- Bootstrapping and venture funding
- Phenomenal customer service
- How to price products
- Dealing with YouTube
- Innovation and building Software
- Marketing strategy for affiliates and software companies
- Launch versus evergreen
- Building a team in-house
James: James Schramko here, and today’s guest is Clay Collins from LeadPlayer. Welcome to the call, Clay.
Clay: James, it’s great to be here.
James: Well, this will be a bit different for you. We’re just doing audio today and you’re quite into the video marketing, aren’t you?
Clay: I am. I’ve been video marketing for quite some time. I think I found that I actually love writing. So I’ll spend six hours writing a headline and that kind of thing. I found that in terms of actually video blogging, so putting out content on a regular basis, I literally could not let myself just write the damn article. With video and audio and things that are recorded live, I can actually get the damn thing done. I still heavily edit it and all that stuff, but something about video opens me up to produce more content. I used to blog like, maybe, once every six weeks, and now I video post, I think, once a week. So it’s been very liberating for me.
James: So how important do you think it is to work with your preferred modality?
Clay: I think it’s incredibly important. I think, at some point, I just kind of woke up one morning and I was kind of wrestling in my sleep, and I was hungering for something, this is before I got into video. And I woke up and I was like, I want to live at full expression. What I meant by that was that I felt like there were so many hoops I had to jump through in order to really express myself. I would find myself getting on the phone and doing these rants to my business partner, and she was like, “Wow, that’s really amazing. Why isn’t that recorded?” And then I try and turn them into blog posts later, and I just didn’t feel it.
I’d give toxic conferences and people are like, “That’s awesome.” And I’m like, why am I so expressively limited when it comes to emails in my business and when it comes to regular communication in my business, but it seems to just flow out of me at other times? And I think that as communicators and experts, I think part of the huge frustration that a lot of people feel is that they have this burning desire to express something, or maybe it’s not burning, but they know it’s there, and they just can’t express it.
People who do video, it took me a while to even figure out how to do video correctly. But when I used to do video, it’s like I had to record the video separate from the audio, and then it took like an hour to transmit these huge files over to my computer, and then I had to send it to someone, like the post-production guy, and then it was like a week later that I could actually publish the episode. That wasn’t living at full expression for me, either.
I think I’ve lived a good deal of my life probably creatively frustrated or expressively frustrated, and I think video, for me, was what changed that.
James: Have you got your work flow to a more streamlined or faster process now than what you just described?
Clay: I do, absolutely. I can get out an episode, I have a video blog called Marketing Show, which is at marketingshow.com, and now I can get out a new episode of the Marketing Show in like an hour and a half, with no one else involved. So there’s no having to do quality control on someone else’s post production who maybe doesn’t care about the content as much as I do. I can really just get that show out now. Sometimes it takes me longer if what I’m talking about is more conceptual and I really want to hone and refine the point or whatever. But yeah, my workflow is so much faster than it used to be.
I actually edit my episodes as I’m making them. I don’t record the whole thing and then edit it. I’ll edit it as I’m making it, and I find that that actually helps me a lot, too.
James: Can you explain what you mean there because I’m trying to understand how that would work.
Clay: Totally. So I used to have this camera called the Canon 7D and it’s a digital SLR camera. A lot of people use them. So it’s basically like a photography camera. People started using those because they’re inexpensive. What I mean inexpensive, like $10,000. But for about $2,000, you can get a video camera that allows you to have quality that is sort of on par with $3,000, $5,000 and $7,000; actually, more like $7,000, $10,000 Pro Zoom cameras.
The problem with those cameras, and I don’t claim to be a video expert, but in terms of the recording and the production, but the problem with those is you record the audio separately, and the audio is so huge because it has such a large quality, then you have to import it into your computer. And because the audio sucks from those things even if you’re doing external audio, you have to record audio with a separate device.
So I actually have like a separate audio system and microphone system, and then I had to pair those up after it took me like an hour to transfer it to some ridiculously huge file over to my computer. And then I’d put that into ScreenFlow or some video editing program and it would take forever.
Now what I have actually is 1080P. It’s a Web camera, a webcam that actually mounts on a tripod and allows me to record directly into my computer. So when I’m recording episodes of the Marketing Show, I’ll actually tell my computer to start recording. When I’m done, I’ll just hit a button and I can review what I just said for that 45 segment piece. If I like it, I’ll keep it. If I don’t, I can re-record it or I can edit it. So I can actually sort of create my thing as I’m going along and add sound and audio as I go along, and I find that that’s actually a lot faster.
James: This is kind of along the small batch size thing. I’ve observed with some of your approach to business that you must have studied some kind of Lean Startup process.
Clay: Yeah. I mean I think that’s sort of what always made sense to me, at least in the last few years. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that when I left home when I was 15 and started a software company, and that software company failed. It took us a couple of years and we blew through about six figures, about $150,000 or $170,000.
Again, I was 15, right? But still, there was something in the back of my mind that was like, this is hard. This is not something that I want to ever go through ever again. So not so incidentally when I moved 10 years later, and I’m in my 30’s now, but 10 years after that when I was around 25, I started affiliate marketing, that’s not something where you can lose a lot of money but you’re not going to blow six figures.
But when I moved from affiliate marketing to selling my own information products, I started pre-selling them. So I would actually make 10, 20, 30 grand on a product and then I’d make it. It wasn’t completely Lean Startup-ish, but it had that same kind of thinking embedded into it.
The thing that I think is not realistic for most people who read the book The Lean Startup is that’s really geared towards people who have a whole lot of venture capital. What most people don’t even realize is that in order to get the data necessary to even have a statistically significant AB split test, like that’s not where most new people are, in order to run the kind of metrics that they’re talking about in that book, and if you look at their company, they were six, seven, eight months out before they kind of pivoted for the first time and they went through a whole lot of money. I think there’s an even leaner version of the Lean Startup. But yeah, I’m a huge fan of Eric Ries’s thinking. I’m also a huge fan of doing not a crappy version, but doing the minimum viable version of something first.
James: Yeah. I think that’s what we’re hearing. You’ve got your minimum viable product and you’re getting paid first before you even create the thing. Is that how you approach software?
Clay: Yeah. Our first software product was actually a free plugin for WordPress. It was really actually designed to test the capability use of the full-time software developer that we created. So we hired him, and I was like, “Rather than spending forever creating something, I want you to ship a product in two weeks.” I told him what the product was and we shipped it in two weeks, and it actually works. Like there weren’t any problems with it, any huge problems with it. There were some issues like if someone were using some crappy, non-maintained plugin that conflicted with it or if someone used a weird WordPress theme that wasn’t ready for the current version of WordPress or someone who was using an old WordPress, it didn’t work.
But the first thing we shipped worked. I just wanted to see what that whole experience was like, and thank goodness we did because we learned a lot about supporting software in the process and it was also just a demonstration to my community that we could release good software. But yeah, that’s absolutely the approach we’ve taken with software. I actually think it serves the customer better.
James: OK. I just want to jump in there with a couple of things. Firstly, how did a 15-year-old get access to $150,000?
Clay: Yeah. That’s kind of an interesting question. I’ve actually never talked about this before. But that’s really interesting. So I was in high school and I was one of those people that didn’t fit in. Like a lot of nerds kind of in that era, I turned to computers and I really got into it, And kind of for fun, since I was a hacker, I wrote this software that ran, it was just in Visual Basic, it wasn’t like I was doing any crazy stuff, but it was just in Visual Basic, actually in this program called Delphi. But it was kind of like Visual Basic. It was a program that ran the computer lab at the school. So it allowed instructors to do things, like if there was a disruption in the class, they could lock down everyone’s computers, limit the number of programs people could open, they gave instructors special access. It just did a bunch of stuff.
It caught the attention of a business person who was selling computers to the entire school district and we started talking and throwing around ideas. Based on that idea, he was able to raise, I was a co-founder, but the truth is that he was the one who raised 120 grand initially from an angel investor. He was 27 at the time. So that’s how it was raised.
James: Right. I mean that was your first capital raising thing. I know this is all a big sexy topic in Silicon Valley, pitching ideas and getting money, and I must say I’ve sort of been opposed to that whole business model. I like to retain absolute ownership and not be compromised by investors and to have more of that minimum viable product thing where you’re getting paid to profit upfront and you can self-fund. Is that more of the model you’re moving to now with your LeadPlayer software division?
Clay: Yeah. We’ve always been that way. I mean, post-15 years old, we’ve always been bootstrapped. I’m a huge fan of being bootstrapped. That doesn’t mean that if the right investor came by who had the expertise to really advise us, like they’ve taken multiple companies to IPO, multiple billion dollar companies, someone who had deep connections in the space, someone who had a portfolio where, you know, just by virtue of their investment in companies, could create partnerships very quickly and efficiently, and someone who was willing to invest in our company at a fair evaluation.
So someone gives you money, and then in exchange for that they get equity, but the question is always, how much equity is the amount of money worth? So if something really looked right, I think I’d do what I think of, everything in business is really a product and so equity in a company is a product in itself, especially if you IPO, that equity is a product. So the question is, are they getting a good deal and am I getting a good deal for that product that we’ve potentially decided to sell, which is our equity. I think I’d only be willing to sell the product of our equity to the right person in the right circumstances.
James: Yeah. Well, you know there’s some parallels I think between Zappos and you. I can see that you have a customer service obsession. Would that be true?
Clay: That’s absolutely true. I wish I could say that the vision for our customer service came directly from me. I think a vision for amazing customer service, like I knew I wanted to be awesome, but I think the execution of it and how that actually takes place, I think that that has come through my business partner Tracy, who has a background in corporate customer service. She’s not capable of falling asleep at night without making sure that everyone’s support tickets are completed and making sure that she hires someone who absolutely has the same work ethic.
I remember once, we were on a meeting, and a developer we were working with made a comment about a customer who didn’t know how to install WordPress. It was really benign. It wasn’t like saying they were stupid or anything like that. It was not a big deal. But she was like, “Hey, these are our customers. These are the ones who pay our salaries. These are the ones who make sure everything we do is possible. I want it no matter who it is, no matter what the circumstance, I don’t care if they sue us, we will never speak ill of our customer around here.” I was like, that is so awesome.
So yes, we are absolutely obsessed with customer service. I wish I could claim credit for that, but it’s always been something that’s important, but the actual incarnation, awesome customer service in Technicolor. Like the Technicolor version of that. I can’t take credit for it, but I’ve always wanted to be awesome.
James: OK. If we’re just sort of having a snapshot of what the LeadPlayer team looks like, you’ve got an in-house development team and you have in-house customer service. Are these some of the factors that affected your decisions around pricing? I want to know, how do you go out pricing your software to the market? Because it’s obviously in a slightly different pricing bracket to some of the lower end solutions who would purport to deliver some of the things that your plugin delivers. But in reality, I suspect they do not.
Clay: Yeah. What I would encourage someone to do is just… So I get asked this question, asked a lot about what we can do versus other players and things like that. I just ask someone to actually just compare the screens, even just compare the opt in screen, compare the stats, compare what the user experience is like and stuff like that. I can get into a lot of technical details here, but I want to speak to your question specifically.
Yeah, I buy a lot of software. I buy a lot of WordPress plugins. To me, it’s almost like I can predict it. Whenever I see a WordPress plugin that is low-priced and offers lifetime support and lifetime updates, it’s almost like a clock. I’m like, yeah, this is going to go off the market and be unsupported in, let’s give them six months. And they always do.
The reason why is because we take pride, and whenever there’s a plugin conflict, we fix it almost within 24 hours every single time. Whenever there is a theme, we’ve got our main developer in there. There are entire weeks that go by where all we do is, like someone wants a special integration, they’re using some unheard of autoresponder. And we’re like, alright, well they bought the software so we will make it, integrate at the API level with that software because we want them to have a good experience.
So yeah. Part of that is that native English speakers, in house, full time, yeah, I mean that’s part of it. I think part of it is just about the products, too. The rate at which we iterated our products, this isn’t something, LeadPlayer is into product that was farmed out. And I have nothing against people on other parts of the world, but we hired the best people we could possibly afford and we released new updates based on user requests every two weeks. We haven’t missed that, actually. Sometimes it’s very week, there’s a new release.
It’s not because it’s buggy. It’s because someone said, here’s one example. Someone said, let’s say there’s a video blogger there, “Hey, I have 100 videos across my website and I would love a situation where someone watches a video, a LeadPlayer video on my site that I created a couple of years ago, but at the end of that video, I would like a call to action button coming up that invites them to a webinar that’s today or in a couple of days.” And we were like, that’s awesome. So we added it.
When we first launched, someone was like, I think it’s really coercive if someone has an opt in box. I’d like that opt in box to be there. And I would like you to remember if they’ve opted in to other videos on the site. But I want someone to be able to just not opt in if they don’t want to. So it presents them the option to opt in a couple of minutes into the video, but I also wanted to skip the step a few time. Like that’s a really, really, really good idea. So we built that.
That kind of responsiveness, I think, is not something we’d be able to do if this were like a $14 warrior special offer that came with lifetime updates and lifetime support and that whole situation. So we’re all about, I think, being premium. I think the people who sort of are in line with that and who want that, I think those people are a good fit for us.
James: I’m wondering, Clay, if you’ve considered a recurring payment option?
Clay: Yeah. So part of what we did with LeadPlayer was we wanted the most advanced feature set available that we could get out. So we wanted that. Because we were prioritizing functionality and features, we decided to release LeadPlayer initially as a WordPress plugin because it’s really easy to distribute and update. These updates that we do every couple of weeks, it’s really easy to do that with a WordPress.
The reality is the amount of time and work it takes to create something that’s in the cloud with a recurring income model; this isn’t just a membership site. But you know, using a true in the cloud software as a service, with integration and building it on top of an amazing infrastructure that that piece would have doubled or tripled the amount of time to make the product and we wanted to get the product in the hands of our users as quickly as possible.
So yeah, we’re moving actually everything over to a software as a service model where there’s a low monthly fee and someone would just pay us on a month by month basis. So yeah, we’re moving to long term.
James: I’ve got to say, when I first saw the LeadPlayer, I knew instantly I need to have this because the power of putting an opt-in on your videos is great. But when you have lots of videos, it’s even greater. So anyone with a lot of videos is able to retro embed LeadPlayer and instantly turn their entire site into a massive list capture.
But the thing I like the most is I’m able to put the opt-in where the highest value is on my website, which is immediately after they’ve just watched some video content. So we’ve actually installed it on over 20 of our blogs now, and I’ve put in some feature requests, which have already been rolled out, which is great. My email list has doubled. It literally doubled the day that we rolled it out. It starting doubling the amount of opt ins we get on our site. So that’s a significant boost, especially when you compound that effect and the fact that I’m adding videos every two days to my site.
Clay: Wow. That’s incredible. Yeah I think a lot of people found that they literally have a gold mine in terms of lead generation. If they’ve got a bunch of YouTube videos on their site, and even if they don’t, even if they just have a couple, they’re able to instantly start collecting opt ins on that. I think there’s a few reasons why that works.
The first reason is that people pretty much ignore sidebar opt-ins. But if you can put the opt-in box in the content right after every one of the beginning of your video, it says sort of what someone is going to get. So if I’m doing a video and I say, “Hello, everyone. In this video and in this episode of the Marketing Show, I’m going to show you how to create a logo in five seconds. That’s what you have to look forward to in this episode of the Marketing Show.” Boom. And then right there, right after I’ve told people what’s going to happen, there’s an opt in box that says, “Want to learn this marketing lesson and get updates like these every single week? Opt in below to get started.”
That timing thing, plus the customization of the opt-in box message with the content of the video. That kind of combination is really, really powerful.
James: It’s super powerful. I held a small workshop here with about 10 people during the week, and I’d step them through my system, which I call OwnTheRacecourse, which is how you can create a news video blog and have multi channels. I showed them LeadPlayer and every single person is like, “Oh, wow. That’s amazing.”
Some of them have a couple of hundred YouTube videos on their site right now. Like you said, they’re sitting on a gold mine; they just haven’t tapped it yet.
All right so, I also wanted to rescue any listeners who might be in my situation where I use a Canon 60D to record my daily videos. But you can integrate a piece of hardware called a Juice Box or a Beachtek, and you can mix the audio into the camera from an external mic. So at least you can get that audio and video onto your SD card for rapid editing. I just wanted to point that out because I’m usually out and about with my filming rather than in the same set.
Now I’ve had a few people ask me about your videos. You’re filming there under a staircase. One of my listeners wanted to know if you’ve been naughty or something. I think that’s a Harry Potter reference.
Clay: (laughs) Yeah. You know, I live in this kind of 4-storey trendy industrial loft and I thought it was a good backdrop for it. Everyone mentions the staircase so I think I’m going to keep it. I think that’s a good thing. Whenever someone identifies with you with something, I guess that’s a good thing. Everyone asks me what it goes to and I keep on saying that I have no idea. I think I’m going to end up like I’m going to heaven or entering the clouds, like I’m going to evaporate. Like I don’t know what happens up there. But yeah. I enjoy the space quite a bit.
James: I think it is important, the background set. I like your set. I film outdoors almost all the time and people, they like the birds. If I change my microphone, they can’t hear the birds, they’re like, “Hey, did you kill the birds? What’s going on?” Something a little bit different.
Now you mentioned before you would spend hours doing copy. Is that something that you studied heavily? Is it something that feels important for business?
Clay: You know, that’s a really good question. I think what’s more important is just talking to a whole lot of people. So still to this day, if it’s within normal daylight hours and I see that someone is in an appropriate time zone when someone picks or buys LeadPlayer, and this is actually happening way more now, it’s becoming less and less possible, but I’ll just pick up the phone immediately and call them. I think that is super important, but also when I first started, I would literally print out the most important, what I thought, word on the street, was the highest converting sales pages in my market, and I would handwrite them and underline everything that I thought was like a risk reversal and here’s features, here’s benefits, here’s the benefit within the benefit, that kind of thing.
So I think copy is important, but I really think the best way to learn copy is by dissecting what’s out there. And really, really, really looking through what other people have done, because at the end of the day, everyone has some structure, there’ll be like AIDA, or there’s these frameworks for sales letters, and I think those are good, but I think at the end of the day, good copy doesn’t feel forced.
I think it was either Miles Davis or John Coltrane, we’re talking about playing jazz, he was talking to a student, he said the best thing to do was to memorize verbatim and play exactly the classic jazz works, and then when you go to do your own, forget them all. I think that’s kind of been my approach.
James: One thing that’s a bit trademark with you is you have a use of sound in your clips. So some of my listeners have noticed that you like using sound clips and they wondered if there’s some kind of strategy behind that and where you might be getting them from.
Clay: Yeah. So the reason I do it is some people complain about them, some people like them. The reason why we include them is because the numbers bear out that people will watch something longer if there are sound clips. I also use multiple cuts. So I like having in my videos a combination of a bumper, screen grabs like a Screencast so I’m just like grabbing what’s on the screen, Keynote slides that demonstrate a concept, and then live video of me. Those things tend to work really well. And then I like to have audio.
I just go to AudioJungle. So AudioJungle is just a website that offers royalty for your music and you can get a song for like 8 to 12 bucks and you can use it as many times as you want to. You can even include it in a movie and play it in major theaters and it’s still like 12 bucks. So that’s where I get those.
James: Fantastic. Yeah I’m pretty sure our team uses the same thing. OK, so let’s dig a little bit deeper into this software startup. How big is the team at the moment?
The size of the team
Clay: So this is a little tricky because we still have an information product business, but I’d still say that we spend probably the bulk of our time right now on LeadPlayer as sales continue to increase. It’s a different story, but I’ll just say it through your question.
So we’ve got myself, my business partner Tracy, who actually lives in a log cabin in Vermont. So I’m in the middle of the country and I’ve actually met her once, which is just kind of crazy. We’ve got Linda who does marketing automation. So she’ll create follow-up sequences, automated webinars, like that stuff is getting more and more complicated and sort of subtle. There’s lots of subtleties in that. There’s Linda who does support and marketing automation, and then there’s Simon and Montosh on our development team, and then Pedro who does graphic design, which it might not look like we have a graphic designer on staff but it’s slowly rolling out and affecting us. So I guess that puts at at six now.
James: OK now, you sort of alluded, the sales are good. How is that going?
Clay: Incredible. Incredible. It’s sort of weird because at the same time that my dream is always been to do software. When I was 15, my dream was to do software and because it failed, I think I flung myself wholeheartedly into marketing and only like a couple of weeks ago did I realize that I’m back in software again because that was always my dream. It’s always been my love.
But what I’m sort of interested about is that all these people, people who I previously had no access to are now contacting me and I’ve been putting my heart and soul into my info products. I put my heart and soul into The Marketing Show. I worked so hard and whatever we’re doing with LeadPlayer, it’s so weird now. And we get sales like every single day. I don’t want to reveal revenue figures. But not only do we get sales every single day, but the amount we get goes up every single week and the sales of LeadPlayer, it’s been around for 4 months now, have doubled each month. It’s just ridiculous. Something is going on that is sort of bigger than me and I’m really happy about that.
James: Well I think you have a very unique approach to your marketing of support partners. I think it’d be really cool if you could share this story with my listeners on how you and I got to start speaking because that’s quite a rare scenario.
How James and Clay met
Clay: Yeah. So I’ll still see all the orders that come in so I get an email every time an order happens, and I saw your order come through. I’ve been following you for quite some time, I knew exactly who you were, and I just shot you an email and just thanked you for purchasing the product, and I was trying to reimburse you and stuff like that. But I just contacted you and said, “Hey, thanks.” It wasn’t like, “Hey, will you promote for me?” or anything like that. I was just truly grateful that you noticed what we were doing and that you saw what we were doing and that you thought it was a product worthy of buying.
Part of the way we develop products is we work with people who are doing the most amount of volume, in terms of the amount of traffic and amount of business that they’re doing and reaching out to them and saying, “Hey look. You have LeadPlayer. What do you need this for like right now that this does not do? What did you need a product like this to do yesterday that you would totally implement tomorrow if it did it?”
And then based on that, creating features. We also find that influencers and power users and some of the biggest people in our space often have the most WordPress plugins installed or they’ll like have a billion themes going in a hundred different sites and so those like rare edge cases where someone could break the software like those are the people who break the software.
I think I emailed you and I said, “Hey, don’t worry about contacting our support. I’ll do the support if you want any special features, I’m happy to do the features. Just let me know.” So I reached out to you like that.
James: Well you know, I did actually test the support. We had a few days after installing it, I got a couple of users saying that there was a problem with the player sticking. I asked support about it and we checked, we’d had the latest update installed, but it turns out there was an issue with the YouTube side, but this lists for an important point.
Getting the benefits of YouTube
Clay: Yeah. So one of the issues that we had when we first started was that everything was awesome and it was super great, and all the features were there. I wouldn’t say everything was awesome. We were very pleased with our product. And it added obvious calls to action and pop up opt-in boxes. It just did some cool stuff. But the view count wasn’t going up.
So part of the value I think of LeadPlayer is that someone can gain all the benefits of YouTube in the sense that when you send a bunch of traffic to a video on your site and it’s played with LeadPlayer, that counts towards your YouTube view count inside of YouTube, which means that that video is more likely to rank for terms inside of YouTube and within Google. So you gain everything from having YouTube but you don’t lose a lot.
So for example we dramatically decrease YouTube leakage. So if someone views a YouTube video using LeadPlayer on your website, the chances of them like leaking to YouTube and like watching episodes of “Family Guy” when they should be on your landing page watching your sales video; that goes down dramatically.
At first when we did this, the view count wasn’t working. This was horrible to me. We were approaching influences, we were like, no we can’t because we can’t get the view count. My policy with my friends and with people is always like I don’t care if you don’t buy it, I don’t care if you don’t use it, I don’t care if you don’t promote it. But I will be super offended if you don’t tell me why because we want to respond to everything. So people are like, “Yeah, I need the view count.”
I was like, that’s it. And I saw that Google was doing a developer’s conference. So I had to get up, I was on vacation, I had to get up early in the morning, I bought a ticket to the Google developer’s conference and I literally had to sit at the YouTube developer’s support help desk for like 4 hours to get them to come out and help me. They actually ended up looking at code for the LeadPlayer. They ended up just sharing a lot of stuff like sort of hidden documentation that they don’t make available to the public. I got some contacts in there.
So it’s not like we’re an officially sanctioned, there aren’t any officially sanctioned video players, but we go to their conferences, we’re on their list, we are very, deeply, integrated with YouTube. And that’s super important to us that whenever something changes in YouTube, whenever something happens, that we’re right on top of that, and that we’re maintaining that integration and that we’re doing everything we’re doing in a way that is not going to make anyone in trouble with YouTube but especially, we also don’t want to be shut down as a company.
The truth is that the way YouTube works is that they wouldn’t care about the hundreds of users using us. They’ll just come in and put a lot of lawsuits to completely take us down. So we also don’t want to be taken on as a company.
James: Of course. When you are building off a platform like YouTube, you have that danger of single point sensitivity. And that’s where your cloud-based recurring income future plan I guess will take into account a possibility for having different sources for the videos as well.
Clay: Absolutely. I think something we’re going to offer, I mean I could talk about potential features until the cows come home, but yeah. The truth is that YouTube and everything they’re saying is that they like what we’re doing. They’ve given entire talks about how to augment YouTube, and they’re actually looking for deeper integration because what we’re doing, what LeadPlayer is doing in its own way is bringing more people to YouTube because we’re seeing the praise of YouTube and the benefits of using it. And people who are already on YouTube are getting additional functionality by using YouTube. So they’re very much in favor of what we’re doing. So we’re talking to them as often as we possibly can because that relationship is very important to us.
But also, the relationship with the various email service providers, one of the reasons why we created LeadPlayer was because back in the day, I saw the promise of all these video players that said I could add an opt-in box to them. But it was a little tricky. If I wanted to an opt-in box with all of these video players, what I had to do was log in to Aweber for example, get my form code, and then log into another place, and put my actual form in there. And then what the video did was it really didn’t integrate with Aweber, it just kind of stopped the video and showed verbatim the Aweber form with like the HTML from it and everything. It looked like a normal Aweber form, and then when someone clicked submit; it couldn’t communicate back to the video player that someone had submitted and continue playing.
We want a deeper level integration with like Aweber and Infusionsoft and Mailchimp and Icontact, and like blah, blah, blah, all the ones we support. So we have deeper, deeper, deeper level integration. I think that’s something that’s key about what we do. We have to maintain all those relationships as well.
James: I can assure you that’s why I was so excited because I saw, hang on, it integrates with Office Autopilot, it integrates with YouTube. I’d already decided to use YouTube videos on my websites. I love Wistia for my private membership videos but I needed to harness that public SEO and the social proof of view accounts. But the integration with Office Autopilot was just so tempting. Before you’d even responded to me, I’d already installed the plugin like in about 3 minutes. It actually worked. It was such an exciting thing to discover. So I have no doubt that’s why you’re selling so many of this and I think the efforts you’ve gone to talk to YouTube and the email providers is another reason why you’ve had to have a premium product in the market that is so well supported.
I’m just going to do a quick recap here and just cover of on some of the things we’ve talked about. Firstly, video marketing is obviously something really important to be putting into your marketing flow. Secondly, YouTube is a great way to take advantage of that video marketing combined with a player that allows you to capture leads or put specific calls to action for global events, and you can retrofit it to all the videos on your site by just changing the short code.
You’re also getting massive feedback from customers, like continual innovation is paired with that feedback request, and you have a fastidious customer service approach where your customer is guiding you as to what to build so that you’re always getting that minimum viable product up and running and your iterations are pretty much just solving problems that people already having rather than you having to guess. Is that right Clay?
Clay: Yeah absolutely. Like with you, you said, you wanted a handful of features, and I think we’ve delivered all of them so far, right? I think we have. So yeah, that’s absolutely, your summary is spot on.
James: Perfect. So it’s going great, you’ve got this amazing product, what sort of challenges have you had? Like what are the things that keep you up at night that you thought, like the heart stopping moment, the things that have caused you the massive frustration, the things that remind you that most people never get to this stage because they give up at this point. Have you had any of those moments?
Clay: Yeah. I think that one of those moments was when the view count didn’t work, and I was like we’re just going to do whatever we have to do and I was in San Francisco. I think another issue, in terms of heart stopping, I think there’ve been lots of things where bigger people, maybe not bigger people is the right word, but people with broader audiences have wanted to promote this and I come from more of an Internet marketing background. And so we started this out like that, like we had an upsell when someone purchased to a continuity program, and when someone came to our homepage, it wasn’t like the sales page, it was like an opt-in page.
I remember someone pretty significant was ready to promote for us and they’re like, “Hold on, there’s an upsell? You didn’t tell me there was an upsell. And like the buy button doesn’t appear until 45 seconds into the video for this upsell so I’m locked watching this upsell video,” and I was like, oh my gosh, they’re totally right, they’re totally right. So I had to get my team together, let’s take this button down.
And then there were like, “Woah, woah, woah, woah. I’m not going to send my traffic to a squeeze page.” They’re like, “I already did a thorough review, and to send them into some crazy marketing funnel…” So I think that changing over from an information product model where there are very different things going on to a software based model and just dealing with all the hurdles that happen along the way, that’s been heart stopping.
James: You know, I wanted to say I don’t know if that’s changing from an info model to a software model. I think it’s just changing from the old school model to the correct way to be doing business online with courtesy and more professional approach than these backyard operators who really do the slam bam, because those guys, they’re going to become extinct, I can assure you.
Clay: Yeah. I mean so a part I think is I agree with you. I’m not a huge fan of aggressive marketing. So part of it from info product marketing to software. Like you don’t see a squeeze page on Apple’s home page. But you know, when Jeff Walker is doing a launch, he will have an opt-in page.
James: I model my business around iTunes, Amazon. You can preview a song on iTunes before you buy it. You can preview a book on Amazon before you buy it. They don’t squeeze you to look at their site. Over a year ago, like a year and a half ago, I put out an information product called Traffic Grab, and I gave 2 hours of free training upfront with no squeeze. I did six figures in sales, and everyone said, “This product is too cheap and there’s no pressure.” More than half the people that had gone into the site had already been back and half the sales happened 30 days after the original visit.
So I basically tested that whole high pressure squeeze versus low friction value upfront and that’s why all of my sites now, you can get access to 12 minutes of free content without having to put your details in. And that coincidentally is why I love LeadPlayer, because I can show them a 12-minute video, and then ask them if they’d like to receive news and through that continual delivery of quality news each week. Eventually, they become a buyer. But I’m not necessarily looking for someone to buy it right then and there because everyone in the market says, “You have to buy this product today or it’s going off the market.”
I actually think that that sort of launch is not the right business model for most Internet marketers and certainly for software marketers. The more professional you get, the less likely you’re going to see this sort of tactics. I mean you still get hype in product launches from things like Apple. We’ve just seen the iPhone 5 release, but at the same time, they send a nice email to your inbox saying you can order the Apple 5 or deliver it to your house. Great. I don’t have to put my details in to get a free report on why the Apple 5 is going to be better. They let me see the product. Everyone’s talking about it and it’s an easy process.
So I think you made the right move and it certainly was a decision for me promoting LeadPlayer because I like the sales approach. It’s a professional sales page you’ve got there and it’s respecting the visitor.
Clay: Yeah. Everything you’re saying, I completely agree with. It actually goes with so many of the things that we build into LeadPlayer so that people can do, they can have the opt-in box but make it non aggressive, like it can be at the end of the video, or someone can skip this step. But what you’re saying exactly is why our affiliate program, rather than putting this thing on ClickBank, we work with a handful of affiliates and most people unfortunately, we have to say no to, not because we dislike them or whatever, but we want to make sure that we’re only dealing with the highest quality people because last thing I want is some sketchy site doing a review of LeadPlayer and doing some pre-sales nonsense. I’m not saying pre-sales is bad, I’m saying like someone doing nonsense is just not something we want associated with us. So we actually have to say no almost every single time someone asks about being an affiliate, but I’m glad we’ve taken the approach we’ve taken.
James: I have a feeling also will help when the investor comes along looking to buy your company from you, they’ll have a look at the way that it’s marketed and it must be more appealing for them.
Clay: Yeah. So that’s an interesting question, will we ever do that. But I don’t know if we would but I completely agree with what you’re saying. So two of the things, that’s a really good point that came up when you were talking about product launches. The thing is that the way we do things, because there’s a cart opening and a cart closing, we can constantly be tweaking our marketing. It’s not like we open the cart like a couple of times a year, and that’s the only time when we can gather information about what people want and what’s working in terms of our marketing. We can tweak that up every single week. And that’s not just something you can do with normal product launches.
With regards to an investor potentially buying this, I completely agree that they’re going to want to see this done well. But I will say that because of the approach we’ve taken where we’ve prioritized in terms of the way we spend money, where we prioritize the product itself, so development and working with the highest really well paid programmers who are in house full time and where we spend a lot of money on support, again all like, it’s not like North America is better, but like they’re all North American, full time, like ones like my co-founder and staff.
Because we put our money there and not as much on design of the product but not design of the website and not as much on looking like a big deal tech company, I think that in some cases, especially in the beginning but not as much now, we haven’t been taken as seriously by the mainstream tech media because we don’t look like, we’re not playing the normal game that everyone else is playing. So that’s part of this, but that’s changing over time.
James: Well you know what, I think they’ll have to take profit seriously and that’s something that other companies do struggle with. So you’ll be fine. I’m going to wrap this up now because you’ve given so much great insight there and some really diverse topics. We’ve covered a lot of different things but I’d love it if you could give just maybe two tips.
I’m going to ask you for a tip for our listeners who are intending to use videos or a LeadPlayer-type approach to their blogs. What sort of an easy tip for them to implement? You gave us one where you introduce what’s coming in the video and then you ask for an opt-in. Have you seen any other things that work particularly well across your user base?
Tips for implementation
Clay: Yeah. So exactly what you said, start off, regardless of what you do, if you’re looking to get traffic, there’s no other place your video should be but YouTube because Google is going to help you out. At the beginning of all your videos, always give a quick intro telling people what they’ll get so that if you ever decide to put an opt in box, there’s a natural fit for exactly where it should go. So you say, “In this video, you’re going to get x, y and z.” And then boom, you can put an opt-in box there.
Another tip I’d give to people is to not do outros. The reason is that because an outro is a perfect place, like where most people have their outro, that’s where a call to action could be. So if you say, “Hey, if you’d like more information, if you’ve enjoyed this free lesson, please go to such and such URL to get more information,” or if you’re using LeadPlayer, to have a button come up that’s maybe about a webinar you’re doing that day or something. If you have an outro, people end up zoning out during the outro and leaving. But if you made that call to action and then boom, you just stopped. Not cold turkey, not in an abrupt way. But if you say, “Hey, if you’d like more information, please go to my URL.com. Take care.” And you just kind of stop. You will get a higher conversion on whatever that call to action is at the end of the video. But if you have some outro animation, people are like, “Oh, this is over.” And they end up just navigating away. So that’s another tip.
James: Yeah it’s a good tip. Before I put LeadPlayer on, I had an outro bumper with subscribe, leave your comments, thank you. And I’ve cut that now. My outro bumper, I was watching my heatmaps very, very carefully, and I noticed people fade away at the end, when it comes on. So my outro bumper is literally flash, it’s like swoosh. It’s that quick. And that’s where the LeadPlayer pops up, so it sort of grabs their attention to the opt in and it’s working really well.
Now the other tip I’d like you to help us out with is for any software developers or product creators, so putting yourself on the other shoes now, if we’ve got someone listening who has got their own product or their own information and they’re looking to get it out there, what’s a good tip for them that they could implement to get a better result from their marketing or their approach to selling this product or software?
Clay: OK. So they’re looking to sell software? Is that what you’re saying?
Clay: OK. I would say if you have a community, definitely pre-sell that product to your community and create a forum for them. In that way you’ll have a dedicated group of people who are willing to be beta testers for new products, or I mean for new versions of your product. They’ll be more forgiving if the original version didn’t work because you’ve told them what they’re getting into, but at the same time you’ve given them a discount.
When we first came out with LeadPlayer, we sold like $20,000 worth of the product and it wasn’t delivered I believe until 3 weeks or 4 weeks later, That group of people, they’ve just been so nice. Like if we missed the deadline, they were cool with it because they got a discount and they knew what they were getting into. And to this day, they are just hyper responsive when we have a survey, when they’d like some sort of feature. So develop that group and get them sort of the two to three features that are really the reason why people are buying your product.
Like with our product, we could have done a hundred things that other video players do, but we knew that from day one, we wanted this software to get people more traffic to build more, to get more leads, or to build their list, and to create more sales that’s why we called it LeadPlayer. So there were really only two features. There’s a gazillion more now but we started out with two features and that was opt-in boxes and calls to action.
So really just do those things but do them well. Don’t do anything else but do those features well and get that core group of people that absolutely love what you’re doing and get them to pay upfront if you can and pre sell it.
James: Well you know the interesting Clay is that before I bought LeadPlayer, I’d seen two different players that did a lot of things. They were like a Swiss Army Knife, and I was actually turned off by it because you know what, I thought, I think I’ll just run with the standard YouTube player. I don’t want to have all these thousands of choices. But when yours came along and it did the two things that I wanted, I’m like, “Yeah. That’s exactly what I want. It’s simple. I get it. And apparently, it integrates.” And then I installed it and it did. Normally, I would send it to my team to install, but I installed it myself because it looked that simple, and it was that simple. So it was something to celebrate.
All right, so we’re going to wrap up now. I’m just going to ask you a special favor now. Would you come along and answer a couple of questions if my listeners were able to ask you some questions where I post this on Internet Marketing Speed?
Clay: I’d be happy to. I love doing it. Yup. Happy to answer any questions whatsoever. Whatever venue you have for doing this, I’d be happy to. Absolutely.
James: Fantastic. All right, well I’m going to go and put it up online. I want to say thanks in behalf of all the listeners for sharing this fantastic information. I do put my highest recommendation on LeadPlayer. I’m going to put a link right near this episode. Clay, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on today.
Clay: It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much James, and thanks to everyone who’s listening.
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