It might not be Friday when you're listening to this, but I appreciate you for listening in today, because we're following up on the episode we did in session 507 with Jeff Walker, the creator of the PLF or Product Launch Formula. If you missed the episode, PLF is essentially a way to warm up an audience, to give them value, and to bring them on a journey that all leads to a product launch. And this could be the launch of any kind of product or service or course. In our conversation, we discussed how Jeff has updated and revised PLF over the years since he created it in 1996, and how to go about launching products today. Because the truth is, things are a little bit different than they were before.
And that's the topic of today's conversation. Not when it comes PLF, specifically, but the fact that we as entrepreneurs, we do have to learn how to adapt and to change. We can't expect that things that we once used and succeeded with are going to continue working just as well for us over time. Blogs used to be the cornerstone of online content and connection, but things have changed, and live streaming and online communities have quickly become the new standard. We have to learn how to adjust and adapt, and as Ross of Friends would say, to “Pivot!” to current reality. So let's talk about what that looks like for us entrepreneurs.
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SPI 508: You Must Adapt to Changing Times, Or Else
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, if he could bring something back from the past, it would be the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios: Pat Flynn.
Hey, it's Pat here. And welcome to a Friday follow-up episode. It might not be Friday when you're listening to this, but I appreciate you for chiming in and coming in today, because we're following up on the episode we did in 507 with Jeff Walker. That is a very famous name in the internet marketing and entrepreneurship space. He created or coined the PLF or Product Launch Formula, which is, essentially, if you didn't listen to the episode, it's essentially a way to warm up an audience, to give value, to bring them on a journey, if you will, that all leads to a launch. And this could be the launch of any kind of product. And PLF, or the three-video series, as it's also known as in this space, has become so prevalent, and just everybody has used this to launch something, typically, at one point. And if you've ever followed one of these giant JV, or joint venture partnership launches, you will likely notice some videos, some warmup, that lead into a launch and a sale.
And there's a very intricate way to do this. We do talk about the origin story of PLF. But more importantly, we talk about the updated version of it. Not to mention, Jeff's updated book, Launch, which is now available on Amazon, the second version of his New York Times bestseller. We talk about, well, how do we launch things today? Because today, things are a little bit different than they were before. And that's the topic of today's conversation. Not PLF, but the fact that we as entrepreneurs, we do have to learn how to adapt and to change. Not just if something needs updating, you go and update it. That's obviously very important. But just expecting that there are going to be things that we had once used, that had once been working really, really, well. And they might not work as well over time. And you're going to have to learn how to adjust, and to adapt, and to pivot, or as Ross would say, "Pivot!" to a new situation.
Because the truth is, things are changing all the time. People's consumption of content is changing. For a while, it was people who were reading blogs all the time. People used to wake up in the morning, I know I did, and read their RSS feed reader. That was a way for us to subscribe to a bunch of different blogs, have all those RSS feeds or content, be pushed into one specific place. I used Feedly, and there was a few other things people were using, to absorb all the blog content that they were subscribed to, all in one spot, sort of like a morning newsletter or something. And that's exactly how I started to produce content. People would subscribe, and they would get it delivered to their feed inbox, if you will, whether that was an email inbox, or something like a feed reader of sorts. But that's completely changed. Not only do those readers not really exist anymore, but there are other kinds of media that exist, that most people are examining now. And everything from podcasting, of course, like you're listening to right now, to videos on YouTube and other platforms.
And of course, live streaming, which we did talk about in the episode. Live streaming, being a new component of the PLF formula. To show up live, to be there, and it's a little bit less staged. It's a little bit less professional, and it's more real, which, being real is a great thing to do when you're launching something because you want to build that real trust with people, who you're about to offer something to. That was how things were consumed. And things are being consumed in totally different ways now. People's attention spans seem to be much shorter. Community seems to be an important player in the entrepreneurship space today, where that wasn't even really a thing. There were communities per se, in terms of groups of readers, or groups of viewers, commenters, if you will. But to actually house that community and put them somewhere where not only could you interact with them and they can interact with you, but they can interact with each other.
That's truly what builds community. It's not a one-way talk, or even a two-way conversation. It's a multi-way conversation. And things like today, we have Circle.so. We are proud users of Circle, and I'm an advisor to the company. If you want to check it out, smartpassiveincome.com/circle is where you should go. That is what we are using to power the engine behind our SPI Pro premium membership for SPI. And several other entrepreneurs are now using it, as opposed to using something like Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups to manage their communities. A lot more customization, and a lot of people are happy that it's not on Facebook. Community is now a part of the equation. We were talking about different content platforms, right? Each of those different platforms are changing. Podcasting has changed, even. Even video seems to change. Algorithms change all the time.
And it can be very difficult to keep things up, and to have a beat on what is working and what's not, when things are changing all the time. I almost feel like sometimes, I remember when I was with my wife, and we were raising our baby, Keoni, who is now 11, which is crazy, almost 12. That's insane. He's one year away from being a teenager. The things in that regard change as well. And they change really fast. But I remember when we were just learning what it was like to be a parent for the first time. Just as soon as we finally started to get our rhythm with something, something would happen with Keoni. He'd either get his teeth, and that was, of course, painful. Or he would go through a growth spurt, and that was painful. Or once we started to get in a rhythm with sleeping, then all of a sudden he was learning to crawl. And he was crazy. And he was wanting to jump off the bed and stuff. You couldn't really even get into a rhythm.
So we had to, as parents, April and I, learn that we couldn't expect things to be choreographed in a way that was perfect. We could do our best to plan, and we could have expectations, and try to meet those expectations. But if things change, if things go awry, if things go out of the plan, well, we can't get upset about that. We got to adjust and adapt along the way. And that's exactly what we parents have to do. I mean, our businesses are sort of like babies. They grow up, and as I once heard, and as you maybe have once heard here on the show from Ramit Sethi, "What got you here, won't get you there." With strategies and tactics, I completely agree with that.
But there are certain principles. And this is what we talked about in the episode with Jeff, that although tactics have changed, although there are different tools that we now use to engage an audience, to earn trust with them, etc., there are still certain principles that will forever remain true. And these are really important principles to know about. And they're going to sound obvious to you, but I think that this is just a great lesson in foundation, in remembering the basics, if you will. Because sometimes I know this, and I know you might be falling under this trap too. New tactics are available. New tools are available. You hear other people using these tools. And all of a sudden, you go gangbusters with these advanced tools and these advanced strategies, when, in many cases, that was just a distraction. And it was a way for you to walk away from the things that actually did work.
It was a way for you to overcomplicate things. And I always say this. We always overcomplicate things. That's why questions like the one Tim Ferriss posed to me, which is, "If this were easy, what would it look like?" That's such a powerful question. And I got to ask myself that all the time. And when things change, that's typically the first question I go to. “Hey, if this were easy, what would it look like? Hey, our blog content and our SEO is going down. Other websites are outranking us. But hey, if it were easy, what would it look like to actually still remain in contact with our audience?” Well, it would be a plan to focus on the audience that we already have, right? It would be easy if we didn't have to build a new audience. And the cool thing is, is that when you focus on the audience you do have, and you provide those superfan-like moments, and create magical moments over time, those people will bring in new people for you. And they're not just coming in cold. They're coming in warm, from a recommendation from within the community.
This is a chapter within my book Superfans. And that's why I love to focus on the group that's there with you now. If you happen to be starting fresh, and you don't have that group to lean into, well, then you want to immerse yourself into the space that you're getting into, that you're diving into, and the niche, and in the market that you're exploring. You want to, how do you say, just fully immerse yourself within it. Get involved in those communities. Go to those conferences when it's safe to do so. Get on those live streams with other community members. Join those mastermind groups. Even invest in other opportunities to get even closer to that group of people, and to be surrounded by them, so that you can, as you immerse yourself, you begin to learn, well, what's interesting, and problematic, and challenging, and exciting to that group of people right now? How are they behaving versus how were they behaving? Sometimes we like to take guesses.
Sometimes we like to remember, well, we were once there before, but then we forget that starting in the beginning today, is different than starting in the beginning back then. It's like trying to get a job from a while back, which was all about resumes, and high grade point average, and just all that stuff. Now, it's, I see a lot of people getting amazing jobs through the network that they've built, through connections, through other means like that. Similar to how I got my architecture job. It wasn't necessarily because of a resume. I mean, I obviously still had to give my resume to the architecture firm that I was interested in working at. But it was only after an introduction through a person who I knew in the marching band.
This was when I was at UC Berkeley. Things like that are what's working today. Those communication skills, and soft skills, and relationship-building skills. All this to say, as we just... We're already at 10 minutes here. These are important but basic lessons that we need to remember and remind ourselves about. The principles, like people want to be heard. They want to feel loved. They want to feel recognition. So what does that look like now? Well, back in the day, recognition was simply a name on a blog post. Like, "Oh, wow! That's cool. That's different." But now, anybody can put anybody's name on a blog post. And we sometimes see people, even during launches, or during promotions, or for Patreon: “Hey, one thing that will be great for you, is if you pledge $5 a month, we'll put your name in our video.”
Okay. That's cool, but it doesn't really provide a ton of value. Recognition today is a spotlight. And we try to do this within SPI Pro, where every once in a while, every week, we have a member of the week, in fact. I do this in a Discord, in the Pokémon channel that I'm in. We have a Discord in the community, and we have a “spotlight members” area where I can see the activity inside the community. And I highlight a special person, who's done something amazing or something generous to another member, who's showing up and being very active. I want to recognize them in front of everybody. That's recognition. It's not just even, "Here's a trophy." It's "Hey, everybody. Check out this trophy that this person has earned, and here's why they earned it."
I think today, again, with regards to a launch, especially, in addition to recognition, it's not just like, "Hey, you. I see what you've done." It's "Hey, I know what you're going through. It's empathy." And this is where, during the PLF or the Product Launch Formula, certain videos or certain messages about the struggle and connecting, not just on language, but on experience and truly how a person feels, the empathy that goes along with that, is absolutely key. And back in the day, just sharing a couple blog posts about how a person might feel and matching that up could work. Receiving comments in surveys, and taking that copy and just putting it right back in an email or on your sales copy. That can work, and that still works.
Today, it's highlighting those stories from your success students, your successful students. It's highlighting the hero's journey from within. This is StoryBrand by Donald Miller. It's taking the before and after that a person can relate to, because they are in the before right now, and they want to be where those afters are. So pulling out the stories, if you've listened to the episode with Stu McLaren, here on the podcast, about membership, you'll know that he has a secret weapon. And that secret weapon is a spreadsheet behind his computer that lists all the customers that have had some sort of challenge or question that comes up all the time. Because when Stu answers a question, he doesn't just tell you. He shares a story about somebody who's going through something similar. And when he says the before and after, and tells that story, and understands it, and of course, he doesn't make that up. He goes and has conversations with them. He learns about those stories, and he empathizes with them. He can then reflect that back to everybody else who's having that same struggle and that same challenge. It becomes so much more clear that this program, or this product, or this book, or whatever it is you're offering, is exactly what that person might need.
And the other thing to think about, is this ability to connect. Right? Connection, back in the day, was just you showing up, and them being able to see you. But connection today is so much more. I find, with conversations with a lot of my cohorts and friends online who have online businesses, that a lot of them are having to go a little bit more personal during these launches, to get into one-on-ones, into one-on-one emails, to have conversation first. Not just, "Hey, let me sell you something," but "Hey, I don't want to have a conversation with you." It's actually asking for the conversation. So yeah, it's going to take a little bit more work, but the principle and the fact that people want an opportunity to speak up and be heard, is really important. And when it comes to connecting with a person online, that connection, it's changed.
It's always been there, but the way that it's done can now be amplified. And it can be done through social media, through direct messages, through emails, or other means. Text messaging is something that's on a lot of people's minds today, with SMS marketing. All this to say, if you listen to episode 507 with Jeff Walker, and it sounded like a lot, right? It was. To put together a launch, a high-caliber launch, takes a lot of choreography within your team, and a lot of coordination and planning. But the truth is, if you are there to serve your audience, and that's the final principle, that will always matter no matter what. When you show up to serve, and you have this true belief in the product that you're offering, it doesn't matter what tools, it doesn't matter how many videos you have leading up to it. What matters is you can share, and you can portray the service that you have once, and will offer that person. When you show up, and you can serve, you can sell without feeling sleazy.
So that's your lesson for today. I hope you enjoyed this follow-up Friday episode. Episode 508. And I look forward to serving you next week. Our interviews are on Wednesday. A follow-up on Friday. It's how we roll here. Make sure you hit subscribe if you haven't already.
Hey, thank you so much. I appreciate you. Maybe you needed to hear this today, and I hope that you go back to the foundations of who it is you're serving, not just why you're serving, but how are you going to show up? And how are you going to have them understand that you are there for them? And connect.
Thank you so much. Take care. I look forward to seeing you next week. Peace out. And as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.
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