Josh Stanton (Screw the Nine to Five)
Building a Profitable Facebook Group
This client interview is about the power of Facebook groups. With just 30 minutes a day, Josh Stanton and his wife, Jill, built a 45,000 member Facebook group…
And that group generated between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of business for them.
Because he’s a Deadline Funnel client, Josh jumped on a call with me and shared a lot of details about how you can do it too.
Watch the video, read the transcript, or listen to the audio below!
Josh: Awesome to be here, we just had a chat on our podcast which was fantastic and I’m super excited to dive into and jam on some cool strategies today with you.
Jack: Absolutely, so let me give you a little bit of an intro so everyone knows about you. Josh and his lovely wife, Jill, they’ve got a website that I just love the name, it’s one of the best named websites I’ve heard, screwtheninetofive.com so you should definitely go look them up.
So the way that I actually met Josh was because he’s a Deadline Funnel client and he sent us a message. Then we got to chatting and I looked up his website and was really impressed with what they were putting out. They were interviewed on a whole bunch of podcasts and so we got to chatting. Josh and Jill are really, really talented and they teach a process where you can create a Facebook group.
They have really systematized how to create a Facebook group, whether you’re just starting out with a new online course or if you’ve got something going. So for example I told Josh, “I’m thinking about possibly creating a Facebook group for Deadline Funnel clients.”
So this is a topic that’s very interesting to me and Josh is coming out with a course that he’s co-creating with David Siteman Garland. We’ll talk about that at the end here, but we’re going to be talking about a specific niche topic inside of the whole concept of building a Facebook group which is, how to monetize it without pissing off your Facebook group. So let’s go ahead and kick it off, why don’t you give us a little bit of the backstory, give us a thumbnail sketch of how you started with Facebook groups and that might be a good place to kick it off.
Josh: Yeah, okay so we started a Facebook group because we kind of had issues getting to know our audience. When you have just an email list it’s quite difficult to, it’s not really like a two-way conversation basically, it’s like you read my emails and occasionally people would email back but not really.
So we heard about Facebook groups a couple of years ago and we started our first one. Back then it was called the Screw the Nine to Five Community and that grew so much faster than what we were expecting, I think within the space of about 12 months it grew from nothing to over 45,000 people in that group.
Josh: And they’re all entrepreneurs looking to start businesses, they already have businesses, blah blah blah. So we grew that out and we had a lot of success with that particular group but we also made a ton of mistakes along the way too.
For example, one of the things that we didn’t anticipate was the amount of spam that would actually go into a group of that size and how difficult it is to moderate something with 45,000 people in it. So essentially, we didn’t create the right kind of rules and the right kind of environment to form the perfect type of community to help fuel our business. So what we actually did is we shut down a group of 45,000 people.
Josh: And it was a big call, I remember when we made that call it was like “Yo, should we be doing this, we’re about to press a button here to shut this thing down, should we shut this thing down,” because it’s generated $300,000-$400,000 worth of revenue for us. We made that call.
We reopened with a whole new set of rules and quickly that group has grown from like zero, I think it’s almost 12,000 people in that group now so it grew from zero to 12,000 in a few short months just because we kind of knew what we were doing at that stage. The group for us has allowed us to really connect more, back and forth with our community.
I don’t really think that there’s any other platform that allows for that two-way conversation in order for you to figure out what people truly need.
Mainly we use it as a way of trying to understand what their wants and needs are so we can start to build products and offerings based around those. I don’t really think that there’s any other platform that allows for that two-way conversation in order for you to figure out what people truly need. So our Facebook group is very powerful for us.
Jack: I want to get into some of the ideas that you have that you’re going to share about how to monetize your group.
Jack: But something that’s always been the obstacle, the block that I have, that’s prevented me from moving forward with a group is the time commitment and yes I have a team but they’re busy doing their thing. I keep wondering am I going to have to hire someone, which maybe it’s worth it, but I have a feeling that you’ve come up with some systems so what would you say about the time commitment involved?
Josh: Yeah so the main thing is you just have to be really organized. We have a procedure that we run and one of the things we love to do is we create a monthly content calendar. So the good thing about Facebook groups is you can schedule content.
I know a lot of people will use a tool like say, Meet Edgar, which automatically schedules things on a week to week basis. The problem with using those third-party apps is that your reach is significantly lower as a result of that as opposed to if you schedule directly through the Facebook group platform. It’s a lot better that way.
So what we do is, at the end of the month we organize 30 days worth of content. These aren’t long posts, these aren’t super long articles, 1000 word articles or anything like that. They’re sort of engagement starters so they’re like questions to get the engagement going, that’s the main thing we want to focus on.
We also have posts that go out the same time each day as well throughout the week and so those are kind of like our theme type posts so they tend to stay the same each time. As far as the time commitment goes, we automatically put everything out so it takes us about a day to schedule everything out for the whole month. After that we spend maybe 15 minutes in the morning and then 15 minutes in the afternoon just going through and commenting on any of the posts that we’ve submitted or anything else that kind of needs addressing as far as what other people submit. So you can get away with doing like 30 minutes a day on a Facebook group no problems.
Jack: Okay, okay terrific and I’m sure that’s covered in the course that you’re coming out with with David Siteman Garland.
Josh: Yeah absolutely.
Jack: Which we’ll talk about in a bit. By the way, hopefully everyone’s heard of David Siteman Garland, he was an early early client of Deadline Funnel. I knew about him before he joined Deadline Funnel, but it wasn’t until later that I realized that he was an early advocate telling lots and lots of people, so I owe a huge debt of gratitude to David Siteman Garland, so thank you David.
Josh: Yeah and he’s a funny guy too.
Jack: He is, he’s a very funny guy. Alright so let’s go ahead and dive in because if we’re going to build this group, even though we want to build a community and have this interaction, we also are running a business and so how do we balance these two things of making money but at the same time not make it feel like everything’s just revenue-driven?
Josh: So this is a big issue a lot of people have is when they start their groups. A lot of people will start their groups and say “I’m not going to sell anything to you in this group, this is going to be a free resource for you”. The problem with that is you’re setting a certain mood and you’re creating a certain environment in that group which is if anyone posts anything that is somewhat related to people purchasing, then everyone is going to be up in arms. It’s going to create this really awkward situation.
You never want to do that, you want to start a group and let people know when they first join, that this is a group for your business, that’s like the first thing. I just want to set the stage with that.
After that, we don’t, and this is a big mistake a lot of people make, we never really post direct links to sales pages, we never do that and the reason why is it doesn’t really work.
If you post a link directly to a sales page and you say like “here go buy my product,” no one is going to buy it, because they’re going to immediately get their defenses up and be like “oh this is a bit weird, why is he trying to sell me his things?” We don’t do that right, we have a really cool process, it’s a three-step process that we use, so I don’t know do you want me to dive into maybe the first step?
Jack: I do, let’s go through it.
Josh: The first step is, Facebook groups have the poll option, so we use polling a lot and we use it for a couple reasons, one for market research, two for engagement and three to really help us figure out what people are willing to purchase. So we’ll run a poll and we’ll say something like “hey guys we’re about to start coming out with our next batch of content and we’re just wondering what topics you guys are most interested in,” and in the poll we’ll have five to ten different options.
They’ll be like “are you interested in learning about sales funnels? Are you interested in learning about Facebook groups? Are you interested in learning about Blogging?” About all these different topics right and based off that people will go ahead and submit their answers and we’ll take that top result. So we ran a poll last year and sales funnels were really big back then and they still are really big, of course, but that was clearly the number one topic. So we took that topic and we said okay we’re going to create a sales funnel around sales funnels here and this is how we’re going to actually start moving people from our group towards becoming customers of our brand. So that’s the first step, is to run that poll to find out what that initial ideal is that you’re going to move forward on.
Jack: Okay got it. Okay so you’ve got the poll, now I want to be clear now, these are not people, it’s a mixture of people who.
Jack: Have done business with you before but probably more people who have not, correct?
Josh: Exactly, exactly there’s a lot of people, so one thing you’ll notice when you start a Facebook group is they tend to grow based off the level of engagement that you have, so the more engagement you have the more often it’s going to show in the sidebar in the groups platform and the groups app. So it will be related groups or popular groups or whatever it is right.
Generally we grow by a few hundred per week just because we have really good engagement, whereas I know a lot of people who don’t have good engagement, their groups don’t really grow that fast. So that’s the main thing, the main priority we want to work on.
We don’t actually spend money trying to grow that group or anything like that, so it’s super important that we let you guys know about that. You’re going to make sure the engagement is high and your group will grow organically. And that’s really great because all the new people joining, they’re not customers yet so it’s a good chance for you to bring them in, let them get to know you and your brand before eventually wanting to go on and purchase.
So the first step is we ran this poll, so we’ve grown engagement, we’ve grown this group then we ran a poll to find out what is this audience most interested in right now. Let’s say they said sales funnels, that was the topic from last year and so what we did then is we moved into the second step.
We took the information from the first step and we created a three step evergreen sales funnel based around that particular topic. The steps for the sales funnel are really simple:
- Create an offer
- Create a lead magnet for it
- Drive people from your Facebook group to a ‘read’ magnet
We created a offer called the perfect sales funnel. It’s just a course showing people how to create a similar sort of sales funnel.
Then we created a lead magnet for it, something related to sales funnels. In this case we found out people wanted to take our emails that we use in our sales funnels. So we just created those as templates and we provided them when they opt in.
The third thing we do, and this is a really important part because this is where you’re going to be driving people from your Facebook group is, we create what we like to call a read magnet which is just a blog post essentially based around that topic. So we have a blog post and it’s like how to create a dangerously effective four-part sales funnel. It’s a really popular blog post so that’s the starting point of the sales funnel.
So Step 1: lead magnet. Step 2: congruent lead magnet. Step 3: congruent offer based around us.
Jack: And that’s interesting that you, I want to point out that you’re building. That you listed those from back to front initially.
Jack: And that’s the order that you create them in I would imagine, is that because you want to know where they’re ending up and so you kind of work backwards from there so that you know what content to write?
Josh: Yeah exactly because if we created the content first then by the time we got to creating the course, the course might be a little bit different based off the content, whereas when you’re creating a course you’re going to be much more thorough and then you say okay this is what the course is all about.
What do we want to provide people in the actual free content? Generally you’re not going to provide them everything in the free content that is provided in the course, so you’re right that’s exactly what we do.
Jack: And then you shared with me the last time that we talked, that I think when people opt in you’re using sometimes Deadline Funnel as a short call-to-action.
Jack: So why don’t you work through the mechanics, not the mechanics of actually how you copy and paste, but the kind of the tactics behind that.
Josh: So one of the things that we wanted to do was include a fast-action bonus or a fast-action opportunity to purchase at a lower rate, it was kind of like a one-time offer. So we were looking around for something, I think we were using just the timers and ClickFunnels at first. It was kind of annoying because people were refreshing the page and they were like “oh I don’t get it, the timers reset, this is ridiculous.”
It was kind of annoying because people were refreshing the page and they were like “oh I don’t get it, the timers reset, this is ridiculous.”
So that was when we came across Deadline Funnel and we found out that we could make it so if people refresh the page, the timer wouldn’t refresh. Essentially, it would stay to whatever it was when they initially came to the page.
So what we do is we have a 20-minute one-time offer countdown on the thank you page but we do it a little bit different than most people. When they opt in they don’t just hit a sales page that says “here’s a product, buy it.” Instead, what we do is we do a value-driven one-time offer which is another blog post off the back of it. So when they opt in, we say “hey just want to let you know we’re sending your email templates out to you right now, that should arrive in about 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, read this piece of content.” I think it’s three mistakes most people make when it comes to sales funnels.
What happens is a lot of people will read that content and then when they get to the bottom that’s when we introduce the one-time offer to them. So we’re not hitting them straight away with the product, we’re giving them more value before we actually mention this one-time offer to them.
Jack: Interesting. So as I’m listening to you talk through this process that you use, it’s really fascinating because it’s at least to me, tell me if I’m right. It seems almost like writing an epic blog post.
Jack: And then having a content upgrade that leads into your offer, your funnel.
Jack: But the difference is that rather than say trying to take people directly from paid Facebook ads or some other mechanism like that, what you’re doing is you have an intermediary step where you’re using a Facebook group, you’re building that up. Almost like you’re, I know that this is not an accurate analogy, but sort of like your house list.
Jack: I know that it’s much more than that, you get the interaction, but that is where once you have this thing created, rather than “okay we have the epic blog post, now let’s go buy some traffic and bring people to it.” You’ve got the group and what’s great is that there’s really zero guesswork because you ask them what they are most interested in so at least you have a very informed process to be able to create that thing that they’re most likely going to buy.
Josh: Totally, we’re essentially building up a bit of a launchpad organically for free which I think is really important. When you’re moving to the third step, at this point you’ve run a poll, you found out the best topic and then you’ve created a sales funnel based around that.
By the way if you don’t want to create a course, one thing I think is quite possible to do is like a pre-sale essentially. So before you create the course you can launch it out to your Facebook group and be like “hey we’re going to take on a few people at a lower price, we want you to help us build out this program.” So that’s one way of doing it. For us we were like “we know this course is going to sell.” It was pretty obvious, it was like the most popular thing.
So we create this three step-sales funnel and then what we do is we go back to the group and we haven’t run any ads at this point. We go back to the group and we say “hey guys remember a month ago how we ran that poll to find out what you’re most interested in, what content you’re most interested in learning about? Well we went out and we did a whole bunch of research and we wrote this epic blog post or this epic piece of content based around sales funnels, here’s the link.” Boom.
Here are people from the group and now they’re hooked right, they’re interested in it and they’ll go check out the post, a lot of them will go through and purchase the product through the funnel but at the same time you’re also using them to go and share all that content out to other people which grows traffic over time too.
So for us it’s like, we’ve seen benefits in terms of SEO as well with this too because our group has gone and shared our content out a lot. I think that post, I think in the end it’s had something over 1000 shares or something like that and because of that we’ve actually, I think we’re ranking on page one for how to create a sales funnel and all these other keyword terms, so now we’re getting this organic traffic which is just going through the sales funnel every single day and generating revenue for our business without spending money on ads.
Jack: So this is really really cool, so you’re taking this bigger group which a lot of them have not done business with you, you’re polling, you’re getting an idea of what they want, you’re creating this process, the read magnet, the lead magnet and then the one-time offer but this is not a huge purchase. So it’s moving them from someone who’s a community member, I wouldn’t say necessarily prospect but kind of a community member on the free side of your business, to someone who’s made a purchase.
So I want to ask, what happens next? Is there some sort of immediate upsell? I’m guessing not, but is there any sort of immediate upsell after that, or is this just a way for you to open up the relationship and then that kind of brings them into your world as a client and then you can sell them other things later?
Josh: Yeah so I think what’s really important to note at this stage is, this person who has purchased that introductory offer and these are offers of less than $200, so they’re not super expensive offers. They have become a customer right, and there’s a big difference I believe between a customer and a client.
There’s a big difference I believe between a customer and a client.
Josh: So a client is someone who is willing to work with you ongoing, a customer is a purchase that one off product right. From here we want to transition them from a customer into a client and so this is where we move towards or we have a core offer after this which is our membership community called Screw You. So it’s like “hey you’ve learnt how to create effective sales funnels for sure but there’s a lot more to running a business than just creating sales funnels so we have this incredible community of like-minded entrepreneurs, we have 18 fully loaded courses covering things from how to get started with your business to hiring a team and all the steps between. Why don’t you come and join us inside of this community and hang in there for a long period of time.
So essentially it’s about upgrading them from a customer into more of a client-based thing. You might have a coaching program after that or you may have, in your case, you may have a software that you’re looking to get them subscribed to. So from here it’s like you can kind of do anything, we just have this really simple three-step process for getting them into a customer status but from here we want to move them more towards being a client.
Jack: Yeah, I totally get your point of moving someone from customer to client so if anyone doesn’t understand the difference, rewind and listen because there is a difference. Client is more of a relationship, customer is more of a transaction. But even going from the freebie community group to making a transaction is a big step because I would imagine if you look through your analytics and your metrics, the revenue that you’re able to generate from people who have done even one transaction with you in the past is much, much higher than people in the group who have never purchased from you before.
Josh: Yeah absolutely. So we have all those people tagged in Infusionsoft so we can kind of tell what the lifetime value is of those people. I think the main thing, this is a really cool tip, is that when you are creating links in your Facebook group and let’s say you’re driving them through these sales models through these read magnets right, make sure you setup UTM tracking on them so that way in analytics you can see that people are coming directly from the group. That’s really important otherwise it’s sort of like okay where are these people essentially coming from.
That’s my only suggestion on how to sort of track that and what we can see is that around 50% of our revenue has come off the back of our group, which is pretty incredible if you think about it. And there’s all these crosses that happen too, like people are in our group but they’re also seeing our ad too at the same time, but the reality is, is the group has really helped us build a bit of a relationship before they go ahead and become a customer and that kind of increases our chances of moving them towards becoming a client.
Jack: Yeah absolutely, it’s sort of like if you’re on a bunch of podcasts and someone has heard you speak a bunch of times and then they see an ad. In your analytics it might show that ad generated the sale but in reality there was a whole lot of other stuff that went into at least developing that familiarity before they saw that ad.
Josh: Yeah, I think I’m a big proponent of the fact that you must have at least seven interactions with someone in order for them to feel comfortable becoming a client of yours right and I think what Facebook groups kind of allow is you the chance to interact with them more frequently and more easily than email and stuff like that.
Jack: Yeah you’ve developed the know-like-and trust before they’ve even entered your official funnel. I guess you could consider the Facebook group kind of the top-end of the funnel but still the point is just like you said, they’re getting to know you, they’re having multiple interactions with you before they’ve even had a chance to purchase anything.
Josh: Yeah exactly, exactly and yeah I think it’s just a lot easier just interacting with people in that kind of setting as well. It is kind of a struggle these days interacting with your email list but it seems like the reach at least right now is really really good with Facebook groups and so if you’re having problems right now building a bit of an audience I would say this is a great platform to get started with right away because I don’t know how long the reach is going to stay this high. If it follows the same trend as say Facebook pages then there’s a chance in the future that that reach is going to be a lot less so take advantage of it right now.
Jack: So real quick question on an advanced topic that I’m just curious about. Are you starting to use things like ManyChat and Facebook bots with your group in some sort of creative way?
Josh: So the problem with doing that is we, I don’t know at least at this stage, I haven’t checked it recently but I believe back when we were trying to do that is that we couldn’t interact through ManyChat in Facebook group posts. We could do it with page posts but it may have changed but if you can do that now I think it’s great. I would say the best way of utilizing that combination would be through Facebook Lives inside of the group.
So if you’re setting up ManyChat and let’s say you want someone to opt into something right and let’s say you’re talking about Facebook groups and I might have some kind of lead magnet that I want to get people going down the ManyChat funnel and so I will just be like, when we talk about Facebook groups like “three tips to running a successful Facebook group,” or whatever and then at the end or at the start I’ll say “hey guys if you want to grab your Facebook groups checklist, I’m going to send you a free checklist. Just type checklist below and we’ll send that out to you in a Facebook message.”
That’s another way of kind of running funnels, there’s so many ways you can run funnels off the back of Facebook groups. I know this one lady I spoke to recently, she has a Facebook group of literally 250 people that’s it, it’s such a small group and she’s really strict with her group too, like if people don’t comment or post within a month she removes them from the group.
Jack: That’s smart.
Josh: Yeah and she uses a tool to track who does that so her group is always really small but the engagement is super high so she does content, she’s a content marketing coach and so everything in the group is kind of around how do you use content marketing to grow your business and so what she does is I think every Tuesday she’ll do a post, some kind of post related to content marketing then anyone who comments back on that post, she’ll private message those people and say “hi I noticed that you replied back to this and you said blah blah blah, heres what I think.”
She’ll provide a bit of insight and then she’ll say “by the way on Thursday I’m having a training coming up.” And I think she does a paid training “it’s $100 and I only let in 20 people or whatever and I just want to invite you to that training,” and so from there off the back of that she sells her annual program. So she has a group of 250 people, she has a coaching business of $350,000 a year off the back of one Facebook group, it’s pretty crazy. Yeah.
Jack: That’s nuts.
Josh: Very interesting.
Jack: Which is a great lead-in to the project that you’ve got going on with David Siteman Garland, because the two of you are teaming up to teach how to do this. So why don’t you tell everyone where they can go sign up to learn more about this, because probably right when this is going on, right when you guys are kicking this off we’ll be releasing this interview so go ahead and share where people can find out about it and give us a sneak peek about what you guys are going to cover.
Josh: Okay so the course or it’s actually a workshop, so it’s a one-day workshop and you can find it by going to createawesomefbgroups.com, David Siteman Garland’s branding by the way, create awesome things. We’re going to be covering four things in the workshop.
The first thing we’re going to talk about is how to start your group the right way, remember I mentioned at the start, a lot of people will start a group with the intentions of being like “this is a free group and I’m not going to sell anything and this is not for my business,” that’s a huge mistake but there’s also other mistakes people make too.
The second thing is we’re going to talk about growing your group and some strategies you can use to grow a group. Literally you can grow a group by 1000 people within the space of three months no problems at all.
Then the third thing we’re going to cover is how to engage your group, which is the most important thing, because without engagement you don’t get growth and you also don’t get people interested in your brand.
Then the fourth thing is we’re going to go into the actual sales component of it as well. So those four things at createawesomefbgroups.com.
Jack: Awesome, fantastic. So is there any sort of parting tips or wisdom that you want to share?
Josh: Yeah, look I would say the main thing with this is to get started, it really is, so if you know that groups may be a good opportunity for you just get started because if it doesn’t work out the first time around that’s okay. Just like what we did, we grew a group to 45,000 people but then we closed it down and we reopened it back up. In a few short months we went back up to like 12,000, so for you it’s just about getting started and just learning the actual approach to running a Facebook group. For us it’s been the most powerful thing in our business so far to date and I really think that now is the time before Facebook starts bringing down the reach as well.
Jack: Very cool. Alright so I’ll make sure that there’s a link below this interview on the page so you can just click through to that, if registration is still open definitely jump in because I know David Siteman Garland and Josh are going to make sure that there’s a lot of good content coming out. This is a topic that I’m interested in and so I’m excited about seeing the inside of this training as well. So Josh thanks so much for joining me and for sharing your experience.
Josh: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
Jack: You bet.
Resources mentioned in this article:
Josh and Jill Stanton’s website, Screw the Nine to Five
Josh’s Facebook Group Workshop, Create Awesome FB Groups Workshop