A couple of years back, there were 2 chaps dominating the world of Facebook ads.
One - Tai Lopez - videoed himself from his garage in front of a (apparently rented) Lamborghini extolling the benefits of “knowledge”.
A lot of people jumped on the hate train for Tai, but he’s had the last laugh and now owns several large name retailers in the US including Pier 1, DressBarn, and Radio Shack.
Turns out he might be a pretty damn savvy marketer.
The other was a chap called Sam Ovens.
Sam was known for somewhat more unusual ads. Sure, there were private jets and fancy cars.
But there were also weird elements like a motorbike sat in the center of his penthouse apartment.
I remember ads where Sam used some of the more unusual decor to highlight the point of “thinking differently”.
Which to me now makes more sense.
You see, Sam’s approach to selling information products changed the way a lot of others built their info product marketing.
He didn’t do the exact same thing everyone else was. He took a slightly different approach.
Sure, he has the foundation needed for success...
- A great product that answers a true need
- A huge number of reviews proving the effectiveness of the program
- Multiple features in mainstream media to build his reputation and reach
But there are a couple of things Sam has done with Consulting.com that add an extra layer of effectiveness and success.
These things were at one time quite unique. However, since Sam’s success they’ve been adopted by many in the info product marketing industry.
I’m going to look at how Sam does things slightly differently, and how it’s helped him grow a $20MM business with just 3 products.
Who is Sam Ovens?
Sam is the founder of Consulting.com.
After a couple of failed business ventures, he hit success with a property inspection app - SnapInspect.
This helped him achieve a small reputation.
But with the high costs to keep a software brand running, Sam saw better profits from his side hustle of selling custom-built websites.
That led to a consulting business, which later turned into a training program for digital consultants.
He launched Consulting Accelerator to 50 students and, in his own words…
“Within 3 years, this single course created 25 millionaires, nearly 500 six-figure earners, and allowed over 3,000 students to quit their jobs and work for themselves full-time.
It also brought in $20 Million in revenue for my business, allowing me to move to New York City, setup a downtown office, and launch Consulting.com with the new Consulting Accelerator 2.0.”
Sam’s continued to grow Consulting.com to one of the most successful resources for consultant training online.
And you’ll note that a couple of the strategies he’s used have become pretty common in selling high-ticket information products online.
The Consulting.com product range
Sam’s been very smart in the services he offers to his customers.
HIs product range is split into only 3 different offers.
Each one is specifically targeted to consultants at a different stage of their career.
- A beginner course to get a consulting business off the ground
- An intermediate course that helps consultants with an established business scale
- An advanced course that helps consultants build something that scales far beyond their own input
It might seem simple, but a lot of brands don’t take this deep approach to products. They instead go wide with their offers.
I’ve bought courses from various info product creators who have other offers that don’t build upon the course I signed up for.
For example, Copyhackers (who produce incredible courses on copywriting).
I bought their 7-figure launches course (I’d highly recommend it) which focuses primarily on email. However, I could have also bought into courses on…
- Sales pages
- Freelance business systems
- Analytics for copywriters
All of the above are within the copywriting industry. But they’re all focusing on slightly different audiences and potential customers.
Yes, copywriters would all benefit from understanding each of these different areas.
And there are overlaps between many of the courses.
Email copywriters and sales page specialists would benefit from analytics knowledge and expertise.
However, because of the limitations of job roles and the compounding benefits of focusing on a single deliverable and niche, I’m not sure there would be too many cross-sells.
The email copywriter isn’t going to go out of their way to also become a pro at blog content because it dilutes their focus, skill set, and perceived expertise (which equates to the fee they can charge).
Copyhackers - and many other course producers - go wide with their offerings to help as many people as possible.
All of their target audience are within the same market bracket. However, their speciality is very different.
Sam Ovens goes deep within one market.
He focuses solely on consultants. And he focuses on getting them to each major revenue benchmark.
Yes, the focus of being on “consultants” over something like ”copywriters” is broader. You could be a copywriting consultant, a dating consultant or anything in between.
However, by not niching down to an industry rather than a speciality, Sam has that wider net others try to achieve through more product offerings.
Sam can do this because he’s not focusing on the deliverable - like email copy - but on the underlying business systems.
It’s a slight shift, but a smart one as it allows him to help more people but still remain focused and keep tight messaging.
After all, the way a copywriting consultant lands clients won’t be too dissimilar from how the dating coach lands clients. The underlying system will be very similar.
That higher-level focus allows Sam to go deeper rather than wide with his trainings.
The natural funnel for stacked course offerings
What I also love about this deep focus is how it allows Sam to create a completely natural funnel within his programs.
Let’s look first at the wide model of offering multiple products that have a tenuous overlap in audience.
I’m going to run with a hypothetical copywriting for illustrative purposes (and because it’s where I’ve had the most experience myself).
And I’m also simply going to re-use the various wide offerings mentioned above.
As already covered, there’s marginal overlap between things like email copywriting and something like blog writing.
A small business owner who does everything themselves might benefit from both. But a specialist will like one over the other.
Because of the different needs, each course is going to require a completely unique audience, marketing strategy, messaging, and funnel.
For each offer, a percentage of students are going to go through the course and come out the other end as much better practitioners.
These would, usually, be the ideal customers to sell a second product to. They’re happy customers and now trust you as a creator.
However, in the wide model there’s an inherent challenge. Convincing email copywriters to buy a blog writing course is a hard sell.
Sure, some might because they like the creator or think it could benefit them. But generally speaking, there’s not going to be a huge amount of overlap.
Most courses and funnels in this wide model are siloed from one another.
They require a completely unique approach each and every time.
So you’re going to need multiple funnels and a very fragmented promotion machine to keep people coming in.
And the only way I can think of making this a growth machine is to take the Udemy approach.
Collate, curate, and create such a huge volume of offers that there’s always a next level for students to progress and buy in to.
However, this is a completely unrealistic model for most brands. And, my own personal opinion, I believe this commoditises the trainings offered.
When there are so many courses available, it robs them of their perceived value and thus the student impetus to start and finish them.
Sam’s deep model on the other hand has a natural funnel built-in.
To get people into his base-level course he sets up a simple sales funnel.
Now, the people who apply themselves to that program and get results come out the other end as 6-figure consultants.
Which automatically qualifies them for his second-tier offering - Uplevel Consulting.
And the people who come out of Uplevel with 7-figure revenues, are the ideal fit for his top-tier offer - Quantum Mastermind.
I know I’m always going on about Yes Ladders, but this is a great example of - what for me is the first - paid Yes Ladder.
People pay to get access to the base offering at a reasonable price.
Those who apply themselves find their business at the next revenue threshold thanks to your training. This...
- Qualifies the prospect for your next tier offer
- Builds the customer’s trust in you as you’ve helped them hit their revenue milestone
Successful students are almost pre-sold on the next level offer.
And you can still use that higher-tier offer to attract new business. All you do is target people who reached the 6-figure level on their own.
The result is a paid course funnel where each success qualifies people for the next step. And still offers you the ability to bring in new people at each stage.
I do wonder if the Peter Principle applies here.
There’s a natural thinning of the herd with this model.
Someone whose capability (be it through skill, time, motivation, lifestyle design etc.) will cap them at their ceiling.
The method Sam’s built helps people reach their peak level of income. You could qualify for the next level of business training, but if it’s beyond your capability, you’ll never be able to progress past it.
Much like the Peter Principle in corporate hierarchy.
This could have negative effects on motivation in everything from Uplevel Consulting and up, but I doubt it has a measurable effect.
Recurring revenue vs individual sales
Now the thing that I really like with Sam’s offerings.
Sam has blended one time purchases with recurring revenue.
However, while many brands lead with a cheap recurring fee and then sell a high-level offer, Sam flips this on its head.
Here’s the progression and pricing for each of Sam’s offers.
Much like most course offers, his primary programs are a one-time fee of $2000, and $6000 respectively.
However, his top-tier offer is a yearly recurring subscription that comes in at $36,000.
It would usually be a hard sell to get someone in at $36k / year, but if they’ve been through the other levels and grown a 7-figure business from nothing, $36k to hit 8-figures will feel like a no-brainer for them.
This is the guy who’s helped them grow their business. And each time the price has increased, so too has the ROI.
Even if someone arrives as a new customer already clearing 7-figures, Sam’s success with helping people scale means there’s tonnes of proof that highlight him as the go-to trainer.
What you’ll also notice is that all of these programs have premium pricing. You won't find a $29 trip wire here.
These higher prices make it easier for Sam to...
- Bring on a team to handle the day-to-day of client satisfaction
- Ramp up marketing
- Increase time to profit ratio
It might be harder to land a customer at $2000 than at $20, but a single sale at $2000 is literally 100X more valuable.
That's 100X more value for maybe 5X the effort.
The economics of it make more sense. Yes, your conversion rate will be lower, but thanks to the massive increase in fee, you still come out ahead.
As the system he’s built continues to work, he covers acquisition costs with his low tier offers, and lets the value of those offers separate the wheat from the chaff and sell his higher-level offers on auto-pilot.
The less passive sales funnel
Still to this day, you can pretty much predict the majority of course sale funnels up to around $5,000.
Which, if we’re being honest, is the huge majority of training offers.
It’s often something like…
- Ad to lead capture asset (“live” webinar, eBook etc)
- Email marketing and content promotion to build trust
- Launch email sequence when a customer is deemed “ready”
- Remarketing through ads and email-based automated sequences
Just like that, your course promotions are completely passive and you’ve got everything you need to make money on autopilot.
Thing is, everyone else is trying something similar.
And when you compete against the pack, it's very hard to differentiate yourself.
Add to that the high level of distrust from customers thanks to low-quality programs and you've got a very difficult conversion journey.
You have to break down a lot of barriers to get someone to purchase your program. Which, when it's a completely passive method of "sending info" in the form of a sales page is very hard.
You're betting on your page being better than all of the competitions to secure the sale.
It’s a very passive method for sales.
You’ll know this to be true thanks to the various scarcity and urgency elements people build into their offers now to force the sales.
Sam has taken a different approach though.
It’s more manual, costs more money, and takes more time.
However, I know from a customer perspective it’s been more effective (at least for getting me into higher-tier programs). I’ve also now seen this same approach used multiple times by people across the web from Todd Brown to Mike Shreeve.
Sam has a simple Yes Ladder that builds trust in the form of a free training video funnel.
But, more than that, he has a very powerful conversion element that the customer actually requests to be exposed to.
Here’s a quick view of Sam’s funnel.
- Ad (more on these later)
- Free training
- Free Consultation call
- Sale and beginning of training program
Sam runs some pretty incredible ads (which I’ll break down soon).
The ads link to a static-free training that requires an email opt-in to view.
He doesn’t rely on a “time-sensitive” webinar that starts in 14 minutes 31 seconds.
We all know those “evergreen” webinars are pre-recorded and we’ll get a replay after the fact.
Sam eschews the common high-pressure tactics and instead focuses on value. His free trainings are often quite detailed and lengthy.
But once you’ve been through these on-demand videos, the next step is to request a free consultation from one of his team.
I love this because it feels less salesy and like you're getting more value for money.
But let’s face it. We all know nothing in business is free.
I’ve been on a few of these consultations from various brands (but not Sam’s) and they generally follow a set script.
- Greetings and a little about your business
- The major problem you’re facing in your business
- The consultant will explain what they’ve seen work in that situation
- They’ll mention how you could apply it
- They’ll mention specific examples of people they’ve helped in the paid program with this
- You ask a few questions for clarification
- The consultant hits their sales pitch to get you to confirm joining on the phone
It’s a sales call masquerading as a free consultation.
Which I love because there’s enough free value on it to get the prospect excited about what they could achieve with more help.
It also feels more personal and builds a stronger relationship.
Which plays into the people who abandon after the call.
The customer has a face and voice they can associate the training with. It's a stronger relationship with a real person, not just an email account.
So when that person emails in 2 weeks to see how business is going, the customer is more likely to open it. It's a much more effective model of remarketing.
Here’s the only problem with this method.
You can’t do this with low price offers and you need to have an established lead generation funnel set up.
You basically need to know your numbers.
In particular, you need to know…
- The number of leads coming through for calls (L)
- The average conversion rate of leads to customers (CVR)
- The average order value (AoV)
As a basic equation, that would look something like the below.
(CVR x L) x AoV = Revenue
If those numbers are as below…
- Leads - 100
- CVR - 5%
- AoV $2000
Then it would look like this.
(5% x 100) x $2000 = $10,000
So, $10,000 / month from that process. Then you simply deduct the fees you need for marketing and the sales team to see if it’s worth your while. I’ll pop a simple spreadsheet calculator in the downloads for this.
Of course there are things like people coming back and purchasing on their own which are hard to track and change the numbers here. But at a basic level, these are the numbers you need to know.
I’ve not seen a program with this model sell for less than $2000.
But I also see some of the best info product creators and marketers using this model to scale with massive effect.
No long-form sales page
What you might notice in the above is that Sam rarely uses the long-form sales pages that are a “best practice” for many other information product brands.
In the regular funnel that leads on from Sam’s ads, the sales page is replaced with the consulting call. And from experience, these kind of calls usually lead to a checkout page that looks like the below.
A basic checkout with some anxiety removing social proof.
Sam does have a sales page for both his bottom tier and top tier offers.
However, they don’t take the approach of the normal long-form story-driven sales pages.
They read more like SaaS brand pages. See below for an example of his Consulting Accelerator page.
The pages themselves are very feature heavy and speak to what you’ll get if you sign up.
I’m assuming that’s because a lot of the traffic to these pages isn’t cold.
It’s likely people who have taken part in one of the free trainings, taken the consultation call, failed to sign up, and then revisit at a later date.
It’s interesting that this is the way they’ve approached things.
It’s almost like these pages are for warm traffic.
They’re for people who are product aware and are simply looking to compare what they get for their $2k with Sam against what they’d get with someone else.
A lot of sales pages are written as if they have to convert cold traffic into paying customers.
These are crafted to push those already close to purchasing over the edge.
It makes sense with the funnel that comes before this. I don't believe these pages were ever intended to be a part of that funnel.
Sam's crafted pages that are optimised for intent and the stage of the customer journey. Something most brands don't do.
Zigging and zagging with Facebook ads
Sam already popularised sales consultations for $2000+ information products when a lot of others were simply focused on fully passive funnels.
Whether or not Sam is the reason these other people follow his lead is up for debate.
What I don’t think is up for debate is how Sam runs his Facebook ads. I’ve seen so many copycats of his ads, and even had a number of paid media specialists tell me that they look to him for “inspiration”.
He often does something a little different.
I remember ads where he was detailing the weird items in his apartment and why he owned them. Often followed by a tenuous link to business ideas.
Before I get onto what he’s doing now that’s a little weird, I want to explain some core fundamentals he does well.
In our Ahrefs study I mentioned the benefit of running ads through a personal account rather than a brand account.
All of Sam’s ads come from his Facebook page for Sam Ovens, not Consulting.com.
In fact, at the time of writing the Consulting.Com page has zero ads running. Everything seems to go through his personal page.
And he follows a great basic template that leads with a hook. The hook often ends right where the “read more” click is needed.
It’s basic ad copy best practice, but it works well as you can see from the below ad that mentions a current hot topic, NFTs.
Many young entrepreneurs who are buying into the hype of NFTs and Crypto will be very intrigued by this lead. It’ll pull them in to read the rest.
Another thing I like with Sam’s ads is they use very normal photos of him, his team, or Sam and his partner doing normal things.
Perhaps a Zoom meeting, maybe hiking, other times just sitting at a table.
I think this is genius for people running ads through a personal account instead of a brand account.
A lot of brand ads use brand imagery.
Which a lot of people subconsciously recognise and simply scroll past.
Sam inserting himself into the ads makes you stop for a second. The images he uses in his ads are the same kind of images you’d see your friends and family share on Facebook.
And so it grabs more attention by not appearing like an ad.
It looks just like Sam is sharing something personal. And you’re going to think “who is this guy?”.
It’s a great way to avoid the banner blindness that comes with using generic, corporate feeling Facebook ads and grab that 1-second of attention from people scrolling by.
Unusual ad copy
Sam’s ad copy is often a little unusual as well. One of my favourite ads he’s running at the minute is the below.
He explicitly calls out that this is an ad. He explains its purpose. And he “leaves” the headline copy as if it were his internal template.
All in all this will most definitely grab the attention of his ideal audience of consultants and owners who need better digital marketing.
Every marketer out there is a critic when it comes to these things.
By purposefully doing it “wrong”, he’s going to get a lot of double-takes from his ideal audience.
That’s the thing with Sam’s ads, he’s never afraid of trying something new.
And you’ll often find a lot of other brands following in his footsteps and running ads with similar ads or creative.
I remember a similar ad of his which ran with a bright coloured background. The text overlay read in clear lettering “This is an ad”. And I remember a lot of people copying it.
In short, Sam’s ads follow timeless best practices.
He uses the AIDA formula for most of his ads. But he isn’t afraid of straying from the generic messages so many others do.
He uses eye-catching creative (by going against the common trends).
And he’s obviously running loads of tests.
But he does it all in slightly different ways to the competition, which really help him stand out.
Here’s the sad truth of marketing information products online. Especially those that promise financial gains.
You’re going to catch a lot of flak from every single doubter out there.
Sam Ovens is no different.
A lot of the top results for Sam Oven’s are asking if he’s running a scam.
This, obviously, is something that needs to be addressed.
If Google is picking it up as an autocomplete, then there’s a good chance a lot of people are looking for it.
Sam would realistically have 3 options here.
- Ignore it and continue to focus on the value he provides
- Try to out-compete these things and be the #1 result for “Sam Ovens Scam” searches
- Work on obliterating any doubt from the people who have expressed an interest
It’s really only #3 that’s a viable method.
Ignoring these things means they could grow beyond your ability to manage. At the very least you have to be aware of the bad press out there.
#2 is just incredibly difficult.
There are so many review sites and forums with insane DA that you’ll struggle to beat.
And even then, saying “I’m not a scam” is something that a scam artist would say.
So Sam built a huge library of reviews for his offer.
In fact, at the time of writing, there are over 3700 reviews averaging a 4.9 / 5.
Each one is a video review, meaning it’s harder to fake and carries more weight with users.
And what I really like is how you can filter these reviews based on things like the size of their business, industry, location.
It makes it easy to find relevant reviews for your needs.
And I think the way he’s organised these reviews is incredible.
The people looking at reviews are one step away from purchasing. They know the offer, they just want to make sure it works before taking the plunge.
So Sam’s offered a no-friction method to sign up from each review.
After filtering the reviews, you can click to watch relevant videos. And in each one, there’s a simple CTA that will take you to the sales page to sign up for a free trial.
It’s a great way to ensure the people who see the review and then believe that this is the program for them are funnelled directly to the page where they can purchase.
I love this whole approach.
Sam hasn’t got defensive with the “is this a scam” people. He’s said nothing himself on the actual topic.
Instead, he’s built a huge library of proof that this isn’t a scam.
And when people find it, he’s given them a friction-free method of signing up.
It’s a really smart way of attacking the most negative aspect of his publicity and fitting it into his wider conversion funnel.
The Consulting.com Growth Model
Here’s an overview of the entire Consulting.com growth model.
- Social ad (often using a unique angle)
- Email capture for the free video training
- A ~30+ minute free training
- Consultation / sales call
- Checkout for the relevant product
Of course there are re-engagement actions at each stage to recapture drop-offs and bring people back to a Consulting.com owned asset.
Also, there’s the natural progression between the programs.
Once a person has completed program A, they’re a natural fit for program B.
The great thing is, a lot of the training and advice Sam has put together could easily be repurposed for the bottom 2 tiers of the program.
There’s a lot of overlap in terms of covering primary problems. And so with one funnel he could, potentially, be getting people into his consulting calls for 2 products.
It’s a great way to maximise the amount of leg work a single funnel can do.
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