Russell Brunson: Marketing Genius and the Man Behind ClickFunnels

Any marketer worth their salt has at least heard of Russell Brunson, whether it’s for his unique sales tactics or the companies he’s founded.

And he’s changed the lives of thousands of people who have joined his tribe.

Yes, he’s better known as the co-founder of the popular funnel-marketing platform ClickFunnels (which we’ll cover in detail), but his journey along the way is equally as captivating as his current successes.

Here’s what I’m going to cover in this profile on Russell Brunson:


Who Is Russell Brunson?

russell brunson

Russell Brunson is a digital marketer and entrepreneur from Utah, who now lives in Idaho.

The term “serial entrepreneur” gets thrown around a lot, but if anyone is deserving of such a prestigious title, it has got to be Russell.

As he was growing up, Russell would collect junk mail, consume radio and TV advertisements and took up every business opportunity that presented itself in order to soak up as much as he could about the world of marketing.

Fast forward to today, he’s since founded (and co-founded) multiple successful business, popularized some of the most effective sales techniques used today, and published several best-selling books in the marketing category.

Russell’s Background

It’s easy to forget that marketers sometimes have other hobbies besides marketing (crazy concept, I know), but growing up, Russell loved wrestling.

From earning an All American honors in the Utah 5A state championship, to placing 2nd in the nation during his high school senior year, he eventually went to Brigham Young University on a wrestling scholarship.

Despite a two-year hiatus from wrestling to serve his church—a period that allowed him to hone his marketing skills, door-to-door—Russell eventually went back to the sport. After transferring to Boise State University, he wrestled for the next four years, ultimately finishing 14th in the country by the time he graduated college.

During this time, Russell continued to dabble in other business ventures, from selling potato gun instructional DVD’s in college to raking in his first million bucks within a year of his graduation — all from selling his own products.

Fun fact: Russell won a Ferrari as a prize by being the top promoter of the Pure Leverage Contest through his $20k Bribe scheme.

What’s In Russell’s Portfolio?

Today, after 20+ years in sales and marketing, Russell Brunson has developed a business portfolio that would overwhelm most of us mere mortals.

His portfolio includes everything from software companies, digital products, coaching and consulting services, marketing books and more. You name it, he’s probably done it.

There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll just give you the short and skinny on each of Russell’s better-known profitable ventures.

His Products & Services

Many of Russell’s products are what we call ‘software-as-a-service’ (or SaaS) products, so while they are products, they’re also classed as services.

For that reason, I decided to include Russell’s products and services in a single list to avoid any confusion.

  • ClickFunnels, founded in 2014, is a software-as-a-service product for building high-converting sales funnels. This is the product most people immediately associate with Russell Brunson so we’ll cover it in more detail later in the article.
  • One Funnel Away Challenge – The best training for creating sales funnels and selling your own products and services.  It’s a 30 day intensive challenge with daily lessons taught by Russell, Stephen Larsen, and Julie Stoian.
  • Funnel Scripts, created in 2017 with Jim Edwards, it is an online software product that generates sales copy based on a series of user inputs which include information about your product and the benefits of using it. This can be used to generate copy for everything from sales pages to webinars and email sequences.
  • Funnel Hacking Live, started shortly after ClickFunnels, is an annual event put on by the same team. It spans several days, hosts 4,500 attendees and features 20+ speakers (including Russell) on how to launch and scale an online business.
  • 10X Secrets Masterclass is a video training course largely based on Russell’s famous 10X event speech where he sold $3.2m of his product in 90 minutes. You’ll learn how to do the same, whether it’s from a stage, on a webinar, on live video or even in person.

You’ll also see Russell featured in products like Legendary Marketer and the new Knowledge Business Blueprint course by Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi.

And you can listen to him on his podcast, Marketing Secrets where he regularly publishes short episodes on various marketing topics.

Note: This isn’t an exhaustive list of Russell Brunson’s products and services, but most would agree these are the most popular.

Russell’s Published Books

Russell Brunson has authored and co-authored numerous marketing and non-marketing related books, with over 250,000 copies sold word-wide. He was also named one of USA Today’s best-selling authors.

These are a few of the highlights:

  • Dotcom Secrets is about growing an online business, and it was published in 2015 with over 90,000 copies sold to date. This is the one to read if you’re looking for proven digital marketing strategies to help grow your business, including processes, funnels and scripts you can use to scale fast.
  • Expert Secrets is about becoming an expert in your field, and it was published in 2017 with over 100,000 copies sold to date. This one is suited if you’re looking to establish authority with your audience, as well as build a following of loyal fans who will pay for your advice.
  • Network Marketing Secrets is all about the power of network marketing, and it was published in 2018 with an unknown number of copies sold to date. Read this if you’re looking to grow your business using the “3 lost funnels” every network marketing business should leverage.
  • Funnel Hacker Cookbook is about building sales funnels, and it was published in 2017 with an unknown number of copies sold to date. This book will give you actionable “funnel recipes” you can implement for all types of funnels, including webinars, VSL’s and more.
  • Proven Split-Test Winners is based on results from real conversion split-testing, and it was published in 2019 with an unknown number of copies sold to date. This one will show a plethora (108, to be exact) simple tweaks you can use to improve conversions on your website.

Many of these books can be found on Amazon, though Russell often gives them away for free on his website in both digital and physical forms. You just need to cover shipping costs for the latter.

Of course, this is Russell Brunson and his free books are a big part of his sales funnel strategy, so expect some upsells along the way. 😉

The Story of ClickFunnels

clickfunnels website

I could hardly write an article about Russell Brunson and not have a dedicated section about ClickFunnels, could I?

ClickFunnels is by far Russell’s most successful business venture, and one with the most fascinating story of inception, growth and fandom. In fact, most marketers learn about Russell because of ClickFunnels.

Before we get into the details, let’s cover the basics.

What is ClickFunnels?

clickfunnels features

In case you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, I’d like to quickly go over what ClickFunnels is, and how it works.

At its core, ClickFunnels is a software for building high-converting sales funnels — or a series of well-time, strategically placed offers that you present to your prospects, typically in the form of landing pages and emails.

Most of the functionality of ClickFunnels is built for the sole purpose of building effective funnels, but it has since matured into an “all-in-one” marketing solution since it was first created.

For example, you can use it to:

  • Build dedicated landing pages
  • Build opt-in (squeeze) pages
  • Create membership sites
  • Collect payments (shopping cart)
  • Run split-test campaigns
  • Run marketing automation
  • And much more

Basically, you’re getting everything you need to market and sell your products online, without having to hire expensive developers.

The Inception

It was 2014, and Russell was already becoming known as a leader in the marketing industry, especially for his expertise on creating sales funnels and conducting high converting webinars.

Despite several successes up until this point, Russell continued to face technical challenges when setting up his sales funnels and marketing campaigns, causing him to hire developers or find messy workarounds.

As hard as he looked, he couldn’t find any software that could do the job as quickly and efficiently as it should be. He identified a huge gap, and it was about to be filled.

Russell soon partnered with Todd Dickerson to launch a new software company that aimed to tackle the problem head on. It was to be a web-based, funnel-building platform that anyone can use to create high-converting marketing funnels.

You guessed it, they called it ClickFunnels.

The Growth Strategy

At first, Russell and Todd wasn’t sure how they were going to compete with venture-backed startups in the same category. As Russell recalls from his mentor Dan Kennedy, “Whoever can spend the most to acquire a new customer, wins.”

Fortunately, Russell had built a large following in his years leading up to the launch of ClickFunnels, and he was able to leverage that list to breath life into his brand new platform.

This worked well initially, but they needed to reach new audiences in order to continue growing at the same rate.

The duo then decided to try Facebook ads, realizing a cost of around $120 per free-trial lead. Of course, this was a rather large and risky investment for a non-paying customer, so the strategy soon ran out of steam.

It was at this point Russell decided to go back to what he knows. To leverage his superpower like he had done many times before.

Yep, sales funnels. In this case, he would use what’s known as a breakeven funnel to acquire new customers without having to lose money in the process, essentially.

Here’s how it worked:

Instead of the costly method of promoting ClickFunnels directly, Russell ran ads to promote his book at a cost of around $10-12 per sale. Once someone buys a book, they go through his typical sales funnel and, on average, spend about $32 in total for a profit of $20.

That meant, instead of spending $120 for a lead, they were now making $20 for each lead they acquired, and ClickFunnels became a much easier sell for two core reasons:

  1. The prospect went through the book material which promotes the idea of sales funnels
  2. Russell was able to build credibility and rapport with the prospect since they  already bought at least one of his products

This was a crucial shift that allowed Russell and Todd to scale without the same cash-flow problems their competitors suffered from.

ClickFunnels Today

Today, ClickFunnels has been dubbed the fastest growing non-venture backed software company on the planet.

How has it managed to do this?

By combining its huge community of raving fans along with one of the best affiliate programs on the planet.  Not only does it offer 40% recurring affiliate commissions on every product in the ClickFunnels ecosystem, but it also was the first affiliate program to launch its own Dream Car Contest.

Plus smart, affiliate friendly features like sticky cookies and the ability to earn affiliate commissions through share funnels really helped ClickFunnels’ popularity to spread like wildfire.  And it’s how people like Spencer Mecham were about to make over $1 million in affiliate commissions promoting ClickFunnels.

In the first year, ClickFunnels pulled in around 10,000 paying customers, more than doubling that figure in the second year.

The third year saw a total of over 50,000 customers, bringing in $100 million in revenue for the company.

Today, in 2019, ClickFunnels has well over 70,000 paying customers valued at around $400 million, and there’s absolutely no sign of slowing from Russell Brunson and his team.

What Is Russell Brunson’s Net Worth?

This one of the most common questions people ask about Russell Brunson after reading about his many successes in the online world.

And you know what? I don’t blame you.

While there’s no official number that I can find, it is possible to calculate a reasonable estimation based on the information available.

What We Know

We know he’s a multi-millionaire. Obviously.

I mean, it would be kinda awkward if the founder of the Two Comma Club was missing a comma himself, right?

In fact, he claims to have reached this milestone through selling his own products long before he started ClickFunnels, wrote most of his books, or won that Ferrari through a network marketing competition.

Even still, you have to account for book sales, revenue from various products and services, as well as lesser-known programs like his “Inner Circle for Life” which caters for 100 people and brings in around $2.5 million per year,

And while ClickFunnels is a private company that doesn’t publish revenue numbers, we know they have at least 70,000 users as of 2019, with users paying anywhere between $97 to $297 per month. That’s a very conservative $7 million per year.

Of course, you can’t forget about expenses. Starting and growing one of the fastest growing software companies in the world has to come with some hefty financial sacrifices, such as staff, development and marketing.

All things considered, the numbers here all point to a generally agreed net worth figure of around $37 million dollars.

Final Thoughts

There aren’t many marketers in the world that deserve a long-form blog post written about them, let alone a Wikipedia page.

Russell Brunson, on the other hand, has consistently demonstrates the power of sales funnels, and along the managed to prove himself one of the best online marketers in the history of the internet.

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