So there I was smoking a Dominican Republic cigar in my backyard on May 19th, 2017. It was a Friday night and I had my backyard to myself under a moonlit sky and I was happy to declare it “me time.” This was my time to celebrate taking “the leap” after resigning from working in my old 9 to 5, 401K world. I left on good terms with my employer and was now truly free to start my own business. For the first time, I had my eyes wide open to the realities of getting as close as possible to my customers in helping them solve their problems. I was determined that night that if anyone could create value for my customers, I could. I was hungry to set course, to set my boat in the water. As I smoked my cigar, the dream of owning my business someday faded into the new light of reality. My plan was not perfect on night one, but it was filled with a conviction that I could deliver incredible value to my customers and operate with key activities and resources to deliver work my customers were promised.

OntraPort courtyard

I signed up for the OntraPort cert class because my wife, Erin Chase, nudged me in that direction. She is a power OntraPort user with her FreezEasy and 5Dollardinners accounts. Actually I credit my wife as a major influence in my life that helped me start my business. And boy am I glad I did sign up for the class. So there I was, freshly pressed into Santa Barbara, OntraPort’s magnificent headquarters for the release of Campaign Builder 5, the week of June 5.  OntraPort is a CRM marketing automation software geared towards small business owners looking for an all in one system to map their business and increase value for their customers. The classroom experience was mind blowing and I’d like to share with you some things I learned.

Day One

I met the legendary OntraPort trainer, Rochelle Yoshida. She captured the students attention from the get-go and gave us tremendous insights and strategies in growing our businesses as a OntraPort Certified Consultant. We began the day with a tour of the campus and a history of how OntraPort was founded. I enjoyed the meeting the people that make this organization a world class operation. It was so cool to see how the magic of OntraPort comes together by seeing the company culture. The campus toured revealed to me that everyone loved their work and were passionate to provide the best CRM automation company. Rochelle introduced the customer lifecycle. This concept was mind blowing for me to see how everything had a sequence in terms of turning leads into loyal customers and brand referrers. There are five main stages of the customer lifecycle that we learned.

Ro teaching us

  1. Attract

  2. Convert

  3. Fulfill

  4. Delight

  5. Refer

During the attract phase, the goal is to create an interest in starting a relationship with your lead customer. This is when you get the attention of your prospect. With OntraPort it is easy to collect an email in exchange of a free content that is called a lead magnet. Examples of lead magnets could be a worksheet, video, template, webinar, and/or an ebook. After delivering the content to your prospect, it is very important to automatically send them bonus content that is relevant to them. With OntraPort you can easily have these emails written in advance and delivered at predetermined times.

During the convert phase, the goal is to simply convert leads to customers. Rather than trying to sell a high priced item, it might be easier to offer your customer a low-priced, high quality product or service. Why? Because the first sale is generally the hardest. If you are able to offer a product or service for less than $10 it will be easier to make a sale. And with time, you can continue to build and nurture the relationship to build up to selling your core product. We learned in class how to compose and schedule emails with offers to make the purchase.

During the fulfill phase, the goal is to serve your customers to the best of your ability. This stage has tremendous opportunities to wow your customer and deliver value that far outpaces what they would of gained with one of your competitors. I like how Mark Twain said, “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” There are no limits on how you can fulfill your customer for life. I relate to how Abe Lincoln said “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” To get excited about helping your customer should be an amazing feeling that will help you figure out a way to fulfill your customers.

OntraPort campus

During the delight phase, the goal is introduce your key customers to additional products, events, and services. This stage helps strengthen the relationship and makes for higher tracks on the mountain top. As your customers gladly purchase your core products they feel safe because they have already had great experiences with some of your initial low-priced offers.

The last stage is the refer stage which is one of the highest milestones a business owner can hit. Recognizing customers who refer others to your business is an art. It is an art to make a business that is referral worthy and it is an art to recognize customers who refer you. OntraPort has a great system to keep track of online referrals through their partner program. Word of mouth referrals should be encouraged as well as asking your customers to provide you with a testimonial to put on your website.

That afternoon OntraPort’s founder and CEO, Landon Ray, did a live webinar to showcase the all new Campaign Builder to the world. The Cert class got exposure to the software hours before the release. I felt like a kid in a museum seeing this software for the first time. It was kinda like OP took away the no touching barriers and let us jump inside of the software. Yes, I am a software nerd and I’m not afraid to admit learning software is my addiction. “Always be learning and growing” was the motto of the classroom and if anyone took it upon himself to live up to that motto it was me. Keep in my mind in my last job, I spent 10+ years teaching people how to use various software programs like Excel and QuickBooks and now it was my time to relax and learn all I could from Rochelle.

We went deep into the powerful Campaign Builder. I was oohing and awing all week long. Landon Ray said, “Your ability to understand and respond to what’s happening in your business is mission-critical. Without clear data at your finger tips and the ability to act on that data quickly, you’re at a serious disadvantage. Until now, some of the most important questions that entrepreneurs have had about their businesses have also been the most challenging to answer, no matter what technology platform they use. Because OntraPort has more data about our customers’ businesses than any other system, we can deliver the insight entrepreneurs have been looking for.”

Day 2

I was so excited to return to class on day 2. I enjoyed eating breakfast on the porch before class started. This was where a lot of great conversations and meals took place.

balcony and breakfast

We learned how to ensure leads and contacts receive email automation at the right time. We built offer funnels that encouraged our leads to engage with the bonus content we delivered through these emails. It was fascinating to learn how to segment our contact list into relevant groups that would receive content geared towards their interests. I loved the process of creating the content and having OntraPort store it so that it could be reused again in the future. Day 2 was when I really grasped the vision of how OntraPort can really help my clients scale their business through creating the campaigns. The visual reporting was mind blowing!

Day 3

Founder and CEO, Landon Ray spoke to us about the future of OntraPort. He was so enthusiastic to have the new campaign builder released that week.

“We will create the kind of elegant interfaces and experiences that Apple did to transform the mobile phone industry. Entrepreneurs have too much to offer to offer our world — too much passion for making a difference and too much capability to really get things done — and allowing the current reality in which technology is a burden that stops many in their tracks to stand is unacceptable.” Landon Ray said. I could tell he was feeling like he was walking on clouds that morning after a successful launch. His founding vision for OntraPort had always been to remove the burden of technology for entrepreneurs so they could focus on their passions. Hearing Landon speak that morning was giving me fuel to go out and start my business to help others do the same.

That afternoon we learned different strategies on building lifelong loyal customers. After class dismissed at 6 pm I walked back to my Airbnb host house. I took a study break at the beautiful historic Old Mission Santa Barbara which was built in 1786. Later that night I studied for my exam till past midnight. My dinner included cliff bars and fruit in my room.

While I was studying that night I created a test campaign and had published an automated email sent to Ro. I was very happy to receive this email from my instructor who said she my build was working and wanted to buy from me. Note that on the screenshot it was sent at 12:29 AM. Ro did an amazing job teaching that week and how she did it all amazed me.

Ro wants to buy from me


Day 4

We took a deep dive into going through each of the stages of the customer lifecycle. Learning about how to set up a WordPress membership site and collect payments with a credit card payment system was a favorite lesson of mine. We also had a deep dive into pricing. I was thankful for having this time to think about my business and how I am going to serve my clients. We did lots of math with pricing and determining the customer lifetime value. It was a great time to reflect and write down my short and long term business goals. We also had practical resources shared with us including client project scope plans and contract templates. The evening session was capped off with a group pizza and study night.

Day 5

We did a review and learned about partnership tools and resources we have available as being OntraPort certified consultants. Landon came back again and spoke to us about the entrepreneurial struggle. Then the moment came at 1 pm which was the written and practice exam time that had to be completed in 3 hours. I felt happy leaving the exam knowing I did my best and had learned so many valuable skills that week.

Below is a screenshot of my email with my passing results. Thank you Ro for giving me a spirit of “always be learning and growing” attitude.

OntraPort test results

I celebrated finishing the course with a beautiful hike up the mountains, eating a delicious dinner out at Tap Tai Cuisine on 3130 State street. While I was finishing up my chicken curry dish, I heard a band playing Reggae music next door. So I went in and danced to a couple of hours to the energetic live music by One Two Tree band. It was the perfect way to cap off an amazing week of learning and starting a business I love!

hiking Santa Barabara

How might OntraPort support your business? Sign up for a demo session with OntraPort to learn more.

Watch my wife’s presentation she did  on high level strategy with campaigns at OntraPalooza.