Hey there, Dean here. I run content and SEO at AppSumo. Here, I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more.
Expert Secrets lays out the step-by-step process of starting an online expert business. You start an expert business by shifting your focus on learning to help others with what you’ve learned. And by selling (getting your audience to pay) your product or service is the best way to hold them accountable to their goals.
The process with most expert businesses is the same. First, we become passionate about a particular topic. We study, we learn, we implement, but eventually we can’t grow anymore from study alone. We then shift our focus to helping others with what we have learned, and that contribution helps them, which in turn also helps us continue to grow.
So I started studying historical figures who had built huge audiences and caused big changes. The more examples I found, the more patterns I noticed. Three things in common that helped them build a mass movement:
If you’re going to start a mass movement and create a vehicle for change, the first question you have to ask yourself is “Who do I want to serve?” The answer to that question is typically people who were just like you before you became an expert, right? As a charismatic leader, you’re going to lead people on a path you’ve walked before.
As you start looking around at the other experts in your submarket, you’re going to find out who your competitors are, what they teach, and how they do so. Then you will start to see where you fit into this ecosystem. You want to create a message that will complement the other players in your market. NOT compete with them. If you do this correctly, all your big “competitors” will almost instantly become your best partners.
Become an attractive character, and live the life your audience wishes they could live.
Maintain absolute certainty. It is said that in any situation, the person with the most certainty wins.
Don’t be boring. Your audience must be fascinated with you and what you teach. If you’re bored, they’re not going to connect with you.
If you truly believe that what you have is useful and valuable to your clients, then you have a moral obligation to try to serve them in every way possible. —Jay Abraham
People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.
You have to give your followers hope of something better so they will be perceptive to the change you are going to offer them. You do that by painting a vision of the future that they want.
Now that you’ve helped people to see the vision of where you are talking to them, the next goal is to get them to identify with your movement. People need to be able to identify with who they are in your group, or there will be no connection with you or the other members.
Our goal is not to fix what’s not working. Our goal is to REPLACE what’s not working with something better.
Most often, when people start thinking about the product or the service they want to offer, they start by looking around at what is already out there, and then try to “build a better mousetrap”. When you do that, you are not offering them a new opportunity, you are offering them what we call an “improvement” offer.
The only thing that causes people to move toward you or not move at all. That’s it. Status is the magic word in this business. When someone is presented with an opportunity, their subconscious mind is working on the answer to this question: Is this thing I’m considering going to increase my status or decrease it?
There are only two ways to position a new opportunity, either as an Opportunity Switch or an Opportunity Stack.
Opportunity switch is to take them out of the vehicle they’re currently using and put them into a new one.
After someone has made the switch into your new opportunity, then all future sales to prospect are typically an opportunity stack, not an improvement offer. I don’t want to switch my prospects from opportunity to opportunity because it will cause confusion and break trust. But I can offer them an opportunity stack within the new opportunity that they have just joined.
No matter what you do, in the beginning it’s going to suck, because you suck. But you’ll get better, and you’ll suck less. And as you keep doing this, eventually you’ll suck so little… you’ll actually be good.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling physical products, digital information, or service programs. Go out there and work for free. Get some results. If what you’re doing work, then capture those stories and testimonials.
The longer I work in this business, the more I realize how everything comes down to one thing—belief. Belief creates the customer. Belief creates the results.
You must persuade people to believe in what you are doing, and you do that by mastering the art of storytelling.
The first step to creating belief is figuring out the ONE THING you have to get someone to believe that will knock down all their other objections, make them irrelevant, or disappear together.
Look at how many things a prospect has to believe in order to buy what you’re selling. If it’s more than one, you need to rework your sales presentation.
If you want people to adopt a new concept and want to get their buy-in, you have to lead them to the answer, but you can’t GIVE it to them. They have to come up with the idea themselves. You plant ideas in their minds with a story, and if THEY come up with the answer, they will have sold themselves. The buying decision becomes theirs, not yours. When that happens, you don’t have to sell them anything.
Think about it. YOU didn’t buy into the new opportunity because of all the logical technobabble. You bought in because of some emotional experience that happened before you geeked out. You had an epiphany FIRST, and that caused you to move forward. People don’t buy logically, they buy based on emotion. Then they use logic to justify the purchase decision they’ve already made.
The first key to telling captivating stories is oversimplification. When you’re telling stories, you need to speak at about a third-grade level.
But sometimes you have to talk about complex ideas. So how do you have a complicated idea and simplify it quickly? You do this using a tool I created called a “kinda like” bridge, and relate it to something easy to understand.
The next way to improve your storytelling is to add in feelings and emotions. When you tell a story this way, you’re controlling the state of the person listening.
It’s essential that you control their state, and you do this by telling the story in a way that gets people to feel what you felt, so when you explain how you had your epiphany, your audiences can experience the same epiphany. If you want people to have the same epiphany you had, they need to be in the same state that you were in when you had that epiphany.
Good stories are really simple. There can be layers of complexity, but at the core they are all very simple. Every good story is built on three foundational elements (Character, Desire, and Conflict), also known as the “plot.”
Michael Hauge said that the internal journey is all about the death of our identity, and the rebirth of our essence. Our internal struggles are about us holding onto these things that we’re attached to such as love, our status, our identity. If you took away all those things, what is left would be your essence.
It’s interesting that two people can have the exact same experience, but because of the story they created, it affected their beliefs about it. So you have to understand that when you speak to people about your new opportunity, they will bring thousands of preconceived beliefs with them that you have to combat if you are going to make the sale.
Stories are the keys to belief. If you can identify people’s false beliefs and tell stories that show them the truth, you didn’t need to “sell” them anything. The stories lead people to the right belief, and they sell themselves.
There are three core beliefs that come to the surface and keep someone from buying, even if they believe the new opportunity is right for them:
If you believe in the product or service you’re selling, then you have a moral obligation to try and serve your customers in every way possible. —Jay Abraham
Teaching the best content actually hurt sales. But learning how to identify, break, and rebuild false belief patterns got people to take the action they needed in order to change.
Jason Fladlien once explained: The idea is to have a single point of belief that your message is built around and is emphasized over and over and over again from a variety of different angles.
You’ll be tempted to switch into teacher mode at this point. And if you’re not careful, it will destroy your sales. This is not a teaching presentation; this is a presentation to inspire people and cause them to actually take action to change their lives. The teaching is what you do after they have purchased.
Breaking beliefs that had held them back for years and giving them new, empowering beliefs. This is actually teaching in its most pure form, it’s just different than what you’re used to. The time for teaching strategy and tactics will come. But they need to come in with the right belief systems first.
Get used to using lots of little statements that get your audience to think or say yes over and over again. The more you can get them to say yes, the more likely they will accept the epiphanies you’ve shared with them and the offer presented.
Eventually you’ll automate a webinar, but not at first. You need to get people’s feedback, make changes, and perfect your webinar. It’s more work, but the result could be worth tens of millions of dollars to you over time.
The key to a high-converting webinar registration page is… CURIOSITY.
If your registration page isn’t converting well, it’s because you’ve shown people too much and they assume they know the answer. If they think they know what you’re going to talk about, then they won’t register or show up. If they can’t figure out what it is without registering, then you’ll get them to register AND show up.
The registration page is about curiosity. The thank-you page is about your passion and excitement for what they are about to experience on the webinar.
You’re trying to get them to describe their external and internal goals here. You want to hear their true desires. If they can’t answer their goals here. You want to hear their true desires. If they can’t answer this question, you don’t want to work with them because you’ll never be able to satisfy them. No matter how much you accomplish—and no matter how much they pay you—if they can’t articulate their desires, then you won’t be able to make them a reality.
Here you’re looking for their obstacles and objections. If they don’t have what they want yet, there must be a reason. And you need to know whether you can help them with those obstacles or not.
Think about what resources, connections, talents, or skills you have access to that you’re not currently utilizing 100%, that we could use to help overcome your obstacles and achieve your goals.
You don’t need to create traffic, it’s already there. People are already online. You just have to figure out how to get those people to leave where they are and come to you instead.
The people who controlled that traffic were typically one of four types: list owners, bloggers, podcasters, or social media influencers.
Dig your well before you’re thirsty. The WORST time to contact your Dream 100 (top 100 contacts) is the day you need them to promote something for you. The best time to start building relationships is NOW. So when you are ready to ask them to promote you, the relationship will already be there.
The easier and the best way to work with your Dream 100 is to get them to promote you and your new opportunity to their following. That’s my #1 goal.
I create specific ads to target the followers of each person on my Dream 100 list. Each network is different and they change frequently, so you’ll need to stay on top of the networks you want to use.
You’re wondering where you should start, this is what I’d recommend:
Getting people to give you money is also one of the best ways you can hold them accountable to their goals. I struggled with my business for almost two years because I was so scared of investing in myself. I was never able to ask other people to invest in the products and services I created either.