Justin Brooke of DMBI is the go-to guy if you're looking to optimize your website for conversions & dabble into paid acquistion. He started his business with just $60 dollars and from there has built an empire that has sold millions of dollars worth of products for his clients.
Justin's business allowed him to leave a construction job he hated, bring his wife home to work with him on his business and travel the world - most recently spending nine months on a trip around the world.
Here's what he has to say...
Ashley: Alright, hey Teachable Tribe. Ashely here with Make Change. I'm excited for today where we're sitting down with Justin Brooke and Justin, do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Justin: Hey guys. Thanks for having me on here. I don't know if you want to go into the long story but I started selling info products in 2007.
I have a company called IMScalable and I started with a really pathetic $60 a day ad campaign. Within a year, I had a six-figure business and now I've been doing it for 10 years. I could go into that more but basically, I doubled my money every month for 11 months in a row and then had a six-figure business and done great things ever since.
I want to dig into a little bit of how you did that and why you started doing that. So let's take it from the beginning. What was the impetus to start doing this at all?
I hated to sweat. I was working on a construction site and I literally had a vision. Maybe it was almost a heat stroke. I don't know but I had this vision that I was going to be working inside in the air conditioning, I was going to be sitting on this gray, crushed velvet chair and the phone was involved but I think the phone was a metaphor for the internet but I did work in sales and I did some phone stuff as well.
So that was like the impetus.
I hated sweating and so I just saw some guys online who made money with websites and so that was my goal in the beginning. It wasn't to start a business or anything. I wanted a website that would pay my bills. That was as much as I knew back then.
People thought I was ridiculous but I now have websites that pay my bills.
So how did you start building that up into something that was actually profitable?
I hate to say that I got lucky because I don't really believe in luck. I think everybody makes their own luck but there was a little bit of luck and timing involved.
I got an internship with an internet millionaire out in Idaho named Russell Brunson and my job as an intern was to study his quarter-million-dollar marketing library.
So I got the education of a lifetime but it was an unpaid internship so I'm still broke but I took that education, went back home, and begged my wife who was my girlfriend at the time for 60 bucks.
We didn't even have the 60 dollars for the ad campaign.
I had to pay half my electric bill and then use the other half for that pathetic two dollars a day Ad Words campaign. I made 150 dollars in my first month, paid back the electric bill, put the 60 back into the business.
Double, double, double. So that's how it went but it was that internship I landed that really changed everything for me.
Wow, that's awesome. I feel like so many people start where they're just blogging on the side and they wait until it's making money. That's an awesome story.
Yeah, I definitely quit my job way too early. There was a time...so I said that I was doing a little bit of sales.
When I was doing sales, I had learned about these other guys who were making millions online and I went to my boss one day and I just quit. I was like "Hey, I'm going to go start my own business." And he shook my hand and I went.
I spent like five months of making no money.
My girlfriend at that time was pregnant, in college and working to pay all of our bills while I just tried to learn for 16 hours straight and then I got the internship which launched everything.
So breaking it down, going from that kind of $60 a day investment to a little bit more and more, you quit this job. When did you actually feel like you were making money that was sustainable and what did you do that really changed the game besides that internship?
We're talking post internship now and then applying the things that he taught me.
I started making a few hundred dollars a day. I started with $60, then made $150.
I put in $150 and I made $300.
That eventually gets to a point where I was basically making $200, $250 a day which was life changing income for me because most people are hoping to make a $100, $200 a day at a job.
Here I was sitting at home and making $250 a day. The coolest part was we would go out to a restaurant to eat and by the time we got home we made enough sales that it didn't even cost us anything.
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Yeah, that's awesome.
At that point, that's when things really started changing for us and I remember my wife, she still had a job at the time. She was a teacher.
Here I was trying to live this internet lifestyle and I still had to wake up at six a.m. every morning to drive her to work and so I'm still waking up to an alarm clock, I'm still driving to a job.
So every morning I would tell her how much money I made while we were sleeping.
I would just grind on her. She hated that. So finally, eventually, she was like "Okay. Well, if you can get this up to $80,000 a year then I'll quit my job and we'll work together."
So I just hustled until I got to that point and now she works with us and we're doing very, very well now.
Yeah, and now no six a.m. alarm clocks?
Justin: I actually didn't like to wake up early but it's by choice now. It's by choice now.
My working hours are five a.m. to ten a.m. and then I do whatever I want the rest of the day.
So when you first started this business, did you ever imagine it would get to this point where you're making over $80,000 working five to ten?
I'm working on a YouTube video right now so we just looked up some stats.
As I told you, we just got back from a nine-month long trip around the world with my kids.
Around the world.
We made it to Bali and then we realized the world was actually pretty big and we weren't going to go all the way around. We started in Florida six months across the United States road tripping in our truck, got to San Diego, flew to Japan, Japan to Bali, Bali to Australia. Took us nine months in all and we looked and we made $229,000 dollars during that nine months while we were traveling, while we were only working a couple of hours per day so it's been a pretty awesome life.
That's living the dream. Tell me about what your business looks like now. What are you doing and what are you working on?
Right now I'm working on another info product and it's called Digital Media Buyers Institute.
Over the 10 years, for those that don't know, Media Buying is buying ads online and so because of my early success with that and that's the thing that changed my life...literally, paid ads took me from eating ramen noodle soups to eating at Red Lobster. So that's my thing and over the 10 years I've become an expert at that and so that's what we teach at the Digital Media Buying Institute as I help other people understand how to buy ads profitably and how not to be scared. Most people treat it like a lottery. They're like "Okay, I've got $500 or a $100 or a $1,000 to spend." They put the money in the ad network and then they're like "Hope and pray. Oh, I hope more money comes out." That's the wor...it's, not a lottery. It's actually like a science and math to doing it successfully and so that's what we teach. We have a lot of different courses about different types of advertising.
So while you were traveling, was it like just an online course that was up and running? Were you having to answer emails? Curious to what your business looks like while you're traveling.
While I was traveling I actually made the videos at Digital Media Buyer Institute in Bali.
So if you watch the course, you can see all the flowers and greenery in the background and the pool.
So what my day would look like, I'd wake up around five, have something caffeinated to get things kicked off and then I start recording the video or I start making slides so that I can record a video later.
I would record a couple of videos, I would add them to the member's area, I would edit the member's area, add some notes, add some links. That's how I would spend my morning and then the rest of the day I'd spend swimming or going to see the volcanoes in Bali or we kayaked. So if there's a lake near a volcano, it's called a caldera. We got the kayak in the caldera. It was so cool. You're like basically kayaking in a volcano. It was nuts.
That's awesome. Okay, so one thing. You're out in Bali, you're traveling, at the same time, you're filming videos. We help people film a bunch of videos here and everyone gets really caught up on quality and perfection and whether or not they need to hire a film crew. Did you learn anything about that when you were filming videos out there or did you just do it all on your own?
Justin: Yeah, I happened to have broken a lot of rules in my early childhood so it was easy for me to not care about that.
I remember my first couple of videos.
The first three-minute video I shot I think it took me 32 takes or something just to get it out there but the biggest secret I've learned is you're going to make mistakes. It doesn't matter.
I've spoken on stages all over the world, I've made thousands of videos. You will always make mistakes but the camera keeps rolling and the camera doesn't care.
So if I just stuttered on something, I would pause, regain my composure, clap twice so that in the video software I can see where that moment was and then I just keep going. But don't turn off the camera and then reset up and just truck through it. That's the biggest thing that I've learned.
I think that's spot on. That's what we do here. That's what we tell people to do and it's pretty interesting too because having created a couple of courses, I've done it where it's very rough and dirty and then I've done it with like the polish videographer and it was actually the V1 that performed better. People really connect with someone who's real, just talking.
Definitely. The biggest thing is audio quality.
You're just in front of a solid color. It can be white, it can be red, it can be black. It doesn't really matter what shade of black looks a little bit better.
My background is just my computer and I made sure to shut my browser so there's something nice and there's flowers and books. So I just make sure there's not something messy behind me.
But the biggest thing is to make sure your audio quality is good. Background doesn't matter so much. Audio quality will freak people out.
Yes, preach. That's a 100%. If they can't hear you, it's like, no one can learn, no one knows what you're saying.
Yeah, if there's a fan in the background, then that will kill that vibe. You don't really need to go crazy.
You managed to go from a 2% to 25% conversion rate on your website. Can you talk a little bit about how you did that because that's really impressive.
Thank you. I call it the Cookie Theory. And it's probably called something else actually but that's my name for it.
So what it is, is if you go to a bakery, they give you a free cookie, you love that cookie so you buy a box, right.
That's how you sell info products. You have to give them a taste of the info product.
The best way that you can give somebody a taste of an info product is a blog post or a YouTube video.
Whatever is comfortable for you. Maybe you like audio, maybe you like video, maybe you like blogging. Doesn't matter. You give them a taste of some information, then they like that information and want to go "I like this. How can I get more of this?" So they read a couple more blog posts and they're like "Wow, this guy has a course. I bet it's amazing. His blog posts are great."
In business, where do you see people generally going wrong? Whether it's conversions, whether it's ad buying? Where are you seeing people mess up?
Biggest places I see people messing up is looking at the wrong numbers.
There's so many people who are engrossed in how many fans they have or how many readers they have on their blog or even conversion rate.
There's so many businesses that focus on the conversion rate of their pages but I have seen that a lot of times, the higher conversion rate goes, the lower your average customer value will go because at a certain point, you're just getting untargeted people coming through there.
If you wanted to create the highest converting lead gen page possible you would just say "Free winning lottery numbers. Enter your email here." But what would you actually then be able to sell to that person?
So it's not about conversion rate. It's about what is your average customer value and how is the things that you do on your pages impact that number and then a little bit about conversion. So another big one is people focus a lot on their cost instead of their earnings.
Obviously, you can't just let your costs run wild and rampant and you know, just be ignorant but spend 20% of your time optimizing your cost, 80% of your time increasing your earnings because we don't win at business, we don't get to drive Ferraris and travel to Bali by reducing our cost.
We get to do those things by increasing our earnings. If it was just about reducing our costs, well then we just won't run any ads at all and we win.
On that note, when do you suggest people start hiring a paid acquisition manager and when should you try and do it yourself?
People are not going to like this answer because everybody wants to hire a paid acquisition manager like as soon as possible because they don't want to do it.
It's how do you figure out Power Editor and this and that?
But you're not there. I don't want to make blanket statements. There are some good guys out there that you can find for $500 bucks a month that are just up and comers and they don't know what to charge yet.
But It's very rare. A lot of times, the lower costing guys are lower costing guys because they can't keep clients so they have to just keep churning and burning them.
Being in the industry 10 years I want to be as honest as I can be with people.
If you're going to be under $3,000 a month with your ad spend, you've got to learn how to do it yourself.
At best, what you can find is an assistant who knows the platform and they can just be your hands on the keyboard and you're still in charge of the ideas and the strategy and coming up with what you're going to put in your ads but they're actually just loading your ads into the system and they understand how to load up your custom audiences.
You can find a guy like that but you really should be spending like $5,000 a month or more before you go out looking for an actual paid acquisition manager.
No good paid acquisition manager wants to work with a small budget.
I love that there's a number for it because with some things it's like "Whatever is all right for your business and wishy, washy." And now it's like "All right, there."
If you're comfortable spending five, ten grand a month, it means that your sales process is working. Nobody's just going to go and blow five, ten grand a month.
Something's working for you and if something's working for you then the paid acquisition manager can help you grow it even beyond that but if you're scared to spend $3,000 a month the reason you're scared is because your sales process just isn't dialed in.
That makes a lot of sense. While I've got you, I kind of want to ask for course creators and for anyone here at Teachable do you have any specific advice for certain paid acquisition funnels that work really well for premium courses or any specific industry advice there?
I just wrote an article about this and it got very heated because it's like super controversial. Most people would drive their traffic to a squeeze page.
Specifically, for paid traffic, it creates a math situation that's very hard to overcome because if you think about it, a good lead gen page is going to convert 25%, 30%. That means 70% of your ad spend is gone, right. Before they ever even see the sales page, 70% of your ad spend is gone. So it's better to drive straight to a load ticket info product. Something that's maybe a free plus shipping book or a $10 course or even like a $49 course.
Now, you're not going to take cold traffic and send them straight to a $200 or $500 course because those need to be some relationship building but a five dollar, $10 course, free plus shipping, a dollar trial.
You don't need to build a big relationship with that person to convince them that they need this thing. It's worth like a bubblegum purchase so it's an impulse buy. So that's one big lesson I would tell them is drive to a dollar trial, a $10 product, some sort of front end thing and then upsell into the bigger thing. Acquire the customer, make back some of your money really quickly and then work on increasing the scale.
So that's the thing that I would say. Offers that really work well, dollar trials, free plus shipping books or just a book with free shipping. What else works well? Ten dollars. Actually, $10, like one-zero works better than $9.99. It's some psychological thing.
The other thing that's worked really well for me is being able to do a pay what you want pricing and I'm hoping Teachable gets that feature soon but being able to pay what you want has created huge conversion rates for me because why would they not convert if they can make up their price?
But I would never put my main product to pay what you want but I put a decent product up there.
Maybe the first module of a five-module course and allow them to pay whatever they want. You get a lot of people that put in a dollar, trying to rip you off and then you get a lot of people who are putting in fair prices and you get some people that put in astronomical prices.
So I've done pay what you want and I've had people pay me anywhere from a dollar to $200 for that pay what you want course and I care about the average and the average for me was about $14.
And what was that course?
That was a Facebook ad master class. Short, three hours long how to get in there and get started with Facebook ads. So they would do pay what you want. My conversion rates...13% to 17%.
It's huge for a sale.
About how many sales were you making? Only wondering because when you have a low price point around $14 you're probably going to want to sell a lot.
Yeah, I have several thousand.
There you go. That's awesome.
People have to realize, when it comes to paid traffic, it's a math situation. You have X dollars that are going in, X dollars that need to come back out.
Well, there is click through rates and conversion rates that you can put in between there and you can actually, on paper, figure out whether you have a chance of profiting or not and if you can create a profitable situation then you can just keep spending and get as many customers as you want.
We have a formula we always rely on too. It's like how big your email list is times whatever percent your people convert and we always see it...say to use 0.2, 2% is a very, very safe bet. Multiply that by your course price to predict your revenue. You can go from there. Yeah, and so it is. It's a math problem and you can work backward and it's very formulaic and that helps you figure out what to spend.
Absolutely, yeah. And now that I've said that squeeze pages are bad, let me say that squeeze pages are good for so many other situations. It also changes if you have consulting and services. I charge $15,000.
There's no way I can drive paid traffic to something like that so there's a lot of times when you have to use a squeeze page to start building the relationship, follow up with the person and then sale.
Every time I say that it becomes like "He said squeeze pages are dead." And that's not what I'm saying.
Before I let you go, do you have any last minute advice for someone who's starting a business on the side, dabbling in courses? Just that entrepreneur out there?
Push through for a year and one day. I have seen it over in my 10 years. I don't know what happens but people who stick with it beyond a year almost always become very successful. I mean, six, seven figures. I'm not saying billionaires but...
Income, like livable income.
Right. I have seen and taught thousands of people and if you just stick with it through a year, even if you fail for the whole year, I swear it's like something magical happens.
As you stick with it for a year you've learned enough, you've failed so many times.
I always tell people I didn't figure out how to be successful. I just failed so many times I ran out of ways to fail. The next possible thing was the success and so stick with it for a year. Just persevere, cry all you want. Just stick with it for a year because it does work and at that point, you will be successful. It just works.