part [3 of 6]:

The Dangers Of Funnel Hacking The Online Business Celebrity Crowd

The Numbers Just Don't Add Up

Published on April 3rd, 2020
by Michelle L. Evans

In part 2, we discovered:

  • The new frontier of online marketing
  • The birth of the online marketing gurus

Remember my client Sophie who regretted hiring a big-name to create a $20,000+ marketing funnel for her?

Well, Sophie’s not alone.

It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and promise of these big-names because we want to believe they have a magic shortcut.

We hear the stories about having it all.

We’re promised that with just a bit of grit, a laptop computer, and their magical, secret proven formula you too can have a six, seven or eight figure business quickly. In fact, you could create passive, recurring revenue and sit back on the beach, with an umbrella drink in hand watching your paypal money roll in. (While all the other suckers out there go to work.)

This is the easy money fairy tale that online business celebrities sell… and it’s hooked more than just my client Sophie. It hooked me and it continues to hook THOUSANDS of people each year.

Remember, this is not our fault.

When we’re early on in our business, we’re what I think of as ‘Business Owner v1.0’. At this point we’re incredibly susceptible to these promises as we want our business to work so badly.

The system is designed to take advantage of us. Let me explain.


We all start off as Business Owner v1.0.

I don’t know about you, but quitting my job to start my own business was NOT an easy choice.

I wanted the promise of flexibility, money, freedom, happiness and more… but the risks I felt were enormous. It was a long list including:

  • No paycheck
  • No benefits
  • No vacation time
  • No team
  • No corporate budget
  • No support
  • No known brand name
  • No plan B
  • Just me, myself, and I (and that didn't feel like enough)

As v1.0 of Michelle as a business owner, I’d go back and forth over the options in my head. I talk to anyone I could find who had a business to try and figure out how they made it work.

Plus, I searched for success or inspiration everywhere. I mean anywhere from books to articles, to blogs to webinars to videos to podcasts. I’d consume ANYTHING that showed me YES, YOU TOO CAN HAVE A THRIVING BUSINESS.

I bought course after course after course looking for the shortcuts to profit. I invested in website design, branding services, social media services, fancy funnel design software, Facebook ads and more.

The problem? I made all these investments before I had my business message, offer and audience figured out.

I had a dream. I desperately wanted to be my own boss, but I was scared to commit to my own way of doing things because I was afraid of failing.

When I shared my story with Sophie, she was quiet for a moment. Then she said:

“OMG Michelle… that’s my story too. I have a dream - a big dream - but I get so scared that I’ll do it wrong, go broke and fail. That’s why I’ve bought 6 online courses and hired that big name guy in the past couple years. I thought these were proven shortcuts to create my dream business. But it’s not working! Is it me? What did you do to get on track?”


If this sounds like your journey, welcome to the club. You see, just about everyone starts out looking for shortcuts and proven formulas.

And those big-name gurus prey on this fear of failure and promise of quick cash.

The best way to stop falling victim is to:

  1. 1
    become aware of it and
  2. 2
    discover what it's doing to your business.

For example, Sophie was sold on the shortcut that ‘funnel hacking’ a couple big-name competitors of hers was the fastest path to cash.

The problem? When she launched her funnel, she ran it for 11 weeks without it working. Even though she’d followed the funnel hacking playbook step-by-step.

No one was paying attention. No one was clicking. No one was buying.

And that left Sophie feeling like she was a big failure. 

funnel hacking

Strategically investigating (aka: spying on) your competitor’s marketing and sales funnels to reverse engineer something that’s proven to already work. They promise that this is the fastest way to quickly make your own successful funnel that’ll explode your business to the million dollar mark and beyond.

The idea sounds so seductively simple. Here’s how it works:

  • Someone successfully releases a product, program or service.
  • You pretend to be interested and sign up to go through their marketing funnel.
  • You screenshot every webpage, every email and meticulously take notes on any videos or webinars.
  • Then you use their successful blueprint to create your own knockoff version.
  • And voila, you’ve got a successful funnel! Time to watch the money roll in.

At least that’s the promise. But funnel hacking can lead to some big problems, including wasting a lot of time and money. More on that in a minute.

Before we could fix this, though, we needed to get to the bottom of how Sophie got here.

I gave Sophie some homework -- over the next week, I didn’t want her to change anything that she normally did BUT I wanted her to track EVERYTHING. Where she spent her time, what she listened to/watched, what her thoughts were, basically track every waking minute for the next seven days.

Then we’d talk.

The next week, Sophie was ready with her tracking. We had a really eye-opening and honest discussion about what she’d discovered.

See if any of this sounds familiar:

Sophie 1.0

  • Desires profitable, scalable business and tries to ‘funnel hack’ her way to success.
  • Wants quick shortcuts to cash and isn’t focused on delivering value.
  • Afraid to commit but wants results before strategy.
  • No business model and chases promises of the fastest path to cash.
  • Needs lots of inspiration so follows the ‘big names’ daily and attends big events.
  • Doesn’t want to seem ‘salesy’ and doesn’t grow.
  • Not sure who’ll buy or why they would.
  • Compares self to others and feels like she isn’t quite ready.
  • Spends majority of time passively learning vs. actively doing.
  • Hangs out in Facebook groups and looks for validation from virtual strangers.
  • Completely overwhelmed and doesn’t have a grounding strategy.
  • Financially strained and really needs to make money NOW.
  • Focus on busywork marketing activities and measuring the wrong things.
  • Builds an audience instead of finding buyers and making an impact.

the numbers don't lie

After we wrote out the details of Sophie 1.0, we dove into the numbers and how her actions were keeping her overwhelmed, busy… and worst of all, broke.

I want to point out here that Sophie wasn’t in her first couple years of business. She’d been around for a while. By all accounts, she’s a successful professional, yet she still bought in as she thought she was missing something.

What we found is that the numbers don’t lie. In fact, once I laid the numbers out for Sophie she saw EXACTLY why she was losing money. (And she was pissed about it!)



funnel example

Sophie had a similar offer to the company she funnel hacked which was a six-month coaching program she wanted to sell for $10,000.

In 11 weeks, Sophie hadn’t sold any even though she’d funnel hacked someone who said they sell over $3 million of this program a year.

Sophie was focused on a few places to drive traffic:

  • Paid Facebook ads
  • Google search traffic
  • Paid Instagram ads
  • LinkedIn posts to her network
  • Her podcast + being a guest on other podcasts
  • Doing Facebook + Instagram lives to engage her audience

Each month Sophie was averaging about 1,218 people from all those traffic sources. She thought that was a decent amount of people and felt good about her traffic numbers.

Until we dove deeper.

Sophie wasn’t spending any money out of pocket on Google search, LinkedIn posts, Facebook/Instagram lives or podcasts to advertise herself, so she *thought* her only traffic costs were $820 a month for her ads.

We’ll get into this more a bit later, but know that Sophie was spending a lot of TIME on those other activities which was a hidden cost.

For now, let’s say that Sophie spent an average of $820/month for traffic out of pocket for Facebook and Instagram ads. 

OK, stick with me because we’re about to get a little nerdy on figuring out her profit.

EPC = earnings per click. Basically, how much money does Sophie make for each person who clicks to her webinar registration page.

So far, that number = $0

CPL = cost per lead. This number is how much it costs for each person who signs up for the webinar.  Remember, this only includes the costs for Facebook and Instagram ads… not Sophie’s time for her other activities.

Right now, each person who signs up for her webinar is costing Sophie $24.85.

CPA = Cost per acquisition. In this case, we’re tracking how much it cost to attract a new client.  So far, we have no one who has purchased so the number = $0.

Using these calculations, we find out that Sophie is losing $820 per month.

BUT that’s not the whole story. We also need to look at how much this is costing Sophie in lost potential client time.

To estimate the real cost including ad costs + Sophie’s TIME, we used $200/hour as her baseline hourly rate and estimated the following:

  • 8 hours a month writing/sending emails to her list ($1,600)
  • 16 hours a month writing/engaging on LinkedIn ($3,200)
  • 12 hours a month doing Facebook/Instagram lives ($2,400)
  • 20 hours a month writing blog posts + posting to her site ($4,000)
  • 20 hours a month doing her own podcast + pitching/being a guest on other podcasts ($4,000)

= 76 hours in marketing activities each month

Sophie was spending 76 hours each month with ZERO clients to show for her hard work. 

76 hours x $200/hour = $15,200 of unpaid time Sophie spent trying to build an audience and entice people to buy her funnel hacked $10,000 high ticket program.

Sophie was doing the work.

She was following the guru funnel hacking shortcuts trying to create a successful business.

She worked really, really hard to follow all the steps and get this built out… but it was costing her over $16,000 a month in time and money with ZERO sales to show for it and ZERO interested potential buyers.

Sophie realized that v1.0 was not sustainable.


How could this happen when Sophie took the proven shortcut to funnel hack someone who was claiming to make $3 million a year using the exact same methods?

Was that company lying?

Was Sophie missing some secret that she didn’t find during her funnel hacking?

And more importantly… how could Sophie get back on track ASAP and start making some money?

Let’s get into that next…

Next: Part 4 (of 6): The Key To Creating Impact (+PROFIT) In Your Business