Considered THE authority on creating profitable marketing funnels, Todd Brown is the funnel expert other experts go to when they need help with their own funnels. His list of clients is a Who’s Who of A-List Marketers. And his agency creates campaigns for the biggest direct marketing companies online.
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3 Key Points:
- Relying on one of anything makes a business vulnerable.
- Successful marketing is not about salesmanship. It’s about making a solid emotional and intellectual argument why your product is exactly what your customers’ need.
- Become a student of the people and markets around you. Don’t look at products – look at needs.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [02:30] – Todd’s worked with J Abraham, Clayton Makepeace, Charles Kirkland…
- [03:30] – Todd generates revenue through creating marketing funnels, and training entrepreneurs to build their own funnels
- [04:45] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: A little less than a year ago, losing their entire flow of ad traffic
- [07:40] – “As entrepreneurs, we are problem solvers”
- [08:20] – “One of anything makes your business vulnerable. Diversify.”
- [09:02] – Play nice with the platforms: blend desirable content with direct-response
- [11:00] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When he stopped seeing funnels as ‘salesmanship in print’
- [11:56] – Solid marketing stems from solid ideas
- [12:24] – Successful marketing is not about selling. It’s about making a solid intellectual and emotional case for your product
- [14:43] – Biggest weakness? – “I’m horrifically disorganised”
- [15:04] – Biggest strength? – “Being able to spot the ideas that resonate with different markets”
- [15:31] – What has Todd most fired up today? “Helping our tribe of marketers develop business building with concrete numbers ”
- [18:00] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Be authentic”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Writing daily”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – WorkFlowy
- If you could recommend one book for our listeners, what would it be and why? – Breakthrough Advertising
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter taken care of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – “I would become a student of the people around me. I would find the wants and desires they have that aren’t being met. I would then start up a business.”
- [25:06] – Parting guidance: “Go the distance. There’s a lot of competition. Look for the right way, not the easy way”
- [25:20] – Connect with Todd through his podcast and blog
Todd Brown: I am prepared to ignite, brother.
JLD: Yes! Considered the authority on creating profitable marketing funnels, Todd is the funnel expert that other experts go to when they need help with their own funnels. His list of clients is a Who’s Who of A-list marketers and his agency creates campaigns for the biggest direct marketing companies online. Todd, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give a little glimpse of your life.
Todd Brown: Yeah, you got it man! So, I’ve been at this marketing game for probably about 14 years. From New Jersey, so New Jersey in the house, now in south Florida, married, two kids, two little girls, and I just love what it is, man, that I get to do every day. Like you, brother, just working with entrepreneurs, small companies, helping them to grow revenues, man, by designing just wildly profitable marketing funnels.
So, don’t have a whole lot of hobbies, man. Love to read, love to chill with the kids, love to watch a little volleyball with my older daughter, little dance with my younger daughter, and I lead a very boring life it sounds like.
JLD: You and me both, brother. But listen, funnels are a hobby. Funnels are a hobby. Now, you said you have a list of clients who are a Who’s Who and A-list marketers, rip off a couple.
Todd Brown: So, first of all, man, I’ve been blessed and fortunate to work with some of the best and brightest in the world. So, I’ve worked on projects with J. Abraham, recently did some coaching for Clayton Makepeace’s Mastermind Group. I’ve had the good fortune to have some bigger name internet marketers go through one of more of my coaching programs partner with me, I’ve worked with guys like Ryan Levesque, I’ve worked with Russell Brunson, certainly, let me see, I’ve worked with Justin Brook and Charles Kirkland and, my gosh, yeah, just you know, I’m fortunate and blessed, man, to get to work with some extremely bright individuals that make me look super smart.
JLD: So, Todd, here we are, 2016, and you’ve been at this for 14 years and you’ve found a lot of ways over those years to generate revenue. But today, 2016, how does Todd Brown bring in the dollars?
Todd Brown: Three ways, man. So, we’ve got an agency where clients come to us and have us engineer, design, build, and optimize marketing funnels for them. Those are the entrepreneurs and the small companies up to, I would say, about $50 million a year that don’t want to learn anything, they just want it done for them. Then we have an entire division of our company for entrepreneurs that want to learn our method for engineering funnels, and so we have an entire training and coaching division. So, those are kinda the three main ways that we generate revenue today.
JLD: So, Fire Nation, Todd has grown his business over these 14 years and he’s found these different ways that he brings money in the door and it doesn’t come overnight. Like, this is a process that we as entrepreneurs, as small business owners go through. So, to start day one, do the one thing, perfect it, see what your clients need, your customers want, then create that [inaudible] [00:03:14] and build off of that, but remember, it’s one step at a time.
Now, Todd, the last 14 years, you’ve had some ups, you’ve had some downs, and I want you not just to take us to a down, but what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. So, don’t pull and punches, brother, take us there to what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment and tell us that story.
Todd Brown: Believe it or not, after 14 years, the worst entrepreneurial moment was I think a little bit less than a year ago. We had just come off a really successful public launch for a partner. We had reached the peak of our media buying and add spend. We were spending about, or investing about I would say close to $92-$93,000.00 a month in traffic generation and marketing funnel automation was just taking off like crazy.
And I made a crucial mistake, a mistake that I’ve told our clients and students time after time after time not to make. I unfortunately made the mistake and the mistake was I was almost exclusively reliant on one main source of lead flow, one main source of traffic, one main source of our customer acquisition, and literally overnight we went from spending $90,000.00+ a month generating traffic, leads, customers like crazy to getting flagged on this one particular platform for, at the time, what they said was not adhering to their terms of service, which to this day is still kind of baffling to me, and literally overnight our entire flow of traffic got turned off.
I showed up to office, fired up my email account, man, and saw this dreaded email that was cryptic and horrifying at the same time letting me that our ad account was shut off, gonzo, overnight and that the decision was final and there was nothing that we could do about it. And yeah, we went from like having, you know, metaphorically the busiest store on the block to having a store that was empty with a road block in front of us and nobody coming in the front door. And yeah, it was a scary moment when that happens, but I learned some enormously valuable lessons in the process, man.
JLD: Well, that’s what I want to dig in to now, because this is a terrifying scenario and one that sometimes, frankly, it stops a lot of entrepreneurs from going down that road because they don’t want to wake up and say hey, you know, I’m working with X number of clients and I’m doing X number of dollars per month, but if something happens with this, like I go literally back to ground zero. Like, there’s no step back, it’s like the house of cards collapses and that’s terrifying. So, let’s really kinda dig in to some of the bigger mistakes that you made and some of the biggest lessons you took away.
Todd Brown: Yeah, man. First of all, I think it’s important for everybody to understand that as entrepreneurs, we are problem-solvers, right? Forget – you strip away all the glory and all the unicorns and sunshine that a lot of people love to talk about and the reality is that a big part of what we do when growing a company, when growing a business is solving problems, and regardless of how big or small those problems may seem, that’s our job to dig in and to conquer those things. It’s a choice for us to make.
In this particular instance with this, with our sole source of traffic being stripped away, there are two lessons that really were driven home to me. No. 1 is that in business, one of anything makes your business incredibly vulnerable. If you’ve got one place where you keep your passwords, if you’ve got one individual on your team that knows how to use a critical piece of software, if you’ve got one product, if you’ve got one offer, if you’ve got one funnel, if you’ve got one source of traffic, your business is incredibly vulnerable and so you want to avoid one of anything at all costs. That’s the first thing.
The second this is a little bit bigger picture and more from a pure marketers perspective and that is the lesson that I learned is that you’ve gotta play nice with the platforms. Today, in 2016, man, as you and I are recording this episode, I think it’s all about understanding how to blend native content. Native content meaning the content that the different platforms want to see from you. The content that makes the different platforms happy, whether it be Instagram, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s Twitter, whether it’s Snapchat, whatever it is, the content that those platforms want to see, it’s a blending of that with direct response.
It’s not trying to game the platforms, it’s not trying to figure out and exploit some loophole, it’s not any kind of black hat nonsense, right? If it’s the kind of thing that you’re trying to take advantage of by being under the quote/unquote “under the radar,” it’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when that ceases to work and you deal with the ramifications. So, those are the two biggies that I learned that I would highly recommend all of your listeners take to heart.
JLD: That quote, Todd, “it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” I hope, Fire Nation, that that’s resonating with you. And believe me, those people that are doing the kind of grey hat things, like, you know who you are, and guess what? It’s okay, you’re doing your thing, that’s fine, but reality is this: if you think and your gut it telling you, your intuitions saying, “Hey, little bit of a red flag here,” you need to start taking the steps to move your business into that direction where, hey, everything is white across the board. It is a clean slate, like they can come at you and say, “Hey, we wanted to check under the hood here,” and you can be like, “Please do.”
That’s the business that you’re gonna proud of, Fire Nation, and you’re gonna sleep well at night. Who cares if you’re sacrificing a few dollars up front? This is a long-term gain. This is a marathon that we’re on. And speaking of that marathon, Todd, during your marathon, you’ve had a lot of great epiphanies, ideas,“aha!” moments. Take us to one of your greatest “aha!” moments and tell us that story.
Todd Brown: I’ve had many “aha”s, but one of the most valuable “aha”s that I’ve had in the 14 years that I’ve been at this game came after a conversation that I had with a gentleman by the name of Mark Ford. Many of your listeners might know Mark by his pen name, Michael Masterson. He’s like a New York Times, Wall Street Journal best-seller. He’s the marketing mastermind, if you will, behind Agora Ink, which is like the 800 pound gorilla in the world of newsletter publishing, half a billion dollar a year company.
And Mark shared with me what he felt was the number one reason why Agora had shot to the top of their industry, why they’ve had such enormous success. And the thing that he taught me, or that he told me was this idea, no pun intended, of coming up with compelling ideas. That our job as marketers, as entrepreneurs, whether we’re talking about editorial content, whether we’re talking about advertising content, you know editorial copy or advertising copy, our job is to develop compelling, interesting, new, unique, fresh, timely ideas. That is our job and at the root of extremely effective marketing is not hype, is not hyperbole, is not exaggerated promises and claims like so many marketers unfortunately get sucked into believing, but solid, effective marketing stems from a big idea and much more akin to being a prosecutor proving a case intellectually and emotionally than it is to being a hardcore salesperson.
And let me just say this, John, very quickly, that as an old school kind of direct response guy, a guy who really started his marketing career with pure direct response, avoiding branding and institutional marketing like the plague, and almost resisting social media when it kind of first hit the scene, I could tell you that one of the things that I was first taught was that we are really doing salesmanship in print.
Well, one of the biggest “aha”s that I had that changed the course of my entire career and my ability to create marketing funnels that sell is I do not view what it is that we do that way anymore. I don’t see it as salesmanship in print. I am presenting a rock-solid, logical, and emotional argument to show the prospect that ultimately what it is that I am going to offer them is the single best, most valuable solution for their situation right now. To me, like I said, it’s more about presenting a rock-solid, airtight, intellectual, and emotionally compelling argument than it is me approaching it as a hardcore sales presentation. Does that make sense, man?
JLD: It makes sense, Todd, but you did say a lot right there. So, what I’m gonna challenge you to do right now is in one sentence, sum it up for Fire Nation. What do you want to make sure that we get from your greatest, or one of your greatest, “aha!” moments?
Todd Brown: Stop selling and educate your prospects in a way that delivers value and leads then naturally to the conclusion that what you’ve got to offer is what they need.
JLD: Todd, what’s your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Todd Brown: I am horrifically disorganized.
JLD: What are you doing about it?
Todd Brown: Very little. Very little, my brother, very little. I’ve tried and I kind of feel like it goes against who I am. I try to take that weakness and use it to the best of my ability to my advantage.
JLD: What’s your biggest strength?
Todd Brown: My biggest strength today is being able to spot those ideas that resonate with different markets, being able to cut through a lot of the fluff, a lot of the smoke, and really get to the heart of what makes a great idea that the market is going to be compelled by.
JLD: Todd, break it down for us right now. Because you have a lot of things going on right now that you’re excited about, what’s the one thing that you’re most fired up about today?
Todd Brown: Helping our tribe marketers to understand how to take business-building from the realm of guessing and speculation and assumptions to a much more concrete approach using numbers. So, I’m really fired up today about helping our tribe understand the value of tracking and measuring and what that could do for their business and what that can do for their stress level, man, as entrepreneurs.
JLD: Well, Fire Nation, your stress level is about to go down because Todd’s is about to go up because we’re gonna hit the lightning round, but take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors. Todd, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Todd Brown: I am prepared for the lightning, brother!
JLD: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Todd Brown: Fear of not being able to make it. Fear of leaving my job and not being able to match or exceed the income that I was making at the time.
JLD: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Todd Brown: Be authentic, be real, don’t walk around with a mask, don’t cover up who you really are, let who you are shine through in every area of your life.
JLD: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Todd Brown: Writing daily.
JLD: Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Todd Brown: I think it’s called Work Flowy and I use it for making outlines for everything that I do. Everything that I do starts in Work Flowy in the form of an outline.
JLD: I’m staring at Work Flowy right now, Todd. Fire Nation, it’s what I use every single day with my to-do lists. I mean, I just love how you can expand, you can do bullet points, the search feature is so spot on. Like if I want to find somebody’s email address real quick, boom. Now, Todd, if you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would that book be and why?
Todd Brown: That book would be Breakthrough Advertising by Gene Swartz. I believe that hands down, bar none, it is the absolute best marketing book ever published and that’s because it really dives deep into the psychology of what moves markets. It’s the kind of book that every single one of your listeners should read at least once a year, every year, for the length of their entrepreneurial career.
JLD: That’s an old school book, right?
Todd Brown: That is an old school book, but the beauty – it’s a really old school book, but the beauty is that it’s based on strategy, not tactics. And while tactics tend to go in and out of fashion, tactics that work today may not work tomorrow or next month or next year, the strategies of marketing and of real persuasion that worked a decade ago or two decades ago or five decades ago will work decades from now as well. That why, truth be told, some of the best books on my shelf, the books I value the most as it relates to marketing, are all decades old.
JLD: Oh, wow! Todd, this is the last question of the lightning round, but it is a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is this laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next 7 days?
Todd Brown: Well, I dig this question, brother. I dig this question because one of the things I don’t talk about often, man, is I actually started my very first business online with 800 bucks, and to this day, I never invested another dime of my personal money into any business venture. Every dime that I’ve reinvested back was first generated by the business. So, I’ve bootstrapped everything.
So, rather than give a nitty gritty tactical answer to this question, I’m gonna tell you the way that I would approach these 7 days and the $500.00. First and foremost, I would really become a student of the people on this planet, meaning I wouldn’t start to think about or try to think about a product idea. I wouldn’t immediately begin to think about what product or service can I put together and offer these people that I think they’re gonna want or think that they’re gonna fall in love with. I would immediately begin to become a student of individuals, a student of markets, and I would look for the needs, the wants, the desires that they begin to demonstrate through their behavior.
Then, I’m gonna look for these desires, I’m gonna look for within my study of these individuals, I’m gonna look for gaps. I’m gonna look for the wants and desires that they have that aren’t being met effectively, that aren’t being fulfilled by somebody else, by another business, by another company, and then I’m gonna look at those different needs, wants, desires, aspirations that the people have that aren’t being met, where that gap is, and I’m gonna look for the area that I could be excited about, the area that I would be passionate about, the area that, no pun intended, I could be on fire about every freakin’ day.
Then once I found that gap studying people, not products, right, studying markets, not services, I would then, and only then, begin to build a business. I’d start, of course, with registering a domain name for a few bucks, I’d set up a hosting for a few bucks, and I would immediately install WordPress, and what I would do, honestly, with the bulk of the rest of the money, after I registered a domain and set up a little hosting account and popped on WordPress, I would begin to publish valuable content so that I could begin to develop a tribe.
So, I would probably begin to invest some money into some Facebook advertising, driving people to great content, of course it goes without saying that I would think through all of the ideas behind the content that I was creating, right, I’m looking to come up with great ideas, ideas that are gonna be extremely emotionally compelling, intellectually compelling, that are gonna be perceived by the market as fresh, new, timely, easy, and immediately understandable by them. I’m gonna win them over with stellar ideas and stellar content.
That’s how I would really begin to build a tribe of individuals that I know that have a desire or a gap, and then eventually after I’ve made massive deposits and built a tremendous amount of goodwill, then I would make my first offer which would fulfill their biggest gap, their biggest desire.
JLD: Fire Nation, if you become a student of this answer, you’ll be on the right path. Enough said. Todd, let’s end today on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Todd Brown: Go the distance, right? Being an entrepreneur has tremendous freakin’ rewards. That goes without saying. But it’s, you know, look, you’ve gotta go the distance. Today there is a tremendous amount of competition, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of things that are competing for the attention of your market, of your prospects. You’ve gotta go the distance. Go the distance with your thinking, go the distance with your editorial and your content, go the distance with your social interaction, go the distance with the offers that you’re creating and putting out in front of your market, go the distance. Don’t look for the easy way, look for the right way. Look for the most effective way. That’s something for you to think about day in and day out.
And the best way to connect with me is you can check out my podcast. You can find it at TheMarketersMindShow.com. You can also check out all of the articles on our main blog, which is MarketingFunnelAutomation.com/blog.
JLD: Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with TB and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And head over to EOFire.com and just type “Todd” in the search bar. His show on this page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today, where you can find him, his website, and of course The Marker’s Mind is a great podcast you should check out if you are finding yourself with some spare time after listening to EOFire every single day. Todd, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Todd Brown: See ya!
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