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244: Tim Schmoyer On How To Create A Successful YouTube Channel

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244:  Tim Schmoyer On How To Create A Successful You Tube Channel

Today, I’m really happy to have Tim Schmoyer on the show. Tim is someone who came highly recommended to me by Colin Jones who will be a future guest on this podcast.

He is a veteran when it comes to audience growth on YouTube. And he specializes in helping YouTube creators spread their message to reach people online.

His channel has over 400K subscribers and this interview comes at an opportune time because I’m actively trying to grow my new show, The 5 Minute Pitch.

What You’ll Learn

  • Tim’s motivation for starting VideoCreators.com.
  • The types of videos that work well on Youtube?
  • How to build traffic to your videos and establish an audience
  • How to get a video to rank in search
  • What you can do in your video to grab a watcher’s attention

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

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243: Marcus Sheridan On How To Get Results With Your Blog

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243: Marcus Sheridan On What To Do When Your Blog Sees No Results

Today I’m thrilled to have Marcus Sheridan on the show. Marcus runs the Sales Lion where he consults and teaches companies how to do inbound content marketing.

Today, he’s known as one of the premier thought leaders in the digital sales and marketing space. I’ve been following Marcus for years so it’s cool that we got to connect at Social Media Marketing World for a few minutes and that’s how he ended up here on the podcast. Enjoy the episode!

What You’ll Learn

  • Why inbound marketing is the key to growing any business
  • What content works well and how to get results with your blog
  • How to become an authority in your niche
  • Types of content that attracts readers and customers no matter what the niche

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, today I have Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion on the show. And Marcus is an old buddy of mine that started blogging around the same time that I did. He’s definitely one of the better speakers that I’ve ever seen. And today we’re going to talk about inbound content marketing. It’s an incredible episode, and I guarantee that you’ll come away with some actionable nuggets.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

Now, you can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with their new cart saver pops and abandoned email sequence as well at one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full blown email marketing solution. So, bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Klaviyo is the tool that I use to build real quality customer relationships with my e-commerce store. And because all my transactions and email correspondence is tracked in Klaviyo, I can easily build meaningful customer relationships by listening, understanding and taking cues from my customers and delivering personalized marketing messages. So for example, with one click of the button, I can easily send a specific and targeted email to all customers with a lifetime value of over 100 bucks who purchased handkerchiefs in the past year. And it is for this reason why over 10,000 brands have switched over to Klaviyo.

Right now, they have this cool docuseries called Beyond Black Friday where they discuss successful marketing strategies that their customers are using that you can emulate with your business. So, head on over to Klaviyo.com/beyondbf to check it out. Once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/beyondbf, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Marcus Sheridan on the show. Now if you don’t know who he is, Marcus runs The Sales Lion where he consults and teaches companies how to do inbound content marketing. And today he’s known as one of the premier thought leaders in the digital sales and marketing space. Now, I actually started my blog in 2009 and kind of in my periphery, I’ve been following Marcus for years. So, it’s really cool that we got to finally connect at Social Media Marketing World for just a couple minutes, but that was enough and that’s how he ended up here on today’s podcast. And with that, welcome the show Marcus, how are you doing today man?

Marcus: Steve so great to be here man, excited to speak with you and hopefully I’ll say something that your audience says, you know what, that was worth to listen right there.

Steve: I’ve seen this man speak, he is excellent. So Marcus…

Marcus: I have fun.

Steve: I got the date correct maybe but you started blogging like 2009?

Marcus: Mm-hmm, yeah glorious time man, that’s in internet years, that’s about three decades ago.

Steve: We are like dinosaurs I should say.

Marcus: You know what? That was actually back when people used to comment on blogs.

Steve: Yeah, those are the good old days, exactly yeah.

Marcus: That’s a good old inside blog joke there and I love it. Times have changed, man. Times have changed.

Steve: I remember at the time, you created the leading swimming pool website on the internet. Can you kind of talk about how you got started with that and how that transitioned over to The Sales Lion? Like what’s your story just for the benefit the readers who don’t know who you are?

Marcus: Yeah, I’ll try to give the very short version here. I started swimming pool company out of college with two friends in 2001. Things were going okay for us up until the market crashed in 2008. And by the beginning 2009, I thought we’re going to go out of business and I was getting ready to file for bankruptcy. But that’s when I started to read all these fancy phrases like inbound content marketing, social media blogging, all that stuff. And really what I heard in my simple pulled out mind was, Marcus if you just obsess over your customers questions and you’re willing to address them honestly and transparently through text and video on your website, you just might save your business right?

So, I embraced this philosophy that we call, they ask you answer, which basically said, hey, we’re going to be the best teachers in the world when it comes to in our case fiberglass pools. And so, like I said, to make a long story short that’s what we did. We became essentially the web entity of pools, and it became the most traffic swimming pool website in the world in the business, and last year we were the largest installer of fiberglass pools in the US. Now, I’m not a pool guy anymore, I still own a third of the company. But in this process, I started to just to write about what I was doing, which as you mentioned, Steve came at the end of 2009. And so I’m like, you know what, I’m just going to write the stuff that we’re doing, this whole they ask you answer, it’s working and I believe in this.

And so, I was just writing about it and then all of a sudden companies said, hey Marcus, can you teach us how to do that? And some conferences said, hey Marcus, can you come share that story of what you do with your pool company in our event, and it just started to snowball from there. And so, I was getting so many requests. I’m like; there is a business model here. And so I transition slowly out of River Pools.

And by 2012, I was essentially full on with speaking and consulting. And my agency, The Sales Lion, which is what it was called, is now a part of Impact. I’m one of the owners at Impact and we’ve got about 65 employees, and I give about 70 keynotes a year around the globe on sales, marketing, business communication. It is a dream, my friend, and it’s all because the economy crashed. Like if the economy hadn’t crashed Steve, it wouldn’t have happened, which is amazing how that works. But at the time, I thought it was the most stressful period of my life.

Steve: That is crazy. That’s more than one talk a week.

Marcus: Yes, yeah. I often, I mean, I’ll generally give that 1.5 talks a week. That’s correct.

Steve: Yeah, that’s great.

Marcus: It’s moving. Yeah, moving along.

Steve: So Marcus, the reason I wanted to have you on today is to kind of talk about content marketing and how to use it to promote your business. A lot of my listeners are e-commerce sellers, but we don’t have to talk about that per se. But if you can kind of tailor your answers towards an e-commerce biz, that would be pretty cool.

Marcus: Yeah.

Steve: So first off, like if you were running your own e-commerce business, I want to know like, what content works well, how to get results, how would you approach that problem?

Marcus: Yeah. So when we started the process of the ask you answer, within about six months, I could see there’s clear patterns of content that works, content that doesn’t work in terms of really moving the needle from a sales perspective, from a search SEO perspective, a whole nine, and we today I call that the Big Five. There’s essentially five subjects that before somebody goes to buy something, they want to understand these five things. It’s the psychological need that we have to feel at ease and to feel informed. And fundamentally today in today’s economy, we don’t want to make a mistake and we know that we don’t have to make mistake but we want to know these five things. So here are the big five.

The big five are, as buyers, we are obsessed with how much something costs. Now, we’ll talk more about that, Steve but that doesn’t mean we just put a price. That doesn’t count because every e-commerce person puts a price that doesn’t count as talking about costs. Okay? So we’re obsessed with all my costs and learning about cost as buyers, we are obsessed with understanding the negatives, the problems, the issues, how could this blow up in my face if I purchase it, if I buy it, whatever it is, service, product, it doesn’t matter. Okay, so that’s number two problems.

Number three, we’re obsessed with comparisons. In other words, generally, we don’t just look at one thing, we’re looking at two or more of a similar thing, product, service, again, it doesn’t matter. So, we love to compare. Number four, we’re obsessed with what other people say about it, of course, reviews, and then number five obsessed with the best. So generally speaking, we don’t search for the worst. We search for the best, right? These are the big five and here’s what’s fascinating. I’ve seen this again and again and again. When companies obsess over these big five, and they make that their just clear, clear directive, their compass, if you will, that’s what’s going to move the needle, because these five subjects are the bottom of the funnel.

And whenever you’re selling a product or a service, especially in the e-commerce space, you want to start at the bottom, not the top of the funnel. The mistake that a lot of people make, if they are producing content, it’s really, really fluffy, right? So let me give you an example if that’s okay Steve.

Steve: Yeah absolutely.

Marcus: And these are going to be pool tables but I don’t want anybody to think because right now if I turn on our e-commerce on our site, I’m sure we do at least a million dollars in revenue just in e-commerce alone because of the traffic that we have. I mean, now some months we’re getting close to a million visitors, I mean we’re doing really, really well. And so, there’s a reason for this, we would kill in this space. But because I’m a manufacturing installer, I don’t elect to go down that road that. So, this is this is an example of how we did with fiberglass pools. Okay, so when I started the process of they ask you answer, one of the first questions that people used to ask me all the time as a support guy was, so Marcus, I’m not going to hold you to it but give me a feel of how much is this going to cost?

Of course they might have been talking about a fiberglass swimming pool or an inground swimming pool or whatever. What’s crazy is when we started out this process, nobody in the world had addressed how much does a fiberglass swimming pool costs on their website? The reason for the Steve is because businesses don’t — they’re afraid generally speaking, they’re afraid to talk about, like I’m going to give it away to my competitors, I might scare them away. I mean, there’s all these different things. And so, we openly talked about it and we said, here’s all the factors that are going to drive it up, here’s what could keep it down, here’s the different packages that you can expect, here’s why some companies are expensive and why some companies are cheap.

That was critical and fundamental Steve, and this is the part that most ecommerce companies do not do is whenever you sell a product especially if it’s a significant major product within your skew set, you always want to make sure that you have definitive articles and videos just on how much does that particular type of product or service cost. If you don’t do that, you’re never going to play in the search space and you’re going to devalue and potentially commoditize the thing that you’re selling, which is a problem. So, to make a long story Steve, that one article has generated over $6 million in sales, how much does a fiberglass pool cost?

So, if you search anything today about how much does inground pool cost, how much does it cost to install a fiberglass pool? I mean, anything like that, if you’re in the United States, we’re the first ones you’re going to see to this day, it’s a cash cow. Okay, that’s number one. Number two…

Steve: Hold on one second, let’s elaborate on some of the things you just said about cost. I heard you say that you outline what companies do and what they don’t do and what factors into the cost. I was thinking like when you said that that psychologically, customers are going to now ask the competitors whether they do that certain thing and compare that to you.

Marcus: Right, that’s correct. That’s correct which is what you want them to do. Just like, let’s say you have an e-commerce platform but you also have a great blog and they mutually feed each other right? So your blog feeds e-commerce, but your e-commerce should be feeding the blog and people are like, what do you mean by — how can — if they’re on the platform, why would the platform feed the blog? Well, if it’s a good platform, you can do things like this, like hypothetically, you could set it up and I guarantee you 99% of your listeners have never done this before. So, let’s say that on your ecommerce platform, you have underneath the price a little arrow with a link that says, see why it costs this much.

Now, if a buyer sees a price and then sees a little arrow pointing to a link says, see why cost as much and it’s clickable link that takes them to an article and video that definitively explains why it costs that much. Have you commoditized or decommoditized that thing that you sell? Of course you’ve now decommoditized it. And now you’ve done a major, major value add to that particular visitor. But the problem is, more often than not, in the e-commerce space, it’s just cut and dry. They got reviews. Oftentimes, they do have reviews now on most of these platforms, but they don’t talk about the good, they don’t talk about the bad, they don’t talk about the ugly. Well, they might talk about the good, but they don’t talk about the bad and the ugly enough, and they don’t really explain it well enough.

And so, I’m constantly dealing with this. Most of the research I do, especially when I’m shopping ecommerce situations, I have to go and find the prices on the e-commerce platforms, then I have to research on another site that has nothing to do with that particular site to really understand the cost factors like why is this in costing as much as it is, and then I’ll go back to the e-commerce site, that’s dumb. It doesn’t make sense. Of course there’s conversion loss at that point anyway. And so this is why if you really, really do this well and again, if you’re selling a ton of stuff, choose the 20% that are generating 80% of your sales. Focus on that and it’s magical. This is service, product, it doesn’t matter. I’m telling you, for 90% of my clients around the world, I’ve done this with big companies, small companies, 90%, the number of traffic leading sales generating content has to do with cost and price.

Steve: This is very interesting. I’m just thinking in my mind, this would be a great place to point out your unique value proposition for each product as well, right?

Marcus: Of course, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And this is where you can really blow away transparency because you’re able to say things like, hey, look, this isn’t the most expensive one, and it shouldn’t be, this is for the person that is looking for the middle of the road, but they’re looking for this, this and this, but they’re okay, not getting this, this and that. And if you feel like you are that person, well then, this might be a great fit for you. And it’s certainly a great value for that buyer. Most people don’t communicate like that right? Do you see what I’m saying? It’s just like just flat out here’s what it is, and it’s not this is for you if, this is not for you if. It’s unfortunate that most companies don’t think like that.

Steve: I guess my biggest concern here is you’re actually taking them off of the-commerce site to a different article and then they have to make their way back, right?

Marcus: Yeah, you open it up in a separate window. And if most of us are paying attention to our conversion rates of those shopping cart pages anyway, it would make us vomit to see how much we lost, right? And so, all you have to do is you split test this out, right? And you can definitively see it. Now, if you have a chance to have it on the actual page, great, have it on the actual page. But the thing is, it’s difficult to do that because most platforms aren’t built that way, right? And you can’t really build out a beautifully robust article slash video interactive format if you do it that way.

Steve: I guess now that I’m just thinking about right now, as we’re talking, you could just have a button and it could be like a pop up that is nicely formatted that you can just easily close and still remain on the product page.

Marcus: Yeah. So you could do the pop up in the pop up should have, read the full article here if the summation isn’t enough, but you can’t — here’s my philosophy on this Steve, and this is why is this such a big deal to me. We can’t treat people like they’re dumb, we have to treat them like informed humans that are smart shoppers. And so, it’s my strong belief that if we have a choice between let’s not inform them well, allow them to be ignorant and hope that that will increase conversion, or let’s allow them to learn more in the moment, if they’re still not psychologically satisfied with the value prop of that particular product or service knowing that if they do see it upon reading it, it means they’re more serious anyway. And the ones that do say, yep, that’s for me are going to come back and buy.

I just refuse to believe that the majority of cases, the person is going to say, wow, my gracious, that was helpful. Okay. Let me go find on some other place now.

Steve: Yeah, I think I tend to agree with you. That’s very interesting. Okay. Yeah. Do we have anything more to add on cost before we move on to the next one?

Marcus: Not so much on cost? Yeah, I mean, I think that hits the mark on cost. And again, I want to stress this as article in video at this point. We got to be doing it that way.

Steve: Okay, cool.

Marcus: So let’s talk about problems for a second. Problems is prolific. Once we feel like all right, I think I want to go down this road, then our natural question is, but how could it blow up in my face? And this is oftentimes why we seek out reviews, but the problem is, if we’re review dependent as an e-commerce shop, or as a business, that’s flawed. We need to beat the punch with these, in other words, get in front of it yourself. Let me get an example, again we’ll go to pools, this applies to everybody, so don’t think you’re different if you listen this because I’m telling you I’ve done this with too many services and products. I know that nobody is the exception to this.

And so, what happens is in my case with pools [inaudible 00:18:22] ask me all the time for example, so Marcus what are the problems of fiberglass pools? Very, very common question, and once again Steve nobody in the world, I’m not exaggerating, at the time had addressed that singular question on their site, why? They were afraid to address the elephant right. The smartest companies, they know that the greatest way in life to resolve concern is to address it before it even becomes a concern. And so, I openly talked about the problems of fiberglass pools on our website. And because we talked about it, it’s wild. Every year the number one keyword phrase that generates the most traffic to the site is fiberglass pools problems, or excuse me leads to the site is fiberglass pool problems.

So, that article has made a couple million dollars in sales at this point right. And it’s not just there, like when somebody says, hey Marcus; do fiberglass pools pop out of the ground? Okay, I’ll write about that. Are fiberglass pools cheap? Okay, I’ll write about that. These are consistent questions that we would get. So, I’m not going to bury my head in the sand, I’m going to openly address them when we get in front of them and then I can own the conversation set of one of my competitors, so it’s what you want to do.

You want to look at your different products and services that you offer, you want to say, on all the times that you’ve been asked, so I heard that, or is it true that, or somebody told me that, or I was reading, when anybody says anything like that, that denotes something negative is coming. And now, if you get on the front end of addressing it, you have a significant chance of earning the person’s trust and respect. But the key is you can’t be biased.

Too many people, especially in the e-commerce space are just biased, which loses that trust factor, you can’t become the trust agent at the same time be extremely bias. So, an example of how you might phrase this again, I’ll just go back to the simple pool example. So, we might say something like this, fiberglass pools aren’t for everybody. They don’t get wider than 16 feet, longer than 40 feet, deeper than eight feet; you can’t customize them anywhere you want. So, if you’re looking for a pool that is wider than 16, or longer than 40, or deeper than eight or super customized, it’s probably not a good fit for you. But if you’re looking for a low maintenance pool, that’s going to last year lifetime, has less than 16 my 40, less than 8 feet deep, and you can find a shape that does fit your needs, well then this might be the perfect fit for you.

But you notice here, we present the ugly first and then we come back, just psychology, with but this is how it could be a great fit for you if you fit these classifications. So, the idea is when somebody’s going through the process of buying something, the whole time, they’re nodding their head saying, yep, yep, yep. Or they’re shaking their head saying, no, not me, which is fine. Because we don’t want people buying our products anyway, that they’re not a good fit for, not if we have integrity, right? If we sell from a place of integrity, we want people to be very informed about the said product or service so that they don’t make a mistake. So, that doesn’t come back on us or our shop or our product, and they say, these guys never lead me astray. That’s the whole idea. That’s the essence behind problems.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Ahrefs for being a sponsor of the show. Now, I’m a huge fan of their tool and in my opinion Ahrefs is the best all in one SEO tool out there to rank in Google search. And recently, I completed a search engine site audit for mywifequitherjob.com and Bumblebeelinens.com and Ahrefs was indispensable. For example, I used Ahrefs to do a deep dive into all my posts to find the highest volume, lowest competition keywords to target in search. And in fact, recently, I used Ahrefs to rank a blog post in Google from position 20 to position five for a big time keyword in the span of just one month by switching around my title and H1 tags.

I also use Ahrefs to spy my competitors’ sites to see what keywords they are ranking for, and then I write a more comprehensive post and eventually outrank them in search. Now those of you who know me know that I hate spending money on tools, but I actually pay for Ahrefs and that should say something in itself. Right now, I’m giving away nine three month Ahrefs memberships for free. To sign up, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway to win a three month Ahrefs membership. Now back to the show.

I love it. I love it. I know there’s this leather store that does the exact same thing. They point out the flaws in leather and they basically educate you on the different types of leather. And then they show you a demo of their leather, where — it’s called Saddleback Leather, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but then they show that they’re leather is basically indestructible, and it’s incredible.

Marcus: Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. So it what’s funny is, there’s other good leather out there, but they actually understand that unless we show it, it doesn’t exist. I mean, in 2018 and beyond the idea that we would sell anything and just say it and not show it is almost laughable. We have to be in the mindset of unless we show it, it doesn’t exist. They show it really well. It really sticks and it’s crazy. So many other companies could do that, but they don’t. So that’s the essence of problems. You got to get in front of it. Again, the moral of the story is as a business, you have a choice. You can allow your competitors to own those negative conversations or you can own them. That is your call. But clearly one is better than the other.

Steve: I love it also because it’s counterintuitive.

Marcus: Exactly, a lot of stuff is counterintuitive. And that’s why I’ve given over 200 workshops to different companies around the globe. I’m in New York City right now to give a workshop to sales and marketing team tomorrow basically helping them understand why talking about these things is good instead of burying your head in the sand like most of their competitors and not addressing them, right. Yeah, the problem is, you don’t see many sites doing this well unless it’s like a review site or a third party site. The actual businesses, they don’t generally do it well.

Steve: Right. And to find out the problems just use any keyword tool or do a survey, like how do you find out what these problems are?

Marcus: Yeah, I mean, hopefully you’re in tuned to what the marketplace is saying, just keyword tool in the world is just listening really well. But beyond that, yes, I would use a keyword tool and search for them. And in that case, I would search for like negative reviews, things like that of the particular product to see what people are saying, and then you can really run with it. But depending on the type of product too, you can just — there’s some standard ones out there, like is XYZ product cheap?

I mean that’s like a very legitimate question that a lot of people ask right, that’s a common one that people ask right. How long does XYZ last, an honest review. That’s another example of a really good double up right there. We doubled up on how long does it last which is a problem statement, and then an honest review is review statement, so we doubled them up together and now it’s even more effective. So that’s just a way to do it.

Steve: Cool. Let’s move on to number three.

Marcus: Number three four versus and versus has picked up finally a lot more. I mean, I was talking about it long before a lot of companies were doing it. It’s still incredibly prolific and important. And as I’m talking about these things, some people are going to listen to this and say, well, I’m just afraid that the marketplace is flooded with all these already and it’s just too saturated for me. That’s a very, very scarce mentality, not healthy for a couple of reasons, A, by you answering these, it forces you to be a dramatically better communicator teacher and force you to know your products better.

Also when people come to your site, they’re going to be way, way more informed and they’re going to get your opinion out instead of everybody else’s. This goes on and on for the reasons why we should do it. So, with versus, every product and service generally means that somebody is looking for a comparative item, all right. For me, these poor guys they were looking for fiberglass versus concrete pools, fiberglass versus vinyl pools, and in the swimming pool space, what was funny about that one Steve is no fiberglass pool guy in the world was addressing fiberglass versus concrete pools. Of course the reason was because they were saying our biggest competitor is concrete pools.

So, this is where we’re going to do, we’re not going to talk about them on our website and when we will talk about them, well then, nobody will know they exist which is about the stupidest mindset ever. But that’s literally, that’s how so many pool guys thought, right? And so, my mindset was, I’m going to ask this question every day, so you heck yeah, I’m going to address it. So, I openly talked about them. I compared them very honestly; I didn’t say one was better than the other because that would be a lie. And again, it was a matter of hopefully this article is going to help you decide which is the best choice for you and then gave pros and cons of each right. So that’s what we did.

Now, what you want to do is you want to think of every comparison based question that you’ve ever been asked. And if you talk with your customers, oftentimes you’re saying things like, so if you were me, which would you choose? Or in e-commerce space this is people that bought this also looked at or also searched for. But the easiest way to do this one is I do like to go to Google and I always just put the product plus the word versus or compared to, and then you get a slew of potential results that you should be talking about, you should be showing and this still works extremely well to this day.

But again, the key that most companies screw up man is you just come across as one sided and it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t come out and say, all right, so this video we’re going to explain why fiberglass is really your only choice and concrete frankly is a poor option to consider. That’s dumb, why in the world would people do that? Yet that’s oftentimes the language of companies, that’s not going to induce trust, you got to be real.

Steve: This is — I’m just thinking about my own products right now in the digital space, I run a class, which is a pretty high ticket item. It actually makes sense for me to create my own review versus some of the other competitors out there and just point out both my strengths and the weaknesses. I think that would actually help because I know for a fact that a lot of people search for reviews of my class.

Marcus: So that’s number four, perfect transition there, Steve. So oftentimes, we leave reviews up to everybody else. I don’t think we should. I think we should also include ourselves in that conversation. Now, there’s different ways that you can do this. You can gather up a lot of the reviews from people that have used it, but you should clearly target that keyword phrase, but here is where we’re going to go even further than that Steve. We should target our competitors’ reviews too. And let me give an example of how I did this incredibly successfully. I’ve made a few million dollars off this.

So, I was the first person in the swimming pool industry that in fact in pretty much probably any like home improvement industry because I was teaching this and people are like you’re crazy. In 2009 and 10, I guess I started teaching this, people were like you’re nuts. So let me give an example, because my philosophy was they ask you answer, I was obsessive with listening. And one night, it was probably around 2010 or 11, I had given this — this is at the end of me being a poor guy.

And I gave this couple of quote for a pool. And they said, Marcus, we like you. We think we want to do business with you. But if we don’t get this pool from you, is there anybody else that you might recommend? I thought to myself, go on it. You know, I hate this question. And of course, when most companies get asked that question, they’re like, oh, there’s nobody quite like us, the way we do what we do, right? And so yeah, that’s right. And so the person’s is like, oh, whatever. So, I went home that night and as I dug on it, they asked a question so I’m going to answer this.

And so, I wrote an article and anybody that’s listening to this, you should look it up, and it was who are the best pool builders in Richmond Virginia, review/ratings. And I came up with a list of five of the best pool builders in Richmond Virginia. Now, come right out and say I didn’t even put myself on the list of five. You might say why did you not? Well first off, if they’re reading the article on my website, they’re already looking around; they’re already thinking I’m a pretty cool guy. The second reason is if you’re going to create a best of lists and then you put yourself on set list, well then, that denotes bias. And again, every business should be built on trust. And so, I’m not going to do something that is going to make me look biased and it’s going to cause me to lose credibility.

But the other factor is this, if you go to that, if you just typed in like best pool builders Richmond, Virginia right now, I mean you’d find it immediately in search results, and you’ll see exactly how I wrote it. But I talked about each one of my competitors. Now, here’s what I would suggest on this, you don’t inject opinion, you stick to the facts and you just make clear comparisons, right? So I could clearly compare my competitors in the sense of this is where like this swim pool company has been around since 1972, and they’re located in the mechanics area of Virginia. They specialize in inground vinyl liner swimming pools, and have a heavy emphasis on automatic swimming pool covers. They also install fiberglass pools and have a full service department.

Now, all that information I got directly from their website and basically using their words, right. So, I don’t express any negatives. If a company ever does express negative, it should be sourced from an outside article. And even still, I’d be very, very careful, right. I tend not to mix with any of that, I only stick to the facts and I try not to inject opinions when it comes to other people stuff. But because of that, today if you went online and you search for things like reviews, Pla-Mor Pools Richmond Virginia which is a very major competitor of mine in Richmond Virginia, and Pla-Mor is spelled Pla-Mor.

So, if you search for reviews Pla-Mor Pools Richmond Virginia which is a very common search, that article is one of the first ones you’re going to see. It’s always one or two in search engine results. And it’s crazy Steve, a few years back I had this lady come to me and she said, Marcus, the craziest thing happened. I was so close to signing a contract with Pla-Mor Pools but before I signed that contract, I decided to go online and research their company. And as I was researching their company, I stumbled across this article that you guys had written. I said my goodness, these guys are honest, so honest, I should probably call them too. And of course Steve, you know what happened because otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing the story right?

Steve: Yeah.

Marcus: That article cool generated just that year alone $150,000 in sales. And sometimes people say to me, aren’t you afraid you’ve now introduced them to the competition, which is silly because it takes them about point four eight seconds to know who your competitors are. And so, you know and I know that consumer ignorance is no longer a viable sales and marketing strategy right. Now, with the digital age they’re going to find out. And so, if we automatically say to ourselves, look, they’re going to be informed, they’re going to be intelligent, I’m not going to treat them dumb, I’m going to treat them like intelligent human beings with the capacity to learn and understand and make smart decisions.

When we do that, it gives us the ability to be way more honest, to say way more, give way more information. I mean, just the possibilities are endless because now there’s nothing handcuffing us, there’s nothing holding us back. It’s very, very exciting and it’s very, very fun. So, I just combined the final two reviews and best into one there but that’s an example of how we did that. And I’m telling you I’ve done that with so many companies to this day. It just wins and it continues to win.

I just want to let that tickets for the 2019 Sellers Summit are almost completely sold out. Now, what is the Sellers Summit you ask? It is the conference that I hold every year that specifically targets e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online. And unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, mine is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an e-commerce business.

Now, recently, I put up the curriculum and the speakers who will be attending and we have an all-star lineup, including Ezra Firestone, Mollie Pittman, Scott Voelker, Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness and more. Now, the Sellers Summit is going to be held in Miami Florida from May 15th to May 17th, and for more information, go to Sellerssummit.com, once again that’s Sellerssummit.com or just Google it. Now back to the show.

So, my only concern with what you said was that you don’t include your own company in the top five for example.

Marcus: Yeah.

Steve: The problem is when people do searches; they might not even recognize that they are on your site, and they just look through the straight five and then pick one among your top five and avoid your company all together. Does that happen?

Marcus: Yeah, yeah, that could actually happen. And so if I was selling an item with e-commerce, right, an item on e-commerce, I would include in that list, okay. But I would come out — now it’s different with a swimming pool company, right? And you have to read the article to understand why it’s different. It just doesn’t sound the same. Now, I would come out and say, though, now listen, we sell — it would sound something like this, let’s just choose a dumb one, toothbrushes. I would say something like this, here are Marcus’s toothbrushes.

We get asked all the time about other brands that we believe are good, and because we believe so much in educating our customers over just having them buy from us, we’ve created this article, this video today that’s going to give you an honest assessment of the top 10 brands that we’ve seen in the marketplace for soft bristle toothbrushes. Now, keep in mind as you read this, two of these we sell. But of course, we sell them because we believe in them so very much. So, although we include them in the top 10, we also include eight others that we don’t sell. And hopefully, this is going to give you a great sense as to what is available in the marketplace and why we chose what we chose.

Steve: Interesting, I suppose if it’s something that you don’t sell, you might even be able to establish some sort of affiliate arrangement also.

Marcus: You can clearly do this with affiliates. And the other way that you do it Steve is with indirect industries, right? So in other words, let me give you an example. So, if I’m selling swimming pools, I might do something on swimming pool heaters. And the reason why I would want to do that because if they’re looking for a heater, they might also be in the process of buying inground swimming pool and just looking for the heater for a set pool, you see what I’m saying?

Steve: Yeah.

Marcus: And so, it’s a smart play to indirectly do this. I mean there’s just lots of ways to do this. I mean, I’ve done this with like I’ll give you an example, let’s say and this doesn’t necessarily apply to e-commerce but the same principle. So, let’s say you’re a pet sitter and so you would want to do articles or videos on both always — it’s really always both but on the best veterinarians in your area, because now you’re giving — it’s great credit for them, you’re getting on their radar and people are searching for that, and if they’re looking for a veterinarian, there’s a good chance they need a pet sitter as well. You see what I’m saying?

Steve: Yeah absolutely.

Marcus: So, that cross pollination is really, really effective with best off stuff and it’s still, to this day man, it’s just so effective. Obviously, with any of those, preferably you want to put the year if you can, because it definitely makes a difference in search engine results.

Steve: Okay. And then just adjust the year accordingly obviously as time passes.

Marcus: Yeah, yeah. I mean because we’re in a, what have you done for me lately world, we just got to keep producing new content isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Steve: Well, let me ask you this, so we’re putting out all this content but it might not necessarily rank anywhere and people might not necessarily be able to find it. And so how do you attack the problem of actually ranking and getting people to read these articles?

Marcus: Well, everything we just talked about was a straight SEO play. I mean, it’s very bottom of the funnel based major search. Every single client that I’ve had, in the first year we never get less than 10x growth in terms of traffic. And I don’t even call it SEO, even though that’s essentially what you’re doing because obviously, Google’s obsession is that you specifically and relevantly answer the question better than anybody else. And so, the thing about a lot of e-commerce shops is they don’t produce super quality content oftentimes. For example, I know you know this; the average number one ranked page in SERPs is above 1,000 words, right?

And so, whenever we have a client producing a piece of content and we’re vetting it out, unless it’s above 750 or more that’s the — 750 words is the bare minimum acceptable number for any piece of content any of our clients produce, because we help train clients with content marketing okay. So, anything less than that, preferably we like the bar to start at 1,000 words. Now, I’ll be like holy freak, are you serious? Yes. That’s the marketplace, that’s the game we’re in, because meat is good, this is what search engines want. You get all this stuff that like everybody wants short bite sized, not search. Sorry, anyhow works. We want meat and potatoes, man, and that’s why bigger, beefier is better not wasteful. Not wasteful, but bigger, better and beefier is better.

Steve: Yeah, I mean, I would argue that it should be 1,500 or even 2,000 words plus at least…

Marcus: Yeah, you’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. And I say, 750. That’s the low bar of the low bars.

Steve: Yeah. What is your take on the site design as opposed to just the straight content? Like, does the site have to be beautiful? I mean, what is your experience on that, because a lot of people spend a lot of time and money designing a beautiful sight.

Marcus: Yeah, and then conversions are less.

Steve: Yeah, in e-commerce space, for sure that’s the case yeah.

Marcus: Yeah, it’s very, very common and this is because a lot of website designers are arty-farty and there not conversion based. And anybody that’s gone through a website redesign has probably seen that and experienced that which is why we’ve got to be obsessive testers. I mean all of us do. And we never sacrifice — I’m going to put conversions and UX together here because I think done right, great UX leads to conversions. It doesn’t hurt it right? Because to your point earlier, the question about but if you have that Marcus is it going to hurt conversions? I think incredible education increases conversions, right. It’s always been my experience. And so my point is, I think that always needs to be our primary focus and secondary focus is the visual side.

That being said, I do think we have to be outrageously obsessive of this point about video. I think most people should see themselves as media companies, pretty much everybody especially on your major products and services. If you don’t have a really robust video that truly says who it’s for and who it’s not for, that’s actually more important, well then, you’re missing the mark in terms of psychology.

Steve: So Marcus, we covered a lot of stuff today. And what I want to do is I kind of want to summarize it and kind of put it in a cohesive content plan, so to speak, so that the listeners can come away with something that’s actionable. So, if you want to just give a few actionable tips on how to just get started with what we talked about today, that’d be great.

Marcus: So, one of the things that we do that’s been incredibly successful is we have what’s called the content matrix, right? So the content matrix is what you do. Let’s say you’ve got, I don’t know, 20 major products that you sell online or services. So with those 20, let’s create a chart or a graph if you will, and at the top of the chart, you have each one of the major products that you sell. Now, that’s the top of the chart. Now, on the left side of the chart or graph, put the Big Five, put best, cost, problems, versus, reviews, and best. And then take each one of those and fill in all the cost questions that are involved with that particular product, fill in all of the comparison based questions, all the negative based questions, all those things that we’ve talked about.

If you do this, and let’s say that you have 10 products that you sell, let’s just use 10, well, it’s not just that you’re going to have 50 pieces of content, you’re probably going to have a couple of hundred pieces of content that come out of it if you’re doing this the right way, right? Because just on versus alone, there’s probably a bunch of versus that you might do, right. And there’s a bunch of cost ones potentially that you might do. I mean, it just depends on how it said. So, the content matrix works and within a couple of hours of just really focus, you’re going to have 12 to 24 months potentially it could be of content to produce through texts, through video that’s very exciting, that’s very, very helpful.

I think that’s one of the majors and also urging anybody that this is not a straight e-commerce play but it does matter conjunction with video which is such a big deal. I’ve been doing so much with this with clients and experimenting is crazy. We’ve consistently seen over and over again that putting a video next to a form that people have to fill out a form on your site like on a landing page on average increases conversions around 80 to 90%. But here’s the thing that a lot of companies will mess up is they won’t title video. So they slap a video next to a form, that’s not good enough. What you want to do is the video has a title and the title should be something like this literally, should you fill out this form or see exactly what will happen if you fill out this form.

Steve: Interesting.

Marcus: It’s really powerful when you have that titled. So the person comes on that landing page or whatever it is, and you’re trying to get their information for whatever reason, and they have a form. There’s four major fears that people have when they fill out forms. Number one, are you going to call me to death if you’re asking for my number? Number two, are you going to spam me to death if you’re asking for my email? Number three, what are you going to do with my information, privacy. Then number four, exactly what is this process going to look like if I fill out this form? So you want to address all for those fears in this video. You do it nice and easy and relax, right?

So, it’d literally be something like this. I might say okay, so you’re sitting there right now and you’re saying to yourself, should I fill out this form really, are you going to spam me? Are you going to like email me or call me to death? All right, let’s talk about exactly what this is going to look like. So then you explain it. At the end of the video, it doesn’t have to be long at all. At the end of the video you say, so hopefully that addresses your concerns. If any questions let us know. Otherwise, fill out the form; we can’t wait to talk with you soon. Unbelievable results, generally like I said, 80, 90%. I’ve seen a bunch that were between 150, 200% lead to conversions. So those are magical. You see very, very few companies doing that right now, it’s a major opportunity Steve.

Steve: Would you suggest doing this on like an e-commerce checkout page though?

Marcus: Absolutely, absolutely all stinking day long. And again, the beauty behind this guys, is we can split test this stuff, so you don’t want to take my word for it. If you doubt it, split it and you know what, oh yeah, the poor guy was right. At least test it because I’m happy to — there might be situations where it’s more effective 90% of the time, but 10% it’s not. That’s okay; let’s use it for the 90.

Steve: So, just to kind of reiterate what you said, so in the checkout process, you want to just kind of outline the forms that you will experience, what the outcome is going to be, and reassure them that you’re not going to sell their information and that sort of thing.

Marcus: That’s right, overcome those four major fears, major conversion list buddy.

Steve: Interesting. Okay, I’ve never thought to do that at all.

Marcus: That’s why we’re talking.

Steve: I know, so what else you got Marcus.

Marcus: I got lots of stuff.

Steve: We got five minutes left or whatever. If you got anything else, that’d be great. These have been awesome nuggets.

Marcus: Yeah. Well, and hopefully it means to the listeners, look, if you get the book they ask you answer, it’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all the stuff. It was rated the number one marketing book in 2017 by Mashable. And it really breaks all the big five down and talks about this really, really well, all the principles definitively apply to e-commerce. I mean, it really, really does. One thing that I would suggest to people to consider doing Steve, if you are not using some of these simple personalized email video marketing tools by now, you are behind the eye ball, for customer service and e-commerce, they are unfricking believable.

So, an example of these tools would be GoVideo by Vidyard or Soapbox by Wistia or there’s some others out there. And many people when a purchase is made, they’ll send some automated, hey, thank you. But even better especially if they spend a bunch of money with you, if you create a quick personalized video that says, hey Steve, you just went on our site and you purchased this, man, I’m so excited for you, I just want to thank you. But if you do that, and they see the thumbnail of you holding up a card that says, thank you Steve for your purchase, and it comes to them the same day, they’re going to be blown away. This is stuff that Amazon isn’t doing yet.

And that is the power of personalized video; it’s free. If you get GoVideo right now by Vidyard is the company that makes it, it’s a free Chrome extension and anybody that is not technical can learn how to do in about 60 seconds. Everybody that’s listening to us right now for that ultra, powerful customer service experience should be sending out personalized email videos. And it makes all the difference.

Steve: And so just to be clear, this service, so I’m not familiar with the service, you can actually personalize a video and generate on the fly?

Marcus: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Yeah.

Marcus: Super, super fast. So, it’s like if I wanted to Steve, and I might even do it after we get off this, I might just send it to you directly just because it is amazing. There’s two major problems with emails that we have. Okay, number one, do they open it? Number two, do they consume it after it’s been opened? So those are the two major problems, so how do you do it? You got a subject line that says something like this. Hey Steve, I made this video for you. Okay. Now as soon as you see that, you have to open it, psychologically you don’t have a choice, right? You don’t have a choice.

Then when you see a thumbnail of a video and on that video I’ve got this little whiteboard or note that’s saying, hey Steve, I just wanted to thank you, whatever, hey Steve, or whatever it says, or just Steve exclamation point. Once again, you can’t help but to click on the video and watch it. And the whole thing oftentimes will take me less time than actually writing out an email, and it’s so outrageously personalized and it’s just different than what anybody else is doing. Again, GoVideo by Vidyard, it’s free Chrome extension guys; get it right now unless you’re using some other type of personalized video program.

Steve: I love it Marcus. Hey, I want to give you a chance to talk about your services and your books and all the other services that you have to offer.

Marcus: Yeah, well, I’ve got an agency; it’s called Impact Brand and Design, ImpactBnD, Bravo and Nancy, Impactbnd.com is my agency, but my personal site is Marcussheridan.com. And I speak all over the world and if you’ve got — I know there’s a lot of solopreneurs here that don’t necessarily need a workshop, but if you’re thinking about somebody for a conference or whatever, recommend me because this is what I do and I have a lot of fun with it. And my obsession is the audience and their takeaways, and hopefully, that’s what this audience has gotten today Steve. They’re like, man, that’s a clear nugget. That’s a clear nugget. That’s a clear nugget, not a bunch of fluff, not a bunch of hypothetical jargon. They’re like man, this is actionable and I can take it and apply it to my business tomorrow. That’s always my goal.

Steve: Absolutely. In fact, Marcus I may not publish this episode and keep all these nuggets to myself.

Marcus: That’s awesome.

Steve: But thanks a lot for coming on the show Marcus, really appreciate your time.

Marcus: My pleasure.

Steve: All right. Take care.

I hope you enjoyed that episode. Marcus is amazing at planning and writing copy that converts and I know that I’m personally going to listen to this episode one more time in case I missed anything. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode243.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for developing real quality customer relationships. Right now they just released a cool docuseries called Beyond Black Friday where you can learn successful e-commerce marketing strategies from real companies using their platform. This docuseries is free and you check it out at Klaviyo.com/beyondbf, once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/beyondbf.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

242: How Allen Walton Created A 7 Figure Store Selling Spy Equipment

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242: How Allen Walton Created A 7 Figure Store Selling Spy Equipment Online

Today, I’m thrilled to have Allen Walton on the show. Now Allen is someone who I met at Ecommerce Fuel Live a long time ago but we didn’t really get to know each other until we hung out at Billy Murphy’s Mancation earlier this year.

Anyway, Allen runs SpyGuy.com which is an ecommerce store that sells spy equipment online. His store has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Fast Company and he was recently featured on the Tim Ferriss podcast as well.

What’s cool is that he bootstrapped his company from the ground up and turned it into a solid 7 figure business.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Allen got into the spy equipment business
  • Where Allen sources his products
  • What the margins are like for dropshipped goods vs goods that you carry inventory for
  • How to prevent customers from doing price comparisons online and on Amazon
  • Why spy products have no brands

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today I have my friend Allen Walton on the show, and we actually recorded this interview a while ago. But in the past couple of months, he’s been featured on the Tim Ferriss podcast and the Tropical MBA podcast as well and he’s got an amazing story that I know you’ll enjoy.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Klaviyo is the tool that I use to build real quality customer relationships with my e-commerce store. And because all my transactions and email correspondence is tracked in Klaviyo, I can easily build meaningful customer relationships by listening, understanding, and taking cues from my customers and deliver personalized marketing messages. So for example, with one click of a button, I can easily send a specific and targeted email to all customers with a lifetime value of over $100 who purchased red handkerchiefs in the past year. And it is for this reason why over 10,000 brands have switched over to Klaviyo.

Right now they have this cool docu series called Beyond Black Friday where they discuss successful marketing strategies that their customers are using that you can emulate with your business. So, if you’re interested in watching this series, head on over to Klaviyo.com/beyondbf, once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/beyondbf .

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. And bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Allen Walton on the show. Now, Allen is actually someone who I met at Ecommerce Fuel Live a long, long time ago, but we actually didn’t really get a chance to know each other until we hung out at Billy Murphy’s Mancation earlier this year. Anyway, Allen runs SpyGuy.com, which is an e-commerce store that sells spy equipment online, and his store has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Fastcompany, and he’s actually recently on the Tropical MBA podcast. Anyway, Allen bootstrapped his company from the ground up and turned it into a solid seven figure business. And with that, welcome the show, how are you doing today Allen?

Allen: Hey I’m doing well, thanks for having me.

Steve: So Allen, I was actually on your site shopping last night, and then I realized that I was going to get retargeted on Facebook with Spy Guy ads which made me kind of preemptively tell my wife that I was interviewing today just in case, call me a little paranoid. So Allen…

Allen: Now, we do get customers that – sorry to interrupt you but we do to get customers that get really frustrated with us when they see retargeting ad because they’re really concerned about somebody on their computer that sees an ad for Spy Guy, they get really upset. Even if we just email an order confirmation, they get infuriated.

Steve: Just curious though, I actually didn’t end up getting any ads so my my worries weren’t real but are you running retargeting ads on Facebook?

Allen: Not right this second we aren’t, but we’ve been kind of testing it over like the last month or so just to see if we can make it profitable because it’s actually been kind of difficult.

Steve: Okay. And we’ll get into that a little bit because we did chat about it earlier. So Allen, before we get started with the guts of the interview, why spy equipment? And how did you actually get into this business? It seems a little random to me.

Allen: Yeah. It’s super random, actually. So I live in Dallas, have my whole life. And when I was growing up, there was this spy shop here in Dallas that was called Spy Supply. It’s no longer in business but I used to go there with my family, like on Sunday afternoons or whatever after church. We’d go to the pancake house that was next door and I’d always be really curious about the spy shop that looked sketchy as hell. So wait, am I fast, is that okay?

Steve: Yeah, that’s cool.

Allen: Okay. So it’s a really sketchy looking spy shop. I didn’t want to go in, I just kind of like wanted pear in through the windows. And so grew up still eating at that pancake house that was next door, and one day they had a help wanted sign out front. At the time I was like 21 years old, I was living at home, my parents really wanted me to get a job. And so my mom made me apply. It’s really kind of that, but I applied for the job and I ended up getting it. And so that’s kind of how I got into it. So selling CCTV systems to like big businesses and people with homes that wanted security cameras, but they also did sell a lot of spy related gear, so like hidden cameras, GPS trackers and whatnot.

And they worked with like police departments and private investigators and plus it was kind of like a novelty store, so sometimes we’d get celebrities that came in and just want to poke around so that was always really fun. And that’s how I got started I guess.

Steve: Why is it such a covert industry?

Allen: I don’t know. It’s very frustrating. There’s no brand names on any of the products that we really sell. You can’t get any of these items in big box retailers or anything like that. You pretty much have to get them all online. Or if you live in a big city, there might be a small small spy shopp or security store in your town, but there’s no mass manufacturing going on. The big brands that are out there probably don’t want to have their brand name on a hidden camera, might just ruin their brand image kind of. Yeah, and possible a lot of the people that get in this industry, they’re just sketchy people as well. So like it’s sketchy industry run by sketchy people selling sketchy products and a lot of paranoid people going on. So yeah.

Steve: Wait, so these items don’t have brands, so how does it work? How do you source your products?

Allen: So when I started, working in that brick and mortar spy shop, that’s why I learned where they were getting some of the items from. A lot of it is coming from Asia, obviously and then there’s US distributors, so that’s how I started. The brand though, how do you even look it up?

Steve: Like if someone wanted to get into this, it’d be difficult, right?

Allen: It would be really difficult. I mean, you can see some — if you go to Alibaba or whatever, and you type in some keywords, then you can find some of the products that are on there.

But the thing is there’s a lot of factories in China that are all making the same stuff. It’s like they’re using a public mold or something like that, or maybe it’s just a bunch of trading companies that are sourcing it from some factory that I can’t find on my own. So, it’s just very confusing. And I’ve made the trip over there trying to figure it all out, contacted as many people as I can. It’s just really bizarre. Like, you have no idea who’s the actual brains behind making some of these items, who’s the actual factory that’s making it, it’s really odd.

Steve: Interesting. So do you actually carry inventory of your products then or do you drop ship them?

Allen: Yeah, we carry inventory on all of the items that we sell. Sometimes we are running low or just completely out, then we can talk to the supplier that we’re getting stuff from into drop shipping it for us. If it’s an item that’s made in the US, if it’s an item that’s been made here, we just make sure that we have it in stock at all times.

Steve: So what do you think that — you mentioned they don’t have brands, so are you allowed towhite label these? Like, can you slap your own brand on these items or no?

Allen: Yeah, people do it all the time. If you go to Amazon or you just look around the spy shops that are online it’s pretty much all white labeled. Most people just keep it in the same crappy gift box or whatever that the Chinese supplier is giving them. They don’t even bother changing out the instruction manual. But yeah, if you look at Amazon, you’ll see the same item that’s being sold — excuse me, you’ll see the same item being sold by like 20 different suppliers under 20 different names. They’re all terrible brand names. It’s like somebody just did alphabet soup or whatever and just threw it on the Amazon product title. So yeah, it’s just very odd.

Steve: Interesting. So you carry your own inventory, so how do how much to carry and what to carry? Because you have a lot of products in your site, I was just shopping on there the other day?

Allen: Yeah, experience I guess. So, I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now, about five years on my own I suppose. So, just kind of seeing what customers are drawn to, what works, what gets returned often. So like, I actually take a lot of pride in our product selection on the website because we only carry the items that customers actually really like and items that we like and are low stress and don’t require a ton of tech support. We just want to avoid all of the headaches of dealing with returns and customers who are happy and saying that stuff about us online. We just eliminate that entirely by not carrying products that we don’t like.

Steve: Yeah, that makes sense. I was actually shopping for some stuff on your site just kind of comparing on Amazon. And as you mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of stuff that looks very similar but because it’s not really branded, it’s really easy to get things confused. So, how do you make your stuff kind of stand out among your competitors?

Allen: That’s a good question. I suppose we make it stand out because we’re offering more information. So, we have better product photos and we actually have a studio here where we take our own product photos, we have videos for most of the products that are on our website. Whereas if you’re looking on Amazon, or some of our competitors, they don’t have any videos at all. We have product descriptions that share all the details. So, we tell them exactly what is this case made out of on this hidden camera. So for example, there’s a really popular generic, it’s the type of product that’s just a free for all on Alibaba.

You can source it from a million different suppliers. But the thing is, I’ve been selling that product for like eight years, and I’ve seen all the different iterations of this product. It might be in a plastic enclosure, but somebody else is selling it in an aluminum enclosure. The aluminum one feels much more higher quality than the plastic one, there’s some weight to it, it feels higher quality. But then you also have the internal components. So I might be offering a camera that’s 10 ADP, and it’s higher priced than the one that you see on Amazon, even though they look the exact same. But what that Amazon seller isn’t saying is that the camera side is actually like four ADP or 7 ADP.

So even though the stuff looks the same, it really kind of is different. And we get customers all the time that call us asking why our price is higher or asking what the difference is. And that’s another value proposition we have is that we actually have a phone number where you can call and we’re happy to answer questions and match you with the right product.

Steve: Interesting, so you actually provide tech support on all of the products that you sell?

Allen: Right. So we offer expert advice. So if you haven’t bought anything from us, and you’re looking around, you’re trying to figure stuff out because people aren’t just buying this stuff like just because, they’re buying it because they have a need for it. And so they have questions, they have a lot of concerns, they’re trying to be discreet a lot of time, and so we’ll offer that up front advice and then we do lifetime tech support on all the products that we sell. We just do that on our own; we don’t have another company that does that for us.

Steve: Would you say then that you close a lot of your sales over the phone in person as opposed to just on the website?

Allen: Yeah, we did a test on it earlier this year. I’d love to find a way to make this like an ongoing test like we do it every month, but it’s really kind of annoying to run this test, but maybe 15 to 20% of the sales that we get are orders placed over the phone.

Steve: Wow. Okay. I guess that makes sense. So that implies then that the people that are answering phones at your company, they have to be very knowledgeable about the products.

Allen: Right. Yeah, we currently have four people doing sales and tech support, they do it all and we educate them on all the products that we sell. So we have everything in stock that we actually show them how to do everything. We have internal videos that we use for training. My most senior tech support person is actually the guy that trained me when I started at the spy shop here in Dallas like 10 years ago.

Steve: Oh, that’s funny.

Allen: He’s the guy that actually taught me all of the stuff that I know. And then when I went on to start my own business, maybe like a year later, I needed help. And I thought it was going to be so hard training my first employee, I just reached out to him and asked if he wanted to come work with me. And he said, yeah, so that was really nice. And he handles a lot of the training for my new employees.

Steve: Okay, that’s pretty sweet. So, was he still working at the Dallas shop at the time?

Allen: No, this is where it gets a little confusing. I worked at that store for about two years. And then five years ago, I started my own company. But there was a gap in there about three years. So like 2009, 2011, I was working in a brick and mortar spy shop for somebody else. And then in 2011, I actually got hired by a really bad TV show called cheaters.

Steve: Yeah, I actually vaguely remember that.

Allen: Okay. Yeah, they were a customer of mine and I was friends with the detective on the show. And the guy that created the TV show wanted to start his own brick and mortar spy shop. Long story short, I met with them, I convinced them to do an e-commerce website because I felt like that was the direction things were going in. And so they hired me to start an online spy shop for them, which they advertised in all of their TV show. They actually had like a 15 second commercial that ran in the TV show. And so when I went to work for them, I actually took the guy that trained me, my friend Vince, we went over to that venture. We worked there for about three years and then I went to start my own thing.

And then a year after I started Spuy Guy, I needed help. And so he was still working over there and I convinced him to come and work for me.

Steve: Interesting. So is that store still alive, the cheaters one?

Allen: No, that one died a couple of years ago. It was a big mess, and I’d be happy to talk about it with you in case you’re curious. I’m not sure you want to air it because the guy is very litigious.

Steve: Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, we’ll talk about it after after the recording. So, when I was going shopping for this, it was actually quite confusing, because there’s just so many different options and whatnot. And so one, like how do you get traffic to your store? And then how do you manage to close the sale once you do get someone there?

Allen: So when I started out, I realized that SEO was going to take absolutely forever, it was gonna be really hard because my niche is pretty competitive. So I learned paid ads, I learned how to do Google AdWords. I probably bought like three different books on the subject, a lot of YouTube videos. I don’t know if it’s still around but there was a really good blog called PPC Hero that talks about.

Steve: Yeah, it’s still there.

Allen: Okay, cool. Yeah, I learned a lot of stuff on their blog and through videos that they had posted on how to create campaigns, manage ad groups, create a list of keywords and optimizing for quality score. And right about the time that I started my business, I wasn’t making a whole lot of money. I was trying to do the four hour workweek thing and really trying to automate the business, but I needed to grow it and, it doesn’t take four hours a week or whatever to grow a business. And so, I actually took on an apprenticeship, some guy I found on Craigslist, he was just living in the suburbs of Dallas but he was solo managing some really big AdWords accounts for companies like SimpleHuman like they do…

Steve: Yeah, I know them [overlapping 00:16:56].

Allen: Yeah, exactly. So he was managing SimpleHuman and See’s Candy. They’re not big in Dallas, but I think…

Steve: They’re big out here in California. Yeah.

Allen: Yeah, he was managing their ad account in addition to a bunch of other ones, and he needed help. And I was like, all right, this sounds like a really good opportunity to learn PPC. And so I went to work with him for — I was only there like two or three months but I learned a lot about managing PPC campaigns. And that’s how I really scaled my business when I first started it, and it’s still a huge percentage of our sales today.

Steve: So when you say Google ads, are you talking about AdWords or Shopping, display ads?

Allen: Oh, yeah, so AdWords and then product listing ads, PLA it used to be called, I guess it’s just Google Shopping now. Yeah, so those two things. We tried the display thing, can’t really get it to stick.

Steve: That’s been my problem too although I just had someone who’s an expert on that on the podcast. I just haven’t gotten around to implementing what she’s taught yet, so I’ll do it. Okay so AdWords, were you running these ads by yourself first and not being successful until you took on this apprenticeship?

Allen: So my company launched in May and then I took the apprenticeship on in June. So just like a month later. I had been running my own campaigns for a month, and it was working, but it wasn’t enough to pay all the bills. And so the PPC apprenticeship was a good opportunity to earn a little extra cash. Not a whole lot, I was only getting like $1,000 a month, but it certainly helped and I learned a lot of info and I’m really glad I did it.

Steve: What were some of your key takeaways that you learned from the apprenticeship that you were not doing actually before you joined?

Allen: Oh, that’s a good question. I haven’t thought about this in a while, like over four years. So I learned a lot about spreadsheets. I never use spreadsheets before and I was learning about pivot tables and be look up and all this other stuff that I’m pretty sure is really basic for somebody that is in Excel all day but it was brand new to me and conditional formatting. So I was learning how to easily tell which ads were profitable. I was learning a lot about reporting and how long…

Steve: So the AdWords interface isn’t good enough to tell what’s going on, because you can actually do a whole bunch of filters and everything now within the AdWords interface.

Allen: Oh, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. I ran my ads for probably eight months. And then I met somebody at the very first Ecommerce Fuel event in Austin, his name is Travis.

Steve: Yeah Travis. Okay.

Allen: Yep. He’s been doing all of my PPC for the last several years. And so I haven’t been in the weeds in quite a while.

Steve: Okay, fair enough. So AdWords is like, or Google Ads I should say is a decent sized chunk of your revenue. What are some other ways that you’ve been able to get traffic to your site aside from that?

Allen: We do get organic traffic, not a whole lot; it’s like less than 10% of our overall sales. And something that I just been really neglecting for years even though I know a lot about SEO, I’ve been neglecting it because I largely just got complacent with my business. And I hadn’t set new goals. Money was my main motivator for a really long time. But once I was making a sizable amount of money per month on my e-commerce website, I just kind of like fell into a phone for like a one to two year period where I didn’t have to do anything all day and I was still making good profit. So, I just kind of like didn’t do anything.

And now I’m paying the price for it because I got Google like suspending my account for like weeks at a time because they don’t like what I’m selling.

Steve: Did you say Google suspending your account. Is that just for PLAs or just in general for AdWords as well?

Allen: Yeah, it was for Shopping.

Steve: Shopping, okay.

Allen: I got in trouble with text ads, but with Shopping they’ve been really…

Steve: They’ve been cracking down a lot of industries actually for that recently.

Allen: Yeah, I’ve been looking at that and when they do that, it’s so difficult because you have no idea what to do. It’s like all of a sudden, like your sales drop like a rock. And you can’t get ahold of anybody there. They won’t let you actually talk to the policy team directly. You have to go through and just some phone support person that’s totally unhelpful. And so you can’t find out exactly what’s going on. They’re not clear and their description of what problem they have with your ad or website or whatever. So it’s very frustrating to just suddenly wake up one morning and then see no sales coming from Google Shopping, and then you realize they shut down your account without telling you, and it takes like or two weeks to get it running. It’s beyond frustrating.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Ahrefs for being a sponsor of the show. Now, I’m a huge fan of their tool and in my opinion Ahrefs is the best all in one SEO tool out there to rank in Google search. And recently, I completed a search engine site audit for mywifequitherjob.com and Bumblebeelinens.com and Ahrefs was indispensable. For example, I used Ahrefs to do a deep dive into all my posts to find the highest volume, lowest competition keywords to target in search. And in fact, recently, I used Ahrefs to rank a blog post in Google from position 20 to position five for a big time keyword in the span of just one month by switching around my title and H1 tags.

I also use Ahrefs to spy my competitors’ sites to see what keywords they are ranking for, and then I write a more comprehensive post and eventually outrank them in search. Now those of you who know me know that I hate spending money on tools, but I actually pay for Ahrefs and that should say something in itself. Right now, I’m giving away nine three month Ahrefs memberships for free. To sign up, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway to win a three month Ahrefs membership. Now back to the show.

Would you say then that a lot of your sales are just like word of mouth sales? I would imagine like once someone trusts your store, and because the whole industry is kind of sketchy, then I can imagine word of mouth being a huge factor.

Allen: It is. Yeah, especially after we started getting reviews on our website and stuff, getting reviews on the website really helps because it convinced people who are shopping to do business with us, and then I feel like I run a pretty good business. And so, they would order from us, they’d be satisfied and then maybe they have a friend of theirs that’s going through some issue, and it’s just a word of mouth referral. And so, we do get a lot of direct traffic. Actually, I’m glad you brought that up because we do get a lot of people that just are coming directly by typing Spuy Guy into the URL I’ve noticed.

Steve: How did you get your press mentions? Like I know in the beginning, you’ve been on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company. Did you go out and try to get those? Do you have a PR person or did those just kind of fall in your lap?

Allen: So it all started when I got mentioned in Forbes and I’ll tell the story about how I got involved if you like.

Steve: Sure.

Allen: I’m a huge Tim Ferriss fan. So like 4-Hour Workweek was a huge influence on me years ago and one of the resources that he talks about in there is Haro, helpful a reporter out. And basically three times a day I get an email with reporters, bloggers, journalists, whatever you want to call them. They’re looking for sources for their stories. There’s another one that’s out there, it’s called PR Newswire or something like — I can’t remember off the top of my head. Profnet I think is what it’s called. But it’s a very similar service, a little bit higher quality, but it also costs a lot of money.

And so I was using those two services to find people who were asking questions about things that I knew about. It might be digital marketing, it might be entrepreneurship, sometimes they talk about spy related stuff I guess or security related issues. So I try to be as helpful as I can in those emails, so that they can quote me in an article. And one day I open up [Inaudible 00:25:08] and I see a request in there in the business section and it’s like looking for million dollars solopreneurs. And I was like, oh wow, nobody’s going to respond to this because there’s probably not a whole lot of people that are running a business by themselves and doing a million dollars in revenue.

And I noticed that it’s a Forbes next to it. I’m like, I have to respond to this. I have to do the best answer I can in this email so that maybe they’ll reach out for a phone conversation and I can get quoted in Forbes and so it worked essentially.

Steve: I’ve never had any good luck with Haro actually.

Allen: It’s been awful lately, like the last two years I haven’t gotten like anything. Fortunately, that Forbes mention — so this is a little tricky, I made sure to name drop Tim Ferriss a lot and the interview that I do with Forbes so that if you got mentioned in it, then I could like send it to him, and then he’d post it and share it with his audience. And long story short, that worked.

Steve: Clever.

Allen: That Forbes article went live, three days later it hadn’t had any clicks or anything like that. But they made Tim Ferriss like front and center on the article. They had an image of him that’s like the banner image. And so what I did was I set my phone, I installed Twitter on my phone, and I had set up to text me or whatever, whenever Tim Ferriss was posting on Twitter. And this was back when he wasn’t doing the podcast I think, so most of his tweets were authentic and he’s like typing it on there and asking questions of his audience and whatnot.

And so whenever it was an authentic post, I would send a link to the Forbes article saying that it mentioned him. It only took me like two tries, but then he retweeted it to his audience. He sent it out in his five bullet Friday, posted on Facebook, and then all of a sudden it went from like 1,000 views over three days to like 300,000 views in like June period or whatever. And so I think like Inc.com, they spun the article or whatever. So it was just a rehash of the original Forbes article. And then when I do other help a reporter out responses, I like be sure to say, hey look, I was mentioned on CNBC and Forbes, and I’ll link to those articles and stuff. So it gives me credibility with whoever is seeing that response and then they are more confident in featuring me.

Steve: That’s a very good strategy and that apparently works, yeah I can see how that would work.

Allen: Yeah. Another really great resource if you’re looking for PR is Ryan Holiday’s book, Trust me, I’m lying. I found it fascinating. And I’ve actually used a lot of the tactics and strategies that are in there to get press mentions.

Steve: Why don’t you just name one for people who haven’t read the book?

Allen: Oh, okay let me think about it.

Steve: Okay, we can come back to it.

Allen: Okay. Sure.

Steve: All right. So I would also imagine you mentioned earlier that you have businesses that buy from you, right? What is your strategy there on getting these b2b customers?

Allen: I guess it’s b2b, I never really considered it. We do have customers that are business owners, and they’re trying to combat employee theft. We have police departments and private investigators that are purchasing equipment from us. And I don’t really have a strategy there, they just find me. Maybe they’re looking for what I sell, and they’re doing some comparison shopping or whatever. And then they see our website, they see the phone number, and they call and ask us questions and whatnot.

Steve: Okay, so you don’t go through your customer list to see if anyone looks like they could be like a large customer?

Allen: We do. So, whenever we see a customer place an order and it says like private investigator or PI, or investigative services, or whatever, they have their business name and the title, we’ll make a note of it and realize that this is a customer that, okay, these types of customers and this police department, we can probably get multiple orders from them. Whereas with regular customers, they’re pretty much one and done. So, lifetime value for my customer is whatever they place on the first order.

Steve: Right. Yeah, that’s kind of what I was getting at. So just kind of curious what your strategy has been, because a lot of these people are one and done. Do you get a lot of repeat business in general?

Allen: No, not at all.

Steve: Oh, really? Okay.

Allen: It’s brutal. Yeah, if I can do it all over again.

Steve: See, you get a steady flow of customers, obviously. And so they’re just funding you have through search.

Allen: They’re finding us through search primarily, Google Shopping and AdWords. That makes up the majority of the traffic that we’re getting. We’ve played with Facebook, it’s so difficult to target people that need spy equipment. Like there’s no demographic in particular. I’ve looked at all this stuff on Google Analytics, they break it into four different age groups or whatever. And it shows you the percentage of people that are coming to your website and what age group they are in like 25, 25, 25, 25, male, female, slightly more female than male, which is shocking.

Steve: That’s interesting actually. Okay.

Allen: Yeah. So more male visitors, but more females convert. It’s weird. I loved another reason behind that. But there’s no common interest or trade or demographic or whatever you want to call it that a customer would need, a shopper would need to become a customer of ours.

Steve: I’m not sure how I would feel if I saw spy equipment ad in my feed too, like, as we talked about earlier, right? Like if my wife was just browsing my Facebook or using my computer and all of a sudden she saw like hidden camera stuff, she’d probably ask me about it.

Allen: Right. We haven’t had any luck with product ads or anything like that on Facebook, we’ve tried the retargeting thing. It’s just breaking even really. And I’ve had multiple people, not just my account manager, but I’ve had multiple people that do Facebook ads for living, look at my account and be like, oh, yeah, this is really difficult. Okay, I have some ideas for new strategies for Facebook. It just takes up a lot of like we need more ad creative and we need to make use of more videos and more content on our website. And just content production is expensive, it takes a long time. I think that we’re starting to figure out a strategy that might work with Facebook.

Steve: Okay, what is your email strategy? I actually didn’t notice any pop ups and offers when I landed on your site. So, I was just curious.

Allen: Yeah, I don’t have one. So, I mentioned earlier I went and started cheater spy shop, and I was there for like three years. And we did email marketing when we’re there and I know from that experience, we just weren’t making any money on it whatsoever. Why?

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Allen: There’s probably several reasons why, we don’t really get new products. There’s not a whole lot of people that are developing spy equipment at all. So, it’s largely the same stuff that’s been selling for a long amount of time and customers are not repeat purchasers. So, if they order something on the website, we get the email and we try to hit them up for more sales, it’s pretty much a no go there. I do think that we — I know for a fact we can make email a lot better than it currently is because we’re only sending a couple emails a year like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, we do a little bit of Valentine’s Day related stuff.

Steve: Valentine’s Day, hilarious. Okay.

Allen: Yeah. Well, so here’s how it goes is that if somebody is like having an affair or whatever, they’re going to have to celebrate Valentine’s Day twice, so one with their spouse and then the second person is on the side, and so they usually do that like on February 13 or whatever. And so what we’ll do an email series in the lead up to Valentine’s Day to be like, hey, this is a perfect time to catch an affair if you’ve been suspecting.

Steve: That’s too funny.

Allen: Yeah. But you’re right, I don’t have a pop up on the website, been looking around. I heard you’re Privy thing on the podcast recently, so I’m taking a look at it because I do know that we have a lot of customers that are people visiting our website that don’t buy the first time that they visit or the second time that they visit, and we really do need to be emailing them. It’s something that has been on my radar and I just haven’t gotten around to it for several reasons I guess.

Steve: I actually went ahead and did a bunch of shopping before this. I just looked around and I can say that I think what’s very attractive at your store and it’s probably why it’s so successful is the fact that you curate the products and then you explain them and you provide tech support, which is something that you’re not going to get at all on Amazon and these other sites. They are kind of sketchy too. And the fact that you’re willing to put your face in a video also really adds a lot to the credibility of the site.

Allen: Yeah. So I’ll tackle the last one first. Here is the thing, I hate being on camera, I’m just always hated it. I feel like, I look goofy. And more importantly, I just didn’t want to be associated with spy equipment at all. I was really hesitant to put my face on the website, because I don’t want this to be what I’m known for. This is just [overlapping 00:34:27] right. I’d rather be, I’d be happy to put my face on something if I was like, really super, if this was a product or industry where it’s very shareable. Right? Nobody is sharing spy stuff on Facebook and Instagram and whatnot. If I could be in a different industry, like selling music equipment, or if I were like a really hot model and I was selling like, bikinis or whatever, I’d be happy to put my face out there. But I didn’t grow up wanting to be associated with spy gear or anything like that.

And so for the first like two years that I did my company, my face wasn’t anywhere on there because I didn’t want people know that this is what I was doing. But I’ve just learned to embrace the fact that I’m in a really weird industry with a lot of people that are genuine and need help, and nobody out there is filling that need. And so I kind of put myself out there, I was like, hey, look, I’m the guy that you can trust. I have everything in stock. I’m not drop shipping everything, you can actually call us and ask questions and we’re happy to help you out. And that was radically different than what everybody else was offering when I hit the scene.

Steve: I think that works really well. Like as I was shopping, the video that you put out, it just looks — it was, the lighting and everything was great, but it was just very authentic. I think that’s the right word. And it made me want to trust you because you’re not like the sleazy guy trying to hawk spy equipment.

Allen: Right. Yeah, I don’t. I don’t think of myself as sleazy. I’m just trying to be an honest guy matching a product to a customer that really needs it, because some of these customers are going through like really frustrating situations. And not to bring the mood down or anything like that, but they might have a parent that’s in an Alzheimer home and they think they’re getting abused. So they want a hidden camera. Or maybe they have a kid who’s autistic and they think that something is going on and they’ll like put a recorder in the backpack and then find out that the teacher is like verbally harassing this kid, or they’re being harassed like a woman might be harassed at work, and she needs to prove it.

And so, they’re going through these situations, they’re going through divorces, it’s all really sad. And a lot of times, they they call us and they want to unload on us because it’s so frustrating for them. Unfortunately, we’re not licensed therapists or anything like that. And so we listen to their story, we try to match them with the best product that will help get rid of that issue that’s causing them some sort of emotional or financial distress. And so, by putting ourselves out there is like, hey look, we’re here to help you out. We’re not just trying to make a quick buck selling a crappy product, we really only sell the best stuff. I think you’re right. I think it does shine through.

Steve: I think so for sure especially among the stores that I was looking at comparing them to yours, actually.

Allen: Yeah. And one more thing I’ll mention about it is that we get so many people that call here and like straight up asked for me, or like maybe I’ll have an employee that’s sick or maybe I’m at the office and my employee’s phone rings for a sales call. And I’m like, hey, you know what, I want to take that call. I just kind of want to keep my finger on the pulse of the business. And so I’ll do the sales call. And I’ll say, hey, my name is Allen, thanks for calling. How can I help? And they’ll be like, oh, you’re the guy in the video because they recognize my voice.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Right.

Allen: Right in the video. And I’m like, yeah, and they’re like, oh, that’s awesome. Why am I talking to you? And I’m like, well, I own the business and sometimes I answer the phones just to find out what’s going on and talk to customers because I like it. And so they like that and then I’ll take an order over the phone.

Steve: Nice. So I know recently you’ve done some adjustments to your website, you did a redesign, I want to ask you, what are some of the key takeaways that you had from just kind of changing things around this past year? Like what are some of the mistakes that you tried to address, and and what did you try to emphasize about your store?

Allen: Yeah, so when I started my website like four and a half years ago, I used a default Shopify theme. The guys over at out of the sandbox, they are a development company that specializes in Shopify themes, they make really good themes. And so, I went ahead and bought one for like 150 bucks at the time I think that was good enough, and then I got into an argument on Reddit with some guy about logos and how they didn’t really matter all this other stuff. And I ended up hiring him to design a logo for me, it’s kind of funny.

Steve: It’s hilarious okay.

Allen: So, we made the website, it was very scrappy. I got the whole company started including like forming the LLC and all the legal stuff for under a grand. And so it was very bootstrapped effort. And we had the same website largely for like the next three and a half years where I just didn’t change anything at all. And then it finally got to the point where I was going to conferences, I was meeting people like you, I was meeting a lot of people who took a lot of pride in their businesses whereas when I looked at my business at the time, I was like, I could be doing a lot better, I could have a much better website and plus it’s how I make like 100% of my income. I really need to up the design of the website.

And so I had found somebody that was I thought did amazing work designing websites, I found another person that I thought did amazing work with branding, and so I worked with those two people to come up with the website that I have now. I kind of have a funny story your listeners might enjoy. I had the logo when I started this back in 2014, and it was just like this sketchy looking detective logo or whatever. It was a guy in a fedora. And a year later, I noticed that an extremely similar logo was being used for the Google incognito like the Google Chrome.

Steve: Yeah, incognito mode. Yeah.

Allen: Yeah. So they’ve had three different incognito logos since they launched Chrome. And the first one was like a dude in a trench coat. It looked really super scary looking. And then after my website was live for like a year, they changed the logo and it looks almost exactly like the logo that I had created a year prior. And then they modified it again like a couple of years later, and then it was even closer to my logo. And so I had a lot of customers that were like you just stole the Google incognito logo and put it on your website. And I’m like, no, I swear I was first. And it got to the point where I was like I got the sketchy looking detective dude as my logo. My color scheme is black and white. I could probably redo this to make it a little bit more trustworthy. And so that’s why I went through the whole brand redesign process.

Steve: Like your numbers were fine at the time, right before you did the design.

Allen: Oh, yeah, they were great. We were really hesitant to change anything at all. Again, like, for the first several years of the business, I was just interested in running a four hour workweek style business that was very hands off, and I achieved that goal. But eventually I was like, you know what, I really want to scale this thing to be bigger than it was before. I want to be proud of my website and my brand. I’ve got my face on this whole thing, it should really be the best thing that it can be. It’s time to put some money into this website.

And my marketing guy was very — he was like, dude, I don’t know, this is working really well. You don’t want to suddenly have a huge drop in sales. We know this thing converts. And so, I was like, yeah, we can always go back to it. It was an experiment, I learned a lot and I’m glad we did it.

Steve: What were some of your key takeaways from the whole experience?

Allen: Key takeaways. I would not work with two people again. When you’re small e-commerce business like I am, you should not have a whole bunch of projects going on at once, because everything moves slower. It becomes very difficult moving from one task to another. So I was looking at manufacturing my own products. I was looking at redoing the website, I was looking at filming new videos, I was looking at all sorts of different aspects of my business and putting on different hats and stuff was very frustrating.

So going back, I would have just made the new website like my only priority for like the next six months because it was very intensive. It was hard to go between all of these different projects, it’s just too much of your brain ram being taken up. And then also working with two different people that were not communicating with each other was so difficult.

Steve: Who were these two people? You had a designer and someone else or?

Allen: Yeah, so I had a branding expert, whatever you want to call it. And she was coming up with the art style for my website and the color scheme and the branding voice and the logo, of course, and all of this other stuff. And she was also really good at — she’s very conversion focused when it comes to like designing websites. The problem was that she didn’t do Shopify stores at all. So, she would come up with like have the wire framing of [Inaudible 00:43:43] like down to the pixel. But then I had to move all of that stuff over to a Shopify developer who’s very good at what they do, but the two of them were not communicating with each other in the process. Like I just couldn’t make that happen for whatever reason. And so I had to act like a middleman like…

Steve: Oh I see.

Allen: Yeah it was very frustrating.

Steve: Well, all that’s behind you. So Allen, looking forward, what are some of your plans and hopefully people don’t need spy equipment but where can they find you online if they need something, and will they get you on the phone actually if they do call?

Allen: Yeah, sometimes they’ll get me on the phone. The website is SpuyGuy.com. It used to be Spy Guy Security but I bought SpyGuy.com about a year ago which is like a whole another interesting story about negotiating a domain and stuff.

Steve: [Overlapping 00:44:40] what was your rationale for doing that if you already had Spuy Guy Security for so long?

Allen: Spuy Guy Security, I think it’s like 14 letter domain or whatever. Spyguy.com, it’s just six. It sounds like a Silicon Valley startup. Like it’s just very straightforward. It rhymes. It’s catchy, it’s memorable. We have a logo to go along with it. So it’s very memorable. Spy Guy Security is a lot more, I don’t know. It sounds more professional I guess you could say. But I think that the succinctness of SpyGuy.com, it’s kind of like an intangible thing I guess you could say. It’s very, yeah, I don’t know, I haven’t been thinking a lot of that.

Steve: Fair enough, man. All right, so SpyGuy.com. And if you need spy equipment, feel free to hit him up. And yeah, if you guys can’t tell from this interview, Allen is a very genuine guy. He just tells it like how it is, and he’ll help you out. So Allen, thanks a lot for coming on the show, man.

Allen: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, what I like about Allen is that he’s just a regular dude, and he’s a complete open book. And it’s always refreshing to hear a realistic account of all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode242.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. Right now they have this cool docu series called Beyond Black Friday that I highly recommend that you check out and that can be found over at Klaviyo.com/beyondbf, once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/beyondbf.

Now I talk about how I use both of these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

241: How My Blog Performed In 2018 – Year End Review

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Year End Review - How My Blog Performed In 2018

My wife just closed the books for 2018 and in this episode, I’m going to do a year end review for MyWifeQuitHerJob.com including all of the projects that I’m currently working on.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to do a site audit for SEO
  • Where I’m speaking at in 2019
  • What’s new for 2019
  • My key takeaway for 2018

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

TBD

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

240: Year End Report – How My Online Store Performed In 2018

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240: Year End Report - How My Online Store Performed In 2018

My wife just closed the books for 2018 and in this episode, I’m going to breakdown the highlights and lowlights of the year for BumblebeeLinens.com.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to overcome bumps in the road
  • Amazon versus your own online store
  • What’s worked well this year
  • The one marketing platform that has been a home run

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

239: Paul Jarvis On Business, Happiness And Running A Company Of One

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239: Paul Jarvis On Business, Happiness And Running A Company Of One

Today I’m thrilled to have Paul Jarvis on the show. Paul is an author, designer, podcaster, course and software creator. His works have been talked about by Ashton Kutcher and Ariana Huffington. He’s worked with clients like Danielle Laporte, Microsoft, Marie Forleo and Mercedes.

Now Paul is obviously a total stud. But the reason this interview is special to me is because his latest book “Company of One” has had a profound effect on me.

I rarely gush about business books but because Company Of One spoke directly to me and my philosophies, I’m going to recommend it to everyone I meet from now on. Enjoy the interview!

What You’ll Learn

  • What exactly is a company of one?
  • What you should think about if you are already running a successful company
  • Some successful examples of entrepreneurs following the “Company Of One” philosophy
  • How to strike a balance between business and life

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they used to grow their businesses. Now today I have my friend Paul Jarvis on the show. And Paul’s an author, designer podcaster, who has worked with famous clients like Danielle Laporte, Microsoft, Marie Forleo and Mercedes Benz. Now, Paul is a stud, but none of that stuff matters today because we’re going to talk about business, happiness, and satisfaction today. And just giving you guys a heads up, this interview really spoke to me unlike any other.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this and when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. And just recently, I added Facebook Messenger into the mix as well which you can read about on my blog.

Now you can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pop ups and abandoned email sequences as well at one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full blown email marketing solution. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have them as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: And then we’ll be silent for five seconds and then I’ll just give you a quick intro and then we’ll see where the interview goes.

Paul: Perfect.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Paul Jarvis on the show. Now Paul is someone who my buddy Sol Orwell introduced to me completely out of the blue. And to be quite honest, I was actually thinking about brushing off the intro at first, but since Sol is a good friend, I took the intro and I’m so glad that I did because I feel like I hit the jackpot. Now before I tell you exactly why, here is a brief bio for Paul. Paul is an author, designer, podcaster, a course, and software creator. His works have been talked about by Ashton Kutcher and Arianna Huffington. He’s worked with clients like Danielle Laporte, Microsoft, Marie Forleo and Mercedes.

Now Paul is obviously a stud in this regard. But I actually interview lots of studs on this podcast. But the reason this interview is special to me is because his latest book Company of One has had a profound effect on me. And in fact, I rarely gush about business books, but because Company of One spoke directly to me and my own philosophies, I’m actually going to recommend it to everyone I meet from now on. And with that, welcome the show Paul, how are you doing today?

Paul: Hey, I’m great. What a great intro, good match.

Steve: Well, the book which I just finished this morning, for the listeners by the way was excellent. If I had more time and I didn’t have two kids, I would have just read it straight through.

Paul: So you’re probably fresher with the content of the book than I am at this point because I finished writing it over a year. Publishing is such a long, long game, right? So I finished writing it so long ago that I’m going to have to reread it again soon just to brush up on it as well.

Steve: Well, I’ll make corrections over the course of the interview. Well, that’s funny; I would imagine you have to read it like 100 times, right, when you’re publishing a book or?

Paul: Oh, yeah, so that’s the thing I had to, obviously it takes a while to write. But I have to go over it quite a few times with the copy editor, the editor, and then the copy editor. And then when I record the audio version of the book I’m going to get very familiar with it again, but there is actually quite a gap because the book is finished and goes to print for limited run for advanced copies, like the one you got probably about eight months before it comes out. So there’s a gap where I don’t have to do any reading of the book again, and we’re kind of in that gap right now.

Steve: Well, it’s fresh in my mind. And Paul, just for the benefit of the listeners who don’t know who you are, looking over your history, you’ve done a lot of different things. So can you kind of give my audience an overview of your background and what kind of led you to this point in life?

Paul: Sure. So I guess the main things that I do are design and writing. So I started designing in the 90s, I’ve actually worked for myself, or almost went for — it’ll be 20 years in this coming February.

Steve: Wow.

Paul: It seems like a long time.

Steve: It does yeah.

Paul: So one I feel so old, but two, that’s like a really long time. So in the beginning, I was doing web design for clients, a lot of like fortune 100 companies. For a while, I was doing a lot of pro athletes’ websites like Shaquille O’Neal. He’s just random, doing a bunch of proactive websites for people in like the NFL, NBA, NHL, that sort of thing. And then I kind of moved from that because that wasn’t very interesting, and working with agents of athletes, oh no isn’t great. But I decided, hey, this internet thing is pretty cool. I’ve been doing websites for a while. There’s these people who are making money on the internet making businesses on their own. And so I kind of gravitated towards working with online entrepreneurs like Marie Forleo, Daniela Port, Chris Carr, those sorts of people, and they’re really smart.

And so I started designing websites for them. I was learning a lot about business. And then probably about six, five, six years ago, I decided to create my first products. And they were books. And from there, I’ve now sell a bunch of software products, a bunch of courses, a bunch of podcasts, I don’t actually do any client work anymore for design. All the product stuff has taken up all of my time. It does well for me financially, it gives me the space, and like today, I spent the entire day bike riding. I’m glad this call is at 5 pm tonight as it was a nice day outside. I was just biking with my wife in the woods for the entire day.

Steve: Nice.

Paul: Got fun. So yeah, I guess it’s kind of — I think that’s kind of where I’m at from start to finish.

Steve: Yeah. So Paul, before we move on, I kind of want to set the stage about the topic of today’s podcast by kind of telling a personal story before we talk about Company of One.

Paul: Great.

Steve: Now, you don’t know this about me. But for the past decade, I’ve been super focused on growing my two main businesses, which is Bumblebee Linens, and My Wife Quit Her Job like pedal the metal growth, right? And business has been good. And today I run two legit seven figure businesses. But here’s what hit me like a ton of bricks last year, growing these businesses further has not equivalently furthered my happiness and my wife and I don’t spend nearly as much money as we actually make. But even still, every year, we set a new arbitrary goal and then try to meet it and it’s getting really stressful. Every new product launch, every new sales channel that you want to add, it just adds to the stress.

And man over the holiday season since we run an e-commerce store, when the customers are coming in, it’s a mad rush to orders and it’s just not as fun anymore. And the money is good but it’s just not always a comfortable situation. But my wife and I made a pact last year to artificially limit our growth to a certain percentage. And we’ve actually been much happier since the pressure is gone and we’re just kind of enjoying just running the business more now. And here’s the thing though, I hang out with a lot of successful entrepreneurs. And I would say 90% of them are just so growth focused that I almost feel like an outlier now. And I felt that way actually, until I picked up your book this past week. So with that long winded tale Paul, what is Company of One?

Paul: Yeah, so many good things in there. I also don’t spend nearly as much as I make. And in the beginning in my 20s, I was like, I want to make a million dollars a year at whatever cost. And so I started to work on that. And after a couple, only like a few months, I was like, this is like, I’m making great money, but I’m also working like 16, 18 hour days, I have no weekends. It was just — I realized like why do I want this? And I couldn’t — like honestly, there wasn’t a good reason. So I was like, okay, how about I just work towards making enough money. So I put some money away, I can cover all of my costs. And that’s kind of — so Company of One is really just the idea that it’s okay if we question growth, because there’s no other, I don’t know of any other business books, or podcasts or blogs that say that growth isn’t always the best thing ever, right?

Steve: Yeah totally.

Paul: Everything is always like growth hacking and 10xing. And it’s like, but why? I feel like I’m the weird guy in the back of the room, putting up my hand like asking, but why, why, why? Why do we need this? And what I found through writing the book and interviewing dozens and dozens of people, poring through really, really boring research papers and business studies, is that the business doesn’t match up with logic always. Obviously, sometimes growth is bad. And I’m not even against growth in business. I’m just about questioning at first, does this make sense? Is this going to make my business better or worse? Is this going to make my happiness better or worse? Is this going to make my revenue better or worse, because sometimes more revenue doesn’t equal more profits, right?

Sometimes you end up spending more than you’re making, even when you’re making more. And there was a study done by I think it was a Copan Group and Inc Magazine, where they looked at like the Inc 5,000 list, the list that everybody’s like, oh, this is the best list ever. And the study found that, I think it was like five to seven years after, they looked at the 5,000 companies five to eight years later. And most of them had gone out of business for reasons not because of any other reason, other than the fact that they grew too fast, they took on too much investment that they couldn’t pay their investors back, they hired too many people, and they couldn’t keep that growth rate going. Because the problem with growth is that you always want more.

So if you’re making 5% more this month versus last month, you want to do 6% the next month or 7% and eventually gets to a place where it’s ridiculous. It just does not make sense. So that’s kind of where the book — the book, I think, is really an examination of what if we don’t look to growth for the answer? What if we look to better for the answer, because bigger isn’t always better, but better is always better, I think.

Steve: Can we kind of talk about your own personal views of happiness. You said a couple things there, like how do you know how much is enough? And then what is your own personal definition of happiness? Like, how do you look at your work?

Paul: So enough for me is covering my basis like for my family, for that kind of thing. It’s funny, there’s a study that a bunch of bloggers are talking about right now, that figured out the exact income where making more money doesn’t make you more happy. And I was like, that’s how much I pay myself a year. I was like, I’m right.

Steve: What is that amount by the way, do you know?

Paul: 75.

Steve: Oh 75, okay, yeah, right.

Paul: So I pay myself that and I my pay my wife as well. And so technically, our income is more than that. But individually, it’s exactly where we’re right on the money for that. And the study found that making, say you made 50,000, you’re happier if you make 75. But if you make 100, you’re no more happier and sometimes less happier than if you make 75 versus 100. And I’ve kind of the same like my business makes more than I need. I live a pretty minimal life. I still do a lot of fun things. But it’s like I don’t need that many things to be happy, especially the things that make me the happiest aren’t things that cost a lot of money like going for a bike ride today, it doesn’t really — like our bikes, mountain bikes are kind of expensive, but you buy those once and you maintain them and they’re good for quite a while.

So for me, figuring out what enough is is more important than figuring out how to grow bigger and bigger, like month over month, year over year and I can’t remember what the second part of the question was.

Steve: Yeah, I know. And just to like, for a long time I thought I was alone in this regard. Do you happen to know any popular entrepreneurs that are actually following this philosophy other than like you and me?

Paul: Yeah. So Sean D’Souza on Psychotactics.com, you actually mentioned that putting a limit on growth, he does this; he doesn’t want to make more than 5,000 dollars a year. So he limits that. So he has like a certain number of spots open up in his courses, or he takes on a certain number of clients. So he doesn’t make more than that, because he’s found if he makes more than that, he has to work more than that. And then he’s not as happy, he can’t, I think he helps tutor his two nieces, and that sort of thing. So like, he likes his life the way that it is. And if he makes more than that, it doesn’t make any sense. And that’s business revenue not per — I don’t know how much he pays himself, but for his business making 500k a year is enough. And that’s the limit that he sets on it.

There’s — oh man, in the book there’s tons of examples as well. [Inaudible 00:14:42] is an illustrator. And he would rather find good paying clients than all of the clients because he wants to sit — he lives in California, like you. And he wants to sit in his studio in his backpack yard and draw, and his two daughters come and they draw as well with their dad in the afternoons after school. And it sounds kind of like an idyllic life to me.

Steve: It does. I mean, but it’s so hard, though. And so the next topic I kind of want to ask you about is, let’s say you are kind of running a successful company, it’s growing, it’s doing great, how do you come to this conclusion whether growth is beneficial or not? What are some questions that you should ask yourself?

Paul: Yeah, I think I come at it very much from a nerdy perspective. My background is like web and software. So I always try to think of, for anything concerning growth, I try to think of what the maintenance costs are. And what I mean by that is — and this relates to everything, not just software. But I’ll start with software then relate it to everything. So for software, if you add a new feature, that could be great, it could be something that all your users are asking for. But it could mean that now you have to charge more, because it costs that much development time to build it. It could mean you need to hire more support staff, because this feature that everybody said they wanted is a feature that requires a lot more support, because some users may not get it.

So, I always try to think of the maintenance costs of that. And that’s actually why I sell the products that I sell, because they require — like writing a book has no tech support. So, I don’t have to do a whole lot other than the marketing and the promotion and I like that kind of stuff anyways, but the book can exist as a product that’s making me money every single month that I don’t have to do — like it’s not taking me eight hours a day to maintain, right?

Steve: Paul by the way, how do you make money? I actually don’t even know.

Paul: So number one is courses. I sell three courses right now. Number two is probably books like advances from publishers. Number three is probably software and then podcasting. Those are the main ones.

Steve: Okay. And then for your courses, is there some amount of support involved with those?

Paul: Yes and no. So the way that I look at courses, so I approach courses like satisfy everything relates to software for me. But I approach courses like software. So I’ll release a very small alpha version to just a few of like the people in my audience who would just buy everything from me. So I’ll give a few people access. And I want to see with their access, where they have questions, especially in on-boarding. So when somebody buys the course, what happens next and what questions do they have? And so whenever I’m building a course, I always try to look at how I can pre answer questions that people might have, but won’t have once I answer them.

So I’ll do things like introduction videos, and all the introduction video will be is talking about all the things that the alpha users, the beta users, or the first people in the first run of the course had questions about. So every time I get a support request or a question for a course I note it. And then when I start to see patterns in that, I’ll make a video or I’ll make a blog post, or I’ll record some audio for it. So I try to answer things in volume. Same with software, I make videos for all the software products that I have for support, because I want people to be able to get the answers they need without having to talk to me. And then if they do have to talk to me, I’m like, okay, good. This is a new question. I can note this in my spreadsheet. And if I start to notice a pattern, I can make a video or a blog post or something like that for it.

And then the only other thing for my courses is there’s a slack group for each of them. And that really, it’s like 10, 15 minutes a day. I like the P — I really liked my audience. So I like the people in my courses. And so I really like interacting with them. And so that really doesn’t take up a whole lot of time, like I’ll login about 10, 15 minutes every other day or so, maybe sometimes every day but it’s not a whole lot of work.

Steve: So what is your formula, then? Your own personal formula, I guess, since everyone’s going to be different for this threshold of support, and how to fix your happiness?

Paul: Yeah, so I always look at what I’ve currently got on the go, because I do have a lot on the go of like three courses, a bunch of podcasts, a bunch of software, books. And so I look at, well, how much time do I want to spend working in a day and it’s usually no more than six hours because I don’t feel I’m productive past that. But I also feel like there’s so many other things in my life that I like doing that I wouldn’t have time for those things if I had to work, like if I was in my 20s when I was working like 16 hours, just ridiculous hours. I didn’t have time to go to the gym, or go out or do yoga, or like make fancy meals. And so I look at what space do I have to add, and I look at is there anything not working that I can remove?

So I like to do this even with like household items. So if my wife or I want to buy something, we’re like, okay, we’re bringing something into the house, maybe there’s something that we can get rid of in the house so we don’t end up with a house full of stuff. So I kind of look at my business the same way where it’s like, okay, if I really want to make this piece of software, what’s it going to cost in terms of maintenance time? But is this even going to fit because I don’t think a lot of people think about that, like they have — a lot of entrepreneurs have lots of great ideas are always wanting to make new things or different things, but they don’t think about how much time it’s going to take to do those things. And everybody is like, oh, I can get stuff done really fast.

And everything takes longer than you think it does. And we’re all awful at multitasking. So I always try to figure out like, okay, what the balance is, because I think there is a balance. And it’s hard sometimes to find that balance.

Steve: So it sounds like you want to work six hours per day. And then you just kind of do some rough calculation to see if you can take on something and if you can’t, you’ll throw away something perhaps.

Paul: Yes.

Steve: Right okay.

Paul: And that’s why I’ve sunseted a bunch of software products, probably about four courses. And I’ve just taken them and some of them could have been making some money. I was selling WordPress themes for a while that were making decent money but they required so much support that I couldn’t do anything else. So I got rid of them because it wasn’t worth it to me. There’s other things that I can do that could make the same amount of money with less work and maintenance on my end.

Steve: Interesting. So that means you must be pretty good at time management because I always have problems too like whenever I start a project, I’m really poor at estimating how much time it’s going to take me.

Paul: Yeah, it’s tough. Especially I think the pedigree that I have of doing client work was really, really helpful because the reason that I got hired, like when I was hired by Microsoft or Mercedes Benz, they weren’t hiring an agency that I owned or worked at, they were just hiring Paul Jarvis to do just design work. And so, the way that I could get clients like that was to always be 100% accurate with my time management skills. So if I said, I need to get this thing done for you in two weeks, you would have it in two weeks, no questions asked. I would not ever miss a deadline. And that’s how I built such a name for myself in the client work design world that kind of carried over to products where I figured like, okay, in my mind, I’m the client, I can’t let my client down even though the client is me.

And so I’d be like, okay, I have to get this thing done in this amount of time. I know approximately how long things take. And typically I padded because life always gets in the way of productivity, or especially like whenever you’re in the flow, something will happen. So if I know writing a piece of software is going to take writing like a feature of software is going to take me eight hours, I don’t put an eight hour chunk in my calendar. I’m like, okay, it’s probably going to be about 16. So eight hours of actual work. And then another eight hours of interruptions or phone calls, or maybe the power goes out, or maybe my pet needs to go to the vet or something like that. So I always kind of double the actual time I think it’s going to take because it always works out for some reason that bring in is always the actual amount of time it takes.

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So Paul, like one of the tenets of your book that I could really relate to, was paying more attention to your existing customers, as opposed to putting all of your research on new customers. And just a quick aside here, like with my store, I found that B2B customers were converting a lot higher meaning like, once you got one of them, they ended up purchasing on a regular basis. Whereas I was spending all sorts of money on ads to get these new customers and oftentimes, these new customers were just like single purchases and done. And so, can you just talk about some examples, maybe whether with some of the people that you talked about in your book, or for yourself, where actually paying more attention to your existing customers actually paid off?

Paul: Yeah, so the first thing is that it it’s more expensive to acquire new customers than to work at building more business with existing customers. And there was a study done, it was like five to eight times more for acquisition versus retention, which is mind boggling. And that was for big business and I mean for a business like mine where it is like literally just me at my home office, it’s just like I really enjoy talking to the people in my audience. And I don’t think a lot of people realize that you can kind of build the audience that you want to have, you’re not stuck with the audience you get. You can actively work at building a cool, interesting audience.

Steve: Give me some examples of how you do that.

Paul: So trying to trying to write for writers specifically, so trying to write in a way that’s going to resonate with a certain type of person, as opposed to trying to write in a way that appeals to everybody. So like, I swear in my writing, and I know that put certain people off and I know that the people that it puts off are the type of people who get angry at the products that I sell anyways, so it’s I swear naturally, so there’s swearing in my writing sometimes, not all the time, not a potty mouth, but like just things like that, or telling stories about my pet rats as business parables.

And some people are like, that’s so weird. Or the welcome email to my newsletter, the Sunday dispatches talks about how I was so excited that — a spoiler alert if anybody signs up for it now. But it talks about how I’m so excited that you signed up for my list, I went out, and I got your name tattooed on my inner left arm. And every time I raise my arm, I’ll think about the day that you sign up for my list. Some people hate tattoos, which is fine, but like I’m tattooed from my neck to my toes. So this is kind of on brand for me. But it’s fine that I put off certain people because it draws the people that are actually going to buy from me or stay customers a lot better.

I show people who I actually am as often as possible, which is very, very scary to do. But it also helps because the person that I am in the three things that I do like the podcast, or the writing of the newsletters, that’s the person who’s in the paid products, like even in my software products, there’s some silly jokes in the micro copy or in the videos. So I think that it’s okay to do that to really hone in on the audience that you want. Because like I think the last time I checked, more than half the people who bought one thing from me have bought more than one thing from me.

So like, I really like to have lifetime customers who buy all of the things because I think that builds kind of a relationship. And like these people, I know these people by name, because they email me, I see them when I get a Stripe receipt, or a PayPal receipt, and I talk to them on Slack. So I get to know them. And the more I get to know my customers, the more I can figure out what they need, what they need help with, what they value, and then I can make better products that are focused for that type of person. And then for them, it’s just like I don’t even need to read the sales page. I’m just clicking buy. And that’s a good position to be in for both myself and for them, because they’re getting things basically custom tailored to them.

Steve: So how do you balance I guess this more personal behavior with the need to reach out to colder customers? Like, let’s say you’re giving advice to a business that’s deciding whether to scale or focus more on their existing customers, how do you strike that balance?

Paul: Yeah, I mean, I would probably look at the data to see how — so I talked to somebody in Company of One. And she was working at a magazine and magazines are very much subscription based, right. And they were trying to figure out how to get more subscribers because they needed to increase their revenue. And not a single person in the company was thinking about how we can reduce the churn from existing people canceling their monthly subscription. And it’s like you already have this pool of people, if you decrease your churn rate by a certain percentage, it’s the same as increasing your profit by a certain percentage.

But it’s easier because those people bought the magazine because they liked something about it. So maybe you talk to them and find out what they like, or what’s no longer resonating with them because they’ve already given you money, they’ve already shown that something about your business or your product is valuable enough for them to open up their wallets to you. It just seems easier to me in a lot of cases, not all the time. But in a lot of cases, to look at the existing customers, because they’re the ones who’ve already found — they’re the ones who are already paying attention. They’re the ones who are already coming to dinner at your business, basically.

Steve: I mean, in your book, you talk a lot about doing things that don’t quite scale for your existing customers. And can you just kind of provide some examples of how you’ve done that to kind of make your existing customers true fans of your product?

Paul: Yeah, so the best example of that is for a book I wrote probably about four years ago. I was trying to figure out what specifically to write about. So I sent an email to my mailing list, which was probably around, I don’t know, 10 to 15,000 people at the time. And I was like, hey, I want to get to know you. I want to get to know what you’re working on, what you’re struggling with. Let’s hop on a Skype call for 10 minutes. And I put a link to like my calendar or my booking thingy. And I think I got like 40 or 50 people book calls with me and I was like, okay, I should probably turn this off now. That’s a lot. But so I spent a couple of weeks talking to subscribers just about themselves, their business, that sort of thing.

And in the beginning, I was floundering with like, okay, what do I want to write about, what should the next book be about? And I was like, oh, maybe it should be this, maybe it should be that. And then after I’d spoken to dozens of people on my mailing list, I was like, it’s absolutely clear, based on the patterns in what people are talking about, I know exactly what my audience is struggling with now. And you can’t — it’s really hard to scale like actual conversations on the phone. But it’s really, really useful. I can give one more example too. It’s is not me but it’s my friends who started another company called Crew. They are a freelance matchmaker service.

So companies are like, I want to hire a designer developer, and they would go to Crew, and there’s already a vetted pool of designers and developers. They had a MailChimp mailing list in a spreadsheet to start, and they were like manually looking through it. And it wasn’t until they had a decent amount of revenue, that they actually built the software to run it. But they started out with a mailing list in a spreadsheet, and they grew it into — they sold for millions of dollars last year.

So things can start without — I think people are so obsessed with scale that you can go back to doing things that don’t scale. And it actually works fine. And a lot of times, you can do things that don’t scale until you can no longer do them. And then it might make sense to scale, or it might make sense to automate at that point. But in the beginning, I think getting to know your customers on a personal level is more important than having like a 36 email sequence if you’re just starting out, right. Maybe just get to know people and their businesses, then make this crazy automation sequence with segments and funnels and automation and all of that so yeah.

Steve: That’s actually a good segue. Like, let’s say, I’m working a full time job right now and I want to start something, how do you go about starting a company of one? Like, what’s some advice that you have, like, should I quit my job right away and go full bore? Like, what’s your advice there?

Paul: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t do that.

Steve: Neither would I actually.

Paul: Yeah, like, it’s funny, because a lot of people who aren’t entrepreneurs think that entrepreneurs are inherently risky. But then I look at my friends who are entrepreneurs, and I look at myself, and like, I’m so risk averse, it’s not even funny. So I’ve worked for myself since I was a teenager. So it’s really hard. But the way that I can relate to this is that I had a very successful client service business and I wanted to move into products. So products kind of became my side job. But I didn’t want to do products unless they were making as much or more money as the client services. So from day one, I kept the income stream separate. So I had my bucket of how much I was making doing client work, and my bucket of how much I was making doing products. And I started doing it on the evenings and weekends.

Like my first book, which is a vegan cookbook, which I never went any further into that niche or audience but it was a good first start. And I basically tried to start that, and this is really that Company of One model is I tried to start as quickly as I could for as little money as possible, and then doing it in gaps. So at that time, I was like, okay, I’m working at the time; this was after I was doing 16 hour days. So I was only doing like, eight hour days. And I was like, okay, I’m working eight hours, I’m sleeping eight hours. And that’s a non negotiable for me to sleep. So I think that’s important. People who hustle really hard really give up on sleep and I don’t think that’s a wise idea.

And then I was like, okay, so I can block my day in thirds, eight hours of sleep, eight hours of full time job work. And then I have eight hours of other. So obviously, I have some life commitments like things like eating, but I can take that time, maybe I can watch less TV. And for about 10 years, my wife and I didn’t even have a television or Netflix or cable, or anything like that. And we really just worked on those sorts of things. So I started my product business, very small. I traded so many things to get that book done. I spent I think zero dollars to publish that book other than…

Steve: Interesting, you didn’t have an editor or?

Paul: I did, but I traded her for web design work.

Steve: Oh, I see. I worked at a five star restaurant and my plates and bowls are ugly, they just look like normal plates and bowls. So I got all these because it was a cookbook. So it had to have nice food photography. I traded the photographer; she could eat all the food I made if she helped me do the photos. So I did everything for basically zero dollars because I wanted to see what can I do with — and the thing is, creativity thrives on constraints. And a lot of people like if I had all of the money and all the resources in the world, I don’t think I could have created as cool of a cookbook. I mean, it’s not even that great of a book. But if I had all the resources, I don’t know if I would have ended up with a better product.

I think the fact that it was so interesting and weird how I basically created a book and wrote a book that was professional quality for zero dollars actually made it a better book. So I think creativity can thrive on constraints. And I started like I made a decent amount of money with that book. And then I started spending money on my second book. So I actually paid my editor because she already had a website at that point. I couldn’t just trade her again. And then yeah, so I started to reinvest, so I’d only reinvest money in products from money that I already made from products. So in the beginning, I was working a couple hours on it a day, and then a bit more. And then I could scale back my client work, and then scale up my product work until eventually the client work scaled down to zero and the product work to 100.

Steve: You know, one of my favorite quotes in your book, and it wasn’t a quote that you necessarily wrote but it was part of a story was that overhead equals death. And I actually had this philosophy with my businesses that I want to keep it lean. So in case like, revenue goes to zero, I can spend like 50 bucks a month and still maintain it forever, or some really low amount of money and or even like I’m really — so I’m so anti SaaS that if I can write the code in like a week or so, I’ll sit down and write the code so that I don’t have to pay a monthly fee. So that’s as far as I go. I don’t know if that kind of correlates to your book, or the point that you’re trying to make. But that overhead equals death really resonated with me.

Paul: Yeah, that’s definitely one of my favorite stories in the book. And I’m kind of the same way, like I would rather figure out how to run my business on — because I think a lot of people don’t look at the lower number, like the expenses of a business, they only focus on the profit, and that the higher number, the above number in the business. And it’s like, if I can run my business for as little as possible, I don’t need more customers to make more money. I can have the same amount of money coming in, but I can end up with more of it if I just spend less. So I’m the same. I’m relentless with spending money. I’m like it’s funny, nowadays it’s trendy to be a minimalist, but before that, it was just cheap.

Steve: So for me, at least my thought process is like let’s say I wanted to take a month off, I don’t want like all this overhead keeping me up at night. Like, let’s say, I had a whole bunch of employees, I got to pay them no matter what. Or have to pay these SaaS apps, no matter what, whether I’m doing work or not. And so the less I guess monthly recurring expenses I have, the more peace of mind I can have at night when I sleep.

Paul: Exactly. Yeah, it’s exactly the same for me where I don’t want more responsibility than I need in my business. And that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t want to hire employees, because I would feel responsible for them. Like if they have kids in college, I would feel responsible for their salary. And I’m okay with responsibility; I’ve run a business that has endured for two decades. But I don’t want more than I have to have. Because then that feels stressful to me and that impedes on my happiness a little bit more than I want it to.

Steve: This is like a therapy session for me by the way Paul. So the last topic I did want to touch upon was, you talk a lot about relationship wealth and how that’s helped you over the years. Can you talk about what that is exactly?

Paul: Yeah, so social capital is almost like a bank account. If you think about it, kind of like that, where I think a good example is if you go to somebody’s website, and they’re like buy now, like you just clicked on it from Google and there’s just like, buy now, buy now, buy now. And it’s like I want to learn a bit first about this. Like, there’s no capital built, there’s no trust built. And I think that if we take a step back, and we look at, like all of my customers, I would rather have some kind of relationship with, like a long term relationship with where they’re supporting my business, I’m supporting them than just like quick sales, like high retention or high churn kind of thing, where like maybe I’m selling — and I’ve talked to some people who sell like way more courses than I do, but their refund rate is like 30%.

And for me, like, first that would crush my ego. My ego was far too fragile to refund a third of the people who buy anything from me. And I think I can probably count on both my hands how many refunds I’ve had to give in for things that I sell, because I don’t want that to happen because I really try to work hard with my existing audience and pay attention to them. But I think that’s yeah, it’s difficult for sure.

Steve: So, for some reason when I was reading the book, I took your relationship wealth to talk about like the colleagues that you’ve met who have actually helped you along with your business.

Paul: Yeah.

Steve: And you didn’t really go into specifics in the book, actually. But how did those relationships actually help you get to where you are now?

Paul: Yeah, so I’ve kind of been of the mindset that I really like interesting people. Interesting people are interesting; I think that makes perfect sense. And so I would always kind of approach relate like I look at the emails that show up in my — like today, for example, I probably got like five pitches from people I don’t know, deleted every single one of them, I do not care. But I look at the people who connect with me on Twitter, or that sort of thing where they’re just like interesting people doing interesting things, and I just want to talk to them. So the person that I teach one of my courses with, her name is Kaylee Moore, she contacted me about a year and a half ago. And she was a student of one of my courses, creative class at the time.

And she was like, hey, I would love to get together for a virtual coffee with you for 10 minutes to talk about what you’re working on, what I’m working on. I have nothing to sell you. I just think you’re interesting. And let’s have a talk. And I wasn’t sure. Her and I now work together. And she’s my partner in creative class because we got to know each other, we figured, oh, we can both kind of balance each other skill sets out. It makes sense to work together. But in the beginning, there was no — I think a lot of people look at relationships now, especially online relationships, where it’s like, what can I get out of this person? Other people can smell your intentions and can see your intentions even if you think you’re trying to hide them.

So a good example is even the person that connected you and I, Sol Orwell, I think that he is like a master connector. He is like really he knows everybody. But he doesn’t know people. I’ve talked to him on the phone a bunch of times and like, neither of us have a business that could benefit from each other’s businesses. He’s just doing really interesting things, knows interesting people, I probably the same. And so when — he’s on my mailing list as well. And he saw that my Company of One is coming out soon. And he was like, hey, let me know who I can connect you with to like be on their podcast or to interview you or that sort of thing. And I was like, that’s awesome. Like, I didn’t have to ask for that. My first email to Sol wasn’t, hey, I’ve seen that you’ve been on some great podcasts, can you introduce me? He would have deleted that email, right.

So I just look at, like, all of the things that have come in my life and to my business from personal relationships weren’t because I wanted something from the other person. It’s that I like the other person and they like me, because there’s a relationship there. So I think that that’s really important. And then I look at, like, the growth hacker emails I get, which are the exact opposite of that, like, I’m a big fan of your show, I think I’d be a great guest. And like, my show has never had a guest on it in the length of the show. Like, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not a big fan of the show. So it’s just like, just, I don’t know, just get to know people. And people can be really, really interesting. And you don’t have to get something from them. But maybe in the future, if you’ve given a value to them, or you’re just friends with them, then maybe something cool will happen. Maybe it won’t and either way that that’s fine.

Steve: I mean that’s totally been my experience as well. And in fact, my business partner now is someone I met at a conference just kind of randomly.

Paul: Nice.

Steve: And it’s been many years now and it’s been a great relationship.

Paul: Cool.

Steve: But hey, Paul, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. This is actually been quite a good therapy session for me, because for the longest time, I thought I was alone in that just constantly trying to grow, grow, grow, grow, has had really been adding to the stress. And all these goals, for me, at least have been kind of arbitrary, right? Like I want to grow X amount next year, and I don’t spend a lot of money. I don’t buy anything really. I go on a vacation every now and then. But that’s about it. So it just makes life a lot happier when you can just cut back and think about what really makes you happy.

Paul: Yeah, it’s true, like, good question. I find that questioning things in general, like business life, whatever, it’s just a good idea to think like how does this benefit me? Or how would this not benefit me? Instead of just like blindly following like things you read on the internet.

Steve: I mean, the ego is a problem though, right?

Paul: Hundred percent?

Steve: I mean, I belong to this entrepreneurship program as part of Stanford, and everyone in there is they’re running these funded companies. And a bunch of my friends there have had exits, like nine and 10 figure exits. And man, it is really like, I go in there, and I’m selling handkerchiefs or selling courses and it’s just kind of intimidating. I don’t know.

Paul: No, it’s true. And I mean, I was talking to Jason Fried the guy who runs Basecamp, I interviewed him in the book. And he’s like at dinner parties, like you saying that you work at a company that’s like a couple of employees versus saying, like, oh, I work at a company with like 10,000 employees, it doesn’t — but then like, who are you trying to impress? What does it matter? And I mean, even like looking at Basecamp is a ridiculous example, because their profit per employee is way higher than any fortune 100 company. They make so much money comparatively to the number of employees that they have that is actually better than a lot of these massive companies. But just like the dinner party conversation, like, oh what do you do? I work for myself. And people automatically think like, oh, you like you sit in your underwear on the couch?

Steve: Exactly yeah.

Paul: No, dude. Like, I make money but I also have a life that I really enjoy. And I don’t need to hire people to sound good at dinner parties because I wouldn’t want to go to dinner parties where that was the only metric.

Steve: So Paul, where can people find you online? When does your book come out? I think it’ll be out by the time this interview goes out actually, but where can people find it?

Paul: Yeah, so the book is called Company of One. It’s available at every major retailer from Amazon to Target. It’s in or will be in pretty much all bookstores. It comes out on January 15th, but it is available for pre order on October 15th. And then the way that it works is the more books I sell between October 15th and January 15th, the higher it ranks because all sales count on the first day. So if this sounds like a book you want to read, then maybe buy it in that time. If this is coming out after that, then just get it if you like it, but…

Steve: I highly recommend the book. When I was reading it, I was nodding the entire time because it really resonated with me just the whole focus on happiness. I started my businesses originally, so I could spend more time with the kids. And over the years, I had kind of lost track of that. And it was just last year when I was having a rough year that it just kind of all hit me like is all this growth making me happy or not? And then your book basically just reinforced all of that for me.

Paul: I’m glad to hear that. Thank you.

Steve: So Paul thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.

Paul: Thanks Steve.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I really loved Paul’s book and I highly recommend it to all business owners. And the link to the book Company of One will be in the show notes. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode239.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode because Privy is the email capture provider that I use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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238: How To Become An Influencer In Your Niche With Selena Soo

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238: How To Become A Leader In Your Space With Selena Soo


Today I’m thrilled to have Selena Soo on the show. Some of you have probably heard of her before because Selena is fairly well known in the online business and entrepreneurship space.

In any case, Selena is a publicity and marketing strategist who helps authors and coaches become well known leaders in their space.

She’s worked with a bunch of big names like Farnoosh Torabi, Kimra Luna and she’s helped countless others like Ramit Sethi and Pat Flynn.

In this interview, we’re going to learn exactly what it takes to become an industry leader.

What You’ll Learn

  • Selena’s background story
  • The best way to grow a business and get more exposure
  • How to build lasting business relationships
  • How to approach new people as an introvert
  • How to add value to a celebrity or a big name entrepreneur

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
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GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
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Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they used to grow their businesses. Now today I have my friend Selena Soo on the show, and you’ve probably heard of her already if you follow guys like Remit Sethi, Derek Halpern, Andrew Warner, or Pat Flynn. Now Selena is a publicity and marketing strategist, and today we’re going to be talking about what it takes to become a well known industry leader where customers come to you rather than the other way around.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store and I depend on them for over 35% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who’s purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every email sent. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. And bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Selena Soo on the show. Now, some of you have probably heard of her before because Selena is fairly well known in the online business and entrepreneurship space. And we actually both have mutual friends in Remit Sethi, Derek Halpern, Jordan Harbinger, Andrew Warner, and Pat Flynn. Anyways, unlike most podcast guests, I’ve actually never met Selena before and our introduction was through someone who I do not know at all, a man by the name of Ahmet [ph], and apparently Selena and I were chatting before this recording and she doesn’t know him either. So it was really a kind of random introduction.

But she’s actually been someone on my list of people to reach out to and I’m actually very happy that Ahmet did me a favor. In case you do not know her, Selena is a publicity and marketing strategist who helps authors and coaches become well known leaders in their space. She’s worked with a bunch of big names like Farnoosh Torabi, Kimra Luna, and she’s helped countless others Remit and Pat. And in this interview, we’re going to learn exactly what it takes to become an industry leader. And with that, welcome the show Selena, how are you doing today?

Selena: I’m doing so well. Thank you for having me.

Steve: So Selena, given that we are total strangers, how would you describe what you do and what led you down this path?

Selena: Yeah, sure. So I would say my biggest passion is elevating experts and entrepreneurs who are doing amazing work and making sure that the whole world knows about them. And the way that I came to this is in my mid 20s, I had a quarter life crisis and I just felt terrible every single day and I wanted to stop feeling like shit, basically. And I was asking friends, like, what do I do? Where do I go? Do you know anyone who can help me? And I discovered this woman’s life coaching group. And it was really powerful.

And in that group, I got exposed to different thought leaders and authors, people like Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, and people who were showing you that you could really create your own life that you’re in control of your own thoughts. And that you can overcome all these things that you’re struggling with, whether it’s a career issue, a life purpose issue, or you are in a toxic relationship, or it’s a health issue. And I realized that for myself, and for so many others, we’re not just looking for more information, we’re really looking for inspiration. And I was so inspired by these role models, because these individuals are people that I looked up to, and that they really embodied this message of possibility.

You have mentioned, I think Remit Sethi at one point, and he is someone who was actually a huge role model and support for me in launching my own business. But as I just started discovering these people, and falling in love with their work, and their stories, and even seeing a piece of myself in them, and seeing hope, I was like, I want everyone to know about them because a lot of my peers had no idea who these people were. And I felt like this is the most important thing, personal development, loving your life, being able to pursue your dreams. And so, I really want to help get these people out into the mainstream, and so that more people would know about them.

Steve: Interesting. So was that how you ended up meeting like Remit and Derek for example? Were you promoting their stuff? Okay.

Selena: No, well, that’s an interesting story. So Remit was and still is my favorite blogger. And I would read everything that he wrote. I was such a nerd. Like, there was this one piece that he wrote, and I forwarded it to like 30 friends being like, oh my gosh, this is so amazing. You have to read it. And I think a bunch of people didn’t even respond, like so into his stuff. And one day, I was walking home from my summer internship, I was in graduate school, and I saw him on the street, and I was on the phone with my mom. And I was like, I got to go mom. And he was outside his apartment building. He was looking like, I don’t think he – maybe he had his glasses on, I think he had slippers on, he was letting his parents into a car.

And I just knew, in my mind, I was like, I don’t know if I ever see him again. So let me just approach him. And I approached him and I introduced myself. I was like, are, you are Remit Sethi? And he’s like, yes. And I was like; I’m a huge fan of your work. I read your book. And we started talking, and the thing that we have to remember, sometimes we’re like, how could I ever talk to someone who is such a big deal in online world? And the thing is, everyone’s favorite topic is themselves, it’s the easiest topic for them to talk about. So I had so much to say to him about his book, about his blog, and about the impact that it had in my life.

And so we started to get to know each other. He was like, are you on my list for local New York meetups. I’m like, actually I am. And as he started doing meetups, I would attend those meetups, and actually, that’s how I met Derek Halpern. I remember he saw me talking to Derek, and we were like, laughing and everything. And he was like, oh, so you guys know each other. I was like, no, I just met him like five minutes ago. But the thing is, with Derek, I was also a huge follower of his work, and I had so much to say to him. And so, that’s kind of how I started to develop those relationships.

And over time, there have been ways I’ve showed my support to Remit like, as an example, as we became friends and I was in business school, he sent me an email saying, hey, I’m redoing my website, if you have five minutes would love for you to like, or a couple of minutes, take a look at this new mock up for the homepage. And there were a few different versions. And I was in my ironically, entrepreneurship class, and I left the classroom and I went to the library, and I gathered just people and friends and I got, I organized like a mini focus group.

And I spent like five hours between asking people for their opinions, and listening and doing that market research, and then writing up all my ideas and I shot him an email later that evening. And he was expecting probably like five minutes, or no response, or I don’t know what, and I gave him five hours. And he was just really blown away by the depth of my insights, and how I really showed up for him and went above and beyond, and he shared it with his team. And that’s just like one example.

Steve: So hold on, let me just introduce, let me just interrupt you real quick because you said a lot of stuff there. And like, my first question was, first of all, when you’re approaching someone who’s famous or semi famous up, how did you become memorable in Remit’s eyes that one day when you approached him in the car, or was that just like a first introduction?

Selena: Yeah, I mean, so the way that I became memorable, the way I became an interesting person to him was being interested in him. So, I was a huge follower and fan of his work. And when someone’s full time profession is helping other people and they want to know that they’re making a difference, it’s very different to — so it’s like, even when they send out emails, it’s like they’re wondering, are people going to respond, are people resonating with this? So to meet people in real life who are like, oh my gosh, your work has changed my life, that’s what they live for. That’s why they do what they do.

And I think I also stood out because now Remit has a much bigger audience. I met him several years ago and his audience then was definitely majority like Matt [ph], and he jokes like a young geeky guy. And so I’m like just like women and like know all his stuff and I just had like this — it was just like I didn’t fit his profile, a little bit intrigued. And yeah, I think also my enthusiasm went a really long way.

Steve: Okay and it sounds like you helped him greatly which immediately got you on his radar so to speak when you did that whole entire case study on his website design.

Selena: Yeah, absolutely. But even before that, one thing that some of your listeners Steve may be thinking it’s like well, I don’t live in New York City, I’m not going to be like walking down Main Street and bumping into like my favorite influencer. And it’s not really like I want people to kind of see the bigger picture here. The thing is, in life we can’t wait for opportunities, we have to create our own opportunities. And for so many of us, oftentimes there are opportunities in front of us, maybe we’re going to a conference and our favorite author, speaker, influencer, course creator is there, but we’re too afraid to go out to them. Or maybe a friend of ours is connected to someone who has interviewed them on a podcast, or who is their star student or something. But we never have the courage to ask them, oh, do you have any ideas of how to get in front of this person?

So all of us, we all have opportunities. And I think that what made the difference here, like, the very first step is I seized the opportunity and I went for it. And so that’s really, that’s one of the first things I want to make sure everyone takes away from this.

Steve: So given that you do this for a living, let’s say I was a client of yours, what would you say is the most important way to grow a business and just get more exposure for your business? Like, what do you coach people to do?

Selena: Yeah, I mean, the first thing is always strategy. So I mean, I guess there’s two areas I’m really well known for. I mean, the overall area that I’m well known for is helping people get well known, right, getting visibility, becoming thought leaders and influencers. But when you break that down, there’s two main areas. So one is getting publicity, and the other is connecting with influencers. So I really believe that publicity is one of the absolute fastest ways to grow your business. You could have a lot of success and get hundreds, thousands of people on your webinar and you tell your parents like, oh, I had this really successful webinar, I had like 700 people live on it, and your parents are going to be like, what’s a webinar?

But if you’re like, oh, I got this feature article on Forbes or Business Insider has been talking about how I am the go to person on this topic, they’re going to be like, oh my god, they’re going to tell their relative, family, your high school friends are going to see on Facebook. Oh my god, you posted this, people kind of the Woodworks. So there is something unique about publicity.

Steve: It’s funny you say that, because with my mom for the longest time, she didn’t understand what I did. And then I told her some of the numbers. She’s like, why are people paying for that? And it was only after I got in Entrepreneur or Forbes, I can’t remember which one it was, she was like, oh, my God, what you’re doing is like real? Like, good lord mum.

Selena: Yes. I know. And it’s definitely not the actual most significant, the most significant thing is the results you get in your business and for your students and clients. But it’s something that is sort of universally understood. And so when you’re thinking about building your brand, and thinking about marketing, publicity really should be in the mix somewhere. And when I have people think about publicity, I have them think about their goals and their business model. So for example, for some people, a goal of theirs might be I want to publish a book and I want to have thousands and tens of thousands people buy the book. Others are like, I don’t need a ton of clients, but I’m looking to get like high ticket clients for like a $10,000 coaching program, whatever it is, and I just need like 10 people at a time, right.

So those are very different goals. And based on your different publicity goals, there’s going to be different types of publicity and media outlets that you should focus on. So one example I can just share quickly is like I mean, I’m a huge fan of podcasts. And I think it makes a lot of sense for people who are experts and especially people that have online courses or high end coaching because with a podcast interview someone feels like they really get to know you. They’re listening in to like that coffee table conversation, you can go really deep. And when you hear someone speak in 30 minutes to even an hour, you feel like you know them and you’re more comfortable taking the next step or as are some other forms of media like TV which is a massive credibility booster and can be really good for specific purposes.

If you’re looking to sell like a $10,000 program of some nature, the average person watching TV might not be the right person, but the person who’s invested an hour and follows as expert could be someone who is much, much more qualified, So all about the strategy with a publicity piece and then also I’ll just quickly touch on the second piece is the influencer piece. That is really key and it’s similar to publicity in the sense that a lot of us tend to hire based on recommendation, and so if we know a top influencer is endorsing someone, we’re like, oh yeah, I want to work with them. It’s kind of funny. So my personal trainer actually is the personal trainer of Remit Sethi, Derek Halpern, and for whatever reason I mean I don’t know, I guess it’s just how my brain works, I was looking for someone and they recommended him to me. And I’m like, oh well, he works all of them, I want to work with him too.

And in my own business people are like, oh wow, like she’s been endorsed and she’s helped like Danielle LaPorte and she’s helped Kimra Luna and Marie Forleo endorses her work, I trust her. So similar to publicity, that is kind of like one of those instant credibility markers and then but influencer relationships go a lot deeper than publicity. And I think that those two combined are really, really powerful ways to grow your business and really to grow your reputation.

Steve: So Selena, so from the perspective of my listeners, let’s say they have a specific skill, and they want to be able to make money with it. So let’s say, it’s some medium to high end coaching service that they want to start but they are a nobody right now. They don’t have any content, they don’t have anything, how would you advise that they get started?

Selena: Yeah, I mean, the most important thing when you are getting started, and even at the higher levels is mindset. Because the thing is, if you don’t believe in yourself, or you feel bad about selling or charging, or you’re not sure about your worth, then you’re going to self sabotage. Also, I’ve had situations where I’ve had it early on, I had a nightmare client. And there was something on my offering that was off and I just like I felt so bad about myself that even though people wanted to work with me, and they wanted to give me money so badly, I just kind of turned all away, I was like, I was too busy. So you’ve got to get yourself in a good mental space and a good mindset.

And I would — the way that I built my business, and what I recommend people considering is just start helping people, because as you start helping people, even if it’s pro bono, or it could be a small project where you say, hey, I would love to help you with this project for free for like a one month period, or for six sessions, or four sessions, or a three hour deep dive, whatever you want to do, say, if I do an exceptional job, I would be so grateful to get a testimonial from you, and if you have happen to think of anyone who could benefit from my services, let me know, or let them know.

So that’s, I mean, I didn’t do it so explicitly in that way. I was just because I was in school at the time, I didn’t really, I wasn’t focused on making side income, but I just started being helpful to people and I identified people, I’m like, oh, wow, I can connect you to this person. And let me introduce this reporter. Let me help you make this connection. Oh, like, you need feedback on this. Like, I would love to give you feedback. I just went above and beyond. And it really for me, it’s a lifestyle and that’s really what I encourage everyone to consider is when you show up every day as a giver and you create all this goodwill, people are going to want to give back to you and it really builds your reputation. So for me, right away when I started my business, Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte, all these people, they wanted to give me testimonials.

Steve: So was that a gradual thing? Like, when you met them, did you do a lot of pro bono work for them?

Selena: Yeah, so I can explain how it worked because it’s evolved over time. So initially, like for example, with Danielle LaPorte, I just kind of like helped her for free. I knew her several years before I even started my business and I had offered to connect her to people at different media publications. I’m just a helpful person. And over time, like more recently, I was like in charge of like influencer marketing for her White Hot Truth book campaign. And so it’s something started off as pro bono and then there was payment later. There have been other times where people have wanted to pay me whereas I like let me just help you for free.

So, every situation kind of varies, but I will say that I put like a lot of just like, I just help people. Like with Remit, I’ve never asked him for payment. And personally, I don’t really want payment from him, I just want to help him but he also helps me so much. I mean, I’ve taken his courses but beyond that, now, he’s somewhat have an inner real bind, I can just text him and be like, hey, can we talk, and like I’ll do that maybe like once a year. I’m not going to take advantage, and he’s there for me. So, yes, I absolutely did a lot of pro bono work in the beginning. And then there were also people that I charged, but my number one goal wasn’t like, how can I make the most money out of these people? I was thinking really it is — and this is still my philosophy, when it comes to people you really admire, it is an honor to be a part of their world, to want to give back to them. That is a gift in of itself.

So that was — and I think that is a reason why a lot of these influencers really opened up to me, because a lot of times, you can feel when someone’s got an agenda. And you’re a bad person for having agenda. I mean, I’m very quickly can connect the dots between people, ideas, and opportunities. And I know if I add a ton of value, they might help me. Ultimately they might not, but it’s not a big deal. So it’s fine to see the connections that could be made. But I think that when there is this feeling of desperation and expectation, then people feel very scared to let you in. But I think I’ve always had this kind of very giving attitude and I’m laid back about like, I don’t really need anything from it, but I’m also like a go getter like their biggest advocate and supporter and people feel that. And then they appreciate me and then many of them end up wanting to support me.

So going back to like your listeners, what I would recommend they do is to create an influencer list. And so this is like the first step. I mean, the first step with everything, we got to figure out the strategy. So my definition of an influencer is someone who can help you reach your goals faster. So identify what are your top goals, and let’s get more specific than just grow your business. Is it to get — land five high end clients this month, or generate X amount of revenue? And when you think about your influencers, these are people who have already achieved your goal, or maybe they’re a couple of steps ahead of us, so they kind of know the path ahead, and they’re very familiar with the current situation around it. Or maybe they are people who connect you to other people who can help you reach your goal faster.

So make that list, and you can definitely have like some aspirational people on that list. But I also would encourage you to think about who’s kind of in your own backyard? Who do you already know, that you’re not tapping into because all of us have people in our world who care about us and believe in us already. And oftentimes, we’re not asking them for help, or asking them if they might be willing to make an introduction or brainstorm ideas with us. And so, you want to identify your list of influencers and connect with them and think about how can you be an incredibly useful, helpful, valuable person in their life?

And simultaneously think about maybe how can I just help people, perhaps do a pro bono project here and there and start building up that goodwill and getting those results so that when I have calls later with people who are prospects of my business, who would be paying clients, I can say, yeah, I worked with someone for a month, and these are the results we got in a one month period. I’ve done this with three other people, and I’m so confident I can do this for you too.

Steve: So it sounds like you worked your way up, right. So you had this list of influencers and you were doing this pro bono work to build up your portfolio, and then perhaps at some point, you’ll approach this influencer with a strong foundation of work.

Selena: Yeah, well…

Steve: I’m just trying to understand how you operate yeah.

Selena: No, I love it because I want to make sure it’s really clear to people. So with the influencers, I would say, these are the people that you can offer the pro bono work to, but not like indefinitely, it could be a project or a series of things you do for them. And after time, some of them will be like, can I just hire you, I would love for you to lead up this in my company, or take on this bigger project. Or they might be like, you know what, you’re so awesome. I should put you in front of my students, you should be a guest in my group program, or, hey, let me connect you to a colleague who could really use your services. With these influencers, the most important thing is building a relationship; it’s not the short term revenue you can make from them. If you can really help them and they want you in an ongoing way, they will pay you, they will be, you know what I mean?

Steve: Yeah.

Selena: Or you just say like, hey, I’ve loved helping you and I would love to continue to help you, but I want to explore the possibility of us working together in a deeper way, could we explore what that could look like? And compensation or whatever, that’s not my main goal. My main goal is to support you but I want to figure out a way that can be a win-win, where I’m being compensated, we have a long term relationship where I can create these results in your business.

Steve: So Selena, I’ve been offered pro bono work many times in the past, and I’ve always just turned it down because in my mind, at least, I’m like, okay, great. I have to think about what I want this person to do. It just might be another complication in my life. And I don’t know what the skill set is. So how do you overcome that?

Selena: Oh, I mean, I’m so glad you brought that up because I mean, I’ve gotten the same invitations too. I mean, the problem is, like, if you have to think about what you have to give them and you don’t know, and like can I trust this person? I mean, it’s not going to work out. So, like, with me when I reached out to people, I mean, a lot of times also, as I start to develop a network of friends and influencers, they’re introducing me to other people. So like Remit Sethi and Danielle LaPorte pretty much simultaneously introduced me to Marie Forleo. So there’s definitely like a high level of trust there. But when you email someone, introduce me with like can I help you, and then there’s like no link to your website, or LinkedIn or anything or with your skills.

So you need to sell the person on why they should accept an opportunity to work with you because free work is not really free, they still have to coordinate with you, maybe put team members in touch with you. I mean, if you do a bad job, there’s consequences. So it’s not actually free. So, you want to connect with people in a way where you’re highlighting your expertise, and you already have ideas to bring to the table. I mean, for me, with the publicity work I do and the influencer work, a lot of it is, it is very clear, it’s like, hey, I would like to introduce you to this person. I feel like it would be interesting for you to connect, because of XYZ reason. I’ve known so and so for the past couple of years, I think that it would be a really cool connection, would you be interested, right? So it’s like very straightforward. And I’ve also got a website and things like that.

Steve: So let me ask you this, would you recommend you have all those things in place before you approach an influencer for pro bono work?

Selena: I would — I don’t think you need a website per se. But I would say you need to have something about you online. Because if they Google you, and there’s nothing, it’s like, is this a real person? Are they legit? So what I would recommend at minimum is maybe like say LinkedIn. And then in the summary section, you kind of share what you do, your expertise, and include a link to it in your email. So as they’re looking for more information, they can see, oh, okay, this person is a professional, this is their experience or expertise, this is the work they’ve done before, oh, we’ve got mutual contacts, okay, this is like a real person, this is not fake, it feels like there’s more trust there.

Steve: So it sounds like — and I might be paraphrasing here, the foundation for your methodology is to just build relationships and kind of gradually work your way up to larger and larger influencers to kind of promote your business in the grand scheme of things. It’s all about relationships, right.

Selena: Yeah. Oh, 100%. It’s all about building deep and meaningful relationships. And the other thing I want to clarify is, I’m not saying just spend all day doing pro bono work because it’s very hard to build a business if you’re not making money. I actually believe in being really thoughtful and selective about who you invest in because for me, when I’m looking to build a really meaningful relationship, especially in the beginning, and I had a lot more time in the beginning, because you’re starting off any clients, so I had more time, but you need to go above and beyond, because that’s the only way that someone’s going to notice you. But you can only go above and beyond for so many people, right?

So that means you should be really thoughtful and selective and not from like, I mean, I guess you should be aware of, okay, how could this potentially be beneficial to me in the future, but really thinking about who, where, I mean, I like to think of it as where they’re the most synergies where I could invest a lot and create amazing results and value and there could possibly be [inaudible 00:27:54] or also like, if the kind of person like, I don’t believe in developing relationships with people just because they’re “famous or influential” if they’re not a good person, you don’t like them, got a bad reputation, what I mean? Like that personal connection is really important too.

So, be thoughtful, and choose about who you’re going to develop relationships with, and go deep, but then don’t just all put on one person, because then it’s like you get this intimacy of desperation where it’s like, oh, everything is banking on this one person potentially being helpful to you in the future. I would say, be developing like three to four meaningful relationships at a time, while also doing other things to grow your business. It should not be your only strategy. But especially early on, this is something that you do want to think about.

And when I think about even now, now that I have a thriving multi seven figure business, I mean, I’m still helping people all the time for free. But I don’t even think about it, because that’s what we do for friends and people that we care about, like, oh, hey, can I make this introduction for you. Oh, tell me about your business, oh, like would you be interested in a couple of ideas? Or can I give you access to this resource I have. So it really is kind of a way of living and it is an art and figuring out what’s the right balance, but I think there is a lot of room for us to always be givers, while also simultaneously being focused on our own business goals.

Steve: So let me ask you this. So let’s say you did not meet Remit by chance that day, what would have been your strategy to just kind of gain mindshare in his eyes? And how do you approach people? I think I read on your blog that you’re an introvert. How do you overcome that as well?

Selena: Yeah, I mean, that’s a big thing. And a lot of people in my community, they’re drawn to me because they have that introverted side. I mean, I think everyone on some level can feel shy or it’s like a spectrum introversion, extroversion. I think for me, and for everyone I know, it’s really about not putting the focus on you. It’s more about putting the focus on the person you’re looking to connect with. I’d approach for me as an example and thought like, oh my God, what is he going to think of me? Oh, how do I look like, what am I going to say? And like, I hope I don’t mess up. And that is the dialogue in my head and I’m like hi, then I would probably mess it up. But I was more like kind of in the moment, like, oh, there he is. And it was all about like him; the focus was on him, not on me.

And I think it’s one of those things when you let your kind of like your passion speak louder than your fears. And for me, I just had this real passion to connect with him, to express gratitude and also be a helpful person, so that always kind of leaves leads. But I mean, I’ll be honest, there have been times and there are still times when I’m in front of some big influencers, and I get nervous, and maybe I feel like I kind of messed it up, or I don’t know, like if I came off in the right way. But the thing is, like, out of, a couple of time, but then there are like dozens and hundreds of connections, where at this point it’s just like, it’s been a great connection.

And I remember actually, I was at an event, actually Remit’s event, and someone came up and spoke to me, and we had a nice conversation. And later I saw her again, we were paired up for an activity, interestingly enough, and she was like, oh, my gosh, I’ve been feeling bad the whole day because you said that you shouldn’t XYZ, I don’t remember what I said. It’s like I did that and I just feel like I left a lot of really bad impression. And I was like, oh, I didn’t even remember that. I didn’t even think of that. I just thought you were awesome. So a lot of times, we’re so in our head, and we make up these stories about why we’re not worthy, or oh my God, we put this pressure on ourselves. And that is really a way that we kind of screw things up. I don’t know if I answered your original question, because I kind of got into this other place. But what was the original question? I can back up the bow.

Steve: No, no, no, let’s actually kind of go with what you just were saying. And in fact, I want to take the opposite approach, what are some ways not to approach influencers or people that you want to get to know? What are some common mistakes because you were just talking about that a little bit at the end?

Selena: Yeah, that’s a really good question. So, I would say there’s kind of two typical mistakes when you’re approaching people. So one is like, and I get it like being so scared and shell shocked that you’re just kind of standing there and saying nothing. Maybe there’s a group of people, and you’re just standing there, and, or you see someone and you’re like, oh my God, I’m too scared, and you just run the other direction. So there’s that, there’s like the total avoidance, and then there’s like the — I don’t want to say over enthusiasm, because I think enthusiasm is important. But it’s like saying too much.

So, for example, and Steve, I mean, I’m guessing that you can relate to this, when you become a well known person, an expert, you’ll get emails from your audience, which is like one of the most exciting things. But sometimes, I’ve been in situations where you get emails, and they’re like 13 paragraph emails. And it’s really like a one way monologue, and there’s like several different questions. And it’s just like, it’s really a lot.

Steve: I feel bad replying to those too actually because I don’t have time to write a novel back.

Selena: Right. So then you feel guilty, right, because you’re like, oh, I respond with a sentence, and they’re going to think I’m rude. And actually, that happened before I responded briefly and someone got really upset at me. And I wrote back to her, and just kind of explained why I wasn’t able to respond at length like she had. But people don’t realize that you’re actually making someone feel bad by sending them a novel. But really the psychology of what’s happening is we feel like we’ve got that one shot to make a big impression and we want to prove ourselves. And so we over share, we tell them everything, when really when you think about a friendship because that’s what you’re going for ultimately, or like a meaningful relationship, when you talk to a friend, there’s back and forth kind of someone says something, the next person says the other thing. And it’s not like you have to put everything out there, like this is your only chance.

And I remember being once I was at an event with Lewis Howes, and there was someone who approached him. And it was like this five minute long monologue where she was talking about herself. And I’ve done this before too actually with a magazine editor. I remember, I got like, I won this charity auction, I got an hour with her and I spoke mostly about myself. And yeah, I mean, I think we do that because we are nervous. But it prevents us from building that back and forth really meaningful connection. So I would just say, that is one of the mistakes. I mean, instead of just like one way talking, think about what are some questions that I can ask the person. And there’s a lot that you could share about yourself, and maybe what are like two or three points, I just want to make sure to get across, and then really let the conversation be more organic.

Steve: I can tell you my MO, and you can tell me if I do the right thing or not. But what I usually do is when I talk to someone who’s like a big name celebrity in some certain aspect; I don’t talk about that at all. I don’t talk about anything that they’re good at. Instead, I try to talk about other things that are very common, family, kids, and whatnot, and I try to find something where I’m an expert and they’re not that they might be interested in, and then I just steer the conversation that way. And I never end up talking about what they’re good at.

Selena: Oh, that’s interesting. I mean, that’s a really good one. I mean, I think that yeah, that is really beneficial because with different people that I’ve met, including my students and clients to other people, when they’ve got a skill that I can benefit from, I’m very interested and oftentimes, I’ll just like, I’ll hire them and be like, hey, can you help me with whatever it is, with decluttering, with getting better sleep and all of that. So yeah, I think that is an important part of building the relationship not, I mean, yes, I think it can be valuable to show appreciation for someone’s work. But then I think it’s also very valuable to also show what you’re an expert and what you bring to the table, because that person wants to be like, oh tell me more about what you do. That’s awesome.

Steve: And I try not to fan boy too much because I think if you fan boy too much, it instantly puts you on a rung below whoever that is that that you’re targeting.

Selena: Yeah.

Steve: I don’t know if these are like, I’m obviously not an expert at this. I’m just telling you what I think sometimes and how I operate. And I’m just curious like whether that gels with what you teach?

Selena: Well, we should talk about that because that’s so interesting. I’m loving your perspective. So one of my favorite sayings that I heard that I share with a lot of people is the moment you put someone on a pedestal is the moment they start looking down on you. And what I mean by that is, when you put someone on the pedestal to think, oh my god, they’re so amazing, they’re so successful, they’re like the best person in the world. And like, where am I? I’m at the bottom; I’ve got nothing to offer them. Who am I to think I could talk to them, I’m going to be wasting their time, why would they want to talk to me when there are other people.

And you create that dynamic where they’re everything, and you’re essentially in your mind nothing, then the relationship is going to be screwed up. You approach them that way, they just, they feel it, and it affects what comes out of your mouth, and your energy, and how you follow up and all of that. As human beings, we’re all equal. And I mean, it is important to recognize, okay, like maybe they’re a busy person, maybe they have more time constraints or whatever, and they’ve got this expertise, I appreciate. But it’s not about thinking that you’re nothing, and they’re everything. I think that the fastest way to level the playing field is to show the value that you have to offer. And the way that you show it is by sharing your expertise and finding a way to potentially give back to them. So, I think we’re talking about a similar thing here.

Steve: I think it all comes back to the original thing that you were talking about earlier in the interview, which is mindset, right? You have to go in with confidence. Even if you all aren’t as skillful as the person you’re talking to, you have to at least project confidence. And then that way that person wants to talk to you.

Selena: Right. And then the other thing is it doesn’t have to be confidence about something directly related to what you are known for, as a business owner, entrepreneur in your job. It could be like for example, there was someone I met recently, and she has seven kids, and she’s a successful entrepreneur, and she’s really good at managing her time. And I’m not looking to have kids myself; I’m like, oh my God. Like, sometimes it’s enough to just take care of myself and my cat. Like, I don’t know how you manage to run a successful business with seven kids. I want to hear your time management secrets, how do you delegate? How do you outsource?

Or just people’s personal character even, or how they handle stressful and difficult situations. There’s so many ways that we can create those meaningful connections. And there’s different ways that people can learn from each other beyond the number one main thing that you’re known for, as a business owner, or a professional.

Steve: Absolutely. So it let’s — so we got five minutes left, let’s try to kind of sum everything up, right. So original question I posed to you was, let’s say, I have some sort of skill and I want to develop some sort of high end clientele, maybe, perhaps. And so the first thing that you suggested was to perhaps just get some sort of body of work right, that you can show off, it sounds like.

Selena: Right, yeah.

Steve: And then after that, make a list of influencers that you might want to meet, perhaps that you can help out pro bono whatnot, and then develop relationships that way, and then perhaps grow your business by referrals. Is that kind of…

Selena: Yeah, exactly. That is the fastest way, it’s developing that body of work, and publicity can be part of that body of work. When people are goggling you, they’re like, oh, he did this interview, or he wrote this article, not just on their blog, but on other well known websites, that’s your body of work. And combined with building meaningful relationships, and getting people results and having case studies, and tangible things that you can help people create in their lives, and then they refer people to you, and you’ve built your reputation. Yes, I think that is a really smart, and one of the fastest ways to build your business early on, for sure.

Steve: How do you get press mentions? What’s your strategy there?

Selena: Yeah, so there’s a couple of different steps. But one is getting really clear on what you want to be an expert in. It should ideally be connected to your goals and your business model. And then it’s about coming up with a really good story idea. So oftentimes, that people are like, oh, I want someone to just write about me, and my business. But it’s not about you, it’s about the readers. So what valuable advice do you have? How can you really serve the audience? So, some things that you can think about are where do people get stuck in your work? Or what’s the number one question people ask you, or what’s the fastest way that you can help people achieve XYZ goal?

I have like dozens and dozens of prompts and ideas of how people identify their story ideas, but basically, what people are most definitely wanting to know from you is usually something that is the basis of a good story idea. And then there’s also just kind of people like things that are interesting, or sensational, or surprising. They love rags to riches stories, they love hearing about big results, and things like that. So, getting clear on your story ideas, and then sending an email pitch.

Steve: How do you know who to pitch?

Selena: How do you who to pitch? It depends. So like, let’s say, if it’s a podcast, usually, it’s the podcast host that you would pitch and sometimes they will have forms on their website, like a contact form, and they’re like, please follow this form specifically. Other times, there will be an email, you should jump through hoops. Sometimes there won’t be an email, but you’re on the podcaster’s email list, and you have a sense of the email format or at least you have a hello or info at email, or maybe you know someone who has been on that podcast, or someone who is connected to that person. So there’s a lot of different ways you can go about to get the information and then definitely depending on the media outlet. Like for TV you may want to call at the TV station, and then get the information for who would cover like type of story. But the thing is, it’s all accessible. It just involves a little bit of outreach.

Steve: What’s your view on hiring PR agencies?

Selena: Yeah, I think it’s not the best idea if you are early stage business owner, because it can be very expensive. And I think that even if you hire an agency, you need to understand how it works before you just hand over $5,000 a month, or $10,000 a month, or whatever it is. And the thing is, nobody is going to care more than you. And you’re going to have the best ideas; you know your story the best. So if you have a little bit of education, so that you can understand like what is it that is going to get you into the media and how you’re going to leverage to the media, that’s important. Because the other thing is a lot of PR agents, they’re not thinking about the business, they’re just like, oh, let me get you a mention.

But you could get a random mention on a blog, or even do a podcast and nothing could happen to your business, if you don’t know how to set it up right, if you don’t know how to leverage it, if you don’t know how to create the relationships, there’s all the other things you need to be thinking about. I mean, I actually have publicity programs on this. And if someone is interested, feel free to reach out to me. But the thing is, I also take the perspective of a business owner, because I’m a business owner myself, and like all of us, I don’t have a lot of time. And if I’m going to invest my time into something, I need to see the return, it needs to be strategic, it has to directly grow my business. So there’s this whole other piece to it. And if you just outsource it without being educated yourself and having a strategy, there’s a very high chance you are going to be wasting your money.

Steve: Let me ask you a different question here just to kind of close things up. Let’s say I run an ecommerce store and I don’t want to be the face of the business, does that strategy greatly detract from your methods?

Selena: Well, you don’t need to be the face of the business but someone’s going to have to do the interviews, right. And there’s going to need to be certain calls to action, whether it’s on podcast, or even certain messaging that you want to get across. I mean, I think that hiring a PR person can be a really good idea. I mean, I’m in the industry and I’ve had clients before, but I think that the best PR relationships are collaborative relationships where you’re not just outsourcing and delegating and have no involvement and you’re just crossing your fingers, but that you are also kind of leading the way and overseeing and making sure you’re getting the results you want. So I think it is still important to have some base level knowledge about your PR strategy versus just trusting someone else.

Steve: Okay, so it sounds like you recommend having at least one person who’s willing to be more public I guess?

Selena: Yeah, there should be someone absolutely, mm-hmm.

Steve: Okay, hey well Selena we’ve been chatting for 40 minutes believe it or not and thanks a lot for your time. Where can people find you and the various courses that you offer?

Selena: Yeah, so they can go to my website, they can go to SelenaSoo.com. I do have a page about the programs I have. I have a lot of launch based programs. I do have some evergreen things that are coming out. So I mean, you can also feel free to email me. You can email Hello@SelenaSoo.com and my team will pass that along to me. I’m happy to point you in the right direction. And I mean, I love helping people and making sure they’re getting the support they need. So feel free to reach out to me. And then also on my website, I have a video if you’d like to check that out. That goes deeper into how I build relationships, some of the top influencers and some of my best tips to building connections that go beyond what we discussed in this podcast.

Steve: Absolutely. Well, just kind of as an aside, my businesses did not really take off until I started attending conferences and meeting other people. And that holds true for both my blog as well as my ecommerce store. So, we talked a lot about relationships in today’s podcast, and it’s really hard to apply a $1 value to it, but I just know that things did not start happening until I started building these relationships.

Selena: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Steve: So, Selena thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.

Selena: Yeah, thanks for your time.

Steve: Well, that’s a wrap and I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Selena Soo. Now as I look back on the success of my own businesses, a huge part of it had to do with networking and establishing myself as an authority. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode238.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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237: How To Build A Personal Brand With Facebook Ads For Just 5 Bucks A Day With Dennis Yu

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235: How To Build A Personal Brand With Facebook Ads For Just 5 Bucks A Day With Dennis Yu

Today I’m lucky to have Dennis Yu on the show. Dennis is someone who I met at Social Media Marketing World at the speakers mixer and it’s funny. I knew that I recognized the guy right away because he’s been plastered all over my Facebook feed for years.

Anyway Dennis is the CTO of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults, teaching them how to manage social campaigns for large enterprise clients. He’s been featured all over the place like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and he’s an all around Facebook ads geek. Enjoy the interview!

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Dennis started Blitzmetrics
  • How to create a strong personal brand
  • How to select a targeted audience
  • How choose the best creative for your ads
  • The key to a successful campaign

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
ahrefs

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I have a special guest with me on the show Dennis Yu. And Dennis is the CTO of BlitzMetrics and a total Facebook ads geek. And in today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how to use Facebook ads to develop a personal brand.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And right now I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this and when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

But you can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pop ups and an abandoned email sequence at one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full blown email marketing solution. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales in my online store. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m lucky to have Dennis Yu on the show. Now Dennis is someone who I met at Social Media Marketing World at the speaker’s mixer. And it’s funny; I knew that I had recognized the guy right away because he’s been plastered all over my Facebook feed for years. And so, we started chatting about his Facebook strategies which are fascinated by the way.

And I found out that Dennis is the CTO of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults teaching them how to manage social campaigns for large enterprise clients. And he’s been featured all over the place like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and he’s an all around Facebook ads geek. And with that, welcome to show Dennis. How are you doing today man?

Dennis: Hey, good Steve. Always good to hang out, I don’t know if like me being plastered on your feed is a good or a bad thing.

Steve: No, it’s good thing. I recognized you right away. I’ve seen you literally every day.

Dennis: Oh, oh stalking you, retargeting you.

Steve: I mean the strategy works. And that’s something we’re going to be talking about today. But before we begin, I wanted to get a quick background story about you just in case someone my listeners don’t know who you are. Tell us how you got started with Facebook ads and how did that lead to BlitzMetrics.

Dennis: Yeah and I started working at American Airlines, had built their website 20 something years ago, almost 20 years ago, I started analytics at Yahoo. And ever since then, it’s been all about data, and using data and relationships to try to drive ROI. It’s great for agents like us, right. You’re good at math. I got a perfect SAT except for two questions on robotic perfect math. And so how do you use things that you’re good at in terms of analytics to then be able to drive things at scale? And like at could Yahoo, I learned how do you drive sales for something like Yahoo Personals or Yahoo shopping, Yahoo Mail, and you’re driving relationships at scale.

But I learned from analytics, which almost nobody gets the viewpoint from being inside a search engine. I learned from being inside a search engine that it wasn’t the masses of 170 million users that were coming in every day, hey, this is before Google became big, right. Imagine back in the day, Yahoo doesn’t exist any longer. And I learned that it was about finding and developing these micro relationships. So someone who was using Yahoo mail, and they played fantasy sports, we also knew something about their favorite sports teams and who their friends were and how they can invite friends in to chat because maybe they’re using chat to talk about fantasy sports, while they’re coordinating on scores from Yahoo Sports and Yahoo News.

And the idea that you could build a giant company off of micro bits of relationships and data is something I think almost no one would understand unless they’ve been inside a search engine. Now you’ve got all this talk about influencer marketing, and personal branding and social media expert, consulting, author, speaker, coach, public figure, I’m famous, look at me, Ted Talk, all that kind of stuff. And it’s come full circle where you need to have the data, the building blocks of these relationships. And I’ve always come out at the last 20 years from a data standpoint of quantifying relationships.

Steve: And the way you do that these days is how?

Dennis: Everything that you do creates a deposit or a withdrawal in every relationship, whether it’s a client or not. It’s for example, prior to this call, we were meeting with some of our friends in [inaudible 00:06:07] and they publish textbooks, and we’ve got a digital marketing analytics textbook that’s coming out. And two weeks prior, well, these folks are up in Idaho Falls way up in the mountain on the border in the mountains in the border of Montana, and just having a good time. And a year ago, we were hanging out at Social Media Marketing World.

And three or four years ago, we were teaching well, they reached out to me saying, hey, I hear you’re really good at Facebook ads; can you do an expert session? And I said, sure, happy to right. And since then, tens of thousands of students and university professors have seen it. But what you see is a small relationship that started years ago, grows just like relationships that you have, people that you know. Think about like who your best friends are, or maybe your wife, she quit her job, right? It’s something you had to develop an initial seed, and that seed grows, and it grows through remarketing, it grows through frequent lightweight touches.

When we did analysis on Yahoo Personals, which was a dating site that we started from nothing, we found that when people would date, and they became eventually close, and maybe they got married, the nature of their interactions when they were already going steady, they’re already married, already been together a long time versus people who are like newlyweds or they were just going on a first date, or whatever, you know what, the distinguishing factor was that people in solid relationships had frequent lightweight touches. And you examine their text messages, you examine their mail, you examine, we had all this data in Yahoo, and it would just be simple things like yes, or no, or ha-ha, or just little touches.

And it’s funny, because when you build up many, many lightweight touches, that puts deposits in those relationship bank accounts. And you think about the social graph on how you’re constantly making these deposits, your personal brand is the sum of all of these positive and negative deposits that eventually you may ask for a favor, you may ask for money, and that’s a withdrawal. And if you don’t have a positive balance there, you will bounce a check when you try to make a withdrawal.

Steve: Which happens all the time to both of us, I’m sure right, people asking us for help out of the middle of nowhere, right?

Dennis: Yeah, it’s like he already has his jab, jab, jab, hook thing because you make deposits before you withdraw anything.

Steve: And I had to wait two years for this interview constantly hounding you.

Dennis: That’s called interest. Now, I owe you, right?

Steve: So one of the conversations that we did have, you probably don’t remember this; it was all along the lines of personal branding. And every day I get hundreds of emails from people who are kind of stuck in dead end jobs, or people who can’t find a career. And my advice to them is always to just start something on the side, or build your own portfolio of content. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, then just build an audience, establish your own brand. And that’s what I was hoping to pick your brain about today. And I know you do a lot of this stuff at BlitzMetrics. But let’s say one of the listeners out there, they’re starting with nothing like, what’s the first step that you would give them or have them do to just kind of start establishing their brand?

Dennis: All of what you’re doing Steve, interview other people, who have some kind of expertise, whether it’s perceived or actual, and get them on video and make a one minute video. Like if we’re hanging out at Social Media Marketing World and there’s 6,000 people there, certainly at the lunch tables or in a session or when you catch a speaker, not right before they’re about to go on stage or something like that. But you can find these people and you can ask them a question or two, not five questions, just like one question for a one minute video. And you collect a series of these.

And you don’t have to know anything; you don’t have to have a brand. You don’t have to be good on camera, because you’re just pulling out your iPhone and getting their feedback. That’s what I did for the first 20 years of my life. And then the next 20 years of my life was about paying that forward from the mentors and other people that have taught me. A lot of people want to jump straight to the main stage without having any experience and without having the knowledge and it shows through, they think they’re fooling everybody. I made a post on Facebook about that yesterday and it got to like 400 likes, because it’s about people who are fraudulently promoting their lifestyle.

They don’t have the lifestyle, they owe people money, they don’t own those vehicles that they’re posing in front of. They are constantly burning relationships, because they think it’s all about maintaining that look. And in social media people are they spend so much effort. So many of these people, these author, speaker, coach, influencer, whatever you want to call these people are so busy trying to maintain this Hollywood facade that they have not invested in their knowledge. And I always believe I’m old fashioned. I believe, invest in your knowledge is the best way to learn firsthand, right? Just start a podcast and interview other people. Of course, do your homework beforehand so you don’t come off as being silly, right?

Steve: Let’s say I want to become known as an authority in a certain area. And I know you do this a lot with your Facebook ads, because even before we even met, I saw you talking about various topics in social media. And I think you were talking about a bunch of different topics. Every time I went on my Facebook, I saw you on the feed talking about something else. And even though we hadn’t met and I knew nothing about your company at the time, I watched some of those videos. And over time I started seeing you as an authority in that area. And so, if someone wants to do that, like I’m kind of curious what your strategy over time is for doing that.

Dennis: That’s easy, so if you want to be an authority in X, whatever that is, let’s say, it’s helping out dentists or help helping attorneys generate leads. My buddy Ben Doll is actually an expert here, he’s sitting right next to me. Well, if I know nothing about that, I’m not a lawyer, I have no experience; I would do a Google search for internet marketing lawyers or something like that. See who shows up in terms of the people, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn, maybe if I’ve built sort of a relationship or something that I can say, and…

Steve: Can you give me some examples, like assuming you’re doing this cold, right?

Dennis: Yeah, it’s really easy. You have to creep on people in a non creepy way. So if you follow these people, if you retweet their stuff, that’s not seen as being intrusive, that’s just being part of the community. And when you comment on their blog posts, when you comment on their Facebook Company, and you write them a review, when you do things that are positive, and you say thank you. And in those reviews, and in those blog posts that you write, you are demonstrating that you have taken the time to review their stuff, not just like, oh, that was a really great article, all that was awesome, great job on being featured on Entrepreneur. That’s not building engagement. That’s not demonstrating that you have earned the right to talk to these people.

It’s very easy to build authority in any area that you want if you do this. I know because 99% of the people that approached me are automatic DQ because they come straight for the ask. They say, can you get me a blue checkmark? Can you introduce me to Mark Zuckerberg? Can you get me tickets to the Golden State Warriors? We’ve never met. I don’t even know who you are. And that’s the — can you imagine like Stephen, I just walked up to you and I didn’t know who you were and I said, hey Steve, can I have the keys to your car, and we don’t even know each other right?

Steve: I would say Dennis you could have whatever you want.

Dennis: If I had a gun at your head maybe. All of us I think we understand this kind of etiquette. Yet 99% of people fail because they think the internet is such a big place that you can get away with murder or there’s just enough people. Going back to Yahoo Personals, there were people that would behave, they’d set up their dating profile, and they just figured there’s enough people that if I make a profile and if I reach out to enough women, enough of those women are going to you no respond to my message. And of those, I’ll be able to go on a date. And of those I’ll be able to — and if you just send out enough messages, if I blast my resume out there enough times, then eventually I’ll just get a job right, if I just blast enough.

And that is what spammers do. That’s what people who put their stuff on Twitter and just like mass blast and follow and the Instagram follow trends which are getting killed, like don’t do that. I believe in following a few people. It’s a warren Buffett methodology, right? Warren Buffett, you know what is stop picking strategy is?

Steve: No, what is it?

Dennis: Like invest in 1,000 random stops like a mutual fund. It’s put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket, research a few stocks really well, and put your money there. I have a finance degree. I can say stuff like that.

Steve: Actually, one of my buddies, you might know him Billy Murphy. He put all of his money in Apple like many years ago.

Dennis: Yeah, he’s doing well.

Steve: And he’s doing well, though, yeah, exactly. But okay. So you find someone that you want to follow, and then you kind of subtly in the background, you tweet them, you might leave a comment, a thoughtful comment on their blog. But if someone’s really busy, they might not necessarily notice that right. I mean, is this a very long term strategy?

Dennis: No, they’ll notice. I mean, do you consider long term three months?

Steve: No, not at all, three months is short.

Dennis: Look, even people like me, I’m not trying to say I’m famous or anything like that, I’m not whatever, Paris Hilton or one of these people, but I certainly get a lot of people coming after me. And I notice when people leave thoughtful comments. I notice when they leave a review, I notice if they tag me multiple times. And of course, I’ll try to block them or whatever because a lot of spammy people will like tag 80 people in a post. But if people say something that’s interesting, that really stands out. And it’s to your advantage to do that, because you know that 99% of people don’t do that. So you will easily stand out.

I know a lot of these other people — I know, I have friends that are billionaires. I have a lot of internet billionaires who it’s not hard because I know all the people from the beginning. And we all joke about these people that come up to us. We’ll be having dinner, like one time I was having lunch with Robert Scoble. And we had this, and I think I brought Logan with me. And as a three, and we were good for the first half hour at dinner, and then all of a sudden, some people noticed us. And then because we’re hiding in the back, and these other people, and then all of a sudden, all these people came up and they tried to pitch us and they want to take pictures oh my, oh no.

Steve: While you guys were eating?

Dennis: While we were having lunch.

Steve: Oh yeah that’s terrible.

Dennis: So eventually, [inaudible 00:17:01] Robert, let’s leave, let’s go somewhere else because we were chatting about some stuff, right? We were working on some stuff together; we had a book coming out, right? You can’t be interrupted right now; we don’t want to be impolite. So just don’t be one of those people, right? That’s the main thing, ask any celebrity and their main thing is just don’t be one of those people. And it’s so easy to approach. You would think like celebrities, or famous business people or whatever, oh they think that they’re so important and their time is so squeezed. And it is, but they’re actually really helpful. And I’ve met so many successful people, not just billionaires, but people who have just below that level, and they’re all really nice to me.

Steve: So, so far, we’ve talked about establishing contact with influencers and that sort of thing. How does that tie into making yourself as an authority? So once you have contact with this person, and you’ve established some sort of mutual trust, what is the next step?

Dennis: Then you interview them in a one minute video, get on Skype for five minutes. Or maybe you ask them one question. You say, hey, I’ve got an article I’m writing and it’s coming out next Friday on the 10 things that are happening with Bitcoin. No, don’t do that. That’s a big, but some kind of topic that’s an area that you would like to be well known in eventually, but you don’t have any authority. Can you just give me one tip, and so you assemble a listical, because maybe you reach out to 10 people, and they each give you one tip, and lo and behold, you have an article, a listical right? It’s the easiest way to do it.

You see a lot of people that will say, what 150 experts have to say about how to get a mortgage, or whatever the topic is, like, insert your topic, what’s your topic? Who are those people? Don’t just mass blast each of them saying, hey, can you give me this one thing, but take the time to research who they are, take the time to see what they really care about. And ask a question that demonstrates that you have done some homework, and they will reply most of the time.

Steve: It’s funny; I’m just looking at my own correspondence here. I would say 99.9% of people do not do that. It’s really easy to spot a mass email.

Dennis: Yeah, and then what’s worse, or actually about the same is then they hire these VAs, or they use these bots, the PR agencies are the worst. I even got three of them today that were saying, yeah, I can help you drive leads on LinkedIn and do your lead gen automatically and all this and that. And I replied back saying no, thank you. You’re a robot; I would not want to be known as spamming people like that. In fact, if I had competitors, I would pay for them to use your service to put them out of business.

Steve: Okay. So we have this video or this listical, what’s the next step?

Dennis: You’re going to put it on Facebook; and you’re going to set for $1 a day.

Steve: So, what would be the caption, or what would the ad look like and who are we targeting here?

Dennis: We’re going to target the people in the audience that care about that particular topic, to people that go to that conference, the people that read the book, the people that follow that particular person. So let’s say that I’m in sales and I do real estate, and I am able to pull off a five minute interview with Grant Cardone, I’m not saying it has to be A list people, I’m going to target Grant Cardone. So I’ve got an interview with Robert Scoble, I’ve got lots of interviews with Robert Scoble, guess what I’m going to target, Robert Scoble.

I’ve got pictures and videos of me with the Golden State Warriors at their headquarters with their marketing people talking about how to do digital marketing, and how to succeed on Facebook. Who am I going to target? The people that work with the Golden State Warriors and the people that work at ESPN and the people that work in the NBA, and the people that are going to care about that kind of content. I want the highest relevancy possible. Think about who would care about that piece of content.

Steve: And then I’m targeting those people. What is the goal of the ad?

Dennis: I just want to drive engagement. I want to drive an initial touch. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m not trying to make a withdrawal. I want to demonstrate that as a journalist, as a fact gathering objective helper, I am collecting useful information and distributing it to other people without an initial ulterior motive. And when people see that you are trustworthy, they know you by who you hang out with. So, if they see that my co founder Logan Young is hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg, and they see that he is being interviewed on CNN about oh, Senator, we run ads, and being interviewed before Congress and all that.

If they see him there, he’s not selling any of our packages. He’s not selling consulting. He’s not saying anything about how good he is or how much he knows, or the fact that our company we’ve spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads. Not once does he or I or Ben, or any of our people, none of us ever need to say that because Steve, who would you trust more, Logan, who let’s say you know nothing about Logan. But you see him hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg versus somebody who says, hey, Steve, I’m really good at Facebook ads, you should hire me, me, me, me, me. Like, who would you think would be better at Facebook ads?

Steve: Yeah. So you’re gaining authority by association in the very beginning.

Dennis: And that’s called perceived authority. And perceived authority has to always precede actual authority. Actual authority is that you have the credit, you actually know how to do it, you have the proof, you have the checklist. The actual authority is where, let’s say, Steve, we implement this for you. And you saw you saw our personal brand manager, which is a media kit, let’s say they implement that for you and it drives good things for you, and it works for you and it builds your personal brand. That would be actual authority, because you’ve seen it, the proof is in the pudding.

But if you haven’t seen it, but you think based on who we are hanging out with, you think based on what we’re saying, you think based on people that we’re interviewing and the fact that we’re speaking at Social Media Marketing World, then you think that we might be good, and that’s perceived authority. Here’s a secret for anybody that wants to sell things, you must develop perceived authority before actual authority.

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And this perceived authority according to you can be obtained with this video that we’re just bidding $1 per day on Facebook campaign, right?

Dennis: Yeah.

Dennis: So can you walk me through this campaign, $1 in my experience doesn’t go that far. And so can you tell me how you can figure out whether the ad is working, or the engagement is good? What are some of the metrics that you use?

Dennis: So there’s something we call the standards of excellence, which is another way of it’s like the check engine light in your car when something’s wrong, right? And if your relevance score is low, that’s a sign that something is wrong but it doesn’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, right? It could be the engine is broken or whatever, when you’re in the car, that the thing goes on, right. And the way to troubleshoot further besides relevance score, which you can look at, at the ad level, very easy to look at, you should be getting at least an eight by the way. If you’re not getting an eight, something is wrong. You’re shooting an interesting video and you’re not getting eight, if you’re not selling anything, you should always get an eight plus.

But if it’s a video, I want to see what my average watch time is; the average watch time is six seconds on Facebook. I want to see 15 plus. If I can get 15 seconds plus on a one minute video, means I’ve captured their attention. If people are bailing out after three seconds, which is where Facebook I think currently counts a video view, that’s a sign that people are just scrolling past my junk. And maybe it’s because I don’t have captions or I’m not interesting, or I’m sitting in front of — I’m sitting in a conference room with a blank wall in the back and a fake potted plant, not interesting, right. Or I have my logo coming across the top with my name; no one cares about that, right. You’re going to lose people.

So the first thing is that watch time, which is governed by how many people I’m losing right away. Then I want to look at what my cost per view is, and not just my cost per three second view, which ideally should be two cents or less. But I want to look at my cost per 10 second view, and you can actually bid to a 10 second view. I mean, you don’t have to; you could just boost post all day long. But if I can get a 10 second view for under five cents, I’m doing pretty well. So think about that. If I spend $1, and I’m getting a 10 second view for five cents, a nickel, then I’m getting 20 people to watch for at least 10 seconds. 20 people that I know are going to be interested. Is that worth it? I think so, 20 of the right people.

Let’s say I spend 10 bucks. Now I got 200 people staying for at least 10 seconds to listen to what I have to say or listen to some other top or demonstrate that I have some kind of authority. Even if I say nothing in that video but I’m interviewing someone else who is authoritative, that Association spills over on to me, it’s called implied authority, right?

Steve: And that becomes very powerful, especially with a targeted audience of people that you want to eventually sell to.

Dennis: Yeah, I’ll just give you an example. So three years ago, Logan Young was delivering pizza for Pizza Hut at $9 an hour. Then he started following our systems on personal branding. There’s no magic, we publish it. It’s not some secret, right. And he became good at optimizing Facebook ads. Imagine that, like a cook that could follow a recipe for chocolate cake. He became good. Not that it was hard, because we follow the recipe. Betty Crocker is not a witch; you just follow the things on the side of the box. And so we were charging $250 an hour which is not bad from $9 now, right to do an ad now, right? That’s pretty good.

Then Mark Zuckerberg approached him at a conference and wanted to take a picture and his price is now $1,000 an hour. And so he used to make $250 an hour which is good right, now it’s $1,000 an hour and the clients are better, we’re getting more business from people buying that power hour because he does have the skill. He has the actual authority meaning that after they pay the $1,000, they’re not going to get disappointed because he knows what he’s doing. And I also like to look over stuff too just to make sure it’s good. I mean, I never really need to, but I just like to look over other stuff before it goes out because it has my stamp on it too.

But he has the perceived authority because he’s hanging out with Zuckerberg, so he can charge four times as much. And he’s always had the actual authority. Do you think Steve that the day before he hung out with Zuckerberg versus the day after somehow his ability to do Facebook ads was like four times better just by like, hanging out Mark Zuckerberg for a few minutes, all of a sudden, his knowledge was just like four times better?

Steve: The answer is no. But how did he meet Zuckerberg in the first place?

Dennis: Ah, you see. Now that is many lightweight touches over time because we have been to so many meetings at Facebook. We have been involved in their betas. We know a lot of their people. We even helped build the initial Power Editor, which is their copy of Google’s AdWords editor. And there was one conference that Logan was at, and he was wearing a Facebook shirt. He was the only one at the conference wearing a Facebook shirt. Why? Because the only place to get a Facebook shirt is at Facebook headquarters. You can’t order it online; you can’t even get it at the local offices. And Mark Zuckerberg said, where did you get that Facebook shirt? Are you an employee? And he wasn’t even in the main sessions. He was just like, walking around. He’s on his laptop or whatever, right? And they struck up a conversation and they talked about all kinds of stuff. And then Zach said, can we take a picture together?

Steve: Nice.

Dennis: And that’s where you see the picture that’s on his public figure page, which we then boost out and we use that picture all over. We use clips from him on CNN from being quoted in the Washington Post, he’s been all over the place, Social Media Marketing World, Traffic and Conversion Summit, keynotes in all these different countries, right. And that just builds tons and tons of perceived authority. But I don’t think it has anything directly to do with whether he’s any good at Facebook ads. He is, but you wouldn’t, you’d have to believe that he is first and then he has to prove it to you.

Steve: So we’re running this engagement ad, we’re doing $1 day and presumably if the engagement is good, we’ll up the spend on that, right.

Dennis: Yeah, so do you just let that run? When do you start transitioning over to reaching out and maybe going for some sort of sale? Like, what are the steps leading up to that?

Dennis: Okay, most people are not going to like what I have to say, they’re going to disagree with what I’m about to tell you. I don’t believe in reaching out to sell. I believe in inbound marketing all the way through, they have to come out and want it. So just 10 minutes ago, or whatever, 20 minutes ago, somebody signed up for our Blitz nation pro subscription, which is an annual subscription for 1,500 dollars of private membership. I’ve never met this person before. And he said, I’ve been following your stuff for years on digital marketing, and these other places where you’ve been sharing with the community.

And every one of those touches, we’ve been building that relationship until at which point he said, I am now at the point where I want to scale my business. I want to grow my agency and take better care of my clients. I am ready for this. I was not ready three years ago or four years ago. Is there any way I could have tracked that? Is there any way inside my Google Analytics or Facebook analytics or Infusionsoft I could have tracked that? I would have never known. And that’s really where it comes from. You have to have some amount of blind trust that if you plant this seed, that months and years down the road, it’s going to pay off. Personal branding is not put a $1 in the machine, and you get something out 10 seconds later. It’s not a vending machine, it’s a gardening thing. You plant the seeds, and however long it takes for the crops to grow, that’s how long it takes.

Steve: Right. It’ll be hard to calculate the ROI of these engagement ads, right?

Dennis: It’s really hard. I wish I could tell you, I’m an analytics person. I’m telling you it’s not fully possible. But there are some — it’s not completely blind. What you can do is see, of the people that are engaging with you are, who are they? And when you comment with them, and have a conversation with them, when they say something or ask a question and you respond by answering their question in a helpful way, instead of like trying to sell them something, they’re going to realize that and then you’re going to see their name. We see their names, usually a couple of weeks later, and they’ll buy one of our courses like $97, right? Because people aren’t just going to spend $97, well, some people will. But most people, they need to see some of the content, they need to kind of talk to you, like chat with you, right? I’m happy to chat with people if they reach out and then they buy. And that’s just how people are used to buying.

Steve: Let me ask you this. So you don’t turn those engagement ads into any sort of other ad that tries to get a lead?

Dennis: Oh, we do. We remarket those audiences.

Steve: Okay, all right.

Dennis: We’re not calling them up. It’s not like they fill out a form and then we keep calling them. It’s just like if you sign up for Salesforce, a rep will call you within like 10 seconds. Like, that’s why you never — you get your badge scanned at a conference. Never let them scan your badge because you know they’re going to keep calling you and calling you. So we do remarketing. So if people have watched multiple of our videos, then we could say, people who have watched video one for more than 10 seconds in the last 30 days, then show them video two. And video to or landing page two, or whatever the next piece of content is, could be promoting, hey, we have we 10 ways on how to do whatever.

It’s a lead magnet, and we just need your email address and we’ll send this to you. It’s free still. But you have to give me your email address so I can send the thing to you. And then when they go through our email sequence, we’ll give them a bunch of tips, we’ll give them videos, we’ll give them so much stuff. They’ll think like, wow, this is amazing. And they’ll say, hey, for $7, we have this thing on how do you hire a virtual assistant from the Philippines, that one is $7 to you? Well, heck, yeah, I got all this stuff for free. I put in my email and I continue to get all this amazing stuff for free. For $7, yeah for sure. I mean, if it’s anything like the stuff I’ve been getting for $7, Holy Molly, right.

And then from there we say, hey, would you like to learn how to use our dollar a day strategy? It’s $189. And they’re like, oh man, I’ve gotten so much value out of the $7, I think I’ll — yeah, I mean 189, my goodness, it comes with a little bit of support. It actually has tons of video lessons, it has like, it’s robust. It’s a full course, there’s a certificate, I can earn, there’s quizzes and exercises like, yeah, I think I would do that, right. Versus just starting cold saying, hey, buy my course for $189, or buy a power hour from Logan for $1,000 to optimize your ads. So what we do with — you guys understand like lead magnets are things you get for free with an email address, and the trip wire is something really cheap just to collect the dollar or two, right?

Steve: Mm-hmm yeah.

Dennis: Our best selling consulting are people who are spending say 10 grand a month with us is most of them come through by buying a course for like $99, $97 where they buy something small. The majority of people that have bought something big had bought something small first.

Steve: Do you have a gradual progression? I think you mentioned something like seven bucks first, and then 200 followed by 1,000.

Dennis: So that’s called the ascension model or some people call it an ascension path. And there’s many different price levels that you can have. You’ll see people argue in the forums on, oh, how much should your trip wire be? And a lot of people like to put trip wires at $7. And I don’t want to go into all the different arguments on how much a tripwire should be. Here’s the answer. It depends on a particular audience. So if you’re selling high end B2B software, then $1,000 could be a trip wire, right. On a million dollar package, $1,000 is the trip wire. But if you’re selling something to consumers, like learn how to play the guitar for the first time, to play an A chord and an E chord, your trip wire might be $1 or two and your course might be $17, right? So it’s all relative to the expectation of the buyer.

Steve: Okay. And then I’m just curious about your opinion on grabbing a Messenger subscriber versus an email subscriber in this day and age.

Dennis: You do both. Messenger will give you subscribers at maybe a third of the cost, but then again, I know there you can well argue with me, monkey, we’ve gone round and round. The day after he sold his company for $150 million, he spent the whole day with Logan and me, he canceled his whole schedule just to spend it with us two making videos about what to do about Facebook chat bots and the common misconceptions. But I still believe in email, right now, an email address is worth more than someone who is a subscriber in your list because you have their information. And there’s limitations on how many messages you can send and what’s promotional versus not.

However, you can have your cake and eat it too because if you set up a chat blast, or if you set up a [comment guard] [ph] where you are collecting their information with a chat bot and say, hey, comment yes, and I’ll give you the seven ways to do whatever, right. That’s a lead magnet. People comment yes, and then you give them that thing. But you say, oh, just in case we get disconnected, can I have your email address, which is a ridiculous thing to say. But that’s what happens when you’re on the phone, though. So people are like, sure here’s my phone number or here’s — and so people — I don’t remember what the opt-in rate is on that, but it’s something stupidly high like 80, 90%, right?

Steve: Really, okay, I’m not doing that right now. Okay, I’ll try that.

Dennis: And we’ll set up your mobile monkey if you want, we’re good at it. We have the inside scoop, the building features for us is really cool. So if you set up your Messenger bot, you can have your cake and eat it too, because along the way, you’re going to collect their email address. And then you have the opportunity to ask one or multiple questions and then send them down a path. So the Messenger model actually breaks the typical funnel. So when you have a sequence funnel that goes from awareness to consideration to conversion, it typically occurs over multiple weeks or months, or it goes through an email nurture sequence, it’s multiple emails. You can actually shortcut that and have it all occur in a single conversation because Messenger allows you to do that if you build out your sequences the right way.

Steve: When you mention replacing an email sequence with chat, are you talking about the interaction, or are you talking about auto responders within a chat bot?

Dennis: I’m talking about the interaction. I don’t think about chat boxes auto responders; although that’s the way most people build chatbots. They think of it as like crappy SMS, or they think of it is like, oh, I’m just going to take what I would say in an email and I’m just not jam it through a chat bot. You can’t do that because chat is so lightweight. You can’t send whole emails through chat. I mean, chat is like a few — you send a chat that’s more than a response, that’s more than a couple of sentences long and it takes up the whole window, and you can’t do that, right. So it has to be really lightweight, it has to be conversational. It has to be yes, no, A, B or C, it has to be really simplified.

Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about my brand new service that will help you grow your email list for free through group giveaways. Now, this service is called Gobrandwin.com, and we’ve had amazing results so far. In one of our last giveaways, we gathered almost 12,000 emails and grew the email lists of participating ecommerce stores by over 56% overnight. Now, does getting more customers and more emails for free sound interesting to you? Here is how it works.

If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, you contribute a gift card from your store valued at $200 or more. We will then assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic and turn it into one massive sweepstakes giveaway. Now, everyone is going to send this giveaway email to their entire customer base, and drive them to a special landing page on Gobrandwin.com. We will acquire email addresses. Now consumers enter their emails, we send them special offers from your store and select a grand prize winner.

And after the sweepstakes is over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your email list. And because my co founder and I have a pretty big network, we will also send the giveaway entry form to related influencers within the same niche and instantly augment any sweepstakes that we run. So bottom line the concept is very simple, we all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the customer base. Now, if you’re interested in growing your email list, then head on over to Gobrandwin.com. That’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com, that’s Gobrandwin.com, and it is 100% free. Now back to the show.

Let’s take a moment since we’re getting up to 40 minutes here. Let’s take a moment to kind of just summarize everything that you’ve said so far because it’s been a lot. If you’re starting out with nothing, and you want to become an authority in your niche, you first start out by trying to get the attention of an influencer in the space that you want to pursue, right?

Dennis: Yep.

Steve: Through thoughtful communication, tweets, comments, whatever. And then try to get them into a conversation on Skype and create a small video.

Dennis: Or meet them in person at a conference.

Steve: Or meet them in person at a conference, that’s even better, right?

Dennis: Like friction, it could be friends that you know because everyone knows somebody. And if you just run into them, pull out your phone and be ready for that one minute video. Be ready for the topic. If you’ve mapped out your six topics that you care about, which we call your topic wheel, then you’re Johnny on the spot and ready to go. The worst thing is you’re about to meet someone well known or you didn’t know they’re going to be there and you don’t have anything to say, you’ve wasted that opportunity. You need to have those topics you care about mapped out in advance; it’s too late to try to make it up on the spot. It’s not going to come out the way you want.

Steve: Do you need permission before you show a video of an influencer in an ad?

Dennis: Well, I’d like to interview you for a one minute video. And they say yes, that’s called lightweight consent. It’s verbal consent, and it’s legal.

Steve: Okay. And then you put out an engagement ad, and you’re looking for metrics such as 20 cents for a 10 second view.

Dennis: Five cents for a 10 second view so you can get…

Steve: Oh, five cents, okay.

Dennis: Well, or even for dollar because we’re talking about a $1 day and you’re going to put that video or put that post or put that picture of you and that person on your public figure page, not your profile, but on a business page that has your name as the name of the page just like mine, right? If you go to fb.com/getfound, you you’ll see that that’s my public figure page, fb.com/DennisYu is my profile, the one that has a blue checkmark.

Steve: What is the difference between having a public figure page versus just your personal page?

Dennis: There’s only one page. You have a profile. As a user, you log into Facebook, and you have friends. And that’s called the profile. You don’t have analytics. You can’t boost posts. You can’t do things that happen on a business page. A page is a business page. There’s many categories of business pages. There’s restaurants, and brands and nonprofits and celebrities. And there’s one called a pop up with figure, one type of business page called public figure, which looks like you, it has your name, it has your picture, it looks just like a profile. But instead of friends, it has fans and you have the ability to run ads and do analytics and all the kinds of things that you can do on a page, right?

Steve: And what is the distinction between boosting a post versus using ad manager and running an ad manually?

Dennis: Well, ads manager allows you to choose from a broad range of objectives, like you want to drive for conversions, you want leads, you want to get video views, you want check ins you want offers. There’s all kinds of things that you can do with ads manager, if you want to sit down and actually build complex ad campaigns. However, most of us, including me, will just post stuff on our public figure page. And then we’ll just hit the boost button, right? The boost button is right there in the timeline. And then you hit boost. When you hit boost, the default, this is objective, is engagement. I mean, you can sometimes choose messages or if you want to drive video views, but I’d like to keep it on engagement.

And then you just choose who your audience is and choose the budget. And that’s the easiest way to get started. You don’t have to go to ads manager, you can boost right from your page’s manager on your phone right from your Facebook app, right? You open up Facebook and see what’s going on. In your pages there, you can boost from right there. You don’t have to go on to your desktop. And there’s no more Power Editor anymore, but you don’t have to do anything fancy.

Steve: And that is equivalent to doing the exact same thing in the ads manager.

Dennis: Yeah, it’s the same thing as driving engagement.

Steve: Right, okay. And then once we have some engagement, we want to retarget those folks into some sort of lead magnet followed by some sort of trip wire followed by a gradual ascension into larger offers.

Dennis: Yeah, so Steve, and everyone else who’s listening, if you made it this far, you’re going to have multiple posts that you’re boosting, you’re going to put a $1 day against each of them for seven days. So each post you are spending $7 and you may have to put out 15, 20, 100 of them. And you’ll find that 5% to 10% of them will become winners. And then these winners, you’re going to put for a $1 a day for 365 days, or $2 a day for 365 days when it’s generating high engagement. And you can tell, once you’ve got 10 or 15 of these posts out, you can tell which ones are doing well, and which ones suck. And usually the ones that you think are awesome are the ones that are going to suck. And the ones you think are they are whatever, those are the ones that actually do really well.

But let the numbers tell, don’t just put post out there, and just keep posting and posting and not extending the boosts. What you want to find is eventually you have these winners. We have some posts that are three years old that are still boosted and they’re fantastic. It’s the greatest hits model. And when you have a library of these greatest hits you’re going to – you know if you are Guns N Roses you’re going to play Paradise City over and over, people want to hear and we actually saw Guns and Roses in concert a few months ago because MGM Resorts International is a client of ours so we get to go to concerts and stay in hotels for free and all that. But yeah, think your greatest hits.

Steve: So Dennis, where can people find you if they want more information?

Dennis: The best way to find me to learn about Facebook stuff is to look me up on LinkedIn because I’m at the 5,000 friend limit. So don’t friend request me unless you actually know me, because I have so many of them, I’m not going to know, just connect with me on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn limit is I think like 28,000 and I’m only halfway there, I’m at 15,000 so there’s plenty of room.

Steve: And watch out, if you ever end up landing on one of Dennis’s sights, you will see his posts in your Facebook feed forever.

Dennis: Hey, if you buy our stuff, then you’ll be in some of our negative targeting so you won’t see it, so get on our feed and buy one of our courses, buy like the standards of excellence for $25, and then you won’t have to see a lot of these things.

Steve: And I want to give Stelzner a plug here too since this is how we met. If you want to meet Denis in person, head on over to Social Media Marketing World. I found you walking around the halls randomly too at times.

Dennis: Awesome

Steve: All right, hey Dennis thanks a lot for coming on the show, really appreciate your time.

Dennis: Awesome Steve, thank you.

Steve: All right.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Dennis is just one of those guys who is great at everything related to marketing and it’s all derived from experience. And his strategies are so intuitive that you end up hating yourself wondering why you haven’t been following Dennis a long time ago. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode235.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

236: The Fastest Way To Make 5K/Month From Scratch With Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness And Scott Voelker

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The Fastest Way To Make 5K/Month From Scratch With Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness And Scott Voelker

Today I’ve got my buddies Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker and Mike Jackness back on the show. If you listened to last week’s episode, we were all together in San Diego to film the 5 Minute Pitch and while we were together, we recorded a couple of podcasts.

Anyway, today we’re going to collectively answer a question that I get asked all the time. If we were to start all over again, what would be our fastest way to make $5000/month. You’ll be surprised at some of the answers. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • How to make $5K/month with only $5k in starting capital
  • How I personally would make $5K with no money at all
  • How to build an audience
  • Is ecommerce the best way to go?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
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GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I’ve got my buddies, Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker, and Mike Jackness back on the show. And if you listened to last week’s episode, we were all together in San Diego to film the 5 Minute Pitch. And while we were together, we recorded a couple of podcasts. Anyway, today, what we’re going to do is we’re going to collectively answer a question that I get asked all the time. If we were to start all over again, what would be our fastest way to make $5,000 per month, and you’ll be surprised at some of the answer. So stay tuned.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in my store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this and when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

You can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pop ups and abandoned email sequences as well at one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full blown email marketing solution. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. And right now over the holiday season, it’s close to 35%. Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Scott: All right guys, I’m out here on a back patio looking at the ocean once again, with my good friends. I figured you know what, we’re in town. We got to actually get together and record an episode, another episode. All right, here’s what I want to do. I’m going to ask a question and this is going to be a speed round. I want to know what you would do right now with all of the information that you know, everything that you’ve gained, but you only have $5,000 to start your new business. What would you do with that money? What kind of actions would you take? And how soon do you think you could get to $5,000 in profit per month?

Mike: Okay, this is interesting. I didn’t know what the question was going to be until you asked it. So I’m stalling for time for just one second. But I know the answer. I know the answer. Number one, the things I’ve had the most success with in my life is the things I’m really passionate about. If I start doing something just for the business aspect of it, of just to make money or make a business that’s going to — just for the money, it doesn’t ever work as well. I’ve had success with it but it doesn’t work as well from my happiness quotient. And ultimately, it doesn’t work as well, from a long term profitability, and other parts of it.

So the things I will get into will be things that mimic my life to what I would be doing anyway, things that I already have an immense personal passion in. So for me, it’s traveling, I like playing tennis, scuba diving, whatever it might be, everyone’s thing is a little bit different. I’m not saying backpacking is the only thing I really enjoy doing. But I would be doing something for sure that’s involved directly with that. And the reason I know this now is because again, I’ve been doing entrepreneurship for a very long time. So I think back to when I was doing online poker, I was super passionate about poker. And it never felt like a day of work versus what I do now, even though I still enjoy what I do, it feels a little bit more like work.

And if you can do things that you’re passionate about, the ultimate expertise, the subject matter expert, is you. So I would go start a blog and start building an audience. That would be my first step, because traffic and an audience and trust is always going to make you money. And now that I’ve done affiliate marketing, SEO, content marketing, YouTube, ecommerce, all these different things run very well to making money via that audience, and that traffic. And I would really laser focus in on doing that, and stick with it for a long enough period of time, until you start seeing that success because most people give up too soon.

Scott: I’ve got a question. I’m going to come in here. Okay, that’s a great strategy. And I love that strategy. But what is your first monetization from that? And how soon would you expect to see something? If you didn’t, where would you be disappointed?

Mike: So that’s a great question. And I have, I think, a good answer for this; because this has taken some time to like, really fully understand. I think the first monetization spot should be affiliate marketing. Use something that’s already out there to establish a baseline of need, or success or purchases, whatever you want to use as a counter. They’ve already got the thing out there; it doesn’t have to be the perfect fit. But whether it’s someone else’s product, physical product, course product, service, whatever, you put an affiliate link on a page, and you see people going towards those things.

You look at your entire site, and all those different pieces of data, and then the thing that’s been the most successful with someone else’s product is right for you to develop and make your own thing there. Again, whether it’s a course or a physical product, or whatever it might be, you know that you already have a built in chance of success that’s way, way over 50%, whatever it is, is probably closer to 100%. It can never be 100%, but you use those data points before you start leaping into the unknown.

Greg: My answer is going to be a little bit different than Mike’s as to be expected. After watching all of the 5 Minute Pitch contestants, I’m pretty high right now on trying to invent something. So if I were to start all over, I had $5,000 to spend, which is it’s a good amount of starting capital. With some smarts and 5,000 bucks, I would try to invent a physical product or make significant improvements to a physical product in an area that I would consider myself like a little bit of an expert in. And I am definitely a tinkerer and a creator by nature, and that’s why this intrigues me right now.

But let’s use an example. For example, I enjoy playing beach volleyball. And one of the things that we often deal with is the net gets saggy and I work around those people who have created like these ratchet straps, or they just use ratchet strap. So you’d use like in the bed of your truck, or whatever, to just like tighten down the net. And really like those ratchet straps can be built into a volleyball net. That’s something that think could be created. It could be patented. With $5,000, you could definitely get started on that. And I think that’s what I’d probably do.

Mike: Let me ask you a question real quick, right? If you were to take my strategy and mirror it with your strategy where you build an audience first and have people that are following you because of volleyball that’s already there, it’s a built in audience and then you launch that invention, that’s like just fuel on that fire.

Greg: Absolutely fuel in the fire. If you have a large audience, it’s pretty easy to launch anything whether that be an info product or a physical product or a software product. I don’t know what other kinds of products. But creating an audience is pretty dang hard and it’s a long play. I would say – one of Scott’s questions was how soon do you think you would be able to receive or have $5,000 in profit. And I think by building a physical product and starting to sell it right away; I would see $5,000 in profit before I’d be able to build up a large enough audience that I could sell them something to receive that amount of money.

Steve: I disagree. So I don’t even need five grand. In fact, I had a student in my class who read one of my posts on how I made a lot of money doing a webinar. So what he did is he just ran some Facebook ads. I think he only had like 80 people and he did a webinar and he ended up making like $4,200, just like that selling, I think the content was actually the webinar or more of the webinar or more detail after that.

Greg: This is what you do, though, if you had to start all over, you’d run Facebook ads to a landing page to capture emails to run a webinar.

Steve: So I’m going to just take it. If I didn’t have any money at all, here’s what I would do.

Greg: You have $5,000 Steve.

Steve: I don’t need the 5,000. Some people out there that are listening don’t even have 5,000. Is that right Scott?

Scott: That is true.

Steve: Yeah, right. All right, so here’s what I’d do. I have a friend that did this. He just went on a popular forum. And he’d start posting these really long posts that people would read. And then all of a sudden, when people read those posts, they would comment on them, ask him questions. And all of a sudden, he became an authority within that forum. And then all of a sudden, people started asking him for advice. And he created a class and all of a sudden, people from that forum started signing up for his class, he didn’t even have his own audience or his own website.

Mike: I love all the different strategies and ideas here. And I think that they’re all coming from a little bit different point of view. For me, the reason the strategy that I mentioned is what I mentioned is because at this point in my life, I’m thinking about a very long term defensible business. And I’m not concerned with the amount of time necessarily that it takes to get there. And there’s obviously a much different point of view, where like, if you said, Mike, you have $5,000, and you have no home and you have no other belongings, I’m just giving you 5K, and you got to like, go out and be scrappy, and survive, that’s going to be a much different set of criteria.

But if I’m where I’m at now, and I’m just starting over trying to build a business for a long term defensibility and success, I would go with that strategy. If you’re looking to make money as quickly as possible; I love what you just said Steve. It’s like a really great strategy.

Greg: You guys might be getting off the question now though. Scott, can you remind us what the question was?

Scott: Yeah, you have $5,000, Steve doesn’t need it. So he’s going to give it to you. So you have $5,000, and you want to start a business that can make $5,000 in profit the quickest. That’s what I’m looking at. So let me give you my answer. And I believe that kind of a hybrid of what you’re talking about, Mike, I’ve done this. That’s why I say I’ve learned it, it works, I can speed up the process now. Again, this won’t work for you if you don’t want to be an audience or if you don’t want to gain an audience and if you don’t want to be the front of the camera. Some people don’t want to be, they just want to build a business on the back end, and then that’s it. Maybe you want to be an inventor like Greg said, and you just want to be that person and just come out with a really killer product that just blows up because everybody wants it, because it’s just awesome.

Me personally, it is building an audience. But the way that I would do that is I would put something out there, and in this case, I would probably do something just to get the attention in the market like I teach right now. And I would do either a giveaway in that market, I would do something to give people or get people to raise their hand so then I can deliver my content. And when I deliver my content, it’s going to be stuff around that market. So again, if it’s in the bass fishing, I’m going to basically create around that market, because that’s what I’m doing every weekend. I’m going fishing with — I’m not, but I’m saying if I did. I’m going fishing every weekend with my son. So I’m going to record that stuff, I’m going to report on that stuff, the lures that I’m making, all that stuff.

And in the meanwhile, while I’m doing that, I’m also going to be doing the affiliate marketing thing like Steve said, like you said. I’m going to be using the affiliate stuff, because it’s the easiest way to basically make a sale without having to have a product, right? With Greg’s strategy, I like that strategy, it’s going to be a little bit of a longer strategy to do to do that whole process unless we’re just going to modify a little bit. If we’re just going to modify a little bit, that’s fine, inventing, a little bit longer of a strategy. But I agree, if you can do that, have your own product, and then you’re going to also do the actual, how you’re going to get the attention in the market for that thing, I think that becomes the challenge unless you have an audience.

Here is what I’ve learned, okay, been at this for over 15 years, whether it’s for my photography business, when my wife and I built a brick and mortar business, we built a little email list of people that came to our studio, didn’t even know what we were doing using like Outlook and we would just blind copy, that was our email blast. And we would sell out our entire fourth quarter photography sessions. We had no spots available, we would book solid because we built an audience.

We built an audience locally of people that trusted us, they wanted us, they didn’t want anyone else, then I took it to the online space. I did the digital photography stuff there, built an audience, trust, sold stuff very easily. Build an audience, know, like, and trust, you can sell anything you want as long as the audience wants it, but you all know that. That’s the easiest way for me because that’s what I know and that’s what’s worked for me. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone. Greg is a little bit different.

Mike: So I mean, the one thing I want to say just about Greg strategy, you kind of mentioned it Scott, it kind of picked my thought process here. I don’t know that everyone can be an inventor, and I’m going to throw myself under the bus here. I’m just not creative enough when it comes to that type of thing. I don’t feel like I can be the inventor type. I can sit there and dream about this for a year, and probably not come up with an invention.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Ahrefs for being a sponsor of the show. Now, I’m a huge fan of their tool and in my opinion Ahrefs is the best all in one SEO tool out there to rank in Google search. And recently, I completed a search engine site audit for mywifequitherjob.com and Bumblebeelinens.com and Ahrefs was indispensable. For example, I used Ahrefs to do a deep dive into all my posts to find the highest volume, lowest competition keywords to target in search. And in fact, recently, I used Ahrefs to rank a blog post in Google from position 20 to position five for a big time keyword in the span of just one month by switching around my title and H1 tags.

I also use Ahrefs to spy my competitors’ sites to see what keywords they are ranking for, and then I write a more comprehensive post and eventually outrank them in search. Now those of you who know me know that I hate spending money on tools, but I actually pay for Ahrefs and that should say something in itself. Right now, I’m giving away nine three month Ahrefs memberships for free. To sign up, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway to win a three month Ahrefs membership. Now back to the show.

Scott: Totally. But back to the question was what would each of us do. So that’s what I do. That’s what I’m pretty excited about right now. I love having an audience and having someone I can promote products to. But it’s not easy to build up an audience even if you’re trying to go like Steve said, and create long forum posts every day and work on that all day. That takes like sitting in front of the computer and writing all day. Let’s not discount the fact that it is hard work and is difficult to build up a large audience, which is part of it. But the cool thing about this and what I’m just reminded of when I was listening to everyone’s, there’s lots of different ways to skin the cat here, a lot of different ways because…

Steve: I just want to reference your story Greg. When you first started out with Jungle Scout, you didn’t have an audience at all, right. Instead, what he did is he befriended the three of us and he leveraged our audiences to promote his tool.

Scott: Well, you know though, but he did, he more or less created a product that people wanted. Once people started using it, they started to share it. So there wasn’t really much of a need for building the audience. The audience was actually being built by the want of the tool that was doing the job. So in a sense, Greg is an inventor, right? He’s a creator, he’s an inventor. You are as well, I mean, you’ve done some of your own as far as building, you love building things, you don’t like spending money on tools. I’m surprised you didn’t build your own Jungle Scout extension and just having it running in the background. But we’ve been reminded of that time and time again, although you did pick up the check the other day, which is pretty impressive. Yeah, yes, he did.

Steve: All right, first of all, guys, I’m cheap with myself not with you guys although if Greg didn’t give me Jungle Scout for free, I might have developed it.

Scott: Yeah, I mean, I agree with Greg, though. I mean, there’s so many different ways you can do it. That’s why people are like, I tried this one thing, and it just doesn’t work for me. Well, you might not have given it enough time; you might not have found your thing. I think you need to play. I think you need to experiment. I think you need to play in the sandbox and see what works for you, and understand that as you’re doing this, you’re learning, you’re growing, you’re constantly seeing what resonates with you. Not everyone wants to spend the time to build an audience or even build traffic to a blog. I think the other strategy here is take 12 to 18 months, do some good keyword research, build a blog with content that people are searching for and get traffic and then just put ads on it. Like, that’s a strategy, right? You don’t even have to be the front of it to do that.

Mike: I think the one strategy that probably doesn’t work is the get rich quick. You got to put the work in. I mean, Steve probably mentioned the most get rich quick thing, not that I mean, with just you basically make a webinar and launch some Facebook ads to it. But if you want a business that’s got longevity and going to be around for a substantial amount of time, there are no shortcuts. You got to put the hard work in, you got to deliver a product, a service, content, whatever it is, an invention that is better than what else is out there already and that people want.

Scott: Well, talking to Steve’s point though, like okay, the way he described it, he made it sound like, oh, just did this, and he did that. The guy is knowledgeable on the topic. So if you’re going into a place, you’re being knowledgeable, you’re being helpful, and then you brought people over because, like let’s think about this. If I’m sitting there playing tennis, and someone comes up to me and goes hey, you want our free 25 minute lesson? I’m like, yeah. And then they show me the lesson. And I feel like oh, my gosh, like this guy is awesome, he is teaching me a whole bunch things. I’m going to be like; can you give me more lessons?

That’s kind of what Steve is saying. Like, he just added value. The people were like, hey yo, can you give me more. He’s like, yeah, I’ll teach you free, goes over to a webinar. If it’s done right, it makes sense, right? But webinars have gotten so much bad rap, because there is a lot of scammy spammy crap out there on the internet.

Steve: It’s not really get rich quick, either. It takes you time to develop the skills to one, find something that you can teach. And then the presentation and communication skills takes a lot of time. So it’s definitely not get rich quick. I know for myself, I always — I don’t take on any project unless I’m willing to do it for three to five years minimum. And so that way, I don’t accidentally give up early. I’m just going to do this thing.

Scott: And that’s kind of what you did with your blog for My Wife Quit Her Job, right? That’s great advice man, seriously.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t see money until the three year mark. And my mom was just telling me, dude, you got the Stanford [inaudible 00:20:07] — why the hell are you writing for a blog and making no money? And you’re thinking about quitting your engineering job? So I used to get this all the time. She’s like; I’m not going to read your blog.

Mike: Yeah, well, and I’m going to say this real quick. I mean, like, I think all of us have experienced this exact thing, right? I mean, like, all of us, 2, 3, 4 years or whatever, of writing content and doing thing, I mean, Greg had some instant success with some of the Jungle Scout stuff. So like, on the more content side, I mean multiple years, right for TAS?

Scott: Oh, yeah. Well, I was going to bring up that point like TAS when I started that thing; I had started two other podcasts that didn’t go anywhere. One was in fitness, and one was in just basically marketing in general. It wasn’t niched down. But then I’d seen an opportunity that I could help people in a specific spot and there wasn’t anyone else doing it. I didn’t make $1 up until 56 episodes. 56, you know what episode that was, the one with Greg. That was when I first announced his extension. And that was my first dollar. I don’t know if you knew that. Did that that you know that? That you were my first dollar? Yeah, you were my first dollar.

My first dollar I ever made from TAS was from promoting and mentioning Greg and Greg was on episode 56. That was the start of it for me. And then it kind of grew from there. But it took 56 episodes. I didn’t press it. I didn’t push it. I just continued to show up. I knew that I was helping. And I knew that I was helping because I was getting the reward of people telling me that it was helpful. So I knew I was onto something, right. I didn’t know how I was going to monetize. Zero idea. You didn’t have an idea when you started your blog?

Steve: No, I didn’t get any rewards either, though.

Scott: Yeah, you see now, you had crickets, right?

Steve: Yeah, I had crickets for sure. Oh, it took me to make like $1.

Scott: Yeah, how long did you take to make $1 on that blog?

Steve: Probably a year and a half. That was through AdSense.

Scott: Yeah. AdSense, which is a lot of money you make from AdSense.

Steve: I waited a long time for that first check. This is just an aside. But if you want to see Scott, the old fitness product, just go to images.google.com and type in Scott Voelker and you’ll see some interesting pictures.

Scott: Oh, going there. I’m going to have to edit that one out.

Mike: Not to toot my own horn here. But this is exactly what I was saying, write content, build an audience, eventually the money will come. There’s three really good examples here with My Wife Quit Her Job, The Amazing Seller, EcomCrew.

Scott: Well, Jungle Scout has built a pretty damn good audience as well.

Mike: That was after I think. I don’t want to speak for Greg.

Scott: I remember Greg, actually, you talking to me, asking me about like, if I had someone that I was looking at that would help create content. And at the time I was like, no, I’m kind of just doing it myself; I want to look for someone. And then you just went gangbusters.

Mike: So Greg, how long did it take you to build an audience as far as the content part goes?

Greg: Yeah, I guess the plan, I didn’t start with like, the plan of, oh, I’m going to build an audience. That was never kind of the goal. The goal was we create this offer product that help people and then we realized they also had a whole bunch of questions. So we were just like, posting content to help answer their questions. It was never really like with the goal of like, I don’t think I ever sat down at like a strategy meeting with myself and thinking and said, hey, like, I’m going to create an audience. It’s like, no; we’re just going to create a whole bunch of really helpful stuff that people enjoy. And then later we put an email opt in there and before you know you start to kind of create an audience around it.

Scott: It’s a good point. All right, so anything else you want to add? I know I wanted to make this a lightning round. We are ready for dinner I think here soon. I think this is good stuff though. Like this here, this random like roundtable stuff for people to hear. After the stuff that we’ve been through, we’ve all got different ideas, different perspectives, so I want people to understand that it doesn’t have to be our idea. It just has to be going out there, doing something, what do I always say, take action and do something, and see what happens.

Mike: Yeah, I think that this is gold like what we just kind of this round table, this is four entrepreneurs that have been through a lot in their lives and their career. This is the type of stuff that people pay like 10K to go to a mastermind to hear this kind of stuff. Hit repeat on this and listen to this a couple of times.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. All right guys, we’re good.

Mike: We’re good. Let’s go eat some food.

Scott: All right.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. As you can probably tell, the four of us are drastically different which is what’s going to make our new show the 5 Minute Pitch so interesting to watch because we all have our own unique perspectives. If you want to get updates about the show, head on over to 5MinutePitch.com. And we’re actually taking applications for the next season already, so go sign up now. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode236.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode as well. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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235: How To Succeed In Ecommerce Today With Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness And Scott Voelker

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234:  What It Takes To Succeed In Ecommerce Today With Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness And Scott Voelker

I just got back from San Diego, California where I spent 3 straight, grueling days filming The 5 Minute Pitch, our new Shark Tank like show, with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker and a variety of awesome guest judges to be announced later.

Anyway, the four of us recorded this podcast on the very last day of filming to reflect upon the 32 companies that just pitched to us. And we discuss what it takes to succeed in ecommerce today. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • What is takes to succeed in ecommerce today
  • Should you double down on what’s working or diversify?
  • Can you get by selling commodity products?
  • The most important factor for success

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Ahrefs.com – The best all in one SEO tool out there that I personally use to improve my search rankings for my blog and my online store. Click here to win a FREE 3 month membership.
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GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
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Transcript

Episode5MPPt1Final2

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. So I just got back from San Diego, California, where I spent three straight grueling days filming the 5 Minute Pitch, our new Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker and a variety of awesome guest judges to be announced later.

And over the course of these three days, we filmed over 24 hours of footage. And the first night we were actually in front of the camera from 8:30am to 11pm. Now life as a poor man’s Z list movie star is very difficult, and the four of us recorded this podcast on the very last day of filming, to kind of reflect upon the 32 contestants that just pitched to us. And we basically discuss what it takes to succeed in ecommerce today.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are my email marketing platform that I use for my ecommerce store and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in ecommerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Scott: All right. Here we go fellows, sitting now here in San Diego out on a patio, might be a little helicopter noise but we’ll get through it. Get that mic a little closer to you, Mike.

Mike: Okay, here we go.

Scott: Mike, get it closer to your face. So we have Mr. Steve Chou, Chou. It’s sexy Chou but someone [overlapping 00:03:09] this is inside joke. We have Mr. Mercer here. Mr. Greg Mercer. We have Mr. Steve Jackness. I mean, Mike Jackness…

Mike: That’s another inside joke.

Scott: In the house and of course, myself.

Mike: We all did it though. That was what’s funny.

Scott: It is, it is. Well, we had each other on each other’s podcasts. And we talked about this 5 Minute Pitch thing.

Mike: Now it’s a wrap.

Scott: It’s a wrap. We’re sitting here having a couple of cocktails and getting ready for dinner actually, we’re actually waiting for dinner; we’re going to go get dinner. But we wrapped up, and we had three days together and…

Mike: It was a lot of fun.

Scott: A lot of fun. But man, I’ll tell you what, it was a lot of words, a lot of work.

Mike: But they always say when you’re having fun, you’re not working.

Scott: That is true. That is true. What I want to do here though, is while it’s fresh in all of our heads; we got to spend some time with some really awesome bootstrapped businesses. A lot of them are bootstrapped. Some of them were pre revenue; some of them were already making some really great money. What I want to do is kind of talk about like this space, it’s changed since three years ago, probably a year and a half ago. What do we like about what we’ve seen? What do we feel like is the essentials to being successful with a bootstrapped business? Like can it still be done?

Mike: 100% can still be done. We just saw twenty something of the 32 companies that are crushing it. So that obviously can still be done. A lot of them are still young. The thing I think that’s really key to your question is, I think the most important thing now is uniqueness and defensibility. It cannot be in any way shape, or form a “me too” product. You have to have something with some intellectual property, something that’s defensible, because you’re really creator, or it’s really hard to knock off. I think those are probably the keys in my mind.

Scott: I agree with that. And it was fun seeing all these different businesses, right? A lot of different types of businesses, we saw software businesses, we saw marketplaces, people who invented their own products with patents, and similar we liked some me to businesses, right. I would say that Amazon is still a great place to get started. I think we saw that with a lot of our contestants when they were trying to get started. They were trying to make those first few dollars, Amazon’s by I think everyone would agree that it’s a great, easy place to get started, then you can pivot into something else. What are your thoughts Steve?

Steve: I was surprised at how swayed I was at someone’s personality. Like, I went into some of these pitches thinking well, without giving away the product, it was a commodity product, really saturated, and I was ready to write it off right away. But this guy’s personality and the fact that he just put so much passion into his presentation really swayed me. And so it just reminded me of the importance of really putting yourself out there as like a personal brand in front of your products, which will make everything a lot more successful.

Scott: That was definitely a common theme, wasn’t it? All of the ones that were doing well are around the tips to companies that maybe weren’t doing as well or need to improve was, it helps to have a face to a brand is someone that can get out there and that can be relatable, and someone who you want to purchase from.

Steve: It even overcame the numbers in a lot of cases, right? Sometimes the numbers didn’t really add up but the guy’s personality just put it through or gals.

Scott: Yeah, we had an equal number of guys and gals. We did which was really exciting. And there were some very successful women actually. And there’s one and I’m not going to give it away. If you guys want to follow along, you better go over to 5MinutePitch.com and sign up over there. You can’t obviously enter the contest anymore. But you can sign up to get notifications when we air new episodes, it’s going to be a full season, it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be exciting. And you’re going to learn a lot through this process too, because as you hear us kind of give advice or even just feedback, you can kind of learn. There’s one business in particular came in with an idea.

Now, he didn’t make it through, almost made it through, he made it through the first round. But he didn’t move on because we almost gave him the advice to pivot and switch gears a little bit, which he took. And he did do that. But I think it’s also being someone that doesn’t marry to an idea. Or if you’re that early, can you rebrand or can you switch and pivot and I think you can. But I really just think that if you have not even just the face, but if you have the presence in the market, if you have a me to product, I still think you can sell that product, if you are the one that people are going to want to buy from.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, almost everything in some way shape or form is a “me too” product because like everything, almost everything has been invented. There’s still things that get invented but there’s very few people that really do that. It was definitely pervasive with the personalities. There was some awesome stories, there was one guy that was talking, again, I don’t want to give things away. But the story…

Scott: Go to 5 Minute Pitch to check out.

Mike: Go to 5 MinutePitch.com, sign up today to be notified. But this guy was talking about how he like went down to the pool [ph] and like put the inventory in the back of a U-Haul truck that he rented. And like you got to be willing to hustle and go all in, in your business. And it definitely that was a theme throughout the entire thing.

Greg: Another common thread that I really picked up on is people who create a brand or market their product that is very much like a powerful or even sometimes like one sided tight brands. I don’t know great words to describe this. But let me give an example. If you were selling soap, for example…

Steve: I was going to use the same example, go on.

Greg: And if you said that this soap is only for tough men or girly hands can’t take this soap or being very binary and like almost creating enemies in your branding but at the same time creating a like lawyer passionate following. So they feel like they fit inside of the area that you’re marketing to, I really like companies like that, especially in saturated or just very competitive niches.

Steve: One thing that really hit me, and I got affected a lot by the personality of the person presenting. One guy, he had a spotty internet connection and it was a wireless connection. So he actually went out in the middle, bought 150 feet of Cat 5 cable, wired his house for internet so that he can participate in the 5 Minute Pitch. And as soon as I heard that story, I was like, man, I love this guy. I know he’s going to succeed.

Scott: Yeah, again, we heard a lot of stories of people that could have just given up. There’s one in particular, made it on a very, very popular TV shopping show, I won’t mention the name, we won’t give it away, and had huge success, then had a huge like obstacle. And you could have given up on that, hasn’t given up and is going to be a pretty cool little story to follow here when they’re being sent through or not sent through, they are being censored, we’ll just say that right there.

Mike: There were several companies though that you could say that about. There was someone that got into a bad cash flow situation, there was someone that – I think it was actually same person who had cancer, which is an obstacle to overcome, there was just the people running out of inventory, and like the guy I was just talking about the guy going down to the pool and doing this. Entrepreneurs, like the successful entrepreneurs are going to face adverse, I felt I faced so much diversity that I could tell you.

We don’t have time to get into all that. There’s been some really crazy stories, but you have to be willing to deal with that. And my friend Grant, who I used to do the podcast with, would say that the reason I’m successful is because I learned how to fail forward. So when you fail, you take that as a way to go forward and learn from that and become a better entrepreneur. And I saw that theme here throughout almost all of the pitches, which was really neat.

Scott: Yeah, let me ask you guys this question. And maybe we can just hand the mic around here. Like, what do you think that something that stood out from just about everybody, what was one thing that stood out to you of why they’ve even gotten to where they are, and why they’re not even afraid to even share what they’re doing publicly, because they are going to be sharing it here on the show, right? So they feel so confident in what they’re doing, they’re willing to go out there and say, you know what, I’m going to do this, and I don’t care who knows.

Steve: I think it’s because a lot of the people who are successful were actually using the products that they were developing. They were experts in their field and they found deficiencies in the tools they were using, and decided to create a better product. And the fact that they’re actually using it, they have domain knowledge over the product they’re trying to sell.

Greg: Everyone that made it through the first round, I think it’s easy to say that they were all just like pure hustlers. They just made things happen or made it work. They hit all kinds of obstacles; they had to step outside their comfort zone. But it’s like everyone shared that same trait, that they were just like hustlers. And it didn’t matter what their background was, or their education, or if they hadn’t experienced it, or whatever else. They were just driven to make it happen.

Mike: I can speak to this for personal experience. And we have a podcast. I talk about pretty much everything we do completely openly. And the reason I can do that confidently is because I feel like what we do as a business adds tremendous value to the product and the community, and the people we serve. And if you’re just creating a me too product and trying to “hustle” like in the more bad sense of the word where you’re just trying to buy and resell something, and just make money in a short term experience, of course, you’re going to be more guarded on what you’re talking about. But we’re creating a brand and products that our fans and customers love.

And I think that’s why the people that came on the 5 Minute Pitch here, they all exude that, right? They all had a lot of passion; add a lot of value, either by creating something really original or even taking products that weren’t necessarily original and adding a lot to those products.

Scott: I got something for you though here, because this kind of — and I want your opinion, your opinion and I’m pointing Mike, Steve, because I agree with you, but I disagree with you. Here’s what I’m saying. Okay, for myself, right now, I started a brand with a partner 18 months ago. I feel like I wouldn’t have had as much of a head start if I would have let everyone know. And I think Greg can probably speak to this, if he wants to be honest. If you’re going to build a true brand, unless you just want to show the process. If I’m just going to show you the process, I don’t care if the brand gets hacked.

It’s kind of like the niche site duel that Pat Flynn did with Spencer or Spencer did with someone else. They’ve all told me it’s been hacked, backlinks and negative backlinks, they try to bring you down; someone else tries to rip it off. If you get a head start, I agree with you. But if you were going to do that right this second today and do that from day one, I think you’d be at a disadvantage. Now these people have all started. So that’s why they’re not worried about that. But if they started from scratch, it’s going to be harder. Would you agree or disagree that it would be harder to start with publicly going out there and sharing everything you’re doing even though you have the chops. Like with ColorIt, you kind of started before you started sharing everything, correct?

Mike: We actually pretty much shared it from day one.

Scott: Did you?

Mike: I threw caution to the wind with this. I’m going to — this is not advisable. First of all, I agree with you, but let’s start there. I agree that probably it puts us at a disadvantage with sooner talking about all the things that we’re doing. It gives you an opportunity to have more people copy though. Well, that’s a great idea. Like, I’m sure as soon as the first people talking about garlic presses, soon they’re all being copied. So I get that, I really do. But I’m also at a point where we’re financially independent and secure and I’m more confident in myself. And I don’t care about that as much.

And one other thing is I don’t ever profess to sell 100% of everything in that particular niche anyway. I’m not going to sell all the colored pencils in the world or all the gel pens, and we’re cutting out our own lane. And if I let someone else catch me, I always feel like that’s my fault for not working harder or doing a better job. So I’m a little bit weird when it comes to this. But I have to agree with you. I think you’re dead on it. It puts us on a spot that we don’t need to necessarily put ourselves into.

Scott: Right. And I’m looking at Steve; he created his brand before he really…

Steve: So I got my opinion on that. And when I started My Wife Quit Her Job, my wife was actually really scared that people were going to knock off Bumblebee Linen.

Scott: Oh, yeah.

Steve: Fundamentally, there’s nothing really — there’s no IP involved in that.

Scott: But you guys are doing personalization.

Steve: We do personalization but this is even before personalization. I started the blog before that, it was just me too products. And it’s still to a certain extent is me too products even though we have our own designs now. But I was confident in just my ability just to market and I just wasn’t worried. We actually had a whole bunch of knockoffs believe or not. We had like hummingbird linens and I think — I’m not even joking and Queen Bee linens.

Scott: Queen Bee.

Steve: And people clearly that were reading the blog and that sort of thing and they even used our photos to put up a mock shop. I don’t know if they were actually selling anything there. But over the years, those guys just slowly trailed off.

Greg: I think actually hearing you three guys, what comes to mind is an idea is worthless without execution. And it doesn’t matter if they also have the idea to start Bumblebee Linens or also had the idea to sell colored pencils are coloring books, that there’s a lot of execution involved, right. These are at the end of the day still businesses and businesses are a lot of work. You have to get up every day, you have to sometimes grind and do the stuff that’s not sexy that we often don’t maybe talk about or write about. And these are just like monotonous tasks that you kind of have to do every day to grow your business.

Mike: They hear about it on a 30 minute podcast, it sounds so sexy. And then they realize like when they go try to do this for a year, how much execution it does take. And it’s a lot more work than probably they realize.

Scott: Yeah, I’m going to speak to like I said, because I get that question every now and then. Like, why are you publicly doing it? For me personally, when I went in with this partner, it’s almost now I’m trying to protect the partner because they are depending on this business, more so than I would be. So because of that and also we have an exit strategy. We didn’t want to hurt that. But I agree with you. And I’ve often thought about doing that almost like Greg’s doing like a public case study. I even thought about doing that with niche sites to be honest with you. I thought about doing a public niche site to show people how to build content, how to build an email list, how to set it up properly, how it’s going to take time, it’s going to take 12 to 18 months before you see any traffic at all. I mean, Mike, you can speak to that. I know you can as well Steve.

Steve: You see this in blogging all the time, people will just outright copy your content or just slightly reward it. But those blogs are never successful. It’s all about the brand and the person behind it, the voice.

Scott: Yeah. And I kind of want to go on that a little bit. Like how important do you think it is right now for someone and like Greg said, I agree. And I advise people start on Amazon. But that’s not where you end, that’s where you start and so the launch pad. I look at that as a launch pad, it can be a significant channel. You can make a lot of money. We have one person that we’re sending through that is making 95% of money on there, over 500 skews like 35k net a month, like a beautiful brand. Most of it is on Amazon.

But they have a pretty good product that they don’t have to worry about someone just going and ripping them off. They still could though, they still could. But how important is that, Mike that you have something that you could either blog about, or you could create content around and bring people in versus it just being the product?

Mike: Can I answer the question about Amazon just real quick.

Scott: Yeah, yeah.

Mike: Because I’m really passionate about this. I started actually off Amazon. So I’m one of the crazy ones that started doing it all off Amazon and all of us have courses and podcasts and teach this stuff. I think you’re absolutely out of your mind if you don’t get started on Amazon.

Scott: Absolutely.

Mike: If you’re getting starting in ecommerce, learning how to pick, pack, and ship and deal with logistics and labeling and customer service, and all this different traffic and everything else is a massive undertaking. You have so much other stuff you can focus on, like getting the product right and photography and building a good listing and at some point, there’ll be this crossroads where you’re going to want to grow your off Amazon channel, because you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket. But you have to have a business that’s large enough to want to diversify first. I think you have to be well in the seven figures before you hit that crossroads.

So for me, I completely agree with you, like you would want to get started Amazon, let them take care of all those headaches. You don’t even realize what those headaches are, and you can learn about those later. Worry about taking baby steps in the beginning.

Scott: What’s your thought, Steve?

Steve: I think you got to be a little bit careful. I know for the students in my class, they start on Amazon, they have some success, but then they just kind of lose track of their brand. And it’s like a drug really, it’s like a drug. So you get used to it. And that’s where the money is coming in. And you may as well just put all your fuel to the fire there. So I encourage them to once they have some traction to work on their site in the side. Just kind of build it up. Don’t divert all of your resources. Definitely, like press the Amazon channel until you’re kind of saturated or done the best that you can. But you got to think about building that brand. And that can really only be done outside.

Mike: Running a website requires you to learn how to like take payments, to launch listings on your own site, to deal with sales tax collection, to do email marketing, Facebook ads. I mean, the list goes on and on. And you can eliminate all those things if you start with the Amazon thing. And I completely agree with Steve as I was saying, this Crossroads at some point you cross over to that makes sense for your business. But if you’re getting started as a solopreneur, it’s going to be an overwhelming amount of stuff if you try to start selling off Amazon as your first point of contact.

Scott: Let me ask you guys a question that is a question I struggle with every single week. How do you decide or know when to double down more on what’s working versus diversifying, you’re trying to do more things?

Greg: All right, but wait a minute, though. Let’s ask the question. Are we talking about just business in general, are we talking about — are you alluding to if Amazon is working why don’t you just double down on Amazon versus doubling down on maybe just building your business?

Scott: I’d like to hear just like your general thinking around it. And I think that can pertain to different areas. Amazon is a good example right? The Amazon stuff comes very easily to me, it’s very easy for me to double down on it and launch more products. And if I look back at like my history as an entrepreneur, I think actually most of the mistakes I’ve made are trying to diversify more or trying to do more things or start a new project or a new whatever else instead of really doubling down on like what I’m great at. I don’t have an answer here; this is why I’m asking you smart fellows. It’s something I struggle with every week.

Steve: It really comes to a gut feel for me, and I’m just kind of a paranoid person in general. So I’m like Jackness.

Scott: You are more projected, Jack is more paranoid.

Steve: Right why do you say?

Scott: I’m going to let you keep going here. But I just want to let people go to 5MinutePitch.com because you’re going to want to sign up for this because there’s a lot of smack talk going on here.

Steve: And what’s nice is we all got different personalities.

Scott: Yeah, so continue.

Steve: And they all conflict.

Scott: Mr. Chou.

Steve: Oh, we’re talking about what, risk tolerance

Scott: Yes.

Steve: So for me, I treat everything like a drug. If I get too addicted – and my income goals aren’t as lofty as Mr. Mercer’s for example, who wants to start like a nine figure company. I just, I’m satisfied with like a seven, probably just a seven figure business. So as soon as it gets to a certain point, I want to protect that income. So that’s why it’s important for me to diversify.

Scott: Yeah, I’m very similar to you. I think you and I are both very similar. I know what Greg is saying like, if something is really working, like just double down and put more gas on it. I get that but I also look at for me, like safety net. I’m building an asset that I know is stronger than just doubling down because if I double down and I’m collecting that money, what am I doing with that money? Am I just putting it into a bank account, am I taking that money and reinvesting it? And then if I am reinvesting it, is it still dependent on the thing that I’m doubling down on?

So those are the things that I think about. Lately, I’ve been talking about basically diversifying because I want to take advantage of the opportunity but I do not want to bank on that. And if it goes away, then I’m going to feel really, really like scared in a sense, right? It’s like, oh my gosh, I bet on this one horse, I should have been probably betting on more than just the one horse.

Mike: I have a lot to say about this subject. Yeah. Scott wants to tell me to stop talking so much. That was another thing that was up.

Scott: It was, you got really chatty.

Mike: I did.

Scott: At the later parts of the day. And maybe alcohol, I don’t know.

Mike: We’ve been out here drinking a beer.

Scott: You had about a third of a beer or three quarters of a beer. So maybe you’re going to chat a little bit more, we’ll see.

Mike: Well, I’m philosophical these days. I’m philosopher Jackness now. But so the current question that Greg asked was when do you double down? And Steve was just saying I’m paranoid. And these two things actually kind of go hand in hand in some ways because when you’ve been an entrepreneur for any length of time through multiple economic cycles and just business cycles and whatever else it might be, you’re going to experience a bunch of different things. And I’ve been through a lot as I’ve been on my own doing — I quit my job in 2004. I was an entrepreneur my whole life, but I have been doing this since 2004. And I think that there’s a lot of sound philosophy behind doubling down on something that’s working, just keep on doing what’s working until one day you get your toast, or your hand on the door or whatever…

Greg: Amazon shuts you account down.

Mike: Amazon shuts your account down, that hasn’t happened but like I mean that type of a thing.

Greg: A listing gets suspended.

Mike: We have.

Greg: How does that feel?

Mike: It’s not interesting, it does not feel good, thank you.

Scott: Hold on a minute. Let me just pour a little salt on that one. How does that feel my friend?

Mike: It does not feel good. Okay. So when that type of thing happens, you get rattled, you get paranoid. And when you’re younger, just like anything else, when you’re young, you feel indestructible, and you don’t think this will happen. But when you’ve had multiple things like that happen, you start to get more paranoid, more guarded. I don’t know what the right answer is here is the bottom line. At the end of the day, I think all of us struggle with this. Like, I definitely struggle with this, like almost on a daily basis.

And there isn’t necessarily a right answer. I can say — there’s a couple of sayings like, if you chase two rabbits both will get away. And I have a propensity of trying to do too many things. And if you are doing too many things, you’re not necessarily doing one thing at the highest level or selling. But at some point, what I would say here, just to wrap it up without talking too much more…

Scott: It’s getting chattery.

Mike: It’s getting chatty. I don’t think you should diversify until you have a business you need to, until you are past your risk profile. When your risk profile gets to a point where, like if you think every day like if my business got shut down, Greg is about to say something and make fun of it. I want to just stop talking. I already know I’m going to be made fun of, all right go make fun and go ahead.

Greg: I mentioned I’m not going to make fun of you Jackness. My advice or what I just want to say here is, I think for 99.9% of the people listening this podcast right now, actually, the answer is to double down on what’s working, whatever is making them money and to do a better job at it. Again, like I get the whole paranoia and that these different things happen and whatever else, but there’s also a certain level of just devoting your brain power and your time and mental energy to other projects that probably statistically speaking are not going to be successful as whatever you’re good at and can actually make money with. So yeah, that would be my advice for everyone listening.

Steve: Funny Greg, do you actually follow your own advice, because wasn’t there a period where you were on this acquisition spree and you had all this stuff going on?

Greg: Yeah and that’s what — I started this whole thing off with saying like if I look back in my entrepreneurial career that I would say like those are actually the biggest mistakes that I’ve made that are like trying to like do more or go to do like other things instead of like really just like double, tripling down on my core strengths and what actually works really well for me.

Steve: That’s assuming that money is your goal or success in that certain avenue. I like to diversify sometimes to just build a different skill set altogether.

Scott: Yeah well, and I want to again with Greg, are we talking about let’s use an example, Amazon is working really good. I’ve got someone right now in my inner circle okay, and his whole goal before he became part of our inner circle was just continue to launch products, stay ahead by launching more products. Then all of a sudden competition is going to come in, you’re going to lose those products, you’re just going to keep staying ahead that way. And to me, you’re always going to be behind because that inventory that you can no longer sell is going to then hurt you because you can’t get rid of it because you know that that’s coming, they’re coming for you.

But if you were to diversify or at least — and again doubling down could mean doubling down on your brand. It could be like building out your external channel, it could be building out your content, building out traffic to your own site. Like our website right now for the new brand started from zero. We have over 70,000 uniques every single month and that’s growing. We’re putting AdThrive on there now, we’re going to have stuff that’s not even linked to an Amazon product, not even our own physical product, maybe $5,000 a month comes in recurring revenue now. So is that worth doubling down on?

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Ahrefs for being a sponsor of the show. Now, I’m a huge fan of their tool and in my opinion Ahrefs is the best all in one SEO tool out there to rank in Google search. And recently, I completed a search engine site audit for mywifequitherjob.com and Bumblebeelinens.com and Ahrefs was indispensable. For example, I used Ahrefs to do a deep dive into all my posts to find the highest volume, lowest competition keywords to target in search. And in fact, recently, I used Ahrefs to rank a blog post in Google from position 20 to position five for a big time keyword in the span of just one month by switching around my title and H1 tags.

I also use Ahrefs to spy my competitors’ sites to see what keywords they are ranking for, and then I write a more comprehensive post and eventually outrank them in search. Now those of you who know me know that I hate spending money on tools, but I actually pay for Ahrefs and that should say something in itself. Right now, I’m giving away nine three month Ahrefs’s memberships for free. To sign up, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/giveaway to win a three month a trust membership. Now back to the show.

Greg: There’s no right or wrong answer with these and that’s what makes it so hard. And that’s why I want to get the…

Scott: I love it.

Greg: Absolutely. And that’s why I want to get you guys is like thinking behind it or maybe just how you think about these different obstacles. Because I think this is actually fundamentally one of the most challenging questions or one of the most challenging things that entrepreneurs run into. And we saw all throughout the 5 Minute Pitch. We saw different people, for some people, I was like, don’t launch that second product. Like you haven’t even given the first product what it deserves yet. You need to still give that some more love and get it some more customers and whatever else. And then there were other people that I was like, man, that’s going really well, whatever else, it makes sense now, kind of try to do this other thing. And it’s a very, very challenging question. I’d like to start with that, I struggle with it every single week.

Mike: I think that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle from shiny object syndrome. And if there’s one thing that’s probably got me in trouble over all these years is that. So I’ve been like laser focused on ecommerce over the last like seven almost seven years, six years. And it’s really helped. I mean, like, just sticking with. Now, obviously, like, we’ve got multiple brands, we got a lot going on within ecommerce but at least I’m staying focused within ecommerce. And I have not allowed myself to get sucked into other things even though there’s been a lot of really interesting and cool opportunities; I’ve been trying to stay within one field at least. And even then, I’m not saying I’ve done everything right. But shiny object syndrome is definitely always…

Greg: I was just thinking though, I know about a podcast, a course…

Mike: It’s all ecommerce. I’m going to defend it; I’m not saying it’s going to be…

Steve: It’s like saying I’m doing all this stuff, but it’s still business. It’s just business, right.

Mike: I mean, it’s fine. I get it. I like the criticism, we can talk about more about this offline because…

Scott: Off line, let’s talk about it now.

Mike: We can talk about now, let’s talk about it now. You guys can grill me now if you want. But there’s a lot to be said. I mean I get more fulfillment from doing the podcast. The podcast has led to this. Like if it wasn’t for that…

Scott: I have a question for you because I get this question. So if that’s the case, and you enjoy like building businesses, why don’t you just build like more businesses? Why do the podcast? Why do ecommerce? Like courses and training? I get that a lot. Like, why don’t you just go build 10 businesses?

Mike: That’s not easy, building a business is not easy.

Scott: It’s not, and my answer always and I want your take on this and all of you really is like, and it sounds kind of cheesy, and all that. But when you can have an impact on someone else’s business that actually allows them to have, that’s pretty awesome. And I’ve got a guy in the inner circle as well, that he employs very similar to one of our contestants, employs stay at home moms. So the bigger we grow his business, the more stay at home moms he employs. Why wouldn’t I be proud of that? Like, why wouldn’t that feel good. But that can play into your mind too, because you get the haters and all that stuff. But what’s your thoughts on that? Why are you doing that? You want to just make money, don’t you, Mike?

Mike: Well, the problem is that I do, everybody wants money, but I can tell you that it’s become less and less of a factor because and this can go off on a huge tangent, but there’s like the money to happiness quotient, and you get diminishing returns very quickly. Like, the more you make, you just want more stuff. And eventually, things don’t make you happy. And I’ve been through…

Scott: I agree with that.

Mike: Yeah. So I can tell you the things that give me immense satisfaction are actually ripping at Steve Chou. That is my favorite thing to do. It really is, like of all the things and that’s the only reason I keep doing ecommerce is I can rip on Steve Chou.

Scott: Steve Chou.

Mike: Yeah, but you were just talking about this. First of all, how do I go sign up for the inner circle?

Scott: What’s that?

Mike: How do you sign up for the inner circle?

Scott: Oh, that’s great. I’m glad that you’re plugging in, thank you. It’s TASinnercircle.com, its application only. You have to be at a certain level.

Mike: To get to inner circle.

Scott: Yes, it’s a great group.

Mike: So, the thing that’s really actually bought a lot of satisfaction to me, and I’m sure all of us have experienced as we all have similar stuff going on, the comments that we get when you’ve changed someone’s life, we’ve let them quit their job. We’ve allowed them to get their business out of a hole, helped them when they’re struggling just like be someone that cry on their shoulder, that stuff brings me way more satisfaction than seeing one of my products sell better. And that’s really the honest truth. I know it sounds like BS, because like, that’s the stuff you’re supposed to say on a commercial. But I’m a weird, twisted person.

Greg: What do you got to stay there Mr. Chou?

Steve: I want to say that it was kind of rewarding, right. We were on the 5 Minute Pitch, and all of us — some of the contestants referenced all of us in changing their lives. And that was very rewarding. And when you get to Scott Voelker’s age, your priorities start to change.

Scott: I’m the oldest one in this group too.

Steve: Yes.

Scott: That’s pretty sad.

Steve: We call grandpa Volker.

Scott: Actually it’s going to be papa. I’ve already agreed on the name. I am, I got a daughter who’s 23, she’s probably ready, yeah.

Steve: When you get to Scott says he starts getting a little preachy.

Scott: It’s true, it’s true.

Steve: For me it’s all about the happiness quotient. So I’m taking on projects now that just make me happy like 5 Minute Pitch, podcast, the blog, focusing on…

Scott: There’s really no money being made here for us.

Steve: Oh yeah.

Scott: In 5 Minute Pitch.

Steve: We’re in debt actually in this project.

Scott: As of right now, actually if you want to be a sponsor of the 5 Minute Pitch, reach out to Steve Chou at My Wife Quit Her Job. Is that how they would get ahold of you?

Steve: There’s two…

Scott: Yeah but you’re going to take care of the sponsors. Yeah, just email support@theamazingseller.com if you’re interested in being a sponsor. We have not locked all of the sponsors in, but we do have some interest, so go ahead.

Mike: I was just saying that you know life’s taking a turn for the worst when you’re paying to be happy, like to hang out and have this happy to stay there. Steve was just talking of that’s pretty much what’s happened with the 5 Minute Pitch. We’re all like…

Scott: That’s pretty awesome.

Mike: Just write us checks so we can like hang out together be happy for three days.

Scott: This is good for our lives. I’m not going to lie, this has been pretty awesome, some really great guest judges I’m not going to give them away so you guys can go over and watch the 5 Minute Pitch when it airs. It’s really great judges, great conversations, great connections, and great people that we’re actually helping. And I think that even though they’re not going to win maybe most of them because we got like one winner, they’re all getting value, and the people watching this you’re going to get value.

Mike: I mean I love doing this stuff. I can’t wait to — we know who the finalists are as we record this but I’m going to get any of that away, but we got some finalists that are going to be coming to the…

Scott: How about the twist?

Mike: No, no.

Scott: No, no just tell them that there was a twist.

Mike: There’s a twist at the end, but I can’t tell you what the twist is. But the finalists are coming to Sellers Summit in Miami. If you want to be a part of that, is it sellerssummit.com Steve?

Steve: Sellerssummit.com.

Mike: Sellerssummit.com. Come get your ticket. There’s not many tickets left. So you guys have got to go do that soon because it’s a very small, tight knit conference. It’s one of my favorite ones that go to every year mostly because Steve allows me to speak and it gives me opportunity to feel good about myself for about three minutes until he tells me I did a horrible talk. But besides that, it’s a great conference. The thing I really love about it is it’s a smaller conference compared to some of these massive conferences out there. You get an opportunity to talk to other likeminded entrepreneurs, get away from the office for a few days, and really commiserate in some ways with other entrepreneurs, but also learn a lot and just get away from the office and think about something different for a few minutes.

Steve: What I like about my event is that I got the stage and I can make fun of anyone I want. And I got the mic and no one can…

Scott: I’m actually afraid this year. I am.

Steve: Oh, we got funny photos.

Scott: That’s right.

Steve: That I have to work with.

Scott: Yes, yes.

Steve: I need to tap into Liz’s archive there.

Scott: No, it’s a great event. I will be there again; thanks to Steve, he invited me back. It’s my fourth time being back. Yeah, this is this is pretty crazy. So I’m excited to be back. I know a lot of people, there’s a lot of people that are repeats that come back as well. So, it’s always a pretty nice group.

Mike: It seems, I mean, from an outside perspective, it seems like half the audience. I don’t know what the real stats are.

Steve: Yeah, actually, we sold over 50% of the tickets within a week of the ending of the last one.

Scott: And why don’t we talk about this real quick, you make a lot of money on the event, don’t you?

Steve: No. Man, for the amount of work involved.

Scott: And I’m starting to learn this right now.

Steve: Yes, that’s right with Brand Accelerator.

Scott: Brand Accelerator live. It’s…

Steve: You don’t realize what it takes.

Scott: It’s a lot of work. And I actually I questioned myself and you kind of warned me before I did it. I just wanted to do it because I wanted to bring the community together. And I wanted to have my own thing, and I’ve got something I’m going to reveal there that I’m working on, a little secret project. But yeah, man, it’s you don’t make any money really. You got to put a lot of money down first also. You’re taking a big risk, and it’s really to help the people. I mean, you could do so much more doing a workshop or a webinar or something like that, right. But it’s really about the people, the community, you, and Toni. We got to give Toni some credit here.

Steve: We do. We should give her a shout out. Well, yeah Toni, you are awesome. She’s the secret behind the success. She is, she really is.

Scott: But yeah, it’s really not a money play. It’s really bringing community. And you have a great community now that comes there, like every year.

Steve: And our events are going to be similar. We purpose to kind of keep it kind of small, so everyone can hang out and meet each other, develop their own masterminds, keep in touch.

Scott: And there’s been a lot of that, right. I’ve heard a lot of people say, I’ve met so and so at the event, we’ve kept in touch, we have our own little weekly mastermind or monthly mastermind. So because it’s lonely, man.

Greg: That’s why we got to put on 5 Minute Pitch just so we can hang out.

Scott: I know, I know. This has been a great three days. Actually, it’s tiring, though. I said this, my hips are sore just from crossing my legs in different ways.

Mike: And you’re looking different [inaudible 00:40:53].

Scott: But all right, let’s wrap this up. I think we have dinner plans that should be arriving here soon. Anything else you wanted to add about any takeaways. Like, give me one takeaway right now that’s just kind of like in your head from the 5 Minute Pitch.

Mike: I mean, this is going to sound so stupid. But I’m going to say I love my life. Seriously, man, like, it’s been great hanging out with you guys and the guest judges. I love doing this stuff. Like, it just — this is such a — it’s been so awesome. I really like – Thanksgiving is coming up as we’re recording this. And I’ve been thinking a lot about this type of stuff. I’m just thankful that I’ve been able to live such a cool life, I’ve been able to travel, do cool things, meet cool people, be an entrepreneur, and not have to live on someone else’s terms. This is the type of thing where you’re really realizing that’s really cool for me.

Scott: How about you Greg?

Greg: My biggest takeaway from this is, it was an excellent reminder that I just love working with entrepreneurs. It’s just like such a passionate group of individuals. I love hearing all their different stories. It’s really easy just to get stuck behind their computer week in and week out, and not really have those connections with other people. And hearing all these different individual pitch, all their very different businesses, all the different ways to create businesses and how they have really changed their lives, just like had a huge impact on their whole lives was pretty magical, special.

Steve: I agree with Mike. It’s funny, all my friends back home, they’re all — a lot of them are Asians and we’re all engineers, lawyers, and doctors. I just don’t get a whole lot of entrepreneurship love. So, I just realized that I just love hanging out with entrepreneurs. And the more I can do to build the community or have events like 5 Minute Pitch or Brand Accelerator, I’m there, man.

Scott: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I don’t know. Like, it’s funny, I want you guys just take on this one too, this is another one. I didn’t think about this one. Like, you get to a certain level though, right? And you think, oh once I get there, it’s kind of like, you’re done, or you made it. And then you get there and you’re like, oh, wait a minute, this is cool but what’s next, right? Like what’s going to energize you. But from here, I think what I really learned from the people that we were able to hang out with is just like Greg said, they’re hustlers. They want, a lot of them want the lifestyle, they want a lifestyle business. But they want to also create something that they can be proud of, and that they’re passionate about. And a lot of passion ran through this group, a lot of passion.

Steve: You got to have a higher purpose too. I know for me, we did it so we could stay at home and spend more time with the kids. But if you’re just doing it for the money, you’ll probably eventually feel a little bit empty and you’ll be looking for something else.

Scott: Yeah, and I mean, money is good, right? Money allows us to do really cool things, and travel and whatever, or just spend more time with your family or your friends or do this stuff. I basically flew here, five hour flight to get here to hang out with you guys and then also hang out with some cool entrepreneurs for three days, and run through this process. And that’s what I’m really finding is just like, I’m really being able to meet cool people like you guys, hanging out with you guys, building our relationship deeper and expanding our minds. And I mean, who knows where that’s going to go? But just these people that were able to help. This is really so just satisfying.

Mike: Yeah.

Scott: So, all right, let’s wrap this up. All right, let’s wrap it up. I know we kind of rambled a little bit there at the end. But that’s just because…

Mike: Is anybody still listening to this thing?

Scott: I don’t know, I think they are. All right, 5 Minute Pitch. I’m going to give you guys one more pitch on that. All right, head over to 5MinutePitch.com. Register over there, or sign up, you’ll get notifications. You can also probably go on Facebook and find it around there too. I know, Steve, you posted some stuff over there and I’m posting some stuff. But yeah, just follow along. It’s great to follow along, get some information from just listening to these people’s stories, how they got the ideas, how they kind of got to where they are, where they’re going, the advice that we’ve given them, some feedback, all that stuff. You’ll definitely learn through that process. So yeah, let’s, let’s wrap it up. Mike, what do you want to say man? You’re good; you want to wrap it up, you want to give some words of wisdom?

Mike: Words of wisdom. I think you got to be ready to come on Five Minute pitch Season Two. I’m announcing it right here. Are we going to do this or?

Scott: Yeah, I think so. I mean, we got to figure out everything else. But yeah, I think so. We’re going to say 95% yes.

Mike: Something like that.

Scott: All right.

Mike: All right. Serious words of wisdom.

Steve: Yeah, give me that.

Mike: You don’t have to plan everything in advance and like worry about everything in advance. I mean, I think that the 5 Minute Pitch is a perfect example of this. We had a general guideline of what we wanted to do here but we knew that we could create a good final product. And it’s interesting if you knew what was kind of happening behind the scenes, it was a little bit of a poop show in some [inaudible 00:45:59] cards. But I think that the final product is going to come out good because they were really good contestants, we’re all pretty confident that we can produce good content.

And I think it’s important because like if we had sat around and tried to plan every little detail, we never would have got this off the ground. We were just like, let’s do it. And we did it. And we figured it out. I think that we haven’t seen the finished product. We’re still figuring some of this stuff out but we got to this point. And I think when we see the final product; we’re going to all be really proud of it.

Steve: Mike. First of all, I think we’re giving ourselves a little bit too much credit here. This would not have happened whatsoever without Liz. She is the brains behind the project. If it was just us, I don’t even know if we would have made it out to California to be honest with you guys.

Scott: We wouldn’t be sitting here.

Steve: We wouldn’t be sitting here.

Scott: For sure.

Steve: Exactly. We were like, hey, did you guys book the contestants? No, man, I thought you were supposed to do that.

Scott: If you’re thinking about coming to the 5 Minute Pitch, because you do have a business, you’re an entrepreneur, but you’re scared, I’ll just let you that every single person that made it into the final around thought they absolutely had no idea and that they would have been the worst person pitching on it or whatever else. It just goes to show that I think everyone doesn’t realize how good they actually are, how good of a business they actually have. So if you’re on the fence or just thinking about a consider, I would recommend for you to apply.

Greg: Yeah, so head over to 5 Minute Pitch.com. And you can go ahead and register there, and then get more information about if you want to apply for maybe season two.

Mike: Is that it, Mike drop, Mike drop. All right, Mike, Mike, drop, drop.

I don’t know about you. But I am super excited for the 5 Minute Pitch which is going to air sometime in January of 2019. If you want to get updates about the show, head on over to 5MinutePitch.com. And we’re actually taking applications for next season already. So sign up now. For more information about this podcast episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode235.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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234: Max And Neo – How To Grow A 7 Figure Pet Supply Store By Giving Back With Kenric Hwang

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234: How To Grow A 7 Figure Pet Supply Store By Giving Back With Kenric Hwang

Today I’m really excited to have Kenric Hwang on the show. Kenric is someone who I’ve known for a very long time we both got started in ecommerce at around the same time.

Many years ago, he started a successful outdoor products company, sold it and then started another company called Max & Neo which sells dog collars and accessories online.

Now Max & Neo is no ordinary dog collar company and Kenric has managed to get tons of attention on social media and the press because of one key value proposition. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Kenric sold his outdoor products company and why he’s more passionate about Max & Neo
  • How Kenric has grown Max and Neo to 7 figures in such a short period of time
  • Kenric secret to press coverage and social media virality
  • How Kenric sells commodity products so effectively
  • Why Kenric is anti-dropshipping

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. Today, I’ve got an old friend on the show, Kenric Hwang and Kenric is someone I met randomly many years ago via the Fast Lane forums. And we’ve hung up on many occasions over the years at various events. But Kenric runs Max and Neo, which is an ecommerce store selling pet supplies, and he’s managed to totally blow up his sales because of a single strategy. And in fact, I wouldn’t even call it a strategy but you’ll have to listen to find out.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms but I like Privy because they specialize in ecommerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m really excited to have Kenric Hwang on the show. Now, Kenric is actually someone who I’ve known for a very long time. I believe we were first introduced through Billy Murphy and we actually met for the first time at Ecommerce Fuel Live a long time ago. And since then, we’ve hung out a number of times at various entrepreneurship retreats. And Kenric actually got started in ecommerce a year or so before I did, and he was actually known on the Fast Lane forums in case any of you follow MJ DeMarco.

Anyway, Kenric started a successful outdoor products company and sold it and since then he decided to start another company called Max and Neo, which sells dog collars and accessories online. Now, Max and Neo is no ordinary dog collar company. And Kenric has managed to get tons of attention on social media and the press because of one of his main value propositions. And I’ll leave that a mystery until the interview starts. And with that, welcome to the show Kenric, glad to have you back.

Kenric: Hey Steve, I’m glad to be here and finally be on your podcast.

Steve: Yeah, man. It’s been a while. I had to wait until you got back from Africa.

Kenric: Yeah, I was just on an African Safari and it was really, really exciting and interesting. But back in the States right now.

Steve: So Kenric, you got a pretty interesting history and background. Please give the audience a brief overview of how you got into ecommerce in the first place.

Kenric: Okay, well, like you mentioned, I started ecommerce I think a year or two before you. I remember it was 2007 when I started my first company. And back then the landscape of ecommerce was very different and I wanted a way to make money and to live wherever I wanted to. So, I basically did some research and ended up finding out that drop shipping was the way to go. So when I started my first ecommerce site in 2007, it was a 100% drop ship store.

Steve: Oh okay.

Kenric: Yeah. And that did really well. And I found the limitations of drop shipping a couple of years in.

Steve: What were the limitations just for clarification?

Kenric: Well, the biggest limitation was I was limited to what products I could carry because I could only carry products that people were willing to drop ship. That was one. But the biggest one was what happened my second Christmas was that my best seller — so I worked very hard to SEO my website up to the front page of Google, I was ranked top three for my products. And what happened was my main product was selling very well. And when I went to order it from the drop shipper on December 5, it was I think December 5th, I sent the order to the drop shipper and they were sold out of that product for the rest of the Christmas season.

And so yeah, so that really sucked because here I had a top ranking website and I had a hot seller and I had no product to sell. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t in control of the stuff that I was selling. So I could do all this work and have no product to sell because everybody else with the drop shipping company, we were all using one drop shipper. And that drop shipper was just distributing my products out to every other ecommerce store. So basically, everybody in the country ran out of stock of this product on that same day, or I should say everybody else who drop shipped this product ran out of stock on that day.

Steve: I see.

Kenric: So, a fundamental change for me was the next year I said, there’s no way I’m going to run out of stock. So I have to carry my own stock. And what I did is I went to the drop shipper and I said hey, how many of blah, blah, blah do you guys have in stock and they said 500. And I said, I’ll take all 500 of them. And so I bought all their stock out. So guess what happened that year? I was the only store that had it in stock. Yeah. Everybody else who drop shipped went out of stock like on December, on Black Friday because that’s when I bought all the stock. And then I was able to sell all 500 units throughout the course of the holiday season.

Steve: Is this the outdoor products company or no?

Kenric: Yes.

Steve: Oh, it is. Okay, because I vaguely remember you manufacturing your own products for that.

Kenric: Well, that was a precursor to that because from carrying my own stock that one Christmas, I went to importing my own designs and things the year after because I learned how important it was to be in control of my inventory. So, I went from a 100% drop shipping company to basically carrying 95% of the products that I sell.

Steve: Can you comment on how the margins grew when you did that? Like what were your margins drop shipping versus when you actually owned the label and the brand for the product?

Kenric: Yeah, they grew just immensely because when I was — so if I look at one product that had a $100 price point, I was paying $79 for it drop ship plus shipping. So I would get about $79, I mean I would be charged $79 plus about 10 bucks for drop shipping. That same product when I ordered it from China, I was able to land it for $37.

Steve: Wow okay.

Kenric: Yeah so it was just huge and once I did that once, I was like why am I drop shipping all the rest of these products because my store already had traffic; it was ranked very high in Google. So it would have traffic and I would know what products sold very well. So as soon as I would identify like, hey, this product is selling very well and all I’m doing is sending these orders to the drop shipper, I would look at how to import that product, not the exact same product but my version of that product from China.

Steve: Would you say that drop shipping today is a good option to figure out what sells, or would you just bypass drop shipping all together?

Kenric: I haven’t done drop shipping in a long time. So I don’t really know. I just know that you are not in control of a lot of things when you drop ship. Actually, one other reason that I didn’t like it was every year, the drop shipper would say, our costs have increased, and they’d raise that price. So for example, that $79 product when I started the first year it was $69. The second year it was 79, then it was like 85 the third year, and there’s nothing you can do about it right? What are you going to tell the drop shipper? He’s like, we need to raise this price to $90, all you can do is raise the price on your ecommerce store.

Steve: Right.

Kenric: And I think right now, it’s very — in my opinion, it’s very hard to rank these types of stores where you get any type of traffic without running a lot of ads to get to the point where you know what’s like a good product, and what’s a bad product.

Steve: I would agree with that. Yeah, the SEO game has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or 11 years.

Kenric: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. 2007 it was pretty easy.

Steve: So what did you — oh sorry, go on.

Kenric: Oh, I was going to say that was when you just got a domain with your keywords in it and got some back links. It was much easier than it is now.

Steve: So ultimately, why did you — I remember your store being very profitable, and I’m just kind of curious why you ended up selling that company.

Kenric: I decided to sell the company, I think it was — so I started in 2007 and I sold the company earlier this year. And it did take about; I think it took about 12 months to sell it. So I decided to sell it back in 2017, and the main reason was I just was not into that business anymore. I remember back in 2007 and let’s say the first five years I was always writing blog posts to get the websites ranked higher. I was shooting a lot of video and doing my own product photography, and at some point I think it just became a moneymaker for me, and I just felt like I had to do something else. Also at some point I think the money becomes less important as you go through your progressions running a business, and I was getting pretty comfortable I guess.

Steve: So did you have any alternative sources of income prior to it being sold?

Kenric: Well, I actually started Max and Neo a year before I decided to sell my first company. And so I was running the two companies, the outdoor company and Max and Neo at the same time, and I was devoting let’s say 50/50 to each one. And at some point, I felt like that I wasn’t giving Max and Neo enough attention, and I wanted to grow that a lot more. So I felt like I had to let go of the outdoor company in order to let Max and Neo basically grow faster or to free it up.

Steve: Okay, so for the people, for the benefit of the audience so what is Max and Neo and what do you sell there?

Kenric: Okay, so Max and Neo sells dog products. We sell dog leashes, collars, harnesses, supplements, and blankets and just things that you need for your dog. What sets us apart is that for every product we sell, we donate a product to a dog rescue or a shelter. And that’s really why I was so passionate about starting this company because I wanted to help dog shelters and rescues. And if you contrast that with my outdoor products company, that one just became a moneymaker to me.

So there was two totally different motivations in why I would wake up during the day. One was like, okay, I got to work on this outdoor Products Company, because I need to keep the money coming in and I just can’t let that business wither away. And then I would work on Max and Neo because my main goal of Max and Neo was to donate as much as possible. So that basically came to a head and I was like, I have to sell this company if I’m going to grow Max and Neo to where I think it could go.

Steve: But Max and Neo was far less profitable than the outdoor Products Company right?

Kenric: Correct.

Steve: Okay. So at that point, it sounds like you were comfortable from a money perspective and you actually didn’t need the money that the outdoor Products Company was generating.

Kenric: Yeah. So the company was doing — it started in 2007. And it started to take off in about 2010. So I basically had a seven years of very, very good income, which I saved a lot of it and that’s when I just began looking for something that I was more passionate about or something that would be just more fulfilling to me, so a reason to wake up in the morning I guess, and that’s what Max and Neo was to me. So for those — I guess I’d like to just go on a quick tangent, for those who don’t know what dog rescues and shelters do is that, let’s say somebody finds a stray dog, it usually goes to like a local County Humane Society.

And those places they basically hold on to a dog for let’s say a week or 14 days before they have to decide what to do with the dog which is sometimes it’s just, it’s not a good situation for a dog. So somebody who runs a dog rescue will take these dogs from these local humane societies and they’ll basically try to place them into a home. So let’s just say there’s like in my case, I work with mainly German Shepherds. So if a German Shepherd arrives at a humane society, a German Shepherd Dog rescue will try to pick it up and rescue it and basically take it to their own facility where they take care of the dog until they can find a permanent owner for the dog.

And these rescues are usually almost always all nonprofits and they run on donations and things like that. And where they generate their money is through donations or through adoptions and things like that. And they pay for all the expenses themselves. So, whenever you go to a rescue to adopt a dog, they don’t just hand you the dog without a collar or a leash. I mean, how would you take it home? How would you get it into your car?

So basically what they do is they’ll give you the collar that’s on the dog, they’re basically giving to you, right because it comes with the dog, and then they usually give you a leash and maybe some other things like a little bit of food and things to get you started. All this comes from money that they spent to get these products. So I was basically trying to figure out how can I make it so they don’t have to spend their money on these products and they can spend it on other things?

Steve: I know for your store you pretty much give one to one, right?

Kenric: Yes.

Steve: And that can’t be that profitable. So, is profit a part of your motivation at all, or was it just the giving back part? I mean, in order for it to be self sustaining, you have to be able to generate a profit right?

Kenric: Correct. Well, I guess this is what’s more because I ran my other ecommerce store and I got it to where it was profitable, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled from it, I sort of knew that just starting another business just to make a bunch of money was probably going to end up at the same place, and I definitely didn’t want to do that. So when I first started this, I actually looked, and I was like, okay, there’s a lot a lot of dogs that are in bad situations and I wanted to help dogs. And a lot of people do, a lot of people want to help dogs and animals, and things like that, and I basically just took that progression. I’m like, okay, how do I help dogs?

And then I decided like, okay, dog rescues help dogs, so then how do I start my own dog rescue? That was a thought in my head but starting your own dog rescue is not really scalable right? You have just one dog rescue, so I was looking for something that was bigger. So then I then came to the thought, how do I help rescues? And that’s when the thought of donating to rescues came into my mind.

And yes you’re correct; my margins are very low because unlike other ecommerce stores, all my cost of goods are double. So whereas if you go buy one product from one place, they give you one leash, so their cost of the goods is one leash, my cost of goods is that leash that I sell to the customer plus the leash that I donate to the rescue, plus the shipping involved with shipping that leash to the rescue. So my cost of goods for one sale is very high.

Steve: How did you decide what products to sell? I mean it seems like the stuff that you sell is like a commodity almost, right?

Kenric: Yes. But again, I based it on my main mission which was to help dogs/dog rescues. So, I basically only sell products that dog rescues need. So it’s actually it’s a little backwards, I figure out what the rescues need and then I figure out how to get the product to them.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Kenric: Yeah, it’s very different than a profit first motivation because most of the times you’re like, oh this product is $10 and I can sell it for 30 and maybe I have to ship it for 10 and I only make $10 off of it right? What I do is I go; does a dog rescue need let’s say salmon oil right? So like dog rescues need salmon oil because it makes their food more nutritious for the dogs. And then I’ll do the numbers and I’d be like, oh I can’t make any money at this. But this is what is interesting, sometimes I’ll be like, but I’ll only lose $1 a sale, and I’ll be like that’s still good because let’s pretend I lose $100, but I could donate 100 bottles of salmon oil, that’s pretty incredible if you think about it, because a bottle of salmon is like 20 bucks.

So if I were to go out to a store, I can buy five bottles and donate them to five rescues, but with my current business model, it it’ll cost me $100, I could donate to 100 rescues. So we do have products that lose money. And I know that’s crazy to say. And those are products I knew we’re going to lose money going into them. But I always go back to my mission first, right? Is this product helpful for dogs and dog rescues? And if the answer is yes, I don’t mind subsidizing a money losing product with a product. Like let’s say the dog leashes make money, the salmon oil loses money. Well, both of them together are net zero for me, let’s say, but for a dog rescue, they’re getting leashes and salmon oil, right. So the overall impact to society is good, right? It’s plus EV right.

Steve: So, let me ask you this then, how do you make sales? So one, your products you can find in a lot of different places and share your donating, but how do you stand out and how do people know to come to your store and not someone else?

Kenric: Well, the main driver really right now is dog rescues are talking about us on social media. I mean I think in this age of social media really makes it easier for a company like mine to survive because we donate so much and we do ask them to post on Facebook and Instagram when they get donations. And it just seems to pick up steam because the more the more we sell, the more we donate, and then the more rescues talk about us, then the more we sell, and then the more we donate, and it’s just like a snowball rolling down the hill.

Steve: Interesting, so almost all of your sales are driven by the rescues promoting you?

Kenric: No, I wouldn’t say that. I would say a decent amount of them are but we still do the normal ecommerce thing where we’re running PPC, we sell a lot on Amazon and on our website. So on Amazon, I’m running a lot of PPC ads. And it’s definitely hard to be competitive, especially on something like Amazon because we’re definitely not the lowest price but we’re not the highest price either. So, one thing I didn’t want to do, which this is a little pet peeve of mine is there are a lot of companies out there that donate to good causes. But when I look at those companies, what they seem to do, they seem to inflate their price by a lot and then use that which increases their profit, and then they donate with that.

And I sort of feel like that’s like, it’s not like 100% honest way to do it because if I decided to, let’s say, a normal dog leash sells for $15, if I decided to sell that same dog leash for $25 and then I donate one for one, I mean, there’s I’m not sacrificing in any way, right? My margins are actually the same as if I didn’t donate. What I’m doing is I’m pushing the burden of the donation on to my customers by asking them to pay an extra $10 for the leash that should have cost them $15 instead of 25.

Steve: But the end result is the same right? The shelter gets their donation.

Kenric: Yeah but the supporter of the shelter is really the person that’s forking out that donation if you really think about it, right? Because let’s pretend I’m a normal company and I sell it for 15 bucks, and instead I’m like, I’ll sell it for 25 and donate and now I’m still a normal company as if I were — my profit margin would have been the same as if I was a normal company that did not donate.

Steve: Sure. Sure.

Kenric: Does that make any sense? So I didn’t want to put the burden of the donation on to…

Steve: The consumer.

Kenric: Yeah, or onto a supporter because these rescues have very loyal supporters. I don’t want them to spend an extra $10 just to get that donate, they should pick my product, because it’s a good product, a high quality product that they were going to buy, even without the donation and the donation is just an extra added benefit.

Steve: Okay.

Kenric: That makes it very easy for them to choose my product, right. Because if were like at the store trying to choose two products and one gave a donation but costs double the price, it would be very hard for you to do right.

Steve: Right. Well, okay, so how do you launch one of these? Let’s take dog collars, for example. How do you launch that on Amazon? There’s just so many, it’s probably flooded with them.

Kenric: Well, I think that’s the biggest difference is you don’t really — when you’re starting a company like this, you don’t really launch on Amazon, right? It’s not — I think gone are the days on Amazon where you just launched a product on Amazon. You really have to, in your mind you have to be building a business, right. There’s a big difference in mindset when you’re saying, I’m launching a product versus I am starting a business. So, I started with one single dog leash, but I knew like in my brain, I knew what the company was going to look like five years from the day I launched.

So really, I put that product when I put it on Amazon, that’s all I did. It just it went on Amazon. And then what I did was I launched my Instagram and my Facebook and my website and I started driving traffic to Facebook and Instagram. And a lot of times, I in the first year when we didn’t have a lot of sales, I pre-donated which basically means, I’m going to donate to the rescues that I want to donate to first and then the sales will catch up to them later. And that was a way to basically let the rescues and people know like, hey, we’re here and we donate stuff to you guys.

Steve: So how much runway did you have? Because let’s say the rescues and your whole social media strategy didn’t end up working, then you’re out and it’s not really a self sustaining business, right?

Kenric: Correct. But that’s where I got lucky in that I had my outdoors products company that was basically paying for all this stuff and my living expenses.

Steve: Okay.

Kenric: So, I definitely wouldn’t recommend somebody on a limited budget doing what I did. But I was in a good position to do it because I didn’t have to worry about profits. That’s why I was able to go like I didn’t care about the profits when I started the company. I basically — I just want to say I basically looked at it as if I were a mini VC backed company to start.

Steve: Right, where you could just spend whatever resources to get the buzz and then eventually in the long run, make it a self sustaining company.

Kenric: Yes. Correct.

Steve: Let me ask you this, why are you donating physical products as opposed to just writing a check to these shelters? Presumably it’s a lot more work to ship physical products, right.

Kenric: Yeah. Well, first of all, there’s actually a couple reasons for that. Actually, the main reason is leverage, so because I’m experienced at importing and also at designing products and things like that, I can leverage my knowledge better than a dog rescue can with a check. So, let’s say I donate — actually this is an interesting story because this is what gave me the idea in the first place. So, a lot of times a dog rescue would say, hey, we really need dog collars. Can our supporters, can people please donate dog collars.

And I would see these posts on Facebook and you would look at the comments, and you’d see somebody would go run out to PetSmart and buy a collar for $15, or they would actually buy like five collars right? So they’d spend $75 and they’d be like I bought five collars for your rescue, and the rescue would say thank you so much. And whenever I saw that post, I would be like, wow, for $75 I could definitely import let’s just make it easy. Let’s pretend it’s $5 a collar. So in my mind, I would say like, well, I could import 20 – sorry — 15 collars, right. So the rescue got five collars, and I could have with that same amount of money, I could have given them $15 collars.

So, if I sent a rescue a $75 check let’s say, their volunteers would have gone to PetSmart and bought five collars.

Steve: Okay that makes sense.

Kenric: Yeah where I could take that money and basically I could be like, hey, here’s instead of sending them a $75 check, I’d sent them 15 collars which to them is worth way more than $75 in cash.

Steve: Right because they are going to spend it on dog products anyways presumably.

Kenric: Yeah and they’re going to pay full retail where I can basically give them two or three times. I could basically leverage that money because I can import. But another reason is I didn’t want at first, for some reason this is a pet peeve of mine. So I see some company that’s like I literally saw some companies that were like we donate 100% of our profits to know blah, blah, blah cause, and I’m assuming us as entrepreneurs we know we can fudge that number right? You can pay — if my business made 100 grand, I can decide I want my CEO salary of $100,000 for this year right. And then guess what, the actual business made zero dollars in profits, so they have nothing to donate to the rescue.

So I didn’t want that to be — I didn’t want to be vague, because donating one for one, you know that you’re getting one — rescue is getting one leash when I donate one leash. If I said I was going to donate 10% of the profits for every leash that’s sold, if you go pay $15 for a leash, you don’t know what my profit margin on that leash is, right. I mean, let’s say I make $5 on that leash. Well, that’s a 50 cent donation to a rescue. They can’t go do anything. How many…

Steve: They can’t audit that yeah.

Kenric: Yeah. But even the 50 cents they have to get 30 of those 50 cent donations to buy a $15 leech, right. So it’s just not efficient. In my opinion like when it comes to physical products that I can give, or I can donate, I can totally — I would rather use my leverage to donate. But when it comes to stuff like vet bills and stuff, I can’t donate health care to dogs. So I want the rescues to save the money and use it on that.

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Let’s talk about how you get business through social media. And maybe this wasn’t intentional or not, but I know you post a lot of videos and each time you do I’ve looked at your page, they get a ton of shares and likes. Can you talk about kind of what your social media strategy is?

Kenric: Yeah, I mean, when I started this, I actually wasn’t thinking like, oh, I’m going to use Facebook or Instagram.

Steve: Exactly, it just happened organically but yeah.

Kenric: And I think a lot of it is I mean, first of all, it’s dogs and we’ve all seen how many views dog videos get on Facebook. So it’s something that people already engage with a lot. And actually to start with, we weren’t posting that much, but we basically every Friday we do a post that announces which rescues are getting donations and I think people really love that. I think what that shows is that, hey, we are out here donating every week. And the reason I started doing that is because there’s a lot of — we got some feedback from some rescues that said, hey, it’s so great you’re donating so much, these other places that claim to donate we never receive donations from them.

So sometimes you’re buying something online and you’re like does this company really do what they say they’re going to do? And we’re using social media to just put it all out there right. We list the exact rescue and the date that they are getting it. So people know that we’re sending it out and we’re being very transparent and public about that. So I don’t want anybody to come back to us and say like, hey, you didn’t donate like you said you were going to because then they go through our post and be like look at all this stuff we sent out this year.

But getting back to your question about — I forgot to answer is about physical products. And this is something I did not know getting into this is that the donation aspect is actually a lot more work than the actual selling aspect because with ecommerce there’s everything is made for it right. The order comes into Shopify and then it goes into ShipStation and it prints out a label, you just put it in a box and you send it out. That stuff is like the easy ecommerce part and the donation part is like, oh which rescue which rescues haven’t we donated to for the last three months, and what kind of rescue are they? Do they have big dogs, little dogs, because we don’t want to put in all large dog collars to a Chihuahua rescue?

So, it’s like that part is actually way more work than us shipping out dog collars from our website. So that’s something I didn’t realize starting because I was always thinking like, why don’t other businesses donate one for one, they probably have margins to do it. But now that I’ve gone through this, I realized why because basically I’m adding a whole division in my company to just handle donations, right? And that division has to be paid for. I have employees that do that part. I have a bigger warehouse because of that part. And that part doesn’t generate more money. In fact, it decreases the profit. So it’s like from a pure profit in business standpoint, it’s like a lose-lose division.

Steve: I mean, you guys are profitable, right? I mean, otherwise it wouldn’t be self sustaining. And so it’s just the way you’ve handled things through social media. And it’s like a win-win all around it seems.

Kenric: Yeah, we were profitable but I would say our margins are tiny.

Steve: Are single digits tiny or?

Kenric: Let me think about that. With the donations and everything, they probably are. They’re probably single digits or very low single digits because our gross margins if you count the cost of goods is double the cost of every product. So our gross margins are already very low from ecommerce standards, so they’re already low there. But then you add in the added cost of extra employees just to do donations, and the shipping of donations is — I mean that kills us all the time. We pay about $10 a box and we donate about let’s say 300 bucks is a month right now. So that’s $3,000 just shipping donations.

So, I’d say our margins are — they’re probably hovering right around 10%. I haven’t calculated them in like a month or two. But that’s probably where they are. And they go up and down, but it’s basically they’re low that if I didn’t sell my ecommerce business a year ago, we would have trouble funding all the inventory let’s put it that way. Because we got a stock up inventory months in advance and we double that inventory compared to anybody else.

Steve: So back to the social media, so you post videos and then you have the shelter share on Instagram and whatnot. And then the buzz is just natural at that point, because there’s so many people who want to help these shelters and rescues.

Kenric: Yes, so here’s my take on it. So, if you’re running a normal ecommerce business and let’s say you’re trying to get some buzz on Facebook and you’re like, we’re going to give away $100 to one person who comments on the bottom of this post, nobody is going to share that because you’re sharing when you — you’d comment like Steve, you would comment your name on that post right? But it does you no good to tell your friends because you’re lowering your odds of winning.

Steve: Unless you said the last person who comments wins.

Kenric: Yeah. But then wouldn’t you have to say something like this is over at eight o’clock eastern time. And then like 7:59, like everybody’s like jumps on, that’s not really true either.

Steve: That’s true.

Kenric: So the interesting thing about this I think about just my business is that when somebody gets a donation, by them sharing to tell somebody else like, hey, this company will donate to your rescue, that doesn’t lower their chances of getting a donation. We donate to everybody who applies basically. I’ve had rescues told me like, they thought we were a scam because they were like, I don’t understand this, we just apply, and then we get free stuff. They’re like, this is way too easy, there’s got to be a catch somewhere down the line.

So what happens with our social media post is like, people only share stuff because they really want to help others right? So they’ll share it because it gets more people. When more people buy, more rescues get donations. And when they tell other rescues, those rescues get donations and then those supporters may buy, and then they get more donations. So everybody is in the same boat here, right. Everybody is trying to help dog rescues get more donations from us. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

We’re not trying to limit our donations like the first 1,000 people get this, because people have asked us like are you ever going to cut off your donation list, so no more rescues can join? And I basically them I say, no we’re never going to cut that off. Because if we were, if we made it a very scarce type of thing, people would stop sharing it right. It’d be like oh only we know about this. We don’t want – scarcity is a very different motivator than abundance, and when things are abundant, people want — I think they shared a lot better or they want to share it.

Steve: One thing I also wanted to touch on is you have a very interesting employee philosophy too right. Can you comment on the people that you hire, and what your actual employee policies are in the office?

Kenric: I’m trying to understand…

Steve: You don’t remember what I’m talking about it?

Kenric: No, did we talk about this?

Steve: We did at the medication, you mentioned that everyone can bring their dog and then you told me all these stories like, everyone you hire has to be a pet lover or just happens to be a major pet lover.

Kenric: Yeah, I mean I think that the thing about being a pet lover or a dog lover is a given especially when you work for Max and Neo, there’s just no way we can have somebody there that doesn’t like dogs or doesn’t have a dog.

Steve: But you don’t have to let them bring their pets to work though. And I remember you telling stories about how you had pets like chew up a whole bunch of product and ruin product.

Kenric: Well. Yeah. I mean, that hasn’t happened a lot, we put a kibosh on as soon as it happened. But I don’t get mad at the dogs for that, they’re just dogs, the dogs. But that was always a dream of mine. I worked in the corporate world for 10 years, and I always thought to myself, like, if I had my dog here, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to get home, because when you have a dog and you’re at work and you know the dog has been at home, either just by himself all day, you sort of want to get home, right? It makes you leave work very early or just leave work at the first chance you get.

And so, I remember thinking of that to myself when I was in the corporate world. Like I’d totally bring my dog to work, he just sit under my tube. And so I knew when I started my company, even my outdoors company, you can bring your dog to work. I just knew that that would never be something that I wouldn’t allow.

Steve: I found that interesting.

Kenric: Yeah, I think a lot of businesses are getting more pet friendly and things like that. But I also foster a lot of dogs and I foster — when I have a foster dog, one of the biggest things about having a foster dog is introducing the foster dog to things that they I guess didn’t have. So, a lot of times we’ll get dogs at the rescue that have never been inside. They’re literally an outdoors dog where somebody got the dog and all they did was feed him when they were in the yard, and they never came inside the house. And they basically have no social skills.

So, the good thing about that is when I get a foster dog, I’ll bring them to work, and they’ll meet all the employees and they meet the FedEx guy and the UPS guy and things like that, and it’s very good for them. It helps them get socialized and it helps them get adopted so that’s another reason why I do that, but I definitely want work to be a fun place to go.

Steve: Yeah. So it sounds like everyone brings their pet or their dog to work.

Kenric: Yeah. They do.

Steve: So Kenric, we’re coming on 40 minutes here. And I know you got some big plans coming up for the holidays. Where can people find you? How can they support your company and what’s in store?

Kenric: Yeah. Well, yeah. So I guess to answer your second question first, our website is called MaxandNeo.com, and that’s Max, M-A-X, and is spelled out A-N-D and Neo is like Neo from the matrix N-E-O. And by the way, just as a side note, they were — Max and Neo is named after me and my brother’s dogs that we had. And on Facebook, we are at Facebook.com/MaxandNeo and also the same thing, Instagram slash or whatever, at Max and Neo. So yeah, so I’m actually pretty excited for this holiday season.

We actually haven’t announced this, so I think people are going to hear it here first. But we are going to — so I guess I should back up, so this idea came when if you look at our Facebook posts we get a lot of like thank you for sending us donations, you guys are really good and thank you for doing this, it’s helped us out so much. And it really got me thinking because how we’ve talked about what I do on Facebook, and I was thinking like wait, the rescues are the ones that are really driving this for us. They support us so much and we just support them by donating products to them, but they’re really some rescues out there that are just really driving it out there.

So as a thank you to rescues, what we decided we were going to do is basically donate to every single rescue on our list for the Christmas season. And we have about 2,000 rescues on our list and we decided to basically surprise them by having every rescue get a donation. And I don’t think we talked about this. But normally the way it works is, let’s say we have a list of 2,000 rescues, we donate, let’s say in January, we donate to the first 300 rescues on that list. And then in February, we donate to the next 300 rescues on our list and so on and so on.

So, each rescue will get a donation about once every, let’s say four or five months going through that cycle. So the fact that we’re going to donate to all of them in one month is a really big deal for us and for them, because now they’re not waiting. Every rescue knows they’re going to get a donation in that month for the holidays. So, that’s going to be a big task for us.

Steve: I mean, you don’t have a lot of employees either, right? I mean, that’s a lot of boxes and a lot of stuff that needs to go out to 2,000 rescues. That’s crazy.

Kenric: Yeah, we did some numbers on how many boxes we can pack a day and things like that, and it’ll take us about one to one and a half months to pack 2,000 boxes. And it’s going to be pretty big because there’s going to be about close to a quarter million to a million dollars worth of stuff inside those boxes. So it’s a big Christmas present.

Steve: A big Christmas present, it’s a great cause and I will do my best to help you get the word out about it.

Kenric: Yeah definitely, we appreciate any help that we can get.

Steve: So Kenric, I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking about Max and Neo. It’s clear that you’re very passionate about dogs and that you’re in this for altruistic reasons as your profit margins would show you can’t really do what you do without loving dogs.

Kenric: Yeah exactly. It would be — I guess if it were run by profit, it would just — I don’t know, I think a lot of people would have given up. Can I just say one other thing?

Steve: Yeah go for it.

Kenric: It just popped into my head which is how I know this is the business for me to run, because this happened to me early on where we were just starting out and we had a shipment of leashes. It was like second or third shipment of leashes, and we started getting bad reviews on Amazon of them falling apart or something. And I think it was like let’s say it was a $10,000 order, it might have been 10, or $20,000 order and the leashes were falling apart. And I’d just started this, put all this money into it and I was really mad at my manufacturer.

And I switched manufacturers because of this, but it would have been really easy to say like, well, this business just went down the tubes. I got to throw away 20 grand of inventory when I wasn’t even making a lot of money. But what kept popping into my head was like but if I close up shop, what’s going to happen to the dogs? If you have that kind of thought in your head, you know you’re never going to give up, because you’re not doing it for you, you’re doing it for another living being, and they’re counting on you to make your business profitable or to make it sustainable so they can enjoy a happier life.

And when your motivation is something like that, like there was never the thought of like closing up shop. It was like okay, I got to find another manufacturer and let’s just keep going, because you’re not driven by profit, you’re driven by the well being of something else that’s counting on you. So I just wanted to say that because that’s a very important driver. Basically, I think that’s something that if you could get that one step feeling that is not about profit, I just don’t think you can fail with that type of motivation.

Steve: It’s weird because your case is very interesting because it’s the altruism that is actually causing you to be profitable also. It’s like a self fulfilling prophecy.

Kenric: Correct yeah. And I think that’s because people, I think people are inherently good, they want to do good things, and they will support good people and good companies, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Kenric: And so I think a lot of this is hindsight after running this company for a few years, but it’s not something I saw like to start with, right. And yeah, I believe 100% in what you just said. It’s definitely I think that’s just the way it is with society right now.

Steve: Yeah, well Kenric, once again, everyone who’s listening, MaxandNeo.com. All proceeds, basically you buy something, he donates that exact same thing to a shelter or rescue. Kenric; thanks a lot for coming on the show, man.

Kenric: Sure. And also just – sorry, last thing. If you guys have any rescues that you want to add on to our list, go to our website, and go to the ‘suggest a rescue’ button, because we want to add as many rescues as possible. Sorry Steve.

Steve: No worries man, we’re good friends so it’s all good. All right, take care, man.

Kenric: Thanks a lot and thanks for having me on.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. I’ve known Kenric for a very long time, and he’s generally not the most expressive guy, but I’ve never heard him so passionate about a business before and I’m happy that he’s found his calling. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode234.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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233: Advanced Strategies To Recover Abandoned Carts With Ben Jabbawy

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233: Advanced Strategies To Recover Abandoned Carts With Ben Jabbawy

Today I’m excited to have Ben Jabbawy on the show. Ben is the founder of Privy and we randomly met at the Shopify Unite conference several years ago.

At the time, I had no idea who this guy was and what he did. And likewise, I’m sure he’d never heard of the number 1 hankie vendor on the Internet.

But we kept in touch and today, I’m a loyal user of Privy and he’s been a great email marketing resource for me. In this episode, we’re going to do a deep dive into shopping cart abandonment.

What You’ll Learn

  • Ben’s backstory on why he started Privy
  • The difference between abandoned cart and abandoned checkout emails
  • The biggest mistakes merchants are making with cart recovery
  • Best practices for cart recovery
  • How implement a cart saver popup

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’ve got a special guest with me on the show Ben Jabbawy who is the founder of Privy. Now, you’ve probably heard me talk about Privy on this podcast before because it’s one of the tools that I use in my ecommerce store. But today, we are going to go into great depth about cart abandonment. And to give you a heads up, there are actually two strategies mentioned in today’s episode that I’m actually not doing with my online store that I will definitely be implementing for the holidays.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy once again. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And you know what’s funny is after talking to Ben today, it turns out that I’ve only been scratching the surface of what Privy can do. Right now I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this and when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

But you can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pop ups and email as well at one super low price. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales via pop up, and email as well. So, head on over to preview.com/Steve and try the tool for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email. Now, Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m excited to have Ben Jabbawy on the show. Now, Ben is the founder of Privy, the tool that I use to manage all my email capture forms. And I actually randomly met Ben at the Shopify Unite conference several years ago. I think Ed Hallen of Klaviyo introduced the two of us and at the time I had no idea who this guy was and what he did. And likewise, I’m sure he had never heard of the number one hanky vendor on the internet.

Well, we kept in touch and today I’m a loyal user of his tool. And he’s actually been a big help for me for anything email related. And looking back, it was just one of those chance relationships that turned into something more. Anyway, with the holidays right around the corner, Ben and I are going to talk about some advanced cart abandonment strategies. And with that, welcome to show Ben, how you doing today?

Ben: Hey, Steve, I’m doing great. Super excited to be here.

Steve: So we’ve chatted a lot. We got a chance to meet up at the Klaviyo conference a couple months ago, but I actually don’t even know the back-story of Privy, like when did you decide to start this company and why?

Ben: Woo, man. So when did I actually start the company or when did I launch the ecommerce?

Steve: When did you launch the ecommerce product and what were your motivations? Like how did all this stuff get started?

Ben: Yeah. So we launched the product that people know us for in 2016. We had been tinkering with this idea of direct to consumer was going to need a different set of tools, than what B2B marketers were using. B2B was using HubSpot and Marketo and those are great solutions. But if you’re marketing directly to consumers and selling transactionally online, it was just going to require a different set of brands and workflows that are built specifically for those vendors in mind. And at first, we actually we didn’t really start on ecommerce, we were in retail. But in 2016, we really found our footing when we entered the Shopify market.

Steve: So that’s actually when we met right? I think you just launched then when we just met.

Ben: Yeah, you and I met in 2016 at Unite. That’s right.

Steve: Right. Okay, and you probably just — wow, okay, I got you at the early stages, awesome.

Ben: Yeah.

Steve: So Ben, we all know that cart abandonment is a huge problem for ecommerce store owners. Let’s actually start with some stats, I know what the stats are for my store but in your experience with Privy, like what percentage of users have you seen abandon their cart?

Ben: Yeah, so we’re seeing upwards of 60, 70% of carts going abandoned. So you’re spending all that money driving the traffic to the store, getting the word out, you’re getting excited, they’re further down the funnel adding products to the cart, and then seven out of those 10 people will actually abandon the cart before completing purchase. So it’s a huge, huge opportunity.

Steve: And I don’t know if you know the answer to this question, but what are some of the primary reasons for that happening?

Ben: Yeah, so it’s not always price, right, especially it goes down on browsing. Certainly that’s a big part of it. People are just kind of tinkering, but price is definitely the number one reason that we hear, also…

Steve: Is it shipping price or because they should in theory, already know the price when they’re looking at the product and adding it to the cart.

Ben: Yep. So in many cases within price, we hear shipping price or tax like the all in price once that’s calculated and checked out, that is the number one reason that we hear. There’s also a ton of reasons that people leave around, they have questions about the product. So, thinking about guarantees, or reviews or whatever it is, how it actually is going to function, that that drives a ton of abandonment as well. And in some cases, there’s a small percentage that’s actually like the payment isn’t accepted, or errors at check out that cause a portion of abandonment as well.

Steve: Mm-huh. I’m just thinking that if one of these three things that you just named was actually the factor for not checking out, then would an abandonment strategy help because you’re not going to fix some of those things, right?

Ben: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think, look, part of it is just people get distracted on the web, right? So attention spans are short. And so, I think that’s why you hear so many people placing an emphasis on an abandonment strategy. Certainly price is something you could work on, answering questions is something that you could work on. But yeah, there’s going to be just like in any business, there’s a certain percentage of these abandoned carts that happen that you probably can’t address. But that’s a smaller percentage compared to the ones that are leaving for price or because they have questions etc.

Steve: Yeah, and then I know what my abandoned cart percentage is, it’s roughly 20 something percent, but what are some of the…

Ben: That’s not bad.

Steve: Oh, it’s not bad. I think I read on one of your posts that people are getting 30 to 60 and so that’s why I kind of wanted to ask what those people are doing differently.

Ben: Oh, you mean in terms of recovery?

Steve: Recovery yeah, recovery yeah.

Ben: So you’re saying if you send 20 abandoned cart emails or 100, 20 will actually…

Steve: That’s correct.

Ben: No, that’s pretty good. I mean, we actually are seeing a lot of people that are in the three and 4% in terms of recovery.

Steve: Really?

Ben: Yeah.

Steve: Are you talking about three or 4% off of a single email. I’m talking about across three emails cumulative.

Ben: Oh, okay. So then yeah, I would expect closer to 20 then that seems in line, yeah definitely.

Steve: I think I read one of your articles that people are getting between 30 and 60, though. How do you achieve that? Or maybe it wasn’t one of your posts; maybe it was someone else’s post. I was doing research last night.

Ben: Yeah, that doesn’t sound like it was ours, so that may have come from somewhere else. But you could imagine that if you’re combining a couple of different tactics and I’m happy to talk about them, but if you’re thinking about cart saving pop ups over check out but then look for cart value and the exit signal; I can talk about some of the numbers there. If you’re also sending multiple abandoned cart emails, and then if you’re also doing something like through Shoelace retargeting, you could definitely imagine how the numbers get up above 30%.

Steve: Okay, you just named a bunch of things there. And let’s kind of just start with all the different aspects and kind of break it down to the people listening. It’s harder on a podcast, because they’re just listening and it’s not visual. So let’s just start with the different strategies that you’ve implemented with your clients.

Ben: Sure. Yeah. So first things first, while someone is actually on the checkout in process, you can tie that with this widely used concept of exit intent, right? So if I know that someone’s on the checkout page, and they’re exiting and there’s still value in their cart, then I can actually predict before they ever leave the checkout that they’re about to abandon their cart. And so at Privy, we’ve developed this concept of what we call a cart saving display. It’s exactly what you’d imagine; you can target it just to those people as they’re leaving your checkout process with that money still in the cart, you can design and target a last minute offer.

Steve: What are some metrics that you use to predict that they’re actually going to leave?

Ben: So we’re looking for exit intent. So on desktop, that’s going to be their mouse accelerating towards closing down the browser tab, or moving their mouse to type in a different destination and the URL bar. And on mobile, if you’re thinking about exit intent, it’s either switching between browser tabs on mobile like you can think of just that double click or on the checkout exit intent, we would look for clicking the back button.

Steve: Okay, and so when you detect one of these factors, oh, you’re talking about like a pop up?

Ben: Yeah. Yeah. So you could choose how to display this. But it could be a fly out, it could be a pop up, it could be a spin to win wheel. That’s really up to the merchant. But what you would do is you would use those triggers in your campaign and marry that with a minimum cart value and the fact that they’re still on a URL that contains checkout.

Steve: Interesting and you would you — what are some offers that have worked? Is it usually like some sort of discount offer?

Ben: Yes. So what we see is that a very simple cart saver that targets exactly that people on checkout leaving with either a 5% offer free of shipping offer or maybe 10%, that’s going to help you prevent 10% of carts that would have otherwise gone abandoned before they even leave the site.

Steve: Interesting. I always have a conflict when it comes to just giving coupon codes this way, because you kind of train people, right?

Ben: Yeah.

Steve: So how do you prevent that from happening?

Ben: Yeah. So one of the interesting techniques that a lot of our marketers use is this concept of not just a generic cart saver but a tiered cart saver, right? And so maybe you know your average order value very specifically, right? And maybe if someone has less than average order value, let’s say it was 50 bucks, you know what, you don’t want to train bad behavior. So if they have less than that in their cart, you’re going to let them abandon, but if they have three times average order value, let’s say they had 150 in their cart, then you may want to get a little bit more aggressive and maybe you just target that segment of cart abandonment with a cart saver. So that’s one thing.

The other is just around loading like a fly out that’s asking for, hey, it looks like before you go, did you have any questions about this product? Let us know, we’ll get back to you. You can use a number of different kinds of mechanisms to just try to do everything you can before you let them leave your site. I think that’s like the number one takeaway that shocked us before we launched, the concept of a cart saving display was how comfortable we as merchants are letting everyone leave the site before we try to do anything.

Steve: Let me ask you this question. At least for my store, I know that people in check out they’ll go back and look to see what’s in their cart, and continue shopping. They’ll go to check out but then they might go back and add something extra. Is there a way to just flash this pop up when I know they’re going to leave the site to a different URL versus staying on the site?

Ben: Yeah. So, there’s a number of different kind of triggers you can think about, right. And so maybe exit intent on mobile is treated differently than exit intent on desktop. Certainly it’s something that a lot of our users do anyhow, that is segment different campaigns. So, in terms of this scenario that you’re talking about, there’s no way to necessarily like understand if the back button in this case is going to fire them back to like Facebook, versus back to your site. We don’t really have that level of detection, but that’s an awesome, awesome idea.

Steve: Okay. And so how do people set things up then? You talked about desktop versus Mobile. What are some examples of how you could set it up?

Ben: Yeah. So on desktop, a lot of people like to use our full screen overlay option. So this is a pop up maybe with a background image that literally takes up the entire page, you’ve probably experienced those. And that can be hugely powerful on desktop for a cart saving display. But on mobile, that’s not really anything we would recommend. So maybe on mobile instead of a pop up, you’re using a fly out, that’s kind of just takes the bottom third or the top third of the screen, right? So you may care about the design based on the device.

You may also look for different signals, right? So certainly on desktop, a mouse leaving is a good signal, but maybe on mobile, there’s just a time right? If someone’s on the checkout page with a certain amount of money in their cart for two minutes or a minute, maybe that’s a good signal to load a last minute kind of offer.

Steve: Interesting. Do you know how people mostly set that up with timers exit intent?

Ben: Yeah, so with cart savers, almost all of our users use exit intent for a cart saver looking for that signal, and they marry that with how much money is in the cart. So they may be presenting larger offers to people that have higher values of product in the cart.

Steve: Okay, and what does it exactly mean for exit intent on a desktop, is it when your mouse hovers away from the window or when it clicks the back button or?

Ben: On desktop, we look at mouse movement and acceleration. And so if your mouse is quickly accelerating to close the browser or to the URL bar at the very top, then those would be the two signals we use based on the mouse location and pace essentially.

Steve: Okay, and so if I were to move my mouse quickly, just outside the window to click on another window, it would not come up then?

Ben: No it shouldn’t.

Steve: Okay. I always wonder if the term exit intent, it seems like a lot of people have different implementations. I was just kind of curious how you guys did it.

Ben: Yeah, I mean there’s a number of different ways to handle that.

Steve: So we had the cart saver, what is another method to recover a cart?

Ben: Yeah. So historically, I think everyone talks about checkout abandonment emails. And so, what that means for those that are new is that like Shopify actually has a free tool that does this inside the Shopify admin. If someone gets far enough along in the checkout process to have included their email address, then if they leave before completing purchase, Shopify lets you send a checkout abandonment email and that is hugely powerful. I think MailChimp says that checkout abandonment emails drive 30 times the revenue of other emails that are sent. And there’s no doubt that that’s hugely powerful.

But the challenge that we’ve seen is a lot of your abandonment that happens on your site actually happens on the cart page with people who have added to cart or on the checkout with people who have added to cart, gone to check out, and have not gotten far enough along in the checkout to include their email address. And so it’s kind of like this dirty little secret of checkout abandonment emails where right now even all the ESPs that piggyback off of the checkout abandonments in Shopify actually aren’t able to recognize a large portion of who is abandoning their cart.

So, even though checkout abandonment emails work very well that can be very effective, Stephen your case it sounds like you’re recovering 20% of carts through that mechanism. That’s awesome. Imagine if you were able to send those same exact emails that are working so well to a larger percentage of the pie that was abandoning their cart.

Steve: Walk me through the process.

Ben: Yeah. So let’s say you’re already using something like Privy to convert first time visitors into email subscribers with a pop up, right? So that’s probably converting about 10% of traffic to your store, or somewhere around there. So some of those people, the moment they register there, they become known entities to your database. And then Privy continues to track those people when they browse and add, and let’s say we’ve done exactly that. We filled out a form in this visit and we added a red t-shirt to cart, but at that point, Privy knows who you are, and your abandonment email system or Shopify does not know who you are, right?

Steve: Right.

Ben: So at that point, if I leave the site with that red t-shirt in my cart, the only system that A, has proper opt in and B, has the ability to identify who that email address is that just left the site would be Privy in that case, right?

Steve: Okay.

Ben: So versus if that same person filled out the form, added to cart, moved to the checkout process and started filling out my email and check out, at that point your normal checkout abandonment system would be able to send that abandoned checkout email.

Steve: So for most people who are doing email capture, there’s really no way to communicate with your shopping cart that you have an address right?

Ben: That’s correct yeah. I mean you could certainly sync the email addresses to Shopify or MailChimp, but that’s not — that’s considered offline data. That’s just an email address. It’s not the email address tied to the visitor behavior.

Steve: Right. And so the piece that I’m missing here is traditionally, the way I’ve used Privy was as an email capture form. But if I’m going to do an abandoned cart with Privy, I would also want knowledge of what’s in the cart, right? Is all that information past as well?

Ben: Yes, yeah. So we know which products are in the cart. We know your previous browsing history, what products you looked at, all of that stuff we are storing alongside your form submissions inside Privy.

Steve: Okay. And so what are some of the rules then, in terms of sending this email and what would you contain in this email? Like, what does the email look like and when do you send it out exactly?

Ben: Yeah. So in the same way that we would recommend for your cart saver it’s thinking about that tiered approach, right? We would recommend something similar here for cart abandonment. So in the Privy cart abandonment solution, probably the first email should be set for an hour after abandonment. And at that point, we actually wouldn’t recommend including a coupon. I would recommend keeping that short and sweet and saying, hey so and so, I’m reaching out from Ben’s t-shirt store and we noticed you left some products in your cart. Did you have any questions about how that red t-shirt fits or the sizing or anything? If you have any questions whatsoever, let me know. If not, here’s a link to complete your checkout.

So just that soft reminder with the offer to kind of answer any lingering questions that they have preventing them from purchase can be hugely impactful. Then you might consider a second email that’s maybe six or 12 hours after abandonment and maybe at that point, there’s some more information about the product. This would be an appropriate time to think about a small coupon if the purchase is still incomplete, and then perhaps like you did in yours Steve, you actually have a third email in your series as well. So definitely keeping it to kind of two to three is where we’ve seen a lot of success for our merchants, and that’s where their kind of recovery rates climb from three to 4% to something much higher than that.

Steve: How do you determine how much time to wait before sending out each email?

Ben: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s kind of for starters; it’s a guessing game, right? We see every merchant just start with that one hour email or a 24 hour email. In my view, waiting 24 hours is a little bit too long just given the way that we engage as consumers on the web. So, definitely starting with one hour for the first not necessarily including an offer in that, and then I think it’s really a question on then the next two. And I would kind of decide on when to send the second and third based on anything else you may be doing like are you using retargeting ads. And if you are, then there’s a chance that that person will see a retargeting ad the same day, so maybe two emails in one day is too much. But if you’re not doing anything to supplement your checkout emails, then one at one hour and the second at six or 12 seems appropriate.

S; I know for mine, I think my third one actually converts higher than my second one. I think I had that set at 48 hours and the second was that at 24 hours. It’s weird. I can’t explain it though.

Ben: Yeah. And this is for the linen store, right?

Steve: That’s correct. Yes.

Ben: Okay, and [inaudible 00:24:58]. So, you have three emails, what is kind of the message of each? And is there an offer in each?

Steve: There is not an offer, I don’t because — after talking to you today, I think what I’m going to do is go back and create a separate abandoned cart that is only for high ticket item purchasers. Like if they have a cart that is over like 100 bucks or so, I’ll probably going to try to give them a coupon and keep my existing one for people with carts that are maybe like below 50 bucks or something like that.

Ben: Yeah.

Steve: But I’m not doing that right now. So what I do is the first one is just like a gentle reminder. The second one says something like, hey, we still have your cart saved for you. And the third one is your cart is going to expire soon.

Ben: Nice, that’s cool.

Steve: And so that’s how I have it set. I’m kind of against coupons in general, but I can see the value in giving that out to someone who’s going to be a big customer because we actually reach out to these big customers later and try to make them long term customers that buy over and over again. Because the larger customers at our store tend to be event planners with a lot of buying power. So that’s just a unique case obviously for our store.

Ben: Yeah but I look, I think like one of the reasons we’ve grown a lot is because people want to bring a level of specificity or relevance or personalization whatever buzzword you want to use to how they display messages on their site. And we feel that that’s exactly what they should be doing in their checkout abandonment emails and cart abandonment emails as well. So, I think your instinct around treating high value ticket abandoners and lower cart value abandoners differently is like that’s where you can start to chip away at each of these segments differently because they kind of are acting very different.

Steve: How do you make sure that your abandoned checkout emails don’t interfere with your just abandoned cart emails?

Ben: Yeah, so we’re actually rolling out integration. So basically, just to clarify how most people in the industry do this, if you use something like MailChimp, what they’ll do is they’ll actually piggyback off of the Shopify checkout abandonment API to understand which draft orders have been abandoned essentially. And if eligible, they’ll help you send that email. So it’s all based off of the Shopify checkout abandonment, and we do the same thing, right. So we’ll basically piggyback off of that and our recommendation is if people are going to adopt the Privy cart abandonment solution is that they just simply turn off that email from Shopify.

Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about my brand new service that will help you grow your email list for free through group giveaways. This service is called Gobrandwin.com, and we’ve had amazing results so far. In one of our last giveaways, we gathered almost 12,000 emails and grew the email lists of participating ecommerce stores by over 56% overnight. Now, does getting more customers and more emails for free sound interesting to you? Here’s how it works.
If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, you contribute a gift card from your store valued at $200 or more. We will then assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic and turn it into one massive sweepstakes giveaway. Now, everyone is going to send this giveaway email to their entire customer base, and drive them to a special landing page on Gobrandwin.com. We will acquire email addresses. Now consumers enter their emails, we send them special offers from your store and select a grand prize winner.

And after the sweepstakes is over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your email list. And because my co founder and I have a pretty big network, we will also send the giveaway entry form to related influencers within the same niche and instantly augment any sweepstakes that we run. So bottom line the concept is very simple, we all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the customer base. Now, if you’re interested in growing your email list, then head on over to Gobrandwin.com. That’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com, that’s Gobrandwin.com, and it is 100% free. Now back to the show.

Okay and here’s just something that just popped into my head just now. Is there a way to send special pop ups or emails if I recognize that a certain person with a certain email address is hanging out in our store?

Ben: Yes, definitely possible. How would you want to do that based on how many orders they’ve made or?

Steve: Like if I know that there’s someone who’ve spent a lot of money in the past, and their cart might not meet my threshold right now but I want to give them special treatment.

Ben: Yes. Yeah. So we offer a whole slew of targeting rules, so we call them for displays on your site. And one of those is how many orders they’ve made, or how much money they’ve spent on your site.

Steve: Oh, so you keep track of that?

Ben: Yeah. So, that would be kind of how we recommend it. We don’t let you actually input a user’s email address to target but we do let you run all sorts of advanced targeting rules and pair those together so hitting a very specific segment with a specific message.

Steve: Yeah, I mean, obviously, that’s the better way to do it, right? Otherwise, you have to maintain this email list that you have to manually update.

Ben: Right. We want to take the heavy lifting off of you. So as long as you have an idea of what that message should be, then you can design that in Privy and add the proper targeting rules to hit that audience. Just keep in mind that the more advanced you get on the targeting rules, the smaller the audience becomes that matches all.

Steve: Sure. I mean, obviously these would be very specialized abandoned cart solutions specifically targeting a small subset of people that are maybe high ticket item people similar to what we already discussed right?

Ben: Right. Yeah.

Steve: Can you comment on email abandoned cart versus the cart saver pop up versus Facebook ads and push notifications as a means to recover abandoned carts?

Ben: Yeah. So and it’s good. It’s good, right. Like the holiday season is coming up. One of the things that we’ve seen in general and then I’ll dive into that is that over the holiday season, you should expect about 100% lift in traffic. That was what we saw across all our merchants’ stores last holiday season. So, all that means is if 70% of your carts go abandoned normally, and you’re going to double your traffic over the holiday months, then that 70% is going to reflect a much larger amount of carts that go abandoned.

So, if there’s two things that you can do that are incredibly low cost, one would be to set up a cart saving display, and if you’d like targeted just to the people that have a certain amount of money or higher in their cart, big spenders about to leave. That is incredibly low cost; you don’t need to pay to do that. The second thing is whether it’s just the free checkout abandonment email from Privy — sorry, from Shopify, or a solution like Privy, I absolutely recommend that you have some sort of abandonment email funnel set up before the holiday season.

And lastly, if you do have some budget to spend, I think for the holiday season, I would recommend focusing on driving the traffic to your site from your existing list, and then focusing any sort of paid marketing dollars you have around retargeting on Facebook or Instagram the people that are leaving your site without completing purchase. And a lot of the audience probably doesn’t have huge budgets to drive pay on social and that’s fine. So I would look at that as kind of like a third really important stat if you have some budget.

Steve: Okay, I mean traditionally Facebook retargeting of abandoned carts, the audience size for that is going to be large and I can’t imagine you’re going to be spending a whole lot of money on that. It’s not going to be that expensive, right?

Ben: Exactly, and those are the people that are such high value and so high intent that are literally at the bottom of your funnel, and perhaps if they didn’t leave because of an issue with your product or a question, then at least this is just another way to stay top of mind without having to send six abandoned cart emails let’s say.

Steve: Great, let me ask you this question and it just kind of popped into my mind again. When you’re using the cart saver during checkout, you probably want to deliver the coupon code right away, as opposed to having them leave the site and maybe check their email and then come back?

Ben: Yes, yes, definitely so 100% recommend in any case that you always reveal a coupon code on the site if that’s the point of what this person signing up for. So in a cart saver, if they’re on checkout, and leaving and you load something that says, hey, wait, complete your purchase now, join our email list and we’ll give you free shipping code, then you would want to reveal it right there on the confirmation of the pop up as opposed in an email.

Steve: Actually, now that I think about it, we already had their email because they’re in checkout right. So would you just want to display the coupon period?

Ben: Yeah, so there’s two camps here, and both can be incredibly effective. In some cases, if they’re on checkout, you actually don’t have their email yet, right? So we do see some of our users target a form that reveals the coupon code.

Steve: I see. That makes sense.

Ben: And then we have other users that that say, hey, I want to run the same exact campaign, but I want to target the people whose email addresses I actually already know. And I don’t want to ask for their email again, and I just want to reveal the code. So you can actually do both of those things inside of Privy. And we definitely like the more sophisticated the marketer, the more we see that branching. If we know the email address, obviously just reveal the code and if we don’t, we still want to try to capture the email just in case they still leave.

Steve: So when you reveal this coupon code, can you have it automatically entered?

Ben: Yes, so for Shopify we call it the magic coupon script. So whether it’s a master unique code but the same coupon code is what everyone gets. Or if it’s a unique coupon code, we can have it so that it automatically is entered into checkout, whether that’s on desktop or mobile. There’s huge value in that. We know how frustrating it can be. If you’re on a mobile device, you sign up, you get a coupon code and then you have to like remember this long thing. That’s not a really great experience. So we built the coupon script to do exactly that.

Steve: Nice. If we can move back to just email real quick, what are some subject lines in email copy that have worked the best in terms of conversions?

Ben: Yes. So you’re talking about like general email or…

Steve: I’m talking about abandoned cart emails in particular.

Ben: Yeah, so I think this is where own brand adds a lot of value, right? So if you have like a very human casual tone in your brand, weaving that into the subject lines is a great time to do that. I think with distractions and everything like that, a lot of times, just like a subject around, hey, don’t forget, you have this in your cart. That can actually be more effective than you might imagine, especially when you weave that kind of tone into it that they would expect. I think avoiding the offers in the beginning, in the subject line especially, is just going to help with deliverability and avoiding the promotional inbox. So I think we typically recommend that you stay away from that.

Steve: What about the second email assuming there’s no coupon?

Ben: Assuming there’s no coupon in terms of what we would recommend for subject.

Steve: Yeah.

Ben: So in this case, this might be a good opportunity to educate people, right? So, maybe the subject is still centered around like, you still have product in your cart or your cart is expiring soon, something to that effect. But the body of the email may just be pertinent to include a bit more information about your business. A, they may have forgotten about who you were in the last six or 24 hours and B, certainly they may have forgotten what’s in their cart. So, reminding them of those two things in that second email would be important.

Steve: Okay, so Ben, we’ve actually covered a lot of stuff. I was hoping that what you could do is if someone who’s running a store is actually not doing any of these things today, how would you recommend that they proceed, and what needs to be implemented before Black Friday?

Ben: Yeah, so A, we’re doing a free webinar about cart savers and abandonment over the holiday season. Our goal is to walk away with definitive steps you can take no matter how close to Black Friday. So, I highly recommend checking that out. Second, I would do two simple things. I would turn on a cart saving pop up from Privy that loads based on how much money is in someone’s cart and them being on the checkout experience with the exit intent trigger. I would also flip on…

Steve: So, this is only for checkout – sorry, the cart saver pop up is only for checkout?

Ben: Exactly.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Ben: Yeah, and that should help reduce about 10% of carts before they ever leave, a huge value right there. The second thing I would do is I would — whether it’s the Shopify free checkout abandonment email or the Privy $10 a month abandonment email, I would immediately get at least one email set up with or without an offer.

Steve: Okay. And then the advantage obviously with using a service like Privy is that once you have the email, you can show this send this email for any sort of abandonment whereas the Shopify only solution is there’s only standard checkout right?

Ben: That’s exactly right. Yeah, so we will help you send those abandonment emails to a larger percentage of people that are actually leaving products either in their cart or in checkout.

Steve: And on the cart saver pop up, the mobile should be a smaller portion of the screen real estate whereas do you recommend like the full screen takeover for desktop?

Ben: Yeah, for desktop cart savers we do recommend big involved, so full screen takeovers with messages, wait, before you go, reveal code now if there’s an offer, that has huge value. And for mobile definitely sticking with the fly out ideally positioned on the bottom is going to be best for the mobile experience.

Steve: Okay, that’s it, anything that I’m missing Ben, it seems pretty straightforward. Oh, so do you recommend using the timer in conjunction with the exit intent or just the exit intent?

Ben: I don’t know, the timer is kind of it seems to work really well. But as a consumer it feels a little bit kind of gimmicky. So, I think certainly feel free to experiment with it. But we found in a cart saving experience on the site, you don’t need a timer to really have a massive impact on reducing abandonment.

Steve: Okay. And then, of course, if you want to go the extra mile, you’ll have a separate abandon sequence for high ticket purchasers where you can actually give out a coupon and drastically improve your abandoned recovery rate.

Ben: That’s exactly right. So, if you’re just getting started, just make sure you have these concepts in place. And for those that are more advanced, definitely think about a tiered structure based on the value of someone’s cart that is leaving behind.

Steve: Well, Ben, if anyone has any questions for you about cart abandonment, you already mentioned your webinar. I apologize; I already forgot what it was, if you want to specify that again and where people can reach you online.

Ben: Yeah, so you just head to Privy.com, P-R-I-V-Y.com. We have very clear call to actions on when the webinars are and a checklist for preparing for Black Friday. That’s going to be up through the holiday season.

Steve: Cool. And if anyone needs any help implementing all this stuff, you guys have a support team that’ll help out right?

Ben: Oh, yeah, we have live chat support, we have customer success. We are staffing up quite a bit for the holiday season.

Steve: Cool. Well, I know that I am actually not doing many of the things that we discussed today. And so I’m going to put on my implementation hat and get this stuff done before the holidays for sure. But Ben thanks a lot for coming on the show. It’s really valuable.

Ben: Thanks Steve. Yeah, my pleasure, great to be here.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Whenever I talk to anyone on this podcast, I always leave with yet another action item for my store. But the tips in today’s podcast are actually simple to implement and I’ll definitely have them ready by Black Friday. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode233.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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232: Facebook Chatbots – Creative Business Use Cases With Dana Tran

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232: Creative Facebook Chatbot Use Cases With Dana Tran

Today I’m thrilled to have Dana Tran on the show. Dana is someone who I randomly met at Social Media Marketing World and I must say that I’ve been super lucky when it comes to bumping into random people at conferences.

Dana runs Thinktuitive where she focuses on writing content for Facebook Messenger bots. In fact, she has a premium course called Bot Essentials that helps non techie entrepreneurs build their own chatbots.

In today’s episode, Dana’s going to teach us how it’s done.

What You’ll Learn

  • The two main Facebook chatbot programs that she recommends
  • Creative implementations of Facebook Messenger bots
  • How to implement an abandoned cart bot
  • How to create questionnaires to provide product recommendations
  • How to combine Facebook Messenger with email
  • Which lead gen method should have higher priority, email or bots?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. Now today I’ve got my friend Dana Tran on the show. And Dana has actually slowly become my go to gal when it comes to Facebook Messenger bots. And what I like about her is that she knows her stuff and she has a technical background. And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to discuss some practical use cases for bots.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now, I’m always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on how much they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email. Klaviyo is easily the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today, I’m thrilled to have Dana Tran on the show. Now, Dana is someone who I actually randomly met at Social Media Marketing World, and I have to say that I’ve been super lucky when it comes to bumping into random people at conferences. Dana runs thinktuitive.com where she focuses on writing content about Facebook Messenger bots. And in fact she has a premium course called Bot Essentials — I’m not sure if the name has changed, that helps non techie entrepreneurs build their own bots.

Now, as you all know, I’ve been really into Messenger bots for quite some time now. And what I like about Dana is that she’s the perfect blend of tech and communicator. Today, she’s going to teach us about Facebook Messenger marketing. Welcome to show Dana, how you doing today?

Dana: I’m doing great, thanks so much for having me on. I’ve been listening to you for I don’t know how long now, so it just feels such an honor to be on the show actually.

Steve: It’s actually – the pleasure is actually all mine. So Dana, we did meet randomly at S&MW, give us a quick background story. Tell us how you got into Facebook Messenger bots in the first place?

Dana: Well, I am — I consider myself a digital coach. I teach and help small businesses how to build interactive bot experience to help them increase the engagement and of course, all without coding. I focus mainly on non techie entrepreneurs. And my background is a mixture of tech with HR, and I specialize in E-learning and process improvement. So, back in the days when I used to be a consultant, I mainly worked on HR IT enterprise system, kind of not the most exciting things in the world. But I helped businesses become more productive and efficient with the help of technology.

And I found out about Messenger bots during their F8 conference. And this was back in April 2016, I think. And I was just watching it online and learn about Messenger bot. And I just thought like wow, there’s just so much possibilities here. So, now I’m applying the same skill set that I used to have when I used to be a consultant working with larger companies. But I’m applying that to help smaller businesses become more productive, efficient, and show them how they can leverage Messenger bot to engage with visitors and customers, and providing them an interactive, fun experience.

Steve: Cool. I must say, I’ve never met anyone who combines tech and HR. I didn’t think that really exists. Anyways, so one of the themes of Traffic & Conversions and Social Media Marketing World this past year was Facebook Messenger, and chatbots, chatbots, chatbots. So, what I was hoping to do today was maybe to go into depth on some of the best use cases that you’ve seen for businesses and Messenger bots. And let’s assume we have someone who’s running an ecommerce store, how would you implement a bot? And what are some creative cases that you’ve done or seen in the past?

Dana: Well, with Messenger bot, I mean, I want to back up a bit just in case there’s somebody listening, and they don’t know what a bot is.

Steve: Sure.

Dana: So, a Messenger bot is a program inside Messenger that can automatically interact with people, answer common questions, and provide them with relevant information in an interactive way. So, that’s what a Messenger bot is. It’s not a replacement for your website, your email marketing, or any other tool. You really need to think of it as an additional tool that you’re adding to your current tool kit. So, what I like to do with Messenger bot is to provide value, educate with users, engage with them to move them along the customer journey from being a visitor to a subscriber, to a lead, and eventually a customer, which is what all businesses, the goal is to get people to eventually become a customer.

And what you want to do is prompt them to take small actions, and also use it as customer support, which is really, really critical. And I think with internet, we’ve been in — over the past several years, it’s always been about pushing information out to user, blasting out information. And I think we kind of lost that human touch to it, because everything can be automated. And Messenger bots are great at automation, don’t get me wrong. But I also like to use it to have live one on one human to human conversation, because if a user needs something, and they have a question, you can actually reply back to user.

So, suppose a user is out there researching your product, and they stumble upon your Facebook page, they can send you a message to your Facebook page, and you can reply back to them. Now, you can also embed a chat customer plug-in on your site and it’s that little bubble that appears in the bottom right hand corner. And I think you have it installed on your site.

Steve: Yeah, I have it on the site yeah. It’s actually a great way to close the sale actually.

Dana: Yeah, because sometimes people have certain questions that only a human can answer, right, a bot can’t answer everything. It’s not that smart yet. But that chat bubble, it kind of replaces — did you have like a natural live, like a live chat tool there before?

Steve: I did not actually. I put that in just to get Messenger subscribers, and now we have someone in the Philippines manning that thing full time.

Dana: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So with some sites, I’ve seen them take down their live chat software, and just replace it with Messenger because it’s free. You don’t have to pay anything. And you can have a combination of like automated response through the Messenger bot, as well as live or hire somebody in the Philippines to man the live chat. And the one thing I like about it is when you compare it to the live, the traditional live chat software is that you can start a conversation from Facebook page or the website and say, you send them a message and the person to reply back and say, your guy in the Philippines is only manning that thing for 12 hours a day, let’s say because they need some sleep too, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Dana: And you’re out at the grocery store. And he happens to reply back. Because you’re replying back on Messenger, you can actually reply back instantly. With live chat, when you reply back, it sometimes sends you an email notification, and then you have to go back to the website, and then you reply back. It’s not like in one central location. So, with Messenger being a communication tool, first and foremost, you can use it to have this great conversation and to help close the sale. That’s one thing I really like about it.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what’s nice is all the messages are stored. Everyone uses Messenger today, for the most part. And so, all the conversations are already stored there. Unlike live chat, where they might actually have to go back to your site or use that specific chat window to communicate with you, Messenger is always present.

Dana: Yeah, and they don’t have that time out, like have you ever chat with somebody on a site, and then you open a whole bunch of tabs. And later when you go back to that tab, it’s like, sorry, the conversation is now closed. And you’re like, oh, I have to wait again to have another conversation with the user.

Steve: Totally, totally.

Dana: It’s really helpful that way.

Steve: I mean, there are other features right now that the Facebook chat bot doesn’t have, sorry, the Facebook Messenger live chat doesn’t have a lot of these metrics that some of the other live chat programs have. But I mean, the benefits outweigh the negatives right now, it might be at least.

Dana: Yeah, I think in your opinion. I mean, some still stick to live chat. I’m not saying live chat softwares are really bad, but it just depends on case by case basis. And I think the best way is to kind of test it out and see what works best for you. But another use case, the other the other thing I guess I want to warn people about is the limitations of Messenger. Even though you say it’s great, when it comes to your Messenger subscriber list. So unlike email where you can migrate your email list from one platform to another, you cannot do that easily when it comes to bot building platforms. So, you need to kind of test out the platform and choose wisely.

Steve: So let me ask you this, since you’re on that topic, what do you recommend for ecommerce, which platform?

Dana: Oh, boy. I mean, my two favorite platforms right now is ManyChat and Chatfuel in no particular order. I use them both actually. I have to Messenger bots; one is on ManyChat and the other one is with Chatfuel. And both have a payment feature where you can actually get users to buy a product directly in Messenger. Both can actually hook into third party databases if you want it to so that you can send data and even like so if you want to collect an email address inside your Messenger bot and send that to your email marketing software, you can actually do that. But yeah, I would say just test it, it just depends.

Steve: Let me ask you this, what is the primary difference between the two in your opinion?

Dana: Right now, the biggest difference is the user interface, the user interface. So with ManyChat, it has a mind map field to where you can kind of visually see how things are connected to each other. So, it can be really useful, except if you have a really big flow, then when you zoom out, you can’t really see anything other than squares and a whole bunch of lines, that doesn’t really mean anything to you anymore.

Chatfuel has blocks. So it’s the sidebar where you can see all the different blocks with labels on it. And in each block, you could put in content like your texts, images, and things like that. But you don’t see how they’re linked to each other. But it’s okay, if you have a very complex bar, and you have a lot of logic built into it, because if you have a mind map with 100 different squares and 100 different lines and like, what does that really — you’re not getting any value from it anyways. So I would say that’s the biggest difference.

Steve: So what you’re trying to say, I guess, is both tools are pretty much equivalent in terms of functionality. It’s just a matter of which you like better.

Dana: I mean, if you want to get into the really nitty-gritty detail, I have, I think I wrote a fourth…

Steve: Oh, okay you’re right. I remember that. I actually, I will just link that up instead of going through this on the podcast yeah.

Dana: Because you asked me, what’s the biggest one difference, right? Then I would say what comes to mind most is the user interface. But if you’re talking about like nitty-gritty detail, then there are differences that both are adding. And I think I update that article every month now, to tell you the truth, because they’re adding new features to it all the time that it becomes outdated so quickly. So refer to that if you want to know about the specific detail.

Steve: So, one thing I did want to ask you about is when I run email campaigns, I have an abandoned cart, a repeat purchase sequence, a post purchase sequence, let’s just take abandoned cart, for example, is there the equivalent in Messenger bot land for that?

Dana: Yes, there is. So when it comes to abandoned cart, there’s two ways of kind of accomplishing that, right. The first way is easier. So, let me talk about that first. The first way is, if you have a gallery, let’s say, inside your Messenger bot, and it shows your product and there’s a bit of description about what your product is, how it’s great, what you can do is add a button to that just below that image, and have people check out right, and pay for that product directly inside Messenger.

Steve: How does that work exactly? Do you have to upload your products or is it literally loading your site into Messenger? Like, how does it work?

Dana: You could do it both ways, actually. So you can open up like a web view inside Messenger that loads your website with product detail. Or you can have a image of your product and a buy button. And when a user buys and clicks on that button, it would send you a notification and it would prompt you to fulfill that order depending on what your…

Steve: Does that mean you would have to link up your chat bot with your shopping cart, for example, then?

Dana: If you’re doing it the web view way, then yes. If you’re doing it just through the gallery, the native Messenger gallery, then you would just add a buy button and you would just get an alert after people pay you through Stripe, let’s say.

Steve: So once they pay through Stripe, you get a notification. But that notification needs to add an order to your shopping cart back end, right?

Dana: Yeah, you could do it that way. I mean, it depends on if you have only a few products, then that’s probably easier. If you have hundreds or thousands, then you would probably need to hire a developer to kind of help you integrate everything. So it kind of depends on what you’re looking for, because I’ve seen for example, Lego has an amazing bot actually if you haven’t had a chance to check them out. But what they do is they create a questionnaire that asks you like who are you buying for? What’s your budget, what theme they like? And after you answer those questions, it gives you a recommendation of five products because Lego has probably millions.

Steve: Millions, yeah totally.

Dana: So they ask through questionnaire, they kind of help you pick out the right one for you, or whoever you’re buying for. And then under those five product recommendation, they have a little buy button that takes you to the website. And I think what they do as well before loading that buy button is they give you a discount code for free shipping that expires in X amount of days, or whatever it is. So it kind of pushes you to make that purchase a little quicker than you would otherwise.

Steve: I see. So that’s actually ingenious. So, is that, as soon as you get on Lego’s site, and you initiate a chat, this wizard, I guess to help you find what you want to look for, is that the first thing that pops up?

Dana: Yeah, that’s – well, I don’t know if that’s — that’s one of the options that you have. But if you do have, say 1,000 products or hundreds, I wouldn’t recommend creating a catalog inside Messenger, because it’s kind of like walking into — just imagine walking into like a big, I don’t know, Costco or something, you can kind of get lost. And you’re like, okay, what is it that I’m looking for, and you’re just wandering around the different aisles to kind of see what product there is, right? With Messenger bot, and if you have a lot of products, I would say pretend that that’s a virtual sales associate that you’re building.

And what you could do instead is get that sales associate to ask each user, what are you looking for, and just help narrow down what the choices are, and then give product recommendation that suits them.

Steve: Based on your best sellers, for example probably, right?

Dana: Yeah, best sellers because like, at the end of the day, it’s kind of like Amazon, right? When you go onto Amazon, there’s just so much products. You either use a search, they also have personalized products for you that you can kind of see based on your past search history. Because with Messenger bots, suppose that you have a user that interacts with your bot before and you tag them, and you save certain information about them. So you already have a rough idea of what they’re interested in. You could send them a broadcast, I mean, now and then to make recommendation on what you think would be the best product for them. Like, you don’t want to send them a catalog with 100 products in there.

Steve: Sure, absolutely yeah.

Dana: They’re just going to go crazy. So use — it’s a very different mindset when it comes to building a Messenger bot, because you got to think about, okay, how can I use this creatively to actually help my users? It’s not like a WordPress site where users can just browse. It’s your window is very limited, because if you think about your texts that you get from your family, your friends, it’s very short text. It’s never a 500 word article and it’s never a whole bunch of images. Whenever somebody sends you a text, they kind of limit and think about, okay, what would Steve be interested in? And then they send it right.

Steve: Yeah, I was just thinking about this right now, in the case of my own store, we had different gifts based on the occasion. So we could have a bot where we just ask them, what occasion are you shopping for a gift for?

Dana: Yes.

Steve: And then based on the responses, we could give, like, the best sellers for that given occasion for a given person.

Dana: Yeah, you could do that, occasions, you can ask them maybe favorite colors, if they have been eliminated down? Do they like flowers? Or do they like initials, let’s say. And you can show them different patterns and things like that. And instead of — because with a gallery card, it’s — are you familiar with the gallery card?

Steve: Why don’t you go ahead and explain it?

Dana: Yeah, a gallery card, it’s basically kind of like a slide show where you have an image. And right underneath each image you have a area where you can have a title and a description. And then below that is buttons where they can learn more about the product or you can buy the product. So each gallery, you’re only allowed up to 10. And this is where the user scrolls hor – no wait vertically or…

Steve: Horizontal, left to right.

Dana: Horizontal, yeah left to right, thank you. So they can only scroll horizontally but there’s only 10 options. And I think that’s — I mean, a lot of people complain and they’re like, oh, why doesn’t Facebook allow you to have 20 or 100? Like, do you really want to scroll through like 100 product recommendations?

Steve: I mean I think 10 is actually a lot in my opinion.

Dana: Ten is a lot. And I think Lego when they give the recommendation, I mean, take a look, and see what they do. But I think they only send like five. So it’s only like a quick scroll and you can see all the options. So, I really like what they did with theirs because it’s really fun. You’re not overwhelmed by so many different products. And the recommendation is relevant because you answered those questions, and they’re providing product recommendation based on your answers.

Steve: Is all this done through buttons and not through text at all?

Dana: Yes. So with Messenger bot, we’re not quite there in terms of it being super smart. If you want to allow users to type in actual questions, then what you could do is integrate it with third party kind of artificial intelligence tool like Dialogueflow, is one of them. But I find that people don’t really — typing requires more effort than like tapping.

Steve: Oh no, absolutely, I was just curious.

Dana: So it’s always better to give people an option to tap on buttons. And I always reserve actual text for when you’re getting users to fill out a form or submitting a question, or of course chatting with customer support, you want to give them the option to just say whatever they want to say in that case.

Steve: Let me ask you this question; is it in a store’s best interest to try to check out a Messenger versus doing the checkout on their own site?

Dana: I’d say it depends on the number of products you have because I mean, at the end of the day, it goes through Stripe. You can sell digital — sorry, you cannot sell digital products though through Messenger. So, if you have a store and you’re selling an eBook or something, then you cannot have it the payment process through Messenger. That’s not allowed by Facebook. It’s not a Chatfuel or ManyChat limitation; it’s a Facebook policy that you need to follow.

But I think either way kind of works because going back to the abandoned cart, I think I mentioned the first way is to get people to if somebody taps on a product and say you give them — going back to the Lego let’s say, you give them recommendation and they looked at the product details for those five recommendation, and they don’t check out, what you could do is since you already tagged them in the system and you set that, oh they already seen the product recommendation, you can enroll them into an autoresponder sequence that follows up with them in I don’t know like a day to remind them that, hey, you were looking at these, did you want to check out? So in terms of cart abandonment, that’s one thing that you can do.

Steve: Does that imply then that you need an autoresponder per product in order to do it the way you just specified?

Dana: Not necessary, you can just say, like, oh, you were looking at the product before and just send them, and just point to like the gallery above.

Steve: I see, as opposed to the specific product, which would be a better implementation, right?

Dana: Yeah, because if it’s only a one product, then you could follow up with it. Again, if you have a lot of product, then it might be more difficult to scale if you’re just using Chatfuel or ManyChat, because you need to build all these things manually. But you can say, like, oh, check out the gallery above and just have a arrow emoji pointing to the gallery above to kind of get them to look back at what they were looking at.

Steve: How does the bot know that you actually did not finish checkout?

Dana: You would — when you show them the — when you make the product recommendation, and you send them the product gallery, you can automatically enroll them into a sequence. But if they made the purchase, then you could actually remove them from that sequence.

Steve: So that would be something that your cart needs to tell the bot or whatever software to be used that the purchase went through and to take them away from the…

Dana: Definitely yes.

Steve: Okay. And that requires — is that something that your software handles or is that something that’s built into like Shopify, for example, or BigCommerce?

Dana: I don’t know about Shopify or BigCommerce. If you’re doing it natively through Chatfuel and ManyChat and you’re getting people to check out through their software, then you could do it that way.

Steve: I see. Okay. But if you’re taking them to your site for checkout, then you’d probably have to code something up with the API in order to remove people from an autoresponder sequence. Is that accurate?

Dana: Yeah, so with cart abandonment, I said that there’s kind of two ways. One is the built in payment processor inside of Messenger. The other way is suppose you want them to check out through your website, which has nothing to do with Messenger at this point. So they’re just browsing your website, they add something to the cart, what you can leverage is it’s called a checkbox plug-in that you can add to your website. And if they added to the cart, you can actually trigger and enroll them into a sequence if you wanted to.

But the tricky thing about the checkbox is it’s no longer pre checked. The user would actually have to check that checkbox. And it’s something that Facebook removed. I think they might reinstate it. I’ve heard of them kind of talking about reinstating that pre checked status. But one thing that you could do is have that checkbox and there’s actually a software called Recart that can actually help you with that.

Steve: Yes, that’s a Shopify plug-in, right?

Dana: Yeah, that’s a Shopify plug-in. Yeah, they can actually send to Messenger and that is actually probably the easier way to do cart abandonment through a website with the help of Messenger than to kind of build it on your own. It’s possible, but…

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From what I remember how that works is it used to be pre checked so that when someone added something to the cart, they were automatically opted into – they got a Messenger message sometime later that said, hey, were you looking at this and you didn’t finish checkout. Now that it’s not pre checked though, I guess the chances of them checking it are pretty slim. I know, for mine, it’s like a 1% or something in the single digits for people that check. I give a free gift on add to cart. That’s how I get people to do it. And the percentage of people checking that box even though I’m giving something for free is pretty low.

Dana: Oh, wow.

Steve: So that’s just my story though yeah.

Dana: I would say it’s harder with if you’re doing it inside of Messenger because you can track whether they viewed a product or not. It’s probably a little easier than to get them to physically go out of the word to check that little checkbox on your website.

Steve: Yeah, it’s a tiny checkbox too, yeah, exactly. Okay. So it sounds like then that the easiest way to implement this is to actually use the payment system associated with Chatfuel or ManyChat because it’s much easier to take them off of the autoresponder sequence for example, and add them on.

Dana: And add them yeah. But what you could do is, if you have a product page, you could send them to a quiz or something from your website to that quiz and teach them more about whether this product is a right fit for them and then retargeting them that way. That’s another way of doing it. But you want to provide them with some reason to actually go from your website to your Messenger bot in order to retarget them, right?

You either have a quiz or have some reason where they can learn more, or click on that button to subscribe and get a discount. Because what you could do, and I think you can build like almost like a wheel of fortune inside Messenger, when you provide them with a random discount or prize and send them to that wheel of fortune feature inside Messenger. And that way you can kind of retarget them at a later date since they’re – you’re kind of gamifying it then you send to them.

Steve: Right. One thing that’s also not clear to me is, and I know ManyChat sent out some emails saying that their payment system has been has been updated, and it’s unclear to me. So if you take payment through ManyChat, for example, what is the notification like? Where does that order go exactly?

Dana: At Stripe.

Steve: At Stripe? So that takes the payment information. But what about the specifics for the order and all that stuff, is that just something that you have to pre bake into the tool?

Dana: No, there’s a section in ManyChat where you can see all of your order history. And you can also send a notification to yourself if you wanted to.

Steve: What does the notification look like? Is it an API or is it an email? What does it look like?

Dana: Right now I know it’s an email. I’ve been kind of playing around a bit with the API side of it. I don’t know that they did a lot with the API. But right now, it’s just basic email I believe. I might be wrong having…

Steve: I see. So it sounds like the flow is you set up some transactional stuff with ManyChat, and then you get the order, you get the email, and then someone has to just manually enter that into your back end system for fulfillment.

Dana: Yeah, unless you want to go through Stripe API.

Steve: Right. In which case, you would probably have like a web hook or something then, right that would automatically…

Dana: Yeah, I think that would be the best way too.

Steve: If you want to automate it, oaky.

Dana: Yeah, Stripe is the main — I mean, that’s where your actual information is anyways, like the for sure because they made the purchase. So hooking through Stripe, I would say is the easier way to do it.

Steve: Sorry, for the listeners out there, we’re probably getting a little too technical there. I was just thinking in my mind how I would implement this with my own store without having to do any manual entering. And just for the benefit of the listeners out there, Stripe has these — has a really nice way where when someone makes a payment, you can actually — it’ll tell you exactly what they bought and everything. And then you can kind of tie that into your back end. There must be some plug-in available for this. And maybe if I find it, I’ll link it up in the show notes.

But okay. So I think we’ve beaten abandoned cart to death. What are some other great examples that you’ve seen in the ecommerce space for bots?

Dana: For bots, I mean, creating a questionnaire or a quiz. I’m a really big fan of that, because it just allows — it puts the user in control, right. I think I mentioned it before with Lego as an example. But it’s…

Steve: So let me ask you this, how would you initiate that questionnaire?

Dana: How would I initiate?

Steve: Yeah, how do you get someone to take it?

Dana: So when you want to drive traffic to your Messenger bot somehow. So you can either have them go to your bot through your Facebook page, or a Facebook post say that you promoted or your website. And you could say something like, having a hard time deciding which product is best for you, try taking this quiz, the short quiz and our bot can help you out, something like that.

Steve: Okay.

Dana: When the user clicks on the button, it would initiate the quiz and it would start, and it would ask them some questions. Now, when it comes to asking these questions, it’s not an interrogation. Don’t ask too many questions because if the user makes a mistake midway, or they want to start again from the beginning, it’s not easy to do that unless you build it into your quiz. So just make it really simple, use buttons to allow them to answer. I think with Lego, they only ask like three or four questions, just enough to kind of get an idea.

And then after that they share the results with you. Now, it’s not just about product recommendation, but you could also ask them like what are you trying to learn about a product, right? So you had somebody selling something about I don’t know, like skincare, right? You can also ask them, are you suffering from dry skin, or oily skin, and just use it to send users the right information that would benefit them. Because with Messenger bot, the difference between Messenger bot and a website is when you’re on a website, it’s the users’ job to look and scan your website to find where to go, and what to click to find the right information, right.

You can browse the top navigation bar, you can search, you can look through all the different thumbnails and colors and pictures and whatever you have on your site. Messenger bots, you don’t have that luxury. You have a very fixed small space. And I’ve seen people trying to copy and paste and cram all their information from their website into a Messenger bot, and send large amounts of text and images. And it just does not work well at all.

Steve: Yeah, so it sounds like you just need to be a lot more concise. And then keep the questionnaire very simple, pick your best selling products or your winners, and then try to steer people in that way.

Dana: Yeah, it’s like a toy guy, right? It’s like, okay, what do you want to look at today? Ask them a question. And you your job when building the bot is to build all these different possible scenarios that a user might go down. So they might go down one way or another way. And you build out those separate experience and you’re putting the user into the driver seat to allow them like to let them pick where they want to go.

Steve: Let me ask you this, how have different companies that you’ve interacted with, how do they mix email with Messenger, because I still feel email still drives a large quantity of traffic and sales to my shop. And I’ve been at least conflicted on which I want to grab first, because not everyone is on Facebook Messenger, especially in my customer demographic.

Dana: With Messenger, the type of information that you can share is very different. So, I like to use Messenger where it’s very short bursts of information or reminders is a really good one. Say you’re hosting a webinar or a live event or anything where you want to send a reminder, that’s a really great way to follow up with users and remind them. If it’s something that’s more lengthy, like say, 300, 400 words, it’s going to be tough to try to break that down into a Messenger.
I don’t know that you can easily do that. I’ve used both. It just depends on what type of content you want to send out. And at times, I’ve actually sent out a Messenger notification or a Messenger note or a broadcast, I’d say, and redirect people to video or PDF where there’s more information because I don’t try to put everything into Messenger.

Steve: What about in terms of getting an email address? Like, would you go for a Messenger subscriber first over getting an email subscriber?

Dana: With Messenger, it’s easier to opt in, it’s just one click. Users don’t need to fill out a form. So with if you’re on a website and you have you ask people, oh, do you want to get a free PDF or a free coupon or something. All they need to do is click on the sent Messenger and they would automatically get it. They don’t need to type in their first name. They don’t need to type in their last name. And then you also have the issue of the open rate, because open rates on Messenger is still I believe, about a 70 to 90% as opposed to email address where it’s 20 to 30%. It’s just so much lower. So, right off the bat, you already — a lot of people that you’re sending the email to are not going to open and read it in the first place. So that’s one thing to think about.

Steve: I guess, for your — let’s take you, for example, do you always go for the Messenger bot first and then an email or do you get an email first?

Dana: For me, because I’m teaching about Messenger, I’m actually only collecting Messenger right now, I don’t even bother with email.

Steve: Interesting.

Dana: But that’s only for me.

Steve: Right, yeah I know.

Dana: It’s very different because I’m trying to teach people on Messenger. And chances are if you want to build a Messenger bot, then you’re going to have a Facebook account and Messenger.

Steve: Sure, that’s true.

Dana: So, it’s a little different for my case. I wouldn’t say that that applies to your audience. But with yours, if you have a Facebook account, it’s so much easier to get people to opt in with Messenger. And afterwards, what you could do is ask them and follow up in that message. After they click to subscribe to your Messenger bot is ask them, hey, do you want for me to reach out by email, and ask them to type in their email address. Or there’s actually a feature available both in ManyChat and Chatfuel now where a little bubble pops up.

And in that bubble, it’s kind of like an auto fill in chrome and it includes the user’s email address. And when the user taps on that email address, then you can get that email address and send it using Zapier, for example, to your email marketing software so that you’re linking the data from your Messenger bot to an email marketing platform.

Steve: Okay, is there a way to do it outside Zapier at this point because my personal thought on Zapier is this like this kind of glue so to speak. That’s like an extra cost where if you just stitch them together natively, do you know have a way to just stitch them without using Zapier at this point?

Dana: Yeah, so they Zapier or I think it’s Zapier because…

Steve: Zapier, okay.

Dana: I always have to say that in my head, but they’re very expensive. So one of the things I’m actually working on separate on top of ThinkTuitive is a SaaS product called Codeless Bot, and its web hooks that allow you to send data collected from your Messenger bot to a third party tool like your email marketing. That will eventually — it’s in progress right now, but will probably introduce several email marketing platforms. We also integrate with Airtable. So that way if somebody makes a purchase let’s say, and you want to send that into a spreadsheet in Airtable, you can list out who bought it, what they bought, so that you have a place where you can analyze your data. I’m very analytical, so I just love doing that.

Dana: I see. So you’re developing something that kind of would replace Zapier.

Dana: So kind of, we’re not exactly a Zapier alternative. It’s kind of a hybrid between Zapier and hiring developer because we don’t have a user interface where you can drag and drop, and create your own triggers and actions to build everything. It’s more of a done for you plug and play, solution.

Steve: That does a specific thing, right.

Dana: Yeah. So Zapier, you have to build and put stuff together. It’s kind of like if you go to Home Depot, and you buy your lumbar and you’re trying to build a [inaudible 00:42:45]. We’re more of an IKEA where it’s like, that’s what you’re going to build. So just follow the simple instructions and you’ll have a piece of furniture at the end of it.

Steve: I’m just curious. I mean, you’ve studied a lot of chatbots, what have been some ecommerce store strategies when sending broadcasts and promotions that you’ve seen?

Dana: So with broadcast and promotion, you got to be very, very careful. I went to F8 this year. That’s Facebook’s annual conference. And it was just in May of 2018. And one of my biggest takeaways from that conference, I would say is that the Wild Wild West of Messenger bots and promotional messages are coming to an end.

Steve: Oh, okay.

Dana: Yeah, so like before, I mean, they have policies and rules in place, but it wasn’t a really big priority to monitor. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to say. Like, they didn’t have the manpower to monitor all the promotional messages. But right now, as bots are getting more and more popular, they want to keep the system free of spam. They’re trying to avoid it turning into email, because with email, if you look at like a inbox that you have, there’s probably just tons of email saying, you know, promotion ending today sale on, they don’t want that to be the case.

So you have to be very careful when you’re sending promotional messages. And if you’re sending promotional messages to those who are not even ready to make a purchase yet, then they’ll probably report your bot as spam. And then your bot will get banned from Facebook, which is nobody wants that.

Steve: Oh, I didn’t know that. Okay, so then, now they’re actually — have you ever heard of any crackdowns up to this point?

Dana: Oh, tons.

Steve: Oh really? Okay, what happened?

Dana: They’re sending out promotional messages, which is not allowed. Messenger bot — I mean, when you’re using Messenger bot, you’re trying to engage and educate users about your product. You’re trying to provide value; you’re not trying to just push everybody to make a sale. And what they’re doing is just sending out a broadcast announcing a sales, and the worst one is actually around Black Friday, because I subscribed to quite a few around Black Friday. And I just got messages after messages saying sale ending or sale starting, and all of that was actually not allowed.

And I got some promotional messages from really big — I won’t name names, but really big, well known national store, like clothing companies that are doing this. And I asked Facebook, I have a guy that I — a really nice guy that works at Facebook. And I actually asked him and I said, is this allowed or, you know, big brands doing this because people are going to follow big brands and copy their strategy.

Steve: Sure, that’s true.

Dana: And I said this company that’s really well known company is doing it, is that allowed? And he said, actually no, that’s not allowed. They’re breaking the rule. Okay, that’s good to know. So don’t use it to push for promotional. And I know, let’s continue with the clothing example. You’re saying, okay, so if I don’t have promotional messages, what am I supposed to send? Everything is essentially encouraging people to make a purchase, right?

Steve: Right.

Dana: So there is one bot, I don’t remember the name right now. But what they do is they sell women’s fashion, so women’s clothing and every — I think every week they send out a message about style inspiration. So here’s what you can wear for the week. So design trends, just to give people ideas about what to wear to work for that week. And of course, the message itself is actually providing value because it’s providing people with ideas on what to wear. And of course, if people are interested in those specific outfits, they’re going to ask where can I buy it?

But the initial, the original intent of that newsletter that they’re sending out is to provide people with ideas and inspiration. So they’re educating, they’re engaging, their sole purpose yes it is to encourage people to make a purchase but it’s not, please buy this outfit right now.

Steve: You know what’s funny is I think I was talking with McHale of ManyChat, and I sent out a broadcast once where I was like, hey, here are some of the new arrivals for our store, but he said, that was a gray area.

Dana: Yes, that is true.

Steve: Okay. But in terms of inspirational clothing ideas, that to me almost sounds like a gray area too. But I guess it’s a little bit different. I guess we need to phrase it a little differently.

Dana: Yeah, you need to phrase it differently. I mean, when they don’t — when you look at there’s, it doesn’t seem like — it’s almost like an Instagram gallery, which you’re just seeing pictures of people or like, take a look at Sephora. What they do is they actually show you how to apply different makeups to leave a specific look, right? At the end of the day, they’re trying to get you to buy their makeup, but they don’t say there’s a sale on with this brand or lipsticks on sale. They don’t say that. They say hey, it’s Friday. Are you looking to go out tonight? Here’s a great look for the weekend or for the night. And they teach you how to apply those things. So with that, it’s education.

Steve: And then once you interact, you can give them a coupon, right?

Dana: Yes, that is true. So within a 24 — if the user interacted with your bot during the past 24 hours, then you can send them promotional messages. That’s allowed. But if they have not interacted with you during the past 24 hours, then you should not be sending them any promotional messages.

Steve: Okay. Hey Dana, I want to give you an opportunity to talk about your company, and what you’re working on as well. So what is ThinkTuitive all about, what is your course all about and your software?

Dana: Thank you so much. My site is ThinkTuitive.com, so it’s resources, articles, and there’s also a free mini course on how to get started with building a Messenger bot. And if you’re looking for something more in-depth, I do have a premium course called Bot Essentials. If you’re looking to build some more slightly advanced feature for your Messenger bot, but you don’t have a developer and you don’t want to pay crazy Zapier fees, then you could also check out codelessbot.com.

Steve: Can you spell that for the audience?

Dana: Yes, C-O-D-E-L-E-S-S-B-O-T.com

Steve: Codelessbot.com okay. Actually one of the reasons why I like you Dana is because you are catering to the non technical people which is a lot of the listeners for this podcast.

Dana: Yeah that’s one of my goals. And if those are all still so hard to spell, you could also visit DanaTran.me, that’s DanaT-R-A-N.M-E and it’s just a quick link to kind of my site Codeless Bot and as well as my contact detail if you want to reach out for some reason. Then there’s DanaTran.me.

Steve: That sounds great. And Dana, I will link all those up in the show notes. And you should check out Dana’s bot because — I forget — see I get you on Facebook Messenger. But I remember I tried to go through, I went through your site once and you have a really good bot. I actually thought I was talking to you for a split second until … so.

Dana: Yeah. Good. Thank you and welcome to my bot all the time too. And she actually replies, she’s actually very friendly. So and then…

Steve: I mean, it’s called Dana bot, but you know.

Dana: Yes, it is.

Steve: I still wasn’t clear. Well hey Dana, thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time. And I’m glad we actually finally got around to scheduling this interview.

Dana: All right. Well, it was really a great pleasure to be on the show. So thank you so much.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Dana lives and breathes this stuff every day. And she’s been a great help in getting my Messenger bots in order. And in the grand scheme of things, we’ve actually only scratched the surface when it comes to Messenger marketing, and I’m excited for what’s to come. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode232.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants where you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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231: How My Student Teri Makes 6 Figures Selling Vegan Makeup Online

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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, today, I have a very special guest on the show Teri Miyahira. And Teri is special because she’s a student in my Create a Profitable Online Store course. And she’s making six figures selling vegan makeup online at shop TeriMiyahiraBeauty.com. And in this episode, we’ll break down how she’s built her business from the ground up without Amazon.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And in fact, I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce.

And right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. And I’m always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Now, Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m really happy to have Teri Mira here on the show. Now Teri is actually a student in my Create a Profitable Online Store course. And she joined quite a while back when the price was only 800 bucks. Anyways, she’s been doing amazing with her business shop TeriMiyahiraBeauty.com. And Teri Miyahira Beauty is Teri’s cosmetic line where she sells beauty products from clean and naturally derived ingredients with an unwavering policy against animal testing. And I kind of want to ask you about that in a little bit, Teri.

But what’s cool is that Teri sells a subscription box which means that she gets recurring revenue which is pretty sweet. And what’s also cool is that her company is 100% bootstrapped and does not use paid advertising either. Now how has she accomplished this? By creating a rabid fan base for her products. And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to dig deep and find out how Teri came up with her business and how she managed to get the word out about her cosmetics. And with that, welcome to the show Teri, how you doing today?

Teri: Hi, Steve. I’m doing well. How are you doing?

Steve: I’m doing good. And what’s funny about this Teri is right before this interview, I was watching your YouTube channel where you did a before and after makeup tutorial and I was like, holy son of a… I’m thinking you are demonstrating some type of foundation. I was like, whoa, makeup makes a huge difference. And as a guy I don’t normally notice, but it was magical.

Teri: It is, it’s very — you could put on your mask and then take it off at the end of the day.

Steve: It’s almost deceptive.

Teri: Yep exactly. Especially if you like to put on a lot of makeup like I do.

Steve: Well, no, it’s just that one foundation. Anyways, I’m going to post that video probably in the show notes if you don’t mind just so people can see. It sells itself actually, that one video probably sells your products. So Teri, how did you come up with the idea for your cosmetics and what makes your products different actually? There’s a lot of cosmetic lines out there.

Teri: Right. So what we do is that we are natural vegan and cruelty free. And depending on what people are looking for, you could find cruelty free, no animal testing brands very easily like at a drugstore or in your mall. But then if you want to take it one step further, you could do vegan or you can take it all the way and you could do natural. So, there’s different levels in the clean beauty market now. But for my brand, we actually hit all three points, which is actually very difficult to find in the clean beauty space.

Steve: Why is the animal cruelty part very important to you? Do you have pets or are you passionate about that?

Teri: Yes, so I do. I do have a little Yorkie and a Shih Tzu Poodle mix, those are my fur babies. So yeah, and I personally have always tried to do more cruelty free animal friendly, things like that. So I also do a vegan fashion, also donating the whole thing.

Steve: Okay. So what were some of your motivations for starting a cosmetic line? Like what were your goals for this business?

Teri: So the quick genesis story was that my day job before I had started the line long ago, about 10 years ago, I had started in print magazine and print media as a writer and journalist. And then I eventually started transitioning more into operations and business development. So my last job, “my last day job” was back in 2015 and I was doing operations and business development for a tech startup. And during that time I had started my green beauty blogging. So, I would work my day job and then at nights and weekends or early in the morning at like four in the morning, I would be recording YouTube video, so I started on YouTube.

Steve: This is before you had a product, right?

Teri: Yes.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Teri: So I started the channel about 2013 I think, it is a while ago already. And then I started the actual cosmetic line at the beginning of 2016. So, I had been blogging for a few years before I even started the line. And I chose the green beauty niche specifically because it’s always been kind of a hobby of mine even before the whole idea of green beauty and clean beauty became mainstream, because now you know how like Sephora just came out with their clean beauty section, Target is starting to transition more, CVS is starting to do the same thing with carrying more clean beauty products.

But way back about 15 years ago, none of that existed mainstream. So I was hunting down cleaning products on my own since like for a very long time. So that’s why I decided to start the YouTube channel because I couldn’t really find bloggers that were in the clean space and talking about green beauty makeup. So that’s why I started the channel.

Steve: Okay. And then I know you had a corporate background. What was this blogging, was that a means to quit your job eventually? And did you enjoy working when you were working?

Teri: Yes. Yeah. I was — actually I was really just blogging as a hobby. I really didn’t think it was going to turn into a business necessarily. I was just doing it for the fun of it, because I always consider makeup as a hobby and I still consider makeup as a hobby. So that’s why I started blogging in the first place because it was just a way for me to also justify my huge amount of makeup purchases back then. But I would be able to play with makeup, talk about makeup, blog about makeup, and I did enjoy my day job. But at the same time, I learned a lot from that day job from working in corporate and doing that kind of thing. So it ended up being a pretty nice transition when I decided to go off on my own.

Steve: Okay, and then when you decided to do a cosmetics line, I imagine that sounds pretty intimidating to me. How did you go about validating that your cosmetic line would succeed before you even started investing any money into it? Or was it kind of like a leap of faith type of thing?

Teri: It was a little bit of both. But really what was happening was — so doing all the blogging in the first part of it for a few years; I started getting a lot of brands approaching me about promoting their product to my audience. And it just got to the point where it was just almost around the clock, different brands that I didn’t even know about up to brands like Honest Beauty by Jessica Alba, for example, they had approached me about it as well. So I started thinking I can do sponsorships, which does make like a good amount of income, or I can try to start my own brand because I was promoting lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes, and things like that to my audience from all these other brands, so why not start my own and then get the margin on it, right?

So that’s where I started to — in my mind, kind of the seed was there for me to start the actual business. But it was also a leap of faith situation, too because then it was like, what if I — again, it’s like what if this doesn’t work or whatever it may be, because I had a day job as well.

Steve: But you were probably pretty confident because the stuff that you were promoting was clearly selling, otherwise brands wouldn’t be approaching you.

Teri: Exactly, because I knew that they had to have an ROI on whatever influencers or sponsorships that they were doing. So when they approached me, then they were getting some sort of ROI on their end. So that’s when I really started thinking instead of — I still do sponsorships now but instead of promoting other people’s, why don’t I try to do my own.

Steve: Yeah, that totally makes sense. So how did you actually get your blog popular or was it more YouTube?

Teri: It all started with YouTube. So YouTube is still a really good driver for us. It went from YouTube to Instagram and then Facebook and the blog and that’s kind of like the order it had went in.

Steve: So in terms of YouTube, do you have any tips for us on how you got your YouTube channel popular?

Teri: A lot of it ended up being in this sort of niche because of how the green beauty niche has still not necessarily really exploded and become mainstream yet. So that’s why back in the day there weren’t really many people on YouTube that were talking about green beauty. So I think from like a search like SEO search perspective, I think I just ended up showing up in people search results. So really kind of niching down ended up being really good in the beginning of growing the channel and all that.

Steve: Did you do any — was it like deliberate keyword research or was it just you were doing it for fun and then you just were really into the green beauty part of it and it just naturally happened?

Teri: Yes, it was definitely one of those things where it naturally happened. I wasn’t necessarily looking to create an audience in order to create a business. But it ended up being that way, which was probably the best way to have started the business in the first place.

Steve: And how long did it take for your YouTube channel to just kind of gain traction? Like how many videos did you put out until brands actually started approaching you and you built up your influence?

Teri: At one point way back in the day, I think I was at maybe about two or three videos a week, something like that. And now I’ve leveled off really to just one video a week, but sometimes it might just go on to like two weeks depending. But I think I’ve also gotten better at learning how to repurpose my content as well.

Steve: So let’s talk about that. So how does it work? You put out a YouTube video, do you use that content for your blog and do you have a podcast as well?

Teri: No, I don’t have a podcast yet. So it’s — and this is what I — when I talk to brands about their content and social strategy, this is exactly what I tell them to do is if they can start with a video, and then from there, they’re repurposing it onto their blog, they’re cutting it up into social, they’re taking stills or photos or what have you from the video and then putting that into social, all the thing about how people will do YouTube videos and then they cut the audio and then they make it into podcasts. So you could take really one piece of video content and do it multiple different ways. Like even if you’re taking thumbnail photos, for example, for the YouTube video, then you could just take extra photos during that photo shoot session in order to repurpose that on social on your blogs, etc.

Steve: So what does your process look like today when you create a piece of content? It starts with YouTube, I would imagine, right?

Teri: Yes, a lot of it starts with YouTube and now I do Instagram stories. And that’s really where a lot of my focus is right now is Instagram stories.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Teri: Yeah, just because this is probably one thing to note as well is that since the middle of last year, and with the brand not running paid traffic, there’s been, for us at least a very noticeable difference in the amount of organic traffic that we’ve been getting. So I’ve been trying to really study the algorithms, how Facebook’s throttling reach, now Instagram, and YouTube’s doing the same thing. So the organic reach is definitely different in 2018 versus 2016, 2017.

However, with that, I’ve been going more towards Instagram stories from the last few months because I noticed that the reach on Instagram stories, it still feels like it’s not being as affected by the algorithm as a regular post feed, for example, like a regular Instagram post on your feed or Facebook post on your page, right? So that’s why with Instagram stories and especially good for the introverts out there, because with Instagram stories you’re not necessarily live, so you can batch your content and create it ahead of time whether you’re recording a short video for stories or you’re taking photos and posting it to Instagram stories.

So you don’t have to do an Instagram Live or a Facebook Live or a live webinar, or something like that. You can really still take advantage of kind of a better algorithm with Instagram stories and not have to do live content.

Steve: So you have your YouTube video, how many Instagram stories can you get out of one of your typical videos?

Teri: Well, usually what I do is I won’t chop up the YouTube video for the Instagram story, but I’ll have like a camera setup and then I’ll take clips with my phone like my iPhone.

Steve: Oh okay, yeah.

Teri: So instead of my DSLR and doing it that way, it’s easier for me to still have the studio setup and then I’m taking footage and photo from my iPhone within that same setup.

Steve: Instead of using the SLR?

Teri: Yes, only out of laziness.

Steve: Okay. I was going to say; maybe it looks more natural if you’re doing it out of your phone.

Teri: It definitely does look more natural because it feels more behind the scenes. But really, it’s out of my laziness to pitch from the DSLR, chop it up in iMovie, and then take it into my phone to post it on Instagram stories. Or you could take it from your computer into Planory if you use Planory, and then from there you can upload your Instagram Stories content onto Planory which then links to your Instagram.

Steve: I’m sorry; I’m not familiar with that software. What does Planory do?

Teri: Oh, so Planory is specifically for Instagram. So, if you do Instagram regular feed posts, or you do Instagram stories, then Planory has both an app version for your phone, or a desktop version which is on their website. And it’s a scheduler for Instagram, so it could do automatic posting on Instagram, you could schedule out in advance in the future. So I do a lot, like all of my content planning really goes into Planory.

Steve: I see. Okay, and so you’re doing one of these shoots, do you just shoot all of your Instagram stories for the entire week during that one session?

Teri: Sometimes it depends. So, depending on what I’m talking about in the video, I can get a few days worth of clips, but a lot of times I’m mixing it up. So it could be a combination of what I’m shooting from my YouTube video mixed with something like what I ate that day. Or if I went to a coffee shop, then I’ll take a photo of the coffee I order, things like that just to make it a little more behind the scenes, a little more organic looking. But for the most part, I’m pre shooting at home in my little studio setup, and then uploading everything in batches.

Steve: And in terms of sales, like how do you attribute sales to like YouTube or stories, or is it just — how do you know what’s working?

Teri: So this is where my strategy gets really interesting. And then this is essentially where we grew the business because right now, we started the business in 2016 and sales to date have been almost 300,000 in sales, $300,000 in sales. And in 2017, we had about $175,000 in sales with a 60% margin. So, when people ask me like how do you do that without running paid ads, it all comes down to content, and content in the middle of your funnel. So, when I consult with brands, this is what I tell them, that me personally my strategy is running traffic to pieces of content to an offer.

And the content in this case is their social media posts, blog posts, YouTube videos, or if you’re like a podcaster it would be your podcast. So a lot of times people think that in order to run traffic besides running Facebook ads that they need to run traffic by posting a lot of posts on Instagram or posting YouTube videos in order to drive traffic to the website. But I do it a little differently in the sense of I think of all of these pieces of content as middle of the funnel, and that I’m actually driving traffic to my Instagram posts or I’m driving traffic to my YouTube videos just because of the algorithm change.

So, when Instagram, YouTube and Facebook’s been doing it for a while, when they started changing their algorithms significantly, especially like Q3 of last year, that’s when I started noticing the dip in the organic reach, and that’s when I really started to think about my strategy in the sense. So now, in terms of 2018 and moving forward, I’m primarily focused with how do we run traffic whether it is paid or organic, but two pieces of content and then from there going into an offer. But in the middle of all that, we’re building an email list.

Steve: So your offers and your content, is that on your own site, or are you driving people you mentioned directly to your social media sites?

Teri: It’s a little bit of both. So, what we could do is there’s a few different ways. And hopefully, let me know if this starts sounding confusing now that we’re talking about email as well how the funnel works. So let’s say somebody finds me on my Instagram, and you’ll also notice on my Instagram and my YouTube, I don’t really talk about the brand. I don’t really talk about the products that I sell. And that’s all part of the strategy is that what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to build loyalty first and then selling second. Whereas a lot of times with e-commerce, we’re trying to push product and trying to get sales first, and then we’re trying to create loyalty in like the middle of the funnel.

So because — I want to say because I started as an influencer, I always think of audience loyalty first. So that’s why the way that I do the strategy is that if somebody finds us on Instagram, and then they see all the content and they’re like, okay, we’re talking about green beauty, we might be talking about all these other brands, all these other products or tips and tricks and like how to apply makeup or how to create a smoky eye, right?

So we’re hooking them with the content and then we’ll start doing call to actions for sign up for the email list to grab my top 50 organic and vegan makeup shopping list. So that’s one of our lead magnets. So then from there I’m getting them from social, from YouTube on to the email list, and then from the email list is where we start selling. So we’re really selling on the back end.

Steve: I wanted to take a quick moment to tell you about a brand new service that I just launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my business is called Gobrandwin.com, and it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And in fact, in our most recent giveaway, we managed to increase the email list size of the brands who participated by 40%. That’s right, we generated over 11,000 email subscribers, and the average list size of the companies participating in the giveaway was just 25,000.

So if that makes you excited, here is how the service works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, you must first contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. And this is the prize for the sweepstakes. We will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one gigantic sweepstakes giveaway. All participating brands will send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base, driving them to a special landing page on Gobrandwin.com. We will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder Toni and I, we have access to almost 1,000 bloggers in our database.

Consumers will enter in their email addresses; we’ll send them special offers from your company, and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstake is over, you will receive the entire list of entrants and instantly grow your audience. So bottom line, the concept is very simple and it is absolutely free. We will help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the email addresses. So if you’re interested in growing your email list, then head on over to Gobrandwin.com, that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. And once again, it is 100% free. Now back to the show.

So you’re trying to remain unbiased in terms of your content it sounds like, right? And in that email funnel, are you only promoting your own stuff or do you promote other people’s brands as well?

Teri: Correct, we’re promoting other people’s brands, promoting let’s say, the pieces of content that just released. So it could be a new YouTube video, it could even be depending on the Instagram post, we might even try getting people from the email to check out the Instagram. Or it could be a promotion. So a lot of times, what I do is I try to do the Gary Vaynerchuck jab, jab, jab thing.

So in through email, we’re typically doing about three pieces of content to one promotional offer, or it could even be five pieces of content to one promotional offer. It really depends on what the offer is, but I try to do ah three to one ratio on the email side, so that’s on the back end. And then on the front end, it’s even more so as far as it could be like a six to 10 to one offer, six to 10 pieces of content to one offer.

Steve: Right interesting. So you’re promoting everyone else’s products, including your own so people don’t think that you’re really pushing stuff to make a profit for yourself per se. Is that…

Teri: Correct yeah.

Steve: So let me ask you this question then, it seems like with this strategy, I would have named my cosmetic line not my name, right, I would have named it something else that no one would ever know.

Teri: Right.

Steve: But in this case, it’s obvious that it’s your line, right?

Teri: Right. Yeah.

Steve: Okay interesting.

Teri: Yeah, exactly. And you could do that. So in the strategy, what would have really made the most sense in that aspect was to name it something different, because then it really would have just blended in with everything else that I’m talking about too. But in this case, since what’s really the driver for — what’s been the driver since day one of the cosmetics brand is that it is tied to my name. I think that also played a factor in the initial sales for the business.

Steve: Okay, that makes sense too. So is email your primary driver then would you say?

Teri: For sales, correct yes.

Steve: Okay interesting. So it’s mainly a content play just to get people onto your list and then you do most of your selling on your list. Can we talk about your subscription box for a little bit? How does that work? Do you just try to go for the subscription in your email list or?

Teri: Yes, so once people get on to the email list, they tend to be really warm already because they’re already familiar with me, they’re familiar with the brand. They know that I promote other people’s products; I promote my own products, so they have a really good handle on what we’re all about and I’m always very educational based and information based for the content. So by the time somebody gets to the email list, there’s already that sort of trust factor that’s already gone on. So that’s where the subscription box selling really occurs is on the email list.

Steve: But don’t they have to try the product first before they’re willing to get the box or?

Teri: It kind of depends, because some people they just really like the deal that they get with a subscription just because it’s such a good deal for that many products. And it’s a month to month, so they could try it for one month and then cancel if they want to. There are some people where their first one or two orders would be for an individual product on the site except that they also realize that it’s such a big like in terms of savings for the subscription box.

That’s why a lot of people though, tend to share our subscription box first, but this is only because of people already knowing and being familiar with the brand because you know how like in recurring subscription models, a lot of times people will say, to sell it more in the middle of the funnel, like try to get a trip wire in there, try to get it like an individual purchase in there.

Steve: Yeah.

Teri: But it really depends on how by the time they see your subscription offer, how warm they are. If they’re really not warm at all, then yeah, do the tripwire, do the individual purchase, and then go into the pitch for the recurring. But if you’re leading through content that’s more educational value driven and helpful, you could go and jump to the subscription way sooner than you think.

Steve: How much of a discount are we talking about here in the box versus the individual products that come in the box?

Teri: So to get kind of a sense of what it is, let’s say for example, eyeshadow on the website could be for $25, and you can get anywhere between three to four products in a subscription box for 49 to $59.

Steve: 50% off, is that about right?

Teri: Yeah. So that’s why of course, it’s going to be a lesser margin. But then as long as you’re kind of structuring your subscription box correctly and right, then you could have a very long customer lifetime value. There are some people on our subscription where they’ve been like two years on the subscription. It’s insane.

Steve: When it’s as magical as what I saw on YouTube, I would sign up for life.

Teri: I hope yeah, exactly. And that content, right? So that’s why I lead with content. And that’s why when I consider myself an introvert, even though it obviously doesn’t seem like it because of the YouTube and everything like that, but I consider myself an introvert. My Myers Briggs personality test also says I’m an introvert, and that was all the YouTube and things like that, that was really just a skill set that I had to develop.

And that’s also the reason why I kind of structured the business and the marketing as I did, because if you don’t like feeling salesy, and if you don’t like to really push your product to people, or feel like you’re pushing your product with posting on Instagram every day about your product, or trying to push people with your Facebook posts to go to your website twice a day, or three times a day, then I’ve sort of built my model and my strategy with just my personality in mind where I want to be helpful. I want to be helpful to people, I want to show them a foundation routine; I want to show them how to create a smoky eye or how to wear red lip during the daytime.

So I want to be helpful, I want to give value, so that’s where I built this entire model around. It’s me really wanting to give value, to help people, and that’s all in the front end. And then on the back end, once they get onto the email list then I could offer, hey, by the way, I have my own vegan cosmetic company. Here is what we do, and then give them an offer that way.

Steve: So in terms of this subscription box, it’s kind of like a no brainer, right? You’re getting such a big discount. And do you still get 60% margins on the box as well?

Teri: When it goes to the box, we’re looking at more of a 30 to 40% margin.

Steve: Okay got it. And in terms of keeping them on the subscription box, is there anything special that you do?

Teri: As far as retention, not really, because we just try to give a really good value on the product, we try to create and manufacture products that are in line with the brand. Since people are already subscribing, we know that they’re very passionate about natural vegan cruelty free, so we just really try to keep in line with that as well as seasonal too for seasonal colors or seasonal textures or formulations. So the box products evolve as the year goes on. And also we launch products through the subscription box a lot of times too. So our subscribers will get first dibs on a product that might not be out yet.

Steve: I see nice.

Teri: So, we do a little bit of that and that kind of keeps the fun in the retention. But on average, our retention is typically about four to five months for the subscription.

Steve: Okay yeah that’s pretty good. And do you sell on Amazon by any chance?

Teri: No Amazon.

Steve: I’m just curious what your thought process is there, or is it just a channel that you will eventually get to?

Teri: I’m really not sure because I had actually a very long time ago before I even started this iteration of Teri Miyahira Beauty. I had one skew for skincare that was on Amazon and this was before the big gold rush of Amazon too, and I started this right when I think Ryan Daniel Moran, right when he started to really publicly talk about Amazon and his success that I learned from him. So I got onto Amazon. This was years ago. I can’t even remember how long ago.

Steve: Yeah, this is at least three years ago I want to say.

Teri: Yeah, at least. Yeah, I want to say it might have been like three or four years ago and I had one skew on Amazon. It started to gain traction on Amazon. But then I started realizing just the different quirks of Amazon, the whole thing of you can’t build your email list; you don’t have direct access to your customers. You don’t really have much control as far as like the look and feel of your page, and then it went into the whole thing of what if I want to get my customers from Amazon and show them other things on my website so the on Amazon to off Amazon. So I actually got off of Amazon before everybody went on to Amazon it felt like.

Steve: Okay, yeah.

Teri: Yeah, so I’m not on it now. I’m not sure we’re going to go on it later. So I’m really not sure, but I don’t have any plans in the near future though.

Steve: Okay. I did want to talk — some people have sometimes come to me and they want to sell some sort of beauty products. And I’m just kind of curious what the process is. Did you know how to create beauty products before you started the business?

Teri: No I didn’t know.

Steve: Okay. So can you just kind of walk me through that process? Like how do you even create beauty products?

Teri: Okay, so, because of all of my experience with the beauty blogging and being really familiar with ingredients, that’s how I started thinking about formulations on my own. And so, a big part for beauty products is really knowing the ingredients, and the ingredients that you want to work with. Because when you go and you approach for example, cosmetic chemists or manufacturers that have their own chemists, then a lot of times the chemists are going to formulate to what they think and what they’re used to. So and this is part of the reason why with the green beauty industry right now, it’s growing, but it’s also starting to get a little diluted.

And this is what I tell people, because you go to a cosmetic chemist, if they’re not used to formulating green and not many are used to formulating green in particular, they’re going to try to give you a formulation that might not be in line with your vision of the brand. So, if you don’t know ingredients, then you might not really know how to work best with the chemists. So the way that I work with chemists is that I’ll actually give them an ingredient deck and be like, hey, I want to create a lipstick with these ingredients, these 15 ingredients, what do you think?

And then they’ll come back to me and be like, actually, I’m not sure if we could do this. Can we do this other synthetic ingredient? I’ll be like, oh well, instead of that synthetic ingredient, can we go with this other natural ingredient that you might be able to source. So it ends up going back and forth. So the first thing is really if you want to get into beauty, it’s knowing the type of ingredients you want to promote from a marketing standpoint. Like if you only want vegan, you only want all natural, you only want all organic, etc. Or let’s say you don’t want any dyes, like any synthetic dyes.

And then from there, you can then work with chemists. And then it’s a back and forth, but you have to really guide the chemists in what you want. Because otherwise, they’re just going to be picking kind of either off the shelf ingredients from their R&D or you could always do your own R&D for ingredients as well. But that also gets into ingredient distributors and your supply chain becomes really complicated. So when I work with chemists, I try to work with their ingredient suppliers and what they have direct access to already. But with that comes along the whole thing of they are used to working in a certain way.

Steve: Where do you find your suppliers? Did you just Google cosmetic manufacturers, or were you already kind of familiar based on your prior profession?

Teri: Oh, it was literally all research on Google.

Steve: Okay. And then you don’t know how anything is formulated. So I would imagine in the beginning you kind of have to take what they tell you, right? Like, these are the ingredients, like you just need to include these ingredients that you want to include, but then you can leave the rest to the manufacturer, is that kind of how you proceeded?

Teri: Yes. Yeah. So I don’t tell them like hey, we need three grams of coconut derivative whatever or two grams of a plant wax. I don’t tell them one gram, three gram, la, la, la in terms of the ratios of things, I just give them a list of ingredients that are kind of like my wish list, and then ask them like hey, can you do this? Can you create the lipstick? Can you create whatever the case may be? Sometimes they’ll — a lot of times they’ll say yes, but sometimes they’ll actually say no. So in the event that they say no, you just have to try to find another chemist that can do it for you.

Steve: And how much do you have to order?

Teri: It depends on the manufacturer. So there are some manufacturers where it might be 1,000 minimum, 5,000 minimum, 10,000 minimum. But there’s also some manufacturers where you could get into an agreement with them, where in one year’s time, for example, you plan to push out 5,000 units of a lipstick skew, but your first shipment might only be for 500 of it.

Steve: How did you proceed actually with your line? What was your initial order and how much did you actually invest in your business?

Teri: So what I did was I actually pre sold.

Steve: Uh clever.

Teri: Yep. So you know how with online courses and info products, a lot of people they pre sell first in order to get the initial momentum and then from there, they take that funding and then they create the product. That’s exactly what I did for this business.

Steve: So you went and you emailed your list and you said, hey, I’m releasing this cosmetic line. And then how many did you end up pre selling?

Teri: I ended up pre selling let me say – I’m trying to remember, this is so far back. I want to say about maybe 400 units total something to that extent.

Steve: Okay. And 400 units and then so what was your first order size then?

Teri: It was literally 400 something units.

Steve: Oh, okay. And did you collect the money up front as well?

Teri: Yep. And I told them, I told my audience, this is a pre sell, we’re not shipping until so and so date, and then working it out with the manufacturers to make sure that they could deliver by that date. But that’s a really tricky way to do it, though because a lot of manufacturers especially like in my experience in the last few years, a lot of manufacturers, they just need way more time than they tell you.

Steve: Sure. But these are all in the US or no?

Teri: Yes?

Steve: Okay. Does selling cosmetics require any sort of certifications and testing?

Teri: No, because it’s like the vitamin industry, it’s unregulated in that sense. You don’t have to submit to the FDA. As long as your labels are FDA compliant in that sense, then you’re really good to go. You don’t need to be a chemist on your own. You don’t need to be like you personally as a founder. You don’t need to be certified or go to school or anything like that. I have a bachelor’s degree in communication. So yeah, I’m very far from being a cosmetic chemist right now. But yeah, that’s really what it takes to start.

I would definitely suggest for people that are looking to get into the cosmetic manufacturing business to make sure that you have enough cash flow in the beginning in order to create your units because there are MOQs for manufacturing. So you just have to make sure that you could hit your MOQ and that you could then go ahead and sell it. So that takes marketing, that takes the units putting into production, things like that.

Steve: How many skews did you start with during that initial run?

Teri: Maybe like four.

Steve: Four skews, okay. And do you remember what they were?

Teri: I want to say it was like an eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, highlighter maybe, plus powder.

Steve: I was just kind of curious how you made that decision. But I would imagine I wouldn’t understand the answer anyways.

Teri: I can tell you.

Steve: That’s okay. I am kind of curious to why you haven’t used paid ads because it seems like Facebook ads would be ideal for marketing your products.

Teri: Yes. And they will be. We started dabbling in the last few months with Facebook ads in the different iterations and all of that. So it’s coming because of how we have to definitely now just with social between Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and the algorithm changes for organic reach, we’re just not getting the organic reaches what we used to as far as driving the organic traffic. So, now is the time where if you’re a physical product seller and you’re just starting out, I would highly suggest having both the paid traffic strategy and an organic traffic strategy. So that’s why now, 2018 is my big learning how to do a lot of Facebook ads as far as my goal because that’s definitely the route that it seems like the landscape is taking.

Steve: Okay, and for all those people out there who are thinking about starting, what were some of your biggest challenges in just even getting started?

Teri: A lot of it was time, because when you’re selling physical product and you’re a solopreneur, and you’re just doing everything, you’re doing the customer service, you’re doing the fulfillment, and then in my case it was the R&D, working with manufacturers…

Steve: Are you still by yourself by the way or do you have employees now?

Teri: Oh now I have a team.

Steve: Okay.

Teri: So back then it was just me doing everything between doing all the content, and the marketing, and then the R&D, and the manufacturing, and fulfillment, and what have you. So, what was interesting though is that when people ask me, who was your first hire? Is always by myself, I don’t have a business partner; I don’t have outside investors or anything like that. So back then or even now, people would ask me, who was your first hire? My first hire was actually a 3PL.

Steve: Nice.

Teri: In order to outsource the fulfillment, because I knew that I couldn’t really outsource supply chain and manufacturing and working with chemists, and that all had to kind of come from me, right. I also could not outsource the marketing, which was the YouTube videos, the social media posts; I had to do all of that. And I still do all of that just to make sure that all the brand voice is very consistent with the messaging and the vision for the brand too.

So my first hire was the 3PL even before I hired my customer service. And the reason was because I knew that if I would have let go of the fulfillment part of it first, that would free up so much of my time and also because I just didn’t want to have to deal with packing so many orders and then taking it to the post office or to wherever. And I knew that if I could put my time from fulfillment into marketing or customer service or R&D or product development, that I would be able to move the business forward much faster if I was still just doing it on my own plus than having a 3PL partner. So the 3PL that I use is called ShipBob.

I could also give you the name for it in show notes later, but they are the 3PL that I use. I’ve been using them — I want to say I switched to them maybe in like month three or four of my business. So they handle the inventory, they handle the warehousing, and they handle the fulfillment for both the subscription box kitting as well as for the individual orders for the online shop. So they take care of the entire fulfillment process for me.

Steve: What was your criteria for shopping for 3PLs?

Teri: So the way — so here’s an interesting story on that. So because of how I was working with a lot of different brands as an influencer before I started the business, I already knew vaguely about 3PLs just from hearing it from the other founders of the brands that I work with. I mean I’m always talking shop with everybody, so even when I was an influencer and a blogger but way before I had my own business. I was just talking shop with them, like hey, what are you guys doing or whatever the case may be.

So I was already hearing about the different stories of using 3PLs, of how there’s some 3PLs where you have to have 1,000 units per skew in their warehouse even for them to consider you for the 3PL, or you have to call into the warehouse physically on your phone to tell them that you’re shipping units like that your manufacturer is shipping units to them. So I already kind of had an idea of how a 3PL worked and operate. So when I started the business, I already knew that, okay, most likely I’m going to have to outsource the fulfillment process.

By about month two or three, I started getting really tired of fulfilling myself because it was like out of my house, and I was doing it literally by myself because I don’t have any business partners. So just sitting there for hours just putting together cardboard boxes and then filling them with critical and doing all of that. So that’s why by month two or three, I was thinking in my head, okay, I need to figure out the 3PL thing. So I wrote on my To Do list, find 3PL. A week later, I still didn’t get to that part of my To Do list of course because I’m always behind on work.

And then out of the blue ShipBob, one of the ShipBob representatives just cold emailed into my customer service inbox, and was like, hey, if you’re looking for a fulfillment partner, then we’re ShipBob. And that’s literally how it happened. So I just took it as a sign from the universe. I follow James Webb more and I’m all about that whole thing. So, I took it as a sign from the universe that I just need to go with this company because of how it was on my To Do list for the last week and I couldn’t get to it.

But luckily, I looked into ShipBob and they have investor backing, they have fulfillment locations all over the country. I’m not like affiliated with them or an ambassador with them in any way um. But I’ve just been with them from that point up until now, so it’s about two years. They just launched like a competitor to Amazon Prime shipping which is a two day shipping but for e-commerce businesses that are not an Amazon.

Steve: Seller Prime you mean?

Teri: Yeah exactly. So kind of like an FBA but you don’t have to be on Amazon. So they do two day shipping now, they do split inventory so you can distribute your inventory across their different warehouses so that your customers can get the lowest price on shipping, so your zone A customers will be getting their product or will be getting the order fulfilled from a zone A warehouse for example.

So, I already knew even way back when that they were in a different like tech website articles and Chicago newspaper article, so they were already getting press as their own company. So as like a background, I was kind of looking into their company to see what they’re doing, saw that they’re really heavy into their tech and they kind of consider themselves as a tech company.

Steve: Sure.

Teri: So that’s where I knew like, hey, this is the company I want to go with because of the different stories I was hearing about working with traditional 3PLs. Because of the 3PL industry itself is very antiquated, to say the least. So you could run into situations where they could be nickel and diming you in your service contract with them. And at the end of the day, you still don’t even know how much you’re going to get charged for your warehousing and fulfillment. But with ShipBob, they make everything super simple with their pricing. It’s all inclusive.

They literally hand you a chart and be like, this is how much it is going to cost for us to ship something out to this zone for this weight and you’re done. Or like it’s $5 to just store this many units. They’re so transparent with their pricing even way back when, up until now. So that’s why I knew that the fulfillment piece was going to be something where I had to get off my plate. And I just think I got really lucky that ShipBob just kind of landed, fell from the sky, and landed on my lap at the time that I needed it. Yeah, so that was the whole story.

Steve: So I have to ask you these questions because I always get asked these from people who take my class. How much money did it take you to start this and then how long did it take you to actually get the product ready and put up your site?

Teri: So how much, well I mean, I pre sold everything.

Steve: So technically zero, right?

Teri: Technically zero. There was I guess “sweat equity” because I did have an audience beforehand, so I didn’t have to run to paid advertising just to grow a list or something like that. So if I were starting now then yeah, I would be putting money into content marketing and building a list and running the ads to build the audience, and then launching. Which I know like, I’ve heard of a lot of companies doing that now. And then what was your other question?

Steve: How long did it take you to get your first product ready and set up the site and that sort of thing?

Teri: Oh, so I set up everything through Shopify, and it took me about an hour.

Steve: Oh, wow. Okay.

Teri: Yeah, super easy. I picked Shopify because I knew it was out of the box. And I also knew that they had a very extensive app store so that if I needed all the tie ins on the back end, I’m not a coder, I’m not a web developer, I don’t know HTML, I could go on to YouTube and figure out really basic, if I needed some HTML coding, but I don’t do any of that, I’m a writer. So, especially way back then, so I didn’t know the technology. So, I was really trying to find solutions from like a tech and software standpoint that could do the job for me, and that was easy enough for me to understand.

That’s why I went with Shopify, and that’s why it took like an hour. So yeah, so it was not much time commitment, not much monetary commitment, but it was also again, it was sort of sweat equity, and building the audience organically up until that point.

Steve: And then the formulation of your product to just getting that first kit out, how long did that take?

Teri: I was talking to manufacturers maybe for a few months before that. So I want to say if I can remember correctly, I want to say about four months or so.

Steve: Okay, that’s not that bad.

Teri: It’s not bad, especially because it’s all USA based, so you don’t have the language barrier as far as if I had to do something overseas like China or anything like that there would have been the language barrier, so I think it would have been a little longer. But since it’s like one of my manufacturer is in San Diego, so I literally have gone to their facility a few times just to meet with them so it’s really simple. So if you are doing – that’s a good thing about if part of your marketing messaging is made in the USA which besides the point that you would be able to do a higher MSRP price point for being a made in the USA brand for marketing, but also when you’re sourcing, when you’re creating products with USA based manufacturers, the lead time is just cut in like a cone.

Steve: No, no, I can imagine that and no communication problems either.

Teri: Exactly.

Steve: If you were to give one piece of advice to someone who wants to start their e-commerce business, what would that be from your point of view if you were to pick one thing?

Teri: Oh, that’s a tough one. I haven’t thought about that before. I want to say if I only had to give one piece of advice, it would be…

Steve: I already know the answer. I’m surprised it’s taking you so long.

Teri: You know it.

Steve: Yeah, just start with content, right? Build an audience.

Teri: Yeah. But that’s yeah, it is. It’s start with content, build an audience. I was trying to think of what if I could take it one step further because I do it all the time. But yeah, it is content, it is the audience. But it’s also don’t feel like — don’t pressure yourself to sell. And that’s where the content piece comes in. Because I even though I run a business, even though we have these numbers, I don’t like to sell. So that’s where the content comes in. So if you’re still kind of wary and especially if you’re just starting and you kind of have that fear of selling, start with content, lead with value and then create an audience.

Even if you’re running paid traffic to your pieces of content, you’re still giving value first. And I think that if I had not been an influencer first, and if I had to feel like oh, I have to be sale, sale, sale, promotion 24/7, I kind of feel I don’t know how the business would have started back then. But I think I got lucky because of how I was an influencer first.

Steve: Absolutely. I mean selling cosmetics of all things would have been a hell of a lot harder if you didn’t have that audience behind you.

Teri: Yeah.

Steve: Because it all blends together, right?

Teri: Yeah.

Steve: I mean, at least from a male perspective until I started watching your YouTube videos in which case I became a believer. So Teri, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I really appreciate you coming on the show. Is there — if anyone wants to find out more about your business, where can they find you?

Teri: Oh, so they could also find my shop TeriMiyahiraBeauty.com for my vegan cosmetic brand, and I also do consult with other brands from content social media marketing standpoint. So, I could also give you a link for that because I actually don’t advertise that part of my business even though it’s a completely separate aspect because I get all the inbound leads for that. And so I can give you a link to that as well.

Steve: Sure yeah, absolutely. Cool. And Teri, I’m afraid you’re going to have to take the Myers Briggs test again. I don’t believe you are an introvert.

Teri: I’ve taken it like three times.

Steve: And what I’m going to do, for everyone listening is I’m going to take one of Teri’s oldest YouTube videos from the beginning and post it in the show notes just to show you that anyone can get started on YouTube, and you don’t have to start looking as polished as Teri does today.

Teri: It’s a skill set, it’s definitely a muscle.

Steve: All right Teri. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.

Teri: Great. Thank you so much.

Steve: All right, take care.

Teri: You too.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. I just love it when a student in my course is kicking butt and you can tell by the interview that Teri is both driven and extremely competent. If any of you out there are interested in learning more about e-commerce, you can check out my full blown class at profitableonlinestore.com. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode231.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like them because they’re so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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230: How An 8 Figure Business Launches New Products On Amazon With Bernie Thompson

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230: How An 8 Figure Business Launches New Products On Amazon With Bernie Thompson

Today I‘m lucky to have Bernie Thompson back on the show. Bernie is someone who I had on back in episode 157 and in case you’ve forgotten, Bernie runs an 8 figure business called Plugable.com which is a company that sells USB and Bluetooth devices online all over the world.

In addition, he’s built all of his own tools in house to manage his Amazon business which he now offers to the public called Efficient Era. Anyway, the reason why I have Bernie on the show today is to talk about how the Amazon landscape has changed in just a single year and how his business has evolved.

What You’ll Learn

  • How launching new products on Amazon has changed in the last year
  • Bernie’s updated strategy for product launches
  • How Bernie determines which keywords to target
  • Bernie’s number 1 strategy for sales

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Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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GoBrandWin.com – The fastest and most effective way to grow your email list for free using group giveaways. Click here to signup for free.

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Transcript

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. Now today I’ve got my friend Bernie Thompson back on the show. If you don’t remember Bernie, he runs an eight figure electronics business on Amazon called Plugable. Now things have changed a lot in Amazon land in just the past year. And today, we’re going to talk about the Amazon landscape and how Bernie launches new products today.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email. Now, Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today, I’m lucky to have Bernie Thompson back on the show. And Bernie is someone who I had back on episode 157. And in case you’ve forgotten, Bernie runs an eight figure business called Plugable which is a company that sells USB and Bluetooth devices online all over the world. And in addition, what’s cool about Bernie is that he’s built all of his own tools in-house to manage his Amazon business, which he actually now offers to the public, and that company is called Efficient Era. And in fact, I’ve been using Efficient Era for my Amazon business for the past couple years, and I have nothing but good things to say about the software.

Anyway, the reason why I have Bernie on the show today is to talk about how the Amazon landscape has changed in just a single year since I last had him on the show. And as you know selling electronics is quite possibly one of the most competitive niches that you can go into. So it’ll be interesting to see how Bernie continues to adapt and evolve his Amazon business. And with that, welcome to show Bernie, how you doing today?

Bernie: No, great. It’s great to be back on Steve.

Steve: So just in case the listeners don’t remember your business, can you give us a quick recap of what you sell, how many products you have, and how often you actually launch new products?

Bernie: Yeah, so we started in 2009 like everybody does with one product. We’re now up over a little bit over 100 products, about 120, 130. We try to launch two to three a month if we can. I used to manage the USB Bluetooth teams actually at Microsoft and Windows, so we often say we’re a technology company first and an Amazon seller second, and that kind of comes out in the way we do business. So we across those technology areas we try to be right on the cutting edge, right on the bleeding edge kind of tracking the standards bodies, tracking the chipsets that are coming out and trying to have a complete line of products at least in the USB space. So yeah, so that’s the area we’re in with Plugable.

Steve: Yeah, I mean that’s quite an aggressive launch schedule right? So you’re launching a product a week almost.

Bernie: Yeah.

Steve: So, I was just curious, last time we spoke you were all Amazon for the most part. Have you started selling on other channels now, not outside of Amazon, but mainly on your own channel I guess, on your own website right?

Bernie: No. We still do not sell on our own site, your choice there is basically do I send that traffic to a marketplace platform where that traffic will kind of spin up a flywheel and generate even more sales, or do I take that sale and kind of build my brand, build my own customer base, kind of independent of these marketplaces? And still to this point, even though we often think about it and debate it, and at times I kick myself, we still send all the traffic we can to the marketplaces to get our products spun up there particularly Amazon.

Steve: Okay. Yeah. And since you launch products so often, you’re like the ideal person to ask, how has launching new products on Amazon changed in the past couple of years?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, when we first started in 2009 through about 2012, I mean, it was this kind of like, Gold Rush period for the early sellers where if you had a pretty good product and a pretty good price, and you just did a few things better, like even simple things like just having a good listing, you had a pretty amazing hit rate. I mean at least every other product or so was a pretty big hit. So it’s progressively just gotten harder and harder over the years. I don’t think there’s been any kind of really dramatic point where it’s suddenly became way harder. It’s just tighter and tighter each year, starting about five years ago.

You started having all these kind of mastermind groups and people really realizing that Amazon was a place to kind of start a business quick, and then three or four years ago you started having that happen with all the Chinese sellers who many of whom are very close to factories. And then throughout it all, for us in the electronics category, there was a very important brand that launched right around the same time we did and that’s Amazon basics. And so the competition from Amazon basics just keeps kind of tearing at the top of every top selling category, every top selling product starts facing Amazon basics competition after a while. So yeah, just in terms of pure competitive picture, definitely tighter each year.

Steve: So, has your launch strategy kind of changed as well with the increasing competition?

Bernie: I think we had a really, we’ve had some things that are consistent that have actually remained the same year to year and then other things where we really did a horrible job before and then we’re doing a better job now and maybe that’s essential for us to keep up. I think the thing that we’ve done kind of well all along is had a clear brand and a clear message Plugable, where we sell USB products. We can help you connect this with that. We’ve got a lot of great information and content out there to help you figure out what you need to buy and all compatibility works. And we do content and we do videos, and we just invest in enormous amount in content marketing around that.

That actually was what we have done consistently well the whole way back to 2009, but those early years we were erratic with our advertising. It was mostly Google AdWords the first few years, but we did kind of flopped that whole budget over to sponsored products within a year or so of sponsored products coming out. We saw that the effectiveness per dollar was way higher with sponsored products than it was with Google AdWords, but kind of other marketing aspects. In a way we’ve always, historically we’ve been a kind of an anti marketing company.

Our technology sells itself and we support our products so well, yeah, right. And so, what sounded kind of cool in the early years started looking foolish I think a few years ago. And so, we’ve been going through a process of really trying to kind of put ourselves back to school on marketing and do a lot of classic marketing activities like having a PR agency. We have a PR agency this year for the first time in the company’s existence.

Steve: Interesting.

Bernie: We have a dedicated marketing team that we’ve built over the last year. I didn’t have a single marketing specialist two years ago. So a lot of kind of back to basics, how do you market products are necessary now on to even to keep up on Amazon and certainly to flourish on Amazon. And that’s a big change. It wasn’t really necessary a few years ago. You could just kind of launch and do a few things right, and now you’ve got to do a lot of things right.

Steve: Can you talk about like when you launch a new product, what the exact steps that you go through to launch it?

Bernie: Yeah, so we’ve started doing business plans on every product. It used to be that we did a simple kind of just a business model where we looked at input costs and Amazon fees and what price we’d be at. And now it’s turning into something that has to be a more full business model. We have to look at, okay, so what are the keywords we think we’re going to be able to rank for, for this product, things that are differentiators for the product, more broad kind of keywords for this category.

Steve: How do you decide on those keywords and what tools do you use to research that?

Bernie: Yeah, so our tools in Efficient Era don’t cover this area in terms of keyword research right now. So we’re using a mix of mostly Helium 10, and then there’s a lot of other kind of good keyword tools out there. We have Jungle Scout, we have Viral Launch, Sellics is another great tool. So, we’ve tended to focus in on Helium 10 so far, but I think there’s other good tools out there. And it’s basically because we need to understand what run rate do we need to get up to be number one, or at least first page for these keywords that we think that our product is relevant for and our maybe our key differentiators also.

Steve: So what are the keyword volumes that you go through, and kind of what are your assumptions in determining whether you want to launch that product or how to launch it?

Bernie: We don’t worry too much about — so we’re fortunate that we have the funnel. So okay, sorry, when you’re thinking about this and you’re kind of analyzing whether to do a product, one of the key analyses is for the keywords that are important for this category, what’s the run rate? And can I afford in a first purchase order to go — can I afford to get enough of that product and potentially have a discounting or giveaway strategy and a strategy with ads where I’m going to spend above ACOS for a while, and other sorts of kind of sunk investments in the product? Can I afford to have all that inventory, and all of those costs and succeed in that category?

And I think every seller has kind of limits in terms of how big of a category can you target and be able to realistically look at that. For example, we just recently went through an analysis where in the past we’ve competed head to head with Anchor, which is a well known really awesome company directly in our space kind of a direct competitor. And so, we were looking at maybe taking another run back at very simple USB chargers which is a very mature category. And we were looking at a situation where the run rate is tens of thousands of units per month for the top seller in that category.

So we would be, when we did out the business model, we would be having to make about a quarter million dollar sunk investment just in inventory to be able to make a run at the top of that category. And so, we’ve just made the decision we’re going to hold off on that for now. We’re going to wait for some technology inflection point or something. But we don’t feel like we’re well — we don’t have a high enough probability of succeeding to be able to kind of dump that big fixed investment right now in this kind of mature category.

Steve: When you’re talking about the run rate, are you referring to like giveaways or severely discounted products?

Bernie: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Bernie: It’s the whole combination of things. So, it can be giveaways although we don’t actually tend to do a lot of giveaways. It can be discounts, which we do, do direct discounts that we’re doing with coupon codes, Lightning Deals, best deals. The tools that we have written kind of for ourselves, we can analyze that. So when you actually start doing all of that stuff, we calculate how much are you giving away in promotions, how much we pull from the ad APIs, how much are you spending on ads. And so, I can actually see once I kind of started down that process with product in the Efficient Era tools, am I still profitable? Or am I running to this business plan that I created where I’m actually planning to lose money for some number of months with a goal of getting the run rate to where I’m first position or first page for these keywords.

And it’s kind of why we need to create these business plans now because I am going to run negative for a few months intentionally. It’s my sunk investment I have to do to succeed anymore on Amazon, but I don’t want to be too negative or I don’t want to be off plan or I can put the business at risk if I go too crazy. So, we now need to do a lot more planning up front and then have a lot more kind of tools to help us monitor how we’re tracking the plan after the fact.

Steve: So to be clear, what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to match the sales velocity of some of the top players, in your case Anchor on the front page, and you’re going to need to sell a required number of units by any means necessary to meet that sales velocity and get on the front page?

Bernie: Yeah, that’s right. And in that algorithm that Amazon — so to this point really that sales velocity, how many units you sell determines your search position largely, it’s the number one factor in search position, and it’s over a couple different timeframes. It seems like Amazon uses some sort of combination of maybe one day, three days, seven days sales, and probably longer periods 30 day, 90 day. So it’s not a exactly precise thing. And there’s always this danger with all things Amazon that they’re going to shift their algorithm.

There’s been some discussion lately of clearly they had been doing their algorithm based on units previously, but there’s been some discussion and concern that maybe in a few categories Amazon often test things first with category specific changes that they switch to a revenue based velocity, in which case doing deep discounting would really start becoming ineffective. So yeah, so you got to also, in addition to go after some big category, you’re talking about really big dollar amounts, you also have an enormous amount of Amazon risk that Amazon is going to — you’ve built this ineffective business model around some Amazon behaviors that could easily change.

Steve: Yeah, so I guess in your case, let’s say you’ve done all this business planning and then it’s time for launch. It sounds like you hired a PR company. How do you do the launch? So you have the product in hand and you have the listing up, what are some of the first things that you’ve been doing?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, the main thing is the basics of just correctly educating the market. I mean this product exists for a purpose; it’s probably leveraging something that’s new about technology. It’s just getting that story out. So this is kind of the classic marketing and content marketing stuff. So, being really honest with ourselves about what are our differentiators for real not something that if people really did understand this product space, they would agree, oh yeah, this is a great product for that, and really spending our energy highlighting those things.

Steve: When you mention highlighting those things, are you talking about on your YouTube channel or in press releases? Like what are your main channels?

Bernie: Yeah, so it’s YouTube is a very important channel for us. So that’s definitely a main channel, also just simple text, blog posts that are also email blasts that go out to our email lists. And press releases are a lot, they’ve been something that is a lot less effective really for a long time now, probably 10 or 20 years press releases have been in a state of decline. There really isn’t much press out there to pick them up.

But you can work more kind of one to one with people in like in our area in the tech press, then when you — they tend to be very well informed. And so, when you truly are putting out something that is new or leveraging something new, when you can get their attention and explain that to them, then that might turn into an article where your products are mentioned, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, a lot of marketing energy across a range of activities.

Steve: Okay, so it sounds like when you’re ready to launch a new product, you put out content, you blast your list, and you probably publish something on your YouTube channel just to create awareness of this new product that’s out. In other words, you already have some of these channels in place to help you launch a product.

Bernie: Yeah, that’s right.

Steve: Okay. I’m just curious though, if you are starting without any of that stuff, how would you proceed and what percentage of your sales come from that versus some other things that you’re doing on Amazon?

Bernie: I think in addition, the big thing in addition to those things and the thing that everybody has access to is on Amazon ads, sponsored product ads. So we’re definitely spending a huge amount. In terms of actual spend more on sponsored product ads than we do on the rest of those activities generally. And the great thing about sponsored product ads is it is this well, the cost of them is in a sense going up as there’s more competition for those keywords. Really, it’s a very effective mechanism of getting people to see your product and you can really control this spend. So what we’re doing is all of that kind of keyword analysis that we did as part of the business plan for the product, we’re immediately advertising and trying to win those keywords.

So we use our own tool Efficient Era to do that. And so we basically just need to seed our tool with some of those starting keywords and then our tool, each week we’ll go through and recommend bid adjustments up and down based on conversion rates and other metrics, and it’ll also mine the advertising data for more specific searches that people do. That’s one of the cool things about Amazon advertising data is when I advertise on a word like shirt, Amazon will actually come back in the advertising data with all the combinations of keywords that people actually searched for when shirt was one of the words. So they’ll come back and say, white shirt or a shirt for the Broncos or whatever.

And so then our ad tool picks up all of that stuff, finds the high converting keywords and prompts you with recommendations to say, now turn this into an actual keyword that you’re advertising on. And Amazon’s keywords have kind of three levels of match, broad, phrase, and exact and as you kind of promote a keyword up those, your ads are shown to fewer people, but you don’t need to bid as high, like on an exact match. It will only show if the person types in exactly that phrase. But then if you have advertised for exactly that keyword that will tend to win the kind of keyword bidding that goes on behind the scenes better than a broad match.

Steve: So before we go into the details of all that, which we will definitely go to in a minute, I just wanted to make sure is Amazon sponsored product ads probably the largest piece of your launch strategy, is that accurate?

Bernie: Yeah. In terms of dollars it is. In terms of time, it’s not but dollars yes.

Steve: Okay. And before we get into the software and whatnot, I just wanted to take a step back for the people who don’t quite — who aren’t as quite familiar with Amazon sponsored product ads and walk me through like your strategy. Like let’s say if you didn’t have the tools, how do you decide on the keywords? What do you bid on it first, and then how does that evolve into these exact and phrase match keywords that you were just talking about?

Bernie: Yeah, I think — so it’s very similar to the kind of business model analysis. At first, you’ve probably got some really broad searches that a few of those people are going to actually turn out to be interested in your product. So you’re wanting to think both in that way broadly, what could people be searching for, for my product? But then you also want to think more specifically, okay, so what are some kind of unique characteristics of my product, maybe some of the things that were originally why I chose to launch this product that I could identify some very specific searches that my product should be very, very compelling for?

And when you start out, you might find that on those very broad searches, you get a lot of random purchases or maybe not much traction at all because you’re one of — the primary issue on Amazon is you’re in a sea of other products. And you really need to be kind of very specific and very kind of honest with yourself about why would somebody actually buy my product. And so you identify those characteristics, and a lot of times that’s where you get your initial traction with a product.

So, you might have a product for example, that is let’s say a shirt, if you’re only advertising on kind of a broad keyword like shirt, you’re going to have a very low kind of impressions to click ratio because people are searching for all kinds of shirts unless yours is some sort of extremely appealing shirt, not a lot of people are going to click on that ad when they’re doing that broad search.

Steve: What’s a good guideline that you use for a click through rate?

Bernie: Oh boy, that’s a good one. I may actually, I will answer that question in a second, I’m actually going to pull up real data.

Steve: Do you run automated — auto campaigns anymore or do you just start out with broad?

Bernie: Interestingly yeah. So Amazon has these two different campaign types, auto, and manual. And we do run Amazon’s auto campaigns which are kind of basically just a set of budget and forget it kind of campaign. And we wouldn’t do it except initially there’s a little bit of utility there in terms of keyword harvesting. But that’s not the biggest part of it. The biggest part of it is Amazon has a few ad placement types where they show ads that are only possible with the auto campaign. So, one example of that sort of placement that turns out to be really effective is in the checkout process on Amazon. You’re actually shown especially that last landing page after you’re done buying your product and you’re completely through, they will recommend a bunch of other products to you at that point.

For people who are on the seller central side of things, the marketplace side, doing an auto campaign is the only way that I’m aware of to get a placement there. Also placements on competitors products, only with the auto campaign do you get certain types of those placements. So yeah, so we still — and in fact our tool when you create a campaign for a product recommends creating both an auto and a manual campaign for every product.

Steve: How do you adjust the budget for the auto campaign compared to the other campaigns that you’re running?

Bernie: Yeah, it’s still the same thing where you’re looking at well, the number one metric that we look at is ACOS. And that’s just simply the advertising cost of sales for every — what percent of your overall ad generated sales are you spending in order to kind of get those sales? And it’s a nice number, because it lines up also with your margin. Like, if you have let’s say, a 10% margin on your products, well then you know if you’re selling at a 10% ACOS, you’re about breaking even on those particular sales. Now, you also want to think about the fact that you can’t always make money on every sale.

So, we talked about when you’re launching a product, you have to be willing to invest. So on that product where you might net a 10% margin, certainly at first you might have to be willing to have a 20% ACOS and basically lose money on every sale just to get the momentum going, very similar to doing a giveaway or something. And then even later on, you might want to for a long time just simply be breakeven in your targeting because each sale that you generate through advertising kind of spins up the flywheel on your product, it moves you up in search position. And so each sale really is not just that sale. It’s also ancillary sales that you get because of your better search position. And you’re doing a weak form of customer acquisition.

Amazon really tries to maintain control over the customers on the platform. And even though they say you’re the seller and it is your transaction, in reality, they of course don’t allow remarketing and all that but still, there is a little bit of stickiness to every customer, and it varies a little bit per category. So again, that’s another kind of multiplier or additive effect where your ad generated sale that customer who becomes familiar with you and your brand has a lifetime value that’s probably bigger than just that one sale. So again, it’s another reason why it’s good to be thoughtful about ACOS but a lot of times you’ll actually want us advertise at an ACOS that is higher than your profit margin on the product.

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Yeah, so which brings me to my next question. When you’re launching, what is your target ACOS versus your margin?

Bernie: Yeah, for us it’s probably about double our target margin at first.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Bernie: And we’ll do that basically until we start getting traction and start getting data. And then once data starts coming in, then our Efficient Era tools then can start refining our bids and our keywords, we can get a sense of is this product kind of succeeding or failing. And there’s definitely times where we launched a product and it just, it hits the market like a rocket in the ground, it’s a thud and we’re not getting traction anywhere, we’re not getting conversions. But we have to spend for a few weeks until we really know whether it’s that sort of situation or whether we have a rocket, something that is just resonating with the market and taking off.

Steve: So it’s not like there’s a dial for ACOS, right. So how do you determine your initial bid and then what determines whether a product is a rock versus mediocre which is knocking it out versus knocking it out of the park?

Bernie: Yeah, so in sponsored products kind of natively from Amazon yeah, ACOS is not just a knob but it actually isn’t a lot of the tools, like in our tool it’s a knob. You set an account level target ACOS and then you can override that on a per product basis. So we can override it to be a higher ACOS when we’re launching and then later adjust it down to kind of a more normal mature ACOS. So there are tools like ours that can turn ACOS into a knob. Yeah we don’t know ahead of time whether we’re going to have a breakout or a failure. It usually takes at least four to eight weeks of data.

One of the big debates among sellers on Amazon has been what do you do about the relationship between reviews and conversion rate and ad spend? When you first launch a product and you’ve got no reviews, your ad spend is going to be a lot more expensive because you’re going to be sending people with these ads to the product. And when a person comes to this product with no reviews, it’s just going to convert more poorly than if there’s a bunch of social proof around that product. So now we’re getting into the whole issue of kind of review gamesmanship and all of that sort of stuff.

So, we’ve never paid for reviews or done any of those sort of review gamesmanship things. And that’s meant that we have to be very patient and we have to basically spend more money at first because we know that in those early weeks there’s a real uphill battle to generate those first few hundred sales so that we can get our first handful of reviews. And so, we don’t really know whether a product is going to be successful or fail until we’re kind of through those early weeks.

Steve: How do you decide what to bid?

Bernie: So there’s a bid recommendation API. And so we pop up a default bid when you create a campaign using our tool and we use our tool ourselves. And then we don’t worry too much about that initial bid because it’ll quickly get adjusted to the target based on the target ACOS to be constantly reminding you to, okay, we recommend bidding up on this bidding down on that. And so in a way, your starting bid becomes a lot less critical because you’re going to be adjusting it every week from then on out based on the actual data.

Steve: Okay. And then in terms of losing money in the beginning, you said it’s about double. How long do you do that for?

Bernie: Yeah, there’s no fixed time, it’s till it kind of catches fire. So it’s certainly weeks. If we’re in two months where we’re losing money, we’re starting to look at this as a failure scenario and everyone really scrambling to try to find other things other than just ad spend to kind of recover what might be a product headed for failure.

Steve: I guess what is your definition of catching fire? Like is it based on conversion rate or?

Bernie: It ultimately comes down to, are you executing to that business plan that you created at the beginning? Are you getting to top position on the keywords that you are aiming for? You’re probably not going to be completely there after a few weeks, but you hopefully are making really solid progress there. And if you’re not, that’s when you’re headed for the failure scenario.

Steve: I see. So you’re monitoring your keyword rankings and for the competitive industries that you’re in, I can imagine that sponsored product ads will take you to the front page alone in just a couple weeks. So it sounds like you’re just monitoring the keyword advancement.

Bernie: Yep. Yeah.

Steve: And what is like good advancement? Like let’s say you start out nothing and in a couple of weeks, where do you have to be in order to deem that you’re making progress?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, it’s very category specific. First of all, you’ve got these very kind of deep competitive categories. And then also we’re looking at a range of keywords. Again, kind of going back to, we’ve got a few broad keywords that have, gosh, if we can be number one on this broad keyword, we would just be killing it. But we also have those very much more narrow, kind of key differentiators of the product that probably don’t have a ton of search volume around them.

But if somebody is actually searching for that, ours is going to be a really great product for them. And so, we’ll tend to make — see visible progress on those key differentiators first, and we better, we should be able to see progress on those key differentiators first, and then maybe we even get to the top of those keywords and only then would we be able to kind of make progress in on some of these broader keywords, really kind of category level keywords because maybe these key differentiators we have identified are something that’s really compelling to the market.

And because we do that thing, people say, hey, this is the best product in this category now, because it did these few things really well. Other times, it’s not enough that those key differentiators are interesting to a few people but not a lot of people. And then you might have something that is kind of a success, but it’s not really a category winner.

Steve: So I don’t want to oversimplify Amazon ads here, because I know in real life when you start running ads, there’s a lot of things that can happen, right? So one, you might be bidding on something and you might not get any impressions for your keywords. You might not get enough clicks; your conversion rate might be super low. How do you deal with these different situations? Or what is your tool kind of doing behind the scenes that helps you address these issues?

Bernie: Yeah, they’re really hard to kind of figure out, and so we actually almost had to create our tool before we understood this stuff. It’s a combination of doing it manually and then also coding it in the tool. So as the tool is doing these recommendations bid up, bid down, refine this keyword to be more phrase and exact, add these keywords, add this campaign, each time there’s a recommendation where the tool is giving a reason why, maybe the ACOS is below target, maybe this keyword is converting at this great rate, this very high conversion from impressions to clicks, we actually will say that right in the tool.

So the way I actually use the tool is in a given week, I’ll get hundreds of individual recommendations for our own account within our own tool. And I’ll run through them and actually you can basically accept or reject each recommendation. I’ll run through them and kind of reject ones that are based on specific reasons, usually for us it’s compatibility that the recommendation the tool is making is not right from a compatibility perspective. But then other than that, I basically just accept all of them.

But if I want to learn and kind of use the tools, the ad data to kind of understand where is this product succeeding and where is it may be weaker than we thought, we have all the data there and we have these reasons that for every recommendation, it’s kind of been put through an intelligent rules engine, and we can tell you why the tool is recommending what it’s recommending.

Steve: What about the case when — and this has happened with a lot of the students in my class. They start bidding for a keyword that they think they should be indexing on but then Amazon doesn’t give that keyword a lot of impressions for some reason.

Bernie: Yeah that’s right. Yeah, that’s actually a really key thing, if your keyword, if you’re not indexing on it organically, then there’s no sense bidding on it. You can bid up and up and up and Amazon either will give you zero impressions or just a handful. So, it’s actually not deployed right now, but one of the things we’ve actually added, it’s in the dev branch right now over the last week is just to check when you’re looking at the keyword. And usually what it will say is impressions too low is our reason. We just provide a simple button there where you can click and you go to a URL and see whether your product comes back on that marketplace for that term. And you can see whether it’s indexed or not.

And if it’s not indexed, well, then this isn’t really an ad problem. You’ve got to work on that indexing problem first, with back end keywords or changes to your description. And then once that’s fixed, you can come back to ads. And bidding and assuming you fixed the organic indexing problem, now you’ll be able to start winning with impressions even with potentially lower bids.

Steve: I was hoping you could provide some guidelines. So you’re in the process of looking up like what a good click through rate is at least for your category. Of course every category is going to be different. But I was just curious for electronics what that might be, and what a good conversion rate is for your electronics products in general.

Bernie: Yeah. So let’s see. So we’ve got about — make sure I get this right, so about 1,000 impressions per sale is a norm. And so, let’s take it through the full steps of impressions to clicks to sales. So it’s about 50, so about 50 impressions per click and 1,000 impressions per sale approximately.

Steve: So 2% click through rate, did I do my math — and what was the number of clicks to sale?

Bernie: About 50, clicks to sale, I didn’t do clicks to sale. So clicks to sale is about 15 clicks for each sale.

Steve: Okay so under a 10% conversion rate. So I’m just curious, what are your guidelines in general for a successful keyword for a given product?

Bernie: Yeah, we’re focused on doing the ad adjustments. These ratios are super important and we want to see improvement in them. I think a lot of is category and product specific. So right now, eventually, I think a lot of those numbers we will have some recommendations in terms of you are way off of norm on the high side, congratulations. Or on the low side, and you probably should — the right action to take when a lot of these ratios are on the bad side is to improve your listing, or either make it or tighten your keywords. I mean, make your listing, your keywords more specific to your product, make your product more specific to what the audience wants, and then make your product high converting, good images, good text. And those are the ways that you can kind of move some of those ratios that we were just talking about.

Steve: I guess my question is like your tool is based on ACOS. So does it even matter when the dollars come into play? Like as long as your ACOS meets a certain amount, does it really matter what your click through rate is, or what your conversion rate is? How does everything work together?

Bernie: No, you’re right. It doesn’t. We present those numbers but those numbers actually aren’t needed to do any of the recommendations in terms of the ad adjustment. The ad adjustments really all kind of key off of that ACOS and the ability to set that ACOS at a per product level if you want us you really get kind of precise about this. And then within a product, you can set the ACOS kind of higher when you launch and then later adjust it lower when the product moves into a kind of a mature profitable phase. And the tool allows all of that.

Steve: I guess if you’re someone doing sponsored product ads without any tools, and geez, you just want some general guidelines on whether what you’re doing is good or not, or if it could be better. So let’s say you’re meeting your ACOS targets, but clearly your conversion rate is low but you’re still you’re still meeting your target. But how do you know that you need to improve?

Bernie: Yeah, it is hard I mean because — so how do you know you need to improve? I mean, well, a lot of it comes down to what’s happening kind of at the individual keyword level. If you’re over bidding on some overly broad keywords, you’re driving a bunch of wrong traffic to your ASIN and that’s costing you money. Even worse, sometimes in some product categories it’s actually believe it or not costing you reviews in the sense that if you drive the wrong people to your product, and they buy anyway, that’s a prime scenario for it to become a negative review in the end.

So in a way it’s kind of cool because everyone’s motivations are lined up. I mean, you as a brand and as a seller, you want to drive people to your product who are going to be really ecstatic about this product, they’re going to be as soon as they see it, they’re going to want it. And as soon as they buy it, they’re going to be happy with it. But the way you achieve that is through keyword refinement, adding and removing keywords to kind of hone in on relevance and then you’re bidding up or bidding down, both for your business so that the keywords achieve the right profitability level, but also, so that you’re spending the money where it drives the most relevant traffic to you.

So, it’s hard. I mean, for us, I mean, we have just within our account of we have tens of thousands of keywords across our whole tool. We manage over 10,000 ad campaigns and so millions of keywords that are managed across all the sellers that use our tool. It’s overwhelming. I mean, basically, before we had our tool and we were probably spending a little bit less on ads then, we had a kind of a full time person. He was spending about two to three days a week just managing the ads. And with the tool help, and there’s a bunch of great tools out there, not just ours. But with the tool help, he’s been able to get that down instead to like, three or four hours, like half a day. So it’s been a huge time savings.

But we got to spend that time because if we’re not spending that time, we’re not honing in our ads and our ad spend to get the right people. And then the other thing that’s happening here that we hinted at is we’re training through these ads and through all this what’s happening with the keywords on these ads, we’re training Amazon search engine about what our products are relevant for. So this is not just about the people who buy based on the ad, it is actually a system for spending money to train Amazon about where your product is relevant so that in organic search, there’ll be showing your products for those keywords too.

Steve: Right yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. I’m just curious. So during launch, you said you’ll run and lose money for a little bit. How do you decide when to kind of taper it off and actually either choose to break even or make some profit?

Bernie: Oh, gosh, how do we decide? I think it again; it’s that it’s that momentum level that we need to kind of fulfill the business plan. When we have products that fail, we often have way too much inventory and we go through this painful process of kind of unloading the inventory over way too long a time period. And there’s always questions in our minds of should we basically be paying to get rid of this inventory by spending money on ads, or should we just dump it on price and we use a variety of strategies.

But in the more fun scenario of a successful product, we’ve invested and kind of gone negative in terms of our spending for a few weeks or maybe a few months and now the product is – Amazon is all trained up on what keywords this product is relevant for, our ads are humming, we’ve got our ACOS has really kind of dropped down to a healthy level, and we’ve moved to the kind of top position or our target position on the keywords and now we’re just trying to kind of maintain this product at that kind of level of run rate and level of keyword position with our ad spend and so we can kind of drop our target ACOS more into a profitable territory at that point. And of course all the organic sales are profitable.

Steve: I guess your tool you said you have a target ACOS right? So does that imply that it’ll keep spending to try to get to that target ACOS, so does that in fact mean that if your product success, your ACOS will still drop, or will your tool just spend more to meet that target ACOS? Do you understand what I’m asking?

Bernie: Yeah I do. Yeah. So the tool will always kind of manage to the ACOS if it can. And so it’ll be kind of recommending bidding up. So, yeah, I know it is true that we need to make the decision at some point in our tool to kind of drop our target ACOS to say, we’re shifting from kind of launch mode to profitability mode, otherwise, the tool will kind of keep going at that ACOS. So, this is actually where some of those other data points like a good conversion rate or just that our keyword search position that we keep talking about, that stuff getting healthy can be the signal to tell our tool to, okay, let’s kind of switch into profitable mode for this product.

Steve: Okay, so I mean, is hitting the front page one of those criteria? I mean, obviously if you’re number one, you can dial it back. But I’m just curious what your criteria is.

Bernie: Yeah, I think for those differentiated keywords, those highly targeted keywords, we want to be number one, not just front page. For some of the broader keywords, a lot of times especially if it’s a big category, we’ll be happy with front page. Amazon is a kind of all spoils go to the victor kind of market, a big head and a long tail. So, you can easily get a doubling of sales from second search position to first search position in some categories. So we’ll fight for first position if we can get there, but in some cases, it’s just not realistic and so we get the first position on things that the product is really special for and accept kind of just first page on some of the broader keywords.

Steve: So in general, is your philosophy to break even on ads and then depend on the organic sales, or do you believe in making money on your ads?

Bernie: Well yeah. So stepping back kind of bigger picture, we had really low ACOS a few years ago, so we were always making money on ads a few years ago. So this is a shifting picture. Today it’s more the model, it’s not are we wanting to break even or make money, it’s more that we’re going to lose money at first and then our products that kind of fail to achieve what we hoped for, we’re probably going to just lose money in total on the whole business plan for that product. But for our products that kind of make it, that become successful, we’re going to aim to be profitable certainly for organic of course, but also for our ad generated sales.

Steve: I guess what I was trying to get at is there has to be some correlation between profitability and like you could lose money on ads but the flywheel spin so fast that you’re making more money organically, whereas if you’re making money on ads, you might be getting less organic sales. Is there a way, an easy way for you to test that and determine what the optimal bid is so to speak for a given keyword?

Bernie: That’s actually a really great question. I think that is kind of the next step for us. I think we haven’t figured that out with our business and our tools don’t support thinking quite that way yet. But I totally agree that we know all the things I’ve said that it’s not just the ad generated sale, it’s how that spins up the flywheel. It’s not just the ad generated sale; it’s the lifetime value of the customer. But I think if you can turn those into numbers, it really could improve your decision making because then you could have a much clearer picture of, oh yeah, if we are breaking even on ads, that’s actually foolish, we should be always losing money on ads because we’re going to get even more back in organic and in lifetime value of the customer.

So yeah, so I think our tools I’m aware of that. And I think we’re not yet smart about that. And our tools will be — I think you kind of need a tool help for that and our tools aren’t there yet, but we’ll get there.

Steve: I mean, the only reason why I ask is like when I run Facebook ads, sometimes the numbers don’t work out, but I’m generating a lot more sales with my other channels. And miraculously, when I turn Facebook ads off, some of those other channels decrease along with it. So clearly, there’s a correlation, but it’s really hard to measure.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah. And there’s some hope on Amazon that we might actually be able to measure all of it. And so we’ll be enhancing a lot more with our Efficient Era tool set and that’s a great example of an area where we need to.

Steve: I mean, it sounds like to me, at least based on this conversation, it’s almost like you need a tool now, especially if you’re dealing with lots of keywords to kind of organize them and show you how to bid because it’s just too overwhelming to manage a whole bunch of keywords for a whole bunch of products.

Bernie: Yeah, no, I totally think that’s true. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of good ad tools out there. I mean, there’s at least a half dozen that I can think of and ours is really good. We use ours to manage our own business. So, yeah, no, I think that’s right. It’s too overwhelming if you don’t use a tool.

Steve: And Bernie, hey, I want to give you a chance to talk about your tool a little bit. So what would you say is the key differentiating factor? You just mentioned there’s a whole bunch of tools that help you manage your sponsored ads. What would you say is one of your key differentiating factors of Efficient Era?

Bernie: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of an all in one tool so there’s a few things. One is the ad tool is a great ad tool that is very transparent about the recommendations. So you can kind of choose to accept everything, or you can look at each one individually. And we’re very transparent about kind of this trigger. This reason caused us to make this recommendation so you can use to learn, you can get — it can be really picky and kind of you’ll keep control over things or you can just kind of let it run and just take its recommendations. Either way it saves you a ton of time.

Because our tools kind of originally came from things that we developed for our own business, they’re comprehensive. They cover areas from profit dashboard to this ad tool, to post order emails, to review tracking, to comprehensive databases of all the Amazon information like orders that you can search through and filter and export different ways, returns tracking, product health looking at kind of reviews over time and how is the product doing. So, what we’re headed towards with their Efficient Era tools and we’ve gotten a long way towards this is really we want it to be not just an ad recommendation, but really a business recommendation engine.

We’re constantly notifying you, hey, there’s this problem, somebody changed the category that one of your products is in, here’s an email alert and that’s one of the things we do, here’s how to fix it. Or here’s an opportunity, you’ve launched a product two weeks ago and you still don’t have a sponsored product ad for it, we’d recommend you go create a campaign, and here’s an automated tool that’ll do that for you, so that we’re really kind of an AI intelligent way of improving your Amazon business. And we’ve made significant progress towards that.

Steve: Interesting. So I guess the eventual goal is to have everything talk to each other, right? These aren’t individual tools. They’re all tools that kind of work together.

Bernie: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s pretty different. There’s some good tools out there that are very, like you say, are kind of very separate independent tools. Yeah, and we’re really different than that, because we’re highly integrated, we’re able to do a few things a lot smarter because we’re using all of the data to help make a smart recommendation.

Steve: So for example, if I ran out of stock and I don’t know, will that ad stop, or close to running out of stock ?

Bernie: Amazon stops the ad when you run out of stock and you no longer have the buy box. We are just about to launch kind of a comprehensive buy box notification that untangles when you lose the buy box, was it a pricing issue, was it an out of stock issue? Today Amazon suspends the ASIN and so you’re getting the dogs of Amazon, the dreaded dogs of Amazon when you go to your product, or all these different other reasons why you might lose the buy box. So we’ll untangle that. We’re not doing proactive turning off ads on triggers like getting low on stock, maybe that’s something that we might do in the future.

Steve: Okay, well, hey Bernie thanks a lot for giving us a lesson on how you run Plugable. As I always mention, I think selling electronics is really competitive and borderline crazy, but you managed to make it work. And what I like about you is that you eat your own dog food, you have the tools that you actually use for your own business. So in fact, all of your words carry a lot more weight, at least to me.

Bernie: Yeah, yeah, no, electronics is a hard space, but it means we are forced to get good at what we do.

Steve: Absolutely. Well Bernie, thanks a lot for coming on the show.

Bernie: Yeah, appreciated Steve, talk to you soon.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. As an eight figure seller, and probably one of the most competitive markets on Amazon, Bernie goes through a lot of product. And because his margins are razor thin, he really has to optimize everything. And as a result, his processes tend to be super efficient. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode230.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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229: The Trump Trade Tariffs – Everything You Need To Know With Nathan Resnick

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229: An Expert's Opinion On The Trump Tariffs With Nathan Resnick

Today I’m really excited to have Nathan Resnick back on the show. If you don’t remember Nathan, he is the founder of Sourcify which is a company that helps you find manufacturers to produce your products.

Anyway, Nathan has been on television multiple times in the past month to talk about the Trump tariffs and since he’s an expert on the topic, I thought I’d have him on to discuss his thoughts. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • The current state of the tariffs and which products they affect
  • What impact the tariffs have on large businesses vs small businesses
  • How to find vendors outside of China
  • The short and long term impact of the tariffs

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. Now, this week, I invited my buddy Nathan Resnick of Sourcify to give his expert opinion on the Trump tariffs. We talk about which products are affected and how to best avoid the brunt of the impact.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. And I like Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email sent. Now, Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now they’re a bunch of companies out there that will manage email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in e-commerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really excited to have Nathan Resnick back on the show. And if you don’t remember Nathan, he is the founder of Sourcify, which is a company that helps you find manufacturers to produce your products. And prior to that, he owned two e-commerce companies, Yes Man Watches and Cork Supply Co., and recently actually, he spoke at my annual e-commerce conference, the Sellers Summit. Anyway, Nathan has actually been on TV multiple times in the past month to talk about the Trump tariffs. And since he’s an expert on the topic, I thought I’d have him on to discuss his thoughts. And with that, welcome back on the show Nathan, how are you doing today, man?

Nathan: What is up? I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.

Steve: So first off, can you just kind of summarize why Trump has issued these tariffs in the first place? And what kind of are his demands from China at the present time?

Nathan: It’s crazy. And I kind of want to start the conversation saying, I’m not political at all. But what I’ll say is, these tariffs are crazy. And I think he is trying to position himself with these tariffs thinking that these products are going to now be produced in America, which there are companies that we work with are rapidly diversifying their supply chain across Asia. And so for him, and I think the US government is just a way for them to make money. Really what Trump doesn’t even realize it and what he said actually, last week is that China is now paying us billions of dollars in tariffs, but really tariffs are paid for by American companies that are importing products from China.

And so it’s really in my mind just a bit ridiculous, but at end of the day tariffs are a way for the US government to make money or to balance out trade. And if you look at the trade between America and China, there’s a huge deficit. We’re importing way more than we are exporting to China.

Steve: I know, but realistically does the US have the infrastructure that China has to produce all these things at low costs?

Nathan: Oh, we don’t. I mean, that’s really the global economy. If you look at it from my more bird’s eye view, there’s a reason products are produced outside of America. And the reason being is it’s just the way that the currencies work. If our dollar equals 6.8 renminbi right now, then you know that our dollar is going to go further there. And really, I almost break it down to the ground floor. When you’re in Guangzhou or Shenzhen, let’s say you’re going to the Canton Fair coming up here in October, and you’re over there and you’re going out to dinner, you’re probably spending almost a fifth or a 10th less on dinner than you would here in America.

And that just shows the way the international economy work is that our dollar goes a lot farther. And you know what; you know the Chinese government is doing? And I’m not exactly sure if I should say this in this way. But they’re actually, they’re putting, they’re making the renminbi at almost their all time low a year low. So right now, the dollar is extremely valuable compared to the renminbi. And so our dollar is going to go a lot further than it would last year, a year before, and the reason being is the Chinese government, they’re trying to enable US corporations to have more buying power in China, even with these tariffs.

Steve: Hmm-mm interesting. Okay. But then, doesn’t the factory kind of get screwed over then?

Nathan: Well, in this case, the factories are really screaming. I’ll tell you, I was in China two weeks ago at our Guangzhou office. And you go to these, even the fabric markets there in Guangzhou and everyone’s screaming, they’re saying, hey, well buy fabric here, but can we send it to Vietnam? Can we send it to the Philippines? Can we send it off to Cambodia? And even at Sourcify, when we work with these companies to produce products across Asia, there’s probably been about a 30 to 40% increase in companies requesting to produce products outside of China, and I’m talking in India, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines.

And if you look at larger enterprises, if you look at the Nikes or Adidas of the world, these organizations have already been producing outside of China for a long time. And so really, what’s scary with these tariffs is that in my mind, they’re just starting. Trump just put a 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese products last week, and that tariff is going to be increased to 25%, starting January 1, 2019. Now, they’re still actively negotiating and trying to figure out really what’s going on with this trade war.

But if you’re an e-commerce company, and all of a sudden, you have to pay 25% more tariffs, you’re going to want to figure out, how can I avoid that tariff? And I’m happy to dive in the ways that you can avoid the tariff. Some, I will say will be legal, and some are a bit under the table. But I’m not recommending the under the table ways at all.

Steve: So before we get into that, can you just give us a quick update on kind of the current state of the tariffs and what products they are affecting, kind of give us a timeline and how it started out and where we are today?

Nathan: Yeah, a hundred percent. So it started out a few months ago. And really, originally, it was more so targeting industrial and agriculture products, where you’re talking about steel, you’re talking about soybeans, you’re talking about products that will probably not affect your general e-commerce entrepreneur that’s selling consumer products. And then all of a sudden last week, tariffs got put on electronics, cosmetics, clothing, home, and home furnishing products and TVs. I mean, these tariffs now are really actively affecting HTS codes that companies like you and I are importing under. And so it started to all of a sudden have an effect in the e-commerce world. And really, that’s scary.

I mean, if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur, that’s just starting out running on thinner margins. These tariffs are going to have a direct effect on your business. And really probably the first question that comes to mind right there is, how do I find out, how do I know if these tariffs are affecting my product? And so what I do right now is really ask your freight forward. If you’re importing products, even just at a smaller scale, whether it be a pallet or just one container, so ask your freight forward and say, hey, do I have to pay a higher tariff?

And your freight forwarder should know, right off the bat if your HTS codes that you’re importing under are affected. And really, that’s the first way that you start, you can also definitely go on Google and do some research yourself. But I think at the end of the day, your freight forwarder should have the most knowledge in regards to all your products affected.

Steve: Okay and then what impact would you say the tariffs are going to have on larger businesses like we were talking about CVS earlier, versus smaller businesses?

Nathan: I mean, it’s crazy on the larger scale. They’re hurting; they’re trying to avoid them as fast as they can. I mean, there was this story, it must have been two months ago, where there was this company that was trying to import or it was they were actually exporting, because on the other hand, China has lifted tariffs on products that American companies are trying to sell into China. So it’s back and forth, these trade wars, but there was this company that was exporting soybeans from America to China, they literally missed the cutoff time by 30 minutes. And they started paying $12,000 a day just to have their container ship off the port waiting to figure out what’s going to happen with these tariffs. Because if they have brought those soybeans to port, they would have to pay $6 million in new tariffs just based off these new tariff increases.

And so from a larger scale from these larger enterprises, the effects are huge. And so what these companies are doing are diversifying their supply chains very fast, which means a lot of these production lines in Vietnam or India are a lot of times already booked their capacity for the next year. You really have to dive deep and figure out who is going to be a supplier that still has some capacity for your products outside of China, or you find ways to diversify or get around these tariffs in maybe not the most cleanest way.

Steve: So, what would you say is the short term impact versus the long term impact? Are you already starting to see prices increase?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, I would say short term impact is that you as a company need to start negotiating right away with your factory to see how can I balance out these increased tariffs, because on the factory side of the table, you’re going to want to try to lower costs there and cut your unit costs on that end. On the consumer side of the table, we as American consumers are going to have to start paying more for these products. I mean, I actually wrote this down as estimated by students at the London School of Economics, that each American citizen is going to have to pay $127 more over the course of the year for average products that they’re buying, whether it be TVs, or clothing, and washing machines. I mean, you’re really going to see a direct effect.

And, at the larger enterprise level, you have toy companies like Hasbro that are saying during their earnings call last week that the company will move production outside of China immediately as fast as they can. And so, not only are you seeing the effect with just families here in America and having to spend more for products, but larger enterprises are having to figure out how they can really diversify their supply chain.

Steve: So, let’s say I needed to — let’s say I wanted to negotiate with my vendor, would you mention the Chinese renminbi against the US dollar? Like, does it all kind of balance out right now, when it’s only like a 10% tariff?

Nathan: Yeah, I would say 10% tariff. It depends how much you’re importing. But yeah, it definitely does balance out in some sense. I would say too, though, from the factory perspective, I know even our supply chain team, they’ve been getting a swap just with inbound requests from factories outside of China saying, hey, we can enable you to produce these products and avoid these China tariffs. And so even on the factory end of the table, you have factories, sales reps that are now hitting us up outside of China more activity using these tariffs as a sales pitch. And I would say inside China, the smarter factories are saying, hey, well, the renminbi is that almost a year low, we’re really trying to balance out our currency here. And so there’s not a huge effect.

I think it also just depends how you pay your supplier. I’ve heard of a lot of e-commerce entrepreneurs having great payment terms with their suppliers, not having to pay right up front, or 70/30, excuse me, 30/70 or maybe having 60 day payment terms. If you can flow some of your cash with production, then you might be able to have less of a direct effect right now with these tariffs.

Steve: So, I mean, is it just a really bad time to import from China?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, well, especially right now with the holiday season coming in, even the freight lines are crazy, all industry is going nuts trying to ramp up for the holidays. And with these tariffs, it’s really, I think, become a bit of a mess. But I think the smarter companies are planning long term. If you’re a company doing business right now, you probably already got your holiday season planned out. You’ve got your POs in for the holiday season, and are already midway through production. And hopefully, especially if you’re producing in China with the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival coming up there in February, that you’re going to have production in inventory ready to last yourself throughout that time period. Because otherwise you’ll probably run out of inventory or just probably take a trip to Vietnam or India, or Thailand or something.

Steve: I guess the reason why I’m asking that is I was wondering if you have any predictions on what will happen and whether this will get resolved, whether you should hold out on buying large amounts of inventory until this kind of blows over?

Nathan: That’s a great question. I mean, from what I’ve seen in the media, I’ve talked to reporters at CNN and CNBC, and Forbes. And it’s very interesting because from the news perspective, I mean, this is great press for the newscasters. I mean, they love talking about this, and I honestly think it’s going to become, it’s going to continue to rise. I think Trump really has it in his mind that by putting on these tariffs, he thinks that number one; he thinks that China is paying for these tariffs, which is not true. And number two, he thinks that we’re going to see a shift in production back to America, which I don’t believe is going to happen, just because it’s going to be way too expensive to produce most of these products here in America.

And so I think hopefully, he’ll come to a realization and the government will come to a realization that really what this is causing is just American consumers and companies are paying more for these products. And these companies are now just diversifying their supply chain outside of China, or making some tricks under the table to avoid these tariffs.

Steve: Okay, so let’s talk about that now. What are some ways to avoid these tariffs?

Nathan: Yeah, so we’ll divide by legal versus illegal. And I do not recommend the illegal.

Steve: Start with the illegal stuff first because I’m sure [overlapping 00:15:35].

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, so, right off the bat, you have transshipments. And transshipments are legal and transshipments, what they are, is when you’re sipping a container, let’s say from Guangzhou to Long Beach, and you have to ship the cargo, ship has to stop in Malaysia, or Thailand or whatever maybe. But what a lot of these freight foreigners are offering now is with these transshipments, they’re going to change the country of origin on your products. So they’re literally telling you, do not put those made in China labels on your products, we’ll change the country of origin during the transshipment when we stop over in Thailand, or Malaysia, or whatever may be, so your products are actually on paper imported from China.

And so that’s one way to avoid this. Trans shipments are legal, but the act of actually changing the country of origin on your products is illegal. On the other hand, this is something that’s probably a bit more common in general, with smaller scale e-commerce entrepreneurs, or companies that haven’t necessary gotten the scale, but just lowering the value of the actual Bill of Materials, saying that, instead of buying this product for $10 per unit, you’re buying it for $1 per unit. And so the actual tariffs that can be levied on your products is much lower. So instead of having a total dollar amount of 10,000, you have $1,000. And so, really at the end of the day when tariffs are applied to the import value of your products, the value of the products is much lower than they actually are. And so you kind of slide into the cracks that way.

Steve: Hold on Nathan real quick. I know some of my vendors had done that for me without even me asking.

Nathan: Well, yeah, I mean, it helps them too, because they also have to pay an export tax in China. So it is in some sense win-win, but is it actually legal?

Steve: What is the risk actually, is what, because I feel a little uncomfortable by it. I mean, this happened a lot early on. And so have you known people to get caught by this?

Nathan: Not on a small scale. There’s definitely been some fines at a larger scale, but the border patrol and just the organization that is really balancing out these tariffs and forcing them, they’re not going to have time to deal with companies that are importing $10,000, or even sometimes even $100,000. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much. And so, the risk of getting in trouble at that level is extremely low. At a larger level, if you have companies like Bass Pro, one of the biggest toy makers in the world, if they get caught doing this, there’s definitely some questions and media attention that will come their way.

So I would say, as a e-commerce entrepreneur, the risk is very low. And really, the other solution that I want to note on is actually doing fulfillment at or in China, for example. So, if you’re importing products, and they’re under $800 per parcel, you actually are exempt from customs duties all together. And so what we’ve seen actually is number one, a lot of fulfillment companies or a lot of factories start to offer fulfillment options in China. So you’re shipping products direct to consumer from Asian based fulfillment centers, whether they be in Hong Kong or in China, and shipping these products directly to consumers here in America. Your shipping rates are definitely going to be a bit higher; it depends on the shipping method you use.

And also, sometimes I think, just with international logistics, if you’re shipping product, just one by one from overseas, it’s got a higher risk of it getting lost or damaged in the mail. So I don’t know if that’s the best option.

Steve: But is that a realistic option?

Nathan: I mean, there’s companies like actual companies I know top of mind, one called Fulfillment and one called the Floship. They both have facilities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, I think. And they’re doing D2C fulfillment out of China, and they’ve had success there. There are companies that work that way. I would say, a lot of times, though, you see more kind of drop shipping oriented type of companies shipping through this route, because just the customer experience doesn’t have that high of a level. I think, with today’s world with two day Amazon Prime shipments, consumers expect the product to come fast. And when you’re shipping from a fulfillment company in China, obviously, the products aren’t going to come as fast, probably a week at the fastest. And so it’s something to consider when you think about your customer experience. But at the end of the day is it an option to explore? Yes.

Steve: So in regards to relabeling the boxes to have a different country of origin that sounds kind of risky to me.

Nathan: Yeah, it definitely is. I mean, it’s not something that I am recommending by any means. But it’s a way that some companies are avoiding these tariffs. And I think that the end of the day, you got to sometimes explore all options. But I would say the best way to avoid these tariffs is to explore other options to produce in other countries. And I know, for example, we have companies that we work with right now that sell into large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target that are producing in India and Pakistan, and finding way better rates producing in those countries than China, because the labor rates, it’s crazy right now in China, with the growth of the economy and the infrastructure there, labor costs have definitely gone up.

And when you think of a product like arrow [ph], or clothing, or even any bag, like the main cost outside of the actual raw material is actually the labor. So when you’re having to spend let’s say half an hour to produce a bag or something, that’s labor cost. And so if you go to India or Pakistan, where the labor costs are even less, you’re going to be able to have better production rates. And so that’s something that I’d really look into. There are some great factories outside of China.

And, it’s crazy, like when I look at China, when I was first over there 10 years ago, and look at it today, 10 years ago, you go to a factory and they’re picking you up in a pretty rundown car, there’s not all these nicely paved roads and there’s not all this crazy traffic. And now you go to these factories, you getting picked up in Range Rovers and Mercedes Benz and you’re thinking to yourself, they must have made some money on some of the margins with their production runs.

Steve: So given that, like let’s for like the little guy, how would you find suppliers in countries outside of China? Like, there’s no Alibaba for like Pakistan or Vietnam?

Nathan: Yeah, it stems from network I think 100%. And even here at Sourcify, it stems from our network, when we go into these other countries. And I’ve done trips this year alone to Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, and have one plan for India later this year. And it’s a different ecosystem. Number one, when I go to China, China is a great country, don’t get me wrong, but am I going there to enjoy the environment, no. When I was in the Philippines, I mean, we’re looking at this factory in the south in the city called Zamboanga and the beach was right across from the factory. I was like, wow, this is actually great environment, I wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a few days. Whereas, when we’re in a factory in China outside of Guangzhou or wherever may be, it’s not always the nicest area.

And so, I would say for a smaller buyer, like there’s definitely some different trade shows, you can exploit, there’s the gifts and premium show in India. I think it’s later this month, I think it actually coincides with the Canton Fair. I can double check, and I’ll send you the dates on that later. But, I mean, there’s definitely some other trade shows in other countries. And what I would do too, is you actually can Google some of the trade organizations that they have in these countries. There’s free economic zones, there’s the Clark free economic zone in the Philippines, there’s the Zamboanga free economic zone in the Philippines.

These organizations are actively looking to boost local trade. And it’s amazing, because these free economic zones; they have no import or export taxes for companies that are set up in these zone so a lot of factories go there. And there’s no taxes or very little taxes for these companies in these free economic zones. And so, if you’re working with a factory that’s in a free Economic Zone, you could literally be importing product into that free economic zone for free and exporting that finished product for free back to your home country. And there’s been talks I know with the Philippines and America to get into some sort of free trade agreement. And NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement just got resigned, which is awesome. So, you could explore options to produce in Mexico. And down just south of the border in San Diego, you have the Economic Development Council of Baja and the tier one or region there.

Steve: So I know that when I go to like the Canton Fair, I know it’s actually worth my time, because the trade show is just so large. But these ones that you mentioned, I think you mentioned one in India, is it a much smaller scale? Like, how can you be a lot more efficient with your time and finding these factories that are outside of China?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, I would say it stems from network. So, feel free to ping me up to try to introduce you to some people outside of China. I would say, for any e-commerce entrepreneur going to some of these smaller shows, it’s probably not going to be worth your time. I mean, I think the beauty of the Canton Fair is that you have so many different factories at your fingertips there. But what you could explore is there’s some trade shows here in America. I was at a magic sourcing trade show and the sourcing direct show at ASD market week in Las Vegas.

And those aren’t big shows from a sourcing perspective, especially compared to the Canton Fair, but they actually diversify the amount of suppliers that they had there. There was a lot of booths there from Turkey, from India, from Vietnam, from Korea, it was pretty cool. I mean, honestly, and a flight to Vegas is usually pretty cheap. So it was pretty cool. I mean, that’s something that I would definitely recommend. I’ll send you the dates on when those trade shows are.

Steve: Okay. Yeah, it sounds good. What about from an online perspective, though? Like, is there like some sort of directory or some central location where I can get access to a lot more of these factors that are outside of China?

Nathan: None that comes to mind. And that’s probably a pretty big, good business opportunity right there, it’s creating some sort of international Alibaba. I mean, I think Alibaba does have some facilities and factories that are outside of China. And when you search, I mean, when you search Alibaba, you can specify the country, so you could try to just specify countries that are obviously not China and see what comes up. But as far as my knowledge, there is no go to online directory that’s focused outside of China.

Steve: Okay. And is that something that you guys do though?

Nathan: We definitely do diversify company supply chains at more of an enterprise level. At a smaller scale, I would recommend like the factory confirm Chrome extension that we have, I’ll send you the link for that. It’s pretty cool tool that enables you to analyze factories in real time. But I’m happy to help. For me, I’m a former e-commerce entrepreneur myself, and now just focus on the supply chain side of the business. And that’s what I love.

Steve: I wanted to take a quick moment to tell you about a brand new service that I just like launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my business is called Gobrandwin.com, and it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And in fact, in our most recent giveaway, we managed to increase the email list size of the brands who participated by 40%. That’s right, we generated over 11,000 email subscribers, and the average list size of the companies participating in the giveaway was just 25,000.

So if that makes you excited, here’s how the service works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, you must first contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. And this is the prize for the sweepstakes. We will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one gigantic sweepstakes giveaway. All participating brands will send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base, driving them to a special landing page on Gobrandwin.com. We will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder Toni and I, we have access to almost 1000 bloggers in our database.

Consumers will enter in their email addresses; we’ll send them special offers from your company, and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes is over, you will receive the entire list of entrants and instantly grow your audience. So bottom line, the concept is very simple. And it is absolutely free. We will help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the email addresses. So if you’re interested in growing your email list, then head on over to Gobrandwin.com, that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. And once again, it is 100% free. Now back to the show.

Can you kind of describe generally I guess, what the infrastructure is like for China compared to some of the other third world countries like Pakistan, Indonesia?

Nathan: Yeah, 100%. I mean, I’ll describe the Philippines right off the bat, because I was just there last month. And it’s a lot different when you think of the infrastructure. And I would look at it from almost the freight forwarding world where in China you have FOB in Ningbo, you have Guangzhou, Hong Kong, you have all these different major ports along the coast and you can ship containers very readily out of these ports. When you look at the Philippines, pretty much every factory is shipping FOB Manila. And so what that means is that they’re transporting and they’re taking responsibility for your product because it’s FOB terms that they’re taking responsibility for your product to get it to Manila to get it to that container ship or whoever your freight forwarder there that’s picking up the container in Manila and putting it on the cargo ship or air freighting it back to your warehouse.

But there’s just not nearly as many ports that are shipping on FOB terms internationally in the Philippines or India or Thailand compared to China. And so from a logistical point perspective if you think about it from a factory side of the table, these factories are oftentimes spread out pretty far from these main ports and so they’re having to handle the transportation costs to get your product to wherever you have those FOB terms from. And I think also the other hand to if you ever get terms on DDP rates, then you’re going to have — it’s going to be harder. I remember in India most the production quotes that we get are all FOB or x works because DDP out of India, just with freight is a lot more complicated to calculate than out of China.

Steve: Can you kind of comment on the prices of some of these countries compared to try to China?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty incredible. Really, especially for the cut and saw industry, like, let’s say you’re producing any sort of fashion item or bag or any kind of cut and saw oriented product, just because the labor rates outside of China, and India or Pakistan is much less. We’re talking about like t-shirts like a nice shirt that is literally you have like $2 and 20 cents for DDP like duty to the repaid delivered t-shirt that’s got a print on it and that’s got pretty good fabric. And so some of the rates are incredible but that’s at a much larger scale. I mean, that’s a really company that’s spending close to $10 million on production. And so their rates and the margins that these factories are making are much lower.

But even then, if you can try to fit your production run in with a factory that is producing for a larger buyer, and sees the growth of your product and really likes your brand, and there’s not too much that separates the production line that they’re doing for this larger enterprise and you’re small e-commerce company, there could be great synergies to explore. And I think that’s really like the — it’s like a double edged sword. Like, it’s great that the supply chain world is so relationship based. But on the other hand, you have very little transparency. If I asked you right now, what’s the name of your factory? Like, I wouldn’t expect you to tell me, it’s just like, not that – it’s not a question that you ask other e-commerce entrepreneurs, because that’s like a trade secret, that’s a trade secret of your business.

And so I think that’s like kind of the craziness of the supply chain world in the e-commerce arena, is that like, if you see a company that’s crushing it, and they’re selling socks, and you also want to start selling socks, well, you can’t just go up to that company say, hey, who’s your factory? I also want to start selling socks. They’d be like, well, why would we tell you and they’ll probably actually try to pitch themselves as a middleman that will produce socks for you.

Steve: So, would you say in these other third world countries, that they tend to work with larger guys, like are there opportunities for some of the smaller people, or even the people that are just starting out to look there?

Nathan: There is, I mean, it’s definitely smaller facilities. I would say, from a larger level, most of the facilities that we know, that we’re connected with are bigger, but there’s definitely a lot of growth in smaller facilities there. And I think the beauty of it too, is as a e-commerce entrepreneur that’s growing and looking to extend your product categories, it’s not going to make sense for you to go work with a factory that has 10,000 employees. If they can produce a million units a month, and you’re producing 10,000 units, it’s not going to make sense for them, or for you to work together. I mean, you’re going to be the smallest fish in their pond. And it’s very unlikely that they’re going to spend that much time or give you that much attention.

And so for you, especially if you’re starting out, or just kind of starting to see some growth, it’s going to make much more sense to work with a smaller midsize factory that you can start taking up maybe 20 or 30% of their capacity with rather than just getting a percent capacity here, 5% there. I mean, really, I think the key to finding a good factory for e-commerce Company is finding one that they can grow with, finding one that they can really scale with and build a relationship with.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to get at is, what are the big disadvantages of going outside of China?

Nathan: I mean, the disadvantages are I would say just the visibility. You have really, in China, the infrastructure is very strong, you have a lot of options, there’s a lot of material sources there with different fabric markets or raw material sources. And outside of China, it’s just not as developed. You’re going to places where sometimes they don’t have good internet access; sometimes they don’t have access even to running water. I mean, it’s really sometimes a bit crazy. And you look at some photos or some of the infrastructure in countries like India or Bangladesh, I mean, there’s flooding, there’s even it was crazy, like when I was in China two weeks ago, that typhoon hit, and I was flying out of LA, and my plane was delayed three hours because the typhoon was supposed to basically hit Guangzhou and we were supposed to land.

And so you have especially outside of China, I think you are more prone to face more natural oriented disasters and more production problems. Whereas, in China, and especially if you’re working with a facility that has more inspection certificates, it’s more likely to be stable, it’s going to be a stable production environment. So you add more risks to the table. But that’s not to say you should be scared. I mean, I think it’s really important right now, especially with these tariffs in place that you are motivated and excited to explore other production opportunities.

Steve: What about the other way around? Are the Chinese tariffs on US products, is that going to affect anything?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, it’s affecting companies that are exporting to China and China selling into China. Are many e-commerce entrepreneurs doing that right now? Not necessarily. Is that a huge opportunity? Yes. I mean, I know a lot of companies that have done pretty well in China, but it takes investment. You either got to go set up your own store on TMall or Taobao or find a distributor or really try to figure it out how to hit a molder niche in the Chinese market. And I think it’s much easier said than done. If you don’t have experience selling into China and don’t know how those consumers interact with your product, it’s going to be pretty challenging.

I mean, I always find it surprising when companies ask about selling into China or other Asian countries because the market is so big and seemingly so untapped, but if you’re struggling to sell products to consumers that you know so well here in America, it’s very questionable to me how you think you can do so much better selling products in China, if you don’t know that market at all.

Steve: Okay, I mean, we’ve been talking a lot about Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, but what are your thoughts on sourcing in the US at this point?

Nathan: I mean, sourcing the US is an option that should be explored. I think that the costs are definitely going to be higher; the experience can be hit or miss. You definitely have a lot of US facilities that are going to give you sometimes even a worse experience than you would get producing abroad, but I think at the end of the day, it comes down to cost and your margin. And if you’re spending 30% more to produce your products here in America, and your brand doesn’t revolve around that made in America aesthetic, it’s probably not going to make sense for you as an e-commerce entrepreneur because if you’re spending 30% more to produce these products than your competitors, well then you can’t have that cost per acquisition that these other companies can take in because their margin is 30% higher than yours.

Steve: I guess with the 25% tariffs coming down, that might even things out a little bit.

Nathan: Yeah, but I mean, well, here’s what I would say though too, is in the e-commerce world, I would say, outside of your brand, really what it comes down to is your margin. If I know that I can produce my products for let’s say, even 10% less than you can, then I can go spend 10% more to acquire a customer while staying profitable. Whereas, you can’t spend that 10% more because you’re spending 10% more to produce your product than I am.

Steve: Where are some places that you would go to find US manufacturers?

Nathan: There’s sites like Thomasnet, there’s Makers Row is American based manufacturing marketplace that it’s pretty cool. Those are the two main sites that come to mind, Makers Row and Thomasnet. And that’s definitely some options that I would look into. I mean, I think there’s definitely opportunity to potentially produce in America, but I would first explore outside of China and other countries in Asia.

Steve: Okay, so Nathan to kind of conclude this little talk that we’re having here, where do you see things going looking one year out just your own personal predictions?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, one year out, I would say companies that are smart are going to diversify their supply chain outside of China. I think China in general has gotten more expensive. I mean, when we started exploring production outside of China almost two years ago for some of the companies we work with, there was so much just amazement, because it’s really ripe with opportunity. When I look outside of China, when I look at countries like India, or the Philippines or Thailand, it almost reminds me of China 10 years ago, when companies were really starting to scale up there, and the infrastructure was just starting to grow.

So I assume, and I think that companies are going to continue to transition production outside of China. I don’t, I honestly don’t think there’s going to be a huge shift of production back into America. And I do think these tariffs are going to affect a lot of consumers, a lot of American companies, and even Chinese factories.

Steve: Can you real quick comment on these other countries outside of China, and what kind of their specialties are? So you mentioned like cut and saw, and was that the Philippines or Pakistan? Do these countries have some sort of specialty?

Nathan: Yeah, so Pakistan, India can be great for leather, a lot of cut and saw fabrics, basically any textiles or bags, sometimes hats, shoes, you can produce across India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. I would say more electronic oriented products; it’s going to be very hard to diversify your products outside of China. That area around Shenzhen, it’s just so good for producing electronics that I don’t really know anywhere else in the world that has that capability like that. But for other products, sun glasses I think are mostly in China, and even kind of all those little types of gadgets, those kind of small price products, it’s all done around Yiwu and it’s going to be pretty hard to diversify those outside of China. But there definitely are some hidden gems out there. And I really encourage people to look for production opportunities outside of China.

Steve: So it sounds like the primary opportunities outside of China are in the textile space.

Nathan: Yeah, textile, handbags, bags, backpacks, all that.

Steve: Okay. And if you sell electronics, China is probably going to be the place to be. What about plastics?

Nathan: Plastics, you can do some like injection molding in Vietnam, in India. China is definitely still really good for plastics, but there are opportunities to explore outside of China.

Steve: Okay, cool. Nathan, this is a very enlightening talk. Where can people find you if they have questions for you besides on TV and MSN?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, they can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter, Nathan Resnick, and feel free to check out Sourcify. We’re the fastest growing B2B manufacturing platform that helps hundreds of companies produce products around the world. And I really appreciate you having me on today.

Steve: Cool. Thanks for coming on.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. And even if you don’t currently sell online, these latest rounds of tariffs will actually affect everyone. And if you do sell online, you better have an alternate sourcing plan going forward. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode229.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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228: Improving Email Deliverability And Powerful New Klaviyo Features With Jake Cohen

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Improving Email Deliverability And Powerful New Klaviyo Features With Jake Cohen

Recently, I attended Klaviyo’s first ever email marketing conference in Boston and while I was there, I recorded a bunch of podcasts. Today’s episode is with Jake Cohen who is the director product at Klaviyo and an expert on email deliverability.

In this episode, we discuss some of the awesome features Klaviyo just released but the best part are the nuggets that Jake provides on how to improve your email deliverability. These are strategies that I was not aware of and I’m definitely going to change things up.

What You’ll Learn

  • Klaviyo’s new feature that will allow you to track any parameter to trigger email campaigns
  • How to improve your email deliverability
  • How to dynamically change up your set depending on customer behavior
  • How often you should prune your list

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com –  Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store.  Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date.  Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.

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Privy.com –  Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store.  They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget.   Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.

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Pickfu.com –  Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings.  By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points,  you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions.  Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference!  Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business.  Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now recently I attended Klaviyo’s first ever email marketing conference in Boston. And while I was there, I recorded a bunch of podcasts. And today’s episode is with Jake Cohen, who’s the Director of Product over at Klaviyo and he’s actually an expert on email deliverability.

And in this episode, we discuss some of the awesome new features that Klaviyo just released. But the best part of the show to be honest with you, are the nuggets that Jake provides on how to improve your email deliverability. These are actually things that I did not know. And I’m going to be changing up some of my email strategies for sure after this interview.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now they’re a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my Klaviyo to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. I’m always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are my email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Right now Klaviyo has a special offer to help ecommerce businesses like yours prepare for the holiday season. From planning your email schedule to creating powerful holiday target segments, Klaviyo is actually offering their expertise for free.

So go to Klaviyo.com/BSCM and sign up for a free holiday strategy assessment. This assessment will be geared towards the needs of your business, chock full of strategies and tactics that will help you make more money, so sign up now for free at KLAVIYO.com/BSCM, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today is day two of the Klaviyo conference in Boston and I was lucky enough to have Jake Cohen with us from Klaviyo. He gave an excellent keynote this morning on the brand new features that Klaviyo is introducing. And just to be upfront with you guys, normally I don’t actually go on a podcast and talk about new features of just some random tool. But I really felt that these brand new features are actually very compelling and it actually makes Klaviyo like light years ahead of anyone else that’s out there and I have the man himself here to explain these features. And one thing okay, I just want to start with this one feature that really made me excited.

Jake: Sure.

Steve: It was the custom objects. And I’m a geek, right. I’m an engineer and what this feature is, and I’ll let you elaborate but it basically allows you as a store owner to pass any arbitrary information over to Klaviyo that you can then use to trigger email campaigns and actually have the data that you pass through. And so…

Jake: Nailed it.

Steve: If you could just provide some like practical applications of this in case I got too technical for the audience there.

Jake: Yeah, I’ll try to not get more technical, teasy with that kind of thing. Great summary by the way, that was really good. You’re totally hired. Yeah, that’s the idea, right? So when we’ve talked to a lot of different customers and there’s these kind of buckets of information that they have that they want to use in their marketing. So you’ve got your customer data, things you know about different people, your sales data, and then your marketing engagement data. And then there’s this kind of other bucket, which is it tends to be very business specific. Probably the most common thing which we talked about today is gift cards.

And so like lots of businesses have gift cards, it’s a great way to get some revenue in before you know what you want to buy. But what ends up happening a lot of times is people will get a gift card, but they won’t necessarily spend all of it or they’ll forget that they have it right.

Steve: And is that a problem though? If they forget that they have it then…

Jake: Well, so here’s the interesting thing, maybe not, right. So that’s breakage is what you’re talking about. Breakage isn’t necessarily bad. You don’t have to give anything away, you got cash. Sure, I know that that’s like a viable long term business strategy. People don’t ultimately spend money. But it’s certainly not the worst problem you could have. Instead, what we found when we talk to store owners, is that when someone has a gift card, there’s certainly a percentage of people that only spend that gift card amount, and then pay for shipping. But a larger percentage of people actually use it to buy more items than they would have in the past to try more things.

And in that case, you start to build the relationship where someone can try your inventory, try your products; hopefully, they said they liked it, because you have good products, and then they come back and buy again. And the gift card just kind of makes it easier to start that next phase of the relationship where they become a purchaser.

Steve: Okay, so what is this customer object API? How does that solve the gift card problem and getting them to redeem the card?

Jake: Yeah, so gift cards are objects is the technical term. And the way this API works is, you can pass us anything you want. So you can say, like, I want to share with you that there is a gift card, when it was created, how much is on it, and the last time that the value changed. And so what you could do is, when you pass that over to us, what we do is we expose that in the UI. So without being someone who is an engineer that’s looking through all the different databases and writing, command line scripts to try and get stuff out, you can literally say, hey, I want to trigger a flow when the amount of the gift card changes. And then you want to say, like, hey, I noticed you spent something, and you could put a filter and say, if the gift card value is above zero in 30 days, I want to send an email and say, like, hey, you have this much money left, and put some recommended products right in the email.

And so what ends up happening is you’re taking into account this very specific piece of information about your business, and you’re creating an opportunity, a moment to help your customer basically benefit, because they forgot about something, and they’re going to save some money on their next purchase.

Steve: And I would imagine that there’s scarcity in this gift card. And chances are people are going to spend more than what’s on the gift card, right?

Jake: That’s what we find yeah.

Steve: And that’s really powerful. And I would imagine, once this is out, there’s going to be just all these Shopify apps and whatnot that automatically take advantage of this, right. So really, there’s not going to be any coding involved.

Jake: For like a store owner.

Steve: For like a store owner.

Jake: No, in fact, the way that we’ve designed the feature — so what — there’s only a limited time when I’m up there so I can only share so much. One of the things that’s part of this work is we’ve extended the flows feature, the template editor and the different campaigns too so that you can automatically select for example, a trigger from a custom object to start a flow. So as soon as the data is in right, you can access it through the regular UI that you would have within Klaviyo and you can just like easily whip that up and take advantage of it in the same way that you would from a placed order event or any other piece of information.

Steve: So just to be clear for the audience members who aren’t familiar with Klaviyo, what Jake is saying here is that once Klaviyo has this gift card information, you can actually whenever someone makes a purchase and deduction that you’ve card, you can actually use that as an event to trigger an email autoresponder sequence…

Jake: That’s right.

Steve: To get them to buy more.

Jake: As one example yeah.

Steve: Just as a simple example yeah, but it’s going to be a lot more powerful than that for geeks like me, especially.

Jake: Yeah.

Steve: You call me geek?

Jake: No.

Steve: Okay. So the other thing that I thought that…

Jake: Me too, we’re in good company.

Steve: Yeah. The other thing I thought that was actually really cool was the analytics, the additional analytics of Klaviyo. I know there’s a whole bunch of slides.

Jake: Yeah.

Steve: I don’t know if you want to just kind of give a brief overview of what you think that the majority of store owners out there will be concerned about.

Jake: Yeah, so this is — I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think in April of this year, maybe March or April of this year, we got a lot of feedback, we did like a big poll with all of our customers. And we were like; if you could change one thing about Klaviyo and make it better what would it be? And like resoundingly, it was reporting. People were like, man, you just can’t see anything in the product, you have all my data, you make it impossible to see. And we were like, we most definitely need to solve that.

So the customizable analytics feature, which is when you come on the dashboard, there’s a series of tabs, one of them is analytics. We designed it in a way that’s completely customizable. So we’ve built some default dashboard. So we’ll show you the things that we think are important, so you don’t have to work very hard. But if you’re specific about seeing the data that you want, within a certain time interval, or a certain time range, or you want to see certain metrics that matter to you most in a certain order, like if you can just drag it all around and switch everything up you want and like you’re done.

And so, we’re actually really excited about this, because if you look around at other platforms that sort of give you some reporting on how things perform, there’s one of two problems. The first problem is it’s incomplete. So you don’t really get good views, you get some views. And then you’re like, hey, what should I do? And they say, oh, well, you can export a CSV and spend your life in Excel. And then you can find what you want, which is not helpful, or it’s a very technical experience, where you have to basically understand how to work within a Redshift cluster and write cron jobs that are going to go like clean everything up and then automatically work with a visualizing tool so you can go see and it’s like, who the heck wants to do all that stuff, right?

And so we tried to take approach where, like, you don’t have to work hard, and you can be as flexible as you want. And what we also announced which is coming which I’m really pumped about is the Report Builder. So as an extension of customizable analytics, you can just see what you need to see. We think there’s kind of this other bucket of analytics where people have these sort of more sophisticated, more robust, more specific questions. So they want to know hey, when someone buys – I’m making up an example, if someone buy shoes first, what’s the thing that they most often buy next?

It’s actually really hard to understand without buying some other service that’s going to integrate all your stuff and then it’s like crazy, but we already have all the information. So, we just have to give you guys an experience where you can basically select a couple of inputs to get a report out. And what I didn’t announce because it’s coming later is we’ll add visualizations to that too. And so eventually you’ll get this experience where you can have a really sophisticated question, you can store that and then you can go see it anywhere you want, and so it becomes a really dynamic experience where all your data is at your fingertips and it will tell you anything that you want to know, you just have to ask.

So just for the benefit of the e-commerce users out there, Klaviyo actually has all your data, all your sales data about everything a customer purchased when and how. And I teach a class on this and a lot of people just use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is actually very complicated to extract information, and it’s often incomplete too because sometimes like the pixel doesn’t fire and then Google might not get the data whereas Klaviyo has all the real data. And what they’ve essentially done and I’m just paraphrasing…

Jake: Yeah, that’s clever.

Steve: Is that they’ve allowed you to extract all of your sales information and generate your own reports and it’s just really powerful, and you have infinite freedom to look at whatever key component that you’re looking at. Jake used the example of shoes, maybe you can say hey, tell me what other products were bought with shoes, all that stuff you can just generate reports on the fly and get accurate data for.

Jake: Nailed it yet again [overlapping 00:11:27].

Steve: Wonderful. And then okay so one thing I was kind of excited about was your new lifetime value of customer features. And the main reason I’m interested in that is because in the past I’ve created custom audiences of my best customers, but sometimes a little haphazard right? I send that over to Facebook and I run ads, but because Klaviyo has hired this data analytics group, I guess, is it…

Jake: The data science.

Steve: Data science team right, they can now predict based on customer behavior how much money a particular customer is going to spend in their lifetime. And then you can create segments in your email for this and then use that for Facebook ads to create lookalike audiences. I’ll let you explain since I’m clearly not the expert, I’m just — all this stuff I’m talking about is what I gathered from your presentation.

Jake: Yeah. No, no, no, it’s great. So yeah, so we hired — yeah, this data science team, they’re awesome. And there’s a series of really, really good blog posts that they publish, that explains the models that they created, the experiments that they went through, how they went to figure this out, because it’s a bit of it, it’s kind of a journey, it’s a little bit of a wild west industry where everyone says they have the answer. But it’s math, right. So it’s like, let’s publish the math and let’s talk about it and make sure it’s right. And so that’s the approach that these guys take, which I love.

What they basically figured out is if you look across the aggregation of customers within your account, the likelihood that any of them will spend, how much they spend, and how frequently you can distill that and apply it to an individual profile to help understand how you specifically might spend. And so what they’ve done is made projections for the next year for every single profile in your account of what they’re going to spend.

And what we do is when you want to gather that information; we compute it on the fly every time you want, because every time there’s a purchase, or a new customer, the model changes the results. So it’s the most up to date information every second that you go use it as opposed to something gets stored and stale after a long period of time. So that’s how it works.

Steve: What do you see are some main practical applications that store owners can use with this information?

Jake: The one that I like the best, which is one of the ones we talked about is you can take your predicted lifetime value, this is exactly — okay, here are a set of steps of what I would do right now. If I was running a store, number one, I would take, I’ll create a segment of all the profiles in my account, which is just email address has an ad sign in it. I would export that and I would select all the predictive analytics. Once I had that out, I would look at what the average lifetime value is, and then I would take the top 20%, when you spend it out, I’d figure out what that number is, and I’d build a segment of anyone who’s predicted lifetime value is above that number.

Once I had that, I would do exactly what you said, I’d integrate with my Facebook ads account, I would turn that into a custom audience, I’d build a look like audience and I would target them with an offer to try and get them to come into my store if I did offers, if I did just, whatever, some call to action to acquire them. And I track how that’s performing over time. And like, guarantee you’re going to get some good people that way. And these are going to be like your best customers long term, who will buy from you over and over and over again?

Steve: Yep. And I would imagine you would also send out an email campaign to those people alongside of the Facebook ads, right?

Jake: So it’s a more loaded question. It depends on what your campaign strategy is. I probably would not recommend just like, here’s your list, go send something. Again, our sort of big vibe, and spirit here is like, you want to build more personal connections over time. What I might want to do is, if I were having a big sale, or a big product launch, where I was going to talk to every single one of my people anyways, sure, I might stagger my campaigns. And I might start with these top spenders and see how much revenue I can generate just focusing on them and have the content speak to hey, we noticed that you’re an amazing customer and we appreciate all your business. And so we’re literally sharing this with you first, and everyone else is going to get it next week.

So like limited supply, get it while it’s hot, and I bet you’ll see a lot that way, then you can start to open it up to everyone else. And yeah.

Steve: One thing that I’ve noticed in terms of deliverability is if I email someone who’s much more likely to open an email, then my overall deliverability works better. So what I do is I email the guys who really love me, and then the guys who are less engaged I know, like at some point later, I would imagine you can apply that here as well right? Email your highest lifetime value customers first.

Jake: Yeah. So this is cool. I’m the deliverability guy and so you’re. This is perfect; we’ve unlocked this amazing treasure chest of fun things.

Steve: I hope the audience is interested Jake, so let’s not – we could go all day on this.

Jake: Okay, yeah, so the thing that’s interesting, that’s a little bit counterintuitive about deliverability, so this is when the inbox clients make a determination as to whether or not to deliver your message. The inbox clients don’t know anything about your sales, and they don’t care. And so, what’s fascinating about this is we as store owners are like, but wait a second, someone who buys from us is obviously interested, they’re obviously engaged. But from an email perspective, they might never open an email. And in fact, you could be harming your deliverability by sending to people purely on the basis of whether or not they’re a customer and not on the basis of whether or not they engage with your the emails, because the inbox providers don’t know.

And so in fact, if your letter of the law of deliverability, which is a little bit extreme, but for theoretical applications, good to know, if you’re going by the letter of the law of deliverability, your sales data doesn’t matter. So it’s just straight open rates, just straight, well, opens. And so, and it gets even more complex, and I have a blog post about this, that explains like the secrets of each different inbox client, what signals they look for, how to…

Steve: Okay, send me the link; I’ll link it up in the show notes.

Jake: Yeah, totally. Different inbox providers, sort of like signal different things. And so for example, Hotmail, if you send to people who have not opened in the last six months, they will flag you, and they will start to penalize your placement, because what they do is they look at engagement over that time period, not really granularity beyond that. Gmail is much, much, much more sophisticated. And so what they’ll do is if let’s say you’re a daily sender, if you send every day for 7, 14, 21days, and someone doesn’t open, they’ll penalize you for that person. And if there are a lot of people like that, they’ll penalize you overall. And only has to do with opens.

And so like the best practice, and we’ve got some articles about this too, is to include in your segmentation some logic that says, like, has opened within the last depending on how frequently you send three, four or five, six months, and that will make sure that there are people who are generally engaged, so that you’ll stay out of deliverability trouble.

Steve: Okay, do you send to those people first or do you intermix them in with your…

Jake: Again, it’s kind of like how strategic you want to get. You could, there are some people that like, just don’t send campaigns to people unless they’ve opened, and they let their automated flows take care of making sure these people start to engage. Because where you get into trouble is, if you send campaigns all the time, or to a large number of people, but you’re sending to people that haven’t opened lately, that’s going to have enough signal, enough volume that the inbox is going to look at you as a sender and go, you’re bad. Your flows have a higher likelihood of being opened; always have higher open rates, because they’re triggered by events that your customers go through.

And so a really, really clean strategy is you sign up a — you hook up a welcome series to a form and people start to open that. And when they open, they make their way into the segment that has the criteria has opened recently, and you can start to send those campaigns. And then you can create a flow that is sent only to people haven’t opened a long time offering them something to try and get them back into the cycle of stuff that you can send all the time. And that’s a really clean way to keep high engagement, really good positive deliverability and make sure that your emails get in front of the people who have to see it.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Pickfu for being a sponsor of the show. If you currently sell on Amazon like I do, then you know how crucial the quality of your Amazon listing is to the success of your e-commerce business. So for example, I’ve run experiments on my Amazon listings, where simply replacing the main image with a different photo resulted in a 2X increase in conversions. But how do you choose the best and highest converting photos for your listings? How do you know that you’re using the most profitable images for your products? And how do you know that your bullet points are convincing? This is where Pickfu comes in.

Pickfu allows you to solicit real human feedback about your Amazon listings in 10 minutes or less. And you can target the exact demographic of your end customer. So for example, let’s say you sell napkins and you have two main product images that you want to test. You would simply go to Pickfu, list the images, target female Amazon Prime members over the age of 35 and hit go. Within 10 minutes you’ll get feedback of which image people are more likely to buy along with specific feedback on why they made their decision.

In fact, I’ve used Pickfu to almost double the conversion rate on several of my Amazon listings by testing my images, bullet points, and product titles. And what I like about Pickfu is that you get results quickly unlike traditional split testing, and you can use this to test book covers, landing pages, basically anything. Not only that, but it’s super cheap to run a poll and right now you can get 50% off your first poll by going to Pickfu.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-I-C-K-F-U.com/Steve. Now back to the show.

Okay, that’s fantastic. I did not know that.

Jake: Oh, yeah.

Steve: You didn’t even cover this in the speech this morning.

Jake: Other stuff.

Steve: This is the other stuff. Well, let’s go back to some of the cool features that actually destruct my eye. One of them was the ability to actually change your store, depending on behavior within Klaviyo, right. So I think the example you used was, if it’s a guy and I ended up shopping, and I signed up shopping for men’s clothing, the next time I come on, I am shown men’s clothing.

Jake: Oh, you mean the dynamic web personalization.

Steve: Yeah. So how does that work exactly?

Jake: So this isn’t released yet. This is the next big thing that we’re working on. But the way it will work is using the information that we collect on your behalf about people, whether they’re men, whether they’re women, whether they’ve looked at certain products, or purchased certain products or certain collections, that kind of stuff, our recommendation engine will pull out, and this works for emails today, we’ll pull out some of the products that we think fit for that person. And it roughly works by pulling best selling products, excluding stuff that they’ve purchased in the past, and then reordering it based off of stuff that they looked at, or purchased.

And what will happen is, depending on the logic that you set up, when someone comes to your site, we’ll know who you are, because we will have cookied you, and you will have signed up, and we’ll have this information. And you could have a widget kind of show up on your screen that says, hey Steve, we recommend the following things, we think these are right for you. And so as a consumer, you have this experience where you feel like someone is actually doing some hand-picking if you will off products that are right for you to both increase the personal experience that the store can give you, but also increase the likelihood that you buy it, which is good for the store too.

Steve: Cool. So this feature is not released it yet? Do you have any, like preliminary data from live shops that you kind of bating this with?

Jake: No, we’re in the design phase with this right now. So the feature that we talked about this morning, where you can target list and segments for forms, there are some really rich underlying technology there that’s going to be used for the onsite personalization. So, we’re designing the right experience to get this live right now. But we’ve got the sort of core tech in place to make it happen. And so that’s where it’s at, we expect it will be coming out in the month — next, probably, like one to four or five months, something like that.

Steve: Okay, Jake, the reason why I’ve been kind of rushing through this interview a little bit is because I know you have to speak in a little bit.

Jake: Yeah.

Steve: Do you know how much time you have left?

Jake: What time is it?

Steve: It’s 3:11 right now.

Jake: 3:11?

Steve: Yeah.

Jake: I probably have to go.

Steve: Probably okay.

Jake: Let’s do a couple more minutes.

Steve: A couple of minutes, okay. So I want to get back to deliverability because it actually applies to everyone who’s listening.

Jake: Cool.

Steve: So you mentioned that one flow where you’re using your automated flows to determine who you should send a campaign to. Are there any other tips that you have to improve deliverability?

Jake: Honestly, there’s two things. One, every three or six months, there’s a pretty healthy group of profiles that you should probably suppress, which means like unsubscribe, like not send to anymore. This is, in my experience working with people, it’s really hard because you’re like, ah, but there’s like missing value in these people. They might buy something. And if I send a campaign, maybe one day, they’ll buy something. And it’s like, maybe, but probably not. And so it’s a good idea to build a segment of people that you’ve sent, I don’t know, 20 emails to in the past two years, but haven’t opened any, and they’re just gone, you know what I mean? And suppress those people.

And the reason is when you send to them, it’s a huge signal to the inbox providers that you’re not cleaning your list. And I go to this conference called M3AAWG. It’s the — what is it, the Mail Messaging Anti Abuse Working Group.

Steve: That sounds pretty geeky.

Jake: It’s super geeky. It’s like the extreme gray beard under lords of email around the world, like get together and decide what to do with email. It’s wild, but they’re literally looking for ways to penalize senders that don’t respect in boxes. And so if you just think about earning the right to send the message and removing people who don’t want it, and being respectful, you’ll be in great shape. And the second thing I’d say is like, actually, don’t worry about it that much.

If you use Klaviyo, we have some very high quality shared infrastructure that we have our sender send on and we are monitoring automatically every single send from every single person that we remove bad senders and promote good ones. So, we have huge volume and great relationships with the ESPs like, it’s just not something you should stress about if you’re respecting in boxes, you’ll be in good shape.

Steve: So what you’re saying is when you’re sending to people who aren’t opening, that will affect your overall deliverability. Is there some sort of best practice on who these guys that you prune, what are the rules that you’re using to suppress?

Jake: It kind of depends on how frequently you send, but like a good — like you can’t go wrong type of a segment is people who have received 10 plus emails in the last two years and opened none.

Steve: Okay, just get rid of them, that sounds like pretty conservative.

Jake: Yeah, it’s very, very conservative. You won’t like harm your business really materially in that way. And like you’ll help your deliverability. Something that’s really interesting, Josh was on a panel yesterday, he works with JackThreads. He tells a story, they had 16 million email addresses and then realized that they were all unengaged and eventually had to go down from 16 million to 5 million to 1.1 million to 300,000 to 30,000 email addresses is all they had left.

Steve: Ouch.

Jake: And then they’ve built their list back up to 300,000. He’s making more money today with 300,000 emails than he was with 16 million.

Steve: That’s crazy.

Jake: Because along the way, he got mass blocked by Gmail and put immediately in the spam folder, every single email because he wasn’t respecting the inbox. And now – oops, that’s mine, I got to go. Now he’s the biggest fan boy in the world of making sure that you respect the inbox and you send to people who want it because it works.

Steve: Okay, well Jake, I’m going to let you go. You got one last talk and then you’re home free right?

Jake: Yeah, this is — I mean I could do this all day, it is my favorite thing in the world to do, this is like vacation for me.

Steve: All right man. Well, Jake, I really appreciate your time.

Jake: Likewise, thanks for having me.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. As you can probably tell from the interview, Jake is a total email geek and his insights on deliverability really blew me away. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode228.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. And right now they’re offering free consulting, so head on over to Klaviyo.com/bfcm to sign up for free. Once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/bfcm.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now, I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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227: Email Marketing Takeaways From Klaviyo Con With Austin Brawner And Toni Anderson

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227: Email Marketing Takeaways From Klaviyo Con With Austin Brawner And Toni Anderson

A few weeks ago, I attended Klaviyo’s first ever email marketing conference and it was an amazing event. In this episode I go over some of my key takeaways from day 1 along with Toni Anderson and Austin Brawner of Ecommerce Influence.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to create optin forms to attract higher LTV customers
  • Is giving away coupon codes for an email a good idea any more?
  • Some overall statistics for email optin rates
  • Creative ways to gather email addresses
  • How to improve open rates and click through rates
  • How to improve email conversion rates
  • Do text based emails outperform html emails?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com –  Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store.  Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date.  Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.

Klaviyo

Privy.com –  Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store.  They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget.   Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.

Privy

Pickfu.com –  Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings.  By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points,  you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions.  Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference!  Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business.  Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Intro: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. Now last week I attended Klaviyo’s first ever email marketing conference in Boston with my partner, Toni Anderson. And there, we actually met up with Austin Brawner of the Ecommerce Influence podcast and decided to record a couple of sessions together. Now in today’s episode, we do a breakdown of day one of the conference including some key email marketing takeaways of the day.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. And I like Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email. Klaviyo is easily the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And actually at the Klaviyo conference, I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO Ben face to face as well. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And what does Privy do? Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all my email capture forms. Now they’re a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms for you, but I like privy because they specialize in e-commerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. We are broadcasting from Klaviyo conference in Boston. And what was cool is I didn’t think that I was going to actually know anyone here, but it turns out my buddy Austin Brawner is here speaking and I brought my business partner Toni Anderson with me. And what we’re going to do today is we are going to do a recap of day one of the event and kind of go over some key takeaways because we attended quite a few sessions between the three of us. And we’re just going to talk about what we learned.

So I will start first. And one thing that surprised me was one of the things that – I can’t remember, one of the Klaviyo guys got up there and he said that the wheel of fortune is bad, right. And I was curious about it. And he showed some other good examples of opt in forms. And they were giving away coupon codes without any context either. So you have this wheel of fortune, which also gives out coupon codes, and then you have a good example of a coupon code. It just didn’t quite make sense to me because if you’re giving out a coupon code, no matter what, then shouldn’t those two things be equivalent. I don’t know, do you guys have an opinion on that?

Austin: So yeah, I totally agree. It’s an interesting point. And I think with the wheel of fortune, the wheel to type options, where I feel like people run into trouble is setting them and forgetting to clean your list, right? Like, it doesn’t really matter if you are bringing people in from a discount that’s static or a discount that’s spinning. The one that’s spinning is probably going to attract more emails. But if it does attract more emails, you need to clean your email list or you’re going to get in trouble. And you’re going to have a bunch of emails that bounce and junk and that sort of thing.

Steve: Right. It actually kind of goes back to the philosophy earlier of like single versus double opt in. I’d rather get the emails upfront, put them through a sequence, and then prune as opposed to potentially driving someone away in the beginning, or using something that’s less high converting and then letting it go. I don’t know. Do you have an opinion Toni?

Toni: Well, I thought it was interesting. As soon as I saw that slide, I wrote a note, ask Steve about wheel of fortune, because I know it’s something that you’ve talked about a lot.

Steve: Yeah, I had great results with it. So yeah.

Toni: And I haven’t used it. But I use a pop up with a discount. And that’s actually my highest converting flow in my all of my flows. So I actually I didn’t see there was much of a difference either. I find the wheel of fortune annoying personally as a shopper. And I think because you talked about it maybe and other people, it’s everywhere now.

Steve: That’s true. Yes, I have mentioned it on the podcast. And then all of a sudden, like, I see all these stores using it.

Toni: Well, and I wonder how much of it is maybe saturation.

Steve: Probably now. In the beginning, when it was a novelty item, it worked really well. Like, I think my email sales got boosted by like 130% or something like that when I first started using it.

Austin: Sure. I think it’s a great tool. But it comes down to like everything with email capture; it all comes down to what your offer is. And it doesn’t really matter the technology that you’re using. It’s like are you providing quality offer? Are you making sure that the emails you get are quality afterwards, are you checking them and just monitoring your open rate? Because you don’t want to have poor open rates that lead to down the road issues with deliver ability. But yeah, no, I think the biggest thing is just focus on your offer. That’s the most important when it comes to email capture.

Steve: Cool. And then one thing that I just jotted down here in case the audience is interested, the median opt in rate for an email form according to Klaviyo stats was 1.8%. And then the top 10% of opt in forms opt in at 6.5%. And the decay rate per month is somewhere on the order of 1.4% of people kind of drop off your list on a monthly basis. So, I thought those stats were surprising. I think my top email form is at like 3% or something like that. So I’m obviously not in the top 10%.

Austin: I get the privilege of taking a look at a lot of different email opt ins, and for different businesses I work with. So the best I’ve seen consistently is 12% opt in rate. And so, I’m going to talk a little bit about this in my presentation tomorrow. Generally, well I have seen above 10% a couple of times. And both of them were with quizzes that were highly relevant to what the outcome people wanted to get. So both of these were quizzes related to skincare. And they would rate people. You can get your skin — like your skin or reading and ask people — that’s something that’s very much important to people that they’re looking for skincare, they can get a better idea of what products they need. They go through a quiz, and then from there they can get directed to the correct product. So those are the things I’ve seen that are kind of the most effective.

Steve: I can see that working really well because you want to know what your skin type is so you can buy the product. So it’s actually providing some value in a way, right?

Austin: It’s providing value, and also delivers the product that is perfect for you at the end of the quiz. It’s like a perfect little fit in certain products that will actually work.

Steve: I know for me, this whole coupon pop up thing is already getting saturated. I feel like any store that I go on instantly has a coupon pop up these days. And so I’ve been mixing it up over the years. I actually had an EBook that I was delivering. So if someone’s looking at handkerchiefs, I had a crafts eBook, if someone was looking at napkins, I had a napkin folding eBook. And then when I did the wheel of fortune it jammed. And maybe it’s time to move back to the old school way now that the coupon thing is getting really saturated again, I don’t know. It shifts over time.

Toni: One of the things in that same session he talked about was the, I think they called it a welcome mat where it takes over the whole screen. And actually that for me as a shopper causes me to immediately not want to be on the site. He is trunk Club, which is a completely different user experience. But I’m wondering, Austin, in your experience, how do those work, because as a shopper I find them, I’ll click off the page almost immediately.

Austin: So I think it’s always dangerous to think about what you as a shopper do because I feel the same. I have not; I don’t really open that many emails. I’m not a big — I despise my email inbox even though I’m the person helping people send thousands of emails. And so, for me they’ve always worked very well like taking over the page and delivering. But again, it goes back to has to be quality offer. So you’re not going to go away from the page if it’s something that you really want. If it’s just an annoying bad offer, we’re going to give you 5% off for your next purchase; it’s going to be annoying.

If it’s something super relevant, a good example I’ve seen a client I worked with for a while this, they had a discount and they sell national park maps. They are really beautiful, custom designed. They had a discount offer for a while and then they actually switched that up to a giveaway for a park pass for the national parks. And it was way more aligned with what their customers were looking for. And it was one of those things where they could stick it right in front of people and deliver it in kind of an abrasive way, but people were like, okay, well, actually, I do want a national park’s annual pass. It sounds awesome. I’ll put my email in and also it didn’t cost anything for them except for one pass a month, which is way cheaper than giving 15% off.

Steve: Oh yeah, it’s a good idea. Yeah, one thing — there was one example in the presentation. I think it was — was it a shoe club or something? I was sitting next to you and I think what they do is they try to get you on a subscription. But they give you $20 towards a gift card first, and then you pay $20. But essentially they’re getting on the list and there are essentially making you pay money right up front for a subscription. This is only for shoe fanatics. And then at the same time, you’re attracting lifelong customers who are really into shoes that will buy over and over again. So I thought that was really clever.

One other key takeaway I had that was pretty clever, which is something that I’m actually not doing right now, there are a bunch of emails on my list that have not opened in a very long time. And the first thought is to send them a win back campaign. And I have, but still no one opens, right, because you haven’t opened in a long period of time. And so one takeaway that I got was that you can just create a custom audience, add those guys and run them on Facebook ads to try to get them back because clearly, they’re not opening your emails. So you might want to try a different channel. Any other takeaways from you guys?

Austin: I think my biggest takeaway from the sessions in day one is how important it is to focus on your product and make sure — so there was a presentation the second half of day one, which was about customer loyalty and about — put on by smile.iOS. And they were talking about the experience that people have with your product, and how if you’re competing, there’s a realm of confidence that Amazon has that you just should not be competing in. That’s price, convenience, and select in like selection. If you’re competing on any of those things, you’re going to lose; you’re just going to lose. They’re better at it than you, they’ve been doing it for longer, they’re going to continue, they’ve got more resources in you.

So, my biggest takeaway is just to take a look at whatever you’re selling, and look at the product and say, is this truly something that is unique, is it quality? Is it outside those three things that Amazon specializes in? And can we compete on experience versus price selection and convenience, because the long term even the short term really, you’re going to lose if you’re competing on those three things.

Steve: I agree. And in a way, that is why with my store at least, we’ve kind of doubled down on the personalization. And we emphasize fast turnaround times and will basically take care of the phone; you have a human that you can contact about the personalization to go back and forth with. And even though Amazon does have that, it’s less personal. And so it’s a pain in the butt to handle personalized orders. But the profit margins are very high. It’s just one of those things where if you put a little extra effort, it kind of differentiates your company, and that’s how you differentiate yourself from Amazon. And I think for us, actually, the other stuff that we sell to be quite honest, will probably become commodities except for that. So that’s why we double down on it.

Toni: I think we’ve all been in Mike Jackness talks about email marketing. And he in ColorIt emails people, I mean I think there’s like 90 some emails in his flow. When we were listening to — I can’t remember his name this afternoon, but he talked about same…

Austin: Mike Gracewicz from Taylor. It’s a really tough last name, but he’s from Taylor Stitch.

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: And he talked about looking at your customer buying cycle. So are they buying like at 30 days and 60 days? Then why are you emailing them for seven, eight months? And that was actually something interesting that I started thinking about, because I took Mike’s advice and I have a fairly long email sequence as well. But I might change it up now and work on some of that segmentation that he talked about in his session.

Austin: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. He also made another point about — somebody asked the question, what do your emails look like? And he responded, he was like, well, they’re generally just one image in a panel direct to that product. He’s like, for a long time, our designer continually wanted to make these beautiful long emails. But I kept looking at the click map and everyone was just clicking on the first thing. So he changed it up and he had the designer, he’s like, I’d rather you make five emails rather than one big long, beautiful one. And let’s send those five emails to spend way less time, and his results have been the same. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point.

Also, the other thing that he mentioned around welcome series, which a lot of people, this happens to I think most businesses; most of the revenue is going to come from that initial email, right? Somebody ops in, most of the revenue, maybe 80% is going to come from that initial email. And sometimes people will invest too much energy in the fives, like the remaining five emails after the first email, when the one that’s moving the needle is that first one. Until you’re really, really large, doing like millions of dollars a month, a lot of your energy is best spent on higher leverage activities than tweaking emails.

Steve: Do you have an example of what you mean for that first email? Now, how do you focus on that first email? Like, what are some things that you can do?

Austin: Well, I think — so the examples that he gave today were focusing on making sure the subject line is super compelling. He focused on giving the best offer possible right away, like the best offer that they could give and remain profitable. That’s what they’re doing, because their idea, and right or wrong, this is something that can easily be debated is that they wanted to increase conversions for people who come to the website, and they wanted, if they could increase it by let’s say, 25%, by providing a better offer, then it’s worth it for them. Because until they get a customer to make their initial purchase, they don’t — like their marketing — your marketing can’t really kick in until they’ve even tried your product.

Steve: Yeah, totally Austin. Just kind of along this whole topic, I just think to myself, a lot of times, you’ll hire like a web designer, and they’ll make a site that looks beautiful, but it might not convert as well as just a very simple design that has a simple call to action above the fold. And one thing that I found interesting in one of the talks was that the consensus seems to be from all the different Klaviyo folks that text based email seems to outperform HTML emails. And I know that from my blog, at least, I haven’t done it with my store, because we wanted a little bit of branding on it.

But from my blog, text based blew away anything with graphics in it. And I don’t know why I didn’t do that, why I’m not doing that with my store. But for some reason, maybe there’s just a mental block that I have. But I feel like the store needs to have a logo on it, and then a picture of my product. So, maybe I’m going to go back and experiment with that.

Austin: I think it’s a great idea and something so easy to test. You can just send split test between text and panel image, not very hard to set up and see which one performs better.

Steve: Yeah, in your experience, what have you seen with your clients? Because I know you’ve had a lot of clients.

Austin: Yeah, I mean, text email generally performs equal to or better than spending all the time with imagery and branded emails. The only thing is, I feel like, it’s not necessarily sustainable, right? Like you want — if you have a brand, a beautiful — if you’re selling beautiful cowboy boots, then you want to, you might be able to juice sales with a text email here and there. But overall, like your messaging, you want to deliver those beautiful images so that people see your product, and then here in their mix in some text based emails, maybe around promotions.

That’s something you could do for Black Friday, right? Try a couple of branded promotional image based emails, and then have one direct from the CEO saying, hey, I just wanted to make sure you saw this, you’re a loyal customer. Why don’t you — here’s the link to the sale for the next couple of days. Also works really well like for VIP customers just a direct personalized email.

Steve: Just to be clear, though, a text based email; does that mean it’s completely text, meaning you don’t even have like an image of your company? That’s one thing that wasn’t quite clear to me.

Austin: I don’t know what they were specifically talking about.

Steve: Okay, but the ones that you were just talking about, is there even like a logo at the top, like even a small one, or is it just flat out playing text, no HTML at all?

Austin: Flat out plain text.

Steve: Okay.

Austin: Even like just text based with a little bit of HTML I would say performs equal to or better than image based, but you could also strip entirely out and just send a text based email.

Toni: So it’s interesting because the second email in my welcome flow is a totally text email that actually makes it seem like I’m talking directly to them. And there’s not even a link to the store. And that is my most opened, that’s got my highest open rate. And people reply to me in that email. So I mean, I think it does work, but you definitely can’t do it all the time. Because I’m like, I’ve had people email me and say, hey, I want to shop at your store. What’s the link? I’m like, you managed to email me@my.com address but…

Steve: What is that? Can you give us an idea of what’s in that email?

Toni: Yeah, so I just say hey, here I’m the owner of the company; I want to tell you my story of why I started it. And then I — it’s like three paragraphs; it’s not even very long. I mean it’s probably 13 sentences total, and then my last thing is like PS, hey, I want to hear your story, how did you get into this?

Austin: There’s another one, another store that does something similar to that called Kindred Bravely, they sell maternity like nursing wear. One of the things they do I think it’s brilliant, after you make a purchase, a few days later you get a text based only kind of inspirational message from the founder that says at the bottom sent from my iPhone. So it looks like it was just composed on the fly, sent directly to you. And it’s like because their entire market is mothers, and so they basically talk about motherhood and how, keep being strong as a mother sent from my iPhone. I thought that was brilliant, it’s like that’s a really good…

Steve: That’s so deceptive. So one thing they did talk about also today were all the various automated sequences that you can run. And one thing that I found interesting is that they actually published the revenue per subscriber, the average for some of these sequences. So for example, a browse abandonment. This is if someone’s already on your list and they look at a product but they don’t check out, the average on Klaviyo is on the order of 50 cents per email per visitor, an abandoned cart was $2 and 75 cents per visitor, and the welcome series was like 25 cents per visitor so on average. And I know you work with a lot of clients Austin, is that in the realm of what you see or?

Austin: So when one thing about this statistics it’s so…

Steve: Yeah, I know yeah it’s out there.

Austin: It really depends on average order value, right? So all those statistics are totally skewed by average order value and larger businesses that sell products…

Steve: Oh, no. I’m so sorry. The presentation was segmented by average order value. What I quoted was the one that falls in for me, which is 50 dollars to $100.

Austin: 50 to $100.

Steve: Yes.

Austin: Okay, yeah. So I have to like [overlapping 00:21:04]

Steve: …top of your head. No, I was thinking you were going to say, well, since they were my clients and I was working with them, my numbers would be a lot higher.

Austin: No, I think that it’s good to have benchmarks like that when you’re trying to get a better understanding of whether or not your sequences are compelling or working. But one of the things I always tell people is like generally I’ve seen browse abandonment do about 50% of the revenue that you do through abandoned carts probably do through browse abandonment. That’s generally what I see someone who’s doing a good job. If you’re not doing that, there’s probably some opportunity there. But it’s tough. It’s tough just off of the metrics.

Steve: Sorry, I put you on the spot there. So, one thing that came up over and over and over again today was this thing about attribution. So, someone might open an email, see your ad but then two days later click on a retargeting ad and then the retargeting ad gets credit and Klaviyo takes credit for as well. Right, because in analytics, it’s last click attribution and in Klaviyo, I don’t know what the default is. But it’s on the order. Do you have it off top your head?

Austin: So the default is whether or not somebody opened up an email.

Steve: Okay, but within how many days?

Austin: Oh, I think the default is somewhere between three — I think it’s five but then you can adjust it and like generally you should be adjusting it from five to a much lower time window if you’re sending more than one email a month.

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Right, so which kind of brings me into my point like no matter what you do whether you’re running Facebook ads, Google ads or email marketing, each tool is always going to set the attribution window to their benefit so that it seems like they are driving more of the conversions. So you really got to dig deep, I think Facebook has a view through conversion by default that you should turn off right? If someone just happens to be scrolling by and they look at your ad, they’re going to take credit for it if they end up buying. Someone with Klaviyo if it’s set at five days, a lot can happen in five days, right? It could ultimately be multiple retargeting ads, Google AdWords, anything comes into play, and if everyone takes credit for all that, it can really screw your metrics.

So for example, your metrics might say that you made 100% increase in a month but then when you check the actual numbers, it’s much, much less. So I’m curious, Austin, what do you set your attribution windows out? And how do you deal with attribution?

Austin: Well, in Klaviyo specifically, it really depends on like I was mentioning earlier, how many emails you’re sending per month. If you’re sending one a week, then maybe I’ll put the attribution window down to like two days like that, if you’re sending multiple per week, then definitely down to like one day and adjust kind of based on this to a certain extent gut feeling. If you feel like there’s a lot of more attribution than is actually happening, then you should definitely shrink it down. Because like Steve said, you don’t want a seven day window and then you’re emailing three times during that week. Everything is attributed email at that point. So I just would adjust it based on that.

But I think that’s a really — that’s something that everybody struggles with; there’s no clear answer to how you attribute sales. There’s models that are built, but that’s a really difficult question. And again, it did come up multiple times because everybody is asking that, how do we attribute; because everyone is trying to take credit and everyone is trying to earn more of your marketing spend by taking credit. So, I think it comes back to just having a little bit more of a holistic approach and recognizing that you want business growth over the long, long haul, and being performance driven is good, but sometimes it doesn’t — sometimes it can limit your long term growth if you just have to focus on getting ROI on every single channel at all times.

Steve: So anyways, I had this problem with Facebook ads where I really wanted my top of funnel to convert at like 3x and it was just very frustrating when it didn’t happen. And it was only after I just took all of my funnels holistically could I sleep at night, just because I’m a very metrics focused person, right. So one thing I did want to talk about to kind of end this was what are some creative opt in forms that you’ve seen? We talked about [inaudible 00:27:11] and we talked about giving out coupon codes. For both you guys, what are some ones that might work for you, or what have you seen that has been really especially creative?

Austin: So I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I can go into a little bit more deeply. I’m very into looking into like the quiz type funnels, not necessarily like the ask method quiz funnels, but more — so we’re hitting the point now where we can, it’s very easy to assign properties to people based on selections and answers they’ve given us. So if you’re using Klaviyo or Drip or whatever email service provider you’re using, you can ask people questions and then have their answers sent passed over as properties on to their record, and then learn what they’re interested in, what they’re not interested in, how often they purchase from you, and use that down the road. You wouldn’t have to know exactly what you’re going to use that information for, but you’ll have that to be able to create segments in the future.

So the things that I see that are quite unique and that are interesting are quizzes that you can ask people that are providing value to people that are giving them interesting answers. I know a beard brand that runs an interesting quiz, it tells you what type of beard’s man you are, it gives you products based on the type of beards you have which is kind of cool. I’ve seen…

Steve: I always ask [inaudible 00:28:39] if he’s going to start an Asian line, it always makes them laugh. I got to shave like once every three months. Sorry, go on, I interrupted you.

Austin: No, that’s I mean, that’s the thing he’s going to come up with a product, the thing first, you got over the product. So those are interesting right now. I think we’re seeing a lot of kind of chat bots capturing emails, which is interesting using Facebook Messenger for that, and then passing that along to Klaviyo, that’s a tool you can use. Those are the things I’m probably most interested in that are unique. All the same stuff continues to work. All it matters is if you have a good offer and if you can display that offer in front of people. If you don’t have a good offer, nothing you do no matter how crazy the wheel is spinning or how in your face it is, it’s not going to convert.

Steve: All right, here’s a hard one for you, Messenger or email? What’s your priority and getting first?

Austin: So for me, it’s still email at this point. I think depends a little bit on the product that you have. And it also doesn’t — it doesn’t need to be either or, right. You can capture an email through…

Steve: It’s not either or but I have my answer to this. I’m just curious what you’re going to say, but you do have to decide which one you want to try to get first, right?

Austin: Sure. Yeah. So for me, it’s still email right now. That could be changing over the next the next year. I think that there’s still some work that needs to be done with some of the platforms that are delivering, so there’s a lot of infrastructure behind email at this point, right. We’re at Klaviyo conference; they’ve invested millions of dollars into building a system that delivers emails reliably, predictably. And Messenger is still new, right? There’s not as much infrastructure around delivering those things. The reliability is not there as much, not in the sense of deliverability, but incentive the product delivering the message. So for me, it’s still email but that is subject to change Steve.

Steve: Interesting, you left that open. You kind of played both sides of the fence there. So for me, I have a similar sentiment as you do. I always try to go for the email first, mainly because Messenger is controlled by Facebook and they’ve already changed the rule as a couple of times. And who knows what’s going to happen, like you’re putting all your eggs in something that someone else controls, whereas email you always control for yourself. So what I usually do is I go for the email first. And then almost immediately, I go for the Messenger while they’re still hot with a separate offer. And I also find that that Messenger to email is a little bit clunky, because sometimes you have to use like a glue tool to get that to work.

Austin: I like the visual of this person who just typed in their email. And now they’re hot. Steve is going in for the Messenger. They’re sitting there, they’re all hot. No, I totally agree with you around the terms and conditions with Facebook. The writing’s on the wall, when you start thinking about Messenger marketing down the road, they’re running out of supply and advertising. So everywhere, you’re able to deliver toll free messages, toll free ads. They’re no longer going to be toll free in the future, you can be paying for every message you spend.

Email is something that you can deliver. The reason why email is so powerful is because you’re not paying a toll per message that you send, you’re paying email service provider, you’re not paying a toll to Google or anybody. So yeah, the writing’s on the wall with Messenger. They’re going to be charging for it.

Steve: It’s already actually in their docs actually, it’s in beta.

Austin: It’s in beta, so get it while the getting is good, where it’s cheap. But if you build your entire list around that, realize that you can be paying to reach that audience, just like you’re paying to reach your fans in the past if you’ve gone through this, but we’ve gotten to this before so many times, Instagram [overlapping 00:32:48], so shiny.

Steve: So were there any other key takeaways that I didn’t touch upon, because we kind of went down my notes, but you guys probably had your own separate notes.

Austin: The only thing I’ll mention, it was brought up a couple times in one of the presentations that someone was talking about — so the premise of one of the talks was to move away from having discounts and move towards other ways of bringing in customers, maybe and a lot of…

Steve: True fans.

Austin: True fans, customer loyalty, that sort of thing. I think it’s, you have to ask yourself truly what your business is and what your product is. So, one of the things he mentioned was around referral programs and the power of referral programs. So referral programs can be incredibly powerful. But your product has to lend itself to being talked about. I can’t imagine, I don’t know, do you have a referral program Steve?

Steve: We do not.

Austin: And I think I do, I can’t imagine it being an incredibly profitable driver of sales for you guys.

Steve: But that’s correct. It probably would not be. But one thing I got an idea was from today; they had this like, one year sequence for anniversaries, which I’m actually not doing. And the average divorce rate is about seven years, so maybe we’re going to have a seven year sequence.

Austin: That’s true.

Steve: Yeah, exactly. That’s another takeaway, which I just recalled right now.

Austin: So I think it just comes down to knowing what your product is, what your business is. Is it something that people would ever talk about with their friends? And if they do talk about it, then yeah, referral program might work. So it’s really being strategic about the things you initiate in building your business. Not everything is good for every business; it just happens that some things are good for certain businesses. Like that skin quiz I was talking about, that like is very, very good for that type of product. Other businesses, if you’re selling microfiber towels, probably not as good, maybe, but probably not.

Steve: I was just thinking about how I would do a wedding quiz, but I don’t think it would work.

Toni: Actually going back to the customer loyalty, I like that sneaker example where you joined the VIP, you actually paid to join. And it was kind of tricky because it was like 1999 to join, but you got the $20 gift card. So right there there’s a little psychological game for you.

Steve: As you can tell, Toni is a prime customer for this.

Toni: I am.

Steve: She has a ton of shoes.

Toni: I do. I would totally pay to join a shoe club. But I actually think that’s an interesting one because they aren’t giving you a discount. And they’re actually forcing you get your credit card before you’ve even really shopped with them, which I think is really — like I’d be interested to see, they didn’t give us stats on that one and I would really want to know how well. I don’t know, have you worked with any company that does that?

Austin: So I work with a company that does something similar to that. And they have kind of their own Prime membership on the back end. After somebody makes a purchase, you can immediately upsell into paying $20, and you will get back your initial shipping cost. So, it makes the offer really, really sweet where I think if you purchase two times, you’re going to come out ahead with this deal. And you recoup your shipping costs, which I think is around eight or $9 right away with this yearly membership. So that’s been successful for them. And it’s been successful not selling it in the front — it’s [inaudible 00:36:24] selling on the front end like getting people to get a gift card before they buy. But that’s another way to do it be maybe right at the back end. And that’s been successful for them.

Steve: Yeah, I’d be curious to see more stats. Maybe I’ll have to have that company on the podcast.

Austin: Yeah, see what’s actually going down.

Steve: Exactly.

Austin: To the Steve Chou case study.

Steve: So I can do a hanky of the Month Club.

Austin: Yeah.

Steve: Make them commit to five hankies.

Austin: That’s actually not a bad idea, or just one.

Steve: Cool, well thanks a lot for coming on both of you and we’ll probably end up doing a wrap up tomorrow. This conference is two days and this is just day one.

Austin: Steve, this has been a lot of fun. Thanks for putting this on. And it’s been funny, I don’t know if you guys — so you can never know where we’re at. We’re in a conference room here. And it’s funny because as we’ve been recording, five people have been coming in and out, so it’s been a lot of fun recording.

Steve: And I just want to add that Austin is sporting a beard which I haven’t seen on him yet. So that’s why he’s been mentioning beard brand. I suppose you’ve been on that site.

Austin: Well, that’s the beauty of having a podcast. Nobody actually knows what you look like.

Steve: Although there were a couple people that did approach you

Austin: Yes.

Steve: Fan blowing over Austin. Oh my god. It’s Austin.

Austin: I think this Klaviyo conference is where a lot of my people are. People love Klaviyo brands, on Klaviyo, so it’s actually fun.

Steve: So tomorrow we will — Austin is speaking tomorrow. So I’ll give like the skinny on his talk tomorrow and I’ll be sitting on the front row heckling as well. And thank you Toni for being the co host as usual.

Toni: Thanks for having me again.

Steve: Of course.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. I actually ended up learning a ton from the event and I got a chance to meet up with the CEOs of many of the popular email marketing tools out there. Stay tuned for my next recap of day two of the event where I interview some of Klaviyo’s engineers regarding email deliverability. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode227.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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226: How To Design A Product From Scratch And Fully Fund A Kickstarter In 18 Hours With Shirley Tan

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226:  How To Design A Product From Scratch And Fully Fund A Kickstarter In 18 Hours With Shirley Tan

Today I’m thrilled to have a very special guest on the show, Shirley Tan.

Shirley is someone who I met at the Traffic and Conversions Summit. I actually don’t remember exactly how we met but we hit it off immediately because a long time ago, she founded American Bridal which was a company I competed against when I first got started in ecommerce.

Anyway, Shirley sold American Bridal long ago but she’s back with a completely brand new product called The Posture Keeper. Recently, she launched a kickstarter campaign that was completely funded in 18 hours. So today, we’re going to learn her process for manufacturing and how to fund raise like a pro.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Shirley came up with the idea for the Posture Keeper
  • How she manufactured it so quickly
  • Why she decided to patent the product
  • Her initial investment
  • How to generate buzz for a kickstarter and get funded in 18 hours

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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