Ep018: Steve Cunningham

Welcome to the More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast and today I'm talking with Steve Cunningham from ReadItFor.Me.

Steve & I met about 5 years ago when ReadItFor.Me did a beautiful video summary of the breakthrough DNA book, and they have a pretty cool concept. They take the world leading business, marketing & leadership books and summarize them into a short, easy to consume video and text.

I really love this concept because it's such a high leverage way to learn and to get the gist, the essence of all of the books, to know which ones you want to dive into deeper. He has a great concept.

We talked a lot about how to get the word out about the idea. We hatched some evil schemes on how to promote a new program they have where you can get a lifetime subscription. They've been offering for years as a monthly subscription or an annual subscription, and now they have shifted, where the whole thing now is about creating a movement, creating a world full of people who are leading and learning.

I think you're going to really enjoy the process we go through to hatch these evil schemes and if you'd like to check out Read It For Me, you can go to Readitfor.me/morecheese, where you'll find a special offer for a lifetime subscription.

I love this concept. I would love to see you join this program and become a part of the movement.





Want to be a guest on the show?  Simply follow the 'Be a Guest' link on the left & I'll be in touch.

Download a free copy of the Breakthrough DNA book all about the 8 Profit Activators we talk about here on More Cheese, Less Whiskers...


Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 018

Dean: Steve Cunningham

Steve: Dean, how are you?

Dean: I am so good. How are you?

Steve: I’m great.

Dean: Where in the world is Steve Cunningham today?

Steve: I am in Oakville, just outside of Toronto, which I assume you know.

Dean: Okay. I know all about.

Steve: There you go. That’s where I am.

Dean: Awesome. I’m excited to hatch some evil schemes today.

Steve: Yeah, me, too.

Dean: We’re already recording. The whole hour is for hatching evil schemes for ReadItFor.Me. Why don’t you give a nice overview of what you do, where you’re at, and what kind of evil schemes would be good to have.

Steve: Sure. The business itself takes bestselling business and personal development books, and turns them into 10- to 12-minute text, audio, and animated video summaries. Our service is geared towards entrepreneurs, all the way from solo entrepreneurs, all the way up to the leadership development programs in Fortune 500 companies. We’ve got customers on both ends of that spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Most of our customers use our product to save time in their busy lives. Most of them are growth-minded individuals who already have the desire to learn, and just find that their schedule gets too crowded in order to get all the learning done that they want to get done. We help them get that learning in, in what we call the in-between moments in their day.

Dean: Yes. I love it. I’m familiar with the way you did one of our breakthrough DNA book, profit activators, a few years ago. That was exciting to see. How long have you been doing this now?

Steve: The quick version is we’ve been in business doing ReadItFor.Me for about six years. It was originally designed as a content marketing strategy before anyone called it content marketing for a digital marketing agency that I ran. It’s been a side project for us for about the last six years. Then this July, we stopped doing marketing work, and we’re full-time on ReadItFor.Me. Depending on which way you look at it, we’ve been at it for six years or a few months.

Dean: Okay. What’s your goal with it? Where are you hoping to take it? What’s your vision?

Steve: We’ve got a pretty grand vision with this. I’ll give you some back story to describe where we see this going. In July, we launched what we’re calling our lifetime membership plan. A lot of reasons why we did that, but essentially now we have a plan for people to pay us one time, and then have access to our library and everything that we add into the library until one of us dies. Hopefully, that’s a long time away.

Our goal now is to sell one million of those subscriptions, and there are a couple of reasons why that’s a compelling goal for us. The second part of this is that for every subscription lifetime membership that we sell, we are going to give a membership to a student who is, I would say, entrepreneurial. We’re partnering with some organizations to facilitate that.

We’re also giving a portion of every lifetime membership to charity, and I’m hoping that’s part of what we can talk about with our evil scheming here today. The idea for us is that if we do well other people do well also.

Dean: I often find that those kinds of proposals that it needs to still make a really good business case for people. I think sometimes there’s some opportunity to, why would I do well? It’s for the kids. You know what I mean? Rather than in addition to inherent value in doing it. How many books have you done so far in the six years? How many are in the library right now?

Steve: We’ve got about 200 in the library right now. Up until recently, we were doing about one a week, or sometimes less. The reason for that is we did them all by video. What we found with a lot of our customers was that they were listening to the audio at the gym, on their community, while they’re waiting to pick up their kids from soccer practice, whatever it was.

We just decided to ramp up the production because the text and the audio were fairly quick to do, compared to the video, which was very labor intensive for our team. We ramped that up to one summary every single day. The library will be expanding very quickly moving forward.

Dean: Wow. One summary a day, so 365. Is that the goal, 365 in a year?

Steve: That’s the goal.

Dean: Wow. That’s very impressive. Were you finding that most people were downloading the audio or reading the text, versus watching the video? As far as consumption?

Steve: Yeah, the use cases were audio first, video second, and then text third.

Dean: Okay. Interesting. I always find audio is just a leveraged thing that fits with what your big win is, that you’re condensing time for people. They don’t have to read all these books. You’re reading them and giving the best. It’s the 80/20 approach for getting all of the knowledge from these books, it seems like, right?

Steve: Yeah, that’s definitely what our customers tell us is the big win. Aside from obviously what they’re trying to achieve with that time, which is really what they’re after, but yeah, the big win for them is that they get the main ideas in a condensed timeframe.

Dean: What is working right now? Describe how your before unit works right now, how you’re attracting people. What’s the model that you have right now?

Steve: The model that we’re working with right now is essentially to grow through partners/affiliates. We’re just starting to dabble in some paid advertising. What we’ve found with this lifetime membership offer was that it was an experiment because we had offered monthly and annual subscriptions up until that point, and the experiment was the hypothesis of increased conversions with that offset any of the revenue that we’re giving up on the recurring end. What is the impact on this long-term?

What we’ve found was that the conversions were so much higher with this plan that it more than made up for any of the recurring revenue that we would have lost. We first did that experiment internally. We found a 20% conversion rate from click to purchase on that, which was obviously very good. We did it externally with some other publishers. If you’re familiar with Early to Rise, we did really well with them.

Dean: Funny. I just had dinner with Craig on Friday night. That’s so funny.

Steve: Small world. Yeah, I actually implemented Craig’s perfect day formula, and I’ve been waking up at 4:30 in the morning for a long time.

Dean: Oh, my goodness.

Steve: We actually just did his book, and we’re going to be releasing it soon. Small world.

Dean: Yeah, small world.

Steve: That went really well for us. Not at high as our internal conversions, but way higher than what most people are seeing in terms of conversions from cold traffic. That made it a lot easier for us to go out and find partners, not only publishers like Early To Rise, but authors, bloggers, and just regular, everyday people who are looking to get a side income side gig going.

That’s really where most of our effort and attention is focused right now. How do we enable other people to spread the word, where we do well. They do well, and then this new part of having a charity do well also. It’s working well.

Dean: How do the economics of it work in terms of with the affiliates and the charity? How do you break that down? If you’re finding an affiliate partner, they’re going to … I’d like to hear how they go about promoting it, or what the actual offers are, and how the money gets divided up kind of thing?

Steve: Sure. Lifetime membership rate now, if you go to our website, it’s $1,500. We’re promoting it. We started off with a price of $250 for no reason other than we thought that was where we should start. We believe the right price for this was between $250 and $1,500, and we’re going to do some testing on that.

As it stands, that’s what we are promoting through our partner channels, and the partner gets 25% of the commission on the first tier. We have a second tier, where that’s 5%. If you introduce us somebody. I know you get that, but a lot people don’t understand how that works. They get 5%, and for the charity, we’re still working that out on the individual end before corporate sales. We’re giving 25% of any corporate sales back to a charity.

If we could dive in to that one a little bit, when you want to, but the strategy there is how do we enable people who are already supporting these causes to help us sell ReadItFor.Me into organizations?

Dean: Got you. That’s on the corporate side. Let’s focus on the consumer side here. The current price, it’s $1,500, is that what you’re looking at? Or is it you’re testing still, in between there, somewhere between $250 and $1,500?

Steve: Yeah, we don’t know what price is going to bring us the most profit, so we’re looking for that. We’re really happy with what’s happening in terms of conversions and how much revenue we’re generating at $250, but we think it could be more. We’re testing higher price points.

Dean: Part of the appeal of these lifetime memberships in cash influx, you get all the money now. You end up all that money’s burdened with a future delivery. From an accounting standpoint, but that’s a bit of an issue. It just puts you, you’re productizing in a way, a building recurring delivery, which because you’re continually having to produce the new content. Have you done all the projections and stuff going forward for that, compared to the monthly model?

Steve: Yeah, we did the projections, and basically what it boils down to is when taking a look at conversion rate plus customer lifetime value, what we’ve done was actually generate more profit, and we get it all now. While we do …

Dean: What you’re saying is the longevity of people paying $24.99 a month for … If your average was less than 10 months, even at $250, you’re already getting more from …

Steve: Yeah.

Dean: I got you.

Steve: Yeah, so we put this offer in front of 100 people today, and we sold them a monthly subscription. Then we put this in front of another 100 people, and sold them a lifetime subscription. The lifetime would bring us more money overall, and it would bring it to us right now.

Dean: Your best offer. That’s great.

Steve: Yeah. It does have the burden, like you said, of we don’t have recurring revenue. You could put that money and put it in the bank and all that kind of good stuff. We just need to be conservative about how we grow the business and how we take on expenses, of course, but overall the offer is better.

Dean: It’s something that’s going to continue because people are still going to continue to write books. There’s always going to be the top books. That’s quite a pace, 365 books a year. There’s lots of them.

When you’re looking at going to a partner for this, what are you looking for in a partner? Someone that has an entrepreneur list, a marketing list, personal development list? What’s your target audience here?

Steve: I think the answer is yes.

Dean: Reader. Anybody who reads. Anybody who’s reading business books.

Steve: Yeah, the way we would describe it is anybody who’s a growth-minded individual, who is looking to grow themselves personally and professionally, and is busy, which is everybody. We’ve found that different segments will convert at different rates.

Interestingly, our hypothesis was that people in the sales and the marketing space would have a higher conversion rate because time is money for them. What we found was our highest converting segment is people who are interested in personal development.

They all convert well, but our main focus right now is how do we get in front of as many people in the personal development space as possible, even though most of our content is business related and not personal, not books you’d find the self-help section at a bookstore. The answer is we’re looking for all those types of segments. Basically, the audience for the books in the categories that we produce.

Dean: Okay. Then what is the offer? How does that start out now? What’s the offer the affiliate partner would send to get to introduce this to somebody? They’ve never heard of it. How do you get them to opt in? Do you just present them the offer, and they buy? Do they opt in for something or get a free trial? What’s the process?

Steve: Sure. When we started off in July with this, it just went so well for us, that we just started asking our partners to send it directly to the same landing page that we had been sending it to, except it’s their landing page. We customized it with the name of the partner.

If it was for Early To Rise, for instance, it would say, “Early To Rise”. That is how we’re getting, today, traffic to the people. Some people actually end up clicking through on the logo and taking a trial if they want to check it out. The main driver is directly to the offer. We’re just about to start testing giving away different lengths of trials instead of sending people directly to the offer, and putting them in an auto responder, but we don’t have any data on that yet as to whether or not that’s going to work better or worse.

Dean: Got you. Right now, it would be the affiliate partner sending a specific email, driving people to a page that just explains what you do and makes the offer for $500 or whatever the number is.

Steve: Exactly.

Dean: Okay, and they either buy right now, that’s the thing you’re not getting an opt in or trail hits? They just buy, and that’s it?

Steve: Yeah. That’s it. I’m sure there’s a better way to do it, but the number that we’ve been seeing in terms of conversion are just so high that we’ve had in the past more trouble getting an email address than we do getting a sale today. We’re in this weird mode of this is working, so let’s not break it.

Dean: That’s so awesome. Good for you. Describe the offer on the page. What do they see? I could put a link up to the page for people, or we have a More Cheese Less Whiskers page if we’d like.

Steve: Sure, why don’t we do that?

Dean: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: We’ll set up a page. It will be ReadItFor.Me/morecheeselesswhiskers, and what you’ll see when you go to the page, it will say, “A special offer for friends,” or subscribers, however you want to work it, “Of More Cheese Less Whiskers”. It would say a lifetime membership to ReadItFor.Me for $250, regularly $1499.

Then there is about a 40-minute video sales letter, which I’ve got many emails of people saying, “I have never watched a 40-minute video before, but now I have.” It’s literally just a headline, a video, call to action, a couple of testimonials that we have Tony Hsieh and Dan Pink. Another call to action, and that’s it.

Dean: That’s it. Do you know how certain times, it’s like I often with pricing things, I’ll often look through a … Do you ever see on The Price Is Right, when they had the mountain climber game, the yodeler game? The guy’s climbing up the mountain, and it’s, “Yodel deedle yodel doodle, yodel deedle do.” You have to guess what the right price is kind of thing. I have this mental thing in my mind, where that’s how I often look at things.

When you say that, $250 seems like that’s the, of course. This makes total sense. I should buy this today. That’s a complete win. You’re going to get 200 books that are already in there, and you get a book a day for as long as you continue doing it. That seems like a no-brainer. That makes total sense. I can see why people would do that.

You’re completely happy initially on that round. I think everybody’s who’s got an audience of people that would benefit by being a reader or learning, you’re separating the reading from the understanding. That’s where the real leverage is that they’re buying. From concentrate the lessons and the big ideas in the book, without having to invest the time, the four, five, six hours that it might take to read a book, or even more to read a book and then go back and summarize, encapsulate the best lessons from it.

I think that’s a really good thing. What that’s going to, I think, lead to is some big opportunities in the during unit for this. What do you have in addition to this membership that would be additional ways to add value to this group? You’ve got subscribers, and there’s something about the construct of a lifetime membership is that there’s … Your member roll is continually growing. It’s never that you’ve got attrition or you’ve got churn or having to rebill.

There’s a lot of administration. You know yourself for doing it as long as you have. With the monthly stuff, there’s a lot of administration on managing a monthly recurring membership. In any given time, every month there are credit cards that are declined, and the administration of doing all of that.

What psychologically you have is you never have anybody who said, “Yeah, I was a ReadItFor.Me member.” It’s always, “Yeah, I am.” It’s like this card-carrying, you are member of, and people feel like that’s an asset that they have no matter what. This is something every day, I’m going to get a new. It seems like a win-win.

Now what you have is this long growing group of people who are personal development or growth oriented, and you have this relationship with them, where you’re communicating with them frequently, every day, or every week with the new books that you’re delivering. What else are you looking to do with that relationship? What else are the strategic opportunities that you have with that group? Have you thought about some of that?

Steve: Yeah. I thought pretty deeply about it. Maybe I’ll just take a couple minutes to explain my thinking on it. I’m sure you’ll have lots of great insights for me. Back to the insights that you just mentioned, that people are members now for life, you’re not making on a decision on a month-to-month basis. You’re in the club.

One of the things that we’re focusing a lot of our time and energy on is turning those members into, I’m going to give it a name, like our social sales force. Advocates, but not just being advocates, but actually going and selling what we’re doing to their organizations.

I’ve been also thinking a lot about what value do we bring to our members, and I had an insight yesterday actually that what we do is help people see their world in a different way, during the in-between moments of their day. The insights that come from these books, some of these books, I should say, are very easy to explain quickly. It doesn’t need an entire book. If you want to obviously get deep into the idea, you go into it.

I’m going to give you example of one that impacted me that’s changed the way I think about how we use our customers, to use your language, in the during unit. It’s from a book called Grouped by Paul Adams, who was on the Google Plus team and also on the Facebook team, so growing both of those services.

Obviously, he knows a lot about the data behind how do things spread virally. The communing marketing tactic is to go after influencers who have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers and use that as a marketing tactic. What he says in his book is that it’s the exact opposite. If you want viral growth, it’s got to go through normal people. It goes from Sally, who shares it with her friend, Sue, who sends it to Bob. That’s how you get viral growth.

If you’re not thinking about how do you enable that with what you do, you’re not going to get it. We’re getting a lot of great success dealing with people with large email lists, but we think the biggest win is in taking people who have never considered doing this kind of thing before, and turning them into affiliates and partners, who do this on a regular basis.

One of the things, to go back to your question, that we are doing right now is we’re getting those people to, A, spread this to their networks, B, bring it to their companies, and C, to purchase gift subscriptions to give to their friends, customers, and clients. That’s the first thing that we’re thinking of doing. How do we turn them into advocates? How do we get the same person to buy more of what we do because they love it so much? That’s the first thing.

We’re doing things, launching a couple of things, where we’re enabling our partners to give away. Instead of giving away a seven-day trial to ReadItFor.Me, we’re going to give them a free month because that’s associated with a price on our website, so now instead of appearing they’re promoting something, they’re actually gifting something. Obviously, what we’re hoping is that those new people will turn into customers or members.

On a longer term basis, I see in the next couple of years there are going to be millions of people becoming entrepreneur, some of which because they want to, but many or most of which because they have to. They’re going to get fired from their jobs because of outsourcing, artificial intelligence, robots, and the list goes on.

There’s going to be this new age of entrepreneurship coming in. One of the things I’m super passionate about is doing, like we talked about earlier, good through charities, through social causes. I see this as an opportunity for, to use grand language, usher in the age of the social entrepreneur. What we are thinking about is how do we build a community that not only teaches people how to do the nuts and the bolts of, okay, so you want to do this? What’s the best way to partner with a charity? What’s the email look like that you send the executive director to have a conversation?

That education part, but also a community of people who are doing it. That’s where we see ourselves replacing that lost monthly and annual recurring revenue, with a membership community like that.

Dean: That’s phenomenal. I think that will definitely have some legs there. I think that one of the things that you could do create that is divide, figure out where the metrics are for your before unit, for your during unit, and for your after unit. That’s really the way that I look at things organizationally.

Your before unit right now is all about delivering people to your during unit, which is the subscription. Your affiliate model, you’ve got a fixed cost on that, 25% or 30%, and you’re happy with the conversions on that. I would say run with that as long as you can. That’s kind of an evergreen offer that anybody could have on their own website, anybody who’s blogging, or podcasting, or doing anything. Once you set up that affiliate site, it’s say, that will continue to spread.

Then looking at every new subscriber that you get, now that you know that you’re going to have a lifetime relationship with them, there’s no sense of trying to hang on to them or trying to tease them to keep them interesting in next month’s or any of those kinds of metrics. You’ve got no overhead or thought or administration in maintaining the membership level of it. It’s just they’re in.

Now, the objectives that you have can be much more strategic, where if you look at it, what are the opportunities that a new member has to introduce to other people? Just like you were saying, but to set up a scorecard for it in a way, where you internally have a metric that is calculating the multiplier index of a new member over a … Let’s say that you take the first 60 or 90 days, and call that the during unit. If you’ve got a long-term relationship with people, where in the beginning, there’s a certain period where you want to make sure that people are getting on-boarded, that they’re consuming, that they’re in the right place.

You also want to engage and find out is this a person that could be an affiliate? Is this a person that could just, like you were talking about, introduce individuals to it? A lot of people that are subscribing, I’m sure, would love to have that affiliate opportunity as well.

When you’re looking at the on-boarding process, the opportunity would be to determine what somebody’s interests would be in something like that. Do you categorize people, if you’re doing 365 books, is who’s curating these, and there are channels that you have? Are there tracks? Is there a sales channel or a personal development channel, a marketing channel, startups? How are you organizing the experience that people have?

Steve: That’s a good question. You mentioned four them already. We have one channel for every day of the week. Monday’s leadership. Tuesday is sales. Wednesday is marketing. Thursday is personal development, which is a catch-all. That’s where Craig’s book would fit, for instance. Friday is employee engagement. Saturday is entrepreneurship, and Sunday is what we call big idea/social causes. That social good element of it.

We don’t bucket people into what they’re consuming, but obviously I can see that.

Dean: Do you observe? Do you have a robust CRM system that would observe consumption?

Steve: Yeah, we’re taking data on basically everything they do. I don’t have it set up right now to say this person is clearly in the entrepreneurship bucket. This person is clearly in the marketing bucket. I think that’s a great thing to do.

Dean: Here’s certainly an opportunity. You’re going to be a pretty influential membership. When you look at the growth, and you look at the opportunity for the numbers of members that you’re going to have, and I would start to think about what else are the thing that they would love to have? You’re in a situation where you’ve got the audience, and you’ve got the books, but it might be an interesting to be able to create special events or webinar series or online courses or things that are going to allow people to go deeper with the things that they’re most interested in.

If you have the leadership track kind of thing to be able to have a leadership summit with the most popular authors. You’re looking at as you build this audience, you’ve got the opportunity to be an Oprah. In a way, you could launch somebody’s book.

When you’re thinking about this, because it’s such a great value, you say $250 every single time, people are going to, like I was saying, with myself I would look at this being a great way to really select the books that I am going to read. It’s almost like a really valuable review service that I imagine that people reading or listening to or watching this summary of a book that they really get a lot out of might encourage people to buy that book.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely.

Dean: More than just use it as an instead of buying that book, as a way to enhance and know that this is something worth going deep in. Do you have a rating system, if you’re going to engage those kinds of social elements to it? Is there rating a particular book or rating the ideas or commenting on or discussing those things? How are you creating this sense of community with the members?

Steve: Basically, at this moment, not at all. We’ve done a lot of thinking around that. We had this other business that took up the vast majority of our time. We’ve done a lot of thinking about it, a lot of talking about it, but when it comes down to the executing, we haven’t done so much of it.

We’ve considered ratings and comments and all that kind of stuff, but have never got around to implementing it. I think we’d want to have those discussions again before we do. What are your thoughts on it?

Dean: I just think of a sense that now if there’s multiple layers that add value to this first of all you’ve got the core proposition is that I’m going to get the summary of 365 books, so I don’t have to read all of those. There’s that first layer, but the next layers of that could be the curation level, where there’s somebody that’s guiding in the peer level.

You look at a community type of thing where we can come and can people comment on the books? Do you have a discussion forum or do you have somewhere where people can talk about the books or ideas?

Steve: No, we don’t.

Dean: Okay, and that may be, I’m just looking at possibilities as we move into the after unit here because your business is primarily going to be an after unit driven thing. You’re getting bigger and bigger. Nobody’s leaving. Nobody expires, so the opportunity within that is to look for all the other ways that you can continue to add value, to create opportunities, to maybe even because of the memberships that you’ll have to organize events that could be specific topic related, whether it’s creating online courses or introducing the opportunity for the members to do a course with somebody, one of the authors. A lot of times the authors have deeper things beyond their book as well.

Steve: Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the things I learned after getting into this business was that you’re somebody like Malcolm Gladwell or maybe Dan Pink, you don’t make your money from writing books. Most of them will sell speaking engagements. Some of them will sell consulting, and it’s the idea that popped in my mind now is I thought about this briefly before. The idea of almost becoming a, what’s the right word, speakers bureau for the authors because we have the audience of people who might hire them. Then we could directly represent them.

Dean: Especially if you’re going in on the corporate level, like you’re saying, it’s part of a benefit program or something that you could go through an organization. That’s a different channel than the entrepreneurs that you’re going at. Everybody, what’s going to be the valuable thing for … You’ve got some great advocates. You’ve got Tony Hsieh with the Zappos team, and how do they use it for all of their employees, or for their executives or their management team? How does a company like Zappos use something like that?

Steve: That was actually the first corporate deal we ever did, with Zappos. Came from a cold email that I sent to Tony.

Dean: Wow, good for you.

Steve: The model of how we work with the company has shifted a bunch of times over the last few years, so with them, they bought a block of content. Then they hosted it on their intranet, and so it’s for all the employees to access. Since we’ve started with the lifetime offer, and in between, we sell seats. Like a software company would sell seats. Buy a pack of 500, and you pay us X amount annually. Those people have the opportunity to use it.

One of the things that we found was we’d have conversations with them about who’s using it. It’s the same discussion you’d have with an individual subscriber, but that would go on in their mind. What we did was we came up with it would be interesting to get your feedback on this. We’ve said to companies, “Here’s how it’s going to work. Once you’ve had a look at it yourself and you like it, you’re going to give everybody on your team a 30-day account.” At the end of the 30 days, you’re going to ask your team who wants this for life, and the people who raise their hand, you’re going to fund it for them.

We found that’s taken away a lot of any potential objections that they have and also gets us into functional units within companies rather than the HR and learning function, where people make decision quicker, and they can whip out their credit card, for instance, and say, “Yeah, we’ll do it. Here’s my credit card,” as opposed to we’ve got to go through this long drawn out process. That’s a long-winded answer to how do we work with companies, but it’s changed a bunch over the years.

Dean: That’s really a value-add. Let’s focus on the consumer side, the individual people here, and continue talking about some of the metrics. I started to say when you look at the dividing a business like this into before, during, and after, it’s a clear division on the before partnering with the bigger affiliates, and you get people in on the $250 lifetime membership, and then treat this first 30, 60, 90 days as the during unit, and then ongoing after that as the after unit.

When we look at it, what I would look for is identify what are the strategy opportunities that we have as a result of being in relationship with these people and doing this transaction. When I do this with real estate agents, for example, if every time they list a house, they’ve got the core objective, which is to get the house sold and help the people move on to where they’re going.

The strategic objective that they have, the opportunity they have along with that, is that they’ve got an opportunity to find the buyers themselves for that house. They don’t always do it, but they’ve got that opportunity. They’ve also got an opportunity to find a buyer that buys another house, maybe not the one that they’re have listed. They’ve got the opportunity to get the next listing in that neighborhood, and they’ve got the opportunity to get a referral from the sell.

What I do is I created a metric that I call a listing multiplier index. I have real estate agents look at the last 10 listing that they got and calculate out of those 10 listings how many of the 50 opportunities that they had did they actually get a point for. They got the listing sold. They found the buyer. They found a buyer that bought another house. Got another listing, and got a referral.

When I have them do that looking back, most of them end up in 10 or 15 total points out of 50 just in looking back at it. We take that number, and we divide that by 10 to get an index. If they got 15 points on the last 10 listings they got, then their listing multiplier index is 1.5.

That means that their current system, every time they get a new listing, will yield 1.5 transactions. I would look at this the same way and use that as a metric there in your during unit, that first 30, 60, 90 days, to identify what are the strategic opportunities that you have along with that one lifetime membership?

You’ve got an opportunity to sign someone up as an affiliate to promote to their list or their audience. You’ve got the opportunity if they’re an individual for them to refer their friends to refer somebody, one person. If they work at an organization, if they’re not an entrepreneur, you’ve got the opportunity to be introduced into their organization, and then maybe there are two or three additional types of services like that that are all in that same family that would make sense that you introduce them to over the 90 days. Are you familiar with Focus At Will?

Steve: No, I’m not.

Dean: Focus At Will is a really great service of music that you just play in background, and it’s scientifically designed music to increase the speed that you get into focus and the length of time that you’re able to focus. It’s an ongoing music service that all of this music is specifically engineered with these cadences and rhythm or whatever in different channels, like different types of music, spa or jill or jazz or whatever.

You’re playing background music that’s not just background music. This is music specifically designed to keep you in focus. That’s another thing that might be a similar type of service that a lot of your readers might like to take part in. You start to think in the after unit as you now graduate out of that first 90 days, what other things? If you’re taking the relationship that you have with these people to a whole other level here, where you’re appointing yourself as the advocate for that relationship, what are the other things? What’s the category, the other things that would make sense that somebody might be interest in taking advantage of or things that you could introduce them to? Who else could you partner with as part of this network of people who are on the same page?

That could even be by channels, once you’ve identified these people are entrepreneurs. These people are looking for leadership or personal development. You’ve got opportunities to partner with and introduce them to other things that are going to enhance them.

Steve: That’s a really good idea. As you were talking, I was thinking through how do we do this. I got a concrete idea. Can we hash through it?

Dean: Yes, absolutely.

Steve: Because we do all those channels, it’s very easy for us, and we do them on specific days, so it’s very consistent. It’s very easy for us to build these segments. One of the things we’re thinking of doing as part of our on-boarding sequence itself, you pay us the $250, and we actually ask you how we deliver this content is sending you an email when there’s a new episode. If you want all of them, it’s every single day. If you only want sales or in marketing, check off Tuesday and Wednesday.

If we created some partnerships in each one of those categories with different products that would make sense for us to promote, then we wouldn’t even have to profile the users because they would profile themselves. On a Monday, we would have a book or something else that we could promote along with here’s your summary for today that’s leadership related.

I always like to think about what’s the easiest way I can do this? That’s one of the principles behind the lifetime membership. Like you pointed out, it just makes everything a lot simpler. What are your thoughts on doing it that way?

Dean: I like that idea. If you’re going to be sending the email specifically that within that email, there’s lots of opportunities. Do you have the Shazam app?

Steve: No.

Dean: Shazam, that was one of the first apps that really that really struck me as magic. The Shazam app is if you hear music out somewhere …

Steve: Okay, yeah, I remember.

Dean: You press the Shazam button, and it will listen to it, and it’ll recognize what it is, and then it will bring it up. Here it is. Here’s a link where you can buy it. Here’s a link to the lyrics. Here’s a link to the album. All of that stuff, when you get into a big enough list here, even just the Amazon affiliate link to actual book on Amazon, where it’s not just about bypassing buying the book. Here’s the summary, but also, here’s a link to the book in case you really like the summary and want to get it, or that the author, if they have other things that you might be able to introduce people to those as well.

Steve: Yeah, that’s a great idea. The wheels are still turning. I think this is why we had this call is this idea. I’m thinking there’s two ways to do this. One is that it could be, here’s something by ReadItFor.Me. This is something that read it for me promotes, so I could do it as a corporate company type of thing, or I can brand it as something that I promote, so it’s a little more personal. It’s like Steve’s choice. That’s not the right words, but you get the idea. It’s something that I’m promoting to them as a fellow entrepreneur.

Dean: That is a fundamental thing that you need to decide is ReadItFor.Me a distant corporate thing, or is it a hosted community? Is this your thing that you’re going to be the host of, the personality of, the person that is the master curator in a way?

Steve: Yeah, that is something that I have wrestled with, so we do have the logos on the emails, but my picture, and I always sign the email. It’s in between, so I’m interested in your thoughts on it. My opinion is that my feeling about is that the more personal it is, the stronger the bond between.

Dean: Absolutely. Even if it becomes a grand thing.  Have you been in Canada your whole life? Did you grow up there?

Steve: I grew up here. I spent some times in the States playing hockey, but I grew up here until I was 15, and I came back after university.

Dean: Okay, so you know remember Lob Laws and Dave Nichols and President’s Choice brand. Remember how Dave Nichols and for people who are not from Canada, but Dave Nichols was the president of the biggest grocery store in Canada, but he took it on as being your guide to all the best things. He would travel the world and create these President’s Choice products that had Dave’s stamp of approval.

You felt like that guy, he personified a giant brand. I think there’s something where ReadItFor.Me is doing all of these things, but then you’re really the master curator of all of this. You’re one of us. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re doing this as well. It’s your journey.

It’s almost like you’ve create something that is helpful that you would want, that you do use as yourself. If you look at this after unit, this is where the revenue, the opportunities, are going to come from of what can you do to measure in the after unit the return on relationships? That’s where if you take the number of members, and even if you just take our whole profit activator number eight is all about orchestrating referrals.

If you look at orchestrating and measuring a situation that for all of the members you have, how many referrals, or how many people came from people who are from within that membership? Like the viral thing you’re talking about. To measure that as a percentage that you have a metric on. If you have 1,000 members, and even though as it’s growing, you can even measure this on a monthly metric that this month how many people referred? How many new members did we grow from within the current membership? If that’s 5% or 10%, what’s the number? Two percent? How can we affect that metric?

Steve: Yeah, that’s great thinking. One of the questions I have around that is we’ve grown almost exclusively by our partners. One of the challenges are we have grown exclusively by a small number of our partners. Is there another metric? The average doesn’t tell the story that’s important to us, which we’re not going a great job of getting the total number of partners to bring us new memberships.

Dean: Say that in another way. I think what I’m talking about for your after unit is to look at the individuals, look at the members. Like you had said one of the things the social dynamics of this, of people sharing it with their friends, and how can you drive that metric? Not affiliate.

I would say that if you have different categories, like if somebody is doing a jointventure with you, or doing an active affiliate promotion that you’re going to identify those people who have that potential in your during unit as part of your on-boarding process. When we look at the after unit, the individuals, that’s a metric that you could encourage and grow just by paying attention to it.

Steve: Yeah, that’s a good point. We’re lumping everybody together right now.

Dean: Right. You want to make offers. For some people, this is a business opportunity for some of them in terms of an additional revenue stream for their current business, whether it’s their blog, or their podcast, or whatever with their audience. Then there are other people who are consumers, people who are not building an audience per se, but may refer friends or associates on a smaller number. Like a referral, but not as a business level affiliate partner.

Steve: Right.

Dean: Those kinds of metrics, getting those set up, make it. Once you have a number and you understand the number, and you agree that that’s what makes sense, then understanding then gives you the opportunity to engineer the things that can affect that number.

If you listen to any of the things that I’ve talked about with referrals, we know that all referrals happen as a result of conversation. When you look at it that three things have to happen. They have to notice what the conversation is about books or about leadership or about whatever that topic is. They have to think about you, and they have to introduce you into that conversation.

Whenever you set up to make the mechanics of that very easy, whether it’s lots of opportunities for people to share something with a friend or to gift to somebody, that could be a driver of that metric. I think in this kind of situation, I think you’re looking on a monthly and annualized basis to calculate the percentage of return on the number of members.

Every month, that number is going to be growing. Every month, the number, the cumulative membership, is going to be growing, and every month you have an opportunity to see of all the members we’ve joined, what percentage of them were from this after unit?

Steve: Yeah, I think that’s obviously an important piece that we’re missing.

Dean: Yeah. I think you’ve got a pretty spectacular opportunity here. I think the community that you have, if you look at profit activator seven in the after unit of nurturing a lifetime relationship with people, and thinking about what else can we introduce them to? It’s the yin and the yang there in profit activator seven, what are the other things that we could do to serve this group of people, whether it’s promoting things or deeper things with the most popular authors, or the authors who do have training programs, or events, or having events of your own that you can start promoting, you can start holding.

You’ve got all that opportunity once you have that big audience. That’s where, in your after unit, the other revenue sources, other things that you could do, other people that you could partner with to expand the relationship that you have with your audience. It’s pretty cool. You’ve got lots of great opportunities there.

Steve: Thank you. You brought up some really great points for me today.

Dean: What’s your summary?

Steve: Which is always a challenge.

Dean: What’s your summary of quick takeaways here?

Steve: I think one of the biggest things for us to think about how do we get some, like you said, other, whether it’s products, other information, other opportunities to nurture our relationship, where we also make some more revenue off of our community. I think that’s the number one takeaway for me.

I think the number two takeaway is getting better at measuring how our customers, and separating those from our JV partners, and people that email us, and seeing how well. I know we’re not doing well, but making that a metric that we can focus on improving. I think those are my two biggest takeaways from today.

Dean: That’s awesome. Steve, it’s been fun hatching evil schemes with you.

Steve: Thanks so much, Dean.

Dean: I enjoyed it.

Steve: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Dean: Thanks, Steve.


There we have it. Another episode of More Cheese Less Whiskers. If you’d like to continue the conversation, you can go to MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com, download a copy of the More Cheese Less Whiskers book. You can also be a guest on the show if you’d like to hatch some evil schemes and apply the eight profit activators to your business. Click on the “Be A Guest” link on the page, and I’d love to hatch some evil schemes with you.

If you’d like to check out ReadItFor.Me, you can go to ReadItFor.Me/ MoreCheese. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next time.