AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. As always, I am just so excited you are here with me today so thank you so much for showing up.
Today I have a very, very special guest. His name is Ramit Sethi, a New York Times Best-Selling Author and founder of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com. That is a pretty bold URL, right? I love it.
Without offending any of my other amazing guests, I have to say this was one of my very favorite interviews. I say that because Ramit is a master communicator. I feel like every word he used in this interview was deliberately selected to add value. His approach to how he teaches his students and how he actually teaches in this interview is really honest and direct. He has a massive following of raving fans and his unique say-it-how-it-is approach is really refreshing.
In this interview there is a great mix of lessons on mindset and tactical product creation strategies. What I love is that Ramit has had massive success in developing products that have helped get huge results for his students. To say the least, he knows a thing or two about products that offer massive value and get results. That is partly what we are going to talk about today.
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I won’t make you wait any longer, again, one of my very favorite interviews I’ve ever done and I think you are going to find immense value. Let’s go ahead and get to it.
Amy: Hey Ramit, thanks so much for being with me here today. I really appreciate it.
Ramit: Thanks for having me.
Amy: So here’s the deal. I am guilty of starting my interviews off with, “Tell me more about yourself” but I don’t want to do that with you today because 1) I’ve watched a lot of your videos and read a lot of your blogs and I know two things for sure a) you are not a shy guy and b) you are never going to sugar coat it. So I wanted to do something different with you. I want you to jump on your soap box and just tell me a little bit of why you are so passionate about helping people become rich and what it means to you. What is it all about?
Ramit: Well I love the idea of helping people lead a rich life. I think the rich life is different for each person. And I believe in being nonjudgmental about it. So, if a rich life means that you can work from home and take your children to work I can show you how to do that. If a rich life means that you want to fly to Vegas for a $5,000 weekend with your buddies I can also show you how to do that. In fact, I’ve done that myself.
Or, if you want to buy $500 shoes or $1,000 jeans, no guilt. I believe a rich life is whatever you define it to be. So a rich life isn’t just money, by the way. It’s also about having a dream job, building a business, automating your money so you can focus on the stuff you love. That’s why I’ve been doing what I do at IWillTeachYouToBeRich for the last ten years.
It’s not just about money although money is an important part of it, it’s about a rich life which can be every part of that gamut that I just mentioned.
Amy: I love the idea of no judgment, whatever you want it to be. That’s awesome. I bet that gives people a lot of flexibility and just the opportunity to just kind of dream big and think of whatever they want in terms of what they want for their life.
Ramit: Yeah, and I think it’s refreshing for someone to be nonjudgmental and also not make you feel guilty about the things you want to do. There are so many experts out there who are telling people to stop spending money on lattes, don’t buy dessert. And if you save $3 a day then 60 years from now you might have $16,000. I don’t believe in that.
First all, it doesn’t work. And second, from my background in psychology I know there are things you want to do so instead of trying to deny them and getting reactions called reactants and things like that, I would rather just show you how to earn more and automate your money so you can focus on the big wins.
The big wins in life, if you just get these five or ten big wins right, you never have to worry about these $3 purchases. So a big win could be setting up a business that’s actually profitable. It could be getting fit, which we can show you how to do that.
There are a million different ways but it’s certainly not about counting your pennies and focusing on the teeny little things in life. I would rather get the ten big wins in life and not have to worry about the rest of them.
Amy: Awesome. I think that is definitely exactly what my audience needs to hear. Today we are talking about building an on-line business and what that looks like and all of the different things that are included in that but the thing is when we are talking about these big wins, before people can really get there and experience that and understand what that’s all about there is a little thing that gets in the way, usually often. That is fear.
I have always been a fan of yours and when I was preparing for this episode one thing I love is that you talk about fear very candidly. You have a great story about how when you first launched the product online and how that fear kind of reared its ugly head. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Ramit: It was my first product. I had been writing my blog for about two or three years and I had never made a cent. I didn’t want people to think I started my blog just as a way to make money because that was never the intention. So after I started it and I had been writing it for two to three years I decided to try writing an eBook. This was in late 2006 and not very many people paid for content at that time. So I approached it as an interesting test. I just wanted to see if people would actually pay.
I created an eBook called Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass.
Amy: Let’s just talk about how amazing that title is.
Ramit: I have a thing for titles. I will teach you to be rich, all of these crazy titles we have come up with. But I just came up with the title and I created the eBook. I asked a very good illustrator friend of mine to contribute some illustrations.
It was a great little eBook, 30 pages or so. I priced it at $4.95. That number is so laughable now in retrospect because I have courses that range from $200 to $12,000. But at that time I just wanted to see what would happen. But I was absolutely petrified that people would not buy it or, even worse, that they would call me a sell out.
You can see it in the sales copy that I wrote. First of all, I didn’t even know what sales copy was. At that time I didn’t even know what an information product was. I just wanted to sell something to see what happened.
The way I wrote that sales copy was so cowardly. You can still see it today, just Google around for Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass. I literally said, “Why should you pay for this? I know you can find a lot of stuff for free.”
Amy: Oh no!
Ramit: I literally tried to defend it before they even bought. My self confidence was so low that anyone would buy it that I didn’t even set up a fulfillment system. I literally just put a PayPal button there and I was expecting to make less than 50 sales so I was just going to manually email each person an eBook attached to an email.
My worst fears came true but also something surprising happened. First of all, there are people on that very comment thread, believe it or not I opened comments on that blog post because I didn’t know what I was doing. People were saying, “I will teach you to be rich is really I will teach I, Ramit Sethi, to be rich.”
I have to tell you, that was one of the worst feelings I have ever had when it came to my business. I had been writing for two or three years for free. I had never asked for a cent. I had been writing hours and hours every week, probably at least 20 to 30 hours a week writing and promoting my stuff. It felt like absolute betrayal.
It was only five bucks! And people came out of the woodwork and accused me of all of these things, just trying to make a quick buck, this site has jumped the shark. You know that feeling in the bottom of your stomach and you wake up and it’s the first thing you feel. You think please let that be a dream but it is real.
Ramit: I felt that way for weeks and weeks. In fact, it took me three years to really master my psychology when it came to selling. So my worst fears did come true. But a surprising thing happened too. People started to buy it and these people were not the people who were commenting negatively. They were just people I had never heard of who were buying it. And they sent me the most effusive praise.
They said, “This eBook was awesome, thanks so much for writing the blog, I’ve been a huge fan for the last three years.”
Interestingly, those people who bought for just $4.95 were way more likely to take action on things I later did like open emails, join other courses, and follow through with challenges.
So I started to pay attention. It is one thing when you have all of these fears but everyone has fears. So you can either choose to be paralyzed by them or you can acknowledge the fears and do it anyway. That’s what happened. And had I been stuck back in 2006 I never would have created IWillTeachYouToBeRich and turned it into what it is today.
It was really that $4.95 decision. And once I discovered this crazy thing that there were people complaining but the real people, the people I actually wanted to focus on, were buying and they were delighted to pay. That opened my eyes to what it means to overcome fear. And that was the genesis of what you know as IWillTeachYouToBeRich today.
Amy: That’s an awesome story. I always love it because one thing I love that you said is that you acknowledge that there were people who were hecklers that were going to say things. The funny thing about you, if anyone follows your Instagram or really
anything you do online, you love to basically give a shout out to those people that send those ridiculous emails about the negative stuff. It is my favorite thing to watch.
Ramit: The number one rule of the internet is don’t engage with trolls. I engage with every troll.
Ramit: Everyone. I post their emails on my Instagram, Instagram.com/ramit. I make fun of them in my emails. But I never do it hatefully. I always do it to prove a point. Many of them, beyond being psychologically deranged, have a lot of barriers. They ask why they would pay for “that” when they could just do it on their own. I think those are very destructive beliefs when it comes to investing in yourself.
I am not saying you can’t do it on your own. I want everyone to take responsibility for their success. But I also know, having grown up and being taught all of these beliefs of frugality bordering on being cheap, that it takes a massive mindset shift to start investing in yourself.
I used to have negative self talk. You have heard that phrase?
Amy: Oh yeah.
Ramit: For my self talk I used to say, “Oh, I’m just a skinny Indian guy, ha ha ha.” I was 5’11”. I was 127 pounds. And I would joke about it. It was a half joke. But it was actually a very crippling type of self talk because by saying, “I’m just a skinny Indian guy” allowed me to let myself off the hook from working out and learning how to eat right.
Since then I have intentionally gained over 45 pounds. Similarly, when people say, “Well, I decided not to join your course.” I will write them back and tell them it is cool and I totally respect that. Out of curiosity I ask them how come.
They write back and tell me it’s because they are cheap. That enrages me. Not because they didn’t spend money. I couldn’t care less about that. But if you define yourself in your self concept as “I am cheap” then you have, by definition, limited yourself from investing in yourself.
That means you are never going to buy books because you are cheap. You are never going to join courses. You are never going to hire a coach. You are never going to do anything and you are going to try to do it all on your own. If you are not investing in yourself, it doesn’t even mean money, it mean’s time, it means building relationships, that is very crippling.
That’s why I love making fun of them. I have no qualms or compunctions about it because, first of all, it’s hilarious.
Amy: It is hilarious.
Ramit: I love it. And then second, I think a lot of us are craving someone to be honest with us and someone to say, “You gave that a C+ effort at best and I think you could do better.” Or what, don’t come to me asking that question until you have read my book or you have read my free blog because you are wasting my time.
I think people are crying out to be held accountable and have higher expectations levied on them because that’s exactly what I went through. My teachers, my instructors, my mentors all forced me to have higher expectations for myself and that’s one of the only reason that IWillTeach has been able to have such an impact.
Amy: You said something so perfect. You said people are craving for us to be honest with them. I totally agree with that. That’s probably why I gravitate toward people like you because I know you are going to give it to me straight.
One thing I don’t see a lot of is people talking about their failures when they talk about how they built their business. I am always looking for that honesty and so often I find all of the great things they have done and nothing where there have been some stumbling blocks along the way.
Talk to me about failure. That’s one thing you just kind of hit straight on.
Ramit: Well, I have a tag in my gmail account called failures. My belief is if I’m not adding multiple failures to that every month then I am probably not trying ambitiously enough.
Amy: Your own failures?
Ramit: Of course.
Ramit: These would be failures like trying to get a meeting with somebody who I really admire and they say not.
Ramit: It would be making projections on a new course and just utterly failing on those. One thing I have learned is that the most successful people are actually the most candid about their failures. It’s so interesting, if you go into a room and you take someone who is just starting off on their business and they are a little insecure about whether this thing is ever going to work and you ask them, “Can you give me an example of a failure,” you will find a lot of people are very defensive about it.
They won’t give you the straight talk on what their actually failure or weakness is. But if you go talk to a successful person and ask them to tell you about their failures they ask you if you have all day because they have 50 things they have had problems with.
I will give you one example, I have so many I could give you a million, but I will give you a couple of examples. One of the biggest challenges for me right now is learning how to grow my team in a really structured, disciplined way. It is one thing when you are an entrepreneur and you are doing everything on your own, which I did for many years. Then you start bringing other amazing people into your team and you want to know how to do that in a really beautiful scalable way, not me sitting around saying, “You need to do this,” but hiring them and really letting them do their job.
Classic management is really hard, especially for people in the internet world who don’t really necessarily have the most managing experience. A lot of them don’t even have offices. My team is distributed all over the country and all over the world.
I’ll tell you about another failure we had which actually cost us a significant amount of money. We have a lot of different courses and we can talk about those. A couple of years ago we came out with a course, I’m not going to tell you the name of it, but it was a well-known course of ours.
We had done a lot of testing, as we always do, and we released it and a bunch of people bought it. We were kind of watching as they went through it and we started
getting refund requests literally within the first hour of people joining. That has never happened, never.
And it wasn’t just one person, if it is one you can say it is just a fluke. It was like five, ten, 15. So something was wrong. We immediately stopped the sale of this and I put together a tiger team, a small team of really good people on our team and asked them to find out what was going on.
They spoke to people who had refunded. They spoke to people who had not refunded. They spoke to buyers and no buyers. We found out we had missed something really crucial in our customer research. It was really subtle but really crucial and as a result the refund rate was through the roof and, frankly, no one should refund in one hour. It just makes no sense.
We took that data and it would have been really easy for us to say, “Oh well, I guess that product just didn’t perform.” That’s what I would consider a failure. But I have a different way of looking at it. I always tell my team it’s not a failure, it’s a test.
Amy: That’s a good one.
Ramit: Yeah, because every data point you get is pointing you in the right direction. But if you just decide the product didn’t work and then move on to the next one that is really a failure. But if you treat it as a test you can say it didn’t work and then dig in and actually build massive success.
We found out what the problem was. We fixed some of the product. We added certain things, and then we went and did it again. We remarketed it to a different group, the same size cohort, and we did another webinar just like we did on the first one.
The first webinar had converted roughly 6 to 8%. We did the same webinar with 100% identical slides. We did not change one word in the slides. We just changed a couple of ways that we presented them. And, of course, the product was better. We converted at approximately 26%.
Amy: That’s huge.
Ramit: In other words, we used the same slides with not a word changed but we had learned a couple of really subtle things and the sales rate skyrocketed and the retention rate also skyrocketed. For us that’s a great example of it not being a failure, it’s a test.
My take is that you are going to fail. The more and more you do the more and more you are going to fail. We fail a lot. But we never treat it as a failure. We just treat it as a test.
Amy: What I love about that is you aren’t even saying it’s not a failure, it’s a great opportunity to learn and all like Pollyanna. You are saying it’s a test, get in there and figure out what didn’t work and reengineer. You use it as more of an actionable way to look at it.
Ramit: Yeah, roll up your sleeves. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you are going to be alone for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean any of that. It’s just business.
Amy: It’s just business.
Ramit: Break it down, it’s just science and it’s just math. It’s just marketing. It’s psychology. So we say, “Okay, where did we go wrong.”
And we did not point fingers. We never point fingers but after every course we launch or every product we create we will do a debrief. What worked? What didn’t? And we’re not pointing fingers. In fact, the people on our team were actually saying the team didn’t do as good a job as we should have and will do better next time. When you create that culture, not just with your team, but with yourself, you don’t have to feel guilty or bad. It’s just business and that’s how we treat it.
Amy: I’ve got to remember that one. I am totally a softie and sensitive about everything and I know you’re not. So I like to learn from people who just…
Ramit: I don’t even know what that word means.
Amy: I know! We are so polar opposites. But if I just tell myself this is a test, let’s do it, I know I would keep moving forward with a lot more excitement about the projects I’m working on. So that’s a good lesson for me too.
Speaking of products, you’ve got this product called Zero to Launch. I’ve heard you say in some of your videos that it’s one of your most ambitious courses ever. So I want you to break it down for us because I think what’s really cool is when we can go behind the scenes of somebody else’s products and kind of learn the process you use to create this. It will help us with our own products. So would you be willing to do that?
Ramit: Of course.
Amy: Okay, so talk to me about this product and kind of what went into it.
Ramit: Okay. I think it’s useful to talk about where we started because at this stage we’re creating products and they will take us two plus years. They cost millions of dollars to create. But I first want to start by where we came from. We didn’t go from zero to five million dollars on a certain product. It didn’t happen.
The eBook I created was just me sitting around writing an eBook and doing it in Microsoft Word and clicking file print to PDF.
Ramit: The next products that we created were more sophisticated. They basically had a very simple premise. It was to listen to what the market wants, combine that with what you have skills or some unique experience with, but make sure you are constantly doing research.
We started off, some of our early courses collected a couple of hundred data points. Data point can be email responses, Survey Monkey responses, or even in-person conversations. That was in the early days.
Now our courses are a lot bigger and a lot more sophisticated. Zero to Launch and another course I have called Dream Job are both flagship courses. They are really big and are really comprehensive. We spend virtually limitless amount of resources to get it right. I’ll give you a sense of what we do and what the user experiences as well.
Our goal is to create a true luxury experience for people when they join one of our flagship courses. What does that mean? It means the perfect information at the perfect time. For example, with Dream Job, which is a course on how to find your dream job, when you get to the section on salary negotiation we show you exact videos with the exact answers and exact body language. We have hours and hours of these. And that’s just for the salary negotiation part.
Similarly, for Zero to Launch, when you get to the part on selling we show you an exact email funnel that we used that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars. We show you the exact copy and then we go even deeper. We show you why it worked. We even show you conversion rates so you know if you are in the realm of the correct rates or if you are way low or way high. That’s what I mean by perfect information at the perfect time.
By the way, you don’t need that stuff on Day One of the course because you are not at that level yet. So the luxury experience lets you know you can trust every aspect of the course.
Amy, have you ever gone to a really high-end salon or high-end tailor or dress maker? You know you go in there and you don’t even have to tell them. You don’t have to make suggestions and tell them you really like something a certain way. You put yourself in their hands.
Ramit: I love that experience.
Amy: Me too. It’s the best.
Ramit: That’s the experience we create for our users. So they are not coming here questioning us and asking what we are going to tell them about “this.” They give themselves to us because they trust that every single conceivable answer is in that course at the right time. That takes a lot of trust.
How do you get there? How do you build a course like that? For us we start with our secret sauce which is an exhaustive amount of research. Exhaustive really underlies what goes into creating something like this.
For our newest courses we will typically collect hundreds of thousands of data points, surveys, emails, in-person conversations, phone calls. We will create a basic version of the course, like we did with Dream Job, after about six months of research.
For six months we bought every book, bought every competing course. We collected our data points and then we felt pretty confident and decided to create a beta version of the course. It was very simple. It was created in Google Presentations. We then got a beta group of 20 people of different genders, ages, life situations and we ran them through the course.
We thought were pretty good at this point. We felt so sophisticated, so cool. What ended up happening was that zero people succeeded at first. Zero out of 20.
Ramit: Yeah. In fact people were crying. I don’t deal well with crying.
Amy: I was going to ask how you dealt with that.
Ramit: Not well. It’s not good. I was just sitting there with zero affect on my face just waiting and looking at my watch wondering if the crying would end.
We realized, again, if it’s just one person maybe they are an anomaly. But if 20 people are failing it’s our fault. So we went through the iterative process and created 16 more versions of the course until we got it right. There were some really subtle things we had missed, just like with the prior course that I mentioned.
This involves flying people in from around the world, putting them up in hotels, bringing them into our studio. It involves deep research. Then, of course, once you get all of the content right it involves presenting it in the right way.
In Zero to Launch there are, I believe, 40+ gigabytes of material. You can’t just dump that on people. They need to be guided through a process of the true trustworthy luxury experience. So that’s how we go through the process and only then do we start thinking about design and the website and the copy. That’s way later, typically years later.
But once we have the product and we know for a fact that it works, that’s when we get to do some of the fun stuff like creating the marketing and all that. But first you have to know that it works. We know that because we can take people from all different fields and all different countries, all different ages or life situations and we can run them through the course successfully. They will find success. We’ve seen every conceivable question.
If you have a spouse a lot of times people say, “I know him better than he knows himself.”
Ramit: We do that for our students as well.
Amy: Real quick, can I tell you something about that.
Amy: One thing I love about your products, especially Zero to Launch, is something you do that is very rare. You don’t give them 20 ways to do something.
Amy: Talk about that because that’s so different.
Ramit: Who the hell wants an encyclopedia of tactics? Nobody. When the World Wide Web started and it got popular there were a lot of sites that were 20 Great Journalism Resources. Well, guess what? The world doesn’t need another encyclopedia. The world needs someone they trust who can show them the two things that actually matter and the 18 things you don’t have to worry about.
Amy: So refreshing.
Ramit: I could give you 20 tactics right now but what’s the point? You are coming to me, you are joining my course, you are trusting me so I can pick the right ones for you. If your goal is simply to give them an encyclopedia of tactics you might as well just fold up and quit your business right now. Nobody needs an encyclopedia. Nobody needs 20 ways. They already know that.
Just like when you hire a trainer, you don’t need them to tell you that you need to eat less and work out more. You know that. You know you are overweight. You need someone to show you the exact steps that are right for you.
So that’s why I believe in curating the material deeply and, in fact, I think it’s a relief for people to know all of the things they don’t need to do.
Amy: Oh yeah, for sure. To me that’s my favorite thing. Tell me what I don’t need to worry about or what I don’t need to think about. It clears my head up instantly.
Ramit: Totally. And isn’t it interesting there is so much noise online with people telling you all of the things you need to do? In fact, in life. So people tell you that you need to buy a house, you need to have 2.5 kids, you need life insurance. Hm, maybe. Maybe not.
People tell you when it comes to writing emails that you need to make them quick and snappy because nobody has attention. You know my emails are ten pages. Some of my sales pages are 80+ pages long.
Amy: Oh my goodness.
Ramit: Guess what? People love them! So don’t always listen to the conventional wisdom. Test it and figure out what’s right for your market. If I had listened to what everyone else told me then I would have had exactly the same business as everyone else. And if you’ve ever seen the typical coach website or a person that is trying to sell some kind of information product, it’s not very inspiring. It just looks like every other site.
So you don’t need my permission but I’m giving you permission to be different as long as you are going through and testing that it works with your audience.
Amy: I think the whole testing, and surveys (you talk a lot of about surveys in a lot of your blog content), gives you that confidence to know when you do the research and surveys and hear your audience and you know what they need, giving them just two ways to do something versus 20 becomes really easy.
Ramit: Very powerful. And people love it because they know all of the work that has gone into this. They know it is going to work. Again, people don’t buy something so they can have 25 more options. In a world of infinite choice, having fewer choices but the right choice is extremely comforting.
It’s just like when I go to a restaurant and it is a nice restaurant. We just basically say to tell the chef to send out whatever he thinks would be great. That is such a relief as opposed to having to pick everything all the time. There are some times, of course, that I love to pick what I want to eat and what I feel like that day. But sometimes it is nice to just turn it over to someone else, someone you trust, and let them guide your through the process.
Amy: That’s when you are willing to pay those premium prices. Talk about that.
Ramit: Let’s talk about pricing. I love it because so many people are so obsessed with pricing. Pricing is strategic. What do I mean by that? I mean that if you simply choose to charge $37 because everyone else is charging that, that’s fine. You might get a few conversion points. But our prices are often 10 to 100 times what our competition is. Why would we do that?
Amy: Yeah, tell me.
Ramit: First of all, I don’t believe in playing in the $50 sandbox. A lot of people say, “Hey, Ramit, Dream Job sounds great and Zero to Launch sounds great. Maybe if it were $50 I would get it.”
I just laugh. I am not going to give away my material for free, go play in the $50 sandbox.
Amy: How come?
Ramit: Because, first I’m not targeting minor life problems. I’m targeting huge problems that people think about every day of their lives on the way to a rich life. I’m talking about how to start a business, how to master your inner psychology, how to find your dream job, how to change your body.
Those are big, big problems. You think about them every day of your life if you are in that target market.
Second, if you are focused on cost you are not my customer. In fact, if your first question is about price I already know you aren’t going to join my material. Why? Because I have never tried to be the cheapest. I try to be the best.
I really believe that if you compete on price there is always someone who will undercut you. And that’s a losing model. But in this world where there is an unlimited amount of noise people are looking for the best. So I always say, when you’ve done your homework, when you understand your customer better than they understand themselves, price is a mere triviality.
When they read my sales page and all of the work and millions of dollars of research and years of work that have gone into that and they see themselves in that sales page, they are nodding and are literally saying, “Oh my god, I’ve thought about this but I have never said it out loud but this guy knows me.”
By the time they get to the bottom it doesn’t matter if it’s $200, $2,000, or even
$10,000. We know this experimentally. So my general feedback to everyone is to stop worrying about competing on price. If you are committed to building the best, price becomes a mere triviality.
Amy: That’s is such a great lesson, so very, very valuable. So here’s the deal. I’ve been thinking about your process for putting together a program. A lot of people feel they don’t have the luxury of spending that much time to put something together or have the money to do a lot of the research. Have you heard that before?
Ramit: I hear it every day of my life.
Amy: Okay. What do you say to that?
Ramit: Well, I don’t think you have to spend millions of dollars to create a successful product. That’s why I was very specific in showing where we came from and where we are now. I always say don’t try to be 40 before you are 40. When I graduated from college I was like, “What car should I get?”
First of all, Indian people can only get two cars, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Amy: Ha-ha, I didn’t know this. Good to know.
Ramit: But I was like, maybe I should get a Mercedes. I’m so cool. And then I thought to myself, 21 years old, if you get a Mercedes where do you go from there? You can’t go down.
Amy: Good point.
Ramit: Don’t try to be 40 before you’re 40. I see people come to me and tell me they are thinking of getting a fancy ESP (email service provider) with a lot of CRM and a lot of automation built in. I ask them how many people are on their email list. They tell me 3,500. I ask them what the hell they are talking about. You don’t need any of that stuff. And there is a huge cost to getting a nice car, nice clothes, or a very expensive email provider.
Similarly, you could do a lot of stuff I said with less than a few hundred bucks. Survey Monkey is basically free. Setting up a website is basically free these days. Even a lot of payments and technology is almost free. What really matters is your commitment to listening to customers and to finding them.
Let me just tell you a couple of things about our business. We didn’t set up a Facebook Page for eight years. We didn’t do Facebook ads for almost nine years.
Ramit: None of that. We didn’t spend money on any of that stuff. So when people tell me they don’t have the money for that I just kind of smile and say, “Okay.” They are deluding themselves into believing that if they had $50,000 somehow they could magically grow their business.
Look, I can give you $50,000 today. Do you know what you would do with it?
Amy: Great question.
Ramit: Most people don’t need more money. They need to focus on following the right action steps, to listen to their customers, and create something their customers will pay for.
Amy: Yes. That’s so very true. I want to give you a scenario and I want to make it actionable because I think this scenario is very relatable to a lot of people listening today. Let’s say that I have a product and I did some research and spent good time and energy on it and it’s just not selling. I don’t know what’s going on but it’s just not selling, at least not to the point I think it should be.
How do I find out if it’s the marketing or the actual product or if it’s the audience? Where do I start if I need to investigate in terms of what I have that’s not working?
Ramit: The first question is how serious are you about fixing this?
Amy: Very serious.
Ramit: You know why I ask that?
Ramit: Because people always respond with what you said. They say they are really serious but what they often mean about 90% of the time is they want a magic bullet to fix everything.
Amy: You are so right.
Ramit: As if I would just tell them, “Oh you need to change the title on your landing page or use this conversion technique.” Typically, the truth…
Amy: It’s not going to be sexy, I already know.
Ramit: No. It’s not sexy and is much more uncomfortable. I’ll give you an example and then I’ll tell you exactly what I would do. Many people have heard about somebody named Eben Pagan. He has a very famous test called the Kiss Test. It was when he was teaching men about becoming better at finding a mate, a woman.
The kiss test was designed for men who were at the end of a date and didn’t know whether they should make a move, whether they should kiss her or not. He created something called the Kiss Test.
What he talks about is absolutely remarkable. He said a lot of men want to know if they put their hand through her hair, do they do this, do they do that. And he teaches that. But he said the decision to kiss was made by the woman hours and hours, sometimes even days ago. It depends on what you wear, how you approach her, your personality, where you went that evening, what the conversation was like. Those decisions were made way back there.
People often fixate on what’s in front of them asking if their landing page is the right length, the decision was already made. The reason I say this is that if your product is not performing you have two choices. One, you can stick to the surface level stuff and I can tell you a couple of things. I, or someone else who has more experience, can look at it and give you a little bit of feedback and you might squeeze out a few extra sales. But, ultimately it will be like pushing a boulder up a hill.
Or, you can totally break it down and start back up. It’s just like they do in the military. They want to break you down and then build you back up. This is what we do in Zero to Launch. We show you the exact steps, the links in the chain of your business. The most common problem that applies to almost 95% of you if you have an underperforming product is you have created something the market doesn’t really want.
So many people listening right now believe they have something the world needs. They think they can teach men and women how to find love, how to lose weight, whatever. Maybe you are really good at it. I am sure you are. But you created something the market doesn’t really want. It’s like me creating a program teaching people how to do budgeting.
Guess what? I think they need it but they don’t want it. So this is a huge problem. If you’ve created something they don’t want or if you are putting it in terms they don’t want, it doesn’t matter how fancy your design is or how cool your conversion technology is.
Typically what I have to do is walk with them back through the research and ask who their customer is, what is their age. People will tell me they are helping women find love. That is a good market. How old are they? They tell me 25 to 55. I ask if they are crazy.
You think a woman who is 25 years old looking for love has anything in common with a woman who is 55 and looking for love? They are completely different. They have different goals, different words, different life experiences. So we get crisp on who their audience is.
And then we ask what they really want. Do they want a solution or do they just want to be supported. Do they want an eBook or a full course? These are the questions you go through in your research. And don’t worry. A lot of you, if you have access to ten or 20 people in this market, then you have enough to get started.
Amy: Awesome. I love that. I actually wasn’t expecting you to say to tear it down in order to build it back up. But that makes perfect sense.
Ramit: I don’t like to do Band-Aid type solutions. The worst thing in the world is launching something and getting kind of tepid results. You don’t get that many sales and you get a lot of people saying stuff like, “Yeah, this looks really cool but I’m really busy right now so maybe next time it opens.” Or they say, “This looks cool but it’s a little expensive for me. Maybe if it were $20 then I would join.”
What they are really telling you is, “I’m not interested in this.”
But it is politically incorrect to say that. So people will create all kinds of reasons. It doesn’t mean they are lying. Sometimes they don’t even know. But the fact is unless they say yes, and the best way to measure yes is with them buying it, then it’s a no. It doesn’t matter if they say they are busy, if they are out of the country. If people want something they will get it. People are very smart. They are not stupid.
If you are getting tepid reactions you are not getting a real pain point. We have seen this many times. We created something and the reaction was very lukewarm, But when we have created something that they desperately want they will do anything to get it. They say, “Tell me now, take my money, here you go.”
That’s when you know you have a winner.
Amy: So true. So all of this you are talking about, you definitely dive deep into it in your program Zero to Launch, right?
Ramit: Yes. In fact, I think we are going to give away a bunch of stuff for listeners but I will just give you the URL right now and we can talk about it, http:// zerotolaunchsystem.com/amy. We have put together something special for everyone listening.
Amy: I am interrupting this interview. I’ve got to jump in here really fast and just let you know that a lot of what Ramit is teaching here is gone into in even more detail and specifics with a lot of his free resources. So if you want to grab his free resources you can go to http://zerotolaunchsystem.com/amy and he has a bunch of free stuff. You sign up and get some really great free core trainings that he has done and let me tell you they are worth it. I just wanted to jump in to give you that URL. Let’s get back to the interview.
Ramit: We dive deep, deep into this to show people not just a bunch of tactics but really to understand how to take your ideas, even if you don’t have an idea yet how to come up with one, and make sure it is profitable before you ever spend time building it, building a website, writing copy and all of that stuff. You want to know that it’s going to sell before you ever sell it. That’s what we do.
Amy: And you have such a unique approach. I think it’s so different than so many other programs out there that teach how to grow an online business or how to create a product or anything like that. It is so rooted in science and se…I was going to say sexology but what I meant was psychology.
Ramit: No, no, it’s in sexology. You’re right. It’s all about the sexology.
Amy: You are going to sell the heck out of that thing.
Ramit: You are right. I think there are a few reasons for this, that we have a different approach. First of all, we didn’t simply create a business teaching other people how to create businesses to teach other people…We’re not doing that method. We have courses in the area of personal finance, freelancing, negotiation, careers. We have really deep vertical silos.
We started to understand how these things work. We also have over 15 successful products ranging from $50 a month to $12,000. So you have to learn something as you go along that path. As you go from $4.95 to $12,000 you learn a lot. We also do extensive testing so we do thousands and thousands of tests in our lifetime of whether it was pricing, simple subject line tests, much more sophisticated longitudinal tests.
Those are the things I actually wanted to include for people. If you want to do what I’ve done you could try it on your own. Be my guest. You should. It would take you 10+ years, millions of dollars, etc. My goal was to build the most definitive system so you can take your special expertise, even if you don’t have an idea yet, and then turn it into a profitable business.
Amy, I just said profitable because I think it is so important. So many people play business. They put up a website, they have social media, but they aren’t actually making any money. If you don’t have a profitable business you can’t reinvest and help more and more people.
Why do I have a profitable business? It’s not just so I can sit around and swim in money. It’s so I can hire the best people, create the best design, do the best research, find the most amount of customers who are right for this product, and help them.
Ultimately, I want to help people create a profitable business, not just play business.
Amy: That’s so perfect. Every episode I do for my podcast I always give away something of great value for free, some kind of really cool freebie. This time you took the work away from me because you’ve already done it. You mentioned http:// zerotolaunchsystem.com/amy. And what can they find when they go there?
Ramit: When you go there I am going to send you a ton of free material. Much of it is directly from the Zero to Launch full course. I am going to talk about the psychology of going from a $4.95 product to a $12,000 product. What do you learn along the way?
As I said, you don’t try to be 40 before you’re 40. But I always think it is useful to study people who have made it to the level that you want to make it. So I share some of those things. I believe we share some testing data as well. We share some of this psychology on how to find a profitable idea, not just a lukewarm idea, but one where people say, “Please, take my money.”
We have a principle I teach. We try to make our free material better than anyone else’s paid material.
Amy: That’s a good one.
Ramit: I challenge everyone to do that, just in your free material, make it so good that people think, “Oh my god, this is better than that $500 course I signed up for.”
When we open our premium material like Zero to Launch, which will be opening soon, at that point it is not even a decision, it’s a no brainer. The price is a mere triviality because people have already seen what the free stuff is, they can’t even imagine what is in the premium course.
Amy: I am so excited for you guys to get all of this free content. It is so very valuable. Don’t wait. Make sure you go there, http://zerotolaunchsystem.com/amy.
Ramit, thank you so much for being here. This has been one of my very favorite, and I don’t say that to everybody. But this has been one of my favorite interviews because it has so much substance to it. It’s really good stuff. Thank you so much.
Ramit: Thank you, it was a real pleasure.
Amy: You guys have a wonderful day. I will talk to you again soon. Take care.
There you have it. Did you enjoy this interview as much as I did? I thought it was just excellent. I thought Ramit did a really good job of giving us the core tips and strategies that will not only help our mindset but will also help us create stellar programs.
Again, as Ramit mentioned, you can go to http://zerotolaunchsystem.com/amy and you can get a bunch of really cool resources all about the topics we talked about today and go even deeper. I actually went there and signed up. I am loving the different materials he is sending me for free so it is really good stuff.
Until we talk again, I hope you have an amazing week and I can’t wait to connect with you again soon. Take care.