Blog Posts

Watch the Journey

504 - Writing Retreat... AKA: The New HACK-A-THON

504 - Writing Retreat... AKA: The New HACK-A-THON

Listen To Today's Episode: 

Episode Recap:

As I’m preparing for our writers retreat, I want to explain the value, the purpose, and why you should be doing these in your business as well.

Subscribe To Get All Future Episodes:

Best Quote:

They say that good is the enemy to great. And I think most of you guys, if you're having success, you're doing things really good, obviously. But if you want to get to the next level, if you want to go from a million to 10, 10 to a hundred, a hundred to a billion, which is the path that I'm sprinting on right now, you have to become better, right? You have to have more focus, more quality, more things on the places that matter the most. And so that's what I recommend for you guys is to think about it like, okay, how can you do a version of this for your company?


-- ​ClickFunnels: Everything you need to start market, sell, and deliver your products and services online (without having to hire or rely on a tech team!)

-- Expert Secrets: Get a free copy of the "Underground Playbook For Converting Your Online Visitors Into Lifelong Customers."

-- ​Traffic Secrets: Get a free copy of the "Underground Playbook For Filling Your Websites And Funnels With Your Dream Customers. 

-- DotComSecrets: Get a free copy of the "Underground Playbook For Growing Your Company Online With Sales Funnels."


What is going on, everybody? This is Russell Brunson. Welcome back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. Today, I want to talk to you guys about something I'm really excited for. I'm driving downtown to downtown Boise. We're going to Bruce Wayne's penthouse and we are going to be doing a writing here for the next today. So we'll talk about what that is, why we're doing it and how you can model this for your business as well. All right. So I'm pumped for today. It's something we've been talking about internally for almost a year now, doing a writing retreat. And I'm going to tell you kind of the backstory behind it, because the concept and the principle is just really, really cool. And I'm going to start trying to do this more often in our business. And we've done versions of it.

If you look at when we first launched ClickFunnels, me and Todd and Dylan used to do we used to call these hackathons where they'd fly to Boise and we'd spend a week where we literally wouldn't sleep or do anything other than just work hard for a week and get stuff done. And it was a lot. But that's how ClickFunnels was born, in these times of concentrated insane amounts of effort and work and collaboration in a small group. And I actually miss those. I haven't been to those a long time. But we used to do them probably once a quarter. So Todd and Dylan would fly out here and we'd lock ourselves in a room and tell our wives that we weren't going to be able to hang out for a little bit and our kids and tell we love them and then we'd go and just work for a week straight. And it was awesome. But we haven't done those for a long time, which is cool. I get it. Life's changed. Things are different.

But as we've been preparing for ClickFunnels 2.0, I know there's a lot of stuff to get done. And I'm sure you guys are the same way. You have a big project coming up, there's a million different tasks and things like that. And if you are like me or like most small entrepreneurs, especially if you're a solo entrepreneur, you are the copywriter, you're the designer, you're the funnel builder, you're the product creator. You're doing all the things, right? Because a lot of times we're shifting our focus and tasks back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, which is fine and understandable and necessary. But as you know, great things happen in times of radical imbalance, right? It's when you're focusing on one thing for a long time where connections start being made and ideas come out and things like that.

And so for us, that's been always kind of a hard thing. Now that we've got a team of 400 plus people and it's a big operation, just to get everyone coordinated and to focus on a thing in there, everyone's kind of in their lanes doing their things. It's been really, really good. But as you know, good is the enemy to great. And we're creating something great. ClickFunnels 2.0 is the future. I mean, I don't want to be arrogant, but I think it's the future of the internet. At least the important part of the internet, which is entrepreneurs serving their people. Which all the other websites are pretty much pointless. The only ones that actually matter are the funnels, come on now. Anyway. Sorry, let me step back. So I want to talk about is just this concept of the writing retreat and where I learned it from. It was the very first time we actually hired the Harmon Brothers. And Harmon Brothers I think have done four videos for us now.

And their process is really unique and cool. And so we're kind of modeling it for the next two days here. And I've heard about it before we ever had a chance to work with them. I heard rumors of, can y'all do the Squatty Potty one? And stuff like that. And so when we finally got a hold of them, we got to know them, we got to do a project with them, I was so just insanely excited to see the process. And so what they do is they book a two day writing retreat for every viral video thing that they're going to make. And they book them all up in Sundance, Utah. They're all out of the Provo-Orem area for those who know where that's at. So they go up the canyon and there's this really cool place, Sundance. You've heard Sundance. Sundance Film Festival's there. Robert Redford. Anyway.

So up there in Sundance, it's a ski hill with tons of cabins and stuff like that. So every single time, they rent a cabin for two days. And then they get the people who own the product to come up there and they actually live in the cabin. So we'd go up there and we'd sleep in the cabin for two days or whatever. And then prior to us showing up, we'd do a big brain dump where we talk about the business and the product and all the things. And we kind of just brain dump everything about the project to them. And then they would go and they actually hire three different writers to write three different scripts, which is kind of cool. So I remember when we did the very first video with them, the script we ended up using was this one of the gold prospectors. Some of you guys have probably seen that video.

But they had three different pitches. One writer wrote a whole one based on this magician. And it was the magician trying to explain funnels. And it was really cool. The second one wrote one basically kind of like if you ever seen the video Kid President, it was kind of like that. Like two kids. And it was these kids explaining the whole concept of funnel. And then the third one was the gold prospector. And so these writers, before they show up to write, all three of them have a chance to write their version of the sales video they think is going to be best. Then they come back. And at the writing retreat, we sit down with them and talk. And then we have a chance right at the gate to hear each of the three writers read their script.

So writer number one explains, this is my motivation, my creation. This is what I created and why. And then they read their thing and we laugh. And yeah, it's really funny. Then writer two tells his inspiration and then reads it. And then writer three, same thing. So three different versions of the script. And all three of them, at least for us, were amazing. They're all like, these are so good. It was crazy. And so we read it, we got excited. And then basically it's like, hey, you have to pick which direction you want the most. And I remember for me at first I felt so guilty.

I'm like, "All the writers are so cool. All the stories are so cool." I felt guilty. I don't want to just pick one. I didn't want to say no to the other two, but that was kind of the process they wanted. So eventually picked, okay, we're going to use this one. And we decided to go with the gold prospector. So they came back and then they read the gold prospector again. So we all get to hear it again. Said, "Okay, this is what I'm doubling down on." I say, "Yes." Said, "Okay, cool." And then the writers, they literally leave the room and then they go into a back bedroom or back area of the cabin. And they spend two hours taking that script and then rewriting it. So they'll take the core script. But then every script had funny jokes and funny things and funny angles and cool hooks.

And so then all three writers, all folks on this one script and they start weaving things in and adding things in and it gets it tighter and tighter and tighter. So that's about two hours. Us and the product owners hanging out, eating food, just waiting. And then they come back out, "Okay, here's new version of the script." And they read the new one. And it is 10 times funnier now. We read it and we start laughing and they're like, "Okay, cool. What'd you like? What'd you didn't like?" And then other feedback, other ideas. And so we brain dump on them for an hour or so. And then they go, "Okay, cool." And they break off and they go back in the room and they start writing again. And they come back and then they present it again and they do this back and forth and back and forth for two full days.

And then when it's done, we have this final script that we're just like, this is the greatest thing ever. There's no way this could be better, right? And then they take that and they go and produce it. And so that's the way the writing retreats worked. And then they did it the first time, they did it another time. And they kept doing this every time we've done a video with them. And every video they've done, that's the process they go through which is why they're scripting is so solid. I've worked with other production companies and things who focus a lot on the production or on the videos or on all these things. But I've never seen somebody focus as much on the scripting which is, as you know and I know, that's the most important part.

The script, the copy, whatever you want to call it is more important than the product, it's more important than the offer, it's more important than the funnel. It's the most important part. Or maybe not more important than the offer. Ah, the offer and the copy, they're hand-in-hand. They work together. Sorry. Sorry, offer, I didn't want to offend you there. But a really good area is the offer and copy that sells the offer's the most important part. You can plug that in any funnel, it going to work. But that's the most important part. They spent so much time on it. I think for most of us, and it depends, everyone's business is different levels, sometimes we'd hire a copywriter and they'd go write it. Or I'd write a copy, or we'd try to do something where it's like, oh crap. The launch is happening in two days now. Quick. Go on on a camera and Russell, record a sales video.

And luckily for me, I've been doing this now for over 20 years. So I've written enough copy, I know enough copy. I can click go on a camera and I can from the top of my head speak pretty good copy. Not as good as if I was to script it out and make it perfect, but I can get pretty close at least to my warm audience where I can get most of my warm audience to buy. But as you start going further out, trying to get colder and colder audiences, you're scripting is the key and having it really, really good. And so the reason why I'm telling you this and why I'm so excited to drive down there is that with ClickFunnels 2.0 launch coming up, our default would be spending all this time and energy building the software, getting it perfect, all that kind of stuff.

And then lunch launch day comes, we're like, oh, we need to build a funnel for it. And then we start thinking about those things later. And then, what's the email sequence? What are they going to get? How's it going to work? And all the rest of that stuff we think about secondarily. Sorry, my Tesla's yelling at me. We think about it secondarily. And then we put it out there. And we do it good enough where our warm audience will buy. And then we try to move to cold audiences and beyond and it's not right. It's not correct. It doesn't get people to buy and stuff like that. And so then we're tweaking it and changing it and all these kind of things. And so what I wanted to do was step back and say, okay, let's plan this today.

What's the hook? What's the offer? Where are we going with 2.0? What's the right messaging? What problems do we actually solve? What are the different things? How are we trying to speak to this audience? What's the copy? And what's the video going to be? What's the long form sales? What are the email sequences? What are the copy? What are the affiliate copy? What's our copy? Were you in challenge before? All the things want to map out with the writers so we know exactly what it is. And then we're going to start actually writing and getting things back, and getting feedback, and going back and forth and back and forth and kicking this process off.

And now, then I can for two days coming here focus my brain and energy on trying to do what I can to help everybody here. But I can step back and then the writers can spend the next obviously two days concentrate time. But then the next two or three months working on these things and perfecting so that when we're done, we have all the assets, all the things, and we have something we can use to really rock and roll. And so that's the point of the writing retreat. Now what's fun about it is as we planned this and got through it, everyone else in the company is like, "Well, I want to do a retreat." And Todd's done, I mean, with the development team is building ClickFunnels 2.0, he's done hackathons with these guys all the time. They're different departments. People working on the e-commerce features fly out and they spend a week in Atlanta with Todd. And people working on the funnel builder or the editor. They've been doing these meetups. But on the marketing side, this has been the first time.

So this is the first writing retreat and we're excited. And then all the funnel builders and design were like, "We need a funnel design retreat." And so I think the next we're going to do is that, where we come in and focus on the structure and the design and the elements of the funnel to make sure that's flawless and perfect. And then potentially ads team would come out and do the same thing with the ads team and creating the ads and the creative and those kind of things. But doing these things where at least on my side, I can spend two days focused and giving everybody the right direction as opposed to, again, typically in our business, I'm sure that you're like me, we're juggling two bajillion things and trying to do them all.

And it's really hard to get all of the brain dump and the time and the hints you need to really make something great. And so I want to encourage you guys. They say that good is the enemy to great. And I think most of you guys, if you're having success, you're doing things really good, obviously. But if you want to get to the next level, if you want to go from a million to 10, 10 to a hundred, a hundred to a billion, which is the path that I'm sprinting on right now, you have to become better, right? You have to have more focus, more quality, more things on the places that matter the most. And so that's what I recommend for you guys is to think about it like, okay, how can you do a version of this for your company?

Can you do a writing retreat? Can you do a funnel building retreat? Can you do an ad retreat? Can you do a development retreat? Can you do whatever it is with your people? And I'm not bringing the entire team together. That would be 400 people. It'd be a little mini funnel making live. But all the people who are going to be writing are here. That way they can hear it straight from my mouth, the vision, the direction, all those kind of things. As opposed to having to hear it watered down through five or six levels. You know what I mean? So anyway, there you go. Call them hackathons, call them writing retreats, call them whatever you want, but find some time to take what you're doing and take it from good to great. Like I said, I had a chance firsthand now, four times with the Harmon Brothers and it is amazing. It's funny.

Whenever we read the first version of the script I'm like, "That's perfect. Let's just go produce it. There's no way it can get better than that. It's flawless." And then by lunch I'm like, "Oh my gosh, how'd you make it better? This is flawless. Let's go produce it." And they're like, "No, we're not done." And then at dinner time, they're like, "Here's the next one." I'm like, "Oh, there's no way it can get better. Let's produce this." They're like, "We're only halfway through." It keeps going, and going, and going. And it's like, man, things can really go from good to great if you put in the focus, time and energy and effort. So this is the process we're testing out. I know Agora's got a version that they do. It's a little different. But Agora, multi-billion dollar company. This is the same process they do with their writers.

In fact, they've got a really good book. If you want a book to kind of see how they structure it, it's called Copy Logic! It's how the writers write together and how they brainstorm and feedback and give ideas without talking negative or talking down. But they create an environment where writers all be creative together, as opposed to them fighting against each other. And so that book, Copy Logic! I don't think it's sold more than a dozen copies and probably most of them were to me. Of course, they're not good at selling their books on how they do their copy and stuff. They write them and they're amazing, but they don't really have a channel to sell those things through.

So Copy Logic! is a really good one about how they structure their writing things. But it would work for anything, from an ad retreat, it would work from a funnel building retreat. Just the way they structure the creativity and things like that. Another great book that Agora put out, it's called Great Leads, which is the lead of a video or sales letter. Things like initial, the first 20%. That lead, that's the key. How do you create that lead that really grabs somebody? So, all right. That's what I got. Hope you guys are awesome. Oh, can I add one more thing? Ah, sorry. I've been focusing getting all the research prior to this, right? So a couple things I've been doing to prepare for this. I kind of felt I should've done more prep work with my team about this, but the first hour or so of this morning's going to be focused on this. But for us, a couple things. Number one is if you read the book Play Bigger, which is all about being a category king, this is what we've done.

We're trying to double down on reestablish. How do you become the category king? But I have a mastermind group called category kings. But for our category kings mastermind, we had one of the authors come and speak to us. And the biggest thing he said is he's like, "If you can define the problem you solve, that's how you how you develop your categories." He's like, "What's the problem you solve?" And I think that's a really simple thing. Oh, it's just we help people build funnels. He's like, "Is that the problem?" We're like, "Well, no. That's not the actual problem. That's the solution." And he spent an entire day with us and the all the category kings trying to figure out what our problem was, which I thought was going to be super easy. It was not. It took us, I mean, the entire day. And I didn't know what it was.

And then we went back and brainstormed and talked about it. And then we did a meeting with Todd and Dave and Brett and John and Dan, our core team. And we spent three or four hours again on just trying to solve, what is our problem? And we finally got down to what I think is our problem, which I'm going to present today to everybody on the writer retreat. Because I need our writers to understand the problem that we actually solve is this, right? Because if you understand that, then that defines your category. Then you can do everything. If you don't have that defined or figured out, then it's just like, oh, I'm selling to everybody and you're not a category king.

So that's number one. Number two, if you've heard of Chet Holmes, Chet is one of my early mentors here wrote a book called The Ultimate Sales Machine. I just blanked out for a second. The Ultimate Sales Machine. And Chet passed away a couple years ago. But his daughter, Amanda Holmes took over the company. And one of the principles that Chet talks about in his book is called a core story. And so they have a side part of the company where they actually build a core story for you. And so I messaged Amanda who she's literally the coolest person ever. And I was like, "I want you guys to do a core story for me." And it was funny because she was like, "Okay, if we can jump on a 15, 20 minute call. I got some slides to go over with you."

I was like, "I know you trying to sell me. I just want to wire you the money. I'm in. I don't need to be sold." She's like, "No, but we can jump on." I'm like, "I just want to send you money so you can do this for me." She just kind of laughed. She's like, "Okay. Here's the wire info." I'm like, "How much is it?" Actually, I have no idea. I think it was 25 or 30 grand or something like that. But what they do with the core stories, they try to figure out your state. You pick your course. They're like, "What is your thing?" And so they don't do it from a standpoint. Most of us who are copywriters and marketers, we're telling our own stories. We're trying to how we found the thing and epiphany bridge stories and all that stuff I always talk about.

But what a core story is, it's fascinating, it's not driven on your story, your experiences, your case studies, testimonials. It's written based on market data. When you look at the actual data, what's happening in the world, it's all about that. So you pay them. They could do a bajillion interviews with you, which are not my favorite part. But they go through all. And then from there, they figure out all these hypotheses of where they think there's going to be data that's going to support our arguments and find things. And so it's crazy. And then from that, they go and they find all the data, they bring it all back and they give you just a billion pages of all the stats, the things to prove your case which is really cool.

And then secondarily, they actually write the core story for you, which is this thing you can use as your elevator pitch, your stating pitch. And unfortunately, the core story wasn't done before this. I was hoping it would be so we could have it for the writing retreat. But what we did have back is all of the market research and the data. So we're able to bring that to this meeting as well. I'm like, "Hey, here's the stats, here's the numbers, here's all the stuff." So we can incorporate not just our own gut feelings, not just our own stories, not just our own success stories, but also the market data, the market research and weaving those things into as well. So that way we have not just the emotional arguments, but the logical arguments as well that we can weave into the copy and the videos and the sales page and all the things we're doing.

So, anyway. I don't know about you, but I'm pumped about it. It's exciting. There's so fun stuff happening. And that's what's going on for the next two days. So I'm almost downtown and that's what I'll be doing with our team. So there you go, you guys. There's some ideas, some thoughts. Hopefully, amongst all these ideas that two or three things you can pull away. I think you should do writing retreat with your team. You should do a funnel retreat. You should do an ad retreat where you can focus on something and make it go from good to great. I think you should try to figure out the problem that you actually solve as a business. I think that you should figure out your core story. If you don't want to pay Amanda a ton of money, then go read The Ultimate Sales Machine, read the section on core story and figure out your own core story.

Or if you're like me and you just want to just buy your way to the end, go throw some money at Amanda and she'll do all the work for you. She's amazing. So, anyway. Woo, there you go. That's almost a 20 minute podcast you guys. That's what you get when I got a long drive downtown. I've got a long drive home tonight and one downtown tomorrow again, so maybe we'll get a couple more of these longer ones for you. I hope that you're all doing amazing. I hope your businesses are thriving, that you're able to get ahold of the people that you've been called to serve so you can change their lives. And hope that the marketing secrets and ideas and things I try to share with you here are helping to expand your mind and expand your reach and get you to find those people who are looking for you. So I appreciate you guys for being entrepreneurs who serve your audiences at the top of your abilities. I respect you guys. I admire you guys. You're the reason why I do this at this point in my career and my life, and I'm grateful for you. So with that said, thanks so much and I will talk to you guys all soon. Bye, everybody.


Recent Posts

Hope for Abandoned Carts: Retargeting Strategies to Reconnect

Fixing Unprofitable Campaigns, Breaking Records and much more...

The New ‘One Funnel Away Challenge’: Is It Worth It?

Building ClickFunnels to $200M a Year & The Future of Marketing with Ryan Pineda

The Ups and Downs of Entrepreneurship with Trey Lewellen

Begin a Digital Marketing Career

This AI Funnel Builder is Crazy — Try it For Free!

How To Change Your Business with Funny, Inexpensive Ads, with Kristine Mirelle

Correctly Leverage Facebook Groups with Christina Rowe

Boost Conversions with Video Marketing

Unleashing Free Instagram Traffic with Edward Collins

Break Even To Get Rich, 13 Habits To Become A Millionaire, And Much More...

10 ChatGPT Prompts For Knock-’em-Dead Copywriting!

Taylor Swift’s SECOND Marketing Tactic!

“Tay Tay” Is A LEGEND At Marketing

This Is Going To Make Me Sound Old…


Blog Categories