When it comes to course sales, Tom Libelt has a ton of experience. His process for selecting clients, working out why their courses are not selling and then creating a roadmap is great. In this episode, we discuss how the online course market has grown since the start of the pandemic and walkthrough the correct approach to verify if your course is going to sell.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:00:00]
Welcome to the Marketing Stack Podcast. And today, Hey, I'm talking to Tom Libelt, who is actually in Thailand as well. He's in Chiang Mai, a business owner. He runs a podcast called Smart Brand Marketing. And he's done a bunch of things over the years. I'm curious to know how Tom actually got into Thailand and what brought him here to the land of the living. And and yeah, we're going to be covering marketing. We're going to be talking about courses and just life in general at the moment. Tom, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you.
Tom Libelt: [00:00:33]
Yeah. Sounds good, man. I'm glad to be here. You're in Bangkok, right?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:00:37]
I am in Bangkok. Yeah.
Tom Libelt: [00:00:38]
Yeah. So you're, you're you're on the lockdown at the moment.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:00:42]
Yeah, it's unfortunate, but it's been like this for, for awhile .
Tom Libelt: [00:00:45]
Yeah we we've been seeing people escape to Chiang Mai because everything's open. Like, you know, like I told you before I went to the gym, so we've been seeing like an exodous from Bangkok all coming here. So yeah. I feel you.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:00:58]
Yeah. It's, it's difficult when you're, when you've got a one-year lease. You know, it's like moving around is, is a little bit difficult.
Tom Libelt: [00:01:05]
Oh, it doesn't stop me. It doesn't stop me. I got a one year lease in the office here in my apartment. I still leave. As soon as anything happens, I'm gone. I couldn't care less. I just keep it.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:01:16]
Yeah Yeah. Cool. So let's, so let's get into some some business stuff. So you've been, you've been helping courses and you've got an agency to help course owners basically sell when they can't sell. Is that right?
Tom Libelt: [00:01:29]
Yeah, that's correct.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:01:30]
So what have you seen, like, obviously there's, there's an explosion of courses and online creators because of pandemic this last year, year and a half. What have you seen that's currently happening? Are people too tired of courses? What's trending what's the vibe.
Tom Libelt: [00:01:45]
I think the vibe is it's pretty good. It's good for business. So like here's what happened. Before COVID, you know, the courses were coming up.
Tom Libelt: [00:01:54]
I mean, you know, you've seen it and that's why, you know, we have so many platforms now and so many things and, you know, after Covid happen, we sort of had another, I would say, a flood of people coming in, you know, think of, you know, consultants, public speakers, like anyone that used to do things in person or, yeah.
Tom Libelt: [00:02:12]
So low income streams. They came in. So. We kind of keep track of how many prospects we have. Right? So before Covid, I think we were at like 80,000 possible course creators for our company, which is not a huge market, but it's, it's decent. And then it went up to over 300,000. After, you know, I'm not counting like people who are, you know, doing nonsense and we don't even look at them as possible customers.
Tom Libelt: [00:02:37]
Right. These are actually, you know, people who put things together that makes sense, you know, like some expertise. So that's a huge kind of insertion into the market. Right. I kind of jumped yeah. Last March. but yeah, although the other hundreds of thousands of the nonsense people, they do keep the platforms alive.
Tom Libelt: [00:02:55]
Right because, you know, they'll still sign up. They might not sell anything, but you know, these platforms, if you've seen it, you know, they're, they're getting funding, you know, Teachable is on their second round now, that I heard of like, yeah. Thinkific went public in Canada. Yeah, and Coursera, went public. Fiverr went public and started their educational part.
Tom Libelt: [00:03:16]
So, I mean, it's, the money is definitely great. On on that end, right, right. For us, it's for sort of a kind of boutique type agency. It doesn't really matter because we only take a couple of clients clients per month. So, you know, since we can like take away less than like five per month, like these numbers don't really do anything. Cause you know, I mean, we'll get 30 leads and it's still like, well, I'll just have to say no 25 more times.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:03:41]
And that's a good position to be in.
Tom Libelt: [00:03:42]
It it it is. What it did is it allowed us to sort of push people away more because that's what you wanted to do as an agency. You want to push all the wrong people out. And it allowed for us to get more of the type of customers we want easier.
Tom Libelt: [00:04:00]
Right. Because when there's a flood of leads then it's much simpler, they're like, okay, well let's just get these people out the way. And then, yeah. So it made my job a lot easier because like with our company, you know, if you've looked through my resume, which is pretty extensive. It's on tomlibelt.com.
Tom Libelt: [00:04:17]
We move, you know, from one thing to the next, every couple of years, like, you know, we'll be doing course marketing and stuff like that, but we are looking now into transitioning into not really productized. Like we have some ideas there, but more of a sauce scaling type business. Right. Cause we've had scaling stuff before then I went back into consulting and now I'm thinking of how do we make something again?
Tom Libelt: [00:04:40]
That's yeah. So with the perfect clients you have good money, good margins, little stress and the time to do what you want with that, which for us was, that was the goal to now move into this piece. So yeah, I mean, you know, life is good. I can't, I can't complain.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:04:54]
And then also the other benefit of a, I don't want to use the word, like staying small or being selective in that, like limiting yourself by saying, okay, we only work with five or whatever number of clients a month is you get to, you get to keep a small team and really develop that team and not have to hire all the time.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:05:12]
Cause I think there's also a lot of challenge there when it comes to trying to grow. And I know a lot of agencies are trying to grow big, but then that also has its other, other problems and challenges.
Tom Libelt: [00:05:24]
We've been big before. So we niched down from a bigger agency. We had a SEO and marketing agency, which targeted everybody in the world. I'm never doing that again. Like we don't want to grow. Look, if I hire two more people to handle, let's say three more clients. My margins will go down and I'll probably be making personally less than I am now. Have more stress and more stuff to take care of. I got now two or three more clients, and now I've got two extra people to deal with. So we do not want to grow. This is why we are starting to move into the Saas and software and things again, because that's something I can scale with a small team. Again.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:06:05]
Tom Libelt: [00:06:06]
And to grow, we don't need an extra 2, 3, 4 people. We just need more customers. And yeah, I mean, worst case scenario, we need more customer service people, but you know, I'll have a manager handling them. You know, it'll be the same thing for me. I'll just speak with one person once a week. So yeah, I see those agencies. Usually what happens is, and you've probably seen these with agencies. Once they grow big enough, the owner always hates his life.
Tom Libelt: [00:06:30]
Yeah, right. I mean, you know, they have, you know, on paper, oh, we're making this much revenue. And I got to tell you, like one of my really, really good buddies, he had an agency in Atlanta. It was bigger than mine, office, 20 something, people, huge contracts, you know what that means. Right. Huge contracts. A lot of work, and nonsense you've got to deal with right. Yeah. And he was making less than me and hating his life.
Tom Libelt: [00:06:55]
Yep. But I mean, on paper, if you looked, you know, like, oh, this guy just works from a small office, his team is everywhere. Where that guy, you know, he's got dogs in his office, it's that, you know, cool. Well, I did better. But that's what I've seen, you know, and he kind of moved into the same direction I'm doing he's like he's like screw this. Like I have so many workers and, you know, he'd let people go.
Tom Libelt: [00:07:15]
But yeah, on paper, it looks, it looks sexy. Right. You know, I'm getting $150,000 contract at this moment. If a course creator comes to me and was like, yeah, I want to pay you $20,000 a month, even. No, I'm good. Cause I have a sweet spot where I know, okay, I'm taking this much I'm moving the needle for you, but it's not enough for you to bother me much.
Tom Libelt: [00:07:32]
You know what I mean? Like I have an amount where I'm like, we're set, you're set and you're not paying enough to complain so.. You know what I mean? Like there's a number always, you know, and around 20,000. Yeah. I find those bigger, bigger clients. Cause we've had them before we have course creators paying like 20, 30,000 per month. And they thought we were kind of like full-time employees of theirs, you know?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:07:55]
Yeah. They think they're buying everything.
Tom Libelt: [00:07:57]
Yeah. They're buying which, you know, I understand, but I just said that's not the type of business I want to be in. I'd rather make a bit less, have easy clients, you know, work on their stuff like three four hours per week. And if they want a phone call, it's like, well, you're not really paying me enough for the phone calls. You know, we can, we can do on there, but it's just, and I just want to make it a win-win for both. Like, we make sure we do what we promised them, but I'm just looking at myself and my team. Like we don't want to get bothered.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:08:23]
Yeah. Yeah. So stress that comes with it is, is it's not worth it.
Tom Libelt: [00:08:28]
It's not worth it. Yeah. But the reason I'm saying this is because it took me a long time. Being in business to figure out if you don't control your own company, if you don't put constraints on how you build your company and you let your clients dictate.
Tom Libelt: [00:08:44]
And sometimes they're this with money because yeah, I mean, look, I, I get it getting, you know, two clients like that and you get a quick 40,000 injection in the bank or like my buddy 200,000. Cause he had, you know, those like hospitals and stuff. Yeah. I mean, I get it, you know, like you look at your bank account and you know, you have a drink today and like, this is great.
Tom Libelt: [00:09:02]
And then tomorrow we're just like, oh man, this is going to be painful. But that's what happens when you let clients dictate, you know, like even when we select our prospects and if they during the prospecting part, like when we're going through a buyer journey, and they show me any red flags and like I tell them, this is the way we do business.
Tom Libelt: [00:09:19]
And then tell me like, oh, well, I'll you know think about it. And I'm like, you're not going to think about anything because I just marked you down as a no. Right. Now, because if you don't let me control how I'm doing things, I don't want you as a client. And then that's kind of a great thing of yeah being able to do what I do.
Tom Libelt: [00:09:36]
But for companies that have these like issues, like I hate going to work and like my clients tell me what to do and you know, you gotta set constraints. And you kind of say no to a lot of things and, then firstly, bad clients upfront, you say no, at that point, a lot of problems go away. It's much harder saying no when, they gave you money.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:09:54]
Yeah. After the fact is much more difficult.
Tom Libelt: [00:09:57]
Much much more difficult. Yeah, you too, you take on a big client. He's horrible for you. And then, you know, you're like halfway through work and they start giving you a hard time and you kind of felt that was going to happen. You know, it's not really cool to stop it halfway and tell them to go away. Right. You much rather just say no, just go, go find someone else. Let them have fun with you.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:10:16]
Well, I think it comes down to like, not only being able to control your time, but it's also, you like being in Thailand, you've been able to build this lifestyle that you've you wanted, right? Like it's, it's, it's centered around that. And so correct me if I'm wrong, but the client side or the work side as a, has a very major impact on, on that side as well. So it all ties together. It's like more stress, less quality of life.
Tom Libelt: [00:10:43]
Sort of like, I. Initially my older business was more built towards lifestyle and I stayed, you know, in New York and Taiwan and all over Europe, Taiwan was just one of the places. Right. Which I do like, but it's never been a place I stay all the time. But lately what I want is I want the peace of mind and the quiet. To be able to think, to build up stuff that I want to build. Right. If you don't have that thinking time and the moments where you can get bored, cause you need that, you need to be able to get bored, to get creative and come up with new things.
Tom Libelt: [00:11:18]
Right. Right. If you're busy all the time and running around and you know, and this is why we don't take any more clients, even though we could. That would make it impossible for me to get bored. And then I can't come up with new ideas and I can't, you know, build up a business that's going to be actually probably much, much better long-term than consulting. Consulting is great. Easy money, quick high margins, but it's a hard exit. It's very hard to exit from a business like that.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:11:42]
Yeah. Yeah. You're probably the only person who, who actually wants to be bored, but in a positive way.
Tom Libelt: [00:11:49]
In a positive way. Cause that's how I get creative, you know, all the things that happened that I've built like from the documentary and all these stuff, they happened, because I got my business previous business to a point where I got bored out of my mind. Money was coming in and I just didn't.
Tom Libelt: [00:12:02]
Like I could sit like at one of my business, I could sit around for six months. Not speaking to my team, getting paid all the time. And I like really had nothing to do. That's the best thing yet, but that's what you want to be able to grow different things, right? Like you want to be able to get bored. But yeah, that's, that's sort of like my idea now, so it's not more of a lifestyle. It's more of like, how do I get my creative side up? And I need time for that.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:12:25]
Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about course validation, because I think a lot of people, like you mentioned, they're just building something and they're not necessarily checking if there's a market for it or this, or, or, you know, actually seeing if anybody's going to buy the thing. What's your, what's your take on, on course validation. And, and what would you say is, is your process?
Tom Libelt: [00:12:46]
Well, if you take the correct path, then the course validates itself. Right. The correct path. I'll give you an example of it. And then you'll start seeing why a lot of people are having problems is let's say you come up with a service, right?
Tom Libelt: [00:13:00]
That's you're doing. Initially what you will do is you will have a do it for you service, right? You're going to do all the work or you're trying to figure things out. You don't really know what people want, but it's the easiest thing to sell. Everyone will pay you for a do it yourself. It's the easiest thing.
Tom Libelt: [00:13:14]
So. It's also the most annoying. Once you get past few months or weeks or years of that, you're going to move into a, do it with you service, right? Because you want to start realizing some of these things you really can't do well because the expertise needs to come from that person. And then you just don't want to do. Right.
Tom Libelt: [00:13:31]
When you move past that, you're going to usually move into one-on-one consulting. You no longer do any work at that point. Right. You kind of move through all that. Now I'm going to coach you. I, you know, I kinda know what I'm doing, but I haven't yet developed a foolproof method. Right. So I'm still doing one-on-one consulting and getting as many clients because there's going to be stuff that comes up and I fine tune. Right.
Tom Libelt: [00:13:51]
So the second piece of that stages, I've done enough right now, do one-on-one consulting with the same method that works for every single client. Right. You then move into group coaching. Because if you have the method, then the only thing now is, well, I don't do any work anyways. I can only do so many one-on-one consulting, so let's move them into a group with my proven method.
Tom Libelt: [00:14:14]
Right. And then the next step is in an online, an online course, because then it's just a pricing issue. Right. I have a proven method. I have people in my group, they're learning it, but some people can't either show up at that time or pay me as much as I want for my group coaching. Here's an online course. That's already validated. You you don't need to do anything for that. So often the trick is moving away from doing any work for the client to just consulting. Other people have trouble with that because it's a mindset, you know, a mindset shift. And actually understanding that the reason you're doing one-on-one consulting is to develop a method.
Tom Libelt: [00:14:51]
It's not for you to just not do any work and continue this for the rest of your life. If you're not developing a method, you're always going to be stuck at that point. Cause I've seen that's where people have problems. The second one is, and usually it's only because they're not developing a method. They have a really hard time moving to group coaching.
Tom Libelt: [00:15:07]
Right. Because if you think about it, if you do one-on-one consulting and you, you know, just don't have any more time, but you don't have a method that works the same way for everyone. Your group coaching's going to be a mess. It's going to be a mess.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:15:19]
You can't apply it.
Tom Libelt: [00:15:20]
You can't apply it. And this is where problems happen. Right. Cause from group coaching, moving to an online course, it's, it's, it's like a seamless transition. Right. But if you think of who usually wants to do online course. And we mentioned these people before consultants, coaches, public speakers, educators, right, right. Consultants. And, and the first other one often have not developed a method.
Tom Libelt: [00:15:49]
And they try to skip the group coaching going straight into the online course, because they know in the back of their minds that it's going to be a mess. If they try to group coach people, right? And then they wonder like, oh, how come it's not working. Public speakers and educators usually skip most of these steps because all they do is they teach theories to a group that someone else got their asses in this seats.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:16:15]
Tom Libelt: [00:16:16]
So they think that, you know, they're like these huge smart people, like, yeah, I've taught Harvard for 30 years or I've spoken to two, you haven't actually got one person in that seat. Someone else forced them to either one, listen to you to get a degree or two, they pay for the conference might as well. Right. Right. That's what most of them happen. Yeah.
Tom Libelt: [00:16:38]
So they move from that piece where like, oh, I already do group coaching, which you're not doing group coaching. You're speaking at the people with nonsense theories and then they make an online course. And then again, it becomes a problem, right. Because there's no real method that works and, you know, right. So if you understand this whole path, you know where you're at and if you can't validate, then you also know like what you need to do first.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:17:05]
Well, I think it's, it's actually it's. Yeah, it's very interesting because a lot of the platforms and SamCart also just launched a course sort of component. All of these platforms don't necessarily guide you on that path. No, they're not talking about the fact that the experience leading up to creating something is important that it's necessary in many cases.
Tom Libelt: [00:17:29]
Cause look, there's always going to be outliers, right? If you're a celebrity. For sure. If you already have a following like some kind of influencer if, you hit the right market at the right time. You might make money. And we do have those type of creators. We'll have people that's our second bucket.
Tom Libelt: [00:17:44]
You know what, Tom, I launched this course. I put videos on YouTube five per week. I'm making low six figures now, but now when I tried putting more videos on, I'm not making more income at plateaued. And I tried using the same technique on Facebook and I'm not getting any customers.
Tom Libelt: [00:18:01]
I'm like, well, why not? Well, because I don't know why it's working. Like they figure it out. Right. They, they got lucky one channel, one message, something hit up. And usually those type of people, they have hit a niche that would have pretty much worked anyways. Right.
Tom Libelt: [00:18:18]
So for example, when you create courses, you know, you have to understand, are you creating something that needs internal motivation or already has external motivation? And often the ones that already have external motivation, they will work. So if someone is trying to get a life insurance job in America, they might have to pass a series six or a series seven or a series 65 exam to get that job.
Tom Libelt: [00:18:43]
And the job will tell them, you will not be employed until you pass this exam and you have six weeks to pass the exam and your choices are getting someone else to help you with this process, come to us on the weekends and we'll send you one of our old sales guys, which is going to be boring.
Tom Libelt: [00:19:01]
And then, you know, you're going to have to drive and listen to him. And then someone else pops up online saying, I'll do this for you online. I'll teach you how to pass this exam. You catch them on YouTube. They sound entertaining. You can do it from home. You're going to click buy because, well, what is the outcome?
Tom Libelt: [00:19:19]
I'm getting a job where I'm going to get paid. Right? So these type of things is where people get lucky and then it can't replicate it. But if it does not have that component, you and you're not a celebrity influencer, you're not going to get lucky. You know? So when you have these like meditation courses, yoga courses, where like, you know, I'm trying to save the human.
Tom Libelt: [00:19:37]
Yeah. I mean, good luck with that. Good luck with that. Cause I see it. I see it all the time. I, and I, I tried to explain it to him. I was like, you don't have that component. You know? So now we actually need to create a really persuasive buyer journey. And if you don't have an edge over a free YouTube video where I can learn meditation and no one knows you and you can't prove that you've went through this journey, I explained before. Cause if you did, then you already have an audience, right? You're gonna have fun.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:20:10]
So speaking of the, just the development of courses, like we've all seen courses go on Udemy and Skillshare and all of these type of classes where it's just one way then obviously the course platforms, whether it's video or audio or text, and there's just, you know, delivery. And then I'm seeing a lot of activity in the cohort-based live delivery model. What do you, what do you think about cohort-based courses? And how would they, or how would somebody actually decide whether to do a course with video only through a platform where people can log in or live with an audience?
Tom Libelt: [00:20:47]
Well, a cohort is basically group coaching. That's what that is. Right? So a cohort often is a much easier sale.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:20:55]
Tom Libelt: [00:20:55]
Because if you remember the path, right, you have a method, you get people live that live component. This is what makes it an easier sale. And the reason they created the cohort platforms and I've spoken with a lot of the course creators is because the platforms like Thinkific, Teachable, Kajabi, they do a very, very crappy job of creating communities and letting people work in teams.
Tom Libelt: [00:21:19]
And then what the rest. So the platforms were created basically to handle that step before. It's going to be a harder sale for you and much harder for you to actually get people to complete the class. If you stick it on the, you know, Thinkific or Teachable, which is the last piece of it, like it's the last, you know, like take it by yourself at home.
Tom Libelt: [00:21:41]
Don't speak to anyone type course. Right. That comes after group coaching. Right. So people actually realize that we need something for that step before. You know, because we're going to have much more success with it. A lot of people who are one-on-one consultants and they have a method, they need to move into the space, but there was nothing built for them.
Tom Libelt: [00:21:59]
Yeah. You know, it was either us doing it on Zoom, which is what everyone was doing, which, you know, it doesn't work perfectly for groups and different things. So they needed platforms. Right. So it's the platform before the one, like Udemy and Skillshare and all of those that's marketplace. Those are not platforms. They're marketplaces. You put yourself out there, usually devalued and you don't control your clients. You don't control the price and you don't control most anything.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:22:28]
Yeah. You don't have the audience at all.
Tom Libelt: [00:22:30]
You don't have anything. I mean, they can take away reviews from you. They can do whatever they want. So if you do have expertise, but you're just a horrible salesperson can't market have no skills. But still want to put it out there. Yeah. Marketplaces are great. And I've seen people make, I mean, the biggest client I've had that came from Udemy made around, I think, a quarter million dollars a year, but you know what his pin point was, how do I get off this thing?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:22:56]
Right. Because now he's too dependent on one source of revenue.
Tom Libelt: [00:23:00]
Very dependent, you know, he lost a lot of reviews. His income was dipping going. They were doing like deals on his course and he had no control, no audience. I mean all those negatives I said there was an expert who wants again, good content. They know how to execute the marketing. He went on the marketplace and then, you know, the next step was like, how do I control this?
Tom Libelt: [00:23:18]
If I sell one of my own courses, that's like selling 50 on that platform, you know? So the cohorts come first then depending on whether you have marketing expertise or not, then you choose your own marketplace or your own platform.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:23:32]
I've seen a hybrid as well, where it's kind of a Thinkific or a Teachable course. You know, that type of scenario, where it says consumption, do the thing, learn the thing. And then the component of community, which in my mind is more of a support group, you know, the Facebook group or whatever that that's, that's the component. And then it's, they're guiding it as community. But in my mind, it's just, support.
Tom Libelt: [00:23:57]
It's a crappy solution. This was the Zoom or Thinkific Teachable component with the Facebook group. But again, when you have a Facebook group, how do you assign teams? How do you let them easily do things in a controlled environment?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:24:10]
Tom Libelt: [00:24:11]
How do you control their Facebook group when Facebook owns it. Right, right. These cohorts softwares, what they do is they let people regain control. Right? I own all my students. I own the community. I set a path for each one. I can put you into groups. I can switch groups. I can put you in a class. Like there's so many things you can do. So basically, instead of having these like stupid, like Frankenstein, duct tape solution, this is where the cohort software kind of came out. But it's just because, you know, we were all using like just whatever, you know, Zoom, Facebook groups, Slack Discord Telegram. And in the end, it's just a mess.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:24:47]
Any recommendations of any software, anything that you you're using or that, you recommend?
Tom Libelt: [00:24:53]
I mean, the cohort ones are still pretty new. I don't really want to.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:24:57]
Tom Libelt: [00:24:58]
You know, that they're all either in beta or getting funding now, or just kind of came out. I think that's still a pretty good field to get into that one. Yeah. There's the regular platforms. Yeah. The regular platforms are kind of already mature enough. Well, you don't really want to compete with Kajabi, for example, right? Marketplaces are just a horrible business model, unless you can get huge funding and grow it. You know what dude Udemy, I don't know about now, but I've spoken with some of the people, I think four months ago, they still haven't ever turned a profit.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:25:30]
Wow. That's crazy.
Tom Libelt: [00:25:31]
All the courses all those years still living off of funding. So.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:25:35]
That sort of sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Tom Libelt: [00:25:37]
Well, it sounds like a recipe for more funding and an exit. Right? That's what most of them do, right? This is the San Francisco way. Like I just spoke with a buddy of mine because we're kind of building our own stuff and you know, we're looking at all the software that's coming out and it's like, Hey, sign up.
Tom Libelt: [00:25:51]
And we do this and that, but there's no revenue, you know, so he can see it. And then you look at some boot from San Francisco with a series, a funding, and yeah, let's get as much investor money as possible. And hopefully in six years before shit really hits the fan, I'll figure out how to make money from this. Or my salary is enough to just keep me going. Or we make an exit, like really that's the business model for, you know, most of these.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:26:15]
Yeah. Apart from just validation, what are other people struggling with at the moment? Obviously there's marketing, there's, you know, you've mentioned people not being able to sell themselves well. And expertise. Other than that, what are, what are people complaining about? What are they what are they feeling?
Tom Libelt: [00:26:30]
It's mostly just not making sales. You know, when you have enough sales, you stop hearing complaints, you know, cause most of the problems that people have in their business can be solved with money. You know, I'm talking about your life or your health and things like that. But your business issues, if you're making enough profit and revenue all the annoying stuff can be handled or paid for, or kind of sweeped under the rug with money, right. Just someone else do this. So that's the big thing, man. Like people come from the educator point of view, a lot of the time.
Tom Libelt: [00:27:01]
And you know, not just even talking about all these people that skip the journey steps, I told you before, you know, cause that's always going to be issues there. But even if they do, you know, they don't understand the buyer's journey, they don't understand, they need to be persuasive and give people an outcome, you know, explain sort of how they're going to move from the pain to these amazing outcomes and how they are the vehicle to move them there.
Tom Libelt: [00:27:24]
Like they just don't understand these concepts. I didn't understand like that the lead magnet for a online course is not the same thing as a lead magnet for a service or a product or anything else. You know, you're not giving away samples and hope people get more because if you already give people the education and why would they buy more of the same education?
Tom Libelt: [00:27:43]
And I see this happening all the time. So it was just like simple concepts, right? Just people don't get it. They have no idea how to create a good buyer journey, do the marketing and they get that confused, still, like, Hey Tom, I need your help with marketing. I was like, do you? Have you sold any? No. Well then you don't need help with marketing. You need to fix your buyer journey first because if I get you a thousand more prospects into your crappy funnel, well, what's zero times a thousand.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:28:10]
Right, right. You're not going to convert me to here.
Tom Libelt: [00:28:13]
Yeah. But I mean, you know, it's like sometimes, you know, I just have to step back with them and be like, look like, you know, but, but a lot do understand too. You know, the ones that have been went through the journey, like I told you and the right people and they know they'll tell me, like tell them, like, I just don't know how to create the buyer's journey. I don't know how to get the right audience. I don't know how to get market and scale it. Right. And then it's easy. Cause I'm like, well, yeah, cause that's what we got to do.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:28:38]
So those are the, so obviously yes, money is going to solve a lot of those business problems, but the, to get to the money, it's all the pre problems or the stuff that comes before that to figure out what's the gap what's missing.
Tom Libelt: [00:28:51]
Yeah. Which again, though, you know, a person that has a business and then just has those problems. Well, he throws some money at me to solve them. You know what I mean? So this can be solved with money as well. That's kind of what business is like. You can solve most of these problems if you have a really good group coaching service, but you're just unable to sell it in a course. Well you just throw some money at me and I'll solve that.
Tom Libelt: [00:29:10]
It's not a big deal. Right. You know, but again, if you're missing the steps on that journey and like I'm broke, I haven't done anything, no method, no group coaching courses, not selling. And I have no money. Well, good luck. Yeah. You know, you're going to have 20 years of fun before you figure it out.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:29:25]
I also think there's a lot of misinformation on all the platforms, YouTube, Facebook, wherever you look, where it's like, yeah. Put up a course, run Facebook ads and you're golden. And it's, it's just so problematic because you know, people are, are putting up landing pages and they're expecting magic to happen. What is your take on the advertising side of, of building an audience and building a sales for courses?
Tom Libelt: [00:29:51]
Well, the main thing you got to understand, like if you're going to ask a surgeon that all he does is cut people's fingers off what you should do with your fingers. He's going to tell you what cut them off. Right? So if you start asking a platform or looking for information on, let's say the Thinkific blog about what you should do. Well, the first thing you need to do is put a course on a platform and then you need to create a sales page and this, so they're just repeating stuff they heard from someone else.
Tom Libelt: [00:30:16]
Right. But the whole point is we need to sell you on putting the course up because you know, that's how we make money. It's like going to one of these like lead pages, blogs, and being like, well, what do I need to do? Well, you need to put up a sales page and an opt-in page. I mean, come on guy, then you go on Facebook. And then what do say, well, I mean, you get some paid advertising going.
Tom Libelt: [00:30:33]
I mean, what are you doing. Right. So it's like where you get your information is you know, kinda important. Now, if you don't have the experience, then yeah. You're going to have a hard time maybe finding the right audience. You know, it's going to take a lot of testing, you know, do you need a lead magnet, maybe?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:30:50]
Tom Libelt: [00:30:51]
I don't know. I don't know. Maybe you just need to show people a video or two and then we're set. Maybe they just need to go through a webinar. Maybe they just need some kind of a quiz. Maybe they don't need anything. Who says they need a lead magnet now, should it be free or paid? I don't know. It depends on your niche, right?
Tom Libelt: [00:31:08]
Because I have nothing to sell you from those things. So I really, I'm not going to push it cause I don't. We have to test it. We have to look at your audience at your outcome. And then you got to think, are we selling emotions? Are we selling your personality? Are we selling just outcome? Are we moving by facts?
Tom Libelt: [00:31:25]
You know, are you doing tech or are you doing something that's soft skills based on that I'll kind of figure out like, what do we need to do? Cause at first selling your personality. I mean, some audio video would probably be do well, right?. Yeah. Well, if you're selling like a factual, how to hack this thing, I mean maybe some kind of a quiz or some kind of a contest or something else would work much better.
Tom Libelt: [00:31:45]
I don't know. It depends. Right. That's where the experience comes in. But all these like platitude advice type things, you see online like. Oh, you need to have a trip wire. I was like, do I really? Do I really? Because I know which books you read, and I know where you got this from. And I know it's not working for you, but you're still teaching it.
Tom Libelt: [00:32:02]
You know, cause that's, I know enough for these people where, you know, I know that half the advice they teach, they just, you know, monkey see monkey do. And you know, it's not working for me, but it'll work for you.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:32:12]
Well, the other, the other thing is I think people are not necessarily aware of the different options. They're not. And again, I think it comes back to that journey, right? How have they taken the steps to actually figure out their own message, their own marketing, their own audience the buyer journey. So unfortunately, if people are not too like gullible in the sense that they're not quite sure what works for them, then yeah. They're going to go down rabbit holes for years.
Tom Libelt: [00:32:40]
Yeah. So I'll give you this example. Like I, I had a a guy recently come to me and he's like, Tom, you know, I'm in the construction niche. Like I'm not into construction, but I can picture construction guys. Right. I'm in the construction niche. And I just created a webinar and a great course, and it's not selling.
Tom Libelt: [00:32:56]
I'm like, okay, how was the webinar doing? Three people showed up. I'm like, okay. So what do you need from me? Help me fix the webinar. Okay. When was the last time you watched the webinar he was like, oh, three weeks ago, really on construction? He's like, no on how to create webinars. And I was like, okay, when is the last time you seen a webinar on construction? He's like, I haven't seen one.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:33:14]
Now you know why.
Tom Libelt: [00:33:15]
So then, you know, it took him a while, but he's like, well, yeah, maybe my audience would not watch webinars, you know? Yeah. And that's what you need to think of, of your audience and not these things that people tell you now what you could do is think, okay, my audience needs to see these different things to maybe get them to buy into this idea of the course.
Tom Libelt: [00:33:35]
Now what's the best way of me to present those. Instead of like, Hey, they told me to do a webinar. I'm going to do a webinar really for plumbing guys for construction guys. Yeah. You're going to throw them into like four, four four man. I knew a couple of these guys like they could barely find time to sleep. Right?
Tom Libelt: [00:33:52]
Right. Well, one they're not technical usually two, they're not going to show up and get off their job and, you know, have someone maybe mess up some of the work because they need to be in for your live webinar at 10:00 AM on Thursday, please. Right.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:34:07]
Not practical at all.
Tom Libelt: [00:34:08]
Yeah. So, so what that tells me is you don't know your audience, right. And you used to be in that same spot. So think of yourself. If you didn't see any webinars or had no clue what's going on, why in the world do you think they do? Right. So this is why, you know, taking advice from internet marketers is probably the worst thing a person can do.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:34:28]
I think there's also, yeah, I agree. Totally. And, and I was just going to say, I think there's also this component of when people are online, when they're searching, when they're you know consuming YouTube videos or they're on Facebook or wherever, they're not necessarily looking at the platforms from a business point of view or from a buyers point of view from their audience's point of view they they're not necessarily paying attention to the other stuff that's going on.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:34:57]
So, you know, as an agency, I don't get served agency ads. I've got to go look for them to figure out what other agencies are doing. That's just an example. And that's part of the problem. It's like, oh, I don't know what other people are doing. Yeah, of course, because that's not your interest on the platforms.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:35:12]
You, you most know, most probably are not consuming that type of content. And so you're not seeing what other people are doing, so it's that active. Like, let's go figure out what people are doing, what is working and then maybe testing and then trying stuff.
Tom Libelt: [00:35:25]
Yeah. And I mean, you know, each platform is built differently too. When someone goes on Google and is searching for either symptoms or solutions or anything, they're in a much different stage than me being bored and scrolling on Facebook.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:35:40]
A hundred percent.
Tom Libelt: [00:35:41]
Right? So for a lot of these people, you know, like go back to the YouTube person, right. That was doing well. They don't understand moving from YouTube to AdWords or Facebook. Their message is not resonating because it's in a different part of the journey, than what's working for them on YouTube. I'm not looking to consume a video on how to do this certain thing with life insurance or understand the concept when I'm on Facebook or looking into AdWords usually.
Tom Libelt: [00:36:10]
Right. But most of them, they do with the transition to Facebook and that's when they completely missed the boat, you know, and I'm on Facebook, Facebook I'm bored. And I might have this problem in the back of my mind. I'm like, shit, I gotta pass this test. But you showing me a piece of the content is not going to sell me on it.
Tom Libelt: [00:36:26]
You're you're ahead. You're ahead of where I'm at. I'm just bored, scrolling down and seeing what my friends are doing. Right. You know, you might have to hit them with the awareness thing that, you know, what? You might be annoyed with this test that's coming up, you know, and there is a better way. You know, you're not showing them anything yet, which you would on YouTube.
Tom Libelt: [00:36:45]
So often just using the platform wrong could completely destroy a good message too. And then, you know, you're like, oh, it's not working. I'm like, no, it's just, you, you, you don't get the awareness stage yet, or you're not at the right stage, but it would work somewhere else.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:37:01]
Then there's also, the flip side is like, if you do get it right, then, then it's like, you you've unlocked the secret.
Tom Libelt: [00:37:09]
Yeah. When you get it right. Then people stop complaining. That's when everyone's happy with their business. Right. But yeah, I just mentioned that because it's a lot of these things where, you know, I'll hear like, you know, Facebook ads don't work. This doesn't work. I'm like really. You sure about that?
Burhaan Pattel: [00:37:23]
People are very quick to blame platforms. Like, oh no, Thinkific is not the right tool. I'm going to another one or whatever the case may be. Facebook ads versus YouTube ads. Like what you're saying is the foundation is not the platform. The foundation is the message.
Tom Libelt: [00:37:39]
The platform is simply a hosting place for a course that usually does a crappy job at the checkout and with sales pages. Right. Usually that's all they do. They're a hosting company for courses, that's it? Yep. You know, you don't go to HostGator and be like, Hey, look, I put up my website and I'm not getting any work. They're like, we don't care.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:38:01]
Yeah. It's not their problem.
Tom Libelt: [00:38:02]
Right. But the difference between HostGator and Thinkific is Thinkific, for example, and you know, I'm not saying, like, I love the guys. I worked with them. They put out these articles about how to sell courses without even really thinking whether they could pull it off. You know, Teachable has made some statements lately, which I don't know. I thought it was cute.
Tom Libelt: [00:38:23]
They're like we are going to help five people build up their courses and their funnels. You know how, when you people like come to me with like, build that courses and funnels for nothing converts, you know, but I was looking at their wording and they didn't say, we're going to help you get your first 10 students. We're going to, you know, we're going to help you build out your course in funnel.
Tom Libelt: [00:38:42]
I'm like, that's cute. That's cute. Because what they're trying to do is sell you on the idea that their platform is enough to do both. Because we always will talk about Teachable, like their their their editor for landing pages is beyond the atrocious. You have to be nuts to leave your sales page with them. But when they say that to you, you got to understand they're trying to sell you an idea that no, it's not, it's great not selling your course and they don't care about your course selling.
Tom Libelt: [00:39:06]
It's like, we're gonna just going to show you how pretty things will look on their platform. And often this is where customers get misled in a lot of ways, they're like, oh my God, they're going to build this stuff and it's going to sell. No, no one said, it's going to sell.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:39:20]
It's going to be built.
Tom Libelt: [00:39:21]
It's going to be built. Right? Yeah. But you were there, you would see how easily it is to be misled for someone coming online. Right. Because these guys are promising this and then they'll send you an article 50 ways to sell your course, which they all know they have no clue.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:39:36]
So, so that in fact, that that's an interesting point because that's part of the reason why I started this podcast too, is to have these, these types of discussions to bring awareness to people in terms of what's happening.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:39:50]
Sure. But also what to look out for, what they need you know, and also people, people that can get in touch with so. That leads me to ask you the question of how can people get hold of you? Where can they find you? If they wanted to get in touch to help them put their courses together, get their courses selling.
Tom Libelt: [00:40:07]
So I'm not going to help you put your cars together. I'm definitely not going to do that. You go with the Teachable for that. Like, yeah. I'm not babysitting that process. If you need help selling your course. Wemarketonlinecourses.com. That's where you can go to that. If you just want to get ahold of me, which is not that difficult, a smartbrandmarketing.com, just put up the contact form. And I actually still look through those.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:40:30]
Cool. Well, Tom, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I had fun chatting to you and debunking a lot of the myths out there.
Tom Libelt: [00:40:38]
Yeah, for sure. That was fun. Yeah. I mean, I love talking about this stuff, but when you kind of put me in that seat of someone, you know, that's kind of new online. I just look at the industry and I'm like, man, like, there's, there's just so much of this. Like really it's, it's misleading, but it's like, it's done in such a nice way where you kind of think like, you know, they're, they're giving you something else. It's like a switch and bait, you know.
Tom Libelt: [00:41:00]
Like I'm going to help you to do this thing because. You're asking the wrong question because you don't know what the right question is. Right. And I will often tell people like, when someone's like, Hey, what's the best platform. I was like, I think what you're asking me is how do I sell these courses? And then they're like, yeah, but what I'm like, so you don't get that the platform's not going to do the work for you.
Tom Libelt: [00:41:18]
Right. Now. If you ask me, you know, which platform allows me to do quizzes and this and that, I'm like, good question, but that's not what 99% of the people ask. But they're kind of misled by thinking that like, oh, if I go on this, I'm making sales. No, that's not how it works. Yeah. So just, you know, having like that mindset of like a beginner all the time, which I try to cultivate because that's how we create the best buyer journey. Yeah. It makes these conversations interesting.
Burhaan Pattel: [00:41:42]
Cool. Thank you.