DotCom Secrets, Russell Brunson (9/10)

A comprehensive guide and introduction to using funnels to grow your online business

DotCom Secrets, Russell Brunson (9/10)

Rating: 9/10
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🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Introduction to how to use funnels to grow your online business
  2. Funnels consist of bait (B), front-end offers (FE), mid-funnel offers (M) and back-end offers (BE)
  3. The book also discusses strategies for Traffic, Product and Communications

🎨 Impressions

An excellent book for entrepreneurs (both current and aspiring). Russell has spent years analysing time-tested business, sales and marketing strategies and distils and applies these to the online world in his own way. While his values aren't necessarily aligned with my own, I really enjoyed reading the book and feel that if you read the book at a first-principles level and  take his analyses and put your own spin on it, you'll love this book and find it very useful and powerful.

🔍 How I Discovered It

Gabe, Legion Beats, Other funnel people.

🥰 Who Would Like It?

Any entrepreneur or people running online businesses.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

Helped me realise the importance and flexibility of funnels in online business and how it can really be applied to almost any domain and sub domain.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  • "Ultimately, the business that can spend the most to acquire a customer wins.” —Dan Kennedy
  • "If your prospect is aware of your product and realises it can satisfy his desire, your headline starts with the product. If he's not aware of your product, but only of the desire, your headline starts with the desire. If he's not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned with the general problem, your headline starts with the problem and crystallises it into a specific need." —Russell Brunson
  • "A buyer is a buyer". —Dan Kennedy
  • "One big mistake many marketers make is focusing 100% on short-term conversions. They sell so aggressively that they lose the customer's respect. This costs you a long-term relationship which could be worth 10x what you''d make through the initial point of contact." —Russell Brunson

📒 Summary + Notes

Section One: Ladders and Funnels

Secret #1: The Secret Formula

The Secret Formula helps find your dream customer, offer them bait, and lead them to where you want them to go, while providing value and making you money.

1. Who Is Your Dream Client?

  • Who do you actually want to work with? What do they look like? What are they passionate about? What are their goals, dreams and desires?
  • Create personas for them!

2. Where Can You Find them?

  • Where do they hang online? Facebook or IG? What groups are they part of? What blogs do they read? What other interests do hey have?
  • Write down a few places you think the prospect may hang out online.

3. What Bait Will You Use To Attract Them?

  • Could be an e-book, free video, tutorial, etc. - anything your dream customer would pay attention to and what

4. What Result Do You Want To Give Them?

  • Don't think about what you want to sell them, but what result do you want to give them??
  • Imagine your clients could pay you anything to get a desired result - what would you do to help guarantee their success? Where would you lead them? What does that place look like?

Secret #2: The Value Ladder

  • The dollar sign in the top right is where you want to take your client. It's where you can provide them the most value - and also charge them the most.
  • The only limit to your value offerings is your imagination. Keep thinking of higher and higher levels of service, and you can keep charging more and more money. There's always something else you can offer.

Secret #3: From a Ladder to a Funnel

Instead of convincing people to buy the most expensive offering right away, we build funnels to help us:

  1. Provide value to each customer at the unique level of service that they can afford
  2. Make money and be profitable while identifying our dream clients who can afford our highest offer

The deeper your funnel is, and the more things you can offer your clients, the more each customer will be worth to you. And the more they are worth to you, the more you can spend to acquire them.

"Ultimately, the business that can spend the most to acquire a customer wins.”
—Dan Kennedy

A sales funnel is the online process you take someone through to get them to ascend through the different levels of your Value Ladder. It’s the actual webpages that will make the Secret Formula work.

Secret #4: How to Find Your Dream Customers

1. Who is your target market?

  • To create hyper-targeted messages, you must know your target market inside out. What do they care about? What are their pains and passions? What do they desire? What do they think about? What do they search for online? What questions do they need answered?

2. Where is your target market congregating?

  • Websites, newsletters, FB groups, Google keywords, Amazon searches

3. How can you get a customer to leave the congregation and check out your page?

  • Use interrupt-style ads to grab their attention

Your role as the entrepreneur is to understand the strategy behind these DotComSecrets and then hire the Facebook guy to run Facebook ads and the Google guy to run Google ads. You must build a system and have your team help you implement it.

Secret #5: The Three Types of Traffic

  1. The traffic you control
  2. The traffic you don't control
  3. Traffic you own
You must understand how each one works and how they tie in with the others! This lets you direct the right traffic to the right offers, resulting in the highest conversions and repeat clients.

Traffic You Own

  • Most important and best
  • People on your email list, your followers, readers, customers, etc.
  • Don't need to buy them from Google or FB or do any PR or SEO - it's your own distribution channel
  • Your objective is to convert the other two types of traffic into subscribers and buyers (Traffic You Own)

Traffic You Control

  • Paid traffic
  • Email ads (solo ads, banners, links, mentions)
  • Pay-per-click ads (Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc.)
  • Banner ads
  • Native ads
  • Affiliates and joint ventures
  • To maximise conversions from Traffic You Control to Traffic You Own, Russell recommends directing paid traffic to a squeeze page where visitors have ONE option: give you their email or leave.

Traffic You Don't Control

  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Search traffic (search engine optimisation or SEO)
  • Guest blog traffic
  • YouTube
  • Guest interviews
  • Again, the ONLY goal with Traffic You Don't Control is to turn it into Traffic You Own. Russel pushes all this traffic to his blog, where the top third of the page is a squeeze page

Section Two: Your Communication

Secret #6: The Attractive Character (AC)

The Attractive Character (AC) is the persona you share with your audience and how you communicate with your list.

The person attracts customers and helps you build your following to eventually make sales. It allows you to build a platform anywhere you want, whether on email, FB, or YouTube.

There are three components to creative an AC:

  • Elements
  • Identity
  • Storyline

The 4 Elements

1. Backstory. If you show people you were once in a similar situation to them,  they will identify with and follow you. Your story provides the hook, and you can then lay out the path, which they will want to follow.

2. ACs Speak in Parables. Use the stories that happened throughout your life to teach and inspire.

3. ACs share their character flaws. Makes you relatable and real

4. ACs harness the power of polarity. If you try not to offend anyone, you become bland, neutral and boring. Stand for what you believe in. This splits your audience into those who agree or disagree. But even if they strongly disagree, they likely still follow and listen because polarity is attractive.

The Identity of an Attractive Character


  • Similar backstory to audience
  • Knows ups and downs of audience
  • Same path


  • Curious
  • Doesn't have all answers
  • Instead of leading audience on a journey to the result, he brings back answers to give them


  • Great way to start a business in a niche you don't know much about
  • Goes out to discover the truth
  • Interviews people, etc.

Reluctant Hero

  • Doesn't want splotlight
  • Kne knows the info he has is so important he must overcome his shyness to share it with the world
  • There's a moral duty that compels him to share all he knows

The Storylines Of An Attractive Character

  • Loss and Redemption:  “I had everything. Life was great. Then ___ happened. I had to figure my way out of ___. But it was a blessing in disguise because I went through ___, and learned ___. Now I ___.”
  • Us vs. Them: Use Us vs. Them stories to polarise your audience
  • Before and After: First I was X, now I'm Y
  • Amazing Discovery: OMG, wait till you here this!
  • Secret Telling: I've got a secret, if you want to find out what it is, you need to ____!
  • Third-Person Testimonials: Social proof! Get these and share them as much as possible in your stories

Secret #7: The Soap Opera Sequence

You must build a bond between people who join your list and your AC ASAP. How you introduce your AC makes a huge difference

Email 1: Set the stage. Thank them, set the stage for emails to come, let them know what to expect. Will you email once a day? Twice a day? Once a week? Russell recommends once a day.

Email 2: Open with high drama. Story "selling" process begins. Stories get good at the middle, so start there. Then go back and give them the backstory.

  • Backstory: take them to a similar spot to where they are now... you were stuck and had hit a wall... THEN you found the answer. Give them the answer in the next email

Email 3: Epiphany. Your epiphany email will lead back to your core offer - whatever you're selling that solves the problem. It ties into the solution you're selling.

Email 4: Hidden Benefits. Point to the benefits the reader is getting by knowing you and following your plan or by using your product.

  • "Sure, you'll earn more money - but you also...."
  • "Sure, you're going to lose weight - but you'll also..."
  • Use stories and parables to demonstrate this!

Email 5: Urgency and CTA. Give reader one last push to take action now. Add urgency and specific CTAs.

  • Your webinar starts tomorrow
  • You only have ten seats left at your event
  • You only ordered one thousand books and most of them are gone
  • You're pulling the video offline
  • Whatever the reason, it must be real. Fake urgency will backfire on you and you'll lose credibility.

Secret #8: Daily Seinfeld Sequence

After someone goes through your Soap Opera Sequence and bonds with your AC, content isn't what they respond to. You want your AC to be fun and entertaining - that's how you write your daily Seinfeld emails. Send them daily after your initial Soap Opera Sequence is finished.

  • What's going on in your AC's life?
  • What happened that's embarrassing?
  • How're you getting through the holiday season?
  • Where are you planning your vacation this year?
  • What did you recently buy that you regret?
  • What did you recently buy that you adore?
  • What made you scream with rage yesterday, that you're laughing about today?
  • What crazy antics did you kid or dog get into yesterday?
  • What funny thing happened in your past that teaches a lesson?

While these emails are about nothing - random episodes and entertaining stories - the goal is to lead people back to whatever you're selling. It might be your core offer or some other product or service.

Section Three: Funnelology Leading Your Customers to the Sale (Over and Over Again)

Secret #9: Reverse Engineering a Successful Funnel

It's better to reverse engineer a successful funnel than try new unproven strategies. Before you build a new sales funnel, first find people with successful funnels selling to your market.

1. Demographics. Age, sex, education, geographical location, income level, race, language, political affiliations

2. Offer. What are you selling and at what price point? This includes your upsells and downsells. Russell buys his competitors products, often because the first offer you see probably isn't the primary offer. It's more likely to be what gets people in the door, while the real moneymakers are down the line.

When I’m researching competitors, I purchase everything they offer. I spend hundreds of dollars to study their offers and funnels. And I keep careful notes. This is critical competitive research. I want to know exactly what they’re selling, how they’re selling it, and at what point they’re offering each product in their funnel. What’s the copy on the sales videos? What emails am I getting? How many? Are they selling in every email or offering content in some? The more I know, the better chance of success I will have.

3. Landing Page. Page they land on right after they click the ad. Most important page in your entire sales funnel. What does this look like for your competitors - is it an opt-in page, sales page? What's working right now?

4. Traffic Source. Where is your competitor's traffic coming from? What are the specific websites competitors buy ads on? Is traffic coming from banner ads or social media or email? Do they mainly use video or text?

5. Ad Copy. What do successful ads look like? What makes people click on the ad? What's enticing them to even look at the competitor's ad in the first place? What pictures are competitors using? What does the headline say? What does the body copy look like? Are competitors using video?

Don't waste time trying to figure this all out by blindly tweaking and adjusting your own advertising methods. Find out what's working and model it. Then, once you've got a predictable, steady income, you can run split tests and try to improve the ad yourself.

How To Reverse Engineer A Successful Campaign

  • Step 1: Where are your competitors? (Both direct and indirect)? Get their landing page URLs
  • Step 2: What are they doing? Use websites like 'Similar Web' to analyse the URLs to find exactly WHERE they're advertising, WHAT ads they're running and WHERE they are sending their traffic.

Secret #10: Seven Phases of a Funnel

It's critical to understand the 7 phases of a funnel and successfully monetise each point along the line to go from a 6 to 7 to 8 figure business.

1. Determine traffic temperature (cold, warm or hot traffic)

If your prospect is aware of your product and realises it can satisfy his desire, your headline starts with the product. If he's not aware of your product, but only of the desire, your headline starts with the desire. If he's not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned with the general problem, your headline starts with the problem and crystallises it into a specific need.

  • Hot Traffic. On your email list, subscribed to your podcast, read your blog - you have an established relationship with them. Talk to them like your friends and use the Seinfeld emails.
  • Warm Traffic. People who don't know you but they have a relationship with someone you know. JVs, affiliates, etc.
  • Cold Traffic. No idea who you are. FB, YouTube, pay-per-click ads, etc.

2. Set up the pre-frame bridge

Hot Traffic Bridge. Very short. You already have a relationship. Can prob just send a quick email linking your landing page. Or write a blog post or record a podcast encouraging people to check your offer.

Warm Traffic Bridge. A little longer than hot traffic bridge. Could be an email, video, article, or other communication from the list owner, endorsing you and your product.

Cold Traffic Bridge. Holy grail of online marketing.

  • The longest bridge. Must do preliminary work to get prospect into desirable frame of mind before the landing page.
  • You might need a whole separate page (bridge page) before the offer page. This pre-frame page educates people to increase conversions.

Good pre-frames could be blog posts or YouTube videos from customers as testimonials or reviews. Get them to use keywords and links back to your site. Then you drive traffic to these posts/videos, which comes to your site with a better chance of converting.

Another cool bridge page is a survey or quiz. You can ask questions to pre-frame their minds and plant seeds to get them wondering about a question we asked. Then they get to the landing page where we reveal the answer or solution.

3. Qualify subscribers

  • Your goal is to take all traffic (hot, warm, cold) and identify who's willing to give us their email in exchange for more info. If they don't give you their email, it's unlikely they'll buy anything from you later.
  • Qualifying subscribers is done through an opt-in or squeeze page that offers something of value in return for contact info.

4. Qualify buyers

  • Immediately find who's a buyer. Who amongst those interested in your free info is willing to pull out their credit card and make a purchase?
"A buyer is a buyer"
—Dan Kennedy
  • Someone willing to buy from you once will continue to buy from you as long as you keep offering value. So as soon as someone fills their email, they should land on a sales page. Offer something of value that will hook them, typically higher up your Value Ladder.
  • This is where Russell usually sells his “bait,” something the dream client will really love. It should be priced so low that it’s an absolute no-brainer for them to buy.
  • Your goal is to qualify every buyer on the list, so don't put up any barriers.
  • Russell usually uses “free-plus-shipping” or something $5-7. Once he's identified the buyers, he markets to them differently. You can pick up the phone and talk to them; send them a separate email sequence.
  • This gives you two lists: subscribers and buyers. Each list is unique and gets treated differently

5. Identify hyperactive buyers

  • These people are in pain and will buy more than one thing at a time. Identify them ASAP.
Who’s in pain right now? What are they willing to buy right now to alleviate that pain?
  • You want to be able to offer them something—ideally several things. If you don’t, they’ll leave your site and go find another site to buy from. People love to buy. And when they’re in pain and want relief, they will spend money in that quest.
  • What can you upsell or downsell after your initial offer?
  • Once you find a hyperactive buyer, you must treat them differently.

6. Age and ascend the relationship

  • Steps 1-5 happen in 5-10 minutes... steps 6-7 are what makes people repeat purchase and refer you to their friends.
  • You must continue to provide value and help people with whatever you offer.
  • Allow some time to pass. Let them dig into the products they've purchased and see the value you give.
  • We now begin to change the type of funnels we use.

7. Change the selling environment

  • The most common examples is selling pricier items via phone, direct mail, or at live events or seminars.
  • An email asking you to click an $8,000 buy button probably won't work, but if you get can them to click a button and schedule an appointment to chat on the phone, you've a completely different sales environment.
  • People on the phone are more likely to listen closely to an offer. The sales person has the benefit of live feedback. He or she can overcome objections and help people make up their minds on the fly.

Before delving into these steps, you must understand the concept of a pre-frame because each funnel step is a pre-frame for the next step. That's why it's essential to optimise these steps - not only for monetisation but also to build relationships and get visitors to continue to buy from you, someone they know and trust.

One big mistake many marketers make is focusing 100% on short-term conversions. They sell so aggressively that they lose the customer's respect. This costs you a long-term relationship which could be worth 10x what you''d make through the initial point of contact.

Secret #11: The Twenty-Three Building Blocks of a Funnel

Pre-Frame Bridge

To get a great pre-frame, you want to get people thinking along the same lines as the next funnel step. Agitate the problem your business solves.

  • Quizzes. Use quizzes to agitate their problem. Requiring an email opt-in to get quiz results is a double whammy. Then immediately try to qualify them as a buyer and make an offer post opt-in. Quizzes answers can also be used to segment your audience.
  • Articles. Can be on your website, but often more effective when on someone else's site. Run ads to their website and have a CTA on the page, e.g. click here to learn more, subscribe today, get your free sample here.
  • News. If your pre-frame is attached to a current news story, you’ll automatically receive a bump in attention as long as the story dominates the news. You can also design the web page to look like a news page, e.g. special bar with headline at bottom or sidebar with relevant side story. Marketers have found that formatting their content to look like news can increase credibility to pre-frame offers.
  • Blogs.
  • Videos. YouTube videos work especially well for testimonials. The video should agitate the problem for the viewer or educate them on some process or idea.
  • Email. Works well when you buy a solo ad or use JV partners to endorse you to their lists.
  • Presell Pages. Sometimes you must educate before you sell . Presell pages tell stories. They're longer articles used to give background info or education, putting them in the right frame of mind to understand and buy the offer.

Qualify Subscribers

The goal is to get people to opt-in to your list, subscribe to your newsletter, or request a free offer you’ve put in front of them.

  • Pop-Ups.
  • Squeeze Page.
  • Free + Shipping 2 Step. Combines the "qualify subscribers" and "qualify buyers" steps into one sequence. First step qualifies subscribers by asking for contact information. Second step qualifies buyers by asking for credit card info, usually to cover shipping costs.
  • Webinar Registration. When people register for the webinar, they must give you their email to receive details about the webinar. If it’s an automated webinar, they pick which day they want to watch, fill in their email.
  • Free Account. Works well with software and membership programs. Create a membership site, or a "lite" version of your software and give it to people for free. When visitors create an account to get access to the membership or the software, they are added to your subscriber list. These pages are often similar to squeeze pages, but because they actually “create an account,” you can get a lot more info and still keep your conversions high.
  • Exit Pop.

Qualify Buyers

Goal is to get people to pull out their credit cards and actually pay for something. The first purchase is the hardest so offer something for a very low price. Then guide them up the Value Ladder ASAP.

  • Free + Shipping.
  • Trial. $1 trials where you bill them a few days later for the full amount if they want to keep the product. Works best for items you don't have to ship, like digital downloads, software or membership sites.
  • Tripwire. Smaller offers used to get buyers in the door. Often "splinters" of your core product, e.g. one module of your course, for a huge discount. Usually $5-7. Can be physical products or digital downloads.
  • Self-Liquidating Offer. More expensive, between $37-97. With free+shipping, trials and tripwires, you may lose money initially but your upsells breakeven.  SLOs your goal is to have the frontend product liquidate your ad costs so your upsells are pure profit.
  • Straight Sale. Regular sale of a high-ticket item, from $97-$5,000. Usually takes more selling to convert and offers to people in your warm market or who have gone through the initial funnel. Takes stronger bonder with the AC.

Identify Hyperactive Buyers

  • Bumps. Little offers added onto order forms.
  • One-Time-Offers. Best OTOs complement the initial purchase. Often make two to three separate offers to people after they buy, as long as the sequence of offers adds more value to the initial offer.
  • Downsales. If the buyer says no to the OTO, you can downsell them a different product or a payment-plan option on the original offer.
  • Affiliate Recommendations. Happen after buyers finish your upsale/downsale sequence and land on the "thank you page" in the funnel. Here, you thank buyers for ordering and then link them to other offers that would likely serve them.

Secret #12: Frontend vs. Backend Funnels

Funnels have a psychology behind them - you must use different approaches for low-priced, introductory products vs. high-ticket packages. The price and complexity of your products or services will determine the best funnel for you.

Product Awareness Continuum: different types of traffic (cold → warm → hot) have different levels of awareness and must be given different funnels. Cold traffic starts with low-level funnels like SLOs. You then warm them up and build a bond with your AC.

Secret #13: The Best Bait

There is power in free. You can significantly increase your conversions by offering a free product on the front-end and selling your main product as a back-end offer.

Section Four: Funnels and Scripts Leading Your Customers to the Sale (Over and Over Again)

Front End Funnels

Funnel #1: Two-Step, Free + Shipping

  • Works for the free-plus-shipping offers and can help you increase conversions for other back-end offers.


  • After they make the initial purchase, you a different script to sell them your OTO - a special one-time offer. OTO pages usually use a 3-5 minute video and close people on price points from $97 - $2,000+.

Getting your second yes is about 80% offer structure and 20% script.

  • Rule 1: Don't sell more of the same thing
  • Rule 2: Don't sell a random product
  • Sample 1: The Next Thing. What's the next logical product they need to accomplish their core goal?
  • Sample 2: Do It Faster. If you have a tool, technique or software program that complements the initial offer and helps the customer get results faster. You do NOT want to say the initial program will not work without this.
  • Sample 3: Need Help? Pushes them farther up your Value Ladder to your high-end offers. It presents a way to get specially tailored insight from you. Here we ask buyers if they want help implementing what they just purchased on the frontend.

Funnel #2: Self-Liquidating Offer

  • SLOs are used for $27-97 products. Main goal is a frontend product covering traffic acquisition expenses. If you structure it right, you won't have any traffic costs, and your upsells become pure profit.
  • First attract people with a lead magnet on your squeeze page. Russell typically exchanges email for something he shows them on the next page in a video or sales letter.
  • They then land on the SLO page, which sells your core offer. This is generally a video or long-form-text sales letter presenting your SLO using the Star, Story, Solution script.
  • On the order form, you can add a "bump" then take them into your OTO sequence using the same OTO script above.

Use the Star, Story, Solution Script:

  1. Pattern Interrupt
  2. Core Desire Questions
  3. Agitate Past Failures
  4. Big Promise/One Thing
  5. Introduce the Star
  6. High Drama
  7. Backstory WALL
  8. Identify the Problem
  9. Epiphany OR Declaration of Independence
  10. Your path to finding the ultimate solution
  11. First sign of success
  12. Conspiracy
  13. The big lie
  14. Common Enemy
  15. Rapid growth
  16. Case studies
  17. Hidden benefits
  18. Formal introduction
  19. Pain and cost
  20. Ease: how much effort does the product save?
  21. Speed how much time does the product save you?
  22. "So" benefits
  23. Social proof
  24. Make the offer
  25. Build value
  26. Float a fake price
  27. Emotional close (if/all)
  28. Reveal the real price
  29. Guarantee (logic)
  30. Inject scarcity (fear close)
  31. Future pacing
  32. Call to action
  33. Post selling
  34. Take away selling (warning)
  35. Close with reminder

Funnel #3: Continuity

  • This is the type of funnel you need for creating a continuity program where your customers can pay you monthly or any period for ongoing access to information or software or some other product.
"If you don't have continuity, you don't have a business"
– David Frey
  • Continuity is when you get paid regularly, usually every month, for ongoing access to info or software or some other product.
  • Once a visitor moves through either a Two-Step or SLO Funnel and made it through the Soap Opera Sequence, send them a short email sequence promoting your Continuity Funnel.

Funnels for the Middle of the Value Ladder

Funnel #4: The Perfect Webinar

  • Webinars are great sales tools for products or services that need detailed explanation before anyone can buy.

Funnel #5: Invisible Funnel Webinar

  • The next way to sell products in the middle of the Value Ladder is through a concept called the Invisible Funnel, which is a premium webinar that people pay for after the webinar is over if they love what you've taught them.

Funnel #6: Product Launch Funnel

  • This funnel is based on Jeff Walker's product launch formula and works best for warm or hot traffic. You break up your sales presentation over four videos, each providing substantial value, while educating your prospects and selling your products.

Backend Funnels

Funnel #7: High-Ticket, Three Step Application

  • This funnel is a very simple process to qualify and pre-frame potential high-ticket consulting or coaching clients.