Event Based Marketing for Courses with Product Launch Expert Tom Morkes

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This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about event based marketing for courses with product launch expert Tom Morkes. They discuss Tom’s story of how he got started with product launch management and his company Insurgent Publishing. They also highlight strategical tips for event based marketing.

Tom is an expert in event-based marketing. He graduated from West Point and is an Iraq war veteran. Tom founded and is currently CEO of Insurgent Publishing, which is a creative advisory and consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs grow their businesses through large-scale book and digital product launches. He has helped many entrepreneurs authors and online brands. He has worked with some really interesting clients, including Andrew Warner, Jonathan Mead, Taylor Person, Dan Norris, and many more.

They get into some details of event-based marketing to take some of the mystery out of it, so if you are getting ready to launch your course or you are a teacher and marketing is not your strength, this discussion will be useful for you. Chris and Tom discuss actionable steps and strategies for launching your course. They also talk about modern marketing strategies for your course.

Having an event or launch around your product release is important to its success, because you want people to know about it. So if you don’t have something that generates interest or awareness, it will get lost. Tom and Chris discuss this type of event or launch in depth and dig into the importance of having awareness of your product in the marketplace.

Hosting a large a launch of your product can also spread hype for it fast and can be a great source of advertising for your product in its initial stages. You can do many different types of launch events, and Chris and Tom highlight some advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular ones, such as giveaways, challenges, and livestreams.

Challenges are one of the best ways to build an audience around your product, because people who are interested in participating in this challenge can connect with each other. And it is a good segue to selling them your course or product. Chris and Tom contemplate the value of bringing in experts to promote and sell your product. Tom tells how to find these experts as well as how to approach them and ask for a partnership.

To learn more about Tom Morkes, you can check out www.tommorkes.com.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris Badgett: Hello and welcome back to another episode of [inaudible 00:00:04]. My name is Chris Badgett and today we have a special guest, Tom Morkes from Insurgent Publishing. How’re you doin’, Tom?
Tom Morkes: I’m doing great, Chris. Thanks for having me on.
Chris Badgett: Really excited to have you here. Tom’s an expert in event-based marketing. If you’re getting ready to launch your course or you’re a teacher and marketing’s not really your strength, we’re going to get into some really interesting details of event-based marketing and take some of the mystery out, give you some actionable steps or strategies to think about in terms of launching your course and doing modern marketing. I want to tell you a little bit about Tom, Tom is an amazing guy. He is a West Point grad, an Iraq War veteran, the founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing, which has people that he’s helped include Johnathon Mead, Andrew Warner, Jeff Goins, Taylor Person, Dan Norris. They do some great entrepreneurial authors and online brands. He has a really interesting history with really interesting clients.
Insurgent Publishing is a creative advisory and consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs grow their businesses through strategic, large-scale book and digital product launches. Tom’s client projects have been featured in major mainstream media outlets, leading television networks, and top rank blogs and podcasts. He has consulted on books that have hit the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Best Seller lists. He’s led the marketing and promotional effort that generator over $450,000, setting a Kickstarter record for the most funded non-fiction publishing project and has done multiple six-figure course in digital product launches. That is quite the résumé, Tom. That’s awesome to be a part … It takes a village sometimes to launch a project. If someone’s bringing in the special operator for the product launch, you’re the guy. Tell us a little bit about your sweet spot of, where do you come in and what do you bring to the table?
Tom Morkes: That’s a great question. If somebody’s hiring me or my team for that and we’re beyond advisory or coaching/consulting type of thing where we’re actually delivering a service for this, we offer a couple core things. Obviously there’s the consulting advisory piece, and then we offer a few other additional services for people who are inquiring about them and depending on our bandwidth. One of them is launch management. A lot of people will work with somebody, and some of these names are pretty big and will generate hundreds of thousands in a one-week period. These are pretty big and takes a lot of planning and a lot of prep and a lot of time and attention to make sure these things go off the right way. We do launch management to make sure that we hit our timetables leading up to some sort of launch or event.
We do affiliate management, that’s probably the biggest thing my people want to work with. My team in particular, we know a decent amount of people in this space. That’s the cool thing about doing these kind of events, the more we do the more partners we get, the more my network grows, the more people we are able to work with in the future. The nice part is, it’s a constantly … In terms of a business model for me, it’s nice ’cause I feel like I’m constantly generating more value for the people we work with, just through that nature of doing this work. Each launch is bigger and better than the next. At least, that’s what we shoot for.
Then we offer a couple other things like copywriting and paid ads. Basically, somebody would come to me if they’re like, “I have this platform, I have the product, and I have an audience but I want to reach a broader audience. I want to sell way more. If you could help me get more leads, get more traffic, get more opt-ins, get more sales,” that’s where we come in. Typically, we don’t really work in that capacity if somebody’s just starting out, not a good fit. There’s just too many variables. Typically we work with somebody who has something established and again, typically they’ve already sold it and so it has proof of concept. You don’t want to go into something like this without proof of concept, especially when you’re bringing out partners which we can dig into and get in more depth if we want to, a little bit.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s just do a little bit of educational piece for if there’s anybody out there who’s not aware of what a quote, “product launch” is in the digital space. For me, I can’t even remember what year it was, it must have been 2008 or something in there. If you’ve been into internet marketing for any amount of time, you would have come across Jeff Walker’s product launch formula. I think, in the same way that Tim Ferriss’ four hour workweek book, it’s like a key moment in time for a certain group of people, like, “Oh, okay, this person gelled all these ideas about this type of thing.” Jeff Walker did that for the product launch formula and he really opened the eyes to a broader market of how to launch an online business or a new service offering or a digital product or program. Jeff walker taught the steps to go through it. It was really good and he had a $2000 I think course on the back end of it, but even just his launch by itself was super educational in terms of for the uninitiated to really understand modern marketing and sideways sales letter and all these things. How would you describe a product launch and how has it changed, or what’s it like today compared to how it was 10 years ago in the digital space?
Tom Morkes: I’ll start by saying I can’t compare it to 10 years ago because I’ve only been doing this for maybe three or four years now, so it’s tough for me to get that much perspective on it, but I can tell you in that time I’ve seen things evolve and change. I’ll start with, your first question is, “What is the product launch?” I guess I would define it as, you know what, it’s strategically releasing a product. Product launch or any kind of launch. Any time somebody says, “I’m launching ‘x'”, they’re just releasing it, right? Just like any other thing gets released and I say strategically because when you release something, you want people to know about it. If you don’t have something that generates interest or awareness, it will get lost. You see this thing in the self-publishing space a lot. For example, some people write a book, put it out there, then it’s like they hope somehow sales will happen inside Amazon. That’s not how it works at all. Literally never, ever, it works that way.
You have to create the buzz, you have to create the awareness, and you have to get the traffic coming to this even if you’re using amazon or somebody else’s platform, right? That’s the idea, that’s why people want to get on other people’s platforms, typically, and they realize, “Hey, actually it’s not like that.” You put a course on Udemy, you’re not going to get sales through Udemy, probably not at least. I don’t know, maybe you do. But you probably have more command and control over your own platform if you do it through your own platform. I don’t even care where your thing is at, we do a lot of launches with books on Amazon, courses on Udemy, it doesn’t matter. The point is, what you have to be able to do is generate that traffic, create that buzz and that interest and get people aware of it and then get them to purchase. There’s a process that you use to do that, so that segues into what is it, the product launch formula.
I think Jeff Walker doing his thing online where he found this very simple way to un-aggressively or not aggressively lead somebody through a series of steps like emails. Typically he does email marketing and video-based marketing. Emails and then some video, and then have an open cart sequence where things are available for purchase. Again, it’s just strategically releasing this. Some people, they take that formula and they do this multiple times throughout the year. They re-releasing something, but again, every time it’s just a release of something. Books, digital products, could be courses, could be any kind of service. Maybe not really service, I don’t know if that would … Maybe it would. Typically, you’ll find it in the product space like at in-person events. Bring that to another aspect of it, so what we’ve done, we’ve now done this four, also including services and stuff like that.
We don’t always use that product launch formula as is. I backed my way into it, ’cause I didn’t know what that was while I was doing all the stuff that I was doing. I was learning on the fly, doing my own things, working with other people, learning from maybe other people who have learned from that. That’s how I got my hands dirty in that space, then I got the book. I read it, I was like, “Oh, okay. Cool. I’m pretty much doing all the things right, it seems like.” I kind of stumbled backward into it. I guess now, what we do is, and I guess the way things have changed is just that. I think it still works. It absolutely does ’cause it’s the fundamentals. It’s the fundamental marketing strategy. There’s going to be people who have a pain, a problem, and they don’t know about. There’s going to be the people who have the pain a problem they do know about it, right? There’s going to be the people don’t know, have the pain, don’t know about it.
These three groups, these three categories, the idea being when you put somebody through a systematic series of emails or something like that, they’re going to become aware of that problem, they’re going to realize they actually have it and they want a cure or solution, and then you’re going to lead them through that and say, “Oh, there is a cure and solution. Guess what? It’s mine. Here it is,” and it’s released. That’s why these things, when I say like you mentioned that we do event-based marketing and online event-based marketing, it needs a good way to look at that. I’m still working on the wording behind that, but the idea is how do we get people actually interested in that? That’s the thing, if you just put it out there nobody would care even if you use the product launch formula. Nowadays I think that’s the biggest evolution of the last few years that I’ve seen, is the need to be able to get people’s attention early on and get them opting into something interesting.
Typically we’ll do that by doing multiple types of lead magnets. We cater and craft a lot of our copyrighting and messaging for individual partners audiences like if we bring partners on. Then we essentially, we kind of break that. That’s the big thing, I think. We look at multiple points of entry into this sales funnel is what it ends up becoming, and that’s where the event is, it’s what people to be coming to this. If it’s a summit, it’s book launch, you don’t want to just release the book. There should be some steps leading up to it. How do we make an event out of it? Can we do a challenge? Can we do a competition? Can we do a giveaway? How do we use these different things that actually get people’s attention? Get them paying attention, and then lead them through the sequence of events which I think is a little different than what he discusses in his book. He talks about that specific step-by-step sequence of emails, if what I can remember. It’s been a minute since I’ve read it. I think that’s kind of what I’m seeing change a lot. It’s just the way we generate that traffic and get interest and get awareness. There’s been a lot of improvements in the way we actually get more sales. We can get into that, if you’re interested, too.
Chris Badgett: Totally. Let’s talk about what are some examples or categories of events? You can do webinars. You could have a live event. You could, like you said, do some sort of giveaway or special promotion. List it out for us. What are some types of events?
Tom Morkes: Some of the ones we worked on would be basically everything you … I’ll probably go through it and touch on some of the things you already mentioned, but summits are a big one. Virtual summits, individual training like online webinars or training. Livestream events, Livestream is very popular right now, it’s a great way. You can create an event around some sort of Livestream or series of Livestreams or something like that. Challenges, so, this is great in the health industry. You run up “21 day green juice challenge” or something, I don’t know if that will kill you so maybe don’t do that. Don’t take diet advice from me, but you do some sort of challenge that leads in. People are like, “Okay, I’m going to take this challenge,” and then guess what? At the end of it or during it, you’re essentially subtly and then maybe not so subtly toward the end selling something that’s related to that. That’s the whole idea. Challenges are a great one.
Giveaways are okay, I think, if they’re really targeted. I think that’s the problem, though, if you give away an iPad and you’re selling software and how to make courses, you may have a pretty low conversion rate from people who opt-in to get that free iPad to then using your software. That’s the idea, so that works really well but we have to be consistent with what it is to generate the interest. That, I think a lot of people want a shortcut, like, “Oh, I’ll give away prizes and that’s how I’ll get people interested.” That’s not good idea. You want to start with the audience first. Then there’s creating. Within those different aspects, there’s ways that we create interest around different types of products that are being launched, like a book. With a book, I might do something like maybe I would do a challenge that leads into it or maybe we would do a series of Livestreams leading up to it. Maybe we do some sort of, who knows. Maybe it’s an email series. Again, in that case then we’re driving people to that. They’re entering that launch funnel or launch sequence. It’s built in and around an event. I think I covered most of the ones that we’ve done. We’ve done product launches, we’ve sold all sorts of products using those kind of tools.
Chris Badgett: Very cool. Let’s walk through a hypothetical course builder’s sales and marketing funnel. If I have a course on, let’s go health and fitness, some kind of kettlebell training for … I’m just thinking like for people over 40. What could a generic starting point of a sales funnel look like? I’m launching my course in the Spring and it’s the middle of Winter right now, and I’ve got three months of runway. What should I do?
Tom Morkes: Sure, tough question. Taking that into consideration, that’s a really tough timeline.
Chris Badgett: Is it too short or too long?
Tom Morkes: Typically I would do six months out for something like this. The thing is, we want to get tens of thousands of people into this, not hundreds. Sometimes it takes a little longer. Give me six months, and we can work this out.
Chris Badgett: Okay, you’ve got it.
Tom Morkes: Sure, so we were six months out. I think number one is, you know the product and you know the target audience, over 40, right? It’s a kettlebell course, like to teach you how to use kettlebells, that’s the idea?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Kettlebell, get back in shape after 40 with a kettlebell. No gym membership.
Tom Morkes: Perfect. I know I don’t really care about anybody under 40 for this product, so I’m definitely not going to do any kind of event that would … I don’t want to necessarily say no to them, but essentially I do. I really don’t want anybody under 40 coming to this. Or, at least, way under 40. 20 year olds, we don’t really care about so we don’t want to speak to them at all, number one. You know your target audience, you know what the product is you’re going to sell. Kettlebells, but ultimately there’s always that, “Why?” Okay, [inaudible 00:15:11], etc etc. Whatever. The thing is, the unique thing here is probably that kettlebell.
A couple things you could do, one is if you put together … Some of the examples we already mentioned, a challenge. I could put together a challenge for people, a 40+ challenge or for men 40-60. I’m guessing more men would purchase a kettlebell thing than women, I have no idea. I’m not in this market. If we do it [inaudible 00:15:39], ignoring that we just say the challenge would be a seven day, or maybe it’s a 21 day challenge, for 40-60 or something or 40+ to get back into shape. To get ripped and get looking like they’re 20 again. You’re going to put them through a challenge and the challenge is that people are gonna do something each day and they’re gonna update this Facebook group and let them know. What you have to do is, “Here’s the basic program you’re gonna follow. Each day you’re gonna be active for 30 minutes, you’re gonna do one of these weightlifting [inaudible 00:16:12] whatever exercises.” The idea being somebody is going to see that, hypothetically, somebody’s going to be sharing somewhere, somebody else is going to see it, they’re like, “Okay, I’m over 40. I’m kind of out of shape. 21 days is gonna let me get back in shape or at least get me started. I’m gonna take that chance, there’s gonna be a support group.”
Going through it, you have to give them some sort of process, help them to attain some sort of results. At the end of that, chances are they come out with some good results, but that’s the perfect segue into saying, “Here’s how you take it into the next level. You’re at this baseline, but kettlebells are things that are going to bring you to the next level.” It’s a specific. You go general to specific. That would be one example. Another way you could cut it is running a virtual summit or type of Livestream series. You could bring together experts in weight loss for people over 40 or for strength gain over 40. It would be like, “Over 40 fitness summit,” and you have somebody on it who’s specifically about losing weight over 40. One specifically for men, one specifically for women. Maybe there’s weight training for over 40 [inaudible 00:17:17] bulking, or whatever it is you just cut it up. Get 6-12 people and do something like that, you could pre-record the interviews, they don’t have to be live. The point is, that’s what you’re promoting and sharing.
Again, the reason people will get compelled by the challenge of this is they’re free. It’s free entry. That’s the idea, it’s free entry into this. That’s what makes people’s ears perk up and that’s why people will attend. “Okay, it’s free. I’m going to join this. I’m gonna take a chance on this.” It allows you to get your face in front of them and your voice and that you’re the coordinator, you’re the person putting all this together. Even if you leverage experts, which is a great way to build your … If you’re kind of a no-name, which I was so I get this, [inaudible 00:17:53] talking down to anyone, but if you’re not very well known, that’s great way to also benefit from the social proof of having these experts on. [crosstalk 00:18:04]
Chris Badgett: Let me ask you a question.
Tom Morkes: Totally.
Chris Badgett: How do you get experts, what’s in it for them to come to your virtual summit if they’re already got it going on? Why do they do that?
Tom Morkes: The really big names, typically they have to see that it’s going to be worthwhile. On their end, usually it’s going to be you’re doing something for them. Behind the scenes of everything that you see is people making deals. For the big name people, I don’t even honestly touch them. I don’t really want to work with them because of that. That’s a huge limitation. They’re gonna want to take way more from you than you’re gonna get from them, that’s just the way it is. Unless you have a personal connection or a personal relationship with them, typically you’re not going to get those bigger names unless you’re giving up something really big. I don’t know what that is. What I always look for is who are those B-listers, so to speak? I don’t know if that’s a negative thing, but who’s somebody like me who has maybe a website, a platform, an audience of maybe five, ten thousand subscribers or fifteen to twenty thousand, something like that. Who’s an up-and-comer or who has a really established niche or established presence in a certain niche?
I say who are these people that most people don’t quite know about but they have their own following? They do have their own audience. There are people actually who specifically respect them and follow them and learn from them. Those, I think, are the money makers for you in terms of running an event like that. Not only one, they’re going to be interested in having a spotlight on them, but two, they’re going to be easier to work with and three, they’re typically going to be able to promote or share. Again, the bigger names you might be able to land a bigger name by making a very relevant approaching them the right way. If you have some connections or an intro, obviously that’s the money maker right there. Barring all that, I always assume the person starting from scratch doesn’t have the connections, doesn’t really have a ton of money so the person’s bootstrapping. You want to focus on the people I just described. People who have a presence but aren’t so big named that they’re going to ignore you. You’re looking for the people who are going to reply to their emails, reply to their own emails. They haven’t outsourced that to somebody else. They don’t have a team of people in front of communication coming to them. Those are going to be the people you want to bring on. It helps.
The thing is you’ll find this in any space, fitness too. You’ll find the people who do have some sway in the industry who are bigger names. Maybe not the biggest, but bigger names. They can be swayed, again, either by reciprocation like helping promote something of theirs. I guess you could pay them, typically I’ve never done that, I’ve never seen that done, but I know it does happen. There could be a fee. Then there’s the affiliate component to it, which is compelling for some people and not so much for others. The idea being that when I have the conversation with partners and bring them on as speakers or even if they’re not speakers but they’re going to be promoting one of our events or products or something like that, we’re going to give them a cut of the profit from their leads, that kind of purchasing. If they push 100, 200, 300, 400 opt-ins, they get 5-10% of thats purchase and that turns out to be ten grand, they’re gonna get a percentage of that. 30%, 40%, 50%. The inner marketing space is always higher, but in health you could probably do it lower. In certain other industries that’s not quite as tapped out, you do a lower percentage and people are very interested in that. It’s a huge market.
Affiliate marketing is the way to go. In that case, if you’re bootstrapping and trying to get it off the ground and don’t have a huge budget for paid advertising or something like that. That’s how I would cut that one.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk a little bit more about affiliate marketing and recruiting affiliates. Let’s just use the same example. If I’ve got my specialized, niche, kettlebell training but I’m newer to internet marketing, how do I find affiliates? Not just find them, but get them to trust that them investing their time in my course is going to be a good idea?
Tom Morkes: I’m going to give the basic overview and then talk about the more detailed way to actually … There’s something to be said for actually finding and identifying and connecting and there’s a different sort of actually getting them to say yes and promote. I’ll start with the first part, which is the research and recruitment piece or the research and outreach. Research, you need to know the target market. You need to have some sort of idea of the demographic. In this case, over 40 looking to get back into shape, looking to lose weight, perhaps. Who’s going to be great for kettlebells? Possibly more male audiences, but that’s kind of irrelevant. What else. That’s like fathers and parents, fathers and mothers who want to lose weight, get back in shape. Parents who want to get back into shape, lose weight or build muscle or whatever it is. Those are the basic ones I’d start with, right there. You have that.
What I usually do when we do market research for clients then we’ll break it down to marketing protocols. Say your number one protocol for this is going to be obviously, the general one is anybody over 40 looking to lose weight. Then there’s the over 40 looking to gain weight, you know, gain muscle mass or something like that. Then there’s where we can splice it and say, “Okay, there’s specific women’s type of fitness,” or something like that. Or there’s certain types of exercise, like Crossfit would be another vertical. What about over 40 Crossfit? What about over 40 marathon runners, maybe they could use kettlebell training? Maybe they could, I have no idea.
Going with this, that’s how I start to break out this marketing verticals. You have to have some sort of intimate knowledge of this or when you do the research I figure that out as we go and look at it deeply. When we break this down, we have 10 verticals it could be. Then I’d go through a very simple process: Use Google and I search the term and then “+ podcasts” or the term “+ blog.” In the first few pages of Google you’re gonna get the key players in the industry in terms of bloggers and podcasters. That’s where you start. I put together a list of that, I say, “Well, podcasters are super easy one,” ’cause they want to, again, unless it’s the biggest names, podcasters are usually really open to good guests and stuff like that, good content. Bloggers, too, in the same space, depending on what they do. You could also search “+ YouTube channel” or something like that. There’s another space where fitness would probably be the most … You’d probably get the biggest bang for your buck in that industry.
Then I find it, I find these 10 blogs, these 10 podcasts, these 10 YouTube channels. I compile their information, first name last name of the person who’s running it. We don’t care about corporations, we only care about actual bloggers, podcasters, individual soul where there’s a name behind it. We don’t want the generic anything, that’s useless in this context. You only go with blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels where there’s a specific person, a specific name behind it. You’re looking for those personal brands. I’ll find their email addresses and then I’ll find them on Twitter. Then I recruit them. That’s the overview, what I just gave you. Now getting to the details of how do you get somebody to say yes? This is a process I’ll-
Chris Badgett: Let me ask you-
Tom Morkes: Yeah, go for it.
Chris Badgett: Before you go into that … Do you care if they’re already an experienced affiliate marketer? What if they have a great blog, but they’re not affiliate marketing yet? Do you not care or do you-
Tom Morkes: That’s way better. I prefer that.
Chris Badgett: For them to not yet be doing affiliate stuff?
Tom Morkes: Yeah, to not be spoiled. ‘Cause then they’re like … chances are they haven’t been doing that. This isn’t the case across the board, but if they have not been doing that but they’re open to it then chances are, especially if they have a platform, they’re making money somehow. That is not through affiliate stuff which means that their list is probably more highly engaged, they probably have a really good connection with their audience. Not always, just cause you’re an affiliate marketer doesn’t mean you have a good connection with your audience but I think those people are the best.
Those platforms are less inundated and here’s the key thing ’cause this is the nature of affiliate marketing: If I’m going to promote somebody else’s thing, it’s going to go out to my lists. They’re going to see it, and I’m gonna be promoting this other person. If I’m going to somebody’s platform or outlet, it’s personal blog and he doesn’t do affiliate marketing well that’s great ’cause he probably hasn’t promoted a lot of other people’s stuff. That means my whatever it is, my event, my challenge, my summit, my course, my product, is going to get more aware. He’s gonna be a better [inaudible 00:26:19] of interest ’cause people won’t be used to it. It’ll be a pattern change, pattern interrupt if you will, ’cause they won’t have seen it a lot. I think those are the best. I don’t think you should care if somebody’s actually done affiliate marketing or not. Just go after the person who has a good audience.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Let me ask a really fine technical detail, how do you find somebody’s email address?
Tom Morkes: I use a lot of different tools. One of them that I’ve used is Ninja Outreach. Plug in a website and you can pull it up. I go to tommorkes.com, I think it will find my website on there. I could probably find yours, Chris. Possibly [inaudible 00:26:51] your website. There’s a lot of tools out there like that. I could probably go through a hundred. There’s so many. You just ask Google, “How do I find people’s email addresses?” You’ll find software that does it for you.
Chris Badgett: Right, okay. Well, back to what you were saying. We’ve located the affiliates now, or the potential affiliates. What’s next?
Tom Morkes: You either know these people or you don’t, right? Now let’s [inaudible 00:27:17], one lead is easy so I’m not even going to talk about it. [inaudible 00:27:20] This is what I’m doing, this is why I think I’ll be a good fit for your audience. This is why I think you should be a part of it. If you make a good case and they have availability on the calendar, chances are it’s going to be yes.
For cold leads, like colds, platforms you’re interested in but you don’t know them, I like to go through a process where before I ever ask them anything I want to get to know them honestly. This takes a long time, hence the six month lead time. I want to find them on Twitter, I want to follow them on Twitter. I want to start re-sharing their stuff on Twitter over the course of a week or two. I want to engage with them on Twitter once or twice, comment on some things. I want to sign up for their newsletter or their podcast or their YouTube channel. I want to comment on those things for a few weeks. I want to then engage with them and let them know. After I do that for a week or two, I’ve re-shared, I’ve tweeted, I’ve left comments on their blogs, on their podcasts. I’m on their newsletter. Even better, if they have lower-priced products that you can purchase ’cause you don’t want to spend tons of money for this, but if you can spend $10 on something that they have, that’s great. Then let them know, “Hey, I just purchased this. It was great, I really appreciate it.”
That’s the simplest thing. You want to start making sure they see your name enough where they start to notice it. Takes about nine times, I think. There’s some science behind it. Think about nine impressions is what you want to give somebody. Positive impressions. You want to share nine times or be positive nine times in front of them before you ask for anything. Then what I’ll do is shoot them an email and I’ll say, “Hey, I’m from,” if they have a newsletter. Again, I really don’t want to go after people who newsletter anyway. I want to go after people who … That would be the prerequisite for me, typically. I want somebody who has an actual newsletter, because then they know the value of email marketing, they understand how profitable it can be and they’ll get the most value out of this promotion. If they have an email newsletter, I’m signed up for it, I’m going to reply to one of those, comment on it, say, “Hey, I appreciate this email.”
You’ll be surprised, if you’re at this level you’re not at the corporate newsletter level but you’re at the personal brand level, most people will see that email and they’ll respond to it and they’ll be super positive about it. It’ll be something that means a lot to them and they’ll notice you. It’s so simple and so many people don’t do it. A lot of people reach out to me through a contact form. Which works, but it’s like, “Man, take two seconds, sign up for my email list, respond to one of my emails, and I’m going to see that and recognize that you’re on my list. I care about you a lot more.” That’s way better. If I get a positive response from that, they’re like, “Thanks, whatever, awesome.” After that, what I’ll do usually, maybe if I have a week later, two weeks later, something like that, I’ll approach them and say, “Hey, we talked a little wise back,” kind of reference the things you’ve done ’cause people are busy. Then I’ll say, “I see that you focus on this topic with your audience and that you’re selling x, y, or z,” or something like that. Focus on them, their audience, how they do business and make money, but also focus on the value they give to their audience.
There’s one or two ways I’d approach it: One is, and I kind of just guess, but I always like to go the audience route. If these people are doing this, chances are they’re passionate about it. Chances are they really care about their readers, their listeners. They just do. If I can approach and say, “Hey, I’m one of those people that you care about,” you don’t say that, but, “I’m one of those people, I’m in your audience. This is great work that you’re doing. I want to say, you know what I thought would be awesome for your audience would be this summit. They’re going to be teaching this topic, I think your audience would get a huge amount of value out of it.” If I’m doing a summit then the easy thing is, “And I’d love to have you speak. Would you be interested in speaking? If you’re interested in it, let me know and I’ll get you more details.” That’s an easy selling point. For those people who are in that middle ground, they want more eyes on them. That’s why those summits can be super valuable from a list-building perspective.
If you’re doing a challenge or something like that, it might be the same thing. It would be like, “This challenge I think would be great for your audience. I think they’d get a huge amount of value out of it ’cause you talk about x, y, and z and this challenge will help them do x, y, and z,” or something like that or make it better. You just connect the dots for them, that’s how you present it. You want to make sure this email has a single call to action. “Let me know if you’re interested in more details,” or, “Let me know if this is of interest, I’ll get you more details.” Then you can get a yes or no. If you get a yes or no or a maybe, yes or maybe you’re awesome. No is great too, ’cause then you know you don’t have to pressure them or anything like that, it’s fine. There’s no harm, no foul.
If you get a yes or I’m interested or a follow-up, let’s get more information, then I go through a follow-up process where I try to get on a call, try to talk through the project, then I try to lock-down dates and times on that call. As soon as you get somebody on a call, they’re receptive, they’re gonna be ready to actually help you, and they’re gonna have time on their calendar right then and there to do it. You just do things through email, you’re never gonna get on somebody’s calendar. I’d like to get on a call. All of a sudden you realize this is quite a bit of work. It takes a long time to do this. It’s so powerful, it’s so valuable. You’ll be able to leverage this partnership and this relationship for so long. That’s how you’re coming it at, you want to create value for their audience.
I always think in the back of my mind, “How do I help this person who’s going to help me? What can I do for them?” That’s maybe an addendum to this. How do you provide value? Maybe the way I approach before this is I would have them on my podcast if I have a relevant podcast. Get to know them first. Then I’ll do the next thing. Maybe I could blog about them first and do the extra bit. You have to give, give, give, and then I think you can ask for something like this. That’s the best way to have a relationship.
For that launch that you’re doing and then ongoing. These people, partners of ours … I’ve worked with partners that I’ve worked with a dozen times now. That’s awesome, it’s a great feeling ’cause then I can help them make sure they make money from these things, that they’re successful. I’m always trying to look out for what would their audience truly appreciate, so I get to know them and I can bring them opportunities and I can simultaneously find opportunities for them to get exposure, too. I like to hook up the partners I work with and say, “Hey, I don’t know if you’re interested in this but maybe you’d like to speak at this event.” Or, “Hey, have you been on this podcast? Maybe I can make and intro to you.” That’s a huge value, you know? Most people don’t take the time of day to do it.
Chris Badgett: That’s really awesome. I like what you’re saying there, just about value, because this whole thing and product launches and event-based marketing, it’s not about manipulating people or pressure selling. It’s about creating value for everybody. Even to the beginning of this episode you were talking about you like to work with people that they already need to have some traction. They already need to have a pilot or some proof of concept. There’s no reason to recruit affiliates if you don’t have proof of concept. What that means, if you have proof of concept, is the course or the product or whatever, it has value. That’s good for the end user. Now it’s a marketing sales execution game. Then like, “What’s in it for you? What’s in it for your affiliates? What’s in it for all the other people who helped support the launch?” As long as everybody wins, that’s really the name of the game. Like you mentioned the fact that a lot of your partners are with you 12 times again, again, and again. They’re not going to keep coming back if there wasn’t value there or they didn’t enjoy the process. That’s really awesome.
Tom Morkes: That’s the thing. That’s the key, I think. Not only is this personalization, ’cause most people don’t personalize. They want to hire somebody from God-knows where to spam people’s email inboxes this generic pitch that makes no sense. I’m sure some of them succeed. In the context of at least what I do and what my team does and for the people we do it for, it’s like relationship-driven marketing, for the lack of a better term. I don’t mean that as a catch phrase, but I literally mean we know our partners. I worked with you, Chris. I know you. We’ve connected, we talked, we spoken a few times. There’s that relationship that’s there regardless of any kind of promotion or anything like that. That’s the thing. That takes a lot more time and is so much more valuable though. It’s like the 80/20 principle. It’s going to take me way more time to do this, but I’m going to get 10x in the long run if I do it right, if I take the right steps and you’re in it for the long-haul. I would make a note here, I think a lot of people get greedy and lazy and they don’t want to put in that time.
They want the quick fix, they want that … I published a book on growth hacking, but they want that growth hack to get immediately to the next step. I do love growth hacks by the way, but you use that in lieu of the hard work of building a foundation and building relationships, you shoot yourself in the foot in the long run. I’m a big proponent of get that base foundation, make sure you can sell your course to your own students. You find a way to generate interest and leads on your own for your course and sell them, get some sort of base [inaudible 00:35:30] to say, “Okay, I’m gonna take this up a notch and bring in partners, bring in promoters and stuff like that. The last thing you want to do is have them push traffic your way nobody buys. Then they get just a bad experience. It’s a bad, bad thing. Don’t do that. Make sure you can actually sell your own course before you start looking for other people to promote it is the only caveat I would give to this.
Chris Badgett: That’s a really good point. I love how you’re saying about relationships, if I’m teaching somebody or working with somebody on my team in a sales capacity, I always go back to the fundamentals: Inbound, outbound, and relationships. The three types of sales. Inbound’s basically content, outbound is cold outreach prospecting, and then relationships is what you’re talking about here. Maybe a prospecting thing start turns into a relationship. I think in this digital age and this solopreneur, work from home, outsource your life thing, that whole relationship component is not … It’s almost like a scarce resource in the world of the internet. To actually consciously invest in it, I’m not trying to get these affiliates I’ll never meet and whatever to promote my thing and hopefully they make some money. It’s about building up long-term relationships and always having an eye out for where’s the mutual value or where’s the win-win. What makes sense to collaborate on, stuff like that. I think that’s really awesome.
Tom Morkes: [inaudible 00:36:54]. Totally. I think you always come back to the [inaudible 00:36:59] audience, it’s always going to be a win. Even if that [inaudible 00:37:02] isn’t the right fit at the time or they’re too busy or whatever. But you never, I mean out of the hundreds, maybe close to a thousand at this point, interactions I’ve had with potential partners and stuff like that, maybe one or two of them have gotten upset by me trying to have this conversation. The vast majority, even if it’s a “No,” it’s a positive no. I think that’s the big thing to take away. Don’t be scared. You will get those outliers that are just ridiculous and we [inaudible 00:37:28], whatever. But if you do it with a [inaudible 00:37:30] effort of being a purposefully looking to create value for somebody else’s audience, that person gets upset, that’s on them. The point is most people won’t. Even if they say no to you, they’ll still be appreciative of the fact that you took the time to learn about them and learn about their audience and what they’re doing. It’s really powerful stuff.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Just to close it out here, can you give the listener, the course builder out here who’s looking to step into event-based marketing what’s a really important first step or first thing to think about? After that, just let us know where people can find you on the internet and connect with you, Tom.
Tom Morkes: The number one thing is, “What is that product you have that you’re going to sell and who is it for?” If you can get those first two things, then you can leverage these online event-based marketing tactics or strategies or campaigns, however you want to define them. You need to know who the target audience is, you need to have your product that you know it addresses that target audience’s pain or problem. Real fundamental stuff. If you know those things, then you can leverage those in a big way. Know that and then I’d say the other big thing to think about that is, once you know that it’s like that process I went through with you as an example, which is a good one. Really thinking through it deeply, if this is the person I want to impact and I want to improve this person’s life, there’s an archetype here, there’s an [inaudible 00:39:02] type of person, that means that person, even if they’re not aware or say they are aware of the pain or problem, how do I get their attention?
There’s probably a million other people trying. If you have a real business, chances are there are other businesses competing. That’s the nature of business. You have to understand that other people are already competing for this person’s time and attention and money. That’s where you backward plan off of that and say, “Okay, these kettlebells over 40 years old.” I think the average person would say, “Oh, I’m going to look at kettlebell blogs and podcasts.” I would say that’s the opposite of where you want to go. Since you’re going right into … It’s not that it can’t work, it’s great. Maybe you can find one or two where it’s appropriate because of maybe the way you train kettlebells or something like that. Otherwise, you’re going to enemy territory. It’s not a good thing.
You want to think in these marketing verticals, these tertiary markets where it’s still that avatar, but they don’t know about what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing it. They’re that demographic, but [inaudible 00:40:01] or they maybe know of it but they’re not really into it. You’re going to these Crossfit or, I don’t know maybe Crossfit would, but marathon runners or spartan racers or whatever it is. That’s how you want to lead them into it. I think it’s understanding the market, understanding your [inaudible 00:40:15], and then backward planning from there and saying, “Where does this person exist online? Who do they listen to? Who do they follow?” Specifically, a person who hasn’t [inaudible 00:40:21] the thing that I’m going to be selling here, kettlebell thing. How do I get in front of that? That person. I think that was the one thing which was like three things I just said, but hopefully that’s clear enough for somebody to start making moves on it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Before you get into where people can find you, I just want to say that that is … It’s surprisingly overlooked, people often try to swim right in with the sharks. For me, as a [inaudible 00:40:47] of technologies for teaching courses online, but if I find people like [inaudible 00:40:56] or Frank [inaudible 00:40:56] who are teaching more strategy and content for launching courses in more of the business side, it’s like, we’re not competing but we share the same audience-
Tom Morkes: Complimentary.
Chris Badgett: There’s nothing gives me greater pleasure than to help the people that follow me from a technology provider to help hook up with some content providers who have some strategies and some other tools to help them grow their project. If I went and found other learning management system online course things, it wouldn’t make sense. I like your point, it’s surprising how often finding that adjacent person who has a non-competing business with the exact same customers is like literally critical to success in my opinion.
Tom Morkes: I’d say one thing and then … I’m losing my voice here, I need some water. I’ll say this one thing ’cause you brought it up, here’s a great example. [inaudible 00:41:56], if I were to try and market and promote that, obviously the immediate very simple to understand, to figure out, is maybe anybody with a blog or podcast who talks about teaching and education online. Online course and typically people who are teaching how to create online courses and things like that. That would be the low-hanging fruit, but probably not … Maybe it works decently well, but also probably one that all your competitors are going after. For you, I see it as then, and I think you’re already doing this, I’m 99% sure you are, but it’s then saying, “Where are other industries where education is a component or could be component and how do I get in front of those?” What about mom blogs or something like that? Stay-at-home mom blogs or something like that, maybe you want to educate on those. Whatever it is. Then seeing if I can get in front of their [inaudible 00:42:42], how they can teach their stuff online and make more money from it. Those are the kind of things.
Tertiary, right? You can probably get the most bang for the buck because there’s probably less competitors in your space going after them. That’s the big thing for me, I always say I’ll go for the ones that are competitive too and see what happens, but typically we get our best results from people that are like one or two removed, but they’re still appropriate, if that makes sense.
Chris Badgett: That makes total sense. Awesome. Well where can the people find you, Tom?
Tom Morkes: Just go to my website, it’s www.tommokes.com. That’s tommorkes.com and you’ll find everything that I do right there. Sign up for the list if you’re interested in this kind of marketing and stuff. Yeah, that’s it. You want to get in touch with me, go there. They’ve got everything from there. I reply to all my emails. Sometimes it takes me a week or two, I get a lot of emails, but I do reply. If you’re interested or have some questions about something, shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you.
Chris Badgett: All right, well thanks for coming on the show, Tom. Really appreciate it.
Tom Morkes: Chris, thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

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