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Free Traffic: Why Your Course Marketing Sucks

Information doesn’t sell anymore. 

In the age of Wikipedia, Google and Quora available at the click of the finger, anyone can expand their knowledge for free – Tom Libelt points out. 

Yet, he believes that online courses are one of the greatest ways to make money and most people fail simply because they lack marketing skills to promote them. 

Tom helps people market their courses, and in today’s episode, he revealed why many struggle with selling their courses, how to find your ideal customers and target them without spending on ads, sell without the fear of coming across too salesy, and what are some key things you can change about the way you market your course that will drive in more sales. And if information doesn’t sell, what does

This and more is waiting for you in this episode! 

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Episode Transcript

Shane Melaugh:Hello and welcome to the ActiveGrowth Podcast. Today we have as a guest Tom Libelt and I’m really excited about this episode because Tom specializes in helping people sell their online courses. So he helps people who’ve made online courses, either get sales going or get way more sales than they got before. And I love this topic because as I’m sure you know, if you aren’t new here, I have always been a big fan of the online course business model. And basically I always encourage people to start with an online course. I think online courses are one of the best business models hands down in my opinion. But it’s also one of the best ways to get started because even though a lot of people know me as someone who runs a software company, I didn’t start with a software company. And quite frankly, if I had started with a software company, things would not have gone well.Shane Melaugh:Thanks to the experience I gained from creating information products, from creating online courses, by the time I started the software company, I already had some money, I had some experience and so on. And that’s what helped me pull that off. And so it’s really great to talk to someone who specializes in kind of the next step. Let’s say you have an online course but then how do you sell the thing? How do you get more customers to it? Tom has a really interesting perspective on this. He comes from a sales background as you’ll hear and this really plays into how he recommends the approach he recommends we take in order to increase sales of an online course. And there’s a lot of really interesting business and marketing wisdom in this discussion as well.Shane Melaugh:For links to anything we mention during this episode, links to Tom’s website and any other resources we mention and also if you want to leave a comment or a voice message, you can find the show notes page for this episode at Sell your course all one word. So show notes and everything are at Melaugh:And with that, without further ado, here’s Tom. All right. Welcome Tom. Thanks for joining the podcast.Tom Libelt:Yeah. I’m glad to be here, thanks for having me on.Shane Melaugh:So for those listeners who don’t know who you are, can you give us a brief introduction about just who you are and what you do?Tom Libelt:I have ran many businesses. I have a lot of sales experience. It’s kind of hard for a business guy to give you ’cause I’ve done so many things. One was serial entrepreneurs. So it’s very difficult. I really try not to look back in my past but I have accomplished a lot of things like I was in the hiphop industry, I worked in the music industry, made a movie, had a record store, had a coffee shop, had a record label. Like I said, multiple other businesses, worked for a lot of corporations for sales and marketing. So I’ve been around the block basically. Recently, we focus on SEO and marketing courses but I’ve done a lot of stuff before that.Shane Melaugh:Right. So that’s your current main thing. Can you tell us more about that?Tom Libelt:Yeah, so the current thing is mostly marketing online courses. We had a company that we still run on creation of courses but I just don’t engage with that one as much, it’s just not as interesting to me. And the SEO business has been running for many, many years and it’s very systematized so I don’t need to put in as much effort. So my focus has been on marketing online courses and that’s because I notice there’s a lot of good information out there and a lot of great people coming up with these courses. But if you can’t market them, they don’t sell. Like maybe 10 to 20% of people can actually make money with them and everyone else is struggling. And it’s not because they have a worse course, it’s just they have no strategy for the marketing part.Shane Melaugh:Yeah. So this is a very interesting topic to me because as regular listeners know, I’m a big advocate of creating online courses. I think it’s one of the best business models you can bootstrap. You can just use your expertise to create something, it’s not expensive. You can really do it as like a low risk bootstrap business and that’s how I got my start as well. But like you say, the marketing part is super important so I’d like to know because you’ve worked with all these clients and helped them sell their online courses. I’d love to dig into this. Shane Melaugh:And let me first ask this, what is … Or tell us one or several of them, what are like the typical mistakes. If someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I built this online course. Nobody’s buying it.” What are some things where you’re like, “I bet these are the mistakes you’re making because everybody makes them.”Tom Libelt:There’s usually one and it happens to, I would say, 95% of the people. And it’s a two-part thing. The first part of it is not selling whatever you have online to a real person and just trying to do it over the phone or over Skype or anything, but just to a real person. And then transferring everything you’ve learned through that conversation online. What most people do is they just come up with a landing page, they build up these funnels which are just sales conversations. I’m really not a fan of this whole click funnel movement, like it’s something special. It’s something we’ve been doing for I don’t know how many years. Hundreds of years in business, just a regular sales conversation that we’re having with a client.Tom Libelt:But transferring that offline conversation to the online space seems very difficult for a lot of people and that’s what the problem usually is. Like I will see someone so smart being able to sell to CEOs or other corporate people and then they put something online. And I’m like, “What is this?” It’s like you’re not treating the people online as real people. It’s like these numbers are robots that come through and they’re supposed to act differently. But they don’t, they’re still people. You need to move them through the same process as you would in a regular life. Like prospecting and interrupting the pattern, whatever they’ve been doing, showing them the problem, showing how you have a method to solve that problem, showing some social proof, going for a close, following up then going for a close again. Just the same process needs to be moved to the online space and that’s usually not existent in almost every course I look at.Shane Melaugh:Well, I imagine that most people who create online courses don’t come from a sales background and probably have never done the in-person selling either, right?Tom Libelt:Yeah, that’s true. But if you can’t sell, you’re not in business. I’ve spoken with a lot of sales guys recently, training sales teams and things, and it seems like prospecting is a lost art. Like I got my start in prospecting. That was my thing. Like they sent me down the street in New York and they were like, “Look, go sell to these businesses. You got to prospect, find out who’s the decision-maker, find out all these stuff. Talk to them.”Tom Libelt:And these days, we became so soft sitting behind screens and hoping that we don’t need to interact with people, we can just send out a couple of e-mails and hope the phone starts ringing or deals come in. That’s not how it works. The only difference I see between successful people and the ones that aren’t successful is prospecting. So if you moved it to the online course space, it’s the same thing ’cause you’re still selling a product. So if you’re not successful then I just need to take a look at your conversation and that’s your funnel and ask you about prospecting. And based on those two things, like I can tell right away where you fall.Shane Melaugh:And so what’s your intervention? So if I’m coming to you because my course isn’t selling, you see that this is my problem, what’s the next step, what do I do to fix this?Tom Libelt:It really depends on the client. It really depends. I have all types of clients, I have some making a quarter million on Udemy. When they moved to their own platform, they just can’t figure out how to sell on their own platform. I have others that are just starting out. I have some making some money on their platform but just not enough or just need to get tweak. It really depends. But for someone that doesn’t have any of this dialed in, we will do some role playing initially. We will figure out how are you selling this? Walk me through this, let me get this problem laid out. Let me see the pain points, let me see how you handle objections. Let’s get all this out and we’re going to use this information to put on your website.” This is what’s going to drive the whole sales process.Tom Libelt:Then we need to figure where to get some cheap traffic and how to fill the gaps when they come in to get ’em back in whenever they fall out. So it’s the same type of training that I would receive myself when I started to build businesses and sell. We go over it, we just really focus on the online course space because it is a little different than selling like jump ropes or some kind of a different product because you are doing a transformation on every student that comes through. That’s what you’re selling.Tom Libelt:You’re not selling information, information is free. Anyone can go on YouTube and find out anything or go on a blog. But the transforming part, that’s a little trickier. Like if I’m going to take you from nothing to something, for example you are new on Instagram and after this course you will have 1,000 followers and learn how to monetize them. That’s a jump, that’s worth something.Tom Libelt:So with a lot of offers too, the problem that I’m seeing is people are not giving their transformation and are not showing the value in it. So that’s the pricing part, that’s the positioning. How are you going to transform these people? What are they going to get out of it? And what’s the value of doing that? Because if they don’t see that logically and emotionally, they’re not seeing how this is going to help them, they’re going to just walk away. So there are a quite a few things you need to get right with the marketing courses too. Just because there’s a transformation involved and people have been around the block, they see these before and after pictures, it doesn’t work anymore. It’s got to be a little more subtle and make more sense than that.Shane Melaugh:Yeah, I think that the point you’re making is actually really important. And I think for a lot of people, that’s probably even just that is something that maybe they’ve never thought about before. Because I see this as part of the features versus benefits problem. That whatever our product is, even if it’s an information product, we tend to think of our product in terms of the features, in terms of the work we’ve put in. Oh look, I’ve made all these videos. There’s all this information, there are all these things that you get. And we tend to forget that that’s kind of our perspective as the creator but that’s, like you said, their prospective buyer doesn’t actually care about the things, they’re trying to get a result.Shane Melaugh:It’s the old adage, nobody wants to drill, people want a hole in the wall. And so you talk up and down about all the great features of your drill but you’re not focusing enough on the actual that someone wants to get. So I think even just that, even just sitting down and saying, “Hold on, what is the transformation? What is the change in your life that I’m selling you here?” I think even that probably a lot of people lose perspective of that in the progress of making a course.Tom Libelt:Yeah. So what you mentioned, the features and benefits, that’s something we always got trained at the corporations. Like that was a thing like when you’re selling product, you got to stand in front of a class or whatever when you’re training and okay, they’re going to hit you with features and benefits. You got to just go through ’em, that other role playing.Tom Libelt:What’s different in courses, is it’s not really features and benefits, it’s pain points and solutions. So like I said, it’s a little different than selling a product ’cause what you’re hitting is pain points. And I’m just going back to the Instagram thing, if someone doesn’t have 1,000 followers, like what are the pain points? Is it that Facebook is too expensive now? Is it that your competition is taking leads through Instagram? Is it that you’re not building a personal brand? Is it that you don’t have an insurance policy in the case one of the other channels fails? You got to look at all the pain points and then at the same time, you got to come up with your own solution for that to help this person. Tom Libelt:Well, for this I have to add, “Well, I’ve helped other people build personal brands.” Or, “Here’s a method I used to help others get leads from Instagram. Here’s …” And you got to come up with these things. This is what you’re going to use to sell to this person. So it’s still a sales process.Tom Libelt:The number one thing that I find with people who have problems selling is they have no business background and/or they feel sales is something that’s not a good thing. So they have a weird feeling or mindset about selling. Like I love selling but there’s a lot of people who come to me like, “Let’s make money with this but I just don’t want to feel like I’m selling or a bit salesy.” I’m like, “Well, what does that really mean? Because you need to sell it to make money.”Tom Libelt:So to me selling is just the transfer of emotion and value. Now, I don’t know what that person’s feeling about sales is but if it’s a bad one, there’s no chance they’re going to be successful. So for the listeners too, ask yourself how do you really feel about selling in the first place? Like that’s where you got to start because you can’t sell successfully and come up with a marketing strategy if you feel that sales is something that’s evil or just shady or whatever you think that might be.Shane Melaugh:Yeah, it’s interesting. I think I’ve seen this a lot as well. People have great resistance to selling. And I think a lot of people have just a bad experience or maybe several bad experiences where they are being sold to in a way that feels very pushy or deceptive or whatever. And I think we tend to latch on to those bad experience because if someone sells to us and it is done well, then we basically don’t notice it happening. Shane Melaugh:So the examples of positive selling where someone tells us about a thing that’s also a problem we have, we buy it, it’s a good product, we’re happy about it, we don’t really notice that because it seems kind of effortless. It was like obvious, “I had this problem, here was the solution. Everything turned out great.” It’s like you don’t write home about that but you do write home about the awful, slimy, scummy, salesperson who made you feel terrible. And that’s something I’ve also noticed. A lot of people have resistance to the idea of selling because of this.Tom Libelt:Yeah, but the nice thing is you get to choose what type of a salesperson you are.Shane Melaugh:Yes.Tom Libelt:So I’ve heard about some of these sales trainers have their people write on a piece of paper, they break it down in two and talk about the worst sales experience and all the traits of that person and their best sales experience they’ve ever had and the good traits. And now they can look at them and be like, “Wow, I can actually choose which ones I will implement and work with towards my clients.”Tom Libelt:And it’s a simple way of breaking things down. Like there are good salespeople and bad salespeople. With me, I use a lot of pool marketing. I barely ever sell initially, I pull people in with just great information. I know I can help them and once we’re at the point where I know this is a right decision, then yeah I’ll hard close because I know it’s a right decision. Like, “Yeah, you are going to get the value. This is for your own good.” So I don’t feel bad about it at all.Tom Libelt:But coming off with nonsense and just using sales techniques, yeah, I mean, I don’t do that because I just don’t like it. I don’t like that being done to me but sometimes you do need a little push ’cause we’re so indecisive. We have so many choices these days. Sometimes it is nice to have someone that feels in control and it’s like, “You know what, this guy knows what he’s doing. Let me just trust him.”Tom Libelt:So we do have that feeling too like if someone just leaves you alone, you probably will never decide and that’s a problem with a lot of people. And I see it myself too, like when I go to the restaurants. Like, “Where should we go?” And unless something just pulls me in or I’m just … I don’t know, there are too many choices. Let’s just go to the same place we’ve always went.Shane Melaugh:Yes.Tom Libelt:So the hard close, that’s fine but you still need to do it in the right way. Like you need to still make sure that the person feels like you’re doing it for their own good not just because you want the money. That should be the last thing on your mind. It’s like first, like, “I really want to help this person so I’m going to try to close them because they need my help.” That’s the thinking you should have when you sell your courses too. Like, “This will transform this student so of course I got to make sure they understand and they should get into this program. It’s for their own good.”Shane Melaugh:Yeah. I totally agree with this. And for me, this is also one of the reasons why I advocate working with people in some capacity. Working with people one-on-one as a way to build out the information you’re going to put in your course because for me the feeling when I see someone come to me with a set of problems where I know I can solve these problems for you, I recognize this and I know I’ve sold these problems for other people. That makes it so much easier to sell than if there’s this uncertainty. If I’m like, “Well, I don’t know, I just put together this course, maybe it sucks, who knows?” It’s a very different feeling to see someone and be like, “Look, trust me, this will solve your problem.”Tom Libelt:Yeah. And that’s all it takes to hard sell at the end. It’s like, “Trust me, this will solve your problem.” And if there’s something that you still need to know from me, just ask me and let’s figure this out because this will solve your problem,” and that’s okay. That’s fine, this is how you need to make people understand that you are here to help, especially if someone’s had bad experiences. They’re going to ask you a lot more questions or just be like, “Oh.” Or they’re just too soft. Some people are just scared to ask so you need to pull it out of them.Shane Melaugh:You mentioned about selling directly on the phone or over Skype or whatever, is that something you have your clients do? Like do you actually, other than role playing, do you have them actually call potential prospects to try to close them on the phone?Tom Libelt:So sometimes yeah, especially if they’re preselling a course I’m like, “Look, let’s reach out to some of these people, either get ’em on a webinar, try to get them maybe on a one-on-one call.” ‘Cause initially, why not sell the first 10 or 20 just that way? Just till you figure out the sales process, why not? You’re only going to gain a lot of experience and information from it. Or go through LinkedIn, some of these courses actually have the best prospecting chances on LinkedIn. Like I have a guy that’s a chiropractor and training other chiropractors. I was like, “Don’t waste your time with Facebook. Like we can find every single client that you need and that you have on LinkedIn and sell to them in person, especially if it’s got a big upsell of like four, $5,000 at the end. Why not? Isn’t that worth it?” So you can still move that and scale it through Facebook ads and Google ads or YouTube. But you need to understand, Facebook and Google, their goal is to take your money. Shane Melaugh:Yeah.Tom Libelt:It’s their only goal. That’s why they’re having you market on their platforms. So why would you spend money on something that you don’t know is working? The only reason you should be using Facebook and Google is one for remarketing because that usually brings a five to 6x sometimes or even like maybe four. But it’s a big multiple on what you spend. And the last thing you should be trying is cold traffic unless that you really know what you’re doing and you just trying to scale. But I find this mistake being kind of flaunted lately by a lot of people selling these marketing services.Tom Libelt:Like, “Look, I’m going to market you on Facebook and you’re going to make money.” No you’re not, you’re going to lose money. Like what these idiots don’t tell you is that cold traffic converts to like a 1x to 1.5x if you’re lucky. So that means you got to spend like 10,000 to make 11. Well, there will be just 1,000 in profit but you know what I mean.Tom Libelt:But usually what it’s like, you have 1,000-dollar budget so you’re going to make 50 to 100 bucks at the most and this guy is charging you 500 bucks for the Facebook ads, you’re losing in best case scenario. You’re losing 400 bucks. But I’m seeing this sold all the time and these guys will lead people on for two, three months. And once someone loses like 1,500 bucks, they leave and get a new client. But it’s just one these churn and burn situations. It’s not really a business but I see a lot of it being sold. And I’m not too active on social but sometimes I do call ’em out on their shit.Shane Melaugh:Yeah, for sure. So I mean, cold traffic is a tough gig for sure and I’ve seen this as well with the ads that we run through our themes for surely. The retargeting is a way easier game basically than cold traffic. So LinkedIn is an interesting alternative depending on the type of product you have. Are there any other? So if I’m a client of yours and we determined that LinkedIn doesn’t work, what are some other avenues, if I just need traffic basically, what are some other places I might explore?Tom Libelt:Sure. Well, I have a client that only uses YouTube. He makes about $15,000 a month and not using any ads or even remarketing it, only from getting traffic from YouTube to his course. Quora is another one. I’ve actually got clients from Quora just by testing it. And a lot of my clients get too but look, I rolled up I think flag posts in one day just with my team really quick, posted it on Quora, we had 2,000 people seeing it in the next week. And I got two or three leads from that and closed one or two of those.Tom Libelt:So it’s like the simplest thing but you just need to put some work in. Cold outreach makes sense too if you know your client. But see, this is another problem too. To know what is it that you’re actually selling and who you’re selling it to. And most people that have problems with prospecting or a sales game in any business, not just courses, they can’t answer those two questions very clearly. What is it that you are actually selling? And I’m not talking about like I’m selling a drill, no, what’s the benefit with the course? What solutions are you selling and who are the perfect people you’re going to sell it to? Who’s the perfect client? And don’t tell me it’s men or women between 30 and 45 because you know me and you that this is nonsense.Tom Libelt:You got to be super specific. Who is this person? What TV shows do they watch? What do they do for fun? What kind of work do they do? Are they renting or what kind of income do they have? It depends on your niche but you should know, especially around that niche, a lot of things that they do. So I have a client that does motorcycle training and we figured out that his best clients are women, 33 to 38, usually divorced or separated that join Harley clubs and want to learn how to ride.Shane Melaugh:Nice.Tom Libelt:But that’s a niche. Now you know who we’re going after, right?Shane Melaugh:Yeah.Tom Libelt:And with this client, I actually felt like doing a great thing to get people safer before they do these courses. So why not partner up with all of these driving schools so that they can get some money too but offer you as an affiliate. So they can offer your safety course alongside whatever they’re doing. And this was a game-changer for him. But still, we need to figure out who you’re selling to and partnerships are always great. There’s a book called Performance Partnerships which talks about the affiliate industry a lot and like the right way and bad way of doing it. I do recommend it to a few people that are in that position. But the affiliates could change your business. I had another client who 10x their business this year, just by partnering up with Brian Tracy.Shane Melaugh:Nice. The same for me is like affiliate marketing was kind of how I got my start by just reaching out to a ton of people and doing … Just like personally reaching out to people trying to find ways in which they could benefit from promoting my stuff back when I just didn’t have an audience at all and that made a huge difference.Tom Libelt:Even when you do that that’s still prospecting so you still needed to know what is it that you’re selling or offering and who you’re offering it too. Even if it’s just affiliates, you still need to answer those questions.Shane Melaugh:Exactly, yeah. Because this is one thing that I learned early on. That one imagines that, “Oh, I have an affiliate program, you can promote my thing and make money. What more reason do you need? But of course, anyone who has the power to send you a ton of sales, they can promote anything. They can promote 1,000 things so why should they promote yours? And exactly like you said, it then turns into you have to be able to figure out beyond the money you can make, why should you care to promote this.Tom Libelt:Yeah, and it’s funny ’cause I educate some of the people reaching out to me. And it’s hilarious how they just don’t get it. I’d be like, “Oh okay, so what’s the win-win?” And they’re like, “Oh, you can make 25%.” Like, “So what? I can make 25% from anyone, what else?” And they’re like, “Oh, just try our software.” And I was like, “Now you’re asking me not only to promote your stuff but for me to waste time trying your software. Like what else would you like? Would you like me access to my bank account too? Like what else can I do for you?”Tom Libelt:But some of ’em just don’t get it. It’s incredible how bad people are at trying to figure out how to create a win-win situation. And nobody cares what you’re selling and that goes to me too, nobody cares about me or what I’m selling. So you need to get on the same page, you need to interrupt the scrolling zombies, you need to reach out, grab them engage in something that they’re thinking about and move them over to what you’re saying and do it all seamlessly. It’s not easy but who said that sales and business is easy?Shane Melaugh:And you know, one of the things that I like about … Because I’ve had this experience as well, as someone who receives a lot of outreach messages. Most people are absolutely terrible at outreach. And the positive side I see of that is that there’s an opportunity here. Like if you learn how to do good outreach, you can standout from the crowd so much because the average is so low. It doesn’t take that much effort to become extraordinarily better than most people at outreach. So I always see it as an opportunity when everyone else sucks at something and because it’s hard then well, that’s an opportunity to gain an advantage, right?Tom Libelt:You’re correctly right, yeah. So I went into a couple of Facebook groups ’cause I partnered up with a few platforms and I’m seeing people would try to sell their services in like really weird shady ways. You know what I’ve done? I put in one of the best strategies I’ve used with my clients. I just rolled up like three paragraphs, I posted that, no calls to action, nothing. Nothing in there at all, it’s just, “Look guys, this is what we do, this is what works.” And people reached out to me and we closed a couple of sales. They found me, I didn’t put in anything that I’m selling anything, nothing. I was like, “Look, this is just the greatest strategy that we found recently.” And I just posted that. The same thing in a couple of groups and that did it.Tom Libelt:In some of them I had huge engagement. People were just like, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this guy is posting this?” But I’ve never asked them for anything. And this is the fun thing with pool marketing, we have so many places we can go to and do that. You can do it through LinkedIn, e-mails, so many places with the same article. If you write the right thing, this one like 20-minute action could book you for the whole year. Like I’m booked for the next three months just because a few things like that I’ve done.Shane Melaugh:That’s cool, yeah. That actually reminds me of something I also wanted to ask you about, which is you’ve mentioned things like this where you basically create some free content or the client you said who basically creates videos on YouTube and gets clients that way. What are your thoughts on where to draw the line between free content and content to charge for because that’s a question I see quite a lot where people go, “Well okay, I’ve got this information in my course. I teach my best stuff in my course, how do I decide what to give away for free in my content marketing and what to keep exclusive to paying customers?”Tom Libelt:So like I said, information is free. So when you think about your course, and we spoke about the pain points, so you should be able to break down your course into multiple pain points, at least 10 or 15. You need to figure out all the things that hurt and why people would buy it. And I would create content about every single one of these pain points and see which one hits the most, which one is the most engaging.Tom Libelt:So like with my business, there’s a lot of problems that we talk about. One of ’em is you don’t know how to presell, you don’t know how to sell multiple courses at the same time, you don’t know how to remarket. Or you don’t know how to find your free channel for traffic, you don’t know how to price correctly, you don’t know how to position. I mean, there are a lot of pain points that I see and I just write up a very thoughtful but short post about each one of these. You could make videos but I just don’t feel like it, I’m too lazy. But just do that and see which one hits.Tom Libelt:And the funny thing is that the one that gets the most engagement, that should be your ad. If you’re going to try cold traffic and everything else is working, yeah. If it’s engaging people already just use that same post and make it into ad. So the pain points is where it’s at. You don’t tell ’em exactly how you do it step by step but you tell ’em the method, you tell ’em basically how this is going to work. And then if they want the transformation they’ll go to you. But the people who just seek free information, they’ll just do that.Tom Libelt:Like this is why I don’t believe in entertaining or clickbaity stuff because those are not buyers. These are people who were just taking things in. They had nothing else to do but they sit in front of their phone all day. And it’s like the guy who read 1,000 business books but never created a business. He still in the process of learning to start. Like these are not your buyers, don’t worry about these people.Tom Libelt:The ones that will want to, they’ll find you, they’ll reach out. But this is why you need to be very strategic. Don’t have Filipinos writing your content. I’ve done that before, it’s a horrible strategy. Don’t write any philosophical or things that you think maybe the market is interested in, just find those pain points and hit those. And maybe one article doesn’t work so tackle each pain point from three or four different angles because that’s the positioning thing and see which one gets the best traction and this is your winner.Shane Melaugh:All right. So that’s some great stuff about how to market online courses. I think anyone … This is one to take notes for because there was quite a lot of stuff that is very implementable. Like most of it is not easy like you’ve mentioned but I think being very clear about your pain points, thinking about your funnel as a sales conversation, doing actual prospecting and translating what you learn into what’s on your sales pages. These are all super valuable things and I like this. This is something that someone who is switched on can take this and run with it to improve how they sell their information. That’s some really good stuff. Is there anything else that you want to add to this that we maybe haven’t touched upon yet about how to market your online course?Tom Libelt:Yeah. The biggest struggle people have too is they don’t understand copyrighting and advertising. And these are things that you need at least to get on the same page as the people you hire or they’re just going to, for the most part, probably rip you off. So Scientific Advertising, this is a old book. All the top agencies in the world, and especially in New York ’cause that’s the industries I know, they make you read this book seven times before you even join them, Scientific Advertising. So you read that book.Tom Libelt:Ogilvy on Advertising is a great book by one of the top guys running the best known agency in the world. And it’ll give you a whole different perspective on advertising, just how to think of this industry, how to think of creating ads. And then with copy, this is a big thing too. A lot of people phone and copy and this is why landing pages, ads, things don’t work. What I found is 90% of all the recent copywriters, all these experts selling their services, they only read one book that made them an expert, and that’s Breakthrough Copyrighting. You read that book you are just on the same page now and with the same experience as almost all these guys trying to sell you that service.Shane Melaugh:Nice. Okay, we’ll put those links of books recommendations in the show notes as well. That’s some good stuff. I’m always happy to find book recommendations. Unsurprisingly, I’ve read most of those. I haven’t actually read Breakthrough Advertising so I’ll have to check that one out as well. So thank you for that.Shane Melaugh:Now another thing I’d like to talk to you about is on the introduction sheet that was sent to me. One of the points there was that you think the Information Age is done and we should focus on something else. And I think that’s an interesting thought because everything we’ve talked about, we’ve talked about selling information products we’ve talked about using content marketing to sell ourselves. This is all very Information Age stuff so I think it feels like yes this is the cutting edge, we’re doing the thing. But now you’re saying the Information Age is done and we should focus on something else. I’m really curious to know what your thoughts on this are.Tom Libelt:Yeah. And I mentioned this already, information is free. No one wants to buy information anymore, that’s old news. Transformation is where it’s at. You transform people, you get them from point A to point B. This is what people are buying now. And I don’t care if that’s a product service, anything, people will only buy that. Like if I create a product that teaches you the overview of how to market courses and then it’s free, nobody cares. But if I say, “Look, I’m going to take you from whatever you’re making and we’re going 5x that.” But it depends on the client. Like with one, he’s making a quarter million on Udemy I’m like, “You know what, we can probably make seven figures if we go our own way and I’ll help you get there.” That’s a transformation.Tom Libelt:So with a course, it’s the same thing. Whatever pain they have, I’m going to take this pain, I’m going to help you solve it and you’re going to be here on the other side. And not only that, this is the value that you’re going to get. There’s a value attached. So I’ll give you one more example. There’s a client I have that sells education of an app for about four, $500 and his competition sells it four like 10.20. And he’s having problems doing it and I’m like, “Yeah, no shit, of course. Because you’re a teaching app.”Tom Libelt:But the whole point of learning this app is that so you can now get a part-time job and get 15 to $2,000 per task. And you can only get those by using this tool. So the transformation is that we are going to help you make 15 to $2,000. And the we’re going to tell you how he’s using it to find these jobs, what he does to solve them and how to work this tool that is now needed to solve them. So we package it differently but it’s still the same information, pretty much. Tom Libelt:He taught the same thing but he only positioned it as learn my tool, 500 bucks. And I’m like, “Well, they can get that from YouTube or from this other 10-dollar or from Udemy or something. People don’t care about that anymore. They want to see how you’re going to transform them. Who doesn’t want a 15 to $2,000 extra in their pocket in there field, in their spare time and have another tool that’s going to help them grow in whatever they’re doing? That’s a different story, that’s transformation.Shane Melaugh:Totally, yeah. Yeah, I see what you mean.Tom Libelt:So even with your stuff, like with Thrive, there’s a transformation there. Like for some people, and this is a lot of influence those I speak to in my SEO business, we’re going to move you from the ’90s to the New Age because when you look at their website, you’re like, “Holy Shit man. Like how can you …” Some of them have 26 calls to action on their page, on the upper side and I’m like, “What are you guys doing?” And a lot of them are like, “Should we get a new theme?” I’m like, “Well, that’s … I don’t know. Should you?”Shane Melaugh:Yeah, the new theme isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem that needs solving here. And it’s true, that’s totally true. It’s like we sell software but the software we create is there to help you achieve a result, and that’s one of the reasons why we always talk about having a conversation focus because the point isn’t that you have a prettier website afterwards, the point is that you get more conversations, that you get more business.Tom Libelt:Yeah. So some of the ways I’ve seen themes like yourself, I’m not sure if it was yours, doing a really good way of selling themselves is, “Look, like I’m going to show you some of the top personal brands and influencers in the world and how they moved over the last 10 years from their design and how they are killing it now on our theme.” But you’re showing this process and why this new way is converting. And at the end you just say, “Well, this is why our theme is the best to do that.” But you’re not selling an actual software, you’re selling a transformation like, “Look, when someone goes on the page like, ‘Oh yeah, I do look like one of these old websites so I do need to get to this new one and this is why. And oh, by the way, I can use this tool.'” But you selling that move, the transformation. You’re not selling like, “Oh, these are the technical things about my theme.” Nobody gives a shit.Shane Melaugh:Yeah, exactly.Tom Libelt:I mean, it’s important for a lot of developers but a normal customer, they don’t care. It’s SEO friendly. So what? I think everything is SEO friendly. Like these things don’t sell, you need to sell that transformation. And even with your product, it’s the same thing.Shane Melaugh:For sure, yeah. All right, this is a great mindset thing I think that the keyword transformation here is super important and I think that’s something … And anyone can look at their current business, can look at their current copy and ask themselves, “Okay, am I bringing this across? Am I being clear about what is the transformation you’re getting here?” And I think that’s a great way. It’s like a landing page review or a copy review. Go through it and look at am I selling a transformation here? Is it clear to a new visitor why this transformation is so valuable? That is a great way to maybe create a test version of your ad, a test version of your landing page, a great way to optimize what you’re presenting online. So I think that’s a great framework.Tom Libelt:Yeah. I agree.Shane Melaugh:All right Tom, I don’t want to take up too much of your time so you’ve already shared a ton of valuable stuff with us, tell us where can we learn more? Where should we go if we want to know more about you and your services?Tom Libelt:If you are interested in the course marketing, just go to And if you want to hear more stuff about me, just That’s the two places where everything kind of goes off of.Shane Melaugh:All right, excellent. We will also add those links in the show notes. And with that, thank you very much for your time and that’s us signing off.Tom Libelt:Thanks for having me on.Shane Melaugh:And that wraps up our episode. I hope you enjoyed this. Once again, kind of like with the Tim solo episode, we agree on many things, we kind of stumble on to many agreement there but none of this was planned. I sometimes feel like, “Oh, do people think that I kind of give people cues about what they should say so that it lines with my message?” But it’s really not like that. I didn’t know what to expect from this discussion but it just turns out that I really, really strongly agree with a lot of the things that Tom says and Tom teaches. So I really hope you found this useful and I hope it was a good alternative perspective on how to bring this kind of results-based sales mindset to what you do online.Shane Melaugh:You can find the show notes for this episode at, all one word. And you can also go there to push a button to leave a voice message. So if you have a question that you’d like us to answer on a future episode, you can do that there or you can leave a written comment. So all that is at And with that, thank you for listening in and I’ll see you in the next one.

What You’ll Discover in this Episode:

  • Why selling an online course is one of the best business models out there, especially for beginners.
  • How to take your marketing up a notch, and why a great course is useless without great marketing and what is the number one mistake most people make.
  • Information doesn’t sell anymore: learn how to apply the common “feature-benefit” problem to marketing online courses and find the pain points your potential customers have.
  • Stop worrying about coming across too salesy! Tom explains why this mindset prevents you from selling more and what differentiates a good salesman from a sketchy one. 
  • How to work on your advertising and copywriting skills that will help you communicate your course’s value better.
  • Facebook and Google ads are not only pricey but often less effective than other methods. Learn what you can do instead to find customers for your course.
  • How to decide what information to give away for free on your blog and what to keep exclusive for paying customers.


How Do You Transform Your Customers?

Selling information is not enough: people want transformation. What transformation does your online course bring to people’s lives? Do you communicate this clearly in your sales copy?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

We’d love your feedback, questions, tips and stories! You can leave them in the comments section or leave us a voice message by hitting the “Start recording” button below:

See you soon with another episode!

Ethical Marketing: Will All Pop-Up Users Burn in Hell?

Which animal do you find scarier: a shark or a cow? 

Chances are, you answered "a shark". After all, those sharp teeth and serial killer eyes do look kinda intimidating. But would you believe that way more people are killed by cows than sharks? And we haven't even mentioned mosquitoes...

We're designed to judge a situation by the most overt signs and let ourselves be fooled without taking a closer look.

This could be even more challenging when we're about to spend our money online. 

We're trying to avoid scam so desperately that we boo anything slightly salesy while falling prey to the real predators.

In today's episode, we're asking the question: what is ethical in marketing? What's the deal with marketing tricks and weapons of influence? Where is the line between a clever sales hack and a dirty scam?

How can you make money online and keep your conscience clear?

This and more is waiting for you in this episode.

Listen in! 

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The Only Way You Can Get Rich Overnight

Entrepreneurs are all about growth, grinding and hustle. We want to get more done, faster. Work harder than anyone we know. We're inspired by mentors, gurus and influencers who "made it" and want to model exactly what they do to be even more productive and grow even faster.

It's pretty hard to get more than 24 hours in a day, so we look for ways to use even more of those 24 hours for hustling. Because that's what an entrepreneur does, right? No time for slacking off!

It's only natural that we're trying to save time on an activity that normally takes 7-8 hours every day: sleeping.

The less we sleep, the prouder we are of ourselves and feel superior to others who are so lazy that they spend 8 hours in bed and wake up after sunrise. We love complaining about being tired and needing coffee, as this is another way to prove to our peers that we're real grinders. We compensate with 20-minute power naps to get through the day, and we believe that it's worth as much as a good night's sleep.

But here's the thing: you can't 80/20 your sleep. 

In this episode, we explore why sleep is more important for entrepreneurs than most people think, how even mild sleep deprivation can affect your performance, why waking up early can be counterproductive and how to get a better quality, more restful sleep that's most ideal for your mind and body.

Listen in! 

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Free Traffic: How to Get Google to Deliver the Right Customers to Your Website

Search Engine Optimization can be a real headache for most of us. 

While it can be free, it often seems frighteningly complicated and takes way too long to see the fruits of our hard work - if there's going to be any. Who on Earth has time for this while building a business?!

We are about to change your mind.

In today's podcast episode, we talked with Matt Diggity, founder of the SEO Conference in Chiang Mai and many SEO agencies, who revealed his best advice and strategies to get more and better traffic on your website: visitors that are ready to purchase.

With his step-by-step instructions, you can boost your website's SEO without wasting time on guesswork and unimportant nuances, doing what really matters and what your competition often fails to do right. Follow his guide and let your website work for you in the long run!

We recommend listening to this episode with a pen and paper - you will definitely learn a lot. 

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Let Your Customers Do The Marketing For You

You can run countless ads. You can tell people about how awesome your products are. You can talk about the features and benefits for hours.

And yet, a single happy customer's recommendation to their friends is still going to be more powerful.

Think back of your last ten purchases. How many times did you pull the trigger because you read a great review, you heard your favorite YouTuber talk about it, or your friend randomly mentioned it over dinner? You may not even be aware of if, but if you're like most of us, you do it all the time. 

So do your customers.

In today's episode, Raúl Galera from ReferralCandy shared with us how even a small business can take advantage of this already existing habit, how to incentivize even more of your customers to recommend your product and be rewarded for it, without turning them into sketchy MLM salesmen.

He also revealed what makes a referral program work, why it's not enough to only reward your existing customers, how you can do this on a low budget and what type of reward system will work best in your specific case. 

All this and more is waiting for you. Listen in!

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Free Traffic: The Hero Outreach Method

In our previous ActiveGrowth podcast episode, we had a chat with Tim Soulo from Ahrefs about the importance of SEO and knowing your potential customers to increase your website traffic without spending much on it. 

You learned that SEO doesn't exclusively happen on your own website: to get quality backlinks and reach more people, you should get featured on other channels. And to make it happen, you need to start doing outreach.

Today, we brought to you Colin Shipp, networking, PR and outreach expert, to dive deeper into effective targeting and outreach. You'll learn how to do your research, reach out to the right people and get the "yes" you need to get more traffic, customers and quality relationships that will help you level up your business. 

Listen in!

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The Bootstrapper’s Guide to SEO

As much as we advocate the Customer First Approach, once you have a solid product and paying customers, you want to get more of them by increasing your website traffic.

But getting just any sort of traffic won't cut it.

If I send a thousands of middle-aged men to your local lingerie store, some might buy something, but most of them would leave empty-handed. It's the same online.

No, you want quality traffic. People who are actually interested in your services and want to hear more about you, purchase from you, tell your friends about you. 

How can you find these people without spending a fortune on ads or a skilled marketing team? 

In today's episode of the Traffic for Time Instead of Money podcast series, we interviewed Tim Soulo, CMO at ahrefs, to share his best SEO strategies that work on a bootstrap budget.

If you're new to SEO, read this article before listening to the podcast!

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You Shouldn’t Be An Entrepreneur

​"If you don't build your dream... someone will hire you to help build theirs." /Tony Gaskins/

We don't think so. 

Here's what we think: If you agree with the quote above, you're never gonna be a successful entrepreneur.

In today's episode, we continue the gentle but kind discouragement we started last time and discuss all the reasons why running your own business might not be your path after all. 

Being an employee, an entrepreneur, a freelancer or an intrapreneur can be equally cool depending on your character. With this episode, we help you find the right alternative - or further confirm that you were born to be an entrepreneur. 

Listen in before you quit that dreadful nine-to-five.

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Don’t Be A Startup!

When you think of great entrepreneurial role models, who comes to mind?

Probably über wealthy startup founders, CEOs and angel investors who's books on entrepreneurship are hailed as the modern day blueprints to business success.

These entrepreneurship icons often tell us that growth at all costs is key. Get enough early investment capital and you can even operate your business at a loss from the very beginning until you find a way to dominate your market. 

Of the tiny startup minority that finds success (9 out of 10 startups fail), those founders then sell their companies for a multi-million dollar payday, earning their place among the angel investors to begin the cycle anew.

Given that strategy's tiny potential for success, why would you even try to be a startup?

We think it's not only dumb, but dangerous...

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Are You Creating Value or Just Advertising Space?

You don't have to be a celebrity anymore to take high-quality pictures with branded products and get paid for it. In fact, all you need is a large enough audience, and sponsorship deals will come to you and pay your bills.

That's what everyone seems to think these days anyway.

In this episode, you'll hear about the ActiveGrowth take on influencer marketing and getting a large number of following on social media or high traffic on your website, so that you can use those platforms to place ads on and just wait until you get rich. 

But is it a viable business model? Can you really make a living or even just enough money to cover your travels? And if you do, how long can you keep this up? 

Listen in to hear our take on these questions, which direction is online advertising heading, and what do we think you should do instead to make more money and provide more value!

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Goals Worth Pursuing vs. Endlessly Grasping for More

We all want to be successful. Whether it means becoming a millionaire, making enough money to travel the world, gaining recognition, popularity or making a difference in the lives of others... the entrepreneurial-mind usually wants more. We like to think of success as a shiny place with cherries on the top where only great things happen.

Yet, the news is full of highly successful celebrities who somehow end up taking their own lives. Money and fame just aren't enough to make them stay... 

But what should you do if you're the type of person that wants success and wealth? Should you drop it all and live as a monk? How can you hustle and build your empire without destroying yourself?

Today we're dealing with a heavier topic, inspired by an earlier episode of The Fizzle Show podcast: managing your mental health as an entrepreneur.

We're talking about the types of challenges you're inevitably going to face, and how to tell the hard times apart from each other – the ones that are normal and the ones that you need to do something about. As always, we're not just telling you what to do, but how we think you might go about doing it. 

Please note: while this episode is intended to help you, it is in no way a substitute for professional help. If you are in distress, please reach out to a healthcare professional.

Thanks to The Fizzle Show for bringing the topic up and allowing people to realize they're not alone with their internal battles. 

Listen in!

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Getting Good On Camera: Why It’s a Life Skill Every Entrepreneur Needs

This is our third episode on making videos. We recorded it, because we know that you're still putting off sitting down in front of the camera and film. Aren't we right?

In this episode, we're talking to three guests who got over the resistance and have been making videos regularly now. They started making videos for different reasons, coming from different backgrounds, with different skills and tried different approaches, yet, looking back, the lessons they've learned and the stages they had to go through are nearly the same

Learn from their stories how they got themselves to record their first videos, got over the initial fear and resistance, managed to turn this into a habit, and how they improved their video making and communication skills fast with regular feedback and daily repetition. As part of this episode, you'll also get a bonus from us.

Listen in!

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