022: How to Automate Your Membership Business
🗓 November 15, 2019
Ward chats with Haley Burkhead, founder of Scalability Lounge about how to have confidence when advertising the value of your product, creating high quality content that can be used over time, and how to manage your time efficiently while growing a business.
- Scalability Lounge
- Sleight of Mouth
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Ward: [00:00:00] Hi Haley. Thanks for coming on the podcast.
Haley: [00:00:02] Hi. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Ward: [00:00:05] Great. So give folks a little bit of an idea of your business and what you do?
Haley: [00:00:10] Yes, I help entrepreneurs who have all of this anxiety around money and growing their business and we just turn all of that hamster wheel of anxiety and overworked and emotionally drainededness into something that is simple and automated. So what I oh my gosh, what I absolutely love to do is to help entrepreneurs get that survival mode of business, you know and actually have a simple Automated Business where they can work when they want to not because they have to.
Ward: [00:00:38] Yeah like that. So is it fair to call you like a like a business coach of sorts or is it something different?
Haley: [00:00:44] Yeah, I don't do any one-on-one work. So I don't I feel like coach might be associated with one-on-one. But my membership site is all about that. So we have a membership site that teaches entrepreneurs the scalability factor, so yeah.
Ward: [00:00:58] Gotcha. And what's the name of that site just so people know.
Haley: [00:01:02] Yeah, it's called The Scalability Lounge.
Ward: [00:01:04] Cool. So it's so you mentioned some membership site when you first got into this area. Was it did you start with membership site or were you doing one-on-one Consulting beforehand or something else?
Haley: [00:01:15] So I actually ran an agency before this and oh my gosh, I just burned it all the ground is like I'm not meant for service-based business owners, but I knew how to run a really successful service-based business because I had done it multiple times as a freelance web designer to agency owner, but I just realized this doesn't suit my strengths. It's not that I'm not good at it. It's not that I don't serve those people but this is not something that is aligned with who I am as a person and what my natural strengths are. So what I decided to do was burned out of the ground and in Phoenix style, wasn't Phoenix the ones that Rises From the Ashes? I I became a phoenix. And what I did was quit my job with $12 in my business bank account started a membership site and I went from zero to thirty six thousand dollars a month with this membership site in six months.
Ward: [00:02:05] Okay. So let's let's dig into that a little bit. So I just for everybody who understands it's a little more context because I assumed you had some kind of an audience pre-launch things like that built up. So could you kind of walk back and get people it's just some of the steps that led from that zero dollars to that $36,000 walk.
Haley: [00:02:26] Yeah. So this is what I always tell people is you do not have to have a big audience. You just have to know the right people because for me, I mean I was a service-based entrepreneur service-based entrepreneurs are not known for having big audiences. And I had a podcast I mean maybe and now my podcast is pretty big but my goodness back then maybe a few hundred people listen to it. Not a lot of people we didn't have a massive audience and we didn't even do a pre-launch. What I did was I listened to my audience and exactly what they thought they needed. Not what I thought they needed what they thought they needed and I created an entire product around a few DM messages. That's what I did and I created a product that people thought would solve their problem and then inside of the membership I actually solve their problem. It's like, you know, you buy the pizza, but I'm going to integrate broccoli into the pizza. So you actually get your vegetables. That's kind of what happened. And then once I knew once I tested it out with my audience, I might have got maybe a thousand or so a month from that and then I started piggybacking off of other people's audiences and built very very strategic relationships and did affiliate launches because I didn't have money for ads. And my webinar software was on the trial. I was even paying for my web. I actually I was super Scrappy. I started a 60 day trial and then canceled before I had to pay like, I mean it was like scrappiness over here and but yeah, I just I started connecting with the right people. I did affiliate launches like crazy and just blew up.
Ward: [00:04:02] Wow. So let's let's go back to when you were coming up with what you said was you knew exactly what people wanted and you did it off of a. Yeah messages. So could you give a little bit more detail? What exactly did you do there?
Haley: [00:04:14] Yes. Okay. So what I was realizing when I ran my agency I had this color coded Asana calendar tracking system for all of my clients and people went nuts over it. They were just dming they're like, how can I get a color-coded calendar? And you know, I'd always joke about like a magical fairy that would just like check off my list for me. And that's what a sauna did it was like this whole thing. I kind of just like made it really fun and then I created my fast action bonus for my membership was the assignment calendar and I worded it exactly how they did in the DMS because they believed what would solve their problems if they just had a project management system calendar that told them what to do, they thought all their problems would not exist anymore, which was so interesting to me because I knew what would actually solve the problem which is what I teach inside the scalability factor, which is prioritizing your profit using a post it profit system, automating your profit using the SOA method which stands for systemize Outsource and automate and then batching your profit, which is then with the Asana color-coded calendar, but if you don't know what to put on the calendar to begin with it doesn't matter. You don't know how to prioritize or automate your profit before you even batch your profit producing tasks. So what I did was I integrated the Asana color-coded calendar into the core method and system that I teach inside my membership site so that they immediately trusted it because I knew that's what the belief they believe would solve their problem. So that's why I encourage all of you guys to think about too is man. What am I? What does my audience find really sexy about what I teach or about what I do and then incorporate that into one of the three main. Pools inside of your core content of your membership site.
Ward: [00:05:54] I like the idea there the central theme of prioritizing profit. I think a lot of people out there get kind of caught up in the revenue number which is the number of one likes to kind of talk better or how many people are on your team is, you know, you can call them or like vanity metrics. But most companies including a lot of the big Tech ones that everyone reads about actually make zero or negative profit, which is the Dirty Little Secret of a lot of tech companies out there. So I think it's really smart for folks to remember that prioritizing profit is it sounds like duh, but you'd be surprised how people don't and they focus more on the revenue side of things.
Haley: [00:06:30] Yeah, and also profit producing tasks which is what we talked a lot about is because a lot of people do not prioritize actually working on things on a day-to-day basis that make money. So for instance, this is what I see a lot my audience for our membership site. We have a lot of course creators membership site owners and service-based entrepreneurs and their goal is to create consistent income. That's the problem that our membership site solves is we teach you how to create consistent income without adding more to your schedule. So out of this I see so many entrepreneurs that listen podcasts and blogs and YouTube videos and what they do is they listen to all these marketing tactics that become a checkbox. So if you want to be an industry, we are you have to create consistent content every single week and if you don't no one's going to actually see you as an expert and you're not going to make sales. In reality do you need to do that? No, there are so many people that make over $12,000 a month that do not produce any content there do it. Very very very strategically. There are different ways to run your business that are simple and automated if you want them to be or if you want to have a piece of content create one piece of content and just send a lot of traffic to it. You know, there's so many other ways. So that's kind of what we talked about in prioritize profit. We use its called a scalability model and we do Post it notes based on each phase of your business that leads to your income source, and you'll put all these post notes on the wall of your business and you're like, wow, I'm doing a lot of crap that a lot of marketing people told me to do but it's not making me any money and what we're going to do is we're going to rip off those post notes on the wall put them on the ground and you can't look at it anymore. You can't do it anymore. It's done. It's over.
Ward: [00:08:08] I think a lot of people sort of take the throw spaghetti at the wall approach when they're starting a business because you know, everyone's just ask for Takata keep your head above water and make this work. And so you read all the popular blogs the listicle Articles all that kind of stuff and you just start, you know, checking off the boxes like you said. And it really is a case-by-case, you know, what works for your business is really unique and it's the tough thing to hear because you know that the answer nobody wants to hear is oh, it depends but it really does. So I'm glad you have kind of it sounds like process roughly people figure that out. So the next question would be around pricing. So, you know, this is a big one that everyone always is curious the strategies you had when you launched your membership business, what was the price and and has it always been that price or have you evolved over time?
Haley: [00:08:54] Yeah, I think so many people. Oh my gosh these get so hung up and they're paralyzed on pricing. Stop doing that if you are thinking right now, if you're like on the fence, you're like should I charge this or this know that it doesn't matter and this is what I do is I say, what would make me super confident? That's my answer to everything. So if someone says under charge 37 dollars a month because this is standard. It's like okay, but does that make you feel confident because you can always raise it later. So if $29 makes you feel more confident than 35, do 29 because so we whenever we started we did $25 a month month to month, you cancel. Then we did 37 then we did 47 then we did 67 and now we're at an annual subscription to where you're locked in if you pay $67 a month, you're locked in for 12 months because use a payment plan for our annual subscription. So we've changed our pricing five times over the past year and we just change out are evergreen webinar funnel with the pricing and it works really well and the reason. And why I changed it was because I got more confident over time about my product and I would not have sold near as many membership site spots If I do not have that confidence in the early stages. So it's not the price that sells its your confidence and energy that sells so make sure that the price is aligned with your confidence and energy and you can sell anything.
Ward: [00:10:21] Yeah, I think there is a lot of art when it comes to pricing obviously, there's science and statistics and data and all that which is absolutely important. But yeah, there's nothing that's subjective gut feel or like you said confidence that people are going to have or when you're launching something and you want to come up with a price that you just kind of got to pick a number in the beginning but I am curious with the evolution there. So you definitely increased it over, you know, almost 3x from what you began at. So as you've increased the price have you gotten any pushback from people as far as who this is too expensive?
Haley: [00:10:54] Actually. No, we have people that say, oh I'm going to save up for two weeks and then come back to you. So that's what we do. I think it all depends on how you position your membership site to because my product I could position it as a $19 a month product if I wanted to or I can position it like I am now which if you do a $67 month by the end of the year, you're paying eight hundred and three dollars, but people know that it's worth it because the way that I positioned it and because the results that I get. I believe that a lot of people are told especially in our industry to charge what you're worth all the time. And I don't believe in charging what you're worth. I always tell people stop charging what you're worth charge for the results that you're getting because then you're tying your worth up into kits connected to your membership site. Like if you charge 37 hours a month, it's because you're worth that but it honestly has nothing to do with what you're worth at all because your self worth is not tied to your membership site if they say, no they're not saying no to you. They're saying no to your messaging which means you need to fix your messaging because it's off you're not off. Its your messaging. I think that emotional Detachment is really helpful. Yeah, that that's what has been very very helpful for me. And my students.
Ward: [00:12:09] So now that you have launched you have a growing membership business. What are you doing currently to keep building your audience?
Haley: [00:12:18] Yes. We are. We have one Evergreen webinar funnel that is producing. Probably around a hundred new members a month for us, which is really helpful and really really awesome. I'm very very big on protecting my energy. I only have so much energy a day. And if I am constantly having to sell every week my membership site like I don't believe in the live launch thing. I mean not that I don't believe in I think different marketing tactics suit different people for me It does not suit me. So I love the Evergreen marketing approach. We have one funnel that runs in the background that produces around a hundred members among a hundred new members a month for us and it's been great. And now we're just trying to double it or trying to get 200 new members a month. Our next MRR our goal is 250,000. So that's just like we were 4 for X in our company. We're trying to do that in a year and it's just like really exciting. It's fun to set goals and projections about where we're headed.
Ward: [00:13:18] Yeah, just for folks who aren't aware. MRR Is monthly recurring Revenue. So back to the audience stuff. So this is this is what you're doing. Now. Is this Evergreen webinar funnel which sounds like a clever way to automate something. But when you were first launching I when you first launch the business, what did you do from like let's say day one. What did you do to start building the audience there?
Haley: [00:13:44] Oh, yes. Yes. Okay. So and this is going to be very interesting I started from day one. I did a very simple live launch and I turned that immediately into an evergreen webinar. Yeah, I because I don't like live launches from day one. I've always had an evergreen webinar funnel running in the background. So whenever we did our affiliate live launches and grew our warm audience that way I was immediately selling to people. So and so I teach a program occurring profit it and its first service based entrepreneurs that want to scale through an evergreen funnel to get to 10K plus months consistently and everyone that goes in there's like they want to live launch all the time because that's what they're used to doing is like live launching or they've been told that what you need to do is you need to have two to four live launches a year and then grow your audience throughout like through visibility. And then you have new people to live launch to. I have always thought that sounded like more work than I wanted to do because what I really want to spend my energy on is just connecting with my people. I don't want to spend it like attracting new and selling. And so I was I was very very strategic and. I started from day one with an evergreen funnel and then I went and I connected with some of my business friends of my network that I had known from the agency world and I launched to Their audience and then those leads that didn't buy we put them all in are evergreen funnel and and did it that way. So we just grew it based on a an automated webinar an email sequence on the back end.
Ward: [00:15:20] Yeah. I think that's really smart to kind of recycle content in a sense. We have it's a theme I've heard from some of the more successful membership owners that I've spoken with and it's something that I think especially as a new entrepreneur most people are kind of doing it by themself in the very beginning, you know every minute like you said that you're spending needs to be kind of devoted to making profit to survive. So if you're yeah doing 5 10, whatever webinars a year that's gonna eat up a lot of time. Whereas if you instead did one and made it really good like could made it the most valuable one webinar you could do and then repurposed it by using as like a lead magnet and funneling people through that, that might be a better use of time and definitely way less overall time. It sounds like.
Haley: [00:16:03] Yeah because people believe and we're trained to believe that a 40-hour workweek equals success. So if we want to fill up 40 hours in a week than we find ways to fill up 40 hours in a week. And as a membership sign are nowhere told. Oh, it takes a lot of energy to manage. It does not have to take a lot of energy to manage. I took the past three weeks off and everyone in my community is still supported and loved like our goal is to make sure that everyone is supportive loved appreciated and heard. And that's so happened because I've trained my team in that way and I'm still in there, you know, like if I'm at the grocery store line or something and I'm responding in a Facebook group, but it doesn't suck up my entire day or energy because I've created a business that does it like that and I think sometimes we just have to think outside of the box and not say yeah, I want to do this because so-and-so believes in life are like, you know, so and so does thats like create a business that allows you to work when you want to and I know live launchers like I'm not gonna want to do that. So I'm not going to create a business that allows that and then some of you that might be listening say oh no, I love the high of a live launch I'm obsessed with it. Then you do you you keep doing that. That's awesome. I'm here cheering you on with crazy pom-poms on the are waving them wildly. But yeah, I think that is a huge mindset shift that helps me a lot.
Ward: [00:17:20] Right. So currently what are some of the marketing tactics that you're doing outside of that Evergreen webinar funnel.
Haley: [00:17:27] Polarizing topics, I think well, I mean all of our all of our marketing leads to our funnel. So I mean everything leads to our funnel. We try not to be, I mean not know if we don't try to be creative, but we try to be very simple very very simple. So what we do is we get creative to lead people to the webinar. So one of the cool exciting things that we're doing is polarizing topics that people don't hear very often in our industry. So a lot of people here that creating consistent content equals being an industry expert and so our thing is creating consistent content doesn't create consistent income, the scalability factor does and then we'll like post a polarizing topic like that and then to hear more about the scalability Factor listen at profit planar dotco / grow or whatever, right? So we lead them that way so I would suggest all of you to listening say what are some things in my industry and like this Echo chamber that you guys are in. What are people saying all the time that you completely disagree with your like you don't have to be doing that right? And then post those Pope that post that polarizing content online in a Facebook live video and then put traffic to it or Instagram live video Instagram post and people share it like crazy and then make sure that that polarizing topic leads to some kind of Evergreen marketing out on the back end gives you more members.
Ward: [00:18:52] Right now, okay, and so for you, it really does sound like all roads lead to that webinar which is which is an interesting way to do it that the caveat with that of course, is that that one webinar better be darn good right because everything's kind of relying on that converting people. So which I'm sure you've thought of and done but the one caveat I'd say.
Haley: [00:19:10] Yes. And in most people and this is why I teach a lot of service-based entrepreneurs to do it. This way is because most people that want to start creating a webinar immediately create a webinar for a warm audience when in reality you should not be creating an a webinar for your warm audience. There's a specific way to do it. I use the EZS formula and so with that you're you're basically creating a webinar for someone that has never met you before because a lot of people get caught up and boom. I audience likes this it's like, okay you have to really put a lot of cells psychology into it. Like what you said like you have to make it really really good put a lot of cells psychology in it. Like I use NLP methods neuro-linguistic programming methods and a lot of really cool things inside my class that way if someone's never met me, never heard of my name or never heard of my business, they still trust me and believe me and feel like I'm not just trying to sell them on something because the last thing you want is one, a webinar that doesn't convert and to someone to hop on your webinar and say. She just are he just wants my money, but you don't want that because that's not true. And so that's how I would say is be very careful. If you want to do an evergreen webinar funnel that in in the back of your mind you are formatting it in a way that is geared to a cold audience.
Ward: [00:20:29] That's good advice. So why don't we talk about some of the things you've tried that haven't worked when it comes to, you know, marketing building an audience the business model, whatever content you offer things like that.
Haley: [00:20:40] Well, there's so many. What hasn't worked I would say hiring too many people too fast for sure. I went a little bit overboard as we were selling really quickly. And this is this is a big this is probably one of my biggest mistakes I've made this year. So we went from zero to thirty six thousand a month. And once I had that 36,000 it was like this little five-year-old girl inside of me came out and said Haley you're too dumb to scale it past this point. And so what I and I had this story that I didn't even know existed had the story in my head. That was like you're too dumb. You can't do this. You're not intelligent. And so I went and I hired this like it's very very expensive like $100 an hour expert who work 10 hours a week for me and. And it wasn't a good fit like she was oh my God. She was so smart. She was so great. But I run my business so differently than anyone else. Like if you look at the back end of our business, you're going to say you are an odd bird. This is not this is not a typical average business and she was so used to running the typical average business and oh my gosh like we we lost a we had a 60 percent profit margin before that. We went down we lost 11,000 dollars in one month after that like it was bad. And that was definitely one of the worst decisions. In other one was we had an evergreen webinar funnel that was converting it 18 percent 10 percent cold, like really high conversion rates and then and then someone on my team had this idea that was the head of marketing. They're like, okay, let's create a challenge now, let's test that a challenge, but if something's working on your business. Don't have shiny object syndrome. Don't go create something else that's already working. Just put more leads to what's already working. Right? Like don't make it complicated because it fixes something in your brain. Like a lot of a lot of us in our brain have this thing where we always want something new and exciting all the time and if we don't get it, it's like a I call it the Kruger high in business. So if we don't get that Krueger High, then we're going to go create something else. That's like always creating something new. Do not fall into that trap every single time my team and I have fell into that trap. We always plateau in our business and our membership site just completely plateaus for 30 days. So be very very careful. If something is some type of marketing is working really well. Don't change it.
Ward: [00:23:06] Yeah. No, I think that's a that's a hard lesson to remember because it's kind of counterintuitive, right? You always feel like oh I got to be doing something new right? But the the fact is there's so many people out there the majority of them are discovering you for the first time. So whatever you've created is brand new to them, even though it's not brand-new to you and that's hard to remember who. So you mentioned that the Kruger effect. I'm not quite familiar with that if you could kind of clarify that real quick.
Haley: [00:23:32] Okay? Yes. Okay. So when my business coaches taught me this it's called the dunning-kruger effect. So the dunning-kruger effect is okay and I wish that right now this was a video so I could show all of you guys what this looks like, but just imagine this was me. Okay, so at the I guess the left hand corner like pretend like I was like the left hand corner of your eye right there and you're going to draw a circle down and then it's going to go all the way up. So it's like half a circle and it goes down and up at the very top of the top left-hand side put a star there. That's where you start. That means that you are super super confident, but you have you have no idea what the content is. So like let's say I told us for my recurring profit people. Let's say you bought the recurring profit program. You just signed up you are so freaking confident in this program, but you know nothing about because you haven't gone through the content so your knowledge level is super low, but your confidence level is super high. As you go through my program that Is going to drop that graph which means your confidence level is going to lower but your knowledge is going to increase. So this is what happens. There's this there's this dunning-kruger Valley at the very bottom where you have all the knowledge now, but your confidence is low because it's getting hard now you like it's getting really hard right? So what we do is we want to shoot back up to the very beginning. So that means that's where shiny object syndrome comes in. That's where you're going to ditch that program and by another program, right? The course graveyard you're going to do all these things or your I mean, there's so many different ways that we can distract ourselves with the Krueger high and if we keep getting the Krueger, hi, we're never going to get to the other side of the dunning-kruger effect, which is. The successful entrepreneur that has consistent income but if you stick to the valley and keep going and don't get distracted and I don't know is that is that making sense that I explained that well?
Ward: [00:25:26] Okay. I'm getting it. I mean, please I get it. So I'd say it's there's some similarities to the idea of as you gain more knowledge or the smartest people out there generally realize that the more you know, you realize how much you don't know right the more you understand this object the more you realize how deep it goes and how little you actually know. But in the beginning maybe you feel overly confident about about you know, subject whatever and it sounds like that's kind of this is working as youre learning more and more about the topic. You're getting less confident because you realize oh boy, there's so much more to learn. There's so much to do. I need to execute on this but I'm understanding it at least and so there you get to that low point of oh boy. Okay. I know I know what I got to do. This is going to be this is going to be work. You know anything worth doing is going to be hard. That's how that's how life works, right, but as you can start executing on the things you've learned your confidence is going to go up because theoretically it should work. But you learn the right the right process and then you get to the top of the hill again where you're feeling confident and you've executed on what you learned.
Haley: [00:26:28] Yeah, which is scary like once you get to that valet, you're like oh crap. This is really scary. And then you start making decisions based off of fear, which is what I did when I hit that 36,000 then I started that I had all these stories in my head and I started trying to get back to that Krueger high and I purchased a new program. I did all these things that were not very helpful at all because now you're making decisions based on a fear and scarcity and you're in survival mode instead of abundance.
Ward: [00:26:54] So to wrap up a would you say there are just if you could recommend some resources for folks if you have any off top of your head as far as you know, maybe a book or a course that you outside of what you offer that you think would be helpful for people.
Haley: [00:27:08] Okay. Okay. So there's this really good book called The so sleight of mouth that is really really interesting and also studying NLP neuro-linguistic programming. There's a lot of NLP books out there and it talks a lot about brain psychology. That's what I've been really interested in lately as brain psychology because if you can understand how to make a person feel a certain way. They will become a member of your membership site. And if you can get them to become a member of your membership site, you can change their world. Right so it's so it's so freaking powerful. So I study a lot about energy and emotions and brain psychology. So the sleight of mouth and any NLP book is definitely what I would recommend.
Ward: [00:27:54] Cool. So for folks who want to learn more about you and what you offer Haley, where should they go?
Haley: [00:27:59] Yes, I know I've been talking about this Evergreen webinar funnel and I don't know if you've ever heard of the phrase funnel hacking but what funnel hacking is is you can come in and basically see how I set up my funnel so you can kind of see what it looks like. And if you want to do that, feel free to funnel hack me, you can register for the webinar at profitplanner.co/grow and if you want to join the membership site definitely do but if you just want to see how I've laid it out and how you could do this for your membership site. Go ahead. Feel free. You be be my guest to go ahead and do that. This has been the number one game changer for me. And if you do have any specific questions about creating an evergreen webinar funnel of your own or if you have a question, I mean that really anything make sure to DM me on Instagram. My Instagram handle is @HaleyBurkhead I respond to every single DM and I want you to know like I'm here for you. I want to be that crazy embarrassing cheerleader in your corner. That's just cheering you on because I know you have this amazing membership site that's going to impact so many people and I would love to help you with that.
Ward: [00:29:03] Awesome. Well, thanks again Haley.
Haley: [00:29:05] Thank you.