How Mergers & Inquisitions Makes Money
If you had said to someone five years ago that you were going to create a website that taught students how to land investment banking jobs and that you were going to turn it into a $1,000,000 dollar business, they probably would have laughed their asses off at you!
But hey, that’s exactly what Brian has done over at M&I.
Back in 2007 I think, he quit his investment banking job and started writing about breaking into investment banking. Meantime he was travelling around Asia! Sounds like every bored employees dream right?!
His blog was pretty rough and ready. It looked like amateur hour. But that was great, because it meant he was doing something and actually focusing on what people wanted (communicate original hard-to-find content to interested readers), and not spending 6 months ‘launching’ his blog by going through 7 re-designs in his bedroom late at night!! Hahaha, you get the point.
At the time there was little info on the subject, so there was a big pain amongst the target audience.
Companies like Vault and Wet Feet provided generic advice that bored students to tears. Brian’s fresh and uncensored take on all things banking related was akin to the Rolling Stones rocking fresh into town.
Now he had an audience, how should he monetize it?
Well, as with any information-based website the first thing that popped into his head was to create an ebook. What did students have the most pain with? Interview questions and answers of course.
So he set about making that, and then decided to turn it into a simple online course with membership login. Boom, $97 product. Hello passive income!
Since he had written so much free content, he was building up a big email list and a huge community of students hell bent on breaking into banking. The comments section of every post served as a mini forum on the topic at hand.
This site was getting sticky and getting some serious authority in Google.
Brian continued to make a few more info products, with a mini course about networking (including a database of bank contacts drawn from public records and put together in Asia by a VA, I think that’s how he did it anyway – great idea for an info product) and about something else, I can’t remember.
Things were going great.
There are so many lessons here already to takeaway; pick a niche that’sunderserved, write original content, build an audience with free content, encourage comments and build a community, then find out what they want and make it for them.
But this case study doesn’t end here. Brian found out that the one thingmaking students the most anxious ahead of interviews or internships was financial modeling. A very technical skill that was hard to learn at the time because real world training cost $1000s and online training was pathetic, consisting of text, screenshots and useless workbooks.
So he set about creating video-driven online financial modeling coursesfor different sectors of investment banking.
Perhaps the greatest thing was the perceived value in students eyes was huge and hey, he had the entire student population captive with his blog filled with refreshingly youthful advice on getting into banking.
This allowed him to charge a nice premium for the courses; so instead of earning $90 something bucks for an ebook, he was able to start earning$300 or so bucks per student. Boom!
The big lesson I see here, is to really find out what your audience is most scared of, anxious of, stressed by. Whether you find out through doing free consulting, asking questions in your blog posts and relying on comments, or doing reader surveys to your email list, just do it…find out!
Once you know their deep down pain, you can go away and create one giant freaking aspirin for them…the type of headache-curing aspirin they’re willing to spend $300 on, or even better, $50 a month on!
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