How to Convert Cold Visitors. Survey expert made big salary in Corporate America and Wall Street, took the entrepreneurial plunge and now makes more than ever
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3 Year Rule
“We overestimate what we can accomplish in one year. We’ve vastly underestimate what we can accomplish in three years.”
Why I left $278,000 per year
“My last salary and complete package with AIG was about $278,000. I left all of that. I basically donated every earthly possession we had to charity. I went through this period of what I call forced poverty. The reason I did it is because I didn’t want to get tied up in the trappings of luxury. I wasn’t distracted so could focus exclusively on the business. It’s an important point to bring up because most people hear about the multimillion dollar business but they don’t hear about those days.”
Biggest Growth Block
“My biggest mistake was an error of omission of not acting fast enough with my pace of outsourcing. I’m someone who’s been almost too slow to hire and release and let go of stuff I’d do myself. It’s dramatically hindered my business’ growth.”
No market is homogenous
“No market is homogenous. Each person has different wants and needs. They have different hot buttons and objections you need to overcome. If you can ferret out what those things are and speak to those people differently in your marketing and offers, you’re off to the races. Almost nobody takes the time to do this.”
“My survey funnel counterintuitive. I increase the number of steps I want someone to take. I do that using my micro commitment buckets survey. Instead of just asking for someone’s name and e-mail, I ask a series of questions before I even get to the name and e-mail. For me this is extremely effective because of a number of different psychological forces going on.”
Mistake when emulating success
“The mistake is emulating the way a successful person like Mark Cuban behaves now. No. What you want to do is ask what he did 5 or 10 years ago. That’s the behavior I want to emulate.”
DISCLOSURE – Explicit lyrics inside
This episode does contain 1 curse word. Ryan is an authentic guy who’s passionate about sharing his message and helping his clients and students.
If you have delicate sensibilities or are easily offended take that into account.
Why Listen to Ryan Levesque:
In the audio, Ryan shares:
– How he converts cold visitors into customers
– Why he left $278,000 per year
– His 3 year rule to mega success
– The biggest single factor that stunted his business’ growth
– How to win big doing something simple almost nobody else does
– Biggest mistake when following successful people
Ryan Levesque is well-known for creating online lead and sales flow models – most notably his “Survey Funnel” formula and is known to many simply as the “The Funnel Specialist”.
He’s generated over 2.8 Million Leads, 175,000 Customers – across 19 different markets, in just the last 23 months alone.
Ryan’s 8- and 9 figure private clients include the number one golf instruction site on the internet, the number one tennis instruction site in the world, the number one alkaline health company in Australia, the number three business funding provider in the United States, the number two satellite television provider in the United States, the number one dog training property online and dozens more companies ranging from small businesses to large corporations.
He has worked with a wide range of clients, including many instruction-related products. Price points have ranged from $49 to $2,000.
Ryan has been called a “conversion genius” by marketers like Boardroom EVP, Brian Kurtz, His understanding of the psychology of consumer persuasion is a natural outgrowth of his having studied and taught neuroscience at a leading Ivy League institution (Brown University).
Prior to running his current company since 2008, RL & Associates LLC, Ryan spent nearly 5 years running a $20 million/year China Expansion project for the financial company AIG, managing a team of 24 people. Prior to that, he worked on Wall Street at the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.
Ryan also has a degree in East Asian Studies, has studied the Chinese language at Princeton University, and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.
He often jokes with people that he was born with a sixth toe that had to be surgically removed. The gap between his big toe and second toe on his right foot is that much larger than the gap between his big-time second toe on his left foot. People almost always get sucked in.
In a prior life he was a published political cartoonist. He had a political cartoon all through college for the Brown Daily Herald which is the Brown University newspaper.
He could have gone into the academic side of neuroscience but didn’t want to pursue academia. He was much more interested in consumer psychology and investor psychology.
He honed his sales skills while working for AIG in China. He got burnt out. He was living out of hotels, on a plane every other week, tethered to his Blackberry, living in Shanghai while his wife was in Hong Kong pursuing her PhD.
They were living a bi-country marriage separated by a 2 1/2 hour plane ride.
He had some friends who were making money with Internet businesses. They became his mentors during his transition.
In 2008 during the financial crisis he quit his job when AIG declared bankruptcy. He moved in with his wife and they lived on her $500 per month PhD stipend. He bootstrapped his business.
He used his laptop to grow into a multimillion dollar business. He took his first business from zero to about $25,000 per month within 18 months of starting up.
Some Shareables from Ryan in this episode…
Early-stage business advice
“My last salary and complete package with AIG was about $278,000. I left all of that. I basically donated every earthly possession we had to charity. I donated a whole house full of furniture, books and all sorts of other stuff that we had shipped to China from the US. I kept one suitcase full. I moved into the 400 sq. ft. apartment with my wife in Hong Kong.
We moved back to the states to Brownsville Texas where my wife got a job as a museum curator. It has the poorest ZIP code in the entire United States. I went through this period of what I call forced poverty.
We moved into this $550 per month apartment. We owned a mattress that we bought for $200, a desk I got from relatives, an old 13 inch CRT TV with bunny ears and no cable. We owned 2 fold up chairs that collapse into a tube and you can put in the carrying bag. We got these for free when we opened up our corporate bank account here in the US.
That’s all we owned. We get our groceries at Wal-Mart. We’d spend no more than $50 per week on groceries.
The reason I did it is because I didn’t want to get tied up in the trappings of luxury.
When we lived in Asia we had a house servant. We were eating out meals seven days a week. I was flying business and first class everywhere. It was a very luxurious and posh lifestyle over there.
The reason I put us through this period of forced poverty is I wanted to prove we could live on a little. If things ever got tough with the business, if it ever got tight, we could do it. We weren’t tied to the fancy cars, fancy apartment or fancy house.
It also allowed me to have this singularity of purpose where I wasn’t distracted by all the stuff we own. I didn’t want to have any of that so I could focus exclusively on the business.
Most entrepreneurs I know personally all went through this what my client Perry Marshall calls ‘bologna sandwich and Ramen noodle days’ where you’re just keeping things simple.
It’s an important point to bring up because most people hear about the multimillion dollar business but they don’t hear about those days. It’s a mistake people make when they try to emulate success.
The mistake is finding a successful person and emulating the way they behave now. No. What you want to do is ask that person what they did five or 10 years ago. That’s the behavior I want to emulate. If you’re looking at someone like Mark Cuban and the way they operate now it’s a different ballgame.
Look at the way Mark Cuban operated when he was making his first million not as the multibillion-dollar business owner. This is important advice for anyone who is attempting to ascend the ladder up to the top whatever that means for them.”
Why I bootstrapped
“I had money saved away. I put it in a place where I wouldn’t see it or think about it. I paid under $500 for my laptop. That was the one asset the business owned. It was a piece of junk, it was the cheapest one you could get. That’s all you need. You don’t need fancy equipment. To do that type of business that is available to you today running an Internet business, you really don’t need a lot to make it happen. We just bootstrapped it.”
#1 path to profits
“What I do all day every day is implement what I describe as my survey funnel formula. It’s a marketing funnel that involves a couple of different surveys to break into market after market. For example, the clients I work with including the #1 golf instruction company in the world, the #1 tennis instruction company in the world, the #1 basketball instruction training company in the world for guards, the #1 dog training company in the world. I use the same formula in those markets. The way I developed that formula is I went into three markets of my own: jewelry making, gardening, and memory improvement.
It’s something I fine tuned and honed over the last seven years. If I had to start over I’d use my survey funnel formula to break into a new market. I’d choose a market in one of the three major verticals: health, wealth or relationships.
What I would do to make money quickly is use what I learned to understand the market. I’d funnel people two different directions based on what they want and what they need. Then I’d sell them high converting affiliate offers in that market.
The reason I do this is because the formula works. It’s what I use to generate basically all the results I’ve generated in my life and business. Selling products as an affiliate would be the fastest path to make this formula work.”
No market is homogenous
“No market is homogenous meaning the people in the market aren’t all the same. They have different wants and needs. They have different hot buttons and objections you need to overcome. If you can ferret out what those things are and speak to those people differently in your marketing and offers, you’re off to the races. Almost nobody takes the time to do this.”
“My biggest mistake was an error of omission of not acting fast enough with my pace of outsourcing. I don’t mean just hiring outsourcers from the Philippines. I’m talking building up my team, hiring employees and outsourcing tasks that I felt I had to do myself. That’s been my biggest battle. I’m not the quintessential entrepreneur who just jumps off a cliff and dives right in without ever looking back. The reason why I latched onto my survey funnel method is because it’s a risk mitigator.
I have steps I follow all along the way to see if this market is worth pursuing. If it’s ‘yes’ then I move on to the next step. Going in steps is in tune with my overall approach to business. I’m someone who’s been almost too slow to hire and release and let go of stuff I’d do myself. It’s dramatically hindered my business’ growth.”
Our gardening business
“We have a business in the gardening space where we sell physical information products including books, DVDs and courses on things like how to set up your own greenhouse. Our flagship product was a book. After almost 2 years in that market, my wife and I still packaged and mailed the books ourselves. On a Friday night we’d order take-out, put on a movie, then go through our packaging assembly line. We were shipping out sometimes 300, 400 or 500 books per week.”
“For whatever reason, I don’t know why, I have this thing where I thought we could save money by doing it ourselves. On a Friday night, what were we going to do otherwise? It was idiotic. We’d take it to the post office and mail it ourselves.
We’ve since evolved and now have a shipping fulfillment house that handles this for us. At the time, do it yourself seemed like the right way. I’ve written my own copy, done graphic design, coded by websites. For whatever reason I’ve been slow to bring people on.
I don’t know if it’s a lack of confidence in my ability to hire smart. It’s something I’ve worked really hard to mitigate. I have a team of 10 people now scattered across the country. There are still things I do in my daily life that I know I should have team members do but I’m reluctant to let go of control.
My advice is to look at those tasks you can outsource at a lower dollar amount than you charge. I charge $1,000 per hour for business consulting. Conceivably, anything I can outsource for less than $500 per hour, I should be outsourcing.
It’s an easy conversation to have with yourself but when you break it down into practice you find it’s not as simple.
Look at things like cleaning your house, meal prep, washing your car. On the business side it’s answering customer service e-mails. All those things you can outsource to someone at a lower dollar amount, find a way to do that and do it sooner rather than later. The faster you can put yourself into a strategic management role, the faster your business is gonna grow.”
Favorite part of the entrepreneur’s journey
“Looking back and seeing how the business has grown. Looking at the numbers. I’m writing a book right now and the editor asked me to recount the story of how I got into this world. I still remember to this day making our first sale online. I remember the moment and everything about the room I was in. Those little milestones along the way are really what makes the journey fun. When you have someone to share it with, whether it’s a spouse or business partner, it really is all about the journey.
It becomes funny money. When you make another $100,000, it’s just a number in your bank account. You don’t need that money to live or put food on the table. It’s like playing a game. There are milestones you hit along the way that are meaningful.”
“It’s in the category of mistakes I’ve made. I went into a market and I did it through somebody’s coaching program. He had created a business in a market and I was going to replicate his business model in a different market. I bought into his $50,000 plus per year royalty offer. Turns out the guy I bought from was a complete fraud. The results he said he got were completely false. He ended up trying to disappear. There were about 20 or 30 of us in this program. He claimed he had a brain illness so he could escape everyone. He took all of our money.
I am a person who takes full responsibility for the decisions I make. It’s my fault and my fault alone for misjudging his character and ability.
I’ve never done Amway or bought into MLMs or crazy cults. It was a very bizarre situation. Before you do business with someone, do your homework.”
How the past is useful
“I bought a coaching program from a fraud. Because I was launching that business I needed help. I never would have hired her if I didn’t start this business. She’s still on my team to this day. She’s a fantastic employee. That’s a lemonade out of lemons situation. The other thing is it helped really sharpen my focus.
This was before I put 100% focus on my survey funnel formula. At the time it was a portion of what I did. Once this experience happened, it forced me to reevaluate everything I was doing. I made a decision to go through addition by subtraction. I got rid of all of my side businesses to focus on my main thing.
That was a hockey stick moment in our growth. Focusing on that one thing that I was the best in the world at made the most sense. There’s always a lesson to learn from failure.”
“My survey funnel I use to go into market after market is counterintuitive. I’ll give you a very specific example. Conventional wisdom says everybody online has to use a squeeze page where you ask for someone’s name and e-mail in exchange for an ethical bribe like a report or free video. Most people try to reduce the threshold, the number of steps people have to take to get into your world. Instead of asking for name and e-mail they’ll just ask for e-mail.
I increase the number of steps I want someone to take before they come into my world. I do that using my micro commitment buckets survey. Instead of just asking for someone’s name and e-mail, I ask a series of questions before I even get to the name and e-mail. Typically these are multiple choice questions. They are designed to do a couple of different things.
One, is to increase a person’s action taking momentum. In a health market I might ask if they’re a man or a woman. Then I might ask if they’re in their 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. This is before they even get the opportunity to opt in.
For me this is extremely effective because of a number of different psychological forces going on, the ability to capture that person’s data, to market to them more effectively. This goes back to identifying the different ‘buckets’ in your market and speaking to them differently.”
“My entire life I’ve had the tendency to zig when other people zag. More people are right-handed so the tendency is to go right. If there are two lines at the toll booth on the highway or two lines at the bank, chances are go left because that line will be shorter and move faster. You can do that on a much more sophisticated level in business. Look at what everybody in the market is doing. Ask yourself, ‘what if I did the complete opposite?’ Broadly speaking, doing things that are counterintuitive is a relatively good strategy.”
Conventional wisdom that hurts
“Follow your passion and the money will follow. It’s one of the most detrimental myths. I love sitting on the couch, eating junk food and playing video games. I seldom do that now. Could I have a career as a couch potato? Maybe. Publishing political cartoons was fun for me because I wasn’t dependent on it to put food on the table. One of the reasons I stopped is because the newspaper increased the schedule of cartoons they wanted me to produce. It was interfering with the rest of my life. It became pressure.
You can spoil your passion if you use it in your business.
One of the things that held me up was looking for a market I was passionate about where the economics also told me I could make a lot of money in. I could always find markets I was passionate about or interested in but they didn’t work out economically.
What I’m passionate about is improving the process and growing. From that perspective the market is almost irrelevant. That’s why I’m in so many markets.”
Three year rule
“Look at where you were three years ago. Transport yourself back to that moment in time. Could you ever imagine where you are today? For some people the answer is yes. For me, I never would have imagined. A year is a short enough time frame we can see that far ahead. We overestimate what we can accomplish. It’s incredible what you can accomplish in three years.”
“We overestimate what we can accomplish in one year. We’ve vastly underestimate what we can accomplish in three years.”
Learn more about Ryan:
Ryan shares what he does on a day-to-day basis from the real-world data he gets from all the various markets he and his clients operate in at:
Ryan shares a paid training of how he sets up survey funnels as he does in his own businesses and for his clients:
News Media Ryan Levesque has been featured in:
– Brown Daily Herald
– International Pest Control Magazine
– Yahoo Finance
– the Miami Herald
– the San Francisco Chronicle