DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson: Summary and Notes

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson: Summary and Notes
“Ultimately, the business that can spend the most to acquire a customer wins.”—Dan Kennedy

DotCom Secrets Short Summary

In DotCom Secrets, Russell Brunson explains the power of funnels in any business. A great book that can transform how you view and operate your online business. With tons of examples and scripts to borrow, it works as an instruction manual to scale your business.

Ladders and Funnels

Secret #1: The Secret Formula

The secret formula consists of four simple questions:

  1. Who Is Your Dream Client? Spend some time thinking about who you want to work with. Write out their characteristics and go find an actual picture to represent them.
  2. Where Can You Find Them? What email newsletters and blogs do they read? What other interests do they have? Write down a few places you think the prospect might hang out online.
  3. What Bait Will You Use to Attract Them? Your bait could be a physical book, a CD, DVD, or an audio recording—anything that your dream customer would pay attention to and want. Just realize the bait has to match what your dream customer wants.
  4. What Result Do You Want To Give Them? A business is about what result you can get for your clients. Once you (and they) understand that concept, then price is no longer a barrier

Secret #2: The Value Ladder

the value ladder dotcom secrets

The Value Ladder is the first thing you have to build out before you can start working on any sales funnel.

Provide insane amounts of value at each step of your Value Ladder, so your clients naturally want to ascend, get more value, and pay you more money.

The goal is to take the client to the top right-hand corner of the graph. This is where you can provide them the most value—and also charge them the most.

And then you want to add a good continuity program, something you can bill for each month.

There’s no end to the level of backend services and experiences you can add. If you keep providing more and more value, people will spend more and more money to keep working with you.

A percentage of your audience will always want to pay you the premium to get more value.

If you only have a frontend product—but nothing on the backend—look at what you can bundle together.

Secret #3: From a Ladder to a Funnel

Funnels help us do 2 things:

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


A sales funnel is the online process you take someone through to get them to ascend through the different levels of your Value Ladder.

At the top of your funnel is the “bait” that will attract your dream customers. As you start to place ads featuring your bait, potential customers will start raising their hands, and a certain percentage of those people will purchase your frontend offer.

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

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

Secret #4: How to Find Your Dream Customers

Congregations on the Internet make it possible for anyone to get into business quickly and be successful without all the barriers and expensive hurdles of traditional media.

To find congregations, type “keyword+forum” in Google or search for groups related to your keywords on Facebook.

Once you find your target audience, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Who is Your Target Market?

  • What are their pains and passions? What do they desire?
  • Dig into your own experience to create as detailed a picture as possible for the product you are selling

2. Where is Your Target Market Congregating?

  • Where do they hang out online? What newsletter and blogs do they read? Facebook groups they are a part of? What are they searching for on Google?
  • Get into the mindset of the target market and figure out where they congregate.

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

  • Your ads must be able to grab people’s attention if you want them to click over to your site.
  • Go to Google images and search for“National Enquirer headlines” for examples to model

Secret #5: The Tree Types of Traffic

Traffic You Own:

  • The best kind of traffic. It’s your email list or your followers, readers, customers, etc. You can send out an email, post a message to your followers, or make a blog post, and you will generate instant traffic
  • The bigger your list, the more money you make. As a rule of thumb, each subscriber is worth $1 to you
  • You want to convert the other two types of traffic into subscribers and buyers (traffic that you own) as quickly as possible

Traffic You Control:

  • You control traffic when you have the ability to tell it where to go. Any kind of paid traffic is traffic you control
  • Your goal is to send this type of traffic to a “squeeze page” and convert it into traffic that you own
  • Squeeze pages have one goal, and no distractions. There is only one thing for the visitor to do on this page

Traffic You Don’t Control:

  • This last type of traffic just shows up, and you don’t have any control over where it came from or where it goes
  • Your only goal is to turn this traffic into traffic that you own. Push all this traffic back to your blog
  • Turn your blog posts into modified squeeze pages to convert as much traffic as possible into traffic you own

Your Communication Funnel

Secret #6: The Attractive Character

the attractive character dotcom secrets summary

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

The 3 components to creating an AC:

  1. Elements
  2. Identity
  3. Storylines

The 4 Elements of the AC:

  1. Backstory: show people where you came from. Your audience will identify with you and follow you. Relate the story to the product you’re selling. Your students, your case studies, your successful clients—those are all resources for relatable backstories and AC
  2. ACs Speak in Parables: use the things that happen throughout your life to teach and inspire others—as well as sell products
  3. ACs Share Their Character Flaws: no one wants to hear about the perfect person—because you can’t relate
  4. Harness the Power of Polarity: they share their opinions on hard matters, and they stick to their guns

Identity of an AC:

  • The Leader: the goal is to lead their audiences from one place to another. Most leaders have a similar backstory to that of their audiences and, therefore, know the hurdles and pitfalls the audience members will likely face on the journey to get ultimate results.
  • The Adventurer or Crusader: he sets out on a journey to discover the ultimate truth and brings back treasures from his journey and shares them with his audience
  • The Reporter or Evangelist: this identity is often one that people use when they have not yet blazed a trail to share with an audience, but have a desire to
  • The Reluctant Hero: this is the humble hero who doesn’t really want the spotlight or any fuss made over his discoveries. But he knows the information or the secrets he has are so important that he must overcome his shyness and share them with the world

AC Storylines:

  • Loss and Redemption
  • Us vs. Them
  • Before and After
  • Amazing Discovery
  • Secret Telling
  • Third-Person Testimonial

Secret #7: The Soap Opera Sequence

When somebody joins your list for the first time, it’s essential that you quickly build a bond between them and the Attractive Character.

Soap Opera Sequence

The key to making this sequence work (just like a soap opera) is you have to open and close loops that will drag your reader from one email to the next:

  • Email #1: Set the Stage: a thank you note
  • Email #2: Open with High Drama: start at the good part and then you can go back and fill in the backstory. Explain how you hit that wall and then found the answer. But don’t give them the answer yet. Just open the loop, and promise to close it in email number three
  • Email #3: Epiphany: most of the time, your epiphany email will lead back to your core offer—whatever you’re selling that solves the problem
  • Email #4: Hidden Benefits: point out benefits the reader is getting by knowing you and following your plan or by using your product. Use parables to demonstrate those hidden benefits
  • Email #5: Urgency and CTA: give the reader one last push to go take action right now. Create a special sale that ends soon. Or give readers a coupon that expires in 24h

Secret #8: Daily Seinfeld Sequence

You want your Attractive Character to be fun and entertaining. That’s how you’re going to write your daily Seinfeld emails. That’s right; I recommend sending them daily after your initial Soap Opera Sequence is finished.

Daily Seinfeld Sequence

The secret to keeping your subscribers happy to hear from you every day is using the Seinfeld format. Be entertaining. Just talk about your day:

  • What’s going on in your Attractive Character’s life?
  • What happened that’s embarrassing?
  • Where are you planning your vacation this year?
  • What did you buy recently that you regret or adore?
  • What made you scream with rage yesterday, that you’re laughing about today?
  • Is there a funny thing that happened in your past that teaches a lesson?

These are emails about nothing. Just random episodes and entertaining stories. EXCEPT… they have a purpose. The goal is to lead people back to whatever you’re selling.

EVERY EMAIL and each story must be tied back into some type of offer for your audience.

After someone has completed your SOAP series, they should be moved to a broadcast list where they will only get the Seinfeld email that you send out that day.

Put these emails on your blog. It’s quick, easy, and consistent blog content that leads people to a sale.

Funnelology Leading Your Customers 99 to the Sale (Over and Over Again)

Secret #9: Reverse Engineering a Successful Funnel

Reverse Engineering A Successful Funnel

Before building a new sales funnel, find others who are already successfully selling to your target market. Reverse engineer what they’re doing and figure out where they are getting their traffic.

How to Reverse Engineer a Successful Campaign

Step #1: Where Are Your Competitors (Both Direct AND Indirect)?

  • Make a list of your direct and indirect competitors and their landing page URLs. If you don’t know who your competitors are, then just go to Google and start typing in search phrases you would want people to type in if they were searching for you.
  • Look for the paid ads (usually on the right hand side) and start clicking on those ads. This will give you a good idea of who your successful competitors are.

Step #2: What Are They Doing?

  • Check to see each of the paid traffic sources that the competitor is using.
  • I can dig deeper into the traffic sources and actually see what sites my ads are running on, when they were first seen, and the duration each ad has been running. (Hint: longer duration=ad that is working.)
  • Collect the actual ads your competitors are running and model them for your own ads.
  • The last step is actually to purchase my competitor’s product so that I can see the upsells and downsells. What email does this company send to customers? What else happens after the initial purchase?

Secret #10: Seven Phases of a Funnel

the 7 phases of a funnelPhase #1: Determine Traffic Temperature

There are three levels of traffic that come to your website:

  • Hot: people who know who you are
  • Warm: people that don’t know you but they have a relationship with somebody you know
  • Cold: people who have no idea who you are

Each needs to come across a different bridge to arrive at your landing page:

  • If your prospect is aware of your product and has realized it can satisfy his desire, your headline starts with the product
  • Not aware of your product, but only of the desire itself, your headline starts with the desire
  • If he is not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned with the general problem, your headline starts with the problem and crystallizes it into a specific need

Phase #2: Set Up the Pre-Frame Bridge

It’s a bridge that pre-frames people before they get to your landing page. Different types of traffic need different bridges

  • Hot and warm traffic: the ad or email generally serves as the pre-frame
  • Cold traffic: you often need a whole separate page that they go through (the bridge page) before they hit the offer page. This separate, pre-frame page educates people, enabling them to better appreciate the offer and making them more likely to convert

Phase #3: Qualify Subscribers

  • Qualifying subscribers is done through an opt-in or squeeze page that offers something of value in return for contact information

Phase #4: Qualify Buyers

  • New subscribers should land on a page that offers something to buy
  • Offer them something of value that will hook them. It should be priced so low that it’s an absolute no-brainer for them to buy

Phase #5: Identify Hyperactive Buyers

  • Think about what you can upsell or downsell after your initial offer

Phase #6: Age and Ascend the Relationship

  • Allow some time to pass. How much time is up to you; whatever feels logical for your product is best.
  • Ascend them up the ladder over a longer period of time, eventually moving them to the very top level

Phase #7: Change the Selling Environment

  • Sell the pricier items over the phone, through direct mail, or at a live event or seminar

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

the 23 building blocks of a funnel dotcom secrets

Pre-Frame Bridge

  • Quizzes: get people thinking along the same lines as the next step in the funnel
  • Articles: use them as a pre-frame for cold traffic coming from a banner ad. Add a call to action somewhere on the page
  • News: if your pre-frame is attached somehow to a current news story, you’ll automatically receive a bump in attention for as long as that story continues to dominate the news
  • Blogs: a blog post can be used to pre-frame most any topic
  • Videos: agitate the problem for the viewer or educate them on some process or idea. The goal is to make them desire the solution you offer
  • Email: pre-framing with email works well when you buy a solo ad or use JV partners to endorse you to their lists
  • Presell Pages: sometimes you have to educate people before you sell to them. A presell page tells a story. It’s a longer article used to give background information or education that prospects might need.

Qualifying Subscribers:

  • Squeeze Page: a simple opt-in page that requires people to give you their email addresses to get access to something on the next page
  • Pop-Ups
  • Click Pop: the click pop is a way to get people to join your list via a button on your blog or other web pages. Place them in articles and blog posts
  • Free-Plus-Shipping, Two-Step Form: this combines the“qualify subscribers” and“qualify buyers” steps into one sequence
  • Webinar Registration: people will give their email address to receive details about the webinar
  • Free Account: works especially well with software and membership programs
  • Exit Pop: a last-chance pop-up after people click away from your site. It asks if they’re sure they really want to leave without subscribing. You may even make a special offer to people if they decide to subscribe before they close the exit pop

Qualifying Buyers:

  • Free-Plus-Shipping
  • Trial: the easiest and most popular trial is offered for one dollar. Then, you bill them a few days later for the full amount—if they want to keep the product
  • Tripwire: often a “splinter” of your core product. For example, you might pull out one module or one of the training sessions and offer it for a huge discount
  • Self-Liquidating Offers (SLO): normally priced between $37 and $97, the goal is to have the frontend product liquidate your ad costs so that your upsells can become pure profit
  • Straight Sale: this is just a regular sale of a high-ticket item

Identify Hyperactive Buyers:

  • Bumps: little offers that you can add to your order forms. Just make a simple discount offer with a checkbox on the order form
  • One-Time Offers (OTOs): the best OTOs are products that will complement the initial purchase. Often we’ll make two to three separate offers to people after they buy, as long as the sequence of offers adds more value to the initial offer
  • Downsales: If the buyer says no to the OTO, you can downsell them with either a different product or a payment plan option on the original offer
  • Affiliate Recommendations: these recommendations typically happen after buyers finish going through my upsale/downsale sequence and have landed on the“thank you” page in my funnel

Secret #12: Frontend vs. Backend Funnels

You need to use a different psychological approach for a low-priced, introductory product vs. a high-ticket package:

  • Cold traffic is probably only aware of the problem they are facing. They don’t know you or your products, so they need to start at the front of the Value Ladder with a low-level funnel, like a Free-Plus-Shipping or SLO
  • These potential customers will start to warm up to you after they start going through your communication funnel. You can start introducing bigger ticket products through the funnels we use in the middle of the Value Ladder
  • Hot traffic already knows you, likes you, and trusts you. They know your products, so it’s time to direct them to the backend as you focus on the highest level of service you can offer

The Funnel Framework:

  • Traffic that we control, we drive to a squeeze page. Traffic that we don’t control, we drive to a blog where the top third of the page collects email addresses
  • When they become traffic that we own, we start sending them the Soap Opera Sequence
  • When that sequence is done, we start sending daily Seinfeld emails to help them ascend through the other offerings on our Value Ladder
  • Immediately after a person joins my list, they are taken to my first frontend offer (qualifying buyers). Those who purchase that product will immediately see a few point-of-sale upsells
  • After that initial transaction is over, my email sequences will start to encourage people to purchase other products as they ascend my Value Ladder and join my continuity programs

Secret #13: The Best Bait

Once you get someone to say the first yes, it’s so much easier to get the second yes. It’s a slippery slope. You get them started by saying yes to a small thing, then they are much more likely to say yes to a larger thing later.

And that’s when we discovered the order form “bump.” We found that by adding a small box on the order form AFTER someone fills in their credit card information, but BEFORE they click on the submit button worked miracles. The small box offered to add the $37 product on to the order.

Using free-plus-shipping offers is the fastest way to qualify your buyers and get people into your Value Ladder.

Funnels and Scripts

Frontend Funnels

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

  • The Two-Step Funnel is great for converting cold traffic and getting a visitor to qualify as a subscriber and buyer.
  • You’re selling something at the low end of your Value Ladder. Use The Who, What, Why, How Script.

Funnel #2: Self-Liquidating Offer

  • Normally priced at $27-$97, the goal is to have the frontend product cover the expenses of buying traffic.
  • First, attract people with a free video, report, ebook, or other lead magnet on your squeeze page. Typically, my “bribe” to get them to give me an email address is something that I’m going to show them on the next page in a video or a sales letter.
  • Then, once the visitors subscribe to your list, they land on your SLO page, which sells your core offer.
  • On the order form, you can add an order form “bump,” and then take them into your OTO sequence using the OTO script.

Funnel #3: Continuity

  • Once a visitor has moved through either a Two-Step or an SLO Funnel and made it through my Soap Opera Sequence, then I will usually send them through a short email sequence promoting my Continuity Funnel.
  • If you are selling a free or one-dollar trial, then the Who, What, Why, How script typically works the best.
  • If you are planning on selling continuity without a trial, then I would recommend using the Star, Story, Solution script.
  • After people have purchased the membership, you can create OTOs. We have found yearly or lifetime accounts to be incredibly effective upsells with continuity programs.

The Who, What, Why, How Script

  • Who: Introduce yourself
  • What: Introduce your product or offer
  • Why: Explain the benefits of the offer
  • How: Walk them through the order process so they know what to expect
  • The Catch: Tell them why you’re offering this product for such a low price. People always think there’s a catch. So instead of avoiding the topic, let them know, in clear terms, that there is no catch
  • Urgency: Explain why they should order this product right now
  • Guarantee: Reverse any risk in ordering the product
  • Recap: Remind them what they are getting and why

The OTO Script

Usually this OTO video is only three to five minutes long, yet it will close people on price points from $97-$2,000.

Don’t sell more of the same thing or a random product. Either sell the next thing your customer needs, a “do-it-faster” solution, or a custom “need help” coaching offer

The Script:

  • Confirm Initial Decision
  • Smart => Why: tell the buyer he’s made a great decision by making the first purchase and why
  • 3x 2x Question: ask the buyer if he’d like to speed up his results
  • Exclusive: Explain why this OTO is not for everyone
  • Results, Fast, Speed: Explain that this OTO will complement the original purchase by delivering better results, faster
  • The One Thing: find the One Thing in your product that is the key to the buyer’s success
  • Future Pacing: Help the buyer imagine achieving goals faster and with greater ease
  • Call to Action(CTA): Tell the buyer how to order the special offer
  • Guarantee
  • Value Stacking: Add in valuable bonuses. Here’s a trick for creating bonuses: take the most valuable part of your product—the thing people want MOST—pull it out, and offer it as a free bonus
  • Scarcity: Give them a reason to order right now!
  • Second CTA
  • Testimonial Rush: Add in testimonials about your product—more is better

Star, Story, Solution Script

Section 1: Star

  • 1. Pattern Interrupt
  • 2. Core-Desire Questions: get prospects thinking about the things they desire most
  • 3. Agitate Past Failures
  • 4. Big Promise/the One Thing: introduce your big promise, the One Thing you’re going to focus on for the rest of the sales letter.
  • 5. Introduce the Star

Section 2: Story

  • 6. High Drama: start your story here
  • 7. Backstory WALL: fill in the backstory that led up to the point of high drama
  • 8. Identify the Problem: let them know why your Attractive Character was stuck
  • 9. Epiphany OR Declaration of Independence
  • 10. Your Path to Finding the Ultimate Solution
  • 11. First Sign of Success
  • 12. Conspiracy: show them how you finally realized that the cards were stacked against you from the start
  • 13. The Big Lie: explain why it’s not their fault that they haven’t succeeded before now
  • 14. Common Enemy: this is who or what is really to blame for the big lie that was holding the AC back and blocking his success
  • 15. Rapid Growth: show them how fast the AC progressed once he realized the truth
  • 16. Case Studies
  • 17. Hidden Benefits

Section 3: Solution

  • 18. Formal Introduction: introduce the product
  • 19. Pain and Cost: tell them what you had to go through to create the product
  • 20. Ease: how much effort does the product save you?
  • 21. Speed: how much time does the product save you?
  • 22.“So” Benefits
  • 23. Social Proof: testimonials
  • 24. Make the Offer: explain what the buyers will get
  • 25. Build Value: add bonuses and additional features that support the “One Thing”
  • 26. Float a Fake Price
  • 27. Emotional Close (If/All)
  • 28. Reveal the Real Price
  • 29. Guarantee (Logic)
  • 30. Inject Scarcity (Fear Close)
  • 31. Future Pacing: help them see how awesome their lives are about to become
  • 32. Call to Action
  • 33. Post Selling: make the readers feel like they might be left behind if they don’t hurry
  • 34. Take Away Selling (Warning): explain that they need to make a decision, and it doesn’t matter to you whether they order or not
  • 35. Close with Reminder: a summary for the skimmers, but it can remind all readers of the offer.

Funnels for the Middle of the Value Ladder

Funnel #4: The Perfect Webinar

  • Typically runs for about 60-90 min
  • You can record it and then automate it
  • There are two parts to most webinars: the content and the sales pitch. Craft the material in a way that also helps to set up the sale
  • Use the Who, What, Why, How script on webinar registration pages
  • If people can’t make it to the live webinar for some reason, send them a recording
  • Track when a participant leaves and send different email sequences depending on how long they watched

Funnel #5: Invisible Funnel Webinar

  • A premium webinar that people pay for AFTER the webinar is over—if (and only if) they love what you taught them
  • Drive traffic to a website that uses The Magic Bullet script
  • At the end of the webinar, you can do a very soft sale to push the participants to an application page where they can upgrade to your high-ticket backend products or services

Funnel #6: Product Launch

  • Broken down into 4 videos (10-20 min each):
    • Video #1: “Wow and How”. “Wow” them with a big idea, and then show them “how” you and others are using this concept
    • Video #2: the “Transformational Education”. Let people look over your shoulder as you walk through the process with them
    • Video #3: the “Ownership Experience”. Show viewers what it’s like to live when they have this in their lives
    • Video #4: “The Offer”. Reveal what you’re selling, the price, and how they can get it

The Perfect Webinar Script

  • Introduction: this should take about 5 minutes. It introduces you, your subject, and your credibility
  • Big Promise: repeat your big promise. This is the One Thing that got the participants to sign up in the first place
  • Hook to End: give the participants a reason to stick around all the way to the end of the webinar
  • Command Attention: tell them to give you their undivided attention and grab a pen and paper for taking notes
  • Qualify Yourself: let the participants know why you are qualified to speak on the subject
  • Future Pace: lead the viewers through some imagination exercises where they can picture what life could be like once they learn the secrets you’re about to reveal
  • The One Thing: the core content of this webinar. Every teaching point through the webinar must point back to THIS one thing. After I explain this big idea, I share three secrets that will expand on what I promised to reveal. Typically, when I’m creating these three secrets, I’m looking to debunk existing beliefs participants might have that would keep them from purchasing the product from me at the end of the webinar
  • The Stack: keep stacking the offer every time you introduce a new component
  • If/All: Use the words “If all” to anchor the offer and help the buyer justify the price you have given
  • Reveal the Real Price: this price should be much lower than the price you gave after The Stack

Magic Bullet Webinar Registration Script

  • A “Magic Bullet” is simply the One Thing you’re promising they’ll get out of the webinar within a certain amount of time, or they don’t pay
  • Raise the Question: set up your Magic Bullet by asking questions that bring people’s desires to the front of their minds
  • Introduction: introduce yourself and the idea of the Magic Bullet you are going to offer in the webinar training
  • Point out Frustrations
  • My Magic Bullet: now you introduce the amazing solution you’re selling
  • Don’t Worry(Proof): tell the participants not to worry because you’re going to prove its worth before you charge them any money
  • Risk Reversal(0—> $$): offer the “try before you buy” option
  • The Close: get the reader to commit to giving your webinar a try

Invisible Webinar Content

  • Re-tell Hook: reinforce the rules they are playing by during this webinar
  • Tell Them What They’ll Learn: Give all participants an overview of the system that you are going to be teaching on this particular webinar.
  • Content:
    • What Is It? Give the content piece a cool name, making it easy to remember
    • Parable: Tell a memorable story to demonstrate the concept and cement it in the participant’s brain
    • Teach Concept: Go through the nuts and bolts of the concept
    • Example(real life, if possible): Give some examples of how the concept works in real life. If you have case studies that show your students or clients succeeding, those are the best examples
  • Recap: remind them again about everything they learned while they were on the training with you
  • Tie It to Value: help participants see how much this information will be worth after they implement it
  • Was It Worth $ to You?__ Ask the participant to decide whether the webinar was worth this price:
    • If so: Do nothing, and we will bill your credit card the agreed-upon price
    • If not: Email us at _before, and let us know this content wasn’t for you, and we won’t charge your card.
  • Transition to Offer: briefly mention that the participant may now want personalized help
  • Pick Your Close: tell them where to go to fill out an application
  • Simple, Three-Step Close: Tell them what your service consists of, why they should apply, and how to apply

Backend Funnel

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

  • Send people to a page explaining the results your clients can get when they receive coaching from you
  • Have prospects fill out a full application. This pre-frames the prospect by getting them to sell you on why you should take them on as a coaching client. The application also pre-sells the program in the prospect’s mind.
  • After they finish the application, we take them to a “homework” page