Article #1- Is a good product all you need?

23 September, 2022

I want to kick things off by sharing why Billy and I chose the name “Keystone.” That will also explain what sets this apart from every other program out there.

I’ve had an online business for a decade now and seen so many marketing gurus come and go, all promising to teach you everything under the sun: from fancy sales funnels to flashy web design, to “secret” landing page templates, to sophisticated email sequences, to SEO optimization, to social media ad-buying…you could spend a lifetime studying this stuff.

Then I watch creators and entrepreneurs trying to grow a sustainable business attempt to take all of that in, all at once. For some reason, people think they can and should swallow an ocean of knowledge on every possible aspect of marketing in one giant gulp. It’s a recipe for overwhelm and burnout, which is especially infuriating because it’s not necessary.

Online marketing is a world unto itself. There are a hundred different niches and specialties you could choose from. It’s not realistic to expect to learn all these facets all at once, all upfront, from one person.

You have to ask yourself: For where I am right now, where should I focus my efforts where it will really make a difference?

For the vast majority of educational products I see online, that one thing is nailing your marketing message.

Why should your customers care?

How are you different?

Why should they trust you?

You can have every other aspect of your product perfectly designed – if you don’t take the time to understand your customer and how you can help them, no one will ever experience what you have to offer.

You can have the most transformative offering, but if people don’t sign up, your business will shrivel up and die.

You can even sell some spots to your friends, but if you don’t have a system to draw new people into your orbit and cultivate a relationship with them, you’re soon going to find yourself calling distant acquaintances like a pyramid scheme salesperson.

With Building a Second Brain, it took me years to realize that it’s harder to sell a course than to create a course. I spent years working harder and harder, mistakenly believing that if I just made the course good enough, somehow the sales would take care of themselves.

Let me say that again, because the implications are profound: it is much, much harder to effectively sell a product than it is to make it in the first place.

Anyone can “make” a course – slap together some slides and videos, put up a web page, and voilá, you’re a course creator! There are absolutely no requirements to meet or gatekeepers to please, which is the beauty but also the curse of our industry.

But selling your offering – that is where your well-laid plans collide head on with reality. Because people will not part with their money unless you speak in their language, on their terms, to their needs. It’s the true test of whether what you’ve created is sustainable and repeatable, or a nice art project.

I know, this offends our sensibilities as artists and creators. We truly want to believe that if we just create something good enough, people will seek it out. It feels wrong that we should have to also do our own marketing.

Can’t someone just do it for us?

But if it is harder to sell a product than make a product, that means whoever does the selling is always going to capture most of the value (and profit). Even if you are lucky enough to find someone or some platform to do your marketing for you, the price they extract for that privilege is going to be extremely steep and you’ll never be fully in control.

But the marketing that I’m talking about isn’t mere “promotion.” It’s not just talking indiscriminately about your course to anyone who will listen.

I’m talking about marketing as product development. Marketing as user research. Marketing as content creation. Marketing as world-building. Marketing as customer service. Marketing as deep empathy.

I’m talking about marketing that is so good, that sales become unnecessary because people sell themselves.

We call this program Keystone because your marketing message is THE keystone, the bottleneck, the linchpin of your products.

Like the keystone at the top of a stone arch, it is the piece that holds everything else together. Like a “keystone habit,” it is the critical element that compounds your results over time.

Customers are the oxygen of your business. They give you the permission to keep going, the feedback to improve, and the thank you’s (and revenue) that make it all worthwhile. Find your tribe of customers, and the rest will take care of itself.

I want to be totally clear: the upcoming Keystone is not going to cover your product. Billy is NOT going to help you build or improve your course, membership program, or workshops. We’re assuming you’ve got your product handled. We’re going to show you how to market it.

Nor will you learn everything under the sun about marketing. You’ll only learn what matters most: Crafting a clear, compelling message.

The reason is, there are no set of “best practices” you can just copy wholesale from others. Every product is different, and you have to learn what your customers need through direct interaction with them.

Instead, we’re going to help you build the marketing engine that powers your education business. The beating heart of any online business, which is strangers on the internet saying “yes” to your offer.

With this keystone in place, you’ll have the resources you need to learn and build everything else when it’s actually needed. You’ll be speeding along in the journey, not just thinking about the journey from the sidelines.

And that’s why we called it the Keystone Accelerator.

In my next email, I’ll share with you my best advice on what’s working in online education marketing now, and which tactics you should absolutely avoid. These Dos and Don’ts will illuminate how Billy’s approach to marketing is different from anything else out there.

Best,

Tiago

P.S. I’ve removed the paywall from my blog post Behind the Scenes of a Profitable Online Course, which details my path to a six-figure annual income from online courses.

It illustrates the path to sustainable profitability that we’re seeking to accelerate for participants of our program.

About the Author

Meet Billy Broas, the creator of The Five Lightbulbs

Billy got into marketing in 2010, when he left his career at an engineering company to start his own business on the internet.

Since then, Billy has been the marketing brains behind some of the top online entrepreneurs and course creators. His clients include David Perell, Tiago Forte, Kimberly Snyder, and Ryan Deiss.

An introverted intellectual, and definitely not a "natural marketer," Billy saw an opportunity to create a tool for anyone who wears a marketing hat. Read more about Billy's story here.