051: Helping First Responders And Military Stay Healthy Via Online Membership – with Stephanie Lincoln

Stephanie Lincoln, founder of Fire Team Whiskey joins Ward to chat about how she helps veterans, military members, first responders, and law enforcement keep each other healthy and well.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any typos 🙂

Stephanie Lincoln 0:37
Hey, how are you? Thank you so much for having me.

Ward Sandler 0:40
I’m good. I’m good. Thanks for coming on. So why don’t you tell everybody out there? What is your business do and who do you help?

Stephanie Lincoln 0:46
Well, my name is Stephanie Lincoln. I am a former army captain and a licensed mental health counselor and a certified fitness trainer and I own Fire Team Whiskey, which is a military health and fitness business. And it’s all online virtual Personal Training, fitness coaching, nutrition coaching, and pretty much a community of like minded individuals, veterans, military members, first responders, law enforcement, and we try and keep each other healthy and well.

Ward Sandler 1:23
yeah, no, that sounds like a wonderful mission. Is it strictly for those folks that you just mentioned? Like me as someone who has none of those? Am I not allowed to join? Is that how that works?

Stephanie Lincoln 1:34
No, we don’t turn anybody down. We have our primary audience who we obviously target and talk to, which are military members, veterans and first responders and their spouses. But no, yeah, we’ve had civilians and you know, quote, unquote, join our program just because, you know, they like the camaraderie, you know, that our community tends to have. And also, it’s a little bit more discipline. You know, it’s it’s more kind of like we’re kind of holding you to the fire or holding you accountable This is we’re not going to take your excuses. You know, this is more like a boot camp having somebody kind of in your face going, Hey, look, you know, you committed to this and we’re gonna hold you to it.

Ward Sandler 2:14
Yeah, no, I think that makes a lot of sense. So how did you actually find this business niche?

Stephanie Lincoln 2:19
Well, of course it came out of my background as a army fitness trainer actually was level one combative certified trainer in the military. I was an army instructor. And then I came out of the army and worked military mental health contracts for many years. And one glaring thing just kind of kept coming up over and over again, I’d be sitting at these medical events with these, you know, prime of their life quote unquote, young soldiers, you know, 20s, early 20s and they’d have all of these complaints about aches and pains and chronic health issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, 60 pounds overweight and you know, it Just became a glaring obvious issue to me that, you know, not only has obesity infiltrated, you know our American society, but it has infiltrated the ranks of our military members. And you know, obviously being a helper and and somebody who’s comes up with solutions to problems, I created Fire Team whiskey, I wanted to create a virtual program where we could reach any military member any first responder anywhere in the world and get them fit to fight.

Ward Sandler 3:31
Right. Yeah, that’s a really great mission. And it makes sense. Right, your your, your people to you already helping. So you said you were a former army captain. So from that role, you somehow transitioned into doing fitness for the army?

Stephanie Lincoln 3:46
Yes, I was an army instructor. And I was a level one combatives instructor and I just love fitness. I was on the Army National Guard, national endurance racing team. So I did 300 miles races. And I always been into fitness. So it was just kind of a natural progression for me to combine. The two things that I love to do for military members is to help them get fit, but also help them get fit, mentally as well.

Ward Sandler 4:15
Right. So how did you come up with the pricing model for what you’re doing right now? Stephanie?

Stephanie Lincoln 4:19
Oh, wow, we could talk about that for like hours. The brief summary of what we did was we basically tried a whole lot of different price points. Our business model has changed, you know, just like most young small businesses with feedback and and consumer response. So, we initially had just basically one package that was very large price point. And with people going through, you know, making these purchases, we we discovered that, you know, we needed to offer lower price point commitments to just continue to be a part of our economy and, and part of our program, you know, After they got done the big purchase, so kind of more of a maintenance plan so to speak. So we actually ended up as of now, two and a half years later after we started the business. Now we have three price points. So we decided we used to have a lot we went to about probably eight or 10. And of course, I found out pretty quickly that you know that you kind of exhausted the consumer when they’re when they’re trying to make a choice and then they make no choice. So we wanted to just offer something simple, but also for a good price point for a big purchase, but also a maintenance type of package. So we have a large price point, 90 day commitment to virtual health fitness coaching, we have our moderate price point for kind of a maintenance plan or do it yourself type of fitness and nutrition plan, which is a one year commitment, but it’s a smaller price point. And then we also have Have a 30 day reoccurring charges. So if they don’t want to make a full commitment to a 90 day or a one year plan, then they could sign up just for 30 days at that mid price point and then see if they you know if it’s the right program for them,

Ward Sandler 6:16
and what are you actually charging for all those price points?

Stephanie Lincoln 6:18
So our large program, the 90 days, health coaching is about $500 498. Our yearly annual Do It Yourself membership is $99. And then the 30 day program for 30. Day coaching is $198.

Ward Sandler 6:38
Okay, and you said before this, you had just one package you used to offer what was that one package price?

Stephanie Lincoln 6:44
Correct. It was a large package that included the training and a supplement line. We actually have a supplement line that we sell online as well. But it used to be a part of the membership. So it was $298 A month, a month. Gotcha.

Ward Sandler 7:01
Yeah. So it’s not insignificant. So it sounds like yeah, it was really more of a mission to try to help more people that created these other pricing options.

Stephanie Lincoln 7:10
Yes. And of course, you know, I’m self taught as an entrepreneur. So kind of learning about the sales funnel and making sure that you have lower price point offers, and be able to, you know, set them up to step up to making a choice to going to a higher price point.

Ward Sandler 7:27
Right, so they can kind of as a, you know, trust what you’re doing more, they’re willing to kind of move up to the commitment of the 90 day.

Stephanie Lincoln 7:34
Right? And especially for what we do you know, when when you first start, I mean, we’ve all experienced this, right? When you first start a fitness program or a nutrition program, you’re kind of all in, right, like for the first two weeks, you’re really gung ho and you’re really sticking to it. And then maybe you kind of step back a little bit in the third or fourth week, but you tend to get like huge results in the first 30 days. So that was a good way for us to tear it because we can prove our In 30 days, you’re gonna get really big results. And hopefully that will inspire you to continue with us.

Ward Sandler 8:07
Yeah, that makes sense. So you were the army instructor and then you transitioned to doing fitness and such. And then you launched this membership. How did you actually get people to know about it was adjust your immediate network of people you’ve worked with in the past? Or was there some other mechanism you use to build up awareness?

Stephanie Lincoln 8:26
A combination of both. I mean, you know, we, it’s the hustle, right? I mean, I pretty much said yes to anything that would get me in front of people. Because I know if I get in front of you and I look you in the eye, I’m going to be able to sell you I’m going to be able to turn you into a cheerleader at least for what we’re doing. And what’s pretty neat about what we’re doing especially because of the the clientele we work with, you know people cheerlead us on they may not want to participate, but they they are aware of us and they Want to support us in any way? So, you know, because we’re helping military veterans and first responders, our national, you know, heroes, you know, they, they just tend to love our business. And we kind of jumped on that. So we’re more about just kind of creating this community. So wherever I go out, you know, giving them fire, you know, Fire Team whiskey sounds cool. You know, it sounds like you’re in a really cool club. It’s the cool kids club. Right? We have this camaraderie. So anybody I talk to, you know, getting them involved in some way, whether it be just sharing one of our videos, or, you know, just following us on social media. It really was a grassroots effort getting in front of military members doing free workouts for them. I don’t know how many free workouts I’ve done with military members, first responders, literally driving to fire stations and saying, Hey, can I set up a free workout for you? So it was a grassroots effort and then hiring on our virtual Fitness Trainers, having them do the same thing in their communities. But the way we spread the word

Ward Sandler 10:01
Yeah, so it sounds like a lot of you know, hustling and old fashioned hard work was any particular element of that the best bang for the buck? You’d say like, was it those free workouts you did the fire stations that that really drive the numbers or was everything kind of equally just one one thing at a time?

Stephanie Lincoln 10:17
We were fortunate, I think we learned on accident from the very first thing we did because I created this fitness program and this nutrition program. And it worked for me, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to work for anybody else. So I we literally offered our program for free. We had people apply, we ran Facebook ads, and we gave our program for free to about 50 military members, first responders that aren’t and spouses. And we had them signed kind of a contract up front with us to allow us to share their experience and their feedback. So we were able to get right away initial feedback on our programs and Great before and after pictures, great quotes, you know, success stories right out the bat. So we could use that then to generate the momentum to catch an audience attention saying, hey, look at this crazy before and after picture, this guy lost 40 pounds in 30 days. Like I want to jump on board with that.

Ward Sandler 11:20
Yeah, that’s a really clever approach. Does that just came in your mind? Or did you read that somewhere? How’d you come up with that tactic?

Stephanie Lincoln 11:25
That was from Russell Brunson? I think one of the books that I read from him, that’s what he did with his coaching business. He, he said, You need to give it away for free and just expect as an entrepreneur, you’re, you know, the first few months you are going to be hustling and you’re going to be starving. So you have to really want this. And you have to prove that you have the skill set your product is is what you say it is. But the only way you’re going to do that is by giving it to free and getting that feedback from people because maybe your program does suck. Maybe your product sucks. But you’re so enamored with it, because it’s your baby, it’s your business. So you’re going to have to get that honest feedback to make those tweaks in order to have a viable product and service to go out there on the market with plus, by the way up front, you already have that feedback and that that customer testimonials that you can use to generate business.

Ward Sandler 12:20
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense to me. I think the way some people think about like a beta launch of a program is kind of those two camps of either it should be free and you get feedback, or you charge money right away and get feedback that way. If you’re charging money, that’s a different kind of feedback, I’d say right, you’re getting the kind of people that really need it, because they’re signing up early and they’re still going to pay you money. But with your approach, I think it’s also interesting because it creates a lot of collateral that you can use testimonials, like you said, case studies, images, all that stuff. And when you’re launching something, I’m sure you’ve seen this when you go to a website and there’s just not a lot there. Right. It’s kind of bare there aren’t really any testimonials or maybe there’s just one. There’s no case Studies, it’s just kind of feels like somebody threw up a web page, you don’t really trust it. But if you do what you did, which is you get that feedback, you get that that collateral, the images, and you get to understand if the program works with the user experiences where people are getting tripped up, you’re getting a lot of stuff for quote unquote, free even though they’re not paying you.

Stephanie Lincoln 13:19
Yeah, and you know what I mean, but if you think about it, the equivalency of what you would pay for that kind of marketing. You know, it’s it works out in the end, even though Yes, we, you know, we did lose money on giving our program for free away to those 50 members up front, you know, that we’ve been in business here for two and a half, almost three years. I’ve used those marketing tools for three years now. And they’ve always generated income for me. So it’s paid itself back, you know, probably three fold by now.

Ward Sandler 13:50
Yeah, no, that definitely makes sense to me. So what hasn’t really worked for you give an example of like a marketing thing you tried or a strategy or even approach Experiment, something that just didn’t quite work out. You were hoping?

Stephanie Lincoln 14:03
Yeah, a couple of things. I mean, of course, you know, I could I could name a list of about 150 things that that we failed on as a business. But I alluded to earlier, having way too many options. That was a big fail for us. We wanted to create a lot of different options for our members. But I think we ended up just confusing the new customer, maybe our existing customers, they were familiar with some of these programs, but because somebody brand new out of the box wasn’t familiar, it fell pretty flat. So that didn’t, our sales went way down when we went to that big structure with a lot of choices. So it’s definitely picked up since we simplified it to just three choices for our consumer. Another thing is was the subscription business is fantastic, but you also have to be very vigilant about making sure Your customers understand that you know, it’s a subscription purchase. So just making sure that you’re very clear up front with your marketing and with your landing pages that this is a subscription service so you know you don’t have that kind of negative customer feedback of well I didn’t know that I was going to be charged again and you know that kind of negative customer interaction you want to minimize that as much as possible by being very clear.

Ward Sandler 15:29
Yeah, hundred percent. Real quick dive back into the the time when you were offering 10 different plans. What made you decide that you’ve been wanting to offer 10 plans? I don’t think I’ve seen that very often in most membership sites,

Stephanie Lincoln 15:41
because we were just growing like crazy with our fitness program. So because you know, we just started out with like a beginner fitness program. We created kind of an intermediate fitness program. Then we created an advanced fitness program. Then we created one that used weights and we created one that used One certain kind of equipment. So it, you know, we created all these brand new products and we wanted to offer them in some way. So the idea was to just create different packages for those different 30 day fitness programs. But it just became confusing and convoluted. So we just went transition to the kind of all access DIY kind of program or you get your virtual training coach who will customize and pick a plan that works specifically for you and assign you to that. So the customer never has to make that choice.

Ward Sandler 16:34
Yeah, simple is almost always the best option. So what are some of the resources that you’d recommend for folks who are trying to build a membership business blogs, podcasts, courses, things like that outside of your own?

Stephanie Lincoln 16:45
Yeah, I am a podcast addict. So anything that has to do with marketing, social media, marketing, even old school books, like I even just love that old book, building a brand story. I think it’s amazing. 1010 years old or built building a story brand by Donald J. Miller. Go with no is another old book that I got a lot out of. I think the thing that most people initially struggle with who’ve never had a sales background is learning how to do sales without being achy. Right. So any kind of workbooks or podcasts or webinars that you could get ahold of, and I mean, YouTube is a free resource. So if you’re strapped for cash, podcasts and YouTube videos are where it’s at. Russell Brunson is another one that that I highly admire and consume everything he puts out.

Ward Sandler 17:39
Great. So what’s the best way for listeners to learn more about you and your business? Stephanie?

Stephanie Lincoln 17:43

Ward Sandler 17:45
Easy enough. All right. Well, thanks for spending time with us.

Stephanie Lincoln 17:48
I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.