Developing a Runaway Bestselling Product with Self Journal Co-Creator Cathryn Lavery

Developing a Runaway Bestselling Product with Self Journal Co-Creator Cathryn Lavery

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How Cathryn and Allen came up with the idea for the 13-week SELF Journal (and how they use subscriptions within their business model)
  • How they found manufacturers through Alibaba and why the BestSelf Co team focuses on community in conjunction with offering a high-quality product
  • Why they used Kickstarter to validate the SELF Journal before starting the manufacturing process (and what their content marketing and promotion strategy looked like)

In this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., I chat with Cathryn Lavery, CEO and cofounder of BestSelf Co, a company known for the SELF Journal, a best-selling 13-week productivity planner.

In this episode, Cathryn shares how they designed the journal and funded the manufacturing process. She also dives into the importance of pairing the SELF Journal with community — and how prioritizing customer feedback inspires smart updates to the journal that people actually want.

Want to hear even more smart conversations with small business owners? We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

How to find quality manufacturers

Figure out for yourself what you’re looking for. Describe it to them and show them pictures of what you’re trying to do. Then have them send samples of similar products that they make. If they’ve never made anything like that, there’s going to be another manufacturer that has.

— Cathryn Lavery

Once Cathryn and Allen designed their journal prototype inside a Moleskin, it was time to find manufacturers. They had a clear picture of what they wanted the journal to look and feel like, down to the outer material and the paper quality — now all they had to do was find a manufacturer that would meet their quality needs.

Cathryn recommends first figuring out what you want your product to look and feel like — then find a manufacturer who does what you need before requesting samples. Otherwise, she says, you’ll end up with a library of samples that don’t meet the minimum requirements for your product.

Why you should use Kickstarter to validate a new idea (and get feedback!)

We’re big believers in validating first. Kickstarter is a great way to build a product with your community. You show them the product you want to create. We gave backers a free PDF of what we were creating. People started using it during the campaign and we got feedback that made the product better by the time we went to produce it.

— Cathryn Lavery

The SELF Journal was fully funded within 28 hours of launching the Kickstarter campaign (and they’ve sold a quarter of a million journals since then!) Cathryn recommends running a Kickstarter campaign — especially if you’re creating a physical product that you aren’t sure people will want — before you place orders with your manufacturer.

And how smart was Cathryn and Allen for giving away PDFs? Not only so their community could start using the journal right away but also so they could provide insights to the BestSelf Co team for immediate improvements before the journal went to manufacturing.

How physical products and community go hand in hand

We put out a challenge at the start of every month: fill out your journal every day and post a picture of yourself or put it on social media. That way we can see that you’re doing it every day. If you do it every day, we give you a $10 Amazon gift card. We want them to get in the habit of using the journal. Then there’s more engagement in the community.

— Cathryn Lavery

If there’s anything that sets the SELF Journal apart from other productivity tools, it’s the community that actually uses the product consistently. But just like using any new tool (digital or physical), it takes discipline to form a new habit. To encourage customers to use the SELF Journal right away, Cathryn and Allen built a community around the practice of using the journal every day. By using the community in this way, they’re able to foster relationships and support between customers working towards the same goal.

They also ask customers to share photos of their journal because it encourages new and potential customers to make the journal their own. People don’t want to mess up their new, pretty journal — but they’re that much more likely to use their journal consistently if they see others using it too. As Cathryn says, “it doesn’t have to be pretty — it just has to work.” Yup.

Listen to the full episode with Cathryn Lavery to hear more about BestSelf Co, the SELF Journal, and how she and her team have created a community experience around a physical product.

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Creating Leveraged Income As An Attorney With The Contract Shop Founder Christina Scalera

Creating Leveraged Income As An Attorney With The Contract Shop Founder Christina Scalera

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why Christina prices her contract templates on results (and how her pricing structure changed over the last two years.)
  • How she found her niche of creatives, including calligraphers, photographers, wedding planners, and coaches (and what her surprising top-selling templates are.)
  • How The Contract Shop’s Shopify metrics encouraged Christina to raise product pricing — and how that pricing change inspired her to add additional education to her products.
  • Christina’s smart method for creating content that reaches customers at different stages of business.

On this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., Christina Scalera, IP lawyer and founder of The Contract Shop, shares how The Contract Shop started and how business evolved over the last few years by increasing prices, offering semi-annual sales, and creating solid informational content.

Want to hear even more smart conversations with small business owners? We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

Price experimentation

I was really, really, really scared every single time I raised the price — and nobody noticed. Nobody wrote me an email that was like ‘you raised the prices!’” But I was horrified because I was like ‘nobody’s going to buy now.

— Christina Scalera

Raising prices is scary — or is it? Pricing is all about experimentation and seeing what sticks. As Christina mentions in this episode, she raised prices multiple times — and every time, sales never slowed down. Now Christina’s at a point where she’s comfortable with her product prices — but it was a two-year journey to get where she is today.

Sales and incentives

I’m a big proponent of a twice-yearly sales system. There’s two reasons for that. One because it’s a massive revenue generator. It’s dependable. At 6 month intervals, it’s something that people can tolerate. Secondly, and more importantly, not everybody can afford our templates at the price they’re at.

— Christina Scalera

The Contract Shop’s products range between $17 for the perfect email checklist to $1,499 for a bundle of multiple vendor contract templates for wedding planners, with her most popular templates ringing in at $455. Christina realizes that not every potential customer can afford regular pricing for higher end products so every year, she runs two sales: one during the late spring/early summer and one during Black Friday. She also runs these sales as a recurring source of revenue.

Content creation

I write blog posts in groups of 3. I write one to the core consumer and that’s usually the longer one. Then, I think about someone who’s a little more beginner — where are they at and what’s the issue they’re facing around this topic? Then I think about somebody who’s more advanced or has more years under their belt: what are they concerned about around the same topic?

— Christina Scalera

Christina cares about creating great content — and it pays off. “There’s zero trick: it’s just me being really passionate about writing and creating long blog posts,” she says.

So how does she create awesome content? She thinks about her topic and what each of her 3 customer types need to know. For example, they might want to know more about the client experience. The core customer wants to know how to create a great experience. The beginner customer wants to know how to find clients. The more advanced customer wants to know how to address client refunds. Ultimately, the end result is always to offer a contract to meet their needs.

Listen to the full episode with Christina Scalera to hear more about The Contract Shop, pricing changes and incentives, and behind the scenes of her content creation method.

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Low-Key Launching With The Persuasion Method Creator Bushra Azhar

Low-Key Launching With The Persuasion Method Creator Bushra Azhar

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Bushra shares exactly how she takes her people from what she calls Dread to Dream, including the different products that meets customers wherever they’re at.
  • What Bushra’s promotional strategy looks like for 2018.
  • What Bushra does to create buzz around her launches and why she only opens Persuasion Hacks Lab for 48 hours at a time every month.
  • How much Bushra makes every month on Persuasion Hacks Lab — and how much she spends on Facebook ads to grow her list.
  • Bushra talks us through the psychology behind her Facebook ad strategy and why her goal is only to add people to her list (plus, how she builds a list for buyers instead of what she calls freebie hunters.)

On this episode of Power. Profit. Pursuit., I talk everything products, persuasion, and promotion with the hilarious Bushra Azhar, copy strategist at Persuasion Revolution and mom of two living in Saudi Arabia. Bushra takes us behind the scenes of her successful launches, what her sales process looks like, and why she focuses on building a list of buyers (20% of her list are buyers!) and not just freebie hunters. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Bushra and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On creating products for your customer’s journey from Dread to Dream

The way I have structured my products is that I imagine a problem that I see, a person who is facing a problem, and I map out a journey. I call it the “Dread to Dream Journey.” The person is in a dreadful situation and you need to take them to a dream situation. When I map out that Dread to Dream Journey, I don’t just create one solution that takes them from the dread to the dream in one full step.

— Bushra Azhar

Bushra creates products that help her customers solve 20% of their problems, 60% of their problems, and 100% of their problems, depending on where they are in the journey. Each product brings her customers closer and closer to their dream — and further away from the dread.

Look at your customer’s journey then look at your products. Are they helping your customer make 20% headway on their pain point? What about 60%? And what does your 100% transformational product look like?

If you only have a 100% transformational offering, how can you meet some of your customers needs by offering an entry-level product at 20% that helps them help themselves — then want more and continue onto another product?

How to capitalize on launch buzz to sell different tiers of products

You create a lot of hype, you pay money to create, you create money to create a buzz, but you can’t just milk all that buzz with one product. You can’t just milk all that buzz with just one launch. You have to keep in mind that the buzz will continue to the next launch. You just need to give people a path to move to the next launch.

— Bushra Azhar

Bushra walks us through how she runs her Sold Out launch — and she reminds us how important it is to capitalize on the energy and interest captured during any launch. While some people may be ready for a higher investment product like Sold Out Launch with a $2,000 price tag, she always offers Persuasion Hacks Lab as a down-sell.

If you have an upcoming launch, do as Bushra does and offer a lower price point product to anyone who doesn’t buy your main launch offering. So much energy and money goes into a launch — so capitalize on it.

Why selling budget programs sets you up for failure

When you’re only selling budget, you are setting yourself up for failure to scale beyond a certain point, because there are people out there who want more support, more transformational experiences, more time with you, more coaching, more things, and you’re not letting them do it.

— Bushra Azhar

Finding the pricing model that works for you and your business is incredibly important to a sustainable business model. Bushra is passionate about a sustainable and profitable sales process. Part of that is understanding who you want to work with and what they want from you.

While some people may only need what she calls a 20% solution, there are countless more who want a higher touch service that you aren’t providing by selling only budget solutions. How can you revamp your existing products to meet the needs of customers who need more from you? How can you restructure your products to meet the needs of customers who need less?

Listen to the full episode to hear even more from Bushra on the products she uses to take customers from Dread to Dream, exactly what her promotional strategy for 2018 looks like, and how she runs her Facebook ads to “seduce” prospects.

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Growing A Coaching Business Using Books with Your Kickass Life Founder Andrea Owen

Growing A Coaching Business Using Books with Your Kickass Life Founder Andrea Owen

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why Andrea titled her second book How To Stop Feeling Like Shit, plus what workarounds she used to promote the book on Facebook.
  • How she planned for and used podcast interviews to promote HTSFLS — and why she recommends them for promoting a book.
  • How she set up her sales funnel and email segmentation strategy for book #2.
  • What challenges Andrea faced during her first book’s launch — and what she specifically changed for the second book’s launch.

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I chat with Andrea Owen, life coach, podcaster, and author of 52 Ways To Live A Kick Ass Life, and most recently, How To Stop Feeling Like Shit.

Andrea sat down with me for a quick interview where we dive into how marketing her second book differed from the first, the journey (and challenges) she faced while writing her manuscript, and what she’s working on next.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On working with — and embracing — success

I knew this book was going to be bigger. I knew that the publisher was going to ask more of me — and I needed to ask more from myself on a mental and emotional level. I really had to call myself out on it: just naming it, doing my own work, and leaning on my support system.

— Andrea Owen

An idea that comes up frequently when talking with Andrea is our rising above our upper limit. It’s the voice that dictates how successful and happy we can be. One step past that limit? The mind wants to self-sabotage. Andrea knows her upper limit well — but she’s learned how to outwit it.

It’s safe to say that most entrepreneurs face their upper limit at least once in their journey (and probably much more.) So too did Andrea — but she used the success of her first book as an opportunity to rise to the occasion, tap into her community for strength, and keep pushing forward.

On marketing a book through podcast interviews

Statistics show that podcast hosts tend to have more loyalty than, say, Good Morning America or The Today Show. So we sat down with our team nine months out and we started the process. It was researching [podcasts] and reaching out to my colleagues. I even asked on my personal Facebook profile. I knew it was just going to be for a season. In total, when this is all done, I’ve easily done 75 interviews.

— Andrea Owen

Online marketing strategies are constantly changing — and as an entrepreneur, you need to keep a watchful eye on new trends and adapt to them for success. For her second book, Andrea and her team looked at what worked for the first book and what didn’t, then tweaked the plan.

Where they saw an opportunity? Podcast interviews. Out of everything she’s done to promote her new book, Andrea says podcasts work best. If you’re promoting a new book or program, add podcast interviews to your strategy.

And like Andrea, put the bulk of your energy there, and see what comes back.

Listen to the full episode with Andrea Owen to hear more about how she used podcasts to promote her new book, how she pushes back on self-sabotage, and what her sales funnel and email segmentation strategy looks like.

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Serving & Selling To Bigger Businesses with Bonova Advisory Founder Breana Patel

Serving & Selling To Bigger Businesses with Bonova Advisory Founder Breana Patel

The Nitty Gritty:

  • What specific services and offerings entice large companies and organizations to hire boutique firms, like Bonova, instead of doing it in-house.
  • Why Breana’s always up-to-date on what her competitors are doing, what she and her team do to win proposals, and what the sales process looks like at Bonova.
  • How travel influences Breana’s perspective and positively impacts her business.
  • What systems Breana put in place at Bonova to make it easier for single moms to balance raising their children and working at the firm.

Today, my guest on Profit. Power. Pursuit. is Breana Patel, Founder and CEO of Bonova Advisory, a minority woman-owned consulting firm based out of New York City. She shares what working with large banking institutions and state/federal agencies with net assets of at least $10 billion looks like — and how the firm’s methodology and systems relate to owning, and growing, a small business.

Breana boasts over 17 years of leadership experience in addition to holding a Masters in Finance. Besides leading Bonova, she’s an Executive Fellow at MIT, non-profit board member, and angel investor. Listen to the full episode to hear Bonova’s sales process, how Breana wins proposals, and where she’s traveling to next.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On why large organizations choose small, nimble boutique businesses

Large organizations have large teams. When a change is introduced, it becomes too cumbersome for large teams to manage the change. We are boutique and we offer personalized services to our clients. This allows us to be nimble and agile in our approach.

— Breana Patel

As a small business owner, you might think it’s difficult to land a corporate client. Maybe you haven’t worked with one yet — or you just haven’t seen how what you do can meet their needs.

Let me give you an example. While some large organizations and corporations have an in-house graphic design team, they don’t have a branding specialist. Or maybe they have a content writing team but they don’t have an on-site SEO strategist.

This is where running a small, nimble business works well. You can jump right in and fill the gap between where the client is and where they need to go (without working the 9-5 yourself.) In our interview, Breana adds that most team members on these large teams have daily responsibilities so they simply don’t have the time to contribute to a new project or big change happening at the company.

Think about what you do best, whether that’s personal branding, content strategy, or team building. What’s different and unique about what you do — and how does hiring you or your team fill the gap for a larger organization?

On winning proposals (and being the best at what you do)

It’s always good to know what’s going on in the market and what others are doing, but you have to be best at what you do. When we put in our proposal, we win because of the type of the in-house methodologies and frameworks we’ve developed, the type of the resources we have, and the experience that we bring on board.

— Breana Patel

Breana shares her process on winning proposals — and it’s not just down to price. It’s because of everything else that she and her team bring to the table. This is a good reminder for small business owners: that you can grow your business not just on the experience you bring to the table (also important!) but also based on the service that you provide clients.

For potential Bonova clients, it’s not just about price: they’re attracted to the realm of opportunities from working with Breana’s team that goes further than their collective experience: strategy, additional training, and post-implementation training.

What ways can you level up your services? How can you differentiate what you do from the competition? How can you provide value to your clients and potential clients right now? All good questions to ponder.

On travel’s positive impact on business and life

Travel’s played a major role in my life. Travel leads to open-mindedness and understanding of various cultures. And since I understand so many cultures, I’m able to understand the thought process behind certain actions taken by individuals and the psychology behind it.

I’m in a business which is heavily reliant on people. Because of travel, I’m able to break the ice and start talking to any person from anywhere in the world. It’s helped me connect with different people from different backgrounds.

Plus, innovation and creativity is fostered when a variety of people from different cultures, experience, personality, etc. work together. So this helps us creatively solve challenges and understand global markets.

— Breana Patel

Have you ever heard a more compelling reason to travel more that would benefit your business?

While not everyone enjoys traveling, for Breana, there’s a bridge between travel and her ability to connect with anyone. And when you work within a global marketplace, it’s even more important to understand different perspectives and motivations.

Think about your clients: what are some ways that you can expand your understanding and beliefs to benefit your relationship with them? While you may not be able to travel, watching movies and documentaries or reading books can provide a window into different cultures and perspectives to help you bridge the gap.

Listen to the full episode with Breana Patel, Founder and CEO of Bonova Advisory, to hear more on winning proposals, working with large-scale clients, and empowering women.

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Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fiddler

Growing a Business For Good with SheNative founder Devon Fidler

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why Devon’s personal experience as an Indigenous woman, plus her political science background, moved her to start a fashion-focused brand with a social good mission.
  • How Devon bakes SheNative’s social good mission into everything from social media content to employee management to big business decisions.
  • Why and how Devon reached the media to cover SheNative’s story, including global news stations, NBC radio, Shaw TV, and local radio stations before she had a single product.
  • How Devon raised almost $23,000 on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to fund product development and SheNative’s first production run.

Today on Profit. Power. Pursuit, I chat with Devon Fiddler, the Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods, a brand of handbags and accessories that helps to empower and change perceptions of Indigenous women and girls.

We cover how she first got the idea for SheNative, how her company’s social impact mission affects both her strategic thinking and her daily activities, and why she chose fashion as a conduit for change making.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On baking a social mission into your brand

We feel that our designs and what we’re doing as a company are really a catalyst to transform public perceptions of indigenous women by sharing positive stories and conveying our cultural teachings embedded within our designs. It’s in everything we put out. It’s about empathy and accentuating hope for positive change to the public.

— Devon Fiddler

At SheNative, Devon’s approach is based on a social good mission: to empower Indigenous women and girls. That mission is baked into everything she does from posting content on social media, managing employees, and making important business decisions.

As Devon shares, one of those big decisions was closing her retail store. She struggled with the choice, knowing it would cut jobs, “but I knew that in the longer term that there will be more jobs later on,” she says. “I’ve had to just think about it in a big picture level — because the day to day stuff like that can really bog you down.”

What’s your business mission? Even if it’s not a social good one, your mission gives you direction no matter if you’re mapping out your content strategy for the month, reviewing potential partners, or hiring new employees.

Define your business mission — and see it through everything you do.

On launching a fashion brand without a fashion or business background

There’s a million ways I could have started a company that helped empower women, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion. I had no design experience whatsoever when I first started. I just jumped into it. I hired out designers and creative people to work with and that’s where I’ve seen the connection as to how we can help Indigenous women: by working with them and by sourcing out all of the creatives that I can, as well as putting my vision and touch into it.

— Devon Fiddler

What I love about Devon’s story is that she believed in what she was doing, she jumped in, and she didn’t ask for permission. She didn’t wait for the perfect timing. She didn’t go to fashion school to prove she could do it. Instead, she worked with creative people who could do what she couldn’t.

Through that process, she also found that she didn’t need to be the maker: she could serve as the visionary and still add her personal touch while providing jobs to Indigenous women in her community.

If you’re a business owner without formal training in business, you probably resonate with the quote above. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to know everything because you can find people who compliment your strengths and weaknesses as Devon did.

On reaching out to the media

The first time I reached out the media, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a media list first, then I wrote a personal email about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I really focused on the why. I basically told them: you know what, I don’t even have product yet but please cover me because we really need your help in order to raise money so that I can start this project. That’s what really interested a lot of the media outlets that covered me.

— Devon Fiddler

Sometimes you don’t need to wait to perfect your pitch or learn how to write a press release. Sometimes you just do it. Armed with a social good focused business and a positive story, Devon reached out to the media in an honest and authentic way — and it worked for her.

If media outreach and coverage is a struggle for you — or if you haven’t even considered it yet — remember that your pitch doesn’t need to be perfect. Start with where you are, with your unique perspective, and just dive in. Like Devon showed, you don’t even need to have product yet. Instead, use your business’ mission and story strategically to get media coverage and build momentum around your cause.

Listen to the full episode with Devon Fiddler to hear more about how she bakes her social mission into everything she does, how she created SheNative around her personal experience and beliefs, and much more.

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