I've made $60,300 selling 25 seats of my program Stand The F*ck Out with one single email.
It sounds a bit clickbait-y, but it's a true story, and it happened just a few days ago.
Here's how it happened.
I started to sell my 8-week program last September (STFO #1) to a small group of 14 early adopters and made $7,000 ($500 each). It validated the product, gave me loads of confidence, and helped me improve the product for the next round.
Six months later, with STFO #2, I quadrupled the price (from $500 to $1,900) and made $35,100 with a relatively small email list (2,500 subscribers). I had never made that much money online. It rocked my world and gave me the confidence to triple down on it.
On the 1st of September 2021, I launched STFO #3 (including a new premium tier at $4,900) and sold out within 24 hours with one email. Twenty-five mavericks joined the cohort at an average price of $2,412 per participant.
I had to reject perfect-fit applicants for the first time because I had reached full capacity with my current cohort model.
Here's a side-by-side comparison:
Folks could join the waiting list for STFO #3 as soon as STFO #2's launch was over. It's the reason why I've been able to sell out fast.
I had a steady amount of people who joined the waiting list over the last six months, with an acceleration in August. I also gave an option to waiting list members to leave it without unsubscribing from my email list.
I've made sure to send a bunch of emails to that waiting list regularly to stay top of mind: what to expect from the program, 24 questions people asked before enrolling, a PDF containing 61 pages of testimonials (more on that later), an impromptu invite to a Zoom call...
And, of course, a countdown email to let them know applications would open in 48 hours.
As a result, 23 people applied to the waiting within 24 hours, which was already enough to sell out.
I had planned a bunch of "objection-busting" emails to follow to try to convince more people who were on the fence to join... But I didn't need it.
I'll be honest... I'm very, very proud of that.
Oh and here's the actual email:
I took a gamble by turning my popular interview-style podcast (more than 1.5M downloads in 5 years) into a narrative-style show featuring practical essays on radical differentiation to build authority around the topic. Each podcast took me 10-15 hours to research and prepare (using past interviews, books, research, and personal experience).
I used the episode recordings to turn them into newsletter essays (I called the newsletter the "Stand The F*ck Out Newsletter") and hired a Content Editor to help me manage this process.
I updated my website to put the newsletter at the center, with a ton of social proof:
I temporarily switched focus to promote my newsletter instead of my podcast to increase subscriber numbers. Everything I do now points to it: podcast intro, LinkedIn profile, call-to-action when I get interviewed...
It's something that tends to be brushed over that I really want to mention.
What you choose NOT to do is more important than what you choose to do.
Over the last six months, I declined countless podcast interviews, invitations to speak, consulting, and coaching gigs... because they didn't fit my strategy and would drain my energy:
I only accepted opportunities that would significantly improve my authority and my chances to get small business owners/senior marketers to subscribe to my email list.
I needed the headspace to focus, so I only took part in the following: a course on Radical Differentiation with CXL, live "Hot Seat" coaching sessions (with CXL, The Marketing Meetup, and The Launch Growth University), and a handful of podcast interviews with friends in the industry.
I started sharing stuff on LinkedIn daily and replying to every single comment this January. As a result, I went from 5,000 followers to nearly 14,000.
But this is a vanity metric. While difficult to measure, many, many email subscribers told me they discovered me through LinkedIn.
I've made countless LinkedIn "friends" with who I've built great relationships, and I've seen the same names appear on my email list and waiting list.
I know most folks have a love/hate relationship with this social network, but I've found a place where I could rant and have fun while still driving business.
I wanted to share real stories of transformation, from "I'm lost" to "I know exactly what I'm doing."
Instead of going the lazy route with two-line testimonials, I decided to work on long-form, authentic testimonials of STFO #1 and #2 alumni.
I spent 25+ hours re-interviewing STFO #1 alumni (either business owners or senior in-house marketers) and asked them to share their progress. And I did the same thing with STFO #2 alumni.
My Content Editor then processed the conversations on Descript to turn them into readable, long-form testimonials. And I paid $600 for a magazine designer on Fiverr to turn them into a nice-looking PDF, which I've sent to the waiting list and included on the STFO landing page.
Just like LinkedIn, I don't have hard data to share with you, but I haven't received a single email from prospective applicants asking for more case studies and proof that STFO was legit.
This is how I managed to get those numbers.
1) The launch felt much easier than the previous two. One email was enough to get enough applications to sell out, and more applications would have come if I kept selling. In addition, the signals were much more positive (many people told me they couldn't wait to join via email, during my "hot seat" sessions, on LinkedIn...), so I felt confident and in control.
2) Some prospective applicants needed to talk to me directly. On a whim, ten days before application day (September 1st), I sent an email to the waiting list to tell them I was on Zoom right now if they wanted to chat. A bunch of people joined. To my surprise, most of them were on the fence about the program. They had questions already answered in my FAQ and landing page, but I felt like they wanted to hear the answer directly from me. A simple explanation was enough to "convince" them to join.
3) I serve small business owners (<100 employees) and the senior marketers who work there. I knew it already, but this confirms it. Bigger brands do need to stand out, but the solution required is not the same. At their stage, they need to scale by increasing reach and mental availability.
4) All (bar one) participants discovered me in the last nine months after I updated my positioning around radical differentiation. The efforts I've put in I've paid off.
5) Half of STFO #3 participants are freelancers/agencies offering client services (consulting, coaching, copywriting...). This opens the door for a future certification program to help their own clients stand the f*ck out, too.
6) Half of the waiting list members told me they didn't apply because they were too busy at that moment. The launch coincided with back-to-school for parents, and some of them just couldn't make it work. To be clear, I don't plan on making STFO easier because the very value of the program comes from the fact it's high-intensity.
7) A few respondents didn't apply because of price, but most of them were not the right fit for the program (in-house marketers without enough influence of the product(s) they were selling or folks who were thinking about launching a business).
8) On that note, four applicants chose the premium option at $4,900. I added this option and didn't know what to expect. In fact, I was nervous about it. But I pushed through, and I'm glad I did because it raised the average revenue per applicant by $500. Yet another reason to try stuff that makes me uncomfortable.
9) The quality of applicants has risen yet again. They are all a perfect fit. They all have a "bleeding-neck" problem they can't wait to solve.
STFO #3 starts in a few days so running it will be my sole focus. After that, I'm going to take three months to spend time with my family. And after that, I'll be working on a book to help, you've guessed it, ambitious small businesses to stand the f*ck out in a practical, no-bullshit way.
The next cohort of STFO will open sometime in September 2022. You can already join the waiting list.
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