In this podcast:
02:37 – Continuity – what is it and why should you be interested?
05:16 – Continue to deliver value
08:06 – Stay in touch with your customers with relevant information
09:44 – “Caring is the new currency”
11:48 – Be unpredictable
14:43 – Thinking as a marketer
16:14 – Being transparent and open
18:12 – How Chris ventured online
21:57 – Having a mostly continuity-based business
23:22 – People join for the content and stay for the community
26:57 – Employ a loyalty discount
29:48 – Long term business versus one time hits
31:23 – Continuity justifies time and attention
34:43 – Summary: the what, why and how of continuity
37:32 – You needn’t be an expert to have a membership site
James Schramko here and recently, I was over in San Francisco at a traffic conversion summit that Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher put on which is a great event I highly recommend it and the reason I went to that event is I’d like to meet other people in the same market that I’m in because you can exchange ideas and quite often you meet people who you’ve seen online but you’ve never seen face to face and when you get to meet them, you can really explore ideas and learn from each other.
One of the people I met on this recent trip was Chris Farrell who has a very popular site – chrisfarrellmembership.com and Chris is probably the nicest person on the planet and just the most amazing guy and he’s on the line now.
James: Good day Chris.
Chris: It’s not true. You should hear what I’ve been saying about you in the room and what I’ve been trying to spread about you on YouTube and FaceBook.
James: How do you do that though, like you are almost sickeningly nice. Is that some kind of contrived act or are you just genuinely a nice person?
Chris: I don’t know if it’s because you know originally I’m from England and we were all suppressed and we sort of believed down to nappy is how we should live these days and we tip our hats and we open the door for women so I don’t know. I just love the kind of old fashioned chivalry in the world so. Maybe there’s something there, I don’t really know but great question though.
James: Just on that note, how do you find having a different accent works for you in the United States market because I have the Australian accent and of course all the Americans speak funny. Do you think it helps you stand out or do you find that they have difficulty understanding you?
Chris: You know it’s fascinating you say that because I do live in Los Angeles now and I don’t even think about the accent and having an accent just like in the United Kingdom when you hear somebody with an Australian accent or a US accent, you have this perception that “Gosh, they must really know what they’re talking about” so having an accent actually has really helped then of course you need to solidify and back t up with actually you knowing your subject matter but I found that that does gets you noticed faster and quicker and that was just a nice default addition if you’d like to be living in a different country to where you grow old and where you grow up
James: Yeah I think it helps you differentiate. Now today, we’re going to talk about a topic that is dear to my heart and something you’ve really monopolized well and that’s on the subject of continuity and I guess we should talk about what continuity actually is and then why people might be interested in that. You’ve got chrisfarrellmembership.com, I’ve got SuperFastBusiness.com. They’re both membership sites and they both have a continual billing cycle. Tell us, how do you describe continuity to your members?
Chris: I quite simply think that continuity is the, as dramatic as this would sound, is the most powerful business model out there and the reason quite simply is that if I have to define in a sentence, my headline would be “Recurring Income Cannot Be Beaten It Really Is The Ultimate Business Model” Interestingly enough ClickBank recently surveyed the top vendors and they found that their vendors have a recurring billing products a vendor having something such as continuity, a membership site, maybe a mentoring program that’s rebilling as opposed to a standalone product.
Those are the recurring billing product who are earning 400 percent more so the reason that’s really exciting about this is that I know many particular listeners of this podcast are interested in maybe creating their own products, maybe many listener have the raw products. My question to you would be, have you considered maybe turning that into a continuity based products.
It takes away so many challenges of having to continually sell all the time to hit the mortgage or payments every month. You may even make that sale once and if you really deliver value, and really build that relationship with your new customer, keeping that recurring billing is not that much of a challenge. So my headline will be quite simply, James, “Recurring Income Cannot Be Beaten”
James: Right. And if I were to come up with a one line headline, it will be something like “Sell Once, Get Paid Over and Over” and you mentioned that you’ve made the sale and the great thing about continuity is that for it to stop, someone actually has to take an action which is they have to actually request it to stop or login somewhere and unsubscribe and the challenge as the entrepreneur for us is to make sure that there’s more motivation for someone to stay than there is for them to leave and if you can continue that agreement then the recurring income will continue to come in.
But it’s very empowering to the business owner as well as the customer because one of the great things about having this continuity is that you have an obligation to continue to deliver value. Now that’s a pretty soft phrase we hear a lot- value, value, value but I imagine you’ve got this recurring wall of income coming in for your membership. Do you continue to add value to your members?
Chris: I am in my membership site pretty much every day, adding new content just as much as I know you are as well because a smart business owner knows that the fastest way to grow a business is actually to look after your existing customers and let them do the marketing for you and it’s amazing how these small businesses really spend the lion’s share of their time continually just trying to acquire a new customer.
Now of course on the surface, that would make sense but what happens is most small businesses get kind of caught up in just continually trying to acquire a new customer all the time. Then what happens is when somebody joins that product or that service, often, they kind of really forget about them.
I love this from the guys from Infusionsoft, they said that the number one reason why somebody will leave your product or leave your service is not because the product sucks or not because of your bad customer support which are certainly high up in the list but the number one reason is actually indifference. 65% of people will leave apparently the product or service, frankly because they don’t care because the person who created the product is continually trying to acquire a new customer.
So a small business owner knows that the fastest way to grow a business is to look after your existing customers really to over deliver and we don’t use that as you said James “pretty words.” It’s kind of a buzz word at the moment, how can I really add value but when you think of that customer as a real person with hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations just like we all have and communicate with them effectively, they will do you marketing for you and it’s amazing how many people don’t do this.
A membership site is the perfect vehicle that allows us to engage with our customers, our members and if we do it well, if we really do genuinely deliver value, they will do your marketing for you. That’s one of the many reasons why I think it’s the best business model out there.
James: I love it! I mean, it’s not just words you’re saying now. As you can see, you’ve got twenty three and a half thousand people have liked your homepage so somebody out there thinks your content is pretty good to be able to share it like that. That’s the good thing. If you obsessively focus on the product as I do and you do, then the rest will take care of itself and if you go and look online, there’s a proliferation of courses that will talk to you about getting traffic and acquiring customers.
I think what we should dive on this keeping customers and customer attention side but because it is so often ignored and I’m going to go out with the first shot here and I’m going to say that the thing that has worked well for me in the last nine or ten months in particular was to develop and implement my own the racecourse strategy which is to create a news platform that means that I’m in touch with my customers at least once a week and staying on the relevant topic.
And of course I’ve expanded that to multiple channels and that I covered all my different business segments now but at least anyone in my sphere, anyone who’s a current customer, a prospective customer, or even a previous customer is going to hear from me at least once a week with news and information or rich media content that is relevant to their business.
Like a classic example of that will be this podcast, I will email out my customers and say, “if you’re interested in having a fantastic, profitable business, you really should know about continuity, I’ve just recorded something with my friend Chris and here it is…” so I’ll give them this absolutely free and it helps them grow their business and that’s a reason for them to be here next week and the week after.
I was wondering what sort of platforms you have in place to keep those current customers you have?
Chris: That’s a terrific question. As you were saying that James, I was thinking that you mentioned earlier, we met in San Francisco and I have to say, as sick as frantic as this would sound, we were all hanging out with you and we were making notes because what you say, most people, they’re not in agreement but they will actually implement in their business because Gary Vaynerchuck, I think sums it up perfectly. He says, “caring is the new currency” When I heard him say that I thought, you know that sort of sums up where we are here in the second decade of the 21st century.
Caring is the new currency. It’s very well to say “Yes I care about my list, my customer”. But actions, you know, reveal somebody’s true character. Talk is cheap. How do you actually do this? To answer your question, we really do. We identify when we send an e-mail, when we make a video. I’m very hot on saying to my team and even to myself, really picture who we are communicating with. Let’s talk TO them, let’s not talk AT them. We survey our list. We ask them what they’re having challenges with.
One thing that we do that I feel has really benefitted our business is, “Don’t sell all the time”. How many listing on this podcast are on somebody’s list? You know for a fact EVERYTIME they send you an e-mail, they’re selling you something…everytime! It’s such an old fashioned way of doing business.
Businesses change. Things are turned on their head now. Customer service is the most important aspect in a business, as I said, because caring is the new currency. So to answer your question, would be like to really fall in love with those on our list whether they are paying customers or whether they just joined our list for free. We want to make people special.
People will stay for the content. Sorry, people would JOIN for the content. If you have a membership site, people will join for the content but people will stay for the community. So fall in love with your list. Make them feel special. Be unpredictable. Be present. Even if it’s as fun…I know you do this, James. You’re a perfect example of this.
If you’re travelling somewhere, you’ll put a little Facebook post up saying “Look I’m in wherever. I’m in Atlanta who fancies having a coffee”. Just do things that are slightly outside the norm and It’s amazing, particularly in the social media-rich world, how many people respond and be able to share and they will be able to comment and that will just grow your brand and grow your reputation.
I think if I had to sum it all up, what we work really hard at is being unpredictable. Given an example is the day I was just a, I live here in Los Angeles. I decided just to have an impromptu coffee get together at Coffee Bean on Ventura Boulevard here just sent out Facebook post, did something in the forum. We had 30 people turn up.
We did one a few weeks ago, a few months ago in Utah, had over 200 people turn up. Coffee Shop wondered what was going on. My point is, fall in love with your list. Nobody really is doing it these days. And those businesses are, it makes all the difference. How you interact and communicate with your customer and then at the end of the day, how it will take your bottom line as well.
James: Right, so if you keep going to Coffee Bean, that will affect your bottom-line. Banned in 50 States for flash mobbing the coffee store.
The unpredictable stuff that is true. We have a mutual friend Kerwin Rae and I put out a video where I videoed my toes and twinkled them to some music. And that went a little bit far, I had over 300 comments on it. That was when I was asking my audience, “Should I shave or not?” I care enough about them to find out if I need to change the way that I groom for my videos. Now I know this would never affect you because you’re always pristine in your presentation. But the interesting thing is, my first memories of you were videos that you’ve made.
Little personal videos like the back of Utah. Thanking the event organizer for an event that you spoke at, and doing a little video too with your new camera; testing out the settings, etc.I think it is important to care and frankly I don’t understand why it took people so long. I still have this vivid memory of one of my bosses in 2001. I was at the Mercedes-Benz dealership. I had just been promoted to manager’s job. And he said, Schramko, you care too much. And I just thought, “How can you possible care too much?”
I used to carry the stress and the burden to ensure that every customer was getting a good experience and it would irritate me when a sales person wouldn’t do the right thing to make the experience perfect for a customer who comes in to spend a hundred or two hundred thousand dollars on a motor vehicle. I would carry that load and I’d carry that stress and I would want them to have a good experience so I totally relate to the caring thing.
Chris: It’s not a buzz word. I even hesitate saying it sometimes because it sounds, doesn’t it, as if it’s the right thing to say. But again, as we mentioned earlier, you know, actions do define somebody’s real character. It’s all very well saying this but actually implement it in your business. I want you to start thinking like this. For me at least, the biggest challenge I had when I began online was actually thinking as a marketer. I had to kind of take off my blinkers and start thinking differently and that’s really kind of why I was excited to be invited on this podcast with you.
If anyone is listing right now about the things about, “How do I actually do this?” The biggest challenge right now is how to start thinking as a marketer and get comfortable sharing your story and yourself.
Because I suffered from this, “Does somebody even care?” A very quick example is a lady on my list, a lovely lady called Julie, who’s 50. And the reason I know that is she said to me in an e-mail. She said, “Chris I’m 50, I’m divorced; I’m a mum of three”, who really would care about that? And my answer would be, “The very fact you are 50, you are divorced, that you do have three kids suddenly makes you this real three dimensional person”. And if you were comfortable enough to go through that, those hurdles, those mental obstacles that we all have of making a video to put yourself out there.
Nobody likes how they look on video. We’ll have to get over that that kind of hurdle at first. Suddenly you’ll find that you are somebody that people can relate to and this is why the marketing playing field is level. This is why we CAN market with the Microsoft’s and the Apple’s of the world who never have quite that deep pockets but we have this window to the world and we’re prepared to put ourselves out there and get slightly out of our comfort zone, the results can really be extraordinary. As you know, as finding, as your finding as well James and as many other people were finding as well.
James: Well I think this is really important; this transparency or openness. If you’re willing to share a little bit and if you’re willing to be real, that opens up possibilities and I saw a really interesting comment in my forum yesterday. Someone had have gone along to a course, from a marketer. They learnt this concept of putting up a page. They were told they didn’t have to be an expert and they inadvertently stumbled into the health market.
And to add more dimension to it, they went into the cancer treatment market. And the next thing you know, they were starting to get e-mails from people who are going to die and the feeling of overwhelm and responsibility and care kicked in and they went and they deleted the site that they had up for several years. And then several other members said, you know what I did exactly the same thing.
And I’ve realized that you have to be genuine and you have to be sincere. And we are dealing with people here and it really does bug me when a marketer sales offer sales offer sales offer and you know for a fact that they are disingenuous, they’re not using the products, they don’t really care about anything other than you transferring your credit card to their merchant facility and that does bother me.
From my own background, I came through the Mercedes-Benz channel and I learnt about really making sure that I was solving a customer’s needs and I was making sure that they get the right purchase because it was pretty expensive to buy the wrong car.
I had this obligation that if they were comparing my car to an inferior car that maybe wouldn’t save their life if they were in an accident or something. It was up to me to make sure they made a good decision but I’m wondering, you know, I know a little bit about your background. But, how did you get to be yourself? How did Chris Farrell start putting himself on videos? I know you’re an entertainer and you’re hiding behind costumes at some point. Maybe you want to tell us about that. What was the transition?
Chris: Well, very long story short. I suspect, like many listing right now, I’ve always been fascinated by the web and I genuinely knew absolutely nothing about it in 2008 other than the fact that I wanted to kind of investigate this a little further. And it’s funny isn’t it, how you change because I clearly remember thinking the fact that I know nothing about this business, that’s going to be a huge hindrance. I didn’t know what WordPress was, or how to get a website aligned, I didn’t even know what traffic meant.
I remember somebody asked me once, “Are you using a pc or a mac?” And I said, “Well, I’m using a computer”. I really didn’t know anything and the only reason I say that is because at the time I thought it was going to be a huge hindrance.
It’s funny how blessings come to us in many disguises. It was the biggest blessing because it meant I wasn’t kind of tarnished. I didn’t come with any preconceived ideas or notions. I didn’t know anybody in this business. And I just literally did like what most people end up building a business. I just did it through blood, sweat and tears and many 2 am finishes.
It took me six months before I made anything online, I really struggled, I almost quit twice and that’s really how I began. I literally did what you teach, James. I identified areas online where people are already spending money, and I started to build list. People interested in a subject matter. Then when I did, I did pretty well, because I just genuinely enjoyed this aspect of this business was I really engaged with those people first. I really wanted to identify them. Find out about them. Communicate with them. I wasn’t scared to kind of get myself out and know my people.
Only once did I engage and create a relationship was it comfortable in recommending products to purchase, only if I’d used the products myself. Now ironically, that happening ending up creating my own products because I couldn’t really find that much to recommend but I could honestly look somebody in the eye and say “This is good”. So I ended up studying how to create products and that took me another 6 months and then I had to learn how to make videos. I’d never knew how to make a video. So long story short, I can have literally I would sit down on a Monday, think “Right, I need to know how to make a video online”, I had no idea.