How To Use Killer Offers To Unlock Hidden Profits

From: Olly Richards
Date: 5th May 2023
Lanzarote: On our annual StoryLearning team retreat!

The other day, I saw this tweet:


The tweet suggests:

“Referral programs don’t work very well in 2023.”

I sat looking at this tweet for a little while.

And strangely for me–

My brain shut down!

Something about this question short-circuited my brain, and I didn’t know why.

Then I realized what was wrong:

I don’t buy the premise of the question in the first place!

Now, I love Jens, and he writes a great newsletter. And since he ended the tweet with a challenge to prove him wrong, I thought I’d take up the challenge as a thinly veiled excuse to talk about one of my all-time favorite topics – offers.

But this isn’t just about referral programmes.

Oh no…

This is about your products, your lead magnets… everything you do!

In fact, if you sell anything at all on the internet, this might be the most important piece you read all year.

And if that isn’t hyperbole…

Then I don’t know what is!

Falling For An Ol’ Bag Of Tricks


So, the basic question here is:

“Does XYZ work in 2023?”

The implication is that XYZ used to work, but no longer does, because the online ecosystem has changed and people no longer fall for that old bag o’ tricks.

As if we were talking about some shady 2008 SEO hack.


Let’s think about a referral programme.

What is a referral programme actually?

Is it a marketing trick?

No, a referral programme is nothing more than an offer.

An offer is:

“You do this, I’ll do that.”

The concept of referring friends to a business is not really the point here:

Anyone will do anything if they want the thing that you’re offering badly enough!

And this is core of a market system: 

  • Give me your email, I’ll send you this PDF
  • Give me $2,000 a month, I’ll coach you
  • Refer 5 friends, I’ll send you a $10 coupon

My point is:

There’s nothing intrinsic about a referral programme that either works, or doesn’t work.

Not in 2023, 1973, or 1923.

The relevant variable is:

Can you make them an offer so compelling that they’ll get off their backside, round up a posse of pals, and convince them to click their link and look you up?

It’s all about the offer.

And if business is one thing…

It’s the ability to make great offers.

Which One Of You Peckerheads Wants This?

Here’s the thing about offers…

If your offer is strong enough, you can do away with sales pages, emails and ads altogether!

Heck, you can even insult them and still make the sale.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s how the great Frank Kern explained this, in typical Kern fashion:

Stand outside a high security prison on the day a bunch of violent criminals are set free after a whole decade behind bars. Walk on over to the fellas and ask: “Which one of you peckerheads wants a night with three blondes and a bottle of Jack for $20?” See if you don’t get yourself a 100% conversion rate.

It takes the extreme case to illustrate the point.

But it’s a useful example, because it forces you to realize that:

The offer is king, and everything else is subordinate to the offer.

Once you understand this, I’d be shocked if you didn’t take a look through your business and instantly realise that you could be doing a lot, lot better with your offers.

And, while sales is the obvious place to start…

You can (and should) apply the exact same thinking to all the non-sales offers you make in your business:

  • lead magnets
  • referral programmes
  • "come join my community!"

Basically, wherever you need a response from your audience.

What’s that?

You want examples?

I got ya…

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Let’s start with lead magnets…

Lead magnets

For this newsletter, I offer a 117-page case study of how my education business StoryLearning works.


You might like to click over to the landing page for a moment and absorb how this offer might land for a new reader.

I could have created a “10 free tools” PDF, free webinar or “10-page guide to XYZ…” (yawn)

But instead, I spent 3 months of my life writing what I’m pretty confident is the most compelling, valuable, and “f***-me-I-need-this-thing-right-now” offer that my target audience has ever seen.

(And consider that most newsletters these days don’t even have a lead magnet at all!)

The relevant points:

  • It’s something special
  • I put a s*** tonne of work into it
  • It’s precisely targeted at my avatar

In fact, it’s virtually impossible for my target avatar to find my website and not opt in to my newsletter.

Don’t believe me?

If you sponsor Justin Welsh’s newsletter, he sends an email with advice on how to “crush it”…

Guess who he uses as an example:

Justin Welsh Olly Sponsorship.jpg (1)


We do a lot of product launches at StoryLearning.

For years, we experimented with different offers when we launched new product:

  • launch discounts
  • buy one get one free
  • special bonuses
  • welcome parties
  • community cohorts

Everything under the sun.

It was all good… and no complaints…

But, you see… that was precisely the problem:

It was good.

It wasn’t "f*-me-I-need-this-thing-right-now" good.

So, we started to ask the gun to the head question:

What would you do to create the maximum response from the launch, if your life depended on it?

Here’s what we did:

We typically build a new product in 4-6 languages at once. (i.e. the Spanish version, the French version, etc).

So we said:

“We’re launching this product in six languages. If you buy the language you want… we’ll give you all the others free!”

  • Spend: $297
  • Tangible value: $1,782


It was such a ridiculously valuable offer, that response went through the roof and our launches got significantly bigger.

(Notice how this is not your typical fluffy “Free PDF! (Value = $997)” nonsense… it’s genuine, tangible value that jumps up and smacks you in the face.)

And just remember…

– I know you don’t need telling, but I’ll tell you anyway…

The product is not the same as the offer.


If you don’t know what I mean by that, then take a second and think very, very hard about it.

It’s quite literally a million-dollar lesson.

Referral Programmes

Now look…

Cards on the table, my current referral offer isn’t very strong.

Here it is:


Basically, you refer 3 people, I send you a 2-hour masterclass on how I grew my YouTube to (currently) 330,000 subs.

Why isn’t this strong?

Well, if we look at our criteria from earlier:

  • It’s something special
  • I put a s*** tonne of work into it

Indeed, if you want to grow your audience on YouTube, this one video is probably worth more than a $1,000 course.


  • It’s NOT precisely targeted at my avatar.

For someone with a 6-7 figure education business, starting a YouTube channel is probably not top-of-mind.

And therefore the offer doesn’t qualify for “elite status” in my mind.

It’s not a FMINTTRN offer…

Even though 10% of my readers came through that referral.

(In case you’re wondering why I have it there, it’s because the principle of “Just get started with whatever you’ve got!” was at play when I set it up 3 months ago!)

So, I hear you ask…

What would a FMINTTRN referral offer look like?


I really struggled to find anyone doing this well. There’s a lot of cute rewards out there, like stickers, generic PDFs, and discounts on courses…

But I couldn’t find anything that fits the FMINTTRN category.

So here’s an example of what I think would fit that category, were the guy to do it…

Michael Houck – writes a newsletter for startup founders seeking investment.

He created a database of VCs and angles who are actively investing in AI:

Now, I’m pretty sure that, right now, a large percentage of founders are thinking about how to:

  • raise funding
  • integrate AI into whatever they’re doing

So, in his shoes, I would 100% use this as a referral bonus in his newsletter, and I’d be downright flabbergasted if at least 25% of readers didn’t stop whatever they were doing and hustle like there’s no tomorrow to refer people to the newsletter and snag that database.

Now, maybe Houck’s using that database for other things.

I don’t know.

But you get the idea:

  • It’s something special
  • He put a s*** tonne of work into it
  • It’s precisely targeted at his avatar

And that, my friend, is how you get people to take action.

Unlocking Exponential Gains

Quick illustration.

Let’s say you have a funnel in 3 steps:

  • Lead magnet
  • Referral
  • Sales page

And assume 10,000 leads a month and a $297 price point.

And let’s say you improved every step of the process by 20% with stronger offers throughout.

How much more money do you make?

Is it 20% more?

Eh ehhh.

Listen up…

Here’s the starting point of the funnel:


You make $49,000.

(Good job!)

But then, you get your thinking cap on, create some FMINTTRN offers, and get a 20% increase in response throughout the funnel.

Here’s what it looks like now:


Turns out…

All those little 20% boosts, compounded across the whole funnel, brings you:

A handsome 46% swell in your coffers!

Of course, your funnel probably has more than three steps…

So, it doesn’t take a genius to work out the true value of what I’m preaching here.


Make Ironclad Offers

So, today, I cheekily challenged a tweet that suggested that referral programmes don’t work in 2023.

The reason:

It’s not about the tactic, it’s about the strength of the offer.

Make a good enough offer, people will do anything.

I showed you some examples in three areas:

  • lead magnets
  • sales
  • referral programme

And then I showed you the jaw-dropping impact of dripping out top-notch propositions across your whole funnel.


In reality…

Learning to make better offers will change the dynamics of your entire business.

So, look lively!

Next time you’re offering anything:

  • Take a step back and a deep breath
  • Put yourself in the shoes of someone on your list
  • How could you conjure up an offer so strong that you’re practically strong-arming them into getting involved?

It’s time well spent.

That’s it for today.

Enjoy this?

Hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn and let me know!

(I should probably come up with an offer to get you to follow me on these platforms. But for now, we’ll have to make do with “eternal gratitude”.)

CASE STUDY: Blueprint Of A $10m Online Education Business:

  • Business model blueprint
  • Product ecosystem
  • Team structure
  • Evergreen sales strategy
  • And much more

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