SFN193: From The Foundation to first sales in just three weeks

SFN193: From The Foundation to first sales in just three weeks


Going through The Foundation program pays for itself – and then some.

Phil MacNevin is the Founder and President of Lift Media, a web design & marketing agency dedicated to delivering beautiful and impactful marketing tools for increasing growth to digital marketers around the world.

Three weeks after joining The Foundation, Phil made his first software sales. Six weeks after joining The Foundation, Phil paid off The Foundation’s course and was generating revenue with his own course.

2½ years after joining The Foundation, Lift Media is expected to make $1 million annual recurring revenue.


In This Interview I Ask:

  • 4:15 - Tell us a little bit about what you were doing and what you were excited about in 2012.
  • 8:15 - Why join The Foundation?
  • 13:55 - Where did traffic come from? Where was Phil getting it?
  • 20:05 - Six weeks in you make your money back from The Foundation course. You have a new product, a new idea and a new direction. What happens over the next few months?
  • 23:35 - Phil got in touch with really influential people. Did that happen by happenstance with word of mouth, or was there something he did to incentivize it?
  • 26:00 - How did Phil start scaling?
  • 29:20 - Where are things at now for you guys?
  • 31:20 - If you were starting all over and going back to the beginning of this phase, what do you wish you would have known?


Implementing The Foundation Process

“For me, it was always about building something that contributed a lot of value.”

During idea extraction, Phil found that people didn’t want to pay for the crowdsourced software development platform he originally envisioned. However, he noticed a different pain point for software developers: there are a lot of people who buy information products to learn them, but they don’t complete the training.

Phil and his team asked how can we solve this problem in a way that benefits both the people who made these courses and the people taking them?

They created the idea of Action Based Learning, which was a platform you could use to develop information products that integrated actionable tasks into each step of the product.

They pre-sold the course through social media to people who wanted to learn how to create information products. They sent traffic to a sign-up form, did split testing and started getting sales within the first seven days.

They validated their idea and generated enough revenue to pay for The Foundation course in 45 days.


Finding & Leveraging an Audience

“We wanted to test the idea internally to see if it would work before we pitched it to a bunch of content creators, but we wanted to do it in a way that, following The Foundation, we were making money off the course before we built the course.”

Phil and his team drove initial traffic to their course by finding interest groups online, including communities of people looking to develop Facebook ads, trying to build a website or trying to create a course plan for information products.

They didn’t jump into these Facebook Groups or Forums with a hard sell. They participated in the community, added value to the community, asked questions to identify people’s pain points and added solutions to those pain points to their course.

When they were ready to pitch the course, the community was ready to accept it.


The Stoplight Model

“My biggest takeaway from joining The Foundation was the stuff you guys taught on how to really listen to people, how to engage people, how to figure out whether your product is a green light or not – and the subtle differences between yellow light and green light.”

When pitching ideas, most people have a red light / green light mentality. Most people would consider the response, “Yeah that’s pretty cool,” to be a green light – but it’s actually a yellow light because they haven’t fully committed to your idea.

Yellow lights are a subtle yes without committing money to validate that your idea is worth paying for. If you have too many yellow lights, your idea hasn’t been refined enough and it’s probably not worth paying for yet.

Yellow lights can be dangerous because you aren’t necessarily hearing any negative feedback. The mistake that most people make is building the product after they hear any interest, without digging into which part of the pitch sounds awesome, if anyone will pay for it, why they won’t pay for it or what would need to change for them to pay for it.


Growing Slow to Scale Successfully

How can you simultaneously scale and provide the same amazing value to your customers, and how can you do it in a way that can scale? As you bring on more customers and more team members, how can they keep that focus?

It’s a constant revision of what systems are working and what systems don’t work for the next stage of your business.

Phil intentionally stunted business growth because he had seen other businesses take on more weight than they could until their legs buckled beneath them and the business failed. He didn’t want to be a person who built a business that couldn’t keep up with demand.

Now, after revising their systems, Lift Media is generating multi-six figures and Phil is expecting to scale up to $1 million in annual recurring revenue by the end of 2017.