and it was absolutely crickets. Nothing. It was probably the offer I’ve been most excited about since I started the company and had zero … Okay, no one.

Chris Badgett: No validation. Yeah.

Justin Wise: No validation. Literally no one bought it. Not one single person.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: That is … Obviously that’s crushing to my ego.

Chris Badgett: Right, but you’re honest. There’s a moment of honesty there. Right?

Justin Wise: It’s total honesty, and that’s what I want because the cost was a little bit of my time, the cost was I sent an email series out to the list and that was about it … And a little wounded, bruised ego. That was the cost.

Chris Badgett: How were you validating? Were you asking for people to hit reply or sending them to an order form or what were you … Describing the offer in the email or did you have a landing page? What did it look like?

Justin Wise: We’ve done it a number of different ways. The way that we’ve done it for the most part up until just a few months ago was basically send people directly to an order form.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: And do a lot of the legwork through a nurture sequence of describing the course, describing the product.

Chris Badgett: The offer.

Justin Wise: Yeah, describing the offer. Most times we wouldn’t even put up a landing page.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: If we did put up a landing page it would be a Google Doc form or it would be a document.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: In that document would be a link to an order form. That order form, we would wait for people to buy.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: If people bought then we took them to a thank you page that said … We said this by the way in the email nurture sequences as well, but we would say, “Hey, thanks for buying. This won’t be ready for another two months.” You know? So, we said it in the emails leading up to the purchase and we reaffirmed that after.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Because guess what we do in those two months or whatever it is? One month. Guess what we’re doing? We’re building the course.

Chris Badgett: Right. Yeah.

Justin Wise: This isn’t like … Sometimes people hear that and they think like, “Oh, that’s shady.” Or, “That’s not how I do business.” Listen. Get over yourself. That’s how it should be done. That’s how you respect your market. It’s how you respect yourself. It’s how you respect your expertise. It’s how you respect your time.

Chris Badgett: If you don’t have a list, like let’s say if we put our community builder hat on and we haven’t been building an email list from day one or whatever, we can still validate by knowing who our persona is and doing a Facebook campaign with maybe a little mini nurture sequence that links to an order form. Right?

Justin Wise: 100%. I love that you brought that up because I don’t want people weaseling out of this with excuses.

Chris Badgett: You can’t escape validation. I want to just throw another excuse before I forget about it. I hear, unfortunately a lot of course creators in the very beginning, they haven’t validated and they’re asking questions about how to build up an affiliate army or a bunch of affiliates to sell my course. But if you think about how affiliate marketing works, you don’t want to do all this work to get affiliates to join your program and tie their brand to your reputation on an offer that’s not validated. Affiliate marketing is a scaling strategy. It’s not a starting strategy.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: I just want to throw out there.

Justin Wise: Yeah. 100%. It is putting the cart so far before the horse.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: That any affiliate worth their salt is going to say and they’re going to ask the same thing, “How much? What are your sales? How many people are buying? What’s the price point? How much percentage are you going to give me?” That is a growth … That is an acceleration strategy. That is not a growth strategy.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I just want to throw this just short story out there. When we first launched our course building software LifterLMS, we were a web development company but this product, the original landing page, we built with Leadpages. We didn’t spend a bunch of time building a custom page, custom check. It was very simple.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: And quick to put together. We were starting with not a big email list. In our initial launch we had 42 customers, which validated it off a small list.

Justin Wise: Totally.

Chris Badgett: So, these don’t have to be … Validation doesn’t mean like quit your job time. It’s just like is there a signal here? Or is this just noise? Or am I just a hero in my own mind and other people aren’t interested in this offer?

Justin Wise: Yeah man. That’s so good. Validation, it doesn’t have to be these astronomical numbers. If you get 10 buyers, okay, if you get 10 people on this planet saying, “I will give you money right now for what it is that you’re offering” congratulations. You have a validated offer. There’s no magic number either. I mean, you know, if you want to get real strict about it, it’s more than one.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. One is better than zero.

Justin Wise: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Crickets is real. There is a lot of people that end up getting zero conversions on their offer. It happens.

Justin Wise: Yes. Not to be ashamed of that.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s a learning moment.

Justin Wise: It’s totally learning, it’s part of the process. It happens to the best people on the planet who do this day in, day out. You come up with goose eggs but I would rather you come up blank before you actually do all the hard work, than what most people do is they do all the hard work, they try and validate and then they get desperate.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, this is why I’m convinced you see people like racing to the bottom for the price on their course. I think a lot of courses are horrendously under priced.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Especially if they include course plus coaching. Like, if there’s an active element. Your time is not cheap, even if you do group coaching or whatever.

Justin Wise: Disaster.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: The point I’m getting at man, is like, I think there’s just so many smart, amazing people on this planet. People who listen to this podcast, right, who know they’ve got an expertise in one or let’s say various areas. They could live the life and build the business that they want but their elements are out of order.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: If they could get those elements in the right order … It’s not that they don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s not even that people don’t want what they have. It’s that the elements aren’t in the right order, they’re not in the right place.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Or they’re not focused on the right persona or whatever. That’s a really good point. I wanted to ask you a little bit about your course creator story in terms of an expert can have like done-for-you services and they can have do-it-yourself training products. Sometimes you offer both or if somebody can’t afford your awesome services then maybe you send them to your training and they can afford the do-it-yourself route or whatever.

Justin Wise: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: What has been your just general experience as an expert in your own right, in done-for-you services, productized services which is kind of in the middle, and then do-it-yourself training? Can you just speak to that a little bit? ‘Cause you live in all the worlds as an expert. So, how’s it been for you?

Justin Wise: Oh man. How much time do we have?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, you said you started on the internet in 2007. Is that what you said?

Justin Wise: Yeah. More or less.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, let me just tell you from experience kind of like how we got started and where things went and where things are now.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, for us, I started the launch … When I say us there really was no us at the time. It was me.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: I was like, man, “I know a ton about digital marketing.” I’d been fortunate enough to meet up with some heavy hitters in the space and be able to do some work with them. So, I was like, “I need to get this out to the masses.” So, I launched the course, our first course ever and learned every mistake you can make. I’m not going to go into all of them but long story short, signed up 90 or what was it? 100 new students within 90 days.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Justin Wise: At $80 a month.

Chris Badgett: Okay. Recurring revenue. That’s a good thing.

Justin Wise: Recurring revenue, and this was my first effort. Okay, never done anything like it before in terms of selling a course. This was my first course and it went off really, really well.

Chris Badgett: Did it have a coaching piece? How were you getting the recurring value? [inaudible] or was it a payment plan? Or what was it?

Justin Wise: It was a payment plan.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, people could do a one time buy or most everybody, I think it was like 90% picked the payment plan. So, we spaced it out over 12 months and so it gave me a year of recurring revenue.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: You know, keeping up … I did not realize keeping track of those payments and all that kind of stuff, what a nightmare that was going to turn into.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: But at the time I was working a much different job and earning much less money per year. I was like … We had just had my first baby, we just had our first kid and I was like, “Man, I gotta do something different.” So, we launched it and people started going through the course and then they were like, “Hey, this is really great but I don’t want to actually do this. I don’t want to do this. It’s too hard.” “So, hey Justin, will you just do it for us?” So, out of that that’s where our agency started.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s great common in a training scenario. I’ve seen it where you teach somebody something and they’re like, “Oh, wow. There’s a lot here. I don’t have time for that. I need that, can you just do it for me?” It’s a very common behavior that experts are on the other side of when they start teaching.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Same route.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, you know, we went into that and I kind of wish that we hadn’t or we at least kept up the course side of things because now we’re moving back into that space but the course landscape has changed so much that we’re actually … The way we’re addressing courses is totally different now and what we’re focusing on is the done-with-you side of things.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: This is where I think there’s a ton of opportunity for people listening, where the online course market to some degree … At least, you’re not going to find very many courses where you can do what we did back in 2013 anymore.

Chris Badgett: Right.

Justin Wise: They just don’t … Those opportunities don’t exist any longer.

Chris Badgett: There’s a lot more competition.

Justin Wise: Totally.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: There’s more competition. What we’ve found just in our own experience, and this I think has gotten worse, is that people would buy it but they never complete.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. 10% completion rates are the standard in the industry.

Justin Wise: I am not okay with that.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: There are some people out there who are fine with that, but I’m not one of them. So, I think the course model can still work. If we have time I’ll get into that, but I think what’s more exciting to me right now is the done-with-you side of things where you’re not going to one extreme where you’re saying, “Hey, I’m going to vend myself out, just buy my material.”

Chris Badgett: Right.

Justin Wise: You know, ’cause that comes at a cost. My time.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, the thing that we’re really excited about right now is getting people into a workshop environment where we’ll take let’s say two days and we’ll spend online virtually … Spend two days with people and basically go through all of the material that we would’ve gone through in a course but go through that live and in person so to speak. Leave time for question and answers and then also give people work time to do the actual stuff that they need to do to make the investment worthwhile. That is a format that we’re really excited about, that we’re seeing a lot of results most importantly. A lot of our students are seeing results.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Because they’re getting the stuff done.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, and there’s time for implementation and there’s support because it’s the with. Done with.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: It’s not done alone and inside of a membership. Log in somewhere with some videos.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: There’s more to it than that.

Justin Wise: Yeah, I think people are actually getting … I mean, this is all anecdotal. I have no statistics to back this up, but my sense is that where you used to have … It used to be where, for us anyway, we’d market it like 30 plus hours of content.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s not anymore. Yeah.

Justin Wise: You know, 50 plus resources and it’s like …

Chris Badgett: Videos, audios, transcripts.

Justin Wise: Yes.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah.

Justin Wise: That’s a deterrent now.

Chris Badgett: Right. Yeah.

Justin Wise: It actually repels people because who has the time? Nobody has that time.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, I think … You know, for us anyway, that’s the format that’s working really well, but the course side of things still works well. The way we use courses right now is to basically teach a component.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: A skill.

Chris Badgett: Micro learning.

Justin Wise: Micro learning.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Those people then become paid leads where we can market some of our more in depth trainings, coaching, consulting, whatever and I can still sleep at night knowing that hey, I’m not selling something that I don’t believe in.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: So, I know that’s a lot but that’s basically what our ecosystem looks like right now.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Well, before we go. I know you’re a Facebook Ads expert so I was hoping we could do a lightening round. I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions. You only get 20 to 30 seconds per answer. I’m going to see if I can mine as much value as I can out of you about Facebook Ads, ’cause course creators … Let’s say they’re validated, they’re looking to scale with Facebook, so I’m just going to get into it.

Justin Wise: Do it.

Chris Badgett: What is the minimum ad spend per month if you seriously want to do Facebook Ads?

Justin Wise: I would say take what you’re willing to spend to acquire a client, multiply it times four and that’s your acquisition cost. Then you can multiply how many people you want to get. So, what I mean is, let’s say your course is $100 and you’re willing to spend $25 to make a $100 purchase or acquisition, then you would say, “Okay. What is four times 25? That’s $100. I’d spend $100 per day.”

Chris Badgett: Gotcha. That’s awesome.

Justin Wise: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: What is the … Today as of this recording we’re in November 2018, what is the ideal text length of copy in the ad?

Justin Wise: We’re right now … There’s not a single ad that we write that’s less than 200 words.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What are some tips on the image to pair with the ad?

Justin Wise: Image is the most important element of capturing attention. So, you know, we really like to play around. I learned this tip from a guy, Nick Kusmich, who’s like the godfather of Facebook Ads. Bump up your contrast on your images. Bump up your saturation. Don’t be afraid to pick weird images and you have to just have discernment on what weird means to you in your market.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: You don’t want to go into blandville but you also don’t want to go into spamville.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: We take saturation clearly out. So, black and white, monochrome. Static image with copy outperforms 95% of any other ad that you’re going to put out there.

Chris Badgett: Excellent. What is the ideal … Let’s say we’re a course creator and we’ve got a validated offer. Where should we actually put the link in the ad to go to? What type of page? Are we going to the course description? Are we going to the checkout? Are we going to some kind of lead magnet to get an opt-in and nurture them? Where should we send the people from Facebook?

Justin Wise: I would not sell a course directly off of Facebook. I would send people … Lead gen. I would do lead gen and I would make a presentation of the course after people opt-in to my list. So, you have a really good lead magnet. People opt-in to the lead magnet. The thank you page is the offer to your course. I would not sell directly off Facebook.

Chris Badgett: Top tips for a good Facebook Ad headline?

Justin Wise: How to X so you can Y without Z.

Chris Badgett: Wow. You had that one ready. That is awesome. See, this is what I love about frameworks. I think you made it through the lightening round. Congratulations. That was like … So, my job was to mine the most value as possible, as I can out of you for the course creator and that’s a lot of hard [inaudible], just time in the trenches, Facebook, out in paid advertising and marketing and conversion experience. Just bundled up into some questions. So, you that’s listening, hit rewind and listen to that part again. Watch it and write it down. Those are some nuggets of wisdom in there.

Justin, I want to thank you for coming. He’s at ThinkDigital.co. So, Justin Wise at ThinkDigital.co. Where else can people find you on the internet?

Justin Wise: Tweet at me @JustinWise. I’m the only verified Justin Wise there is. So, there’s my homeboy in Australia who’s Justin Wise. He is a chef.

Chris Badgett: He’s not a marketer.

Justin Wise: [inaudible] verified.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Justin Wise: Huh?

Chris Badgett: He’s not a marketer. He makes food. Right?

Justin Wise: He’s not a marketer. [inaudible].

Chris Badgett: So, if you find the chef you’re in the wrong place.

Justin Wise: Instagram’s holding out on me. It’s the only place … They’re the trifecta. It’s the only one that’s holding out on me. They haven’t verified me yet. I’ve tried like 100 different times. So, if anyone from Instagram’s listening, please hit up your boy. Help me get verified. [inaudible] trifecta.

Chris Badgett: Final thing before we go here. Who is your persona? Who do you best help with Think Digital? Could you describe the best client or customer for you?

Justin Wise: Yeah. We help visionary leaders with their marketing structure. That’s about as simple as I can put it.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Justin, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing with us today. We really appreciate it.

Justin Wise: My pleasure.

Chris Badgett: 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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