Can you succeed in business with love and good intentions? You can if you are Dan “The Man” McDonald. He calls himself, The “LifeRegenerator.” Dan is a Certified Detoxification Specialist and has been studying plant based nutrition for the last 15 years.
He knows a LOT about a LOT.
And today, I’m going to walk you through the platform he’s built that is literally saving people’s lives and providing a great life for him. It’s an example of a Platform that works.
By the end of this, my goal will be to have removed any possible excuse you might still have for not building a platform to attract clients and customers into your world.
When Dan started his videos, I believe he was living in a trailer with a video camera. He had that, he had his experiences with fruits and vegetables and he had a lot of passion.
Now someone might not look at all of that and think there’s much of a business there, but that would be a dumb thing to think. Because over the years, Dan’s used his platform to fuel product sales and build a great business.
The Power of the YouTube®
And he’s done it all on YouTube®. So if you thought building a platform had to be expensive, we’ve just crossed that off the list.
I help people get clients, this guy literally saves people’s lives. Actually, he helps people save their own lives. He gives them the knowledge, inspiration and empowered thinking they need to make the changes for themselves.
Over the years, Dan’s released over 1200 videos. Some of them are a few minutes long, some of them are much, much longer. He’s been talking about the power of raw fruits and vegetables to promote health for a pretty long time.
1200 videos, released without cost, offering information that can truly save people’s lives creates an enormous amount of good will. And that’s just part of the reason why, at the moment, Dan has about 192K subscribers to his YouTube® channel. He has about 32 million views of his videos.
So let’s start with a few of the key skills Dan has that make a platform like this possible. You may or may not possess these at the moment, but I don’t think any of them are out of reach with some good old work.
Platform Success Skill #1: He Is Willing to Say It
As I said earlier, Dan is extremely passionate about this topic. He lived this journey himself, which is really the source of the enormous amount of energy he has to share what he knows. Raw fruits and vegetables completely transformed his life and his health and he’s not afraid to let people know it.
And he doesn’t focus on just the good and happy parts of the story either. He is open, he is raw (no pun intended) and he is vulnerable. That means, while he is the expert, he is not the judge. He does not speak down to “the little people” and make it clear that those folks will never get to his level. A fair amount of experts do take that approach. Dan does not.
This is just who Dan is. But I think the time of the “I’m better than you” type of expert is running short. People don’t want to be treated like that. It’s not empowering. And these days, with all of the choices they have to get help about X, they don’t have to put up with that if they don’t want to.
Platform Success Skill #2: He Actually Has a Message
Now I don’t think you need to transform yourself into some type of “evangelist” personality to have a successful platform, but you do have to have a message. There’s got to be something you standfor. Do you know what that is? If you don’t, you’re not going to get noticed like someone who does.
Dan even has a whole page on his site about his mission. Here’s what it is:
1. Make fruits and vegetables fun, exciting, and accessible with my free videos and instructional DVDs!
2. Inspire 1 million people to embrace raw living foods and reach total Life Regeneration.
It’s really that simple. When I get up in the morning, those two things are what I think about. Fruits, vegetables, and eating whole foods truly saved my life and I’ve never been more passionate about spreading this subject.
This is one of the biggest reasons I created RegenerateYourLife.org and made it so simple to use and understand. From my free videos, to understanding what tools and equipment to get like blenders, juicers, rebounders, etc. to make this lifestyle easy, I just want to make this doable for people all around the world.
Thank you so much for checking out this Mission page and it’s my hope that you’ll join me in helping to spread this important message!
Why would this matter?
First, if you have no idea what you’re about (I call these items the Big Ideas that support the foundation of your platform), then there’s no way your prospective clients will either.
The platform is designed so that you are communicating a few core ideas. You talk about and demonstrate those core ideas in lots of different ways. You say them without necessarily saying them. But over time, because of the repetition and focus, this message gets through. Over time, the marketplace is able to put you in a box.
This is the point! Once you are put in a box, it’s easy for people to talk about you. “Jason? He’s the client attraction guy…” That’s all I need.
Dan’s message is very simple, straightforward and powerful. It can be summed up in about four words actually. And if you watch a bunch of Dan’s videos, the message comes right through.
The four words are fruits, vegetables and love. That’s it? That’s it.
Dan’s message hasn’t changed in all these years. He didn’t create it because he thought it would be a cool business idea, or because his market research showed this was smart, he created it because it’s an extension of himself.
That’s really key when you are trying to figure out what you are about—especially if you are a solo service provider OR the face of a larger firm. When you can somehow align who you are and what you do and make those work together, it gets easier. It gets easier because you have an enormous amount of clarity.
Platform Success Skill #3: His Aim is to Be Valuable
You can talk about the idea of a platform from many different directions. Some business owners might view it as a savvy strategy to get what they want. I don’t. Dan doesn’t.
When you set out to build a platform that is truly valuable to your prospective clients or customers, word gets around. You want to know how to fuel “word of mouth marketing?” Do something worth talking about. It’s really that simple. That doesn’t mean people are going to talk about you the instant you show up, it usually takes time.
But here’s the simple formula:
What is valuable gets consumed… What is valuable gets used… What is valuable gets attention… What is valuable gets talked about…
All of these things are things that will fuel the client attraction process. Instead of designing your platform by thinking, “How can I use this to get clients?”, ask yourself, “What type of platform could I design that would TRULY transform the lives of my prospective clients?”
Is that a tall order? You bet! But that’s what Incomparable Experts™ do. They do what other people won’t do, can’t do, don’t do.
Platform Success Skill #4: The Effect of Consistency
Dan’s created a LOT of videos over the years. He’s pretty consistent. I talk a lot about that when it comes to the platform. Until you’ve experienced it, I’m not sure you can fully grasp just how powerful this SINGLE thing is.
But I’m not exaggerating to say that a full 50%-60% of the power of my platform has been created through the consistency part ALONE. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest writer or greatest speaker to be consistent. All you have to do is make a decision.
So what happens because of this decision? What’s the real benefit that comes from a commitment to being consistent in your publishing?
You Only Get Trust ONE WAY
The obvious one is TRUST. Showing up as promised creates trust over time. That’s the easy one. Another less obvious benefit is that a relationship is built between you and your subscriber that ultimately results in them feeling like they know you.
People buy from folks they know, like, trust and who have something they value.
So creating a scenario where people truly feel like they know you is extremely powerful. And when you can do it with people who live on the other side of the world, well, it’s quite an amazing asset.
That’s what consistency gets you. It’s simple and hard all at the same time.
How to Trick Yourself Into Tripping Into the Consistency Trap
I think the easiest way to be consistent is to TELL a lot of people that you’re going to be consistent. You need to tell people you’d really be embarrassed in front of if you didn’t follow-through. I don’t know what the term is for this type of motivation, but I can tell you, it’s pretty darn effective.
The other way to make consistency easy is to stop looking for results. You don’t want to start a platform looking around every corner for signs that it is working. There are countless examples from every industry niche you can think of that PROVE the model works. But if you begin it and are constantly expecting something from it, that’s a bad move.
First, it will cause you to put YOU first instead of your prospective clients or customers. And second, it will make you miserable.
Commit to the process, observe what happens. Expect nothing. That’s about the best advice I could give anyone.
There is one thing that makes this platform approach a whole lot easier. For me, it’s a non-negotiable item, but I understand that some people won’t agree.
I have little trouble with the consistency of my platform simply because I would enjoy doing it anyway, even if it produced nothing.
I think Dan McDonald is in the same boat. Do it because YOU like it. That changes everything. Don’t just do it because you want something from it. If that means changing businesses, just do it. Life is too short to be miserable. It’s not worth any amount of money.
OK, so we know that Dan makes a lot of videos and we know he’s been doing it for a long time, so then what? How does this get turned into a business?
I told you that Dan has a business partner. He happens to be my friend, Ricky Breslin. I wrote about it not long ago about the work we’ve done together for his wife, Marquetta Breslin and her business.
I forget exactly how Dan and Ricky met, but they hit it off and decided to take Dan’s passion for raw foods and build it into a real business.
The fact is, Dan had an enormous asset from the getgo. He was swimming in a sea of goodwill he had generated over the years with thousands and thousands of subscribers.
So Ricky and Dan worked together to take all of his knowledge and his passion and his ability to inspire people and put that into packages that people could buy.
Understand that Dan did the hard work FIRST. He added an enormous amount of value to the world long before he did anything else. I’m not saying you HAVE to do things this way, what I’m saying is that if you do do them in this way, it makes the “monetization” step (I really hate that word, but it’s clear, so I’m using it) pretty quick.
It kind of reminds me of something Craig Ballantyne, a client I worked with, used to say. He used to say this to people just starting out online, but it’s just as relevant for anyone at any level:
There are basically two ways to make six-figures in a year. Either you build a list and sell products as you go, or you build the list, add value for 11.5 months and then make the six-figures in a “launch style” situation all in the last week or two.
Understand the parallels here between Dan’s world and what you do with clients. Right now, most of you are actively working with clients. Dan does do some consultations I believe, but instead of a service based approach to revenue, he’s created a product based approach.
You can do this too. Maybe you can’t do it with EVERY service you provide, but there’s usually some untapped potential in every service business where “productizing” a service could do great things.
Imagine doing the work ONCE and getting paid over and over and over again. It’s a nice situation to be in.
You can either do THAT or you can just deal with clients, one on one, forever. Frankly, I think the way to go is to combine the two models. You get SOME leverage with the products and that product “front end” becomes your filtering system for the great clients.
Making the Transition From the Platform You Don’t Own to the One You Do Own
Dan invested years of effort to make all those videos on YouTube®. The good news is that tons and tons of people watched those videos. His audience grew. What’s the problem with that? Nothing, except he built a platform in a place he doesn’t ultimately control.
Not long ago, Dan woke up one morning to find his entire YouTube® account gone. All the videos… gone. All the subscribers… gone. Apparently, some of his video content crossed YouTube’s® line.
Now Dan often mentions he’s not a doctor and he’s not handing out medical advice. Anyone with half a brain could figure that out. But that’s not the system we’re working in today. Common sense has been outlawed in favor of control.
So when Dan talks about the truly miraculous effects of raw fruits and vegetables on someone’s health, no matter what they are dealing with… well, the powers that be get nervous.
Dan got his account back, due to the quick action of his community who came to support him.
But building a platform on something you don’t own and don’t control (like YouTube®) is not a smart long term strategy. It can be part of the strategy, you just don’t want it to be the whole thing.
Putting videos on YouTube® gets you found. It’s cheap, quick and easy. So by all means, leverage the free tools that are out there. But have a plan for transitioning all of those subscribers to something you control… ideally, an email list. You want to be able to go to them.
And that’s exactly what Dan did through the use of a lead magnet.
Here’s a screenshot of the optin page Dan created to build an email list he called his “Insider’s Club.” As you can see, he simply offered a few valuable resources in exchange for the email address. More importantly, the video above the optin form explains to the world why Dan is doing this. It explains his intentions and makes the entire process 100% authentic.
And this is how Dan began the transition from having a community on a platform he didn’t control (on YouTube®) to one he did.
Understand that all of this is about increasing the value you are able to give to your subscribers. If you build a platform where your subscribers have to remember you and then come and see your videos, you are limited in what you can deliver. They have to remember you in the midst of their busy lives in order to come consume and benefit from what you produce.
Ideally, you want to be able to go to them. If you can’t, figure out some way to change that.
One thing I think is valuable when you are collecting an email address for a platform is to be upfront about what’s coming and when. There’s something very helpful about FRAMING how this communication channel is going to function in the life of your subscriber.
A very simple example…
Say I went out and collected email addresses to build my list. I gave away a lead magnet, but at no point did I mention that I’d be sending my daily email newsletter out to people.
It still might work, but when those emails started to show up, it would be unexpected. That’s why I’m as upfront about it as I can be. Once that email address comes in, I make it known they’re also going to receive my DAILY newsletter.
When they EXPECT it, it feels totally different.
How Do You Build Something Like This?
When you look at the whole thing, Dan’s platform and business systems are both simple and impressive. Actually, the simplicity is what makes them so impressive. And his platform has allowed Dan to go from where he started (making videos by his trailer!) to living a life most people dream of.
So how do you build something like this?
I asked that question for a long time years ago. I’d see someone’s success and I’d try to emulate it. Sometimes it would (marginally) work, other times, not at all. At the time, I had no idea I was skipping over one of the most important steps of this entire business building process.
I forgot to ask myself what is really the most important question anyone can ask:
“Exactly What Do I Want My Life to Look Like?”
Most people have no idea what they want. I mean really want. They know what they think they should want. They know what other people think they should want. But when it comes down to actually understanding how they want their life to look… that’s where you start getting blank stares.
How in the world do you figure out which type of business to build if you can’t answer (even partially) this question?
Without that answer, everything else you do is just guessing. When you actually do the work to figure this out, you might surprise yourself with your answer.
But it’s an answer worth getting. Because it will provide enormous clarity in all of your decision making when you know which port your boat is headed towards.
It took me a while to admit I didn’t really care about being a bazillionaire. It took me a while to admit I actually WASN’T willing to do “whatever it takes” to succeed.
It took me a while to admit that I didn’t have any desire (whatsoever) to buy a fancy car, live in a mansion, or any of those other “successful” things.
All I feel like doing is helping people, creating things, writing and doing it all from my home. There. That’s my big plan for entrepreneurial success.
Do you know how many things that simple decision allows me to avoid? A LOT.
When you get this piece of the puzzle straight, it makes designing your platform and business systems much more straightforward. It gives you context.
If you need a little kick in the pants about why this is so valuable, listen (maybe for the second time) to an interview I published with my friend and colleague, Mike Marasco. He’s the “laziest” successful person I know. And he explains why that is. Listen here:
There’s just one catch with this designing your life thing. It requires something not too many people are willing to do. It requires a commitment. A commitment to what you actually want for your life.
There might be something better out there. There might be someone “more successful.” There might even be someone (heaven forbid!) better looking.
It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are executing on the vision you have for your life. You exclude everything else. That’s the point.
That’s what allows such enormous progress on your journey. Because you’ve finally made the commitment NOT to pursue the other 95% of things out there that you could do.
What’s Left When You’ve Built Your Platform and Systems?
What’s left is feeding your platform. When you have a system that works, then you move your focus onto growing the number of folks coming into that system.
Now I’ve told you about Dan McDonald’s success, beginning virtually with nothing. What I didn’t tell you is that he’s done all of this without any paid advertising. Quite amazing when you think about it.
Now in my work, I’m not saving lives… I’m not doing anything CLOSE to that level of impact. So I actually do have to think of ways to grow my universe. All I’m really interested in is feeding my platform through various media. The rest of the process pretty much takes care of itself.
This is where you invest 80% of your work once you have everything built. You’ve basically built a way to “feed” people value. So now your job becomes figuring out new and effective ways to invite more guests to the table!
For me, I primarily use Facebook® and article placements. It took me a while to crack the Facebook® nut, but remember, I’m big on doing things from home. So you won’t find me attending conferences or networking or anything like that. I’m home with my family where I want to be.
There’s a snapshot above of one of my Facebook® ad campaigns. You can see I took the Dean Jackson “Whiskers and Cheese” advice to heart. The ad isn’t for a 900 page ebook, or a free “system” or a webinar or anything like that. It’s for something extremely specific. Something my folks WANT to know. I don’t have to make them want to know it, they just do.
This area of lead generation can be frustrating and annoying at times. That’s when you go back to your “reason for being” and realize that there are a TON of people you could be helping on the other side of that “divide.”
If you can just figure out a way through, if you can just get a paid lead generation campaign working, then you will have built a pipeline that you control, and one that you can turn on/off at will.
Before we wrap this up, I have one more topic to cover here about the platform business model.
Here’s the question:
Does This Platform Approach Only Work For “Solopreneurs?”
So you might ask yourself if this platform approach to business building only works if you’re single service provider. Are “big businesses” using this approach?
Well, I’d like to tell you the story (as best I know it) of the beginnings of one of the most successful internet based platforms ever created. It’s Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning from Agora Publishing.
I believe it started back in 1999 and continues today, although Bill has started a new daily newsletter in the past few years.
I have no inside knowledge about this except what I’ve studied. But I tend to be a voracious student. So when I find someone whose approach resonates with me at a deep level, I find everything I can about that individual. Bill Bonner is one of those individuals.
Back in the late 90s, there wasn’t really a working model for newsletter publishers to harness the power of the internet.
Bill sat down and wrote his Daily Reckoning email for over a decade… every single weekday. Think about what that means. What CEO of an enormous corporation like that makes an investment of time like that? Bill Bonner did.
I believe he actually liked to do it. Add in the actual results it began producing as it served as the delivery channel for an enormous number of subscription offers and it became a major winner. If you’ve been paying attention, that’s a huge key. If you hate doing this, don’t. Do something else. Because the journey is far too long to make it to the end if you just can’t stand it.
Over time, that model (it’s the platform!) became such a success, you will now find it copied by just about every other online publisher in the space.
You can’t beat consistency, you can’t beat over delivering on value, you can’t beat building trust and credibility.
So Why Don’t More People Do This?
As you know, I talk about the platform A LOT. The amount of evidence out there in all different shapes and sizes is pretty compelling that this is an effective way to sell products and services. That’s because it creates the channel through which selling those products and services doesn’t require a whole lot of selling.
If you asked me to look out over the entire business landscape and pick the ONE approach that is most likely to succeed, this platform approach is the one I would choose. It just works.
And that, right there, is probably the reason most people shy away from actually doing it.
What works is boring. Once you know, don’t you feel a little bit of that excitement just start to go away? The thrill was in the hunt. The excitement was in the searching. That’s what we entrepreneurs do right? We strive… we search, we overcome struggle. That’s what makes us feel alive!
It’s taken me quite a few decades to make progress on the journey of NOT being ruled by my feelings. When you simply react to what you’re feeling at any one moment, you basically become a slave to something you don’t control.
Responding to feelings is different than reacting to them. Response implies conscious and deliberate, reaction implies unconscious and automatic.
The trick I’ve found is to develop the ability to settle into the “non-exciting” and actually derive enjoyment just from that.
Maybe some people just aren’t wired to do that.
But that’s how you GET somewhere. You pursue the non-exciting. You pursue the repeatable. You put one pebble in the bucket every day. Tomorrow, a pebble. The next day, another pebble.
That’s what I missed all those years ago when I was a musician. “He had such promise…” they said. Too bad he missed the secret about slow and steady, about pursuing the non-exciting and being satisfied by that. Who knows where that guy would be today.
But I have to be thankful that all didn’t work out. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be sitting here, at my kitchen table, about to make some eggs and smoked salmon for my kids as they get up.
That’s the life I want to live… and that’s the life I’m living.