For 11 years, Cody Burch was the engineer in the back of the room, handling every aspect of his company’s digital marketing efforts. When he started to work for a number of coaching clients he really admired, he got inspired and started his own agency. However, after an infamous Facebook outage left him running ad campaigns all day on Thanksgiving, he decided that his successful business needed to change.
Now, at One Hour Funnel, Cody offers a coaching business and a membership, empowering entrepreneurs to take back control of their marketing. He helps them leverage Facebook ad spend correctly, provide real service to their customers, and build high-converting funnels in record time.
Today, Cody joins the podcast to share his journey from engineer to founder, why the membership model suits his life better than one-on-one client campaigns ever did, and why you have to stop living small to make great things happen.
- Why Cody spent over 11 years as the integrator behind the scenes for successful digital marketing campaigns – and what finally led him to strike out on his own.
- The crucial mistake Cody’s former employer made when it came to nurturing client relationships.
- How Cody responded to people who questioned him and his new business model.
- Why Cody struggled to put together his first offer – and how living small did more harm than good.
- How Cody’s new business provides tangible value to business owners – and how a free course he launched months ago and hasn’t touched since continues to benefit his business.
FREE Guide – Launch & Grow a Profitable Membership Site
Ready to reclaim your time and attract more monthly paying customers? Our step-by-step guide will show you how to build a membership site that turns your passion into recurring profit. Click here to download!
- “That’s the power of having a great funnel with the right ad strategy. It feels like an investment and you’re growing your business. You’re not wasting money each month. That’s the difference.” – Cody Burch
- The One Hour Funnel
- One Hour Funnel: Nine Steps to Creating Your High-Converting, Profitable Sales Funnel In Only An Hour
- Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Cody Burch, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing Podcast. Buddy, how are you?
Cody Burch: I’m doing amazing, Shelli. Thank you so much for having me.
Shelli Varela: Oh, my goodness, it’s so great to have you. It’s always an honor to interview people for this podcast but it’s really cool when the topic of the guest is something that’s going to be wildly beneficial for all of us. So, you are a digital marketing guru and also build funnels. I want to get into your story and how all of that happened and how you ended up being the guy who has this membership site who’s now helping people live their dreams and have successful businesses. But if you would be so kind, would you mind starting at the beginning of your story back before you had it all figured out and before you had the membership site that you currently have?
Cody Burch: Absolutely. So, I worked for 11 years as a marketing person at a company so I had a salary at that company and I did all of our digital marketing. And over the years, it looked a little bit different and there were always seasonality but right at the very end, me working at that company, the last year or two, I really focused on doing all of our digital marketing. So, I wrote every email, I wrote every blog post, I created every automation in our Infusionsoft, I built every funnel page and click funnels. I just did all of it, every single facet of it. I really liked it. I was really good at it. But I wasn’t ever the person in the front. I wasn’t ever the thought leader. I was always this engineer guy, computer guy in the back of the room. We’d go to networking events or go to conferences, and I wouldn’t put myself out there much. I didn’t need to. I’m just an employee and I was building all of our digital marketing in the back.
But something really interesting happened that last year, as I realized we had a coaching program element at that company. And I was started to also do all the digital marketing for the people we were coaching and I thought this is really interesting. Some of the people we were coaching are some of the people I looked up to. They were not necessarily household names, but they were like really interesting people. And so, we would come up with a great marketing strategy, build this funnel, have this lead magnet, or make this offer then write this ad, and then they would just look at us like a deer in the headlights and I thought, “That’s really interesting. Some of these really incredible entrepreneurs that I look up to, they don’t even have a digital marketing strategy.” And it was based on that theory that I decided to leave the safety and comfort of that job after 11 years and go out on my own and start my own digital marketing agency. And that was three-and-a-half years ago.
Shelli Varela: That’s incredible. I love when a story comes full circle. So, for you, what was it about digital marketing that originally lit you up?
Cody Burch: At that company, in a way, we were a marketing company. We had one main client. If you rewind all the way back to 2004, we had one client and they had a school program. So, they went into schools all over the world, mainly US and Canada, and they would teach character education in those schools. And our main way of getting business is we would go speak at a conference, and then we would get people to fill out little paper cards, contact cards, little index cards and saying, “Hey, I’d like to learn more about this program.” I would bring them back. We’d have a stack of them in a tightly wound rubber band. We treated it like gold on the airplane, “Do you have this stack of cards?” “Yeah, I’ve got it.” “You got it?” “Yeah, it’s in my backpack and it’s tucked away safe.” And then we would get back to the office, and we would do it, maybe anybody would do, we would cherry-pick what we thought were the most interested ones or the hottest ones and we would effectively throw the others on a trash heap.
So, we’d come back with 200 names of people and then we would call the top 10 and then we would do nothing with the other 190, which in hindsight, it’s a big mistake. And so, when we learn about digital marketing, it was probably 2011, 2012, I thought, wait, there are ways we can take people through this thing called a nurture sequence and there are ways we can build a relationship via email and via other offers. And so, it’s probably about that time through companies like DigitalMarketer and guys like Ryan Deiss back then they were starting to host events around digital marketing, and I thought, “Wait, there’s a lot of opportunities here.” And then for me, I’m the kind of guy that when I do anything, I just go all in. I want to be the best at it that’s ever been. And I got all of them. I was one of the first people in the first class. There’s a company called DigitalMarketer. They’re like my go-to, but they launched a certification program and it was eight different areas of digital marketing and they thought we would go through them over like a year or two.
I did them all and within a week I was done. I was one of the first people ever certified by DigitalMarketer, and all of the eight different areas of digital marketing. Went on to get a certification with them, and then a few of those certifications with different types of software we use, because I take this all extremely seriously. If we’re going to do anything that’s worth doing, it’s worth being the best at, I’ve always thought so. That’s when really the light clicked, lightbulb clicked in my head and I thought, “I’ve got to get this figured out.” Then it just started to come naturally. I’ve read all the books and listened to all the podcasts and all the audiobooks and all the courses I could get my hands on because I saw the results it was having in that company. We just had one client, that nonprofit that was selling school programs. And then we pivoted to where we had that coaching program that I mentioned earlier.
And it was working in their business as well as working in our business. We were growing and then that gave me enough courage I guess to say, “Hey, maybe there’s a market for this out there in the world,” which is also what my membership is about is around shortcutting the lessons that took me so much time and literally tens of thousands of dollars to learn these lessons. Now, I can bring those lessons. In a way, I think I’m like this hunter mentality like we’re all safe in this cave and I’m going to go out in the world and master this thing and bring it back to you guys and bring back the best or the easiest or the fastest or the template or the structure or the cheat sheet to get this really complicated thing done in your business.
Shelli Varela: I love when people have the ability to take advantage of and I say take advantage with the highest amount of respect. People can take advantage of the vast experience and the curation that somebody has done with their skills and knowledge, experience, and their interests and they go out into the world and they have all of these diverse experiences take them back, culminated into one package that saves the people in the membership site thousands and thousands of hours and to be honest thousands of dollars as well on different courses in education and travel and conferences. The thing that I love about your story is we work very closely with entrepreneurs and coaches and authors and speakers and all of those types of people. And what I hear a lot from those people is, “Oh, man, I just wish I had an integrator like I’m the person upfront, but I’m not really good at tech and I’m not really great at marketing.”
And I love the phrase you use. You said, “I’m the engineer behind the scenes.” And Walt Disney has this phrase that they love to use. It’s called Imagineering, which is the juxtaposition or the combination rather of imagination and engineering. And for all of those people who are the upfront person who has that interest or that passion or that thing that they want to be known for in the world and the services they want to offer, often those people are wired a very specific way. They’re wired to be upfront. They’re typically right brain people or gregarious or in front of the camera people. And oftentimes those people need a wingman just like you to do the engineering piece in the background. There was a guy who wrote a book called Rocket Fuel and that’s exactly what he talks about.
He talks about when you can combine the upfront person that has the magic or the talent or the skill with somebody who has the engineering background and the skills and the logic and the prowess in the back end when you can combine those two things, it actually creates business rocket fuel. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share one of your success stories from being that guy in the background that allows those people to be upfront and to have the success that they’re looking for?
Cody Burch: Yeah. That’s a great point. I heard a saying that there were no million-dollar ideas. There’s just million-dollar execution. Like nobody ever made a million bucks with a great idea. Sometimes I’ll do it with my wife here. We both work from home. I run upstairs and, “I got a million-dollar idea,” and she kind of like winks at me because she knows what I mean. What I mean by that is we got to go put some legs on this, we got to frame out the house, we have to start to put up the drywall and put the roof on. We got to build it out. And that’s a great question. So, I would say in the agency business when I started, I got a pretty quick win. Like everything, everybody starting something, it was super scary. I was the primary breadwinner. We hadn’t prioritized saving money. So, we didn’t have this big nest egg.
So, first-generation entrepreneur. So, I didn’t have the grit. I had the grit. I didn’t have the expertise, like I had the grit in my head, but the world wasn’t agreeing with me. It wasn’t like I’ve got grit and I’ve got a million dollars in the bank like, no, I don’t. I’ve got the grit, but I’m the 15th generation entrepreneur. No, I wasn’t. I was a computer guy for 11 years. So, it took a lot of work to make it happen but it happened, honestly, pretty quickly because I was very committed. And anybody that’s ever seen a picture of me or a Facebook ad of mine or video of mine, I’ve got this sign over my shoulder that I keep in my office that says prove them wrong. And there’s really no them. It’s kind of this idea but it’s a way to manufacture a chip on my shoulder to say there’s people that don’t think this is going to work, including me, like, including maybe my spouse or her parents, or there’s people that are like, “What are you doing? You had a good job, and you went out on your own.”
And so, that’s how I kind of keep that mentality going. And then that summer, so six months after I started my business, there was a guy that I ran into, I met him out in the world at an event and he had this incredible trove of courses and expertise that he had done over the past, but they were all very fragmented. So, they all had their own website, they all had their own automation and his software. They didn’t even have sales pages. Some of them he sold for a minute and it was amazing, but then he moved on to something else. So, we had all of these different tentacles out in the world. And so, one of the products we did was we combined all that, honestly, into a membership site. We took all of his courses, and we took it in his expertise. He’s a chiropractor, so we called it kind of like the chiropractor thought leader, something like that, like he took all of his courses on how to have a great chiropractic practice and put it into a membership site, where now chiropractors paid, I forget what the price was, but it was, I don’t remember, it’s a couple of hundred bucks a month, where they can now access all of his courses.
And pretty quickly, I don’t want to divulge all the numbers but that was a very good move on his part to use what I knew on how to actually put these courses into one hub where people could access them all. And then put together the sales page and the sales message where now people that he sought to serve or felt called to serve could access those courses and get a good result. In hindsight, it was a very good move. It was very quickly a five-figure-a-month extension of his business by leveraging by combining the two things.
Shelli Varela: I love it when you can see something that other people can’t. And you said something a few minutes ago. You said, “A lot of people were questioning me,” and they’re like you have such a great job. That’s the thing about a vision and a dream though, right? Like your vision and your dream isn’t always for other people to see and sometimes, in fact, it is such that people cannot see it. So, when you went from being an employee to a coach to having your agency to now being an entrepreneur who has a membership site, what was that moment where you thought, “Okay, well I wonder if I could scale this and have something that I can offer to many people as opposed to a one-on-one model or a done-for-you model?”
Cody Burch: So, the moment for me where I realized the agency business had to change, I was at my wife’s parents’ house and it was Thanksgiving 2018. What I was doing, I had six agency clients at the time and they all were running Thanksgiving or Black Friday promotions, and they expected me to run all their ads. So, I had a lot of clients at the time, like everybody was starting to come in because it was a great time of year so I was selling journals, and I was selling dashcams and I was selling courses and I was selling Black Friday deals. And that was actually a week for anybody that was on Facebook that week, you may remember, it’s a hard day forget for some of us, Facebook crashed Tuesday. It like went down. You couldn’t run any ads, couldn’t publish anything. And what’s that led to me all day Thursday when I should have been eating turkey and sweet potatoes and hanging out with my kids and my nieces and nephews and throwing the football, I was running ads all day trying to get caught up. And that’s when I realized there might be something more to this than being so responsible for the livelihoods of these businesses. It was very high pressure. It was on the holidays. I was working weekends.
And another thing that happened later that year, my youngest son, Ben, he was probably seven years old at the time, he played basketball on Saturday mornings. And I remember I knew things we’re out of balance when at the end of his season, I thought it couldn’t even capture the thought. It just came into my head so quickly. I thought this is perfect. He doesn’t have games on Saturday mornings anymore. I can work a little bit more like I can maybe bring on one more client and run their ads on Saturday mornings. And then I realized this is a little bit out of balance. This isn’t what I thought entrepreneurship should be. And it was then that I started to pivot the done-for-you agency to be more of a course business and more of a membership business and more of a coaching business. And the path that I took was I started to host live events. Now, if you’ve hosted live events in the past, think all the way back to the very first one you’ve ever hosted and remember how hard it is.
If you’ve never hosted a live event before, just imagine the hotels and the food and beverage and the name tags, and we want one with a bulldog clip or the thing in the middle. And what are the folders going to be? And is there going to be an offer? And what’s the offer? And how do they sign up for the offer? And where are people going to sit? All this stuff. It was so much work, and it’s so expensive and so hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was very fulfilling. At the end, I launched my own coaching program but through the difficulty of filling my live event, I thought I’ve finally got to, I have to, I must for the sake of my family and for the sake of my brain and for the sake of my business, I have to start to help more people. Like you said, I’ve got to go from six clients to more than six clients so I can help more people. And that’s when the membership site finally launched in August 2019.
Shelli Varela: So, what has been the greatest benefit of having a membership site like what was the transition that you did make? What was the biggest obstacle that you thought would be true that wasn’t? And how did that transpire when you transitioned and made the jump to a membership site?
Cody Burch: The thing that I thought would be the hardest was putting together an interesting offer where enough people would buy. The number in my head for some reason was I don’t want to start a membership until I know I can get 200 people. I don’t know why I picked 200. That’s just arbitrary number and I let that hold me back for months, maybe even for a year. I just thought it’s not good enough yet. I’m not well known enough yet. I’m not famous enough yet. My list isn’t big enough yet. My influence, my followers on Facebook or Instagram, it’s not big enough yet. Nobody knows who I am. Still, even though I just host this live event, I wrote a book that came out in August 2018 and nobody bought it. I get several dollars a month from Amazon commissions like I’m not big enough yet. I want to make this big. I don’t want to waste my time and I don’t want to launch until I can get enough momentum, which is such a silly – I would never coach one of my students to do that. I’ve never heard that from anybody, nobody’s ever said, “No, that’s right. You should wait forever, hemming and hawing, nervous that you’re not going to help enough people and do nothing in the meantime.”
That’s just such a silly, you know, I just wait. Now, I look back and think of all the time that I wasted, not helping people with their problems and I made it all about me instead of making it all about the people that would benefit from the membership. And so luckily, I got over that. I did a beta launch, a founder’s launch. I got 39 people to sign up for that founder’s thing. And I just charged $39 a month. I wanted to make it several hundred but I got all my ego out of the way. I finally got everything out of the way and launched and like I said, almost 40 people joined which to me was validation. It was proof that this is a problem worth solving. It was proof that there’s people that need help with this. And that me living small was hurting everybody. It was hurting myself, hurting my family, hurting the people that I felt so called to serve and help with their problem and I just had to get out of my own way and get going.
Shelli Varela: That is incredible because there are so many people out there, entrepreneurs, coaches, author speakers, like I said, who need this kind of help and can’t necessarily afford a one-on-one model and quite possibly maybe aren’t ready for that. What do you think the difference is for somebody who when they get their funnel right and when they get their ads right, what is the difference for those people who are listening, that that can make in somebody’s business, when they really dial that in and use a service like yours?
Cody Burch: Yeah. It creates more peace of mind. Let me give you a perfect example. So, I launched a free course. I did this in January of this year and it’s something that I was really passionate about. And I took the question I got asked the most, which is, how do I know if my ad account is set up correctly? And some derivatives of that question are, “Well, what the heck is a Facebook pixel and where should that go? And how do I know if it’s done correctly?” Which audiences do I set up and do I pull this out of thin air? Where do I even find the audiences?” I thought, “Okay. Enough. I’m going to make a free course. I’m going to make an awesome course and make it free. And it’s going to teach people how to get their ad account set up correctly.” So, I have that offer so little meta, that offer that’s a free course and it’s amazing. I did that before my February enrollment in my membership site.
But what happens now that I have that course, that course is still running. I haven’t touched the ads. They’ve been running for months. There’s been thousands of people for about $1 apiece that have taken that free course. And for me, when I have something else to sell, when I have a new offer, a new membership opening up or something else to give away or an event that I’m hosting, that thing happens that happened today. I woke up and there were 11 people overnight that joined my email list and are now in my stewardship in my community and I’m now shepherding them towards getting a result with their Facebook ads and their funnels. And so, I see that happening in the lives of people that have this figured out as well. They know that if they spend some amount of money on Facebook the right way where it doesn’t feel like they’re donating to the Zuckerberg Kids College Funds or participating in Facebook philanthropy, when done the right way it can attract your perfect person to come to you to be under your umbrella where you like, “Now, this is my person and I get to help this person.” And I get to help this human being. I think about that a lot, the humane side, the human side of marketing, and all the talk of email lists and contacts and conversion rates, and what percent of people took your upsell. So, there’s human beings that have these problems that are now in my world that I get to help with their problem get a result.
So, if you don’t have that part of your business because you don’t have maybe a great offer, that’s typically where I see it, Shelli, the offer that people make out in the world isn’t very interesting, and I usually mean like a free thing, a free PDF checklist, cheat sheet download, in my case, a free course. When you get that part right, it brings in your people, and I don’t like the word like autopilot and on-demand and while you sleep. I want people to come to me while I sleep and while I’m awake, but I don’t want to have to focus on it as much. And that’s the power of having a great funnel with the right ad strategy where it feels like an investment and you’re growing your business. You’re not wasting money each month. That’s the difference.
Shelli Varela: Well, it’s incredible too. You were talking about the people and the humans behind this and we hear an awful lot that people are trying to get their message out into the world and they’re trying to make that difference and they want to leave a legacy. But at the end of the day, it really does boil down to if you’re talking, people need to not only be listening, but they need to hear you and we need to be able to captivate them in a way that captures their interest and allows them to understand the way in which we can help them. So, hats off to you for making that so much simpler for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of entrepreneurs out there who so desperately need this sort of help. Speaking of which, if people are looking for you online if they want to be part of your membership site or part of your ecosystem, where is the best place they can find Cody Burch?
Cody Burch: Yeah. The best place is they can go to CodyBurch.com. It’s my name. My last name is spelled B-U-R-C-H and I’ve got a ton of free resources over at my One Hour Funnel. That was kind of what put me on the map. It’s the name of my book. It’s the name of my course, name of my live event. So, learning how to build a funnel quickly and profitably and not letting it take all day is at OneHourFunnel.com.
Shelli Varela: Amazing. Thank you so much for your time and thank you for what you’re doing for these incredible human beings.
Cody Burch: You’re welcome. Thanks, Shelli.
To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!