Where I got to last year

A while back, I started working on a new project – Win The Day Back – which was meant to show, from the ground up, how a successful online course business can be grown.

Truth be told it's a little slow.

That shouldn't really be a surprise. It's a side project, not my main sphere of expertise, and these things take a LOT of time unless you already have an established profile in the market and some people to endorse you.

Here's a checklist of some of the things I did get done:

  1. Built out a WordPress site for the main landing pages and some organic content.
  2. Hired someone to write some decent blog content, and stumbled on one of the writes at Mindvalley at the first step which was excellent.
  3. Bought a couple of products to white-label for the first offer and managed to sell a handful.
  4. Learned a bunch about options for selling one-off products, as opposed to courses which need a site to host the content. Managed to do some vaguely clever integration work with Gumroad, FastSpring and Stripe in pursuit of this.
  5. Got a small course of my own off the ground, not quite completed yet.
  6. Got a Learndash LMS site setup and able to take Stripe payments for once the main product is finished.
  7. Created a Facebook campaign that is getting leads at about 40c each with a $5/day budget

This is where things got interesting

The “killer' lead magnet

One advantage of starting off in a field that you don't know quite so well, is that you don't have all the baggage of other “experts”. You're far more able to watch and listen in the market than when you're being an arms-folded know-it all.

One thing I saw was a bunch of people selling very elegant day planners.

I had one of these a while ago and it was great, but it was also a pain in the backside in many ways. The hardback meant it was heavy and wouldn't lie flat on the desk, and it was too small to keep all the odds and sods of notes that crop up during the day so I ended up having to have a second notebook.

My first step to fixing this was to just take the guts of the planner – one day's plan – and create a PDF that I could print out at will.

I gave this away and people went nuts for it.

Making the first sales

I started with just the lead magnet and an offer for $9 ebook on the thank-you page. This made a few sales but not enough to cover the ad costs.

I decided that I needed to give a bit more value before asking for the sale, so I set up a “scorecard” that I've been playing with on a few other sites. The gist is that it asks you about 30 questions, then tells you if your weak point is in one of 3 areas related to productivity.

When I'd tried getting people to fill this out as their first interaction with me, the response rate was pretty dismal and it was costing me about $6 per lead, but placed after the lead magnet, I'm getting leads PLUS the scorecard profile for under $1.

It gets better though.

The birth of the scorecard project.

When I set up the site, I looked at what I knew about productivity and built the course around:

  • Goal selection
  • Work habits
  • Environment (work and colleagues)

Naturally enough, when I started the project, the first product was around goals, and it did OK.

With the scorecard in place though, over 80% of my respondents were saying it was habits & consistency that were causing the biggest pain point.

This was something of a revelation.

I figured that other product creators could use the same method to make sure they were selling what people WANT and not just what they think they NEED.

I added a freeform question about where they need help and well over half of the surveys have some sort of brief response in there. Compared to asking the question in the first email that you send, that's huge.

This is a little wordcloud I built to boil down the results – absolute gold dust at uncovering our users own language to talk to them as we progress.

Developing the profile has been a real eye opener and I've done a long trawl of some competitor products to see if I can use another tool to build these, but there's nothing that quite fits the bill.

So I'm building my own.

I've already secured a name, interviewed a couple of developers and started sketching out the management screens for a new web app to help other product creators build feedback and also segment their users.

I'll write more about this app in the coming months, but if you want to see the MVP version in action, start here at the Facebook post that our ad uses.