Oftentimes, the most successful people are the ones who have failed the most. Walt Disney was fired from a local newspaper due to a lack of creativity and imagination. Oprah Winfrey was released from her first job as a television reporter after being told she was “unfit for TV.” Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts three times before going on to create multiple blockbuster movies including Jaws and Jurassic Park. He now has an entire building named after him on the USC campus.
I’m proud to say that we failed in 2015. A lot. But we learned something from every failure and turned our weaknesses into our strengths. That’s what made 2015 our best year yet.
I want to share with you Yazamo’s year in review. I’ll start from the beginning.
We had just come out of a huge year. We saw immense growth in 2014, quadrupling our monthly revenue in just the last quarter. Our marketing retainers were demanding over $10,000/month for a minimum 6 month contract. Our bank accounts were higher than they had ever been. We had outgrown our office space and invested in a new facility which tripled our square footage.
Our goal was to triple both our sales and our team size in 2015.
But things started to play out differently than we had anticipated.
We found out that our business model wasn’t very scalable. We knew that the marketing funnels we were building took time to optimize, and results didn’t happen overnight– hence the 6 month contract. But most of the small businesses we worked with didn’t have that kind of stamina… many of our clients wanted overnight success.
We also found it pretty difficult to simultaneously grow and train our team and build custom sales funnels for our clients. It took a lot of specialized knowledge and we wanted to grow quickly.
We lost a few major clients and with them over 35% of our monthly revenue. We went from healthy profits to five-figure losses for a couple months because we didn’t immediately replace those sales and we held onto our employees while we were losing money. For the first time, we had to use our line of credit to pay the bills. Ultimately, we had to let go of 3 salaried employees.
We continued selling the same services until our business mentor, Loren Howard, basically told us to quit f***ing around trying to sell Ferraris and to instead go out and sell a Honda, a product that most businesses could afford. He then told us we needed to spend 75% of our time selling.
We evaluated what we had done well and considered how we could simplify what we offered. We examined one of our previous Facebook ad quiz campaigns with Dr Tami, where we had grown her email list by 34,657 people in 6 months at a cost per lead of only $0.19. Those numbers were 5-15 times cheaper than industry averages, and pretty much unheard of in the health space. The campaign resulted in Dr. Tami hitting the national bestseller list with her new book, The Hormone Secret, which was the major goal of growing her email list in the first place.
Here’s the quiz:
So we put our heads together and came up with an idea. We wanted to create an extremely compelling goal for our clients and give them something to get really excited about. That goal was to build their email list by 100,000 people in one year. And here’s the funnel we were going to do that with:
The next thing our mentor Loren told us to do was to come up with a compelling offer so that we could create a ton of case studies, master the process so our results were repeatable, and build out our operations. We decided to offer the buildout of the sales funnel (shown above) for free if the client signed up for us to manage their ad campaigns for $1,000/month.
Our goal was to go out and sell three people with this offer.
Our next step was to turn to our network and ask if anyone knew a potential fit for our criteria of someone who:
Here’s one of the emails we sent:
We got an overwhelmingly positive response from our friends. So much so that we decided to open up this offer to more people even though we wouldn’t make much money from it… we were investing in our credibility and mastering this new service.
We got to work, creating a streamlined method to collect quiz content and credentials using Basecamp.
In April, we signed up nine clients to build their lists by 100,000 people as case studies.
We finally launched our first quiz campaign since Dr Tami. Here’s what it looked like:
Almost immediately, Conscious Kids Club began generating leads for only $0.33. It was a good start.
Some of our other clients, however, proved much more difficult to launch. We found that quizzes are hard to write without enough experience, especially for people as busy as small business owners and entrepreneurs!
A couple people literally took two months to write their quizzes because other priorities sprung up and they had problems understanding the quiz writing directions we gave them. We decided to take over the quiz writing internally.
We kept selling and increased our setup fee to $1,000. We learned a lot about which quizzes worked and which didn’t, and discovered there were a few key secrets to a successful quiz campaign (discussed in more detail here).
At this point, it took us about one week to develop each quiz once we collected all their content and login credentials. We began work on the first version of LeadQuizzes, with the hope that it would reduce our development time from a week to just a few hours.
We were selling well and realized that we had a winning strategy. But we still needed to build out our operations. Loren helped us lay down the stuff we needed to work on:
We decided to remove the sales page, order page, and thank you page from our sales funnel setup. It was taking us too much time and we wanted our clients to take responsibility of split testing their sales pages on their own.
The sales funnel we switched to:
We completed version one of LeadQuizzes and successfully cut our quiz development time from a week to just a couple hours, as we had hoped. Although our software wasn’t perfectly intuitive yet, we were able to train our team to build quizzes with it. Here’s what it looked like:
July was also the month we launched the LeadQuizzes website.
We realized there were some major overhauls needed with the LeadQuizzes software, and a few critical features had been requested by our clients. We began designing version two of LeadQuizzes. Our goal was to launch this to the public and allow them to intuitively create a quiz that would effectively grow their email list.
We did our first redesign of the app in August.
This month, we also decided to create a community on Facebook called the 100k Email Mastermind Group. We wanted our users to begin sharing with each other what was working and provide support for each other, additionally taking some of the strain off our support team.
Remember all the operations we were working on like individual job descriptions and training? Two months later, we had finished those. We were now ready to scale our team.
We have now signed up over 75 quiz clients. All the hard work of taking on tons of clients for discounts started to pay off as we built out and published over 17 case studies and video testimonials of clients growing their email lists by 2,000 to 10,000 people per month.
Internally, we used Trello to set up a more streamlined and visual project board to finish our managed quizzes. This cut our average launch time down from 1-2 months to 1-2 weeks for motivated clients.
At this point, the biggest hold up for us to launch campaigns was still our clients. Some clients were still taking months to launch due to low priority. So far, we had been charging the setup fee up front and then starting the ad management retainer when everything was finished. We realized that the whole process should take us only 1-2 weeks, so we changed our contract to put clients on immediate auto billing and charge them for their ad campaign one month after they sign up. We incentivized completion of their work (which should only take about four hours) by changing our billing and offering free ad management for the first 30 day window. We knew that the faster we could launch, the more confidence it would instill in our clients and momentum it would create for them to be successful.
We finalized development of LeadQuizzes version two and worked on fixing all the issues we had discovered during quality assurance testing.
We opened up pre-sales for the software version of LeadQuizzes and limited it to 200 people in order to control our growth and the client experience. We decided that we wanted to make an extremely compelling offer for our beta software users that would help them achieve success more easily. This is what we came up with:
We began running our own Facebook advertising to our quiz and sales pages. Our funnel became profitable within the first week!
The 100k Email Mastermind Group hit over 165 people in December, as well.
We set up our affiliate program and began mailing out affiliate links. We decided that we would pay a 30% lifetime commission for referrals vs paying a single commission. We wanted to create partners for life.
We anticipate that our pre-order of 200 spots will sell out within the first week or two of January 2016.
We learned a lot of lessons in 2015 that I tried to share through this article, but I want to pull out a few and highlight them.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein
Whether you think you need one or not, find a mentor or coach that has been where you want to go. We felt like we had our business model all figured out before, but things turned out differently than we had anticipated. When we started getting off track, Loren was there to steer us in the right direction toward our new business model.
When we changed our business model to help our clients build their lists with quiz campaigns, we didn’t make a huge change in the grand scheme of things. We were still building funnels and running paid advertising for our clients, but I believe the big shift we made was setting a massive goal that our clients were excited to pursue. That mission was to build an email list by 100,000 people in one year.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
It was REALLY hard when we were losing money and had to let go some of our employees and friends. It was extremely stressful and even brought up questions like, “Why am I doing this?” Looking back, however, that moment led us to create LeadQuizzes, which has had a massive impact on our clients and is much more scalable than our previous business model.
And that was our 2015.
I want to thank you so much for your support last year! We’ll continue to do our best to make a positive impact on your life and help you reach your goals in 2016.
Happy new year!
Want to grow your email list by 100,000 people this year? Find out if you have what it takes!