“That’s strange” thought Russell Brunson, as he had only just connected the phone line to allow his new bride to make a phone call from the home phone that he had just connected to the internet.
“Is this Russell Brunson,” asked an angry voice.
“Errrr yes”, said Brunson as his wife looked on frustrated.
It was the ISP man, who was very frustrated at the numerous complaints he had just received about emails sent from Brunson’s IP.[do_widget id=snp_widget-3]
He thought he’d stumbled upon the secret to online riches and that it was going to be the last day that his wife would ever have to work… so he tried to tell 1 million email addresses he had just bought, about the product he had just built.
He hadn’t learned yet that, emailing 1 million people in a single blast was bound to cause problems. Brunson had just started selling DIY screen projectors for $40 (the parts cost him $10), but lost his distribution channel after campus security stopped him from adding flyers to car windscreens.
Despite the fact, Brunson’s pager (yep, this was back when pagers were a thing) was buzzing each time he made a new $40 sale.
Brunson realised that he could make more from teaching people how to make their pager buzz every hour with $40, than he could by selling something for $40… a strategy that would recur over the next 20 years.
And this time, he turned to the internet for distribution: he set up a simple site with a PayPal buy button and bought 1 million email addresses to advertise his new product.
Yep, it wasn’t quite time for Brunson’s wife Colleen to leave her job – Brunson’s internet connection had been switched off.
A loping, depressed Brunson made his way to the library later that day to find that 30 purchases of his new info product had been sold – the strategy had worked (3, Forbes).
Brunson spent the next 10 years of his life trying, failing, winning, failing and slowly winning more until he met Todd Dickerson and Dylan Jones… and started ClickFunnels.
The rest of this post explains how these three men have built a non-VC backed unicorn, created hundreds of millionaires and most impressively, a new way of life.
Data captured from Nathan Latka exclusive interviews with founders Dickerson and Brunson:
Step 1 – Treat Co-Founders Right: Brunson Personally Owns 27%, Dickerson, Jones 27% Each
Brunson had 6 full time developers trying to build something similar to ClickFunnels for 4 years up until 2014, without producing anything of significance.
Then he met Dickerson… and within 6 weeks they had a working Beta.
Though before public launch, Brunson and Dickerson were upstairs in their hotel room at Traffic & Conversion Summit crawling through Dribbble in an attempt to find the designer they could work with… and then a freelance designer Brunson had previously worked with pops up on Skype (5, Marketing Secrets).
They convince Jones to head over to Boyse (where Brunson lives) to spend a week designing the user interface as a contractor… and then leaves. Clickfunnels launches and gains a trickle of beta users, but the product traction is not there.
Two weeks later, Jones sends Brunson a video of a new “drag and drop” website editor he just created – Brunson falls in love and watches the video over 200 times, Jones knows he has leverage and offers up the editor in exchange for becoming a cofounder.
… and Brunson agrees.
Dylen then flies back to Boyse to integrate his front end with Dickerson’s back end, and Clickfunnels relaunches with the drag and drop UI.
Jones ultimately joins as a cofounder after dazzling Dickerson and Brunson with his groundbreaking drag and drop editor.
So why has this trio worked so well?
- They are all insanely good at what they do:
- Brunson – one of the best marketers in the world
- Dickerson – an insanely good developer
- Jones – an insanely good designer
- The right skill mix for an early SaaS business:
A 2:1 product:marketing ratio, important in ensuring that the product delivers in the early days.
- They all knew each other’s abilities before jumping in together:
Dickerson and Jones had been working with Brunson as employees/freelancers for a number of years before they decided to jump in.
- They split ownership equally:
Each founder took a 27% stake of ClickFunnels totaling 81%, with Brunson’s original business (Dotcom Secrets) taking the remaining 19%., Cash from DotCom Secrets was the initial funding source.
LEARNING: When building your co-founding team make sure there is a focus on product, you get awesome people and know that you can work well with them.
That is the number of people Brunson had on his email list (not to be confused with the 1 million strong email list he bought to sell his first product in the introduction to this article) before the idea for ClickFunnels was even conceived.[do_widget id=snp_widget-3]
That’s 1 million people that knew and liked Brunson. People that would open and click an email and then maybe even buy something that Brunson was selling.
Looking at the metrics from a single email sent:
- 1 million sends
- Assuming a 30% open rate gives 300k opens
- Assuming a 5% click through rate gives 50,000 clicks
- Assuming a 0.05% buy rate gives 5,000 customers
After writing a few words and a few clicks, Brunson could sell something to 5,000 people.
THIS is where the first 200 ClickFunnels Beta users came from… they were using the product for free (this is before the insanely good interface that Jones built), but finding these people would take a normal marketing cofounder weeks to acquire without an existing audience.
They would be harassing friends and family, posting on subReddits, paying to list on startup directories. When Brunson could simply write up a short email and send it off to the list… I mean, Dickerson (ClickFunnels cofounder) even originated from Brunson’s email list after Brunson was struggling to migrate a software business he had just bought onto his servers.
Few entrepreneurs invest time in building attention and relationships with an audience as they move through their career, those that do can utilise that powerful asset to kickstart ventures in a matter of minutes.
LEARNING: Build a personal brand and audience as you move through your career.
Clickfunnels spend approx. $70k per month on ads as of December 2019:
And are getting approx. 100k sessions per month from organic:
Every single one of these visitors is not only getting exposed to the Clickfunnels brand, but is experiencing a masterclass on how to use sales funnels to grow a business.
First off, when you land on the homepage you’re not hit with the typical SaaS website, you’re hit with a highly potent long form sales page:
The only CTA on that page drives people towards the 14 day free trial:
And the first upsell:
A one click upsell on the signup page:
Followed by an exit intent value offer of a free consultation:
And then onto the next upsell:
And then finally, a free t-shirt in exchange for being indoctrinated by the ClickFunnels cult (see more on this in Step 11):
In summary, in the process of going from the homepage to the 14 day free trial, I have been upsold three times to the tune of $376.95 and indoctrinated by their CEO during a 20 minute video I had to watch (reducing the likelihood that I churn) in order to get my free t-shirt which I will then wear to send my friends down into the same funnel.
LEARNING: How can you show the world that your software works?
Ok… ClickFunnels is launched and has approx. 200 Beta users acquired from Brunson’s previous work in the online marketing space. One of those users is a guy called Mike Filsaime… and it just so happens that Filsaime is running an in person event in San Diego and wants Brunson to go down and pitch the software (6, Marketing Secrets).
So Brunson draws up a presentation that shares something called “Funnel Hacking” – a strategy that can be used to duplicate other successful funnels to shortcut your way to success. Brunson spend 60 minutes on stage sharing the process and then pitches a $1,000 product at the end – that includes 6 months of ClickFunnels.
38% of the room get up, run to the back of the room and buy, putting a cool $380,000 dollars into Brunson and Mike’s pocket.
At a post event dinner Brunson knows this could be the turning point: “that kind of reaction is not normal”.
Inspired by this event, Brunson tweaks the presentation and runs a webinar to another partners audience the next day: $100,000 in sales. He then runs the very same webinar to his own audience later that evening: $150,000 in sales.
After that, he calls everyone and anyone that had an audience of entrepreneurs and locks in 2 to 3 webinars a day for almost a year… splitting the revenue 60:40.
They even replaced their normal homepage with their webinar landing page with a call to action to join the Funnel Hacks webinar on their homepage and saw no drop in free trial conversions and added $70,000 in revenue per week in webinar sales (webinar registrants are offered a free trial through the webinar funnel).
Brunson anointed this presentation: The Perfect Webinar.
(And of course, released a high priced course of the same name, enter the funnel here: https://perfectwebinarsecrets.com)
The “Funnel Hacks” webinar funnel is responsible for putting ClickFunnels on the map… Experience it first hand here: https://affiliates.clickfunnels.com/evergreen-webinar-register14490935
Move through the funnel and try to see what Brunson is doing pre, during and post webinar:
Brunson pioneered the shift away from actually teaching on the webinar and towards storytelling. This was the big paradigm shift in the online marketing space, his rational is that your job as the salesperson is to get people a result – and you can’t influence behaviour without arousing emotion… and you can’t arouse emotion by teaching.
After running the webinar live over 100 times, Brunson then proceeded to automate the process. E.g. when you clicked on the link I shared above to enter the funnel, there wasn’t really a live webinar occurring in 12 minutes… nope this funnel is running continuously, churning out sales even at 4am on Christmas morning.
And the economics?
Brunson could afford to run this funnel at breakeven.
- He could spend $10k on Facebook Ads
- Receive 2,000 attendees at $5 per lead
- Close just 10 of these at a 0.5% conversion at a $997 price point
These 10 new ClickFunnels customers (you get 6 months worth of ClickFunnels with the $997 funnel Hacks offer) that will likely continue to pay for the software as they funnels they have built are live and working (remember, they are trained how to do this in the Funnel Hacks course).
And also be aware that he’s educating and inspiring the 2,000 attendees that could, at some point in the future buy one of his many products.
Brunson has also stated that for every 1 person that bought the Funnel Hacks course during the Perfect Webinar… 3 signed up for a free trial of Clickfunnels. This means another 30 free trials at their approximate conversion rate of $40, means an extra 12 monthly customers.
LEARNING: How can you incorporate education into your customer acquisition process?
The two major reasons that SaaS businesses need to raise capital are:
- Product development
- Customer acquisition
How can you build a great product without the cash to pay great developers and then how can you spend to buy customers if you are only paid back over a three year period?
This is the dilemma, and this is why most SaaS founders end up selling ownership and control in their businesses to the bloodsucking VC’s.
ClickFunnels found a loophole.
First off, Brunson invested profits from his information and coaching business into early product development… to enable them to build something people want, without taking cash.
DotCom Secrets coaching business also used to send customers to ClickFunnels at zero acquisition cost – e.g. they would sell a high priced coaching program that included 12 months of ClickFunnels.
But what about customer acquisition?
This is where things get interesting.
“It is now harder than ever to convert someone from a stranger to a customer, but at the same time, it is easier than ever to continue selling to that customer” – Ryan Diess
And to understand how ClickFunnels are doing this, we need to go back into internet marketing history to the early 2010’s where Ryan Diess of Digital Marketer pioneered a new type of sales funnel.
Instead of driving traffic to a landing page, requesting the email address and then asking people to buy a higher priced product… Digital Marketer started selling much lower priced products after the optin in order to liquidate the investment in the ad spend, and then up sell the customer to the next product.
Here’s the process:
- Buy traffic and send to landing page
- Request the email address in exchange for a free gift – typically a 20% optin
- On the thank you page, offer a $7 product – typically a 10% conversion
- And it continues…
And it doesn’t really matter what you what you sell after that point as it’s all profit – in theory, you have already liquidated your ad spend… you have your money back.
Here’s a real example… the Expert Secrets book funnel:
It cost Brunson $27 in ad spend (plus the cost of shipping) to give away a free book.
Bear in mind that whilst they running this book funnel, it was costing ClickFunnels 10x that amount to get a 14 day free trial sign up directly from paid channels – it’s hard to convince people to build their website elsewhere if they’ve already built one.
So why were they doing this? Why were they paying people to give away their book?
Because they knew that as people moved through the funnel post book, they are worth $35 as they ascend through to buy ClickFunnels and other higher ticket offers throughout the funnel.
All the attention, word of mouth and email addresses generated by the ads along with anything else these leads may purchase in the future are an added bonus.
ClickFunnels was signing up 200 leads per day in 2015 with this funnel.
Without this concept, I have no doubt that ClickFunnels would still have grown, it would have just been at a significantly slower rate… and it would have taken us a few more years to see them reach unicorn status.
And the funnel is still going strong today, here are total book sales across all channels for the last quarter in 2019:
Furthermore, ClickFunnels customers remained their customers. The leadership team didn’t have to shift their focus away from serving their customers and towards serving their investors.
LEARNING: Is there a low risk, high value offer you can make to your prospects in order to convert them into customers sooner?
From day 1, ClickFunnels offer affiliates 40% commission on lifetime subscriptions.
This sits right in the middle of typical SaaS affiliate commissions sit at around the 30% mark and the typical online marketing info product commissions sitting around the 50% mark.
Though affiliate programs seem like a simple way to increase revenue, every SaaS that starts an affiliate program faces two challenges:
- Finding affiliates
- Getting affiliates to promote you
Let’s start with the first, where do these affiliates come from?
As per Step 8 below, ClickFunnels add their “made with ClickFunnels” icon to each new funnel pushed live, automatically installed with the affiliate account of that customer.
This is a no brainer for affiliates in the same niche as ClickFunnels (online marketing/business), as this affiliate revenue acts as an additional revenue stream or their business, making their funnels more profitable… allowing them to spend more on ads… bringing ClickFunnels more exposure (and revenue).
But that is not enough… to stand out as the best affiliate program in the online marketing world, you need to do something remarkable:
ClickFunnels are running an affiliate program where they don’t pay out cash… but pay for a lease on your dream car.
If you refer 100 people into the free trial you can get a $500 per month lease on a car of your choice and a $1,000 per month lease when you refer 200.
E.g. assuming ClickFunnels conversion from free trial to paid is 30% and the average customer pays ClickFunnels $150 per month, you are bringing them 100*150*0.3 = $5,000 per month in revenue. Of course ClickFunnels would be happy to give you $500 (10%) of that.
It’s actually significantly lower than the average online marketing affiliate program (they’re normally around the 30% mark).
So why does this work?
Each winner will be telling everyone about ClickFunnels when people ask about their new car AND they can create extremely influential sales videos like the one here with each affiliate talking about their new car: https://whatsyourdreamcar.com/signup-now
LEARNING: How can you best incentivise your partners and affiliates?
Why did these bad boi’s spread so fast?
80 million of these rubbers bands were sold in a collaboration between Nike and Lance Armstrong.
- They are public
- They are remarkable
This is a secret that the fashion world has been in on for decades: think Louis Vuitton bags completely covered by their logo. But our technical, SaaS focussed minds are only just catching up with this trend…
The ability for a customer to seamlessly “tell” other people that they are using your product is as close to the “holy grail” of growth that we will ever get.
Enter the “made with ClickFunnels” badge:
It is strategically left on as default when you launch your first funnel and as discussed above in Step 9, is automatically connected to your affiliate account.
In fact, Dickerson, ClickFunnels cofounder has stated that this button brings in over $1m per month in recurring revenue.
Read that again… ClickFunnels are generating $1m in revenue per month just because they have enabled their customers to show other people that they use their product.
Today, over 99,000 customers pay Clickfunnels:
LEARNING: How can enable your customers to “tell others” when they use your product?
There are pro’s and con’s to adding a face to a SaaS brand.
It does increase trust and therefore should aid with early growth and customers can buy into a person as well as brand (we trust people more than fictitious entities).
But at the same time, it increases “key person” risk if and when you come round to sell the business. E.g. there is more uncertainty for the new owners about future cash flows if the incentives of the face of the business change.
Brunson has plastered his name over ClickFunnels since its inception in 2015, his two books: DotCom and Expert Secrets were constructed to educate the market about ClickFunnels whilst building his authority in the online marketing niche.[do_widget id=snp_widget-3]
He presents on stage at #funnelhackers Live, sells one to many in the multiple webinar ClickFunnels run each week and teaches through video at every stage of the customer journey. You could say that Brunson is ClickFunnels:
He is only now starting to understand the risk this poses to a future acquisition and has hence started to create front end mechanisms to sell ClickFunnels without his face.
“Let’s say we did want to sell Clickfunnels someday, or let’s say I wanted to retire or whatever, if my face is on the front of everything, it’s not a very good asset for somebody else to buy.” (10, Marketing Secrets).
They actually had one of their best customers: Kaelin Poulin run the Funnel Hacking webinar and apparently, it’s performing well. These new ClickFunnels customers could be using the software without even knowing who Brunson is.
They have also built book funnels for other big players in the online business space such as Grant Cardone and Tai Lopez where ClickFunnels is offered on the thank you page once the book has been sold. Again, customers coming through these channels are not exposed to Brunson’s face.
As ClickFunnels scales to the next level on it’s journey, expect to see other figures adding their face to the brand, which will ultimately increase the valuation that ClickFunnels should be able to sell the business for as “key person” risk is reduced.
LEARNING: Who is the face of your business and how can you build their profile?
Step 9 – Use a Cancellation Funnel to Fight Churn: Only 1% of Customers Churn After 12 Months Active (7% in First 30 Days)
As Nathan Latka says in most episodes of The Top podcast: “churn is critical in a SaaS business”, how have ClickFunnels addressed this?
With a funnel of course!
Back in 2015, 40% of ClickFunnels free trials converted to a paid subscriber, with monthly churn dropping down from 7% to 3% and then 1-2% each month after that.
But this was before they implemented what we believe to be the worlds first cancellation funnel…
One day Dickerson says to Brunson: “we have funnels for people coming into ClickFunnels, why don’t we have funnels for people going out of ClickFunnels?”
So now when you go to cancel your account:
You get hit by a video from Brunson requesting feedback:
You’re then hit with 2 content/training offers and one paid offer (the Affiliate Bootcamp):
And if you continue to cancel, you’re reminded that all your data will be deleted unless you hit pause ($9.99 per month):
And then you have one final screen:
Compare this to the typical SaaS cancellation flow where you locate the cancellation button in the setting section, click and then it’s over.
Once implemented, second month churn dropped from 7 to 4% and then from 2 to below 1% after 12 months of usage.
On top of this, ClickFunnels also identified the two actions a customer would need to take to make them significantly more sticky: adding a custom domain and connecting their email address. ClickFunnels then built custom workflows and training to encourage those actions for all new users.
LEARNING: What else can you offer users that may end up churning, including an option to pause their account but keep their data for a fraction of the cost?
I’m going to ask you to take a leap here…
I want you to compare ClickFunnels with…. the USA.
I need you to bear with me now, it will be worth it.
As Noah Yuval Hoari shares in the book Sapiens, we have got to the place we are today through our ability to believe in share fictions: money, religion, love and… countries. The shared fictions that we call the USA and say… the ClickFunnels brand are only able to survive through certain things they do to remain relevant in our lives. We’re going to move through a number of things that the US and other great cults do to perpetuate their survival.
- Cultivate A Common Enemy
The US government is one of the best in the world at bringing it’s people together to rally around a common threat, whether it be terrorists, the russians or evil dictators. This is not a surprise, they have the world’s best communicators and political strategists working together to painstakingly create each and every communication that leaves the White House.
In the introduction to Brunson’s marketing secrets podcast, he states that:
“So the big question is this, how are entrepreneurs like us, who didn’t cheat and take on venture capital, who are spending money from our own pockets, how do we market in a way that enables us to get our products, services into the world… whilst remaining profitable?”
Who is the enemy?
Venture capital firms and heavily funded competitors.
They also create t-shirts such as:
Who is the enemy?
Just like the USA uses “terrorists” or “evil dictators” as its enemy to bring the country closer, ClickFunnels does the same but with VC firms and it’s own competitors.
- A Status Ladder To Climb
Wherever you see a cult, you will see different levels of status perfectly constructed to provide status incentives for its members to climb.
The founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudary famously charged high prices for the training course that was the only possible way to become a certified Bikram Yoga trainer. Once you have reached that level in the cult, you were able to franchise your own studio using his specific flow.
You also then had the power to select students from your franchise to go and invest in the teacher training with Bikram.
- Teaching staff/volunteer
Each level comes with increased status, but also with an increased financial or time investment into the Bikram Yoga brand.
Let’s look at ClickFunnels:
- Software subscriber
- Platinum subscriber
- One Comma Club member ($1,00 funnel)
- Two Comma Club member ($1,000,000 funnel)
- Two Comma Club X member ($10,000,000 funnel)
- Inner Circle member
You can go from the entry level of $97 per month to become a software subscriber all the way up to a $50k per month Inner Circle Member, all within the ClickFunnels universe. At each step of the way you are recognised with status updates, broadcasting your new achievements with the community. For example, Two Comma Club and Inner Circle members are invited to speak to the 5,000+ strong audience at the annual #funnelhackers Live conference.
- A Manifesto
Just as the US has the Constitution that outlines how its people should live their lives, ClickFunnels has its own bill of rights:
- It shares their beliefs: “Funnel Hackers never go public”
- It calls out their common enemies: “Never shackled to investors”
- It shares their motto: “just one funnel away”
And asks as the one single document that it’s people can refer back to when they feel uncertain on their journey.
This manifesto has also kept Clickfunnels 230 employees motivated even as the team grows and Brunson can’t talk to everyone 1 on 1:
- A Holy Place
The muslim religion has the one holy place, Disney has the original theme park in LA, Playboy had Hugh Hefners mansion.
And ClickFunnels has #funnelhacking Live. The three day holy retreat for everything related to ClickFunnels. Tony Robbins will speak amongst Two Comma Club winners to the 5,000 strong audience that have made the pilgrimage.
- A Method Of Recognition
Just as medieval armies would dress their soldiers up in specific colors that match the flag of their nation, ClickFunnels dress their soldiers up in colours that match their brand.
As shared in Step 3, ClickFunnels will send you a free t-shirt if you sign up for a free trial and watch the full 20 minute indoctrination video from their noble leader.
This t shirt not only shares the word about ClickFunnels, but reminds you about their brand each time you pull it on and gives other people in the religion a chance of recognizing you as you are out amongst the non-believers in everyday life.
And what is the result of all this work to build out the ClickFunnel universe?
The single thing that matters the most for any movement, cult, country or business: irrationally passionate supporters.
Supporters so passionate they will get the ClickFunnels logo inked into their skin:
LEARNING: Which of the above strategies can you use to build a universe around your SaaS?
At Grant Cardone’s 10x Growth Conference in 2018, Brunson closed approximately $3.2m dollars in sales from stage after presenting the to 9,000 people. Apparently the biggest amount of revenue generated from stage of all time.
Then, in true Brunson style, they made a high priced information course called 10x Secrets explaining how they did it.
In 2019, Grant scaled the conference from 9,000 to 35,000 people as the venue moved to the Miami Marlins baseball Stadium in Miami (9, Marketing Secrets). The Clickfunnels team decided to make a documentary of the process that you can see here:
Their goal $10m in sales from the two separate presentations on consecutive days but they only closed $2.4m on day 1 (the same product sold the previous year) and opted to sell a $25k product on day two that taught the ability to sell from stage…
Unfortunately this product bombed and they sold just 27, bringing total sales for the event to just under the $3.2m of 2018.[do_widget id=snp_widget-3]
Despite this disappointment in 2019, the ability to jump on stage in front of thousands of people and sell high ticket items is an extremely valuable skill that Brunson developed throughout his experience with the Perfect Webinar (see Step 4).
Moving forward, Brunson is planning to speak at less internal events, instead he is training 20 other speakers to go around the country to speak at smaller events… but in theory will generate 10x the revenue.
LEARNING: How you can you put your “face” on a stage to sell your software?
ClickFunnels started by simply allowing people to build consecutive web pages with an intuitive interface.
They have since built out two supporting products: Actionetics for follow ups and Backpack for affiliates.
This now means that you can run nearly every aspect of your online presence with ClickFunnels:
- Affiliate account creation and tracking
- Follow up emails/texts calls
- Marketing automation
- Payment processing
They built a product that sits are the heart of the small, online business and only then did they expand.
Brunson has even been quoted saying that they are just focussed on making the best funnel building software out there. Because he knows that if people are paying you for one thing, and you offer them two more things that you need and integrate well with the thing you already have… there is a good chance you will buy all three.
I think this is called bundling in the MBA (Master of Business Administration) world?
Think about it…
You are a small business that just moved over to ClickFunnels, you now have you marketing site built on their software and you spend hours per day logged in, tweaking your funnel. You now realise you have to follow up with people as they go through your funnel and have some partners wanted to promote your products.
- A – Research to find an email autoresponder and affiliate SaaS from a provider you don’t know or trust
- B – Just click a few buttons in ClickFunnels and get started right away and immediately shift to $297 price point
I know which one I would choose.
Clickfunnels only has two pricing options, just the funnel building software for $97 or all three products for $297, tripling their ARPU. And of course, then increasing the amount of money they can spend on the front end to acquire a customer.
LEARNING: Once you have dominated your initial market, which adjacent products are your customers paying for?
Though we have already discussed this event in Step 11, it gets another mention because it has played such a crucial role in the ClickFunnels growth story.
Almost every SaaS business over $10m in revenue has their own conference and most monetise through ticket sales and sponsorship.
Tickets to Funnel Hacking Live cost $997 and Brunson knows that if someone is going to find a babysitter, book flights etc to come to the event, this is a bigger commitment than just purchasing some software, so to build this trust, they have created these two pages:
A prospective attendee can see the event budget, event attendees and amount donated to charity at each event, building trust and increasing conversion.
Though real magic happens in the room, from what I can see, Funnel Hacking Live doesn’t monetise through sponsors (though I wouldn’t be surprised if a few partners paid to have stalls in the breakout area) and therefore monetise on the backend through on stage offers.
If Brunson can generate $3.2m on stage in an environment that hasn’t been sculpted for him and to an audience that may not know him… imagine what he can do at Funnel Hacking Live.
Reports state the $13m in coaching was sold at the 2019 event. As one attendees says: “I wasn’t planning on buying anything at Funnel Hacking Live, but 2 days and $30,000 dollars later I had joined the Inner Circle.”
LEARNING: Consider bringing your partners, employees and customers together once a year to your flagship event.
In this scene from The Dark Knight, the horrendous villain Joker explains his motivation for the chaos he has unleashed upon Gotham:
“Why do you want to kill me?”, asks Batman
“I don’t want to kill you… what would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers?” laughs Joker.
“No, you… you complete me”
Brunson placed second in the high school wrestling nationals – he’s extremely competitive, though in fairness… a much healthier way than the Joker.
He uses competition from the likes of Infusionsoft and Leadpages to inspire himself and the team to build bigger and better products for the customer.
Take this infographic for example:
Clickfunnels call out each an every competitor to honestly show why you would choose their software over others.
He gives away t-shirts the highlight the ClickFunnels value proposition over others:
And famously slated Gary Vaynerchuk on stage at the 2019 10x event about the fact that he only makes $75k per keynote Vs Brunson’s $3.2m at the 10x event in 2018.
As per the Joker’s comment to the Batman, this competition doesn’t frustrate or anger Brunson, it completes him.
LEARNING: How do you currently use competition to inspire you and your team?
Brunson has been uniquely transparent about ClickFunnels and their journey, we’re all addicted to the story that Brunson mainly tells through his podcast: Marketing Secrets.
Here’s a quote where he opens two loops that make the audience want to attend Funnel Hacking Live and also listen to all future episodes:
“And there’s another big announcement happening at Funnel Hacking Live, which you guys are going to freak out about. If you don’t have your tickets yet, go to FunnelHackingLive.com and get them. And then on my 40th birthday there’s another big announcement. So those are two big things happening, but there’s a lot of little announcements happening as well. And one of them I made last Friday, and it was more silent because it wasn’t to everybody, it was just to a small group in our market.”
He will also make major announcements on the podcast, such as when he decided to close down a $5m per year revenue stream, check out the two episodes here:
Yes, those episodes discuss Brunson cancelling his high margin, $5m per year revenue stream.
And then even gets his customers on the podcast to comment on the cancellation:
When Brunson launched the Expert Secrets book he invited the world to follow along as he attempted to sell 1 million copies.
Why does he do this? Is he not afraid that competitors may steal his strategies?
Maybe, but the upside outweighs the downside:
- It generates attention
Honest content with real numbers, strategies and tactics is 10x more valuable than generic, fluffy, corporate blog post.
- It strengthens the bond between you and your followers
This is the core reason Brunson does this… he talks about something called the “Attractive Character” in his Expert Secret book. It’s a strategy you can use to magnetise your followers towards you, increasing the likelihood they will consume you information and then eventually purchase your advice.
One of the best methods of forming an attractive character is to be honest, vulnerable and transparent… and the best way of doing this is to share the experience of your journey.
LEARNING: How can you bring in your customers and partners along with your story?
Russell Brunson has been in online marketing since before I had my first girlfriend. He released his first product in 2002 (over a decade before Clickfunnels launched).
Just from my research I have heard Brunson discuss the following online business attempts:
- Potato gun info products
- DIY projector eCommerce
- Network marketing
- Supplement eCommerce
- High ticket coaching
- Niche email autoresponder software
He once tried to start 13 businesses in 1 year.
But throughout all of these attempts and successes, he has developed staying power. Ever since the story I opened this article with back in 2002, Brunson has remained in the small online business education space.
In a market famous for scams, poor quality products and hardcore selling tactics – Brunson persists with integrity.
And when there was a space in the market for landing page software, Brunson was the most well placed person the world to take advantage. There was no better person to create something like ClickFunnels in 2014 than Russell Brunson.
But only because he stayed the course for a decade previously.
In short, I don’t believe there are any shortcuts to SaaS success, you need to find a persona, industry or niche… and like Brunson – stay in the game.
It took Snoop Dogg 10 years to release Drop It Like It’s Hot, Coldplay, 12 years to release Fix You and Eminem 14 years to release Love The Way You Lie…
It took Brunson and co, 13 years to release ClickFunnels.
But when they did, it was worth it.
LEARNING: How committed are you to your craft and industry? How long will you stay in the game?
- When building your co-founding team make sure there is a focus on product, you get awesome people and know that you can work well with them.
- Build a personal brand and audience as you move through your career.
- How can you show the world that your software works?
- How can you incorporate education into your customer acquisition process?
- Is there a low risk, high value offer you can make to your prospects in order to convert them into customers sooner?
- How can you best incentivise your partners and affiliates?
- How can enable your customers to “tell others” when they use your product?
- Who is the face of your business and how can you build their profile?
- What else can you offer users that may end up churning, including an option to pause their account but keep their data for a fraction of the cost?
- Which of the above strategies can you use to build a universe around your SaaS?
- How you can you put your “face” on a stage to sell your software?
- Once you have dominated your initial market, which adjacent products are your customers paying for?
- Consider bringing your partners, employees and customers together once a year to your flagship event.
- How do you currently use competition to inspire you and your team?
- How can you bring in your customers and partners along with your story?
- How committed are you to your craft and industry? How long will you stay in the game?
In summary, Brunson, Dickerson and Jones have combined the SaaS business model and cutting edge human influence with the global shift towards entrepreneurship to create a world’s first non-VC backed unicorn.
ClickFunnels did not only capture the wallets of this new revolution, but they captured the minds and hearts of hundreds of thousands of converts.
Will Clickfunnels get gobbled up in a $1b+ acquisition in the next 4 months?
I’m not sure, but they could be just one funnel away 😉
Data From Charts:
2015: $14m saas, $6-7m info/service (2, The Top)
2016: $30m saas, ? info/service (4, Mixergy)
2017: $60m saas, ? info/service (2, The Top)
2018: $78m saas, $25m info/service
2019: $100m saas, $34m info/service
2019: 230 (9, Marketing Secrets)
Other notable events:
2015: Dotcom Secrets book launch
2017: Expert Secrets book launch
2018: One Funnel Away Challenge launch
2020: Traffic Secrets book launch