Black Friday – love it or loathe it, a lot of sales are made on Black Friday.
If you look at all the ‘famous’ internet marketers, they weren’t thinking “oh, I don’t like what Black Friday stands for” or “I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon”… No, they just cracked straight on with it and presented a great value sale.
The way I see it is that if I can offer my passive income product (my Legal Academy) at even greater value to encourage people to take action right away and while doing so, I make more than most people make in a month or even a year in one day, then everyone is a winner. There’s nothing to apologise for or be reluctant about….
But first of course, you have to actually HAVE the passive income product that is going to bring in the ££££££.
So how do you create a passive income product (PIP) that will bring in the ££££££ on auto pilot??
1. Deliver massive value
The most important thing is that your PIP needs to be super valuable to your target audience.
In my Legal Academy, I have stacked on the value and keep adding to it – there are over 60+ legal template documents in there, over 20 video guides, checklists, case studies, action plans, quick start videos, an 8 week mini law school, training webinars, a Facebook group, mp3 files, transcripts – basically everything I could think of that would make putting legal protection in place super easy for small business owners.
As a result of that value, members are more than happy to recommend my PIP wherever they think it appropriate. A lot of sales are made purely because members love my Academy.
2. Start small and build up slowly
Saying that, don’t think you need to create all of the above content on day one… I started very simply with files in Dropbox folders and videos hosted on You Tube. I did not create my all singing all dancing membership site on day 1. Nor did I have a fancy sales page.
I kept it simple and I sold the Academy v1.0 over 4 webinars. The webinars were all on different areas of the law for small business owners with a very small pitch at the end for my Academy (ie about 95% valuable content).
I offered lifetime membership to the early adopters for a very low price so that even though the content was not as comprehensive as it is now and even though the delivery was not very sophisticated, the initial members still received tremendous value.
I had at least 50% of the people on the webinar take up the offer!
3. Sell before you create
This is very important. There is absolutely no point slaving away for hours creating a PIP that you think is amazing if you don’t know for sure that there is a good market for it.
Yes it takes a leap of faith to take people’s money before actually having the product, but with some careful planning it is absolutely possible.
It also prevents the catch 22 dilemma where as an expert, you can’t clear the space to create your PIP because you need the income from your one to one paying clients.
4. There is no perfect time to create your PIP
That leads me nicely on to the point that there really is no perfect time to create your PIP.
I had thought about launching my Academy for about two years before I finally got round to it.
It was actually thanks to Bernadette Doyle and one of her training videos where she was being particularly emphatic about this point that there is never a perfect time – the thing that separates the winners from the losers is the winner’s ability to take action now.
This convinced me that I had to just get on and do it.
And it was probably the worst time ever! My littlest was only 4 months old and I was still breastfeeding her twice a night.
My husband thought I was completely crazy….
But after a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears, it was done. And from then on, I literally did earn money in my sleep…
5. It’s not easy – in fact it can be really bloody hard…
Like I say, I decided to create my PIP when my littlest was 4 months old. I really could not have picked a worse time.
I was having to create 3 to 5 legal document templates a week, 2 to 3 video guides, a checklist, a case study and an action plan.
For 8 weeks I think I got about 3 hours sleep a night.
It is probably the hardest I have ever worked in my life!
And that is saying something seeing as I used to work at the world’s largest law firm where 18 hour days were the norm…
I had imagined it would be easy to home shoot my own videos – how wrong could I be. It was a complete disaster!
I ended up running really behind on the videos but my initial members were very forgiving when I explained I was going to have to get a professional videographer in.
Enter my Knight(ess) in Shining Armour – Mi Elfverson of True North Vision. She came to my home, made it look beautiful and we shot all of the videos in one day.
Anyone who tells you that creating a successful PIP is easy is lying… You have to do the graft upfront.
But then once the hard work is done, subject to a bit of updating from time to time, you really can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour over and over and over again.
6. Get feedback and refine
As part of the initial offer for very low cost lifetime membership, I made it clear that the reason the membership fee was so low was that we were looking for feedback on the Academy so that we could improve all aspects of it before we did a big launch.
We had about 100 initial members and my assistant at the time spoke to each and every one of them gathering incredibly valuable feedback and just as importantly testimonials that we could use on the launch.
We asked them if they were happy for us to craft a testimonial from what they had told us and send it to them for their approval. That way we could focus on the benefits that we wanted to bring out in the launch rather than having the woolly testimonials that customers tend to give.
As part of that feedback process we added the quick start videos, the mp3 files, and the transcripts, constructed the new membership site and split the membership into two levels.
Some feedback was considered but not implemented where the cost/benefit anaylsis didn’t stack up. For example some members suggested branded binders to be delivered at the start of the membership.
In theory this is a great idea, but when you look at the cost of producing and shipping the binders as against the value people would get (and how much extra they were prepared to pay) it was a non-starter.
7. Keep the costs down
For my initial sales through the webinars, the costs of creation (other than my time) were very low.
I used Gotowebinar for the webinars (about £60 a month) and my videography cost me about £600.
I was using free video hosting and a free Dropbox account to store the files.
I was paying £150 a month for Infusionsoft which delivered my emails and provided the payment gateway to my free Paypal account, but this is not at all necessary – you could use the free version of Mailchimp just as effectively.
When it came to building the membership site (about 6 months after the soft launch by selling on my 4 webinars), I could have hired someone in the UK to build me one for about £10k.
What I actually did was found a great guy in India who was brilliant and charged me £250… A bit of a difference and I got exactly what I wanted.
Saying that, I had pretty fixed ideas about what I wanted and how it would look.
I think if I had needed ideas about layout or design he wouldn’t have been the right choice.
I used a great free tool called Balsamiq which lets you create wire frames of websites so that I could show him exactly where I wanted everything to go.
He followed that to the letter and added a tonne of content all included in the price.
I also used a fabulous VA in the Philippines who went through all the content for me and branded it with the new brand and logo. She charged me something like £100 for a mammoth job.
I hired someone through fiverr to do a new logo for me and while it is not the most enticing, it does the job for now…
And it was much better than the one I started off with… yes really…!!
I also made the little intro video myself using VideoMaker FX (about £8 a month) and Screenflow (£80) – I can’t believe how terribly home made it looks now – at the time I was super impressed with it!
You can watch it by clicking here http://www.smallbusinesslegalacademy.co.uk/sbla
By the way, that’s an updated sales page to the one we used for the launch but the video is the same – I keep meaning to re-do it….
I used Optimizepress 2.0 and Wishlist member for the membership site – both one off fees of about £200 each.
I love Optimizepress – it is so easy for even a non-techy person like me to add content and edit content. I looked at Kajabi but it didn’t allow the flexibility I wanted and had a fairly hefty monthly charge.
8. Start building your network of influencers right now
Having a super valuable PIP is not the end of the story. You need to get the word out about how great your PIP is.
Now if it is super valuable, you will to an extent have word of mouth sales, but that takes time to grow.
What will bring in the big sales is having influencers promote your PIP to their audience.
When I had created the membership site, rebranded all the content and added the new content, I launched the new Academy v2.0 to about 70,000 people.
This was all without any marketing spend up front.
How did I do that – I had a network of 30 JV partners who were lined up to promote my launch for me to their large audiences of my ideal clients.
I identified 10 people who I thought had a small (less than 500) but engaged list of subscribers, 10 people who had a medium sized list (500 to 5000) and 10 people who had a large list (5000+).
I learned this from Brendon Burchard – it’s no good just going to people who have huge lists.
Those lists may be completely disengaged.
It’s important to get the spread right and indeed some of my best JV partners have been the ones with the small/medium sized lists who have a really engaged audience and where the audience really trust them to add value.
People like Catherine Watkin, Lucy Whittington, Karen Skidmore and Veronica Pullen all have amazing relationships with their lists and have proved to be fantastic joint venture partners.
Saying that I also had great results from people who had bigger lists like Joanna Martin, Nicola Bird and Dan Bradbury.
But some people who had big lists produced hardly any sales. So it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket.
9. Have a launch strategy
When you are launching your PIP, especially if you are launching through JV partners, it is critical to have a very well thought out launch strategy.
This is a time when winging it is not an option.
I actually hired someone to help me with the launch process and set up all of the Infusionsoft campaigns and was very glad I did.
This cost £5000 but the person I hired promoted the Academy and didn’t charge me an affiliate fee so I more than recovered that £5k through sales from his list.
I also hired someone to create the sales page which was a £100 very well spent…
You can see the old version here http://smallbusinesslegalacademy.co.uk/salespage/.
10. Expect things to go wrong
We had a few massive cock ups by the team I hired that if I hadn’t have been eagle eyed about the launch sequence would have made the whole thing a massive failure.
The infusionsoft sequence had been set up incorrectly so that rather than my whole list seeing the offer, only a small fraction would have seen the offer.
But thankfully I was on the ball and narrowly averted disaster.
Then, on the morning of the launch, half of the web page disappeared… Seriously!
And at the same time my mum managed to lock my baby in the car on my drive, wearing hardly any clothes on the coldest day in January…
Could not make it up…
Fortunately my years of things going wrong last minute on multi-million pound deals when I was working in the City had prepared me for this and I managed to deal with it all quite calmly…
Then on the closing day of the offer period, Paypal froze my account. This was despite me having called them twice to let them know I would be having increased sales (as I had heard about them freezing accounts before).
The lady I spoke to informed me that they would unfreeze the account but they would keep 90% of the launch proceeds for 12 months!!!!
I absolutely hit the roof! I had expenses to pay, JV partners to pay and there was no way they were keeping my money for 12 months.
I got heavy with them and they eventually capitulated. They agreed to keep 30% for a rolling 3 months. Not ideal but significantly better than the first option.
11. Build on the success of the launch
On the face of it, we had quite a successful launch (£30k / $45k) but some fairly hefty JV commissions to pay out. After all the costs were taken into account, there wasn’t masses of profit.
But enough to prove that the Academy could be very successful.
And for me, it actually isn’t about the money, it’s about proving to myself that things can be done.
And we did it!
Since then, most of my sales have been though one off promotions. Most people are reactive when thinking about legal matters – ie they only look for help when the shit has hit the fan and not before…
So I have to find a way to encourage them to take action right now and that typically is through discounted sales.
Which brings me full circle to this year’s Black Friday sale and the £18,696 I made in one day.
This time I had a small number of affiliates and I didn’t pay them an affiliate fee.
Instead I ran a competition with prizes of either an overnight spa stay at Lime Wood (in my view the best spa hotel in the UK) or a dinner at the Fat Duck (one of the best restaurants in the world).
I am very pleased that my good pal Catherine Watkin won the competition! Catherine is a very generous promoter and invests a lot in building trust with her list so completely deserves to win.
All I did promotion-wise was send 4 emails in one day setting out the key benefits (not features) of the Academy and stressing the huge discount if they bought on that day with a link to the sales page.
Now I did get about 3 emails from people (out of a list of 5k+) that objected to my 4 emails in one day… I politely replied to all of these people and explained that I believed so strongly in my product and the incredible value I was offering today that I didn’t want anyone not to see the offer. They were all cool with that…
I also put a post on my business Facebook page and paid £124 to boost the post (I wouldn’t normally do boost on Facebook as it’s not the most efficient but couldn’t be bothered faffing about with Power Editor) – I also didn’t bother with any tracking so don’t know whether this resulted in any sales. Again for a longer campaign I would set all the tracking and conversions.
I posted in my High Performing Women group very late in the day as I was promoting 5 other ladies’ Black Friday sales.
And that was it – not much effort at all to get my £18,696 in sales.
Saying that, please do not forget the effort spent in originally creating the content, building and nurturing my list and nurturing relationships with influencers. There is effort involved, but it is great with a PIP to be able to turn on the tap of sales every so often without a lot of extra effort.
Aside from the creation of the content and the membership site, the launch and the one off promotions, on a day to day basis I probably work one hour a week max on my Legal Academy.
So to have earned over £160k (nearly $250k) from it, is not bad at all!
And after I had created and launched the membership site, it pretty much runs itself – which has allowed me to set up my Masterminds and mentoring groups and quickly build a separate 6 figure business.
I am currently working on the SEO of my site and an evergreen nurturing campaign in order to get more regular sales without the one day promotions.
12. Get some help
There is A LOT to think about when launching a PIP and a lot to get wrong…
Do not go into it lightly…
As Peter Voogd says “the most expensive way to learn is from your own mistakes”.
I invested £4k in mentoring programmes and £5k in planning my launch. Yes still mistakes were made but a whole lot less than if I had been going it alone.
So to help you, I have put together a Passive Income Product strategy planner.
If you want to get hold of my free Passive Income Product strategy planner, click here.
Then you can start the process of planning out your PIP and taking your first steps to recurring passive income – surely the holy grail for every small business owner!