The “Santa Claus” Formula: How Eduardo is going to get a job with Amy Hoy

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - April 25th, 2014


Eduardo is a good guy. I coached him for the first time yesterday.

He’s trying to start a business online and is struggling with how to get going.

  1. What business should I start?
  2. What can I sell?
  3. What service can I provide?
  4. How do I get customers?
  5. How do people find out about me?

The exact same questions I asked when I was starting out.

The problem is this. It’s messy.


a mess

But thats a crap answer. Telling someone that is trying to start a business that it’s ‘messy‘ and that ‘you’ll have to persist‘ is like telling a fat person to stop eating.

No crap, I know that!

But how do I DO that?

I’m going to give you the exact steps to follow to answer those questions.

You can use this method to work for ANYONE. Some people and companies might be harder but it works.

Here are a list of companies I’ve worked with by using the Santa Claus formula

  • Dave Ramsey
  • Jon Acuff
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Appsumo
  • Buffer
  • Hubspot
  • KISSmetrics

The point isn’t to brag. The point is, if some random guy from Alabama can do it, you definitely can too.

On to the meat…

Here are the exact steps I gave Eduardo:


Step 1: Start with a service

Don’t try to start a Saas company. Don’t try to write a book about a topic you know nothing about and please don’t build a freaking iPhone app.

They are a much higher risk, take longer and require more money to start.

Services are substantially easier and most of them require no money to start. You can literally read a how-to article and 30 minutes later sell that service for $50 per month.

Don’t believe me? I did it.

Here is how:

I read this post on January 10th of this year.

KISSmetrics Blog Post

KISSmetrics Blog Post

I immediately began implementing the strategies to the Videofruit Twitter account.

Here is what happened next:


I named the service LeapFrog

The results were immediate and impressive. Now I wanted to see if anyone would pay me to do the same thing for them.

So, I did three things:

Thing 1: Created a super simple Gumroad page so people could pay me.

Thing 2: Posted about the service in one Facebook group that I am active in.

Thing 3: Emailed 50 people of the most influential people who shared the article on Twitter.

As a result I sold 5 monthly subscriptions ($50 ea) to this service in less than 48 hours.

Gumroad Subscriptions

Gumroad Subscriptions

So yes, it can be done. I’ve done this 2 other times this year to test the viability of other business ideas.

Here is the best part, this Twitter growth service could become many different things.

Once I have an established group of people who pay me to manage their social media accounts, I could:

  • Build an iPhone app to display the analytics of their account
  • Build a desktop app to streamline the process for me
  • I could sell the desktop app to agencies
  • Create a course to teach other people how to do the same
  • Start a membership site where I collate different growth strategies

Those are easy to do once you have people paying you.

Start with a service.

How do you find a service idea to start with?

1. Examine tweets that you have favorited: What articles have you favorited while browsing Twitter? Write down a list of the best ones. I have over 4,000 favorites.

If you dont favorite Tweets, find someone you respect who does. Use mine, I don’t care. They are all public. Make a list of the ones that jump out to you. Then ask yourself, how could I make this a service?

2. Examine your reading habits: What blog posts, newsletters, books and status updates are you reading? What are the most compelling ones? Make a list of the best how to style information you are reading.

After you have compiled both of these lists, pick your favorite. There is no wrong answer. There is no right answer. Just pick one.

After 15 minutes of this exercise Eduardo decided to offer A/B testing services.

step2Step 2:
Identify one person you want to work with

This is my favorite part. Now that you know the service you are going to offer, who do you want to offer it to?

Don’t make a list of 100 people. Pick one.

Close your figurative eyes (or your real ones, either one works) and think of who you would most like to offer this service too.



Got someone? No?

Eduardo had a hard time figuring this out too.

So, I picked for him 🙂

If you are having a hard time figuring out who to offer your service to send me a SHORT email (no more than 2 sentences) to and I’ll help you.

Tell me what your service is and I’ll tell you who to target. Don’t write me 4 paragraphs about “your idea.”

There are 3 questions to consider when trying to answer this question:

  1. Who is doing work you respect?
  2. Who would be fun to work with?
  3. Who could give you additional exposure if you worked for them?

How do you come up with the list?

1. Examine your inner circle: Is there someone you would like to work with already subscribed to your newsletter or following you on Twitter? Do you have a friend or family member that would be a viable candidate? Start with them.

2. Examine who you follow: Is there someone you already follow online? Are you signed up to their newsletter, follwing them on Facebook or Twitter? Have you had small email conversations with these people in the past? Start there.

3. Start Fresh: If #1 and #2 produce ZERO candidates than start from scratch (and in the mean time start interacting with people and stop being a loner). Spend 30 minutes doing a series of Google searches and Twitter searches around your topic until you find a good candidate.

Use Buzzsumo to help you. Just type in your topic and find people writing about it. Approach them with your service.

The key with this step is speed. Don’t spend more than 2 hours figuring out the answer. If you do, email me and I’ll pick for you.

In under 10 minutes Eduardo decided to target Amy Hoy.


Step 3: Spend 20 hours on a proposal

At this point you have a service to offer and someone to offer it to (take your mind out of the gutter).

At this point your mission is to follow these 5 rules CLOSELY::

  • Don’t ask them if you can work for them
  • Don’t tell them you are going to work for them
  • Don’t Facebook message them
  • Don’t Tweet them
  • Don’t talk to them in anyway

Your job is to write the most thorough document you’ve ever put together.  Outline every detail of what you will do for them.

What does this look like?

Eduardo is offering A/B split testing services and he is targeted Amy Hoy. So, Eduardo’s task is to go through every inch of Amy Hoys site and mock up 10 different A/B split test that she could be doing on her site.

Like this:


I’m not a split testing guy, but this picture would accompany a thorough explanation with documented data of an expected optin increase of moving her sidebar to the right side. It’s just an example.

Instead of sending a text filled email explaining all of these to Amy, he is going to send her a 20 page PDF with every change, the reason for the change and data driven educated guesses of her expected returns.

He is NOT going to ask her if she wants him to do a review of her site. He’s going to do the actual review, put all of his findings into a PDF and then send it to her.

Here is a great example:

Two weeks ago I got the best example of this I’ve seen to date. A guy named Siggy cold emailed me about a ‘speed-up-your-website’ service that he offered.

This was his email:


Incredible Email

It included a 5 MINUTE VIDEO of him going through my site explaining everything he could do to improve it’s loading speed.

Who does that? Seriously, who does this type of thing? Nobody!

It doesn’t scale. It’s not easy. And there is no guaranteed payoff. It’s way easier to setup a stupid Facebook ad than to go do something that actually helps a real human.


Guess how long it took me to hire him? 5 seconds!

He made it so abundantly clear and easy that I had no choice but to say yes.

How do you do this?

Yea, you’re going to have to work now. Steps 1 and 2 were easy. This is the step where people quit, get lame and become chumps.

Don’t look for a way to scale this. Don’t look for an easy way out.

So, if you want to get unstuck strap yourself in and start working. Make something amazing. Do the work. Don’t ask for permission.


Step 4: Do not ask for money

Now that your work is done. It’s time to contact your target.

Write them an email, tell them how much you love them (without being creepy) and give away your work.

Don’t ask for money.

That’s it.

If you’ve done your job well you will get one of two results

  1. Thank you! You rock!
  2. OMG! Where can I pay you to do this?

Either result is great.

Result #1 doesn’t end up in a paid job but you now have a raving fan, you’ve done awesome work and doing it again will be substantially faster and easier than the first time.

Result #2 lands you a paid gig with someone you like and respect.

My results: I did this 5 times last month and 3 of my 5 targets hired me. One of those was Hubspot (here is a link to the first video I made for them).

How about Eduardo?

Now it’s up to Eduardo. Will he execute?

How about you? Are you a hustler or a wannabe?

Send Eduardo an email to encourage him 🙂

Who do you want to work for? How can you blow them away?

Go do it.

Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Just do it.

PS: Need personal assistance? I have 4 spots left in my one-on-one coaching program. If you are interested, signup here (I’ll personally help you get unstuck).

  • Zummies

    Bryan, another valuable post. I’m days away from starting another business – based on some long tail – that I’m mildly interested in creating, promoting, blah, blah… but this might sway me to go in an all new direction.

    Whether I do this this month or next, I’ll let you know my success with it. Thanks, dawg!

  • ddale248

    Great article you have one little typo (take you mind out of the gutter)

  • Win Nguyen

    This may seem weird but Bryan, why is this the “Santa Claus” formula? Also, I emailed Eduardo and told him he’d better take your advice and run with it 🙂 I’m gonna!

    • Good question. The best gifts are the ones you don’t expect. Thats what santa does, right? 🙂

      • Justinas Vaiciulis

        Weeell… no. Every kid, every year, expects santa to come and leave presents for them for being “good” all year 🙂

        Seth Godin talks about this kind of behaviour in his “Linchpin” book, so I’d call it Seth Godin’s formula 🙂

  • Nice. I love that your solutions involve hard work and going the extra mile.

    • Sigurdur Gudbrandsson

      The hard work pays off .. especially the “non-scalable” things when you’re starting out, or you’re trying to reach people you want to do business with.

    • martinmessier

      What continuously twists my mind is that these ideas are obvious for offline businesses. My staff and I do this continuously at my chain of bakeries. For whatever reason, it doesn’t automatically translate to my online activities… Online is the new offline.

      • Love this. What type of stuff do you do at your bakery?

        • martinmessier

          Here are a few of the activities we conduct systematically:
          1. Invite clients in to evaluate new flavors of pastries and to help us develop them
          2. Home-deliver thank you gifts for loyal customers
          3. Give out free samples at the stores
          4. Have a loyalty card that rewards customers with free products
          5. Connect with customers personally at stores
          6. Make phone calls to check if deliveries were on time and if product quality exceeded expectations

          Online, where marginal cost for giving away stuff is exactly $0,00, I don’t do it! What a weird, warped way of working…

          • We should jump on a skype call and do a video of this. I like seeing this in real life brick and mortar businesses. I can help you come up with some ideas for online. email me bryan at videofruit

          • Bryan, a friend sent me to this page and we’re on the phone talking about it right now. I read this string of communication with you and Martin about his bakery…and then the conversation just died. What ever happened??? Did you talk?? Did you do that video you suggested? I am interested in knowing how that turned out.

          • Lorne Williams

            This kind of marketing activity may be an obvious thing for you to do in your bakery but I have never, ever, seen any bakery doing any of this in their business. You could package this up and become a marketing leader in the bakery business.

            If you jump over to you can learn how Joe Polish did it for carpet cleaners. Start with episode one to learn Joe’s story.

          • I’m a huge fan of your mindset, Martin! I’d love to hear more stories about how you embraced online marketing and customer experience!

  • Brian what template and provider is Hubspot using for there blog? It is sexy!
    I want it!

    • ha! it does look nice. They use…Hubspot. Its a hosting platform (among other things).

  • martinmessier

    Bryan, just so you know, you are the ONLY remaining internet marketing newsletter I get in my inbox (OK, along with Andre Chaperon’s). Thanks for continuing to share such thought-provoking business ideas.

  • Arielle AppSumo

    Update on Eduardo!

  • Guest

    Great stuff, Bryan! Keep bringing the good stuff!

  • Blake

    Great stuff, Bryan. Keep bringing the good content!

  • Bryan,

    This is AAWWESOME… The power of this formula all comes down to “What’s in it for me” mentality that people have when receiving pitches. And what better way to make your prospects realize what you have for them than to ‘show’ them exactly what you can do for them that could help there business.

    One thing I can add here is if you’ve failed to get a response from some of your prospects, you can use what you’ve done as a portfolio.

    I did this strategy about 1 month ago. I was listening to one case study interview Ramit Sethi did with one of his students and I checked the website of his student. It needed some help. It was outdated, didn’t have a value proposition that could catch your attention immediately, and all other stuffs. After some researching about her, I wrote some copy and designed an improved version of her homepage.

    When I was finished, I sent her an email. But I didn’t receive a response up until now. Probably my cold email was not that could. In short, it was a failure.

    But fast forward 2 weeks later, after studying how to write better cold emails, I ‘studied’ another prospect. I sent her an email with my offer (not asking for money initially) and I used the one I made 2 weeks earlier as a portfolio piece. It gave her some good impression of what I can do. Then after some exchange of emails and all, she became my client.

    In short, that previous failure wasn’t totally a waste of time after all.

    The lesson: When following Bryan’s guide on this blog post, don’t expect 100% success. There are some factors that are beyond your control. But all those work you’ve done for free that got ignored can still be reused. So don’t lose heart.

  • Hi Bryan. I saw the link for this page on your recent ‘Mailbag: Are you a Hypocrite’. This post and your ‘How to get a $3k a month’ post have given me some brilliant guidance, so thank you very much for that.

    I am setting up a service producing facebook campaigns. I will follow the steps you laid out; making a list of targets, building the campaigns first and then send an email with a screenshot of the work (and tracking the outcome using Bananatag).

    If you have any other ideas for this type of service, I’d love to hear it.


    P.S I learned about your work on Entrepreneur on Fire – great interview by the way.

  • Hi Bryan, are the ideas in the Kissmetrics post still working / valid?

  • Cesar Gil

    I’m trying to get some extra cash in order to pay for this membership I want. I’m definitely going to go all in on this starting manana.

    Great post! I especially like the whole “start working for them without their permission” part.

  • Hey Bryan! Now THAT’S the reason why I decided to read your blog from the start 🙂

    Brilliant article and I’ve just come up with an awesome idea for a service that I will start offering real soon! 🙂

    • Derek

      I scrolled down to write this… Tim beat me to it!

  • cruiseback

    Hey Bryan, this article was very inspiring, thanks a lot.
    I especially found a lot of inspiration in your example with the guy from who sent you a video.

    One question though, when I inspect the source code of today, is that then the result of his optimizations? You wrote that you hired him after his video.

    I could totally imagine myself doing something like that on the side, but I would like to spy on the guy a little more first 😉

    Thanks a lot.

  • Rachel Daley

    Awesome post Bryan, and definitely a good perspective. There are also a lot of experts that say you shouldn’t give your service or product away for free AT ALL because it lessens the value potential customers see.

    I’ve read that you shouldn’t give free trials and things like that, but stick to your guns and price your product/service at what they’re worth. What do you think about it?

    • I think this method works EXTREMELY well. 🙂

      • Rachel Daley

        good to know, thanks Bryan!

  • Hi Bryan,

    I’m following you since I read your first article! Great ideas! I see many of them are business ideas that work for online services as marketing, SEO, etc. I’m trying to adapt them to my market, Spanish online tutoring, do you have any advices?

    By the way, in the leap frog technique, when they say “follow the most active competitors followers in a list”, they mean follow and add them to a list or just add them to a list and monitor?

    Thank you very much for such amazing and refreshing content!

  • This is brilliant. Going to start implementing this ASAP.

  • Kate

    Thank you! I suddently understood that I follow this way Intuitively

  • WOW! Talk about an awesome way to get a client or the job you’re after. I’m gonna use this Bryan, and I know exactly who I’m going to target and the service I can do for them. Absolute gold, thank you.

  • Susan Boyle

    I came to this same understanding by accident not too long ago. I was looking to have something shipped and found a shipping company with a domain with the words express and shipping so part of it looked like this. expressshipping … awful. Even the owner who posted an advertisement for his business misspelled the domain in the ad because of the 3 ‘S’s. I checked to see if there was a shorter domain available (something like shipexpress) and I replied back to the guy about the issue with the current domain and that the shorter one without the consecutive ‘S’s would be easier for customers and is available. He was so thrilled, he bought the new domain and offered me a customer service job because he felt I was a helpful person. I don’t do customer service but it was a nice surprise that just by doing that one little thing that was helpful to him, I could get a job offer. 🙂

  • Eric Raio

    Is there an update with eduardo!?

  • Collette Keith

    Bryan, such great advice!!!! I hope you still answer this thing, I see it’s been 3 years since the last comment. I have a question about Step 3.

    What happens in an art related field where I don’t have access to the info that would empower me to make changes to someone’s business?

    I’m a wedding calligrapher interested in working with wedding planners in my area. Their websites consist of Galleries, an About, and Contact page. (example of one I’d love to collab with

    How do I execute step 3 with this dilemma? I’m 1000% willing to do the work required, but can’t figure out where to start.

    All the best,
    Collette Keith

  • Bob Thompson isn’t even a registered domain anymore.. i guess that’s what happens when you focus on collecting pennies instead of thinking dollars (i.e. forgetting about scalability).

  • Well done.

  • Great! See My Article So Much Better than this!

  • Patrizia Corriero

    Hello Bryan! I know this post is from 4 years ago, but I’m trying to follow all your steps and I’ve developed a free content sheet (Is google presentation fine?) where I’m doing what I’m offering to the company. Now, my question is: What happens when your only email contact is the customer service one? Do you deliver the project to that email address? Thank you, Patrizia!

  • Chris Swan

    Wow this is really great Bryan! Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you sire.