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How I Scaled My Digital Learning Agency to 7 Figures Without Ads
Episode 29621st February 2023 • Course Building Secrets® Podcast • Tara Bryan
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In this episode, Tara shares her organic growth strategy that allowed her to build her agency past 7 figures without spending money on Ads. Ads can be a great megaphone for your business or a complete waste of money - this episode will help you so you don't get stuck with a money pit of a business.

About Me:

My name is Tara Bryan. I help business owners break into the next level of success by packaging their expertise into an online course experience. It's my passion to help to find the fastest path to results to create a greater impact and income for you and your tribe.

Check out my free Step-by-Step guide to building your online course. In it are the top steps and questions you need to ask before you get started. Check it out here: https://goto.taralbryan.com/step-by-step-guide

This group is 100% focused on support, knowledge and example sharing, and building a community of online course builders who are passionate about building awesome learning experiences.

In this community, we are passionate about building learning experiences that produce results for our learners. We do that by building engaging, motivating, gamified, and learner-centered courses. We come up with ideas and strategies to ensure that our learners can thrive and succeed in our product.

To learn more:

Find us at https://www.Taralbryan.com

Here are two ways we can help you grow and scale your online course business:

1. NEED TO CREATE YOUR ONLINE COURSE?

Join LEARN ACADEMY - Learn Academy is the best Done-with-you Step-by-step Implementation program that will help you create, sell, and launch your online course. 

2. ALREADY HAVE A COURSE?

Join THE COURSE EDIT - The Course Edit is a program that will assess your current online course to take it to the next level. Maybe you have a course that isn't selling or one that people aren't completing (therefore not remaining customers) then it is time for THE COURSE EDIT



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Transcripts

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Hey, everybody, it's Tara, Bryan, and you are listening to

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the course building secrets podcast. Whether you're a coach

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or a CEO, the success of your team and clients is based on

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your ability to deliver a consistent experience and guide

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them on the fastest path to results. This podcast will be

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giving practical real life tips that you can use today to build

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your online experiences that get results and create raving fans.

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Why? So you can monetize your expertise and serve more people

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without adding more time or team to your business? If you're

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looking to uncover your million dollar framework, package it and

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use it to scale you're in the right place. Let's dive in. Hey,

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everyone, welcome to today's episode. In today's episode, I

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want to talk about something that you may not know about me.

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So when I was running my digital learning agency, I actually

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scaled it seven figures without ads. And I want to talk about my

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journey through that and, and why I think that it is a solid

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approach. I don't recommend not doing ads. But I don't recommend

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just doing ads as your only strategy for how to grow your

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business. And I want to talk a little bit about that today. And

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why that is and then how do you actually scale with ads or

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without ads. So when I was building my agency, one of the

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things I knew I needed to do was become visible, I needed to have

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people know that I existed, that we had something to offer, and

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that we could help them. And so the way that I started was to

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just go out and figure out where my ideal customers are hanging

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out, right? Where, where are they gathering? What are they

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doing? And in what conversations are they having. That was a very

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first sort of activity. And again, like if you're looking at

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this through the lens of you want to start ads as quickly as

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possible, you still have to go through some of these mechanics,

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before you get started with ads, you don't just have an idea and

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start with ads. However, some people have more money than

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time. And so if you have more money than time, you can test

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ads earlier, if you have more time than you do more of an

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organic strategy, where you're out, you know, kind of putting

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your shingle up and getting out there and, and building

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relationships. But it's a two prong approach. And so I want to

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talk through that today. And I don't talk about it a lot.

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Actually, I probably should talk about it more. But that's why

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I'm, I'm telling you all about it today, which is that I

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actually did scale without any ads to seven, insert surpassed

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seven figures. Because here's what I understood is that number

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one, I had to be visible. I had people had to know who I was and

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what we offered. And they needed to feel confident that we had

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something that that would help them. And I needed to be where

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people were to bring them towards me, right? So they knew

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that we existed. So let's just break down those two things for

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right now. So when you are in a brick and mortar business,

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right, you're building an agency, you're building a

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business that has an office, where you're in a particular

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location, right, you are serving people in a particular location,

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it makes sense that you would say, okay, you know, I'm, here's

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where my office is, you know, go introduce yourself to your

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neighbors go in or go to maybe the local Chamber of Commerce or

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whatever, and do some networking events and meet people. That

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makes sense if you're starting a local business and looking at it

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from that perspective, there was a little bit of some of what I

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was doing. When I started my digital business is said, Okay,

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well, who do I want to help? And where are they and what are they

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doing and what do they need? Right. And so I went out and

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physically met with people I did networking groups, I went to

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local and national association meetings, I spoke at both local

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national conferences, right, so I was a guest speaker, I, you

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know, was an in charge of a user group. So there's a group of, of

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business executives who were a part of this, we would meet

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weekly, and monthly to talk about tools and different things

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that were going on. So I led that group so kind of grew that

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group organically, and it worked with them. Right? So what starts

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to happen is the sort of snowball effect of you're, you

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know, going out and meeting a lot of different people and

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you're speaking and you're in, you know, you're leading a free

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group and you're drawing people to you, and then And then I got

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to be known as the elearning person, right? Like the, the

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person who you go to, to get all of your, your elearning done

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and, and out the door. And so that was how we started to grow

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was in groups like that. So when you're doing that in a local

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business or even in a you're trying to kind of go national,

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but there's more of a, you know, people are gathering physically,

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then you have to, you know, kind of be out where they are. And

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then, of course, you talk about it, right talk about what you're

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doing, how you're helping people, you know, what were you

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were speaking on, and in all of that, and that helps to sort of

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snowball, I get more people in the door from just having those

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conversations than anything else that I did any other strategy

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that I employed was I went out to speak at a national

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conference, and I could, I could pay to be a sponsor, I could pay

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to, you know, have a booth or have a big thing. And, and that

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was great, I met people, but it was when I was speaking on

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stage. And, and having, you know, kind of having people come

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to me afterwards, where I got nine out of 10, of, you know,

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the business opportunities that came in, because I was on stage,

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they saw what my signature presentation was, they saw what

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I had to offer, they learned about my clients and some of the

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projects we had worked on. And that was the thing that was more

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compelling to them than kind of walking up to somebody in a in a

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paid sponsorship opportunity. So that's the first thing is, is

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your goal, as a digital CEO, as a digital business owner, is to

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reproduce that activity online. So often, when we're working

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with people, they sort of want to build something and then stay

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disconnected to it, right, they want to go off and do their

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other thing. Or maybe they're leading with a side hustle, or

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they want to build a business, but they don't actually want to

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be visible or connect with people. And in to me, that is

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that is a missed opportunity. Because at the end of the day,

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whether you're doing ads, whether you're doing organic

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outreach, it's at the end of all of that is a human that you're

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helping. And so you have to build that relationship with

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that person who says, That's me, they can help me. And, and

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they're drawn to whatever your solution is. So at the end of

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the day, you always have to remember that right? Whether

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it's organic, or its ads, it doesn't really matter. At the

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end of the day, you're helping somebody and you have to solve

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their problem. And you have to get them to raise their hand and

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say, Yes, this is, this is for me, I want to work with this

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person, or buy their course or buy their program or to coaching

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or whatever it is. But at the end of the day, it's a person.

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Most often when people are not successful in ads, it's because

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they're starting too early in there, they've lost sight of the

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fact that there's a person at the end that they actually have

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to be speaking to rates not just about going out and what you

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know, even if you're doing organic, an organic traffic

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strategy, through social media, at the end of the day, you're

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not just out there running around, you are there for very

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strategic intention, which is to help connect with a human at the

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end of whatever that engagement is, whatever that activity is

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right to this podcast, I am speaking directly to you, I am

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not speaking to whoever in the world may be interested in what

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I have to offer, I was speaking directly to you. And hopefully

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serving you and giving you some ideas and some tips and some

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tricks for how you can incorporate various things in

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your digital learning, or digital course digital program

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or whatever kind of digital business you have. So you can

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grow it so you can really help the people that you are serving.

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Right so at the end of the day, that's always what you need to

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remember regardless of what strategy you're working at. So

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so so again, your your goal in an organic strategy is how do

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you get in front of these people? How do you find them?

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How do you build a relationship with them? And, and so in a

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digital space that is still going out and finding groups

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where they're hanging out? networking groups speaking,

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getting in front of other people's audiences, right do you

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have colleagues or other people in your space who are doing

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similar but different things that you can get in front of

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their audience and and serve them? Right, so

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find somebody who has a complementary skill set or

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specialty that you do, and then partner together. That's how you

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grow. That's how you start to gain momentum. I have a client

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right now who is working on becoming visible for the first

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time, outside of his, his job, and, and outside of, you know,

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just sort of trying to do ads, which didn't work for him. And

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it didn't work because he did it too early, it didn't establish a

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relationship didn't start to get out there and make some, some

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connections, if you will, outside of just, you know, kind

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of pushing up his program at people, right. So, again,

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building those, those relationships, okay. So that's

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super important, find where they're hanging out and hang out

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there. Right? When I started that, the user group that I was

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running, we saw a need, we saw something that needed to happen

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in the market, we, we said, you know, what, we're gonna create

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this group, we're gonna meet on a regular basis, anyone can come

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in, and, and connect and learn and get what they need to. And

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it grew from, you know, a couple people, at first to hundreds and

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hundreds of people. And then eventually, we kind of rolled

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into the national, the National version of it. And we had people

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all over the US who are coming to us asking us questions and

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having us help, not only how did you grow up, grow this group,

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but also asking us very specific questions that increased our

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reach even more. And so don't be afraid to do that online, don't

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be afraid to draw people to you. And, and think about how to get

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out there and build relationships and and serve

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people, be it a podcast, be it social media, be it however you

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want to, to get out there and draw people to you, you have to

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have a place where they can find you. And you have to have a

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place where you're able to connect with people. Because

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again, it's all about that relationship. Okay, the only

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other thing I'll say is that as you're doing this, you have to

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be really clear on what your goals are. And so I knew that,

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that when I was going out, I wasn't going to run ads, I

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wasn't going to just do kind of the that I wasn't going to just

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throw it out there, I was gonna grow very strategically, around,

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you know, kind of one relationship at a time. And at

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some point, I grew beyond that, right. So this is when I'm first

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starting, and got to my first seven figures. So at some point,

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I kind of grew beyond that, but it served me so well, because

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you it's a snowball effect, right, you start somewhat small,

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and then all of a sudden, there's referrals, because

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somebody has heard about the work that you've done, or

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somebody's recommended you. And then and then you get on stages,

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and you get in, in different situations where you are in

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front of a broader audience. And then again, you're bringing more

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people to you. And it becomes something that I mean, I was at

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one point getting referrals and, and word of mouth, sort of, you

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know, sales opportunities. And I didn't really have to do much,

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right, because I had planted the seeds because I had been out

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there, building the business. And so for if you're first

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starting in this game like that is where 100%, I recommend that

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you start, you don't necessarily know your voice yet, you don't

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necessarily know exactly the messaging that's going to draw

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somebody to you, you don't know exactly who is out there, and

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where they're gathering and how to find them. I remember I did

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when I first kind of transition more to 100% digital, I did try

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ads, and I tried them too early. Because of course everyone says

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do ads, like all you need to do is do ads, and you put $1 in and

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you get two out and it's it's super easy. But the problem is,

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is that you have to have a compelling message that draws

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people to you, you have to be very clear on who you're

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targeting, and how to find them and where they're hanging out.

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Online, right have to be really clear about all of those things

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before you go out and do ad ads by themselves or not going to

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create customers for you. It's all of the foundation, all of

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the things that you're putting in place both from an organic

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strategy perspective and a paid ad ad perspective that helps to

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to help will help you grow. And so it's so if anyone's

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recommending you just go straight from concept to ads. I

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I would be very careful in how you're working with them because

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really have to be clear on what your goals are. are, who you're

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serving, what results or transformation you're getting

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for them, and how you are clearly articulating that to

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them. So people raise their hand and say I'm in, right. So all

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ads are is a way to amplify your message. So it's like a

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megaphone for your message. So if you don't have your message

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dialed in to the place where you can convert people who are in

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your world already, it's not the time to go to ADS, right. So if

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you have, you know, say you did an organic strategy, or say you

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have some people who are ready to purchase from you already,

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maybe you have an email list, maybe you have some people who

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are kind of in your world who are asking for you to do

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something, you know, package a program, create something for

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them, that will help them. Those are people who are ready to buy,

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right, that's an easy conversion, because they're

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already in your world, they're already ready to go. If you

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can't get them to buy, all the people are kind of swimming

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towards you already, then ads aren't going to help you going

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out and finding people who don't know you who don't trust you who

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don't know what you have to offer, then there that is,

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you're just going out into a sea and yelling, and nobody can hear

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you, right, because you haven't dialed in how to get customers,

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even at a micro level, right. So you've got to do that. First,

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you've got to make sure that you can convert people into buyers,

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when they're swimming towards you. I have a client who has a

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sizable waitlist, and it's great. But she's having trouble

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getting them to pull the trigger to purchase her group coaching

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program. And those are people who have already been swimming

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towards her, they've raised their hand and say I'm ready.

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I'm interested in this, let me know when you open up the

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program, and I want to join. So if you can't get those people to

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join yet, ads is not the direction to go. Because you

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have to work on your messaging, you have to work on how to

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convert people not go out into a sea of people who don't know

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you, that's a much, much heavier lift, right. And so once you

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know that you have something converting you have people who

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are coming in, it's consistent, you can move people through your

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funnels. And thereby, that's the time to start going out and

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looking at more of an ad strategy. And that's, again, for

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conversions, not for awareness, right, you can go out and do it

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an awareness campaign right away to, again, it's the megaphone to

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amplify that you're there. But the expectation that they're

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going to turn into buyers is not going to happen until you can

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convert the people who are already swimming towards you. So

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anyway, so that is a little bit about my kind of my story of how

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I did this, how I got to seven figures. And honestly, it didn't

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even really dawn on me to spend a lot of money and time on ads,

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because this strategy was working so well. But because I I

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knew that I needed to be out there building relationships.

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Sales is a process of planting seeds and helping to, to be

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there when people are ready. A very few times are people out,

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you know, looking actively, right, maybe some maybe they

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have a problem that they know they need solved, but but

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they're not quite sure yet, when or how to do that.

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If they're if they're in a place where they're just seeing that

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they have a problem, they're just seeing that there's that

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they need to find a solution, that is the best place to come

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in and build that relationship with them. It's not actually

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when they're actively looking, because they're actively looking

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at you and a bunch of other people write in. So it becomes

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harder to convert at that point. You want to you want to be there

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and have that relationship built. When they're ready, then

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they they are like that, yes, this is who I want to work with.

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And this is how I can move it forward. So think about that as

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you're going forward. So just to summarize, the goal is to build

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relationships, whether it's a paid ad, or an organic strategy

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is to build relationships at the end of all of that as a human

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that you are helping really have your messaging dialed in at how

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you can help that human what the transformation is, and what

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they're gonna get as they're working with you. That's a very

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first thing to do before you turn on that megaphone and put

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it out there into a broader market. Then know what your

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goals are our goals just to start testing your offers,

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testing what you're doing and and, you know, knowing that you

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can start to convert people in into customers, or are you do

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have that machine going, and now it's ready Need to amplify and

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get out there in to a bigger and broader message because that's

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then when you can go out with ads, because you, you've proven

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that that system works. Okay. So that is my story that is my

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journey for you, your journey may be a little bit different,

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maybe you combine them, maybe you work more with, with

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different partners in different referral people, joint venture

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partners, where you're, you're coming together, and you're both

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promoting each other to each other's audiences. Maybe you're

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offering a referral bonus here, you're doing affiliate

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commissions, there's lots of different strategies outside of

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just an ADS strategy to focus on as you're building your

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business. But I'm going to tell you that you have to actively be

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building your business, there is no such thing as putting

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something out there and throwing ads at it. And and hoping that

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they convert, right, it's that second to happen. And so if

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that's your strategy, if you think that just you know, going

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from concept to ADS, to seven figures is going to work. It's

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not going to, and so this is the time to start building, putting

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those building blocks in place, the people who have those

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programs, that goal, that scene, I'll say, seem to go from zero

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to seven figures very quickly, already have a sizable audience

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that are already very well known in this space. And they already

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have people who they they know they can convert into buyers, it

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is not a new strategy, right, they already have kind of that

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flywheel or that engine, that that they know works to go from

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taking a stranger into being a buyer. They're not starting from

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scratch, and they're not starting this without a strong

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foundation. So so keep that in mind, right, we always have to

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make sure that we're not looking at somebody's, you know, where

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they are today. And when we're first starting, or we have to

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look back at where they were when they first started in the

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game, and then and then apply the strategies that they've

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maybe that they've taken to get there. Right. So look at that

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and apply that as you're, you're building your business, but

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hopefully this serves you today. It gives you a couple of tips as

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to how to start looking at your organic growth strategy. Again,

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combine it with ads when you're ready to turn on that that

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megaphone. But when you're first getting started, get out there,

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start finding where your people are hanging out, start joining

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the conversation, not selling to them, right just go out and

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serve become the person that they count on for whatever it is

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that you are selling. All right. There you go. Hopefully that

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