“If you don't have an offer, you're not making any deals,” said Rich Ux on a Collective Call one night. And I just thought, Duh, dude. I'm working on it. But then I proceeded to hold my head after the call and admitted to myself, he's right. Going from an idea to execution is tough if you don't have a process. Especially if you're making it from scratch.
And especially if you're a digital marketer who has just spent most of your career learning how to make things.
I know what it's like for the newbie digital marketer, but get ready. Your time will come. I shifted out of it, and I'm still doing it. And you can too.
Vision without mission is hallucination
You've probably heard, that without execution your ideas don't mean squat. From someone who has a ton of ideas and is a bit of a scatterbrain, I can tell you they technically don't. But that should never deter you from having them or testing them out.
What's keeping you from being the mad scientist, the artist, the mastermind, digital marketer extraordinaire?
Probably every last darn concept of how you think the world works. Trust me, I know. I've been there. I'm still there. Yikes.
But not for long.
My aim is to show you how you can take that amazing idea you have in your head and basically pull it out of your butt. Just like I did.
Because honestly, what you will start with is complete and utter poop. It's smelly and you know it. But it's okay, that just means you need to refine it. You need to turn it into soil, then plant your seeds, water them, and watch them grow.
Do you get it? I'm going to show you how to go from idea to execution on one of your most fantastic ideas so that you can start planning your next step as a digital marketer.
Idea to Execution Step #0: Get It Out of Your Head Digital Marketer!
Yeah! I'm talking to you!
You need to get up off your butt (after reading this) and shake it out. Why are you thinking so hard about an idea that your head is hurting?
I'm asking because my dad literally makes fun of me when I hold my head like I did after the call. And then he starts dancing. He's mocking me, and it's funny and true.
My brain was working overtime trying to figure out what my next offer would be, and it's completely unnecessary.
You know why it's Step #0 and not #1? Because your idea is a 0.
You don't have one. You're thinking too hard. Stop. Go do something else. It will come. Have some faith.
When your mind is turning to mush, it's time to get up and let life work it out for you. You need to wash the dishes anyway and return your Amazon order at UPS. Go do that. Get your mind off it.
When I came up with my offer, it was more out of curiosity while I was just doing other activities like walking or relaxing and just considering the possibilities– essentially daydreaming.
Playing the “what-if game”
What if I could work in a way that would showcase my skill and highlight my creativity?
What if I could lead and facilitate on my own schedule?
What if I could strategize and package my offer and work with multiple people?
What if I could create materials clients could use so they can make the connections themselves?
What if I didn't have to sell my ideas and then wait months for them to make those connections, like, all the time?
What if I could do just that?
I just said, let's find out… and hopefully fast.
If the idea seems too big to you, it's probably because you need smaller ideas to accomplish the larger one. Let it come! How many times do we judge our ideas before we do anything about it?
And then it hit me a few weeks later. I was looking at a garbage truck. Something that has nothing to do with digital marketing, strategy, branding, or workshops gave me this insight:
What if I could create a strategic framework?
Hmm… Let's try it out.
Idea to Execution Step #1: Concept. Concept. Concept.
Whatever you do, don't write your ideas down, don't draw them out, don't use pictures, sticky notes, or arrows.
I'm joking. You need to do that asap.
That's the first step. Take a whiteboard, notebook or some computer paper and draw the idea out! Go ahead and take up the whole wall or floor.
Answer the question: How can this work?
Does that sound like a tall order? I can imagine.
Have you ever heard of design thinking?
Design thinking is the nonlinear process of moving from empathy to implementation. It's a process to come up with creative solutions. If you can find out why your idea has any weight with empathy, you might have something.
The thing is, we have a lot of problems in this world. Too many that I could cry some nights. But there are tons of opportunities to come up with solutions that really help people move forward. What's your idea? How does it solve a problem?
Truth is, when I came up with my idea, it was selfishly born to relieve my need to find a new way to work. I thought only about myself.
But the thing is, if you're having a problem, statistically speaking, it's very unlikely you're alone.
As I conceived my idea, it started off with me thinking about a bunch of people who had creative ideas and just didn't know how to get started. They didn't have an understanding of how to make it real, and it was low-key depressing them.
They'd try something awesome out, but reach a roadblock and quit. Which leads me to my next point.
Empathizing is the cornerstone of design-thinking. It allows us to see another person's world, appreciate them as human beings, understand their feelings, and communicate understanding. This means everything.
But it can't just stay there. We also have to solve these problems too.
So, I have my idea, I know who I'm serving. I'm seeing how all the pieces are coming together by spending another week working on it.
But like I said, I couldn't stop there.
I'm curious! Will this work IRL?
Well, we won't know if we don't ask, right?
Idea to Execution Step #2: Get Some Buy-In
So here I am with some cool new shapes and letters and drawings. I feel so accomplished as a creative. But I have to see if this is going to work.
So here comes my network.
I went straight to my Messages app on my phone and scrolled through who I've last talked to and wondered who could possibly be interested in it. If you don't have anyone come to mind, strike up the conversation!
Ask them what's been new. Find out about them. See if there's an opening in the conversation to pique their interest.
Tell them, “Hey, I just made this thing I'm really excited about.” Just like that.
If your conversation is flowing, they'll want to know what's getting you excited. Most people like excitement. It's a positive emotion that rubs off.
Whatever you do, don't judge yourself. You must cultivate your marketing woes into madness and glee and delight.
If you can't find people on your phone, go to Linkedin, Facebook, whatever you use the most, and apply the same process. Ask them if they have anyone they can think of that would be interested in what you're coming up with.
But don't just talk about it and not show what you have. You have to follow through with what you’ve got.
So here comes a SIMPLE sales page. Headline. Subheadline. Text. Make it through Mailchimp so you don't have to worry about website page development.
Wow. So professional.
Not really, it's still smelly. But we'll fix that later.
Send them over the link so they can check it out. And tell them, “I'd love to see you on the inside.”
If anyone finds a hole in your idea, listen! They might be understanding what you're trying to offer so you can clarify or reassure them. It's always great to have someone else tell you why something might not work so you can come up with how it actually will or specify your actual audience (they might not be it).
How many did ya get back?
I found seven people! Two more a week later. This is going to keep me busy.
I'm convinced all amazing businesses start off this way and for good reason. How are you going to know that what you're doing is even desirable if you don't test it out as LOW-COST as possible? You can't.
Minimize your expenses to just get something clean and working up and out there. Trust me, they won't know the difference if you have a good offer that is valuable to them.
I offered mine upfront for free to build and test out as I went. I wanted something low risk and fun and guaranteed to help me learn a lot without the stress. And once they sign up and go through the process, they'll wonder later if they should have paid for the dedication you're putting in.
That’s what happened to me. I’m telling ya, marketing glee and delight will go a long way.
But now's the time to wow them even more, and wow yourself because now you're going to have to work really hard. If you thought this was a test, here comes the real experiment.
Idea to Execution Step #3: Develop Your Prototype
So here I am, no content, no website, nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip.
Never fear! Notion is here.
This is one of my favorite apps to work with since you can customize your own database. So I just said, “I'm going to introduce you to your own Notion dashboard, and you'll have access to modules as they come out.”
Think on your feet. See if this works.
For me, it did. It provided something seamless for me to focus on the content and the students to get access to valuable content.
But go through the motions, and see how you can optimize each step in your task list so that you can deliver the best customer experience.
Remember when I talked about empathizing with others to solve problems? Well now you can empathize with them along the process of what you're building.
It's one big social experiment.[Insert mad scientist maniacal laughter]
But seriously, if you can look at the high level of the customer journey inside your funnel, then you'll be able to use your full-stack digital marketing skills to get it done!
When I took Rich's virtual workshop Full Stack Marketing Funnels, I finally was able to see everything from a high-level overview and learn from someone else who spoke my language. Rich talks about creating your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as a basis to get started, a concept I learned in startup school. Moreover, he didn't limit me or anyone else to just focus on one area of the funnel, it was a free flow of what I decided this was going to be.
Easily one of the most empowering decisions I’ve made this year. It was a place I could work on my taking my idea to execution.
Learning how to design funnels will allow you to see how to take an idea and make it scalable. Work through the loopholes, the bugs, and iron out the kinks so you can offer a smooth customer experience.
I love customer experience. It allows me to have a direct relationship with the company or client I work with. And the more you focus on your customers, the better your idea (which for me is now a program, technically), and everything accelerates and gets even better.
As the digital marketer, who doesn’t want 10x the learning that you initially sought out in the beginning?
And for your customers, who doesn't want 10x the value of what they paid for?
But it's not just about digital UX, it's about human UX.
It's important to understand that you're not just going all-in on your idea, you're going all-in on your career and your brand and what you stand for. Let that speak for the change you want to see in the world.
For me, it’s all about significance. Am I making the most impactful decision when I do, offer, or make this?
Do yourself a favor and get some free feedback forms and send them out for every stage you have set up for them. Ask them what they thought went well, what they would improve, what they wish for. This kind of an intimate retrospect will give you insights into how to evolve, what to make better, and keep doing more of what you're doing right.
And if you do that, they'll love it, and they'll keep you as the digital marketer at the top of mind. I mean, look how we went from idea to execution!
It doesn't matter if I've gotten used to the smell at this point (yes it’s still smelly to me), I'm working on it, and it's working for me. And ask for recommendations!
I’ve asked my students if they would recommend this to anyone. If they say yes, ask them too. Tell them that you'd love to give them a commission if they found someone to pay full price for signing up.
Oh yeah, come up with the price. Let's get into that.
Idea to Execution Step #4: Get The Model Right. Get the Price Right.
So, there's no easy way to explain this. There' a lot that impacts your price.
Markets. Industry Competitors. Economic forces. Pandemics. Yeesh.
But, you can still create a price. You can create a few of them.
By this time, I hope you've figured out a domain and website builder and started playing around with the layout and copy. If you have, you'll find that there's a three-tiered model approach to offer what you have. This will give you the ability to designate what is of higher value so you can offer it at a premium.
Always allow for add-ons in your approach, but don't be absolute about what is necessary for the customer to be successful in buying your idea, approach, or model. You'll definitely find more opportunities come up as you take your idea to execution.
Add-ons will give them more bang for their buck, and more cha-ching in your digital wallet.
Pricing Strategies and Market Positioning
First, look at how much this cost you to make by adding up the time and expenditures you made to get it done. When I added everything up, I really thought about the time I spent creating and coaching. It involves a lot of one-time development and design of content.
What's your hourly rate for your tasks? Add that up.
Then look at what else is out there right now, and see how other people are pricing their programs. It's not a bad idea to see where some people are positioning themselves. It's really great information.
And then you'll want to add up the actual value. How do you calculate this? Well, it occurs by considering a lot of different factors.
Maybe I'll write another post on my adventures through that, but here's a good article from QuickBooks on how to calculate customer's perceived value to get your brain juices flowing. And another one from Hubspot on everything you need to know about value-based pricing.
What's your total? A pretty high number I hope!
How do you feel about charging half or a tenth of that? Now just because I talked about 10x the value, doesn’t mean you have to charge a tenth of the value, but considering doing that might gun you up to think on how you could add more value to your offer.
Remember that things change, and you're going to want to iterate with them as well.
The most important thing to do right now is to create a working model of what you have so that you can ship it out and start to drum up some noise and traffic. That's what we've been working up to. But price is a big topic to get into.
Frankly, I'm adjusting mine for the next launch. It's difficult but interesting and exciting nonetheless.
Loopholes and loose ends
In the middle of this stage, you're going to see a lot of loose ends that need to get tied up and loopholes that could be costly.
The bottom line is, just get it working! (But don't forget anything either).
Work on your page copy. Make it sound like you want it to. Make it sound like you. You may use your favorite sales page as a template. Always include your benefits to the customer first.
Even if your idea still seems like it's smelling at this point, it's great. You've got something to work with and test.
If you want to go old school as I did, you can type all of it out in a Notion file and link it to your PayPal or Venmo. I find it to be very useful if you're still working through the funnel and people want to buy before you’re ready. Not every idea can be executed if you're working on your own, and that's okay.
Idea to Execution Step #5: Go For The Close!
Ever heard of coffee is for closers! I don't even drink coffee.
To close is something unique unto everyone's personality. You have to look at how you like to receive money and what makes you happiest to design a way for you to get it that way.
For instance, I'm still working on my idea, but some additional people are interested in being a part of the next version.
I had no idea that when I started to ask my clients if they would recommend my program to someone else that they would actually do it without some incentive.
And here I am with three new contacts with the money to pay the full price. How do I get them in before I actually have a model going?
By doing an old-fashioned Zoom call and discovery call and tell them I'd be happy to see them on the inside. Because I really would. I see the value people are getting from what I've made.
At the time of writing this, I'm getting ready to do a soft launch to early buyers of my strategy framework and it's been one of the most exciting and fulfilling projects I've done to date.
It's the coolest thing for me to finally work on one of my concepts end to end, from an idea to execution.
Look, knowing me, I may not do this for the rest of my life. But I'm dedicated to taking this to a full campaign to see what happens. And that's my favorite part of working on a startup: The experimentation. I'm the mad scientist bringing my thoughts to life.
More of this, please! [And more maniacal laughter]
Taking the Next Step as a Digital Marketer
Rich said that everything he says out loud ends up manifesting. And I think something should be said about speaking your vision into existence. The man is not only a marketing magician but simplifies a practical and creative approach to taking your idea to execution.
I've expanded my mind and my output, but I let the connections happen on their own. I just kept following the next step, whatever it is as it presents itself, and it's an approach that's working out fairly well for me.
You can take an idea to execution if you follow the next step, whatever that is to you. Just do us all a favor and get out of your own head first, because the next step will follow and is waiting for you, digital marketer!
I'm excited to see you there.
And I'd love to hear from you!
What's the next project you're working on, and how are you taking it from idea to execution?