Running a Subscription-Based Membership Program
Justin Brown is one of the co-founders of Primal Video, along with his brother, Mike. Justin has worked in film for over 20 years, producing everything from now-Netflix-featured documentaries, to music videos and extreme sports projects traveling the world with big wave surfer Mark Visser, filming his documentary TV series, 9 Lives. Now, through the Primal Video platform which includes a subscription-based membership and successful YouTube channel, Justin and Mike teach their exact systems for creating quality videos, growing a targeted audience and scaling your revenue.
In today’s interview, I interview him about running a subscription-based membership program.
Watch the video of my interview with Justin or read the transcript below!
LinksPrimal Video Primal Video YouTube Channel Deadline Funnel
Jack Born: Hey, everyone. This is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel, and I’m here with a special guest. I’m here with Justin Brown of Primal Video. Justin, thank you so much for being here.
Justin Brown: Thank you very much for having me on.
Jack Born: So the reason why I invited Justin to come and talk to us, and I’m super excited about this, because I know that I’m gonna learn a lot from this call. So just from a personal perspective I get to ask questions of someone that I think really, really knows a lot when it comes to community and subscriptions. And so, Justin, I think I’m gonna hand it over to you to talk a little bit about the backstory of Primal Video, who you serve, what it does, and I think that would probably be a great starting point. And then we’ll get into your subscription model and some of the details around that.
Justin Brown: Okay, awesome. So a little bit about me and the company. I run a company called Primal Video with my brother, Mike. What we do at Primal Video is we help people grow their audience and scale their revenue with online video. So the face of our business or the front of our business is our YouTube channel. We use that as organic traffic through into our email list, and then now through into our membership site, which is our accelerator program. So our goal with our accelerator program is to really deepen that conversation, deepen the level of training, the level of help we can provide, an impact we can have with how action takers, the people that want more from us after finding us through our YouTube channel. So in a nutshell, that’s really what our business is, is helping people succeed online, building a business around doing the stuff that they love, and in some cases turning their hobby into a business.
Jack Born: So how do you find that most of your audience monetizes their platform when… Because you’re helping them reach a bigger audience and develop that brand identity. So how- are most of your audience creating courses? Are they monetizing through YouTube or some other method?
Justin Brown: I’d say it’s a good mix. I mean, so for us we have the membership site, which we currently have around 1,000 members, so it’s a decent chunk of income. We have YouTube which is also a decent chunk of income now given the size of the channel that we have. But also for us it’s things like affiliate revenue, which is also a big piece of that puzzle. And that’s essentially what we teach, is not just to go down one path with one goal. A lot of people come to us expecting to build a business off the back of their YouTube channel, monetizing specifically just from YouTube and AdSense and ad revenue from YouTube. But I think what they figure out or what we show them is that there’s so many other ways that you can make money from day one without needing to rely on something that you really don’t have much control over. So to answer your question, a lot of them do end up doing things like creating their own courses and programs at some point, but the easiest place to start is with the affiliate revenue, which is something that they can start doing from day one while they’re building out their products and courses.
Jack Born: And I should mention, you have surpassed a million subscribers on your YouTube channel, correct?
Justin Brown: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. Yeah, so right now we’re growing by about 25,000 new subscribers per month, which is-
Jack Born: Wow.
Justin Brown: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Jack Born: That’s fantastic. So I think before we get into some of the information that you can share, if anyone in my audience is listening to this and you’re thinking, where can I… How can I get more information, because I wanna use YouTube to reach a bigger audience. This is one of the… I’ve watched quite a number of your videos and you guys do a fantastic job with it. So if someone’s interested, how can they go and learn more about what you guys do?
Justin Brown: The best way is probably to check out our website, PrimalVideo.com or to head to our YouTube channel where you see the different types of content that we create. But in a nutshell, I mean, if anyone is considering YouTube and maybe you’ve heard a lot of stuff, like “it’s too late for YouTube”, “it’s too overcrowded”, or maybe you’ve looked to see what competition is out there, and there might already be be people creating the content that you wanna create, the biggest thing that we all have is that YouTube rewards new content, recency. And with what we teach, we don’t just make random videos. We’re looking at the search volumes. We’re looking at what are people actually typing into Google and YouTube because YouTube is the second biggest search engine. What do they actually want, and we’re creating those videos. So it’s not too late for YouTube. It’s not too overcrowded. There’s plenty of room, so come and join us.
Jack Born: Yeah, and I brought someone specifically on my team who it’s not her only focus, but it is her primary focus to develop our YouTube channel. And we’re starting to go through your training resources because we really want to reach the audience that already is on YouTube and searching for things that we should be showing up for. So I agree. I don’t think that it’s… I mean, I’m not in a position to say, but I’m putting money behind the idea that it’s not too late to put new content out there. Okay, so hopefully later there’ll be time for me to circle back to some ideas or like some fundamental foundational concepts around how someone who has a subscription-based business, or even somebody who’s a course creator, what are some ideas that someone can use to grow their YouTube channel and reach a bigger audience? But let’s hit the pause on that for just a second. I wanna come back to you mentioned that you’ve got about 1,000 members, right?
Justin Brown: Yes.
Jack Born: And so can you… What can you share in terms of… What are you willing to share in terms of just from that piece of your business? How much do you charge? I’d be interested to know do you offer monthly and annual? Just annual? Give me an idea of how that’s offered to your audience.
Justin Brown: Yeah, so it is $37 US / month membership. We position it as a resource where we keep it updated, which is why we went the membership model and not just as a one-time course. Essentially what you get in there is three courses that we have sold individually, and sometimes we use that in our offer to say that you could buy these courses individually, or you can access the whole thing inside the membership. So it’s $37 US / month. We also do have an annual, which is $370. So you get the two months free, pretty standard with an annual offer. But we are looking at ways that we can push the annual more. So this is kind of a level where what’s the next thing look like? How do we incentivize more annuals? So we’re looking at ways that we can make that an irresistible offer or a no-brainer offer as well. But we’ve really only started to push the annuals in maybe our last two intakes. We only open the doors to it once a quarter. So we’ve got four intakes a year. And right now we’re finding webinars has been a great way to do that, something that I enjoy running, but also something that kind of creates a bit of a party vibe and gives people some training. And then for those that are ready to take that next step, then that’s where our accelerator program is that next step.
Jack Born: So you jumped beautifully to one of the next things I wanted to bring up. So as I was looking at your website, I saw that your accelerator program, the enrollment, there’s this “enrollment is not open” sign. “Enter your name and email and be on the notification list.” So you do enrollment four times a year, you said. How long are you open?
Justin Brown: So we normally have, I think it’s a four-day open cart. It would be as long as a five, because the doors are open from the moment the first webinar goes. Normally we run three webinars to hit different time zones. I’m in Australia, so we wanna try and hit the US, which is the bulk of our audience, and the UK, Europe as well. So we run three webinars. We’ve literally been doing a copy paste training, copy paste intake for the last, I think, five intakes. So we’ve just been refining and tweaking messaging and everything like that. So open for five days, four days, might be four and a half days technically, but it’s a quick… It’s a short window. We also don’t promote it too far ahead of time because we like to think that we wanna catch people that are close to the fence, people that are ready to take action. And that way it’s… Is it now the time for you? If not, you can catch us on the next one. But that allows us to shift from being in promotion mode to working with our members and it’s… Yeah, we’ve found that right now that’s what’s working well.
Jack Born: So what are some things that you are… Is there a strategy that you guys have in place to keep people engaged and interested between enrollment periods? Like if I showed up a few weeks after your last enrollment period, there’s gonna be a number of months before I can even get in. So I’m kind of itching to get access to resources for improving my YouTube channel. So do you find that it’s important to keep people engaged during that time? Do you use your YouTube channel? What do you guys do to keep people really focused on sticking around until you guys open up your enrollment again?
Justin Brown: Yeah, so this is the power of getting people to join the wait list. So when they’re on the wait list, we’re able to send out automated sequences, automated funnels really to help people move closer towards their goal. So we’re directing them to our YouTube content or to our website with resources and things that we know that they would be interested in to kind of warm them up, to get them more ingrained in how we teach and our values and those sorts of things, so that when we do open the door, they’re more likely to jump straight in easier, with less looking at the sales page and these kinds of things. So yeah, our email list and getting them on that wait list, we are able to deepen that conversation with them.
Jack Born: So you mentioned that you have, I believe you said three products that people could buy individually. Is that where you guys started and then you moved to the subscription model, or were you always subscription? Can you give me a sense of how long you guys have had your subscription program?
Justin Brown: Okay, so we started with individual course, and then we looked at where we wanted to take it. That original course is no longer something that we sell. We just looked at- we wanna create stuff that is helpful to our audience, and it’s never really what we think they want. I mean, I know what they need, but we’ve got to kind of meet them where they’re at. And I think this is a big mistake we see a lot of people make. They go down this rabbit hole of spending weeks or months creating these courses but without really testing it out. So yeah, we moved to a membership once we had, I think we had two primary courses at that time. I said, “well, let’s bundle them together”, but also we looked at what are the courses and programs that we like? And if I’m investing in something that is changing like YouTube or really anything tech and online, do I want to have a… Do I wanna buy something that could be outdated? Do I have enough trust that the person who is teaching me or the thousands of dollars that I’m spending is actually giving me current up-to-date information? So we really went and took a step back and said, well, what could our promise be? What would we wanna see? And that’s really why we positioned it more as the membership, knowing that this stuff changes a lot, that our promise is to keep it updated for our members. So the first version of our membership we actually shut down. It was way too overwhelming for us to keep running from what we had committed to or promised to deliver. But we were also overwhelming our members as well. A new piece of content every week, masterclasses, Q&A calls, all of this stuff. We thought we were doing what would help people, but it turns out we were overwhelming them and ourselves. So we really had to take a step back. We shut down that original version, and we built the thing that we would be pumped to deliver, but also that we hoped people would be pumped to join and actually take action with. So it’s been a few different iterations to where we are now.
Jack Born: I’d really like to drill down on that. So you mentioned that you were doing… It sounds like you were doing a lot of work, a lot of content. So on the surface, and I think you guys at first believe this as well, that sounds like a positive for your members, but you said you were overwhelming them and it was overwhelming for you. Can you give me a sense of what you’re doing now in comparison to that so that people can have a sense of lessons learned?
Justin Brown: Yeah, no, for sure. I think this is a massive lesson, so I’m happy to share it. We like to learn from whoever we can, the experts in different places. And we had a lot of people that were sort of saying, “all right, so you need to be doing something a week. If you’ve got a membership model, what works really well is a piece of content a week.” And that’s fine for some memberships, but for ours, I mean, to create a piece of content, piece of training every week, even if you were batch creating them, you’re still on a content hamster wheel. Now we’re already on a content delivery schedule for our YouTube channel, which is just one video per week. But when we’re adding courses or mini-courses and programs, interviews, and all of that stuff to it, too, it wasn’t a game that I wanted to play or that the team wanted to play to create something, to have that impact. But the most interesting piece was when people were leaving our membership and we’re asking them what the reason was, it’s always good to survey your people on their way in and out, was they were feeling overwhelmed. They didn’t have the time. And by receiving a new email from us every week saying, “Great news, more training,” they’re just feeling further and further behind. So it wasn’t a great feeling for us having to create new stuff all the time. And it made it much harder to take time off and those sorts of things because we had all of these commitments and promises that were made, but we also felt like we needed to be doing more for them. It was kind of when we were new to this whole online digital making money thing, impact thing, was we need to keep over-delivering and over-delivering and over-delivering, but it wasn’t helping us or them. So boundaries is what we needed, and we needed a clear promise from what we were okay with, what our non-negotiables were, but also what our people needed and what they wanted from us. So where we end up with now is our promise is that we keep it updated. We’ll only add new content as and when it’s needed. As I said, we’re trying and testing stuff, but we’re only adding stuff in there when we believe it’s something that our people need to be doing. So we’re saving them the trial and error, and they know that at any time they can jump in, they can learn best practices of what’s working for us and for our clients, and just implement that without the noise, without the fluff. So that’s our focus now.
Jack Born: So is a community a big part of what you guys do or does… Okay, I see you nodding. Yeah, so can you talk about the community side of things and also dip into the tech behind it, if you don’t mind. Just like what platform you use.
Justin Brown: Yeah, so we do have a community, and that was something that in the first version of our membership was adding to the overwhelm. We didn’t have the boundaries in place, and it became a place to pick Justin’s brain. We were using Facebook back then, and it works. We’re still using Facebook now, but without those boundaries in place, I just didn’t wanna log on to Facebook. Not even to connect with friends, family or anything, because I’d log in, there’d be hundreds of notifications of questions that I felt like I needed to answer because I hadn’t put the boundaries in place. So we still have a community. We’ve experimented with different forum platforms. And what we’re back with now is still a Facebook group, a private Facebook group, because it was easier to get people where they are, which is already on platform, for them to have notifications and stuff than to have them go over and log on to something else. Now I’m not a big fan of Facebook. So we’re still trying, testing new platforms all the time to try and work out how we could move our community over to something and have that as a seamless, good experience for everyone. But what we’ve found is still working best for us now is to have that community on Facebook. But then the game then becomes how do we create that conversation? How then do we keep them engaged? Because while they can go through the content at any time, the community allows them to hear from other members and to hear- like we’re sharing our examples and some examples to hit a point home, to help them understand something, but they’re able to get examples of other people who are going through the same stuff as well in totally different niches and how they’ve applied it. So the community is definitely a big piece of it and something that is adding to our longevity of our customers in there as well.
Jack Born: So talk to me a little bit about how you and your team set the boundaries. Is there something that you… A video that you have them watch when they first sign up or are there follow up emails, things that they click that they agree to? How do you set that? And then if you could also segue into is there someone on the team whose job it is to keep the community active or to respond to comments who’s not named Justin or Mike?
Justin Brown: So that’s good. So yes, the big piece is we positioned the community almost like a bonus. So when you sign up you’re getting access to the accelerator content and training, the systems, the resources, all of that stuff, the processes, templates, that’s what you’re buying, but you also get an invite into the community. So while you’re paying for the content, it is an invitation. You break the rules, you’re out of the community, but you can still keep access to the content. So we had to set that. So yes, we have a video, and it’s “joining the Facebook group” video. And we have to kind of mention it a few times in the welcome videos, like, “you have to watch this” because it’s not something that everyone does. It’s not kind of the normal, “I know how to join a Facebook group.” No, no, these are strict rules that you need to abide by, and it essentially just calls out all the stuff that you don’t wanna have in there. We have a rule, there’s no tagging anyone in because it’s like saying I’ve got a question, but I only want you to answer it. You’re not gonna get good responses. And simple stuff like we find that the most people that engage… The more people engage, the faster people respond to their comments, so that encourages people to engage, so that then when they do have a question, they’re gonna get a faster, more detailed response because they’ve already added value to other members. So just calling out the things that we allow in there and not. It’s not there for self-promotion, no matter how crafty people get. People will always try to find a way to… Yeah, so all of those, we just call it out. And that was huge. As simple as it sounds, having a “joining the Facebook group” video and making sure people watch it, or at least having them acknowledge that they do. So the second part of that was when they join they have to enter their email address that they signed up with because there’s no way to automate this, but they also have to answer and type in ‘yes’, that they did watch the video. Now we can’t really police it. I mean, I guess we could go log in and see if they actually did click through. We’re using Kajabi, which was another part of your question there before, to run our membership. So we could track it, but it’s more like, have they acknowledged ‘yes’? All right, now let’s let them in. To date, I don’t think we’ve had to remove anyone. We’ve had to give a couple of little warnings, but everyone has really… The response has been crazy. We’ve had so many messages from people saying, “I’m pumped to be a part of this because of those rules”. No one wants to have their time wasted and be notified for someone’s tech support or they can’t find something. It’s not a place for it. It’s a place for support and for genuine questions yeah, you don’t need to rely on me or Mike to answer.
Jack Born: Is there someone on your team who is proactively trying to start conversations or put little bits of content into the Facebook community? Or do you just let the members really bring up the questions themselves because there’s enough activity there?
Justin Brown: This is a good question. So how we tackle the questions piece is like part of our promise is there are two Q&A calls every month in the membership. And that is where… That is your opportunity for have your question answered by me specifically. So it’s a live Zoom call. Now outside of that, yes, I’m in the community as well, but there’s no promise from my side. I’ll get to questions here and there, but I’m not gonna sit there and answer every single one of them because that’s what the Q&A call is for. And normally in the community, what we find is when I answer a question, it kind of stops the conversation because it’s like, “Oh, I can’t argue with Justin. That’s his group.” Or “he’s said his and even if I disagree, I’m not gonna argue that in his own thing.” So it’s weird, right? So yes, we do have… We’ve actually just hired someone to come on board as a community manager. So up until this point and even having the size and everything that we have, we haven’t officially had in a role for this. We have got standout community members, which we have, as in they’re paying members of our community, that we have promoted to be community managers in there. And they are awesome. They love it because they already know the content. They’re already pumped on us and the vision of where we’re taking this and how we’re helping people with this stuff. So they’re doing that off their own back, but they’re wanting to do it. So we’ve kind of cultured that a little bit to build that through. But yeah, only now is where we’re really bringing someone in to help with that engagement. But I would say one of the biggest things that we’ve done, because with any community is if there’s no posts or anything going on, then it’s a pretty dead community. Like there’s no value there for people. So what we encourage them to do is to share their wins. So any win. We’re all on a similar sort of journey, but a win could be you’ve made your first video. It could be that you’ve reached a milestone on YouTube, 1,000 subscribers, 100,000 subscribers, whatever it is, or you’ve made your first dollar online or whatever. We’re encouraging them to share them in there with the #win and we go through every month and it’s a random draw; someone wins a 45-minute consultation session with me because I don’t do any one-on-one coaching, consulting any of that. This is the only way that you can jump on a call with me. So the amount of wins that we get posted in there are crazy. And then the community jumps in, and they love it. It’s motivating for them because in any group, community, you have the lurkers, the hiders that are there reading and just seeing what’s going on, but maybe they haven’t taken action yet. So I get messages from people all the time saying, “it’s those messages that have inspired me to actually take action,” or “thank you, I needed to see that because I didn’t think it would work for me because I’m a single mom,” or whatever. Whatever they are, the different use cases, they’re all in there of the different people, but they’re able to hear it from someone like them. So having a wins program or encouraging people to share where they’re at has been huge.
Jack Born: Do you guys do any sort of weekly roundup email, or you just let the Facebook platform send out that information?
Justin Brown: So we do a monthly email. It’s not specifically for the community, but what we encourage people to do in the content is share their top takeaways from the content. So we’ll highlight our members either from their top takeaway in the community or from the portal content area, and we’ll highlight it that way. But off the back of our Q&A calls, we’re pulling out like the top questions and those sorts of things to encourage them to go into the portal, watch the replay of the Q&A calls if they didn’t see it, but also then share their takeaways and questions and stuff inside the Facebook group. So we also, if they can’t make those Q&A calls, the other way that you ask me a question on the call is to post it in the Facebook group using the #Q&A so that we know they want me to answer it. But it’s also there for anyone to open up and answer it as well. So the questions could be answered before call, and that’s the power of it. Again, not reliance on me or Mike to jump in and do it, but it’s whoever’s asking might want our thoughts, but they will get so much more feedback before those calls. So that’s the other way we-
Jack Born: Oh, wow. And so now you’re going into the Q&A call with a list of… I mean, I’m sure some Q&A was gonna come up spontaneously, but you’ve got a list of questions that people have previously asked, right?
Justin Brown: Yeah. So I mean, the value is really for people to be on the call live and that’s where we’ll have the focus. But if you have sent through a question, somewhere on the call, they will get answered.
Jack Born: And then the recording goes in Kajabi, I would imagine?
Justin Brown: The recording goes in Kajabi, yes. And we have a VA that’s pulling out the questions so that it’s all searchable.
Jack Born: Great. So let me ask, there’s so many different directions I wanna take this, and thank you so much for generously sharing this information. So let me ask a question that I know is in the back of my mind, and so I’m sure someone else would be wondering it. So you had a course, like roughly what range was the course? Was it $500? $100? What range was the course?
Justin Brown: The original course? I think it was $297. I think we bumped it to $297. $297? $247 to $297, yeah.
Jack Born: So I’m going to put on the hat of the person who’s got a course and is thinking about making this transition. What happens if I go from charging $300, let’s say to $37 per month, and someone comes in there and for $37 per month maybe there’s a 30-day guarantee and they vacuum up all the content and then they say, “I don’t wanna go on anymore,” and a refund for their first month, or maybe they stick around for three months and then they’re gone. What have you experienced good or bad, and what can you share about lessons learned?
Justin Brown: Okay, so I like this question because it’s definitely a concern that we had when we were looking to go down the path of a membership. But ironically, that’s kind of the approach that everyone’s gonna think. “Awesome, I will go in there for $37. I’ll download everything. I’ll stick around for a month and hey, I’m out.” Most people will go into it with that mindset, but they don’t do that. I think we’ve only ever had one, maybe two people that have actually joined and then paused or canceled their account within the 30 days. Because the idea is that they’ll come in for something, they’ll come in for video editing or to grow on YouTube or whatever else, there’s the rest of the content there and the community that they’ll stick around for. But also with what we teach, there’s not enough time for you to actually go through it all and be implementing it as you go and actually see success with it. So it’s this… I like the idea that we make it accessible by having a low entry point that they have the option for the $37. But we find is that the ones that are serious as well, have the ability to upgrade their accounts to annual. And that’s something that after… I think it’s after two months, we send them an invitation. If they’re joined up on the monthly, would you like to upgrade your account? We share some stories of people who did upgrade their accounts. And obviously that helped them be more committed to their goals and the results that they’ve now had. Because I guess- it really is, it’s still like while you could have all the blueprints, the roadmaps, whatever it is, the people still have to do the action and do the work. So that’s where we’re just sharing those stories to encourage them to stay committed to this goal. But yeah, we think it’s working really, really well.
Jack Born: Awesome. What about someone who’s starting off who’s relatively new in their journey and they don’t have a community now. They’re just about to launch their first product, and they’re thinking, “should I start with a community? Should I start with a product?” Sell that a bit, and then roll that into a community like you did. What would you… It’s probably not a one size fits all, but I wanna pose it to you as a question. What would you say to that person?
Justin Brown: I would say no matter what you do, launch it in a beta first. Test it first. Don’t go down the path of creating something super polished and whatever, and what you think people want without building it out with your audience, building it out with people. So I’m a big fan of the “sell it before you make it” model where you’re sort of sending out an expression of interest, “This is what I’m thinking about doing. This is the kind of outcome or the transformation that we’re gonna take you through in this, but I’m gonna build it out with you.” That way you’re being paid to actually create it, but you’re creating something that people want. At the end of it you’ve then got testimonials, case studies that you can use to then go and sell the actual completed product when you go and reshoot it. So whether it is a course, membership, you can have success with either. It’s really comes down to how much time and how much commitment you wanna have. And do you want just something that you just create once, one and done, don’t have to keep up-to-date or don’t wanna be managing a community or anything like that. It is really something that you can shape. And so where we landed was, from looking at all the different courses and programs that we’d been a part of, what are the things we liked? What are the things that we didn’t like? And inherently for a lot of courses you might get one or two nuggets of gold that made that course worthwhile, but they were buried in hours and hours of courses, content, whatever. You had to do the work to find those things. Our goal with ours was to try and spoon-feed those nuggets to make them accessible. In which case, a membership fitted that model much more and we could keep it up to date. So doing it again, I mean, I like what we’ve built. We’re constantly refining it, constantly adding more stuff in, but not to add to the overwhelm. It’s to give our people what they need. Like what is the next thing? After they’ve nailed their videos, what’s next? All right, let’s some views on there. What’s next? Let’s show you how to make money with it. Then what? Okay, let’s look at live streams. It’s not to overwhelm. It’s just like the journey can keep going. And with the course, it’s kind of you’re selling here and then you’re selling here. Now you can upgrade to this course. Again, no right or wrong, but for us, it’s like once you’re in, what else do you need? And if it’s something that is a fit for our brand and for our audience, then we’ll add that in. And there’s an extra then value for someone else coming in.
Jack Born: So you mentioned that regardless of people’s intention, you’ve had very few people leave in the first 30 days. I think you said maybe two ever. And I’m sure you’ve had some people who’ve been with you from the very first time that you opened and they’re still with you. But what can you talk about the average churn rate or how long… Said the other way, how long do people typically stick around with the type of community and membership that you’ve set up?
Justin Brown: Yeah, so we were just looking at the numbers on this. So our average monthly churn is between 5% and 6%. And our average lifetime of someone being a member with us is 16 to 17 months. So yeah, we do get a couple every now and then that will come in and leave. But for the most part they’re committed to that goal. This is also, I think, comes down to how we position it and not having it open all the time. If they leave, they have to wait for another intake to come in and the price could go up. So there’s different things that are built in to kind of keep them engaged. But also for what’s in there and having access to me and to the team on those Q&A calls and those kinds of things, just for that like Netflix-style model price where it’s just ticking over, it’s not something that for a lot of people who want these outcomes of growing online and whatever, it’s not a big thing for them to keep that, but it’s hard for them to get back in if they did cancel. So the other thing that we found worked really, really well with this too, just to segue a little bit, was when people are asking to cancel, instead of just canceling straight away, we don’t have any upsells or any of that. We literally literally have one product, but we started offering a pause. So if it’s crazy times right now, financial, whatever, or people are too busy, too overwhelmed, we offer a three-month halt. They only get one three-month halt, and that has been huge. It just gives people enough time to get back on their feet to realize if this is something that they actually want. And yeah, it has obviously helped out our churn and stuff as well.
Jack Born: Just from the mechanical point of view, is this a three-month hold that your team has to go in and manually turn back on, or it’s going to turn back on in three months once you set them on the hold? In other words, it’s like unless you tell us, “no, I do want to cancel”, it’s gonna turn back on.
Justin Brown: We have obviously template emails and stuff that go out when we pause it. It’s not a manual thing to turn it back on. It’s automated. And they’re told, “set a calendar reminder that this is when it’s gonna… In case you wanna cancel at that point, but you’ll get no further emails from us, but this is when it’s gonna be reactivated.” And during that time we leave them in the Facebook group as well. That’s a manual process to add and remove people from that, but they’ve got access to the community. They just don’t have access to the calls or to the content during that period.
Jack Born: So again, I’m thinking about where I wanna go next with this. Okay, from our perspective, so zooming out in terms of what the recurring revenue… You have multiple sources of recurring revenue in your business. So for us, I’ll say that recurring revenue gives me and my team the ability to think much longer term. And when you don’t have the ups and downs as much, you can bring on – you can be more strategic. You can bring on A players onto your team, give them time to get acquainted and fit into the team and be more systematized. So do you find that has been a benefit for you as well versus having just the products to sell? And what can you say about that?
Justin Brown: Yeah, I think I totally agree. I think that’s huge. Just peace of mind. I mean, my background working in video production, going from client project to client project, it was good, but you’d have big months and then you could be months without work between big projects. And that’s good, but it’s also really stressful. So I love the recurring revenue. I think pretty much all of our revenue now in our business is recurring revenue, from affiliate programs to YouTube. Yes, the YouTube one could be beyond our control because based on too many other variables, but in terms of the monthly recurring revenue from the membership and affiliates and those kinds of things, yeah, I love it and I wouldn’t change it. It’s also much easier to automate and to build systems and processes and stuff around that knowing you can project your income.
Jack Born: So this question I’m asking for my own personal interest, but I know other people are gonna want to know this as well. Now that you have recently hired on someone to be that community role, did that person come from reaching out to your existing audience or was it a referral from a friend? Where did that person come from?
Justin Brown: We put a job ad out. So we’ve had mixed feedback from people saying, “you’ve got to hire from within your community” or “don’t hire from within your community”. So we just went, “look, let’s try this. Let’s hire out. Let’s put out an expression of interest, whatever, and then see what comes through.” But personality types is probably one of the biggest things that we’ve been looking into. We’ve gone through and hired a lot of people from different roles throughout our time, but getting the right fit for the team and the right fit for that role is so important. And that’s where we’ll get them to do like the Myers-Briggs personality test. I mean, none of those things are perfect, but at least gives us the indication to the types of things that person would be interested in. So we’re all about getting the right people on the team, then really trying to craft the roll up so that they enjoy coming to work, they enjoy filling their day with that stuff. So finding someone that is a people person in this specific case, they don’t need to be tech savvy. They don’t need to have all the answers, but they need to be able to communicate well and be pumped on jumping in and starting up conversations and those kinds of things.
Jack Born: And probably giving a thumbs up, an ‘attaboy’ or ‘attagirl’ to the wins that are posted.
Justin Brown: Definitely.
Jack Born: And I would imagine… Should’ve brought this up earlier, but I would imagine the way that you go about cultivating everyone posting the wins just in addition to all the benefits that you already mentioned, of keeping people excited and motivated, in addition to that is great screenshots for when you open up the enrollment, because you can just show win after win after win after win, right?
Justin Brown: This is something that we – this person in our community role will be doing because it’s an area that we definitely need to level up. My background is creating high-level case studies and testimonials for big people in the digital marketing space, and it’s something that we really haven’t done too much of. We have some amazing success stories, but yes, you’re 100% right. That will allow us to then share them and highlight our members and show that it is possible is really the key piece.
Jack Born: So we’ve covered a lot of some of the key lessons learned, but I wanted to open it up to you because it very well could be that there is some real… Let me pose it this way. Looking back on what you’ve learned over the past several years, you and your brother, what are some of the key lessons that you have learned, whether we’ve mentioned it already or not? Can you share some of the big “aha’s” that made a big difference for you?
Justin Brown: I think really being pumped on the product has been huge. Like when there was a re… What we found is we were self-sabotaging our launch. We were self-sabotaging our products early on when we didn’t wanna commit to having to see the thing scale. So in our early version of that membership that we shut down, it was already too much work for us and we weren’t enjoying it. And the frustrating part with this is we were doing what we thought we needed to do based on these experts and stuff out there. So my thing would be now, look at what you enjoy. Look at how you wanna be spending your time and build the thing that you’re gonna be pumped on, that you’re gonna be flying the flag for. Because if you’re pumped on it, then it’s much easier for you to sell or to offer or to keep wanting to push it. And I know that sounds so obvious, but doing what we thought we needed to do, but not being lit up about it, it wasn’t helping us and it wasn’t helping people with what we wanted to be helping them with either. So look at the different courses and programs that you’ve been a part of and to try to pull them apart and say, “okay, this; I loved this. I loved that they sent me a personal video when I joined. So I’m gonna do that”, or “I loved that they had their top wins or takeaways or whatever.” And you get to choose. Choose your own adventure. You get to build whatever you want here, but you don’t need to have it already. Like we’re still constantly evolving, tweaking, testing. And I think that’s the fun part. That’s the game. We’ll get some feedback through. It’s like, “all right. Yeah, that’s a great idea. Let’s start doing that.” As long as it’s a fit and as long as it’s not just doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff. We’re all about trying to automate streamline so that we’re not just spending our whole time doing this. That we get to have a fun life, too. And I guess that’s kind of what everyone wants. So it really is that you don’t have to cookie cutter what someone else says. Build the thing that you want, and you’re gonna have a lot more fun and you’re gonna attract the people that wanna be a part of that.
Jack Born: Okay. Any other big lessons learned?
Justin Brown: On the YouTube side, I will say that probably the biggest lesson, this was holding us back from that, but it flows through into the membership in any courses and programs, is that we started out just creating content that we thought people wanted. I was creating videos like, “this is a really good tip.” And we throw it up on YouTube and just hope people found it and then disappointed with the results. And this is where most people start. It wasn’t until we took a step back and really researched and did that keyword research, looked at the topics. What are people typing into Google, into YouTube? I mean, it sounds obvious, but if you’re doing that, if you’re researching your topics, make sure that there is demand for the content before you create it. It’s gonna be much easier to have any of your social networks grow, but especially the ones that rely on organic traffic from Google and YouTube. That flows through to now in the topics and stuff. If I’m gonna do a live stream, I’m gonna be on someone’s podcast, I’m gonna look at what are the keywords, the key topics, and how are people articulating that? What are the words they’re actually typing into Google or YouTube so that I’m able to resonate with them in their words, not how I think it should be articulated. So all this is just communication, but it flows through into what you’re naming your courses and programs and what you’re actually teaching inside of them. There’s data out there telling you what people actually want. And then you’re able just to show up and help them with that, but then take them where you know they need to go as well. So the research piece has been a really critical thing for us and looking at what are the specific words. Yeah, so that’s now our approach for YouTube and through into the membership.
Jack Born: So to recap, make sure that you’re not just creating the content based on an amazing idea that you have. Do the research to figure out what the language is and what the demand is for that topic before you create that YouTube content. So we’re talking about the actual… This is your bread and butter of what you teach, how to make sure that the videos that you’re putting out there attract the right audience and get enough views. So you’re saying start with the keyword research.
Justin Brown: So an example of that would be, as a video professional, if I was gonna be doing a video on color grading or color correcting, right? These are the terms that I would use because they’re industry standard. You know, so that’s what we refer to it as. So I would do a color grading tutorial. The problem with that, the only people who are gonna find a color grading tutorial, even if I did a course on color grading, right? It’s a digital product. The only people who are gonna find that are the ones that know the term color grading. What does everyone else that would watch the same video and want help the same content, what would they be typing into Google or YouTube? “How to fix the colors in your videos.” Same content teaching exactly the same thing, but you’re articulating it different. So this is where that keyword research is so important, because if you did a course instead on how to fix the colors in your videos, it’s gonna show up because it’s meeting that pain or the problem that people have that they’re typing into Google or YouTube. So that’s when I say “researching”, that’s what we’re doing for our YouTube content, but that’s also flowing through into the membership and the products because we’re able to speak their language so they’re more likely to take action when they find this stuff that we’re able to help them with.
Jack Born: So why don’t you give just off the top of your head, sort of an overview of the journey that people take through your Primal Video course? So we talked about the keyword research, and I know from looking at the inside of your course that… Or sorry, your membership, that there’s specific training on exactly how to do that keyword research and how you guys did it. And again, you guys have built up to over a million subscribers. So clearly you guys know what you’re doing. What are some of the other main… If this were a book, what are some of the other main chapter headings that someone would be going through?
Justin Brown: So in terms of say, YouTube growth, you obviously need to be able to know how to make a video, right? So we teach how you do that effectively using the gear you have. It’s not about the tech. That’s where a lot of people get caught. “I’ll create videos when I have that amazing camera.” They’ll get that camera, spend a lot of money and not know how to use it. So we wanna remove all of those excuses. So you need to be able to create videos. You then need to be able to put them somewhere where they can be found, because you could have the world’s best video, no one finds it, they’re not gonna be able to see it. So that’s where we show how you can get your content to show up on YouTube in front of the right people. So then you’ve got your content showing up. You’ve made your video; it’s showing up on the platform. The next step then is you need to get clicked. If no one clicks on your video, no one’s gonna to see it. And this is stuff that people don’t think about and stuff that we didn’t think about when we started. There’s a lot of different options of videos, a lot of different thumbnail images. Think of it like a book cover. People do judge a book by its cover. You need to grab their attention. You need to get that click. If they’re not clicking on it, they’re not gonna see it. And likewise, even if you nail the SEO stuff, the keywords, the titles, but people are clicking other videos and not yours, YouTube is gonna stop featuring your video, stop showing it to people because it thinks it’s not what they want. So we dive into the thumbnail strategy and what do you need to do to actually get the click. And then the next piece then is once you’ve got the click, and this isn’t to overwhelm, it’s all very simple, but these are the areas to focus on, the next piece then is you need to keep them watching. You need to add so much value into your videos that whoever has clicked your video gets everything that they need in that video. It’s the same as with a course or with a program. If you’ve left them with questions at the end of going through your training and they need to go and buy another course or go back to YouTube and find more stuff, you haven’t helped them. You’ve wasted their time. So we take that right through to our YouTube content. How do we give them everything that they need, but also how do we keep them watching our video to the end or as close to the end as possible, making sure that they’re receiving all of that value? So how you structure your videos is a huge piece for the training inside the membership and also inside regular pieces of content or your live stream as well. So doing things like opening loops or saying, “I’m gonna share this with you in just a minute, or we’ll get to that a little later, or make sure you stick around because I’m gonna share with you my number one tip to edit faster,” whatever it is, things like that. But without doing those things, it’s very hard to grow on a platform like YouTube. It’s very hard for people to consume your courses and things if they’re not able to stick around, if they’re losing interest. So that’s in a nutshell, what we teach. Then into the monetization side of it and how you can build out systems and automate and use your email list and grow it off the back of your YouTube traffic to, again, deepen that relationship and help grow platforms like YouTube and also your affiliate revenue and things as well.
Jack Born: Awesome.
Justin Brown: That’s a long answer.
Jack Born: So I wanna wrap things up. You’ve been extremely generous with your time, and I really appreciate it. A few kind of wrap up questions. One would be, do you guys put a lot of thought into the onboarding sequence when someone first joins to get them active and engaged? How long is that sequence? What are some of the main things that you have them do to develop those habits of participating in the community?
Justin Brown: Yeah, so our goal straight away is to pump them up. They’ve just entered their credit card details. We have a… There’s a party video that plays as soon as you buy. And there’s literally… We got a smoke machine. There’s music, whatever, and I got in a lot of trouble with the wife because the smoke stayed in the house for a few days, but anyway. But when we’re on the webinar and those kinds of things, the people that join come back in and they’re like, “I love the welcome video.” So it’s a perfect way for us to tease that if you sign up you’re gonna see this video. So we like to have that party vibe. Within a few days I’ll also send out a Bonjoro, like a personalized video. And there’s obviously… While we’re all about scaling and automating and systemizing everything, there’s some things that are worth doing that you can’t scale and systemize. So for that, I’m literally sending a welcome video to every person. I’m saying their name in it. And just letting them know that we’re really excited to have them with us. The response from that…It’s very hard to measure how that plays out and the lifetime value of that customer. But if they’ve just entered their credit card, if there’s any sort of buyer’s remorse or if their partner’s like, “you did what? You signed up for what?”, then this helps lessen that. And that was, again, something that we picked up early on. We signed up for a service. We got a personalized video. I’m like, “that is so awesome. We need to start doing that.” It’s those kinds of things. We automate, yes. Our emails then go out. I think after a week we have a reminder, “have you joined the Facebook group yet?” Because we know that people that are active in the community or at least in the Facebook group are more likely to stick around longer, more likely to go through the content, connect with people, create their own groups and those sorts of things, and actually push through and see results with this stuff. So yeah, a lot of that is automated except the videos.
Jack Born: Okay. Awesome. And then I think the last question that I can think of, I’m sure as soon as we’re done I’m gonna think, “oh, I should have asked this.” But so this is a real simple question, but when you do enrollment, are they paying right away from day one? Is there a free trial before they pay? How does that work?
Justin Brown: So we don’t drip feed out the content at all. So when someone pays, they get access to everything right away, because our whole thing is to jump in, get unstuck with where you’re stuck right now, and then come back and backfill around the content. It’s not a course where you start at module one and work your way through. It really is get unstuck, keep moving and then come back and backfill. So for that, there is no trial. If you’re on the monthly, there’s no money back guarantee. You can literally jump in and leave within the 30 days if you’d like. All we ask is that you give us seven days notice so that we’ve got time with times zones differences, whatever else, before your renewal period. But yeah, outside of that, that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure what the rest of your question was there.
Jack Born: Yeah, it was really just trying to figure out. So if I’m in the enrollment period… Oh, I know another question I wanna ask. I would imagine that 37 bucks a month, you don’t have an application. They get to just decide that they wanna join, and they enter the card. And when they enter the card, it sounds like they’re charged immediately from day one, right?
Justin Brown: Yes.
Jack Born: And then your guarantee, it sounded like there is a 30-day guarantee or is not?
Justin Brown: So if you sign up on the annual, then that’s where it’s a different commitment. And yes, if it’s not a fit for you at that point, then yes, we’ll look after you. But for the most part it’s like the Netflix model. You’re signing up, you’re getting access to everything. You’re got access for 30 days. If you wanna stop after a month, then you can. So there is no refund for the monthly. We’re not gonna refund the $37 because you’ve got access to everything at that point.
Jack Born: Okay, totally makes sense. Well, this was great. I feel like I’ve gotten all my questions answered, and you’ve been extremely generous with just opening the kimono and sharing how things work at Primal Video. So thank you so much, Justin. Tell your brother, Mike, thank you again. And that’s it. Thanks so much.
Justin Brown: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me on.
Jack Born: You bet.