I first met Keppie when I enrolled in a short course in song writing at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I don’t fancy myself a song writer. But I do follow my curiosity, and when the thought bubbled up that I’d love to try writing songs, a quick Google search later, and I was enrolled in the course.

What I wasn’t to know was that this was the last face-to-face course the teacher, Keppie Coutts, would teach.

The course was brilliant and massively challenging – for reasons to be detailed in another blog post (because deliberately doing hard things regularly is a great practise for business owners, and gave me fantastic insights as a teacher, into how some of my students may feel).

But meeting Keppie was the real treasure.

Keppie Coutts and Benny Romalis together make up ‘How to Write Songs’ (HTWS), a business and YouTube channel they started together in 2021, which they have since grown to a whopping 118,000 subscribers.

Their story showcases content marketing and digital marketing in action – and this case study will highlight many savvy online business strategies, including exponential email list growth using one specific strategy, effective email funnels and sales pages, launch planning, and creating, launching and selling out a new flagship, premium group program – before it’s even open for sale.

Migrating people from socials onto your email list

When I started working with Keppie and Benny in 2023, they’d already started migrating their YouTube subscribers – numbering about 80,000 at the time (now 119,000 at the time of publishing) – onto their email list.

In the space of six short months, their email list had grown from approximately 800 subscribers to 18,000, using a strategy called ‘content upgrades’.

Content upgrades is the offer of additional content (typically in PDF format) that’s closely related to the topic of the free content you’re sharing (in this case, on YouTube), via a sign-up form. Content upgrades typically don’t have much of a funnel behind them, beyond delivery of the PDF, and people were joining the HTWS list from dozens of different video links, on dozens of different topics.

When an email list is growing rapidly, and through multiple entry points, it can create a haphazard experience for the subscriber, and result in higher-than-necessary levels of ‘list churn’ (when subscribers join and unsubscribe in high numbers).

Keppie and Benny engaged me to give strategic advice on email marketing and to create a mega ‘welcome funnel’ for all new subscribers.

Keppie Coutts online programMapping the state-of-play and creating an email strategy

With any business that grows rapidly, it’s easy to create some chaos behind the scenes. So writing an email strategy for How to Write Songs began with mapping their current state-of-play.

Through a VIP Day session, Keppie, Benny and I discussed the ideal client profile for How to Write Songs, all the various paid and free offerings currently available, and what offerings were a match for songwriters at various different points of their journey.

Says Keppie, “Brook took the time to deeply understand our business, our vision, and what makes us tick, so that she could develop our vision, strategy, and tactics.”

From this brain-extracting session, along with data from their YouTube channel, their website, and email marketing software, I crafted the HTWS email strategy, which included recommending that they create a new, premium flagship group program for their ideal client.

Creating a mega welcome funnel

A welcome funnel can be as brief as a single email and is typically 3-5 emails. For HTWS, I crafted an eight-email sequence for all new subscribers, regardless of the email list entry point.

The welcome email funnel was diverse: some emails were based on the most popular YouTube videos and linked to relevant resources; some were pure storytelling, focusing on the relevant stories that introduced Keppie, Benny, and the common shared experiences of songwriters, musicians and music lover; and all emails was useful and valuable to the audience.

“Brook is a brilliant storyteller, seasoned wordsmith, and savvy strategist,” says Keppie.

Every email in the funnel had a different call-to-action and most emails linked to a different paid offering. For all business owners – but particularly for creators such as Keppie and Benny, who give away substantial free value regularly – it’s a smart idea to introduce paid offerings to subscribers straight away.

This could be a tripwire (the first low-cost digital product offered to increase first customer acquisition), but it doesn’t have to be.

By introducing your paid offerings right from the beginning of the email relationship, you’re signalling to your subscribers that you’re a business, not just a content creator, forever giving away highly valuable content.

In mid-December, Keppie put her (then) 20,000 email subscribers through the new welcome funnel. From that point on, any new subscriber who joins the HTWS list, through its various entry points, goes through this email sequence.

Introducing a new premium group offering

HTWS earn revenue from YouTube ads, had a close community in Patreon, a paid subscription services typically for artists and creatives. Keppie and Benny also run periodic live workshops (sold through Eventbrite), and earn regular revenue from their two on-demand courses, priced under $40, on Udemy.

I introduced the idea of a premium offering to test the market for something more substantial than a one-off live workshop or on-demand training, and Keppie and Benny were keen to explore this.

In January 2024, I began one-to-one business coaching for Keppie. Together, we focused on developing a preliminary sales page (to create a waitlist for the premium program), a proper sales page, a launch plan and a sales funnel.

“Brook’s coaching around pricing was absolutely invaluable,” says Keppie. “We initially envisioned selling this at $1000, and thought this would be an epically hard sell.

“But Brook encouraged me to consider pricing from a bunch of different perspectives, including what musicians typically spend on fairly basic guitars. She helped us to aim for a far higher, more realistic number and gave us a solid grounding on the psychology behind pricing, value, and communicating this.”

The final two emails in the welcome funnel that I had written for HTWS included invites to join the program waitlist, through the program’s preliminary sales page.

Within a few weeks, their interest list was already at 400 people, validating the idea that the HTWS audience had an appetite for a deeper, more transformative song writing experience.

But the ultimate validation of any idea in business is when people pay.

Within a few weeks, it was clear that offering one-to-one sales calls was no longer viable due to the size of the program waitlist. Keppie was keen to ensure that people on the waitlist appreciated that this was a premium investment, especially considering the far lower price points of other HTWS offerings, including their live workshops and bootcamps.

Selling through video

I introduced Keppie to one of my favourite tools – VideoAsk – which enables you to have asynchronous sales conversations. This can be far more appealing and less intimidating for potential clients, while also enabling people to ask you any question, share concerns, and have a personal experience with you, the business owner.

Keppie had also used a casual, non-scripted sales video specifically for the program waitlist people, to talk through key aspects of the program. All details covered in this casual sales video were already on the preliminary sales page, but this video adds a personal touch, and is especially good for people who prefer video to reading.

While Keppie and I were confident that the launch strategy would work, the results exceeded our expectations.

Within 2 weeks of the first email with the VideoAsk, Keppie received approximately 100 VideoAsk responses, engaging with potential clients well before the official ‘open cart’ (when the payment buttons are live on the sales page and people can buy).

What happened next continued to outpace our expectations.

VIP spots sold out before open cart

As discussed early, the ultimate (and only real) validation of any new offering is when someone purchases.

To our great delight, HTWS sold out all 10 VIP spots of their new premium program and – at the time of publishing – had sold 7 of the remaining 20 spots.

But the best part? Open cart hasn’t even happened yet.

It looks highly likely that all 30 spots (10 VIP and 20 at the regular price) will be sold out well before close cart, and Keppie and Benny are already scheduling their next launch for their new premium program.

Says Keppie, “Brook is amazing at what she does and has been incredibly important to have in our corner while we go through this massively exciting period of change and growth.”

“I honestly would never have had the confidence, strategy, or understanding how to make this happen without her strategy and hands-on help.”

If you’re keen to create, launch and sell out your own premium group program, that’s specifically what our Leverage mastermind is designed to do. Keppie engaged me for a VIP Strategy session, followed by one-to-one business coaching.