How I increased my monthly income 44% without launching a new product

Why do so many business owners turn to flash sales, a rotating door of new products, and spending gobs of money on Facebook ads to increase revenue, when there are other growth strategies that involve much less work, cost nothing, and don’t cheapen your brand?

Just over 18 months ago, I increased my monthly income by more than 44% without launching a new product or service, or doing any advertising of any kind.

My average monthly sales through May 2014 was $16,739. By August, that shot up to $24,609.

Instead, I made three simple, yet profoundly powerful tweaks to my business that you can implement this weekend. Over time, you will see great results pile up as well.

Today, I want to walk you through all three.

1. Put the spotlight on your reader

At its core, every business involves a simple transaction. Money changes hands as a product or service is delivered.

In my case, my products are online courses that teach people how to record and mix really good sounding music in their affordable bedroom studios. I sell information. Plain and simple.

That being said, many of my early sales pages were just that — both plain and simple in their communication.

Take a look at one of my old sales pages.

Within just a few lines I’m already talking about the product and why it’s so great.

There was nothing inherently bad or wrong about them. They clearly stated what the course was about, who it was for, and why it was a smart purchase. And of course it stated the price, and included a big “Buy Now” button.

And the great thing — these sales pages made me money.

Sales had been coming in month after month on pages like this for about 4 years. I was earning a very good living. There’s nothing tricky about business; you simply need to offer tremendous value to people and solve one of their challenges or frustrations. My courses were doing just that.

But by simply changing the words you use to sell your products, you can drastically increase revenue.

Learning a lot about the psychology of words from guys like Ramit Sethi, I decided to try my hand at rewriting the sales copy for my three most popular courses. And this time instead of simply conveying information about the product, I decided to put the spotlight on the potential customer.

This is key. I spent way more time (i.e. wrote more words) at the beginning of the sales page focused on the reader and identifying their biggest pains, challenges, and frustrations as they relate to my niche. I also articulated their biggest hopes, dreams, and goals related to the topic of recording music.

Take a look at one of my newer sales pages.

Notice how much time I take to articulate the pain point here.

This immediately draws them in as they say, “Yes! This guy gets me!” Because don’t we all like talking to people who understand us at a deep level? Don’t we trust them more?

While many of my competitors use their words to harp on how many hours of HD video their courses include, and how much extra “stuff” you get when you purchase, I instead use my words to focus on the customer. What do they want? What are they frustrated with? What is going on inside their heads?

By spending more of your sales pages connecting with the potential customer at this deep level, you create the trust and credibility that makes him want to keep reading to discover your “solution” to his problem.

And because you understand his problem and make sure he knows it, when you offer your product (the solution), he cares little about the features, what’s included, or even the price for that matter. All he cares about is the solution that you can offer him.

To do this with your current lineup of products or services, try this: Send out an email to your mailing list, or reach out to your fans or followers on social media and ask them two questions:

  • What is your biggest frustration or challenge [related to your niche] right now?
  • What are your biggest hopes and dreams [related to your niche] this coming year?

The answers you get will be worth thousands of dollars to you as you gain deeper insight into the minds of your customers.

2. Offer supersized options

One of the most classic techniques for increasing sales ever is also the simplest: upsells.

If you’ve ever been to McDonald’s and ordered a hamburger, then you’ve witnessed quite possibly the most profitable upsell ever: “Do you want fries with that?”

Another variation is when you order a combo meal and they ask you, “Do you want to supersize that?”

Some people will answer “No” to both of those questions. No harm done. But many people will say “Yes.” Instant increase in sales.

You see, at McDonald’s, people have already been convinced they want the product. They are prepared to part with their money and they know what they are getting. In this moment they are in a buying mood.

At the point of sale, employees have been trained to offer the customer something more as an option. The customer wasn’t planning on spending more, but because it’s a desirable upsell and they are about to part with their money anyway, it’s a no-pressure situation with pretty high conversion rates.

If you pay attention, you’ll see upsells everywhere you go.

Oddly enough, I was very aware of upselling as a business strategy, yet I wasn’t doing it in my own business. For years I simply offered each of my products in one version. One price. One option. One size fits all.

Big mistake.

Silly me, just offering my course at one price point.

I finally got smart and decided that it couldn’t hurt to offer one or two more expensive versions of my courses and leave it for my customers to decide which was a good fit for them.

Take a look at one of my most popular courses, REthink Mixing. I had been selling this course at its original price of $99 for three years.

I still offer it at $99, but now I’ve added two other versions: one that costs $149 and includes bonus content and a custom mix critique from me (where I’ll actually listen to one of their songs and give them email feedback), and one that costs $349 and includes everything from the lower tiers plus a one-hour skype call with me.

If one person purchases the upper tier, it’s like 5 people buying the original course!

Few people go for the $349 version (although I sell some every month), but the cool thing is that roughly half of my customers go for the middle tier at $149. That means that I can still sell a $99 course that I made years ago, but now I can get a 25% boost in revenue from it (50% of the customers spending 50% more).

I’ve applied this upselling, supersized concept to just about all of my courses now, and it works great. You can easily do it, too.

What is your most popular product or service? Can you add a slightly more expensive version of it? What ways could you add more value to it that don’t take too much money or effort, but still allow you to charge 50-100% more for it?

One final thought: When you give people a choice of product or service tiers, you do something subtle but powerful. You shift the internal question for the customer from “Should I buy this?” to “Which one should I buy?”

That one simple mental shift is so profound, as it gets them thinking which one is a better fit. This moves them beyond whether the product as a whole is a good fit, and it can do wonders for your sales conversion, even if they go with the lower tier.

3. Sell sooner (and more often)

My business is built around free content. I write articles and make videos that can help people make better sounding recordings — and 95% of this training is free.

That is how you start the relationship with future customers: Offer them something valuable first. This allows them to see if you can deliver what they want and need, and if you are trustworthy. It’s such a huge part of what I do and I love it.

But we’re still running businesses. I have a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for, so I need to make money somehow. And the same is true with you — you’re reading this because you want to not only help people, but make money!

That’s where my in-depth video courses come into the picture.

In the past, I was a bit scared to sell them. Not because they weren’t any good, but because I was afraid of turning people off by asking for a sale so soon in the relationship.

I sell via email. I encourage readers and viewers who enjoy my free stuff to join my email list where they can get even more incredible free resources that I don’t offer anywhere else. Once they join that list, they are sent a series of pre-written emails over the course of a few weeks.

Before these tweaks, most of my emails contained more free bonus information and resources. This went on for at least two weeks, when eventually they would get an email that mentioned one of my paid courses. Then the cycle repeated.

The paid course was almost apologetically included in an email as if I were saying, “Sorry to bother you, but I have these other courses that aren’t free, but I think you might like them, but if you don’t it’s OK, I’ll send you more free stuff, too!”

Just like my plain and simple sales pages, this email campaign worked. I still made sales.

But you can make even more sales by simply changing two things: how early on you offer your paid products, and how often you offer them.

I’ve heard wildly different philosophies on this. Some say you should sell as soon as possible. Others say you need to establish a relationship for weeks and weeks before offering your audience something to buy.

I was fed up with my scaredy-cat approach to selling and wanted to try a more confident model.

What helped shift my mindset is something Jay Abraham calls being your client or customer’s “trusted advisor.” If you view yourself as their trusted advisor, and you have a product or service that will truly help them, then you should be doing everything in your power to let them know about it and offer it to them.

This concept blew me away. Stop and ask yourself: Are your products awesome? Do they really help people?

If the answer is “No,” then you need to make a better product.

Fortunately for me, my answer was, “Yes. My online courses are the best out there. They’ve helped thousands of people and they can help thousands more.”

With that confidence in hand, I decided to delete all of my auto-responder emails (the pre-written emails I mentioned before) and start over fresh. This time I made sure that 3 days in, I was offering one of my products. And not just with one email, but with 3 consecutive emails.

I still delivered value first (and after), but I made sure that my email campaign moved quickly into offering the best thing for them — my paid products.

Now, over the course of 60 days, my email subscribers not only get tons of free resources and exclusive training, but they get offered 5 products for a total of 3 times each. This means they are getting offered my best stuff 15 times in the first two months.

This totally changed my sales revenue. I sell more courses, help more people, and make more money.

And the best part? It doesn’t cost a thing, and is happening on autopilot each and every day.

What would happen if you started to offer your best stuff to potential clients/customers sooner and more often than you currently do?

Sure, some people would say “No.” And maybe a few people would be irritated. But remember, if you are their trusted advisor, and your product or service truly is world-class and can make their lives better, then offering it to them sooner and more often is the best thing for them!

Want a 30% raise this year?

Consider this…

What if you changed the words on all your sales and promotional material, taking the focus off of your product or service and shifting it onto your potential customers? Maybe you boost sales by 10%.

And what if you offered a more expensive option to your core product or service costing about 50% more? If only a quarter of your customers go for the upper tier, you’ll have 12.5% increase in revenue.

Finally what if you began selling to your prospective clients sooner and more often, always reminding them that your product or service truly can solve their problems and help them realize their dreams and hopes a little bit more? Just by simply asking for the sale twice as much as you currently do, you’ll likely get at least a 10% boost in revenue.

Add all three tweaks up, and you’re looking at more than a 30% increase in revenue in the next 12 months. Maybe even immediately. And those are pretty conservative numbers.

What could that do for your life? What could you do with a 30% raise this year?

Let us know in the comments below — and be specific: What exactly would you do with the money if you got a 30% raise this year?

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This was a great article man. I just had one those moments where you kind of come full cirle – even though “I already knew everything” you discussed in the article, I now realize I didn’t know it at all until now?

I know all about upselling, (duh, I mean the McDonalds story is almost a cliche!)…”focus on benefits not features”…”focus on your customer not your product”…”you’re not helping someone if you don’t sell them a product they desperately need and you have”…etc)

“I know all that. Practically common sense.”

Am I EMPLOYING much of it in my business?

Uh, well, not as much as I should be…I’ve been busy putting out fires around the office for the last few months, need to get this new product launched…

Yes, most of the important concepts you mentioned, they were kind of tucked away somewhere in my mind lately…and I agree with them fully…and have understood them fully for quite some time…

But somehow you brought to light (to me anyway) with your post some of the most important things that need to be done/changed in my business and probably most people’s businesses, if we have time left over after doing all the dumb stuff that doesn’t make us money.

Really enjoyed it.

That is so awesome Rick. Most things in business are simple when you think about them. But putting the right systems into action and following through is a whole different ball game. Glad I could get your wheels turning!

Even though I’m not at that stage in my business yet, this really helped me to recognize which direction I want to go. Less is more, and your focus on that one good product or service has me realizing that I’m trying too hard to do it all.

Pull back the focus, do that one good thing that will really add value, and grow later once you hit that sales peak.

I love it. Great guest post, Graham!

Man! Graham, I can resonate with you so much because I’m a music producer / engineer myself. Love this article so much.

Great article.
I have asked people in the past about their frustrations etc. A lot of people say money — they don’t want to spend a lot for photographs…and yet I don’t want to, can’t…offer something on the cheap.

I’m trying to figure out a way to integrate a lot of this into a sales process…and also offer something of value/free to differentiate myself. Everyone in the industry operates the SAME way. With the same offerings and wording etc. etc.

Anyways….lots to think about….thanks!

Hi Jodi – it’s the same in my industry. People are conditioned to spend hardly anything on audio training videos. A lot of my work is in positioning my premium courses as a solution to their biggest problem and the ticket to their biggest desire, in our niche.

For you it probably means changing your positioning from selling photos to capturing memories and moments that they can never get back. Bringing families together.

Also – it might mean you need to market to a different type of client. One that has the money and wants to spend it.

Thanks for the reply (sorry for the delay!)

I think the battle for me is my service based business and I’m required to be there. So can I still offer something they can purchase online without having seen the results yet. I guess that’s what you’re doing also. For some reason, my industry always does ‘post’ sales which can be really lucrative — except for weddings which they prepay for packages. People don’t know what they want really until they see the photos…or sometimes they don’t even know. I’m just talking/writing stuff out basically to see if I can come up with a solution ha ha.

I guess I’m also trying to innovate something that’s not really done. Because I’m frustrated with how it’s done. And what does that look like…
I’d like a smooth process for them and for myself.
Implementing a lot of what Ramit teaches and what you’ve done also to create something successful and that gives people what they need.

Graham, I love your story, you are a business person i admire. You are doing what i want to achieve and this article gave me more confidence that i can do it. I like the fact that you weren’t afraid to delete and start over rewriting your sales pages and doing the up selling and start selling your products. Nothing beats action.

WOW! This is absolutely unbelievable!

Less than 5 minutes before I read Ramit’s email with guest posts featuring his successful protege’s, I was working on my online course, Hormones for Menopause, developing an Advanced version that I could CHARGE MORE for. Then I sit down and see Graham Cochrane talking about pricing strategies and say “HEY! I know Graham Cochrane! I’m one of his CUSTOMERS!”

Maybe 6 or 7 years ago, my son Andrew was in high school, 17 or 18. He’s a great musician and made a name for himself playing guitar and he’d been writing songs and fronting bands. Late in high school, he started recording his own stuff, then he saw some of Graham’s YouTube videos. Well, one video led to another until Andrew had devoured ALL of Graham’s free stuff. Eventually, he came to me and said “Dad, I really wanna take this course from Graham Cochrane.” We looked it over and it seemed like a no-brainer, so we bought it and he’s never looked back. I think he’s taken a couple more of Graham’s courses after that, especially one about starting a studio business. He slaved away in our basement, recording his friends’ bands (mostly for peanuts . . . or free) and gaining a local rep as an indie engineer/producer. After 2 years, he had so much recording business that he literally hit a “ceiling” and had to move his studio into a commercial space so that he could get bands to come back for their second record. Around the same time, he took Graham’s advice and RAISED HIS RATES, since Graham said he wouldn’t lose anything.

Today, my son is one of the most respected recording engineers in Salt Lake City. His partner, producer and world famous drummer, Aaron Gillespie (Underoath, Paramore) brings clients from all over the U.S. and Andrew is killing it with their records.

I have had several conversations with people who ask, “So how’s Andrew doing?” My answer usually starts with his beautiful wife, Shirese, who he married last year, but after that, I tell them how he is an up and coming recording engineer with his own business who, with the help of an amazing teacher named Graham Cochrane, is helping indie artists make some amazing music.

So Graham, THANKS, from the bottom of my heart, for giving my 24-year-old son all that amazing value FOR FREE, but also for being willing to help him step it up to the next level. Most of my son’s success comes directly from Graham’s willingness to step out and offer something MORE. I believe that you have, nearly single-handedly, influenced the course of my son’s life. (Although my wife and I will take some of that credit, thank you.)

OH! Thank you as well that you steered him away from college and I still have all that money we saved up!!! (We actually gave him a small chunk when he moved into his studio, just to get him started, but it was WAY less than college would have been.)

I had asked God to “give me a bone” recently, but I didn’t know that bone would still have a medium rare, grass fed, Grade AAA ribeye steak attached to it, still hot from the grill!

God Bless you all!
Steve Goldring

Congratulations Graham!

I have been following you at the Recording Revolution for a few years… you have helped me bring my recordings and mixes up several levels!

Great to hear you’ve been getting it right at the source outside the studio too… Keep crushing it!

Graham, what an amazing article! Even though I know nothing about sound engineering, I can definitely relate to your situation, and also to your reader “Jodi”.

I have been a professional photographer for many years, and was always afraid to raise my prices. It wasn’t until I was in business for 5 years did I finally figure out that I was trying to sell to the wrong clients!

I was always trying to get EVERY client when I should have been trying to get the BEST clients who want the personal touch — great customer service, one on one attention, and meticulous care and quality. It really is all in the way you present your product to the right people!

One example is when I made a connection with a local music studio. They hired me to cover their annual honors recital events, and now with one session, I get paid by the studio to cover the event, AND I am also able to make dozens of print sales from the parents of the recital students all in one shot! Much more cost effective and profitable. :)

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