B–School is a business and entrepreneurship online course for beginner online entrepreneurs and coaches in which Marie Forleo shares marketing and sales approaches to start selling and increase revenues.
- Exec Summary
- FULL SUMMARY
- MORE WISDOM
- Action Steps I Took Away
- What I Disagreed With
- Marie Forleo Review
- B-School REVIEW
- Start: there is never a right time, and nobody was ever 100% sure of themselves
- Control your website: either learn the basics of WordPress, or have a trusted developer on call
- Know who your typical customer is (avatar), and develop all your marketing and sales around that avatar
About the Author:
Marie Forleo is an American entrepreneur, podcaster, and marketer of self-help and marketing courses and products.
1. Develop Your Customer Avatar
Knowing your customer is the first exercise and will form the basis of all of your marketing and sales.
The basics are:
- Think of your typical customer
- Come up with a specific person with name, surname, struggles
Forleo’s exercises also invite you to:
- Describe your avatar’s “darker self” with fears and aspirations they don’t share to anyone
- Describe your avatar’s “ideal self”, what they hope to win and achieve
The goal is to know your typical customer better than he knows himself.
Power University Avatar
This is what I came up with as Power University avatar customer:
Max is 32, smart, and doing well in life by many objective standards.
He is very driven and demands a lot of himself.
So he’s not fully happy or satisfied with his life.
It’s a ill-diagnosed malaise he doesn’t full understand himself.
He wants more, feels something is missing, but albeit he comes up with many different goas and objectives, he doesn’t really know what’s truly missing.
He has some friends that he thinks are OK, but they’re not truly good friends.
He’s not a great friend either, but he doesn’t yet know that.
There is quite a bit of social climbing in his social life and some nasty “jokes” and covert power moves, but Max is not yet skilled enough to fully see and understand, let alone check those power moves.
Max has a lackluster dating life, and albeit he says it’s OK, he’s neither dating the woman he wishes for, nor is he in a happy relationship -he’s either not high-power enough (lose-win), or too dominant (win-lose), but he doesn’t yet have the skills and knowledge to diagnose that-.
With that type of social life, he doesn’t talk about his deeper pains, goals, aspirations and thirst for more with anyone.
When it comes to moving forward in life, he’s mostly a lone wolf, researching on his own.
Since Max is very driven, he’s already been actively working on himself, and on improving his life.
He is into self-development, goes to the gym, and reads and watches videos on how to achieve more, including for work, dating, status, and mental self-development-.
However, he hasn’t yet found anything that addresses the root causes.
And at this point, he doesn’t even believe there may be an “ultimate resource” that puts everything together and could help him address most of his life challenges.
Max’s relationship with his parents is also far from perfect.
One of his parent was narcissistic and manipulative, but he never fully realized it because he doesn’t yet have the power awareness to see it.
Overall, Max is doing OK.
But he’s unsatisfied with life.
He’s got a nagging feeling he could do more and be more, and… He could.
But he doesn’t even know yet how.
And doesn’t know that Power University would help a lot.
The Avatar’s Downsides
I found the exercise very useful.
Yet, you gotta be careful with it because the more specific you go with your customer avatar the more you lose sight of the diversity in your customer base.
You can just take a quick look at our alumni’s introductions to see how diverse they are.
My guess is that few businesses have a highly homogenous customer base.
For example, if I were to fixate on this avatar, I may forget there probably isn’t even a single customer who’s exactly like Max.
Even prospects highly similar to Max may be a minority.
So if I were to over-focus on Max, and over-pitch specifically to Max, I may turn off a lot more prospects.
2. Pitch The Solution To Your Avatar’s BIGGEST Problem
Find Your Avatar’s BIGGEST Problem, Then Solve And Pitch That.
Then you can charge premium prices.
You will use your avatar’s problem(s) to:
- Choose what to blog about, so you naturally get traffic from your prospects
- Copywriting for your products
- Copywriting for your email opt-ins
3. Capture Emails, Keep In Touch… & Don’t Be Afraid to Sell
- Don’t get hung-up on value as “information only”: value is also a smile, a friendly check-in, or the feeling of “connectedness”
- Write pitch emails as you’d write to a friend, and were updating them about what’s going on with your business
- Email at least every 2 weeks
4. Position Your Products to Fix Problems (Solution VS Prevention)
People will not spend a dime for prevention but they’ll spend all they have to fix a problem.
So you never pitch a general offer, but you offer a solution to your prospect’s problem.
- Be pretty, general and without pain points
- Heal your embarrassing acne with our 3-steps sytems in 30 days or less
Pain and urgency are the sweet spots to sell
Look for a deep emotional need, and translate it into a solution you provide.
Talk 1:1 to your prospects and ask:
- What are your three biggest frustrations in this area?
- What about this keeps you up at night? What’s a dream solution for you in this area?
- What strategies have you tried that have and have not worked? This is an important question, because you wanna know what they’ve done already that they consider being either a failure it just didn’t work, and what they haven’t tried so you can craft your offers around that.
- How would it feel to have this problem handled? You want them to start to imagine and get into the emotion of what it’ll feel like if this problem goes away.
- What’s it costing you not to have this problem handled? Again, some of these you need to adjust for your specific industry, but these questions are designed to get your mind thinking.
- How important is this for you to handle right now? This is a really important question. You wanna know if it’s urgent. Right? What we talked about before is an urgent need. An urgent need. So urgency is good.
- Have you ever paid for a product or service like this before? This is important for you to see if this is a viable business model.
- If so, what did you pay for the product or service? This gives you a little research into pricing.
- What did you like best about it?
- What frustrates you about buying this kind of product or service? Again, you’re looking for what other people may have done wrong so you can fix it.
Review your notes and look for common phrases and expressions.
5. Use These Copywriting Best Practices
5. 1. Use “shoulder to shoulder” marketing copy: the “been there” frame
Imagine your prospect across the fence looking at you, the expert, being where he’d want to be.
Standing shoulder to shoulder means you look over, get on his side of the fence, “pace his reality” of what he feels, thinks, and fears, and tell him that you’ve been there, and that you can help him walk over to this other side of the fence.
“I know exactly how you feel, I understand your pain, I’ve been there, there is a better way, you can do this, and I’m here to help every step of the way”.
My Note: great marketing, but often also fake guru marketing
I agree this is great marketing advice.
And at the same time, I feel this is often a fake approach that creates a person that doesn’t exist.
Few people if any have it all figured out, are fully content with themselves and their lives.
So in many cases, this ends up being a manipulative marketing approach that self-frames the seller as the wise “I have all the answers” type of person that doesn’t even exist.
5.2. Use specific language
Use concrete examples that people are likely to experience in real-life.
- “Get lean, cellulite-free thighs”
vs. “transform your body.”
- “Does not being able to button your favorite jeans depress you?
vs. “are you tired of being overweight?”
And a real-life example from her student:
- The “inside out 21-day money transformation.”
vs. “3 steps to stop living paycheck to paycheck in just 21 days”
5.3. Tell a story with headlines
Your copy should tell a story…
… But so should your headlines –by themselves-.
Many people skim-read, so you want your copy to work for them as much as it does for the deeper readers.
Scan your sales pages or posts and see if headlines and sub-headlines tell a compelling story on their own.
5.4. Keep it brief, while delivering all the information
Edit your copy to remove all the fluff.
The goal is to provide all the information and pack as much punch, in as little space as possible.
- the more expensive the product, the longer the copy
- the less established the brand, the more convincing you need (and potentially longer copy)
- Go pro
- Only use great and reputable providers
- Have excellent customer care
- Maintain quality, don’t “move fast and break things”
- Buddy factor: only associate with the best in your industry
- Use priming sentences to sell without selling. Such as:
- I do have a premium training class, but right now I wanted to share…
- In my premium training, I walk you through, but for now, here is what you need to know about…
- Keep it simple because most of your prospects are beginners: so don’t talk to impress your peers, write to sell to your prospects (Marie Forleo’s best videos were the ones on basic marketing strategy albeit she much preferred the more advanced stuff)
- Don’t offer a “1-hour consultation”, offer a “personal audit where you’ll leave with an action plan to achieve X”
Action Steps I Took Away
- Improve customer care
- Add a “feature box” on the homepage to capture email leads
- Avoid overwhelm in your products, something I had already started, worked well, and will keep doing
- Be specific on the benefits
- Use testimonials that address common fears and objections
Ie.: “I’m a huge skeptic, especially when it comes to services promoted online, but… ”
What I Disagreed With
- Preach your email list to everyone, including your grandma and cat, says Forleo. I think that makes no sense. Also, a cat isn’t going to buy anything, and hopefully you’re not going to charge your grandma
- Preach your list at any opportunity: poor advice and strategy to pitch your real-life connection because it’s extremely low ROI, while ruining your real-life relationships (it self-frames you as a pushy and annoying salesman who just want to take from others).
Same reason why MLM’s multilevel network marketing is a terrible idea
- Talk to one person at a time in your communication and newsletter: to me, this feels so fake and manipulative when it’s obvious that the sender is sending a mass email.
I prefer a more honest approach. I’m happy to write my audience, but I don’t know them individually, so I just write “hello friends” and I’m warm and straight, but without being fake.
P.S.: I also often sign-up with a different name just to avoid this manipulation and make it even more obvious (and ridiculous)
People will pay whatever price you ask for something they really want
On quality work:
Never sell anything you’re not prepared to deliver impeccably
On paying for available information:
information on almost anything is out there, but people will always pay to get it delivered with clarity, substance, and style
It’s more for clueless beginners: many topics did not apply to me
Let me preface this:
I AM a beginner in marketing.
The gap between TPM’s products and its marketing and presentation may as well be one of the largest in the whole self-development industry.
That being said, even at my level, I found a large portion of the course to be way too basic.
Things such as:
- Learn how to publish a blog post
- How much does it cost to hire a web-developer
- How to find topics for your blog posts
These are things that anyone who’s already started had to figure out already.
And albeit you can always improve on the basics, and sometimes it’s exactly where you should improve the most, I didn’t personally find much new wisdom.
And this is one of the reasons why we’re not exactly evangelists for B-School: since beginner-level advice is easier to find, you may not need a premium-priced course for it.
General “best practices”, but without data
Albeit the main concepts are generally true, they’re still general and not un-tested.
For the price tag, I’d have preferred and expected to have more data and more precise information.
Marie: (suggesting a better title) My Step-By-Step…
She shares good advice on how to turn your title into click-baits.
Not necessarily everyone’s style, but the general advice is OK.
Problem is, it’s still general advice you can get almost anywhere.
And if we go specific and data-driven, the general advice can also be proven wrong.
For example, I remember from a Backlinko data-driven analysis of thousands ranking pages that the “step-by-step” line didn’t perform too well.
For the price tag, I’d have expected that level of data-driven, tested insight.
I was looking for what works best, rather than “list of ideas”
It’s not like such a list doesn’t have value.
However, most people who’ve been either in business or simply just in self-development, know about these options.
Instead, I wanted Marie Forleo to tell me what works best either in her business, or from what she saw from similar online businesses selling courses or coaching.
What would have been useful:
- Data on what works best
- How to execute each one fast and effectively
- Templates of effective online courses salespages that one can amend
- What worked for Marie Forleo
I was looking for Forleo’s own business MO. There was none
I was interested in Marie Forleo’s B-School because our businesses overlap.
Such as we both:
- Have online courses
- Offer payment plans and one-off options
- Use email automation to promote the courses
- Publish free content
So my main reason to join B-School was to learn what a similar but much higher-revenue and better-marketed business was doing better.
However, I didn’t get much of that -if any-.
Marie Forleo tells us to create “genuine scarcity”.
And true to form (minus the “genuine” maybe) her B-school is “sold out”:
B-School uses a “sold out” ruse to deploy the scarcity principle. I wanted to learn more about that but it wasn’t even mentioned
I wanted her to teach me THAT!
- Software she uses
- How it’s working for her
- How it fares compared to the “always open” option…
THAT would have been super valuable to me as I may have tried a similar approach based on some actual data/case study.
Instead, if I were to do it now, it’d be a large investment to figure it out, while also being a total shot in the dark.
In that sense, I’m disappointed.
That is why in Power University I show students exactly what works and exactly how to execute it, with videos and case studies.
Same goes for how Marie Forleo runs her ad strategy.
After I checked her program out she popped up on me all over the net:
Some of her ad were video ad, felt personal and relatable.
I wanted to know how THAT is working for her, what are her returns, HOW she retargets, WHO she retargets (visitors, subscribers, visitor to her courses… ?) WHAT company she used to set it up.
THAT would have been valuable for me too.
But there wasn’t any of that.
Fillable PDFs don’t always work too well
Marie Forleo encourages you to write a lot of details, which is good advice.
However, when I write more than a couple of lines the characters automatically get so small that they’re not readable anymore.
In the second and third forms, I couldn’t even add a line break, which means that even a short sentence would quickly become unreadable:
Sometimes PDFs just refer to some other resources
Among the pros of Marie Forleo’s B-School:
- Hands-on for beginners
- Motivational for those who need it
- Some good wisdom on power dynamics (ie.: treat “stars” like normal people and equals)
- Lots of exercises to help you apply the lessons
- A few good case studies/examples (albeit I wished for more)
- Even more advanced students may find some pearls of wisdom
Marie Forleo Review
Marie Forleo comes across as a happy-go-around, energetic, genuine, and honest woman who also happens to be great at what she does.
And she carries that positive personality over into B-School.
That being said, my favorite types of teachers tend to be more product-centric.
Well, first off, let me say it through the people she associated with.
Forleo says you want to network with the best in your business, and her business seems to be personal branding, and selling.
Nothing wrong with that.
But to me, it’s a network not necessarily of great content creators, but of pure marketers who put marketing left right, and center. And product, well… At a certain distance further down the road.
From the slide she shares herself:
Eben Pagan / David DeAngelo shares OK dating advice (but there is much GREAT dating advice available), Dean Graziosi shares fluff at best and there are plenty of great exposes on him from Coffeezilla and more.
Finally, the people Marie Forleo interviews may definitely help someone, but are your typical marketing gurus that, to me, feel a lot like snake oil salesmen (Joe Dispenza, Mark Hyman, etc.).
In my opinion, Forleo’s close network focuses on selling and NOT on creating great, helpful, or even truthful products.
You can see some of that same style in the name-dropping in the course:
What should I care if it’s STRAIGHT from Oprah’s mouth? Oprah’s mouth can also talk cr@p just like anyone else.
TPM needs a bit more of that selling, to be honest.
Scratch that, we need A LOT more of that and that’s why I went through this program.
But we still don’t sympathize too much with the sell first, product and content (distant) second approach.
Forleo also seems to me focused on getting media exposure and good collabs first, and put a lower priority on truth and expertise.
For example, she says she managed to get in touch with Tim Ferris and even be featured in Ferris’ back-then upcoming book, The 4-Hour Body.
Tim Ferris’ first book was fantastic. And he’s an awesome and smart guy. However, for that second book on nutrition, Ferris had no qualification writing it -and it shows-.
But it doesn’t seem that the topics of qualification, expertise, and quality of the content ever entered into Forleo’s considerations.
There seem to be no negative reviews for B-School.
Not even lukewarm or neutral reviews.
Since most reviews are affiliate reviews, it’s fair to wonder about the potential bias.
So with this article now you have a B-School non-affiliate review, and one that is not singing its praise (but without being overly negative, either).
So, my non-affiliate B-School review is that I find it to be a well-structured and compact introductory program to marketing and entrepreneurship that works best for beginners and people who struggle to get started and “put themselves out there” but that is most likely too beginner-level for those who have either started, or did their research already.
“Compact” can also be a plus or a con, depending on the level of granularity you prefer.
It didn’t take me 6 weeks and I went through it in a couple of days -yes, I did do the most relevant exercises, but not all of them simply because they didn’t apply to me-.
Is B-School Worth It?
B-School may be a worthy investment if you’re a beginner who’s struggling to get started and has enough spare income and savings, and it may not be worth it if you’ve started already, and if you’re aware of the very basic stuff.
So B-School may be good if you:
- Have no idea what to do
- Have an idea, but have yet to start
- Are a beginner with zero experience and knowledge
- Need someone to cheer you on
- Have enough spare income
B-School may not be the best fit for you if you:
- Know what you want to do
- Already started
- Know the basics (ie.: “know your typical customer”, “blog weekly”, etc.)
- Are internally driven and don’t need encouragement
- Can ill-afford the investment (in which case you can find most of the information around, for free)
Whether it was worthy or not for TPM, I consider the jury to be still out.
As you may have guessed from this review, I didn’t find any “wow” or truly new information in B-School and what I truly wished to learn more about just wasn’t there.
BUT even by simple repetition or through a slightly different take on otherwise common advice, I came out with a few notes on what I may implement or change.
And if those work well, then it may have been worth it.
But, in all frankness, some other resources helped me a lot more (including lower-priced or free ones).