SFR 233: It’s All Just Learnable Formulas – Stephen Larsen

SFR 233: It’s All Just Learnable Formulas

Apr 12th, 2019 anchorwave

Once you get clear on what you want as an entrepreneur, the rest is a lot of learnable formulas that you DO NOT have to be pro at…

Every once in a while when an interview is just so awesome, I ask:

“Do you mind if I repost this on Sales Funnel Radio?”

… and usually, they’re very excited about that.

This interview was with Marian Esanu from the High Ticket Client Acquisition podcast.

Sometimes the right questions get me to teach something in a way that I haven’t taught before.

Learn business from Marian Esanu

Shout out to you, Marian, this was a great interview.

I’ve pulled out the BEST bits where Marian asks me about what I look for when I am trying to decide what to sell.

We talk about the whole red ocean analytics thing, (which by the way is a huge focus of the last OfferMind).

The next OfferMind is coming up September 2nd-3rd.

They’ll be a bunch of really cool speakers coming in and Russell’s keynoting.

But back to the formulas…

Marian asks me:

  • What do you look for when you decide whether or not you should enter into a market.
  • What do you look for when you’re deciding what to sell?
  • How do figure out what hooks to use?

You have to understand like I can close my eyes, and I can see the whole formula…

Learn business formulas

It’s all a big pattern to me.

I know the formulas that cause success at each part of the value ladder. I know the formulas before we even choose or start brainstorming an offer to promote.

That should be really encouraging to everybody because that’s what I teach:

  • That’s the point of my OfferLab program
  • That’s the purpose of EVERYTHING I do…

The offer is part of the sales message. The sales message is part of the offer. They’re separate, but they’re combined in their purpose. They’re equal but different.


How to become an entrepreneur

Marian: What’s your thought on somebody starting publishing for the first time? How do you find your voice?

Do you just talk about stuff that you’re good at, even if you don’t know if people are gonna respond to it? What do you think about that?

Steve: That is one of the most frequent questions. It’s also one of the questions where the answer is NOT inspiring.

We created this event called the Funnel Hackathon Event. We called it the FHAT event.

Russell’s inner circle was there; these people were paying 25 – 50 grand to be in the room. The room was filled with very rich, very successful, smart people.

I had gone through the previous 12 years of Russell’s content to organize it.

I thought through like, “Hey, in order to know this, you really need to do that. In order to know this, you really need to do that.”

… and I put it in a digestible way… and we launched the original Two Comma Club coaching program from that.

We decided to test the material against the inner circle, so it was a BIG event for me.

Russell was gonna teach, and so I was excited to see how he was gonna do it.

I was walking to the event room side-by-side with Russell, and he turns to me and goes, “Stephen, dude, do you want to introduce me on stage?”

Immediately, I was like, “No.”

I was so scared, like… there’s no way.

I’m very formula oriented, and I was like, “What’s the formula dude? What’s the script? How do I MC? How do I bring somebody in?”

…and Russell starts laughing. He’s like, “Dude, no wait, wait. Okay, settle down.” I was freaking out, so he took me back out of the room, and we went to this little side conference room.

Russell said:

“Stephen, I got to tell you something… It’s impressive how well you model me… that’s very rare, but dude, it’s time for you to find your own voice. Stop asking how would Russell Brunson introduce somebody on stage. How would YOU introduce somebody on stage?”

I focus so much on modeling success, it sounds stupid saying it, but it was the first time in my life where I found my voice.

It was the first time in my life that Steve Larsen was born on stage.

I was already podcasting… because I was listening to what he was saying… but Steve Larsen started becoming born on my podcast. Around episode 70 or 80, I felt it….

I started doing it the way I would do it.

I feel like a lot of the model’s we follow will get you to 80%.

They’ll jumpstart you and help shortcut decades, lots of pain and money that you otherwise would have to spend, but eventually the whole find your voice thing, in my opinion, is very unteachable.

I believe that there are things in this business that we can design, but there are other things that we have to discover… and your voice is one of them.

So you can follow some scripts and blueprints for a while, and then after a while, it’s like: “Okay, how would you say it? Just okay say it that way.”

Marian: Got it. So it’s more like practice, practice, practice, and then it would just come out at some point? Got it, awesome, and that’s a hell of a story.

Learn business voice

Steve: It’s funny, man. It was sooo depressing for me to hear that. I was like, “Just tell me the script, dude. I want safety in the script.”

Marian: All right, awesome man. I think that will really help a lot of people that are listening to or watching this.

Now let’s take it a step further, and let’s say somebody has started to find their voice and find their message, and you know, model it and design it, and all that stuff…

The next part in there would be the offer, and that’s where your entire expertise and all of these things come in, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Learn business problem solving

Marian: What do you think is the next step would be, let’s say we’re talking about a coach, a consultant, to design the best offer?

What do you think they lack… and how they can start looking at that process as being one of the most important?

I know you preach a lot on making sure that you work on your sales message and your sales process before you build your:

  • Product
  • Course
  • Anything that you want to build

What’s your process so that somebody can implement that for themselves?

Steve: That’s a very good question. It’s interesting…

I believe the sales message and the offer are actually one and the same. They’re very separate roles, but I don’t think you can have a sales message without an offer, and vice versa.

There’s no offer without a sales message. They support each other, but they’re very different roles.

If you’re gonna go create an offer, and let’s say you’re a coach or a consultant, or something like that…

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that CEOs read a book a week…

So for a while, I was just consuming. consuming, consuming, because that’s what successful people do, therefore I will do the same…

After about two years, I started asking myself questions like:

“I’m doing what successful people do, why am I still broke?”

…and I realized several things.

#1: For the first time in my life, I started realizing the difference between marketing and sales and that they’re very different.

Marketing changes people’s beliefs so that they can buy something. That’s what a sales message does. The act of selling is just presenting an offer and overcoming objections.

Learn business strategies

…they work in tandem, but they are very distinct things.

So if somebody’s trying to come up with an offer, you shouldn’t be behaving as a CEO.

  • CEO’s are in the business of running and tweaking systems.
  • Entrepreneurs are in the business of solving problems.

If you’re trying to come up with an offer for the first time, you’ve got to put on the entrepreneur hat and get rid of all the mainstream CEO junk. You’re not a CEO, so stop acting like one.

I don’t read a book a week. I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t learn, but…

I learn with the intent to solve problems. That’s what entrepreneurs are in the business of doing.

So if you think about the way a customer is experiencing your product…

The Winter Olympics was a while ago, right. (Crap, it wasn’t a while ago, it was like a year ago. Nevermind, time is going fast.)

So, for example:

If I’m gonna go be an Olympic skier, every single opportunity that’s out there is guarded by a whole bunch of problems that you can’t see…

My dad really wanted to go be an Olympic skier… if he’d the opportunity to be an Olympic skier, there’s a whole bunch of follow-up problems that you have to solve.

Problems that you never knew you had to solve until you were given that opportunity.

Follow me for a second… I know I’m kind of going all over the place, let me tie it with a little bow in a second…

Marian: No, I get it.

Steve: Yeah, this is a HUGE deal to realize… I think most people that are in the business of selling anything, any kind of entrepreneurship, any kind of business… we forget this.

Your product is an opportunity, and there’s a whole bunch of problems that you have to solve that show up after someone buys.

So, if I have the opportunity to become an Olympic skier, now that the opportunity’s in front of me, I have to solve problems that weren’t there before I had the opportunity:

  • Who’s my coach gonna be?
  • What kind of skis am I gonna use?
  • Which mountains am I gonna practice on?
  • Are my times fast enough?
  • Did I study my competition enough?

Do you know what I mean?

Marion: Yep.

Steve: It happens to us when we buy any kind of product in our life. I’m trying to find something on my desk here. Okay, this gum…


Learn business selling

There are follow-up problems that somebody has after they buy this gum that they did not have until they bought it. It’s the same thing if you are a coach or a consultant…

When somebody buys your main product, there’s a bunch of follow-up problems that you now have to solve that were NOT on your table ahead of time.

Like ClickFunnels, right?

It wasn’t until I bought ClickFunnels that I realized:

  • I should learn how to write copy
  • I should probably learn how to drive traffic

…I didn’t have that problem before I bought it, right? I didn’t have that problem ahead of time.

You have to realize that every product you sell is a gift both to the buyer and to you.

For example:

When you sell gum, (or something else), there’s a bunch of follow-up problems…

This is the easiest way to create an offer ever.

You ask: “What are the follow-up problems that my product creates for somebody after they buy it?”

Then you see what the majority are and you solve those problems with additional products. I just give those away for free when they buy the first thing.

Back to gum…

What kind of issues would somebody have?

  • Maybe they want more flavors
  • They want teeth whitening
  • Bad breath in general…

So you could go interview oral health doctors…Best business to start

… and include that interview, (which is a digital thing, takes nothing to fulfill), with the original product that you sell and all these things that you go stack on there.

That’s one of the easiest ways to create an offer ever. I hope that made sense?

Marian: Oh, it does.


I figure out what the follow-up problems are, create a product to solve them and give them away for free with the original product.

Marian: That’s INSANE!

I don’t think I ever thought about the whole offer creation process the way that you said it.

That can be applied to any kind of industry regardless of what you sell, as long as you charge people for something, they’ll have a question that they didn’t have before they bought it.

I hope everybody’s taking notes.

Steve: It drives me nuts when people are like, “…but in my industry’s different.” I’m like, “No, it’s not. Do you sell anything? Sweet!”

Marian: Even if you sell a commodity, people will still have questions. Even if it’s a t-shirt, “How can I wash this t-shirt so it’s not getting all crappy?”

Steve: Exactly, yeah. “We’ll give you a cool free PDF that shows cool fashion things to wear with the shirt when you buy.”

You’re like, “Oh man, you just increased value without dropping the price.”

So there are a few ways to compete in this world…

If I’ve got a bunch of other people that are selling something similar to me:

  • Drop the price… that’s one way to increase value.
  • Don’t drop the price and charge a little bit extra, but add more value… because price and value are not the same thing.

So I’m gonna bump the value up with mostly digital products that take nothing for me to fulfill, and boost the value like crazy.

Now I can sell for a premium, rather than fight to be the lowest price for what I sell.

That’s terrible, it’s a terrible way to do business.

Marian: That’s super powerful.

I hope everybody’s literally just taking this part here. This is worth a lot of money. Awesome, I love that.


Learn business campaigns

So I listened to one of your episodes. I don’t remember the name of it now, but you stressed a lot on this matter.

You have a different way of approaching a campaign. A campaign for you is NOT just driving traffic to a funnel, it’s a whole different thing put on steroids.

Can you, can you talk about that? Because I really think that this can help a lot of our listeners.

Steve: Yeah, I think the term campaign is something that’s actually dying. It’s a dying art.

Before social media existed, all these marketers that were out there, how did they get such fast, big sales?

If you buy an ad on YouTube, or Facebook they call it a campaign. I think what’s killing it.

From a direct response marketer’s viewpoint, ads are just part of a campaign. It’s NOT the campaign itself. A campaign is pressure building up to a certain point.

One of my favorite things to go do if you’re podcasting or publishing… (which is one of the easiest ways to get clients for life, it’s ridiculous. It will change your life if you just publish), is to create episodes that lead up to an event.

Best business to start campaigns

So in the episodes, I’m like, “Hey, in two months from now, this cool thing is happening, and by the way here’s a whole bunch of stories that are gonna break your beliefs.”

… I’m not gonna say that, but that’s what’s happening.

I’m dripping out those pieces of content, and at the end of all of them, I’m saying, “Hey, go to this page and register so you guys get early bird access… on the waiting list… or whatever.”

You build up all the pressure for this date, it’s kind of what Hollywood does for movies.


Learn business launch campaigns

Q: How much money do you think Hollywood would make if you didn’t hear about the movie until the day it’s actually released?

A: They wouldn’t make that much money.

They are masters at creating pressure to a date. They create pressure, “Here it comes… on this date, oh my gosh!” right?

…and then tons of sales come in all over the place. Then they drive more ads… it’s very much more like that. Ads are part of that…

A marketer, at the core, is an event thrower… meaning they build pressure to a certain date, and then using scarcity and urgency… and remove access to it after while to get a second bump in sales.

A campaign is much more, I don’t even know what the word is….

Marian: Making them hungry for your product before it’s launched, I guess?

Steve: Yeah, in my mind, there are two types of campaigns that I use:

#1: There’s Launch Campaign for if I’m gonna introduce something to the market for the first time. There are several strategies for building pressure, noise, getting a big list and shoving them all to a certain date, so that there’s lots of pressure out there.

#2: There’s Evergreen Campaigns (it’s my own definition), it is things like turning on Facebook ads, where I’m just gonna be tweaking the numbers, stuff like that…

You miss out on so much money if you start a funnel or a podcast.. and then just turn on ads.

Build Pressure!

Best business to start building pressure

…I use the two campaigns together.

  1. I build a launch campaign and build all this pressure, pressure, pressure, and because I have a podcast, I’ll launch to my own audience.
  2. When they buy, I take all that money, (I don’t take profit), I dump it right back into my Evergreen Campaign. So I never put a dollar of my own in my business because of that strategy.

That’s how I launch everything. I launch with a lot of pressure and then I take that cash roll it into my ads… and now my customers are paying for my ads.

Marian: That’s super smart, and I really love the way that you explained things, and the way that you put it out there to the public. It’s super smart.

You are one of most in-demand funnel builders, so everything that you say, people will think, “Oh, I’ll go and implement it,” but you have a complete in-depth process of things to do before you even touch your laptop to build a funnel.

Steve: Yeah.

Marian: And I think a lot of people would miss a lot of that stuff. Can you debate a little bit on that process? I know we’re getting close to wrapping things up here.

Steve: That’s fine. Yeah, I think the biggest issue, and I did the same thing, you know. I can’t blame anybody for doing this… but when I first got ClickFunnels, the first thing I did… (and this is what I did for a while), was log in and build the funnel…

ClickFunnels makes it so easy on the tech side to do stuff, it’s attractive and it’s sexy, and most people jump right to that…

They say, “Hey, let me go build this sweet thing.”

So they build it, this is literally how I did it.

I remember one of the first funnels, I built a free plus shipping thing, selling a CD. I wanted to have a free plus shipping thing, so I went and I rebuilt all of Russell Brunson’s Dot Com Secrets book funnel

I said, “What should I tell them on this page?”

I went through, and I came up with something to sell on that page. I went to the next page, what should I sell on this page? What should I sell on this page?

Then after I had all the products in there, I was like, “How should I sell this?”

…and I went and I wrote the sales message, and I put it all in there.

THAT is the exact opposite order to where you find success.

Best business to start for success

People need to get out of the mindset of testing products. You don’t really test products. You test sales messages.

The role of the sales message is to cause the desire for purchase. The product just fulfills on the promise that your sales message made.

That’s all the product does.

The product should be amazing, but you really don’t need to test a product. It’s NOT about that.

What causes the purchase, is the sales message itself.

So, I gather all this data from my competitors in the red ocean. I want something that’s crazy competitive… and then I’m gonna take all that data and craft my sales message for those people alone.

The worst thing ever is when someone walks up and they’re like, “Stephen, I built this sweet thing, who should I sell it to?” I’m like, “Ah that is like square one. You jumped to 99…”


First, you start with the who. It’s all about the who and understanding:

Learn business WHO

  • Where they are?
  • What do they want?
  • What they don’t want?
  • Their current desires?
  • What they’ve already been buying to try and solve their problems? (So you don’t go make that and it’s a step backward in a customer journey)

You understand MORE about where these people are, and that creates your sales message.

You go test that to those people specifically, and then once people are buying, then I go create the product to fulfill on.

Super safe, completely the opposite order than what college taught me. A different way of thinking about it. Completely different than mainstream entrepreneurship out there.

How to become an entrepreneur today

Marian: I get it 100%. Julie Stoian shared the same type of thing… we were talking about an online course, and she broke it down in the same exact steps. So I can see why for sure.

Now you talk a lot about the red ocean, the blue ocean, and then you created something in the middle, the purple ocean.

I know, a lot of people will say, “Well, my industry’s too crowded. I got to compete on price. I don’t know how to build an offer, whatever… How are they starting?”

Let’s say they do what you say, they start publishing, they find their voice, they create an offer, they create a sales message, all together. Are they testing that offer to the red ocean… and then they try to build their own type of blue ocean out of that? What’s the best way to do that?

Steve: That’s a lot of strategies involved in that.

Marian: Just the big picture.


Learn business red oceans

Steve: So this red ocean concept. You think back in the day where Al Gore created the internet, he didn’t. He did NOT create the internet. But he claims he did.

…but you think about when the internet became publicly available for everybody in 1991…

There was one internet service provider, that’s it. You know? Straight up monopoly. You couldn’t get the internet anywhere else.

Then suddenly, all these other tech companies say: “Look at that, and they’re like we could be an internet provider,”

…and someone else comes in, somebody else comes in, somebody else comes in.

They start driving the price down because of competition.

We actually want that. I want to have the most ridiculous red highly competitive, bloody ocean that is out there. I want it to be very bloody. I want it to be soooo competitive…

Because when it is competitive, it’s actual security. If the market of internet service providers is lasting long enough, what’s cool about that is that in order for the market to survive, they have to start learning how to create new customers.

They have to make customers out of people who are not planning on being customers. That is not easy, and most markets don’t survive that.

Learn business methods

Most of us would not go into the beanie babies accessories market. You know or Pogs or Kmart or Sears, all these things that are dying….they didn’t learn how to make customers out of people who were NOT planning to be customers.

It’s easy when a new thing comes out, they collect the easy people off the top who’d buy just because they’re looking to buy something.

It’s hard after those people have dried up, for a market to move from customer collection to customer creation. That is challenging. Most markets die because of that.

I actually want a highly red ocean.

I want a lot of competition… because it’s a sign that the market is surviving and growing.

Not all markets are red. I want one that’s red.

I want to be able to go in, (hopefully, this isn’t too deep), and look at this really, really, really red, red ocean, and learn how to take a step out of it, and build a sales message that goes directly back into it.

Learn business sales messages

…because they figured out how to create customers.

It means I don’t have to learn how to create customers. I just sell to those people and my sales message pulls people over to me.

I don’t have to create customers, I just have to collect them. It’s very, it’s kind of a different way of thinking. I don’t know. Hopefully, it makes sense but like,

Marian: It does.

Steve: I’ve coached 10x of thousands of people in this now, and the thing that’s scary is they go do all this work, they create all these funnels, they make all the sales messages, they’re making all the things that we tell them to go do…


They go and they plug them into a market that’s dying, and when the market leaves, they now have to go back to square one… the who.

“Crap, my who dried up. I don’t know where they went.”

The market left. The market died… and so they have to find a NEW who and go back to square one to create a new sales message and make sure that offers something that’s sexy and fulfills…

…and make sure the funnel is something that is attractive for that market… and it’s terrible, it sucks!

It’s where the entrepreneur in this game, (especially online), feel like their wheels are spinning… it’s because they chose the wrong who.

So I go in and say:

  1. Let’s choose something that’s insanely competitive
  2. Figure out how to throw rocks into it
  3. Talk to those who are only in pain…

I’m NOT gonna talk to somebody in there and try to sell them if they’re like a massive diehard, right. They’re like, “I believe this stuff, this is my thing,” right?

That’s like watching the Superbowl with opposing fans in the same room: “Well, this team’s better, no that team’s better.” No one wins, right! It’s that exact same thing…

99% of sales copy that’s written out there by somebody that’s brand new, they’re speaking to somebody in the red ocean who’s a die hard. It’s a dumb argument.

I don’t speak to them at all. I find a market that’s really, really, really red, and then I only talk to those people in there who are feeling pain and hate the market they’re in. They just don’t know anything different…

Different ways to learn business

That’s a very easy person they go sell.

Marion: That’s something that a lot of people just don’t talk about… You hear everybody being like, “Oh, I’m afraid to get into that market because it’s so crowded. I’m not gonna be able to survive,” but no, you just said the opposite:

“No, go there because you don’t need to create customers.. all of them are over there, and it’s so much easier for you to get them out.”

Awesome man, you’re literally just spitting fire here.

Last question before we wrap things up in here…

You’re one of the few people that I know, (especially in this online game), that has two completely different audiences. You manage both of them so well in a way that you never like…

I don’t know I mean like correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s very rare when you cross-promote between the two… maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know?

But I just, I’m so amazed by the fact that… I don’t know how big both of them are, I know this one that I’m in, it’s pretty large.

Steve: A little big.

Marian: Yeah. So then how do you manage to keep them you know not necessarily from a technical standpoint, but because you have to create offers for both of them.

You have to publish to both of them. How do you manage your time and your strategy behind that?

Steve: First of all I would just caveat everything right there by just saying please don’t try that. It actually was NOT on purpose, but it worked for a few specific reasons…

So one of them is the MLM space, and when you think about that, the reason I went into that is because of the exact same principal I was just talking about. Like, that’s an insanely red competitive ocean.

There was a lot of opinions around that industry, which is good. I actually want that. I don’t want anything that’s too blue. I want a lot of red… because then what I did, (and this is the reason why it sells so well, and why I don’t actually have to manage it that much)…

This is one of the easiest ways to create a sales message, create hooks, create podcast content, is you become the anti-red in your messaging.

…and my headlines in that space are:

How I’m auto recruiting a downline of big producers without my friends and family even knowing I’m in MLM.

… and they’re like what?

The whole industry is built around attacking your friends and family, and so when they read that headline, it is the anti-red… and because of that, it’s talkable.

We drive ads, but on the ClickFunnels page, when everyone’s like, “Who does MLM funnels?” Like, everyone says my stuff. I’m not doing any of that, and the reason is that I’m so strongly anti-red.

I’m like, “Yeah, do the MLM thing, but don’t you dare do it in the way they’re teaching you…” and who does that speak to?

It speaks to people who are doing it, who are in pain and hate it. They just don’t know another way.

Exactly as I was just saying. So it’s talkable, and they do a lot of my selling for me because it’s word of mouth.

It’s very easy… because no one’s doing that, and then they can go, “Oh my gosh, have you seen this guy?”

I’m very careful about what I sell, NOT based on the product… I’m careful based on the sales message and how abrupt it is in the red ocean.

That’s one of the biggest keys and one of the biggest misconceptions.

For years, I walked around asking myself the question, “What should I sell? What should I sell?”

… it’s like paralysis.

How to learn business

If you’re listening or watching this now, and you’re like, “I don’t know what to sell… I don’t know what to do?” … the reason’s that you’re starting with the wrong question.

Instead of asking, “What do I sell?” … You ask, “Who should I sell?” And “Who do I want to sell? Who’s my dream customer?”what should I sell gets really easy… because you just solve their problems and become the anti-red in your sales message.

It’s waaay easier after you do a little research like that.

Thanks so much for listening. Please remember to rate and subscribe.


I know this game can take a few tries to get the money flowing, especially the first time, right? And that can suck.

I also know from experience how frustrating it can be to know your business is just a few tweaks away from your next big payday, but you don’t know what tweaks to make.

I’ve felt completely paralyzed by that in the past, and it sucks.

I’ve been blessed to work with thousands of new and successful businesses over the last three years, and two things have really shocked me.

#1: I began noticing the pattern to success is vastly the same, but everyone’s spot on the path is obviously different.

#2: I’ve been shocked and overwhelmed by the number of people asking for my help, my systems, and funnels in their business.

Well, until now I’ve never had a system or product in my own business to help you build yours.

Now, I’m finally able to be public about all this…

If you’d like my help to build your offer or sales message funnel and even your content machine, go to

Steve Larsen OfferLab

The path to online and offline success is 80 percent the same regardless of the product, price point or industry, and it works if you’re new or already a killer in business.

You can get more details on how to get my personal attention and frameworks in your own business by going to

In-person classes are limited to 60 people each, and frankly, I can only do about two of these a year. Get more details, and even jump on the phone with us for free at

The post SFR 233: It’s All Just Learnable Formulas appeared first on Sales Funnel Radio Blog.