Building Your Evergreen Sales Machine

What is the difference between products that sell every day, and products that fade into obscurity?

Join Tony Clark and Chris Garrett as they reveal how to build a perpetual sales system that will grow your online business — and it’s profitability — over the long term.

In this episode Chris and Tony discuss:

  • How products can succeed after a successful launch
  • The key questions your sales messages need to answer
  • Relaunching your offer for the first time
  • Deciding between launches and always open sales models
  • Taking it to the next level to make each promotion beat the last
  • The vital element failed funnels are missing

Building Your Evergreen Sales Machine

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Tony Clark: Hello. Welcome, everyone. This is The Mainframe. I’m Tony Clark. I’m the COO of Copyblogger Media, and I’m here with my co-host Chris Garrett, who’s the CDO of Copyblogger Media. Today, we’re talking about your evergreen sales machine. How are you doing, Chris?

Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. I’m looking forward to this one. It’s an interesting subject.

Tony Clark: Yeah, it is. It kind of builds off everything we’ve been talking about so far, because you can’t have an evergreen sales machine without it. You’re starting out with the MVP and your MVC (your community), and then doing a launch to get an idea of what types of things you can improve upon to make this continual, perpetual selling machine.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, it basically stems from people saying, “Why does my product not sell?” Or even more confusing, “I’ve just done a successful launch, and now nobody’s buying. What’s going on?”

Tony Clark: You have got to think about this from a perspective of what continues to drive sales once the product is out there, and once you start getting feedback. It’s not initially a set it and forget it type of program. Although it can get to that point if you do this correctly.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, we’ve got a few examples within Copyblogger of products that just sell regardless, and we don’t have to do anything special. We don’t have to necessarily do promotions, or launches – they just sell every single day.

A really good example is the Genesis Framework. That just sells every single day. One of the reasons that it sells everyday is because there is vital need within the marketplace and a reputation, so everybody who is in the know will buy it and recommend it.

How Products Can Succeed After a Successful Launch

Tony Clark: Right. It started out with a quality product. You have a quality product. You build a community that you support, that supports you behind that. That creates a type of positioning that allows this to continue to sell because they know they’re getting quality. The message reinforces itself because the community talks about it. You talk about it in your sales copy. You’ve got to have a very clear sales message. That’s something we do on the StudioPress site. Our funnels are set up very specifically to help people make the decision that this is right for them.

We have a clear sales message, we have a quality product that perpetuates more sales, because when you get the delivery of that product, it does what it says it’s going to do. Then the community helps reinforce that. That becomes part of that positioning for that machine to continue selling.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. We’re not talking about a cheesy elevator pitch, we’re talking about clear and transparent positioning, and a sales message that everybody understands and that you can support with evidence. And especially later on, social proof. We’re not saying you have to come up with something clever, it actually just has to make sense in the marketplace.

If you can be a category leader, that makes it obvious. Every product category has a leader that is the standout example. You have to be able to tell people what it is you’re selling, why they need it, what it will do for them, and why your particular solution, why you. Once people get that, and they get it straight away, they’re answer to you talking about it is, “Yes, I need that,” or, “Tell me more,” then you know you’re on to something.

The Key Questions Your Sales Messages Need to Answer

Tony Clark: Right. It’s really about educating them. That’s one of the things we found, the term “educational marketing.” We found it worked very well with all of our products, but really with our StudioPress products.

It has allowed us to inform new customers why what we’re offering is the best in an educational way. We really educated them about the process, about what a framework is, about what themes do, why you would need this, why ours is the best choice for them. So this sales message was also an educational message. It really informed them so that they can make a very informed decision, and they felt comfortable in the buying process.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. It’s got to be tailor made for your prospects, your community, your customers. A really good example of that from Copyblogger’s past is the Third Tribe, where Sonia set out a positioning that said, “We’re this. We’re not these people. We’re not necessarily these people. We’re this type of group. This tribe. We want to make money but we want to do it ethically and in a social and opt-in, permission based way.” People resonated with that.

I’ll give you another example from popular culture. Today I’ve heard that they’re going to fire Jeremy Clarkson from the Top Gear show, the British motoring show. I can understand why they’re firing him. On the other hand, the show makes £50,000,000 a year for the BBC by attracting a certain audience. Not just car fans, but car fans with a certain attitude, approach and mindset. They enjoyed his sometimes brutal sense of humor. Polarizing is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing if you’re doing it in a way that’s respectful, not hitting people and shouting at them like Jeremy Clarkson did.

Tony Clark: Right. That’s something we talk about all the time. That not everyone is your customer. If you’re trying to reach everybody, you end up reaching nobody. Having that very clear targeted message is very important.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, you want a yes or no, not a bland indifference.

Relaunching Your Offer for the First Time

Tony Clark: Exactly. In the last episode we talked about doing a launch, which is sort of the first step in this process. You build off of that. It can become an entire site or several sites, mini sites, landing pages that kind of create this machine. Let’s talk through some specifics of some of the steps you take from that first launch, starting to build this into this evergreen sales machine.

Chris Garrett: The first thing you’d want to do is a second launch, a relaunch. Sometimes it’s really challenging and a difficult thing to do. It’s like for a Rock Band, the second album.

Tony Clark: Yeah, or season two of Sleepy Hollow, where it could go a totally different direction and they can’t understand why they are losing audience members.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, exactly. This doesn’t necessarily have to be reinvention, but you do need to get the word back out there.

Now, if you’ve got a full pipeline, if you’ve got that waiting list, and it’s full up and people are asking you when you’re going to open it, that’s a good indication that you can open the shopping cart again.

Obviously, if you’ve going to launch it again, you need to know that there’s fresh blood, an eagerness and an anticipation in that waiting list. If you’re not feeling that people have that buying interest, if they’re not ready to buy again, then there are some things you can do to increase the urgency and scarcity.

We talked about a few of them last time. The obvious one is with an MVP, you usually give people a really good deal the first time around. It’s untested. It might not be complete. You might still be building it, but it will be more complete now. It will be more tested. You’ll have some case studies and testimonials, so you can put the price up. Telling people the price is going up on this date, get it now, gives some urgency and scarcity.

Deciding Between Launches and Always Open Sales Models

Tony Clark: Yeah, one of the things that when you start to do this, you have to kind of look ahead to your long-term planning. Is this going to be something that is going to be open all the time? A product that you’re continuously selling, because this is a decision, I think, is important to make right after that first launch, or even before that.

You know, sometimes with information products, you need to have a very specific, tailored audience. You can’t just open it up and just let anybody in at any time. If you have other products, software products, or ebooks, or things that you want to continue to sell over time, you have to start to think how are you going to transition from a launched based approach, to a continually open based approach.

Part of that is pricing and how you’re going to continue to add value, continue to make the price justified if you’re raising the price. Part of that next stage of doing a relaunch and price consideration and those types of things is really to think about is this going to be a launch based product or a continually open product.

Really, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s really what you feel is the best. You can actually test the market by doing launch after launch, and leaving things open for a little bit longer.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and within Copyblogger, we’ve got examples of both. You can do both at the same time with different products.

For example, I used to have a coaching program and I had a rule, which I broke a few times and regretted it. That I would only have 12 one-to-one coaching clients at any one time. Usually I preferred to have fewer than that because I find the telephone draining.

I would have a member limit. Whenever I would drop below a certain number, I could say, “Okay, there’s a couple of spots that opened up.” That’s a good reason for going back to the market, for going to your list, and saying, “Okay, there’s an opportunity.”

It’s the same with the group coaching program. You could say, “With this group coaching program, I have 25 spots. When they’re gone, they’re gone. I’ll open it up again next time. I’ll open some more spots.”

You can also have “This training program is live webinar based, but the home study is available all the time. If you want to attend live, and get the live coaching and interaction, then you need to sign up on this date, and get in the first 30. Otherwise, you can get the recordings anytime.”

It’s kind of like packaging it up. You’ve got the event, which is a feeling of an event, and it’s got a different excitement and energy to it. Then there’s the self-paced home study. It’s the same material, differently packaged. That makes sense to people. You’re not manipulating anything. It’s not a fake scarcity. It’s a real thing and makes sense.

Tony Clark: Right, and that’s a perfect example of using a two-prong approach with the same product. Other products that make more sense … I mean, we wouldn’t do launches for themes because that wouldn’t make any sense. It’s something people need all the time. We have our perpetual sales cycle where people get leads from various places and they come and they buy, but then we have Teaching Sells, which again, that wouldn’t make sense too, because of all the live elements to it. That is an example of something that we could, and have been thinking about for some time. Packaging it up is a home study, where you have one product that’s available as both.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. With Teaching Sells over the years, we’ve opened it once a year, twice a year. That time to open and close can actually build anticipation, because every time we close it, people ask us, when are we opening it again.

Tony Clark: Exactly. Having that as part of your launch processes is critical. To have those staged open, staged close, and knowing what that timing is.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. For example, Jon Morrow has a sales funnel where his open and close is every month. That funnel doesn’t know that, or doesn’t necessarily realize that. They always feel like they’re building up to the next open, without realizing that actually you could just wait a couple of weeks and it will open again.

Tony Clark: Right. Again, this is something you can judge by how different launches go, your own resources, what’s available, how your product’s growing, those type of things.

Chris Garrett: Exactly.

Your Content Conveyor Belt

Tony Clark: If you go with a launch and you’re doing your relaunch, you’re doing the same thing that we talked about in the last episode about the launch. You’re analyzing this launch as you go. You’re seeing how your sales copy’s working. You’re seeing how your pricing strategy is working. You’re seeing what the feedback is. How the product has grown and improved since your last launch and what that affects. You’re doing the same things you did in that first launch. This is the next iteration. You’re tracking all that as part of your relaunch, right?

Chris Garrett: Yes. Really you need to be tracking it very well, because you don’t want to be putting your energy and resources into the things that are not necessarily going to work too well. You’ll see there’s things that are working very well. You want to put a lot of effort behind those. You’ll see things that are in the middle, that you think you might be able to make work well, then there’ll be things that are absolutely tanking for you.

It’s amazing, the difference between different businesses where for one business, Twitter will work really well, and Facebook will work terrible, and vice versa. Sean, our CFO, is a really big fan of LinkedIn. He sees people in B2B doing very good things with LinkedIn.

Just on a tactical level, you’ll see some things that are working, some things that aren’t working too well. There’s fundamentals like your sales message, they’re foundational things, you have to get those right, but then there’s lots of tactics that are interchangeable.

Tony Clark: Right. You have to make sure that you’re tracking for your business, like you just said, because one of the biggest mistakes people make is just copying what somebody else is doing, and assuming it’s going to work for them. You need to test everything. Not everything that works for one company, will work for somebody else. Testing and tracking, as part of your launch process, is critical to making sure you’re not wasting your time or your resources.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and one of the vital things is your source of prospects. What are your best chances of getting actual customers. You need to know what’s going to attract the right people, and what converts them and that’s your content conveyor belt.

Sonia and Brian talk about this content conveyor belt as all your content, all your funnels working together, to move people from being completely unaware of you, through to being convinced that you’re the right solution for them, and buying.

You need to have all your content in place, or your guest posting in place, all of your outposts working well. It really does need to be a magnet to get the right people. Filter out the wrong people.

Tony Clark: Right, and congruence is key here. You need to have congruence through all of your messaging, to make sure that everything reinforces that ultimate sales message that you’re going through.

A very simple example is people that will place ads, and then the copy that it takes people to on the landing page is different. That’s a very rookie mistake and a very simple mistake. That goes to show that how your message has to be congruent through all of your different areas, all the different sources, so that you’re reinforcing what it is that that messaging and your sales message is ultimately trying to get across.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, so you need attraction content, retention content, and conversion content. It all has to be congruent all the way through. If you’re out there doing guest posting, the call to actions have to lead to the open end of that. You need to know where you’re going to send people that is going to get people on to your list, which is retention. And get people into your social media accounts, which isn’t as good as email, but it’s still retention.

How you can lead people from those emails, from those outposts into your conversion content, when you’re ready to start selling again? It’s all about your sales message, but it’s also about good will. You have to build up that good will, like adding coins to a piggy bank.

Too many people go full on into sales mode. As soon as they’ve got a product, all they try to do is pitch it all the time. You may have a relative that’s joined a pyramid scheme. We know what happens to them. They become like a cult member. All they do is talk about selling this thing. Nobody wants to talk to them anymore. Nobody wants to be around them, because all they’re doing is pitching all the time.

Tony Clark: Yeah, it’s that social credit. You have to build up that social credit through being authentic, and through offering quality and value. Once you’ve built that up, then you can withdraw from that credit, if you will, the ability to convert that into a sale because you now demonstrated through your messaging, and through your approach, that this is an authentic message for something that you are providing, that provides a real result.

It goes way back to the very first episode that we talked about. Providing value and really thinking about the quality that you’re providing. People talk about that. You’ve demonstrated that authority. You’ve demonstrated that authenticity.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. As Tony just said, we’re talking about long-term thinking, about being generous, giving lots of value, giving free value before you even ask for their opt-in. When you do ask for the opt-in, you’re being generous again and rewarding that. Don’t punish people with constant sales pitches.

Tony Clark: Right. The other thing we need to talk about here is making sure that your message is visible in the right context, to the right people, to the right audiences, and not just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, you’ve got to be highly visible where the target customer hangs out. It’s not always easy to do. I used to get tons of referrals from ProBlogger – they were fantastic referrals. Don’t get me wrong, but I found that the number of people I got from Copyblogger was lower, but they spent more.

Tony Clark: Right.

Chris Garrett: You have to be really careful where you’re placing your energy, where you’re placing your resources, where you’re spending your time, because you can’t just look at the raw visibility. It has to be the right people, at the right time, with the right message. You do need to dial these things in a little bit.

Tony Clark: Yeah, you really do. The idea here is that different audiences will react different ways to specific sales messages. That doesn’t mean that the audience isn’t good or bad, but it does mean that it might not be the right audience for the product.

You’ll see that, just like what you had just said. We saw that time and time again when we’re either sending to the list, or we’re doing a shared marketing thing, where certain audiences just aren’t, or aren’t the right audience to generate sales for a specific product. You really need to keep track of that.

Chris Garrett: You can build a whole business on referrals, lots of lawyers, accountants, lots of coaches, they do that. You don’t necessarily have to have a mass audience, you just have to have the right people, who you can most reach and most help.

Taking it to the Next Level to Make Each Promotion Beat the Last

Tony Clark: Now we’ve talked about this idea of the right customer, the right message. How do we take that to the next level? That’s one aspect of it. This referrals, your content – that’s going to be key to everything. What are some other strategies we can use to generate the referrals to that content from there?

Chris Garrett: This is a place where a lot of people rush to. In particular, they start spending on advertising before they’ve done all the previous work, which is a big mistake. That’s a good way of losing money.

Tony Clark: Yeah, premature optimization.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. What we found is, if you can work out all your metrics with free content, free traffic, then you know how much you can spend on the rest of it, right? Affiliates, how much can you spend to get a sale, or to get a lead? If you don’t know, then don’t be doing this.

Tony Clark: Right.

Chris Garrett: It’s the same with advertising. You might say, “Well, it’s only a few cents per ad on Facebook. How hard can it be?” You need to know how much you can spend to get a good lead, to get a good sale.

In terms of direct mail, direct advertising, they used to say you could actually lose money on a campaign because you know the lifetime value of a customer. If you don’t know your lifetime value of a typical customer, then you don’t know how much you can spend. You don’t know if you’re losing money.

It’s good to be cautious and good to have your metrics already in place. What is an email subscriber worth to you? What is a lead worth to you? What is a sale worth to you in the long term?

Once you got those numbers, you can go big on joint ventures, on affiliates, on advertising. But before you spend money, look at things like split testing. We’re going to go into detail in future episodes. Split testing allows you to convert the traffic you’re already getting, better.

Tony Clark: This goes back to early advertising concepts, scientific advertising, Claude Hopkins from the 30’s. This is the type of stuff that really makes or breaks a campaign. You have to understand what it is you’re trying to achieve, that lifetime value. You need to know what you can spend effectively. It’s rather than just getting something out there.

I equate it to the whole Fantastic Four movie thing. The reason every Fantastic Four movie is terrible is because they just put something out so they can keep the rights to it. Every time we end up with these terrible movies. You can’t just stick something out there in the hopes that you’re going to get a return. You have to know what that return is going to do. Like you were saying, you can actually end up losing money on the deal.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. I’ve got a high tolerance for bad movies, but those Fantastic Four movies, gosh. What were they thinking?

Tony Clark: Exactly. Just trying to keep the rights to it. Just get something out. That’s my theory.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, they’re just throwing it out. I actually had a product which was 100% sales commission. I would get no money out of selling this ebook. The affiliate would get 100%. I lost money because I had to pay the fees.

In the long term it worked out really well, because those people were growing my list for me, with people who are willing to spend money.

Tony Clark: Yes. Yes.

Chris Garrett: So it can work really well if you know your number.

Tony Clark: That’s so critical. Yeah. That is such a good point. You would think that it was losing money, but it’s not. That’s a great other side example of this, where people will spend money on something and not realize that they’re losing money. There’s something where the profit, if you will, the revenue was zero, but the overall value of doing that was demonstrable when they actually purchased later on, and you saw that you actually made money. It’s almost a counter intuitive thing, but if you track it, and you’re analyzing what is happening, you can see these patterns very clearly.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be complex. You don’t have to have a lot of technology.

Affiliates is built into Rainmaker. I wish I had it at the time. I would just ask people when they signed up for my higher end programs, or I would recognize the names. I would see them go through the small programs and upgrade to the larger programs. I either recognized them, or I would ask them, “Hey, how did you find out about me.” “Oh, I bought that $17 ebook.” “Oh, great. Thank you.” You don’t have to have lots of technology. Even though I like to nerd about the technology.

Tony Clark: Yeah, exactly. Well, we’re going to talk about that in a later episode, about affiliates, specifically. The key is is that you want to make sure you’re using the right method, for the right amount, so you’re not overdoing your resources. We’ll talk more about this later. This is an example of going big, but in a small way. Starting out small, with a small affiliate program and then growing from there.

Now we have your relaunch, and then you start deciding, “Is this going to be an ongoing thing that stays open all the time, or am I just going to continue do launches?” Again, no right or wrong answer. You need to track what it’s going, what the type of product it is, which works most effectively for that product. In some cases, like we talked about, it could be both.

Then you have to create that content conveyor belt, and get that traffic coming in, get your referrals, get people coming in. Then measure and understand your lifetime value of your customer, so you know when it’s time to take things to the next level. And advertising, bringing in partners, bringing on other team members, like support, and that type of thing.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, really it comes down to starting small, incrementally improving things, and thinking long term.

Tony Clark: Right. Making sure that you have that plan in place and everything else that we’ve talked about on the show so far, and we’ll continue to talk about is, always about starting small, understanding what you’re doing, making sure you have a clear message, and then tracking that. Then just keep iterating through that process.

Key Takeaways

Tony Clark: Really what it comes down to is three questions, right? That’s what all this boils down to. Why should I buy? Why should I buy from you? Why should I buy now? That’s really what all this boils down to.

Chris Garrett: Yup. If you get it right, you’ll know you’re getting it right, because people are going to be clamouring at your door. Maybe not literally.

Tony Clark: Yeah, and then you can track it all.

Chris Garrett: If you can get your three big questions pinned down then you’re going to be ready to move into increasing your conversions, optimizing conversions, and we’ll talk about that in the next episode.