Danielle is a marriage counselor who, with her husband Russ, helps people with coaching in small groups. She’s trying to figure out how she can change even more people’s lives and scale up through courses and more from her website, intentionalmarriages.net. The challenge here is what exactly to offer, and in what way? And how can she create content that reaches the right people and ultimately drives income?
In today’s AskPat, I work with Danielle to help her get some perspective on what exactly she’s offering and what that might look like scaled up. We talk through why she thinks her in-person course is so effective and come to a realization, which is that the thing that gets her audience really engaged is seeing how the practices she teaches change others.
Instead of looking for ways to tell her audience what she’s offering and how it might help them, what Danielle needs to do is find a way to show them the results and figure it out for themselves. If you’ve read Superfans, or even listened to me talk about it, you know that some of the most powerful marketing you can have is from testimonials. Together, we look for ways that Danielle can put her most passionate advocates in front of the audience that needs to hear them, and how to make a manageable content release plan that doesn’t leave you stuck on the content treadmill.
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 1086—wow, that's a big number—of AskPat 2.0. Thank you so much for being here today. You're about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. Today we're speaking with Danielle West from intentionalmarriages.net. She has a very successful business helping people in a in-person, small group, coaching situation. She's having a little bit of struggles with how to translate that into online content on her blog, in her videos, and ultimately to grow more income online in a more scalable manner. That's what we're going to talk about today.
Don Miller once said, “You can be so far inside the bottle that you can't read the label.” My job today was to speak to Danielle about what's happening from the outside, and what is that label? We have some really major breakthroughs today that I think are going to be really helpful for her and everybody that she's helping create better marriages for. This is amazing. I love that you're here. Thank you so much. Please subscribe if you haven't already, and let's just dive right in. Here is the conversation with Danielle West from intentionalmarriages.net. Danielle, welcome to AskPat 2.0. Thanks so much for being here today.
Pat: Thank you. I appreciate that. Man, I took on a lot this year for sure, but so far so good and I appreciate that, but this is about you. I'm looking forward to learning more about you. Why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Danielle: Okay, sounds good. I had spent twenty years in the hazardous waste industry in corporate sales. About ten years ago, I resigned to help out with our family, and a year into that quote unquote retirement, I started a video montage business that went so well, I had to shut it down.
Danielle: The more business I had received, the more I was confined to my computer and it got really lonely. I got really good at my video editing skills. By the way, I used FreshBooks during that five-year stint. It's great accounting software. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if your purchase through this link.]
Pat: Good. Hey, well good shout out to them. I'll let them know.
Danielle: During this time in 2012, my husband and I have been leading married small groups. And these are groups made up of five to six couples where we walk through an eight-week marriage curriculum called Thrive designed by our North Point Community Church. After finishing the eight-week course, couples would ask if they could continue with us and do like a 2.0 version of it or just continue to meet with us. Initially, we tried but our bandwidth ran out pretty quickly because we would continue to lead the course twice a year.
It was my husband, Russ, that came up with the idea to put all the transformational tools that we had learned from proactively going to counseling, which we had done for fifteen years—almost once a month. From leading these almost eighty couples through this curriculum, the neat part for us was sharing the wisdom we had learned through counseling and through this curriculum, how much it had impacted us and watching couples experience similar breakthroughs was pretty amazing. Intentionalmarriages.net is our website, and that was born out of the need of couples wanting to stay connected with us and continue to learn. We chose the Rainmaker website template, which is such a powerhouse. I love it.
Pat: Yeah, they're really good over there at StudioPress and Brian Clark from Copyblogger. They've done some great work there. Okay Intentional Marriages, plural, dot net. Correct?
Pat: In case anybody wants to check that out. Okay, so far everything's sounding really good.
Danielle: Okay, so here's where I wanted to talk to you. The connection and transformation that we see in a small group, obviously it cannot be experienced online. Naturally, folks are not going to experience that level of sense of privacy and confidentiality that you do in a small group. But I see other marriage companies online connect, have people pouring their hearts out, and so I feel like what we experience in person, I have not been able to translate that online. I've been blogging once a week since October 2017. We started this in October 2015, and it took me a while to build it up. In October 2017 I'd been blogging weekly and we continue to give away—there's probably only been two times we've had an ask. We started weekly webinars in January, which is a paid product. So we do weekly webinars every week.
Pat: That's great. I was actually going to ask if you had done anything like that, because that's one way to have those interactions and that personality and all that come through in an online sense. I'm curious. I'd love to hear from your perspective, what is it about the small groups that are so powerful? Let's see if we could like hone in on what that is and see if there would be any way to have some similar thing online. Obviously meeting in person is the best thing ever because you're meeting with people in person, but what is it about that? What do people take away from that that is so powerful?
Danielle: That's a great question, and I've thought through that. Part of where I think the disconnect is, it's mostly women signing up their husbands to join the group. They're coming to this going, “Okay, I'm here because my wife signed me up, and I'm not sure why.” We see the evolution of the impact even as quick as week four, and after week four they're like, “Okay, hopefully we'll never end with this group.” It's only eight weeks. So I think part of the disconnect is people don't realize some of the simple tools and how transformational they are until they walk through and actually see other couples experiencing it or actually see other men have the same struggles. Listening to other couples like . . . We've had a couple say, “Wow, I didn't know it was okay to fight.” We're like, “Yes, please fight. It's how you recover and repair is what's so important.”
Pat: Yeah, a hundred percent. So it's largely not just the transformational tools and the content which a person can hypothetically and easily get in an online sense. Right? It's the interactions with the other couples. Almost the community element of it and getting inspired by each other with, with your lead and direction.
Danielle: Exactly. I think part of where that can show up is on the Instagram stories. I find Instagram allows more followers and more interaction when I do stories. I just have struggled getting to that point. I don't know if you're familiar with the Enneagram.
Pat: I am. I'm a Type 3 by the way.
Danielle: You're a three. Of course you're a three.
Pat: What are you?
Danielle: Driver. I'm a Type 1, and I recognize my perfectionism is what holds me back. Being a video editor, I can take out the “ums,” the “ands,” the “sos.” Being more live and more down to earth like we are in the group I think could help. I'm just working on my confidence level there.
Pat: Cool. Do you do any Enneagram training or surfacing of that sort of categorization within your groups?
Danielle: No, we haven't. Because we can bring other things into the group outside the curriculum, we do give that as a way because you know with all our counseling people will be like, “Well, how did you become so self aware?” There's different tools and and quizzes, and Enneagram is one of the things that we promote and share because we have found it is spot on.
Pat: Yeah, I found the same thing. My wife and I have really fallen in love with the Enneagram and there's a really good book called The Road Back to You (Amazon link) by a man named Ian Cron, which is really good. It's really helped us in our marriage, and it's helped me with even on our team in my business. Every January we do an Enneagram test and share it with each other, so we understand how to better communicate and better sort of co-exist, which is really amazing. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if your purchase through this link.]
I was just kind of jamming on this because I was like, if you aren't offering this already, it might be an interesting sort of phase two or advanced level sort of understanding of oneself and each other. In which case people could, I mean you could facilitate, let's get all the ones together and discuss each other, and let's get all the twos together in a webinar. Let's get all the threes together in a webinar. That might just be an interesting sort of additional offer. Going back to what you said earlier, I want to go back to something really important that you mentioned, which is the feeling that people get and the inspiration they get from each other in these group meetings. Using others as examples of, wow, we can do that too. That's really cool. You said you're blogging once a week, and you're doing these kinds of things. What are these blogs about? I want to know a little bit about the content there.
Danielle: The content can be anywhere from talking about emotional flooding. What does emotional safety in a relationship look like? What happens when you shut down after you fight? All the lessons. Sometimes I try to keep it from what's tied in with the weekly webinar. If we're talking about relational needs, I'll do a blog about relational needs. Because it's a paid product, I use that as an enticement to—if they haven't become a website member or a webinar member, then maybe that might encourage them if they want to see and hear how Russ and I deal with things.
Pat: Cool. Okay. Because to me I would take whatever's working in your small groups and see what you can do to scale that in a more public . . . in an internet environment. Meaning you've talked about how great it is to see other couples who are going through things and and getting inspired by how they handle such ordeals or follow through with with whatever they need help with. Those stories can be highlighted and shared in a more public manner. It could even be anonymous. It could even just use different names if people are worried about privacy, but seeing examples of others.
I mean this is very similar in the in the business space. Right? Some of my most successful podcast episodes, some of my most successful blog posts, some of my more popular ones are when I highlight community members and feature them and put a spotlight on them and have them talk about what they struggle with, where they were, what they did to overcome those challenges and where they are now. Those mean way more to people and are more relatable than me just creating here are our top five tips on how to do X, Y and Z. Because people see a version of themselves in that story, or they can recall that story and that couple or that person in a time of need when . . .
If we need some help and we're trying to recall where we might've heard helpful information. It's very difficult for our brain to go, “Oh yeah, that one blog post I read three years ago that was the top ten tips about how to deal with a fight,” or something like that versus, “Yeah, I remember Jane and Joe went through the same thing. Let me go find that story. I think we can handle it in a similar way.” So I would just for a first initial step in these blog posts and even in these webinars, see how you might be able to pull individual stories out and highlight that. Really go deep into them because that's what happens in these group settings. Does that make sense?
Danielle: Yeah, absolutely. One thing I failed to mention is we do a Friday feature when I have a couple that's willing to participate. I send them fifty questions and they pick fifteen of them to answer, and we use that as a Friday feature blog. What you just gave me an idea of is to find anyone that would volunteer to actually do that on video.
Pat: Yeah, absolutely. Whether it's in these webinars, just optional. I think what's really cool is when you empower your existing users to teach others. You don't want to just let them free and go, “Hey, you know you were a part of my program. I'd love for you to lead a webinar and I'll just hope that you do good doing that.” No, you're still there facilitating, but people in your community, especially your superfans and those who really got a lot of help from you will want to give back. It's totally okay to ask if they would be willing to sort of step up.
You're going to find that there's going to be—not everybody, and it's not even a majority—but there's going to be a number of people who are going to take on that role and step into that position and really want to help out. And really that adds to the environment. Even in a group setting like a webinar or online, having a person who has gone through the counseling, who has gone through it, who's gone through those challenges and has come out the other side on a more positive light. They're going to feel empowered and feel the obligation to help the others that are going through the same thing.
Danielle: To your exact point, I have posted on my personal Facebook page that our group was starting again in September and all of the previous Thrive graduates—unbeknownst, I didn't even expect it—were like, “Hey, if you're considering this, you need to sign up for this.”
Pat: That's really cool.
Danielle: Yeah. So I feel like I have a list of people right there that would be willing to do that.
Pat: Absolutely. Based on what we've talked about so far, what are some of the changes? What are some of the things that you're going to start to do or stop doing from this point forward? Then we'll move into another part of the conversation after that.
Danielle: Well, the Enneagram webinar I think is a fantastic idea. I am definitely going to see how I can implement that. My Friday feature blogs, there's some people that have offered to do a video and I'm going to pursue and look into that because everything is so moving towards video that I think people would be really interested to see other couples other than Russ and myself, how other couples are handling it. So I think that's a great point, is to try to translate that online.
Pat: Video is a great idea. However, as you know, I'm sure from experience, there's a lot of work that goes into a really great video, especially one that tells a story. I imagine in your space especially, you can really get into the emotion behind things to really—I don't want to use the word sell, but that's what you're doing. You're selling this idea of working together. You're selling this idea of counseling. You're marketing that, but you're also telling these really beautiful stories at the same time. There's a lot that goes into that to do it right. One amazing platform that exists that you obviously know about that is really great for telling stories. Also really great for keeping people anonymous if they want to be, and that is a podcast where you can potentially invite people on to share in their own voice what's going on, and you hear the emotions. It's a little bit more powerful than a blog post. Not quite as powerful as a video but definitely a lot easier.
Danielle: That's an excellent point.
Pat: Just a thought for you in case you wanted to go down some higher-level media without adding too much additional work and worry about that perfectionism coming in as does for many ones. My wife is a Type 6 interestingly.
Danielle: The loyalist?
Pat: Yeah. It's funny because I was reading this sort of like, here are the numbers that really enhance these other numbers. Here are the numbers that can potentially stress out these numbers. For my wife who's a six, a three who is me is a potential stressor. I have to be a little bit extra careful related to that. Again, these kinds of things and I think, I would just dive into it, have fun and be yourself, but also understand that people love to see themselves and others who have gone through it before them because they're almost going through the jungle and somebody who's done it before use clearing that path. They have that machete in the front end and they're doing all the hard work, and then you can just follow their lead.
Pat: Cool. Question. What do you ultimately want? Like where do you want this to go? Where do you see this in two years? If you could wave a magic wand and it's the way it is, how would you want it to be?
Danielle: Well, we've done one presentation on stage. It was a Friday afternoon to Saturday morning. I think the thing that has taken me back—and somebody had asked why I was so passionate about this—is it's really evolved into sharing something we've learned and we know it has worked for us. But then sharing those things with other couples and seeing breakthroughs or “I had no idea he felt that way.” I would love if Russ and I would be able to continue to do seminars. We're very committed to doing this eight-week small group here and locally where we live.
But I think it would be really cool to be able to connect and just free a lot of people up that might be stuck with just some simple practical tips. I think there's a lot of great information out there. Our niche is Christian-based and where there's a faith component to the person's relationship, but I find that how we differentiate ourselves is we're very application heavy. I think scripture and prayer and praying together out loud, all of that is really important, but I think sometimes there's a tendency to just pray over something and people are like, “Okay, that's good, but then how? What's the application method?” Since we've had so much application poured into us, that's what we're eager to share.
Pat: I love it. That's, that's beautiful. I would just keep that vision in front of you as you continue to make decisions moving forward. I really feel like this is world changing. When a couple is happily married, their kids are better off and their friends just add, it makes the world a better place. I just want to first of all, before we finish up, just thank you for what you do and for helping others. It's not an easy thing, but with what you've done already, it's a proven process and I would just encourage you as you move forward into the online space to really highlight those stories, really highlight your community, and have them be empowered to bring even more people on board and help each other too.
Danielle: Okay. Awesome. Thank you.
Pat: You're welcome. Anything else on your mind?
Danielle: I do have one. I have one lead magnet question for you. I have one on the front page that my husband was really frustrated because it's not an open blog, but I thought if it's open then I wouldn't be able to capture email addresses. On the front page of intentionalmarriages.net, we have where if you sign up for free you'll get the five practical tips on what happy couples know. That has been the way I've been able to reach out to . . . So far, we haven't done any advertising, but we have 276 members and that's allowed me to talk to them every week.
Another angle that I have been working on and looking at key words is “making marriage work.” When I looked more into that, I developed another lead magnet because I thought, what do I sign up for? I don't want to sign up for a newsletter. I know people don't want to sign up for us. What would entice them? The thing that I have personally signed up for is a daily video that I know it's short. So I developed makingmarriagework.info as another lead magnet we have where we'll share bite-sized chunks of daily marriage tips. I am launching that on Monday and I was wondering if you could look at that and give me any of your feedback because the makingmarriagework.info will go back to the intentionalmarriages.net page if that makes sense.
Pat: It does. I'm headed there now, and I'll do my best to describe this, although it looks like it's not quite ready because it's not launching yet. Right? It hasn't been launched yet.
Danielle: Right. It's public right now, but the videos . . . I haven't set up an email for it to go out yet.
Pat: Okay. Because right, I went to that URL and it took me to a 404 error. Just FYI. That's okay. This is real life, and we make changes as we go. I think that the best advice I could give you is that daily things are great, but they're also scary from a creator's point of view. It could potentially lock you in and set expectations that potentially would sort of vise you a little bit. What I mean is I think putting a number also would help both parties. Meaning if you said daily videos for two weeks, for example. Then there's a finite number of videos that you need to create, which would then have hopefully people at the end after video fourteen, for example, just drooling for more. “Hey, yeah, you can get more, but come join our community and you can even check me out live.” Versus what I think a lot of people do in a daily situation. From a consumer point of view, if they miss one or two, things start to stack up and they don't feel like they can catch up. That's number one.
Then number two, it can almost spoil them because it's like, well I can always rely on this every single day, and I don't need to take the next steps because maybe the next video that comes tomorrow will be the answer. Versus, okay, I'm at the end of this series or whatever you call it. It's just positioning it differently and it also will lighten the load for you because then you can make the fourteen videos. It doesn't have to be fourteen. Maybe it's just one week, which might be even better because it's for me as somebody subscribing it's like just next week my marriage can be better just from these seven videos? This is great. You can be more intentional with, okay, this is day one of seven. This is what I . . . It almost becomes like a mini course in a sense. Right?
Danielle: Yeah. I love the finite part of that. Especially as you know, perfectionists have a tendency to procrastinate.
Pat: Yes, we do.
Danielle: When I put something out there online, it holds me accountable. That's what I was going to use to drive all of this. I like the fact that . . . I think it's true. It can add up and if I've . . . If I've missed a couple of the videos, the daily videos that I get that I signed up for, I do find I've got to watch these two videos before tomorrow's comes.
Pat: Yeah. I feel that way with podcasts that work daily as well. I think that's going to lighten the load for you and not . . . Imagine somebody gets 363 videos in a row from you and then you miss one and it's like things are slipping, you know? You've dedicated so much time and into all that versus just really good smaller series that then make people want more, they have to transact with you on a higher level to get the next best thing.
Danielle: I'm so glad I waited to share that with you before launching it.
Pat: Yeah, I'm glad we got to talk about that beforehand because that's huge. I think we are in the age now on the internet where just everybody is overwhelmed by all the amazing content that's out there. It's amazing, but there's so much of it, and I think people are now looking for tell me what I'm going to get and when am I going to get it. I think that that's no longer just the bombardment of content and videos for people. It's, “I'm going to save you time.” This is only seven days instead of here's seven hundred videos.
Danielle: Okay. That is great.
Pat: Cool. Danielle, one more time. Where can people check out you in what you have to offer? Where should they go from here?
Pat: Perfect. Danielle, do you mind if we check in with you in the future just to see how things go? We can do a little update and recap for everybody.
Danielle: Yes, I'd love that.
Pat: Awesome. Thank you. Well done. Keep up the good work, and we'll chat soon.
Danielle: Okay, thanks, Pat.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Danielle. Danielle, you're amazing. Thank you for what you do. I look forward to connecting with you again in the future and doing a recap episode. By the way, we're going to be doing recap episodes very soon here. If you subscribe, you're going to hear them not in the next episode, but within the next few episodes. We're going to start going back to people who were interviewed way back earlier in the year and catching up with them to see did they take action? What action did they take, if any? And how has business been since?
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Let me know what you think. Did you like this episode? Hit me up on @PatFlynn on Instagram and Twitter. Big shout out to everybody who continues to support my book, Superfans, that came out. Very relevant to this episode. Those kinds of things can help bring those community members out. There's an entire chapter in my book, Superfans about making your audience shine and what that can do for your business and the culture in your community. If you haven't checked out Superfans already, all you have to do is go to yoursuperfans.com because I want to help you build your superfans. You can get the book today. Again, thank you to everybody who has helped already make it a success. Cheers. Thanks so much. I appreciate you, and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Of course, Team Flynn for the win.