How to Write Facebook Ads That Make People Click and Buy

How to Write Facebook Ads That Make People Click and Buy

Mike: 00:02 – All right, we’ve left the fitness machine on and it is cranking out so much fitness we have to give this stuff away. For this month only, buy a membership and get a free toaster? Do people still do this? I need help. Mateo, Mateo. Should I give away toasters in my ad like for free?

Mateo: 00:16 – Well Mike, actually to answer that question, it’s a little bit more complicated than just saying yes or no. I think that toaster might make your ad a little bit more compelling, but there’s definitely a certain group of people who would advise you to not give stuff away. So we should probably talk about it.

Mike: 00:34 – Yeah. And the low-carb guys aren’t going to want the toaster. I might have to have a back-up. Let’s talk about it. Tell you what we’ll do. We’ll devote this week’s episode of Two-Brain Radio, we’ll devote it to writing ad copy. Mateo Lopez has written thousands of ads. We’re going to talk to him and get some advice. I’m Mike Warkentin, I’ll be your host for this week and we’ll be back with Two-Brain Radio right after this.

Mike: 00:52 – If you want to add $5,000 in monthly revenue to your gym, it can be done. If you want to know exactly how, talk to a Two-Brain mentor for free. Book a call it at and we’ll tell you how to add $5,000 to your monthly revenue. Mateo, have you seen a gym do that, add five grand in revenue?

Mateo: 01:09 – Oh, countless.

Mike: 01:11 – Countless. It is not a gimmick, it is actually a thing. So book that call. Now we’re going to tell you how to make some money via some ads. We’re talking about ad copy. I’ve written a few of these. My claim to fame, Mateo, is actually in the advertising industry. I once wrote a 30-second car commercial in less than 30 seconds. That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

Mateo: 01:31 – That actually is pretty cool.

Mike: 01:32 – Yeah, I thought it was funny cause I got so sick of writing them, I just started hammering them out and I thought I could do it one time and I actually managed to do it. I don’t know if it sold any cars, but it was fun for me.

Mateo: 01:42 – Oh no, that’s awesome. That’s great. You should probably just do this whole episode without me. That sounds amazing.

Mike: 01:48 – Well I don’t think it was a very good ad. So I think I’m gonna need you. You’ve probably made more sales than I have. So let me ask you the first question right off the top. Do you need to be a professional writer to write a good ad? What’s your background?

Mateo: 02:00 – No. The answer your question is no, that’s the short answer. So the long answer is also no. Keep going, Mike. The long answer is also no.

Mike: 02:16 – So how did you get into it? Cause I know like we’ve talked on previous shows, you worked at a gym and you know, you do a lot of different things. But when did you decide that you were going to be able to write advertising copy?

Mateo: 02:27 – Well, I want to put a quick caveat in here. John Franklin, my partner, writes a lot of the ad copy for sure. He’s kind of the brains behind that operation. I’ve written some ads though before and definitely feel confident in giving you all the tips on the ins and outs of copywriting 101. But I just wanted to throw that out there.

Mike: 02:50 – But you told me that you guys are basically two halves of one amulet, right? Like I put you guys together, I don’t even need to talk to both of you. I just talk to one of you.

Mateo: 02:55 – No, a hundred, 100%. Yeah, in terms of my background. Yeah, no, I think I was, I don’t know, in school—I think I can toot my own horn a little that I was pretty good at writing essays, and you know, I think critical reading on the SAT was probably my highest score. So reading and writing, I would say I’m pretty confident in spelling and writing and reading, but yes, copywriting is a totally different art and something that honestly, I wish you did learn in school. Because it’s one of those skills that I think is really important to learn and develop. There’s a guy does a copywriting course, but he spells it with a K, I think his name is Neville Medhora. He says “copywriting is the rearranging of words to make things sell better.”

Mateo: 03:52 – And it’s just the text form of sales. So, you know, it’s a really awesome and vital skill to develop and to learn. Having said that, you don’t need to be a pro at it. You don’t need to put in what is it? You have to put in 10,000 hours to become a master or a professional of some thing, right? You don’t need to put in your 10,000 hours. Because I think the most important part about creating a successful ad campaign, a successful ad, period, is the offer. Right? It doesn’t really matter how many, you know, references you’re able to weave into pop culture to make it sound more relatable. It doesn’t matter how many jokes you can squeeze in or wordplay, it really just comes down to the offer. That would kind of be my stance on it. So, you know, you can have some ad copy with spelling mistakes. I know we’ve had some and it won’t matter if your offer is amazing, it really won’t matter. So that’s kinda my take on it.

Mike: 04:58 – Yeah, that’s fascinating cause I’ve had the same experience where I spent 20 years doing journalism, things like that and brief periods here and there running a business and a working radio for a bit, I did write some ad copy and it’s completely different and it’s almost I have to take off one hat and completely put on a different one because it is not the same language anymore. And again, like you said, spelling mistakes, sometimes the way that you would write quote unquote grammatically correct is not how you want to do it in an ad. I’ve seen lots of ads that use much more casual language or even insert errors on sometimes on purpose just to like pique up someone’s ears. So yeah, it’s a fascinating thing.

Mateo: 05:30 – Especially if we’re talking about Facebook ads and Instagram, you’re using emojis, you know, you’re not using emoji in your college application letter.

Mike: 05:39 – Modern hieroglyphics, that’s how we communicate now.

Mateo: 05:42 – No, you’re not doing that. And you mentioned journalism. I mean, yeah, headlines, they’re most of the time not grammatically correct. Purposely so, they want to be short and punchy and eye-catching. So, it’s a weird kind of sphere of writing. You can be really good at writing sales copy in wood and would write a terrible poem or a terrible piece in a journalistic newspaper and you can have an amazing journalist who would probably be really bad at, you know, selling that free toaster online.

Mike: 06:17 – We’ve seen some amazing, amazing ad copy people come out of just the marketing group. Like we look at some of the stuff that I see our people go through. And these are just gym owners. Some of them obviously have some writing skills, some of them have some training and so forth, but many of them are just gym owners who have gone through the course that you guys do, learn how to do it and they’re creating some amazing stuff. So it can be learned, too.

Mateo: 06:37 – Oh yeah, it can definitely be learned. The tricky bit is, you know, and that’s why when you called me about doing this episode on copywriting, I was a little bit intimidated because, you know, there are people who have dedicated their own online course seminars, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of books dedicated to this subject alone. So squeezing it into a 30-minute podcast is going to be tough, but we’re going to try.

Mike: 07:05 – Let’s go right into it and I’ll ask you. So you know, you and John have written thousands of ads. Give me the 10,000-foot view of what does your process look like? Where does your idea come from? How do you sit down and start doing this thing? Like do you have offer first or copy first or what do you do?

Mateo: 07:17 – Yeah, you definitely want the—it’s easier when you have your offer and kind of the, you know, we can even talk about some of the stuff we’ve created for Two-Brain. You know, it’s typically, you know, Chris wants to offer some kind of piece of valuable information to the gym owners in our audience. And then from there we’re able to craft the copy and it’s like, all right, well what’s the actual end result that, you know, this video, this webinar, this ebook, this PDF guide that you’ve designed, Mike, what is the value that we’re gonna give away here? What’s the end result for the gym owner after they read this or watch this or consume this piece of media? And once we have that we can more effectively, you know, write the ad copy. So yeah, it’s definitely easy to—

Mike: 08:06 – Like what you’re solving, you’re figuring out like this thing is—people want to click on this thing for a reason. They’re called lead magnets. We’re going to get into that in another show, but they’re clicking on this thing that once you know why this person might want this thing, you’re probably able to then start framing your copy around their emotions, their needs, their wants.

Mateo: 08:24 – Yeah, exactly. And again the more compelling or rather the more attractive, the more value you’re giving away in the offer, the more attractive the offer is, the more compelling the offer is, you know, the easier it is to write the copy. I mean, you know, you’ve seen the ads for the free six-week challenge. It’s not hard to write ad copy for that because that’s pretty awesome. Especially if it’s at a CrossFit gym. You know, people have now come to understand CrossFit gyms are you know, a little bit more expensive than your Planet Fitness, your Blink, your, you know, whatever have you. And so if people see they’re going to get six weeks free at like this really expensive place or they know CrossFit’s expensive, yeah, I’m going to click on that all day. So, you know, again, it all really comes down to the offer.

Mike: 09:10 – OK. So you’ve got either like a lead magnet or some kind of offer or in some cases your offering, like you just want people, you’re gonna motivate people to book a free call or something like that.

Mateo: 09:20 – Yeah. If you’re talking in the gym space, even other businesses, you know, think about dentists or doctors, you know, free consultation, free evaluation, free in our world, body-fat test or you know, free, I don’t know, running a Spartan race? Come take our free, you know, Spartan race test to see how ready you are or whatever it is. I don’t know, I just made that up. But that kind of a, yes. So you want to have the offer first and then you’re able to kind of go from there.

Mike: 09:54 – Okay. So you’ve got your offer in place. At that point, are you thinking about like the voice that you’re using for, say the audience, like say my ad is going to be targeted at, you know, 18 to 45 or 45 to 60. Are you tailoring things that way or are you kind of just writing in a language that you know, kind of works and flows on Facebook? Are you tailoring it for the people of the audience or the medium?

Mateo: 10:14 – Yeah, so there are different kinds of lenses that you can use, if that makes sense. So, and yeah, this will definitely also depend on the audience for sure. So I mean, there’s lots of ways you can kind of describe this or you know, some people say there’s five lenses, 10 lenses, 10, different kind of approaches or tones of voices. I think there are three popular ones that I’ve seen referenced by different people and copywriters in the internet marketing space. The first is kinda like that competitive lens. And so the idea here is that your headline or your ad copy, it’s a little bit more aggressive. And this is if you’re targeting, you know, people with Type A personalities, people who are competitive. So actually this might kind of, this might work for certain people who are attracted to CrossFit and that the competitive aspect aspect to training.

Mateo: 11:12 – You know, the famous one in our space is the old Mike Chang ads. And he wasn’t even the first one to come up with these. There were people doing this in the 90s, but it’s like trainers hate this guy. Find out the revolutionary Chinese herbal supplement that he’s discovered that allows him to eat like a pig, but like look shredded 24/7 or whatever it is. You know what I mean?

Mike: 11:34 – It didn’t work for me.

Mateo: 11:35 – You tried them?

Mike: 11:37 – Bought it, didn’t work.

Mateo: 11:39 – But that’s like the competitive kind of aggressive kind of lens, if that makes sense. The tone of voice, the way of speaking.

Mike: 11:47 – It’s a bit challenging, right?

Mateo: 11:49 – Or you see this on, you know, headlines in a lot of the YouTube spaces now, especially if you go down any kind of political rabbit holes where, you know, college student destroyed by, you know, so and so, pundant when he visited a college campus or whatever.

Mateo: 12:11 – So this kind of aggressive language, it’s attractive to certain people and it piques your curiosity, makes you want to click.

Mike: 12:17 – So setting up a bit of a confrontation, right? It’s kind of like train wreck kind of stuff. Gotta click.

Mateo: 12:24 – You know, you want to dominate the search results with this one SEO trick. Like that’s, you know, so that can work, right, depending on your audience. And you can have fun with that kind of a tone. Sometimes you can, I know John likes to be a little bit irreverent, and that tends to get noticed because yeah, you know, you want to be kind of confrontational, kind of feisty. So that’s one kind of lens. The other one is the benefit-driven kind of a lens. And this is geared more towards like analytical people, people who basically need like a rational reason to do something.

Mateo: 13:04 – I need to understand, I need to have like a, a clear, logical reason to take the next step of clicking this ad.

Mike: 13:10 – The Spocks.

Mateo: 13:10 – Yeah. The Spocks of the world. Exactly.

Mike: 13:13 – Mr. Spock needs a reason to buy this product.

Mateo: 13:16 – So, you’re showing the benefits of your service or your program, you’re using numbers, data, statistics, that kind of thing.

Mateo: 13:26 – So it’s kind of data driven and it’s really like you’ve gotta show them the logic, you gotta to show them the data and you’ve got to give them kind of clear links between everything.

Mateo: 13:34 – Yeah. I’ve seen a quote, I don’t know if this—a couple of people have been given credit for coining this quote or for saying this quote. You know, numbers are like brain candy, right? Our brains are attracted to numbers.

Mateo: 13:50 – And so if you’re throwing that in there, you know, especially for the more analytical people, your ad might get noticed a little bit more.

Mike: 13:57 – Top five reasons your gym is failing.

Mateo: 14:00 – Exactly. The most famous one that I could think of is, you know, Geico, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. Very effective headline, very effective ad copy. And you remember it. I remember it cause you know, well obviously they have commercials everywhere, but again, the numbers thing, right? And that’s the benefit, right? Your benefit for you is you could save 15% of your car insurance. So, that’s the benefit-focused lens. You said top five reasons, you know, 60, you know, all that stuff. The third one is the, you know, more inspirational lens, right? So this is the idea that you’re kind of highlighting what’s possible for your prospects after they use your services, right?

Mike: 14:52 – We’re talking cocoon and the butterfly here.

Mateo: 14:53 – Yes, exactly. And you know, something that we’ve used for Two-Brain is, you know, learn how to market your business on Facebook with zero technical knowledge, right? It’s like you’re already starting to kind of overcome some of—you’re starting to handle some objections that I was like, Oh, I don’t want to use Facebook ads cause I’m, you know, computer illiterate. Like don’t worry, learn how to do it with zero technical knowledge, right? Zero technical experience. I’m not a techie person or the, you know, Facebook marketing for your gym, for the non-computer geek or whatever. Right? That’s kinda the idea.

Mike: 15:32 – So that’s an aspirational kind of thing, right? Like that’s aspirational where you’re showing that you’re taking them, you know, you’re at a spot and maybe you think that you can’t get to this thing, but we’re going to show you how, and we’re gonna help you do it.

Mateo: 15:41 – Yeah. For the gym owners, right? Like, you know, the gym for non-gym people or you know, CrossFit for people who are scared of the gym. But that’s kind of the idea, right? You know, the six-week challenge, if you’re talking about that, if you’re talking about some kind of a program, your ad copy is going to mention like, you know, for total beginners, don’t worry, we can take you from zero to hero in six weeks or whatever it is. Right? So that’s kind of the other lens, that you can kind of work with. So that was a long way of answering your question about yes, so tone is taken into consideration. I don’t know that we lead with that when we’re writing our ads. You know, we’re kind of just writing, kind of based on, you know, what comes out’s usually just kind of just like an aspect of our personalities. But you do want to think a little bit about your audience, and make sure that your tone reflects that.

Mike: 16:50 – Well, the reason, you know, the reason it comes out I think like that is because it’s hard wired for you. Like you’ve done this for so long, you know this stuff. It’s not like you’re looking up the three lenses or whatever every time you’re trying to write an ad, you’ve just got that in there where it’s like, I’ve got a challenge kind of ad, I’m going to write a second one that’s gonna be a little more inspirational. Like you’ve got this down. Again, like when I write blogs and stuff, I don’t have to sit there and go through like I don’t write an outline and things like that. It’s just I know the piece and I can go. But those ideas are super helpful for people out there who are trying to think of how can I frame an ad or I don’t know what to say. You sit down and you got the blinking cursor and they’re struggling. Those are three really good ways that people can now take a look at presenting an offer.

Mateo: 17:29 – Oh no, I was just gonna—you made me think of something. The other cool part is it, you can write an ad with all three lenses, and what’s great about Facebook is it’s going to tell you which one wins better. You know what I mean? Or does better, right? Facebook will pick the winner or show you the winner for you, so then you know for next time, okay, well my audience really responds to this kind of a tone or doesn’t.

Mike: 17:49 – And that goes back to what you said before where you’re testing stuff. So it’s like whatever you write, if it doesn’t work, write something different, then try that again, then test it and start evaluating. You also talked a little bit, we won’t get into the weeds with it, but you’ve talked about dynamic creative, where if you are really good at writing stuff, you can write a whole bunch of different stuff. Let Facebook serve it up to people and then Facebook will tell you, this one sucks. It’s out. This one is working really well. More people are gonna see it. Correct?

Mateo: 18:14 – 100%. Yeah. I mean, John does that. He writes like five to 10 headlines and you’re able to plug them all in and it’ll match it up with all the different images, different ad copy that you wrote, and it’ll find for you the winning combo.

Mike: 18:28 – Okay. So we won’t get into the details of that because that’s a lot of people aren’t gonna be able to just crank out five. Like John can do it like a machine. You can do it. A lot of people, you know, all those combos are gonna be tough. They’re thinking about how do I write one thing? We’ll give some advice here. What are some do’s, essential stuff for ad copy when you’re writing, what is some stuff you just, you kind of have to do?

Mateo: 18:51 – Well, what you could do is just sign up for Two-Brain and we’ve got a catalog of ad copy that we’ve tested that you don’t have to write for yourself and you can copy and paste right into your Facebook ads manager. You don’t have to worry about a single thing.

Mike: 19:08 – So you just need to know control A, control V.

Mateo: 19:10 – Yeah, exactly. Yep. You just copy paste and you’re good to go there. So that’s step one. Step two is yes. If you’re trying to you know, get involved yourself, step two would be find a professional and have them do it for you. You know, that’s the other way, especially if you’re an entrepreneurial minded and you’re trying to set up systems and you’re trying to get to your Perfect Day where you’re just sitting on the couch drinking coffee and then coming in to coach two classes and then you’re done.

Mateo: 19:41 – And then you get to play with the dog. Yeah. You want to find someone to be able to do this for you. If you’re not there yet and you need to kind of innovate and do it yourself, you know, something that helped us, I know that has helped me is there are a lot of templates online that can kind of help you get started, right? You don’t want to rely on templates because then all your ads will start to sound like a robot made them, but they can at least help you get your mind going in the right direction and it’ll kind of help you understand the flow and then you can start to inject, you know, what’s really relevant for your audience and then you put in your personality and all that good stuff. So I mean, if we’re talking headlines, for example, this might not be completely relevant for the ads we write for gym owners, but one I’ve seen is, you know, end result that your people in your audience want plus a time period and then plus like an objection-handling thing.

Mateo: 20:46 – Right? You know, increase walk-ins this month without paying Zuckerberg for ads, right?

Mike: 20:56 – That’s all three.

Mateo: 20:56 – That would be a headline maybe we might write for the gym owners. Maybe if you are creating an ebook, maybe a recipe book for people in your audience and you’e a gym owner, how to make gluten-free pizza in 10 minutes under five bucks. That could be another headline and that’s again, just following that really simple formula I just gave you.

Mike: 21:23 – Say that formula for me one more time.

Mateo: 21:24 – So it will be end result that the person wants plus the time period plus plus handle the objection. People you know, want to eat paleo, but they know it’s expensive. So if you had a paleo cookbook, you know, that headline could be, like I said, how to make gluten-free pizza in under 10 minutes for under five bucks.

Mike: 21:45 – Lose 20 pounds in six weeks without working out.

Mateo: 21:47 – Exactly. I don’t even know if either of those things are possible. What we just said. I don’t know if you can get ingredients for a gluten-free pizza for under five bucks. I don’t think you can lose weight without working out, but yes, that’s kind of like, you know, one way to go about it. Another one is, you know, take this action plus this time period plus the end result. Right? So, watch my video series. It’ll take five minutes, become an expert closer or whatever, become an expert at sales, just making stuff up here. But that’s kinda the idea, right? And there are tons of formulas out there. Those are just two that I Googled before this talk to kind of jog my memory of where I’ve seen them and what I’ve used before.

Mike: 22:41 – And there’s infinite variations you can start to play with, I’m sure, when you have your offer in mind, you can then tailor those things and kind of play with things a little bit. And by always linking them up to features and benefits and some of the lenses that you talked about.

Mateo: 22:52 – Exactly. So that’s your headline, and I mean that’s not an exhaustive talk on headlines. There’s so much more that we could go into about writing effective, clickable headlines.

Mike: 23:07 – Hold on. Mateo, hold on. Chris Cooper just handed me some ad copy here. I’m just going to test it out for you. Give me one sec. Hi guys. Before we go any further with Mateo, I want to ask you a question. Remember when pictures of bloody hands and vomit attracted clients to your gym? That was a thing, but it stopped working in about 2011. It’s also not enough to be a great coach or programmer. The key to success in 2020 is building a personal relationship with each client, then helping that client’s friends and family. Total ad spend: zero bucks. The average gym owner can also add 45 grand a year in revenue just by keeping each client a few months longer. Two-Brain’s new affinity marketing and retention guides will give you everything you need to know. These are lead magnets. You can get both and 13 others for free. Visit Is that ad copy any good or do we want to redo that?

Mateo: 23:55 – Oh man, I mean it went so fast. I’d love to like break it down piece by piece, but like the one thing—let’s talk about the first part, right? So if you’re trying to write the body of your text for your ad copy, there’s a few ways you can start. The first one is not the first one, but one of the popular ones, which Chris literally just, what you just read hits is, ask the question, right? So, what you’re talking about is you need, you need a hook, right? The first piece is like a hook. Well, the first piece, you got to get their attention. You’ve got to get their attention. That’s what the headline’s for the or the image or whatever it is. You’ve got to get their attention.

Mateo: 24:38 – You got to get them to stop scrolling, right? So that’s what your headline is. That’s what your picture is. And we can talk about pictures in a little bit here, but you’re trying to get them to stop scrolling. Once they stop scrolling, you’ve got about like five seconds for them to like maybe read a little bit and you need to hook them in that amount of time. So itThat needs to happen right away, right at the top of that body of the Facebook ad text. And so, there are many ways to do a hook. And one of them is the one that you just said, which is, ask the question. And so it was like, you remember when you used to see those images and then it’s like, ah, I remember that. Or it’s like, hey, quick question, are you looking to lose weight in six weeks? Or hey, quick question. Have you ever tried eating paleo but it’s too expensive? You know, all those.

Mike: 25:27 – Cause the brain wants to answer, right? The brain just wants to answer.

Mateo: 25:30 – So that’s the ask-the-question kind of way of starting off your ad copy.

Mike: 25:37 – So that’s a good point that you’ve made. Like just I want to really emphasize like what you just said is you have minimal time to get someone’s attention. That’s why you like on YouTube, when you see an ad pop up on a video that you’ve clicked the video, you want, an ad pops up and you can skip in five seconds or whatever. They’ve got five seconds to get your attention. They’re front loading everything into that five seconds to try and get you watch more and not hit skip. So a big action item guys is when you’re writing ad copy is you got to get that front, the very first part has to be something that impacts people.

Mateo: 26:07 – Yeah, I mean another one, I used to do Facebook live videos in the group for our clients. And I would go over some of these ads that we would see. Someone who was in our space, not a obviously direct competitor, but like the guy who does kinobody, Greg O’Gallagher, he’s gone viral cause he has that YouTube video where he pretends he’s like Bruce Wayne and he basically sells like an online training program. It’s like a PDF and teaches like macro stuff. And I think he also like now sells supplements. But anyway, he has a really, really great ad and it says, quick question, have you ever wondered how Hollywood celebrities get so shredded so fast, so quickly for their roles? That is a great hook cause like, yeah, I have wondered that and a lot of people in our audience, a lot of guys especially are probably asking that same question and then he goes and breaks it down.

Mateo: 27:01 – So anyway, asking a question is a great way to hook a hook your reader. Another one is use an anecdote, and that’s kind of sort of, this ad copy kind of combined the two. It was both a question and like an anecdote of like this used to be that thing you would see, remember. And the anecdote’s like a relatable story, right? That you can use to grab people’s attention. And that was a relatable story. We used to see those posts of bloodied hands on Instagram after the Open or just working out all the time.

Mike: 27:35 – And then all the Navy SEALs and military guys and girls signed up for CrossFit. Now we’ve got to find someone else.

Mateo: 27:40 – Yeah. And using an anecdote is great cause it also allows you to build rapport and connect with your prospect. It makes you seem like, oh, like you’re a real human who’s had real experiences like I have, know what I mean?

Mike: 27:52 – Chris is good for that. Cooper’s great at that.

Mateo: 27:52 – He’s a master at that. If we’re talking about ad copy, you gotta stop, get people’s attention. That’s I guess step one and step two is you got to hook them.

Mike: 28:08 – Okay. I’m going to skip t, the thing that I think might be—you tell me if I’m right. I think this might be the second most important thing after that first, you know, grab their attention. You got to give them a call to action. Am I right?

Mateo: 28:22 – Yeah. That’s at the end for sure.

Mike: 28:25 – If I miss something, fill it in.

Mateo: 28:28 – Yeah, that’s definitely the last step. But once you hook them, you kind of want to start talking to them about, you know, you’re highlighting some problem and then you’re going to talk about your awesome, the benefit of your service or some kind of promised solutions.

Mike: 28:55 – Features and benefits, transformational stuff, aspirational things, motivational stuff, everything that’s going to tell people how they’re going to get from their current state to their desired state via your product or service.

Mateo: 29:06 – Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better than you just did right now. So, again this is almost kind of formulaic and you know, we talked about how you want to be careful of that stuff, but yeah, it’s like ever wonder how Hollywood celebrities get shredded so quickly? How do they do it? Well you can now get shredded this summer with our awesome six-week challenge for a limited time only at half the price. So you’re highlighting that kind of benefit or your promise or whatever it is that your program is going to do for people who are, you know, in your audience, right? Another way to do that instead of the Hollywood thing is like, are you looking to get shredded this summer? Get shredded this summer with our six-week challenge, right? Like you can’t use that on Facebook which is why I’m talking about it now. Like you won’t get approved with that kind of an ad, but that’s kinda the way you want to think about it, right? You want to ask the question and then provide like, you know, have you ever got started with a fitness routine and then just stopped? Well, do you want to like stick to one and actually get results? Join our six-week challenge for a limited time only, it’s half off. So it’s just a very simple promise-based kind of piece of text.

Mike: 30:28 – Yeah. And one of the things that you mentioned in one of your, I think the third example, previous, was some scarcity. You know, you said limited time here and that’s one of those ones that definitely in copy seems to motivate people. There’s a current video game that I’m playing and you know, there’s some stuff that you can buy and when it says, you know, you can buy it, I don’t care, but when it says expiring soon, I want to buy it. Right. That scarcity definitely motivates people.

Mateo: 30:50 – Yeah. We’re bouncing around, but yes, 100%. If you can work in scarcity and urgency, especially when you get around to asking about taking action, you definitely want to do that. And that’s why I said, you know, there’s no really one template for this cause you can put that in various places. You know, just depending on how you want the copy to flow, you can put at the beginning, you could put at the end, you can put in the middle, you can repeat it over and over and just say it in different ways. If you’re doing long-form copy, you know, there’s no one right way to do that. So you your hook. You’re stopping them from scrolling, you’re getting their attention, you’ve got your hook, and then you’ve got your awesome promise or your benefit of your service or your promise and then everything else under that, it’s just going to support that, right?

Mateo: 31:43 – So everything you’re writing should support and lead back to that either by talking about social proof, so, you know, are you looking to get shredded this summer, get shredded this summer with our ultimate six-week challenge for a limited time, only at half the price. This is the same six-week challenge that’s been given five stars by 1000 Hoboken locals. Or this six-week challenge designed by Mateo Lopez, trainer to the celebrities. Or this six-week challenge was designed by scientists in a lab from the CrossFit kingdom and so you know it’s gonna work. You know, something like that where you’re supporting the benefit or you’re supporting what you’re claiming, right? You’re supporting your promise.

Mike: 32:30 – Structure around that claim and you’re proving it, basically, it’s telling people why it’s gonna work or why they should trust you or, you know, building your authority essentially.

Mateo: 32:41 – And the next thing you want to do is you want to make sure that this relates back to the reader. You may have already done some work if you started with your hook as like an anecdotal story. So that’s kind of in that ad you read me from Chris, he kinda did that. This is a relatable story, so you’re already—

Mike: 32:59 – I won’t blame Chris for that one. That was me. I won’t pin my mistakes on Chris.

Mateo: 33:01 – Oh well there you go. You already kind of started to do that, but if you haven’t in your ad copy, you know, you can transition back to the reader and be like, basically you’re just saying, if you’re this kind of person with this kind of situation, then this program is the right one for you, right?

Mike: 33:26 – You’re qualifying a little bit.

Mateo: 33:27 – Exactly. If you’re a Hoboken local looking to get in shape but don’t know where to start, then this program is for you. Right? That kind of transitioning there to tie it back to the person reading. So the last piece is what you said, Mike, is that final call to action. So what do you want them to actually do? If you’re ready to get started, if you’re ready to get shredded this summer, click the link below and book your intro at the gym today or download this paleo cookbook now to be the master at gluten-free pizzas and impress all your friends, whatever it is.

Mike: 34:09 – It’s funny cause you don’t see it all that often. But if you look at ads enough you will see ads that forget a call to action. And there are some funny ones I’ve seen people put up where it’s like they’ve got what looks to be an okay ad and then there’s just nothing. It’s like there was a funny one, it wasn’t a good ad, but someone put it up in the group the other day. Pardon me. And it was like a snow-clearing service or something like that. And there was just, I’ll do this, here’s the price, here’s the thing, here’s the benefit. And there was like no phone number, no contact info or something like that. And it was like a flyer that someone had printed and no call to action equals no sales.

Mateo: 34:41 – Where I see this error the most actually is on people’s websites. It’s like people will land on someone’s website and there’s no kind of a benefit or promise or a brand promise or benefit to the reader. And there’s no call to action on the site when they land there. Like there’s nothing.

Mike: 35:00 – Book a call.

Mateo: 35:00 – Exactly. Book your intro, book now. Looking to get in shape? Book your intro now. Like that’s that’s really a simple—you have to have at least that on your website.

Mike: 35:21 – How do I do this thing? How do I do the thing that you’re telling me to do?

Mateo: 35:25 – Exactly. So we bounced around a lot there, but that’s essentially the flow for writing. You know, that’s like the 101, the basic, just like if you want to get just something written down that can be effective, that’s kind of the flow. But again, it really comes down to the offer, you know, get shredded this summer with a free six-week challenge, I mean, that’s gonna get a lot more clicks than the one we just wrote 10 seconds ago. You know, I mean, now not everyone can offer that, so there’s somewhere in the middle between those two where I think, you know, there’s kind of the sweet spot if you can get there.

Mike: 36:09 – So I’ll give you from listening to this and learning here, I’ll give you a summary and you tell me if I’m astray here. You wanna you want to catch their attention early with a headline and the very first line or two, maybe five seconds, whatever it is, you got to capture attention. After that, you’re going to, you know, present your offer and support it with either social proof, expertise, authority, research data, something like that. And that can go on very—that can be a short thing or it can be a long thing. I’ve seen you guys write long and short ads, see which one performs better. And then you’re gonna try and relate this to the person’s needs and benefits. Likely you’re going to swing it back their way. You know, people like, you need this thing or have succeeded with this thing.

Mateo: 36:50 – You’ve been suffering with this problem for this long. Like this is the solution here.

Mike: 36:54 – Yup. And then you’re going to close by telling them what to do. And I think if our listeners take a look at ads that they see or listen to stuff, Super Bowl ads are coming up, big ones are coming up. Take a listen to stuff. If you listen to these ads and look at them, you’re going to see those parts in there, and you’re going to see variations of it and you’re going to see some really clever, weird stuff that brilliant people come up with and totally break the mould. And that’s like, that’s where some pretty professional people come up with some amazing stuff that you’ll see probably in the Super Bowl, but they’re all going to have some elements of that in there.

Mateo: 37:25 – Mike, you summarize it better than I could and that was amazing.

Mike: 37:29 – Well, I’m taking your info and just spitting it right back at you. So, people out there, Mateo, you brought this up, if people are listening and they’re just like, I do not want to do this, at Two-Brain, we do have stuff that you can cut and paste. You don’t have to figure out ad copy yourself. Correct?

Mateo: 37:45 – Correct. Or like, you know, do what I did, which was just spy on everyone else’s and see what people in your neighbors, your industry are doing and see what’s working. And then you know, don’t reinvent the wheel. Just make it your own. Look at the big franchises, right? I mean, Orangetheory, their offer is pretty much the same every time. And they’re just kinda rotating through different images and different ways of phrasing it. But it’s try a free class, book a free class. That’s it. That’s all they really pump out. And they just present that in a different way, remix it when they need to refresh their campaigns. But, so that’s an option, right? Look at the Orangetheory, go to the business’ page on Facebook, go to page transparency and go to the ad library and you can just see what people are doing around you and see what’s working and go from there.

Mike: 38:45 – And of course, as we always recommend, test. Check your data. If you write something you think is great, but the market thinks it sucks, then it therefore sucks. If you think it’s bad and the market thinks is great and it’s crushing it and bringing you leads, you need to hit more of that. So check your data all the time. It’s not like it was in the past where you would just throw something up and just hope it works. Now you can check it, alter and then recreate stuff that really works. So always check it out. Look at your data. I’m going to give you a call to action right here. I’m Mike Warkentin with Mateo Lopez. This is Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe for more great shows. And if you’re a gym owner and if you need some help growing your business, Two-Brain managers can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on to find out more iv you’re a person who wants to do this. I don’t know. Did I close it out Mateo? Is that okay? It wasn’t bad.

Mateo: 39:34 – I think you got the job done, Mike.

Mike: 39:36 – All right, we’re good. All right, thanks for listening guys. We’ll catch you next time on Two-Brain Radio.

Announcer: 39:41 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Chris: 00:02 – Per Mattsson is a Two-Brain mentor. He is the founder of Coaches Congress Sweden, a huge multi-day event for gym owners and coaches in Stockholm. This week we’ve been talking about building an audience, and I wanted to get Per on the podcast to talk about how to build a huge audience, whether you’re running an event or a competition or like summit event, or you just want to grow your business because the way that Per did this step-by-step is really fascinating. He didn’t use any Facebook ads, didn’t really use any attention-getting marketing at all. He built it one person at a time. I also want you to hear how he established trust with his audience because last year after 280 people signed up to come and hear Greg Glassman talk, Greg couldn’t make it at the last minute, and so the trust the audience had in Per really carried him through that.

Chris: 00:53 – Now he’s going to tell you the story in his own words, so I don’t want to spoil it. Per’s also going to tell you how to extend that audience to talk to people in the periphery, how people in the Coaches Congress group invite their friends and bring their coaches the following year and how that attracts other people who add value like other speakers and sponsors. It’s a great deep dive into how to build an audience, how to sustain an audience, and how to make the people in that audience feel special even as the audience grows. I think you’re going to love it.

Chris: 01:22 – Welcome to Two-Brain Radio. I’m your host, Chris Cooper, here every week with the best of the fitness industry. Got a sec? We would love to hear from you. I write emails to my mailing list every day and it’s a highlight when somebody takes the time to respond. If you’ve got feedback on my show or a guest you’d like to hear on Two-Brain Radio, email and don’t forget to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio wherever you get your podcasts. Per Mattsson. Welcome back to Two-Brain Radio.

Per: 01:52 – Thanks. Nice being here again.

Chris: 01:54 – It’s great to have you. You’re a man of many talents. You’ve been on the show before to talk about having hard conversations and leadership. And today we’re going to talk about building an audience because you’re also good at that.

Per: 02:04 – Yup. I hope so. And I think so. Yeah.

Chris: 02:06 – Yeah, definitely. And so today we’re going to be talking specifically about a big event that you host every year, Coaches Congress. Tell us a little bit about that. What is Coaches Congress?

Per: 02:18 – Coaches Congress, is an annual summit that I started here in Sweden in 2012 I think it was. And we tried to be like, a place for coaches and gym owners to meet up every year to share experiences, learn new stuff about being business owners or about being more professional as coaches. So it’s basically a summit right? Every year for coaches and gym owners.

Chris: 02:53 – What said to you, I need to do this, you know, like why did you want to do it?

Per: 02:59 – I think it was because before, you know, starting a gym or actually at the same time as running my first CrossFit gym, I was working. My professional background is in school systems. I’ve been a teacher and I’ve been a principal and I also worked a couple of years as a leadership consultant. And doing that I was like training teachers and principals and politicians around leadership connected to the school system. And I was often one of the speakers at different kinds of events and conferences in Sweden and in Finland mainly. And then when I started a CrossFit gym, we had like three or four CrossFit gyms in Sweden. So the community was quite small and I felt that after a couple of years we had no real gathering point except from competitions. And I wanted to create the place where we could meet up, where we could grow as leaders, as coaches and as professionals.

Per: 04:04 – Because I think one of the main reasons that I started a CrossFit gym from the beginning was that I really wanted to prove something to, you know, people in Sweden that what we think we know about fitness in general is often quite wrong. So I think it’s a mix of me being quite competitive and me wanting to help people. So I wanted to help gym owners and coaches and I was a bit competitive with the fitness industry in general and really wanted to prove something and I can’t do that on my own. So we need all of us who run microgyms, CrossFit gyms, we need to be in it together basically. So I just saw an opportunity to help, I think.

Chris: 04:52 – So you didn’t want to include a competition. I think if you’re listening to this, the advice that Per is going to share with us on building an audience would really help you if you are running a local competition because you probably don’t have a marketing budget for it, but more in a general sense of just building like an audience of attention for your business, I think these are the big lessons that we’re going to learn from you today, Per. So what I want to talk about first is like you said that the reason that you started Coaches Congress was because nobody else was doing it and you thought that something like this should exist. Why didn’t you want to include like a throwdown or some kind of CrossFit competition in there?

Per: 05:33 – Because I was also running one of Sweden’s largest elite competitions in CrossFit. Mainly for the same reason; I wanted to prove that competitions could be done better than the ones that people were doing in Sweden at the time. So I already had that project going and I think I would say it’s two totally different things. If I meet up with owners and coaches to learn more about being a business owner and being a better coach, I think that is what I would like to focus on and not just throw in a competition the same weekend or something like that. And me personally, when we did the competition, I was always the speaker, so I never had the time to actually talk to anyone. So you know, all of these people that I really loved meeting, gym owners, great athletes, I never had the opportunity to talk to them throughout that weekend and they just, you know, messaged me afterwards and thanking me for a great competition and I’m like, OK, so you were there in the audience. Cool. All right. So I just I wanted to have the opportunity to talk to people also.

Chris: 06:48 – And that opportunity is hard to find when you’re at a competition.

Per: 06:52 – Yeah. Because focus is on that competition, right? Especially if you’re one of the organizers, but yeah.

Chris: 07:01 – Yeah, we found the same really. You know, when we’re invited to speak about business at a competition, boy, it’s really hard to keep people’s minds on the business because they’re so attracted to the competition and are worried about their athletes and, you know, I would be the exact same way. So, OK. So when you were starting to plan Coaches Congress, you know, several years ago, what did you think would be the hardest part of putting this event on?

Per: 07:30 – I have to think on that one because, if you would ask my girlfriend, she would call me a bit naive every now and then because I don’t think before I act. So I think I just had an idea and in my head it sounded really great and fun and I asked my business partners, what do you think guys? And they said, yeah, go for it. So I don’t think I actually thought it through. I couldn’t see any potential problems because we didn’t take any big risks or anything. We booked a place outside of Stockholm with cheap accommodation and food and stuff like that. So we wanted to make it easy for people to come. And that’s where we started. So there was no like financial risk in it for me or for us in the beginning at least.

Chris: 08:27 – So when you started Coaches Congress, was it just you, were your gym partners involved or did you have other partners too?

Per: 08:34 – It was me and my business partners in the gym. Yeah. And then we just, you know, asked around people that we knew and respected and that we thought had knowledge that could be valuable for gym owners and coaches. We asked them if they wanted to present.

Chris: 08:50 – OK. And we’re certainly going to come to that. I want to start with how you got attendees to show up. So, you know, you started by just saying I’m going to do this. You found a location, then you started finding speakers. But how did you get the attention of the first person who paid you money to come to this event?

Per: 09:09 – I think I had two different methods. I think one of them was through the network that we had thanks to our being competition arrangers or organizers. So we had a fairly large network and also because I was quite early in the CrossFit community in Sweden we were a tight-knit community. So I reached out to them and told them, I’m going to do this. What do you think of this idea? Yeah, sign us up. So I think that was it. And then we have a group in Sweden, a Facebook group called CF Sweden and I just posted in that group, and I think that every gym owner and most athletes and coaches are in that group as well.

Chris: 09:59 – So, OK. So you were leveraging audiences that you already had, took a second to think about who do I know. So did you send an email to the other gym owners and say, here’s what we’re doing, here’s the price, or was it something else?

Per: 10:15 – Actually I just wrote them on Facebook, personal PM them on Facebook first. The first year. Yeah. I think I only used Facebook the first year, actually.

Chris: 10:26 – That’s very interesting. And one of the things that you use on Facebook was a Facebook group. And since then you started your own group for Coaches Congress. How is that different from the CF Sweden group?

Per: 10:39 – At least, I tried to make it a bit different because I wanted a group with owners and coaches only. So in the beginning it was a private group, so you had to be invited into that group. Then we went the big back and forward. So then we made it an open group. So I’m not sure now if there are other people in that group that are not coaches or owners. But we started by, you know, starting with a private group with invitation only to try to have a group that was more valuable in terms of the discussions being made in it.

Chris: 11:17 – Was it originally for people who might come to Coaches Congress or people who were definitely coming to Coaches Congress?

Per: 11:24 – I think actually that we started that group after the first year’s event. So I think I started it then to keep like, yeah, keep momentum, keep people engaged and as a way of building my audience for the next year’s event.

Chris: 11:41 – I think that’s a great idea too. When you were setting your original prices, how did you decide what to charge for Coaches Congress?

Per: 11:49 – Like an amateur, you know, projecting and but also to be fair, I wanted to make the choice of coming really, really simple because I knew that most gym owners were, you know, doing it the way I was doing it back then, as a hobby. So I think we charged like $100 a person or something like that for two days, a two-day event. And they also had to pay for, you know, accommodation and stuff like that. So I wanted to make it really, really easy. So it was very cheap.

Chris: 12:29 – How many people attended the first year?

Per: 12:30 – 83.

Chris: 12:33 – Well, that’s really fantastic. I’m pretty sure, well, I know for a fact that’s more than we had at the first Two-Brain summit because I think that number was like 26 or something. Might have been 30.

Per: 12:42 – Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was super fun. I was like, I had a dream goal of a hundred and a worst-case scenario in my head was 40 to 50. So 83 was cool, and we had gym owners coming from Finland and Sweden, so I was quite happy.

Chris: 12:59 – How did you find speakers for that first event?

Per: 13:03 – Personal network work, I would say. So we asked one guy that we had taken an education from like a physical trainer education and he was really knowledgeable. So we asked him. We asked around in our network and in the CrossFit community, who do you want to come? I knew or I know Mat Jacobson, asked him and he wanted to come. And he’s a great guy and a great presenter. So, I think also we asked people who were a bit nerdy around their special topics. And I think that people like that, they always like to tell people about their hobbies or their special interests and they really appreciate it when you ask them if they want to talk or speak.

Chris: 13:56 – That’s very true.

Chris: 13:57 – Hey guys, Chris Cooper here. I wrote the bestselling fitness business book of all time, but I often think about taking it off the shelves. Here’s why. Business evolves quickly and while the ideas in my book “Two-Brain Business” still have value, my program has evolved. That’s where my most recent book comes in. In “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” I break the entrepreneur’s journey into stages because the things that work in the first stage don’t work in the second and vice versa. Everything I put in that book is based on thousands of hours on the phone with gym owners and tens of thousands of dollars in research. I know what works, when it works and why it works. I’m not just going to try and inspire you with pie-in-the-sky philosophy and memes about grinding and hustling. I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions based on what the best gyms in the world are doing to succeed. You can spin your tires like I did 10 years ago as a struggling gym owner or you can avoid my mistakes by reading a book based on a decade of knowledge. Check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon. I wrote it to help people like you. And now, back to Two-Brain Radio.

Chris: 14:59 – What about sponsors? I mean one of the things that impressed me the most when I visited last year was how many sponsors there were. And you know, how professional they looked.

Per: 15:09 – Yeah. First three years we didn’t have any sponsors except from Eleiko. So we’ve always been very close to Eleiko, they have always been helping us with our gyms, with our competitions, and with this event. So, and the location where we were, we weren’t allowed to bring in any other sponsors, so we couldn’t really use sponsors. So it was just Eleiko the first years. And then actually last year was the first year that we had more exhibitors and sponsors.

Chris: 15:43 – So how do you attract more sponsors? You know, how do you approach them? Is it an email? Is it a phone call, and how do you sell them on the idea of being there?

Per: 15:54 – Email, definitely. I think same thing as, you know, with people with nerdy interests and stuff like that, you know, many of the sponsors or partners or exhibitors connected to CrossFit is they are also really nerdy about their businesses. That’s what I think at least. So they love events like this, a bit more smaller in scale than big fairs and exhibitions like that. So they get the great opportunity to really talk to all the owners and coaches longer than just two minutes or something like that. So they appreciate that, I think. And also, last year, we were promised from CrossFit HQ that Greg Glassman was going to come to the event so we had a lot of people signing up and if you know that you have like 60, 70, or even 80 gym owners from all over Europe coming, and if you want to, you know, do business with gym owners, then that would be a great place to be. Right. So I don’t even think we had to ask some of the exhibitors because they emailed us and asked if they could come.

Chris: 17:09 – And what questions did the exhibitors ask you about the venue? Was it just tactical stuff like what kind of space will we have or was it more, you know, who’s coming, how should we approach them?

Per: 17:21 – Who’s coming? How should we approach them? And also they wanted to know about the presenters and speakers also. So, at least the professional exhibitors and sponsors, they ask questions like that. Who’s coming? How should we prepare? Is it mostly gym owners or mostly coaches? What do you think would be good things to present for us? Stuff like that. So the professional ones, they ask you a lot of questions.

Chris: 17:51 – That’s good. And we’ve had the same experience with the summit too. Companies, they have booths and they get an amazing return just from the number of people that they meet there. So my question is, you know, how do you attract people who are beyond your personal connection? Let’s imagine that, you know every gym owner in Sweden. Well that’s impossible, but you definitely don’t know every gym owner in Finland or Norway. And I also met people there from the UK. You know, why did those people come to Coaches Congress?

Per: 18:27 – I think it was mainly because of two different things. One of them was like people who had been to the Congress had been telling their friends and other gym owners in their country or area about it. And I also had a couple of personal friends in Finland because when I used to work there as a leadership consultant, I actually helped a couple of guys start a CrossFit gym there. So I had a little personal network there. And also the other thing was that we had this guy, Chris Cooper, was coming as a presenter and we had Greg Glassman and I think every year we have had presenters and speakers in world-class the best of the best, basically. So you can’t really ignore that year after year if you want to be a professional gym owner. And to be fair, yeah, I think that Greg Glassman was the main difference last year. I mean, otherwise we wouldn’t have had gym owners from Croatia or from Latvia or Germany or Ireland or even Greece. No, definitely. But to be honest, Chris, a lot of people signing up, they actually said it was because the strong presence of Two-Brain Business also and you.

Chris: 19:54 – Oh, that’s flattering to hear. You know, honestly Per, like I wasn’t planning to ask this question, but yeah. I’ll say it this way. I felt like HQ kind of backed out at the very last minute. I’m sure that’s just my personal perception. But for whatever reason, Greg couldn’t come and Jimmy was there and you know, Jimmy gave a great talk but it’s not the same. How do you handle that?

Per: 20:21 – It was like the last minute definitely. I think it was like two and a half weeks before the event. So we had been marketing this event like a lot around him of course, but not only because, for me the main attraction wasn’t that, but I knew it would attract people, but I wanted it to be this professional event with a lot of other stuff as well. So we just talked about it a day or two. Me and my partners around this event and then what we agreed on was that I was going to email everyone who had signed up and say, yeah, he’s not coming. I’m sorry guys, but this is still a great event. If you want your money back, we’re going to give it to you, but I really think you should come. So I think we had two people asking for their money back and that’s it. And then I brought it up on my opening speech at the event and I just said, yeah, we all know he’s not coming and it’s not good, but still there’s 280 people of us here. We have great presenters, so enjoy the weekend. And I heard nothing about it during the weekend.

Chris: 21:32 – That’s amazing. So you started with the audience who trusted you the most, your personal connections. Then you went to a slightly larger audience with whom you had something in common, CF Sweden, and then you gradually leveraged that trust over the years to build Coaches Congress, and add speakers and add sponsors. And then when you were tested because your biggest promise, Greg Glassman, didn’t work out, do you feel like trust was the reason that people didn’t complain and most didn’t ask for refund?

Per: 22:11 – Perhaps. At least among the people that I know. And also the fact that it was really close to the event and people had booked their tickets, they had booked their flight tickets, the hotel, et cetera. And also I know that most gym owners, they come for the knowledge around being business owners, and not to listen to Greg Glassman for one hour. That’s what I think.

Chris: 22:34 – The message that I took from the crowd, nobody said we’re disappointed in the event or its organizers. A few people did say we’re disappointed that HQ backed out, and I think that’s because you have such a strong sense of trust that they knew that it wasn’t your fault. And I think that actually probably strengthened the validity of the program. So you had 280 people there. I heard just amazing comments all weekend. So where’s Coaches Congress going, Per? What happens now?

Per: 23:12 – Well, we’re doing it in like three weeks, so it’s between the 24th and the 26th of January. So, it’s still like an international event. We have a lineup of speakers and presenters and workshops that is world-class. I’m using that word over and over again. But you know, we have presenters from—we have Healthy Steps Nutrition and Precision Nutrition coming. We have mentors from Two-Brain Business, we have Jim Crowell and Carl Hardwick from Opex, Keegan Martin from Brand X. Eleiko is bringing a strong team. So, we’re still just trying to provide a great value. That’s it I’m not changing much, right. Still just trying to give people what they need.

Chris: 24:04 – So this really is a world-class event, folks. And you know, I went to Stockholm last year. Had an amazing time. And you know, it might feel like Stockholm is quite a ways away. But honestly, as an English speaker, I don’t think I encountered anybody who couldn’t speak English. Even the Uber driver was fine. And then, you know, Per has a great facility. I slept on the plane, so as soon as I got off the plane I was ready to go, had a shower at Per’s gym and I think went on stage within like 10 minutes. It was great. And the, the other speakers in the lineup were so great that I sat around and listened to presentations all weekend and learned a ton of stuff. And you’ve got some very veteran speakers coming with Nicole. I haven’t seen Keegan since maybe the 2012 or 2013 CrossFit Games when he was still a little kid. He’s a teenager I guess. But you know, Jim Crowell, you know, he’s on the speaker’s circuit a lot. He’s a great speaker. You just got an all-star lineup there and I think that just builds trust more and more. So my last question, Per, is really how many people come back every single year? Like what percentage of the audience is returnees?

Per: 25:21 – I would say around 70%, almost. One thing that I like is that most of the people coming back, they are bringing a bigger team. Right? So let’s say they came as a single owner or an owner or a coach, or two owners, and now they’re bringing all of their coaches and stuff like that. So that is for me a sign that they really liked the event. If you bring eight coaches, then something must’ve been good the year before.

Chris: 25:54 – Yeah. And you know, I think when it comes back to audience building, I think that trust factors into that too because you would not bring your staff or your parents to something where you didn’t think they would have a great time. OK, Per, do you have any other tips for people who are looking to build an audience for their events or their competition?

Per: 26:17 – I think I would mention something that I mention a lot to my mentees as well. And that is around social media and being very consistent on communicating. So I think what I did last year for instance and I have been doing for a couple of years, like everyone who signed up, I emailed them and said, wow, I’m glad that you’re coming. What do you hope to get out of the event? Do you have a picture of you and your team? I can post on Facebook or Instagram. So that’s what I did. I always posted, so CrossFit Escapist from Germany’s coming and they are bringing in a couple of coaches, are you going to be there? Stuff like that. So that made them very happy. It’s like being introduced into the Facebook growth group right in Two-Brain Business. So you need to be very consistent on communication.

Chris: 27:07 – Yeah. So really, you know, creating those podiums for people, making them feel special, grows their trust for you and their influence. So Per, thanks a lot for coming on the show, man. I know, I just gave you the topics this morning. You did a great job and I think everybody can learn something about building audiences through trust.

Andrew: 27:33 – Thank you for listening to another edition of Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a rating or review. We really appreciate that. To find out how a mentor can help you add $5,000 in revenue to your gym, book a free call at


Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday.

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories, and Sean Woodland has great stories from the community on Wednesdays.

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How I Built an Audience for My Gym

How I Built an Audience for My Gym

In this series, I’ve been sharing the importance of building an audience. In the previous post, I gave you the step-by-step process of Affinity Marketing, which you must master before turning to paid lead generation.

This process has been tested and refined over the last two decades of gym ownership and proven by thousands of gym owners around the world.

Of course, when I started Catalyst, there was no guide. So my approach wasn’t optimized, but I still covered all the bases. Here’s how I did it.


“Need a Writer?”


Starting around 2000, I realized that the path to becoming a superstar trainer was to get published on websites like (it’s called T-Nation now). There were other models at the time (I wrote for and was actually offered the option to buy the site for $400—which I turned down. Sad trombone.).

I eventually realized that my training clients would come from our town—not the internet—so I emailed the three local newspapers and offered to write a column. Two actually took me up on it.

Because I wanted to train athletes, most of my posts were about athletic training. As crazy as it sounds, two online articles about linear periodization actually got me my first paying client—Nick, a soccer player. I was working in a treadmill store, and his dad marched him up to the desk to ask if I’d train him. Then he wrote me a check!

I trained Nick in the back parking lot of the treadmill store for a few months—using equipment that I stored in my truck and a “sled” that I’d built from a broken shopping cart. Nick got results, and soon a teenaged girl named Holly showed up in the treadmill store to ask about training.

What did they have in common? Both were multisport athletes, but both played soccer. And both were being shopped to NCAA schools by a local promoter. So I called him to ask how I could help his other athletes.

He showed up to make training videos, and he loved the unconventional training we were doing—sled pulls, barbell work and sprints instead of the bodybuilding and distance running most athletes were doing in town.

And I kept publishing. I was prompted to write about weight loss because the treadmill store was sandwiched between a Weight Watchers and a herbal weight-loss supplement store. I got pissed, wrote about it in one online newspaper, and soon had my first weight-loss client.


Slow but Steady Expansion


So my first clients came from publishing content, direct referral (one parent to another) and publishing different content.

My next half-dozen came from the college recruiter because I took the time to find the common link between my current clients.

Then it got cold. I couldn’t train people in a parking lot or city park anymore. I had to find a place to train them. So I asked the owner of the gym where I trained if I could use his space.

“Sure—just make sure they buy a membership!” he said.

Memberships were $30 per month. I stressed about telling parents they’d have to pay for a membership and pay me (I was probably charging around $35 per hour back then).

I printed two T-shirts that said “FOCUS Strength and Conditioning” and a dozen business cards on my printer at the treadmill store. I wore the shirts when I was training the kids. The gym was clean, but it was in a bad neighborhood and had a bit of a reputation for steroid use. Unfortunately, as my clientele grew, the gym declined and was locked up in the middle of the night.

I had to find a new home for my growing stable of athletes (now up to seven). Luckily, the owner of a small personal training studio walked into the treadmill store to buy a triceps pushdown bar. We made a deal: I could use his studio space when he wasn’t in it and he’d charge me rent.

The studio referred me a couple of clients, but they weren’t in my target demographic. In fact, the first referral—a lawyer’s wife—walked into the space I’d set up for her, saw chains hanging from the cage, said, “What the f— is that?” and never came back. I couldn’t rely on the studio’s typical clientele, so I had to build my own book of business.

Within a year, I had 34 clients: I kept publishing everywhere I could and asking my clients about their friends and families. I told them how to help their husbands lose weight, advised them on home exercise equipment, listened to their frustrations with their kids’ coaches. I eagerly sought out opportunities to say, “I think I can help.” When my teenaged athletes were competing, I went to their events. I set up a tent beside the track for my runners. I sat with their parents at hockey games. I was introduced to families and other future clients. I even got invited to their weddings!

It’s important to note that I’m naturally introverted. I wasn’t comfortable doing any of that. But I did it because I had to eat.

It’s also really important to note that the other trainers at the studio did none of these things, and they grew their clientele much more slowly. Same location, same equipment, same pricing, same Yellow Pages ads, and most of them copied my training plans. But after two years, I had a waiting list and they were going hungry.


Have Gym, Will Train (and Create Content)


In 2005, I realized that I couldn’t make enough money even with 10-12 hours of training per day. I decided to open my own gym to earn more.

Now, I had around 30 personal training clients by that point. But there was no guarantee that any would follow me to Catalyst. I was still writing for local news blogs (and occasionally got something in a print newspaper), but in 2005, most people just bought ads in the Yellow Pages.

So when the Yellow Pages rep visited my gym, I expected to buy an ad—until I saw the price. I didn’t have any money, and I needed to buy groceries, so committing thousands of dollars to marketing just wasn’t possible. It wasn’t a budget problem—I had no budget. I literally had zero dollars.

In the mail the next day, I received a local chamber of commerce guide. In the back cover, the guide printed the email address for every single chamber member. It was 2005. There was no spam. I copied and pasted every email address into the CC line in Yahoo Mail and sent my first “newsletter” to around 45 people.

Two weeks later, I had to hire a second trainer. Not only had all my clients from the PT studio followed me to Catalyst but I’d also signed up several from my first email.

All these clients were busy professionals—lawyers, dentists, entrepreneurs. They were tactful and discreet, but when I asked one, “Why did you come to Catalyst?” he said, “I know more about training than the other trainers at your previous gym.”

This was an epiphany that I’ve always followed to this day: “Teach my clients to know more than any other trainer in town.” I think that’s a necessary part of audience building. But it’s not sufficient.

I kept writing in local news blogs for another year until both fired me on the same day. Luckily, I still had my (growing) email list. I’d simply add every email I found to the CC line of my monthly newsletter. Even when I bumped into Yahoo’s send limits, I’d copy and paste 100 at a time. And it was already clear that every email I sent was worth hundreds of dollars.

When our scheduler books got full, we started to look for online scheduling software. In 2006, we found MindBody, and its integration with Constant Contact really ramped up my emails. I think it’s key to realize that I chose the software based on its ability to send content; that wasn’t an afterthought or “feature” or “automation.”

By that point, I was hiring other trainers and filling their schedules. I remember filling our four private training rooms, and one coach—Tim—was training his clients in the stairwell because we were jammed. But what I didn’t notice—and should have—was that all the clients were coming in from the work I did. Very, very few—maybe one in 20—were brought in by the other trainers.

Audience building was my job. I was the only one doing it for our business. And I didn’t even focus on it—I wrote blog posts at 4 a.m. before my clients got there, or on weekends.


A Few Mistakes—and a Mentor


In 2007, we found CrossFit. I was trying to find a way to earn more per hour than I could as a 1:1 trainer. So I emailed my list and asked, “Who wants to volunteer for this eight-week trial?” I had 13 people reply before I even thought to put a cap on the group.

By 2008, CrossFit was all I wanted to do. We opened a second location because we couldn’t get out of our PT studio lease and couldn’t drop barbells there. My first member was the father of a PT client; my second member was her brother. Both heard of me through the stuff I’d written, and their trust was reinforced by their peer group.

By late 2008, I was almost bankrupt. And I thought it was because I needed better marketing. But I was dead wrong: I needed a better product.

I had plenty of clients and plenty of future clients who were paying attention to anything I did. But my product sucked; it was underpriced and I was exhausted while delivering it. There was no joy in either of my gyms in 2008. The real failure was mine: I thought CrossFit would sell itself. I didn’t think I had to build an audience for CrossFit. But no one in my town had heard of it, and its obvious appeal to me didn’t work for anyone else.

I was still getting PT clients, and they were paying the bills. But, stupidly, I tried to push all my 1:1 clients into group training that they didn’t really want.

I kept publishing, and everything we introduced sold out right away: kids groups, running groups, barbell specialty programs. But I was still running out of money. Somehow, it never occurred to me to charge more, that my audience trusted me enough to pay what I needed to survive. And I was routinely killing the golden goose by pushing 1:1 clients into group training they didn’t really want.

I found a mentor. I saved my gyms. He fixed my service and freed me up to do what I do best (build an audience.) Using what he taught me, I launched and sold two other companies in the next five years.

But sticking with Catalyst, we just kept publishing. We sent out a monthly newsletter. We wrote blog posts almost daily. When we finally got on Facebook around 2012, I shared our stuff there, and the algorithm didn’t block it. My focus shifted to telling clients’ stories on the site instead of simply providing educational content. I put clients on a podium. They shared our blog posts with their friends (they were thrilled to be “on the internet”). I kept looking for opportunities to meet my clients’ spouses and friends.


Don’t Buy Ads?


Today, Catalyst has still never paid for a Facebook ad. We have thousands of people on our email list, and our specialty programs fill every time (usually in less than 48 hours). We’re the most expensive gym in town by a huge margin. But our audience trusts us enough to accept our guidance.

The difference now is that we have excellent operations, processes, programs and pricing.

But my real skill is building audiences. And I built them one person at a time, following the now-tested Affinity Marketing strategy I shared in the previous post, plus consistent publication of good content.

I’m going to run a free webinar on audience building on Jan. 10. Click here—you have to register because I’m capping it at 200 people, and 125 seats are already taken.


Other Media in This Series

How to Build an Audience
Building an Audience: Start With One
Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Why Kevin Ogar Wouldn’t Trade the Last Six Years to Walk Again

Why Kevin Ogar Wouldn’t Trade the Last Six Years to Walk Again

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with adaptive athlete and owner of CrossFit WatchTower, Kevin Ogar. My friends, I do not own a gym, but I can tell you this. If I had one, I’d be on Chris Cooper’s website a lot. Chris cranks out helpful content daily and he’s created a huge pile of free guides that solve common problems for gym owners. To get 15 free resources, including a guide on member retention, visit Kevin Ogar is one of the most well-known adaptive athletes in the CrossFit community. He suffered an accident at a competition in 2014 that left him paralyzed below the waist. He is the subject of the documentary “Ogar: Will of Steel.” After his accident, Kevin went on to become a member of the CrossFit seminar staff, open his own affiliate, start a charity, and compete on the US Paralympic powerlifting team. Kevin joined me on the phone during his commute home from his affiliate in Englewood, Colorado. Enjoy the conversation everybody. Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. How you doing man?

Kevin: 01:20 – I’m doing just fine. Just got done coaching, now heading home.

Sean: 01:24 – All right. What did fitness look like for you before you found CrossFit?

Kevin: 01:31 – OK. Before CrossFit I was, you know, one of the meathead powerlifter-type guys. Actually competed in powerlifting for a very long time prior to CrossFit. I mean I picked up the barbell for the first time when I was like 12. Didn’t find CrossFit until I was 21. 20, 21 years old is when I found CrossFit. And so before CrossFit it was, you know, lift something heavy, you know, back, bench, deadlift, maybe some curls, then waddle my fat butt out of the gym.

Sean: 02:08 – What was it about powerlifting that appealed to you?

Kevin: 02:12 – I just love a heavy barbell. Like there’s something about moving something heavy and doing the work to move something heavy that really appealed to me.

Sean: 02:23 – What then led you to find CrossFit?

Kevin: 02:28 – Well, a couple of things—I found CrossFit through—I was working for a guy as a personal trainer. Jeremy Yates was his name, if he’s out there still, and he started doing CrossFit. He was in the Marines and kinda challenged me to it and I kept turning it down and finally like, I was also starting to play rugby at this point in time and realized I couldn’t run 400 meters without having to sit down. And one day he challenged me to a workout and he’s like, yeah, you know, you should come do it with me and the other the trainers, like my girlfriend’s gonna do it with us and she’s like a tiny little thing. And you know, me being a meathead guy was like, well, if she can do it, I’ll be fine. And then they programmed the workout 21-15-9 handstand push-ups and L pull-ups.

Kevin: 03:19 – At the time I was about 230, 240 pounds, somewhere in there. And had never flipped upside down on my hands a day in my life. And so there ended up being a Kevin-sized hole in the wall.

Sean: 03:34 – Oh man. Yeah. It is not fun when you’re that size trying to get inverted for the first time. Why did you stick with it? What hooked you about it?

Kevin: 03:43 – I lost to everyone. I mean I finished the workout, you know, at the time I probably was benching somewhere around 400 pounds and I was, I was doing 20-pound dumbbell push press instead of handstand push-ups and struggling. It took me like 20-some odd minutes, you know, probably close to the 30 if I’m being honest and everyone else was done in six minutes. And so I just realized I was really bad at it.

Sean: 04:09 – You go from being really bad at it to being a competitor. What led you to being a competitor in CrossFit?

Kevin: 04:17 – Well, Sean, I don’t like being told that I cannot do something. And the exact reason I started competing in CrossFit, I was doing workout of the day and they had posted a video, and this is back in 2007-ish, 2008. And they posted a video of Chris Spealler doing the same workout and I think I was like two reps behind him on an AMRAP and like my training partner at the time, I was like, hey man, that’s pretty cool. I’m only two reps behind Chris Spealler. Like, that’s legit. And he like, yeah, dude, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to compete with Chris Spealler or get to that level. And I go, all right, well I guess that’s what I’m doing now.

Kevin: 05:07 – I do believe the first year I got to compete against Chris at a Regional, I think it was like 2012, I’m pretty sure I snapped a picture of him and sent it to my friend just to rub it in a little bit.

Sean: 05:22 – What then did training look like for you as a CrossFit competitor?

Kevin: 05:27 – At first it was just like everyone else, it was one workout a day. I’d go in, I’d warm up, I hit the workout as hard as I could with every last ounce of strength that I had and I maybe I’d mess around with some skills or playing around with some barbell work. But that was it. Like literally one workout a day for the first, I dunno, probably four or five years of what we’ll call my CrossFit career. It wasn’t until like my last probably two years trying to compete that I started adding more than that.

Sean: 05:58 – What happened on January 12th, 2014?

Kevin: 06:03 – I was competing in the OC Throwdown, a fitness competition in California and due to some unsafe set-up, they stacked some plates behind me during a snatch portion of the competition. The barbell ricocheted off the plates behind me and hit me in my back and gave me really great parking for the rest of my life. Or paralysis, however you want to look at it.

Sean: 06:21 – What, you obviously knew something was wrong when it happened, but when you hear from a medical professional that you are paralyzed from the waist down, what is that like?

Kevin: 06:42 – Being an athlete a whole life, it was pretty gut wrenching. Luckily at that point in time they had already put me on some drugs. I mean I remember it, but I think a lot of the worst of it is forgotten in my mind. Just cause I was kind of drugged up, trying to get into surgery. I remember the doctor walking in and be like, hey, I have some bad news. And I was like, yeah, I’m paralyzed. Like, will I ever walk again? He said, no. And you know, I lost it. Cried. Yelled. Probably screamed a little bit, but I think I took it at least decently well, I guess.

Sean: 07:17 – You wound up at Craig Hospital for rehabilitation after your injury. First off, how were you able to get admitted there?

Kevin: 07:27 – I got admitted there because of the CrossFit community and my best friend Ryan. So Ryan grew up next door to the vice president of Craig Hospital and between Ryan and CrossFitters in the area that knew Craig, they harassed them so much that they had no choice but to let me in. I think the story goes, and I don’t know how true this is, the story goes that they actually had so many people calling and Ryan was calling so often that they actually had to open up a secondary line for like a hotline for them. So they basically got harassed until they let me in.

Sean: 08:03 – What was that rehabilitation process like for you?

Kevin: 08:10 – Frustrating. I mean, I’d always been someone who was fairly physically gifted. I never really sucked at any sports. Like I was pretty good at picking things up physically. And pretty quickly. And so going from someone who, you know, physical task were something he was comfortable with to not being able to tie my own shoe or sit up on my own or like use the restroom by myself, it was a pretty rough time. But I think Craig does a really good job of, you know, helping you through it and kind of getting you to the other side.

Sean: 08:46 – I’m sure that there were low moments in there for you from a mental standpoint. How did you deal with that?

Kevin: 08:53 – There definitely was. I mean, I would lying if I didn’t say that I chucked my chair across the room a few times or, you know, yelled or screamed or scared some people with how mad I was. But I mean, I got through it first and foremost, probably, you know, my personal faith, I’m a Christian and I feel like God put me on this earth for a very specific reason. And I think even though it sucked and I didn’t understand at the time, I think I always kind of understood that me being paralyzed as part of a bigger picture for me, for what God wanted me to do. I think the other side of it that I was also surrounded by the CrossFit community. I had thousands upon thousands of messages and people supporting me. And so really, between those messages and my friends was never given a chance to go down the wrong path.

Sean: 09:49 – You were surrounded by people at Craig who I’m assuming were going through similar ordeals. How did that help you through your time there?

Kevin: 10:00 – It made making the paraplegic jokes a little easy, there was more than one of us making them at the time. You know, just seeing other peoples’ struggles and other things people go through, just like in CrossFit, shared suffering is a very powerful thing, a very powerful thing. And I think the shared suffering that we went through at Craig, I mean, I still talk to like a lot of the people that were in Craig with me.

Sean: 10:22 – You mentioned across the community and how much they helped you. What types of things did the community do for you specifically to help you get through that time?

Kevin: 10:32 – I woke up from my first surgery with a fundraiser of like $300,000 to help pay for medical expenses. And that was four or five days after the accident, it was already that high. They did this massive fundraiser, Barbells for Boobs stopped everything for a week and like and focused on helping me, and they’re just really phenomenal and great people, that—their job was like breast cancer detection, and then resources after detection, and they stopped what they were doing to help some guy who just got paralyzed. So that’s huge of them. And then outside of even just the monetary thing, like I said, thousands of messages from all around the world that, you know, from Germany, Japan, Australia, South America, just, you know, words of encouragement. I had people who were already in a wheelchair that had been dealing with this for a while who reached out and became mentors of mine. You know, Chris Stoutenburg, Angel Gonzales and Steph Hammerman, like immediately reached out to me and kind of let me know like, hey, this sucks, but you’ll be OK. And I think none of that would’ve happened without the CrossFit community.

Sean: 11:41 – Why do you think what happened to you resonated with so many people?

Kevin: 11:48 – I think all of us in training have had those scares where we almost got hurt or we almost got injured and, you know, kind of squeaked by or, you know, had narrow misses. And I think having someone, you know, I talked to a few guys that I used to compete with and they’re like, yeah, that could have been any of us, any of us could have bailed backwards and had that barbell from behind us. And, you know, I think people, at least the competitors that I worked out with and other people who train hard, kind of understood like what it meant to have that taken away.

Sean: 12:20 – How were you able to come to terms with what happened and not only do that, but then move forward and get to accomplishing the things that you wanted to do in your life?

Kevin: 12:34 – Well I’ve always said that I think that there are some common denominators I’ve seen with people who have done really well with situations like this. And they’re a sense of humor. You know, family, whether that be like blood-related family or your community, and then faith. I think those three things combined can pull someone through any situation, period

Sean: 13:01 – Less than two years after your accident, you open your own CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit WatchTower. What did it mean to you to be able to accomplish that at that point?

Kevin: 13:13 – Honestly, I never saw myself as an affiliate owner. I didn’t think that was where my life was heading. Unfortunately the gym that I had been working at for like, five, six years was shutting down and you know, I’d worked really hard to build that community. And I don’t want to say I was forced to because I really love what I do and everything. But it kind of just was one of those things, it was like either lose the community you built or open your own gym. And so I just chose to open the gym and try to keep that community that had been such a powerful impact on me alive.

Sean: 13:46 – Why is coaching people so important to you?

Kevin: 13:52 – I think it’s important to me because coaching can literally change someone’s life. If I look back at the most influential people in my life who shaped me as a man, almost all of them are coaches. You know, my dad was my coach growing up for all the sports. I’m basically like a younger version—younger and better-looking version of my dad. You know, I had coaches through, you know, high school and coaches through college who just had a huge impact on who I became as a human being. And, I think that’s important to pass down. You know, I think all of us want to leave an impact on this world and I think we all gravitate towards the field that had the most impact on us. And for me it was coaching, you know, being able to talk people through things, improve their lives, like build confidence in themselves, not just in inside the gym, but also outside the gym. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Sean: 14:52 – Same day you opened your affiliate, you started the Reveille Project. What is that?

Kevin: 14:57 – So the Reveille Project, we are a nonprofit organization and me and Ryan, my best friend Ryan, he was in the Marines and got blown up twice while he was in, kept all 10 fingers and all 10 toes, but had some, TBI issues and neck issues and some behavioral issues because of all that kind of stuff when he first got out. And, you know, through like fitness, nutrition, community and faith kind of turned his life around from kind of drinking and doing stupid things to now being a loving father of three kids who is, you know, out there helping other people and is very successful at what he does. And so I think we recognize the power of, you know, fitness, nutrition, community and faith. And we wanted to give back to veterans who don’t have access to it. So we provide a year scholarship and that year we pay for a CrossFit gym membership near them. We pay for nutritional counseling if they choose to seek it out. We’ll pay for some physical therapy sessions and then we’ll encourage them and try to get them linked up with other organizations like Faith Rx that do like faith-based action projects within their community.

Sean: 16:08 – We’ll let Kevin Ogar take a quick break while I tell you about 500-pound deadlifts. To get a big deadlift, you need to follow all the steps in order. It’s a journey. You can’t just step up to a heavy bar every day and pull. It is the same deal with business. So Chris Cooper has mapped out the exact steps a gym owner must take to level up and eventually reach wealth. All these steps are based on research and data. There’s no guesswork anymore. A Two-Brain mentor can help you analyze your business, figure out where you’re at, and then tell you the exact things you need to do to grow. It’s all in the new Two-Brain road map available to clients. To find out if working with a mentor is right for you, book a free call at Now, more with Kevin Ogar. How does helping others help you?

Kevin: 17:03 – Oh man, big question. I think we’re not meant to live alone. I think God put us on this earth to help other people. We’re not here for ourselves. And I think living for yourself or living selfishly, will always leave you wanting something. You’re always second guessing yourself. But living to help others, living to build this community and help your fellow man, I think that no matter how bad your situation is or maybe even how depressed you get, like helping other people, I don’t know, it’s never been about, helping myself, but helping other people will always kind of turn things around. I don’t know how to put it eloquently, but I think the more you live for others, I think the more selfless you live, no matter the situation, the happier you’ll be.

Sean: 17:59 – Why did you decide then to try out for the US Paralympic powerlifting team?

Kevin: 18:07 – Well, that’s easy. I just like lifting heavy things. And I was kind of told at the beginning of my quest for that, that I would never be able to bench enough or be strong enough because CrossFitters don’t know how to move a barbell well enough.

Sean: 18:23 – What was it like to then be able to call yourself a competitor again?

Kevin: 18:29 – I mean I already had at that point, I’d done some like, I did Wodapalooza a few times. I worked out at like the WheelWOD and done some of the WheelWOD competitions. But to be able to call myself a competitor for the USA, it was a pretty big deal. I got to compete in a few international competitions and wear the USA colors and USA name and represent my country. So I think that was really cool. Once again, I was told I was not supposed to. So of course I chased it down.

Sean: 18:58 – CrossFit has always had, you’ve mentioned this, an incredible adaptive athlete community. What’s it been like for you to be able to bring more attention to that group?

Kevin: 19:12 – I feel like that’s, what I was put on this earth to do. Like I think I was put on this earth and built up my entire life to help, you know, a population that I feel like was kind of overlooked and underserved and told time and time again that no you can’t and no you shouldn’t. And I like being able to be a part of the group that’s kind of furthering that movement has been, it’s been basically the job of a lifetime. Like I get opportunity that I never I saw coming and could not—once I had the opportunity, could not believe how much I loved it.

Sean: 19:50 – We all know what the sense of community is like in the CrossFit realm. What’s it like with that adaptive athlete community?

Kevin: 19:59 – I mean, it’s no different. Community’s the exact same. We just have better jokes. Literally that’s it. Like it’s like, I don’t feel like there’s two communities. There’s not this adaptive community and then like the CrossFit community, it’s just the CrossFit community. And you see that within gyms like my own, who we don’t have special adaptive classes. We don’t have like our adaptive athletes come at this time and then our able-bodied athletes come at another time. Everyone’s in one class. In fact, we tell like one community, one class. Like we don’t want people to be separate. So I don’t think there’s a difference. I think it’s the exact same. Some of us have better parking and some of us have to walk in the gym.

Sean: 20:46 – What is your reaction when somebody, regardless of who it is, says that you are an inspiration to them?

Kevin: 20:55 – I know it comes from a good place and I know it frustrates other people, but I get that they’re trying to be nice and so I don’t like to return being mean or being frustrated from someone just trying to be nice to me. It’s a teachable moment. Like, you know, maybe like, hey, thank you so much. Like what have I inspired you to do? Or like, hey, thank you so much, but you know, I’m just living a life that everyone else would live and I think those who get frustrated with it and kind of snap about it, you know, that’s on them. If that’s how they want to deal with it, that’s great. But, again, that’s a way to live selflessly. Like, let them have that. They’re saying that almost more for them than they are for you. And if you can realize that, then just let them have it.

Sean: 21:44 – Are you uncomfortable when people tell you that?

Kevin: 21:46 – Yeah. Well I’m super awkward as it is, Sean, I’m very awkward. Oddly enough, as much as it may sound weird, I don’t generally like being the center of attention. And so compliments make me super awkward.

Sean: 22:03 – I’m sure you talk to people who have gone through or are going through a similar situation to yours. What is your message to them to help them get through it?

Kevin: 22:17 – Oh yeah. I talk to people from Craig or new patients from Craig Hospital fairly often. In fact, they come to my gym like probably every other month or so with new patients and we put them through a workout and we sit there and talk to them, and I tell them the same message every time. Like, your life isn’t over, just cause your legs don’t work or because this doesn’t work or you know, you can choose how you want the situation to go, and I’ve seen people be very successful. Even like I’m probably more successful now at what I do than I was before I got hurt because of the opportunities that the wheelchair afforded me. And not because like it inherently happens with the wheelchair, because I chose to take those opportunities. And so I always tell them the three things, man. When you’re dealing with that kind of stuff and you’re really kind of beat down, like make sure you get out of the house, make sure you do something physically active and make sure you shower cause no one likes someone smelly in a wheelchair.

Kevin: 23:08 – And so I think, I don’t know, I think that’s my kind of message. You kind of can choose this for this to be a very, very good thing or a very, very bad thing, but it’s 100% up to you.

Sean: 23:18 – The first time I met you in person, I was shocked at the aura of positivity that just resonated from you. Where do you think that comes from? And I’m not joking about that.

Kevin: 23:28 – Oh man. Well thank you. Getting awkward.

Kevin: 23:33 – Yeah. I grew up with some pretty amazing parents who instilled some pretty amazing perspective in my life. You know, I had a great dad and a great mom who are still together to this day and are tremendously amazing humans. And my mom used to always say like, yeah, this may suck for you, but remember, someone else always has this worse and wishes they had your opportunities and your gifts. And so don’t waste them just cause you feel bad about them. And I think my dad taught me that the value of hard work and you know, no matter how bad the situation is, like hard work can always pull you out of it. An, you know, they also instilled that kind of selfless help-others attitude in me. And I also feel like the faith that they brought me up in also allows me to kind of see things like, this is not—that my life is not my own. Like I’m not here for me, I’m here to do the work I was put on this earth to do. And like, I think with those perspectives on things, it just makes it like everything’s great. As long as I’m out here helping people, you know, I could not have a penny to my name and as long as I’m allowed to help people, I’m cool with it.

Sean: 24:35 – Do you find that people treat you differently because you’re disabled?

Sean: 24:39 – Yeah, for sure.

Sean: 24:41 – Why is that? So first question, why is that?

Kevin: 24:47 – I mean, to be perfectly honest, I think it’s because people don’t know. Outside there’s a fire truck going by, Sean.

Sean: 24:54 – No problem.

Kevin: 24:54 – A lot of is that people don’t understand or people don’t know. Like even for me before my accident, I never thought about, you know, how hard being wheelchair was or you know, the stripes next to the handicap parking are for them to get their chair out or any of these things. And so like, I think it’s just people don’t know. And so—I’ve never met someone who even if they do something wrong, was trying to be a jerk. I think everyone’s trying to be nice and do what they feel like is the nicest and most respectful thing they can think of. And even if they’re wrong, instead of getting angry, I just like to use that as like a teachable moment.

Kevin: 25:36 – Like, hey man, I know you parked in handicap parking. Just so you know, I have friends who can’t go to the grocery store when people park there, so maybe don’t do that next time. Instead of getting all like up in arms and angry about it, I feel like we can help and teach other people and then build it up. And you know, just like people have—a good example is like, people don’t know what CrossFit is or how powerful it is until they get into it. People don’t know what having a disability or a handicap is until they know someone with one or they experience it for themselves. And so I truly don’t believe anyone ever has treated me differently because they’re trying to be mean. I think everyone was treating me differently because they were trying to do what they thought was the most respectful thing they possibly could.

Sean: 26:20 – You recently just got married. Congratulations. How has that changed your life?

Kevin: 26:30 – I get less of my bed now.

Sean: 26:32 – Get used to that, man.

Kevin: 26:34 – Yeah, we have a California King and I get maybe a two-foot-by-four-foot section of it.

Sean: 26:40 – Yeah.

Kevin: 26:41 – And then my wife gets, you know, a third of it and then the dogs get like two thirds of it. But it’s actually, it’s been really great. I really have enjoyed it. Having someone to come home to and chat about stuff with, and I love cooking, but I hate cooking for myself, so it’s allowed me someone to cook for. So I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been great.

Sean: 27:07 – This is still a new thing for you, but what things do you do that really just annoy the hell out of your wife?

Kevin: 27:18 – Oh man, there’s so many, so many. I think one of the biggest things that annoys her is like, I’ll cook a bunch of stuff. But I’m in like cooking mode, so I don’t clean as I go. I cook everything and then try to clean afterwards. And so there’s a pretty big mess until I get done eating at least, and then go to clean it up and it drives her crazy that I don’t just like clean things up as I go. I think that would, if I had to answer for her, that would probably be her biggest one. Either that or she obviously comes to the gym and she is way smarter than I am and is an athletic trainer and so has her master’s degree in sports medicine. And so sometimes I forget that she’s smarter than I am and so I’ll tell her things and she’s like, yeah, Kevin, I already know those things. That probably annoys here pretty big time, too.

Sean: 28:15 – Looking back now, over the last six years, what are the most valuable lessons that you have learned?

Kevin: 28:24 – Patience is a big one. Patience is a huge one. I’m still not good at this one, but communication, like talking to your friends, talking to your family and letting them in on your life instead of trying to do everything by yourself, which is still very hard for me. And just going back to I think if more people tried to help others instead of always trying to help themselves, they would a be a lot happier and this world will be a lot better.

Sean: 28:53 – You have a very strong sense of what your purpose is now. How does that compare to what your sense of purpose was before your accident?

Kevin: 29:05 – It’s pretty similar. I just didn’t know what direction to take it. I’ve always known that my purpose on this earth was to help other people. Like I’ve always wanted to be a coach or a teacher or like be able to, you know, help other people, period, no matter what it’s ever been. If I could help, I will. I think the injury just kind of focused it a little bit more. But I think it’s always been that. I think that’s what drew me to coaching. I’ve always just wanted to help other people.

Sean: 29:38 – If someone told you that you could have the ability to walk again, but you had to trade all the experiences, all the things you’ve accomplished, your affiliate, the friends you’ve made over the last six years, would you do it?

Kevin: 29:49 – I would not trade a single second of the last six years for the ability to walk again.

Sean: 29:54 – Why is that?

Kevin: 29:54 – What’s a pair of legs? Cool, I can’t reach tall shelves and you know, like standing up was cool and being 6’3 and tall was awesome. But like, the reach I’ve been able to have and the amount of people that I’ve been able to help from a wheelchair and all the cool things I’ve had the opportunity to do and the relationships that I’ve built, like who cares about a set of legs? Like looking back on all of it, I would not trade a single second of it to be able to walk again.

Sean: 30:30 – What do you have going now, in the years to come with your gym and with the Reveille Project and then all the other stuff that you’re involved with?

Kevin: 30:39 – I mean, a lot of the same stuff. Just trying to get the gym to grow and bring more people in who need help. You know, the people who haven’t tied their shoes for 30 years, those are the people we want. The people who think they can’t do CrossFit. We want you to come to the gym. We want you in there. We want you to realize that it’s not just the CrossFit Games. Like we’re here to make you a more functional human being and make your life better. Like, I want every impairment, everyone that thinks that them being a physical human being isn’t possible, I want them to come to us. I want, you know, we’re working with the Reveille Project. We’re trying to grow that and get us into more gyms and get more veterans back to a holistic self through, you know, fitness, community, nutrition and faith. And I think those are the two big things I’m working on as well as, you know, trying not to piss off my wife too much, I think that’s a big one as well.

Sean: 31:30 – Well good luck with that one man.

Kevin: 31:32 – Yeah, I mean I think I’m just gonna keep kind of doing those two things and working with the Adaptive Training Academy, used to be the CrossFit specialty course Adaptive Training, now we have our own entity. We’re still a CrossFit preferred course, great terms with them and same support we’ve always had from them. Now we just get to do our own thing. But the Adaptive Training Academy, man, we’re going across the world and teaching people how to work with adaptive athletes and make it— I think our goal there is to make adaptive athletes and people with disabilities in CrossFit gyms so commonplace that we actually work ourselves out of a job.

Sean: 32:11 – That is a noble goal to have, man. Kevin, listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. I know you’re super busy and I look forward to seeing you again soon, my friend.

Kevin: 32:20 – Yeah, me too. I can’t wait to see you in person. Give you a hug. Talk Star Wars.

Sean: 32:23 – Oh yes, we will definitely do that.

Kevin: 32:27 – Build some Legos, talk some Star Wars.

Sean: 32:29 – Absolutely. I’m all for it, man. Well take care and I will talk to you soon.

Kevin: 32:32 – All right, talk to you later, Sean.

Sean: 32:32 – Huge thanks to Kevin Ogar for taking the time to join me, and I definitely forward to talking Star Wars with him. If you want to follow Kevin on social media, you can find him on Instagram. He is @kevinOgar. Thank you for listening everybody. I’m Sean Woodland and this is Two-Brain Radio. If you’re a gym owner and need some help growing your business, Two-Brain mentors can show you the exact steps to add $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Book a free call on TwoBrain to find out more. We’ll see you next time, everyone.


On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories every Monday, and Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world every Thursday.

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Building an Audience: Start With One

Building an Audience: Start With One

If you can’t get your mom to believe, you won’t convince your aunt.

If you can’t get your relatives to join your gym, you won’t get your neighbor.

If you can’t get your neighbor, you won’t get your town.

And if you can’t get your town, there’s no sense in paying for ads.

When building an audience, you must start with one person. Then get the second. Then get their friends. Then get your neighbors. And only then start talking to strangers.

Building an audience one person at a time is called sales. Talking to strangers is called marketing.


Work out From the Center


Where do your clients come from? The best clients come from a personal connection to you. The next best clients come from a personal relationship with your clients. That means you have to talk to people—real people, in person, one on one, before you do anything else. 

Eventually, you’ll build an audience using the amazing tools online. But you’ll never be good at it until you learn how to do it in person first.

The first stage of audience building is called Affinity Marketing.

Download our Affinity Marketing Cheat Sheet here.

You can find our full guide to Affinity Marketing in the Two-Brain Free Tools collection.

An Affinity Marketing plan looks like a bull’s-eye. In the Founder Phase, the personal connections used to grow a business are the entrepreneur’s own. The founder is at the center of the business’s first Affinity Marketing bull’s-eye.

Each ring or “loop” represents a new audience for your service. As we radiate out from the center, your audience size increases but its affinity decreases. You’ll have to do more work to “warm up” a potential client to get him or her to purchase, and even more work to keep that client.

The further from the center you get, the more education a prospective client will require before signing up for your service or buying anything from you.

Later in this series, I’m going to tell you how I built Two-Brain Business from this blog to the largest fitness mentorship practice on the planet. Yeah, there are paid ads and travel in there. But the reason people stick around and pay attention is because we talk to one person at a time.

I don’t write “sales letters” or “newsletters.” I send you love letters. And I tell you the same stuff I’d tell my mom if she wanted to open a gym (she doesn’t).

I don’t tell you how to run a physical therapy practice because I haven’t done it. I tell you how to run your gym because I have one. And I’ve screwed it up in a lot of ways before making it run exactly the way I want it to.

I don’t expect anyone to pay our mentorship team until after he or she has paid attention for a while. That’s what audience building is: earning the attention of one person and keeping it.

When gym owners complain that their funnels aren’t working or their new leads are “too cold” or their clients are “uncommitted,” I know they need help building their audiences. First, they need information. Then they need a model to follow. Then they need reps.

Get the knowledge you need to start here: the Affinity Marketing Guide.

In the next article in this series, I’ll give you a model to follow and tell you how I used Affinity Marketing at my gym, Catalyst.

Here’s a link that will help you get some reps.

On Jan. 10, I’m also going to run a webinar for you on this topic. I’ll walk through the process of audience building step by step and then do a Q+A. You can sign up here (it’s free if you register).

As Seth Godin said this morning, “Marketers make change happen.” The world is our audience. Let’s have a conversation.


Other Media in This Series

How to Build an Audience
How I Built an Audience for My Gym
Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Podcast: The Top Books of 2019 for Gym Owners—Chris Cooper’s List

Podcast: The Top Books of 2019 for Gym Owners—Chris Cooper’s List

Andrew: 00:02 – Did you ever want to take a peek at Chris Cooper’s bookshelf? Well, today’s your lucky day. In this episode of Two-Brain Radio, Chris shares his favorite reads for 2019 and a few books he didn’t really like. Find out which books changed his life or which books he put down halfway. Here’s Chris with his definitive list of books for gym owners.

Chris: 00:17 – Over a decade ago, I realized that my job had changed. I was no longer an employed personal trainer, but a business owner. The next epiphany was that my knowledge was asymmetrical. I knew a lot about fitness and exercise science, but almost nothing about business. I’ve always read for at least an hour every single day, but my crazy lifestyle was squeezing out my reading time. I’d be in my truck by 4:30 AM to get to the gym and I wouldn’t get home until about 10:00 PM. I collapsed into bed without reading a word. Then a friend turned me on to Audible. I bought a Seth Godin book and I started to translate what I learned from general to specific. I wrote about how I would use SASS material, in my gym, publish more content, and I did the same for other authors and I started to churn through books pretty quickly. But I still made two rookie mistakes that cost me a ton of time.

Chris: 01:11 – I made myself finish every book before starting the next, and I also thought it was best to get a ton of different books instead of focusing really, really hard on a few. In other words, I was focused on volume instead of intensity. Naval Ravikant recently tweeted, “The smarter you get, the slower you read.” That was interesting, but not true for me in all cases. Sometimes I can read the first few chapters of a book and skip the rest, as in David Goggins’ book, which I’ll talk about next. Sometimes I think it’s better to reread a great book and pick up the smaller pebbles that I missed than to buy a new one. I listened to resilience over again every single year. For example, the hard part isn’t finding a good book. The hard part now is finding the right book at the right time and catching the most important message for you.

Chris: 02:00 – There are now a handful of services selling 10-minute versions of top books. I actually wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to filter huge ideas according to when the entrepreneur can benefit from the most. So before we get into the top 10 list, here are my top tips for buying and learning from books. Number one: 80% of the time, buy the audio version. 20% of the time, buy the print version. For instance, the first chapter of “Scaling Up” is almost impossible to follow an audio you have to buy the print version. On the other hand, any of Nassim Taleb’s books are far more entertaining is audio number two. Don’t be scared to buy multiple copies. I found myself lending out “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” to everyone and never having a copy on hand. Now if you visit the workshop here, you’ll see 20 copies of that book, 20 copies of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and 20 copies of “Never Split the Difference” on my shelves.

Chris: 03:02 – I hand them out to nearly everyone. My nieces and nephews have stacks of books from uncle Chris by now. Third, don’t place a budget on books like mentorship. You’ll get personal growth from books, but your business will pay for it. Every book is a tax-free life-changing event. Number four, there’s no such thing as a bad book, but don’t get buried. Overwhelm leads to paralysis. After you take our “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” test, make the best choices based on your current phase of entrepreneurship. Read what’s right for you. Now, number five, it’s better to retain a little and to read a lot. To make the messages from each book stick, I have to teach them back to myself. That means talking about them with other people or just blogging about them in my own words. That’s why I started my original blog, Don’, back in 2009, to make the lessons I was learning stick better.

Chris: 03:58 – It works. Even if you don’t publish a blog about the books. If you take your own notes, you’ll retain the information a lot better. So here are the top 11: Number one, “This Is Marketing” by Seth Godin. Seth is trendproof. He got that way by teaching principles instead of tactics. While we, the folks in the trenches, can be swayed by sexy business fads like Facebook marketing, office culture and personality testing, I always come back to Seth’s message of authenticity and relationships, and the experts always come back too. Facebook now says that building a content platform is critical for paid lead generation to be successful, for instance. “This Is Marketing” is possibly Seth’s most specific book and it’s required reading for anyone who wants to succeed at the long game, seriously buy it. I recommend it for founders, farmers, tinkers and thieves, any phase of entrepreneurship.

Chris: 04:54 – Number two: “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish. It’s rare for an author to say, if you buy this book, you don’t have to read my other books, but that’s what attracted me to scaling up in the first place. As an author, I sometimes wish I could go back and rewrite “Two-Brain Business” or even take it off the shelves because “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is so much better. “Scaling Up” is a step-by-step process for growing your business as a CEO. I recommend it for farmers who are preparing to be tinkers. The third book is “Never Lose a Customer Again” by Joey Coleman. The key to business growth isn’t customer acquisition. It’s customer retention. Habits are formed slowly. Coleman believes they require a careful nurturing over a hundred days. The book focuses on mapping the client journey in your business and then digging really deep into the first hundred days. We teach the client journey map in the Two-Brain Incubator and our focus has always been on retention before marketing. We want a sticky web before we start bringing flies into it. So this is a book every gym owner should read and I recommend it for founders and farmers.

Chris: 06:09 – The next book is “Leadershift” by John Maxwell. Most business books focus on what can you change, add or improve, but Maxwell’s books tend to focus on the how, how to lead through change, how to inspire others to stay on the bus when the destination isn’t clear, and how to help people grow as leaders. In fact, many of the other books on this list borrow from Maxwell’s earlier work. They’ll say things like, a leader’s job is to create leaders and other maxims that originally came from Maxwell. So reading Maxwell is going back to the source in many cases, the hard part of shifting from farmer phase to tinker phase isn’t the money. It’s the leveling up from boss to leader. Very few of us have the education experience or practice necessary to do so when the time comes. So we have to learn on lessons learned in the trenches from guys like Maxwell.

Chris: 07:04 – Half of the value of his books is in the content. The other half is in the delivery. Maxwell doesn’t bury you in statistics. Most of his teaching comes from stories. You can learn a lot about leadership just by observing how he leads his audience. I recommend “Leadershift” for farmers and tinkers. Next is “The Courage to Be Disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi. This book isn’t really about being disliked. It’s really about Joseph Adler, who wrote that every problem is an interpersonal relationship problem. Adler was a contemporary of Freud, but they thought about things differently and this book digs deep into Adlerian psychology and gives entrepreneurs really solid tools for having tough conversations, for relating to staff better and for knowing when to draw a really clear lines. For me, the book helped me realize that being clear isn’t harsh. It’s actually doing everyone a favor. I recommend the courage to be disliked for tinkers.

Chris: 08:07 – The next book is “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It” by Chris Voss. Now it’s really rare for business books to be directive. It’s tough to write a directive book. Most teach broad concepts and ideas, and good entrepreneurs are left to figure out how to apply them in their own businesses. I try to write directive books like do exactly this in this order, but never split. The difference is a directive book covering one of the hardest topics of all really hard conversations when there’s a lot on the line. Voss was a hostage negotiator for the FBI, so he knows what he’s talking about. We lean heavily on Voss’ lessons when we’re guiding entrepreneurs through rate increases through firing staff or removing tough clients. I keep 20 copies of this book in my office and frequently ship a copy to my own mentorship clients. Like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” I give a copy of this book to kids in my family when they turn 18. This book is so important that we’re bringing Chris Voss in to deliver the keynote speech at the Two-Brain summit in 2020. I recommend “Never Split the Difference” for founders and farmers. The next book is “Clockwork” by Mike Michalowicz. Now, I think it’s been a few years since I published a list that didn’t have Mike Michalowicz on it. The books are funny and they’re easy to read and they always include at least one key concept that changes the way you look at business. In “The Pumpkin Plan,” Michalowicz taught us how to identify and keep our best clients and build our businesses around them. In “Profit First,” he taught us how to make sure we got paid. Kind of a big deal. In “Clockwork,” I think Michalowicz’s his biggest idea is the queen bee role, QBR.

Chris: 09:56 – Now a CEO should narrow his or her focus to doing the one thing that grows the company. For me that’s thinking and then writing about it. That’s hard for people to understand. Many people think I’m riding my bike for fun or hiding in my office when the door is closed, but really the more time I spend getting into flow state, staying in flow state and publishing content, the better my business grows. That’s my queen bee role. I recommend “Clockwork” for tinkers with a special emphasis on the section of the book talking about the QBR. The next book is called “Reboot” by Jerry Colonna. I often say that the people who got you here might not get you there, but what if that person’s you? The founder’s lifestyle, long hours alone, working with single-minded focus, that can harm relationships and business. Ultimately, entrepreneurs need completely different skill sets, like the ability to lead a team and trust that their vision will be fulfilled.

Chris: 10:55 – But the things that made them great in founder phase are probably harmful in farmer phase, so they need to reboot. Jerry Colonna is called the CEO whisper in his Amazon profile and he often actually winds up whispering in the book. It’s a guided journey through your demons, your ego, and your weaknesses and his directive. There are specific exercises and assignments to help you take the first steps to bettering yourself. I’ve never found a book that gave me a sense of therapy, but beneath all the habits, skills and knowledge is you and you’re not perfect. So this book tells you how to deal with that, how to fix your problems, and how to grow as a person. And I recommend it for tinkers. The next book is “The Alter Ego Effect” by Todd Herman. In 2018, I identified that I wasn’t equipped to lead a rapidly growing international company.

Chris: 11:46 – So I started seeking mentors to help me learn to lead. I changed my worldview and habits significantly, had some hard conversations and took some bold risks, but it was exhausting. And boss Chris wasn’t really the person I wanted to be at home. So Herman’s book made me ask, can I be the CEO part time and then shed that skin when I don’t need it? According to the book, you can. And Herman shares a ton of examples that show how celebrities and athletes have used the alter ego effect to do the same thing. We introduced the concept to gym owners as part of their sales training. Herman originally tested the method when he was selling personal training, so it’s a great fit. It’s definitely a useful tactic and I signed up for Herman’s one-on-one guidance because the book was so powerful. The hard part is switching into and out of an alter ego, but you know like fitness, it takes practice.

Chris: 12:42 – So Herman uses totems at home to switch into dad mode ,like he puts on a special bracelet that his daughter made for him to remind him that now he’s the dad and not the CEO. I recommend the alter ego effect for farmers. The next book is “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson. Now, this isn’t promoted as a business book, but few books make me pull my truck to the side of the road and say, holy shit. So I included it, and the message definitely has bearing on you as a leader in the public eye. Jordan Peterson is a polarizing guy. I wondered what’s this book or this guy actually saying, and that’s why I read the book in the first place. But the book itself is an epiphany. I recommend to everyone. Make your kids strong, not safe, is a transcendent lesson that every leader can use.

Chris: 13:28 – Just replace kids with business or relationship or whatever. And Peterson models that strong, not safe approach to life. He’s attacked in the media pretty often for being anti whatever, but his critics almost always take his message out of context to further their cause. Peterson is an example of standing up for your beliefs and also a warning. If you say this is wrong when you disagree with a popular trend, you’ll attract criticism in volumes. Not everybody can handle that. I certainly couldn’t take the storm of hate that Peterson deals with every single day, but I recommend the book for everyone because I know you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. The next book is “Turning the Flywheel” by Jim Collins. Now Collins doesn’t publish off. He doesn’t even appear on podcasts often and he rarely takes the stage, but when he talks, everyone listens. “Turning the Flywheel” was a curiosity buy. I really loved “Good to Great,” “Great By Choice” and “Built to Last,” and I wondered what a monograph meant to Collins, which is what he calls a turning a flywheel, but it’s really a how-to book. His previous books had so many huge concepts that he needed something to tie them all together. So don’t read this until you’ve read at least three of his other books. But when you have, this book is an inspiration. It’s recommended for farmers and tinkers. And that’s the top 11. Now, there were some honorable mentions that I also read in 2019. For example, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Because we’re in the business of behavioral change, “Atomic Habits” is a more useful tool for a fitness coach than almost any fitness book. It’s directive and if coaches simply copied his model with their clients, they’d make more money for longer. Most of the big ideas are front loaded, so this is a really quick read.

Chris: 15:19 – For example, even if you just read about streaks, you’ll understand the value of talking to your clients every single day when they’re getting started. Another honorable mention is “Turn the Ship Around” by David Marquet. It’s a great story about creating change in a change-resistant environment like the US Navy. The typical model of submarine command depends on one leader rigorously enforcing predetermined rules, but Marquet pivoted, which is tough to do in the Navy, and eventually got buy in from his crew. The best lesson? A leader should be measured on the success of his team years after he’s gone. Unfortunately, the stories didn’t lead to a clear directive like do this in your company, but did offer some exercises like ask yourself, how can I use this in my company? The next honorable mention is “The Like Switch” by Jack Schafer. Jack’s another ex-FBI guy like Chris Voss. Schafer is like the behavioral scientist to Chris Voss’ hostage negotiator though. And the book reads like it. “The Like Switch” is really interesting and good at explaining why people behave the way they do, but where Voss’ is book is directive, step one do this, step two do that, Schafer’s is mostly theory. If you want a scientific dive into how to win friends and influence people, “The Like Switch” is a good book to read. Another honorable mention is “Principles” by Ray Dalio. So Dalio’s premise that life management, economics and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines, that’s a pretty bold premise. I was excited to read it, but “Principles” mostly just created book guilt for me. I have a lot of friends who love the book, but I really couldn’t get into it, so it sits in my Audible account unfinished. It still gets honorable mention status because I have a feeling it would be great if I went back to it and listened to it three or four more times.

Chris: 17:10 – The next honorable mention book is “This I Know” by Terry O’Reilly. The counter to Dalio’s book is “This I Know.” Dalio has deep insights and draws conclusions based on profound experience, but Terry O’Reilly tells amazing stories. His book is really hard to put down, and while his insights might not be deed, he actually tries to present opposing viewpoints instead of saying, do this one thing. I’m a huge Terry O’Reilly fan. You can learn more from his delivery than from the content of most books on this list. Another honorable mention is “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller. A marketer’s education should start with this book, but it shouldn’t end there. Most of us try to be too artsy. We make complicated websites that actually stop people from booking or signing up. We try to be different at the expense of being clear. Miller’s book is the antidote. It’s well written and clear.

Chris: 18:02 – Consider this like the CrossFit Level 1 course. It’s enough to get you out on the floor, and Miller’s storytelling makes the message stick, but he doesn’t provide conversion data to back up his claims. If you don’t read any other marketing book this year, read this one, but I hope you read more than one. The next honorable mention is “Simple Numbers” by Greg Crabtree. Now Craptree is like a celebrity accountant, a status that’s pretty hard to achieve. His book makes accounting as clear as it can be. I was thrilled to find a higher level accounting method that dovetails perfectly with the 4/9ths and Profit First models that we recommend at Two-Brain. And after reading the book, I signed up for his service. His firm now provides the CFO for my company. They build dashboards that help me figure out where to spend and where to save and they bring a lot of clarity to my rapidly expanding business.

Chris: 18:56 – The next honorable mention is “Vivid Vision” by Cameron Herold. Now I started listening to this book while riding my bike, but after an hour I realized that I should have been sitting in front of a laptop because the book is so directive that you could listen to a chapter, press pause, clearly understand the work to do and do it and then listen to the next chapter and so on. Several of the mentors at Two-Brain recommend this book and our CPO is in Harold’s mentoring group, highly recommended for entrepreneurs at tinker level and above. Now here are the books that I didn’t really like but you might, and this is a short list because I think that most books have something really valuable in them. First is “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. Nassim Taleb once wrote that most books would have made a great article, and Naval Ravikant followed that with most articles would make a good tweet. Like many business books, “Can’t Hurt Me” started with a good premise and then filled hundreds of pages with examples. The whole book can be summed up with a hashtag HTFU or harden the F up. Another one that I didn’t really like but you might is “The Zappos Experience” by Joseph A. Michelli. The Zappos story was a revolutionary one in 2005. An online retailer whose clients were raving fans. But Zappos leaders claim that their real strength is in creating culture in their team. In fact, culture, which is like the biggest buzzword of 2019, probably originated with Zappos. There was nothing really new in the book, but I’m biased. The team of mentors at Two-Brain gets to work on interesting problems all day long. They’re emotionally invested in their work. Zappos staff sells shoes. They need workplace engagement tricks and culture boosters to keep them around and I don’t. If you run a software company or an online shoe store, you might need to artificially culture into your workplace.

Chris: 20:50 – But if you run a service business, your culture is determined by your care for your clients and your just cause. Here’s some other recommendations. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper. I know that guy. Yeah, I wrote this one after publishing “Two-Brain Business” in 2012, I’ve spent thousands of hours on the phone with other gym owners, collected libraries full of data and seeing new ideas rise and old ideas fall. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in mentorship, read hundreds of books and spent thousands of hours online talking to others in the industry. There’s a lot of knowledge out there. Frankly, there are too many ideas. The most common problem for entrepreneurs is actually overwhelm. We can’t act on everything, so we get paralyzed. I wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to give you the distillate. When you boil it all down, these are the habits, tactics, and directives that you’re left with and because not everyone needs everything at the same time.

Chris: 21:51 – I broke the entrepreneurial journey into four phases. This book is a filter for the best strategies that we’ve actually proven to work at each of the four phases, founder, farmer, tinker and thief. Another mention is “Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become” by Michael Schrage. Now his premise is to start with ideal customer outcomes and work backwards. How will your customers be transformed by your service? What will they look like after they’ve used your service successfully? This is a useful idea for the service industry and I think it could help gym owners by painting an aspirational avatar, like here’s what a client should look like. After three years at my gym, a coach could work backwards to set up an ideal client journey, but those are my ideas, not Schrage’s. His book sticks to high-level concepts and the usual examples like Google, Apple, Starbucks, etc.

Chris: 22:48 – “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton Christensen is another, you know, highly recommended read when you have time. My mentor, Todd Herman, told me that I needed to listen to Christensen. Now, Clay Christenen is a pretty dry speaker, so his YouTube videos aren’t really popular, but his ideas are. Others talk about him in their own more engaging videos. The best epiphany I got from Mike Michalowicz’s “Pumpkin Plan,” which is now required reading for all Two-Brain clients, is that I should ask my best clients what they want instead of trying to guess. Christensen’s message compounds on that concept. We should all ask ourselves, what job is this service being hired to do? Christensen’s jobs to be done idea is a huge game changer, but his explanations are so complex that other authors will probably simplify his ideas and make way more money on them. Another mention is “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis, and I’m a fan of Diamandis and this book is a good big-picture read. It reminds me of “Guns, Germs and Steel” but with a future focus perspective instead of an historical one.

Chris: 23:57 – Another is “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. Now, I wrote that “The Like Switch” was the science behind “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” “Contagious” is like that for the book “Made to Stick.” But Berger’s book is entertaining with examples from music and pop culture. Earworms, memes and viral videos are all examined in the book. It’s more academic, instead of being directive like you’re never told do exactly this one thing right now, but it’s still a good lens through which to view your own content. Also mentioned “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. I was really debating whether to put this on the top 11 or not. I had the book on preorder for nine months before it was published and it was actually a big surprise when I finally got it in the mail. I’m not always a fan of Sinek’s work. His theory sound good, like “Leaders Eat Last,” but often lack in-the-trenches proof.

Chris: 24:50 – So when this book started out really strong, I was thrilled. I actually wrote about playing the infinite game in the fitness business because I was very inspired by the first few chapters. Unfortunately, the book took a dip in the middle and spent several hours berating CEOs for focusing on shareholder profit instead of employee happiness. Now everyone agrees that employee happiness is important, but Sinek makes a logical leap over and over that happy employees will automatically create happier customers, which will automatically create more profit. As gym owners know, that’s a deadly false belief. And a lot of us were trapped into thinking that, which is maybe why I’m over-sensitive to making those logical leaps. So luckily I found myself with a long bike ride and nothing else to read. So I finished the last hour of the book, and I’m glad I did. Sinek comes on strong again at the end, but you know, you can probably skip the middle chapters.

Chris: 25:45 – Another book I read this year was “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. So culture is the top buzzword of 2019. As more and more people work remotely or sell a product online, we lose our sense of cause. In my description of the Zappos book above, I said that people in the service industry probably don’t need tips and tricks in the workplace because care for the client and a just cause is probably enough. Coyle lists many strategies for building culture that he pulled from the Navy SEALs and pro sports teams. But what’s missing is the reason people signed up for those teams in the first place. That reason is their just cause. They believed in a mission higher than themselves or you know, maybe fame and fortune. The effect of cause is huge and outweighs working conditions, boredom and the lure of incrementally better benefits or wages. When you give up a high-paying job to help people get healthy, you probably don’t need drinking games or cereal in the boardroom or you know, foosball tables to you engaged if you do need those things, then “The Culture Code” has some great examples. Finally, the last book that I want to talk about here is “Resilience” by Eric Greitens. Every summer I roll up my garage door, I pull up my barbell and I listen to “Resilience.” Greitens is a storyteller. He’s a real hero. He could’ve taken an academic path, but after volunteering in refugee camps, he realized that some situations require force to save people. And that was a huge epiphany for me. His stories about boxing as a poor kid, turning down teaching jobs to volunteer in war-torn areas and ultimately leading a SEAL team are more than inspirational. They give perspective on your life and your place in the world. So what do you think of these lists? Do you agree with the summaries or do you have something to add about one of the books above? Did I miss one? Did you read something that changed your life or your business in 2019? Please leave a comment below and let us know what we should read next.

Andrew: 27:46 – Thank you for listening Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a rating and review. Do you want to add $5,000 in monthly revenue to your gym? A mentor can show you how. Book a free call with a mentor today at


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