Mark & Pat Talk About Will It Fly
Mark: Hey, Pat. It’s really great to have back on the show again. This is your third time, I think.
Pat: I’m so excited. I have a lot of stuff going on, I have this book coming out. I have to tell you, this is the first interview I’m doing where I’m announcing the name of the book and talking about it, and you were the first interview on the SPI Podcast back in July of 2010. So I have to thank you, because since then I’ve done 600 or so episodes of different podcasts. We’ve come a long way together, both you and I.
Mark: It has been quite a journey. Of course I knew about the book because you and I talk offline and in the Green Room Mastermind. When I heard about what the book was about, it was apparent to me that my audience would be interested in getting some of the knowledge extracted out of that book before it goes live. So I want to talk about the book. Is that okay?
Mark: Okay. Why don’t you give us the 30 second elevator pitch? Everybody, I want you to listen to this, because when you’re working on a project like that when people say, “What are you working on?” you need to be able to tell them.
Pat, tell me about the book. What are you working on?
Pat: There are a lot of books out there on how to get ideas for your business, there’s a ton of those out there. There are also a lot of books on how to build out your idea. But, there’s nothing in between that tells you how you know if this idea that you have is actually one that is going to work. So what it comes down to really is it’s a validation book, but it’s done in two ways.
One, it validates that idea to that market that you’re getting into, which is obviously important. There’s some information about that out there, Tim Ferriss talked about it in a little in his book 4-Hour Work Week in a chapter called Testing the Muse. That was everyone’s first taste of you can test an idea before you put it out there and actually spend time and money on it, you can test it first. But he didn’t dive into it as deep as everybody wanted to. So it dives deep into that.
There’s also the second part of validation, which is how do you know if that idea and that business, even if it were to become successful, is that going to match your goals, is it going to align with your journey and who you are, what you want to become, and what you want life to be like.
That’s a part of validation that I feel is more important, because I know a lot of successful entrepreneurs who aren’t happy, who aren’t successful fathers when they want to be, who aren’t successful husbands or wives when they want to be. So I wanted to catch people early in their business journey to help them discover is this idea good for the market, but also is this idea good for you.
Mark: This hits home with me. You and I, years ago we heard our friend Jeremy tell the story about the guy with the yoga mats who came to market with a $100 yoga mats that nobody wanted to buy and ended up with a warehouse full of yoga mats. We also know a big entrepreneur who spent $300,000 on a big website that didn’t work out for him, and he ended up just shutting the whole thing down.
This market validation piece sounds really important, but you’re also talking about a second piece. Can you talk about the lifestyle design piece a little more? Why is that important?
Pat: It’s important because, like I said, I know a lot of people who have gone down the route of building a successful business but they’ve done it because they were chasing the money or there was just a hot market that they wanted to get into. Then they realized this isn’t what they really wanted to do and they end up shutting it down or selling it off and trying something else because it just doesn’t align with what their goals are.
There’s a lot of what I like to call thought experiments or tests that people go through. This is actually in the first chapter. I learned this from going through Internet Business Mastery, that the mindset and the reason why you do something is going to be really important to the success of that business, but also the success of you and who you are.
For instance, one of the first tests is called The Airport Test. This is a thought experiment where if you and I imagine this happening, five years down the road we happen to run into each other after not speaking for awhile – although, I don’t know why we wouldn’t continue speaking to each other –
Mark: That’s not going to happen, but I’m with you.
Pat: Again, thought experiment. We meet at the airport five years from now and I see you and I say, “Mark, how have you been? How’s life?” and you answer, “Life is awesome.” Then I say, “Why?” and you have to come up with the reasons why you would say that.
You can divide your life into four different kind of segments there. How is it financially, how is it personally, and then two other topics that you get to choose. So you get to develop this plan in a way that’s not just “what are your goals,” but it’s putting you in the context of something where if somebody were to say to you, “Tell me why it’s so awesome,” you would actually come up with something. Then from that point you discover is this idea that you have something that supports that or would it actually not fit into that equation.
There are a lot of things like that. There’s also other things. For example, there’s this test I like to call The Oprah Test. Let’s say for whatever reason Oprah found out about your business idea and she decided that she was going to feature you on her show, it was going to one of her “Favorite Things,” those things go massively crazy and you can become famous overnight essentially if you’re featured in that way.
It’s going to happen to you. How would you actually feel internally if that were to happen? Would you be nervous? Probably. But, is that something you would actually want, would you want to be at the forefront and the face of that business where if people recognize you on the street they would know that you’re connected to it? Is that something you would be comfortable with?
For a lot of people the answer is no. If the answer is no, then you wouldn’t really build a business where you are the face of that business, you would just be in an uncomfortable situation and setting yourself up for failure down the road. It’s catching people early with things like this that are really important before we even discover how this business idea might fit in that market.
Mark: It’s obvious to me that if it happens that someone in my audience is still sitting there getting ready to try to start something, this is directly applicable. In a minute I’m going to ask you to steal some tips out of the book, but I’m still trying to make sure I get my arms around exactly who this applies to.
What about the guy who already has the business that maybe he doesn’t quite want, or he already has something that he’s already tried and it’s just not panning out, how does this book help that person?
Pat: It just brings you back to the basics. You always hear this in sports. For example, if somebody is struggling with their shot, go back to the fundamentals. This is a book that’s going to help you walk through those fundamentals.
I really wanted to provide a lot of value in this book, obviously, but also give a lot of exercises that people can use. There’s a lot of great books out there that share a lot of these great stories and case studies, research and stuff, and it tells you do something but then they don’t get into the how. This book is a lot of how-to.
The first part is what I like to call the mission design, it’s kind of themed around the airplane or flight. That’s why it’s called Will It Fly. I talk about the story of when Keoni turned 3 the first thing I did was try to teach him how to fold a paper airplane. I folded one myself and he was all amazed and he got a piece of paper and tried to fold his own, but he just rushed into it and he didn’t follow my instructions. Of course the thing didn’t even look like a plane and threw it and didn’t go anywhere. He was just like, “I hate paper airplanes.”
That’s how a lot of people approach their business. We see somebody else do something cool and we build something, we try to make it like that, and it doesn’t work out right away and we just give up. This is a book that will allow you to pick up that paper, fold it in the right way – I’m essentially helping people engineer their wings, I guess you could say, before you launch. That’s what this book is about.
There are a lot of things that even if people have a business and they’re struggling, you can go back to the fundamentals. There’s also exercises to get deeper into who your audience is so you can probably find a pain point that you weren’t covering yet that is something you should be covering. There are a lot of things like that in the book people can use, no matter what stage you’re at.
Mark: So this is not just a getting started book, it’s a moving forward book, no matter where you.
Pat: Right. Will It Fly, this business idea you have, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a business idea from scratch. It could be is the next product that you’re going to create one that’s going to fly, is the next course that you’re going to create, or coaching session you’re going to do going to fly. It is for everybody.
Mark: Why write this book, Pat? I mean, one of the things I think most people who know you know is it’s not enough for you just to do something that will be financially successful, you always have these reasons for doing things. This book is a little different than anything we’ve seen out there. You said it yourself, some books touch on this but this is going to be really unique. Why do it, what’s motivating Pat Flynn in this case?
Pat: There are a number of different reasons. Personally, going back to my mission design, I really wanted to write a book and I wanted it to be fantastic. I’ve been working on this book for over a year now and it has gone through a lot of different iterations. It’s really crazy how it all comes together and shaped together, almost last minute in terms of a lot of the most important elements of it.
Another main reason was a lot of my audience are beginners or people who have just started out. I did a survey midyear asking people where they were at, what stage they were at, and things like that. I discovered that about 75-80% of my audience has either just gotten started but isn’t cracking over $500 a month yet or hasn’t started at all. Actually, one-third of my audience hasn’t even started yet.
There’s a lot of information on the blog to help people start, but the blog is an overwhelming thing. Even with the getting started page, which has helped people out with pointing people where to go to get started, it’s still an overwhelming thing.
There’s something about a book when you pick it up, whether it’s on a Kindle or the physical copy of it, it’s like that’s the world you’re in at that moment in time. If I can help people through those parts of life that they’re in now to help them figure it out to get to those next steps, it’s going to make a big difference.
Plus, I just kept getting questions. One of the survey questions I asked was, “What’s something you’re struggling with the most?” and when you segment out the people who have just gotten started or who haven’t started a business yet, one of their number one answers was, “I just don’t want to waste time, I don’t want to build something that might not work out,” and I completely understand that.
The other thing is a lot of people will build stuff and it won’t work out, but you have to understand that’s part of the process. I want to be there to catch people beforehand so that it’s less likely that somebody will fail. I will say up front that there is no way to 100% validate that something you’re going to work on is 100% going to work, because there’s a lot that goes into it, not just the idea but the execution of it. If it’s a bad idea then it doesn’t matter how good you execute, it’s not going to work out.
Mark: There are ways to ferret out the stuff that is just very unlikely to work. It’s all about improving the odds of success and, to your second point, if you are successful, being happy with that success. In some ways that maybe can be more important than the success itself, I think.
Pat: Absolutely. This isn’t just a “how is your business going to work out” kind of book, it’s a how is this business that you have going to fit into the lifestyle that you want.
I’ve been very fortunate to be exactly where I want to be with life, being able to stay home with my kids. There are certain reasons why I haven’t done certain businesses. I’ll be very open with you, Mark. One of the things that I know is out there that I could do that would be very easy for me to do if I chose to do it – this is an if I had no family, if I had just all the time and resources in the world – I would build my own podcast hosting company because I think there’s a big need for something like that out there, something with better stats and all those kinds of things. I know I could do it and it would do really well, and I could probably create it and within a few years get it to several tens of thousands of users and sell it off for millions of dollars or whatever.
The thing is that’s not alignment with my goals and where I want to be. At this moment in time my number one priority beyond serving my audience is serving my family and being there with them, not just physically but mentally too. If I were to do something like that it would take me away from that, it’s just really not what I want to do right now.
Mark: So I see a big problem here and I really hate to call you out on this, but the problem is I have all these people on the other end of this phone call that are hearing about this great book but they can’t get it yet. What they need from you right now, what’s one of the insights that you think is highest leverage, most valuable, really proud of, something they can take away right now today that they can chew on until the book comes out?
Pat: Sure. This is what I like to call a customer plan. We always hear about your customer avatar. That’s an incredibly overused term, but it’s important to know who your audience is and who you’re speaking to. I go through a lot of exercises in the book, and I’ll share what those tactics are right now, to discover what I like to call the customer plan.
Avatar I feel is just a made up thing. Yes, it’s representative of who your target audience is, but if you want to understand how your audience feels it’s important to know exactly who they are and find real people. I’ve never been a big fan of “find out who your avatar is,” because I want to find out who are these actual people and understand their stories, what their problems are, the language that they use and all of that stuff. It’s more than just a general image of who my target audience is, I’m going out there and going to places where they’re at.
This customer plan – PLAN stands for problems, language, anecdotes, and needs. When you go through this process you come out with action items. That’s why I love this customer plan, it helps you create a plan on what you can do to serve your audience. The customer PLAN involves these four letters.
P, which is discovering the problem. There’s a lot of ways to do this, but the number one way to do this is essentially just to truly have conversations with your audience. This is why I feel going to conferences is one of the most important things in my particular field, because I can go to where my audience is and actually have coffee with them, talk to them, and ask questions and dig deep. It’s really important to do that.
If you can’t do that in person all the time, you can still do it on Skype. I think that’s one of the things a lot of people who have businesses all have to do and it’s a scary thing. When I first started out it was something that I was deathly afraid of, actually having conversations. But if you truly want to serve your audience, you have to do that to discover what their pains and problems are.
You’re going to find a number of different pains and problems, so you write all those things down. There are some worksheets and exercises you can print out in the book to help you organize all this stuff, which is cool.
You find out what those pains and problems are and then the second thing, L, is you discover what language they use. If you can’t show that you understand what they’re talking about, even though you might know what they’re talking about or going through, if you can’t show them in their own language that you know what they’re going through, it’s not going to work. There’s a quote by Jay Abraham that says, “If you can define the problem better than your target customer, they will automatically assume you have a solution.”
That means discovering what that language is. You have to keep a spreadsheet of all these different terms, not just keywords but ways they describe what they’re going through or special language that this particular niche you’re targeting actually has so that you can show that you know what you’re talking about.
One of my favorite things to do is going to forums. I think forums are a completely underutilized thing that exists out there for all of us. There are a lot of interesting things you can do with forums. Here’s a specific tactic, I guess you could call it. If you want to find out what people don’t like about something in a particular niche, you go to a forum. Look up all of the forums, you can go to Google and type in forum: your niche. For example, “forum: fly fishing,” and Google will give you a list of all of the forums.
You find one of those forums and in Google you type in a search term, space, SITE:, and then the domain name of that forum. [fly fishing SITE:www.flyfishingforum.com] That keyword that you put in there in the beginning, Google is going to search that entire forum for those words. That’s what the SITE: and the URL is for, because it tells Google to look through the site and find these keywords.
If you want to find something people hate you can put in language like [I hate SITE:www.forum.com] and you’re going to get every single post in that forum where people say “I hate,” and you can get a list of all of the things that people hate. You can search “I need” or “I want,” or “please help with.” There’s a whole list of keywords you can include to really get into how your audience is speaking about that thing.
The A part of PLAN is anecdotes. In a similar fashion, using that same tactic, I call it the Google sniper search function. I don’t know if that’s the actual term, but that’s what I call it because you’re kind of just sniping out all of these conversations.
You can define stories, which are really important because everyone likes stories, but if you really want to know how your audience feels about things and what they’re going through and remember that, you need to find real life stories. Forums are a great place you can go to find stories of people, because people share about whatever it is that they’re going through.
You could type in “great story” or “awesome story” or “I love that story,” because those are responses to people telling stories. If you find those responses you’re going to find these amazing, open, transparent stories that your audience is going through and you’ll be able to better understand them.
Plus, when you hear somebody tell a story you can’t help but put yourself in that situation. That’s exactly what you need to do to best serve your audience. You can’t help but remember who that person is and what they go through. That’s why I love this customer plan as opposed to the avatar, because you get to really remember and feel real people in your audience going through these struggles and what they’re talking about.
The last thing is the need. Figuring out here are the problems, here’s the language that they use, here are some stories of people going through that issue, what is it that they need? Your need is essentially the hypothesis that you have. What is the solution to that pain that you could create?
From there you go into the next section, which is here’s this hypothesis of a solution, how can you test that and validate that. There are a lot of different ways. Actually, my favorite part of the book is part four, which is called The Flight Simulator, which is where you put this hypothesis of an idea that you have for a solution to the test. You go out there and see if people will either buy it or take action with it.
You get it in front of a group of people and you say, “Are any of you interested in this? Let’s talk. Would this be a solution that you would be interested in? If so,” don’t just say, but do. That’s the most important part of validation, because people will say that they want to buy something, but you never know for sure until they actually do some sort of action, whether that’s buy something or exchange an email address for something.
There are different ways to validate and there are different levels of confidence with those different ways. The number one way to figure out if it’s going to work is to get people to pay for it beforehand, so presell or get people to pay before you actually end up creating that product.
I get super excited talking about this, it’s obviously been on the top of my mind lately. There are so many cool things you can do. One of the big things I wanted to do with this book was just give people a ton of different ways that they can actually do these things for free, too. That’s the one thing I hate about a lot of other books out there is they’re like, “Here’s what you have to do,” but then you have to get all these tools. I don’t want my audience to have to spend money first to figure out if their idea is going to work. That’s a lot of what’s going into this book.
Mark: Let’s do a dog food check. Speaking of the book, let’s talk about how Pat is eating his own dog food. You had this idea for this book, you and I have talked and I know you had many ideas for books, in fact you have a private Facebook group where people just talk about the books that they’re writing.
Tell me, how did you validate the idea for this book? I’m sure there were many ways, but can you give an example of when you were thinking about validating a book about validating, what did you do?
Pat: This is really funny. There are ways to scale validation, but the most important thing you can do is actually talk to people individually, I think that’s one of the most important things. You build your interest list, but then you talk to people individually and try to get them to take some sort of action. Of course there was stuff beforehand that I knew where I knew this topic was important, so through surveys and whatnot people were saying that they wanted this.
Then I went out and reached out to people in my audience via email and also in real life conversations and said, “I’m writing this book,” I didn’t have a name for it at the time, “would you pay me for this book?” I did this at Podcast Movement and I did this at a couple of other conferences later on, I literally said, “If I write this book, would you pay me for it?” They would say, “Yes, I would.”
Then I would say, “If you give me $10 right now, I will make sure to get a copy in your hands as soon as it comes out.” Nine out the 10 people that I asked pulled out their wallet or sent me a Paypal with that money.
Mark: No kidding. So you really one-on-one sold this book? I didn’t know you did this, you never told me about it.
Pat: Yes. You’re the first one I’ve told this to.
Mark: Holy crap. You asked people face-to-face to pay you for this book you hadn’t written yet and 9 out of 10 people paid you?
Pat: Right. Some people might be thinking, “Well, it’s Pat Flynn, of course people are going to say yes.” But another important thing is I asked some people that I had just met for the first time there. Sometimes people will say they’ll pay for something but when you finally ask them they make excuses. Nobody was making those excuses.
Mark: Right. They say, “When it comes out let me know, I’ll buy it then.” But they didn’t do that, so you took that as validation. That’s awesome.
Here’s the thing. I know you’re on a really tight time schedule. Let’s test your theory. Right now within the sound of my voice there are lots of people who wish they had this book. What validating action can those people do in order to find out more about the book? Tell us how we can know when the book is out and all that kind of stuff.
Pat: If you go to WillItFlyBook.com at any moment in time you’re going to see exactly what stage it’s at. If this is before it’s launched, you’ll see and get more information about the preselling if that’s available. Afterwards, it’s going to be available there, too. So WillItFlyBook.com is the place to go.
Nice set up, Mark, I like what you did there.
Mark: This is going live tomorrow. This is Tuesday the 17th, so it will be the 18th of November that people are going to hear about this. I think it’s important and I want to get people out there fired up about it. What are they going to see on the 18th?
Pat: This is another thing about validation, you have to do it in stages. Let’s say, for example, that you’re going to be creating this huge product. You don’t create the product first, obviously, there are a lot of things that you could do. You can iterate the validation process where if you don’t get clearance on that first part of the iteration then you don’t need to keep building the rest of it.
For example, if you have a product out there and you go in front an audience, maybe you do a guest post for someone to help validate this product in front of a target audience – if you don’t have your own list that’s one way to do it. You’re getting in front of this group of people and then you have people essentially raise their hand. Say, “If you’re interested more about this particular thing, go ahead and go to this website and leave your email address.” If you don’t get any email addresses, then you don’t need to continue moving forward because it’s shown that people don’t seem to be interested in that topic.
If you do get email addresses from there, then you can move to the next stage. Talk to these people in person and see if they would actually pay for this thing or take a greater action or do some greater transaction in order to make that happen. Then you can break it down and if parts don’t work you can refocus on just that one part.
That’s just more of the book to share with you. On the 18th you’re simply going to see a landing page, because we’re currently doing the trailer and all those sorts of fancy things that are going to go up. You’re going to see it early, which is great, it’s simply going to be a quick easy LeadPage.
If I check three days from now and I see that there are no emails, for example, because your audience for whatever reason was turned off or not excited about it, that gives me information, the fact that there are no emails there. I can come back to you and say, “Mark, nobody signed up. Did you get any emails?” and I can start to discover based on that one small action what the problem is and I can fix that from there. If for whatever reason I can’t fix that, then I know there’s a problem.
Now, obviously I’ve validated this with that other technique I shared and in a few other ways, so I know that people are going to come over and want to get more information about it. So there will simply be a landing page and information, that will put you on a list to get all the latest information on when bits and pieces come out.
I’m truly excited. Mark, I’m so thankful that you had me on the show to share this and I’m super stoked to hear what everybody else thinks, too.
Mark: I am, too. This is Episode 90. Actually, we’ve already recorded my episode 100 and you’re part of that bigger episode with a lot of people, you probably remember doing that, so you’ll be back on the show in 10 weeks.
Pat: I love it. If I knew that I was going to be on the show beforehand to talk about the book I would have mentioned WillItFlyBook.com on that, too.
Mark: You’d need a flux capacitor for that.
Pat: I do. Not just the toy one that I have, I need an actual one.
Mark: All right. It’s really great to talk to you. Tell me the URL one more time.
Pat: It’s WillItFlyBook.com.
Mark: And if people don’t care about the book but they want to talk to you, what’s the best place to find you?
Mark: Thank you, sir, you are very generous with your time and I really appreciate you being here today.
Pat: Thank you.
Mark: Have a great day.
Pat: Take care.
Wrapping Things Up…
I hope you enjoyed that. We’ll be back very soon with another episode of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast. Until then, I want you to think about the stuff that Pat had to say and figure out how you can apply something he said today right now. Don’t wait for the book, don’t wait to find out whether or not your comment at LateNightInternetMarketing.com/090 is the winning comment – don’t wait for that – take something that Pat said, change something that you’re doing today, put that into action and drive that next project forward.
If you do a little something like that every day you’re going to love the results.