In this episode, Barbara and Robert Plank discuss:

  • What platforms to use when starting a membership site
  • The “Why, What, How-to, What-if” structure and how it works
  • How offering free courses or content will help you with your business
  • Some tips in starting a podcast


Key Takeaways:

  • “So before even getting to the solution, we need to let them know that we can understand their problem, and we know about them maybe even a little bit more than they know about themselves.” -Robert Plank
  • “No original ideas exist, but what makes it original is applying your own unique thoughts and opinions on it. And then the way to transform that raw thoughts in your head is to use this WWHW formula.” -Robert Plank


Connect with Robert Plank:

Podcast Website:

Book Website:




Connect with Barbara Hales:

Twitter:  @DrBarbaraHales




YouTube: TheMedicalStrategist



  • Content Copy Made Easy
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  • Power to the Patient: The Medical Strategist




Dr. Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. And today, we have with us, Robert Plank. He’s the host of “Marketer of the Day” Podcast and author of “WWHW” which stands for Why, What, How-to, What-if questions that I’m sure we all ask of ourselves quite often.


He’ a computer programmer, membership site designer, podcaster, and internet marketing strategist. It is his mission in life, to ensure your book, podcast and online course are the best they can be.


Using systems, checklists, and templates, you can write a book within an hour and become a published author within 12 hours, using the systems that Robert Plank supports us with. You can set up a membership site in a single day. He also helps to create a blog or a podcast in five minutes or less, and so much more.


Platforms Used

Dr. Barbara Hales: What platforms do you suggest for this?

Robert Plank: Personally, I like WordPress and WishList Member, so that way, you can start easy, start simple, start small and then add to it. And that’s kind of my philosophy with everything like you were mentioning, making the course quickly making the site quickly, making like the book quickly.


I’m all about getting to perfectionism at some point. But for now, doing a proof of concept proving yourself that it can work and knowing that there are little nips and tucks to be fixed later. But there are so many distractions in life and so many things that can get in the way.


And so everyone out there who’s watching or listening to your show needs to get at least the basic first version, one of their idea out there, and then improve on it later on. Because anything can always be improved upon.


Barbara Hales: But as you point out, regardless of how phenomenal or earth-shattering your idea is if it stays in your head, it really is of no value, is it?


Robert Plank: Right, you’ll die with it. That’s not good.


Barbara Hales: So WordPress enables you to have membership sites?


Robert Plank: WordPress plus whatever plugin you add on top of it. So WordPress is, as you know, is a blogging platform where you have a website and you can say I want to add a new journal entry, a new post, and you can click and flip through all kinds of different professional designs.


And then, there is a plugin called Wishlist Member that we provide in our membership cube course. And the idea there is that you have you create this content, you add a membership plugin, which basically protects it, and then you put away in front of that to take payments.

And then it just makes it very simple, right? If someone has an account, if they have a username and password with your membership site, then they can get in and see what you have.


And the way to get a username and password is for people to pay you money. And if they have not yet paid your money, they don’t have a username to get in. So it makes it simple. And it takes a lot of complexity the moving parts out of it, either they are in it, or they’re not in it. The way to get in and is to pay you money.


Barbara Hales: Well, as far as it is a side hustle for doctors and health professionals, this is really fantastic because patients want to know more about certain treatments, whether they are candidates, what their post-treatment care would be like.


And if they could go on to a membership site, then instead of having to rely on just doing surfing on the net where they may or may not get accurate information. This would be a great way for doctors to pick up a little extra money.


The WWHW Book


Barbara Hales: Tell me a little bit more about what is in your book.

Robert Plank: So basically, as we said, there’s this formula, right? There’s why, what, how to, what if, and there are similar formulas like this of people saying, “structure your content this way” or tell them what you’re going to tell them and then what you. Every now and then, you hear about this kind of structure because many times there’s a right way and a wrong way to teach someone something.


And especially with your audience, with doctors, it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds, and it’s easy to get lost in all the technicalities. What you as a doctor think is may have a problem showing off for other doctors or maybe you should be speaking to bigger patients.


You should also be speaking to people that have this real problem and talking in simple everyday terms, but then you’re talking about medical journals and studies and things that excite you and other doctors, but then does not excite these people that you’re targeting.


And so why, what, how to what is the structure? Here’s what it means. I have a couple of Doctor clients, and some of them are in things like internal medicine and sexual wellness and things that we want to have. We put out a book with a lot of these doctors at some point, but I don’t know that much about it.


But so basically, let’s say that you were talking about sleep. One of these doctors in this book had a chapter just about sleeping and eating and things like that. And it’s easy to jump in with a big list, right? And to say, we’ll take these vitamins and do these things. But then not everyone thinks that way.


And so before you even dive into whatever topic you’re talking about, explain why. Explain “Well, okay, I’m telling you how to get a good sleep.“, “Why should you get a good sleep?”. And if you have been neglecting sleep, or it has not been a priority in your life, like “what is that led you to?” And this is called setting up the problem and getting someone’s attention. So we start with why.


And even before getting into the solution, we just say, “what’s the problem and what brought you here?” Because like basic Psychology and Copywriting says, we need to align with people’s problems. They’re searching around them, and they’re not looking for the answer yet. They’re looking up their problems.


So before even getting to the solution, we need to let them know that we can understand their problem, and we know about them maybe even a little bit more than they know about themselves. So we start with the “Why” issue, which is the problem to “What”, which are the principles, the ideas, the concepts that the tools in the toolbox to solve this problem.


So if you were this doctor talking about sleep, maybe you would talk about sleep cycles, hormones or supplements where you’re not really getting into like a step by step quite yet. But you’re saying, “Well, here are the things we’re using”, or throw out these terms, like circadian rhythms are just so that way when I use a keyword, you know what my keyword means.


And so and we’re still kind of teasing the problem, but getting into the possible ways to solve it. And maybe even at this point, throwing out the bad alternatives, right? Because someone says, “I’ve got this problem.” And you can say, “Well, maybe you try this, maybe you’ve tried ignoring the problem, maybe you’ve tried this outdated solution, maybe you tried this weird solution that doesn’t quite work, maybe you’ve tried, you know, drinking 10 Red Bulls a day”, for example. And so you exhaust some of these other alternatives. And we’re all guilty, right? You exhaust these other problems.


And then you finally get into the meat, the How-to, which is the thing that you’re really looking to sneak in there, where you say, “Well, here are the steps. Step one, do this”, and you walk them through those steps. And then if you can tell them the big picture first, say, “I’ll give you all these things”, and then kind of unpack each one at the end says, “Now here are the things I’ve just told you.”


And then that leads us to the final piece and the secret sauce, which is the What-if. “Now that I’ve told you this, what are the next steps now that you’ve gotten a handle on your sleep?” Maybe the next step is to deal with maybe the weight loss that’s occurred from you not having sleep or, here’s how to stick with it if you have taken care of the immediate problem. And here’s how to make sure you don’t fall back. Do it.


And we can take any idea where first maybe we could have had writer’s block or you might have been second- guessing ourselves as far as “Am I explaining this in the right way?” When you kind of put things in this context here of “Why” – here’s the problem? “What” – here are the principles? “How-to” hear the steps? And then “What-if” – here are the possibilities moving forward, then now, it’s, it’s very difficult to fail. And I was so excited about this topic that I made this book, which applies to any blog posts you might have, but also, more importantly, any book, any podcast, any course membership site.


How It All Started


Barbara Hales: How did this all get started for you? When did you sit down and say, “You know what, I love doing this. This is what I want to do for my career.” How did that all come about?


Robert Plank: Computer programming was always really fun for me. And I think we all have that thing in life that just makes our brain explode and spark all over the place for lack of a better term. And there were a lot of things I knew that I was not good at, right? I’m not good at carpentry or building things. I’m not a really good athlete or anything like that.


But computers and specifically computer programming, and kind of like thinking abstractly and writing codes, it really scratches an interesting itch for me. And when I was 10 years old, I went to this computer camp. And I was so stressed out because I thought that I wouldn’t know any computer stuff. And I found this old computer manual on how to code and I stayed up all night. I was 10 years old.


I was flipping through literally every page that I copy down every page of all this code and things I didn’t understand and semi-colons and brackets. And then when I got there, they said, Well, here’s how to use a mouse. And they said this is called a computer monitor. And I thought almost as I had over-studied, but it was even though it was stressful. It was so fun jumping into that.


And then in middle school, or I think in like early high school, I took a computer programming class, and I blew through the textbook in a week. So I was like, okay, like, there’s, something here. And then when I got into college and all that, I found out that being a code monkey, which I guess, is maybe like a derogatory term, but someone who’s just a script kiddie, someone who codes all day, it doesn’t pay that, well, it pays maybe 35,000 $60,000 a year.


And if you want to move up into you know, $140,000 or more, then you had to become like a business person and be like an MBA and delegate people and learn to draw charts and kind of get away from the scrappy fun of all that. And so the alternative, the third path that I landed on was entrepreneurship, of making my own software, making web pages marketing it. And that was fun. But then, in my early 20s, I quickly realized that I would be blocked in a different way.


If I did not break out of my shell outside of my comfort zone and be a speaker, and be someone that could appear on podcasts like yours, do podcasting of my own and do webinars and like, YouTube videos and blog posts and kind of be like a teacher and be someone that could like be that be the face of a company so to speak.


And so that’s kind of the progression. It was figuring out this skill that really made me come alive, that I was good at, but also made money. And then also combined with the maybe slightly uncomfortable aspect of getting out there being a marketer.


Barbara Hales: Well, knowing a code person is like, beyond key and crucial to not only everyone that deals with digital work, but certainly something that I find invaluable myself.



Membership Sites


Barbara Hales: Do you mentor people on how to do the membership sites? Or do you do the DF wages done for you? How does that work? If someone says “I was thinking of having a membership site, and this is the idea or structure behind it, but I have no clue as to how to proceed.” Do you help people with that?


Robert Plank: I do. So, my obvious focus is we have a program called Membership Q, which is a do-it-yourself, but on a case-by-case basis, I can meet. And so the thing with figuring out a membership site is, I think, especially for your first, I don’t want to say a 10th but your first membership site, make it a course.


And a lot of people have this idea of a membership site is like something that somebody pays monthly for monthly health tips or something like that. And that’s an easy way to set yourself up for failure. And this is not a popular opinion like a lot of people will not teach this. But from all the things I’ve seen, I very strongly believe that for doctors especially, make a 30-day program, and make it a one-time fee, make it $50 make it $250. And in fact, maybe even make it another unpopular opinion, make it a little on the lower end cheaper side at first to test the waters, test the market, and then increase the price as you go as you get confidence as you see sales.


And as you just like add some scarcity, right? Because if something is $50, and you’re about to raise it to $75, why need to get on that right now to, you know, before the price goes up. And I think that the thing that a lot of people forget is that your customers are there to get their problems solved. And if you’re a doctor, and you’re solving health issues, I mean, maybe they’re overweight, maybe they’re stressed out, maybe they have like reproduction problems, like who knows what it is, they’re there to solve their problem.


So if you’re saying, “Well, you need to join this monthly site, and we’ll do something every month”, I’m thinking “Well, how many months will it take me to get my problem solved?” And so, I think that having this kind of this idea of 30 days, and if there was like a module every week and want one thing at the end, then maybe your brain would start to formulate, “Okay, if a patient came to me with this problem I’m looking to solve, what would I tell them on week one?” And What would I do to give them an easy win?” And so that way, they could see some easy early results, and then they would be motivated to keep going.


And then maybe on week two, you say, “Well, now that we’ve got that easy problem solved, we’ll get to something more long term that this is really kind of the really important thing.” But now that we got the low-hanging fruit out of the way, and then maybe by week three you’re getting into the more advanced subjects or getting into like things that are more long term. And then on week four, maybe you get to an example of a case study or a success story, so that you can see, like someone else who did it, and then other things in there, too, to make sure that that this plan succeeds. So that this problem does not come back, or at least you can maintain it.


So basically, that’s kind of the way I think of a course is having like four modules up like that in that structure I just described. And within each of those, you use this WWHW structure again. So if you say, “Well, it’ll take me 60 minutes or 90 minutes to explain this concept of like easy wins for weight loss”, if maybe like you’re used to giving a lecture or something for 60 or 90 minutes, then start off with the Why – the problem that led you to this, and the What – the tools to solve it, How-to – steps that you’ll put in order and then What-if in the end context of a course is transitioning to the next module.


So if you say module one is on this, you are going through all these steps, and then near the tail end of module one, you are kind of slowly getting into what module two is all about. And this way, you have something where it’s easy to convince someone to buy it because it’s a single payment. It’s a 30-day plan. So they kind of has an idea of how things will look differently in 30 days. And then it’s easy enough to step through, because every week, if they have an hour to set aside, they can go through it, and then one module leads to the next.


And so this way, it kind of applies to any topic that you have. And it’s something that is not a huge undertaking for you, right, you, you have a plan, you start on this course, you make it, you make some sales. Now, you don’t have to say, “Well, I need to come up with new topics every month, it’s a 30-day course, it’s done.” And then you see what happens.


Barbara Hales: This is really a great tip, Robert, because, as you pointed out from the beginning, most people just view a membership site as an ongoing never-ending pay a certain fee, and you’re just part of the club. I think that doctors can think of the one thing that they need to teach their patients more than anything else. And the one thing that their patients want to know more than anything else, it really makes you like having this program very approachable.


Robert Plank: The way that I treat many new projects is I treat them as experiments. And you don’t know if the idea you have for your course or even like your book or something, you don’t know how these ideas will pan out. Life will always surprise you. And the things that you think are great ideas, maybe the world isn’t ready for that yet. And some things that you think are not needed or obvious, maybe everybody wants that.


And so, I think by having this mindset of it’s an experiment, let me put this out there. Let me see how it sells, and then examine the data. That’s very Dr. Lee because that’s very scientific. He’s like “let me make this hypothesis and see what the results are”. And then if I get the results I want, then I can repeat that. That makes logical sense to me.


Barbara Hales: Absolutely. And I certainly appreciate not only you pointing it out to me, but to our listeners.



Tips on Starting a Podcast


Barbara Hales: Before we go, are there, like two tips that you could give to our listeners in regard to like, why a person should have a podcast? Or how it could get their visibility out more?


Robert Plank: Okay. Two tips about why have a podcast and how to get your visibility out more. Well, I mean, I think I can really sympathize with the problem of doctors have because I’ve just always been spinning my wheels. And always, you know, going from patient to patient and like you said at the beginning, like you need to have extra income. And the way to have passive income, the way to have people always finding you is to have some of this free content, where you explain the solutions to some of these problems.


I know that sometimes doctors are afraid of dumbing things down too much, or they’re afraid of saying just the wrong thing on a podcast and being sued. But there are people out there that need your help. And they need simple advice. And it’s a numbers game, and you don’t know who’s going to come across some podcasts recording you made six months ago or some guest appearance you were on weeks ago. And that might be their path that they find you.


And I think that as far as the two tips, I think that number one, keep it simple. And focus on the questions that people have. That way you can give them some easy simple answers. And number two, I would say, look at what other doctors are doing. And sometimes it’s maybe a little bit painful to see what everyone else is doing. And maybe it looks like everyone else is doing a better job than you but I guarantee you, you’ll get ideas and see things that you are not doing that you shouldn’t be doing. You might even see things that maybe your frenemies, peers, or competitors are not doing and you can take something that some doctors are doing over in Florida and then apply it in California and you’ll look like a genius and you’ll look like you came up with something and so everyone steals right there.


No original ideas exist, but what makes it original is applying your own unique thoughts and opinions on it. And then the way to transform that raw thoughts in your head is to use this WWHW formula. And so, don’t think about it, just do it, make it simple, get podcasting. And number two, look at what your competitors are doing so that way, you can do a better job than they were doing, and better might mean simple. So do it and look at competitors.


Barbara Hales: How can our listeners reach you if they would like to get more advice from you?


Robert Plank: The best way to reach me is on my podcast page which and then the book is


Barbara Hales: Well, thank you so much for being on our show today. It was really enlightening. This is another episode of marketing tips for doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Until next time!