087: Agency Skills Packaged in a Self Service Course with Brady Dahmer (Thinkific Series #4 of 6)

Today is episode 4 of our 6 part Thinkific series.  And I am so excited to be having this conversation with Brady Dahmer as part of the Thinkific mini series. I am excited to dig into how and why he’s using Thinkific.  And also what his personal insights are and how those can translate into someone who is thinking about launching a course, online workshops, or online membership.

But before we jump right in to all these questions, let’s learn a little bit about Brady Dahmer.

Brady is a branding expert.  And right now, he’s using the Thinkific platform with the course he created called”The Brand Primer”.  This course is a bunch of workshops and tools designed to help companies brand themselves better. So it’s downloadable, very digestible content that somebody could do with a company over the course of a lunch hour. It’s comprised of fun and easy execute type of exercises with some actual results at the end of it.

This all comes from his background experience working with companies on their branding.

Brady runs a branding and communications company.  They’re always trying to find ways to mine the experience of their clients. So he, for instance,He’s always looking at things like how the sales team talks to their clients. When customer service is fielding calls, what are the top calls? Are these types of things touch points? What are the “brand pieces” of a company?

These are all important things to consider because each company is individual.  So it’s important to know how we get to mine each one of those for each individual company. As a result of this type of thinking, they’ve been in this 10 year span of trying to develop a bunch of questions, to talk to all the thought leaders, and all the people who have direct contact with either clients or consumers of their products. So in that we kind of developed our own our own intellectual property, our own sort of way of doing things.

If you’ve ever heard of like Myers Briggs, the psychoanalytic tool, you know they ask you a bunch of questions that are multiple choice.  So Brady’s system is very much like that.

They started developing these kinds of questions and tools to help companies explain and share they’re learning experience and knowledge.  These kinds of questions and tools designed to not threaten them or make it feel too complicated because they don’t speak marketing or branding speak.  Or at least they think they don’t. In reality, they’re doing it every day. So Brady wanted to find tools to mine it, help them share, and basically be a translator of what they’re doing every day to grow and expand their company.

I love how Brady is taking what he and his people do as an agency and branding company and converting that into something that is self service and easily digestible. From an online standpoint, that is brilliant.

But how long did it take for Brady to determine that he wanted to do an online course and online workshops? And from the point in time when you actually said, “I want to do this”, where did it take you?

Brady shared it was probably at least around 12 to 14 months.  So as an agency, they are involved with a couple clients a month.  And one of our clients said,

“Hey, this is really valuable, why aren’t you selling this? Why are you writing a book and having other people share?  Why are you sharing what you’ve learned and how you built these things?” 

They were just blown away by our process because they never experienced anything like that before. So we understood that we had some really valuable intellectual property. And because we, as designers and creators who love design, were thinking that we love seeing a big problem and trying to find ways to interpret it.  We love trying to find a really elegant solution to come up with the answer. So over the course of about 10 years, they really worked on those questions, They worked on the interaction of how to mine this data from companies.

So they had a 10 year research document. And they also understood that they had some really interesting and unique intellectual property.

So when Brady says it took about 12 to 14 months to come to the conclusion that the Thinkific platform was right for this,  he didn’t really know it was out there. He talked to a bunch of people about knowing how to share what they knew, while not losing it. On top of that, Brady wasn’t really big on wanting to write a book because that defeated the purpose of having quick and digestible content that he wanted to be really accessible for everybody.

He started to examine all the platforms that are out there.

And of course, people are like, :”Oh, no, you should give that away for free!”  And you know that there’s a lot of these people online are saying, :Oh, just give a little bit away for free and bring them in and, and sell the full thing.”  But Brady felt that part of this whole thing is that you have to experience the whole package or the whole workshop. Because if you are just answering one question, the workshop doesn’t share with you the end result of what could happen, right?

So as they started to go down different roads to try to determine how to make this work.

He met up with Rob at Thinkific and basically asked what the platform does and how they could leverage this amazing intellectual property.  Brady shared information with him and they had a really great meeting. He shared with Rob the journey they went through, where their value was, and where thought they could bring value to people. And Rob shared with Brady what what they  could do with Thinkific.

Brady shared that he thought it was one of those perfect matches, where they could create these little bite size workshops on a platform and still kind of retain a lot of their intellectual property and brand. So building this on the platform is a whole other story, because obviously, it was a whole new language for the. But by doing so, they were able to still retain the genius and their intellectual property, and but share it and be recognized for it. So that’s really why they love this platform.

This course and this workshop and all of this online content that Brady is now selling through the platform is a part of the business.  But it’s not the entire business.

Because of this I’m curious about how Brady is positioning his online assets that are “purchase this and do it yourself” products in the context of his larger business of offering branding services and doing the agency work.  I wanted to know how he is positioning this component within all of the agency.

Brady shared that once they learned that they had something really interesting, they could teach it.  So it’s the agency has kind of taken a little bit of a backseat so they could create this larger piece that we could share and build for people. Again, Brady shared that they are an agency that loves a design thinking of solving big problems.

So the problem that they’re really trying to solve is for companies to understand their brand value.

They want companies to understand what learning experience and knowledge they have that they don’t know how to leverage or they haven’t thought about leveraging in any way. So for Brady’s company, it is about helping companies and entrepreneurs understand what the competitiveness is in the marketplace and then being able to push the buttons and levers to know what works and how to be more significant and distinctive in their respective audience or in their in their market.

So for Brady and his team, this was a really exciting and very complicated thing to try. They were  focusing a lot of their stuff into this. And it also led them down the road of also producing more content and educational content as well. So Thinkific, as much as it is the workshops, it’s also now blossomed into doing research papers.  Because in certain areas, to build out a podcast, all these other sorts of things that will then lead to helping people get more out of understanding the value of the brand and the marketplace better.

It’s sort of funny. Back in the day, before we had the internet, everybody kind of like stayed in their lane.

And they didn’t really look left or right. And nowadays, we look left and say, “Oh my goodness, look how many things we can do.”  The reality is if we go left and then we decide to go left knowing that we could always go back to the straight line, go back to our agency, go back to our freelancing, or go back to our one on one if that’s where we want to go.

But when you make the decision to put something new out there and let it guide you, there’s some power in that. That never used to be the case. And now that we have all these online tools that makes it just that much easier.

As Brady mentioned, a whole other can of worms is the whole putting content into Thinkific and getting the workshop set up the way that you want them to. Let’s dig a little bit into that.

For Brady, it was about presentation of content, not the platform itself .  And the Thinkific platform has been super easy for them. Brady keeps on explaining to people as the Shopify of online courses.  So if you’ve got your cloud, you got the written and visual content, you can build something like immediate, and you can launch it tomorrow.

Part of creating this course for them was the hours it took to create the written and visual content.  Brady shared that if you have that content ready to go, it’s just a matter of click and drag. It was amazing to him how easy the Thinkific platform was to use. Their biggest underestimate was the amount of the amount of content that we wanted to create and produce. There was so much more that they felt they needed to create to accomplish their goal.  So they had a lot more work to do.

It all depends on what you’re presenting.

But for Brady and his team, it was kind of a factor of 10. Sometimes where they thought they’d spend an hour on, it would be actually be 10 hours.  That was their biggest issues. They wanted to produce the highest level of content because they’re talking about brands. And they want to inspire people by that high level of content as well. So they painted themselves a little bit into that corner of being a branding company. So producing something around branding, it had to be top quality.  Everything had to be very well written and the visuals had to be top quality. They spent a lot of time on all of it just to make it right so they could inspire people. That was their mission.

So the Thinkific platform made it easy for Brady and his team to put the content out there. But creating content, it has to be within your wheelhouse.  You have to be able to know what you want to say, how you want to say it, and present in a way that is on brand but also relevant and accessible.

It’s a given that you want your brand and your business to be seen.

And for Brady, this was something that he had to keep on brand because that’s what his business was about. Another example would be, if you do one on one services and you don’t have the high tech mic, all the cameras and lighting, and don’t have scripts and a teleprompter, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still create a great course if those things aren’t required for your own business and for you to be viewed in the perfect light for your business.

When people see me in person and on video, they generally see the weight rack behind me and Donald Duck.  Those are on brand for me because people know me. I keep my personal brand part of everything so that wouldn’t be off putting. But if I was speaking to a corporate environment, I may have to change the focus a little bit and not have that same aesthetic.

So just because it may have taken a lot longer to create the content that Brady wanted for their courses doesn’t mean that that’s going to be a roadblock for other people. And Brady said that the platform that he chose, Thinkific, isn’t a roadblock and isn’t a hard place to produce content.

It’s about being authentic to your brand and inspiring.

So for Brady and his company, they’re presenting a brand, with a certain look and feel of that brand, that you won’t notice for like the last 20 years or so with an agency. So it had to live up to their agency standards.  Because all of their clients and suppliers, their network, and community is seeing that. So they not only had set the bar high, but they also wanted to make sure that they went up and above it to inspire and drive confidence.  But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You just need authentic to your own voice. It’s about whatever matches your personality and what you are that’s key.

I’ve had a number of people come to me saying Masterclass is what they are striving for. And it’s funny because some of them they’re striving for the aesthetics of the website.  Others are striving for the way that the videos are shot. And there are like miles between those two things. So it’s important to understand what you want to create and what part of what you are seeing you want to emulate.  Because there’s not a single business out there that is doing everything 100% right. You don’t have to do even 10% of what that business that you’re seeing is doing for you to be personally successful.

So when Brady looked at masterclass and thought that they wanted something along those lines as far as presentation, where did he go down that road?

Brady shared that he feels that the idea of perfection is usually what destroys most projects. It’s also the procrastinator of many projects because perfection will just be nothing.  You’ll never really be happy but what you did. Look at the analogy that Masterclass was their Everest. But when climbing Everest, there’s also living at base camp. So they worked back and determined what the really key,important things that didn’t need to be perfect.  They had to determine what they were going to spend their time making perfect and then what were all the other things that don’t need to be as perfect. Because we they wanted to get this done.

So maybe their videos aren’t as good as they want to be. But they spent more time building up the workshops so that the outcome or experience of the workshop excels.  And when somebody’s gone through this workshop it doesn’t matter that the videos aren’t perfect because their experience of that workshop was amazing. So learning to know what’s important to your audience is really key. So you can do things any number of ways. But it’s about what you’re trying to communicate and what you want to leave people with.

Brady gave a great example concerning Masterclass.

He related it to movies.  He shared that you also have to understand that like when they have people like Martin Scorsese, he’s not sitting there for free. There’s a lot of money in the budget.  Masterclass is like watching a Hollywood blockbuster movie. But not everybody needs to t do that to tell their story. In relation, you look at a movie like The Blair Witch Project and what is was able to achieve on a small budget.

It all boils down to communicating.  It’s about being authentic and using what you have, really sharing it and, and be able to understand where your like minded people are. And it’s about understanding what your leverage points are.  Understand your uniqueness that you want to share. When you have less, you’re more willing to be creative about how you’re going to present it and do it.

Brady shared that with Masterclass, it looked as though they were given a bunch of money to do what they wanted.

You can definitely tell like it was well produced sort of piece. It didn’t seem like there’s a limit to the budget based on who they have. But, Brady shared he’s watched more online YouTube videos than any of a Masterclass series just because it feels more authentic and he got to learn a lot quicker.  There’s a different vibe to it, where he doesn’t feel as though he needs to sit, watch, and pay attention.

So for Brady, they explained that even their clients to just look at the low hanging fruit.  They want them to identify what they really want to communicate. And they want them to know what they  really want people to get out of whatever experience that they’re trying to create around their brand. Then it’s time to build.  Start there and then work outwards. If it’s going to take you six months, just don’t try to rush it, but just be really authentic to who you are. and produce a great experience with a great product for somebody.

I think that is the most relevant part of all of this is.. creating what you are a genius at.

What is your secret sauce? And what is your intellectual property? How can you package that in a way that it doesn’t diminish from what your personal high end offer might be, but being able to distribute it to a larger volume of people? That’s what online courses are all about! It’s not about I’m using this tool or that tool.  It’s more about what you are able to help people solve! What problem are you solving for people? And how are they going to find success with what you’re, what you’re providing? It’s more about the delivery of that! It’s so important to know what is the bare minimum to do that and then keep on building on top of that. So that’s the key to all of this. And we can iterate and reiterate it again.

As you can see there’s no right answer to doing business. It’s just a matter of continually moving forward and pushing the needle to keep moving.  Brady has opened our eyes to so many opportunities and everything else. If you haven’t listened to the first 3 episodes of this series you can find them here.

Be sure if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the podcast in your podcast app.  And episode 5 of this series will drop next Monday. We’re going to be talking to Dana Malstaff, founder of Boss Moms! Thanks for listening to the Tech of Business podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe, share, rate, and review on Apple podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, or wherever you download your favorite shows.

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