The “Poster Boy” Formula: How I got my first 10,000 readers

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - January 31st, 2014


Note: Pick up the free bonuses to go along with this formula. I give you an easy to follow template to implement this strategy in your business.

This is the strategy I have used to go from not having a business to being featured on Lifehacker, quitting my job and doubling my salary in 8 months.

I call it the ‘Poster Boy” strategy.

Origins: Noah Kagan devised it at 5 a.m. in his underwear while sitting on his couch.

It has taken my business from…well…not being a business, to doubling my salary and getting over 10,000 readers to my website. So, I’m sort of a fan.

Here it is:



Every business owner wants to show prospective customers that their product works. The best way to do that is to showcase their most successful customers.

Your Job: Be that story. Be the Poster Boy.

Companies spend $10’s of thousands advertising their services and products. Often times those advertisements are case studies of their customers.

Apple does it, GE does it and nearly every small business does it as well.

Here is a screenshot of Apples ad for the iPhone 5. It features Lonely Planet Travel Guides.


How many of the 1,866,396 people who watched this video downloaded the app? What was that small mention worth?

If 1/2 of 1% of the viewers downloaded one of their $14.99 travel guides, that small mention would be worth $139.871.

Interested now?


The formula is basic. Find established companies that have your target audience and become their poster boy.


Starting a business is one of the most daunting things you can do.

The single biggest question that I struggled with for years was, “How do I go from no customers to a lot of customers?”

This is your answer. It is what I did and it works.

Each time I have executed this strategy my audience has grown by 10-20%. This took me from exactly ZERO email subscribers to over 10,000 total readers in the last 4 months.


1.) Identify who you are targeting

Who is your company geared toward?

I was targeting people exactly like me.

My audience was defined as people that:

  1. Had a day job
  2. Hated that job
  3. Wanted to get out as fast as possible
  4. Wanted to start a business to do that

If you are selling training videos for doctors, your target market is Doctors that want to be trained.

If you are selling subscription skin care products, your target market is people that care about their skin.

Refine it, get very specific.

Example: Women who are 18- 28 years old that live within 50 miles of the beach.

I keep a picture above my desk to make sure I don’t forget who my audience is.


2.) Offer a “thing”

I started by offering a course on my website that taught novice entrepreneurs how to build videos to grow their business. Making awesome explainer videos is hard. I made it simple and affordable.

If you don’t feel like you can make a course, offer a 2 page guide about your product. Whatever you do, just make sure the quality is excellent and that the offer is relevant to your target audience.

Here are some ideas:

1) “Beginners Guide to Crossfit”
2) “Complete guide to skin care in the Winter”
3) “Explainer Videos Bootstrapped”

By offering a ‘thing’ you will be able to capture the traffic comes your way.

I made a big error the first time I used this method and lost out on thousands of potential leads by not having a way for them to be reminded about me.

Note: If you can’t think of anything to make, pick a different subject.


3.) Make a list of people that are already talking to your audience:

My audience: People like me. Sick of their job. Want to start an online business.

Question: Where are those people hanging out online?

That was an easy question since I was my own target audience. I was taking courses on starting a business, reading blog post about it and listening to podcast by people who had started successful businesses.

I used a Google Doc to help with this step. I wrote out three different list.

List #1: People who I respected in the industry that already had established relationships with my target audience.

List #2: Products that I used (or knew of) that were used by people in this industry.

List #3: Companies that advertised on these sites.


4.) Filter it down

Then I identified those that I had a relationship with. I quantified a relationship as:

  • Bought a product from them
  • Subscribe to their service
  • Had an email conversation
  • Tweeted back and forth
  • Read a recent article
  • Bought their book
  • Met them in person

Then I ranked the level of relationship on a scale of 1 to 5. With a 5 being a very good relationship and 1 being none at all.

5.) Make a choice

Next, I picked the one that had the highest ranking and that I felt I had the best chance of success with.

Remember, my goal was to be someone’s poster boy. To be a case study for someone that had a big engaged audience of my companies target audience so that they would tell their audience all about me.

My choice: Earlier in 2013 I purchased Appsumo’s “How to make a $1000 per month business” course. It walks you from the ‘idea’ stage of starting a business, all the way through scaling your product.

At this point I had partially finished the course, participated in its Facebook group and exchanged emails with several of the courses creators.

Relevant Audience: Check

Established Relationship: Check

6.) What happens now?

Based on the rankings, I chose Appsumo as the ‘most-likely-to-suceed’ candidate. Now, all of my effort went into building a relationship with them and being the most successful student I could be in their course.

I reported back to them on my progress as I went along.

I asked for advice. I shared failures.

Tell them about it. Let your target company know:

  • How you are using their product
  • What results you are having
  • The good, the bad the ugly

Write a detailed case study of how you used their product or service. Give all of the details. Tweet to the owners of the company and let them know what you are doing with the product.

Example: Below is a tweet exchange I had as I was writing this post. This was to the owner of a popular SaaS company who has a nearly identical audience as me, only 100x larger.
Later in the conversation he agreed to allow me to write a full case study as a guest blog post on their site. All of this happened because of a 20 word Tweet where I shared the success I had with his product.

Note: I shot a video talking about how this opportunity came about. I’ll tell you who the company is and how the opportunity came about. It is in the free bonus section. Check it out.

I shared detailed numbers, clients and big wins with Appsumo. I told them about my successes and failures. I gave detailed revenue numbers.


The results: They emailed their list (over 600,000 people) about my case study, featured Videofruit on their course landing page, included me in a Lifehacker article and I worked with them on their latest product launch.


My total investment:

  • $0
  • Butt load of effort

I have collected over 400 email addresses as a direct result of traffic from being a ‘Poster Boy’ of one company.

Based on the spreadsheet I shared above, I have at least 3 companies that I need to replicate this strategy with.

I can’t tell you how much traffic you will get, if it will work as well for you as it did for me, if your business will be emailed out to over 1 million targeted readers or not.

I can tell you that it will work though.

I have used this strategy twice and it has worked brilliantly both times. Small sample size? Maybe.

But every business needs case studies. Be the case study. Be the Poster Boy.



If you’re stuck, I get it. I’m writing this to Bryan from 12 months ago who was stuck as well.

Taking this info and applying it can be hard.

I’ve put together a video, checklist and flowchart to help you work through implementing this process yourself. Its all free, just click the download link below to get started.


Do you have any questions about how I did this? Did I leave any details out that you would like to know? Leave a comment below, I usually respond within an hour or two.

  • The list and spreadsheets that you’re talking about are great. It’s exactly what Neil Patel is talking about in a recent free book he released over his blog! Imma try this. Thanks Bryan

    • Thanks Chris! Let me know if you implement it. If I can help, let me know.

      Neil’s guides are great!

  • masserm

    Great Job Bryan! Visited your blog couple months ago, I’m gladfor you that you went so far.

  • roktecha

    Hey Bryan, great work on this. Really helps. Social marketing can be expensive and doesn’t often build the same sort of relationship as what you’ve described above. Will share this along. Thanks

    • Definitely, just posted a case study today of how we spent $600 to get over 2 million views. Cash isn’t necessary. Just some hard work and execution.

  • Hey Bryan, love hearing your story, your tips, and the details all above. Like you said, I found you from being a subscriber of OkDork. Keep up the great work! Side note, do you have any 1 article where you teach how to setup a similar blog? All plugins used, theme, and 3rd party integrations? I’ve seen you include plugins per post but one encompassing blog post would be majorly valuable!

    • Thanks Dino. Great idea. I haven’t put anything like that together in the past but that would be good to do. <>

    • sounds like “The Vault”

  • This is awsome!!! Great great great idea to max the course you take!!
    Hey… We pay good money for this stuff and if we can also get some traffic from that… wow!
    great advice man! Thank you so much

  • Hi Bryan,

    I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and love your articles. It’s so rare to find such useful informations. I just posted a presentation about human marketing on Slideshare and linked to this article: (Page 39). Hope that’s ok with you.

  • John Leonard

    well done sir

  • Sarah Wehkamp

    Hey Bryan – found you by listening to EOF – great interview. So, I’m trying to implement this strategy, but I’m a bit confused by the spreadsheet you made. How do the three lists relate to each other? And then you said you chose Appsumo, but I don’t fully understand why. Were they the person, the product or the advertiser? Hope that makes sense. Oh, and your bonus content for Poster Boy says it includes checklists and flow charts but I didn’t see them in the bonus section. Thanks again!

  • This. Is. Fucking. Brilliant!

    The sad fact is that I knew this strategy before from Derek Halpern (be a “case study” for some influencer), but I forgot about it right after I was amazed about it (like it usually happens with 99% of people).

    But your execution of that strategy… wow… will see if I can replicate that myself 🙂

  • doyleRiot

    I just used this method yesterday after reading a post from this dude

    I let me facebook group know that it worked and then I was linked to your post by this guy

    Needless to say I am going to use this and let you know the results!

  • Bryan going through your content is mind blowing. My head is spinning with ideas and I’m chomping at the bit to try out some of your strategies. Great work, keep it coming

  • Wow! Nice! thanks! i just recently discovered this site and it gave me a good idea. In my case…would I look up some protein shake company?

  • Ashton Guy

    I’m now treating this as coursework. Excited to get started.

  • Its Inspiring 🙂

  • Vic S Waugh

    Thanks Bryan, this has been great for me to read. I am currently following a program and and a few weeks ago I though to myself, ‘I must make myself one of the top success students of this course’ You’ve affirmed that this is a great way to think and I now fully intent on become the #1 poster girl! Thank you 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing, Bryan.

  • How do you apply this method if you are not your target market. For example we help dyslexic children who are struggling in school. I am obviously not a dyslexic child. My son is, but he has overcome it and is now successful at school. So how could I be their poster boy?

    • roktecha

      I’d defer to Bryan, but your question grabbed my attention this morning and I wanted to have a go at answering.

      During the course of helping your son become successful, were their specific products or services you used that you could list out and potentially write an article on?

      E.g. post on how we use [poster child targets] product within our business to make a real difference to the kids we help

      (Assuming your product or service is complementary to theirs, i.e. you’re not competing, they may feature you; Apple –> Lonely Planet, AppSumo –> VideoFruit)

      • Thanks so much. I’m sure there are products and services we used. Thanks for the advice

  • How can your total investment be $0 if you said you bought people’s services, plans, books?

  • I went all through your amazing post, condensed into Evernote and applied immediately.
    Just sent an e-mail to my 2k list to ask for a “Poster Boy” to use as a testimonial for my 2 books on Time Management (in Italy).

    Let’s see how it does turn out.

    Thanks so much for the info. You rock!

  • mgtune

    Hiya Brian, the download button takes me to a video not the checklist, am I missing something?

  • Excellent formula, thanks a lot

  • Nice name Bryan ,the ‘Poster Boy” strategy.
    Very nice and useful info.

    Cheers man

  • Mariana

    Hey Brian, Where can I get more ideas about who else is targeting sales managers of medium sized companies? More demographics: 45-55 years old, mostly males, in charge of sales teams who sell in retail or B2B and visit their clients once or twice a week.

    Thank you 🙂

  • Saba Akhtar

    Hi,its gud to listen about your tips and story.Kindly please tell me how this poster boy formula is effective in my case.M an Architect and offering design consultancy services.

  • Shabbirhussein Khalfan

    Hey Brian I am totally new to this and surely will appreciate handholding. I have just started a new company dealing with fighting stigma and creating awareness around mental health

  • Victor Masih

    I have never paid so much attention to any course ever . The strategy is awesome . I have understood that the company that we target must have my target audience but why will they feature my company website or a blog link on their page ? Is their any other way to be their poster boy with they willing to put my website address,blog address or FB page link ? Thanks Bryan . Many more things to learn from you !

  • Davit Martirosyan

    I really don’t understand how this can be useful for me. I have a tour agency and can’t imagine whom I can consider as my target… please help me. I would have a pleasure of any help from you… here is the link to my website , digital marketing is a new thing for me so if you can have a view there and advice me something in the case of providing some targets, it would be great… Thank you 🙂