We discuss with our special guest Breanna Gunn what it takes to launch a successful course or membership website in 2018.
Brea provides entrepreneurs with the confidence and steps needed to successfully launch their product and shift their business so that they can create profitable funnels that naturally create customers and create residual income.
This weeks show is Sponsored By Kinsta Hosting
Brea began her entrepreneurial journey as a copywriter and virtual assistant, and went on to “accidentally” help a client with their launch. And it worked! Over the next few years, Brea had the good fortune to work on launches that have generated 5-, 6-, and 7-figures. Brea has natural gift for problem solving and funnel creation, and that together, she could help entrepreneurs level up and launch their dream businesses.
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Show. It’s episode 321. We’ve got a fantastic guest on our Wednesday show here. We’ve got Bre Gunn and we’re going to be talking about launching your course, your membership site. We’re going to have a feast all around that. So, Bre, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the audience and listeners?
Bre: Thank you so much for having me. Of course. My name is Bre and I help business owners launch their courses and membership sites.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. And Cindy, would you like to quickly introduce yourself?
Cindy: Hi everyone. Cindy Nicholson from TheCourseWhisperer.co and I help entrepreneurs that want to create a course that their clients will rave about.
Jonathan: That sounds great. And I’m the founder of WP-Tonic. We’re all things WordPress and we help get your membership, Learning Management System up and running, support it, get it launched. We deal with all the tech stuff so you can concentrate on your content and building up a great course. Before we start off Bre, I think you need to increase the volume a little bit if you can. You went down a little bit.
Bre: Let me see if I can. Hold on. Is that better?
Jonathan: Yeah. It’s a lot better.
Bre: Let me just move it closer to my mouth. How about that?
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s it. That’s great. So, as we had our little discussion before, launching a product, a membership website, a course, is a product. You’ve got to launch it. So, let’s start the conversation. Where do you see some of the major problems people have around this area?
Bre: So, a lot of the problem is people will create a course or membership site or they’ll have a really great idea for one and they’re like, “Okay. I’ll put the title of it or I’ll think of something really great and I’ll put it out there.” And then they think that’s it. It’s that whole “If you build it, they will come” scenario where you assume that because you’re well known in this arena or that arena that people are going to automatically know you have this other thing out there that you may not have mentioned or talked about or maybe you mentioned it in passing months ago and then you created it and you’re like, “Where is everybody?”. And it happens a lot and there’s a lot more that goes into actually getting the product off the ground. Cindy creates courses. I take the course similar to what she creates and help get them out to the people who need to see them so that they can buy them.
Jonathan: That’s great. So, maybe we can delve into some of the methodologies and ways they can get that message out.
Bre: Yeah. One of the biggest hang-ups I see lately is people are creating courses around an expertise that they have that doesn’t necessarily align with their current business. Maybe they’re a blogger who’s gotten really good at SEO but their audience who knows that they’re a DIY blogger doesn’t need the SEO help so they have to build a brand new audience or they need to market it in a different way. Or you create a membership site because you started out, I myself started out as like a VA and I see a lot of ex-VAs or VAs who have moved up or moved on. I want to help people who are just started out but their client base is not newbies. They’re not brand new to the market and they’re marketing to these people who really don’t care.
It doesn’t matter to them. They need the product and so you get these people, “Oh, it failed. Okay. I’m just not good at this. I’ll stop.” And it’s not a matter of not being good at it. It’s a matter of understanding how you’re perceived in the marketplace and being willing and able to kind of shift how you approach attracting the right kind of clients, the right kind of customers. And then being able to maintain the support on the back-end. Once you do find those people, you have to keep them happy and it’s more than just tech.
The tech side, you have that nailed but what happens when someone wants a refund or when you have a massive user error because they can’t remember which one of 46 passwords they used to get into your course and that becomes your fault? It’s handling those weird things that you don’t think about that will throw people and they’ll freak out because they assume that when they launched the course, that was the end of it. And then, they’re blindsided when there’s continuing customer service or a section or a module of the course or a piece of the content that you have for your membership site is out of date or needs to be refilmed or becomes irrelevant or you find a really great new thing you want to promote but you just sold this other product so suddenly you become all about sales and people who have paid to be there are tired of getting sold to and you start having disgruntled customers. There’s a lot that goes into the actually launching and production. I call it the Bermuda Triangle of launching. They like to pretend that they just, if they don’t look at it, it’s not there.
Jonathan: Well, it’s not really the sexy part really, is it?
Bre: No, it’s not.
Jonathan: This methodology of passive income and I’m not going to have a go at Pat Flynn because I really like the guy. I’ve met him a couple times and I really love him and he comes across as a really likable person and he’s very similar when you meet him. Some people, their public persona doesn’t really match their private. But I do have problems with every time, I do listen to his podcast but I cringe at the beginning. Build up passive income and it’s through a membership site, isn’t it?
Jonathan: But there’s nothing passive about it, is there really?
Bre: No, it’s not even, because I have people all the time asking, “Well, can we just do this evergreen?” “Sure. We can build an evergreen funnel for your course. That’s not a problem.” But the problem is you have to apply the same types of work. You will have to write the emails. You still have to create the webinars. You still have to do the Q & As. You still have to do the social posts, the podcast guests. All of those things that you need to do to get a course off ground. You have to build the audience. Yeah, you can build an evergreen funnel but if nobody’s coming in, then it makes you $0 and I guarantee you it didn’t cost $0 to build so you’re at a loss. There’s so many people out there who teach you how to launch. The problem is they teach you how to launch the way they launched and that works for their audience. And if you’re in the same marketplace as they are, that will probably work for your audience too but not necessarily because just because it worked for them doesn’t mean that you don’t need to tweak for your own purposes, for your own style. I have clients who are viscerally opposed to podcast appearances. I’m one of those people who’s viscerally opposed to podcast appearances but I’m here.
Jonathan: You seem very comfortable.
Bre: I have great respect for Miss Cindy and so when she asked me to come on, I was like, “Okay. For you, for you, I will.” And then, you have the people who have really great information in their head and they don’t know how to get it out or they take the time to get it out and put it into a course but then they’re burnt out and they’re like, “I’ve spent 70 hours of time mapping this course out. I don’t have the energy to get it out to the market.” Because they’re just done.
Jonathan: Well, Cindy’s been really kind to me because I’ve had a bit of a because I forgot that she invited you. She should be doing this first part of the interview, not me. I do apologize Cindy.
Cindy: No, you’re good.
Jonathan: You should have barged in and said, “I’m taking over.” But, there you go. It’s been one of those days Bre. I’ve been up since 5 dealing with stuff. I don’t know where to take this now because you’ve brought up so many good points. We had Julie last week from ClickFunnel. She brought up some strong points and the 30 minutes seems to go farther quick. Where do you think we should take this now? What the important point you would like to make before we go for our break?
Bre: I think the most important thing for entrepreneurs who are considering launching a product is one, you need to have the product at least almost to completion before you start thinking about launching it to the world. And then, the other thing you need to do while the product is in process, whether you have a brilliant person like Cindy making it or you’re doing it yourself, you need to be building the audience for that product. So you need to actually take a lot at who your current audience is and seeing if that’s the same people you’re going to be launching to. Because if it’s not, you’re going to end up with a non-starter of a product before you ever put any kind of offers out there because it doesn’t matter what you say to your current audience. If the products not made for them, they don’t care.
Jonathan: It’s tricky though, isn’t it?
Jonathan: It’s a little bit tricky. It sounds so straightforward but it’s tricky, isn’t it? Market as I call it. Is that what you call it?
Bre: I call it your raving fans. Most of my clients have more than one business so they have more than one bucket or container, however you want to phrase it of people that they market to, of potential customers. You can have raving fans for your bakery product over here but those people who want your recipes or your muffins may not necessarily want to know how to start a bakery, which would be a totally different bucket of people, a totally different section of raving fans. Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t cross-pollinate. That doesn’t mean you can’t go to your people who are muffin fanatics and say, “Hey. Have any of you ever thought about starting a bakery? Come over here. I’m going to teach you how.” That doesn’t mean that you teach these people how to start a bakery and you’re like, “Hey. Do you want my recipe that absolutely knocks it out of the park every single time? This will make your child’s teachers give them free tutoring. Come over this way.” And it’s all in how you talk to people and then it’s asking for, “Do you have a friend or do you know somebody?
Maybe you aren’t starting a business. Maybe you aren’t at this stage but if you know someone.” And it’s all about how you address the very basic things, about how you phrase your emails, how you phrase your Marketing, how you phrase you. There are so many courses out there and most of them teach pretty much the same thing within the different marketplaces. You aren’t going to take a course about Social Media from someone who doesn’t know anything about Social Media. So, if you’re teaching Social Media, the are fairly similar. You need to post on a regular basis. You need to do all these different things but you’re not going to market that to someone who’s not interested. And that’s where people get hung up is they try to push this their products on people who are not interested or they try to piggyback on a product that’s already out there forgetting that the thing that makes them different, the thing that makes you different, that makes me different, that makes Cindy different, is you.
You are the frontrunner for your product and it’s all in how you connect with your audience because if you really truly connect with someone, you’re like, “Wow. I love how they’re saying that. I’ve heard that before but I’ve never thought about it that way,” or, “Wow. That’s a different perspective.” Then, you’ve got gold and it’s finding that really fine line of marketing yourself and in conjunction marketing the product or at least the framework of the product if you’re still in production and building that audience so that when you do open up the cart, you get those killer conversion rates. You know everyone’s, “Oh, I got 30 percent conversion rate.
I got 60 percent conversion rate.” That is not normal. It really is not. But they get that because they’ve honed their audience and I think that’s the biggest downfall for people when they launch is everyone goes into it with a perspective of, “If I build it, they will come” and they don’t see all the legwork leading up to that.
Jonathan: Yeah. I think it applies to a new plugin. It applies to many areas, doesn’t it, I was going to say especially online but I think it applies to everything. Doing this kind of unsexy grunt work is eliminating luck or decreasing luck, isn’t it? I think we all need a little be of luck, don’t we? But I think really successful people diminish the amount of luck they need because they understand the market and they do all this grunt work, don’t they Bre?
Bre: I’m in the camp of I don’t believe in luck. I don’t think people just get lucky. I think they’re incredibly smart and incredibly hard workers and they just make it look easy. You don’t see that fact that they have a team of 15 people behind them writing these ads, writing these emails. You just see them jumping in a pool and having a whole bunch of fun and you want to be part of that too. They’re very good at hiding all of the legwork that goes into it, the planning. Not a lot of people are willing to peel back the onion and say, “Okay.” It takes 90 days, 12 weeks, sometimes 6 months to really truly launch a course in a way that you get a responsive audience, that you actually can make the numbers that you want to make, that you can make the dollar amounts you want to make and the bigger the launch, the longer the runway you need because you need a bigger audience. You can’t make them unless you’re outrageously priced. You’re not going to have a million dollar launch if you only have a list of 500 people.
Jonathan: That’s great. We’re going to go for our break. When we come back, Cindy’s going to take over. We’ll be back in a few moments.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. I’m going to pass it over to Cindy. But before I do that, I want to quickly talk about one of my major sponsors and that’s Kinsta Hosting. And Kinsta hosts the WP-Tonic website and a few my clients’ websites and they’re a WordPress only hosting specialist and they really specialize in membership websites, E-Commerce, demand websites that need a little bit extra oomph to really run. And they provide really fantastic support as well plus, they’ve got all the bells and whistles. They’ve got staging sites. Every day your site gets backed up, one click retrieval. You can select whatever version of PHP. This is a bit techy stuff for the Developer types. So, if you’re an entrepreneur or a Developer, let’s say you’re a Developer, I would suggest you go. They’re a much better value and much nicer people to work with that WPEngine. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking to really speed your website, it’s a major failing when people have got a membership site, they go with cheap hosting, it just will not work folks. But if you’re really looking for a premier hosting provider, I can’t recommend Kinsta more. There’s loads of banner adverts on the WP-Tonic website. We’ve got all their articles. If you go there, click one of those, they are affiliate links and you’ll be helping the show if you purchase through one of those links. I’m going to hand it over to Cindy now. Off you go, Cindy.
Cindy: Hi Bre.
Cindy: Thanks so much for being on the show. I always say when it comes to creating courses or membership sites, there’s really three main buckets. There’s the technology. There’s the creation of the course itself and there’s the launching of the course. So, we have like this perfect trifecta here today in terms of the total support that I think it takes to really start from scratch to get that course launched. So, can you just tell me a little bit about how, like what it is about launching itself that appealed to you in term of how you wanted to work with clients?
Bre: I love lists. I’m one of those weirdos who I love, like you have a problem? Great. I would love to see that and I will make a list for you and I will tell you exactly what steps you need to take to fix the problem and I do this to my kids. My husbands like, he comes home, he’s like, “Why is there a sticky note on the bar?” “Because you have things to do.” And it comes naturally to me to see an issue and I kind of fell into launching by accident. I started out as a Virtual Assistant who was kind of a do it all like gal Friday situation. But as everyone has figured out at this point, or at least are on the way to figuring out, you can’t be good at everything. I found that I didn’t so much enjoy the menial tasks but I was really good at bossing people around. So, that kind of led into and that’s just who I am so it’s a natural fit for me to be able to take a look at, “Okay. You want to launch this product? Let’s take a look at your numbers because you’ve got to know your numbers. You need to know who’s on your list, how many people are on your list, how long they’ve been there, how engaged they are. From there, let’s figure out how big of a runway we need. Can we do this in 90 days?”, which is kind of my like limit for a short launch because there’s a lot of back-end work that goes on because once the course is created, you’ve got to get it on the website. You’ve got to get the hosting. You’ve got to test it. You’ve to test payments. People skip testing. It’s one of those things that they’re like, “Oh, it’ll work. It’ll be fine.” And I’m sure Jonathan, he’s over here nodding. Yeah. Jonathan gets it. Because it drives me crazy and they’re like, “Oh, well, it didn’t work.” And then suddenly, you’re manually entering 450 people into a course. Not kidding. So, those things, people assume that you create the course, you put it to the public and it’s gone and that’s not it. So, it’s the list making and the going down the checklist of things and setting aside time and knowing that, “Okay. At week 11, we are testing everything or week 7 we are testing everything.” And having those chances to go back through the course content and basically just go down the checklist. Make the checklist, go down the checklist and usually, those are the places where people are always like, “Wow. I didn’t think about that.” Because I go, “Okay. Well, you can’t launch something that doesn’t work.”
Cindy: When you’re going through the process of creating a course, there are just so many balls in the air that it’s so important to kind of just have everything laid out for you in order to know what you should be doing next. So, we need people like you to kind of focus on this task and organize. Because, again, often people who are course creators, they’re very big picture kind of people, that they want to share their knowledge with the world but there’s a lot of that backend that needs to be done in order to be successful because there’s tons of courses out there but what we’re wanted for our clients is to have this successful launch, not do all of this work and then have it just be sold to a handful of people. So, would you say your process that you go through, like when you get a new client who has got a course to be launched, can you walk us through your process as to the steps that you take with them? From the beginning through to the actual launching it live?
Bre: Absolutely. So, the first thing I do is kind of assess where they are in the process. If they haven’t created a course, then, of course, they need to call you. If they have hosting and everything is set up and the build is in process, we’re good, if not, then they’re going to need Jonathan. And then, figuring out what they want and where they are with their audience is the first step because that will determine the length of runway. So, do you have an audience that really wants to learn about muffin making? Yes or no? If you do, great, let’s go talk to them and figure out what your percentages are and we can dive deeper into those and figure out kind of almost predict what you could expect if we don’t grow your list at all. And then, we work through kind of the foundational elements of a launch, checking to see what the deadlines are for the build. If you’re still finishing up creating the course, when that will be done.
Going through and revising everything, getting transcripts made. I actually had a gal who had a client or a customer who was deaf and she could listen but she wanted the transcripts made so that she could put those into her audio feedback so that she could sit and listen to it and not have to be on the computer, people who are blind as well. So there’s all these weird things that you don’t think about that need to be done on the front end because they take some time. Once those are in process, then we can work on testing out some Facebook ads. I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like ads but they work and if you can hone your audience, you can get them done fairly cheap and they’re not terribly hard to do. So, getting those ads running, testing audiences, seeing what grabs and what really makes a difference, figuring out if there’s going to be bonus content. Do you want to create all the bonus content yourself?
Do you have other courses or other offerings you could bundle together or do you have friends who are in the same arena or who have complementary products that you could potentially have? Assessing whether or not they want to use affiliates. If that’s the case, how are we going to get them tracked, paid? Do you we need to do a large CRM, like Infusionsoft or Ontraport or can we do it through their actual course platform like Thinkific or Teachable or I think the other one is, there’s MemberMouse and a few others? Figuring out where all that lands based on what they already have in place and figuring that out early in the process versus 2 days before launch and going, “Oh crap.” Getting people to agree. You would be shocked.
Jonathan: I’m not shocked at all.
Bre: It’s insane how many people are just like, “Yeah. It will all work out.” Or they have people who say, “Yeah. I really want to help you promote this.” And you’re not going to do affiliates this round because it’s just not in the cards. There’s not a clean way to make it work with what you already have set up and it would be too much money to go backwards and fix it. And you would be shocked at how many who are like, “Oh, you’re not going to pay me for the person I refer? Then, I’m out. I’m not going to do anything.” So, we need to figure out who is in your corner early ahead of time. And then, it’s checking in with the tech team.
Are Modules 1 through 4 loaded? Is the membership site working? Can people log in? Are we having issues with the payment platform and the CRM and the membership site talking to each other? Doing all that testing and then testing it again if there’s issues we’ve found once the fixes have been fixed. It doesn’t always fix everything. Maybe you fixed the CRM side but the membership site’s still having issues and so, you need to assess that before you can launch. And in the meantime, you’re working on pre-launch content where those are the videos that you see or the e-books that you see where people giveaways something really amazing and free or a small section of their course leading up to the launch to try and build their audience rapidly. You can do Lives.
You can do podcasts. There’s all kinds of ways to promote the course that start well before you open the cart that you need to be doing from day 1. And then, also figuring out the length of cart based on all of the things you’ve done because people are always surprised at that generally speaking, a longer cart is not going to get you any further than a short cart. 3 to 4 days seems to be a sweet spot because you get that urgency for the entire length of cart versus people who have like a 2 or 3-week cart where they’re like, “I’m getting one sale a day. What’s going on?” Well, because there’s no urgency. They can get it tomorrow or the next day or the next day. And then, moving into testing payments, testing all of that stuff and then actually doing the launch and the launch is usually the most stressful part because it’s the true unknown. You can do everything right and everything could collapse and you could totally stop what you’re doing. Go away. Get out. Go. I apologize.
Jonathan: That was a client.
Bre: That was my 7-year-old.
Jonathan: He is a client.
Bre: Bless his heart. Yeah. He’s going to go to bed when we’re done. It’s 12:30 my time. And it’s keeping you focused on the things that need, because that’s a very small 30,000 ft view of a plan that takes anywhere from 90 days, so 3 months to 6 months and depending on what your team looks like, where you’re at in the process, it looks different for everybody. And it’s also someone like me coming in and saying, “Okay. I really need you to focus. I really need your team to focus on these things.” And then checking in to make sure that stuff is getting checked off the list because it’s super easy to go, “Oh, I’d so much rather do this thing over here. I’d so much rather work on this other thing. I’d so much rather . . .” “Well, you know what? You can do that but then we’re behind and the launch is not going to happen and that I asked that you should have been focused on this other thing now got way late and we’re in a spot.”
So, it’s really keeping people focused on the process, going through the checklist one at a time and I try to break out my checklist into what seems like ridiculously small tasks. But it’s much easier to check off one thing that you know you can do and feel accomplished for the day, the week and then come back to it and go down the list because in any given week, you have 50 to 100 things that need to be done and that’s overwhelming. And so, it’s keeping that overwhelm in check. And then it’s launch week, you get to a point where the tests are done, you’ve checked off your entire list and now you have to sit and wait and be patient and that’s usually when I get phone calls of people completely having a panic attack. And we have to say, “Okay. Well, let’s breathe. Let’s take a look at this. Let’s look at our conversion rate. Let’s look at numbers.
Let’s see how many Lives.” I actually had a client who freaked out and she did her Live on opening day and then she had a full panic attack, called me and was like, “I can’t. I can’t go Live anymore this week.” I’m like, “You have 3 more days of your cart.” She’s like, “I can’t do it.” So, she didn’t. She didn’t go Live for 2 days and she finally went Live on the last day because I basically called her and I was like, “I will drive to your house and you will get that same verbiage I gave my child and it’s going to be pretty.” And she went Live and she sold over 50 percent of her sales that final day because she showed up. And so, it’s pushing when I need to push and supporting when I need to support and I’m sure you both find that too where launch is stressful but it doesn’t have to be stressful the entire time. You shouldn’t feel like you’re suffocating while you’re working on launching a product. If you do, you’re doing it wrong.
Jonathan: That’s great. We need to wrap it up, Cindy. The time has gone quick but hopefully, Bre will stay on for an extra 10 minutes.
Bre: Yes, of course.
Jonathan: Which you’ll be able to see on the WP-Tonic website. Bre, how can people find out more about you and more about what we’ve covered in this great conversation?
Bre: You can go to www.breannagunn.com, that’s Breanna with an ‘E’, which I believe will be in the show notes, correct?
Bre: So, they can go to breannagunn.com and you can sign up for a free session with me where we can go other what you want to launch. If it’s doable, if it’s possible, what your timeline might look like, kind of give you an overview of the steps that you need and kind of help you figure out where in the process you are because that’s usually where people get stuck first. If you don’t want to talk to me, that’s okay too. I also have a really great freebie because I get asked a lot what are the three things, three mistakes people make during launch and the three things you need to know. So you can get that there as well.
Jonathan: Oh, thanks so much. And Cindy, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to Cindy?
Cindy: So, if you’re interested in creating a course but don’t really know where to start or how to structure the course, you can come to TheCourseWhisperer.co and you can reach out to me through that and we can help get that course out there.
Jonathan: And if you want to find out how WP-Tonic can help get your website set up and give you the freedom to concentrate on building that course, you can go to the WP-Tonic site. You can with Bre. You can book a free session with me and we can have a chat and there’s loads of resources and free downloads all over the website. We’ll be back next week where we’ll have somebody doing something with WordPress, Membership, Online Marketing, basically, giving you information to help you build that successful WordPress powered course. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
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