A CASE STUDY:

MONEY MAKING MARKETING

How a 1-page Google Doc Made $2.1 Million in 4 Months

Most entrepreneurs and small business owners have a hard enough time just getting their marketing tactics to work.

By work, I just mean live and configured to function properly.  

Even fewer have the time, experience, or expertise to get their marketing to surpass merely working to actually performing. And by performing, I mean producing meaningful and predictable results in your business.  

And what usually happens when a marketing tactic doesn’t perform is that the business owner doesn’t know why, and often thinks it’s the marketing tool’s fault, the strategy’s fault, the product’s fault or the marketer’s fault (even if the marketer is themselves).  

But none of the above could be true, and there’s only one way to find out and one thing to do to fix it once you do.  

  • It can’t be the tool’s fault if the tactic is functioning properly
  • It can’t be the strategy’s fault if it worked before or for another business. 
  • It can’t be the product’s fault if you’ve sold it before 
  • It can’t be the marketer’s fault if they’ve previously had success.  


That answer is in The Narrative of your offer - the messaging you choose and the audience you align that messaging to.  

So the key to taking marketing from just working to performing is Nailing Your Narrative. Putting the exact right message, with the exact right words and images in front of the right people, and then evoking the exact right emotions and beliefs to compel them to act.  

It’s easy to do, and the good news is that you don’t even have to get it exactly right.  

"So the key to taking marketing from just working to performing is Nailing Your Narrative."

To illustrate the power of Nailing Your Narrative and the relevance to any size business, let’s look at two examples.  

To make it interesting we’ll use two very different businesses at very different revenue stages:  

  • A low-6-figure Jr. High American Football Academy
  • A high-7 figure African MBA Program and school of business  

How we’re going to structure this report

First, let’s look at a promotional video that explains the “narrative” of each offer. 

Second, let’s look at the original positioning document used to create the ingredients of the video content.  

Finally, and this is the really fun part, let’s look at a “testimonial” style video with the customers themselves after they experienced the offer to see how what they have to say compares to the original marketing narrative.

What we’ll see is “Marketing Inception” where we understand our target market segments so well, we use the words they describe their problems and pains with and then they use the same words to tell the world.  

And that is how you amplify your message, multiply your marketing efforts via word of mouth, and further monetize your raving-fan customer base. And this is when your revenue machine is truly fired up and running.  

Case Study One

Toros Football Academy

Summary

The Toros Football Academy is a Jr. High American Football Academy that teaches players the skills, knowledge, and mindset to be a high-performing high-school football player without the frustration of ego and politics.  

The academy launched in 2014 with zero players and just 6 weeks until the season. It has since won 5 championships including the national championship as well as over 90% of its alumni in the “starting lineup” in high school with over 50% earning varsity letters in their sophomore year.  

Here’s where I get to be totally straight with you: this is one of my own businesses. Which affords me the ability to show you completely behind the curtain. It also allows me to be totally self-deprecating.  

The video you’re about to see is home-made, in a single day, for a marketing effort lasting only one week. If you struggle with content, or video content, this should make you feel a lot better - I’m not real good on camera in this video.  

And if you’re running on a shoestring budget or a bootstrap model, you may relate to this too: the cameraman is my 7-year old son. “Just...push the red circle...no, the red circle...dammit...let me show you…no, you’re doing great buddy...”  

Okay, here’s the interactive part - grab a pen or pencil and jot down some key messages, phrases, or words, that stick with you as something “important” or “interesting”. Just write it on the back of an envelope or something on your desk. Do it. Coach Mac said so. 

VIDEO 1: Toros Promo Video:

 

So, I’m not winning any Emmy’s on this video, but over 800 people watched it in one week and we filled a team with 30 players paying 10x a normal youth football league fee. So what matters is the message, The Narrative, not the acting talent, fortunately. 

Okay, so all the above, the video, the script, the positioning document, was just an educated guess that we hoped the market would respond to.  

Fortunately, enough of the market did respond so that we could fill the first team in time for the season just six weeks later, and fortunately, we were able to deliver on our promises.  

VIDEO 2: Toros Testimonial Video: 

Now watch the second video with the customers themselves talking about the product later that season. What you’ll hear will sound very much like the ideas and even words we used in our original messaging. This is how we know we nailed our narrative. 

 

Quick Exercise: 

Compare key messages that stand out to you to the following themes: 

I'm guessing that your list looks similar to this one:

  • Preparation for high school  
  • Teaching and developing players
  • Professional coaches not volunteer dads
  • No ego or politics
  • Not winning focused
  • Organized
  • Strong communication
  • Focus on character, not just athletics 

Of course this is no coincidence, since the script, which you can read here, literally came almost verbatim from the positioning document created from our “market research”.  

Your “research” can be as simple as talking to your customers over the years or as robust as surveys and interviews. For this, we created the narrative then pressure-tested it with past and potential clients to validate. 

See the original Positioning Document here.

SUMMARY

When the key themes in the narrative of your promotional marketing pop up again from the mouths of your raving fan customers, you know you’ve nailed your narrative.  

And now you can start to enjoy the benefits of a revenue machine largely driven by the power of brand and amplified for free by your past and present customers.

Case Study Two

African Leadership University School of Business

Summary  

The ALUSB MBA is a pan-African, 20-month business leadership development programme for ambitious professionals designed to groom Africa’s business leaders in a relevant, world-class and innovative way.  

The MBA launched in 2016 with zero students and just 4 months until the inaugural class arrived in Kigali, Rwanda. It has since added two classes with over 150 MBA students from over 35 countries and has received over 7000 applications in its first year.  

Here’s where I get to be totally straight with you, again: I was the VP of Marketing and Admissions for ALU and launched the MBA and School of Business. Which affords me the ability to show you completely behind the curtain and again allows me to be totally self-deprecating. 

So let's take a look at two videos we used at ALUSB following the same format as the previous case study.

And again, get out your or pencil and jot down the key messages you think stand out as important selling points  

VIDEO 1: ALUSB Promo Video:

The first video captures the business school’s Vice Dean speaking about the program’s key differentiators of the program and would be used in an email and social campaign to drive applications and brand awareness.

Again, jot down notes on the key messages that stand out to you as you listen to this first video.  

VIDEO 2: ALUSB Testimonial Video:

Now watch and listen to the second video which was shot after the first week of the MBA’s inaugural class and has the students themselves discussing the program, their experience, and its benefits.

Compare the message and specific words the customers use to those from the first video.

Quick Exercise: 

Pick out some key messages that stand out to you, and you’ll probably hear the following themes: 

  • World-Class
  • African context and case studies
  • Immediately applicable
  • Pan-African network
  • Proven business leaders
  • Leadership 

Again, this is no coincidence, since the video narrative notes to the editor of the first video, which you can read here, literally came almost verbatim from the positioning document created from our “market research”.  

See the section of original Positioning Document here

Summary

Here's the really cool part about the last ALUSB video. We didn't tell the videographer what to put in the video. Let that sink in. 

I gave him 5 interview prompt questions so he had something to work with. Then he spent 2 days interviewing students. This video itself was just a teaser video he editted onsite for the final dinner at the end of the week. Zero input from me. 

Yet, the outcome is an even stronger narrative from the mouths of our target customers telling the world what we want the world to know, but doing it more emphatically, with more conviction and more authority than we ever could. 

That's freaking exciting. And you can do the exact same thing in your marketing.

Wonder how this impacted revenue a year later? 

The Formula for Nailing your Narrative 

  • Find out what your market wants, and how they talk about it
  • Create a narrative document about the problem, solution, features, and benefits of your offer
  • Test your narrative, revise, and launch it in your marketing
  • Capture testimonials from your customers and see if they use similar language
  • Revise, Rinse, Repeat, Rake in Revenue 

SixthDivision helps entrepreneurs and business owners create Predictable Revenue Machines through architecting and implementing systematic Client Journeys that get more prospects to buy and customers to buy more. 

Are you ready to learn how to talk to your customers and prospects so they actually want to buy from you?

Bonus

How to use Narrative to adjust in-game to hit your numbers 

Let’s take a look at the power of narrative to optimize existing content and increase your numbers without creating new content.  

Summary  

At ALU, our initial goal for the MBA launch was 1000 applications for the first class of 50 students. Just 12 days before the final deadline, we were short of our goal by over 100 applications and in danger of missing our target.  

We were out of “ammo”. We had no more content, no more tactics, and no more time to try something new. 

Our leads had been through our drip campaigns; we pulled all hands on deck for a final Call-A-Thon where members of the undergraduate teams, undergraduate students even, made calls to prospects.

But we were still short. 

It felt like we had nothing else to say to our existing pipe, and not quite enough time to let the new lead generation machine produce over 100 applications in less than two weeks.

So we got scrappy(er) and used the content we already had and got creative with how we segmented and to whom we sent our message.  

Here’s how we hit our numbers at the buzzer: 

We segmented our existing lists, and found who hadn’t engaged our top performing content yet. If someone didn’t open an email with our best video, then we knew they hadn’t seen our best video yet! And we knew when people saw that video, they were moved to act. 

So we created a new campaign with content pieces the people in this segment of our database hadn’t seen yet, and we just reused the same stuff.

We sent an email series that featured the following content pieces: 

  • A video by our Vice Dean. 
  • An article by our Founder. 
  • An article by our Dean.

The applications spiked each day an email went out. 

But we were still short, and had just three days remaining

So we drew up our game-winning play in the dirt. 

We looked to see who hadn’t seen the first video, reworked the subject line, reworked the layout, changed the thumbnail, and even changed the color of the play button on the thumbnail, and we sent the same video to the same people who received it before but hadn’t engaged. 

The result was another spike in application starts, the highest of the week, to the least responsive segment of our contacts. 

We hit our goal of 100 applications to total over 1000 applications, all within the last 24 hours of this massive game we’d started playing a few months before, and it was the power of segmentation, automation, and a tightly aligned narrative to serve our audience. 

What was that last email worth? One enrolled MBA student to the tune of $30,000

So what was the secret?  

Simple, we shifted the focus of the narrative in only two places

  • The subject line 
  • The thumbnail of the video

The original campaign performed very well with over 46% open rate and 92% video engagement. That email focused on the differentiator of “World-Class” and featured the thumbnail image of the school’s Vice Dean from Harvard Business School and Oxford. Certainly world-class.  

However, we learned from all our sales conversations, webinar Q&As, events, and informal research, that another important differentiator to a large segment of the market was the program’s Pan-African context and network. Something we weren’t talking enough about. 

Now, while our Vice Dean is one of the world’s top experts on African business, economy, and culture, she also is a Chinese-Irish, American living in Boston. Not what prospective MBAs think of when they think “Pan-African”.  

So we simply changed up two things and re-sent the video to the list segment that hadn’t opened the email or viewed the video the first few times.  

The new subject line called out, “The Pan-African MBA for Leaders Like You.”  

"A list segment that had been crickets, produced the highest click through rate and applications of all of the previous three emails." 

The thumbnail of the same video content now showed a different frame from the video of an African professional speaking in a conference filled with other Pan-African professionals. 

A list segment that had been crickets, produced the highest click through rate and applications of all of the previous three emails.

The Takeaway for You 

Many marketers and entrepreneurs get enamored with marketing tactics - “what” to do to capture and convert leads and customers in creative ways. I love that too. It’s like the X’s and O’s for a football coach. 

But the secret to marketing that moves beyond “functioning” to “performing” is always about people and the words they use to talk about the problems they face and are willing to pay you to solve.  

All you have to do is get clear on who they are, what their problem really is, how you solve it, and how they ultimately benefit from it.  

Do that, and then actually make good on your promise time and time again, and you won’t have to tell the world how amazing your product is, because your customers will literally do it for you.

SixthDivision helps entrepreneurs and business owners create Predictable Revenue Machines through architecting and implementing systematic Client Journeys that get more prospects to buy and customers to buy more. 

Are you ready to learn how to talk to your customers and prospects so they actually want to buy from you?

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