We discuss online course marketing that works with Tom Libelt from the Smart Brand Marketing Podcast in this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Tom and Chris dive into various marketing strategies online course creators can use in their business to reach their target audience and add the most value to the lives of their students.
Tom is a serial entrepreneur who has a background in the music industry as a Polish rap star and a documentary filmmaker. He is the founder of the Smart Brand Marketing Podcast where he and his guests share their knowledge and expertise on how you can grow your business online. Tom also creates online courses and helps others build their online platforms at WeCreateOnlineCourses.com with his partner Till Carlos.
We talk a lot on LMScast about validating your ideas before investing time and money to create a course that people don’t buy. Tom shares some strategies you can use to validate your course idea by pre-launching or pre-selling your course to see if there is a market for your product. Testing your assumptions early can save you a lot of money and time in the long run with your online courses and membership sites.
Online education products and services in niche industries tend to perform better. When you target a specific individual or group with an online course, it is much easier to market to them and communicate the value of your products.
To truly add value to your course project you should focus on the parts you do best and outsource the rest. As Tom mentions, you can spend months learning how to be a good copywriter, but the whole process moves faster and is ultimately more effective if you hire someone else to do it.
Keeping your sales funnel simple is crucial to getting engagement from new leads. You can host a free master class or webinar to help your target audience solve a specific problem, and then collect emails from that to build up an email list. Many education entrepreneurs overthink the sales funnel. Tom highlights how you just need to focus on solving a specific problem and avoid being afraid of asking for the sale.
To learn more about Tom Libelt check out SmartBrandMarketing.com and WeCreateOnlineCourses.com. You can find him on Twitter at @TomLibelt. Tom is also a big part of the movement called Your Own Way Out.
At LifterLMS.com you can find out more about how you can build your own online courses and membership sites with LifterLMS. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place. If you’re a course creator looking to build more impact income and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS, enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett and I’m joined by a special guest, Tom Libelt. Welcome to show, Tom.
Tom Libelt: What’s up, man?
Chris Badgett: It’s great to have you. Tom’s over from the Smart Brand Marketing Podcast. So go check that out. He has a lot of episodes specifically for course creators, and I’m going to see what I can get out of him for you on this episode. So after you listen to this one, go check out Tom’s podcast Smart Brand Marketing. He’s also the founder wecreateonlinecourses.com. He’s a documentary filmmaker about the digital nomad movement called Your Own Way Out, and he has a background in the music industry and was a Polish rap star in his past. So, obviously a serial entrepreneur, and I’m excited to get into it, but it’s very … there’s like … I can count on two hands the number of people that are as obsessed, interested, curious about online courses and this particular segment of the pie and digital entrepreneurship. And you, just like on first glance, I can tell you’re going to be on one of those … on that shortlist. And you’ve been around a lot of course creators. Why do many of them fail? What do you see going on there?
Tom Libelt: Just no clarity. No focus. No marketing. You know there are a lot of reasons, but usually it all boils down to just no game plan. I thought then let’s make a course. Let’s see what happens.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Let’s monetize or whatever.
Tom Libelt: Let’s see what’s going to happen. Let’s just put it out there. Maybe people will buy it because I’m so … I’m such a great teacher. Mostly just no game plan. Like when I talk to a course creator, they’re just confused. They put some shit out there like, “Hey, it’s just laying here. What do you think you can do?”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I can totally resonate with that. I have a framework that I help people kind of get clear on what might be missing. I call it the five hats problem. Where a course creator has a pretty impossible job to be an expert, a community builder, a teacher/instructional designer, technologists and an entrepreneur all in one person. And the reality is, there’s very few of those superhumans out there. And when I look at the course projects that are successful, they often outsource or build a team to spread those hats around. You mentioned course marketing. I know that’s a big part of the game plan. On your site, we create online courses. You talk about building a course with marketing in mind. What does that mean?
Tom Libelt: Well, so, the one business which I don’t promote much is my online course marketing business. And it’s actually where I have probably the most clients right now. And it’s all from word of mouth. So my background’s in marketing, right? So, I always look at every single course. And then I tell people this, before you build the first module, before you create outline, let’s figure out who’s going to buy this thing, what the niche is, how to position it, and then build a foundation around that. Because that’s the most important thing. If we know where we’re selling it to, if we know how we’re going to sell it, if we have a game plan for that, don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine. As long as you have your info which you do, like that’s all going to be smooth. But those are the most important things.
Things like don’t make a course and then say like, “Oh, I’m curious if someone’s going to buy it.” That’s not the right approach.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about Who is it for. It sounds simple and it sounds obvious. But I’ve been in digital entrepreneurship for about a decade, and I still obsess over who is my target market. Like, who is this actually for. Who am I trying to reach. And so it’s a lot harder than it sounds. But like, what’s some advice you have on helping experts who may not have a marketing background start with that question of who is it for? Who do I want to serve? What should they do to even figure that out?
Tom Libelt: Well, as you said, you know, we do wear a lot of different hats as business people and we should. We should know how to do a couple different things. We should know how to do basic copywriting, basic marketing, basic financials like, we need to do some basic stuff. But there’s also parts of the business which you should maybe get some help on, right? And then positioning marketing. Maybe go to someone that actually knows what they’re doing.
Now if you do want to do it yourself, you can. So why not pre-launch the course. And when you pre launch the course, write down who you think the perfect customer is, right? And then when you go on Facebook, and everyone can do Facebook marketing, like the basics are super simple. Create maybe five or six audiences, right? And try to make each audience as close to your perfect client, but just try to think of different angles, different people. May be separated by age groups a little bit, by male, female, different income and then see which one gets you the most opt ins, gets you the most leads. If they can prepay, that’s even better, right? Because you know you that’s your buyer list.
But tested it. Like don’t assume anything. Like don’t assume that you know who the perfect client is. Don’t write it down and be like, “This is my guide, and I’m going to write the course now.” Because you don’t know. Like every single idea until it hits the public, it’s just an idea, right? Anything you copyright, anything you’ve put out there, you’ll actually get data and feedback you, like you don’t know. Assumption is the worst thing in the business, especially on a course. Because that’s a big piece to produce, right? Before you actually know who’s going to buy it. That’s a big I guess, project if you really think of it that way. It’s a project. It’s a big project.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s super helpful. Yeah that’s great. I heard you say on your podcast, Smart Brand Marketing Podcast that … you were saying something along the lines of a Facebook look alike audience. People shouldn’t necessarily spend as much time on that as opposed to creating some really targeted audiences of their own. And for those of you listening that don’t know what lookalike audience is, basically, you upload your customer list or your prospect list, and Facebook will theoretically market to people just like them. But why do you think it’s better to just kind of manually do the targeting?
Tom Libelt: Well, first thing. When you create the look alike audience, the smallest one you can create as a 1,000,000 people. There are a lot of niches which have maybe 80,000 to 200,000 people. And if I get super creative and sometimes you need to, because the perfect audience in my experience is about 400,000, 500,000 people. And that’s we can scale and that’s always super targeted. Well sometimes you do got to get creative. Now when you get that 1,000,000, you’re spending a lot of money and you don’t know who it’s going to, because Facebook is just doing whatever the hell they do. And half of it is just to take money from you.
Now when you do, do a look a like … and there’re reasons when I would test the look a like. Because if you have like 1,000 or 2,000 buyer list. So for example, I have a client that works in the Instagram space, right? And buyers are usually females. So what I would do, is I would take those 2,000 buyers, create a look alike, separate it into females only, and only people that like Instagram and only people with money and behaviors that make them buy shit. And now that audience will still go down to about 500,000, maybe 600,000. So I will create a look alike. Like I’m not sure what interests they are, but I know that they at least need to be women. They at least need to like Instagram. They at least need to want to buy stuff and they at least have some kind of income to buy it. So I’m still constraining that.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. And I have to selfishly ask you a question because I’m way more of an inbound content marketer than a paid acquisition guy. What’s an example of some interests that indicate that this type of person may be a buyer? Is it that they like own a home or something? Or like what? What are Facebook interests that indicate buying behavior?
Tom Libelt: So a lot of this is kind of insight stuff. But I will give you the one that still works and if you go to just behaviors, they will show you engaged shoppers. Then just use that as the first one. You can still use that one, engaged shoppers.
Chris Badgett: Engage shoppers. Very cool. Just while we’re there on like audience, I also heard on your podcast, you were interviewing somebody in the, parent helping with kids that can’t sleep. So this person built a course around that.
Tom Libelt: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I’m always fascinating and just it sometimes it comes into my awareness, certain niches are just huge. Like babies, and they’re like evergreen. There’s always like new kids being born and parents having trouble getting kids go to sleep.
Tom Libelt: They are.
Chris Badgett: Do you have any comments around like, just general comments, for course creators, whether they’re in a big niche like that or trying to get in there, or let’s say a super niche, small niche? Should we go after big niches? Or does it just depend on our expertise? Or what? Is it easier with a big niche or what?
Tom Libelt: No, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about positioning. Like I have a couple clients, they go after huge niches. And then I have some that have, like, seriously, I mean, even with … would be stretching it. Their basic community is 80,000. Now I get super creative and make it into about 400,000, but it’s like they’re … if you ask them. They’re like, “No.” There’s 80,000 buyers in this niche. And one of them is the health niche. And the guy is a practitioner and he’s like, “Look, that’s all the people that are in my niche. It’s 80,000.” And he’s making money. He’s making good money. Like we spent, let me see, we spent maybe $1,500 on a webinar promo in April and I think he made around $28,000 from that. And then we did another one that was a similar amount.
So I mean, you got to think like, this guy can easily pull in $200,000 a year from a very, very small niche. And we’re like, we’re still testing. Like, I have no idea how well we can get this optimize because we’re still testing. But I mean, that’s a small niche.
Chris Badgett: Were you using Facebook ads to get signups to the webinar?
Tom Libelt: Only Facebook because the guy’s budget is quite small. So I told him, “Look, the only thing we can do is Facebook.” It’s not the optimal strategy and I would like to use more, but that’s all we did. Seriously, we had one ad running to one landing page, that was it.
Chris Badgett: If you want to play with Facebook, like let’s say you have a webinar in your funnel for your course.
Tom Libelt: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Is there like a specific dollar value that you need to be over that threshold to have any serious chance? Or can you test that funnel? You said $1,500 I think. Could you test that for like 100 just to see if it worked before you put 1,500 on it?
Tom Libelt: Yeah. The first one we did with him was $300 and he made almost 10,000 with it.
Chris Badgett: So you can validate. You don’t necessarily have to have these giant budgets.
Tom Libelt: No. No. No. Anything over $10, you’re fine.
Chris Badgett: Super cool. Well let’s talk about YouTube a little bit. I think I heard you say something that I didn’t even know was possible which you can target specific videos?
Tom Libelt: Yeah. We do it all the time. Yeah. So, I’ll find competition for whoever I’m working with and we will find that the top viewed videos, top competition and we’ll target only those.
Chris Badgett: How do you do it? I mean, I’ve just recently started experimenting with YouTube ads. Can you literally find a specific video or do you have to try to figure out like the exact keywords or tags or whatever?
Tom Libelt: Oh, No. No. You can find a specific video. You can use it in the placements.
Chris Badgett: Very cool. Are those like pre-rolls type videos?
Tom Libelt: So, we use pre-rolls and we use the banner ads. And I find the banner ads work much better in a lot of cases and then they’re cheaper.
Chris Badgett: So, just so I’m clear. Is a pre-roll that like annoying thing that you have to wait five seconds to skip and then-
Tom Libelt: Yeah. So we don’t-
Chris Badgett: The banner ad is like … how long does it stick on there? Is it there the whole video if they don’t turn it off? Or don’t-
Tom Libelt: So, we don’t use the banner ads in the video. We use the banner ad that’s on the right. So, there’s a place on the right of the video where you can see one picture if someone’s paying for it.
Chris Badgett: Is it like with the related videos kind of area?
Tom Libelt: Yeah, it’s in that area. Yeah. And if someone’s paying for it in that video, you’ll see it the whole time.
Chris Badgett: Wow, that is awesome. Any other advice for the beginning course creator who doesn’t have a lot of marketing experience and wants to leverage YouTube?
Tom Libelt: For YouTube, I would just use that. Just find your favorite videos. And for Gmail, because it’s in the same echo space, what I would do is I would just sign up to my competitors mailing list and take the address from the mailing list and use the address to just target their whole mailing list with my Gmail ads.
Chris Badgett: Say that one more time. I didn’t quite catch it.
Tom Libelt: Because at Gmail you got to use keywords, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Tom Libelt: To target audience. Well, you can use their address as a keyword.
Chris Badgett: Oh, I see. Very interesting. That’s a pro tip right there. What about Instagram? I think I heard you say, which I can agree with correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re not really a power Instagram guy. And I also heard the … and I had the same issue, like if you have a shoe company or like physical products, maybe Instagram is a better fit. But is Instagram relevant to course creators?
Tom Libelt: In some niches. So, I’ve tested a lot this month just because one of my clients, well, actually two this month, were just super interested in Instagram. So I think we spent around $15,000, $16,000 testing it and I’ll tell you this, the stories placements work way better than the placements in the actual feed.
Chris Badgett: Awesome.
Tom Libelt: Cool.
Chris Badgett: Well I hope you listening out there, are taking notes because Tom is just laying down some hard one truths here.
Positioning. You mentioned positioning is the key to marketing and why some course creators fail. If I’m new to marketing and I’m an expert or maybe I’m a teacher first and not really a developed entrepreneur, how do you kind of get my head straight around positioning? Let’s say I found an audience that I want to serve. How do I figure out positioning?
Tom Libelt: Just hire someone. Just don’t do it. I’m not saying hire me because I probably have enough work. But just hire someone. It’s like with copywriting, right? Like if you want to spend three, four months learning how to copyright and come up with a decent script, do it. Otherwise just hire someone. Because with positioning, like what you can do is, well once again you got to learn some copywriting, but what you can do is create like six to 10 different headlines and use that targeting method that I mentioned before about the perfect audience-
Chris Badgett: Not only do you have to figure out positioning, you need to test your position.
Tom Libelt: You got to test it, yeah. Because you don’t know. It’s an assumption, right?
Chris Badgett: What are some examples of positioning? It doesn’t even have to be in the course niche, just like what’s a brand that has really good positioning?
Tom Libelt: Brand that’s got really good positioning.
Chris Badgett: Or [inaudible 00:16:49] just like an example.
Tom Libelt: Well the best one was a car company that, they came in second and they said, “We try harder.”
Chris Badgett: Like [inaudible 00:16:57] Enterprise or one of those.
Tom Libelt: I mean that’s great positioning, right? That’s the best position I’ve ever seen. Like we try harder.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s good.
Tom Libelt: And it can be really simple too. Like, don’t overthink it. Don’t think it’s got to be like a really long sentence. Like, something like that can be enough. Most of the time it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. How you actually serve what you do that makes the difference. So, if you can think about how you’re doing things, position it with that in mind, right? Because that’s what really grabs people. It’s like, yeah you’re all doing SEO, but how? That’s what separates people.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I think maybe Southwest Airlines might be a good example of that. They have like, all the planes are the same. No assigned seats. They just position completely different. I think the bags are free. Like it’s just a totally different compared to the other-
Tom Libelt: I’m so used to business class, I think it’s just chaos on Southwest. So it depends. It depends how you think. But to me it’s just chaos. I’m like, “Yeah. That’s good guys I’m going to go somewhere else now.”
Chris Badgett: What about sales funnels in general for course creators? Like what’s a super simple sales funnel that of course crater could think of?
Tom Libelt: I mean the best thing is to really do keep it simple. So send people to some kind of a master class or a webinar. Just have them opt in and view it right them. And right after they viewer it, just try to sell. Sell whatever you’re selling. If they don’t buy it during the master class or webinar, have some kind of emails shooting out. Re-target them. Just get them to the sales page. If they went to the sales page and then started checking out and abandoned, re-target those people and at least ask them like, “Why haven’t you bought? How can I help?” That’s it like, super simple stuff man. Just take him on a little journey. It’s a customer.
Chris Badgett: What’s the difference between a webinar and a master class or is that not really it’s just a different name?
Tom Libelt: There’s no difference at all. It’s just people are tired of the name webinars. So, call them a masterclass.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. What makes a good webinar?
Tom Libelt: Give two or three, like really actionable examples. Like something someone can take right now to make a difference. Like with me, like if I just told people about how to market an online course, and I told them this Gmail thing, the YouTube thing and something else I could come up with super quick, maybe even just a targeted audience, they could use it right now. Like, they don’t need me for that and they would sell. I would probably use three, four minutes in the beginning just to sort of tell them who I am and why they should even listen to me. But I wouldn’t spend much at all about that because I don’t matter. Just try to help them and then at the end be like look … maybe even in the beginning, wait, “Just so you guys don’t feel nervous, this is my offer. That’s how much it’s going to be. Now, since we got that out the way, let’s listen to these tips and let’s get going.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. Keep it simple. Webinar or sales funnels don’t have to be complicated, and neither does-
Tom Libelt: No. Because the thing is like someone’s got a problem and they want to have it solved. So stop overthinking and just help them solve their problem. And don’t be tricky about it. That’s the problem with the salesy thing. People are scared to be salesy, but it’s just like, don’t treat people, they’re fine. People love to be sold.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. If it’s a good fit.
Tom Libelt: Yeah, if it’s a good fit. Yeah, they love it. They don’t want to feel like they got to buy something. But they loved to be sold. Like, oh, wow, that’s great. Sometimes they even know that you’re selling them, but they just can’t stop because it’s so good.
Chris Badgett: Do you have any general tips on pricing? Or how to even think about pricing?
Tom Libelt: The thing I feel about pricing is, if it’s too cheap, you can’t use that. And if you can’t use that, you just cut out a huge marketing piece. Because things like SEO, they take a long time. Things like blogging, podcasting take a long time. Unless you enjoy it. Like I do my podcast because I enjoy it. Plus, I always feel like I’m learning something. But it’s not meant for selling. Even though I do get clients from it, but it’s that circle, right? But so I’m doing it. But if you price it normally, which to me is between like 900 … it depends how are you doing it. Like, I would say, because people do monthly or yearly or whatever, but monthly. If you think about monthly, between $90 and $300, you’re fine. Anything more than that, you can kill it. Sometimes you want to do something a little cheaper in the beginning and do an upsell. But if you just think between $90 and $290 per month, that’s enough per sale to get some advertising and make some profit. But then yearly you obviously want something like around $900 to $3,000, $4,000 easy. Like you want that chunk in your bank account.
Chris Badgett: What about evergreen versus launch? Or launch specific, like open close. Is that something that … do you have any opinion on that? Like what people should try or focus on?
Tom Libelt: Like what perspective are you thinking of? Like what do you mean by evergreen versus open close? are we talking about the way you’re marketing? Are we talking about the course itself?
Chris Badgett: Like the courses itself. When we first launched, shouldn’t life just be open forever, and we just keep trying to add people to it? Or is it better to kind of do a cohort model and we move groups of people through it? Have you … I don’t know, maybe have you seen any difference out there? And I mean, sometimes you’re constrained by … like, if you do live coaching and group coaching, and you want everybody at exactly the same spot at the same time, then not doing evergreen makes sense.
But I don’t know if you’ve seen anything out in the marketplace of like people find more success when it’s not evergreen, or evergreen is good, or it’s just a giant, it depends.
Tom Libelt: What I usually find that works best is a mix of the above. Alright, so we’re going to talk about the online courses themselves and then the marketing.
With the online courses themselves, you want to have a big piece that people can go through without you touching anything, right? But then you do want to have them stick, so you do want to have some kind of a webinar or some kind of a class. Or just question and answer thing maybe once a month, right? You want that. And then you can keep it going forever. But with marketing, I think you should keep the course open at all times. But you should make events. So, live webinars or something else every month or two. So, this is why that works best.
If you have a whole funnel coming in on a regular basis, some will buy some won’t. So, the best way to re-target people that haven’t bought, because you’re building a list. So, every two months let’s say you have another thousand people that came up to the end and didn’t buy. And you target that group again. And that’s when people make the most money, right? So, when you’re actually selling a course all the time, you are making some kind of a profit but maybe it’s not huge. But that 10x will happen during the special events. So this could be around holidays, just master classes, like do like six of these special little launches or maybe more. But I would say six is enough to make up all that money. So we just want to grab all of it, and this is the way that we’re doing it almost for everyone.
Chris Badgett: So, are you saying that a lot of times, first time people are exposed or go through a webinar or whatever, there’s a big hole out there and a lot of people’s funnels where they’re not trying to re-engage people that showed interest but didn’t buy right away?
Tom Libelt: Yeah, so people do try to engage them with ads and things and we do get a big percentage that buy, but still 60%, 70% would consider it much more if it was a some kind of a live event or something, that’s something special, right? Like they feel like they’re getting a deal. It’s like Prime Day in Amazon. People that don’t even know they have to buy shit, they’re buying things, right?
Chris Badgett: So what are some other tips on event based marketing? So, there could be like a special day, like a holiday almost.
Tom Libelt: Yeah-
Chris Badgett: Just invent a holiday?
Tom Libelt: Yeah, just get creative. Like, just create … mix and match. Like do a couple, maybe holidays. Create your own holiday. Do a couple of live webinars. Just play with it. But give people at least six opportunities a year to be a part of something special. Like it’s only now. Like if you miss it now, like you missed it. Like don’t be one of these jackasses that puts like a live webinar and then leaves it on for like two weeks. Like no, you have like two or three days to watch it. If not, like sorry. You missed the live one and we’ll give you a day or two, but bye.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Tom Libelt: And then in two months. It’s special again. Like hit them with something. But don’t just leave it. You’re already leaving the sales page open. So let’s just … don’t make everything evergreen. Then nothing is special. People can see through that bullshit.
Chris Badgett: When I look at We Create Online Courses, you also have like a video and audio help. In this where industry pros make you sound and look great. So if we take off like our entrepreneur and our marketing hat, and we put on our teacher, Instructional Designer technology hat, what problems that people have with creating videos and audios? And I mean, you have a background in music. So you know audio really well. Like what friction are you removing there?
Tom Libelt: Well, the main thing is people hate the sound of their voice. And me working in the engineering world and just in the music studios, like I’ve had people come in, like major stars that couldn’t get on the mic until, like, all the settings were right. So, their voice was the way that they wanted it to sound. Because we would make their voices sound better. This is like, people you’ve listened to with number one hits. But people just don’t like the sound of their voice. Like my girlfriend, like she hates it. Like I tell you to make YouTube videos all the time. She’s like, “No. I don’t like my voice.” I was like I can fix that. In a nice way. I can definitely smooth that thing out.
But that’s one thing, right? I do have that experience. I’ve been in the music business, I’ve made a movie, I’ve seen how much work is to make the actual visual part look pretty good too. So why would you want to learn that? I went to full sail. I spent years just trying to make things sound good. Like, why would you try to attempt that or get some idiot which I’ve seen a lot of them that added podcasts and the only thing they did is like change it to some preset. I’m like, really? Like, that’s what you do?
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah. So like, like you said earlier, sometimes it’s better to hire somebody or get a professional to help.
Tom Libelt: Well, it depends what quality of a product you’re trying to put out. Because we’ve went through that era of average. Where average stuff came out and people are like, “Yeah, this is great.” But, I mean, now we’re bombarded with things. Like I’m seeing so many videos and gurus and people like, “Hey, I’ve had one success and now I’m going to teach you this.” And I’m like, “Look, like we’ve been through this. And your quality sucks. What exactly are you going to teach me?”
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s-
Tom Libelt: I mean, like our detectors are up too. So being like … yeah, putting out better quality like that itself will separate you a little bit. I mean, you still have to know what you’re doing, but it will separate you. Like you don’t want to put out something where it sounds like you’re hanging out in your bedroom with the fans going. It’s blurry. You can see it’s on a webcam. And everyone’s like, “Oh, wow. Yeah, this is great. Like, I love the chorus. But what is up with this dude?”
Chris Badgett: Yeah. High production value. I’ve heard from some other people I respect, they’re really seeing that trend. Like if we’re … of just how marketing content, digital content, it’s really like growing up and maturing and high quality is going to be a big differentiator. It already is.
Tom Libelt: Well people get tired. That’s what I mean. And if you get overexposed, which we’ve all had, you kind of separate it right away, right? Just by looking at the quality. It’s like people say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But like, have you ever been to a bookstore?
Chris Badgett: Right. If I think about like the Dollar Shave Club video, I’ve watched that several times.
Tom Libelt: It’s brilliant.
Chris Badgett: But it’s high quality. It’s not some guy just like by a swimming pool, pitching a razor blade. It’s entertaining, and it’s really well produced. But not necessarily, I don’t think he spent a $1,000,000 making a video.
Tom Libelt: No. And it’s not about the cash. It’s just about the quality, right? There’s obviously some humor in it. And that’s the thing I’ve been trying to do on the podcast. Like this month, is to get some of these people that are helping inject comedy into speeches of CEOs and copywriting just because I think it’s super important. Like people want to be entertained and when you entertain them and make them laugh, their guard comes down a little bit. They feel connected. It’s easier to sell them.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s a really good point. Perhaps some course creators take themselves a little too seriously. And, or try to be too professional and miss the opportunity for that basic human connection around the sense of humor.
Tom Libelt: I mean look, sometimes you got to be dry. If you’re in like an accountant that’s helping people move money from one country to the next and all you’re doing is teaching other accountants how to do it, it’s kind of be pretty dry. I mean there’s probably going to be some humor which to you would be like, old dad humor. But you can still inject that. But overall it’s going to be pretty dry. So don’t try to be a comedian just because Tom or someone be funny. It’s not like that. But I just mean if you can entertain the people a little bit, especially during the selling process.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, switching back to the entrepreneur hat, I’m on your We Create Online Courses website, and you have a calculator about should you create an online course. And basically you plug in a bunch of numbers, a product price, mailing list size, plus followers, percentage of buying from the followers, advertising money spent, cost per click, percentage of people that buy from ads. Why did you develop this and what is this tool like really help people figure out?
Tom Libelt: So, one of the things I found with people that tried to create online courses, at least the ones that knew what they were talking about, was how can I sell this thing? So to create the calculator, the conversions come from some of my experience. And I tell them look, for the most part, you have some kind of a number of followers, right? So just put that in. You want to figure out how much to sell it for? Play around with the numbers, you’ll see what you need to make a profit. And use those two with some of the other percentages based on my experience to just figure out how you need to spend, what the pricing is. If you’re initial following as enough. And if it’s not, then play with the numbers and see how big you got to grow it.
And you have a sort of a rough idea how the marketing thing is going to work. Because, people asked like, “How big of a list should I have?” Well, use the calculator. “How much do I need to spend?” Use the calculator? “What’s my pricing?” Use the calculator. So it’s one of these things like, stop asking me just use that thing.
Chris Badgett: I see a lot of people, in my opinion, build online course projects backwards. They buy the tech, like I’ll see people buy our software, LifterLMS, and then they’ll think, “Okay, I need to go get some course content. I need makes some content.” And then they’re like, “I need to go build a list to sell to or whatever,” which I believe is kind of the opposite way of going about things. It’s better to start building community and a list then start creating the content and then go look for technology to help deliver.
On your calculator page, it says if your mailing list size, plus followers is less than 1000, then you don’t recommend building an online course at this time. How can people get their numbers up if they don’t have mailing list size and followers up to over 1000 yet?
Tom Libelt: Well, you can put out content and just run traffic to it and see if you can get people to engage with you. That’s why buying traffic is one of the fastest ways to make money. And I know it’s not what a lot of people want to hear and I used to be like that too. I used to be like a hardcore SEO guy. I didn’t use paid traffic for a long time. But, if you know what you’re doing, and this is why I tell people, maybe just hire someone.
Chris Badgett: How do you help people break through that fear of spending money, like some people are just like, there’s like a barrier between paying for traffic especially to content not to a sales page.
Tom Libelt: Well, I always feel like, how are your results? Yeah, okay, if you’re getting five followers a week, okay. So let’s waste another six years and call me then.
Chris Badgett: That’s a good point.
Tom Libelt: I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I’ll be like, “Look, if you that’s the way you want to do it, just go to it. It’s fine. I’ll be here. Just call me when you’re ready. Six years. I mean, It’s fine. Do what you got to do, bro.”
Chris Badgett: If we put our expert hat on for a moment. Some of the people listening to this show are book authors. They might be speakers who are tired from living on airplanes and the hotels and conferences and they’re trying to get into the online course, go digital space. Where does it like a book sit? Like how do you see a book? Because experts can definitely write a book in addition to making courses. If they already have, how do they get into courses? There are, if they haven’t. If they’re an expert, should they start with a book or skip that or what?
Tom Libelt: We spoke a little about this before the call. But … okay. This is what I see. And I kind of talked about this before. People write books to get speaking gigs, right? And it’s usually because the place that you actually get a speaking gig requires you to have a book. This is for a lot of professors and stuff. So, people write this book, they know it’s not going to sell, but it’s going to get them into a speaking gig. Then when they start speaking, they realize they can’t make money from the book because it’s not really going to make money. And the only time they do make money is when they’re speaking. So now it’s like, “Okay. What can I do where I can make money without using my time?” And that’s when the online course comes in.
The other part of it is, “I’m speaking, I have nothing to sell. What should I do?” Oh, that’s what an online course comes in.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, so it’s essentially really a business card.
Tom Libelt: It’s a business card, but it leads to speaking gigs and eventually people get tired, or they just want to make more money. And that’s when I say, get an online course. So another example of this, and we thought about this when it comes to pricing. I think John Demartini actually said this before. I don’t know why I was listening to him. But he just said this before, and made a lot of sense to me.
He said, If people don’t have enough money to see him live, because that’s super expensive. He’s going to give them a book, because that’s like $8 to $25. Once they read the book, and they’re like, “Oh, wow, you’re great. But I still don’t have the money.” Well, I’m going to give them an online course that’s going to be $300 to $700. Then when they say, “Wow, this is great.” So, we’re following this customer journey, right? Then I want to give you a group coaching class and that’s going to be maybe a $1,000 to $2,000. And then eventually to the right buyers, I’m going to give them that $10,000, $15,000 in person retreat. But everyone has something in their price range where they can buy from me.
Chris Badgett: How do you describe that customer journey from the customer’s perspective? Like from the entrepreneur’s perspective, there’s like that escalation model of like-
Tom Libelt: Sure. So, with John Demartini, I’ll tell you this. I read the book because that’s all I … I didn’t have any trust with the guy. Like I didn’t know who this guy was. So I bought the book, I looked at it, I was like, “Look, I get it and it’s great, but I’m done.” And then another person might have been like, “Oh, wow, like this is exactly what I need. I’m going to get the online course because I want to get a little more hand holding.” And then they’re going to say, “Wow. This is great. I’m going to get into the community.” And then when they get really excited, like, “Oh, I got to meet the master.” They will go to see you in person.
So, people want more. Like if you give them value, they want more and more and more and more and more. And even if you do something in person, you can keep these people coming back for years. Like usually the best customer is like … anyone a repeat customer. So like a small percentage of customers are going to make all of your sales, because anything you put out, they’re going to buy.
Chris Badgett: Yeah that’s super helpful. Well let’s put our expert hat on, and a lot of experts out there like yourself, have a lot of interests, passions, abilities. You have a documentary film about the digital nomad movement called Your Own Way Out, which we’ll talk about in a minute. But how have you been able, like as a serial entrepreneur yourself with all these different interests, what has … there’s a lot of people have lost the interest that have trouble executing. Or maintaining multiple businesses at once. How do you make it happen?
Tom Libelt: That’s a hard question. Like, the reason why I’m doing things because I’m just human, right? Like, I go from boredom to itching for something like all the time. Like it just happens. Like this week, I could be bored out of my mind with everything. And next week I started a new project. Now, how do I actually execute? I don’t know if I’m working.
Chris Badgett: But what about like systems or partnerships, or-
Tom Libelt: Okay, so yeah, so I am a systems guy. And a lot of people always say that like that time. Like your systems are on point.
Chris Badgett: It’s actually obvious by this interview just getting into your marketing advice like, I see so many systems in there as you’re talking. It’s awesome.
Tom Libelt: I don’t know like my ex girlfriend said I’m neurotic. That’s why all the systems come in. I don’t like leaving things, that’s like, that doesn’t work right. Like everything needs to fit. Now maybe, maybe, it’s a good skill. I don’t know if everyone’s got that talent but it definitely helps me. I just … I do like things that work. But that’s one of the constraints which I usually use usually. because sometimes I’m just too [inaudible 00:40:15] the documentary and I just go and say like, “Okay, let’s do it.” But usually I have some constraints and one of them is, can I systemized this thing? Because the way my businesses usually go, is I get excited I build a system everything works well. I barely work on it, I get bored. And I start something new and it’s over and over and over again. And sometimes I kill some business, but a lot of them still run just because the systems were in place.
So like my SEO business, I still have some like book publishing thing, like they’ve been running for years of the systems they created on like, eight, five years ago. Depends which business, right? But yeah, so with the new ones, it’s the same thing. It’s always looking like, can I create a system that’s going to help me maybe eventually not work on this? And if I can’t, then unless it’s something short term and super exciting, I usually pass.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I want to dig into your own way out a little bit. So, for those of you who aren’t as familiar with the digital nomad movement, a lot of people say, they read the four hour workweek, or they got really anti whatever their job was, and we’re just looking for a way to just find a different life that’s really fulfilling. And then with the introduction of all this internet technology and communication and digital products, and Freelancer services that you can create, it’s kind of this whole movement. So you want to document that. And you … Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a big place where these people are. Is that where you filmed the movie or did you travel around?
Tom Libelt: We traveled around, but most of it was filmed in Bangkok.
Chris Badgett: In Bangkok?
Tom Libelt: Yeah, most of it.
Chris Badgett: And so, you’re interviewing a lot of these digital nomads who have found some success. And I’m going to … I haven’t seen this movie. I watched the trailer, but I can’t wait to watch it tonight. And you can actually get it on the website yourownwayout.com. But what did you see? Like, what were some of the comment threads that some of these people like Peter Shankman, Derek Sivers, Dan Norris, Rob Walling, these are all names I know in the digital entrepreneurship space. What did they have, like what patterns did you uncover with these interviews?
Tom Libelt: I don’t know about patterns. But, so I wasn’t really there to document the movement, right? So I wanted to get my own freedom initially, right? Which just meant, I just wanted to be able to work and travel and just do whatever I want. Like some people say that, you’re the biggest threat to a government when they can’t control you. And that’s a good feeling. You’re just doing your own thing. Now when I did come on to this digital nomad space, what I realized is that most of it is bullshit. Like, the cafes and these workplaces that they, talked so greatly about on the podcast, I came to see and I’m like, “Seriously, this is it?” Like is what you guys have been praising for this whole time? It’s a shit hole.”
Chris Badgett: So, it was like selling a lifestyle but there wasn’t a lot?
Tom Libelt: It was it was eye opening. It was definitely they were selling something. Like they were selling a dream. But then when you got to the dream, it’s like, “Really? Like this is it?” And someone probably felt like I got over a real good up for this. I mean, look it’s still great to have the freedom. But I’m just saying look, like that part like annoyed me a little bit.
Another thing when I came out is people were saying just get a one way ticket to Vietnam or Thailand and you’ll be fine. You’ll figure it out. And there’s hundreds of people doing this. And some of the people selling it, and I know them personally, are broke. And then when these people come, they’re broke, too. So in Chiang Mai, because that’s where I’m at now, and I’m in my own bubble, so I don’t really hang out as much but, when I go to these meetups … Okay. This is the funny thing. If you want to feel really good about your income, you go to a meetup in Chiang Mai and you ask people how much they make.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Tom Libelt: And you start feeling good like, “Okay. I was a little down this week but now I feel great. Alright, bye guys.” But they’re not making much at all. And this is not a good thing. So I thought someone selling some kind of a bullshitty dream. So, these successful guys that you mentioned in documentary, a lot of them are my friends. And I was like, “Look guys, like why don’t we just tell them the truth about what we’re doing? Just the realities of it. Just like, we’re not going to say anything bad or good. Just the realities. Like, this is what it’s really like. These are the challenges. Obviously, like, changing locations comes with challenges. But just this is the reality of it, and let them just see it.” Then say, “Oh. Okay, I want to get into it or not.” That was the whole part of it. I just felt like you know what, it needs to be told.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I can’t wait to check it out. That’s at yourownwayout.com. Last question, just has to do with a friend of yours, I believe Brendan Tolley. Him and one of his friends approached me about his course which is really designed for E-commerce store, but a lot of the lessons in it are relevant to course creators as well. I took the course and I loved his teaching style. He had all these like quick wins I could implement on my website. This being a software website, not a course website. Although it’s still apply for just finding some SEO quick wins and implementing right away.
The lessons were very short and he told me like exactly what to do like at the end of the video and then I just stopped and then I did exactly what he told me to do and I started seeing results the next week as everything’s getting re-indexed and everything. So, I thought he was a great teacher, but could you speak to Brendan Tolley who is coming on this podcast in a little bit? How do you know him? And what have you learned from Brendan?
Tom Libelt: Well, I’ve known Brendan for years he’s one of my best friends. But he’s a beast man. Like I ask him for advice all the time. He created that course pretty much himself. Like I always help out whenever he needs it. But yeah, I mean the guy like he knows what he’s talking about. And he’s also one of these people that only has these niche things, which he’s really good at which … that’s kind of how you know, an expert.
Chris Badgett: What, like, the extreme focus? Is that what you mean?
Tom Libelt: Like the extreme focus, right? So he mostly focuses on E-commerce, SEO, speeding up websites. Like, he’s got these very narrow focuses that he mostly works on. And one of the-
Chris Badgett: A lot of what he was telling me to do was, like, incredibly small tweaks. But-
Tom Libelt: They are, yeah, and that’s what I mean, he’s super focused in. And that’s usually when you see an expert. There’s so many people that try to come on my podcast. So, many and I go on their website and it’s like, “We do everything. I’m like get the fuck out of here. But I just hate that. Like, “So, basically what you’re saying is like, you don’t know how to do anything well?”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you haven’t specialized or you’re not teaching specialized knowledge.
Tom Libelt: Well, like I don’t mean you need to do just one thing. But I mean, there should be some sort of like, pick two or three. Come on, it’s enough.
Chris Badgett: So, I said last question, but I’m going to ask you one more.
Tom Libelt: All right.
Chris Badgett: The experts, course creators, I see them sell out a lot for different reasons. It depends. They may be a marketer without expertise, or they may be a teacher with no tech skills, or they may know how to build a list, but can’t figure out like, what kind of product to make or course design or whatever. So, unfortunately, I see a lot of people stall out and it’s not always the same friction point. But the purpose of this podcast is to help people with that. Any other … just final parting words of advice to get unstuck?
Tom Libelt: Yeah, just learn how to delegate. I think someone should create a course on that. Teach people how to delegate. Too many micromanagers. Too many will be like, “I’m going to do it all myself,” which is all great. But once again, like how much time do you have to waste? Like just how much? And at the end you’re still not going to be as good as someone else that knows what they’re doing. Now I’m not saying just go pick someone random from Facebook because that’s the worst thing you can do. Pick one of these like, “Who can help you with Facebook marketing?” And you’re going to get like 15 hands raised. Like that’s the worst thing you could do.
But I’m just saying, learn how to delegate. Maybe if you don’t know how to delegate then also learn how to pick the right providers. I mean, that’s a skill of its own too, right? Just like hiring. How do you hire an A plus player? That’s not easy. It’s not great to, like obvious how to get a great person on your team. It’s the same thing with a service provider. You’re hiring someone. Like don’t think it’s just going to be one of these things like, “Oh, I’m going to get someone and they’ll just do everything for me.” If you get the wrong person, it’s going to waste even more time and money. So like, I get the fear but I mean, this is one of these skills you need to learn as a business owner. How do I hire? Period.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome, Tom. And I would encourage you listening to go back and re-Listen to this episode because Tom was very generous and shared so many nuggets of wisdom in here. And also I’d like to highlight that point where he was talking about, if somebody is only getting like five new leads a day through content marketing or whatever, they might have to wait six years to get a result. And just to kind of come to grips with the reality of what happens when you don’t delegate. You can be setting yourself up for failure when you try to wear all the hats.
Tom, thanks for coming on the show. Everybody go check out Smart Brand Marketing podcast. Is there anywhere else you want to send people on the internet to connect with you?
Tom Libelt: They can come to your page, the one that you’re going to set up for this podcast and they can go from there.
Chris Badgett: Sounds great, yeah, just google LMScast and you’ll find this episode with Tom Libelt. Thank you Tom.
Tom Libelt: Yeah, man anytime. Thanks for having me on.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.
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