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#48 “Accidental Millions” (The Business Lesson that changed everything for me 10 years ago).

This is the story of how a simple accidental discovery changed my life 10 years ago (and how you can replicate what I learned to grow any business by making one simple change in how you think about business).

Episode Video:

Episode Transcription:

So I checked the calendar a couple of days ago and realized that I have been professionally doing this for 10 years now. And wow. What a ride it’s been. There have been ups, there have been downs. I have a lot of people that ask me, Ben, if you could boil down everything that’s happened to you and you could pick a starting placek what was the thing that sort of changed everything and really showed you that there was a direction to go with this.

And, and you know, what, when did you know that this was something that you should pursue? And it really comes down to this, this accidental discovery that I’m a. And it was, you know, one night I was getting ready to go eat at a Mexican restaurant and I took a chance and just did something that I didn’t think would work.

And I remember being in the middle of dinner and looking up and being like, Oh my God, this, this is something I did not expect. And if I can repeat this, then everything’s going to be different from this point forward. So today, I want to tell you about the accidental millions and how I fell into success 10 years ago, and how I learned to replicate it over and over and over again.

And more importantly, how you can take this and do it in your own business. It’s a shift of focus. And if you make the shift in focus, everything is different. All right, let’s dive in. Let’s do it.

So you look up one day and it’s been 10 years since you started, uh, on this thing that you love and. It makes you feel a little old? Not really. Um, I absolutely love what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years or so, but, um, I cannot believe that it’s been a decade since I started this and what a ride it’s been.

So, uh, you know, I don’t want to go into a lot of grand standing cause I don’t particularly enjoy that. Um, The purpose of this particular episode is to walk you through how I sorta accidentally stumbled into something that, uh, the second that I saw and I was like, Oh, that’s, that’s how, how it’s done. And this is one of those things that I think when you’re starting a business, whether you’ve got a brick and mortar business, um, or you’ve got a business that you’re just completely online.

I think that there’s so many things that fly at you. It can be extremely difficult to focus on those things. And what’s the most important thing. And what I kind of learned is the first parts of my life and in work as when I was a chiropractor, I didn’t really have the luxury to, to move fast enough to focus on this.

And I didn’t really know to focus on it, but when I. Figured this out. Um, it grew both my chiropractic office. It grew my digital agency. It grew my online information business that grew my software businesses. No matter what it is you’re doing, this is going to be something that if you focus more of your time and energy on this, it’s going to make you a lot more money.

And the ideally the ideal part about this ideally is that you get a. You get a sense of what you should be doing with what you’re already doing. So it’s not something you have to start anything brand new. It’s something that kind of goes onto whatever you’re already doing, but it’ll help you make more and help you be more satisfied.

And, um, so that, that’s the lesson that I want to get across here in the accident that sort of got me there. Um, also, I’m going to say, this is the first, uh, particular episode that we’re going to try to do video for. Um, so if you go to serial progress, seeker.com right now, and you go check out the episode notes, um, there may or may not be a video there.

And if there is a video there, it means that it was acceptable enough. Uh, camera angles off. Uh, but, um, you know, we’ll, we’ll get better at that. As we go along, I had this really interesting conversation with a friend of mine and he said, you know, it’s funny. I listen to all these podcasts, but it’s completely different when I can actually see them recording it.

Even if I listened to it 90% of the time, just the fact that I can kind of see what they look like. Um, It’s inside. I was like, you know, that’s really smart. Why didn’t I think of that? You know, a lot of the podcasts that I listen to, I like peeping in every so often and seeing what they’re doing. And so if you go to the website and there happens to be a video up, um, it means that I thought it was okay enough and had time to get it up for you.

And you can sort of see what it looks like. And as I said, I’m in the middle of, uh, taking a studio remodel and putting, finishing touches on it. So it’s not perfect yet. So anyways, that’s okay. I think it adds something to it and that’s part of it. But anyways, let’s get into the episode today and let’s talk about.

What happened to me? So I want to flash you back a little bit. Uh, I won’t tell you how I became a chiropractor. I won’t tell you how I got into all that. That is a story in of itself that we can go into it for another time. But what I will tell you is, is I was about two to three years into being a chiropractor.

And I had really worked my butt off. And I was in sort of a state of burnout after about three years of being a chiropractor, because I just, the amount of work that it took to build that thing from nothing. To something was a lot, it was successful, but it was a lot of work. And I had been really focused on that now somewhere along the way, because it had been so successful.

I had other people start to notice what I was doing, because a big part of how that practice grew was because of the internet and. With the internet. A lot of people saw what I was doing. And so they were like, can you help us? And so I started like a business on the side of my chiropractic office, helping other businesses.

I had restaurants, I had real estate agents, had a law firm, uh, a lot of different kinds of businesses and I just, I wanted to help, but it was something I was passionate about, which was marketing on the internet. And. So, you know, I got into that and I quickly realized that, Oh my gosh, I don’t have enough hours in the day.

And so I still wanted to help people. So I started taking a lot of the stuff that was working in the chiropractic office. Um, and it was, you know, working for my clients that I already had. And then just some side hustles. And I started like packaging it up. And what I mean by that is, as I started taking, you know, the step-by-step of how these things worked, whether it was how to grow your business with Facebook page or, um, how to start a business from scratch, doing this particular thing.

And there was lots of little things and they’re literally still out on the internet somewhere, but what ended up happening was I started packaging them up and it started with PDFs. Um, I was putting together these PDFs. And it was really, really interesting because I would take these PDFs and I would put them online.

And you know, some people I’d tell about it locally might buy it. And it wasn’t a lot of money at all. Um, because I was charging like next to nothing for these things. And, you know, I didn’t understand where to go find traffic. Yeah, cause it wasn’t a business. It was just me wanting to help people. And you know, I wasn’t putting together these PDs to be something that was its own thing.

I had a chiropractic office and I had an agency where I was helping people, even though I didn’t really realize what an agency was at that point, but I was doing those things, make a little money here and there. It was not hard to make money. It was hard to find hours in the day. Um, But then something interesting happened.

I had been a part of this forum for awhile and for, uh, the internet marketers in the crowd, uh, the entrepreneurial types that consider themselves internet marketers. Um, we are a Motley crew. There was a forum, and this is back when forums, which still, you know, kind of doing it up in a big way. Um, they’ve kind of fell fallen out of Vogue these days due to Facebook groups, things like that, but there was this forum, it was called the warrior forum and I hung out there.

I think I became a member. Maybe 2009. I can’t remember. Um, but I had been a member and I just soaked it up. And I had learned so much from this forum and talking to other marketers who were focused on internet things. And, uh, I had been into this stuff before I found this forum, but this forum was really interesting.

And one of the things about this forum, um, was it had I buy and sell area. So there was one particular part of the forum where you could put something up for sale. Tell people what you were selling and go from there. So I had, I had actually written, uh, and this is not the accident by the way, the accident comes soon.

So just stick with me here. So I put something up for sale there. And instead of selling like, you know, seven copies to the people that knew me, um, I think I sold like 20 something. I had to people who had no idea who I was. And that was, that was cool. Like to me, that was. At a different difference because I put something up for sale.

And just because there were people on this forum, um, that were into the same topic as me. And this is where they all gathered. They, uh, they bought from me. And so it was, this was my first sort of, Oh, I actually have never met this person and they bought something from me. So that was kind of cool. And. So I did this and then, um, you know, I was like, okay, well, I’m putting these things together for other people anyway.

And so I started putting a few up on and then one, one evening, um, something happened and it took off, like somebody had told some other people about, you know, they, they had checked this thing out that I put together and they told some other people about it. And they took off. And, you know, I remember I had come home from the chiropractic office.

I used to work like around, I think it was eight to probably 6:00 PM with a little break in between. Um, and I’d come home and I had hung out with my family, uh, a little bit and, um, And then I just kind of set up while my, my wife had gone to sleep and I had set up and I just, my, my phone started beeping.

And w what had happened is, is I had set up PayPal, which is how I took a lot of payments back then. I’d set up PayPal on my phone. And every time that a sale came through, uh, I’d get a little Dean. Now, this was few and far between when you know, I was doing seven to 20 something copies, but something happened and all of a sudden it started going crazy.

And there was just, I mean, like every few seconds, uh, I just getting one of these. And so, uh, at the time that I’d gone to bed, uh, I think I earned like a thousand dollars in sales. And, you know, money that would go in my pocket. And I was like, what is happening? And by the next day, I think I had, uh, I had 200 new customers.

People. I had no clue who they were, but they bought this PDF that taught them how to do something. Now, listen, The reason this happened, this is not the accident by the way. Um, but the reason this happened was because I had something that I was very nerdy about, that I had done and tested it, it worked and I wrote it down and I put it up for sale in a place where all these people who were equally as nerdy about something, you know, the thing that I was nerdy about, I put it up for sale, where they were hanging out and a few people had seen it.

They’d loved it. And they recommended it to a lot of their friends. And that was it. That’s, that’s what happened now. That’s not the accident. And that, that alone could have been an isolated incident, right. That alone could have been something that happened one time. And that was the end of it. And I went back and was a chiropractor and that’s the end of the story.

But what was really interesting is due to the nature of how this whole thing worked. Every time someone bought from me, I got three email address and. You know, I, I had something set up to where, when they purchase from me, not only did I have their email address, but I had it in this tool. Um, and the tool at the time that I used was a company called a Webber.

And what a Weber does is a Weber takes all of those email addresses and puts them in a spot to where you can send, you can type out one email and send it out to everybody. And so I had about 200 people that had just bought this thing for me in the last 24 hours. And, um, I liked it. You know, I knew, I knew that what I was putting out there was good, even though if it didn’t look that great, it still was good and they liked it.

And, you know, I thought that was fascinating. And so that was cool. I made about a thousand bucks from something I wrote down instead of having to go in and spend a day in the office, you know, getting paid for the number of patients I saw or getting paid for the number of hours that I worked. I had written something down that, uh, had made me a thousand dollars in about 12 hours.

And, um, I had about 200 customers on the list and. That’s where things start to get interesting. This is where the accident starts to come in. And the remember this is like 10 years ago. So I have this list and, um, you know, it’s just cool to kind of see it going up. Cause you’re like, Oh, those are all customers.

That’s awesome. And then something interesting happened. Um, I had learned about affiliate marketing because a lot of the people that were sending people to my stuff, um, they were doing affiliate marketing, meaning they, if they send someone to my thing, They got a percentage of it. And, uh, yeah. And so I was like, Oh, so they’re making a percentage off of my sale.

And this is, I said, it’s a complete accident that I figured all this out. It was not some grand plan, but I was like, Hey, what if there’s something out there that I think is cool? Can I recommend it to the people, you know, and send them an email about it? And so I remember there was, there was this one particular evening.

I, um, my wife and I had gone out to eat with friends. And before we went out to eat, um, it was a Mexican restaurant. I’m pretty sure it’s still there in Poplar bluff, Missouri. Uh, but we went to this Mexican restaurant and I remember before I left, I told her I was like, I got this cool thing that I think is an awesome product that someone else put together.

And these 200 people that bought this thing that I did a few weeks back, um, I’m going to send them an email about it, and I’m going to track to see how many people click through the link to go check it out. But then also how many people, um, buy it. And so I typed up an email, which, you know, looking back now, it was an extremely poorly worded email, but I just told them the truth.

I was like, I bought this. It was cool. This is why it’s cool. And you should go check it out. And so I wrote the email and. I’m sitting at dinner and, um, I wasn’t getting notifications the same way because it wasn’t exactly through the same thing. So I had to actually log in. So I was midway through dinner and I just logged in and I logged in to this account and it was like $250 that were there that wasn’t there before, because I had made a percentage of the sales.

So these people, these 200 people that I’d emailed, or two, 200 to 250 people, I emailed, um, they bought this thing that I recommended. And something just incredibly odd hit me, then it wasn’t the pain suffering that it took me to get the customers the first time that was going to make me, um, that was going to make me a lot of money and put me in a position to help a lot of people.

It was that every time I sold something, I had a customer. And the accidental thing that he sort of hit me was, you know, I I’d sent this thing out and I realized that the money is in doing good things for the customer that you already have. Not continually working so hard and spending so much money to get new customers all the time.

Now you have to get new customers, you have to get new customers, but the real money is in the followup with the customers that you have, because they already kind of like you you’ve probably already won them over a little bit. And that was interesting. So there was an accident. Like I, I made dinner, I send out something just as sort of a test just to see what happens when I, and I made money with it.

And. That was the fundamental moment sitting at that dinner table, looking down at my phone, uh, like a terribly unsocial person. Uh, that was the moment that everything started to sort of change in my brain and. What I started to figure out is all this time I’d spent all this money, all these hours, just working to get new customers.

And I had not done enough with the customers that I’ve had so far to actually build more products for them that might help them to give them more offerings, to give them more excuses, to comes back and spend more money with me. And so. From that point forward, I started to fundamentally shift everything that was going on in my chiropractic office and everything that was good going on with this list of customers that had bought this digital manual from me.

I started to think I’ve got to put more effort, more time into actually recommends more things for them to come back and spend money with me for. And so that was the change. That was the accident that flipped a switch in my mind that said everybody who’s struggling, that I see struggling, or just on a treadmill all the time.

It seems like what they’re always trying to do is to get new customers. It’s just all about the new, the new, the new, the new, and there’s very little focus on what do you do with the people or you’d have no, that’s not to say that the people you already have, don’t come find a way to spend money with you.

But what I discovered is is you have to constantly give them a path back instead of them having to say, Hey, I like this person. I wonder what they’re doing today. And going into Google or going to your website and having to proactively go find that you have to have a method to which you can reach out to them and remind them that you’re still here.

Now, this, this is very basic to most successful business owners this, this day. But to me at the time, it was not remember my background was in healthcare. And so. It turned out that that was a changing point for me. And so what I did over the next few months, as I continued to test this, I continue to dial it in and I continue to email and I got to the point where.

In just a few months, I was sending out something, you know, for people to look into and check out at least once a week. And it got to the point, even if I wasn’t seeing them something to check out, I started communicating with my past customers. I started doing that, you know, almost every day or at least every other day.

And I would write an email and I just wrote emails and emails and emails to this list of people that had bought from me. And what happened is, is, you know, As I’d create a new product to send out to my people because I had something else that I was doing that was working. I would create a new PDF. I’d send it out to my people.

Um, but then other people would send it out to, and they would, you know, at my list kept growing and growing. And you know, the more things that I sold, the more people were like, this guy’s stuff is good. So the more friends that they would tell, and they would buy stuff from me and my list kept growing and growing.

And so, you know, It gets to the point where there’s just thousands of people that have bought something from me now, whether it was a $7 product or whatever, it didn’t matter. They were a customer and they’d paid. And then it got into something that was really interesting. And this was, you know, the thing at that point, I was making, you know, $10,000 a month just from recommending things to my list.

Um, and to selling my stuff every so often. And then it got to the, where I started to realize the power behind it. Somebody that bought seven, something from me for $7 or $3 didn’t mean that that was all that they were going to pie. I started to realize that some of these people that bought something from me for $3 were going to spend $200 on something that I put out.

So I stopped focusing just on continuing to put out low ticket products. And I started putting out things that were maybe $200, but I had to, you know, make sure that the value was there for people. Otherwise they wouldn’t want to stay a customer. And then, you know what I’d put out. I remember put out a $2,000 coaching program and within a night, uh, literally a few hours.

People that had spent three to $10 with me on a PDF teaching, something they ended up in this blows me away to this day. They ended up with five of them, ended up spending $2,000 with me for coaching to help them do something that they wanted to do. And so, you know, I went from $10,000 a month and then I had made $10,000 in the span of 24 hours.

The secrets to all this was just that once they buy one thing from you, you have to continue to talk to them. You have to continue to give your existing customers a reason to number one, come back more often, but number two, spend more money with you every time they do come in. No, this was not done in a way to just pad my pockets, by the way, this was done, because I had a lot to say, and I’ve always had a lot to say when it comes to marketing, because it’s something that I am an incredible nerd for.

But the thing is, is it hit me really quickly. This is all about, this is all about putting less focus on the, bringing new people through the door. Not that you have to, you can’t stop that. You always have to bring new people through the door, but put, whereas I was spending 80% of my time trying to put new people through the door and only 20% trying to bring those existing customers.

The people that had already bought from me back and I flipped it. I started spending 80% of my time trying to talk to the people that had already bought from me and get them to do something, take an action. And then only 20% of my time on the new customer. And it worked over the next few years. Millions and millions of dollars started to shift into my business.

Um, and you know, I would love to tell you that I spent all that on really good thing. Things, not always, um, you know, but it taught me how to do it. And so the thing that I learned is this. Where a lot of businesses are focused on advertising and marketing. That is a hundred percent about trying to bring new people through the door.

I have spent the majority of my last decade, very much focused on the art of getting an existing customer to come back in. It’s a lot less expensive. And it’s a lot easier. And most of it for me has been either email or text messages. And that’s a big deal because if you get someone that already likes what you’re doing and you give them another offer, usually it’s going to turn into good things.

And so that’s the lesson. About 10 years ago, I accidentally, you know, sold a little something to a few people and that could, that could have been the end of it that really could have been the end of it. Um, that was an opportunity that I didn’t realize was as much of an opportunity. It looked like luck at the time, but it was an opportunity.

And instead of sitting on it, uh, I sent out an email and that email got me a positive results. So I thought. I need to keep sending out emails in over the next few years, I started to hone that ability. And what I mean by that is writing emails is not something I was particularly good at at first to get people to take an action.

I was not what you would call. You know, someone that could reach out and get someone to take an action with an email, but over the years, because I literally put in 10,000 hours writing emails to my existing customers, I got really good at it. And, you know, I still think I’ve got a long way to go, but over the next few years, um, It became something that was huge.

And to this point, one of the core things that I focus on with, you know, my business, uh, with my, you know, whatever business I had that directly benefits me or a client’s business that we’re working in. It’s that it’s how do you get your existing customers to come back more often and to spend more money with you every single time they do come in and do you have a direct line to them?

There’s so many businesses out there that are doing well. But they don’t have a direct line to their customers. The only way they can do it is maybe they post something on their social media. Maybe they put something on the radio to talk about a sale or something they’re doing, but they don’t have that direct line.

And the thing about my business that has always been the direct line is I either have a list of email addresses of my best customers that I can literally send out an email and talk to 20,000 of them at once. Or I have a text message list where I can literally click a button, write a message and send out a text message to 20, 30,000 of them at once.

And that’s the thing. Whereas most businesses is extremely difficult and time-consuming to put those things together, um, with our business and with a lot of our clients businesses, well, I say a lot, every single one of my client’s businesses, this is a must. We, we do not let them become our clients if they are not doing some sort of reactivation marketing, uh, or, you know, following up with the customer list, the idea is that simple little.

Accident of having some people buy my stuff and then sending out an email and it working. And then me saying, this is where I’ve got to devote my time. This is where I’ve got to get good at reactivation. I’ve got to get good at hitting those customers back up and asking them to come back and having something for them to buy when they do come back.

That. Ended up being millions and millions of dollars generated. And more importantly than that, a lot of people had their lives changed because of the things that we put in front of them. And, you know, I think that’s the thing with what I do. Um, when we sell something it’s, it’s a hundred percent about how is it going to benefit that person?

And what’s so funny and I heard James Patterson and he’s in, he’s an author. Um, I heard him kind of talk about this at one point, I believe it was him. Anyway, he talked about, you know, the fun thing about when someone reads one of my books is when they read one, um, I will very quickly, you know, the, at least in the online sales, I can go track that.

They’ll go buy three more books from me pretty quickly after. So the fact that I have one thing available, and then I’ve got other things that they can readily go by. It’s huge. And that is the power of having a customer come back. But E but even above that, what hit me was, and this is the lesson I want to get across.

Don’t wait for them to go look for you. After that, send them an email and give them an opportunity to send them a text message and give them an opportunity. And so instead of over these last few years, just depending on people to find my stuff, depending on people to see a Facebook ad, depending on people to, you know, maybe stumble into it or have a friend recommended.

One of the things, the reason that my business has done this, uh, and the accidental millions that have come across is because I understood. And I understand to this day, the value of having a list of customers that like you and have bought from you in the past and communicating with them on a regular basis and giving them an opportunity to come back more often and to spend more money with you every time they do come back.

So that’s it. Um, 10 years, if you want to know what I do day in, day out, really, um, with every single business that I interact with. Um, my core thing is do we have products that are great, that are gonna help people? That’s gotta be number one, but number two is, are we effectively communicating with our existing customers?

The people that already like us, whether it’s working with a client or working in my own businesses. Are we effectively communicating, do we have a plan to communicate with them on an ongoing basis to give them, Hey, we’re here, check this out. And if you’re not doing that, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table, but also if you really believe in what you’re doing and the products that you’re selling, whether it’s food or chiropractic services, or you’re a real estate agent or whatever it is that you’re doing, if you really believe that what you’re doing is quality work.

Why wouldn’t you go out of your way every single week? To tell people about it that have already bought from you it, and I think that’s the thing. If you really get into it, I have, you know, I have real estate agents that tell me, well, you know, they bought a house from me. Why would they want to know more about houses?

They’re not in the market anymore? Well, you never know. You never know when they’re looking for a second home, you never know when they’ve got an uncle, that’s looking for a home. And the idea is if we communicate with our customers on a regular basis and we give them those opportunities, it’s amazing.

The opportunities that come our way. So that’s it. 10 years ago, I’m sitting in a room, you know, I just sold 200 copies of something cause I cause of a lucky break. And then, uh, I accidentally get this idea and I send out an email. And the email works and it wasn’t even that well put together, but it works.

And from that point forward, I understand you’ve got to shift your focus to marketing, to your existing customers over getting new customers. Even though you got to focus on getting new customers, you have to do that. You also have to make sure that you put more time into marketing to your existing folks and really giving them the attention that they deserve.

Okay, that’s it. I hope this was something that was powerful and helps you out. And for those of you that jumped over to the website and got to check out me looking at the camera awkwardly, um, that’s awesome. If you’re listening to this right now as always make sure if you got something out of this share with a friend, uh, if you.

Really enjoy this and want the notes. I go to serial progress, seeker.com. We have all the latest episodes up that you could listen to any time. And like I said, I want to hear back from you, leave me a review, leave me a comment on the website. And like I said, tell me more about what you’re doing, what you want to hear about.

And, uh, I’d be glad to talk about it here. All right. So have a good week. I hope you enjoy this every single week. We got more good stuff coming and, uh, I’m sure we’ll do some more reminiscing of how the last 10 years have gone. Uh, it, as long as it’s not too boring, uh, but until next time, thanks for listening and.

 

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