dotcom secrets summary

Book Summary: Dotcom Secrets by Russel Brunson

The Book in Three Sentences

In this Dotcom Secrets summary, you’ll learn to attract more traffic to your website by solving the “funnel” problem. The funnel is the process that potential customers go through until they become actual customers. Since most online businesses and sites have a funnel, yours is either attracting customers or driving them away.

Dotcom Secrets Summary


Russel Branson mastered the offline sales funnel and he used it to grow online companies. At first, the problem was that the methods that experts were using to run their online businesses were invisible. These are what Brunson calls Dotcom Secrets. So instead of emulating what others are doing and expecting big results, use the Dotcom Secrets from successful sales funnels instead and grow your business.

Section One: Ladders and Funnels

Secret #1: The Secret Formula

Think about who you’d like to work with given the change and the result you’d want to give them. Also think about where you can find them online, as well as what bait you need to attract them and only them. This is what the author calls the secret formula and it’s the first step toward growing your company.

The author turned the formula into four questions:

  1. Who’s your main client? This is your ideal customer.
  2. Where can you find them? What are their favorite blogs, sites, newsletters, and interests?
  3. What bait will you use to attract them? These include books, podcasts, or videos.
  4. What result do you want to give them? What kind of impact will your product or service have on their business?

Secret #2: The Value Ladder

The value ladder is about creating bait (by providing something for free, for example) to attract the dream client. This bait provides so much value that the client wants additional value from you. Ideally, you can provide a service where the dream client keeps paying on a regular basis.

The big yellow dollar sign is the place where you want to take your dream client. You provide value to your dream clients by charging them money. Every step of the way, you’re providing some value in the form of a product (a quiz, a free ebook, a webinar, an online event, and so on). The higher you climb the ladder, the most value you offer to your client and the most money you charge for what you offer. If you have one service, you can use it to develop other offerings that occupy the empty steps of the value ladder, and at the same time, you provide more value.

Some businesses fail because they lack one of the four components of the ladder. Once all the moving parts are in place, your business will expand. Remember that there’s no end to the value ladder and that you can keep providing products or services that are more expensive than the previous one. Someone from your audience is willing to pay a premium price as long as you give them more value.

Secret #3: From a Ladder to a Funnel

The secret formula helps you find out who you want to serve, how to find them, what bait you need to attract them, and where to take them. The value ladder helps you find out the products you need so that your clients move from bait to high-end services.

The funnel achieves two things:

  1. It provides value to your customers
  2. It makes money while identifying the dream clients who can afford the most expensive offer.

The traffic represents the potential customers. The bait attracts the dream customers and some of them will move on to the front end. Here’s where the next product is introduced, something that offers more value but costs more money. A percentage of your customers will move on to the next part. This happens at all levels.

Secret #4: How to Find Your Dream Customers

Driving traffic means getting people to visit your website. On the internet, there are many congregations, people who gather together virtually and hold similar values and ideas. The idea is to look for a forum on your niche. This is where your target audience spends time.

  1. Who’s your target market? This includes demographics, but also specific characteristics. Customers expect advertising to be as relevant to them as possible
  2. Where is your target market congregating? What blogs and newsletters do they read? What podcasts do they listen to? What keywords do they look for?
  3. How can you get a customer to leave the congregation and check out your page? What you offer on your own site has to be special for your audience to leave the congregation. The author calls this process the Enquirer Interrupt because you interrupt your customers’ browsing long enough that they get curious and click on your site’s ad.

Secret #5: The Three Types of Traffic

There are three types of traffic:

  1. Traffic you control
  2. Traffic you don’t control
  3. Traffic you own

Your goal is to own all the traffic that comes your way. Ouf of the three types, the traffic you own is the best kind. These are your loyal readers, customers, and followers.

The traffic you control tells your target audience where to go. It usually takes the form of paid traffic. This kind of traffic is good, but if you want more of it, you have to pay money to get it. Brunson recommends you to send this traffic to squeeze pages. These are pages where there’s only one goal and no distractions (a goal can be to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter, for example). The objective of squeeze pages is to turn traffic you control into traffic you own.

The traffic you don’t control is people that show up randomly and you can’t control where they came from or where they go next. This includes visitors from social media, search traffic, guest interviews, and YouTube, among others. Your only goal with the traffic you don’t control is to also turn it into traffic you own.

Section Two: Your Communication Funnel

Secret #6: The Attractive Character

When it seems that you’re doing everything right and this doesn’t translate into results, you might be missing the Attractive Character or AC. This is the avatar you’re sharing with your audience. The AC has to attract customers and lead to sales on any platform (email, Facebook, YouTube). You do this by sharing your backstory and making it as compelling as possible.

The three components of creating the Attractive Character are:

  • Elements
  • Identity
  • Storylines
The Four Elements of the Attractive Character
  1. Backstory: without a backstory, the Attractive Character doesn’t mean anything. Your story lets you connect with your audience in a deeper way and it works as a hook.
  2. Attractive Characters Speak in Parables: parables are simple stories that are easy to remember. Sharing memorable stories is a great way to have a lasting impact on people. For them to be relatable, take note of personal experiences you can share. Find parables in your life and use them to illustrate meaningful points.
  3. Attractive Characters Share Their Character Flaws: everyone has flaws and if you want to seem relatable and real, you should reconsider sharing them. Flaws connect with others on an emotional level.
  4. Attractive Characters Harness the Power of Polarity: don’t try to appease everyone and stay neutral about certain topics. Be polarizing instead, talk about difficult topics, and don’t change your views when most disagree with you. Having strong opinions allows you to develop strong bonds with your audience.

There are different identities for an Attractive Character:

  • The Leader: they lead the audience to a specific place to obtain a desired result.
  • The Adventurer or Crusader: this is the curious person who doesn’t have all the answers. They are willing to discover the truth and share their discoveries with the audience.
  • The Reporter or Evangelist: these people have the desire to share something with their audience, but have yet to forge a path that lets them do so. They compile information, interview people, and share their results with their audience.
  • The Reluctant Hero: a humble person who doesn’t like the spotlight, but knows secrets that others don’t. Part of their journey is to overcome shyness to share what they know.

There are six types of storylines:

  • Loss and Redemption: these involve overcoming challenges.
  • Us vs Them: polarizing stories that encourage people to do things instead of talking about them.
  • Before and After: stories of transformation
  • Amazing Discovery: they provide answers to problems in the form of great products, services, or webinars.
  • Secret Telling: you lure the audience with a secret.
  • Third-Person Testimonial: other people’s success stories of your products.

Secret #7: The Soap Opera Sequence

Once people join your list, you have to establish a bond with them. The Soap Opera Sequence involves using the same story structure of a soap opera to keep readers hooked. For the sequence to work, all emails have to be connected.

This is the sequence Brunson uses and the one he recommends:

  • Email 1 – Set the Stage: this email lets people know what to expect.
  • Email 2 – Open the High Drama: here’s where you provide the backstory.
  • Email 3 – Epiphany: now you explain an epiphany you had where you found a solution to a problem.
  • Email 4 – Hidden Benefits: this email is about sharing hidden benefits your readers might never have thought about. These are important because they move people to take action.
  • Email 5 – Urgency and CTA: this is the last email in the sequence, but not the last one you send. In this one, you encourage readers to take action using a CTA (or Call to Action). Never use fake urgency, such as threatening to take a video down and then not doing it. there’s always a sense of urgency when something is running out soon.

Secret #8: Daily Seinfeld Sequence

People respond to nothing. You want your Attractive Character to be entertaining, not serious. Send emails on a daily basis and as in the sitcom Seinfeld, make them about nothing. Your readership will be entertained instead of annoyed. You can write about your life, embarrassing experiences, vacation plans, past purchases, funny anecdotes, and so on. These emails aren’t pointless, they lead your readers to a product or service.

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

Secret #9: Reverse Engineering a Successful Funnel

Before Starting a sales funnel, try to find someone else who has succeeded in using it. If you can’t find anyone who’s done it, don’t move forward.

There are five valuables of successful campaigns:

  1. Demographics: factors like age, education, income level, language, and so on. You have to put the right offer in front of the right demographic.
  2. Offer: what you’re selling and for how much.
  3. Landing page: the page a person visits when they click on an ad. Don’t reinvent the wheel, find a model that works and reverse engineer it.
  4. Traffic source: you don’t create traffic, it’s already there. You just need to redirect it to your offer.
  5. Ad Copy: find a kind of ad that works and copy it.

To reverse engineer a successful campaign, you must follow a series of steps:

  1. Where are your competitors? There are two types of competitors: direct and indirect. Direct competitors sell something similar to you. Indirect competitors sell something different than you but target the same demographic.
  2. What are they doing? Use online resources to look at the kind of ads that your competitors are running and which ones are the most effective.

Secret #10: Seven Phases of a Funnel

The difference between businesses that make some money and those that make a lot of it is whether they understand the funnel and can monetize its different levels. This is about engineering the process each visitor goes through. That process is the funnel. The objective is to keep most visitors long enough that they become loyal customers and regular clients.

You should start with a pre-frame first. This is setting up a positive frame of mind so that you can follow that up with a favor. What have the visitors experienced before visiting your site? Now that you understand that concept, here are the seven phases of a funnel:

Phase #1: Determine Traffic Temperature

There are three levels of traffic: hot, warm, and cold.

  • Hot Traffic: people know who you are, they listen to your podcast, read your articles, and they’re subscribed to your newsletter.
  • Warm Traffic: these people don’t know you, but they are acquainted with someone you know. This third-party endorses you in some way and gives you credibility.
  • Cold Traffic: people have no idea you exist or what you offer.
Phase #2: Set Up the Pre-Frame Bridge

This is a resource (ad, article, blog post, or YouTube video) that works as a bridge that pre-frames visitors before they visit your site.

  • A Hot Traffic Bridge is short. You have a relationship with these people and they’ll listen to whatever you have to say.
  • A Warm Traffic Bridge is longer. These people need to see someone endorse you or your product to trust you.
  • A Cold Traffic Bridge is the secret to making millions online. To convert this traffic, you need to use the right language and make your offer general or no one will buy from you. This is so difficult to accomplish that you might need a separate page (called a bridge page) before they visit the actual offer page. The bridge page should have simpler language or work as a survey or quiz.
Phase #3: Quality Subscriber

With all the traffic you have, you have to see who’s willing to give you their email address in exchange for something of value. 

Phase #4: Quality Buyers

When you have subscribers you have to determine who’s willing to buy from you. Buyers will continue to buy from you as long as you offer value to them.

Phase #5: Identify Hyperactive Buyers

Hyperactive buyers will buy several products at the same time. Identify these people as soon as you can. Have something in store for them or they’ll go somewhere else where they can buy what they want.

Phase #6: Age and Ascend the Relationship

Let some time pass when buyers can see how much value you’ve given them. Then change the type of funnels.

Phase #7: Change the Selling Environment

For the priciest options you offer, change the environment. This involves selling things over the phone, through the mail, or at a live event.

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

Marketing involves creating something, trying it, testing it, and tweaking it until you obtained the desired results.

  • Pre-Frame Bridge: quizzes, articles, news, blogs, videos, email, and presell pages.
  • Qualifying Subscribers: now it’s time to separate casual visitors from those who subscribe to our newsletter or request a free offer. Examples include pop-ups, squeeze pages, click pops, webinar registration, free accounts, or exit pops.
  • Qualifying Buyers: the goal here is to make people buy something. Examples include free-plus shipping, trial, tripwire, self-liquidating offers, or a straight sale.
  • Identify Hyperactive Buyers: identify hyperactive buyers by offering something as soon as they bought a low-cost item or a free offer. Examples include bumps (these are little offers you include in order forms), One-Time-Offers, Downsales, and Affiliate Recommendations.

Secret #12: Frontend vs Backend Funnels

Those are the building blocks and to create your own funnel, you have to put them together in a way that makes sense for you and your business. The Product Awareness Continuum details how a visitor goes from cold, to warm, to hot. The only thing people know at first is their problem, then they hear about you and your offer and slowly build a bond with your Attractive Character. Redirect hot traffic to your priciest offering.

Secret #13: The Best Bait

Humans can’t resist free. The fact that the word “free” shows up in an article automatically draws people’s attention. Don’t lose the power of free by charging a small price for a product either physical or digital.

Section Four: Funnels and Scripts

Frontend Funnels

Funnel #1: Two-Step, Free-Plus-Shipping

The first page has a video with the Who, What, Why, and How script. This details who you are, what you have to offer, why people need it, and how people can get it. Then the site takes them to a one-time offer. Finally, explain why you’re offering the product in question for such a low price. Use urgency and provide a guarantee.

The One Time Offer is a special offer that people who just purchased something from you can get.

  • Rule #1: Don’t Sell More of the Same Thing
  • Rule #2: Don’t Sell a Random Product
Funnel #2: Self-Liquidating Offer

The SLO is for products that are in the twenty-seven to ninety-seven dollar range. It’s called a self-liquidating offer because you’re trying to cover the expense of buying traffic and break even. Since the price is more exposure, you take them to the Star, Story, Solution script and then to your One-Time Offer sequence.

Section 1: Star

This involves the Attractive Character, the story where you introduce a problem, and a solution that comes in the form of a product you sell.

  1. Pattern Interrupt: grab people’s attention by focusing on a problem
  2. Core-Desire Questions: get people to focus on what they want
  3. Agitate Past Failures: you mention the fact that they’ve tried to solve this before and failed
  4. Big Promise/ The One Thing: what you offer as a solution
  5. Introduce the Star: you introduce the Attractive Character
Section 2: Story
  1. High Drama: start your story with the climax
  2. Backstory WALL: how did the AC get there? The AC gets stuck
  3. Identify the Problem: reveal the problem
  4. Epiphany OR Declaration of Independence: the AC decides to make a change
  5. Your Path to Finding the Ultimate Solution: explain what the AC tried on his journey
  6. First Sign of Success: you start to succeed
  7. Conspiracy: you’re not given a fair chance and you expect failure
  8. The Big Lie: it’s not people’s fault you haven’t succeeded
  9. Common Enemy: who or what’s to blame
  10. Rapid Growth: how fast the AC progressed
  11. Case Studies: stories of others who’ve also been successful
  12. Hidden Benefits: the results you weren’t expecting
Section 3: Solution
  1. Formal Introduction: introduce the product
  2. Pain and Cost: explain what creating the product entailed
  3. Ease: the effort the product saves people
  4. Speed: explain how much time what you offer saves
  5. “So Benefits”: write a series of benefits followed by “so…”
  6. Social Proof: testimonial of people who endorse your product
  7. Make the Offer: explain what people will get if they buy your product
  8. Build Value: add bonuses and extra features
  9. Float a Fake Price: include the price they’d have to pay if they were to pay for each item separately
  10. Emotional Close (If/All): include the phrase “if all” to support your offer. This supports the price you just provided.
  11. Reveal the Real Price: reveal how much you’re charging them for your product.
  12. Guarantee (Logic): provide a guarantee in case the buyers feel risk
  13. Inject Scarcity (Fear Close): give people a reason to buy as soon as possible
  14. Future Pacing: explain to buyers how their lives will change soon
  15. Call to Action: explain how to make a purchase
  16. Post Selling: give the sense that those who don’t buy will be left behind
  17. Take Away Selling (Warning): tell people to make a decision
  18. Close with a Reminder: summarize your offer
Funnel #3: Continuity

Continuity involves getting paid regularly for a service or product. The funnel moves users through a two-step or SLO Funnel and the Soap Opera sequence and then through a continuity funnel. The idea is that they’ll be charged on a regular basis.

Funnels for the Middle of the Value Ladder

Funnel #4: The Perfect Webinar

Webinars are extremely popular and they work, in part, because you can give your presentation online which means people don’t have to travel to hear your speech. Webinars have two parts: content and sales pitch. The sales webinar funnel involves driving traffic to a registration page with a sales letter or video. You can use the Who, What Why, How script if you want. Once people register, you give them instructions to attend the webinar or send them a recorded version.

The Perfect Webinar Script

Webinars have three main sections: introduction, content, and close or sales pitch with a few sections in between.

  • Introduction: it takes five minutes. You introduce yourself, the subject, and your credibility
  • Big Promise: you repeat the reason why people signed up
  • Hook to End: give a reason to wait until the end, such as a free item, a promise, or something funny
  • Command Attention: tell people that you need their undivided attention and that they might need to take down notes
  • Qualify Yourself: tell people why they’re qualified to speak
  • Future Page: tell your audience to picture a life where they know some secrets. Describe this in detail
  • The Content: this is the heart of the webinar. It runs for fifty to sixty minutes. this is your chance to deliver on your promise
  • The One Thing: the reason why people showed up. The author also encourages speakers to debunk some common myths and misconceptions.
  • The Stack: a ten-minute section that transitions into the close where you sell your product
  • If/All: use the phrase “if/all” to support your offer
  • Reveal the Real Price: reveal how much money you’re charging for the product
Funnel #5: Invisible Funnel Webinar

This is a premium webinar only a small portion of people will pay for it after the webinar is over.

Magic Bullet Webinar Registration Script

A “Magic Bullet” is a promise you deliver through your webinar or clients don’t have to pay.

  • Raise the Question: ask questions so that people think of their desires. The answer to these questions should be a resounding yes.
  • Introduction: introduce yourself and the magic bullet
  • Point Out Frustrations: indirectly reference people’s frustrations
  • My Magic Bullet: the solution you’re selling
  • Don’t Worry (Proof): provide proof that the premium webinar will be worth it without charging anything
  • Risk Reversal: present the “try before you buy” option
  • The Close: this is where you get readers to commit

How to structure your Invisible Funnel Script

  • Re-Tell Hook: reinforce the “try before you buy” offer. 
  • Tell People What They’ll Learn: this is an overview of your system
  • Content: teach your highest quality content
  • Recap: make a summary of everything you discussed
  • Tie It to Value: tell participants about the value they’ll get after implementing the information
  • Was It Worth It to You?: Ask people if the webinar was worth the price
  • Transition to Offer: encourage people to go to your website. Remember them it’s a free application or charge them if necessary.
Funnel #6: Product Launch

The product launch funnel is a sales presentation of four videos.

  • Video #1: Wow and How: You wow people with a good idea and then show them how to use it.
  • Video #2: Transformational Education: You walk people through the process
  • Video #3: Ownership Experience: You show viewers how to live with what they just learned
  • Video #4: The Offer: You reveal what you’re selling, for how much, and how people can get it

Backend Funnel

Funnel #7: High-Ticket, Three-Step Application

This is a three-step process:

  • Step #1: Create a page with a case study sharing the results of clients you’ve coached. Include an “apply now” button
  • Step #2: Clients fill out an application
  • Step #3: Once they’re done with the application, they go to a homework page with informational videos and a way to contact you or your team.

High-Ticket, Two-Step Script

Change the environment to a phone call, live event, or seminar.

The Set Script:

  • Introduction: Introduce yourself in a casual way
  • Questions: Find out why people are interested
  • Give Them An Idea of What You Offer: Give people an idea of what they could get done 
  • Posture: Ask for permission to ask more questions
  • Collect Financial Information: Fill out a form with financial information
  • Finding Credit: You collect details about the prospect’s credit information
  • Ask About Short-Term Goals: You get information about the optimal situation the prospect is looking to obtain
  • Get Four Commitments: These include a time commitment, someone willing to follow advice from a coach, someone who’s willing to start today, and someone who’s willing to invest in growing their business.

The Close Script

  • Explain Time-Commitment: This is the number of hours per week they are committed to
  • Explain the Decision Commitment: What working with you or your business implies
  • Explain the Investment Commitment: The price tag
  • Teachability: Ask the prospect if they’re willing to learn new things and implement them
  • Explain What’s Included: What buyers get with the program you’re selling
  • Finalize the Sale: Ask the prospect if they still need something from you and close the sale

Section Five: Click Funnels

A tutorial on how to use click funnels or paid software that takes care of the technical side of things when setting up funnels

Conclusion: Ignite

  1. Determine who’s your ideal client
  2. Create your bait quickly
  3. Work on your Value Ladder
  4. Build your funnels

Further Reading

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