168: Lessons in Getting VERY Niched Down, Customer Delight, and B2B Course Marketing (Featuring Neil Benson)
Play • 1 hr 31 min

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down to chat with podcast listener and super-niche course creator Neil Benson. Neil shares about his corporate background, how he became a course creator, his experience with B2B marketing, and why he uses LEGO to explain very complex concepts within his niche. We also discuss how Neil measures success and what 2021 holds for his course. Enjoy!

“First of all, go for it. A lot of the hang-ups that people have are just about getting started, getting that first course out there.”

– Neil Benson

In This Episode, We Talked About:

    • (0:53) Good news and bad news
    • (1:06) Recording courses
    • (5:54) What’s going on with David?
    • (6:36) Camera chat
    • (9:50) What does David’s true crime story have to do with online courses?
    • (12:16) More about today’s guest, Neil Benson
    • (14:03) Welcoming Neil and talking about Neil’s niche
    • (16:20) How did Neil end up with an online course?
    • (20:30) Obstacles and Shiny Object Syndrome
    • (23:44) Using LinkedIn as a traffic source
    • (26:33) Where did the brand name Customery come from?
    • (27:52) What’s the deal with the LEGOs?
    • (31:47) Neil’s take on New Zenler
    • (33:14) Using Bonjoro
    • (37:07) Where does Deadline Funnel come in?
    • (44:36) B2B or B2C
    • (47:58) Neil’s student experience
    • (50:42) How does Neil measure student success?
    • (52:09) Neil’s Why
    • (54:25) So, what’s the accent, Neil?
    • (56:14) Neil’s podcast
    • (58:28) Neil’s advice to new course creators
    • (59:31) What does 2021 look like for Neil and his courses?
    • (1:00:42) My advice for Neil
    • (1:05:44) David breaks down SCRUM vs. Waterfall
    • (1:10:00) My project manager past
    • (1:11:28) David’s experience with Waterfall and what he plans to do going forward with his course
    • (1:12:28) The benefit of using a beta group
    • (1:13:20) Putting yourself out there
    • (1:18:46) The big vein in David’s forehead
    • (1:21:04) My favorite joke
    • (1:22:22) Using Bonjoro as part of the sales funnel
    • (1:25:48) Do couples talk to each other about buying decisions?
    • (1:28:52) Gift giving as part of online courses
    • (1:30:06) Wrapping up

That’s all for now, folks! See you on the next episode of The Online Course Show.



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Jacques Hopkins: [00:00:02] Regular people are taking their knowledge and content and packaging it up in an online course and they're making a living doing it. But not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way. And I'm here to help course creator actually succeed with online courses.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:00:24] Hi, I'm Jacques Hopkins and this is the The Online Course Show.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:00:32] And off we go. Welcome aboard. Glad you're with us. I am your host, Jacques Hopkins, and right over there is our co-host. What's going on, Dr. K.?

David Krohse: [00:00:40] Oh, I'm super fantastic up here. How are you doing?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:00:42] Super fantastic. Good man. I did tell you last week that I was going to be recording the newest version of my flagship Piano In 21 Days course.

David Krohse: [00:00:51] Yes, you did.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:00:52] I have I have good news and bad news about that experience. Well, the bad news is I didn't record the whole thing. The good news is that I recorded about half of it and it went really, really well. Let's talk about let's talk about recording courses for a minute. Are you OK with that?

David Krohse: [00:01:10] Yeah.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:01:10] Man, it's been it's been about four years since I recorded the previous version of my piano course. And it's I've recorded it several times. And every time previous to this, I recorded the entire course in one day. I'm just a big fan of batching things. And that's, you know, the first couple of versions, I was still working my full time job when I recorded them. So I had to my wife and I were both out of the house at the same time working when we were both like in the house at the same time after hours, too. So I would always have to schedule it around her kind of being out of the house because I recorded it on my piano in our living room.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:01:45] And so it was it was a big deal to get that scheduled. Well, now, I haven't worked in a traditional job in five years and I have my own office here in my house. And I can you know, as long as that the kids aren't home, then it's I can record just about any time I want. Monday through Friday to 5:00 type of thing. So I scheduled it for this past Friday. My calendar was open, ready to go. I had my curriculum ready. All my notes. And I'm just like way more into the course than I've ever been and the curriculum and I've shared that along this way. And so every lesson is just it's longer than than previous and it's better. And I'm not taking any shortcuts at all. And I look up and it's about 3:15 on Friday and I've gotten through day 11. I'm like, I'm done. Like, I don't have anything left in the tank. I'm done. I gave it my all and I'm going to have to draw the line right here.

David Krohse: [00:02:42] Well, I think that's the right call. I mean, energy energy is so important. I mean, if you could give a new course creator one one piece of advice, the first time they record themselves as you got to, like, turn up the energy. And so, yeah, you got to got to call it.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:02:57] Yeah, you do.

David Krohse: [00:02:58] Have you now recorded the last ten?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:03:00] No, I'm going to do it this Friday and it takes my video editor a probably a day, a day to do each lesson. So I'm still going to be ahead of him if I finish this Friday. So he's he's starting to work on the editing part.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:03:13] And so I didn't it's not me not finishing the recording doesn't delay these lessons getting out there and being released and launched because we have the editing side of things and we spent a lot of time in the editing. I've got three camera angles, some, you know, the lesson where I taught the pedal, I actually had to use my phone and put it up my foot because I needed a fourth camera angle to show what I was doing with my foot. So there's a lot here. And I recorded my screen. I recorded my piano. There's a lot of raw files. It takes a while to edit these things, to do it the right way.

David Krohse: [00:03:45] Now, what time did you actually start recording the first the first lesson?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:03:50] So kids went to school about 8:00. And I just I did a lot of preparation the night before, but I still had a few little last minute things to do to get ready. So I probably didn't hit record until about 9:00. And you know what the most nerve wracking part of that whole thing is? And this is a good, you know, people that have recorded courses, especially ones where it's not just like a screen record where you're actually on camera, we'll get this. But like, what if my microphone went out or one of the cameras went out and you have to redo the lesson or multiple lessons like that would be really frustrating. Right. So the way I did it is I hit record everywhere. I had a record like seven different places, and then I would do a lesson and then I wouldn't stop recording. I would just let it keep recording, but I would be like, OK, now I've got to go check all seven things to make sure they're still recording. Before I pick back up on the next lesson because the last thing I was to not have everything I need it. Fortunately it went really well. You know, that's part of what I'm saying when I say it went really well. I've got the integrity of all the files is there. I recorded everything in 4K. The quality of the audio was good. The quality of the video is good and the files are all there. Nothing, nothing seemed to have glitched and it was a seamless handoff to my editor and I felt really good about it throughout the day, so.

David Krohse: [00:05:12] Awesome. Well, six hours, I would say the most that I figured out I could only really record good content from 10:00 to 1:00. So three hours was the most. I was like that, that was it. So six hours is a lot of stamina in my book.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:05:26] Yeah, for sure. I didn't. I was drinking water and coffee. I didn't eat anything till after I was done, but I was I went out and went to my wife about 3:15. I was like, "Babe, I did a great job, but I got about halfway through and I am so wiped out," and I got a bite to eat and I made myself a a little cocktail and I was I was just done.

David Krohse: [00:05:45] Nice.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:05:46] So the other half is this Friday. I've got a scheduled. I'm excited about it and I hope to finish up the recording this Friday.

David Krohse: [00:05:52] Very nice.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:05:54] Your turn. What's going on? Your world?

David Krohse: [00:05:55] Oh, man. Well, I mean, for a lot of 2020, I kind of shelved my course and just wasn't super active in it. And so starting to gear up with the anticipation that at some point the world's going to get back to normal and chiropractors around the country are going to feel like they can go and do Lunch and Learns in person. So this Thursday, I am doing a little interview with I found this other chiropractor that he also has brought in well over a million dollars through this specific type of marketing. And so he didn't learn it from me. But I'm just going to sit down with him and get that social proof that this concept of going out in person, talking to people does work. So I'm super excited about that. Christmas, I got a bunch of money from people, and so I went out and bought a a new camera. So I got a Canon T6i and I got that specifically because I wanted to get a Parrot Padcaster.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:06:48] Nice.

David Krohse: [00:06:48] And so I'm all excited to use the Padcaster. Or did you use the Padcaster or during the recording of your your new course?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:06:56] No, I actually didn't. I had notes up on my screen like bullet points.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:00] I just I'm so intimate with this curriculum that I don't need an exact script, but I certainly use it for for a lot of a lot of times if I'm doing like a sales video or even certain YouTube videos, I love the Padcaster. It's amazing. It's a $99 teleprompter and it blows the $500-600 ones out the water.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:18] In terms of simplicity, ease of use, I've used both types and it's amazing. That's awesome. Did you did the Padcaster yet or you just have the camera?

David Krohse: [00:07:26] Yes, they both both arrived and I haven't really fully gotten going with using them. I'm so excited to play with them.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:32] Really cool. Now what what lens did you get? Because that's more important than the camera.

David Krohse: [00:07:36] I know it's just a standard one that came with that T6i.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:39] Nope.

David Krohse: [00:07:40] You think I need to upgrade?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:41] Yes, please. You need to upgrade. Get that nice blurry background.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:07:45] Let's let's get Dr. K. As professional as possible. You can go with a Nifty Fifty. There's some it's about $100 for a Nifty Fifty. And the problem with that is you need a lot of space, you need a lot of space between yourself and the wall behind you. But but what you really need is a lot of space between you and the camera because of just how much the Nifty Fifty zooms in. It's not it's called a prime lens, and that means that you can't zoom in and out.

David Krohse: [00:08:10] OK.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:08:11] But if you want to go a little more expensive, I think around $350 you can get a Sigma prime lens. Sigma is the brand and that's what I use. And it is game changer. And you don't have to stand near as far away from the camera. And that is I'm telling you, that is the game changer for for making just super high quality videos.

David Krohse: [00:08:30] But are these lenses camera specific? Because you're a Sony guy?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:08:34] I'm a Sony guy now. I was a Canon. I was a Canon guy. I think I had a T7i but Sigma is a is a brand third party brand. It's not under Sony or Canon or anything like that. And so they make lenses for both brands. But you've got to get like my Sigma lens on my Sony camera will not work on yours for the, for your Canon but they make Canon lenses and when I had a Canon I had a Sigma lens. I've since I think sold it on eBay otherwise I'd give it to you. But yeah, you just look for a Sigma prime lens that specifically for Canons.

David Krohse: [00:09:08] Gotcha. Well I mean I, I'm a hobby photographer. I mean as long as the aperture, the little hole that lets the light into the camera through the lens is big enough, that's what creates that blurry bokeh effect, so.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:09:20] Exactly.

David Krohse: [00:09:21] I assume this... I'll play with it and check it out.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:09:22] But yeah, you want to try to get it as low as 1.4 Would be ideal in the aperture. And I bet your lens that you have that came with it doesn't go down to 1.4.

David Krohse: [00:09:30] No, probably not.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:09:30] Maybe like maybe like 2.8. And so that's what I think the Nifty Fifty goes down to 1.4. But there are some downsides. Like I said in the Sigma that I use, which you're looking at me right now, is certainly a 1.4 aperture.

David Krohse: [00:09:42] Gotcha.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:09:43] That's why this great LSU football helmet back here so blurry. Geaux Tigers. Alright man, any other updates?

David Krohse: [00:09:51] Well, so I've shared before that I like a good true crime story and I'm reading this true crime book that really illustrates one of the more interesting uses and just proof that an online course works. So have you ever heard of the Barefoot Bandit?

Jacques Hopkins: [00:10:06] No.

David Krohse: [00:10:07] OK, so this is back in 2009. But up in the San Juan Islands, a northwest region of Washington state, there was this young guy named Colton Harris Moore. He was 17 and just a terrible home life and upbringing ended up in juvenile facilities a couple of times. And at 17, he just ran away and essentially started breaking into these people's vacation homes and he'd sit there, eat some Beanie Weenies, eat some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And then ultimately he'd just use their internet, not destroy or damage anything. But it fairly early in this, he was super obsessed with flying. And so I just read this last night, but he bought an online course called Sports Private Pilot Learn To Fly course. And at 17, he, like, started watching these videos, taught himself to fly and like within a year, he stole a Cessna, flew over the North Cascade Mountains and crash landed it successfully was able to run away. He went down to Reno for a while and then he stole other planes and cars and ended up back on the San Juan Islands and stole stole like a couple more planes, I think, all based on taking Sporty's Learn To Fly course and the story ends, he actually stole a jet, I believe flew down down to the Bahamas and there was this high speed pursuit in the boat. And so I'm just reading this. I'm like, wow, you know, if an online course can teach you to fly successfully, that's that's pretty impressive.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:11:40] Well, hopefully. Yeah, absolutely. That's really cool. Hopefully the course didn't teach him to steal all these things, though.

David Krohse: [00:11:45] No, no, definitely.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:11:47] You know, we talk about transformation over information, but I mean, hopefully the transformation that you're helping people do is to not be a felon, right?

David Krohse: [00:11:55] That's a good point. But no, if anyone is interested in this story, there is a great Outside magazine article. Just search for the Barefoot Bandit or I'm actually reading the book that I think it's just called The Barefoot Bandit.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:12:08] Well, I'm not sure how to transition there, but that's a cool story. But I think it's probably time that we move on to our conversation of the day. Is that fair?

David Krohse: [00:12:15] Sounds good.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:12:16] Neil Benson. Podcast listener. Shout out to Neil listening to this. He's one of the people like yourself that's listen to just about every episode of the podcast and have been listening for quite a while. Has his own online course and has been been fairly successful but has a lot of plans to grow it even more. A couple of years ago I got a little package in the mail and it was a little LEGO figure that was that was somewhat looked like me with a note from Neil.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:12:44] I didn't know who he was at the time. I think you had briefly mentioned him on a podcast episode and that's why he actually sent me the LEGO. But he actually sends when people finish this course, you'll send in his students these little LEGOs. And it's just it's just so fun and so, so interesting. And if you're a student of his and you get that, I'm sure it's just awesome. I mean, people in my course, I don't necessarily have something I send them when they finish the course. But a lot of people get some physical goods for me. They love the T-shirt. They love sitting me them in the t-shirt at their piano with their workbooks, physical workbook at their piano. And I love seeing that, too. It's just really cool when we can break through this digital product world a little bit for certain people and send them something physical.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:13:25] And I think Neil wanted to send you one as well. Have you received your LEGO yet?

David Krohse: [00:13:30] Not quite yet.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:13:31] Yeah. I think I think he showed me a picture of it. It looks a lot like a nice Dr. K, so hopefully that comes in soon.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:13:38] But Neil teaches a he's got a very, very, very, very niche niche, like very. He's got a very, very small potential audience. But sometimes that's that can be very successful as well. So, as usual, you and I, David, will come back and talk about a little more on the back end. But for now, here is the full conversation between myself and Neil.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:14:02] Hi, Neil. Welcome to The Online Course Show.

Neil Benson: [00:14:05] Thanks, Jacques. It's good to be on the show. A long time listener, first time caller.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:14:10] You were telling me, you were telling me just before we hit record, you think you've listened to every episode of the podcast. That's impressive.

Neil Benson: [00:14:17] Yeah. No, I love listening to podcasts. I used to listen to them on my commute. Now I listen to them when I'm gardening or doing the dishes around the house. And yeah, I love your show and yeah. Been a big fan for a long time. So thanks very much for putting on that content out there.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:14:31] Well, yeah, thank you. Thanks for the kind words and I think I believe you have a podcast of your own. And that's certainly one of the things that I want to talk to about with you and your business. But let's start with just like what your niche is like what is it that you help people to do?

Neil Benson: [00:14:45] Sure. So my name is Neil. I run the Customery Academy and Customery helps Microsoft partners and customers build amazing business applications using an Agile approach called Scrum. So that's that's pretty niche, right? Of all the Microsoft...

Jacques Hopkins: [00:14:58] Very.

Neil Benson: [00:14:58] Of all the Microsoft professionals, I'm looking at the ones who build business applications, so that's a subset. And within that set, I'm just looking at the ones who want to take an Agile approach. So that's kind of a software development or project management approach. And my favorite is called Scrum. So there's probably a few thousand people in my target market and I'm here to serve them.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:15:18] A lot of times when we get that niche down, you can actually end up charging quite, quite a high price because there's supply and demand. So do you charge a higher price for this?

Neil Benson: [00:15:29] Probably not. My main course sells at $297, so that's probably not what you'd call a premium price. It's a fairly mid price and it used to be $97. So I've stepped it up a little bit since I started it. And my competition, I guess if people want to learn Scrum, that can go to an official Scrum training class. That's typically two days. These days it's online, but it used to be you have to go in person and that costs, you know, $1,500. Some are $1,2000 to $1,800 depending upon the trainer. And it takes two days and you have to go on, you take time away from your business to go and take those classes. So I think I've got a good proposition whether or not it's priced at the right price point. You know, maybe I need to experiment a little bit more.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:16:11] When people get into... And by the way, from what I know about you so far, you probably want to go higher price. But we'll see. From my experience, when somebody gets into online courses, they've either been teaching this this thing or helping people with this thing professionally for a while or it's more of their their hobby. Like for me, I never really was a piano teacher. Like, I just I have always played piano and it's one thing I knew how to do. And then I created an online course of that topic. It's not something I was already doing professionally. I would guess this is something you've been doing professionally for a while before you turn it into an online course. Or maybe not. You tell us.

Neil Benson: [00:16:49] So, I've been a developer developing Microsoft Business Applications and then an architect and a project leader, and I've been doing that for 15 years. So I still do consulting work today, leading delivery teams, managing development teams, helping clients with estimation of projects and launching those projects. So I have a pretty healthy consulting business and that's 90% of my my revenue. I've got one technical consultant who works for me. I'm just about to launch another startup with seven other founders. We're doing more or less the same thing. So I've been in that universe for a long time, but I've only been training as an online course creator for three years. So it's still still fairly new. I still feel like I've got a lot to learn in that space.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:17:30] Yeah. So you get you've worked in this world for for quite a while. What motivated you to want to make an online course?

Neil Benson: [00:17:37] I was working for a huge global audit company where there's a very structured career progression and I couldn't quite see myself getting to that next step on the ladder. So I was being, not blocked, but it was very tough to get to get promoted. And I was just looking for other ways to boost my income. And in particular, I wanted a way for my family to diversify my income to my wife could get involved in the business and teaching online seemed to be a good way of sharing my experience. I've been a Microsoft, it's called the Most Valuable Professional Award. So they give out these awards to community contributors who help the Microsoft community with their experience with blogging or podcasting or videos or speaking at conferences. And I've had that award since 2010, so I've been used to sharing my experience. And it just seemed like a natural progression to go from blogging and speaking at conferences to packaging it up into an online course, then offering that. There's a free one, and then there's a paid one as well.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:18:35] So when's this time frame when you when you said, OK, I'm going to move forward with an online course? And what were the steps that you took to make it happen?

Neil Benson: [00:18:41] And so this is middle of December, 2017. A course launched at the end of the year. So on December, 2017. So I was blogging about this topic, about Scrum for Microsoft Business Applications specifically. So I focused my blog articles on this content for about six months before, collected a few email addresses, launched with a list of a couple of hundred people, maybe 200 people in December, 2017. And I remember the first couple of sales I made were some friends of mine who bought the course. They got a $50 discount, they paid $47 for it and that was that there was enough sales in that first month to egg me on, to keep me going and it's been pretty solid since then. I relaunched the course on New Zenler in October, 2019. So that was nearly two years later and that's helped me up the game but more. And yet today we've got about a thousand students in the paid course and a couple of thousand students in the free course and it's growing every month.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:19:44] Wow. That's that's impressive numbers, Neil. Any regrets? I mean, are you glad that you decided to to go into this world of digital products?

Neil Benson: [00:19:54] I ended up leaving my job with a global audit company, partly because the managing partner that I worked with didn't really enjoy me having this side hustle, and it was a bit of tension there, and we ended up parting ways. And I'm out on my own again. So this is, Customery is the sixth business I have launched. So I keep flipping between and paid employment, working for somebody else and running my own thing. And I've realized I'm much better at running my own thing. I'm a terrible employee. So no regrets at all. It's amazing.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:20:22] Ok, good. I was wondering where you're going with that regret that you wrapped it up nicely with it. No regrets actually. What's what about just like obstacles, roadblocks was there a time when you're like, I don't know about this online course thing. I might not be for me.

Neil Benson: [00:20:38] No, I never doubted the path I kept on it. But what I do struggle with almost on a daily basis is, you know, what should I do next? I listen to a lot of online course creators, yourself included, and you've got a very well defined, proven strategy. It's worked really well for your business. Is my course business the same as yours? Well, not quite. There's some differences in our target markets and our approaches. But should I be doing webinars? Should I be building my second course? Should I hire a virtual assistant? Should I keep up with my podcast? Should I do more YouTube?

Neil Benson: [00:21:10] I just I got torn in lots of different directions, and I probably need to just focus a little bit more, do one thing at a time, get it done, experiment, see what the results are like before moving on to the next one. Instead of trying five or six things at once and getting getting nowhere.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:21:26] I mean, I, I've got the same struggle, Neil. I mean, that's it's shiny object syndrome. Well, it's that and and just overwhelming confusion, too. There's so many directions we can go and our time is is very limited as well. I mean, I'm, I'm working on all kinds of things and I talk about this a lot. But the great irony of The 4-Hour Work Week is like that book is what really got me into this. But now these days, I'm kind of working like a crazy person just because I've got so many ideas, so many initiatives, like I have a podcast and I have multiple YouTube channels that are getting a little bit neglected. I've got multiple courses, multiple brands. I've got a team. It's like, where should my attention actually be focused most? And what are what are some things that you're trying to help rein in that focus?

Neil Benson: [00:22:17] I don't know, I haven't cracked the Jacques I wish I had. I've I've taken a couple of courses about how to build better courses, so I took Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy. I think she's got a good approach.

Neil Benson: [00:22:31] It's based on on a closed cart launch on a periodic basis. I have never used that. I've always had an evergreen approach to my course. So I haven't followed Amy's path faithfully. I was a mentee within Bryan Harris's Growth University and learned some great lessons there. One of the big lessons I really need to act upon that I learned and that mentorship was a good part for me is probably to sell to other partners, so instead of trying to build my own audience all of the time, find other people or businesses who have an audience and partner with them. So, for example, in a Microsoft world, a lot of businesses buy their software through a Microsoft software distributor. Those distributors offer training to Microsoft partners. Well, maybe I could piggyback on that training and offer my course as part of their training bundle. In fact, I did that with one Australian partner last year, that was really successful. We did that five training classes for about 20 students, and that was really successful. Most of them ended up getting certified and Scrum and the results were really good. And I only had to sell once to the Microsoft software distributor and they did the job of inviting all their partners on board. So I need to do more of that, I think.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:23:44] What what is your biggest traffic source at this point, is that it?

Neil Benson: [00:23:49] I'd know, I'd say, but I doubt it's LinkedIn. So I did a lot of outreach on LinkedIn, and that's been a good traffic source for me. However, I did try advertising a LinkedIn with LinkedIn paid ads. I experimented with two different ads, about $1,000, I got 31 leads and no sales. So probably not quite. Maybe it was the creative, maybe it was the message but that didn't didn't quite work for me. What I do on LinkedIn is I post a certificate of completion for every student who completes my free course and will have about a 50% completion rate there for free course, that's pretty good. And for my paid course it's slightly higher, probably 60, 70% completion rate.

Neil Benson: [00:24:28] And I post those certificates of completion and LinkedIn. And then I tagged the student and I tag the company that they work for. And that means that people in their network get to find out that they've completed this course to achieve that certification. So that brings a little bit of viral buzz into my network and into my business. And I also do direct outreach on LinkedIn. So I've got another 25,000 connections on LinkedIn and I'll message some of those every day and say, "Hey, look, here's my podcast or here's my free course." Just welcome them into taking an Agile approach.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:25:00] I'm curious to the response rate on that because I'm on LinkedIn. I don't use it very much. And with you, I understand that that sounds like a great platform for you. I mean, given the the nature of your niche Scrum for Microsoft Business Applications, it sounds it just sounds like it would be a good fit on LinkedIn versus something like piano. But people are constantly reaching out to me like offering services, SEO, web design or pitching to come on the podcast, like constantly. So you are one of those people that are like doing outreach, pitching people different things, what kind of success rate, response rate or you getting with that?

Neil Benson: [00:25:38] Reasonably good. So I'm pitching to people who are in my niche, first of all. I'm I'm in this industry as well. So I'm not I'm not a vendor pitching web design services. I get pitched on a coaching services and LinkedIn. I'm I'm a practitioner. I'm in the trenches. These are my peers. And I'm fortunate enough that I've been on the speaker circuit the conferences for long enough that I have a bit of a reputation as well. So people know me and know my specialty and know my content, which is just great. So it's quite a soft message and I'm not selling anything. I don't pitch my paid course. I don't pitch any paid products. It's "Hey, I've got I've got a great podcast episode you might be interested in," or "I've got a great free course that teaches the basics. I thought you might be interested in that." And if they take it up, great, if they don't reach out to them another time in six months or a year, I'm not I'm not bombarding them with messages.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:26:32] So your brand name is Customery?

Neil Benson: [00:26:36] Yes.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:26:36] How does that relate to Scrum for Microsoft Business Applications?

Neil Benson: [00:26:43] I was working for a business back in London who rebranded as Outsourcery. So they did, they wanted to outsource your IT, so they took the word outsource and added a Y on the end. I thought that was quite clever. And I specialize in customer relationship management. That's the type of business operations my background is in. So CRM, it's known as. And so I want to help you get closer to your customers. I just like my wife feels Christmassy in December, I feel Customery all year round. So that's where that's where the name came from. And it's a misspelling, obviously there's customary with an A in it so I have to clarify the spelling all the time, but it's pretty easy, you know, if I'm reading it, it's just the word customer. Why on the end you'll hear that. You'll hear that a lot of you listen to my podcast. So yeah, it works. It's reasonably short. And the domain name .com, .com.uk,.com.au , you were all available. So, yeah, that's that's how that one started.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:27:38] We've got the logo very nicely behind you on the video that I'm looking at. And I didn't I was I didn't know if it had to do with the word custom or what, but now it's very clear to me that it's customer with a Y. And so thanks for thanks for explaining that now along with your brand, tell me, what is the deal with the LEGOs?

Neil Benson: [00:27:55] So I was just looking for a way to illustrate some pretty complex concepts in Scrum. You know, we work with teams, there's a product, we're working in sprints. And I just wanted a way of illustrating these things in graphics or with some kind of designs. And I saw somebody else posted a picture of a business meeting with Scrum, sorry, with LEGO mini figures sitting around a table. I thought, that's amazing, I could do that. So I. I dove into my kids LEGO boxes, pulled out some superheroes. So we've got the Scrum Master who's Superman, so the initials match, and we've got the person who's got a vision for the application that we're building. They're called the product owner. So that's Wonder Woman in my world because most of the amazing product owners I've worked with have been Wonder Women. And we've got the Scrum team of Spider-Man and Batman and Robin are all in there. And it's just a really fun way of illustrating these concepts. My kids get to help me build it. I can buy LEGO through my business, which is a wonderful tax right off. The kids love that. And I've just become known for this kind of fun way of illustrating some pretty dry, boring, well not boring, but dry, obtuse kind of concepts with LEGO. So, yeah, it's a lot of fun. Wearing my LEGO t-shirt today.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:29:09] And my understanding is that I don't know if you still do this, but you physically send out like a LEGO figure to your students.

Neil Benson: [00:29:16] Oh that's a secret!

Jacques Hopkins: [00:29:17] Oh no!

Neil Benson: [00:29:18] Yeah.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:29:19] Should we cut that out or are we good?

Neil Benson: [00:29:22] No, no. I'm kidding. So any, the students who complete my course and then fill in the feedback survey at the end, last question I asked them is just "There's a secret gift coming your way if you give me your address," and I mail of a LEGO figure to them. So I look up the LinkedIn profile, I try and match the LEGO face and hair to what they look like, and then I give them a pair of colored legs and off it goes in the mail. So it's a little Customery branded LEGO mini figure and those end up getting photographed and then posted on LinkedIn. I really enjoy receiving them. I'm amazed. I thought it was maybe quite polarizing, something as playful as LEGO. I thought maybe a lot of serious Microsoft people wouldn't really appreciate it, but everybody seems to enjoy LEGO. I've never had a negative comment about it. So and people love getting LEGO mini figures, so it's really worked.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:30:09] Well, it's different. It's very different. And you sent me one couple of years ago. I went I checked the mail and I'm like, what is this? I didn't I didn't know who you were. And and I think you were just saying, thanks for the podcast, but I was blown away, man. So thanks again for that. It's been a couple of years now since that since I saw that. But it's such a unique thing. And I think it's so cool that you send that to the people that go through your course.

Neil Benson: [00:30:33] Well, that was David Krohse's fault. I probably should have sent it to him because there was a you mentioned a book that I've never read, about the Love Languages and gifting, I think is one of the languages of love. And he mentioned my LEGO figure and I don't know where he heard about it, but yeah, he mentioned it on the podcast. So I thought I'd send you guys a LEGO figure, but I probably should've sent it straight to David.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:30:54] Yeah, well, David, David's going to hear this and he's going to he's going to be like, I need a LEGO. I know him and he's going to want a LEGO. So maybe I can get in fact, I think I have his address. Maybe I could send it to you. And if you don't mind, I'm sure David would really appreciate LEGO.

Neil Benson: [00:31:07] Of course. Of course.

Jacques Hopkins: [00:31:09] All right, man. So you mentioned New Zenler. And I've I've heard a few people using it. I included it in my review, my last episode of 2020, where I reviewed a lot, of course, platforms, and I don't have any direct experience with it. But my very high level assessment was it's one of these do everything platforms, but it's still kind of early on, so it doesn't do everything super well. But if you're interested, it might be worth checking out because you can get in now at a pretty pretty good discount compared to other platforms, is that from your experience, is that a fair assessment of New Zenler?

Neil Benson: [00:31:50] Yeah, I think it's fair. It is. It does represent itself as an all in one platform, but does a lot of things that some specialist course platforms don't do. For example, it's got marketing funnels and it's got email capabilities built into it. I don't…

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