I made a big announcement at my live event at the end of 2021: I’m launching a membership! In this post, I’m going to share the journey that led me to create BADA$$ Online Marketing Membership.
I’ll cover why I think this is the right model and how it fits into the overall mix of my products to allow me to serve people at every phase of their journey in entrepreneurship.
To be honest, starting a membership is something that I’ve been mulling for a while. I had several people try to talk me out of it. Hell, I almost talked myself out of it! But I kept coming back to this notion that creating the BOM membership was the best way to serve my people.
What Led Me to Create BOM Membership
Last year, we launched BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU), a free marketing training program. It was based on the fact that a big part of the problem in the online marketing space is that people have to pay to take courses to learn what strategies they wanted to use and what would work for their business.
We didn’t think that was right. The idea behind BOMU is to offer a free program that would help people with the marketing concepts, fundamentals, and practices they need to start building their online business.
I also have a group coaching program, which I believe is a great way for me to serve people who are further along in their journey and are ready for a higher level of support. This offer serves people who need help to perfect things or tweak things to improve their business.
We were working from these hypotheses:
- What people need at the beginning stages of building a business is information
- People who would join the coaching program are those who were already making a living in their business, knew a lot of stuff about the online marketing world and how to build an online marketing business, and had regular revenue and a successful program
Where Our Hypotheses Were Wrong
Along the way, we discovered that our hypotheses were wrong.
Instead, we discovered that:
- People at earlier stages need more than just information
- A lot of people who joined coaching last year were way earlier in their journey than we expected
Looking at the statistics within BOMU, we discovered that there are hyper users but there are also a lot of people who get in there but aren’t taking action.
I’ve gotten some feedback from people that it would be incredibly valuable to be able to work with me or my team on messaging or to get feedback from us on stuff they worked on, and so on.
But because the only options were a free course and high-ticket coaching, some people who wanted support opted for coaching. There wasn’t a middle option, so people were upgrading to a more expensive program and more support than they probably needed.
7 Phases of Building an Online Business
Once we discovered what was going on, we developed a process to help people identify where they are in their business so they can get the support they need.
1. Planner Phase
This is where you build a plan for your business. It’s about doing the inner work, doing market research, and identifying your niche. You’re focused on finding answers for questions like:
- What is the problem that my audience has?
- What solutions are out there?
- What is it about those solutions that my audience doesn’t like?
- Why are they not able to get those solutions to fix things for them?
- What level of awareness do they have about their problem?
- Do they recognize the actual problem or are they only recognizing symptoms?
The point of this first phase is that you need to understand your people. You need to do the work so that you can design the right solution.
2. Builder Phase
The next phase is where you’re building out the basic conversion and customer experience machines in your business. It’s about turning traffic into leads and leads into buyers.
Basic Conversion Machines
This is about building things like your email list. You create a freebie and opt-in page and set up your basic email sequences so that when people join your list, you have a way to start the conversion process.
In addition, you should also set up a basic website, with a homepage, about page, contact page, and content page.
The next step is to try to figure out something small that you could sell people right away. It could be an e-book, a template, or a one-on-one service. The concept is that you want to have something on your website so that people can start giving you money right away.
Think of something that’s not complicated for you to create. You don’t want it to be something that you’re going to have to put a ton of work into in case your audience doesn’t want it. This first paid product is just a starting place so that you can get traction and people can pay you.
Basic Customer Experience Machine
Next, you need to figure out how you’re going to deal with customer support and how you’re going to deliver your product. At this stage, the key is to keep it simple.
Since you’re not making much money yet, you’ll likely be doing most of this work yourself. You might be able to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to help you with stuff, but you should NOT be investing in a team yet. The goal is to stay lean and mean.
3. Recruiter Phase
This phase is about building your traffic machine. You’ve got to figure out how to get people from the big world to come into your world. How are you going to get them to your website or on your email list?
Start Creating Long-form Content Regularly
A lot of people get hung up on content. But the reality is you need to be creating a regular video show, podcast, or blog post. This allows you to share your expertise and helps people get to know you.
The benefit of YouTube and blog posts is they are searchable, which can potentially help you get traffic. Podcasts aren’t as helpful for search and tend to be focused more on nurturing your existing audience rather than attracting a new audience.
Once you decide on a format for your content, the next step is to get into the practice of doing it every single week.
Build Your Social Media Machine
In addition to long-form content, you need to build your social media machine. This isn’t about being everywhere. Instead, it’s about picking two places that will be your primary platforms and posting and engaging there regularly. The platforms you pick should be where your audience hangs out, based on your market research from Phase 1.
(In general, you’ll want to pick one platform that’s searchable like YouTube or Pinterest and one that’s algorithmic like LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.)
Start Guest Outreach
Another way to generate traffic is to figure out who has already collected your audience. Reach out to ask if you could be a guest on their podcast, write a guest blog post for them, be on their video show, do a guest training for them.
The goal is to figure out how you can start reaching out to people and potentially getting in front of their audiences. This is one of the quickest ways to build your traffic and audience.
Develop A Paid Ads Strategy
This may sound weird because you’re probably not making money yet, but I believe you should have a Facebook or some other paid advertising strategy in place during this phase.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but you should start running ads to build your list and send people to your content. The most important thing is to send people to your opt-in page to start building your list. Until you have enough people in your world, it’s very hard to get the momentum you’ll need to build a successful business.
Have 1000 People On Your List
The big milestone when you move out of the recruiter phase doesn’t happen until you’ve done all of the work we discussed above AND you have 1000 people on your email list.
While 1000 isn’t a magical number, the idea is that if you’ve got 1000 people on your list, you’ve started to find a problem and messaging that fits with your audience.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve figured out the solution or that you have a product that you can offer them yet. You just know that you’ve figured out at least one problem that your audience has, a way to communicate that problem, and that there’s a partial solution in the form of your freebie.
4. Scientist Phase
I call this the scientist phase because it’s when you’re experimenting. You’re experimenting to create a scalable product. For instance, if you’re a coach, hopefully, you’ve already been getting coaching clients and generating revenue.
In this phase, you’ll do some additional market research to find the problem-solution fit. You need to figure out a way to solve the problem your people are facing and offer a solution they want.
As you do your research, try to get on the phone or a Zoom call with some of the people on your list and have a conversation about the challenges they’re facing. This is about going deep with them and listening. You want to discover what they view as their problem and understand what kind of support they want. Then you can come up with a hypothesis and create a product idea.
You’re not going to create the product in this phase yet. Just come up with an idea and plan, then test it by trying to sell it before you make it.
If you make enough sales, that’s great. You make the product and iterate and make it better. If you hear crickets, reach out to your audience and ask what the miss was. You’ll learn whether you need to tweak something or try something completely different.
Since you’re experimenting and testing, you have to be detached. You need to step back and not get emotional when it doesn’t work out.
Ultimately, this phase is about finding the right first scalable product and scaling it to the point that you’re bringing in $10,000 a month consistently.
If you get to that number, it’s a sign that you’re starting to hit what’s called product-market fit. In other words, you’ve found the market for your product and you have had success marketing it.
5. Banker Phase
After you’ve got a product and you’re bringing in consistent revenue, it’s time to move on to what I call the banker phase. This is when you hone in on the money and you’re laser-focused on getting your financial house in order.
Continue Building Your Revenue
You want to build to the point that you can consistently pay yourself enough money to cover your expenses and give yourself the life that you want.
That means you’re saving for your kids’ college, putting away money for retirement, saving for all the things you need to save for in your personal life out of the money you’re paying yourself out of the business. This is your bare minimum.
Start Having Profit Regularly
In addition to paying yourself, you’ll want to get to the point that you’re building up around a 10% profit margin in your business. This shows that you can build a profitable business beyond just taking home enough money to meet your basic expenses.
Build Your Cash Reserve
As your business grows, you need to work on building up a cash cushion. If you’re building profits, you’re kind of doing this already. You’re going to save that money and feed into this cash reserve regularly.
Ideally, you want to have a minimum of three to six months of expenses sitting in an account. If you have that money on hand, you don’t have to worry. If you have a down month, no big deal. You’ve got some cash to cover it.
Build Financial Efficiency
You need to build a more efficient business. This includes cutting non-essential costs as well as projecting cash flow and optimizing for taxes. But don’t worry. You don’t have to do this alone. You can work with a CPA, CFO, or tax advisor to help you.
6. Leader Phase
In this phase, you’re laser-focused on building a team to free up your time. My view is that you need at least four core team members:
- Someone to run your traffic team
- Someone to run your conversion team
- Someone to run your customer experience team
- Someone to run the operations of the business
They need to be people that you trust implicitly. They’ll come to you and ask questions and you may want to have input, but you know you can trust them to make the right decisions on their own.
The goal here is to get to the point that you could be gone from your business, even unexpectedly, for two weeks to four weeks, and it wouldn’t be a big problem. Your business can continue without you.
This is where you build systems and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and make sure that everything in the business is documented. That will help with efficiency. It will also mean that when one of those core team members leaves or has to be absent unexpectedly, someone else can step in.
This phase is hard for people because it requires a lot of personal growth. You have to focus on different things and step into the role of business owner and CEO.
7. BADA$$ Phase
When you get to the point that you’ve got your core team in place, at least 90% of your time is spent on three buckets of things:
- Setting the vision and mission
- Working on things you love to do
- Doing the things that only you can do
This phase is where you get to do what you want. This is where we’re all headed. It’s the point where you’re focused on legacy, impact, and not breaking stuff.
Why We Decided To Create A Membership
We realized that BOMU works for the Planner because information is what the Planner needs. In addition, we have our free Facebook group for community. We’re also rolling out BOMU 2.0, which includes more guidance to help people understand the process of building a business.
We recognized that coaching was ideal for people who are at stages 4 and above. These are the people in the Scientist, Banker, and Leader phases and need more strategy and customized coaching.
That left a gap in our offers for the people who are in the Builder and the Recruiter phase. That’s why we decided to create a membership.
We went deep and said, what do these people need?
Yes, they still need information because there’s a lot to learn in these phases. And while BOMU provides a partial solution, it’s not enough.
We realized that having a community with people who are a bit more invested could help these folks. This would allow us to offer tools and templates, accountability, feedback, and some coaching.
The coaching is different from the coaching that happens in my coaching program. At these earlier phases, it’s often about doing the work, putting in the time, and helping those people build up the muscle.
We came up with this model:
- One coaching call a month with me
- One tech call a month with Katie on my team
- Weekly coaching calls with our BOM coaches about messaging, copy, Facebook ads, branding, design, and content
If you think about what you’re doing in phases 1, 2, and 3, these help you with all of these phases.
If you’re in these phases and you want to put in the work, I would love for you to join BADA$$ Online Marketing Membership. The sooner you stop thinking and start doing, the sooner you’re going to have success.