Kimberly Jimenez first started to learn about marketing online when she helped her husband market his startup business using social media. Since then she’s helped digital marketers find more clients and she’s worked with small local business owners all the way up to an agency with a $4 million advertising budget.
Along the way she decided to try her hand at creating training courses and she’s quickly built up a tribe of enthusiastic online marketers that look to her for advice on gmarketing that works, on any budget.
She’s a Deadline Funnel client and I’m excited to share this interview with you.
I really appreciate how she willing shared that her first online course “was terrible”.
I’m sure you’ll get lots of inspiration and insights from this interview.
Wath the video, read the transcript, or listen to the audio below!
JB: Hey, this is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel, and I’m here with Kimberly Jimenez, and she’s a Deadline Funnel client. Wanted to get her on the phone, have this interview, and just talk about her business, so great to have you here.
KJ: Thank you so much, Jack. I’m so excited to finally meet you and talk a little bit, chat a little bit about business and life, and the awesome products that you guys provide us with.
JB: Oh, well, thank you very much. Why don’t you start by giving us a little bit of background about what it is that you do, who you serve, and how you got started?
KJ: Sure, sure. We currently run a membership site for online creators, and we teach bloggers, eCommerce stores, basically any type of entrepreneur who’s running a business online, how to leverage online marketing to get the word out there and build a sustainable business. So that’s what we’re doing right now, we sell online training courses, and it’s really fun, but I didn’t always start out this way.
I started doing social media marketing for my husband’s startup, back when I had no idea what social media even was. It was kind of like a happy accident. Wanted to help him kind of get the word out there for his local business, which, at the time, was a student relocation service that he started in his dorm with his brother. Yeah, so totally different business model, very kind of blue-collar, but it was so much fun, and we started seeing a ton of results with Facebook marketing, and it kind of just exploded from there.
I was in school at the time, in college, studying for my Nutrition and Dietetics degree, like, my last year in school, and I just fell in love with the idea of creating content online. Like, I just thought, “Oh my gosh, this is such an amazing creative outlet, and you can make money doing it? What?” So that was really, really interesting and fun, and so I started interning. I guess it was just an internship, at a marketing and advertising agency, so that was really fun, just like a college gig, just to pay the bills and see how it went. It was a fun job. But I really fell in love with it, started considering it as a potential career option even though I was so close to finishing my degree.
And three months went by, I got an offer from a corporation in town, and they said, “Hey, we’d love for you to start our marketing department, our social media department, from the ground up. Here’s full-time salary, benefits, private jet, $4 million marketing budget. Do you want to do it?” And I was like, “I don’t know what you want me to do? Like, I just … I do social media for people in town, I don’t have tons of experience.” But yeah, they went for it, and I said, “Sure.”
So, I loved it, spent about six months doing that, running really high-level campaigns, and learned a lot about running advertising, and running high-level marketing campaigns online, and bridging that gap with what was already happening locally, so we had local marketing teams, and also our digital marketing teams, and that was really, really fun. I learned so, so much about ROI and metrics and KPIs, and all those fancy terms.
So… long story short, I decided to leave my corporate job after about six months. Loved the people I was working with, but I wanted so badly to work with smaller businesses who didn’t have $4 million marketing budgets, who didn’t have the resources to actually get the word out there, because I’d gone through that with my now-husband, starting up his little company in college on a shoestring budget, and that was my real passion. So I decided to quit and do some freelancing, social media, and yeah, just started my own business, and two years later, we’re here. I mean, it’s been four years since I started my business officially, but now it’s been about two years since we’re doing the online training aspect of things, so, long story.
JB: Yeah, so when did you get into course creation? When did you start with that?
KJ: Yeah, so it’s been about two years. It was late 2015. I got to the point in my business where I had 17 clients, and it was getting a little bit out of control in terms of all the work that I was doing, and from the beginning, I knew that that would be kind of the end goal. I did want to get into online education. I loved showing people what to do, and because being so entrenched in other people’s businesses, doing their social media marketing, I quickly realized that if I wanted to provide any kind of ROI, I needed to help them set up an actual funnel in their business. It wasn’t just about posting nice pictures on Twitter or Facebook; I really wanted to show them results.
And that just kind of became a natural evolution, and I started showing them, “Okay, this is how we have to move clients from our Facebook page to actually coming in the store and paying for our products,” and so that whole process led into being really involved not just in the social media marketing side, but also with their overall campaigns and their overall marketing, and then their business strategy. So we were going all the way back to, “Okay, does this product, does this offer make sense for what we’re trying to promote here?”
And so that just became kind of like a natural evolution, and I kind of switched into, or shifted into doing more consulting work, not just the actual management, and loved it, it was really, really good, but after about a year, I was like, “Okay, I need to take the next step,” and my husband was actually really encouraging me to. He’s like, “You are way too busy, you’re working way too much. This is what you always have loved and wanted to do, and your audience is asking for courses, so why don’t you try it, keep your consulting clients, and see how it goes?” So it’s just been a gradual transition over the years, and now, we only offer, we do have a couple consulting clients, but primarily, the core of our business is online training.
JB: So what was your first online course about?
KJ: Oh my gosh, it was terrible. It was, oh, epic failure. It was so bad. I can talk about this all day, but … It was about social media marketing, it was showing online business owners and also local business owners how to start their social media marketing from scratch, like how to get from zero to actually producing, you know, generating revenue. And it was a great course, but I spent like four months obsessing over it. It’s this behemoth, massive course that just became insanely overwhelming for people to take. And it was good, but it was a challenge, because I didn’t take the steps necessary to validate the idea, and then communicate it via a message that resonated with people. So that’s another story for another day, but that was my first course, yeah.
JB: Well, but we all have to start somewhere, and obviously, you learned a lot. So you kind of touched on the validation and also not obsessing over making it this huge behemoth. What are some of the other lessons that you learned from getting things going? And then, compared to now, what have you learned?
KJ: Sure. Where do I start? I learned so much, it’s been quite the journey. But I think the most important thing, at least for me, was that making a transition from, let’s say, a client-based or a service-based business model into “passive income,” and I … Air quotes, because it’s not totally passive … Is a big transition, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I had so much to learn.
It was like, okay, I knew, of course, the online marketing side of things, but specifically, the messaging was the hardest part for me, just really diving into copywriting and understanding that it’s not about having pretty sales pages, or getting really nice graphics, and having the best tools, it’s also about the messaging, and getting that part right is everything. So I spent all this time tweaking my website and making things pretty, and making sure that they look legit, but at the end of the day, what actually worked was switching up the messaging, so it wasn’t until I actually started learning about copywriting, about really understanding what my hook was, that things started to work. So I think that is really important.
Of course, validating your idea before you launch it. Just because someone, or your audience is telling you, “We want training, we want a course,” it doesn’t mean that they even know what they want, first of all, or that that’s the best way to actually launch something. If I would go back, I would definitely have started with something smaller, like an ebook, maybe a paid webinar, some kind of offer that was simple to set up, that I could just launch with very little effort, little amount of time, and just get it out there and see if it actually resonated with people, get feedback from students, and see, okay, what can we do better? Is this making sense? Can we break it up into different courses, or should we add this resource?
Instead of spending four months creating this giant course about everything you could possibly think of, I would’ve been a lot easier and a lot better, just for me and for my students, if I would have just launched a very small beta version and gotten feedback, made it better, and went from there. So I think those two are the biggest lessons that I’ve learned throughout this entire process of shifting that model.
I guess the third thing would just be, at least for me, I jumped into it way too fast. Like, I fired 80% of my clients, I kept like four clients, fired everyone, I was like, “Yes, I’m going to do this online course thing.” And then it was like four months, and I’m not done with it yet, and my revenue’s dipping, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, now I have to really make this happen.” So it was insanely stressful, and it didn’t have to be, if I would just … Kept my clients, launched something small, and then built upon that.
JB: Worked your way into it, yeah.
KJ: Yeah. It would’ve been a lot easier. So yeah, I guess those would be my three biggest lessons that I’ve learned throughout this process.
JB: Yeah, sounds like you burned the boats on the beach.
KJ: Oh, for real.
JB: You really forced yourself into action. So, you mentioned the importance of copywriting, so is there a particular resource that you went to that was really influential for you?
KJ: Yeah, I took a couple of copywriting courses, like on Skillshare, and I really started understanding, like … Mostly it was, truly, the courses helped, but what helped more than that was just paying attention to other people in different industries. Not just the online space: paying attention to what Nike was doing, and the copy that they were sharing; paying attention to the products that I was already purchasing, and what about their entire spiel really resonated with me, and so understanding the process of storytelling.
So one of the things that I started doing was, whenever I read an email that really spoke to me … I signed up for a ton of newsletters, and I started reading emails, and the ones that really resonated with me primarily were telling stories. They were showing examples, they were talking from the heart, and I started kind of figuring out how to break it down and understand, why was it that I just couldn’t take my eyes off of copy — like, I just kept reading and reading and reading — and why I would make purchasing decisions. So just paying attention to my own instincts, and why I was so inclined to purchase a specific product, made such a difference.
And I think courses are fantastic; books are really great too. Right now, I’m reading this book called Words That Sell, and it’s fantastic. It’s like a really nice glossary of tons of phrases you can use to start up an email, or open up a sales letter, and it’s really helpful. But more so than reading books and checking out courses, it was really paying attention to what spoke to me, and then practicing.
Just sitting there and picking a random product, and trying to write a sales page about it, which was, like, the hardest exercise ever. I just … It’s nerve-racking sometimes, but practicing and practicing and practicing and practicing, and just being intentional about figuring out what is that hook, what is that one message that you want to share individually with each individual piece of copy that you create, whether it be via an email sequence, or your sales page, or even your checkout page, and then tying it all together.
I think it’s an art, and it’s just … You have to study it. So I just really started studying it, and I’m not great at it still, I have a ways to go. I think it’s just a process, and you just have to continually get better at it, because communication is key, no matter what type of business you’re in. Whether you are selling coffee at the corner, or you’re really just selling online training, regardless, communication is so powerful and so important, and I think that’s one of the foundational elements of business that we don’t, as entrepreneurs, we don’t really put a lot of emphasis on. Like, it’s easy to chase the shiny objects, and I have done it a lot.
JB: Yeah, we all have. Yeah.
KJ: I still have to catch myself sometimes, you know, and be like, “Wait, this isn’t … It’s important, but it’s not that foundational element.” So just kind of figuring out that aspect of my business made a really big difference, and I’m still not close to being good at it, but I’m trying to improve every day, and I think that having that … Just being determined and having that intention is really important.
JB: I really love what you said there, so I want to talk a little bit about how I’ve done that as well. When I was really just getting my feet wet a long time ago, there was a guy who’s now a friend of mine named Andre Chaperon, and I just could not stop reading his emails, and I would look forward to his next email. And at the time, I didn’t know why they worked, or the mechanics behind it, but once I started to learn a little bit more, read some, buy some courses, and then he would send out another email, and I would notice certain elements that are in it, and I would start to spot those same elements.
And just like you said, sometimes, I really want to pick … I’ll recognize something, and I’ll think, “Man, this is a really … I know this is a marketing email, but I read the whole thing, and I loved it,” and so I’ll want to really look at it and try to figure out, like, what were the elements that made this so easy to read, and really pulled me in? So that’s great, great advice. So, who is it that you … How would you describe the folks that you serve right now?
KJ: Yeah, sure. We serve online creators, so bloggers, authors, experts, anyone who’s trying to share their message out into the world, and they’re doing it online, whether it’s selling jewelry and handmade items on Etsy, or they’re writing blog posts and having … You know, they’re running YouTube channels or podcasts. So anyone who is in the online space, and they’re sharing their services, their products, or their programs online.
JB: Okay, and your courses primarily teach them how to … Is it paid Facebook advertising-
JB: … is it social media with sweat equity? I mean, what do you primarily teach?
KJ: Yeah, so we actually developed a custom success path for online businesses, so we teach everything from running your email marketing and starting an email list, how to start your social media, and all the way through advertising, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Pinterest, so it’s … Literally, we have over 14 courses inside of our membership, so we share everything from blogging to creating videos. And the difference between having just a crazy course library where you teach everything to everyone, that’s not really how we structure it. We actually have a six-part success path, and so there’s six different stages of entrepreneurship, starting with validation, all the way through scale.
So whenever a member joins us, they’re immediately taken to the success path, and they can identify what stage of entrepreneurship they’re in, based on how much income they’re generating, what their audience numbers look like, what their metrics look like. And it’s very, very interesting, because once you select the stage that you’re in, you’re given a custom action plan, and throughout that action plan, we link to courses, video resources, materials, to help you get to that next stage of entrepreneurship. So that’s kind of how we have structured it.
It’s a little bit different than most membership sites where you get an open course library, and that’s what we used to be, but a lot of our members were very confused. They’re like, “Okay, should I start with the email marketing course? Should I start with the Pinterest one? Should I go over here and learn how to run funnels, or how to design online training courses?” So it was very overwhelming, so we created a success path, and just gave them a roadmap of “Here’s what you do first. Once you go through these training courses, you implement the material that you’re learning, and you get results, you move into the next stage.” So that’s how it’s laid out, and every month, we come out with a new training course. This month, we’re talking about video marketing, and next month, we’re going to talk about business workflows and setting up systems. So it’s really just resources for business and for marketing, but they’re laid out in a specific order, based on the stage that our members are at.
JB: Awesome, awesome. And if someone wants to take a look at some … I would imagine you’ve got some free resources that someone could come check out.
JB: So where would someone go if they’re interested?
KJ: Yeah, they would go to kimberlyannjimenez.com, which is my website, /resources, and there’s a whole slew of free checklists and cheat sheets, master classes, videos. We have a YouTube channel, so there’s tons of free content that they can take advantage of.
JB: And you and I connected originally because I found out that you’re using Deadline Funnel, so tell me a little bit about how that became a part of your business and how you use it.
KJ: Yeah, so it’s interesting, because I’m going back to that first course that I created. I was starting to learn about, you know, just creating funnels … Because it’s different when you do it for a different business. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that place where creating stuff for clients is … For me, was way easier than creating it for myself.
JB: Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.
KJ: So I was like, “Okay, I need to go back to basics and kind of figure out how I want to sell this product,” and so I was listening to Ryan Deiss and learning about tripwire funnels, and all that good stuff, and I decided to create … Like, not really create, but splinter off one of our main modules and sell it as a separate product to introduce people to my first course. So I was trying to figure out how to make it so that we could have a specific offer expire after a set amount of days, and so I was Googling, and I found you guys after trying three or four other solutions on the net.
I tried some WordPress plugins, and I tried a couple of different options, but I kept getting emails from customers telling me, “Wait, so the deadline on this email says there’s two days left, but then I open it here and I go to the sales page, and it says it’s expired.” And so it was nerveracking trying to figure out, “Oh my gosh, how can we make this offer expire after a set amount of days, and have it be evergreen and individual to everyone who joins our email list?”
Because I could’ve run timely or, I guess, real-time promotions, and have it start on Monday and end on Thursday, but that wasn’t going to be, I guess, sustainable going forward. So I was looking for solutions, and I found your site, I signed up for it, started testing it, fell in love with it, and that was … I think it was either late 2015 or early 2016. I could be wrong, but around that time. I was listening to all your YouTube videos, and trying to figure out how to set it up, and I was like, “Okay, I think we got it this time,” and it worked really, really well, so I was so, so happy with it.
I think, fast-forward like three months later, I purchased a training, it was a webinar that David Siteman Garland was running, and he mentioned the tool, and I was like, “See, I knew I picked the right one.” So he was going through it, and kind of showing you how you could do evergreen promotions and set it up that way, so that’s kind of how I bumped into you guys, and now we use it for everything. I mean, from our tripwire funnels and having offers expire there, to our core offer, which is our membership site, to our master classes that we run on our website, as well as our actual real-time promotions. So it’s been a fantastic experience. I highly recommend it. I’m always talking about you guys in our membership site, so thank you for an amazing product.
JB: Oh, thank you very much.
KJ: It’s truly the best solution I’ve found, at least. I’ve tried so many — I’m talking, like, six or seven — and they just never really work, because I love how you guys have your system set up, where no matter where people are opening up their emails, if they’re opening on their smartphone or on their computer, whether they have the same IP or not, I just love the technology is so accurate and so great, and we never have issues with it, so thank you.
JB: Oh, well, thank you, thank you very much. That’s great. Well, this has been great. I would love to keep chatting. Maybe there’s an opportunity for me to do a training for your folks.
KJ: That would be amazing. That would be great.
JB: Yeah, it would be awesome. I’d love to do that. So, it’s been great chatting. Any final words of advice for a new course creator out there that … Maybe some words of encouragement or advice?
KJ: Yes. It takes longer than you think. I mean, it’s just going to take time, and that’s one of the things that not everyone tells you, but just keep at it. Keep trying new things. If you’re struggling to put the material together or get your first course off the ground, don’t get stuck in perfection paralysis. You cannot ever get a product to be 1,000% perfect. You just have to ship it, just have to get it out there into the world, and then make it better as you go.
And then, if you’re struggling to get it off the ground, maybe you’re not having a ton of sales right now, first of all, you’re not alone. Most of us go through that process, and it’s not fun, but if you just stick with it, if you continue to make tweaks, to really learn who your audience is, and fall in love with your customer, instead of falling in love with your product, that’ll make a huge difference. So, truthfully, I like to tell my members all the time, you can’t be in the business of the business that you’re in. You have to be in the business of whoever you’re serving. So if our members decided tomorrow that they no longer want a membership site, that’s totally okay with me. You know I’m going to be scrambling to get something together that can serve them.
So I’m trying as much as I can to walk my talk, and really fall in love with the people that we serve, and provide solutions that they’re looking for, regardless of what that looks like on the back end, whether it’s a service-based model or it’s an online training model. So really fall in love with your customer, understand what it is they want, have real conversations with them on the phone or in person, start paying attention to their challenges and their pain points, and forget about falling in love with your own stuff. Just create something that they can really get tons of value from, and that serves them, and you will be set forever.
JB: I love that philosophy. I just, a few minutes ago, got off the phone with someone. I was doing sort of a customer care call, and they needed some help with this complicated funnel, and this was the second call that I had had with them, and they said, “Look,” they kept apologizing, and … His name is Zach, and Zach kept saying, “Look, I really don’t want to take up any more of your time,” and I said, “Look, Zach, stop apologizing. It’s not … Like, at the end of the day, it’s kind of about the countdown, but really, it’s about getting your funnel set up, because you want the end result. Like, my solution just happens to be a part of it, so let me help you.” And that’s the philosophy that our team takes, so I love that, falling in love with your customer, that’s great.
KJ: That’s awesome, and a huge testament of the type of company that you guys are building. I’ve had nothing but an amazing experience with your customer support team. You guys always go the extra mile without us having to ask for it, so thank you. I really, truly appreciate it. I don’t think enough companies are doing that, especially in the online space, so big kudos.
JB: Oh, thank you very much. Well, this has been a great conversation. Thank you for taking the time.
KJ: Sure, absolutely. I had a really good time chatting with you, and again, it was awesome getting to meet you, and thank you for letting me talk so much.
JB: My pleasure. Take care.