On this episode of the Swipe File, DG sits down with Billy Gene Shaw, founder and CEO of the agency Billy Gene Is Marketing. Billy Gene has helped some of the world’s top brands and influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Lewis Howes, Daymond John, and more supercharge their social media advertising.
In one of the most tactical episodes of the Swipe File yet, DG and Billy Gene dive into: why everything starts with the offer (and how to create an irresistible offer), how Billy uses Google Trends to see the future, why iPhone videos work so well (including when they are shaky), how he measures advertising success and the importance of speed to recover ad spend vs. the total amount, why people are afraid of ads, how he turned a $31 offer into $1,000,000 in sales in a week, why he doesn’t believe in split testing ads, and so much more.
Billy Gene: What’s up, everybody? It’s Billy Gene, and you’re listening to the [Swipe File 00:00:05]. Keep listening to the Swipe File for actual tactical shit to do, to grow your business. Keep swiping, baby!
Dave Gerhardt: Hey, what’s up, everybody? It’s DG, and this might be the most excited I’ve been for a new episode of the Swipe File, because I’ve realized someone was missing. I’m only talking to big name CMOs, or giving you a rant on myself.
I want to bring in just people that I want to learn from, selfishly, in marketing. And so today, I have an amazing guest. His name is Billy Gene Shaw, AKA billygeneismarketing.com. He is one of the best paid advertising people, experts, in the world, and basically this episode is about 30 minutes of him just schooling me on how to come up with offers, how they run some crazy campaigns, including how he sold an offer on his 31st birthday, for $31, and made over a million dollars in a week. It’s crazy.
I have like pages and pages of notes of this. You can ask the [Drift 00:01:02] team. I went nuts after this interview. Super excited to get it out there. Here’s my conversation with Billy Gene.
Billy: For you and your audience, like cursing, no cursing, I can go either way-
DG: Oh, curse. Please. I don’t know how to speak without cursing, so-
Billy: All right, perfect.
DG: All right. Cool, man. I am here with Billy Gene. Do people call you Billy Gene Shaw, or just Billy Gene?
Billy: They usually just call me Billy Gene, but that’s how I know if I’ve known someone for a long time, because they use my real last name instead of my middle name.
DG: Billy Gene Shaw, why did you go with Bill Gene, then? Why did you use your middle name? Because of all the plays on-
DG: … Michael, and there’s just so many Billy Gene-
Billy: Well you know, it’s crazy. I’m the third. So I’m Billy Gene Shaw the Third, which means my grandpa was there, which means it was before the song. And the song’s about us. But…
DG: I’m not sure that’s true. But yeah. If I’m just replaying the words of the song in my head…
Billy: Maybe it wasn’t. But yeah man, so I went with Billy Gene though, specifically because it was just more marketable. And every time I’ve said “Billy Gene,” I would be like out at networking events or whatever, people remembered it because of the Michael Jackson song. And so they’re like, “Okay,” It just kind of stuck.
Billy: And so for me, from a marketing standpoint, I was like, “All right. Nobody was going to remember Shaw. Everybody remembers Gene. Let’s roll with it.”
Billy: And then I decided to go with it.
DG: So… Okay, so here’s the deal. So if you’re listening to my show right now, you know that this is… we call the show the Swipe File, and I’ve realized that I’ve been having a lot of the best CMOs from B2B companies, you know, doing a billion in revenue. But I want to expand that, and I want to get a little bit more in the weeds on stuff.
And so Billy was the first person that I reached out to. We got connected through Ryan and Marcus, our friends from Digital Marketer who… you know, Ryan’s been on the show a bunch, and just a good friend.
And so I was doing a bunch of research. I told you I didn’t want to prep, but I did read some things. Like people have called you… you’re the best in the world, when it comes to paid advertising. Can you say a little bit more about that?
Billy: I’ll tell you, I mean-
DG: How do you become the best in the world at paid ad… Like you’re not saying… you know, your company is Billy Gene Is Marketing, right?
DG: But, your thing is like social media advertising?
Billy: Correct. I would say one, like everything is subjective, right? Like I… this will be fun because my background and my strength is not typically to the B2B space. We’re more of the, hey, if you’re a local business, underneath the million dollar a year, or if you have that one year… or one million to five million in annual that, that seemed to be the sweet spot for people who apply our shit, and the communication we’ve been having, and the audience that we’ve built.
However as I’m doing more consulting and meeting more people in the B2B space, I look at it and I’m like, “Yo, there’s so much shit that you guys should be doing here.”
And there’s… I don’t know. It’s been kind of like this intersection, and it’s really interesting, man, because it’s the same shit, but different, but the same.
DG: So I mean that is like, I smiled when you said that, because that’s why I get so fired up watching people like you, and just going nuts on YouTube, right? It’s why we hang out with the digital market guys, also.
Like I just think, at the end of the day, if you just follow the playbook in B2B marketing, you’re just going to end up doing what everybody else does, which is send out a webinar that’s like, “Billy, tomorrow at 2 PM, we’re hosting webinar with our friends at blah.”
DG: But like I see some of the ways that you’re… To me, marketing is all about just starting conversations with the people who you want to ultimately buy from you one day. And every great marketer, whether you’re in B2B, B2C, whatever, they all have that one thing in common, which is they understand people. And I think you understand how to make people move, and I think we could plug you… Like you could take my job right now and plug in and be wildly successful at Drift, just because you understand all of those principles, right? Go back to [Cialdini 00:04:47] and the Principles of Influence, and every social psychology book ever, right?
DG: I think if you understand those things, and… it’s just like you’ve used paid as the channel to kind of, you know-
Billy: Yeah. And then that’s funny because even for me, like when people have mentioned that, “Yeah, but I’m B2B,” “Yeah, but I’m B2C,” “Yeah, but I sell physical products,” When I hear that, no matter what, at the end of the day, right, I always go, “Human to human.”
I’m like, “Oh, okay. Like you’re B2B, cool, but who are you selling to?”
They’re like, “Oh, well this person.”
I go, “Oh you are selling to a person? It’s not a thing?”
“Yeah, yeah, well there’s this person, but…”
Oh, it’s fucking human. So we should talk like we’re talking to humans. And for some reason, I feel like that gets lost in the sauce when it’s B2B and these things are at scale. But then it comes back around.
So I think the biggest shift, and the biggest priority I put on marketing today, specifically in 2019 and beyond, is one word that no one’s paying enough attention to. And it’s “Entertainment”.
And I have a saying. I say, “Boring will put you out of business in 2019 and beyond.”
And when you have people, and when people think of scaling their business, at one point or another, they always come to the intersection of social. And you have a lot of B2B people that I’ve personally interacted with, and they say, “Well social doesn’t really work for us.”
And it’s not that social doesn’t work, but the way you’ve been doing business, and you’re trying to transfer into social, that doesn’t work, because of what you just said in the beginning. “Sign up for my webinar.” That shit doesn’t fly anymore.
Like on social, you’ve got to be more creative. You’ve got to be more entertaining. You’ve got the be more polarizing.
And so I think, for me, why I call myself, you know, or other people have called me the best in the world, is because I think I’ve mastered and figured out how to entertain while still educating, and also to maintaining brand integrity, if that makes sense-
DG: It makes total sense. It makes total sense. I want to talk about and example.
So speaking of entertaining, okay, about… less than a week ago, I’m scrolling through Instagram, and I see a video of you, you’re on stage, and I see you pull something out of your pocket, and you’re like, “And I’ll package it all up and I’ll put it on a USB drive and I’ll send it right to your door.”
And then you’re like, “Fuck it. If you don’t want that, I’ll just email it to you, because it’s 2019.”
And I was like, “Oh my god.”
So that’s an example of like… so we stole that offer, packaged up like a ton of our content, and literally last week, shot a video with me, and it’s all digital products that we’re selling, but what I did is I printed them all out. And I took your advice. You said, “Go to Staples.”
We have a nice color printer here, so I didn’t. So there’s a video, I’ll have to send it to you. It’s me… I’m holding up this e-book, and I’m going… literally, yes this is an e-book, but I printed it out, to show you on this video.
And like that is just a little gimmick, but that’s going to get people to start conversations, that I don’t if people are going to want the USB drive or not, but I know that people are going to take a screenshot of me holding that up and be like, “This guy is doing B2B software marketing, and he’s talking about a USB drive?”
By the way, you should see the frenzy that me using a USB drive at a corporate company like this put our IT team in, earlier today.
Billy: Well you know, so let me talk more about the experiment, if you don’t mind-
DG: Yeah, I want to know. I want to know. That’s what… I want the facts. I want the real stuff. So what do you-
Billy: For sure. Okay, so in [crosstalk 00:07:54] file, right? Okay.
So four years ago, I’m running ads to not only get agency clients for my agency, but also to sell our trainings and our courses, etc.
And forever, my whole headline was like, “Hey, you know, get the top ten best performing ads that I’ve ever created, and I’ll email them to you.”
Right? That was the whole thing. And to me, I’m like, “Dude, this is the greatest lead magnet ever. Like who wouldn’t want our best ads?”
And we did it, and it worked, but the cost per lead, I felt like it, for how good of the hook I thought was, it didn’t do as good.
And then I remember being at an event, and I gave things away, physically. And I remember people just like jumping up and down for this physical thing. So I told my team, I said, “You know what? Let’s put a physical component to this.”
And we ordered the flash drives, and we took those best performing ad campaigns, put them on a little flash drive.
So I’ll talk you through the entire ad. So the first thing was entertainment and curiosity, getting people to watch. And one thing that has already been proven to work are [unboxings 00:08:53]. You can go all through YouTube, right, and when people unbox stuff, people pay attention. And as the user, when someone’s opening a box, you can’t click away, because you have to know what’s in the box, like at this point.
So I said, “Okay, let’s follow that.”
So I get my team out, and we get a camera out. I think we filmed it on a frigging cell phone, mind you. And I said, “All right, start recording,” And I said, “Hey, what’s up, everybody? It’s Billy Gene, and inside this box I have a gift for you, that’s going to change your business.”
And then I literally opened the box, I gut it open, and I go, “Boom. Right here is a USB drive, with my ten best performing ads ever. I’ve been running an agency, I work with these franchises, da, da, da, da, da, and I want you to have it. All you’ve got to do is paying the shipping.
“By the way,” And then this is getting into the objection, “By the way, if you’re one of those people who’s like ‘Oh my god, no, I have to pay shipping,’ then shut the hell up. You don’t deserve it. Get out of here. You’re cheap. You’re exactly the type of customer we don’t want to attract.”
And I basically say that. And then I say, “Click here, I’ll send it to you. Tell me where to ship it.”
And here’s where you really get the urgency. I said, “By the way, this is a box. I only have this many,” And I start passing out to the team. So I said, “As soon as these are gone, they’re gone.”
And I said, “You know what? Maybe I’ll order more, but I’m not going to promise that. So here you go. Once these are gone, we’ll figure it out from there. There you go. Boom.”
And that was the offer.
Now here’s the craziest thing about this experiment. Number one, it converted like crazy. People… boom, boom, boom. But this was the best part, is as the upsell, for $29.95 or $19.95, I don’t remember exactly, on the upsell it was a little bump, just a little check mark button that you click. And it said, “Hey, if [inaudible 00:10:22] like me, and you want these right away, and you’d also like us to send you the digital, then go ahead and click here, and you can purchase the instant access right now.”
Now we’re selling the thing they didn’t want for free, and we’re getting like one out of three people to take the bump.
DG: And playing on the instant gratification. “I don’t want to wait four days to get this in the mail.”
Man, that’s amazing. So how do you… like when you come up with a crazy… I want to know like your process, right? Because you… The most fun part of marketing, to me, is like you’re in the shower, you’re at the gym, you in the car, you’re like, “Oh, I got this crazy idea.”
What happens… like go behind the scenes and tell me what happens from like, you have this idea for an offer, and I want to know all the way to like how do you then go get traffic on the offer. Because it’s not like you jut added a new page to your site and got four people in your funnel. So I want to know like that whole process.
Billy: Yeah, so at first, I think I just started to do videos and kind of like have fun with it, whatever I just felt like doing. But then as I learned more and got better, I really started to realize, there’s like… there’s math to this. And the first thing that I like to do, to give your audience tactics, I’m a tactic guy, is live in Google trends, right? And so just, for those of you that aren’t familiar, a lot of you listening probably are, but just go to Google, type in the words, “Google trends,” And then in there, they’re going to tell you, for free, it just says what everybody’s talking about, in the world.
So for example, when the Avengers came out, everybody was hyped on the Avengers, right? It was the number one selling movie of all time, out of anything, ever. But trending on Google was The Avengers. And so, to me, that’s where my brain starts.
See like notice most time you talk to marketers, it’s like, you know, “Well what’s my audience want? The product? The customer? Da, da, da, da, da.”
No, no, no, no. Because I know if want my shit to actually be seen, and I want my cost typically to go down, I need to go to entertainment first. So I start with the trending. Okay, so Avengers.
Then I may say, “All right, well the Avengers is trending. How can I be creative enough to make my offer, and still talk about the Avengers?”
And that’s where it begins. And then I do this simple exercise. I take out a blank piece of paper, and I draw a giant capitalized letter T like this, if this was on a paper, you see this right here? And then on the left side, or the right side, this side over there, I write, “Problem.” And on the other side, I write, “Solution.”
And then I write the top ten problems that that audience member is facing. Like whoever it is, that customer that I want, what are their top ten problems that they’re facing? And then I view them and I say, “Okay, well which one of these can I solve with my solution? And what’s going to be the sexiest?”
Right? And that’s how I really focus the whole thing, is the offers. As you start with the entertainment of like, you know, how am I going to put this, and then what I do, stylistically on the videos, to figure out how we should do it internally, because I’ve got six people in-house, and a media team, and this is what we do, but one thing I’ve started doing is we’ll meet in the boardroom, and then we go to YouTube.
And so let’s say we’re like, “Okay, Avengers is popular right now.”
We’ll go to YouTube, and then we’ll start typing in the Avenger clips, and we’ll look at the style of which they shoot, the outfits, the dialogue, you know, anything that we can take from it.
So we do a lot of modeling in regards to how we should film something, etc. And yeah mean, that’s pretty much it. But I tell people all the time, is like, if people have seen my ads before, and they’re more highly produced, those ads can be effective. The most profitable ads, right here. Cell phone-
DG: Oh, okay, I remember now. I remember how you got me. You used to have this ad that was like you, but in the computer.
Billy: Yeah, and I jump in the computer.
DG: And you jump in the computer. And I’m like, it must have been right right after I heard your name, because then I’m going to your website, I’m getting re-targeted by this.
I’m this, this is Billy Gene, and you go like [bloop 00:13:59], and you’re in the computer. I’m like… So how do you balance like the time, because I feel like there’s a trade off, right, which is like, you could make a killer offer for the Avengers, that you just film with your iPhone, and you’re like, “Hey, what’s up? In honor of Avengers release this weekend, I’m hosting my Avengers training session. Blah, blah, blah.”
You know, you could do that. How do you balance the like, “Oh shit, this would be next-level if we, you know, got the costumes and we did that whole thing.” Like do you have special offer that you would save that for?
Billy: Yeah, great question. So it’s not the offer, it’s more just like I’ll almost, if I had to put it in a formula, it’s like I try and at least have on branded video a quarter.
So for example, the big one that we did was The Wolf of Paid Advertising, which was a spin-off of The Wolf of Wall Street. And that ad was seen probably over 10, 20 million times, something like that. And people loved that one.
But again, trend. Wolf of Wall Street was a huge trend. It was… for entrepreneurs, we all recognized The Wolf of Wall Street, whatever. So it was easier to do it and made sense.
But also too, because I know I’m using paid ads as the medium to get it out there, that video is going to be an asset that I use forever.
See when people just get like obsessed with organic, and just posting, that has a life shelf, and the life shelf is like three hours, maybe 24 hour, max. But to me, I look at content the same way that most people look at houses.
When people want to buy a house, why do they do it? Because it’s an investment, to protect their future, da, da, da, da, da. All of these reasons.
To me, a good branded video, and a video that sells your product or service, it can live on and be used in so many different ways. And what does it do? It brings you cash flow, it brings you sales, and it takes a fraction of the time to actually create.
So everyone listening here, I want you to get obsessed with your content, like you would your investment in real estate. Except it doesn’t have like escrow and down payments required. All you need is this, and to make the offer.
And so I think I got side tracked there, but I wanted to bring that point home.
What was the question, one more time?
DG: No, so I just was thinking, okay, you answered it, right, which is I asked you, how do you know when to invest like those? And you said you basically do one-
DG: That’s a nice guardrail, right? “Hey team, we’re going to try to do one of these branded things a quarter.” Otherwise… Because I think, oftentimes, when you have a great idea for a hook and an offer, I want that out like tomorrow, right? And so I’m not willing to be patient, to be like, “Oh, let’s wait.”
Billy: But you’re right. I almost tell people, I’m like, sometimes I don’t like the fact that we have so many branded, fun videos out there, because I don’t want to ever put out the message that that’s what it takes.
And again, those brand ones are great for like people recognizing me. Like I’ll be in a cab, and people are like, “Oh, I’ve seen this. Da, da, da.”
And that’s good for storytelling and the positioning. But the ones that make us money, almost all of them were like cell phone… not that those don’t make us money, but make us a lot of money, are cell phone, that’s it. Maybe single camera. And watch this. The shakier, the fucking better the conversions, I swear-
DG: It’s… As long as you can handle the two or three trolls that’s like, someone get this… We should talk about… We’ll talk you, Billy Gene, and trolls, at the end of this. But you know, as long as you can handle the trolls, it’s like, it’s the realer… I mean, to me the thing is like all the best marketing I’ve seen out there today is real, right? Because everybody… nobody wants to be marketed to, nobody wants to be sold to. All of our bullshit meters are through the roof. And os all of the best ads don’t feel like ads, today. They feel like, oh… like I feel like… this is the first time I’ve-don’t feel like ads today. They feel like … I feel like this is the first time I’ve talked to you, but I feel like I know you, because most of your ads are through iPhone style videos, that is just your shot walking down the street. And I bought your stuff today, not because you’re coming on my podcast, but because I feel like you’ve earned my trust and credibility, that I’m now willing to spend, and then I’m only going to spend more, now that I know that you’re real.
Billy: I appreciate that, and I think how I’ve summed it up is, people don’t buy for one reason, and that’s because they don’t believe you. Just think about any industry under the sun. Your products or services, my products or services, if they believe they were going to have the type of return and impact that we know that people get, and they believed it to their core with 1,000% certainty, they would buy every time.
So, I keep that top of mind. And when someone’s not buying my stuff, then I go, “Okay, well what are they not seeing about me that has them so on the fence about really trusting me?” I think, this is actually great. So, for B2B, I think it gets really hard, because usually the marketing team includes the brand identity cycle to it.
I saw, I worked with a lot of franchises, so I noticed that when I would have meetings with the particular location, the franchisee versus corporate, they cared about whole different things. The franchisee was like, “Dude, I just want customers. I’m down to do this creative stuff.” Then we’d get these handcuffs on us from corporate, and corporate is like, “We can’t do that. We need to keep brand uniform and dah dah dah.” And I’m like, “Dude, that’s okay. It’s just not going to fucking work. It just won’t work on social.”
And I think that’s like the biggest challenge, because in billboard, radio, television, you didn’t have these factors, because if you paid enough money, they would show your stuff no matter what. But now Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, if you have something that people aren’t engaging with, they will literally just not show your ad.
DG: And the other thing I see, so like LinkedIn is like my number one channel, right?
DG: And we’ve been able to build a big audience because we started doing text posts and posting videos, like walking, talking videos. Because on LinkedIn, and this is the way I try to explain to you, I’d say, “Pull up your LinkedIn feed right now on your phone.” And they go to it, and it’s like 99% of the posts are people that are at the company just doing this stock posting. Like, “We’re hiring,” “My company won some award.”
And it’s this big, it looks like an ad, even though it’s not an ad, it looks like an ad, because it’s some shitty like unfurl image that you get with the link. And so, when LinkedIn video came out, we were able to build a big audience fast because all of a sudden it in a sea full of what looked like ads, all of a sudden, is this like-
Billy: A human being.
DG: A human-
Billy: Wait, is that a human?
DG: Is the shine on his forehead real? Yes, it’s real. And, “Hey, I’m me, and by the way, I sound the same and act the same, if you saw me in your LinkedIn feed, if you caught me out to dinner on a Saturday night after a couple of glasses of wine with my wife, if you ran into me on a Tuesday morning, if you’ve got my emails, if you saw me on a Webinar …”
DG: Because those all things … like one of my favorite lessons on brand came from the Patagonia founder. There’s a great book called Let My People Go Surfing, and he talks about the Patagonia brand, and he says, “Look,” he says, “Our brand is easy. It’s tell people who we are, because it’s so much easier to write nonfiction than it is to write fiction.” And I’ve thought of that every day since then from doing that.
Billy: Wow. That’s powerful.
DG: It’s harder to lie than it is to tell the truth. And so if you have to think about what your brand is everyday, I’m, “Okay, well I’m at work now, so I got to be work Dave, right?” No, you just got to be the same person.
Billy: And from that trust factor, let’s even continue with that. Like just think about it logically here. Us as human beings, when we see someone, and they’re perfectly polished and they’re together, and they’re like, everything is good. We’re trained to be like, “Something’s up, what’s the purpose?” That’s what our brain’s saying. “What’s up? What’s this person hiding? What are they not showing me?”
Yeah, it’s bad. So, that’s the why that little bit of a shaky cam literally increases your conversions. Like, why is this person trying so hard to please me? These are the thoughts consumers have about all of our stuff. Right? So again, it doesn’t mean you can’t have the brand [inaudible 00:21:06]. I think there’s a time and place for it, because there is an element of trust that we get from seeing that. But what I’ve found from when people buy, when they swipe, it’s what you were just saying.
DG: It’s all people, for sure. Okay. I’ve got another question that I’ve been wanting to get back to you. So, now you make this offer, you got a great offer, what advice would you give me? Because you can’t just … I think the biggest misconception is that you give this great offer, and then what? You write a blog post about it? How do you get people into that funnel?
Billy: So, to get them to actually purchase?
DG: Yeah. Because you need to get traffic into that funnel, right? So, you can’t just make an offer, and then it’s a blog post in a couple people share it. I want to know how you get thousands of people into that funnel.
Billy: Yeah, for sure. So, I’ll just go with the context of the example we were just giving, right? So, here it is. “Hey guys, I have a USB drive with my 10 best advertising campaigns. All you got to do to get it, is just click this button below me, or here, or here, wherever it is, and tell me where to send it.” So, there’s my call to action. Right?
And that’s a big thing too, is I want to encourage everybody to not be afraid to have aggressive call to actions. I’m going to keep that word in there aggressive intentionally. And what I mean by that is, what I believe is people, most of the time, when people aren’t making an offer is because they have this psychology, “Hey, you know what? I just don’t want to keep offering them something because then they’re going to get really turned off and offended.”
But I want everyone to shift their mind, too. It’s not about how many offers, it’s about how you make your offer. Case in point, QVC, the entire channel is dedicated to making offers, but they do it in a fun and entertaining way, engaging way, etc. Certain comedians, like when people make you laugh, they can sell you something every time. You ever bought something from a salesman just because you like them? So, I would keep that in your mind.
And so, when you’re creating content, the first step is to make sure that you do have an offer. Okay? But how we throw gasoline on it, and for us, it’s the quickest way that I’ve ever had an impact on my business, a business I’ve consulted with, students, whatever it is, client base, and it’s spending money on ads. And I’m talking get really freaking aggressive. So, our main channels that are doing the best are the big ones, the Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
But, the reason why most people are afraid of advertisements is because even now, whether it’s B2B, B2C, whatever, we still keep viewing advertising as either one, an expense, or two, tomorrow bucks. And what I mean by tomorrow bucks is, “Yeah, I know, we’re okay with investing in advertising, but you know, for [inaudible 00:23:32] turn a customer in for another 30, 60 days, dah, dah, dah.”
And here’s the thing, tomorrow bucks are scary, for me, too. Because tomorrow bucks don’t always come. Shit happens, da, da, da. And then you feel like … and then it goes into number one, advertising becomes an expense.
So, what we’re obsessed about with the company, is making our money back the same day. That’s our whole game. So, for example, like to build up our membership site, right? So we’ve probably sold over 30,000 people. They didn’t all stick, but over 30,000 people on our $109 membership site, all using just a video ad, and a buy now button.
And the way that we do that … so in January, we spent a half a million dollars in ads, just on my personal brand alone to get these members. Now people are like, “Well, I don’t have,” or like, “I’m not going to prove that in the budget. How do you spend so much?” Well, simple.
So, take one day. We might spend 10,000 bucks or 20,000 bucks in one day, but that same day, guess how much we make back? However much we spent. And that’s our obsession as a company, is figuring out how to get our money back right away. Because guess what? I’ll tell you guys right now. If I told you to spend 100 bucks today in advertising, and you made back that hundred bucks later that day, would you spend 100 bucks the next day also?
DG: I’d be like, “Free money. Everything that happens after this point has already been paid for.”
Billy: That’s the obsession, dude.
So, we don’t obsess on the ad, as much as we do the speed to recover our butts. And that is why an in house marketing team is so important. That is why having six people just for media is important, because when something doesn’t work … like to create from concept to putting an ad out, it will take us one to two days, max.
And then, when we put the ad out, if it doesn’t work, we will spend no more than a 100 to 500 bucks, until we stop it and try something different, if it’s not. Because what we have found, is shit will win, or shit will lose. And if you ever played the gray area of like, “Well, we’re kind of winning … well, we can just optimize this,” you’re wasting your time. Because you could be doing something new that gives you a fucking massive gain, right out the gate, and go. And that’s what we look for. We look for the home run.
We’ll take the strike up to the basics, and we go, and that’s why the speed is so crucial. So, we’ll get everyone listening. If you could just get obsessed with that, just make the money back as fast as possible. Then everybody would spend much more in advertising. We just happen to fall into that category.
DG: This is so good Billy, because what you said, I was going to ask you, I want to know the [inaudible 00:25:51]. I was going to say, “Well, how much money do you spend?” So, you’re telling me by spending than 500 bucks, which, for most of the companies listening to this podcast is nothing. They’re venture backed. Like that’s 500 bucks, right? They buy two people’s lunch that cost that money. Not at Drift. [inaudible 00:00:26:04]. You make the video, you spend 500 bucks. You said you can even spend 100 bucks. How do you know, like what does the math say on the winner? Is it a gut feeling? Is it, “Man, this cost per click looks good, cost per lead looks good,” or is it actual …
Billy: So the reason why-
DG: It’s not going to be statistically significant, right? That’s what the math people would say to you.
Billy: Yeah. Well, so here’s what you find. Now, I’ve spent a lot of money on ads, and this is all I’ve done for the last eight years is run stuff, is I can tell you this, and I’m going to use like absolute terms, but like there’s exceptions to everything. So, don’t be that person who’s listening like, “Well, that doesn’t …” Almost all of the time, I have almost never seen an advertising campaign that suck ass in the beginning, that all of a sudden started working. Ever. Any company, our own company included, consulting by freaking, you know, tens of thousands of students, never heard about it. I’ve never seen an ad campaign that sucked ass and then just got better, period. And because of that, that’s why we fucking do something else. And what I mean by that is like, you know, so I’ve done a lot of local legion, right?
So, like I’ve worked with like your Massage Envy’s, your Orangetheory Fitnesses, like franchises, right? So, what we have is two metrics that I pay attention to, and that’s just our cost per lead, and cost per sell.
So, for example, if a gym, because we’ve done a lot of lead gen for gyms, and they tell me that their cost per member needs to be a hundred bucks. I know they’re probably not going to close more than one out of 10 people. So, if their cost per lead is above $10, after spending $50, I could probably turn it off, because it doesn’t get that much better, right? But I’ll pay a hundred bucks to play it safe. So, that’s the biggest shift. It’s not TV, it’s not billboards, it’s not traditional media. Online, you can get the answer almost immediately, and if someone’s telling you different, they’re full of shit, I’m telling you.
And so, now again, it doesn’t mean you can’t optimize things. So, it doesn’t mean that they say, but I’m just telling you … if you’re, from conception to implementation, if you’re even taking a week to test something, it’s going to be hard for you to win in this game.
Because, I’ll explain it to you like this. Most of our ads that we create, actually don’t work well, right? And we’re really good at what we do. We strike out all the time though. But imagine this. Imagine if I had three ads in a row that didn’t work, and it took me a week each time to get it up to test. That means three weeks have gone by. Almost a month has gone by before I’ve gotten a winner.
And here’s the thing with that, what happens every single month? The expenses hit again. So, what if it takes you six times to win? Now, you’re like almost two months in, now you’ve had expenses hit twice. And I’m talking about payroll, right? That big one that comes out, and now you really feel it. You’re like, “Holy Shit, this marketing thing doesn’t work, da, da, da.” You start making decisions out of desperation, because your burn rate and everything rate, and you’re like, “Holy Shit.”
Now, I’ll switch you to my company. And again, I’m just using me as an example, not because we’re so great or anything like that. But imagine us to do those six tests. It didn’t take us two months. It took us six days, because every single day we tested something new. So, we’ve failed just as many times as you did. But guess what? We haven’t even had one billing cycle go through yet. And on day seven we’re testing …
DG: Love it. I think last year I was able to … I got to meet with the CMO of Facebook at the time, and he said, I asked him, I said-
Billy: He probably knows a thing or two.
DG: Yeah, he probably knows a thing or do you. Also, that’s a tough gig. A real tough gig. But I said, “Hey, what do the great marketers have in common?” He said, “All the great marketers have this one thing in common, which is, they’re able to learn faster than the competition.”
And that’s exactly what your example is, right? Which is like, if you’re going to create this big ass campaign, then wait two weeks, and try it again. Meanwhile, Billy Jean or whoever has already created 10, they’re going to figure out … it’s almost the same way, like we know, you’ve got to write … if you’re trying to write one killer headline, I always try to write 20 or 30, because I’ve got to get the bad ones out of my system, and I know that there’s going to be two or three in there, and it’s just like, whereas the other, most people would just write one or two, and see what happens.
Billy: And then in addition to that, then there’s the [inaudible 00:30:03] side. Because even when you get the winner, unfortunately, all campaigns die. Good campaigns die.
DG: Yeah. I think your example earlier, which is such a good lesson for me, because I’m not good at this, but just like you either know right away. I’m always like, “Oh, we’ll just be patient.” But I love that. I’ll take away that from this episode, which is like, it either happened or it didn’t. That means you know right away or you don’t. However, what you did said is true, which is you might have the pop, but ultimately it’s going to flatten out. The law of shitty click throughs I think, as that guy Andrew Chen called it, which is over time, you know that people see your ad 7, 8, 10 times, it’s not going to be as effective.
Billy: Yeah. And then also too, so, for us, we’re like, all right, while something’s winning in the backend, we’re getting ready for that next one. So, we don’t have that lull, like where shit’s going good. And it’s like, “Oh no, what happened?” So, while something is winning were … testing, testing speed, we still have it, and we’re two ads ahead. So then people are like, “Man, I see these people everywhere, and dah, dah, dah.” And that’s been major for us. Damn, you said something that triggered something that I really wanted to say. What was the last thing you said?
DG: The law of shitty click throughs, we’re talking about when somebody sees your ad 7, 8, 10 times, it stops working as well.
Billy: Oh, yeah. And so the other thing too, is though, again thinking about ads and funnels and the whole thing as assets, you know it will stop working. But what happens is when you take it off the table, and you want to bring it back, you can later, right?
Billy: So, we ran a birthday promotion that … it’s probably out of gas right now, but guess what next? Next year, I’ll do it again. So, sometimes I don’t … like once something dies, it can be resurrected in time. You’ve got to build up. So, don’t forget about that too. And I think a lot of us leave money on the table, because we had that thing that worked. It stopped working for awhile. But yo, some of our best advertising campaigns have been ones that killed it. They flatline. And then we’re like, “Why did we stop doing that?” We’ll go, because it died. Well, let’s try it again. And then we turned it on, and it’s got like another, like two weeks in there of cashflow. So, sometimes you guys are sitting on dead shit that’s actually super profitable. And I advise you to give it a shot again, just to [inaudible 00:31:52].
And you look at big companies, right? Look at … take a giant company like McDonald’s, right? If you look at them from a marketing and a promotional cycle, they’re brilliant. Because they’ll come up with a campaign, get it to you for a couple months, and then they’ll bring it back again in like a year. The McFlurry, right? Or, what’s the Irish thing? The Irish like the [crosstalk 00:32:11]
DG: The Shamrock Shake.
Billy: The Shamrock shake, yeah, there you go. Right? So, they know that’s an asset that they can deploy at another time. Their McRib, or whatever the fuck … they got a Mc everything.
But, they have all this different stuff that they know works, and they put it on the table. Or, the best one they did for many years was the monopoly game, is they had the monopoly pieces when you bought something. And they did that for years and years and years, and it always created this huge search for them, then it started to flatten. They took it off, then they brought it back again. So just everybody remembering, these are assets, so just assets. And once you own the fact that this is an asset, you treat it differently.
DG: I love that, because I think you have to also, as a marketer, you can map out the different times of the year. Your birthdays in May, right?
DG: And so, okay, you know, in May you’re going to run the birthday offer, but you don’t have anything in June. And so June is maybe when you’d go on Google trends, and find out what’s hot right now. So like-
DG: I think it’s always about these levers. Oh, July is slow. Oh, well there’s the holidays. You’ve got 4th of July, you can come up with some-
Billy: [crosstalk 00:33:07]
DG: … scarcity offer around vacation. Like I think it gives you all the levers to pull if you can map out the offers.
Billy: And that’s the advantage that corporations and companies that have been around for longer, they’ve had more time to deploy these assets, then they can do it. So, that’s when you see their marketing plan, it’s like three years out. It’s because they have the history to do it. Some of us, like especially if you’re listening here on the small business side, like it’s going to take you some time to build those up. So, just keep all of that in mind.
DG: Okay. I want to wrap up and talk about your birthday offer. The results [inaudible 00:00:33:37].
DG: But, I did have one more question on the testing piece of this. When you talk about testing, are you testing different offers? Are you testing variations of that, say, the thumb drive offer?
Billy: [crosstalk 00:33:47] and I’m glad you said it. So, this is my humble opinion. But when we go into split testing, and I’m talking like, changing the headline, changing the color, changing the design, which all give you an incremental increase. But most of the time when a campaign is failing on a paid ad side, it’s usually missing by a large margin. And the only thing that I have seen time and time again give you a major shift, and I’m not talking about like, well that’s a 10% increase. Because the truth is a lot of times that 10%, 15%, even the 20% isn’t enough, right? Oh, you’re not spending enough consistently for to there. But to have the fucking major shifts, I’m telling you this, it’s the offer. So when we test, we almost do zero split testing. We do offer swapping. It’s the biggest thing, especially thinking of the world of franchise where I come from and doing lead gen for them. We can optimize things to give them more longevity. So you come up with the campaign, the op is working, it’s going well, and you want to keep it going.
Then you test by bidding, for traffic, bidding for impressions. We’re targeting this. You do all of these technical things that gives it length. But when you want a spike, change the offer. Give you a great example, company I work with. They told me one of the best promotions they ever ran was when they decided to give out a pair of boxing gloves, and then they did that for a long time and that worked well. When it started to go down, they changed the color of the boxing gloves to freaking pink. The offer was pink boxing gloves. Or on the franchise side it was like a two week trial versus a one week trial versus a 10 day paid trial, versus a 30 day trial. The offer. This is actually where a lot of the larger corporations struggle because when you change the offer, it changes a lot of the deliverable, the process, and it gets harder to do.
So I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m telling you, if you were to stand still when you’re banging your head like what’s my marketing team doing? Why am I not getting the results? What’s happening? I swear to you, you buckled down and you find a way to make it happen to change the offer. It’s everything. It’s everything.
DG: I love that because I think that’s a mistake I’ve made personally is, okay I’ve got this great idea, but now I got to come up with five variations to test. But your point is basically you tests to optimize. So the USB drive offer’s working like gang busters. Maybe it starts to slow down a little bit. That’s when you split tests.
Billy: Yup, exactly. Exactly. Then so it’s like the secondary thing, right? So it’s already showed promise that it’s going to work, and that’s been so backwards for us. And the reason why I started testing like this is because, remember when I came into this game, I started at my parents’ house. I didn’t have anything. But when I started to get clients for my agency, which is really just fucking me at my house, trying to get people to let me do Facebook for them. Because I had no trust, confidence, courage, background, case studies, the only thing I was sold on was money back guarantees. And I said, hey, if I don’t get you an ROI, and we know how that is in marketing, like that’s really hard to do. If I said if I don’t get you an ROI, guess what? I’ll give you your money back. And then sometimes I even promised to pay double.
So scale of one to 10, how motivated was I to actually drive results more than anybody? What I learned in that short lesson is how to show ROI, and I had to do it fast. And that stuck with me forever. So a lot of the testing theories I’ve had is because I’ve always had the gun… I’ve had to make it profitable. I just had to. I didn’t have another choice, and then I just stuck with that. And then also too is, a lot of companies have experienced the promotion that worked extremely well. For me, when something works well, I’m like if you could do it once and you can do it again. So the little things, right? When I’ve had campaigns that literally will just print money same day three to one, internally we’ve set a new standard for ourselves. That’s what we do, is we go for that.
But I think a lot of people, you have something good and you think like, oh well that was just lucky. No it wasn’t. It wasn’t. It can be replicated. So set that standard for yourself of like, hey, you have killer campaigns. If it’s not killer, then you try again. And it doesn’t mean you can’t have the little shit on in the meanwhile, the other stuff that’s consistent. But keep shooting for the big thing.
DG: All right. Speaking of offers that were just printing money, your birthday, so you just turned 31. You did a 31. Would you quickly walk me through the offer and then maybe, I’ve been seeing those screenshots around, they’re creeping up towards six, nine figures now.
Billy: Now as of today, yeah that campaign did a million bucks. That campaign alone. And I’ll explain it to you because it was the nuttiest thing ever. And I’ve personally learned a ton of stuff from it. Number one, CEO and also I have a CMO but I’m very into the marketing side too. I’m a marketing guy, right? I can at times be confident, and I can at times be arrogant to a fault. And what I mean by that is, this mentality I’ve seen it all done at them. Anyways, it was my birthday, and I said to my team, we have to run something on my birthday, because there will be no other time throughout the year where we get this much engagement. For example, when people see it’s someone’s birthday, they like it. They comment. They share it. Therefore, as a result of that, I’m not going to have another opportunity to get this shared, so I have to make an offer. I owned that.
So I tell my team that. I say, what should we offer? It’s got to be fucking special. And we just sit there and brainstorm. It probably looks like your guys and everybody else’s too, where you just sit in the fucking room and just say, where chip? Yeah, we did that. And then one of my team members, he goes, why don’t we try and offer our courses for low ticket? We’ve never done it before? And I was like, no, I don’t want to do that, dah, dah, dah. And I said all the no shit. But then because I was so tired, and I was just lazy, I said, all right, fuck it. We’ll try you guys’ little low ticket thing, whatever. We’ll do it. And they go, okay, so which course should we put on for 31? I said, oh no, no, no. We’re going to do it. We’re going to do it. Give them all, I said, give them all.
Again, and that’s just with the offer irresistible. This is a good note for everybody. An irresistible offer isn’t the offer that makes you a little bit uncomfortable, right? We’re like, this is how it usually goes. Yeah, let’s offer 20% off. And we’re like, no way we can’t do 20%. Are the margin still good and it’s like… That’s not an irresistible offer. An irresistible offer is one that makes you want to run for the hills. Makes you want to go there. And also to remember this, the value is created after the experience. So a lot of times some of you are like let’s discount our product. But if nobody has ever tried it, it means nothing to them.
So discount doesn’t change very much because it doesn’t mean anything to them. So anyways, going back. I said, all right, well we’re going to do it, we’re going to do some crazy. I said, fuck it. 31 bucks for all of our courses that we’ve done in the past. And we knew we had an ongoing recurring revenue model, so we’re like whatever. And then the team told me no. Then they’re like, no, that’s crazy, dah dah dah dah dah dah. I was like, guys, I don’t care. Try it. We’re going to see what happens. So we do. Then the next thing as far as the process goes, and this is a good note, is what’s the story? This is classic, everywhere we’re marketers, everyone knows what’s the story? What’s the reason why we’re doing the promo? And so it was my birthday, and I was thinking about what are some thoughts that we have internally on our birthdays? Because it’s a really weird day, right? It’s exciting, but as we get older I feel like it’s also very reflective.
And so I have crazy thoughts on my birthday. I’m like, well fuck, it’s been a hell of a ride. What if I fucking die today and it was all over? And that was like, that’s it. That’s the position. And so once I identified the story for my birthday, and we had this crazy offer that made sense, I said, well, let’s give it a test. And I honestly expected it to do 30 grand. I just low ticket, I was like I don’t know, it’s going to ruin everything. And I wrote this ad, and it started off by saying, first, today’s my birthday. Why? So everybody stops, they have to engage and I get that engagement, it’s going to be shared. That was the very first line. And then I said, next line, all I can think about is dying. That’s the polarization, getting attention, knowing they’re going to pay attention to. And then I went into dive details and I put like, how am I going to die? When’s it going to happen? Dah dah dah dah dah.
And then the last thing was, will I be remembered or will I be forgotten? And I was like, I don’t want that to happen. I want it to be a legacy thing. So for today we’re going to do a $31 promo for all my shit. We called it the legacy bundle. Click here and buy now. And then we had the timer and everything to do it. Wake up in the morning. Bright and early in the morning and we’re at like 20k on this offer. And I’m like, holy shit. Then we keep going. Trickles up to 30k, 40k and I looked at the team, I’m like, are you guys seeing this? This thing is working.
So then I started to go to Instagram to post them. Hey guys, we’re running this promotion. Then another 10 grand trickles in. Another 10 grand, another 10 grand. Now what’s going crazy and I’m like, holy shit, we’re onto something. We pushed again. We pushed again. We look up, 300k boom, boom. We pushed again. Then I’m posting it on social to add gasoline. Hey guys, we’re running this promotion. Now I’m putting screenshots. Here’s what’s happening, look at this thing. Now I’m using social proof. Now everybody else is getting out there like I’m missing out. Then I’m showing the customers, hey, 5000, 6000, 7000. Boom boom boom. And we’re putting this. Then I’m like, okay, now let’s email people, now let text. Let’s use all of our distribution. And we’re posting bam, bam, bam. And then we’re like, well, day one, let’s keep it going, people going. And we open it up five days, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.
And then, once it was done, we ended up pushing out four days, and we brought in like 600 or 700k just from that. Then we did another promotion. How we did it, another 25 bucks to that same audience. Boom, boom, boom. And we ran that promotion. And then we reopened it. There’s just this weekend, well we raise the price. Or we said you guys missed it last time, stop playing games. And then over this weekend, it did another quarter of a million bucks. Bam.
DG: I love it.
Billy: That’s the example of it’s never over until it’s over, right? So now that that funnel, 1 million bucks,
DG: It’s insane. Insane. It’s my favorite campaign I’ve seen in a long time. It’s really great. [crosstalk 00:43:20] Of course, yeah, I didn’t make a million bucks off it, and I like it that much.
Billy: And here’s the crazy thing. In total, we’ve probably spent about a hundred grand in ads.
DG: I was going to ask you, do you remember the initial Instagram ad spent that kicked it off?
Billy: The kickoff? When I was waking up to that? Dude, it was all almost all email or text. We had a couple of thousand bucks. So I put ads in, because again I wasn’t excited about it. I didn’t think it was going to be that tight. I was like whatever, we make like 30 grand and like we were… I didn’t. And so once it started working, then we started to run the ads. So the ads came in later. So it was almost all organic, and that goes to show here’s a tool that really surprised me, because talk about the marketing shit too. Dude, I underestimated Instagram and the power over organic. Like I recommend every brand in people, you build up a serious following on Instagram, because when I was posting on Instagram, fucking people were buying, buying. When I put my expensive stuff in, that doesn’t work as well. But that’s cheap so that was huge.
DG: I think you hit on something, right? I think the whole genius part of the offer is number one, is you hit on the emotional, not the emotion but the built-in trigger. You have this built-in trigger of awareness, which is it’s your birthday, right? I don’t go on Facebook anymore, I just use Instagram. But I still have people that every year just write on my wall, happy birthday. So already you built-in an offer with hundreds of comments, just people saying happy birthday, right?
Billy: Exactly. And that’s what we saw. So on the ad when it was running, even people who didn’t buy, they were still saying happy birthday. So my cost per click was going down. And again it’s like talking about the promotional calendar. Just everybody, you’ve got to have a birthday. You’ve got to offer some shit on your birthday. Just yeah.
DG: I think it’s good. I got about 70… I’ve just been scribbling notes. I don’t know why, I can write them down later, but it’s just been funny. All right Billy, I want to wrap up real quick since this is a swipe file. Want to just see if I can get a couple of things out of you. So number one is, what’s in your swipe file? Give me one book that you’ve given out the most or recommended the most kind of other marketers?
Billy: The one recently that I’ve been giving the most, that is Four Ds of execution. Four Ds of execution and scaling up by Verne Harnish. Those have been the two, and I know they’re not so much on the marketing side, but I think as far as just building systems and processes for the company. It’s even made me bring a systems and process outlook to marketing, which can be pretty abstract and creative in this thing. So that’s been really, really, really helpful for me I would say. And also to my biggest problem areas I would say those are, yeah.
DG: Sorry, don’t get too much process. You seem to have a good thing going. And then next one be, who’s a person that you… I start off this podcast saying I’ve been swiping and looking at your stuff. Who’s somebody that you kind of keep an eye on and see?
Billy: Russell Brunson. Cool dude, and also too, he’s a master of fast experimenter too. So Russell Brunson is a big one. Frank Kern is a big one. And about going to coach and work with them, like get coached by and work with them. And Russell’s come to the studio and shit. I picked these guys fucking brain. They’re on it. They experiment more. Tai Lopez, another one. Just having all these because they just experiment. The people who spend the most and they’re experimenting the most, they always have the most data because they have shit. Oh this works for me. Oh this works for me. Oh this works for me. So that’s been a thing. My boy Vince Reed, another tactic. Just guys in the trenches who are spending the most. Those have been really, really crucial for me because they seen a lot.
DG: Love it. All right Billy, this has been amazing. My favorite part about doing this podcast is I get to interview people that I can learn from, and I just did that, so thank you man.
Billy: Thank you for having me. Everyone, keep listening, dammit.
DG: Just plug your stuff real quick, where people can find you.
Billy: Sure. Billy Geneus Marketing and Gene is G-E-N-E. That’s why Geneus, Geneus is how we spell it. But Billy Geneus Marketing.com. Go there and we will re-target you forever. And also follow me at Instagram.
DG: It’s true. You’re trapped in the funnel. Next thing you know, you’re pulling out your credit card.
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