Optimize Episode 026: Billy Broas on Product Messaging with The Five Lightbulbs Framework

Join Nate Matherson as he sits down with Billy Broas for the twenty-sixth episode of the Optimize podcast. Billy is a copywriter, marketing consultant to top entrepreneurs, teacher, and creator of the famous Five Lightbulbs messaging framework. He left a career in the energy industry to become a solopreneur and hasn’t looked back. In this episode, Billy and Nate provide a comprehensive conversation about product messaging through the lens of The Five Lightbulbs Framework. Billy dissects each lightbulb, providing our listeners with a detailed guide to enhancing messaging strategy to develop impactful connections with your audience. As part of the conversation, the pair dive into Billy’s time building, scaling, and exiting The Homebrew Academy, an online training website for homebrewers with thousands of members worldwide. Billy shares his tips for how he would do things differently when building a new affiliate site and how email newsletters play a vital role in the success of niche sites. As a special preview to our listeners, Billy shares details of his forthcoming co-authored book, “Simple Marketing for Smart People.” Closing out the episode is our popular lightning round of questions! For more information, please visit www.positional.com or email us at podcast@positional.com.

Nov 29, 2023

Resources:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/billybroas/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillyBroas 

Website: https://fivelightbulbs.com/

Important Links:

Best Beer To Try Before You Die: Pliny The Elder

The Honorable Mention: Trappist Westvleteren

Best Light Beer: Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

What to Listen For:

03:01 Billy’s Background and Intro

04:40 Case Study: starting and scaling the Home Brew Academy

08:28 Best beer to have before you die

09:14 How and why Billy sold the Home Brew Academy

11:41 What led to the creation of The Five Lightbulbs Messaging Framework?

14:04 Breaking Down Lightbulb #1

15:43 Breaking Down Lightbulb #2

19:00 Breaking Down Lightbulb #3

21:48 Breaking Down Lightbulb #4

22:58 Breaking Down Lightbulb #5

25:03 How to implement The Five Lightbulbs Messaging Framework

30:28 The biggest mistake we can make with product messaging

32:04 How churn, retention, and LTV are impacted by utilizing The Five Lightbulbs Messaging Framework

33:57 Billy’s upcoming book Simple Marketing for Smart People

35:33 Lightning question round

Episode Transcript

Billy Broas (Speaking):

00:00

And so that's a place that they don't want to be anymore. It's no longer acceptable. We often call it their unacceptable status quo. And the lightbulbs are categories of messaging. So what you want to do is give voice to these lightbulbs. And a lot of companies and people don't do that. You know, you go to these websites and it's just me, me, me, I, I, I. We've been in business for 30 years. We won these awards. And what's missing is the all important word, you. And so your customer, and I learned this from copywriting, like the first thing that they need is to be seen, to be heard. Only when you check that box are they going to keep listening to your message and only then can you take them across that bridge to your product.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Hi and welcome to the Optimize Podcast. My name is Nate Matherson and I am your host. On this weekly podcast, we sit down with some of the smartest minds in content marketing and SEO. Our goal is to give you perspective and insights on what's moving the needle in organic search. Today, I'm thrilled to sit down with Billy Bross. Billy is a copywriter, marketing consultant to top entrepreneurs, a teacher, and the creator of the popular Five Lightbulbs Messaging Framework. He left a career in the energy industry to become a solopreneur and hasn't looked back. As content marketers, we're often obsessed with traffic. But as you've heard me say on this podcast, traffic doesn't always equal dollars. You need to convert it, and product messaging is so important. In this episode, Billy and I go deep on product messaging and conversion rate optimization, and the framework that he uses with his clients to drive conversions and close more customers.

Ad Spot:

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Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Billy, thank you so much for coming on the Optimize podcast.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Hey Nate, thanks for having me. Pumped for this.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

So you've got an interesting background. You transitioned from the energy industry into websites and marketing and I have to ask you've built what is a pretty interesting site. I know that you sold it but it was actually a website in the homebrew space. So I wanna talk about that, but first, how did you make your way from the energy industry into marketing and now product messaging?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

03:01

You know, I'm not one of these entrepreneurs that likes to bash school and bash education. I know it's very popular these days. I always loved school. Like, I'm one of those nerds. I loved it. I love studying. I love textbooks. I stayed as long as possible. I stayed and got my master's degree and then eventually said, okay, I gotta go out into the real world now. And I love my career too. You know, I'm not gonna bash my job or my coworkers or anything like that. My boss, love my boss, love my coworkers. But I always had that entrepreneurial itch. I just always wanted to do my own thing. I was always reading books about investing and building businesses. And it's funny that, you know, despite working so hard in school and landing the job that everyone in my major wanted, with the company everyone wanted to work for, I sat down at my desk that very first day at that job and said, this isn't gonna last. But it did last seven years, because I really enjoyed it. I was doing pretty cool stuff in clean energy. But I had that itch, and so this was around 2008, 2009, and I read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and so I said, okay, I see my path out of here. And so I had been brewing beer for a few years, and I had really geeked out on it. I love to teach, so I said, okay, that's the thing I'm gonna do. I'm gonna start a website and just start writing about brewing beer and craft beer. Essentially write down everything that I know, teach everything that I know. And that eventually led to online courses. So I added this paid component to it. And after a few years, was able to leave that job.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

04:23

So you started the Home Brew Academy and it sounds like it was a niche website focused on helping the average person and then maybe even more expert brewers learn the craft, and you created a large amount of content around how to get started and how to do that. Is that right?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

04:40

Exactly, yeah.
It was a hybrid between craft beer and homebrewing. Looking back on it, I should have niched down on just homebrewing. That was definitely something that pulled me in two different directions that I think hurt me because I was trying to appeal to craft beer drinkers, but not all of them were homebrewers. But yeah, it was essentially a content site. I mean, I wrote 550 articles for that site. I got it up to about 50,000 organic visitors a month, had an email list of got up to about 20,000 people on the email list. And yeah, and then started selling these beer brewing courses through it.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

So as far as monetization goes, you mentioned that you launched a course as part of that on the Homebrew Academy. Was that like the main way that you took that website visitor and ultimately converted them
into dollars?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

05:27

That was about 80% of it. The other 20% was affiliate sales. So homebrewers spend, and again, looking back on it, if I were to start over again, I might have tried to boost that percentage because homebrewers love shiny objects. They love gear. They love stainless steel kettles. And they'll spend, I mean, I was a great example. I thought it would save me money getting into brewing beer, right? Because I'm like, why am I paying $10 for a six-pack of this craft beer? I can just make it for cheap. Yeah, and then I spend $4,000 building this insane brewery, right? That's where all your money goes. And so I probably should have gone with the flow more and got more into affiliate sales and selling products like that because they weren't as keen. It was tough. I've worked in, oh God, with 100 different online course creators by now in all different niches, and it was really tough selling courses in the home beer brewing market. They weren't as excited to buy information on brewing beer. They were more excited to buy gear. But still, it did well enough, and it was a good stepping stone. Got me out of my job and into what I do now. 

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

And I promise we're gonna talk about product messaging, but I'm curious, you wrote 550 articles at the Home Brewing Academy. That's a lot of content. How long did it take you to create 550 pieces of content?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

06:39

Oh, well, let's see. I started it in 2009 and then I sold it in 2017. So years, I mean, I was doing it for almost 10 years, but yeah, it was a lot. And I mean, and that's not even including all the emails that I wrote too. And I got more into email marketing as it went on. Again, looking back, I would have done more email marketing from the very beginning. And funny enough, I think this is a good lesson for everyone and this is what I teach now with messaging where I thought that when I wrote something, it had to be this very long, technical, in-depth how-to post and I put so much pressure on myself to do that and it was so much work every time I did it. One, I believe that it cannibalized the sales of the courses because I had so much available for free, so many tutorials for free, that there wasn't a whole lot that I could really sell at that point. And two, it was funny. Once I switched, once I started learning copywriting and studying these old copywriters, I got really into the history of copywriting and seeing how they did it, and I switched to more of a storytelling format in my emails, just teaching a quick lesson, making it more entertaining and educational and not these long detailed how-to posts, my email engagement and my sales went way up.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

I have a few quick questions. So did you collect emails actively on the blog or the website? Like there was an email collection or a pop-up that basically pushed someone into your email newsletter. Is that how you got their emails primarily?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

From day one, yes. I studied other online marketing websites, people who taught blogging, that was really big back then. And that was the big thing they all stressed was create a lead magnet, that was the term for it, and get people to opt into your list. So my very first one, it was actually really popular, was the 50 beers to try before you die. I had the e-book cover made and everything. It was a great book and I got a ton of opt-ins for that. I had other ones over the years, but that was the first one and probably the most successful.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

So what's the number one beer I should try before I die?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

08:28

Ooh, man, well in the US, it's so readily available now, but Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing is in California, known in California as a fantastic one. And then there's one called Trappist Westvleteren, which is made by the monks in Belgium. And you have to go to the brewery to find this thing. I have a friend who went there and brought it back, and it is just mind-blowing.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

08:49
We're going to add links in the show notes for
where to buy these beers.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

08:52

Are these the first beer links that you put in the show notes?

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Definitely, they're building some backlinks today, the monks in Belgium. My first question is, what made you want to sell the website? And the second question is, how did you ultimately go and sell it and value it? Because a lot of our listeners are building their own websites and might want to sell them someday. How did you go about the sale process? 

Billy Broas (Speaking):

09:14

Well, why did I sell it? Multiple reasons. One, the homebrewing market was not tanking, but it was a victim of its own success, which was interesting because you had all these home, people who became home beer brewers, and a percentage of them launched their own breweries, real microbreweries. So now you have all these microbreweries. I mean, if you look at the chart of brewery growth in the States, it's just through the roof between 2008, and 2020. So now, now you have all these guys and it's primarily men who brew beer who are like, well, why am I going to bust my ass to brew beer when there's this awesome microbrewery right next door? So homebrewing stores started to close shop because not as many people were getting into the hobby. And my biggest seller was one, the affiliate sales from Homebrew Kits, the starter kits, and two, my beginner homebrewing course. So things started to falter. My interest was waning for it anyways. I didn't want to be the beer guy my whole life. My gut was getting bigger because I was drinking so much heavy craft beer and I did hit a limit at some point. But the big thing was, through that, like I said, I've always had this entrepreneurial itch, so I got really into the business side of it, the marketing side, the copywriting side. So I started consulting and writing copy for businesses, similar to mine, but even much bigger, and that was the more exciting thing. So that's why I decided to move on, and then, man, it was totally lucky how it happened. I mean, I just, I'm kind of a spontaneous person, maybe even impulsive, and so one day I said, you know what, I'm gonna sell this site. Next day I call a friend and said, hey, do you know anyone who might not be interested in buying it, but can help me figure out how to sell it? Because I had no idea how to sell a website. And he's like, yeah, yeah, I know a guy, he's bought and sold a couple of websites. And sure enough, that guy wanted to buy my site. So it wasn't like startup exit or like Jeff Bezos kind of money. It was 20 grand though. I was pumped about that because I never thought that I would even make any money from it. And within a couple of months, yeah, we did the due diligence and everything transferred all the assets, which wasn't a whole lot. It's just a website, right? So logins, files, email list, social media accounts, that kind of a thing. And so between me deciding to sell it and it being in someone else's hands, it was about three months.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

11:14

And that's a great transition. So you've built the site, and you've gotten some traffic to it. It sounds like you've experimented with different conversion methods and different user journeys. And I know that this is something you've spent a lot of time thinking about since selling the website. And that's led you to creating the Five Lightbulbs Framework. For all of our listeners who haven't heard of the Five Lightbulbs Framework, could you tell us what that is and what led you to creating this framework for product messaging?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

11:41

Yeah. So like I said, the thing I went into then, the beer site, was a stepping stone into consulting and copywriting. And I'm very much a first-principles kind of guy. I like the basics. I like the fundamentals. I like to study history. I don't like all the shiny objects and the tactics and the gimmicks and all of that. And there's a lot of that if you haven't noticed when it comes to online marketing. And I saw that you know, I would work with a client who had all like these countdown timers and pop-ups and all this software on their website, but they were missing persuasive copy and testimonials and all the fundamentals. So I said, okay, I gotta take a step back here and focus on the fundamentals. And also the people I was working with were not professional marketers. They were very much like me, more subject matter experts who found themselves in a position where they had to do marketing to sell their courses, coaching programs, digital products. So the five lightbulbs was the 20th iteration of something that I had been creating a framework I had been working on to help in these consulting and copywriting engagements. And then eventually, like literally the lightbulb went on in my head and I said, Oh, okay, well this is how I can connect all the dots here. It really came from, if I had to attribute the inspiration to one person, an old copywriter named Eugene Schwartz. And so he wrote a book, which is considered the Bible of copywriting called A Breakthrough Advertising, wrote it in 1966. It cost a fortune because it fell out of print, so it was like $500 on Amazon, but it's still worth every penny. But it's a very dense book. It's tough to get through, and then are you going to really implement it? I mean, I'm still rereading it and peeling back layers. So I wanted to take his concepts and he had this concept about belief building. That was his big thing was you really have to ask yourself the question, what do my prospects need to believe in order to buy? I said that is a really good question to ask. Then if you instill those beliefs, if you build those beliefs in the mind of your prospects, then they have really no alternative except to buy from you. What I wanted to do was take his pretty advanced copywriting concepts and put them in a simple package for these non-marketers I was working with. And lightbulbs, yeah, they're cliche, but everyone gets them. You know, the lightbulb goes on in your head. And so it turned into this framework, which is very simple on the surface, but it has a lot of layers to it. I mean, I've been developing it for about three years now, and I'm still uncovering new things I can do with it.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

13:55

So I want to go through the five lightbulbs. What is lightbulb number one?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

14:04

Right, and definitely go to the website. I'm a very visual thinker, so I hired an illustrator. I had to go through a few first, but I found someone who got my vision. And so, if you go to the 5lightbulbs.com/framework, you'll see all the visuals we created. It's pretty wild, we got characters, we got a bear, there's an owl, there's a bridge. But you'll see with Lightbulb One, it's the bear on the left side of the bridge, and it's pretty gnarly looking, and it's not a good place, not a place you wanna be. And so that's Lightbulb One, which is your customer's status quo. And so that's a place that they don't wanna be anymore. It's no longer acceptable. We often call it their unacceptable status quo. And the lightbulbs are categories of messaging. So what you wanna do is give voice to these lightbulbs. So you wanna give voice to your lightbulb one. And a lot of companies and people don't do that. You know, you go to these websites and it's just me, me, me, I, I, I. We've been in business for 30 years. We won these awards. And what's missing is the all important word, you. And so your customer, and I learned this from copywriting, like the first thing that they need is to be seen, to be heard, and only when you check that box are they gonna keep listening to your message, and only then can you take them across that bridge to your product.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

So it sounds like lightbulb number one is you need to like understand that moment that that user or person coming to your website or potential customer is in. And so instead of talking solely about like your value prop or your product, you're using like words on a page to communicate that feeling that you understand that moment that they are in.
Is that right?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

15:27

Yeah, exactly. It's empathy at the end of the day. We call Lightbulb one, the Lightbulb of Empathy. Lightbulb number two, I saw on the website, which we will include a link to in the show notes alongside those two awesome beer links. Lightbulb number two is other things that they've tried. 

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

What do you mean by lightbulb number two?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

15:43

Right, so people have other options besides us, besides the thing that we're selling. We don't want to hear that. We like to be, sort of ignore that and think that we're the only thing that they're considering, but that's just not the case. And you know that from your own experience when you're in the market for something. Are you open to other options? Of course you are. And so what you don't want to do is pretend like those things don't exist. You want to address the elephant in the room, so to speak. And so you want to give voice to those things. And it doesn't necessarily mean saying, hey, those things suck, you don't want those. Because that's, you want to treat your customer like they're intelligent and people don't buy that argument when you're just bashing something. It's better, you could do that, right? But it's better to give an intelligent argument and say, hey, for someone in your situation, here's why those solutions may or may not be right for you. And give criteria. This is often called buying criteria in the sales process. And so, I mean, sales and copywriting, it's a similar thing. Copywriting is just salesmanship and print. So you do the same thing through your print, through your words, and you lay out the criteria for buying. And when you do that, and if you do it right, and your targeting is pretty accurate, then they should say, oh man, those options that I've either tried or I'm considering, they're not right for me. And then that can open the door for you to present your solution.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

16:59

And there has to be a level of honesty here, though too. I'm guessing that the potential customer or website visitor doesn't want to see just your product framed against others where they leave feeling like that wasn't a totally honest comparison. Do you think that's right?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Yeah, I mean, the better and more honest argument you can make, if you can give real reasons why the solutions haven't been working out for that person, the more likely they are to go with you. And look, you're doing this wrong if in every situation, you're the best alternative. There should definitely be situations where you say, you know what, that option is better for you. And anyone who's done, like worked with clients and has turned someone down, like turned a client away because you're not the best fit for them, you know how good that is and like what kind of karma that is, because that person, one, they'll be shocked that you're saying, no, I don't think I'm the best person for you, and two, they're gonna spread the word about you like crazy, like oh my gosh, this person could have sold me and they didn't, and three, they'll probably come back to you later on, you know, maybe they just weren't far enough along, so you send them to someone more suited to helping beginners.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

18:03

Yeah, pulling it back to SEO a little bit, a lot of our listeners will have the classic best insert keyword type pages on their website where they'll position their product as the number one option among many, for example, best payroll software, and they will position their product as the first in a list of best payroll softwares. And I've encouraged a lot of them to instead frame their product as the best for a specific use case. And to be honest about the use cases that their competitors might also be best for, one is helping you cut out some of the noise in your sales pipeline. So that way you're not sending a whole bunch of unqualified leads or free trials or whatever it is to the sales team. Two, coming back to that lightbulb, you're doing like a fair comparison versus like the other solutions that they might have already tried. Does that feel like the right advice
that I've been giving to our customers? 

Billy Broas (Speaking):

19:00

Totally. Check out the visuals on the website and lightbulb three. A lot of intention went into those, and you'll see it's a picture of the bridge and we'll get into lightbulb three.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

19:07

We're there.
You've taken us to lightbulb three.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

19:10

We're there already, yeah, so that represents your approach, right? Your way of doing things. And you'll see a call out there and it zooms in on the bridge and you see a steel reinforcement on the bridge. Why is there a steel reinforcement? Who is the customer? Who's the character that represents the customer? It's a bear. Bears are heavy. A bridge needs a steel reinforcement for the bear. So it's tailored to the bear. And that's what you were saying, Nate. And that's the way you want to keep in mind is that your solution is tailored for someone. So if it's tailored for someone, that automatically means you're excluding someone, which means that it can't be the best for everyone. And so you really want to keep that in mind. If it was a fish instead of a bear that we had, then that wouldn't make any sense. We would need the bridge to be an aqueduct or something that a fish could swim through. So it builds you a lot of credibility, and you lose a lot of credibility when you say I'm the best for everyone. You build a lot when you say, I'm not right for these groups, but for you, unperfect.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

20:02

Jeez, I think we need to do a better job of this on our website. But this also kind of takes us back to lightbulb number one, right? Because if you're positioning yourself as the best option for a very specific customer or problem point, then that's probably also resonating with like the customer status quo, who have like those issues that you're solving for. So I know we haven't gotten through all five of the lightbulbs just yet, but it feels like a lot of these lightbulbs are like interconnected and will like turn on and off on each other. Does that feel right?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Yeah, totally. You look at them individually, but as a whole too, and when you add them up as a whole, it's kind of like a fingerprint where you might have a similar ridge or whatever they call them on your fingerprint, like Zachary, you and Nate might have a similar one, but taken as a whole, you have a unique fingerprint, right? So you have to look at it both ways. And you're totally right. It goes back to who that customer is and Lightbulb One, because, I mean, we were speaking before we started recording about me being a dad now, and I have a one-year-old son, and I'm 39, I'm almost 40. So, for example, a 39-year-old Billy with a son is very different from a 22-year-old single Billy. And so trying to have empathy and, like, speak to me at these two different stages of my life, the language would be totally different. I mean, I have totally different motivations and interests. So if someone were to try to speak to me now and me then, the language would have to be very watered down.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

21:23

Are you going to use the lightbulb method on your child as they grow to convince them to do the things you want them to do?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

21:29

Totally, yeah. I use it on my wife all the time. Lightbulb one especially.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

21:36

So lightbulb number four is your offer. What do you mean by your offer? What should we be thinking about here as the offer we're presenting?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

21:48

Yeah, so the offer is the vehicle for your approach. Again, your approach is lightbulb three. So you might say that lightbulb four is a vehicle for lightbulb three. I gotta say another thing about lightbulb three because that's the most interesting one. It's the one that can best help you stand out in a crowded market. It's a concept, it's the number one concept that I borrowed from that copywriter Eugene Schwartz. He called it the mechanism or the unique mechanism. I simplified and called it like both three. And so it's your philosophy, it's your blueprint, it's your formula, it's your secret sauce, your secret ingredient. But that's not the same thing as your offer. So you might have, you know, if it's a secret ingredient, it might be a health product and there might be some rare herb in there, but that herb can come in a powder form, it could come in a whole plant form, it can be put into a pill, it can be put into a drink. So the herb would be the lightbulb three, but that pill or the drink would be the lightbulb four. Does that make sense?

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

It does. And then to lightbulb five, once someone has taken advantage of your offer, as you described your customer's new life, does that mean we should show the customer what their new life will look like once they've taken advantage of the approach and offer from lightbulbs three and four?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

22:58

Yeah, definitely. And where you show it depends. I mean, they're kind of like colors of paint, the lightbulbs, and you can use lightbulb five earlier. You can paint earlier on or save it for later. It's one of the fun things about it is that you can mix them up. Giving voice to lightbulb five is answering that question, what's in it for me? And this was a big problem that I ran into working with these subject matter experts who really know their topic But they're so in the weeds of it that they forget to connect the dots They forget to tell their prospect how this this product this technology can benefit them And so lightbulb five is a way of pulling you out of the weeds and making you do the work of saying, okay Like here's the technology, but here's what it can do for you as far as like Communicating that new life that value to the customer.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Do you do that with like a case study or a testimonial? Are those the two best vehicles to then deliver lightbulb number five? Or is there another way that maybe I haven't thought about that we can demonstrate to the customer
what their new life would be with your offer?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

23:53

There's a bunch of ways. There's a whole bunch of ways. So storytelling is one great way to do it. So telling a story about either yourself or about a customer and what they achieved. Imagery is another great thing that you can use for Lightbulb 5. A great way I like to teach Lightbulb 5 is to show these, I like to study these old magazines and like Life and Reader's Digest and all that. And there's a lot of travel ads in those. And so travel ads are just full of Lightbulb 5. You see that ad for a trip to Hawaii and you see the beach and you see the drinks and everything. That's all Lightbulb 5 imagery. So there's a lot of ways to do it. You can use a metaphor. You can say your lightbulb five, fill in the blank, whatever that is, is like X, Y, Z, right? It's like a trip to Hawaii, right? Whatever your actual lightbulb five is. So there's a bunch of ways you can communicate that.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

Using Positional is like a trip to Hawaii. I have to ask, how do I get started? Like I've identified the five lightbulbs. I've identified that I'm probably not living up to them with my product messaging, with like my CTAs and my website. Like what do we do next? Like do we do like an audit, like an inventory of all of our pages? How do we get started?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

25:03

Yeah, so the way that I do it when I'm consulting or the way that we teach it in our course is to, it's a two-step process. So yeah, it's an audit. It's an audit. And so what you want to be doing first is going through the five lightbulbs and one, ask yourself, what is the lightbulb? What is my lightbulb one? How well do I know my lightbulb one? And the second part of that is, am I giving voice to it? And what I found is that a lot of people will know, actually know their customers' lightbulbs, like lightbulb one, very well. They'll know what the problem is. But when you check the website or the marketing material, the words aren't on the page. So again, those two steps are one asking, do I know what this lightbulb is? Or do I need to do more customer research? Do I need to hop on the phone with them or do a competitor analysis in the case of, say, lightbulb three? And then the second step, am I giving voice to this lightbulb? And that will give you a ton of things to do. I mean, every time I do this, the reaction is always the same. It's, oh, man, I've got to go update my website.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

And it sounds like we should be doing this fairly regularly. Would that be an accurate statement? Especially if you're an early-stage startup where your ICP or your product or your value prop might be changing every three months. Does it make sense for us to on a monthly or quarterly basis kind of come back and do
like another audit across these five lightbulbs?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

26:20

Totally. Yeah. I mean, I did a consulting day with a YC startup recently, and they're in a market that's changing very quickly. And so even if you, and so it's interesting cause we've got the whole team around. I met with the founder first and then we, a couple of days later, we got the team around and so we create what's called a messaging map and that contains your five lightbulbs. And I just got to sit back and listen to everyone discuss what they thought their lightbulbs were for their customer, which was all different, which was interesting cause they were on the same team. So I was like, okay, well there you go. There's some room for improvement, right? Like first thing we gotta do is get aligned on the messaging. If we wanna improve our messaging, we gotta know what our core message is. And because the market had changed so quickly, especially Lightbulb 3, that was where they really had to adjust that. Because that's the one where, even if you have everything locked in, the world is still spinning, things are changing, new competitors come on the market, new technologies come on the market. If you don't give voice to those things, then you're gonna seem out of touch and tone deaf. So yeah, that messaging map or whatever you want to keep your five lightbulbs in is very much a living, breathing document.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

27:22

Yeah, I feel like with my CTAs across my websites over the years, I've always been like extremely direct, like sign up for our product right now, like go get your demo, go get your free trial, like go get your personal loan. But it sounds like the better approach is to more clearly show the visitor how they're struggling, how your approach would help them, and then show them what the end result will look like, which is a better situation than they are in currently. So does that mean we should get rid of our book a demo, CTAs, or get free trial now? Should we go with something different on our website?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

27:59

It's a tough thing, and man, marketing is so hard. When I was in the engineering world, we could turn a pipe and then know exactly what the output would be, right? The flow rate increased by X amount of meters per second. Humans are very different, they're very unpredictable, and we can't make anyone buy, and so all we can do is try to model that buying behavior best we can. And so the right answer, or I guess the best answer, is you really gotta think about your traffic source and what they, going back to the idea of belief building earlier, like where are they in that journey? If they already know that you see them, Lightbulb 1, if they already know that those other options aren't the best for them, Lightbulb 2, if they have been sold on your approach, your way of solving the problem, Lightbulb 3, then by all means, go for that Lightbulb 4. And those are the people you wanna start with because they're the most sold already, right? Like you're preaching to the converted so you can go right for that sale. You know, and again, the old copywriters knew this, and all they need at that point is, they need to know the deal. So that's where stuff like discounts and bonuses and all that kind of stuff comes into play. But a lot of people only do that and forget the rest, they forget the other lightbulbs. Now I'm working with, I teach a, I work with YouTube advertisers, people like hardcore media buyers, spending a lot of money every day on YouTube. And a big lesson we learned there was, man, you just gotta test all these lightbulbs. Because depending on the market, there's gonna be one lightbulb, it's the 80-20 rule, there's gonna be one lightbulb where you haven't been giving voice to it or no one in your market has been, but if you're the one to give voice to that, it's just like an explosion, it's like a dam breaks, and people were just craving that. So that's my best answer is test all the lightbulbs because you're gonna find that one just resonates 10 times more than the other. 

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Yeah, and I found with the website owners and startups, a big mistake they'll make is they'll use the exact same call to action, or in other words, product messaging across every single page on their website. Whether it's a blog post that's very high in the funnel, or if it's a blog post that's targeting someone that could be ready to buy today, like they'll use the exact same call to action across all of those pages. But it sounds like we need to think really critically about for each page, where is that customer? Have some of the lightbulbs already been answered and then tailor our CTA to their different stage in the buying journey. Does that feel right?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

30:16

Yeah, yeah, that's a good North Star for sure. 

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

And I have to ask, what's like the biggest mistake we can make when it comes to product messaging? I'm sure there are so many, but what is one that stands out that you see quite often? 

Billy Broas (Speaking):

30:28

That's a good one. Not backing up claims with proof is a huge one. And so you see a lot of promises out there, especially in the online course world, I say, I work a lot there and you see these big, bold promises. But you want to focus more on claims. You want to make an argument for something. So that's kind of related. Like what you are doing at the end of the day is arguing for something. This is what I always say. It's like if you want to take away one thing from the five lightbulbs, one thing to do, it's make an argument for your lightbulb three. Because when you do that and you sell your way of doing things, then you open the door for an easier sale. Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, he had this great quote that the goal of marketing is to make selling unnecessary. So that's the same idea when you, Lightbulb 3 is marketing, Lightbulb 4 is sales. So when you sell your Lightbulb 3, you make a strong argument for it, using claims and backing up with proof, then you make the job of selling so much easier. And we see that when we dedicate more messaging and say a product launch to Lightbulb 3, we get much more friction-free sales for Lightbulb 4, they refund less, they're more likely to use the product, they're better customers, et cetera, et cetera.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

31:43

So you see the impact of the Lightbulb's framework, not just on initial conversions, but on the end of the conversion funnel too, like churn, retention, LTV, the upfront work that you're doing on, for example, Lightbulb 3, can actually have an impact on churn or LTV too. You've seen that?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

32:04

Absolutely, because think about someone who's totally bought into your methodology before they ever buy anything. How much more likely are they to stay on board than someone who maybe bought because it was Black Friday, right, and they have no idea what you really do? It's just an impulse buy. So you can, it's a difference between long-term and short-term thinking. And this bugs me a lot, because you'll see people then take a screenshot of their revenue on Black Friday, and they're like, hey, look how much money we made from all this discounting. He's like, yeah, but I've been behind the scenes and checked that in a few months. And so, yeah, the five lightbulbs, I'm glad you brought this up, is very much geared towards long-term thinking. And you're right, it does affect the quality of customer that you get and it will increase the quality of customer.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

As far as testing goes, does it make sense for us to be A-B testing different lightbulbs or different product messaging at once if we've got a lot of traffic going to our site?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Yeah, that's tricky though. I mean, for one, are the test results valid? That's a big thing. It's so messy, right? Like I was saying earlier, like the world is messy and like depends on the traffic source and seasonality and all this. I mean, I'll say this, probably the most useful thing I can give your listeners is you want to test for, this is another great copywriting quote, you want to test for screams and not whispers. And so don't get caught up in optimizing a button color where you could test a different lightbulb and get 10x the results. In math, this is the idea of the local maxima versus the global maxima. And so you can think about it like hiking a mountain and there's this false summit and you keep trying to like reach the tippy top and then the tippy top of that false summit, there's a much bigger summit right behind it. And so that's what we found is like you might be optimizing the crap out of your lightbulb one and you might get Incremental gains from that but if you were to just devote a little bit like one message to lightbulb three you could have immediate exponential gains.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

You're writing a book and it's coming out in 2024. It's called Simple Marketing for Smart People, tell us about that.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

33:57

Yeah, it's it's been it's been a beast I've written a couple before but more like and this is a co-authorship too. I'm writing it with my client and now partner, Tiago Forte of Building a Second Brain, if there's any fellow productivity geeks out there. But yeah, it's going to be really for a person, a person like me, a person like Tiago, a person who doesn't have the typical entrepreneur, sales, marketing background, more of a bookish person, more of an academic person, a solopreneur, a self-employed person, a creator who finds themself in this position where they have to do marketing, and they're saying, oh crap, it's overwhelming, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of gimmicks. And so we walk through a lot of stuff that we've talked about today, making an argument for your product and a way that you can do marketing in a way that feels ethical, that is ethical, and that kind of jives with the way that you think. Because these smart people, they like education and they like to teach. And the way that I teach marketing, marketing is teaching, marketing is education. You're probably gathering that from the way I'm talking about the five lightbulbs.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

And when's the book gonna be available?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Mid next year, mid 2024, spring actually, 2024.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

35:03

How do you go about publishing a book? Do you need a publisher? Is that still a thing?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

It's changed a lot. So this one is self-published. Tiago, he's had two recently, hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list with a traditional publisher, but this one is going to be self-published, and we have a book coach who is helping us with it. So that's been a huge thing for me, is having someone actually sit with me on a call and make me write, because I don't think I would get it done. I guess I've written it very quickly. We've written it very quickly. And so, yeah, so self-published, and I have a book coach.

Lightning Question Round:

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

35:33

And if it's okay with you, I'd love to transition to the lightning round. Does that sound good?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

35:37

Yeah, let's do it.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

My first question is on productivity hacks. It sounds like you're a productivity hack guy. What's the number one life productivity hack that you would give to our listeners?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Oh, well, my friend Tiago, his system, building a second brain, was really a game changer for me. I took his course before I knew him, and then started working with him, but yeah, definitely check out his, especially his para method, P-A-R-A. It's a way of organizing your folders and that's been a real game changer.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

What's one company that does product messaging so right that we can use as an example? Jay Peterman, the Jay Peterman catalog. A lot of people will think that comes from the show Seinfeld, but Seinfeld used it because it was so effective and such an incredible brand. So check out the Jay Peterman catalog. You will see clothing sold like you've never seen it sold before and they just have Fantastic copy.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

Have you ever read the book Never Split the Difference?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Oh, it's Chris Voss's book, right? Yeah, I know him Yeah, that's an awesome book!

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

A lot of what you're describing feels similar in some ways to some of what Chris talks about and in a very different context. 

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Yeah

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Chris goes on in that book to talk about like listening to the person you're negotiating with and hearing them out and then proposing your approach based on what they've said. And I know that's for like business negotiations and sales, but it feels like what you're proposing with your lightbulb framework is almost the marketer's approach to never split the difference.
I don't know if that's a fair categorization?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

37:08

Totally. Totally. Yeah. It's a lot of, he, Chris uses a lot of argumentation techniques, a lot of like steel manning, which is kind of like the next level of playing devil's advocate, which ties into Lightbulb too. It's like making an argument. It's like you can make an argument why you shouldn't buy your own product. That would be steel. And then steel manning, it would be, so you make the best argument why you shouldn't buy your own product, and then you overcome that argument. And that's in the same vein as what Chris teaches, and you can totally do that with the five Lightbulbs. Yeah, he's awesome. I love that guy. He's a cool dude too.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

37:37

Yeah, I really enjoyed that. Two-parter, favorite beer overall. Like last beer you can drink like on death row.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

I'm gonna go with that Pliny that I named earlier. That's just such a phenomenal one. Yeah, that said, there's too many IPAs in California. I hope people brew other beers, darker beers besides IPAs, but that is a really good one.

Nate Matherson (Speaking): 

37:53

Favorite light beer?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

37:55

There's a brewery in Germany. It's the oldest brewery in the world. It's from I think 1080 is the year that they established the brewery. I'm gonna botch the name because it's German, but something like a Weinsteffen and they make a Hefeweizen, which you can actually find all across the US. So Weinsteffen Hefeweizen beer, they call it. It's only about maybe 4.5%. Phenomenal, like Germans, like precision engineering, right? Like they know how to dial in a beer and that one is just, yeah, that might be my favorite actually.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

In SEO, we're hearing a lot about first hand experience, especially for review sites. So like when I launch my beer review site this weekend, needing to like test the product to write like an honest review. So I'll keep you updated as like natescraftbeer.com comes live. Last question, and I wasn't going to ask it. What's the biggest mistake we make with email newsletters or what's something you've learned so far?

Billy Broas (Speaking):

Oh, we could do a whole nother episode on these. One call to action. Keep it simple. I know like some of these newsletters work, like Morning Brew and all them with a million different links and everything, but it's just classic writing advice. Keep it to one thing.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

Is there anything else you'd like to say to our listeners? We will definitely include some links
back to your site in the show notes.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

39:05

Yeah, that's it. Yeah, definitely check out fivelightbulbs.com. I've been writing a newsletter for a while, but I launched a new iteration of it that I'm really happy about, and it's going very well, so that's on billybroas.com. In the lightbulb vein, it's called Billy's Monday Lightbulb. Goes out every Monday. So hop on there and then reply and say hello. I love to interact with all my readers.

Nate Matherson (Speaking):

We had an extended lightning round. So for all the listeners who made it to the post-closing last question, thank you for listening. And Billy, thank you so much for coming on. This was such an interesting episode and not like any of the other episodes we've done. I've learned a lot, and I think we have a lot to implement at Positional
So thank you so much.

Billy Broas (Speaking):

39:41

Cool. Thanks, Nate. You were a great host!

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39:49

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We used to create outlines for our posts, either by paying a consultant $75+ each, or by spending 1-2 hours researching and creating each one ourselves. With Positional, we can create the best outlines for our target keyword clusters and get alternatives within a couple clicks.

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Positional has proven indispensable in our SEO strategy. Its rapid optimization capabilities for our blogs led to noticeable improvements in search rankings within a month. From planning to making our content better, it’s like having a teammate. Our team loves it!

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Positional is a must-use tool for any growing startup that cares about SEO. It's simple and easy to use but as powerful as anything out there. Plus their customer support is next level.

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Head of Growth at Definite

The first time we used Positional's toolset was to revamp an older but important piece of content. We used Optimize for optimization, and Internals for internal linking suggestions. We went from position #6 to #1 with the changes and increased our organic search traffic to the page by 400%. Today, Positional is an integral part of our blogging strategy, from topic generation to blog renovation.

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CEO and Co-Founder at Speedscale

Positional has been an amazing addition to our SEO and Content team's workflows, enhancing our overall efficiency. We particularly love using Auto Detect and Internal Linking on a daily basis!

Lindsey Barnes
SEO Manager at Klay Media

Nate and the positional team are the best of the best in SEO, content marketing, and helping you grow your organic traffic. The combination of their expertise and the SEO and content tool they’ve built has allowed us to build a scalable content engine. Reach out to me anytime for a testimony. They are truly phenomenal.

Alan Zhao
Co-Founder & Head of Marketing at Warmly

As an SEO novice, Positional makes it easy. I can quickly go from keyword research, to clustering, to content outlines, then go focus on just making good content. I felt like it helped bridge the gaps between what would’ve taken 3 or more tools in the past.

Kevin Galang
Head of Growth at Definite

The first time we used Positional's toolset was to revamp an older but important piece of content. We used Optimize for optimization, and Internals for internal linking suggestions. We went from position #6 to #1 with the changes and increased our organic search traffic to the page by 400%. Today, Positional is an integral part of our blogging strategy, from topic generation to blog renovation.

Nate Lee
CEO and Co-Founder at Speedscale

Positional's tools are an essential supplement to any search-driven content effort. They help us save time and produce better content for both our company blog and our clients.

Karl Hughes
CEO & Co-Founder at Draft.dev

Positional's tools are an essential supplement to any search-driven content effort. They help us save time and produce better content for both our company blog and our clients.

tq-karl-hughes-podcast-internals
CEO & Co-Founder at Draft.dev

We used to create outlines for our posts, either by paying a consultant $75+ each, or by spending 1-2 hours researching and creating each one ourselves. With Positional, we can create the best outlines for our target keyword clusters and get alternatives within a couple clicks.

Louis-Victor Jadavji
CEO & Co-Founder at Taloflow

Positional has proven indispensable in our SEO strategy. Its rapid optimization capabilities for our blogs led to noticeable improvements in search rankings within a month. From planning to making our content better, it’s like having a teammate. Our team loves it!

Varun Varma
Co-Founder at Typo

Positional's tools are an essential supplement to any search-driven content effort. They help us save time and produce better content for both our company blog and our clients.

Karl Hughes
CEO & Co-Founder at Draft.dev

Positional's tools are an essential supplement to any search-driven content effort. They help us save time and produce better content for both our company blog and our clients.

tq-karl-hughes-podcast-internals
CEO & Co-Founder at Draft.dev

We used to create outlines for our posts, either by paying a consultant $75+ each, or by spending 1-2 hours researching and creating each one ourselves. With Positional, we can create the best outlines for our target keyword clusters and get alternatives within a couple clicks.

Louis-Victor Jadavji
CEO & Co-Founder at Taloflow

Positional has proven indispensable in our SEO strategy. Its rapid optimization capabilities for our blogs led to noticeable improvements in search rankings within a month. From planning to making our content better, it’s like having a teammate. Our team loves it!

Varun Varma
Co-Founder at Typo