Audio

277: An Interview With MMA Bobblehead Founder Dave Manley

277: An Interview With MMA Bobblehead Founder Dave Manley

Today I’m thrilled to have Dave Manley on the show. Dave was a finalist for the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer and Scott Voelker where we gave away 50,000 in cold hard cash.

Dave runs MMA Bobblehead which is an ecommerce business selling bobbleheads of UFC fighters.

Dave was one of my favorite contestants on the 5 Minute Pitch and I wanted to a deep dive into his story today and how he makes sales. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • Dave’s motivations for starting his business
  • How Dave validated his niche
  • The bold moves Dave made to meet UFC fighters
  • The keys to Dave’s success
  • The challenges of working with celebrities

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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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 delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I have my buddy, Dave Manley on the show and if you listen to the 5 Minute Pitch, Dave was one of the finalist and he runs MMA Bubblehead where he sells bubble heads for UFC fighters. Now, in this episode we break down how Dave attracted the attention of famous writers as a nobody who’s been able to generate his sales.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. 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 can spend more time with your family 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 Dave Manley on the show. Now, Dave was a finalist for the five minute pitch. My Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Gregg Mercer and Scott Walker where we gave away $50,000 in Cold Hard Cash. Now, Dave runs MMA bubblehead, which is an e-commerce business selling. Well, you guessed it bubble heads of MMA fighters, but Dave’s bubble heads are not the cheap kind you can buy in stores or get for free at ball games. His bobbleheads are the best quality that I’ve ever seen. And he signed on top fighters like Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson as well and Dave was actually one of my favorite contestants on the 5 minute pitch. And what I want to do today is I really wanted to delve deeply into his story and how he makes sales how he got started because there’s a lot of things that we obviously couldn’t cover in 5 minutes on the 5 minute pitch show and with that welcome to show Dave. How are you doing today?

Dave: Hey Steve. Thanks for having me man. Listen, it is it’s a great honor to be on your podcast. I’m going to tell you why. Three years ago this month in July. I came up with this idea about making bobbleheads for MMA athletes and I had no idea what I was doing not only on the bobblehead side, but more importantly on the e-commerce side. I had no clue Steve, So the first podcast that I attached myself to of the sea of podcasts out there was yours and I’m not just saying that and I Hooked onto your podcast and I ended up just binge listening to all of your episodes back-to-back to back I couldn’t get enough and it’s just so great to be on your show after the five minute pitch and it’s just kind of coincidental that it’s three years later after I come up with this idea and discover you that now I’m on your show. So it’s a great honor for me.

Steve: Well, thanks a lot for the kind words Dave and happy anniversary. I didn’t realize it’s been three years now.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know what Steve I came up with this idea, you know. Not to get really philosophical, but I’ll dive a little bit deeper and like how I came up with this idea and what happened because I kind of tell the story and people who follow me kind of know the story on how it happened. But a lot of people don’t know that about a week before I came up with the idea. I was in Las Vegas and I was at a UFC fight and I have great tickets great seats. I was literally maybe three rows from the cage, right and I was about 40 41 years old at the time and I was enjoying myself. So much I was over until I didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I didn’t want to go get a soda. I wanted to stay in my seat and just take everything in well about an hour into the fight. I started really having like some deeper thoughts, right? and I started thinking man Dave, you know, you’re 40 years old whatever if I was ten years younger, I would just dedicate my life to this sport dedicate my life to this organization the UFC or these athletes martial arts and do whatever it took to be part of this community and make a living because I love that. I love martial arts.

I’d love this sport so much. It’s it’s not even right how much I’ll I mean a lot of people love baseball basketball football or whatever. But I mean, I just feel like the sport is part of my fiber and so I was having these like self talks with myself like it. Yeah, man, I’m a little bit too old to start thinking about that right now, but man if I was just 30 again, and I came home and about 1 week later I cleared of the shelf in my office and I thought I told myself I’m going to start purchasing MMA memorabilia and it was then that I wanted to buy a bobblehead of my favorite fighter and they didn’t make them and then I went on to another fighter who’s just equal he’s famous. They didn’t make him either. So then I went on the most famous fighter that they got name’s Conor McGregor didn’t make him either and it was just right there, right then. I knew that you know, I’m not this. I’m not one of these guys Steve that put it out in the universe.

I don’t know if I believe in that whatever but I knew right then and there. There that maybe something was being answered because I knew boom that I am going to make these bobbleheads. I didn’t know that I was going to make them so well, but I knew that I was going to start taking that step towards, you know, those thoughts that I had just a couple weeks previous.

Steve: So I can understand wanting a bobblehead for yourself, but turning into a business and scaling is a completely different thing. So did you have any exterior motivations for starting it as a business?

Dave: Well, you know, yes, okay. Yes. And no first of all, I thought well they make bobbleheads for every other Sport and they’ve made bobbleheads for every other sport for decades for 50 years. And I thought you know you the UFC MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world. Literally, I mean is it is growing faster at a bigger trajectory than any sport at any time ever and I thought, you know, there’s some serious athletes in the sports that are very very popular. So if I want one Why wouldn’t other people want one as well? So, you know, yes, I thought this could be a business for sure and I just needed to come up with how to make him. See by new I own one bobble head is a Babe Ruth bobblehead that I kept on my desk. Someone gave it to me. I paid no attention to it. Everyone loves bobbleheads including me. I mean, how could you not they’re kind of part of an inner woven and who we are sports fans and Society, but I just thought you know if I want one and these Have millions of fans out there and literally why would another people want one? So I thought you know, yes first learn how to make them learn how to do it. Right and then maybe I can turn around and sell them.

Steve: So, okay. So you knew at this time that you wanted to make them. How did you actually get started? Like for example, I mean, I know someone who makes bobbleheads, but if I didn’t know that guy I would have no idea how to get started. So, where did you find someone to make them for you?

Dave: Yeah. Okay. So first of all, I needed to know how to make them myself. Okay, so I did research when you’re clueless about something Steve and you have no idea how it’s made but you want to make you want to learn you don’t want to just hire someone to do it for you right? unless you got a ton of money and a ton of you know resources to do that, but I’m bootstrapping this thing and you know, my my fiancée wasn’t totally on board with this past my other my friends and family members, I swear to God, Steve some of them laughed at me. And here I am. 41 year old Dave asking my friends. Hey guys. What do you think about me making Bobbleheads you know, it’s a gut reaction just to kind of like chuckle and laugh like dude. What are you an idiot? You’re a financial planner dude, you wear a suit and tie to work you and by the way, you handle my money, so don’t be going up again doing some us something else.

So, you know, I didn’t get the strongest reaction from people, but then when I start from my clothes in a circle, but then when I started branching out and started asking MMA fans about it. Everyone was like hell yes, dude, dude, what how do they not make him and me bobbleheads already? That was my biggest feedback for sure. So what I did and I guess what most people do nowadays is I turn to YouTube and I just really engulfed myself with YouTube videos. Videos about figurines about model painting about about bobbleheads them out clay, paint, spraying.

Steve: Wait a second. Did you make your first bobblehead yourself?

Dave: No, I just I designed every one of them but I wanted to know the ins and outs of making them. So so did I make it myself with my own two hands? No, but did I design it and was I there every step of the way? Yes. It was like I was shoulder to shoulder with the first guy who made My Bobblehead and it was after I made my very first bobblehead and I and I wish I can show you what it looks like because I keep it on my desk to remind myself how far comes because it looks absolutely like crap. It really really does I’m staring at it right now when I have like when I’m down and out and I feel like I’m really struggling right now. I look at that first bobblehead that I make and and I really I really know that I’ve come a long way from making that but anyway, so well..

Steve: This guy that you that that makes them for you is in the US.

Dave: Yeah. He was in the US

Steve: And how did you find him?

Dave: I just found him by just doing research and calling and emailing there’s a lot of model makers out there. There’s a lot of figurine makers out there. It’s a very Niche Community.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: There’s a lot of professional model painters out there that paint for like say the Studio’s, you know for big for movies, you know, a lot of those scenes where they blow up a big city or car or building whatever those are all just models and there’s guys that paint those and so I had a really do a lot of research to find guys who Made this type of stuff.

Steve: How did you convince them to work with you? I mean if some random dude came to me and wanted to make a bobblehead and I was a designer. I’d be a little hesitant.

Dave: Money.

Steve: Okay, ha ha ha. So how much did you have to invest to get that first batch?

Dave: Oh my God. That’s a great question, Steve. Well wasn’t the first batch I made two with this guy and two cost me. Whoo to cost me about $1000.

Steve: Oh my goodness. Okay.

Dave: Yeah to cost me about $1,000. A, I Didn’t Know Better and B I was desperate to learn how to make it and I wanted to make it I mean and you know by far by far it’s the worst bobblehead I have but it’s the most meaningful one that I have too I’m never going to get rid of it and I ended up making about four different versions of this fighter and the fighters name was Nate Diaz and it’s a very famous pose that I made out of him and I wanted to practice because the pose was very unique. And and not to keep kind of strain off topic but one thing that is very unique about my bobbleheads. And for anyone who’s into sports at all knows that when you go to the game and you get a bobblehead for free not only is it really really cheap but it’s very generic all the poses of the same the guys holding a basketball, baseball, football whatever in the same kind of motion and they all look very cartoony.

Like you would never ever know who this guy was unless the name was on the base lets you saw that it was like LeBron James or Clayton Kershaw, you would never know. So one thing I wanted to do was I wanted to take poses from these fighters in their moments of Glory. I mean these they close the cage door on these guys Steve and Magic happens, right? I mean, it’s martial arts. They fly, they kick. They need the elbow and sometimes they get caught in a moment of Glory in a photo which becomes iconic in the sport. So I wanted to take those iconic moments and make it into a bobblehead where people look at that bobblehead and they say oh, yeah, that is that guy from that fight on that day. Like I recognize it just like that.

Steve: Are you still working with that? First guy? Like I’m trying to get that for you.

Dave: Oh no no

Steve: Okay so you paid two for $1,000 and those were no good. So did you move on to a different person?

Dave: Oh absolutely dude. I moved on to a different person and I was desperate to find better and better and better people the what I was learning as I was going. Was that bobbleheads need to be better period. I mean, there’s been no advancement in bobblehead technology and it’s not right as sports fan. So those of you guys who are listening especially hardcore Sportsman think about the best bobblehead you’ve ever had the think about the best bobblehead that you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s not good right? and it’s not good because it doesn’t have to be the Lakers don’t have to make a good LeBron James or the dodges don’t have to make a great Clayton Kershaw because all they want to do is get butts in the seats early so they can sell more beer and better parking more tickets or whatever. So they put the minimum amount of money and making these bobbleheads but it’s a shame because there’s only one LeBron James that comes around in a lifetime. There’s only one Clayton Kershaw that comes running Lifetime. And so when you memorialize these guys in a bobblehead do it right do it right do it.

Steve: Okay, So how many how many guys did you have to go through till you found your final one?

Dave: Probably, like three the yeah the way I found my final one is I just got on a plane to Hong Kong and I just looked at I my fiance thought I was I was on

Steve: Wait, let’s back up a little bit. How did you find this guy from Hong Kong?

Dave: I went to a trade show.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: Yeah art, you know toy trade show.

Steve: Okay, and that was in Hong Kong?

Dave: yeah

Steve: okay, and then you found him there and then obviously the cost were a lot cheaper than the u.s. I would presume.

Dave: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it made it made it doable and the dream started becoming more and more of a reality because if I made them the way I was going either way. It was it’s an impossibility, you know, so..

Steve: So how do you work with someone in Hong Kong? What is the design look like you said you design all of these. Are you sending him photos or how does it work?

Dave: No, you know what? These guys are just they I just send them a blueprint a template all the artwork is done all over the world. So I have artists in the states. I have artists in Europe. I have artists in Asia. It really depends on what I’m looking for in designing the particular fighter, my budget, you know the detail that I want and things like that and then I’ll choose my and then I’ll choose the artist but I put my main artist is in Europe and you know, we design it together and then you know, I get I get the I don’t really want to talk about all the secret sauce.

Steve: Yeah, that’s okay. Well, what is the what is the template look like? Is it like a solid like, is it 3D modeling or?

Dave: yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we make a fine. A prototype that’s not a 3D modeling and my lead painter is in Orange County and we paint it and sometimes we paint two sometimes we pay three until I’m happy with exactly how it looks making sure it looks perfect. And then once I get that 100% correct, and then you know, I send it off and and you know, they do the rest.

Steve: So what are your cost to just design one?

Dave: It all depends Steve on the artwork, you know. Some bobbleheads are very very expensive because for the for the design because I want as much detail as possible in these things and then some are you know, some just some art that that detail-oriented, you know, and so it’s a little less expensive like

Steve: are we talking tens of thousands or?

Dave: No, no what you know all in I’m in a few thousand.

Steve: Few thousand, Mm. Okay, and then it costs you. I remember vaguely from the shows like 20 bucks or something to make.

Dave: Yeah, that’s 20 bucks to make okay. Okay about 20 bucks to make and and you know, it’s a great process and you know, what I pride myself on the process too is I work with these athletes and that’s something that is I don’t think it’s been done before.

Steve: So let’s talk about that. How did you how do you work with an athlete? Like, how do you get a hold of me? Just email them or?

Dave: yeah. I wish it was that easy. Yeah, man, you know that that question is hardly ever asked of me and I would have to say that that that is one of the hardest part of my business and it definitely was the number-one artist part when I was starting out because you know, how do you how do you call LeBron James and tell him that you wanted to have project with them. You know, you just don’t and then people say well, how do you.. and what people say, Well David you call his agent. Well, you know how many how many people call that agen, you know for a phone call. So it’s tough. So I had to do a lot of grimy things to get in front of these guys when I say grimy, I mean I just I just..

Steve: We need more example.

Dave: Yeah, I just hold up my sleeves dude and did whatever it took to get in front of these dudes. So like for an example like I would go to a place in which I knew the fighter was gonna be whether it was a nightclub or a fight or wherever and I would it’s embarrassing Steve but I it’s I would I would I would check out the situation see who he’s hanging out with and when one of his friends I’d have the bobblehead on me and then one of it when one of his friends Peeled off or I’d have a picture of the bobblehead whatever when one of his friends peeled off to go to the bathroom or just you know, walk away. I would hit up the friend and I’d go hey friend. I know you’re hanging out with Joe Blow the fight over there. Do I see you guys hanging out. I can’t get to him and I don’t want to be that creepy guy. So I just want to show you what I’m up to Harry, look at this picture or look at his bobblehead. I would love to make one out of Joe Blow. We let him know and you know, the friend would usually be look at me. Like I was absolutely crazy.

And you know, I would do things like that and then sometimes that work and then one of my biggest breakthroughs was I was waiting in a three-hour line in Las Vegas and was actually two years ago three years ago. It came up with the idea two years ago, I started hitting up Fighters because I was done with my final prototype. I would wait in like these lines three hour lines and I would walk up to the fighter. Now mind you it’s a massive cattle call. So everyone’s there with their photos they want Fighter to sign the photo and here I am a 41 year old guy holding a bobblehead. I don’t have a photo. I don’t have a pen and it’s my turn and I get up to him and I’d say as fast as I could and say, hey man, I’m a big fan. I’m making bobbleheads right now. Would you like a bobblehead made out of you? I can review a really great job. What do you think? and then put the bobblehead right in front of them, And the fighter would look at me. Like are you out of your mind?

Like who is this crazy guy? It’s a security would be like, no. No, you can’t do that. You can’t talk to. Um, but you got your autograph and you move on and then so they you know, you kind of move on to the next file and say okay. No, you know, sorry about that and then the next Fighter the next big fighter would be like two fighters away and I’d go up to the fighter and say hey, my name is Dave, I’m making bubbles and then security get to me..

Steve: Do you have a prototype of each one of those Fighters you were pitching before him?

Dave: Yeah, as I was getting better at making them because mind you I was a year into it. So as I was getting better at making them I felt more comfortable about showing these Fighters not there Prototype, but of Make Diaz because.

Steve: Oh, Gotcha. Okay

Dave: I can’t keep making Nate over and over again.

Steve: Did you have rights for Nate before you get it?

Dave: No, I still don’t have rights for Nate. I don’t know Nate, Nate knows about it. I don’t think he wants it and and that’s not unusual Steve. So, you know, some of these guys just don’t want something really really cool made out of them and I don’t know why and I would love it myself but you know it is it is what it is.

Steve: So you’re not selling the Nate Diaz?

Dave: No

Steve: okay.

Dave: No, I’m selling the Nate Diaz bobblehead. It would probably be my biggest seller because he’s such an iconic figure and the bobblehead that I made is such an iconic pose and it’s and it’s like really really nice but you know it is it is what it is man.

Steve: Actually, So you took a huge risk in the beginning just making a bobblehead when you’re not allowed to sell them yet. And then you use that as a prototype to get other fighters to sign on

Dave: Correct that that was my exact blueprint. I would just I was hoping that other Fighters would see what a good job I was doing with this Nate Diaz Bobble and I never I never was you know, playing smoke and mirrors and saying I had Nate. I’m just I was just saying here’s what I have made so far. When can let me make one out of you. So..

Steve: Who’s your first big fighter that you signed and had the conversation go?

Dave: Yeah, so I was getting nose left and right no no, no, no. No, I did not understand it. My chin was in my chest. I was kicking the can down the road. I was wondering what the hell did I just do with a year of my life and all this money and time and I was I was getting, you know, the thoughts of you know, the self talk. And the self-doubt was starting to creep in my mind Steve like you know, what am I doing, man? And I got a phone call from a friend who said they had a I swear to God who had a friend who had a friend who knew Dan Henderson and Dan Henderson was the guy that I originally wanted to buy the bobblehead of he’s my favorite fighter of all time. So when I heard that there was like four degrees of separation that Dan was interested in the artwork that I was doing for the Bobblehead, I just absolutely lost my mind. I was I couldn’t believe it. So then it got real real real fast, and they said Dan wants to talk to you in an hour.

And I said, okay and you know, I’m at this point. I’m just a total complete Fanboy. I’m just you know a nut for this do Dan Henderson and I am about to talk to him an hour. I couldn’t I was pacing, you know sweating and then the phone rang. It was Dan Henderson and the conversation couldn’t have gone better. It was just like we knew each other and it was great and he’s like, yeah, I’m interest I saw it looks really cool. I think it’s awesome. And then he’s like, you know, we are both in Vegas at the same time and he’s like, well, what are you doing tomorrow? And I said, yeah nothing. All right. Well, it’s meet. So I ended up meeting Dan Henderson at the MGM and I showed him. You know, what I was working on and the hardwork..

Steve: Is this the Diaz one, that you showed him?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, I showed him everything.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: I still remember it and he was like, yeah, let’s do it and it was like, okay, let’s do it and it so I just went straight to work on Dan Henderson and about some about I would say six months later. I released my first one my first bobblehead to the public that I have the rights to that I could sell and it was Dan Henderson sales for that bobblehead Steve, were garbage.

Steve: How many did you make?

Dave: I made 1500, I thought

Steve: oh my goodness, okay

Dave: you know what, Dan Henderson’s got Dan Henderson’s got millions of fans. I think 1500 might even be too low. I think I sold about 50 in the first month.

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Steve: Okay, so you invested what is that like 30 grand?

Dave: Hmm.

Steve: Wow. Okay. How did you sell those 50?

Dave: you know, I just built an e-commerce site and I had Dan promote it on his social media and I promote it. I promoted it to all 200 of my followers on Instagram. And you know, I just I paid for some Instagram ads and Facebook ads. I just really thought Steve, I thought that you know, because because the Dan Henderson says it’s insane. It’s To fly spent a lot of time on it. It’s a very famous image of one of his really famous moves and I really thought I was going to hold it up to the sky and MMA fans were just going to come flocking because this has never been done before it is awesome looking I was very proud of how the final product came out and I couldn’t be more wrong. I hide I was so wrong, Steve. Nobody came nobody. I just couldn’t believe it and I thought to myself. Oh my God, Dave. I spent all this time learning how to make the perfect bobblehead that I spent zero time on e-commerce and learning how to sell them and it’s still kind of my problem today Steve to be honest with you. You know, I don’t know a lot about e-commerce marketing, you know, Steve. I got a full-time career. I got a serious job. I manage a lot of Money, I have it’s you know, my pulse on the my finger on the pulse of a lot of family’s Estates, right?

So I can’t I can’t just like sleep on that job. So so every extra time that I have I dedicate to the bobbleheads, it’s late at night. It’s early in the morning. So, you know finding the time to learn about e-commerce, it’s difficult. That’s a really difficult task for me, but I’m taking small steps towards that you know, so when people were out there listening, Right now and and they don’t know if they can do it and and they’re having you know doubts you got to keep going man. You got to keep going and and you know, the way I met you through the five minute pitch if you know, it was an awesome. Awesome thing for me. I didn’t win you know, and that’s why I’m still a little bit hurt from that. You’re human, right? and you make it to the finals and you start thinking about winning and you start thinking about what this can do for you and your company

If you were to win and you start it starts getting real and then closer and closer gets it starts getting more and more real and then when it doesn’t happen, how man you get you get, you know, at least I get depressed and sad and you know, I have to keep my you know, there’s this old saying Steve, that Mike Tyson used to say about fighting and it was it goes like this. It says everybody’s got a good game plan until they get punched in the face. And I felt like man, I really got punched in the face hard.

Steve: Dave, dave, let’s be realistic here. You’re doing pretty well. You want to share how much you’ve made this year so far in the first half year.

Dave: Yeah. I mean, you know, dude, I’m not throwing a poo poo party on myself. I’m so proud of myself. You know for sure. No, I’m doing really well Steve in the first month of my business and my Bobblehead business I made I swear to God, I think I made maybe like 1,500 2,000 dollars by month 7. I was up to making 25 grand in a month and you know my last release my last fighter, I broke my old record and I think I made about 17 18 Grand in the first few days.

Steve Yeah. So, how are you marketing? How you improve your marketing since then? So what how do you get your sales? Is it just the fighter promoting? Its own bobblehead or your own email list? How are you doing it?

Dave: Yeah, so, you know, I’ve been very conscious of my social media and social media has been driving my business for sure. So when I wasn’t getting any Sales with the Dan and you know, very little sales with my next, you know fighter. I thought you know, I got to take the bull by the horns and I got to maybe be more out there and be the face of the company and show, show MMA fans that this isn’t just a business or a conglomerate trying to do a money grab that I’m a huge martial arts fan just like they are and I’m just like they are as far as being a fan first so once I started doing that and..

Steve: so what is that Instagram and Facebook?

Dave: Yeah, Instagram and Facebook and for anyone out there listening, I don’t care if you’re selling yarn or red worm composting bins. You gotta get out there and let people know who you are because that is where you build community and it could be Community for anything. For me, It just happens to be martial arts. And once you do that, and once people see that you’re passionate about what you do then you start getting trusted and hopefully people like you and then they’ll buy your next product recurring sales is a big part of my business. I always have felt like once people by one, they’re gonna buy two and once they buy two they’re going to be a collector and once there a collector Steve I can count on them for buying my next one. No matter who the fighter is and that’s and that has surely been the case so far and it’s been, you know, wonderful to get involved in the community. And have people you know, as you know, quote-unquote fans of that of the bobbleheads that I make and I’m really appreciative of that and I’m grateful for that.

Steve: How do you built the community? Do you do Facebook lives or what? Are your post like?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. I do Facebook lives. I do Instagram lives. I do giveaways. I’ll let people know like today for example is the first week of the first day of international fight week tomorrow, I’m taking off for Vegas. I got three big signings for with three different fighter of my Fighters. And I want to let people know about it and I have a huge announcement to make with one of these Fighters a massive announcement. And this fighter is giving away something like incredible Steve. So as soon as we’re done here, I’m going to make a post saying in two hours join me on Instagram live. I have a huge announcement to make and I’m going to give away a bobblehead and people hop on their interactive. I ask them to ask me questions and you know, a lot of people have really great interesting questions, and I you know, I answer them and give them the time let them know what’s going on and I feel like it’s I’m building a little Community. I feel like that’s really what everyone should do in any Niche that they have where people, where other people are involved.

Steve: How did you start out when you had zero social media following what were you posting about? Like, obviously, you don’t have these announcements all the time. Right?

Dave: Yeah. No, I was just posting cool pictures just photos. I love photography. So I post pictures of Fighters and my comments, you know about the fighter and then I’d post and then when I had my first bobblehead I post pictures of you know, the painting of the first one or you know photos of just the mold or photos of me and Dan or me and Chuck or the signing of them. You know, I was just real Grassroots just taking little baby steps posting whatever I could before I started getting like really cool content where people would tune in and or set their timer to tune in and listen or watch.

Steve: How often do you post as often as I can?

Dave: I don’t want to be one of these guys to just post to post So sometimes I won’t post I well. Well, let me take that. Let me take a step backwards. I post every day on Instagram every single day is you know, as you have to you have to be out there you have to be relevant you have to be engaged. So whether I’m posting something that has to do with my bobble heads or something that’s going on in the MMA world with a particular bike. There’s fights almost every week. So there’s always content to be posted. There’s always cool photography to be posted but as Far as be posting about the bobbleheads or a video about what I’m doing maybe every couple weeks. I’ll hop on I don’t want to over saturate. I don’t want to seem like I’m out there. You’re always trying to sell there’s that Gary vaynerchuk book that I just recently heard about it jab jab jab right hook if that’s I didn’t know about that concept, but that’s the concept that I’ve been living for the past, you know few year or a couple of years, you know, I want to give give give and I love Giving these things away for free.

I love it. You know it’s going to drive me into the Poorhouse but I love for people to have these so I’ll give give and so then when it comes time to ask for something, I don’t feel bad. I feel like I have a community. I feel like people want to support and it’s been successful so far

Steve: and are you running ads also or is it just Strictly Organic?

Dave: Organic dude, I mean bare minimal, I gotta tell you Steven in 2019. I think my ad budget or the ad money spent so far on Facebook and Instagram combined is about a hundred and fifty dollars

Steve: Nice. Okay. So all this is organic and are you getting more from Instagram or Facebook?

Dave: Definitely more from Instagram. I feel like that’s you know, the more optimal place to be I feel like that’s where everyone’s trending to I have about 2,000 followers on Facebook and I have about maybe 11,000 followers on Instagram. I’ve gotten those followers and all in one year and I feel like I touch all my social media platforms, but I really concentrate on Instagram. I want people to know that that’s where they’re going to be able to meet me or see me or hear the news or message me and then the other places are just kind of ancillary.

Steve: So in terms of getting them to your website, is it just your link in the bio?

Dave: Yeah Link in the bio and you know, it’s pretty it’s pretty self-explanatory to MMA bobblehead.

Steve: That’s true.

Dave: But I try to get these fighters to link me up to to tag me. I asked people to tag. Me when when they get their bobblehead, I repost when they tag me, I’m really interactive with anyone that wants to be interactive with me. I answer every single question that comes in. It’s always me. I don’t have a social media manager and I really want to treat every single person who buys My Bobblehead like they’re the only person that is buying My Bobblehead and I do I have that that Concept in mind that it’s it’s one person at a time Steve and and that’s you’re going to build a strong business. I see I see these other MMA businesses or just other businesses out there in general that they have 30,000 followers on Instagram. They posted a video and they get 200 likes. It’s like what the hell is that? What kind of followers do you have there that mean it’s obvious that you you’re buying or you’re not doing something right? And I hear all these people, you know touting and teaching how to get more followers, but that’s not the way it works man.

The way it works is organically you can’t just buy followers it Don’t you know unless you just want the swipe up feature. So when I have 11,000 followers, I know for sure that these people want to be there and I know for sure that these people are real people. They’re not Bots at least, you know most of them because they’re all interacting with me. I post a picture I get a ton of likes and a ton of views and I like that.

Steve: So Dave, we’re kind of running out of time here and I wanted to fire off these questions just for the people on the sidelines who have yet to start their business. What would you say is the biggest challenge in starting your store? And how did you overcome it?

Dave: Steve, there are so many challenges when it comes to you know, what Steve that Mike Tyson saying everyone. Everyone’s got a great plant game plan until their punch of it. It couldn’t be more true for e-commerce Steve you turn the corner when you’re starting your business in e-commerce. You don’t know if someone’s gonna punch you in the face or hand you a pot of gold you have no clue what’s around the corner when you don’t know anything about e-commerce, at least this is my story, okay? and it is very very Cold and when people are out there and they want to make a quick Buck or they want to you know, just they think that it’s going to be simple you better prepare yourself because it is challenging so you have to mentally get prepared. So the biggest challenge on opening your Ecommerce store. Anyone who’s out there who wants to start don’t give up. You gotta keep fighting guys no matter what don’t give up.

You gotta when when when life punches you right? The nose you gotta punch back. You got to keep fighting and I know it sounds cliche. I know what does Steve and I know you know, it sounds cliché when I say it’s easy to stay down and it’s hard to get back up. But you gotta remember why you’re doing it. You got to muster every bit of energy in your body to stand back up to clench your fist and punch back because you can get knocked out and e-commerce really easy if you’re if you’re not mentally ready.

Steve: So for the beginners also, how much money did you invest to get started?

Dave: Oh gosh. I probably you know, it was it was like in tear Steve so I probably had about seven grand Seven Grand or so to get started and then, you know, my next round of funding was five grand and then it went to you know, another five and so it just went in layers and you know, I built safety nets for myself because in my particular business I felt like if there It was no interest. I could have probably pull the ripcord at any time and just thrown in the towel. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I would see that there’s no interest at all.

But as I saw that there was interest I would you know, I’d feed the machine some more but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing Steve and you especially if you have a private label thing and you really think that people could use what you’re making or doing. You got to keep going you got to keep funding and it probably won’t stop, you know for a while. So just be prepared.

Steve: If you were to start over again. You do differently this time around?

Dave: I’d have more money Stephen to begin with

Steve: Ha ha ha

Dave: Because really, you know, and I mean it’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not a joke. I would a lot more I would a lot more money for allocate more money for different things and when I’m saying more money, I’m not saying like unreasonable amount of money. I wouldn’t say. Oh I get, you know tap into my 401k or you know, go borrow tens of thousands, but I’d probably just spend wiser and I’d probably have more in the gas tank to do things. Things that I think needed to be done.

Steve: Where are some places where you spent your money unwisely?

Dave: Well for me personally, it was experimentation with different ways on making bobbleheads. So I

Steve: That sounds like a necessary expense to me though.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it could be but you know, but I’m kind of a creative dude. So sometimes I’m you know, thinking outside the box a little bit too much one thing that I think I can tell the listeners who are just starting out about ad spending do it wisely. Don’t just throw it into the abyss. That’s one thing. Definitely Steve. I would I would start over I You know, I thought okay. Well, here’s a Let’s do an ad for $200 for the next 10 days and I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing Man II didn’t know if the results are great. I didn’t have like a pixel return. I still don’t I still don’t even know what I’m doing to talk about it that much but I do know that I just felt like I threw the money into the abyss without having data that could be measurable on if I’m spending my money wisely and I think that if you’re going to spend money on ads be as prepared as possible and maybe even bring in a consultant to help you out. Just don’t do it on your own because you don’t want to just throw money into the into the social media abyss.

Steve: I mean ultimately I think the way you did is the right way you start out organically you figure out who your audience is what they like and then you buy ads so yeah probably had a good point now where if you were to run ads today would they would do a lot better than when you didn’t know anything

Dave: Steve, one of the biggest takeaways. Is that I had from the five-minute picth was a line that Scott Volcker said and Scott said man Dave’s got a really cool product, but nobody knows about it. And that is a problem. That’s a problem. That’s a problem for anybody that that has a really cool product. You have to let people know about it. So what you do is you do anything Steve to let people know about it you go on Facebook live you go on Instagram live. If and if you’re camera shy get over it.

Steve: ha ha ha

Dave: Period and and there’s just no other way about it, you know it because people don’t want to read blogs Steve people. I mean sure maybe people are people are out there that read blogs on certain things whatever. It’s just the easier the easiest way to spoon feed people and getting to know your product is video and if you’re out there often and people see that you really care about what you’re doing. And they like what you do they will like you they will trust you and they will buy from you and they’re going to be a fan of yours. So I would say that’s the biggest thing that I would probably even do more if I were to start all over again.

Steve: So Dave I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell the audience about where they can find you and what’s going on. What’s the latest, man?

Dave: Oh Steve. Listen, three years ago this month. I came up with this idea of the bobbleheads. This week is international fight. Week, it’s my three-year anniversary. I’m having signings with cowboy Cerrone with Brian Ortego, Guillana Gingecheck, Bruce Buffer. It’s unbelievable. I went from being a guy a fan with an idea to now working with these athletes hand-in-hand and doing business with them and having autograph signings with them. I’m in I’m totally involved in the community now and it’s all due to hard work Steve. It’s I’m really proud of where I’ve come I’m really proud of the work that I’ve put in. I hope that your listeners out there can resonate with my story and know that if he just roll up your sleeves and you go to work and you take every day like it’s your last day and you kick the covers off your body when the sun peeks into your bedroom and you just work and work as hard as you can there will be results for sure.

I guarantee it. So where I’m at today Steve I couldn’t be happier. I’m dealing with the biggest Fighters. That have ever lived in mixed martial arts icons of the sport. Literally. I mean at the tippy tippy top the one percenters. I’m working with right now. I could I I pinch myself. It’s so surreal. I am so happy and you know, I’m going to keep going I treat every day like it’s a new day and I want to keep working harder and harder and harder and I’m so excited and I hope that people that are listening, you know, really hear my story and work hard. And don’t give up.

Steve: His websites MMAbobblehead.com By the way, if anyone wants to go check it out.

Dave: out go go go to the website. You can see how how they’re made how they’re painted my story go see the bobbleheads for yourself because you’re I know you’re thinking bobbleheads. What the hell Bobbleheads have been the same for go. Check out my bobbleheads. You won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re not a mixed martial arts venue just an e-commerce company starting up your own Journey. Go check out the site,

Steve: you know one thing I forgot to ask you this Dave is the UFC noticing this and are they going to start licensing their the athletes themselves?

Dave: The UFC is definitely noticed. I have spoken in bye-bye text to Dana White a couple times who’s the owner of the UFC and I’ve had a couple meetings with the UFC. Yeah, they’re notice it but to exceed the UFC is not in the merchandising business. They pretty much make the same merchandise year after year after year and you know, no disrespect to the UFC but it’s not that great, you know, it’s the same kind of stuff hats t-shirts keychains things like that. No, they’re not making high-end stuff because their business is making the best fights possible. That’s their business not merchandise, and I don’t know if they have a big interest in that so, you know, I have dreams and I have aspirations of you know, maybe partnering up with the UFC one day and maybe that dream will come true and I can come back on your show and tell you how that all went down, but they are taking notice.

Steve: Okay, cool. Well Dave. Hey man. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. Your story is truly inspirational. I love your passionate it always oozes whenever I talk to you and I’m sure the audience noticed that too and I hope a lot of the MMA fans out there. We’ll go and check out your site.

Dave: Thanks for having me Steve. I mean, I really really appreciate you inviting me on your show. It means more than anything to me. I go on a bunch of MMA shows all the time. And you know, I’m not saying to take it for granted, but you know, there’s sometimes in life where you really sit back and go. Wow. Wow, man, like for me. Wow Dave that this is really an accomplishment dude and for me Steve, this is one of those moments.

Steve: Cool. Hey, Dave that that means a lot to me, man, and I really appreciate you coming on.

Dave: Thanks Steve.

Steve: Alright man, take care.

Dave: Take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, Dave took me to my first UFC event a few months ago. And since then I’ve been hooked and there are a whole bunch of deals that we didn’t talk about during this episode because it happened after it was recorded. MMA bobblehead is going to be big for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode277.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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276: How To Get Roasted On Your Own Podcast At Klaviyo Boston Day 2

276: I Got Roasted On My Own Podcast At Klaviyo Boston Day 2

I have an all star ecommerce cast for today’s episode. I’m with my partner Toni Anderson, Kurt Elster of the Unofficial Shopify Podcast, Andrew Youderian of Ecommerce Fuel and Padriac Ryan. And we’re reporting live at day 2 of the Klaviyo conference in Boston.

In this episode, we share our key takeaways from Klaviyo Boston Day 2 and I get roasted on my own podcast.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why you shouldn’t go to the restroom prior to recording a podcast with friends you can’t trust
  • Key takeaways from Klaviyo con day 2
  • How Chubbies sends emails
  • New email features that you must use now

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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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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 deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today is a very unusual episode that is not like all the others and as an experiment. I decided to have Andrew Youdarien of e-commerce fuel, Patrick Ryan Andrew’s brand new employee, Kurt Elster of The Unofficial Shopify podcast and my partner Toni Anderson all on the show at the same time to cover day two of the klaviyo conference, but here’s what happened. I had to go to the bathroom really badly prior to this recording and while I was away Andrew, Tony, Kurt and Patrick all plotted against me to roast me on my own podcast. Now I debated for a while whether to release this episode but in the end I was like what the heck what is the worst thing that can happen? Anyway in this episode we go over key takeaways of day 2 of klaviyo Con and I get roasted in the process, enjoy.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. 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 can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. I’m Steve and we are here at day 2 of Klaviyo Con. I got an All-Star cast with me today. I got my partner, Tony Anderson. I got Kurt Elster of The Unofficial Shopify podcast not to be mistaken with the official shopify is there an official Shopify podcast?

Kurt: I think Shopify Masters would be the official.

Steve: That’s correct. It’s correct. And we got Andrew Youdarien here from e-commerce Fuel and we got his very he’s funny. We got Patrick here, but he’s holding up his name tag because he’s working for Andrew and I tried to hire him away, but he’s quite expensive actually.

Andrew: that’s true. And I’d like to know this is the multiple or multiple team members. You’ve tried to stay away from me. And none of them have wanted to come work for you given your reputation, which actually leads in before before we get started. See there was something that we were all hoping to chat with you about actually on the show.

Kurt: Well, we’re concerned that you’re under appreciating all Toni does

Steve: were you responsible for this Toni?

Andrew: And of course, she’s not getting paid nearly enough. I mean, we just we just see a lot. I mean she I think it’s safe to say I think everyone here would agree. You’re mostly just a figurehead at this point and Toni does all the work and we think for how you treat her especially she’s under compensate and we would like to publicly negotiate warm out of..

Steve: Toni is actually very well compensated. Let’s not even discuss how much she’s compensated

Andrew & Kurt: clearly she’s clearly your d-roc and we’ve heard your difficult can’t please guys, of course you can you can’t polish this this is this is this is an issue that if it’s not publicly

Steve: and I go to the bathroom.

Kurt: All right happens when you gallons of coffee and..

Steve: Well, we are here to talk about klaviyo. Toni is very well compensated.

Andrew: So we are not going to talk about this very real issues at okay. I guess we’ll just don’t you and your dad you’re going to get your phone number in case anyone is interested in partnering up with you? Okay, excellent.

Steve: And we did discover that Toni. Loves hugs. So if you ever see her out in the hall or at a conference, just give her a hug. It’s a term in verb. It’s one of her five love languages when of hugging

Andrew: yes, so she has all five love languages like hugs. What else we discuss my acts of service, which I think you could you know, maybe working on the

Steve: tons of access service.

Kurt: Yep. I don’t think compensation is one of those five love languages. Yeah

Toni: compensation is my love language.

Steve: Alright. Anyways, we’re here to talk about klaviyo Con and key takeaways. We did spend a lot of time on that tangent. I apologize for all the listeners out there. What’d you guys think of also day two first thing that happened was Jake Cohen came out and he talked about all the new klaviyo features the the features that I was very impressed at were all the new data Gathering features right now when I need numbers, I actually have to contact my wife who then has to run through all these equations on the Excel spreadsheet. And it gets a little bit cumbersome now. I can just pull all my own data. So I’m very happy.

Kurt: I think the thing I like most about klaviyo con is that all the talks or majority of the talks are Merchants their customers. So it’s not like Shopify staff or klaviyo staff saying, hey drink the Kool-Aid. It’s real people saying look, we’re going to pull back the curtain. This is how we’re using this. So just from like actionable tactical advice. There’s a lot of great stuff but to your point about Jake Cohen keynote this morning. I mean the the features coming down the pipe not necessarily surprising but still seeing the implementation seeing how easy to use these new tools are it’s really phenomenal. Of course like the big one. The one that they the big takeaway is SMS is now SMS. You can now approach in The Identical fashion do email as far as implementation goes.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely and he gave a little demo on stage. It’s it was like two clicks to get that implemented.

Kurt: It was like it’s a checkbox in the preferences panel is the craziest thing.

Steve: Absolutely not Actually refer a lot of beginners over to Klaviyo and what’s nice is and I know they were doing this but they’re actually like scraping your site now so that they’ll grab your logo the grab any sort of graphics and then you instantly have some templates that are customized with your colors right off the bat.

Kurt: I didn’t even know that

Steve: I didn’t even know that either because it’s been so long since I’ve been using it. So

Andrew: I thought the there’s a session he touched on a little bit but I thought the email deliverability where they’re automatically testing and trying to to send over the course of 24 hours and figure out what time is best. I think that’s quite I don’t know you guys would like we do. We don’t do where you just pick a time that we think works well and blast it out the ability to just automatically have that happen and optimize around send times for maximizing open and click-through is pretty cool. Like I

Steve: You know it’s funny Toni. I we had lunch with one of the data scientists that klaviyo because I wanted some clarification on how that works and they released this paper where they were trying to figure out. So what they were originally going to implement was optimal times on a per individual basis. So for example, like you might open your email at 11 I might open at 9 a.m. And that would be the most optimal but they did all these studies and it turns out that I don’t remember what she said was something like you would need like 3,000 emails sent for that individual to gather enough data to do that. And if you don’t have enough data, it’s not going to be accurate. So they’re smart sending feature. What it does. All you have to do is send one broadcast to train when approximately everyone has the highest percentage of open rates and for subsequent campaigns it optimizes and sent at that time in a particular persons time zone and it works a lot better

Toni: and what I want at we talked about this a little bit on the first podcast that we did for day one, but what was really cool is that we sat in the keynote learned about all the new features. We actually had a couple questions about one of the things was the personalized time because it didn’t it wasn’t fully explained in the keynote because there wasn’t time but we had a whole lunch to sit there with the klaviyo data scientists and like ask the hard questions and you know then have her basically say what are you looking at? What do you need? Send me an email? So it’s cool because you learn things in the sessions, but then you have the opportunity to In dive deeper with all the Klaviyo staff that’s here at the conference.

Steve: Absolutely. And I don’t know if I excluded some of you guys from the conversation but me and the data scientist. Her name is Christina. We were kind of geeking out because she went to MIT. I’m gonna look so engineer. She was a material science major and so I just it was just nice to and she was getting really excited to talking about all the stuff. So people out klaviyo are very happy and with their jobs and she was just ecstatic to be talking about these numbers. She even took some notes Down based on what we said, so they’re constantly gathering information. Patrick any key takeaways?

Patrick: Yeah, I think the analytics portion is it seems like everyone had to jump through hoops to get analytics Data before and now it’s going to be right there a couple clicks and you get the data you need and it looks like they’re probably going to get the eventually get the graph data and crunching right on screen as well. So I think it’s going to save a lot of people a lot of time.

Steve: Yeah, so I had a couple things to say just about like the customer analytics because klaviyo has all of your data across your entire store. You can basically get your Revenue numbers based on any segment. So anyone who has spent over $100 and bought red handkerchiefs in the last week. I can easily get a nice graph year over year to see how we’re doing in that in that respect and just to have all that data which is completely accurate since you’re sending all your data to klaviyo is just really powerful. You don’t need to contact your wife for example to get the numbers. I think I already said that right? I probably I’m sorry Jen. I’m really sorry.

Andrew: We love you Jen

Steve: what’s sessions you guys go to I know Toni I went to the chubby session. I don’t think we saw you there which sessions you guys go to

Patrick: try to go to Chubby’s boot was full they will ya what was it was a good

Steve: it was those guys are a riot. I found it hilarious. They what they do is they have they test all these subject lines and they also send emails five times a week, which I thought was pretty insane, but they’re open rates weren’t bad given how much they send. I think they’re average open way was 16% given all their sins. I think you’re the data was not actually 9 percent is what their year-to-date numbers were which I thought were a little low. Because we Toni and I we sat in on a deliverability session once and I think they were telling us that if the deliverability drops below 15% you should be worried about it.

Toni: Yes, one of the things I was actually curious that they didn’t talk about in the session. Although I’m a huge Chubby’s fan. Like I think their marketing is amazing and the two guys that were speaking like were totally brand appropriate but I’m curious if their conversion rates on those emails, right? Because I did, you know, we’ve had this conversation afterwards like nine percent seemed a little low but because like some of their emails are not sale emails at all, right, they’re just random content and so I’m wondering like their conversion rates because they send I think three or four different emails out to right like they have one that’s very specific and then I think they’re Friday one. They said was like the Weekender which is sort of nonsensical a little bit. So I was curious if they didn’t discuss because it wasn’t that wasn’t the topic.

Steve: Well, I’d be more curious what their deliverability rate is right? Because when it drops below 15% that means maybe yahoo, or Microsoft emails as a whole are getting blocked all together.

Toni: Yeah, that’s true.

Steve: Actually, one of the Klaviyo representatives offered to introduce me to the Chubby’s founder. So I’ll have them on the podcast at some point. And if I had the courage I will ask them those hard questions and see what they say.

Kurt: They’re a lot of fun. Let me ask you a question German. What are what are some of the common themes that you’re seeing among Merchants presenting talking whatever it is.

Steve: I think the higher degree of personalization across the emails. I really like what they’ve done with the flow Builder the ability to just Branch depending on the type of customer. I think we Toni and I we touched on this on yesterday’s episode already just you know higher lifetime value customers, you might want to treat a little bit differently versus the ones who might not spend that much or haven’t become customers yet might want to heavily discount just to get them in the door. I think that has been the general theme of the event. I know what do you guys think?

Andrew: It’s a the the own marketing is probably what I would say the biggest thing that they’re pushing. I think it I think it resonates you want to Define what that is for the people who don’t know what that is. So any any marketing channel where you have total control over it? So right Google Facebook Amazon do not count because you’re hitchhiking off. Someone else’s platform some in some way podcasting email direct mail. Those will all be own channels SMS things like that. So I think that’s a huge one that’s been talked about a lot the other one. I’ve seen a lot. I think this is true is like people like if you’re gonna if you’re gonna start a business and run it and sell people stuff like you got to have a better reason than just selling people random stuff and because otherwise it’s hard to stand out. It’s hard to like higher motivated smart people and it’s hard to it’s hard to there’s a lot of noise in the world today, you know, so like having a good why I’m seeing that a lot more with with with companies and Brands.

Steve: Sorry Andrew. What do you sell again?

Andrew: I sell I sell relationships and Community.

Steve: Okay. Yeah.

Andrew: What do you sell digital products IC. Yes digital products longtime member here long time on the beginning. I’ve been to all the e-commerce fuel lives

Andrew: and not so I’m not sure if the 10-year will continue. But yeah

Steve: you know if funny thing we talked about own marketing even with email with Gmail introducing all the different inboxes arguably email is not quite owned either right because you got to stay out of the promotional inbox and Google technically has control over that

Kurt: I like the idea of own marketing, you know, like it’s you know, Amazon, you’re just renting a table at their Marketplace Facebook Google ads you’re renting the traffic from the traffic store, right? And then these other channels really it’s ostensibly you create the content and in talking to the a lot of these Brands and seeing the brands were speaking the common theme was we’re creating entertaining content first. So a lot of people just like really producing lots and lots of content and it’s not necessarily sales content. It’s entertaining content to build a one-on-one relationship and like what a the one of the mantras for Success that I’ve held for years is people buy from people not Brands and to see like an entire conference built around that idea my gosh. So excited but also just thrilled to see actionable ways to do that and people saying like hey the way you make money with these channels is create compelling engaging content and people like and some of the stuff feels like going back to basics.

That we’ve started to overlook in favor of all the shiny toys that are out there like so many people have said we have what flow what’s the one you can’t live without they got welcome series like well, what do you do in the welcome series like, oh, we just trying to introduce people to the brand to us to the team to Ry and like oh, but what about you know products and sales their got that comes later and that like in these are huge Brands big like seven eight figure Brands. So really it’s been been very compelling and inspiring to see that

Steve: absolutely and actually the poster child. I would probably be Chubbies they spent a lot of time on their content and I actually want to just kind of touch on a couple of things one of their men they do an insane number of subject lines. I think I can’t remember who was speaking, Toni?

Kurt: Eric?

Steve: was it was it Eric? But I think they go through like 30 subject lines at least maybe more and they spent a lot of time on that stuff

Toni: they do and but then I think they said they sent they send for

Steve: yes.

Toni: Usually they A/B test with for subject lines, but more importantly in do we talked? I can’t remember we talked about this in our round one, but the preview in the email.

Steve: Yes

Toni: and I know you and I talked about that offline. I can remember if we put that

Steve: No, we put that in there because I wasn’t doing it.

Toni: Yes

Steve: and then you were

Toni: yes, but to see right there. Yeah well to see their preview, you know, what what shows up in the right after and what I thought was interesting we didn’t talk about is the who it’s from where they’re making up those email addresses, which was really cool.

Steve: Yeah. So just to kind of expand upon that they make up funny user names for their emails depending on whatever theme they have. I don’t know if I can replicate them because just the style their emails are really irreverent. Their email subject lines are just so off the wall. And I probably couldn’t do that for like my store, or example. it’d be a lot of fun to do that to be able to put irreverence subject lines. Like what was one of their funny ones? They’re like just off the wall.

Toni: Yeah, very random has nothing really to do with the product. But so I guess I just mind auto-populates, right? So it’s from the actual brand email right? But then like you can also put like someone’s name like I usually put Toni at the oil collection or whatever but they do they create that where you can actually customize enough to be a true email like one of them was like, hello darkness my old friend at Chubbies.com. Right? Like they because it had to do with whatever subject line was or like, is it the weekend yet at Chubbies.com like they change in it’s like really clever and I think it’s just another way to get like be top of mind like look when you get in your inbox, right you’re fighting to get notice and he also said that they try to keep their like actual subject like one a couple words, right?

Steve: Yeah two words, their subject lines are always super short. Yeah. So what they do, I’m just looking at my notes right now. They do a three-hour test when they do there. With test for the highest open rate and then whatever wins they press out to the rest of their list.

Andrew: So this is a little this may be a little niche when you’re not spend too much time on it. But a lot of us here put on events. Like would you guys appreciate about the event or would you have fun with here from an event like an event standpoint as opposed to contest that point because I think that’s fun to geek out on to

Toni: I mean, it’s definitely not as cool as ECF live or seller Summit right? But no actually I will say Adama stickler for events and things running on time like everything’s on time here, you know if session starts at 10 a.m. It is starting at 10:00 a.m. They end on time which is great because sometimes when sessions run along then you’re forced to not get to the next session that you want to go to. Yes just drives me insane when the speaker just keeps talking and you know, you got to shut the mic off whatever but they’ve been running on time. It’s a great venue very walkable area, which I always think is good. They feed you all day long, which is a big deal. Lots of water, coffee. All the standards have that a lot of people don’t necessarily think is important.

It actually is really important to us like a customer to the event and I think what what sets its event apart from other brand events, although I haven’t been to a ton is the amount of like klaviyo people that I can actually solve your problem which we talked a little bit yesterday are the other day on the podcast, but I think that’s a huge benefit to coming here. If you’re a klaviyo user if you want to use klaviyo to its fullest potential like coming here is a good place to be able to figure that out and find like the gaps in your own business.

Kurt: So the swag is a big deal to a lot of conferences. You have the cool swag and it’s like so easy the T-shirt now it sucks. And klaviyo really went next level with swag. So I wore just out of practicality a fanny bag Fanny. Yeah fanny pack to this event only to discover the swag you get when you show up is a fanny pack from a Shopify Merchant. And then as you in the fanny pack is a poker chip that’s has Klaviyo on it. And then as you do different things like get support go to the after-party you get more of these poker chips, and then you can take those to the the swag boo. Which is a Plinko board and you drop the chips into the Plinko board and it spells out. Klaviyo at the bottom and each letter corresponds to a different kind of Swag and the there were like, it was like socks t-shirts. I forgot my sunglasses. So I got some klaviyo blenders, I wear sunglasses which was convenient, but the big hit was like a they’re giving away backpacks that people were really into but it’s always fun to see like, okay not only did they put thought into valuable swag that you’ll actually like use and enjoy later but they made it they gamified it made it this very fun process.

Andrew: This is maybe less exciting but more practical like two things. I thought were cool. It was the paper schedule. We use a nap. Everything’s digital. I hate paper most people hate paper, but I loves this thing. Like I just play time. It’s so much easier. I we’re going to do that at our next event yet. You got one too. That’s great the bells like I think you guys know to like trying to get heard people into sessions at an event is people have great discussions and you don’t want to break those up at the same time like you got to get the the Rolling and the little magic Tinkerbell fellows that Steve you look really you look very beautiful walking around like I don’t know how they got you to do that. But doing the bells,

Toni: like first of all..

Andrew: have a you have a talent for that my friend..

Toni: He had piano lessons for many years as a child.

Andrew: He did?

Toni: So I think that’s part of it but

Andrew: So Graceful wasn’t it?

Toni: but yeah, I’m beautiful and with the to to in Tights as well. Like I feel like that just added

Andrew: I didn’t see that again. He did it again with to to tights?

Toni: On day 2, it was day one. Day two he was wearing regular clothes. Yeah

Andrew: we will post some pictures in the show notes here if you want to see those, so

Toni: I actually asked Steve about getting the bells because I do I agree with you. It’s hard to get people back in session and then it’s annoying when they’re coming in and out and the door and he said, you know Toni we don’t have the budget for that right but I have but I have a megaphone.

Andrew: To tos are very expensive

Toni: he has a megaphone at home. So we’re good. I’m just going to walk through blast and people with a megaphone at seller Summit, you know, and I feel like that’s that’s in line with the type of event. We like to run.

Andrew: Yeah see thank you for inviting us to come on your body.

Steve: Yes. I’ve been like you can’t see me but Been fighting to grab the mic backs as we have two mics. We got five people here and we’re passing around. So would you say you just you didn’t mention like you like the paper schedules would you say it’s more valuable than a nap Andrew?

Andrew: more valuable than a nap? This is a trick question. I think both are very important and I think

Steve: Course you do, Kiss Ass haha

Andrew: I think they are like we are..

Steve: have vendors already afraid of Tony that’s even better long. She’s already terrified.

Andrew: Yes. I know. So will you guys we have an app for our conference? And they’re great. They’re good for messaging and stuff. But like it’s also the schedules the best part about the paper.

Steve: So I want to switch gears a little bit from not making fun of me. Do some key takeaways for the event It’s the final day here. We’re almost done with the event. You want to start Kurt? What are your key takeaways from the event

Kurt: when I get back to my office. I think the the thing I want to do is pick a couple retainer clients and just start going through their flows and trying to reconcile what they’re doing and all of the phenomenal advice I got here like so many people is what’s the one flow and like browse abandonment welcome series and all with this customer service Focus. So I really wanted like with a critical eye go back and look and make sure that we’re doing a good job of engaging and entertaining and delivering that like personal content that Brands like Chubbies are doing so well that I think everybody and you don’t have to do it like the irreverent funny way the Chubbies does but you can certainly make things like they don’t have to be so stuffy and business and corporate that we can leave to the Enterprise, Organizations and instead it approach things in a much more human way. So I think that’s

Steve: I didn’t realize you could copy writing is part of your services. Do you?

Kurt: I have a little bit everything.

Steve: Okay.

Kurt: Now when we do specifically like email setups and email management and as part of that I just I let my inner copywriter out.

Steve: Let me ask you this. What is what is one feature that was announced that you plan on thoroughly integrating with your clients.

Kurt: So number one the smarts end times that’s just like in a single checkbox immediate win. So they said it soon as I say something. It’s gonna do it again. It was with the smart. Sometimes they said on average. It was a 10 percent lift and open rates. That’s a single option that will make that work better. So all right easy win. Everybody makes more money if I enable that feature

Steve: absolutely

Kurt: and yeah that one number one and I think that’s all I got, now go back.

Steve: I’m not editing this

Kurt: not like I gotta go back go back through it. Everybody’s doing welcome series of browse abandonment like everybody asks, what’s the one thing you can’t live without it was browser Bandit welcome series over and over. So I think I need to re review and make sure everybody you’re running both of those and I think the way to supercharge that is to do because personalization was a common theme.

Steve: Yep

Kurt: like a browser abandonment. It works. It’s nice to make a customer service focused but it could be a little generic. I think the magic is in let’s take this idea of personalization apply it to browse abandonment where we do different browser abandonment flows and you could do like split flows and klaviyo now where it’s depending on what category they viewed

Steve: right

Kurt: That’s a very easy flow filter to apply you could filter by collection. So it’s like oh they viewed wallets. All right, then the browse abandonment email is actually an email about which wallets right for me like that kind of thing. So it’s rough start repurposing that content making it very you focused on the customer and just help them by engaging them in this customer service oriented way. I think that’s how we’re going to start selling and really Separating these the small business brands from the the big news cpg Procter & Gamble direct to Consumer brands that are cropping up

Steve: cool, Youdarien, what do you got?

Andrew: I think takeaways are get better about sending email email sound like you mentioned testing that more because I we’re horrible at it. Really? I am Patrick maybe..

Patrick: Don’t blame me I’ve only been there for four months haha

Steve: so just for the record you guys can’t see this, but Andrew said he sucks at and then he looked over at Patrick

Andrew: and said maybe You’re better at this

Steve: I never blame anyone but myself. When..

Andrew: is that true Toni?

Toni: Yes that’s so true

Steve: just a testament to my character

Toni: I’m not sure about that Steve

Andrew: and thrown a lot of rocks from living in a glass room. Literally. So yeah, I think I mean that’s a big one. I think the one to is thinking about just like nurturing. There’s a couple good campaigns on nurturing and nourishing people throughout your throne. Like I got I won’t I’m not blaming Patrick showed up Steve’s got me all defensive but like our nurture series is pretty bad and the opt-ins are horrible on her blog like we just I think we really I need to really redesign it. We’re going to work on this together. But so that was one thing and I think another one was also like SMS is there are some SMS companies floating around it’s not hugely widely used thing for a lot of merchants right now. And I think it is of all of the marketing mediums that have the potential to backfire. I think this one’s pretty as a lot of potential to do that because maybe people are different.

I am very sensitive to the marketing messages I go with text. Text from you like every personal Channel, you know, and like I if I get some messages from Brand, I really love for product really am interested in and it stays like much money. Okay, maybe that’s fine. But if I start getting spammed by text, it will create an emotional it has in the past create an emotional backlash with me and I think Brands should be really careful how they I can be super powerful, but I think you’ll be really careful. Otherwise, you’re going to alienate a lot of customers.

Steve: I know for SMS for me. I think I will probably only use it like as a last resort if people aren’t opening emails may be just as Of like a last ditch effort to give him some sort of discount or some sort of piece of content that I know they want to click over or have them re– opt into some other series. I’ll probably also use it. Maybe this is an e-commerce related but for webinars just to kind of remind people that the webinar starting soon. That’s probably something that might not be that intrusive. But but I agree if it’s just for to announce the latest sale that can get annoying real quick. All right, Patrick. What do you got man?

Patrick: I think data points. We have a lot of data points and I think we use them effectively enough to personalize the email Series. So I think playing with those and the sin x might help our deliverability and open rates, but also but also playing around with the subject lines make a little more fun with that and changing all of our from addresses to see wears a pink tutu at e-commercefuel.com would be perfect. So definitely a great takeaway from this conference. I can Implement that tomorrow.

Andrew: Steve do you know anyone that can do really good Photoshop work for us totally unrelated totally relate, but do you know anyone?

Steve: anyway next question so my key takeaway was I like Kurt I actually haven’t been using a whole lot of the personalization features in my flows and I actually created all my flows back when they didn’t have that whole new flow bloat Builder. So I actually have multiple flows that kind of overlap and I exclude the people on the other flows when I do it. So right now it’s a complete mess and I just need to kind of redo all of them and you can you can consolidate a bunch of flows because you can do conditional stuff within the flow builder now to really simplify things. So that’s kind of next on my objective

Toni: what I love about events. Like this is that you tend to get an aha moment sometimes based on multiple things you heard so yesterday they talked about gender predictive feature, which I was like cool. I don’t know how I’d use that most of my customers are female. But then as I started thinking about it today and having other conversations, I realized that actually I do have Male purchases and it’s always a gift right and then I started thinking well, it’s always a gift. They always come organically and they never use a coupon. So I never want to send them a coupon right because they’re going to buy without a coupon. So I said we were at lunch and we were talking to the data scientist and I was like, oh, I got it. Like I need to make sure that I’m segmenting my people so that they’re not getting a coupon because they’ll never they don’t need to use one and I think a lot of times guys when they’re looking for gifts aren’t likely to use a coupon anyway, so that was my big aha moment.

Steve: Clearly. Those guys are not Asian because yeah,

Toni: yeah

Steve: I use a coupon whenever I can

Toni: I yeah, I and I don’t pull the I don’t use the data like I should but I know just from like especially early on

Steve: noticed there wasn’t like a racial setting on on the klaviyo thing.

Toni: I’m not even gonna respond to that

Steve: I think I’m gonna cut that one out.

Andrew: steve, when you’re shopping for presents for Jen you go and find like half a dozen coupons and then pick from those for the present?

Steve: They don’t have coupons for Cartier, Tiffany’s and all those high-end high-end retailers and

Toni: Walmart’s already discounted enough so you don’t need a coupon right, Steve?

Steve: So I’m going to end this podcast a little bit earlier than I typically do. We’re in a soundproof booth right now, but the ceiling is wide open and we’re sitting right outside of the main hall and people are sent to exit right now. But I hope you guys appreciate this little recap and in the roasting I guess

Toni: this is going to be your most popular podcast ever

Steve: just show me your support by leaving some in the comments in defensive me, please and

Andrew: and just for the record if you didn’t hear at the beginning our defensive Toni and her support, it was edited out by Steve write to him at Steve@mywifequitherjob.com and ask him to include that back into the podcast because it’s an important piece and I mean, I just I think it’s important

Steve: what’s funny is This is all plotted while I went to the bathroom. I had to go to the bathroom before we started recording and then they plotted this whole thing. They know I can’t really edit it out. And then Toni was probably the Mastermind. I’m guessing

Toni: in all seriousness this in all seriousness. This is why you should attend these events because you get together with people that you usually only see online and you’re able to share ideas you joke around you can rip on each other. It’s pretty cool side benefit of being here. So thank you Steve for being a good sport.

Steve: I don’t know if I call this people my friends but we do but we do see each other once or twice a year and it’s a lot of fun.

Andrew: I know Toni and Kurt, I consider you a good friends.

Steve: So, all right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode as it was a departure from one of my typical episodes. And as you can probably tell going to events with your friends and fellow podcasters can be a lot of fun. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode276.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode and inviting me to the event now. Klaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Oh, I also want thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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275: Email Marketing Takeaways From Klaviyo Boston Day 1 With Toni Anderson

275: Key Takeaways From Klaviyo Boston Day 1 With Toni Anderson

Today, I’m with my partner Toni Anderson and we’re reporting live at the Klaviyo conference in Boston. Unlike other company sponsored events, what sets Klaviyo-con apart from the rest is the insane employee to attendee ratio.

At Klaviyo-con, there’s literally 1 employee to answer questions for every 2 attendees which is crazy. In this episode, Toni and I share our key email marketing takeaways from Klaviyo Boston Day 1.

What You’ll Learn

  • An overview of Klaviyo Boston
  • New flow features that you have to use now to improve your email conversions
  • Small tweaks you can make to drastically improve your open rate
  • How to use data science to improve your email marketing revenue

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

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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 deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, I just got back from Klaviyo annual conference in Boston and I came back with a bunch of email marketing takeaways that I’m going to share with you in this episode along with my partner, Toni Anderson. Now, I thought that I was doing everything possible with my email marketing but there are some new features that I now have to implement with my e-commerce store.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. My partner, Toni Anderson and I are live in Boston at Klaviyo Con number 2. Now, what’s funny is Toni and I we were at this event last year and it was only 300 people, right?

Toni: Yeah way bigger this year.

Steve: Way bigger, I would say it’s more than double the size.

Toni: Absolutely. But what I think is amazing in Klaviyo Con and if you haven’t been you have to go is that they have one Klaviyo person for every two attendees at the event.

Steve: That is correct. Every single person at the company comes. I think what they’re 300 people there. And so yeah two to one ratio. So what’s great about this event, which is unlike any other company based event that I’ve been to is that they offer like free consulting services for Klaviyo. So they have dedicated time where you can just pull any Klaviyo person side and get personalized help on your email marketing campaigns.

Toni: And everywhere you go in the convention center. There are tables with people with their Klaviyo jackets on with open laptop. To ready to help you like I don’t think there was one point the entire day when you and I walked around where there wasn’t opportunity to talk to somebody from Klaviyo.

Steve: What’s funny is we run an event together and this is not a low-budget Affair.

Toni: No.

Steve: I was walking down they offer breakfast coffee all day the stage looked amazing.

Toni: It did, beautiful

Steve: And I was like Toni, you know, what do we get that stage for Seller Summit? And then you told me you gave me a number and I was shocked by how much they are spending on this event. I’m pretty sure they’re not making a profit on the event.

Toni: No, I mean it’s all the money that I think your ticket goes to is to create an atmosphere where you can learn as much as possible about all the amazing tools and features that Klaviyo has.

Steve: Yes, it is all about the community and the fact that every single employee is there. I’m just wondering who’s running the company

Toni: the actually was wondering that we were sitting in the session this morning. I thought well, what if there’s like a problem?

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: Who are you talking to?

Steve: Maybe the engineers stayed behind?

Toni: No, there were there were some engineer looking dude. I saw the Asians.

Steve: Engineer looking dudes, please clarify when engineering looking Dude Looks Like please Man

Toni: I, we don’t have to do that.

Steve: Get you on the podcast and insult me. So what was also amazing about Klaviyo was last year when we were here. They said they had like ten thousand brand signed on and this year, they said they had 20,000 Brands.

Toni: Yeah

Steve: 2x increase and 2x increase in the number of employees and they also decided this one statistic which was about Black Friday and I think what was it like five billion dollars were made over Black Friday weekend and they went through their statistics in Klaviyo and Klaviyo was responsible for 40 million of that which is almost a percent.

Toni: Yeah, that’s phenomenal

Steve: Which is crazy. I didn’t even realize so many people were so many larger companies were using Klaviyo. So the event was packed. We actually had some problems getting in some sessions, but the few that we did go to work good.

Toni: Yeah

Steve: So what I thought we would do is kind of do a little breakdown of the sessions that we went to. Do you have any comments about the keynote per se?

Toni: I always think it’s interesting to listen to a brand keynote just to hear about their growth and their strategies for growing their business what I like about what they’re doing is it feels like all their growth is centered around helping the consumer being the users of Klaviyo grow their businesses. So I just think that that all the statistics they shared this morning, were pretty I don’t know if we can get a copy that they had the slide where it showed all their users. So klaviyo customers connected to those customer’s customers.

Steve: Yes and of just covering the entire world.

Toni: Yes, like the entire Globe had like these connections, which I thought was if you could I’m sure they’ll give that to you could add it to the show notes, but that was pretty phenomenal think about like how many people are touched on a daily basis just by email marketing

Steve: What I actually liked was instead of making people come to an event. They actually went around and put events all across the country for their customers.

Toni: Yeah, right.

Steve: I don’t know of any other company that does that but I guess the fact that they’re doing really well they can do this and it just shows that they’re the care that they have for the customer makes them loyal customers in the more people just sign on.

Toni: I think there was even a comment. One of the Keynotes this afternoon where it said everything is so integrated into the date of the klaviyo provides that you can’t switch email service providers.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Yeah, like I’m on klaviyo you’re on klaviyo and once you once you’re pregnant, I want to say pregnant with their service like you can’t you can’t get out of there because all of your data is just in there and all the data is necessary to create all these segments that you can use to to increase revenue for like your best sellers.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: All right. So let’s switch gears and talk about the first session that we went to it was from Alexandra Edelstein who spoke at seller Summit at the seller Summit. She was talking about segmentation, but this time around she was talking about flows and just to be clear flows and klaviyo land are autoresponder sequences that pretty much generate revenue for your store on autopilot. And if you followed my blog for quite some time, I have an article in there. About all the email autoresponders that I use but klaviyo over the years have introduced additional features into their flow Builder that allow you to dig a lot deeper into these flows. And I know after listening to Alex’s talk. I’m going to be making some significant changes to my flows to take advantage of these features and let’s go over some of these features you want to start?

So the first feature that’s been in there for quite some time is and this is really hard. You’re not actually using the tool but it’s the ability to Branch your autoresponder sequences based on customer data. So for example, let’s say someone abandons the cart right? Right now, the way I have it is I send out a generic abandoned cart email after 4 hours and if they still haven’t made a purchase I send them another abandoned cart email after day and then finally another one after two days, but what you can do in klaviyo now is you can Branch based on new and old customers. So let’s say I have a customer who is never purchased from us and we want them to just spend money and we want them to make a purchase because we know that someone who has purchased as 60% more likely to make another purchase.

You just want to get them to spend any amount of money in that abandoned cart sequence. I’m not giving out a coupon but what I might want to do is for a brand new customer give them a coupon just so they become a customer whereas if it’s an old customer has already purchased before chances are those people might not need a coupon and I wouldn’t want to present a coupon to them because I know they’re going to buy no matter what.

Toni: Yeah, and I thought it was interesting to she talked about basing doing a split based on the product like that was in the band and cart hmm where you can change the subject line based on product, which I thought was pretty cool.

Steve: Yes, actually I think one of her examples was based on the value of the items in the cart.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: So someone only has like 5 bucks in their cart, you’re not going to offer them a coupon right? They’re low value customer but let’s say there were way old, let’s say they’re spending like $500 in their cart you want to do like you have more wiggle room to provide a discount in that case since you might want to Discount 10 or 20% in there.

Toni: Right. So the fact that you can like completely customize the customer experience based on the value of the items in the cart what’s in the cart likes pretty amazing because it’s true like the $5 customer or the $20 customer you’re going to treat very differently than the customer that’s going to spend $500. And then the other thing that I thought was interesting is they talked about you can send automations based on the expected date of the next order.

Steve: Yes.

Toni: Which first of all just like mind-blowing.

Steve: So that opens a whole can of worms, right? So klaviyo, I think last year they introduced all these data science features. So there’s lifetime value. Acted date of next order they even have a predicted gender.

Toni: Yes.

Steve: Feature where I think based on the name of the customer they can infer whether it’s a male or female and you can dynamically change your emails imagery. So for example, let’s say we know it’s a female we’d want to show them pictures of women’s clothes as opposed to men’s clothes. Whereas if it was Steve they’d want to show me like guys clothing right so you can customize dynamically on that level.

Toni: I think you can even I think for me like just thinking about how I would use that in my own business is just changing even the verbiage like in the subject line of an email or in the email body and

Steve: To make it more girly.

Toni: Yeah or to make it more like direct and to-the-point. I mean hate to be stereotypical here, but..

Steve: Well no, for a guy be direct to the point.

Toni: Exactly.

Steve: Okay, what’s an example of like a female subject like?

Toni: Like more emojis in the subject line, like over-the-top verbiage, you know, lots of, lots of punctuation. I think I would be testing that if I was dividing it by gender.

Steve: Which brings me to the next feature that everyone should be using which is AB testing. What’s cool about klaviyo is like I’ve used five email marketing tools over the years and typically the way you set up an a/b test is you literally write two different emails. Then you send it out twice and you figure out who wins within Klaviyo, you can do it within a flow and this is if you’re not using the tool it’s really hard to visualize this but they have this email autoresponder Builder. That’s like drag and drop and what you can do is you can actually drag this A/B test lock in there and then write two emails and then instantly it just automatically A/B test within the flow and as soon as you pick a winner, you literally just delete the email that lost and that way you have the most optimal email autoresponder in there.

Toni: That’s actually one of my favorite features that they have. That makes it so much

Steve: Yeah, it makes it more convenient like other tools have this feature, but it’s much easier to use with klaviyo.

Toni: And then I like the fact that they talk about and this is something that I’m not doing but that you can tag profiles inflows to update them in the flow. Once you talked about. So once someone does it creates a certain action at tags them so then it it changes where they are in the flow. And remember when she was talking with that is towards the end.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah, I have that right?

Toni: I think it’s newer. It’s a newer feature. She said I think they rolled out in the past couple months.

Steve: That’s right. If someone is made their first order, what you do is you can tag them and time stamp that so that maybe after one year, for example, we sell wedding handkerchiefs. We’d want to stamp them in after a year. Wish them a happy anniversary and maybe after the second anniversary, which is the Cotton anniversary entice them to get hankies again.

Toni: And in seven years they get

Steve: Seven years to get well, yeah, seven years the running joke between Toni and I is that after seven years, that’s like the typical divorce period so after seven years send them another email automatically see, hey, sorry it didn’t work out. But

Toni: Here’s a hankie to dry your tears.

Steve: Here’s a hankie to dry your tears.

Toni: One thing I was going to actually ask you about I was just curious because we heard this several times today. Do you use emojis in any of your email? So

Steve: I do not.

Toni: Okay, I’ve started testing it and it’s actually works really well, but I wonder if it’s because my audience is primarily female. Although yours is probably to for

Steve: It actually is.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Well, no actually for the blog too the readers are mostly women over the age of 35. So

Toni: We love emojis

Steve: I was just going to say as a woman over the age of

Toni: 27

Steve: 27

Toni: right

Steve: You like emojis or

Toni: I’ve noticed in my open rates have increased since I’ve started adding them.

Steve: That’s not what I was asking you. Are you more likely to open and email

Toni: Yeah

Steve: Because of an emoji?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Are there any specific emojis that work better than others?

Toni: The ones that I the ones that I personally relate to the laughing, crying one, big eye. You know, what the heck’s going on, but I think it also can correlate to your email subject. Right? Like I sent an email out the other day and I said something about something being on life support,.

Steve: Friyay?

Toni: Friyay, that’s, I love Friyay, I sent out about being on life support and I added a little ambulance and then like the shocked face and the open rate was pretty good. And I feel like is it correlated to my topic but I’ve been testing it for probably six weeks now and my open rates are increasing and that’s really the only thing I’ve changed in the email so

Steve: I know for me emojis are a big turn-off.

Toni: Yes. I know that’s why I was curious about you using them.

Steve: I probably I mean if I don’t like them, I probably won’t use them

Toni: Right

Steve: Although like because you can do gender-based split.

Toni: That’s what I was thinking.

Steve: Right. Perhaps I would do Emojis for women over the age of 27 like yourself.

Toni: Yes. Absolutely.

Steve: And for guys to be like yo

Toni: you could do like the fist bump emoji.

Steve: Oh Yeah the fist bump I might open a fist bump Emoji actually. Yeah.

Toni: but I noticed that like two of the speaker’s today mentioned it in their talks

Steve: Emojis?

Toni: I feel like this is it’s clearly a trend but I’ve been getting emails from like big Brands like Macy’s type size brands with emojis in them now.

Steve: Really?

Toni: Yeah

Steve: Macy’s.

Toni: I don’t know if it’s Macy’s but like brands on that

Steve: What if you’re like bank send you emails with Emojis? I probably wouldn’t fly right

Toni: the bags of money.

Steve: I don’t want Bank of America sending me like fist-bump emojis or whatnot. So it depends on the business folks one thing that I also I found kind of neat was they have location-based also. So let’s say your shipping worldwide. You might only want to offer free shipping if they are located geographically in the United States as opposed. We actually ran into this problem the other day, we offer free shipping over the orders over the over 75 bucks, but then we had an international customer as their shopping. We had this like countdown right countdown to free shipping and she obtained free shipping. We don’t actually know where she’s located until after she starts checking out and she was she thought she was getting free shipping, but she didn’t. But anyway bottom line here is you can easily do that in your email to just make it clear that free shipping is only for U.S People and the international people won’t see that, you know.

Toni: Something they talked about later today that I thought was really interesting. And I wanted to chat with you about it is the cross selling and advertising versus email your when she discussed that it was the skincare lady this afternoon where she talked about taking the email addresses and instead of like using them to instead of marketing to them via email. They actually use them for like custom audiences and Facebook to cross-sell.

Steve: Yeah, that’s actually something we do but only with emails who have not opened with a certain period so essentially people who just have an open for a while and instead of just deleting them or just sunsetting them you want to do something with them and sometimes they’re not opening emails, but they’re on Facebook or Instagram and they can see those ads. So one thing that we do in that respect is we take some of our people who have bought before but haven’t bought in a long time have an open an email a long time and we try to get them back on with some sort of give away or some sort of like free plus shipping offer and that sort of thing or like a free hanky with any purchase and that usually gets them back on once they make a purchase again for some reason after they make a Purchase, they’re more likely to open the emails after.

All right. So one other thing that I thought was pretty cool and this is something that I personally am not doing is doing testing based on the weight periods for win back campaigns in abandoned cart. So when you do an abandoned cart, like I think I don’t know why I chose four hours perhaps I was just a default example.

Toni: I think it’s the default.

Steve: Yeah

Toni: In the system. Yeah.

Steve: But you can test that dynamically split test. I guess it’s not considered a split test, but you can dynamically test different wait times to see which one converts the best for the first email second and third email for win back campaigns, which is when someone buys something but hasn’t bought in a long time. You can kind of test this and figure out the approximate period when someone is going to purchase again, and then use that number.

Toni: Well another thing that she talked about in her session this morning was when you’re hitting them with the expected purchase again flow and she said she talked about a company that had 13 emails in the flow and everyone was in the room sort of had the appearance. That was too many and she said the open rate was over 30% on the final email and the conversion rate was 13% So I think the message in that was like tested length of your flows. So as opposed to like thinking well, this is like a four email flow like try different amounts of emails because the one who emailed people the longest was actually the best one remember her talking about that this morning

Steve: I do in my opinion there is.

Toni: Do you agree with that?

Steve: No well. No, it’s not that agree with it. There’s no flow that is too long.

Toni: Okay

Steve: In my opinion.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Like the more times you contact the customer the more sales you going to make so like our flows. We just continuously add to them because we know that every email is going to lead to some money

Toni: But do you think because I notice that my own flows that like, I feel like the farther out they get the lower the open rate unless

Steve: Absolutely

Toni: Very specific like sometimes I’ll shift the emails around because I know an email just performs better because it’s just a catchy or topic. So I’ll move it farther in the flow, but I noticed like a sort of seems like a decline. I was actually surprised by that statistic.

Steve: Yeah, actually, I didn’t know I’d have to see the nature that email. I wonder why that one last email did so well.

Toni: Yeah, I wonder if it was like a last chance or

Steve: maybe it was just like free merchandise.

Toni: Yeah, everything’s free in the store

Steve: Yeah right

Toni: Just pay shipping.

Steve: Yeah. So one thing that they did talk about was your implementing all these automated flows and they can clash with each other and Klaviyo has this feature where you can make sure that you’re not sending more than one email per day so that they’re not getting like four emails and an autoresponder sequence having the same time. And what you can do is you can prioritize the autoresponder over the broadcast because one thing that I can’t remember who, was it Alex said this? That the flow emails tend to always perform better than your broadcast campaigns.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: So you want to prioritize the flows over the campaign’s

Toni: so you would set the black

Steve: there’s a button. I can’t remember what it’s called

Toni: Yes, smarts endings.

Steve: smarts endings. that’s correct. That’s what it is.

Toni: So you set that for your broadcast. You keep your flow going.

Steve: That’s correct.

Toni: But you’d make it work.

Steve: Yes, that’s correct. That’s correct. We’ve been jumping around here. I have in my notes here. Just more on the tagging different uses of the ability to tag a specific user. If someone shops in a certain category or opens email in a certain category, you can tag them and say let’s say they’re interested in oil necklaces, right and that way later on you can just Branch saying I only want to send people interested in oil necklaces this particular email and all other categories it different in your flow

Toni: I think that’s really valuable if you have like if your SKUs are wildly different. So let’s just say you’re selling like for you.

Steve: Well, we have a whole bunch of categories, right?

Toni: Yeah, right. So you have your napkins

Steve: Napkins, hankies, towels, aprons, pocket squares

Toni: But your apron purchasers are probably never a pocket purchaser.

Steve: They’ll never going to buy a hankie.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: That’s correct.

Toni: So to be able to I think if it in any business where you like have these different some businesses just don’t have that. They saw a couple of Using they’re all very similar, but I think really closely what you’re doing. Like I think for me with the jewelry, I would probably tag it by like either type of jewelry. Like are they getting the higher value of the higher price jewelry the lower-priced jewelry. Like are they sort of a bargain customer?

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: Because there is two different Shoppers, which I know or based on like style and design

Steve: right

Toni: So I would tag them that way because my SKUs are all very similar like you’re buying jewelry. You’re buying jewelry, but I think for you, you know, anyone who’s got in a store that they have multiple categories. It’s huge right because you don’t ever have to send your apron people.

Steve: Yeah. I mean just to be clear this functionality was already in Klaviyo. Like you can create a segment of everyone who’s purchased aprons and do a broadcast their what this what these new features that they released allow you to do a dynamically within an autoresponder sequence. That’s the distinction there. You mentioned high and low value customers, right?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: You can branch dynamically based like if you have a high value customer, you know, they purchase from you multiple times and they purchase a high value. You should be treating those people differently. Offering them perhaps Loyalty Rewards or something like that. Whereas someone who might not have purchased before or they have something really low in their cart. Maybe you just, them purchased for you definitely want to just try to get them to purchase but let’s say they purchase from you before and they are a low value customer. Maybe you might be less inclined to give them a discount or whatever. I don’t know you it’s important to treat them differently because with our store I think 10 percent of our customers generate over 50 percent of revenues like our largest customers.

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Toni: So I was actually curious about that because they talked about that a little bit this afternoon with the Loyalty program actually haven’t done anything like that.

Steve: I haven’t either

Toni: Have you had any students with success?

Steve: With a loyalty program? The reason why we haven’t done it first of all is because we’re weddings, right? I mean if they’re loyal and that means it has a lot of weddings, right?

Toni: They need to get a reality TV show exactly.

Steve: Yeah, in terms of loyalty. I guess you’d be more for people who have items

Toni: consumables.

Steve: Consumables. Yeah. Yeah, maybe like pet products or something like that.

Toni: Yeah and the beauty space right? all those product.

Steve: Correct. Correct. I mean, did you see any reason for your products to do that?

Toni: I mean ours are more. You just want more different styles, right? So there’s not a lot of you don’t buy something again the same exact product. Right?

Steve: Right. So for you be more like cross-sells. Yes on what they bought right? So if they bought a bracelet you might show them more bracelets or oils.

Toni: I’d actually show them a necklace that they bought a bracelet

Steve: A necklace. Okay.

Toni: they’re probably not going to buy a second bracelet.

Steve: that makes sense. Yeah. Well they have two wrists

Toni: just go all out.

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: I was just curious about that because that’s not something that I’ve even really looked into initially when I got started. It was something I was interested in and I didn’t feel like a good fit but I didn’t know if you had any students with.

Steve: not that I know of

Toni: because I feel like with a loyalty program to you might be able to get your recurring what you could get people in a flow or even not you know.

Steve: yeah, actually one thing that was mentioned in Alex’s talk. What did Alex’s talk was? You know for your best customers you can offer like double loyalty point base.

Toni: Yes right

Steve: to get them to buy it’s kind of like the way we do with credit card points, right? There are certain purchases that will give you 5x and almost always fall for that.

Toni: Yeah, like it use it at the gas pump and

Steve: yeah, you get 5x.

Toni: Yeah

Steve: at the grocery store or buy a plane ticket today, you’ll get three extra points for that plane ticket.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: It definitely works I just I want to see it in e-commerce.

Steve: Yeah, for sure. What was the I think it was smiled at I/O, right? What’s the service that? As well, that’s correct. So one other thing that I thought was cool that I did not know was a feature in Klaviyo was they actually provide benchmarks for what your open rates click-through rates and conversion rates are across different Industries. And the the slide went by really quick, but I noticed there was like arts and crafts, beauty, furniture all these different categories. So you can kind of Compare the numbers that you’re getting and your sequences what other people who are running similar businesses as you. Do you notice that?

Toni: I tried to get. Well there’s a lady in front of me. They kept moving her head. So I was trying to snag pictures of some of the slides just so we’d have them to refer back to you but I didn’t get

Steve: yeah, I’m going to ask Klaviyo for those slides actually because maybe I’ll post in the show notes because it’s pretty interesting.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: I think I was doing worse than I was looking in the arts and crafts. That was just the first one. Yes, we’re technically that arts and crafts. But..

Toni: yeah, it’s actually I think that’s pretty interesting though because I feel like right now the only Baseline I have is talking to other Sellers and you know kind of getting an idea of what their open rate is. I mean you and I have this conversation a lot with blogs emails.

Steve: Yes.

Toni: So but you know, we’re not even the same industry.

Steve: That’s correct. Yeah, the table was pretty big for what I remember. So

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: It’s just interesting. I like the open rates for really high. I remember thinking they’re all 32 percent plus.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: So I’m just wondering like if the data is just kind of SKUs towards like the most active customers that people are sending to I don’t know.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: I didn’t get to see the fine print on the graph. But if I can get a chance to get that information, I’ll post in the show notes

Toni: random side note nothing to do with this conference, but I did I started testing putting not a video in my email but a link to a video and adding video in my subject line and my open rates went up about 10%

Steve: Really?

Toni: My click through rates went up from about 2 percent to about 7 percent.

Steve: By just saying you had a video? Where do we just get that from

Toni: Fincon.

Steve: Fincon that’s where

Toni: Yeah, so I thought well, I’ll just try it like I’ll do it and I had videos that I could use like or very organically it wasn’t forced. I think if you could do quick product videos showcasing products, if you have especially if you’re doing an email about a new product and you can do it, you know those videos where it’s like lots of images in short bursts. So the video itself is only like 20 seconds

Steve: You know, what’s ironic about that is if I see video in the subject line, I’m not gonna open the emails I got no time to watch a video. I’m like a text-based person, but maybe it’s just our generation. Are you a video person or?

Toni: I never thought about the fact that if I was more or less inclined to open an email that said video in the title, but I do watch a lot of video.

Steve: Oh you do?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Okay for like an e-commerce store.

Toni: Yeah. I’ll watch yeah, I’d rather watch a video than read an article.

Steve: Really?

Toni: Yeah. Okay, maybe like we’ve had this conversation, I’d Rather Go on YouTube to learn how to do something.

Steve: Well, that’s if you’re learning how to do something but

Toni: but even gaining information I’d say

Steve: So you’d rather watch like a 10 minute video than read an article that you can just kind of refer back to.

Toni: I guess it depends on the topic. So let’s say

Steve: let’s say it’s yeah, let’s say it’s the autoresponder sequences how to implement autoresponder sequences. Would you rather watch a video on that or would you rather watch like a nice poet look at a nice post with examples and images that show exactly what’s in each email and how to set everything up step by step.

Toni: I’d want some static images, but then I probably watching video.

Steve: Really?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Actually I knew that about you. Yeah.

Toni: Yeah, but I know that like I, my SKU older right? So like so my generation is actually less inclined to want to video but like what is the stats that I think we found that out last year you’d like 25 to 40. It’s like 22 like that age group is way more likely to watch a video

Steve: 25 to 40

Toni: is it? I don’t know what it is. Like it’s bit of there’s there’s a chunk of age that I’m not in so 10 to 20

Steve: just for the record Toni is now within the band she just specified.

Toni: But the younger generation is way more likely to watch a video than they are to read an article. So to me, if you have a product and you want to demonstrate like how to use the product how the product integrates in your lifestyle even talking about the product like I would probably do a video and add that in my email

Steve: Oh since we’re on this topic. I heard that gifts or do you say gifts or GIFs?

Toni: GIFs that lady said it wrong today.

Steve: No, I thought it was GIFs, GIFs work. Well for email for click-through rate?

Toni: Yes.

Steve: Yes. Absolutely, which is also something that I’m not doing.

Toni: Yeah

Steve: Right now.

Toni: You know those part of it is like does it fit the brand?

Steve: I think anything can be made to fit the brand right a GIF doesn’t mean it has to be cheesy like someone dancing or whatever. It can just be like different different angles of the image animated. So I will get you looking at GIFs yes.

Toni: Yes. Can we take a poll? Can you take a poll in this podcast?

Steve: Okay, fine. Yeah, we can I guess if you think it’s GIFs, you agree with Toni then leave a comment. But if you agree with me do not leave a comment.

Toni: Oh ha ha. That’s unfair.

Steve: Ha ha All right. So that’s I think that sums up everything for Alex’s talk. Did you have any comments about the Keynotes?

Toni: I actually wrapped some of the keynote stuff in

Steve: You did. Okay.

Toni: Yeah, so I was going through my slide pictures. You know one thing I thought was interesting the first lady. I’m trying to get the brand

Steve: Co Paris

Toni: Co Paris?

Steve: I think was Co Paris

Toni: Co Paris is a beauty product.

Steve: Yes. Coconut. Coconut Beauty.

Toni: Yeah. One thing I thought was interesting is when she was talking about starting out with the company and I think she said she was there first employee and the very first big promotion they had they had an email list of what under 300, 300 people are so and she sent out a launch email, but they didn’t have the product or website. So it was a major blunder.

Steve: Yes.

Toni: Because she sent us out and actually was surprised. She didn’t lose her job to be honest, but maybe she was there weren’t a lot of people in the company but I think what I learned from that is, you know, you can make mistakes when you’re testing things out like when you’re getting started. I think there’s a lot of people that won’t try something because they’re afraid it doesn’t work. But I think she was proof that like they made a lot of mistakes early on in the company with email marketing and they still have grown to be a substantial company. They’re in what Sephora couple other stores I think pretty big brand

Steve: a snapshot of her klaviyo account is like a million bucks.

Toni: So I mean, I think when you’re listening to some of these tools are these features and Klaviyo, sometimes they’re a little overwhelming to implement but I think it’s important to start experimenting with them because even if you don’t hit it out of the park the first time you’re probably there’s a lot of forgiveness there from your audience and especially only have an email list of 300 people.

Steve: Yeah, what’s funny about her is she signed up for Klaviyo because it was free.

Toni: I know

Steve: that’s the only reason she signed up for it up to 250 which proves that the freemium Model works.

Toni: Yes

Steve: It’s alive and well

Toni: because they’re not they’re not free now. No.

Steve: Yeah. No, they’re not. Well they still have that free tier up to 250.

Toni: No. No, but that companies definitely.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they have tons of emails Subs now. Some to Tactical things that I got out of that talk with Co Paris Beauty was emojis in the subject line, right which is why are you talked about and pre headers.

Toni: Yes.

Steve: So this is something that I’m not doing either but you know, like when you’re looking at an email on mobile, you see the subject line underneath usually it just takes the first sentence of your email, but you can actually change it. It’s kind of like a meta description in SEO. You can change that to make the email much more clickable.

Toni: So I do that all the time

Steve: You do?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: You’re just better than I am.

Toni: No, it’s probably cuz I heard it at a conference but I actually have tested having it and not having it and it likes he was right. It is significantly better.

Steve: Yeah, like if you use promotional language or something just to get them to click. Yeah people actually read that

Toni: or I ask a question in it. You know, I try to just it’s something you try to come up with something very engaging in that second line or the pre header line but I’ve noticed a big difference.

Steve: Yeah, so use pre headers that something I’m going to definitely start using

Toni: The other thing. She was talking about doing like some testing with with a/b testing and klaviyo is professional images versus user generated content.

Steve: Hmm.

Toni: I know they said for them it was about 50/50 but I think that’s definitely something you need to test out because I know there are a lot of companies out there that the user generated content actually will perform better. But we’ve seen that too with video right like sometimes the videos that are less.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah

Toni: Perform. So I think that’s something you should be testing in your emails is everyone’s has the professional images that they have done other products, but then grabbing and grabbing images from people out of Instagram or Facebook or something like that definitely worth testing.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And then the final key note of the day was from Kara gold. Is it Goldie? Anyways the founder of hint water and I’m actually a huge fan of hint water my wife drinks it and it’s basically just it’s like Lacroix, but just not carbonated.

Toni: Yeah

Steve: and they use real fruit and it’s just a great alternative to like diet sodas and that’s the thing which is really bad for you. And what I liked about I like hearing her story because she started with nothing.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Absolutely, nothing. No one was just kind of on a whim. She was pregnant. She was like nine months pregnant. She’s like, yeah, I’m just gonna launch a water company.

Toni: Yeah. Well, she went into Whole Foods the day. She had her baby and said, I need you to take 12 cases and put it on your shelf.

Steve: Exactly.

Toni: Like totally pulled the I’m having a baby today card. Which good good for her.

Steve: Yeah. I’ve never think about using pregnancy as a tool.

Toni: This is a whole new marketing.

Steve: All right, is that why you had so many kids?

Toni: It is but it is like think about how many products I’ve sold. I loved her. I thought her story was very cool and inspiring and I think what I liked about her is that she grew by putting her products in other people’s stores, right? She was in Whole Foods. She’s in Starbucks for a bit

Steve: When she was in companies like Google.

Toni: Yes, she got into Google

Steve: you go to Google and then Amazon and she just became a staple of these companies in just kept ordering more

Toni: but what I thought was really cool about her, is that when even when To that point where she’s I mean like that seems to me like you’re kind of at the Pinnacle right? You’re in Google. They’re selling you on Amazon. You’re in Whole Foods like these are like huge opportunities for people but she was like, that’s not good enough. I want to own my customer.

Steve: Yes, and then she had a story about being in Starbucks where she was selling really well and then all of a sudden Starbucks pulled the plug took her Products off the shelf and that’s when she realized that she needed to own the customer. Are they in Starbucks now?

Toni: I don’t know I wasn’t there in that but like to me it didn’t even make sense why Starbucks pulled them because she said they were doing 3x what

Steve: Well even today she said. She’s the largest independent drink company that’s not associate with Coke and Pepsi right, which means that maybe Starbucks pulled them because people were buying that instead of coffee, right? That would make sense. Right?

Toni: I’m the only person I ever know that goes into Starbucks. It doesn’t buy coffee.

Steve: No I get I go and get tea.

Toni: Well, I’m not drinking

Steve: Just chai tea

Toni: But outside of like a drink on the menu. Like I’m the one percent of that goes in there and buys out of the display case.

Steve: What do you get in the display case?

Toni: It’s bottled water.

Steve: Oh

Toni: I don’t drink coffee or tea.

Steve: So do they have Hint water? I don’t think I just went to Starbucks the other day

Toni: I don’t think they do because I’m there almost every week

Steve: Yeah, exactly. So that doesn’t make sense. They sell other people’s water.

Toni: I’m wondering if there was some sort of an agreement. Maybe they were coming up with an agreement because whatever water they sell they sell SmartWater now or

Steve: I think so, but that’s not flavored water.

Toni: No, but it might be owned by a distributor that has a non-compete. That’s what made me think that that’s probably what happened which is a good reason to own your own your platform. Right? Because it might not even be that you’re not doing the volume or the sales that you need to do to maintain that relationship. It could be that some other companies in there and the relationship was accomplished.

Steve: Hmm. What’s cool about how she concluded the talk was she had skin cancer on her nose and she was like, oh my God skin cancer. I’m going to start using all this sun block and then she noticed that on her sunblock. There was all these chemicals which parabens or what I don’t know what the chemicals are, but she was like, okay, I’m gonna create sunscreen free those chemicals and she just went and did it and she’s using the same fruit extracts from the drink. I know and I actually have a can of it right now gonna fire it up. Maybe

Toni: I’m excited. I’m going to get it when I get home

Steve: Yeah, but then you end up smelling like fruit instead of chemicals.

Toni: Yeah. Well, I think it’s safer too right? because there’s some stuff in some block that I don’t think it’s very good for you.

Steve: Correct. Those are the chemicals I was talking about which I don’t know what they are.

Toni: Yeah, whatever they’re called.

Steve: Very inspiring story. She was pretty bad ass onstage.

Toni: Oh, I loved her. the second she walked on.

Steve: Well Toni just like her outfit

Toni: she looked amazing. No, I just I like stories of people that just say like I’m going to do this. I mean to me it’s like she has four kids, right? She has a busy life and that doesn’t let like circumstances life stop her from like getting her goal like changing people’s lives. That’s what she did this SmartWater. The hint water was because she was kicking her own Diet Coke addiction and she had some health problems. So she created the water and then she Realize that it was changing other people’s lives. So I love people that have like a passion behind what they do

Steve: absolutely there’s a passion between every product that she releases. I think specifically what was happening is when she started drinking water over Diet Coke, which I think was her drink of choice. She had acne before it all got cleared up and I think she had some stomach issues. They cleared up. So evidently those chemicals aren’t good for you

Toni: Yeah. We, neither of us are Diet Coke drinkers.

Steve: Yeah. I’m not a diet coke. I don’t drink Coke either you drink Coke occasionally right?

Toni: In very very very occasionally. No, not anymore not that I got hint water.

Steve: That’s correct.

Toni: I’m not sure if it’s on the east coast like in Florida. I don’t think I’ve seen it.

Steve: Hmm. It’s all over the place where I live.

Toni: Well, yeah, but she’s from where you are, right?

Steve: yeah, I actually first had it at Google ironically when I went to visit

Toni: very cool. So they gave and they gave it out at the end of the event today.

Steve: They did, bags along with the sunscreen. Yeah, but that was actually the last keynote of the event and then after the keynote there is actually the opportunity to get some one-on-one time with the klaviyo rep if you wanted them to look over your autoresponder sequences in your campaigns. I thought that’s fantastic. Right? I think that in itself is worth it

Toni: Absolutely

Steve: Company to come in and get someone from klaviyo to look at your sequences and and point out what you’re not doing.

Toni: Yeah, and the caliber of people that are here in attendance to are pretty phenomenal.

Steve: We got a bunch of friends here. You got Andrew Youdarien from e-commerce fuel. We got Eric Bandholz. We got Kevin these are all people that have been on the podcast and it’s kind of been like one big party. It’s been fun.

Toni: Yeah, you get to hang out with him tonight. And then more tomorrow we got Eric. Eric has a keynote tomorrow night.

Steve: That’s true. Yeah, Eric’s doing the keynote. So we will be back in the next episode to talk about day 2 of klaviyo and I’m not sure exactly what they’re coming tomorrow. But I think they’re going over all the new product features. There’s some super big announcement. They’re making in the next episode

Toni: Then we’ll have it in the podcast.

Steve: And we will have it on the podcast. That’s correct. I already know what it is. I think it’s going to be a game changer

Toni: I gotta wait till tomorrow though. I don’t

Steve: well, I won’t tell you then.

Toni: I’ll be genuinely surprised tomorrow then.

Steve: Absolutely. Yep. So join us again for the next episode and we’ll continue with day 2 product notes and more breakout sessions and the closing keynote from Eric.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Klaviyo Boston was a lot of fun and next week, I’m doing a recap of day two of the event but next time I’m going to have Andrew Youdarien of e-commerce fuel and Kurt Elster of The Unofficial Shopify podcast on the show with me. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequarterjob.com/episode275.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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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!

274: Joel Runyon On How To Monetize A Blog With Subscription Services

274: Joel Runyon On How To Monetize A Blog With Subscription Services

Today, I’m thrilled to have my buddy Joel Runyon on the show. Joel is an athlete, entrepreneur and the founder of ImpossibleHQ.com, a company dedicated to helping people push their limits and do impossible things.

From this blog, Joel has spawned many other businesses which include a paleo meal plan subscription service at UltimateMealPlans.com and an iPhone app called Move Well which helps you move better, get stronger and prevent injuries.

He also became the youngest person in the world to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in 2017. In this episode, we discuss how to leverage content to create subscription-based services.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Joel grew his audience for ImpossibleHQ.com
  • How Joel drives traffic to his site
  • How to build a community through challenges
  • How to create a subscription based service

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

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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 deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I’m thrilled to have Joel Runyon on the podcast and Joel is the founder of impossiblehq.com where he helps people push their limits and in this episode we are going to discuss how he leveraged his content to create multiple subscription based services.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who’s also a sponsor of the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences so want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support researches they can actually check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife 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 can spend more time with your family 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 my buddy, Joel Runyon on the show and Joel is someone who I met at Billy Murphy’s Mastermind a while back and we have kept in touch ever since. Now, Joel is an athlete and entrepreneur and the founder of impossible, a company dedicated to helping people push their limits and do impossible things. And for example in 2017, he became the youngest person in the world to run seven Ultra marathons in seven continents that Joe calls it impossible. I call it crazy but along the way he raised almost 200k for pencils of promise and built seven schools and from his podcast and blog over impossiblehq.com. He has spawned a few other businesses which include a Paleo meal plan subscription service at ultimate meal plans.com and an iPhone app called Movewell which helps you move better get stronger and prevent injuries.

And overall, I’ve known Joel for a little bit now and he is terrible at saying no to challenges’ and all you got to do is dare him to do something and he will usually take you up on it. And with that welcome to show Joel. How you doing today, man?

Joel: I’m doing pretty good. So that’s scary accurate.

Steve: So Joel give us a quick background for the people who don’t know who you are how you got the idea for impossible and frankly. Why the heck would you subject yourself to all that pain?

Joel: Yeah. Yeah, so I’ll try to do a quick because it’s been doing it possible for eight plus years now.

Steve: Yup

Joel: But yeah, so I started in possible after graduating from college back in 2009. Did everything you’re supposed to do got good grades learn another language travel the world did a semester abroad played Sports got out, you know done with the college path and went to you know, go get a job in the real world and there were no jobs available. So instead of going it going to getting a job at a marketing firm or doing something else. I started applying two places at Starbucks and Target and they weren’t even know that okay. Yeah, it’s so they weren’t even calling me back.

Steve: I didn’t know that, okay

Joel: So I was like living in my parents basement, you know, trying to like get any sort of job I could get and just getting rejected by literally. Like I can’t make coffee for people at Starbucks. And so I finally got a UPS delivery packages in the freezing cold Chicago winner for about six weeks that added like additional drivers, driver helpers. And so I was basically, you know, trying not to slip on ice carry these really heavy Christmas packages and not get chased by dogs. And then right after Christmas they laid us off because it was six weeks of seasonal work. And so I’m sitting my parents basement did everything I was supposed to do, you know, follow this path and I just kinda had this realization like this everything that there’s there is for me right here and don’t really bad for myself and I saw a bunch of people doing interesting cool things around the world. One of my friends is traveling to every country in the world another just quit his job and got to Thailand and I saw all these people doing all these cool crazy things and I wanted to do them, but I could even get a job at Starbucks.

And so I wrote all these things down that I wanted to do, but they all just seemed impossible to me basically watch Netflix instead. I felt I felt bad for myself. For a while and so just watch Netflix and you know felt horrible to think of Italy and out of Netflix shows the they weren’t stocked up that well. I looked at my list again, and I had a bunch of things on it that I knew I couldn’t do travel the world didn’t have any money start a business. I didn’t have a job or any sort of skills to even do that. But one of the things on my list was run a triathlon and that was kind of the gut check because I realized you know, I had all these excuses for why I couldn’t do all these other things but I had no excuse for why couldn’t just go outside and run around the block or get on my beat up mounted bike and ride around the block and so I decided I was going to sign up for the wimpiest Triathlon in the world. It was like a one-hour indoor Triathlon In Lifetime Fitness. It was indoors because I didn’t want to drown in the Open Water Swim and I just decided I was going to see if I could do it and I would basically went through this whole thing train for a month and a half went to this indoor Triathlon a Lifetime Fitness, and I didn’t know if I could do it.

I think my mom Came with me at the time like it was bad, but I was depressed and I finished it and I remember saying to myself, you spend so much time telling myself that this was impossible. What are the things are out there right now that seem like they’re impossible that if you just went for and train for you’d actually be able to do and so that kind of kicked off the idea of me taking on a list of things that I thought were impossible and seeing if I go out and do them and so that was kind of the beginning of the blog and since then it’s you know, it’s it’s evolved from just running indoor triathlons to getting into a basically tricked myself into becoming a runner got into endurance running got into ultra running ended up doing the seven seven seven project and basically taking the mindset that I forged through physical activities at took them to other areas of my life.

So I took that same mindset into applying for jobs got like an entry-level job at a marketing firm where I knew nothing got to interface with the owner of the business and work my way up to Mark and director in about a year and a half and it up working for a couple different other marketing firms for another year plus or so it before quitting. Yeah quitting job and going often start my own stuff. And so the overall through line has been, you know, just kind of continually trying to push her limits and see if the things that you think are impossible really are.

Steve: So let’s talk about the blog here. So you started doing all these physical activities. And will you just documenting them on the blog was it just kind of haphazard. Did you have a strategy in place? It was it like a personal Journal?

Joel: Yeah. So a little bit of both. I remember thinking at the time like a lot of bogs were boring to me and I was like, I think I can write a more interesting blog. Like, I don’t know if I could write a good blog but I can probably be more interesting. It was also a personal Journal because like, you know, some people go back and they call through their old blog post all of mine are still up there. Even the really bad embarrassing one so you can go back and like 2009-2010 and find my beginner blogs and part of it is just like I’m just signed up for this race. I think I’m going to die. Hopefully I don’t die and like literally some of my early blog posts are like that and so it was part partially that and it took me a while. For me to just get like used to writing, you know, some people like your mom will tune in for some of the stories.

But if you want to make it actionable for other people you need to like actually, you know, extract some lessons or you need to you need to make it useful to other people and not just this is what Joel’s, you know, personal Journal looks like and so I think the shift where I went from being like hey, this is something that I’m doing to like. Hey, here’s kind of some Concepts and Frameworks that I’m thinking about, you know how to push myself and here’s how you can start doing them too. That’s when the blog really turned from something that I was just personally writing to something that you know started to really gain traction as an audience.

Steve: So, how did you how did you get traffic early on I mean, it sounds like you were just it wasn’t none of the posts were like really planned right there were journalistic post which typically don’t rank in search for example.

Joel: Yeah, no, none of that it was back in this is 2010. So I was doing a lot of like just following people’s blogs I liked and commenting on their blogs and is like old-school like Yeah, kind of old-school American. Would you check something out over here or just like reaching out to a lot of other people that were starting off around the same time? I remember I got a couple different guest posts on other people’s sites that I kind of started to build that initial traffic off of and doing a lot of that just kind of like, you know, I can’t imagine it working now, you know back in the day. I was just like manually reaching out to people like Chris Gilabow and JD Ross they get rich slowly. I remember I did a bike. I was that was maybe my first big guest post and I wrote about like how I like rehab day like a garage sale bike for one of my triathlons or something like that.

So that was like a little that was when I was starting like, oh, maybe I can make this information a little bit more usable for other people basically just doing old-school networking where it’s like, you know, now you do it on Twitter and Instagram and you know back then it was just going to comment on someone’s blog and after I comment on their blog 10 times and like, you know a month or something like that, you know, based on how many times they’re posting.

Steve: So let me ask you this you said these strategies might not work as well today. So how do you continue to grow that blog today?

Joel: Yeah, so it’s it’s evolved. Right?

Steve: Right.

Joel: So, you know now instead of having to build a lot of those relationships a lot of them are already built. A lot of that actual relationship building has kind of formed into other networks, whether it’s Twitter, whether it’s Instagram and then I got a lot more intentional about SEO. So SEO is you know, when I said, I took an internship or like a low level entry job at a marketing company basically use that opportunity. I think it was blogging for two, two and a half years while I was still like working a real job and I took that opportunity to basically teach myself PPC SEO like email marketing all that type all that type of stuff while I was still at my day job. And so I took a lot of things that I learned from the SEO world and use that to continue to grow a possible. And so those are kind of like the core strategies that it shifted into but I still find that the you know search is really good for bringing in top level funnel traffic.

And the relationship stuff though, sometimes it’s almost like, you know Finding Your strategic partners for you via different relationships is like a pseudo version of Facebook’s custom audience where you’re just basically saying like hey, these people are already kind of vetted by, you know, these other similar sites and bring it in those types of traffic is sometimes easier to bring into your funnel then, you know, whittling down just search traffic.

Steve: So you keep talking about relationships. Can you be more specific like for example me knowing you how does how does that benefit me? For example..

Joel: I don’t know. I mean, that’s the question. You got to answer you keep hanging.

Steve: Well, you keep mentioning this, you know, relationships were pivotal and growing your blog like how?

Joel: Yeah, so I mean early on it was like a little bit Joel mission-focused like this is what Joe’s trying to do it, even seven seven seven at one point was like Mission Focus. So it’s like the the taglines push your limits to something impossible and when we were doing like nonprofit specific initiative, so when we talk about like the non-profit initiative that we were doing. Well, basically we’re just calling people to join something bigger than themselves and so there’s not like a there’s not like a product or buying but there is like a feeling that they’re buying into and they’re saying Hey, I want to be a part of doing something impactful that’s more than just me. And also when you do that, you’re also taking a look at the you’re giving yourself perspective from a Global Perspective. And so when you scale that down to your personal life and you saying hey, why aren’t you in the gym today? You know, there’s other people that could be like basically what I was doing was like we were raising money for like schools around the world.

So when you’re saying hey, yeah, I really want to work out today. It’s hard you’re like, you know, it’s really hard, you know, trying to grow up and not knowing how to read or something like that. It’s put your excuses and check and it boosts the fitness aspect of our brand because it gives people from a motivational standpoint like a clear understanding of like a your excuses a crap get over yourself moves on.

Steve: So it sounds like you put together these challenges and you worked with your buddies to kind of promote it together and then you know, the combined audience kind of spilled over to all of your Publications.

Joel: Yeah, so I mean especially at first it was literally just getting out because at the beginning I probably first year and a half. I was ready. I didn’t know what I was writing about. I was just getting used to writing. I didn’t actually have a business focus at the beginning. It was just trying to get traffic to the blog.

Steve: Right

Joel: And then over time as my voice refined. I was able to better clarify the mission of the blog the mission that I was on and how we can help people which does fall into like it’s a lot of like I me but I thought through physical activity and so a lot of that stuff comes through different physical fitness training programs that we do and then pulling out mental lessons from that and then the additional pieces like we have an impossible list. We have people we have like thousands of people that have built their impossible list and use that as a structure for taking on goals challenges and difficult things that they want to do in their life.

Steve: So let me ask you this then so the stuff that you did in the past may not necessarily apply. But today what are some of the best strategies that you’ve had to build traffic? Actually, Let’s position had this way. Let’s say you were starting all over from scratch today, what would be some of your initial strategies to grow your blog?

Joel: That’s a good question. So right now one of the main focuses that we’re doing is we’re doubling tripling down on SEO.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: There’s a lot of opportunities for the site because this is this is a little different because the blog where it is versus starting out right now where we’re at. We’ve gotten a lot of lot of publicity a lot of legitimate, press a lot of different things both for seven seven seven. If you’ve done for our projects that we’ve done and the state from a theoretical standpoint is actually a pretty good asset to go ahead and rank but I hadn’t had focused specifically on a possible to do a lot of SEO stuff with but as we started like just even just playing around with a little thing, you know, a few of the things that we’ve learned from the other businesses and applying it within a possible. It takes off pretty quickly because the domain is strong the notoriety is pretty well done. And so that makes it a lot easier for us to say like Hey, we’re going to go double triple down on content from an SEO standpoint and have it work much faster. Then if we were starting from scratch and saying okay now we have to build up a link profile. We have to build up some you know, press code will all this other stuff.

And so that is one of the benefits that I have with impossible. We’re standing now if I was starting from scratch, it really depends on the type of business. I’ve said before like I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people to start a business like I started impossible. I think the Paleo business is probably a better way to get initial traction, but what I like about what we’ve done with impossible is that you know, it’s not it’s not even my biggest business, but I think it’s going to be the one that has the most longevity and so the fact that I’ve been able to build it continually while doing other stuff. Let’s just be a little bit more flexible in the methods that we go about doing that.

Steve: So let’s talk about impossible. If you were to start all over would you you’ve mentioned relationships and you’ve mentioned SEO so far and you’ve mentioned just challenges if you were to start impossible all over again, what would you pursue first or what would be your primary focus?

Joel: So this is actually something we’re going to be launching your pretty soon. But one of the things that I found people respond really well to are these challenges whether their 30-day whether they’re one week whether they’re like, you know, even like three times a week or something like that. One of the things that I found is just giving people these, even 30-day challenges. I feel like sometimes are a little bit too long for people’s attention span. And so one of the things that were going to be launching on a regular basis is different physical challenges and giving people a way to test themselves in very specific ways because it aligns with the message of the brand push your limits do something impossible and and then we can kind of, you know, bring them in from there on to something bigger which is like the next level of either our fitness programs the nutritional stuff that we have or we’re going to be coming out with some more physical products in the apparel and supplement space. So those are the things that I think from a traction standpoint. They get people excited about really quickly. It’s easy to do stuff with other people to challenge other people and there’s a way to make physical challenges accessible but still very difficult.

And that’s one of the things that I think we’ve done we’ve done intermittently, but we haven’t done like a consistent and I have an app called cold shower therapy. I did a tedx talk on this and this is basically the idea that people everybody talks about, you know growth become begins at the end of your comfort zone. They always say, you know, get comfortable being uncomfortable but nobody actually ever wants to be uncomfortable and so a lot of times from a you know from a personal standpoint, I’ll talk about running an ultramarathon and getting super uncomfortable while doing it. Unfortunately, A lot of people are not ready, you know, if they come across your site from like, you know, Instagram link or you know, just from Google they’re not ready to run an ultramarathon off the bat but one of the ways that we can train people to start getting comfortable with actually being physically uncomfortable is through culture of our therapy and that’s like a 30 day challenge instead of taking a warm shower take a cold shower take a freezing cold shower.

And that alone, makes actually getting uncomfortable super accessible to someone even if they’re not ready to run an ultramarathon and what’s that that is done for the brand is like we have we have an app and we have people that have taken 2,000 old showers in a row and these people are crazy like they get into it and they get crazy into it. It’s not necessarily like a like a money maker for us. Like I’m making bank off this app. But what it does is allow people to kind of buy into that mindset that we’re selling begin to practice it on a daily basis and then be able to like, you know, how they have these pseudos competitions between themselves on the app to see who’s you know, too because like, you know, keep their streak of cold showers going and so we have someone that’s been doing it for like four or five years. And so..

Steve: Can you walk that through how you structure a challenge? Like just walk me through how you set it up and everything and pretend like I was going through it right now.

Joel: Yeah, so I mean the culture of our challenge originally started as a 30-day email sequence.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: Just like you sign up like you sign up. I think it was paid. It was like 29 bucks or something like that

Steve: I have to pay you to take cold showers?

Joel: Yeah. Well, you got to pay, you get to pay me for the emails.

Steve: Okay? All right.

Joel: And, but it’s like a 29th day like email motivational series and it was just basically like do this five minutes in the morning and you know set yourself on the warpath

Steve: Where is the accountability or what was there any personal accountability or is it just email?

Joel: The MVP version of this was like a PayPal button to an email sequence and that was it. So that was super super straightforward. Now it’s an app. There’s email series that you can join. I think we made it free and you can go through it and you can restart it if you want to get more of it, but that’s the 30 day one. What we’re going to be doing coming up is going to be more of a seven-day Series where it’s like, okay, we’re going to have one challenge this week like you need to have four or five check-ins and it’s going to be through this app called Spar.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this but it’s basically I think Ryan Holiday has done a couple things with this and think Lance Armstrong recently did one but the idea is you have people sign up for a challenge. You have a metric they need a hit. So right now I have a like a rowing challenge like a 500-meter road time type challenge. I have a, You know personal bet with a friend that I’m going to beat his his time over the next month. And so we’re going to be doing a group challenge basically, you know.

Steve: Do you have to enter in your name does the app like collate everyone in the challenge? And so you can compare times is that?

Joel: That won’t do that but it’s like a video check in afterwards. So you can either do like a video or you might be able to do a photo and then what happens if you sign up for the challenge and you miss a day so you have to do you know, four out of seven days. You can actually get charged money for not showing up or not checking In.

Steve: Interesting. Okay.

Joel: And so we want to do more stuff like that because I am big on even the informational products that we’ve done in the past have been good. But the number one thing that drives me to insanity is people who will consume information or who buy information like literally pay me for information, but don’t do anything about it. And so I’m like the underlying like drive and impossible is like like remove everybody’s excuses for not doing something and just like get them to do it however they have to and if that means like, you know penalizing the money for not showing up to the challenge like that’s an interesting thing. If we might do some that don’t involve like the monetary penalty, but the goal is to continually do these on a regular basis get people to take on these challenges that are hard but not impossible, get engaged the community aspect and then also, you know remind them that they can do much much more than they think they can.

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Steve: So this Spar App is what facilitates this and anyone can sign up for this app and create their own challenges.

Joel: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. So can we go back to your email sequence? I’m just kind of curious how it all works. So, let’s see I sign up for it and I pay you 30 bucks. How are you motivating me to take cold showers and is there any accountability and what’s motivating me to continue because it sounds kind of miserable.

Joel: No, it is is miserable but it’s sort of a self motivating challenge. So part of the problem is are not part of the problem part of the goal, Is that like I’ll send you an email every single morning and sometimes you might read it. Sometimes you might not. But the goal is basically take 30 days of cold showers. And that is that is like that’s the thrust of the challenge. You know, the first time we did it we got people first cohort that went through it was like a bunch of crazy people and they loved it and they paid the 30 bucks and they said like the emails came in at just like, you know day 14 when you’re like, this is stupid. I hate Joel. This is the worst thing in the world. I’d write them an email. That was like, I know you’re probably thinking this is stupid. And you hate Joel and there’s no point to this and then I just like break down their excuses and like a motivational email and they kept doing it and we’ve had people basically take the challenge and take that you know the idea of like, hey, this is miserable to be like, hey, this is just uncomfortable and I can do uncomfortable things. I can do hard things and then they’re able to take it to one of our fitness programs and they’re able to lose a hundred pounds. Or they able to lose 50 pounds because they’ve changed the way their mindset works.

And so part of the goal is like, you know, if you’re not self motivated enough to like do 30 days of cold showers. Like you may you may not be a good fit for the brand like you may not be a good fit for some of our challenges and part of that is like, you know, it’s a filtering process. So it’s kind of like open initiation if you will where it’s like, okay, we’ll get a lot of people, you know from SEO that rank for a specific thing. But we you know impossible, you know, it’s a challenging brand. It’s it’s something that’s calling you to be more than who you are. You have to be a certain type of person that’s ready for that message and cold showers is one of those things and these other challenges are one of those things that they’re going to filter out people who you know want to stay comfortable and they want to stay you know, where they are. And so that’s kind of one of the mechanisms. Is that like, yeah, we can motivate you but you you’ve got to do it and

Steve: Yeah, I’m Asian if I pay you 30 bucks. I’m going through the challenge. So is there a video component to this?

Joel: I’ve got a couple videos we’ve done on it, but there’s not a video addition to it.

Steve: Okay. And is there a community where everyone can just like is there like a Facebook group or something attached to this also?

Joel: No.

Steve: No, okay, interesting. Okay.

Joel: So one of the goals of the challenge is that we’re going to be launching is to be much more intentional about that. Right now, the cold showers are like the initiation fee, not Initiation fee, but the initiation aspect of it and then we’ve had other fitness programs. They’ve kind of come organically out of that through various autoresponders and everything, but I want to be much more intentional about like continually having physical challenges on a regular basis that people can you know join no matter what that if they you know, they fell off the wagon they’re able to get back on and then you know, hop in.

Steve: So look at this kind of summarize where we’re at so far. So you you’ve done a whole bunch of these crazy things like running marathons on different continents and then people follow you and then you put out these challenges because people respect what you’ve done and they want to start tackling the impossible as well. And so they sign up for these challenges and then change their mindset and then through building this list of people who are your people you then, you know present them with other challenges and Courses in mini courses and mini challenges that you have on your site.

Joel: Yep.

Steve: Okay, and SEO was not really much of a factor early on and it was just basically, you know people following you for these challenges right? It’s almost like a fanatical crowd, right?

Joel: Yeah, like we’re trying to like plan around with using them to join the cult. I don’t I don’t want to be a cult, but I like aspects of Cults – like the you know, the mass suicides at the end of all of them. I like the fact that like, you know, when you get people who you know, they buy into something and they’re all about it. It’s like the message we keep coming back to it impossible. It’s like that. I keep coming back to impossible, it was like people can do so much more than they think they can and what you have to be bought in to really go after it and you know, when when stuff gets hard, you’re not going to keep going because Joel told you to or that like you read a really good motivational email you have to have a switch flipped like in you that makes you go after that you have to have something in you that tells you you’re not going to quit either you’re not giving up and going home.

And so Little bit of like the self-selection where you know people can you know that fanatical group, you know the because I want that I want you and we can do other things from a marketing standpoint to reach, you know, get that message to more people but there’s always going to be like that filtration mechanism where it’s like, you know, some people say like, you know, our target market is, you know, mom’s over 35 or something like that and it’s like our target market is people who have that switch flipped and are you know committing themselves to like doing those hard things no matter what they are. And so we try to meet them where they are at and then create programs and tools and resources to help people stair step up from or so, but you know, we can’t switch that flips we can’t.

Steve: Yeah. No, of course. I mean, I think your blog just became really popular because you were doing things and writing about things that other people were not and then people were just naturally gravitating towards you because of what you were doing physically. Right?

Joel: Now I would agree with that.

Steve: Did you run any ads and and how that lead to the podcast I imagine the podcast came much later, right?

Joel: Yeah. So the podcast is kind of been intermittent, but it was basically an excuse for me to interview people that were like way bad ass than me. And so when I was in San Diego, I started interviewing quite a few people I’m out there. There’s a bunch of Navy SEALs that are based out of there and just a bunch of athletes in general that I was like man you guys you guys have something let’s like let’s dig into that and that’s you know, that’s basically where the podcast drove out of is just like me finding these awesome interesting people that have done really hard physical things but also have like inspiring stories from other areas of their life and just bringing that in and and and again reminding people that a lot of times people think they’re special or they’re like their problems are unique or that, you know, they’ve got it real hard and when you get these perspectives of like my buddy Kyle Maynard who you know, it was born A congenital amputee and climbs mountains around and is a Nike athlete.

He literally bear crawls up mountains, you know or Rob Jones who ran 50, 50 marathons and 50 states and he’s a former Marine who got blown up by an IED and doesn’t have either of those legs. So he’s he ran 50 marathons in 50 states with no legs, on Prosthetics. And when you get those types of stories out of people it makes you kind of confront your own excuses and say yeah, you know, I don’t wanna go to the gym because I’m tired today. It doesn’t it doesn’t it doesn’t ring the same right as as otherwise and so it’s just an extension of the brand telling those stories telling people giving them reasons not to give up and not to quit.

Steve: What is it more impact on your overall brand the blog of the podcast you think?

Joel: I would say the blog. I’ve been probably too intermittent with the podcast people really really like the podcast but I basically started it in the midst of like a big move and so like half It was like before I moved to Austin half of it was like after I moved to Austin and so I’ve been really focused on just getting like operations that have been off so we can get back off but I would say the podcast has more potential reach when I’m consistent with it, but the bog I’ve been doing much much longer and I think that’s how most of the people that got to the site know me from.

Steve: Okay. All right. And so you have all this traffic and you have this fanatical following on possible. How did you actually start making money from that?

Joel: So I mentioned before that when I was blogging on myself, that’s really cool and like there’s like people that will follow you for that. They only care about you so much like nobody cares that much about you like if you’re trying to make yourself like the thing like it’s not that it’s not that useful and eventually people want to know how they can become that person. So with impossible, it’s like how does someone become impossible how do they do something impossible? And so kind of the Breakthrough for me was when I started not just taking these challenges on but also kind of Breaking them down and then building them into programs. So one of the first ones that I did was one of the things I my impossible list was get a six-pack of those kind of ridiculous that and so I ended up doing it and writing about it. I got a bunch of people asking me about. Okay. How did you do that? Like that’s actually really impressive like you got down to like 5% body fat like photos came out really awesome all this other stuff.

And so we ended up putting together like a fitness program based around like getting six pack abs, so maybe a little bit cliche in the online business world, but like a lot of people, you know had been following me for a while and they were literally asking like, how did you how did you do that? Put together a program on that. Launched it and it did really well since then we’ve done a couple other different like Fitness specific programs a couple different like intermittent fasting and like eating protocol programs and then another one that’s just like a bodyweight workout regimen. We’re in the process of releasing two more here in the fall. And so the goal is to basically build out, you know, we’ve had several thousand people build out there and impossible list at this point and one of the things that I’m working on for like a technical standpoint is to figure out what are the most common possible goals people have then how do we build program specifically for those and so

Steve: But programs, these are just like digital courses?

Joel: Yeah digital training program.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: So typically like some are PDFs summer courses some have video components. I’d like to like up level the tack across the board and make it more of like a membership site where you can access stuff in like 12 week increments as far as like, what are you doing? You know, what’s your training protocol for the next 12 weeks? I found that when I get too fancy with technical stuff, sometimes it slows down like actual

Steve: Sure.

Joel: Actual business. And so I have my high in the sky what I actually want to build and then you know, like actually it’s just easier for just to sell 12 week or so sometimes and so we have two more courses that were going to be coming out with from like a more fundamentals like aimed at like the newbies that are just coming in and wanting to get started but aren’t ready for like a full beat down and then like a shrink. Yeah. Yeah, like

Steve: Haha like me?

Joel: Yeah. Well, you know the goal Is like, you know, we don’t want to just you know, we don’t want to just have people that are I was going to say crazy people but we want to help them become a little bit more days. And even if they don’t necessarily feel like they are right now we want to be able to like help them get there. And so we want to be able to bring in people and everybody thinks like the audience of impossible is like, you know, just like Joel like late 20s early 30s, dude, like very like, you know..

Steve: hardcore

Joel: I’m not bro-y, but people think I’m bro apparently but yeah, but hardcore and you know, we got we got a lot of people we have like Grandma’s right in. I had a guy that was like a 65 year old diabetic in England and he lost a hundred and twenty pounds following our ABS course. He’s like, I don’t want to get abs but I need to change my life and like basically reversed his diabetes using our program and we get people from all all sorts of walks of life. And so it’s much more of a mindset fit than it is, you know a specific person even so we’re building out a couple different more training programs for that and then the goal this fall is to want a supplement line and also expand first of all we want to do inspire people to push the limits we want to train them to actually push their limits into something impossible and then we want to like want to fuel them while they’re actually doing those hard things and then also gear them up because people go out and say like hey, I’ve been wanting to go skydiving, you know my entire life, but I never had the courage to do it.

I went and did it I did it in my impossible shirt. I like we have people skydiving and all of our impossible gear or bungee jumping or running the marathon or you know doing a 5k or anything that’s on there list than putting off. We have people, you know send in photos of them doing stuff in there impossible gear and it fuels other people to keep pushing their limits. So that’s kind of the cycle that we want to go out.

Steve: It seems like the programs were kind of a logical progression of your content. Can you kind of talk about what influence you to want to start an iPhone app and do that paleo meal plan and what interested you in those two side offshoots, I guess of impossible?

Joel: Yeah, so the interesting thing about impossible especially early on was I didn’t necessarily think about it as a business like I mentioned it was a program. So we did this we did that the second ABS program and in it, I mentioned just offhand. Yeah. It was like a Paleo intermittent fasting protocol and actually go into details on the specific ones that I did in the program, but I mentioned the word paleo like offhand and I got so many inquiries on the word paleo. I was actually really annoyed. I was getting all these customer service inquiries about like, what’s the specifics of paleo? How does it work? All these other things and I was like, I just don’t want to deal with all these questions and so I built a one-pager website like an FAQ section of all the questions I was getting because I don’t want to write like 1500 word email responses to people are asking about paleo just be like, hey, here’s the link check it out.

That was right before paleo blew up this site ended up starting to get in traffic. And so that’s why I talk about that business was there’s like an accidental business. It just started just started kind of growing on its own and all of a sudden it’s like, okay we should Probably put ads up to cover hosting costs and all these other things and then all of a sudden, you know,

Steve: Okay. So this is kind of organic like you just..

Joel: Yeah, okay it just like we are able to spot an opportunity with impossible and then it’s like, you know, I had this thing and it just started growing or like okay, I guess that’s a business, huh?

Steve: Okay

Joel: With movement and Mobility app called move. Well that was a little bit, you know, I was in the middle of seven seven seven the ultramarathon project and I got hurt my first race in and I got hurt really bad. I had to take six months and do physical therapy rehab and you know going into physical therapy session. I’m really good at doing the work when I’m paying them sixty or a hundred bucks an hour and like in their one-on-one with a person then I would go home and they’d be like you need a foam roll and I’d be like, yeah, that sounds cool and then I wouldn’t do it. And so we built movewell as basically like a personal Mobility coach partially, you know to help other people, but is also like partially to help me recover

Steve: That make sense. Yeah, you’re scratching your own Itch. Yeah.

Joel: Yeah, and that was a different type of business because I had a partner in it for a minute and I end up item out at the end of this year. We’re kind of rolled that into impossible and the kind of the goal with that now is people to push themselves and to go you know

Steve: And recover obviously.

Joel: Yeah. So the idea is like you can do much more than you think you can but you have to recover more than you think you can as well

Steve: Let me ask you this Joel we started out this interview talking about relationships and you mentioned a couple big names like Chris Guillebeau. How do you meet these people? Like what is your strategy for building new relationships?

Joel: My strategy, I think at the beginning literally I just showed up at his meetups. Like he had a couple meetups that he was launching. I’ve got a I did a talk I opened for his last book meet up in Boston or whatever and I have a photo of him at his most recent be up at then at the first he denied he ever did how is their am I looking very wide eyed eager to meet him the first time he wrote a book and came through Chicago a lot of these guys. I literally started off. You know, this is 2009-2010. So and they knew me from my gravatar image commenting on a lot of their blogs and being like, you know, not kissing ass or anything like that, but Just like hey, that was a super impactful blog because I was literally living in my parents basement watching Netflix shows and reading these guys walks and that’s what you know, that’s where my time was. So I was I was really grateful and inspired by them in the first place. And so that’s how I did it at first. I think at one point I figured out how to get their emails email a bunch of random people out of the blue people like Sean Ogle. I remember emailing Steve Cam and then just, you know, kind of going back and forth Just Like A lot of them were awesome newish at the time.

So some of us grew together someone like Chris was you know, he was quite a ways ahead of a lot of people, you know, just try to treat him like, you know, I do friend that was trying to make and so, you know, that looks a lot different nowadays than it did back then but I think a lot of the principles are really the same it’s like hey, you know be appreciative people’s work every time I get an email from someone who’s like this specific thing that you wrote was really impactful and help me in this way. I take notice. I’m super busy I get a million emails. But when someone sends you a genuine compliment, like I think people people pay attention to that and then trying to take it offline and meet them in person. Whether that’s a meet-up that they’re doing whether that’s a you know, Chris hosted world domination Summit like a conference a bunch of times for meeting people at another place. I find those in-person relationships go way farther than just, you know, tweets or retweets or if it’s instagram tags or anything like that.

So those are the things that I would say as far as meeting people at building relationships, you know, treat them like you would you know, they weren’t someone that was online like, you know, you’re just meeting a friend at a bar or something like that. Like what are you gonna what do you say or what do you talk to him about.

Steve: Yeah Yeah. So basically Joel you stalk them and you wear them down over time until..

Joel: friends were being friend and you have to deal with it.

Steve: Cool. That’s actually really good advice and I just been listening to everything that you’ve been saying and my blog actually didn’t start taking off until I started attending events and making friends with other bloggers and we’d help each other promote each other stuff. And that’s really how my blog ended up taking off early on.

Joel: Yeah, I found that stuff is again. I’ll talk about SEO because as soon as my background, but you have to do so much more qualifying on SEO traffic unless you’re selling like a widget I find with blog specifically if you can find other people that are already like minded that like maybe you’re taking like a different angle on a subject then you know other existing bloggers are like those are sometimes maybe we’ll send you a less traffic but I find those are way better fit sometimes then like, you know, you know chasing chasing the SEO God’s, you know for blog specific stuff, you know, if we’re selling like a six pack AB course, you know, SEO is going to be really helpful, you know, and in conversion Focus for that, but I found I found some of the biggest growth has been those similar blogger opportunities similar, you know, personalities or podcasts or you know across cross-posting guest posting interviews Etc.

Steve: So Joel we’ve been chatting for almost 50 minutes. Now, where can people find you and what is your next thing? What’s your next event? Whatnot. Where can people get a hold of you?

Joel: Yeah, so you can check everything out at impossiblehq.com. I’ll have links to I think you could throw the links to like the meal plans in the and movewell as well..

Steve: Yeah.

Joel: But everything’s at impossiblehq.com. Right now, we’re in the midst of like clarifying some of the messaging. We just shot this big old this big trailer for impossible that I’m really excited about and planning my next big Ultra event. So I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do before the end of the year, but we’re coming out with we’re coming out with new programs for more people to pushing your limits more accessible to more people and then we’re also working on some more physical products this year, which I’m really really excited about so that’s coming up this fall.

Steve: I challenge you to do an Ironman on every continent neck

Joel: That’s actually awesome but I don’t know how you swim in Antarctica unless you’re off the edge and then you run into Antarctica people being very litigious about what water is technically count as Antarctica. So this is a whole. This is a whole area of the world that gets very little not litigious. But yeah kind of litigious record breakers that are trying to do crazy stuff so I got to do one Ironman. I think I’m gonna do one Iron Man in the next 12 months. I actually wrote that down to two days ago.

Steve: Okay, it sounds like an excuse to me. But what will leave it like that.

Joel: Hey you you come out with me. We’ll do it together.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Well, I gotta go without this podcast has been gone quite some time now, so..

Joel: Haha

Steve: Hey man, really appreciate you coming on the show and I’m sure I’m gonna see you probably next month or something like that.

Joel: Awesome looking forward to it.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I’ve known Joel for quite some time now and he’s the type of guy that always motivates me to do better. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode274.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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273: How Nuun Life Grew To An 8 Figure Business With CEO Kevin Rutherford

273: How Nuun Life Grew To An 8 Figure Business With CEO Kevin Rutherford

Today I’m thrilled to have Kevin Rutherford on the show. Kevin is the CEO of Nuun life, a company that sells hydration tablets that turn water into a Gatorade like drink with very few carbs.

Nuun is a product that I personally use every single day to stay hydrated and feel productive. And today, we’ll learn how Kevin has grown Nuun into a behemoth of a company.

Enjoy the show!

What You’ll Learn

  • How Nuun got started
  • How Nuun grew to an 8 figure company
  • What were the primary strategies to grow the business
  • How does Nuun generate its sales

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

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners, and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I am happy to have the CEO of Nuun life on the show. Now, Nuun spelled N U U N– is a product that I personally use every single day to stay hydrated and feel productive. So I’m really excited to talk to you Kevin Rutherford about how they’ve grown their company over the years.

But before we begin, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast, simple, and repeatable ways to grow. And with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing, build your customer relationships, and automate your online sales. And it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneur growth guide, packed with must read blog post, case studies, and getting started content. This guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth. Now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating, but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now I encourage you to check out this free content now over at klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again that is K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/my wife.

I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 e-commerce. And right now, I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up. Basically, user gives your 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 a hundred thirty one percent. I’m also using their new cart saver pop-up feature as well to recover abandoned carts. 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 preview.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 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 Kevin Rutherford on the show Now Kevin is the CEO of Nuun life a company that sells hydration tablets that turn water into a Gatorade like drink with very few carbs, and I’m actually addicted to these tablets actually take them twice per day and I can’t really describe the feeling that I get but after drinking Nuun for some reason that I instantly feel better and perhaps it’s because I am dehydrated for most of the day and I don’t even realize it but the stuff works amazing. I always take it before I start my day. Now in any case Kevin has grown noon into a behemoth of a company and I’m excited to hear his story and how he’s grown it and with that welcome to show Kevin. How you doing today?

Kevin: it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Steve: So Kevin. I’d like to start with kind of the origin story. I know you kind of took over the company after it was established, but I was wondering how Nuun got started to begin with and how did the name happen to be like Nuun as a pretty unique name.

Kevin: Yeah, well, there’s a few parts that question. Let me break it down and tell you a little bit how it started and then I’ll finally get back to the brand names here point. So Nuun was started roughly 15 years ago and it was formed by a couple of triathletes that were in training and they were they were really looking for a better solution. So if you go back 15 years just think about this for a moment there were really not very many Alternatives when it came to hydration and sports drinks really the most known still to this day of course is Gatorade. And so what they did is they were there trying to find an optimal solution oddly enough. They’re also going to school like it was Dartmouth if I’m not mistaken. I apologize if I’m off on that data point,

Steve: It’s okay.

Kevin: but I’m it’s a certain and it was actually a business case meets personal need and they came up with this idea of creating this noon tablet. It was based on some research that suggested the optimal way to hydrate and fuel yourself for training long Distance races is you need to separate your hydration from their fuel. And so if you think about that for just a moment the way that you if you’re taking in a sports drink a traditional sports drink like a Gatorade, It’s a combination. There’s a lot of carbs and sugars in there which is meant to be fuel to go with your hydration. So let me let me just kind of give the give the audience a little more detail on this time in its then you go will hold on so that seems to make sense because that’s easier to take in it is easier to take in but it’s harder for your body to work with it.

This is what the research suggested and so if you think about if you actually go back to I think it’s 1964 when you actually Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida in Gainesville, from what I understand back then the product was actually closer and composition to what Nuun is terms of electrolytes and carbohydrates than what the traditional Gatorade product is today. And so yeah, so it’s evolved over time and I think it’s evolved over time both for taste palate because it’s much sweeter with the sugars. There is a book written on it also suggests that there was an artificial sweetener in it back in the time to keep the calorie count down and then when that was banned by the FDA, then I think that’s when they put in different heights, you know, basically some high sugar content.

Steve: So basically, it’s very high fructose corn syrup

Kevin: Right. Yeah, exactly. So that’s the challenge now so enter in Founders at the time and when they were looking at this and they’re going okay. Well, there’s got to be a better way in the science says, oh by the way, I didn’t finish on the physiology. I meant to do that. So in the physiology of your body when you’re consuming liquid some over simplifying this but when you’re consuming liquids, it goes eventually down to your stomach like to your small intestine and that’s what it wants to go and in Balance of 95 percent water. So if you take concentrated sugars and put that there over time that’s going to cause intestinal distress plus when you think about when you’re working out you’re putting stress on your intestine and just like just bodily functions. And so you would want to use a different pathway for fuel. That’s what you want when you want to use food potentially poles and other methods that people use for when they’re working out and hydration is all about electrolytes.

You do need a little bit of sugar to help you absorb the electrolytes but not a lot and when again when you combine the two it wreaks Havoc so long story short these guys basically said this is a better way. Let’s just develop this on our own obviously did very well in the business case to the way. They said let’s just launched. Once this product the name Nuun. So, the truth be told it’s defined as nutrition uncompromised. It’s a made-up word N U U N will tell you I have talked with the founder of the past on this and I think he actually likes to leave it up to mystery. And so what’s funny is there’s stories that have shown up on this one woman on our team that to me Kevin, do you know what Nuun means in Nepal and I’m like what? Yeah, then the Polly’s translation for it. She goes it means salt and I go and so sure enough I’m Diggin I’m Diggin. I find it even Wikipedia you can you do have to kind of dig to find it, but I found it and it’s actually spelled Nun but pronounced noon and it is the translation for salt in Nepal

Steve: I can’t be a coincidence.

Kevin: I wonder if exactly right because the most essential electrolyte that you need to replenish is salt. So I found that quite humorous. I don’t know if that’s how it started. So I’m love to be transparent and honest about it. Okay, I will tell you that we think of it as nutrition and compromise but you know, there’s all kinds of stories out there about what the brand means. I also think that the founder just really love the symmetry of the N the U of U and the N all lower case. I think he just kind of like symmetry. But again, I don’t know for certain. I wish I had a better answer for you guys and I want..

Steve: A couple more questions about the founding story and then we’ll move on but I was just kind of curious if these guys know they the product at all before they just start making and selling it in bulk.

Kevin: Oh well, the validation absolutely validation was really among the fund themselves because they were triathletes but also among their peers and friends. So small-scale testing, yes. And then actually to that point they did consult with a physician and a sports scientist who was living in Australia. I don’t know where that connection came from, but I do know that because it’s oddly enough this position. I introduced with some introduced himself to me at a bike show. He’s like Hey Kevin, you know, I forgot his name. It’s so bad. He was super nice and he goes I’m so and so one night. I was actually part of the science in terms of understanding the composition of the product and worked with him in the folks that started the company. So there was some validation there and there was also real world testing in terms of training for adventure races and training for for Iron Man and a long distance Triathlon races.

So that was the validation then it was hey we’ve got something here and like what you said at the opening you really can feel the difference when you try this product, that’s the cool part and our whole Mantra when it comes to Innovation and how we improve our products is hydration that you can feel we kind of work at the science. And then we validate it just like the US and still to this day.

Steve: You know, I notice I don’t feel that way when I drink Gatorade is it because of the sugar component?

Kevin: Well, I think there might be two reasons. I don’t you know, obviously everyone’s body is different.

Steve: Sure

Kevin: The sugar you would actually would think you would feel a difference pretty quickly because we just think about the injection of a sugar high. However, that being said the electrolyte level in noon is higher.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: Than a Gatorade and that could be why and I think the reason why when you’re doing this at rest while you’re feeling the difference of Nuun right away is realize that but we’re just not putting enough liquid in our body and so Nuun will replenish that much quicker and the composition of the electrolytes is designed for basically what your body needs and where you’re going to be most efficient. So I think that’s why, so it’s a bit of the composition the electrolyte levels higher and Nuun the sugar may or may not be a reason out of the gates why you don’t Difference because I think over time that you would notice the sugar drop rate falling off the cliff.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah.

Kevin: But I would think it’s actually I would think would actually help you feel better.

Steve: Okay, I’m just kind of curious. What does it take to make one of these tablets? Like if someone out there were to just make a product along the same lines. Does it require any sort of FDA approval or anything like that certifications in order to sell some of these things?

Kevin: My hesitation on that one is you know in today’s world. I guess if you were to sell products online, I think you can you wouldn’t really need an FDA approval. You could probably get around that system. But I guess long story short, We do go through FDA approval. We also work with different retailers and get approval for them in terms of agreement as to what ingredients we use. So I you could do it you could do it in probably skirt around a lot of Regulation pretty easily.

Steve: because I do know that people who make those protein powders. I don’t think there’s any regulation on those it seems.

Kevin: yeah. I know I think you’re right. I think that’s the chat one of the challenges with the you know, supplements in general. So one of the things that we did to counteract that one and actually it’s great that you’re aware of that. I wish more people were aware of that. So one of the things that we’ve done is we said don’t just trust us, right? take these validations. So we actually go through the effort to make sure that you know that it’s non-GMO project certified we go through the effort to make sure it’s gluten-free certified. It’s vegan certified its kosher and certification and last we have another certification that’s around safer sport which basically means we have every single batch has tested so that you know that there is no contamination that could have a banned substance in it.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: But again, the certifications are to give you confidence to say and which cost a lot of money and time but sure that way you look at and go what they say is what they’re doing.

Steve: Okay so they’re not required but you guys do it as an extra confidence level for consumers.

Kevin: That’s true. Now when you start to go internationally, right, so maybe that’s every Canadian like some people know their Canadians except me but as we as we ship our product across the border to Canada Health Canada is much more strict. And so we do ship there. We do ship to the UK and Australia New Zealand and all of those countries do require much more regulation to be passed which obviously we do.

Steve: Okay and then once you have the manufacturing down or at least of the founders, like how did they generate the first sales? Like, what does the overall marketing strategy to get a product like this? Because there’s just tons of these maybe not tablets per se but there’s a ton of hydration products out there.

Kevin: When you think of a tablet, they didn’t really exist roughly 15 years ago when the company started. So in this case the like consumers like what the heck is this? Right? And how does it work? And is it safe? So there’s a lot of Education when you think of when you first start how you have to do this?

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: So I think that the recommendation that I would say on this one and how to approach it and it’s probably pretty consistent, you know feedback that you’ve had in this is exactly what the founding team did is they started small I think of who is this product relevant for who are we targeting and it was the athlete so it’s the adventure Racers of the triathletes. I believe the first store that ever carried Nuun is called First Ascent in the on the north side of Seattle and which is where I’m located in Seattle right now. You go to that store and you convinced basically kind of persuade them to give it a shot likely you give it to them Free and just kind of prove it out and then get in store in Sample and I think starting store by solar one by one you start expanding and you start to get momentum. You also hear the consumer feedback over time and in the store feed back and then that’s where you start building from.

I think truthfully I think the big mistake that people have is they want to go big so fast and I think that you really want to start small and focus and learn and adapt and accordingly and this case you’re not really probably going to die that much on the product that you’re going to adapt on how you communicate it.

Steve: You know, it’s interesting you said so they went to the retail channels first, I guess online wasn’t really huge back then would you have done the same strategy today?

Kevin: I would have done a combo. What I would do is I would I would try to find curated distribution meaning Nuun today. If I were to start I would go and work with some of the hot trendy like in the sport for run for Triathlon for bike. I would work with them. I would probably work with you know, the local natural stores as well because we use all clean ingredients and then I would also take the same strategy targeting that same consumer online. The reality is a lot of businesses are being built through online first, but I think you can do both one of the things that will happen is discovery in the store then kind of relay over to conversion fairly quickly and then that can build your online sales. I think I can go both ways. I think a lot of us think of online is the the way but I think a combination of the two is actually more more powerful most consumers today still treat most of their shopping in store.

Steve: Yeah

Kevin: And I’m not seeing the trend isn’t changing. I agree it is but the data would say, hey most people still The store.

Steve: I think I would agree with you. Like if I just saw some random supplement in a Facebook ad for example, even if it was a free sample, I’d be reluctantly to try it unless that kind of happened to glance over and see it in a retail shop. So I think they do work together for sure.

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: So, okay. So back in the being they start out in small retail shops and then Target a small community presumably the triathlete community.

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely that in adventure racing was a bit of a component / for the brand as well adventure racing. If you’re not familiar with that is because you’re basically doing a race that has orienteering involved in it to get two different touch points and you’re racing somewhere like could be 24 48 72 hours over some pretty rough terrain. So the torture test is if this thing works for that or an Ironman athlete then guess what this has got to work for me and that’s kind of the approach they took go for the torture test. Yeah. That was that was actually the approach.

Steve: It kind of spread via word of mouth and write these athletes were using them and then they were recommending them and then soon other athletes were using the product as well.

Kevin: Yeah, exactly. And here’s the other interesting thing is there’s two there’s two components. There’s word other the word of mouth is the overarching which I agree with you. That’s that’s absolutely what happened to spread word amount. There’s through the athletes. Then there’s the influencers at the time that it wasn’t influencers. Like we think of Instagram today that didn’t exist. But it’s the same concept in this case. It was the influencers were the store managers or the store owners of these kind of leading independent stores that lead in Triathlon or cycling or run. And if they’re recommending this Nuun hydration, it’s got to be good. Right? It’s that kind of concept and so that’s what that word about what happened and then of course, they’re sampling and sore and being a races in sampling. They’re introducing its people.

Steve: So by the time you took over the company, we were there getting most of their sales from and what was the marketing strategy at the point where you took over?

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. So I took over, you know, it’ll be coming up to six years and the primary source of where we were selling the product was at least the predominant Channel. I was starting to expand from there. But the predominant channel was really the sport specialty side of things is what we call it or sports stores. So think about again as I mentioned the trap on shops on child’s bike shops, but also really good customer for us. It’s been around to this day phenomenal customer for us is REI.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: Which is an outdoor retailer and they’ve been a really good partner. Which not only is it a good partner for Revenue but these retail stores are in many ways distribution is marketing and so they’ve really helped really help give us credibility because of who they are and through Association we did have some distribution in grocery as well. But was growing the time obviously it’s much more significant today than what it was. So I would say that and then even the online sales were starting to build through Amazon at the as well we were real early adopter again. Those were obviously much much smaller at the time but the predominant volume first coming from the sport side of things and then the grocery was starting to build the digital was starting to build and gain momentum, but that was kind of where the volume was.

Steve: How do you get into REI? What does it take to get into REI?

Kevin: I don’t know how we got in originally truthfully. I actually don’t know how that happened. I do get that question a lot by the way, REI in particular. And I think to get an REI today, what you want to do is you’re going to want to prove your brand and other places first because REI is not going to likely take the risk on a start-up not likely but they will take it on a small new and emerging brand. So Noon would still call it an emerging brand. It’s not the billions of dollars that Gatorade is today. So I think today REI probably a lot more sophisticated on their choices of nutrition than what they were, you know, 10 years ago is actually when I think we wanted to REI so it’s pretty long time and like I said still like a critical customer to this very day and the future for our plans. So I think you gotta prove it out likely in some of these sports stores.

I would even I don’t know if you can do this, but the one of the ways to get into some of these chains, you have to be really Scrappy about it, but can you build relationships at a store level and it’s kind of going around the rules so hopefully REI doesn’t get mad at me for saying it. I don’t know if we did this REI, if you’re listening. I say this because I think of at Whole Foods and how the team kind of works that is at store level and starting to get some proof points and you’re basically talking almost like a an independent store owner in this case. It’s a store manager and can you get that relationship to just get a shot to see if this thing works does it sell and I think you could do that REI which then could filter back up to the headquarters where you can have a shot to get in there.

I think it’s REI is no different than any other retailers long story short, is kind of find your proof points start small and then yeah then how do you how do you if you can’t even if you can sneak it into a store and show that actually moved their store that I think that kind of bodes well.

Steve: So what you just said is in line with a lot of the other people who are in retail you start at the small boutique shops, you demonstrate sales and you take that data and try to get into a couple of tests stores and like Whole Foods or whatnot and then hopefully the sales are good and that’s how you get in. I was just kind of curious what your perspective was. But yeah, it sounds like it’s in line.

Kevin: Yeah, well and again it comes back to you actually want to curate the distribution anyway, because you’re finding these Boutique shops as you called it and so, you know use it on one of the brands that have recently got acquired as I’m a big fan of this brand is Sun balm, which is think it is like sunscreen suntan lotion rights on care and these this group built this brand their Boutique equivalent was surf shop and how do they build it there? And then it kind of went to hospitality but they get those proof points, right and they build the brands together with this so they it’s a win-win that helps the boutique shops. If you will the surf shops and helps the brand and then you build it together and then you go. Okay. It’s time for us to expand the picture. We’re more available in the proof points are critical for those bigger stores.

The data is what ultimately is the proof point. You can only go so much on gut. So if the consumers picking it up and that’s why you want that data point then there were more likely to lean in the further removed you are from a business. The more you need data is kind of My Philosophy with the team.

Steve: Okay.

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Interesting. So does that imply then that starting a company like this purely online is would be extremely challenging.

Kevin: Well, I think I think nothing is easy. I don’t think there’s any shortcuts. I think that’s a misnomer so I don’t think it’s easy at all. But I do think it can be done and there are a lot of examples of brands that are building through digital and building from the ground up so it can be done but it’s also very you know, and it’s very accessible because anyone can do it sure but that also means the barrier for entry is very low. So the Clutter is really high.

Steve: The competition is high. Yeah

Kevin: Yeah. So so I think it can be done long story short, you know, it’s Interesting as well that you know, I grew up in a more traditional CPG, you know consumer packaged Goods environment SC Johnson and I worked at Miller Brewing. It was a cauchy which is owned by Kellogg. And and what’s interesting about that is when you look at marketing skill set of what you needed then is is very different with the emergence of happening of the digital world. And so when you think about Talent those that work in it could be multi-level marketing to direct consumer marketing brands in the past where you go that’s not and I’m paraphrasing and kind of making this up but it’s almost like I was aren’t real marketers, but it turns out it turns out that that’s probably a better skill set than a traditional CPG today when it comes to the digital side of things sure. It’s just interesting how it’s changed a lot and pretty quickly in the last like even just like takes five years.

Steve: It’s changed a lot. Oh, yeah for sure. And actually that was kind of a Lead into my next question. So you got this company you take over it’s already got sales in a bunch of different channels. What was your strategy to grow it as much as you did in the past five or six years?

Kevin: The key Point here is I didn’t grow it. We did and I say that truthfully here’s the deal. There was a lot working for news. So something changed, but I will tell you that the foundation of what the product is what the philosophy was behind. It was really great team that was in place was also a really interesting because I thought it was really strong. So my Approach was this when I came in I actually first started not to try to change anything. I really just wanted to get in here and understand what was going on. And first what’s working. Where can we put a megaphone on it? How do we amplify that and then secondly then what do we need to stop doing? And then what do we need to start doing? Like what do we need to do differently?

Steve: Okay

Kevin: So that that’s kind of creepy. So when it comes to what’s working, I’ll tell you why I’m saying this is not going to be rocket science for the listeners out there, but I’m such a big believer that Biggest Difference Maker in every business, it comes back to the people. It just comes back to the team. And so I think what I helped bring to the table was a belief in what we were doing as a company to the team because they worked the team would like the business was growing when I came in but it was the growth rate was slowing if that makes sense

Steve: sure

Kevin: And admitting not declining but it wasn’t growing nearly as fast and yet the business is still not that big so it shouldn’t have been slowing and growth which is part of the reason for a change. And so I think the number one thing that I hope I helped get a different lens for the team was to believe in what were we trying to accomplish as like kind of a mission for the company but secondly to believe in each other and ourselves and I think that’s where the self-doubt might start to happen. And that’s a vicious cycle which is why I think culture is the ultimate competitive Advantage not very exciting when people are looking for what’s the business strategy it truly is like that that’s Ultimately will sustain winning or not winning.

Steve: Interesting. Okay.

Kevin: Absolute conviction on it from my perspective. So that was that was one too. So then it was saying well, what do we need to put a megaphone on? What do we need to do? And so we were doing some really great things on the support side of things and what happens with a lot of businesses is some teams start to think about well, where can we take this where we go next and they think broad versus depth, right our breath forces death and I really wanted them to make sure that we were keeping focused. Like let’s all keep focus and not lose what we’re really good at. Let’s amplify that so let’s amplify the relationship with REI. Let’s amplify the relationship that we have with bleep feeds or any see in Canada. Like what can we do more with that? Not necessarily. Where do we need to go next? I’m not saying we don’t go other places, but that you start first with where your strengths are.

Steve: Can you give me an example of like amplification with REI? For example, like what does that mean? Exactly?

Kevin: Yeah, you know, so what we did on the REI friend is we came back to them and talk about doing unique items. We started to plan with them and give them a preview as to the future of what we were doing with Innovation. And how can we partner together? We weren’t doing that with that system before right? Once we launch with them. We were doing really good things, but we weren’t thinking of them as a strategic partner may be in part because we didn’t think maybe we didn’t believe that we had the right to do that because we were little tiny noon instead we came in and saying no, we’re like a leader in hydration growing clearly the number one tablet at the time and still up by far the number one tablet now and Cohen with a leadership position say Hey, how do we grow together?

And so then we started to develop plans together and then we started doing things with rei.com that we were never doing before terms of sampling. We increase the number of demos we did in store. So again to drive more velocity

Steve: I see.

Kevin: So we just did a lot deeper on Partnerships. We were doing some of it. We just went deeper and double down and put more Investment there.

Steve: Okay, that makes sense. And then the volume is naturally grew and the partnership’s grew deeper and presumably they would Market your products more too, okay.

Kevin: Absolutely, you know, one of the things we’re really proud of the teams just done such a phenomenal job you if we use REI as the example. Last year, we were we were runner-up for vendor of the year at REI, which is pretty wild knowing there’s a lot of different brands in our category and our category by the way was bigger than just nutrition. It’s like think of it as like water bottles and that whole kind of segment over there in the store and we were put up for vendor of the Year. And that was basically it came back to how we work with them how we treat them how we interact with them how we invest time energy and resources with them. So yeah, we went deeper and works for and I think for both of us.

Steve: Cool. What were some of the other aspects of the business that you Amplified?

Kevin: Yeah. So like I said that the idea of believing in ourselves really drives even better and faster. Execution in store. So it’s really the quality of execution. So that’s why I started with culture for you. One of the other things though that we did is that was to get momentum back. There isn’t massive change their here’s where the change really have and where the magnifying effect happen for the team is like, okay, We got her groove back. We got our stride back. I’m a big believer that momentum builds momentum is a Mojo builds Mojo. And so we got this momentum going great. While that was happening, We re-trenched ourselves and said what’s our nutritional philosophy in and basically the mission that we have is we Inspire everyone to move more our nutritional philosophy is to basically give you what you need and nothing that you don’t which is hydrant. You can feel this wasn’t formalized before and so what I did with the team was we step back into what does that look like?

That led us to having this whole live clean clean product claims Planet Clean Sport, and so we realized then I go. Okay. What ingredients Again in the current Nuun tablet that we launched with 15 years ago. Now what is in here that is inconsistent that we need to do better with our product because no one ever wanted to change the product. This was an interesting one, a lot of resistance to change a lot because people loved what we had and the reality was is we had when it launched originally an artificial sweetener, which because that kept the calorie count down in that capacity to keep the calorie count down that made it’s consistent with the science. We had a preservative in there for longer shelf life. We just had some ingredients in there that made sense of why it was developed but then we need to develop a nutritional philosophy and if it’s all about clean ingredients, I’m like, okay, we can’t have this anymore.

Truthfully, nothing’s easy as I told you before when we went to go develop this and we had our Kuroko manufacturer. They basically said you can’t develop a tablet with the philosophy that you’re doing. Are you I kid you not I believe the words were it is impossible and I’m like no we’ve got to do it. Otherwise, we’re gonna have to go find somewhere else to do this. We’ve got to figure it out and we did it,the team did it. With them. We did we completely broke down the Paradigm and said well, how would we do it and worked out it worked at it? And the reason I bring that up is you when you start with the strategy of the philosophy the mission and you go. Okay, what is consistent and what is inconsistent? Because good strategies not only what you will do, but it should be what you want do and so when we took those ingredients out change that we had a whole new platform meaning now, we’ve got a product fit has the performance and you’re not compromising on any ingredients, sweet. So then we go at that opened up a whole new market for us.

Steve: I see.

Kevin: From a business sense and the way I would position this when I’m talking to our board in our investors. Is this going to open a whole new market what really drove it honestly is what’s the right thing to do? What do we want to do? And if we make this for ourselves, this is how we do it. This is our mission that actually, what drove it. When you communicate your audience’s you need to make sure you talk in a language that’s relevant and matters to them. So when I talk for investors here’s the market that is going to open up to which was true. And that’s what happened. And so then after we went to an all natural all cleaning product, we ended up taking that momentum that we had proof points at the REI in the sport especially and went to all Whole Foods Across the Nation all Sports stores, and it was a whole new market for us.

And now we’ve completely changed the game. That was that was probably the game changer right there where it went to a whole different level and then and then we just keep on putting the gas down even harder because we’ve got to think we’re so confident in who we are and what we’re producing and why we believe it’s the best thing for you that it’s just it just keeps on it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Steve: So since we’re on this topic of product since I’ve been a Nuun consumer for quite some time now, I noticed relatively recently You guys started introducing an a lot of varieties whereas in the past. There’s only two and it was easy for me to find that right. I just want the hydration after one. I’m going to have and then I remember when all these different varieties came. I was a little bit confused as to which one I should get. What was the philosophy behind that decision?

Kevin: Yeah. So that’s a really good point. Right arguably. You could say why even add any other products just so more of what you have which is the optimal hydration product that you’re talking about which was designed with the torture test of Adventure athletes an Ironman athletes in mind. Right like the people that are basically sweating and it works when you’re not sweating too which is what you’re talking about first thing in the morning. You’re like, you know, as you were talking about you’re saying I just take this first thing in the morning cuz it makes me feel really good and it’s because you’ve been dehydrating overnight to set also probably makes a lot of sense. The idea here is we said well is this product designed optimally for kind of daily Health occasions? And that’s where we were starting to think through hydration is needed. We need to hydrate throughout the day. How can we help that and what are different needs states that we can address through hydration?

And when we looked at what we’re now calling sport but original product is now cleaned by ingredients obviously, which we did many years ago now. That product is designed for if you will sweat preparing to sweat recovering from sweat, but it’s all around that sweat occasion. And so the other product we launched we said, okay, so we introduced we actually introduced if you’re called as a caffeinated version called Energy.

Steve: Yep. Yep.

Kevin: It’s the same product as just what caffeine and some B vitamins in there that was kind of an introduction. It’s like okay that makes sense the problem with that from a communication perspective which consumers didn’t totally understand. They thought they didn’t know it was the same product just with copying. So with one of the things that you’ve seen is we’ve had to simplify our communication, but I’ll talk to you through the portfolio really quickly and then I’ll say here’s the communication then we did a vitamin product. It was basically about daily health and it’s like the electrolytes are in their same complete electrolyte profile, but we lowered it because you don’t need as high as sodium levels. You don’t need 300 milligrams of sodium when you’re not sweating you do need it if you’re preparing for during or after the split, but if it’s just like I’m working away at my desk or if you you and I are talking to podcast, you know, I’d probably I’d love some electrolytes because it will make the water work harder for me get at the same time. I don’t need it as high.

So that’s when we came up with that and we added in 11 different vitamins and minerals that the research suggested that most people were deficient in so that way you’re constantly getting in vitamins and electrolytes while you’re hydrated throughout the day so that was the idea but it’s causing confusion back to your point. In fact since then, we’ve also launched an immunity product which is, you know, we looked at air born in emergency and we said well, what about these situations and we felt like what was happening with the current competition? And we have this philosophy of we had to start all over again. How would we do it? When you looked at the immunity side of things these products were basically getting an a vitamin C arms race. I’ve got 1,000 milligrams. I’ve got 2,000 milligrams. The problem with that is you can’t actually absorb all that.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: So that’s when we developed some pretty, so long story short. We have all these different products and it was causing confusion. So what we’ve done since then and just like in the last two months is flowing through it shelf and that’s what you’re saying is we have a Nuun sport that’s fpr sweat occasion, we have Nuun vitamins daily health and it calls it out on there. We have immunity to boost your immune system and even most recently just launched a rest product to help you get a more restful sleep. So there’s just different ways to hydrate throughout the day you need to hydrate throughout the day. Maybe we can encourage people to hydrate more for more Optimal Health and we can address different need states at the same time. That’s kind of the philosophy. We just have to be really clear on when to use it. Like which one do I use and when.

Steve: Yeah, so I guess what confuses me and this is kind of outside the scope of the interview but like if I’m taking a hydration do I need to take a vitamin one then or should I take both if I take the restful or the immunity that’s like four tablets, I guess right there which seems a little..

Kevin: Yeah.

Steve: And so that’s where the confusion, I’d rather just take one and cover, you know, 3/5 of that

Kevin: Yeah, so if I was if you were to just pick one product, I think you would work with what you’ve been always drinking the Nuun hydration Court product a high electrolytes because it’s really good for any occasion. Is it excess electrolytes? Yes, because its water soluble you’ll just pee it out whatever you don’t absorb, but you don’t always need that high. So for those that want to dial in for that’s what we find is our consumers very involved. It’s like what do I need for what occasion and how do we deliver on that? Again, did you only what you need versus what you don’t and that’s why we have two different products for different occasions. So it’s a very fair comment though. Like I completely understand here because here’s the flipside the downside is so vitamins is a phenomenal product, but it’s not designed optimally if you are about to go out for a century ride bike ride because the electrolytes are going to be high enough.

Steve: Right

Kevin: But it’s perfectly designed for you know again you and I having a podcast discussion right now. I’m just kind of relaxing and chatting because the electrolyte levels are optimal and I’m getting vitamins. I don’t need you don’t need even more electrolytes at this point.

Steve: Okay

Kevin: So I realized maybe a small confusion but..

Steve: I was just kind of curious what the business decision was. But I mean the business decision really is so you can move into new markets essentially, right?

Kevin: Yeah, kind of exempting from a personal perspective. You’re right. So from a business perspective what it would tell you this is when we launched vitamins and when we’ve launched immunity and then now rest they’ve all been highly incremental in terms of business volume to the current sport product the sport product continues to grow and then these additions have been incremental but also Nuun Markets new need States is what we’re addressing.

Steve: I mean now we’re essentially tackling multivitamins as well as Airborne, correct, right?

Kevin: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: That’s true. Yep. So it’s a new way to enter into the brand.

Steve: Exactly. Yeah and basically piggyback on what you have that’s already successful. Because I know for a fact that time are you taking Nuun every day instead of taking Centrum. For example, I might just take a vitamin, Nuun.

Kevin: Yeah, I think that’s fair. I think that’s fair.

Steve: So, okay. So back to the original thing we were talking about. So what were the things that you decide to cut out? So you we talked about what you Amplified? What did you not amplifier but decrease essentially?

Kevin: yeah what do you stop doing? Right? And so one of the things that I mentioned to you as we made the change in the product that was one of the things that we we really stopped doing was we said, how do we change the product and and turn this a different way the other thing that we did was we stopped looking for fast channel extension at the time. Now, we’re doing more Channel expansion because we’re ready for it, but we weren’t ready for it. So whether that’s the club channel the drug Channel we were going down those paths and behind the scenes and actually entered into stores and we weren’t doing great in those and so how do we pull back from that and that’s that’s kind of where we collectively said we need to Stop doing that and let’s go deeper where we are and really retrench to get stronger growth rates and then start to expand but don’t go too far out.

It’s those closer and adjacencies, you know, the reality is as our consumer tends to be highly involved. They want to read the ingredients. They want to know what it’s for which is why we can do different need States. If you go too far down the path of a conventional General market, we may not be relevant for them yet at this point and that’s what we are finding. So that’s one of the things that we did differently stop going after drug. Stop going after Club.

Steve: I guess that makes sense. I mean when you go after too many things you don’t do any of them well, and so I guess your philosophy was to just go deep and then once you’ve saturated that particular Avenue then look to expand.

Kevin: Yep, exactly. And by the way, you won’t really ever know a few saturated it because there’s always likely a bit more room to grow. So, I think it’s I think it’s when you feel like you’ve got and somewhat of an over index and now you’ve built up in a without a lot of data being smaller companies, you’re going on a little bit of intuition to say, I think I think we’ve got pretty good awareness now. :et’s go to the next adjacency of consumer and reach and then that’s when you go to the next channel.

Steve: I guess you can measure diminishing returns though, right?

Kevin: True. You’re right.

Steve: Absolutely. Maybe that’s it. Okay, cool. I feel like I caught you kind of like an inflection point right You released all those new varieties relatively recently. I want to say so what is the next growth face that you see for Nuun?

Kevin: Yeah, I believe there’s still a few more needs dates that we believe that we can extend to for hydration, like taking the tablets hydration plus so think it as electrolytes but lower level than the sport electrolytes plus this so electrolytes plus immunity electrolytes plus to deliver on a more restful sleep. So there’s a few more indeed states that we have in mind that we want to do on that. There’s also some different platforms that we think we can build from and reinvent a few different categories out there. So I can’t talk too much about that. But if you think about nutrition uncompromised and take it from a supplement perspective, but that probably should be a good indicator of okay. So what are some sleepy categories kind of stale and stagnant that that really need to be reinvented and so we’ve got our eyes on a couple of different categories where we’ll build a platform to reinvent.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: I’ll give you an example for that. That’s not that’s not Nuun, but it will give you a chance to give you context, you know. Kudosuour friends over at Justin so whichever one probably those that know it and most people do now as an almond butter. If you go back in time when they went into the category, it was a stale peanut butter category selling for a buck .99, $2.99 a jar. Now people are buying anywhere from $7.99 to $11.99, $14.99 for almond butter because it’s a better quality and it changed the whole category from peanut butter to nut butter and I think we can go into a few different sleepy categories and get you to rethink the approach in terms of better nutrition higher quality and but just more efficacious.

Steve: Okay one last question for you that I was just kind of curious about in terms of your online versus brick and mortar strategy, which do you put more emphasis on which is doing better for you and just kind of what is your outlook on that?

Kevin: Well, there’s no question in my mind. That digital is where the fastest growing Market is period out there in terms of consumables and beyond that. In fact, I have a fundamental belief that two things here, passes. The world is moving today will never it’ll never be too slow again. So if you haven’t got your digital capabilities up you’re already behind and you better get caught up pretty quickly. So that should let you know that I think digital is definitely work emphasis needs to go that being said, there’s still a lot of room in grocery and traditional channels where people are shopping and and it’s it is the bigger part of our business still to this day. I believe the bigger growth area of our company over time is definitely digital.

However, I think there’s still a ton of growth in the more traditional bricks-and-mortar area. So it’s the answer is it’s a little bit bag. It’s yes, it’s yes on both but I would lean digital because I do think that digital did not see other philosophy is digital is changing everything. In life, period. So we really need to make sure we capitalize on that. We’re seeing growth happens pretty close on both. It’s a little faster on digital but it’s also a little bit smaller base granted It’s over time that the gap closing.

Steve: was going to ask you was on the digital side. What is there left for you to do in terms of growth? Is it just doing more which you already have or are there additional avenues that you have to try?

Kevin: Well, I think one of the things that we’re learning that we need to get better at is our own direct to Consumer website. I think that less is revenue but more about learning whether that’s data science Performance Marketing. We are all those terms out there. We’re OK at it. We’re absolutely focused on how do we get better at it? And the idea here is how do we learn more about our consumer? How do we offer more toward loyal consumers which will drive higher retention and loyalty and I think that’s a really big area for us to get better at and get better at quickly on the digital side of things.

Steve: Okay.

Kevin: Yeah, you know, there’s obviously Amazon and online stores or out there and we’re growing really well that’s not going to change but I think the area that’s very different for us is through our own website because at that point you have you own all the data and then now we can really build a deeper relationship and understand what we’re doing well and what we’re not and in their consumers need.

Steve: You know one thing I just noticed because I was shopping on your site earlier. I‘d buy Nuun and I consumed it consistently, but I’m not on a subscription and that was actually looking on the site for a way to save money on a subscription but it wasn’t maybe already have one but I could not find it at least for me as an avid consumer. Like I think if I was incentivized to get on a subscription basis, then I would join instantly. But anyways..

Kevin: We’ll make, I agree with you. I agree with you. It’s definitely in the center part.

Steve: Okay, so can kind of conclude this interview where can people find more about your product and if they have any questions for you or want to contact the company directly. Where can they get a hold of you guys?

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’re really fortunate you can find us in a lot of stores online. We already mentioned we talked a lot about REI. The fleet Feats of the worlds are also at Whole Foods and Target, Kroger stores. So we’re basically going to find us a most of most of the grocery stores and stores where you shop today most and then obviously online look us up on any social media handle. So Nuun hydration is the handle for I think all of them being Instagram, Twitter, and well Facebook just look up your hydration. If you want to find me personally, my name is Kevin Rutherford in my Instagram and Twitter handles a little bit different. It’s the clean_lantern that’s clean underscore lantern and the team the team called me that one and it was all about Beacon of light for her planet the planet and humans and all the earthlings that share it with us. So that’s the idea. So but yeah, you can find us there and really appreciate the time. It’s been really fun chatting.

Steve: Yeah. Cool. Thanks a lot of come the show Kevin really appreciate it.

Kevin: Thank you.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I personally love getting an inside look at how my favorite hydration tablet company has managed to grow to an eight-figure business. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitjob.com/episode273.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now. I talked about how I use all these tools in 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 a 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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272: How To Get Free Press To Sell Your Products With Dawn LaFontaine

272: How To Get Free Press To Sell Your Products With Dawn LaFontaine

Today I’m thrilled to have Dawn LaFontaine on the show. Dawn was a finalist on the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer and Scott Voelker where we gave away 50,000 in cold hard cash.

Dawn runs an ecommerce business selling card board boxes for cats. Her products have been featured in Parade, Product Hunt and the Boston Globe. And in this interview, we’re going to talk about Dawn’s triumphs and obstacles in launching her business.

What You’ll Learn

  • Dawn’s motivations for starting her business
  • How Dawn validated her niche before she began
  • How Dawn found manufacturers to produce her products
  • How Dawn generates sales
  • How to get free press for your products

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the my wife quit her job podcast the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners and dig deep into what strategies they used to grow their businesses. Now today, I am thrilled to have Dawn LaFontaine on the podcast and if her name sounds familiar it is because she was a finalist on the 5 minute pitch. And in this interview today we’re going to do a deep dive into her cat products business.

But before we begin I want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s also sponsored the show. previous a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy’s an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 are managing email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to give a quick shout-out to Klaviyo for sponsoring the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now, you can check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife. 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 can spend more time with your family 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 Dawn LaFontaine on the show. Now, Dawn was a finalist of the five minute pitch by Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer and Scott Voelker where we gave away $50,000 in Cold Hard Cash. Now, Dawn runs an e-commerce business selling cardboard boxes for cats. This is called Cat In The Box and her products have been featured in Parade, Product Hunt and the Boston Globe and in this interview, we’re going to talk about Dawn’s triumphs, her obstacles and getting started with their business and with that welcome to show Dawn. How you doing today?

Dawn: Oh very good. Thank you so much for having me Steve and it’s truly a thrill in a pleasure.

Steve: So Dawn, How do you feel now that the I’m in a pitch is all over?

Dawn: Oh my goodness. I’m just so utterly relieved. I just I’m just glad I didn’t, you know, didn’t screw it up and I did a good job, and I’m just you know glad to have had the experience.

Steve: Yeah, and I was telling Dawn right before this interview that I thought, you know for the finals at least Dawn’s preparation for her final five minute pitch was amazing. She clearly came prepared. She did a great job and I was very impressed.

Dawn : Well, thank you for saying that that actually means a lot coming from you.

Steve: So Dawn, what’s nice about the podcast is we get a chance to dig deeper into your backstory. Unlike five minute pitch when you only have five minutes, so please tell the audience about your product and how you got started with it.

Dawn: Sure. So I make Whimsical cardboard box toys for cats to think inside the box. If you have a cat or if you know someone who has a cat you probably already know that cats are just weirdly attracted to cardboard boxes. I mean you could leave a box that earrings came in on the counter and a cat will definitely try and squeeze into it. So if you have a cat you probably already keep like an old Amazon box around for Cat to sleep in or hide in or play in and that’s great because you’re meeting your cat’s needs for a cardboard box, but you don’t know where that box has been it’s dirty. It’s ugly and it might be imprinted with toxic inks and my boxes they’re kind of unique. They’re clean. They’re safer cats. I am print them with human grade soy-based inks. They’re environmentally friendly all recycled cardboard their fun attractive their bit of a conversation piece and most importantly, you know cats really do love them.

Stwvw: So, how did you get the idea? I mean, it seems kind of random to me. At least when I first heard your pitch. I was like, wow, I never would have thought of yet.

Dawn: You are not a cat owner.

Steve: Yes, that’s correct.

Dawn: I actually got the idea on a trip with my mother to drop her cats off at the cat sitter. This woman had a really beautifully appointed home. She obviously cared a lot about her Decor but her living room was filled with old shipping cartons, and I know she saw me looking around which is kind of embarrassing now, but she said, you know to be quite sheepishly, you know the for the cats. So I’ve owned cats. I knew they’d like boxes, but it did get me thinking. Why do their owners put up with dirty ugly Amazon boxes In their homes? Why not something, you know, that’s, clean attractive, cat safe, maybe something even a little bit stylish and that’s how the idea for this business came about.

And let me just back up here a minute and say that I often think of quote-unquote great product ideas all the time. And now that I’ve you know involved in this I know it’s not about the product idea but the implementation, you know, that’s the hard part but as I walk through life thinking about better ways of doing normally walk through life thinking about better ways of doing things and when I thought of this particular one I said to myself for a couple of reasons that this is the idea that I should pursue.

Steve: So when you thought of the idea, first of all have you started any sort of business before this one?

Dawn: I just did a little service-related business while I was raising my kids. I’m a professional writer editor. So I didn’t, you know, just a little bit of freelance writing and editing on the side as a way to contribute to the family, bottom line. So I’m not it wasn’t a business in the sense. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t mark it. I mean people came to me so I don’t think it’s really comparable to this kind of business.

Speaker 2: Okay, and are you working full time right now, or?

Dawn: No, I am, this is a perfect job for me.

Steve: Okay. So what kind of full-time job

Steve: I’m sorry so, Cat In The Box is a full-time job for you.

Dawn: Yes. Yes.

Steve: Okay. So when you started this were you working or?

Dawn: No. And in fact as my kids have gotten older I was still home full time with them. I’ve been home with them for 21/22 years or so and they were you know, my son had just had you know gone off to college and actually was graduating college. My daughter was just going into college. So I had sort of even weaned myself off of the freelance work that I’ve been doing as I’m trying to mole what you know mall over what should I do with the rest of my life. I mean, it’s really my age is really a Crossroads in a person’s life. And this is the path I decided to take.

Steve: Yeah. So what were some of your motivations I imagine the freelance work was going well with the writing. Yeah why business?

Dawn: Couple of reasons, one is when my husband and I were first married before we had children. I was really the big Breadwinner in the family. I made you know, as a percentage anyway of our family income a lot bigger piece of the pie than he did and while I stayed home with the kids, it’s just not something you think about at the beginning of the road when there You know newborns or kindergartners even. He’s you know worked for the 25 years moved up through his career. And now he has a really interesting strategic job and I don’t have all that time left in my working life to start over where I was in my 20s and you know work my way up to the point where he is, so it was hard after I devoted so much of my life to somebody else to think of starting all over so, you know to my two kids which I’m happy I did but to start all over.

And then interestingly it’s sort of the same Crossroads here. He actually got laid off from a job that he’d had for 15 years and at that moment I said, well, I mean, I, you know, I got to get back in the workforce. I we got to have an income and I actually just applied to two part-time jobs that I was overqualified for and I was the kind of person in my twenties if I went on an interview, I got a large percentage of job offers that I went after and here I applied to you know, really kind of Modest part time jobs, and I didn’t get either one of them. Snd it started to make me think about you know, what do I really want? Rest of my life and that the idea that I needed to control my own destiny. And interestingly, my husband actually never really ended up having a gap in his work history. He got one from one job to another he got a severance check from the old job and we use that to start this business.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of this business how did you know is going to sell like, how’d you go about validating you before you got started?

Dawn: Had I taken your course from day one. I’m going to do that. This was just like hmm, you know, I’ve owned cats they would like this and that that’s really not a great idea, especially since my product really doesn’t exist. I mean if seen since a few sort of similar kind of things nothing that’s exactly the same but I couldn’t say well oh there you know, so and so is selling a million dollars worth of these things a year. I should be able to grab a tiny piece of that market. I the really wasn’t anything that existed on the market like this and I really didn’t do my due diligence and testing it to start out. Unfortunately.

Steve: I mean, but it was a hit clearly because all this And all this press and a decent Instagram following from it.

Dawn: Right. I mean, I think the bottom line is I cats absolutely love it. That’s not question. I’ve got a million videos and photos showing that they love it. They do love it and the the cat owners really like it too because they are clever and they’re fun and they love to take pictures of their cats in them. The problem that I face is a completely different one had maybe this category existed before I started this wouldn’t have been this issue. But this is this is not an SEO play. I have to convince people that they might be interested in something like this and they’re not looking for me. I have to go out and look for them.

Steve: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case, but we can talk about that a little bit better kind of curious about is presumably you’ve never manufactured a product before how did you even know how to get started making this thing?

Dawn: Well, I didn’t and but I am the kind of person who researches something to death anything whatever it is, so that I’m actually that’s the part of the this thing. I think I’m good at so it was you know, I knew what I wanted to make. I’m not a designer. So I had to find somebody to design it for me. But in terms of finding the manufacturer, I just started cold calling and cold emailing box manufacturers cardboard manufacturers in the US and the problem wasn’t finding a manufacturer. It was finding somebody who was willing to work with me was a kind of a Goldilocks problem the big manufacturers who had the capability to do complex designs.

Like what I was asking for we’re not interested in a little business like mine and the smaller companies that would have been thrilled to have me as a customer simply just didn’t have the capabilities. So it was a matter of finding, you know, just that right manufacturer who is willing to work with me and had the ability to make what I was looking for.

Steve: Can you talk about this process though? Is it, was it just literally trial and error to find the right manufacturer or did you use any language or negotiation tactics to get them like a larger guy to work with you?

Dawn: The larger ones really wouldn’t so..

Steve: Okay.

Dawn: No, they and you know often you know, you contact A salesperson through email or through or by phone and they’re generally willing to help and they’re willing to say well I had one guy who told me you’re never going to find somebody to manufacture this in cardboard. You need to do it in paper board, which is the stuff that like game boards are made of or or cereal boxes. And I know that that doesn’t meet the cats biological needs that corrugated cardboard meets so that.

Steve: I’m sorry. Why is that actually I don’t I’m not a cat on her so I don’t know but what’s the difference between paperboard and the cardboard for a box?

Dawn: I mean a cat will probably go into a paperboard box to I mean, they will go into a paperboard box too but it doesn’t quite meet their needs. So I think I mentioned in the five minute pitch presentation that one of the key reasons that cats are so attracted to cardboard boxes and this is something that has been shown scientifically is that cats do not like to live in the temperature of that. We humans like to In the house, I mean, they like it 86 to 97 degrees in our house. None of us are keeping our house at 97 degrees. So they’re basically freezing all the time and one of the really cool things about cardboard about corrugated cardboard are those little corrugations the as you probably know are is very insulating. And so those crates create little air pockets and it makes the inside of a cardboard box very very warm a corrugated cardboard box very warm. And so that’s one of the reasons that keeps, you know, trying to find its way back into a box.

Steve: Okay, and then so you ended up finding someone small to work with you.

Dawn: It’s there. I would say they’re more of a medium sized manufacturer now the disadvantage of and they’re just if they’re great. I mean they do a great job. They’re a wonderful manufacturer, but because I am not a big customer of theirs for example, but right now I’m in the process as you are well aware of readers of Designing a new a new product. And so, you know, they sent me a prototype which is was not what I asked for and you know make my changes send them back I get stuck down to the bottom of the pile. And I got to wait till they get back to me for another iteration. So it’s just a very very long process. It can take months, especially, you know, I would love it if I just gave them my dimensions and they would just make something that shape and size with those size holes and that placement of things but they just they do things their way. They think it’s a better way of doing it and then I got to keep going through various iterations.

Steve: What’s the design process like so first of all, where did you find your designer? And what is the like how do you even design a box? Is there like CAD software for that or?

Dawn: Yeah, well, yeah, they have actually specialized software there. The Box Company actually has employees who are box Engineers. These are people who went to college and two major and packaging engineering which I did not know was a field that either right and I guess to varying degrees they’re good at the designer or the not you know, you know, not just the assembling or the creation of the box, but also the creativity behind the box and I don’t have any design background or ability at all, but I knew what I wanted it to look like. I just could see it in my mind. I just you know, maybe not that great at expressing it exactly how I wanted it. I mean even things like for the milk carton, for example, I have a for folks who are listening. I have a design that’s shaped like a traditional milk carton like a half gallon of milk the little top where the date stamp is

I mean, they couldn’t get the size of that right? I know it doesn’t seem like much but when it’s too small, it doesn’t look like a milk carton and when it’s too big, it doesn’t look like a milk carton. So I kept having to say bigger or smaller bigger smaller, whatever.

Steve: Interesting. So that’s not conveyed digitally in the file in the design file?

Dawn: They have to actually create the design file.

Steve: Got it. Okay.

Dawn: They’re actually like a creative room where they’re actually hand cutting everything to create a prototype. So they’ll create a you know, cut it all out and then I’ll say no and you know, it has to be like this. It has to be like this and so it came back to me and until I got what I thought was the right shape that would fold properly that look like I want what I wanted it to look like and that a cat would be willing to go into and then in terms of the appearance of the box. I worked with a designer that I worked with. I think I mentioned I just I did had a freelance writing and editing background. I worked on a bridal magazine for some years and this was the woman who I added the magazine and she was the designer.

Steve: I see so the process was the designer doesn’t actually design the box. It designs the design then you handed over the Box manufacturer and they turned into like this box file.

Dawn: It was actually just the opposite we started with the shape of the Box first and then she has a design to that shape. So they actually provided her with the outline of what the box would look like and then she had to go and design the design for that.

Steve: I gotcha. Gotcha. Okay in terms of like all the lettering everything they later convert her design back into the box side or they Incorporated together.

Dawn: Right. And that was extremely complex process because publication Printing and other words printing on documents is nothing like printing on a box. There are very very different. And there’s a lot of error when you’re printing on a box. So you have to create a design that allows for for the design to move at least a quarter of an inch in any direction. So it’s really so I mean, for example the cheese box, they really just wanted me to do solid yellow box. I had gone through so many versions to make the little what looks like the Swiss cheese holes. I various different three-dimensional looks but none of those met the needs of their printing press so that we ended up with something that you know that satisfies me, but we went through multiple different completely different looks for that that one that worked for me and for them.

Steve: I never would have thought manufacturing a printed box would be so complicated.

Dawn: Me neither.

Steve: So how much money did it cost you to get started with this?

Dawn: Yeah. I was actually before our conversation. I was looking back through my files. I’m not even sure what to count but I’m going to say somewhere in the order of around 14 thousand dollars that included the printing plates and the cutting dies which were at least half the price up front. That also included the manufacture of the actual boxes and you know some photography and of course the work of the designer

Steve: So interesting. So these are plates that print them. It’s not like a printer that prints on the boxes.

Dawn: Right there. There is a natural like an old-fashioned kind of plate and if you saw the cutting die, I mean you wouldn’t even know that that was going to make a box you would it’s so antiquated looking. It doesn’t even it doesn’t look like something that should be in the modern era but it’s an unusual process.

Steve: Okay. So I guess that provides you with some barriers to entry right? So now that you own this place like the plate is yours, right?

Dawn: Right.

Steve: Okay, and then no one else it’s it makes it much harder to copy this box basically.

Dawn: I think it does and I know there’s a lot of talk and there was even during the five minute pitch process about patents and so on and so forth, but there are other things that that may even be a higher barrier to entry and this this whole process. I mean you really have to be dedicated to do it and you have to have some money up front to spend on these kind of things.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of getting that first prototype and all that it was that expensive? Just working with them like digit to pay them upfront.

Dawn: No, they’re actually pretty generous about that. They wanted my insurance is that I plan to buy something which I I said, yes, of course, but and I guess they would have probably charge me for their time had I not purchased but my intention was to do it and when they got it right then I just had to pay for the printing plates and the and the kind of guys up front.

Steve: Okay, and did you start with just a single design?

Dawn: I started with you. Actually my first thought was oh I’ll do five and I’ll make it climbed all I’m like, what was I thinking I mean, I barely got to out it took me like eight months or

Steve: Oh my goodness. Okay.

Dawn: Between going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth over the sing it took forever. So yeah five was not going to happen and they weren’t going to be bundled.

Steve: All right, so you launched with to and how did you launch that? Did you start a website at first or..

Dawn: I did that was actually the first thing that I did was just start a website. I’ve actually listen to some of your free material and I understood the whole, you know, potential conflicts with Amazon and some of the problems I thought oh, well, I’ll start my own website that all you know, that eliminate all those problems. Well creates all kinds of new problems instead, but that’s what I did. So, you know..

Steve: Which platform did you choose and are you a technical person?

Dawn: I would say I’m not a technical person in the sense that I don’t have a technical background, but I’m definitely not afraid of Technology. I enjoy digging into that kind of stuff and I’m willing to learn. That being said I didn’t think it was a good use of my time to you know, do some of the open cart things that you had also talked about and I really liked the look and feel of some of the Shopify options. So I chose that to start with

Steve: Awesome. And then in terms of the design did you do it yourself or did you get a developer?

Dawn: I’m really a do it myself or kind of person all the way around I’m Frugal I like to save money. I like to see what I can do. And then later on if I have a need I will hire somebody if they can provide a service that I can’t render myself. So the design of the website so far as me and the redesign of the website or at least the front page will be me.

Steve: I actually think it looks pretty nice and I’m looking forward to seeing you redesign as well.

Dawn: As I said it was based on something that you said on your lecture and it really really struck me how it could be improved.

Steve: All right, let’s talk about sales. How did you get your first sale?

Dawn: The first sale was actually through product hunt. So I think the day I launched my website. Site actually wrote a note to somebody at product hunt and first they said thanks, but no, thanks and then immediately sent me another email back and said okay and so..

Steve: For the listeners, can you kind of describe what product Hunt is first? Right?

Dawn: It’s actually a platform for people who are interested in what’s new in mostly in technology and it’s a platform for them for for new products to get exposure to this very interested community and oddly. They also have a slight interested in cat products. I don’t understand..

Steve: I was going to say for product. I didn’t think that your product was a fit. Right?

Dawn: Right and I would say generally know and if it was a dog product it probably would have been a no but oddly they just seem to have some some cat products on there. So that’s sort of struck me and I did find one of the product Hunters who had actually promoted a cat product before I reached out to her directly and So eventually she did hunt the product for me and which means that it got up on their platform and I got some, you know views it didn’t didn’t explode on that platform like some technology products do but I got my first couple of I don’t remember how many was maybe one or two or three? And that was it sales from for product type

Steve: I’ve actually never used product type before so what is the process like of getting on there? And what is the actual listing look like I voted before but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to list anything on there before

Dawn: Right. Well what you see is what it is. So getting onto products, I guess they say that you have just as much chance hunting the product yourself in other words just you know, sort of applying and getting on there. But the backstory or what I’ve read is that it actually pays to have an experienced product Hunter another words somebody who already has a relationship with product hunt and they have a history of promoting successful products and they’re kind of ranked on proud. You can find the ranking of these hunters and maybe there’s you know, there’s a top hundred or so and the hunter that I ended up using was in the top hundred. So for me, I thought it was important to reach out to somebody who had Variants and interest in pet related products.

And the person that I chose so they actually post it for you and they have their own set of followers and that the idea is that you have an established audience already eyeballs that are already on a product looking for what this product Hunter is posting.

Steve: How did you convince this woman to to do that for you?

Dawn: My, I think my writing history does help. I’m good at writing convincing letters with the right tone and the right length. I mean the right there, you know, just..

Steve: I mean, what did you say? I’m just kind of curious if you remember

Dawn: I wrote something a little bit clever something about you know, however many YouTube videos can’t be wrong castle of boxes. There’s like a million YouTube videos about cats and boxes and then just wrote something that was just warm and and hopefully a little bit clever and it caught her attention. And as I said, I think she said no first and then immediately wrote me another note said I changed my mind. Yeah..

Steve: She’s a cat person?

Dawn: She has hunted other pet products. I did not end up establishing a personal relationship with her where I found out whether she indeed is a a pet or a cat owner, but she has hunted other pet products before and I thought that was important because that meant that her audience was interested in pet products.

Steve: And how did you find her in the first place? Is there like a list of the top 100?

Dawn: Yeah, there’s a list of so it’s just her name and she has an unusual name and I just you know kind of did a Google Search and she’s actually in the UK and she has a Consulting business there and I was able to track her down through her either through her LinkedIn page or through a contact form on her on her web page.

Steve: If you sell on Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge counsel because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecounsel.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com. Now back to the show.

And so you get your first couple sales on product hunt. How did you get all the Press?

Dawn: I have a writing background.

Steve: Okay.

Dawn: I just..

Steve: That comes in real Handy. Apparently.

Dawn: Yeah. I’m glad I have at least one or two skills that I can apply not that’s it. That’s where it ends. By the way. I’ve no desire. No marketing skills. I have no I’ve never sold the thing in my life, Girl Scout cookies, that was probably the last thing I want so right so I’m I know how to write a press release and the traditional media. It’s a little bit about, you know, darts on the dartboard, you know, send out a whole bunch of them and maybe you’re lucky to get one or two people to respond to you and and the thing about also knowing about how to write a press release is that I know what Looking for and so I know what to write in my letter.

Steve: So can you talk about this process? So by pressure release you don’t mean like using like PR web or one of those services. Do you?

Dawn: No, no. You can either write a press release and then sends it along with a personal letter to an editor that you’re targeting. The first thing to do is to decide who you’re going to Target don’t go for the Wall Street Journal first,

Steve: Boston Globe is pretty big

Dawn: Right but I’m a Boston residents. So I went through the the Metro West Section, which is where I live. So I live in the little bit West of Boston and so they’re always looking at the bottom line is journals are always looking to fill a newspaper. They got a lot of newspapers and I gotta fill them. So what you want to do is you got a busy journalist who doesn’t have a ton of time to do a lot of research. So if you can provide everything that they need in your letter for an article links to your actual photographs links to you know to your website all the who, what, when, where, and how of your business in the letter you’re saving them. Kind of work and they might be inclined to publish just for that reason and if they have an interest in your topic in this particular case getting through the Boston Globe door through the Metro West Section door is a great way to get into the Boston Globe because they’re interested in more local business news. So.

Steve: So a couple things I just want to ask you about. So how did you get ahold of the editor or the contact information? And then what’s in this letter exactly just in case someone who’s listening wants to try to do this method.

Dawn: Right, So actually they make it really easy to find their contact information because they want you to contact them. So usually there’s a byline or something like that at the end of the similar article. So look for somebody who’s written an article like one you’d like to be written about your business. So that’s the other thing too. The story has to have a hook. So in my case was really important to do it at the beginning for this particular section of the newspaper for this particular Editor to, so the hook was I just opened this new business. I think I sent it to So it was Saunders and she may have sent it to you. Like I got a little blurb about five minute pitch in one of my other local papers.

Steve: Nice.

Dawn: Same thing, because five minute pitch was you know, that’s that’s an event. That’s a hook. So you have to have a hook. So if you’re you have some news about your business, you have a new product you started a new business and it depends on what your particular local media outlet is is looking for and keep read it and and see what they’re looking for. Then it’s easy enough to identify who writes those stories and usually the newspaper website has all those all the contact information right up there and they’re looking for your email send them an email that contains everything that they need for a story. Wite it clearly make it so

Steve: So what is everything they need for story. They need the story. They need photos. What else?

Dawn: it’s always the who was, that’s that’s a journalist thing. Who, what, when, where, why, and how so whatever your story is try and answer those questions completely for them. Give them every single thing that they would need. Look at a similar story. What’s there? Well, it’s located in such-and-such town. You know, the business does X Y & Z. This is why it’s Unique provide them with great photographs. And in fact, I think I provided a beautiful high color, full color, high quality photos and that section of paper was color that day and I think it was because of my photos. So I got really really beautiful photos in it and I provided that to them and they didn’t have to go doing the work of digging around for it. Provide them with quotes in your note. You can say, you know, whatever whatever you want to say. They published my quotes exactly as I put them in my letters.

So think about what you want to convey about your business first and foremost have write it clearly, right it succinctly and then provide that also in the letter. So you’re almost writing the story for them and it saves them a lot of work and they may be inclined to publish just because they have space to fill and you’ve provided them with everything that they need.

Steve: This sounds like a pretty long email.

Dawn: You know if you looked at my articles on actually can click on them through my website. They’re not that long. I mean newspaper articles aren’t that long? Okay. So we’re doing a big huge feature splashed way that would be different and and they may be interviewing other people and so on and so forth for this there, you know, pretty short little blurbs.

Steve: Okay

Dawn: A couple had you know sections of a column.

Steve: and once you get in one of these Publications do they lead to sales was my next question.

Dawn: They did actually so the Boston Globe is actually I’m sorry. That was it was another local paper called the Metro West Daily News, which is the really big local paper around here and they have a lot of small little Publications that have different names but they feed all the information into these small Publications that actually gave my that actually had a lot longer shelf life than the Boston Globe even though the Boston Globe had has a bigger readership the small local paper is really what everybody reads and because they have all these little additional papers under different names, but with the same content, I got to go out into all these different communities. So my Story had a lot more longevity that way and I actually got more sales trickling in overtime through the smaller paper than I did through the you know, the one day Splash from the Boston Globe.

And the Boston Globe thing, basically that got all my friends to call me and say hey I saw you in the Boston Globe really led to more sales was my little what MetroWest Daily News are big local paper which has, you know, feeds these smaller papers.

Steve: So interesting going forward. Are you now targeting some of the smaller publications then?

Dawn: I need to have a hook. So the five minute pitch was one had I won I would have probably done more with that

Steve: I see.

Dawn: But it’s in the interim maybe when I release a new product or if you know something else, you know different happens, then I’ll have the hook and I’ll be able to go back to the to the media outlets and do it. But right now there’s nothing to say yet.

Steve: I see okay interesting. It’s interesting how that works. So what else has worked for you in terms of marketing your products.

Dawn: Hmm

Steve: Had Instagram had an effect?

Dawn: I’m getting visitors from Instagram and I have definitely had some sales Instagram and I’ve only recently sort of started to crack the nut about Pinterest to and I notice Shopify has a lot of statistics and data that come through which is really helpful about where people are coming from. And so I can see now that now that I’ve sort of started to figure it out that more people are coming from Pinterest now, too. So, yeah, the problem is also one of the advantages of sap of eyes you could see where people are and because Instagram and Pinterest is a worldwide audience and right now I really can’t ship worldwide. I can see, “h that person’s looking at me from Africa. They’re looking at me from the UK and I really just can’t I can’t ship there. So even though I’m driving traffic to my website from these social media outlets, they’re not necessarily driving sales.

Steve: Okay, actually for people who haven’t watched your episode. What are some of the struggles that you have actually?

Dawn: Right. So I big struggle the one that I’m addressing now is that my products are while they’re light. They are far too large to ship efficiently. So and so shipping is ridiculously expensive even in the US but prohibitive shipping internationally and I have a lot of anecdotal demand in other words people reaching out to me personally through direct Messenger on Instagram and so forth. Could you ship this to me tonight? I’m in such country and I have to say no you’ll have to wait for the you know, the next product project. I mean it costs about 60 bucks to ship it to the UK, which is really outrageous. So that’s so the size is prohibitive from the point of view of shipping and it’s also prohibited from the point of view of being able to get retail space and really I can’t do FBA on Amazon. So..

Steve: Okay. So actually how much do you charge for a box and how much does it cost you?

Dawn: Right. So I charge $29.99 right now and that includes free shipping in the US and the shipping cost anywhere between seven and sixteen dollars per box to ship depending on how many zones I’m shipping a And then that’s another negative thing. Also. I wanted to mention about shipping out. I’ll finish your answer your question a minute.

Steve: Sure.

Dawn: But I can only ship to to the further zones through parcel select shipping which is an utter disaster and it’s not something I want to subject my future customers to so in order to. So Priority Mail. I need to get the box onto a certain size. So back to the the margin question the boxes cost. What did I say..

Steve: 99 oh, it’s cost you by 16?

Dawn: right. And so the shipping boxes themselves costs a dollar fifty to two dollars and then to make the boxes I think. Oh, I can’t remember the exact number but something around between 4.50 and five and a quarter. I can remember the exact amount but somewhere around there and it was 90 cents or something for the velcro that’s on them.

Steve: Right? So just curious how price-sensitive these cat lovers are. Like I know pet lovers are willing to spend lots of money for for products that will make their pets happy. I’m just curious how you arrived at $29.99 ?

Dawn: Really it was add up all of the costs and add a little of profit and let’s see if people buy it. And I do think I think I have had comments from people who are not pet owners I about the price of the boxes and I’m not sure if that’s a factor or it isn’t and I won’t know unless I’m able to get the price down a little bit.

Steve: You know, what’s funny is we have international customers and the ones in Australia seem to be willing to pay egregious shipping prices often times much more than the product itself. I think they’re just used to it. I guess..

Dawn: I’m part and I’m not sure if you’ve ever visited Australia, but their minimum wage is about twenty six dollars an hour there. I took that she was a barista at McDonald’s believe it or not loved her job as a true professional and she said twenty six dollars an hour to work in McDonald’s and you know, she can afford a house and a family and all I minimum wage in Australia. So I think that’s how come they can afford to have something shipped to them from the US.

Steve: Interesting, I did not know that

Dawn: me neither until I visited.

Steve: so okay. What were some of your other struggles and what are you struggling with right now? What’s going to happen going forward? Like what are your plans?

Dawn: Well my initial plan. So the very very near term would be to get some additional box designs. I think I don’t have enough to call it really a storefront. It’s really almost it’s almost a one product business, but it it’s a to product business and it’s I don’t think there’s enough choices for different people. So so my first challenge is I’ve got to redesign the Box in a way that it fits in to certain Dimensions that will allow me to ship not only nine zones in the US By Priority Mail at a reasonable price, but also to you know, especially to Europe and maybe even Japan and elsewhere where people are really cat crazy. So right now, I’m in the process of Designing. I think I shared with you at five minute pitch my new design and I’m working with the Box the packaging engineer at this moment to create a design that will be collapsible or packable nice within certain dimensions and within a certain weight.

Steve: Cool, I remember you telling me you actually shipped one of your boxes to Japan, right?

Dawn: I didn’t actually there was a customer that wanted one so badly and I told him it’s just too expensive to ship to Japan. He actually went and used a buyer’s agent someone who purchased from me in the US and shipped it to him. I think I know who it was. So I he was Japanese as well and his job is to do these kind of unusual things. And so this particular guy, he just owns a couple cats in Japan and he posts pictures all the time of my product. He really, you know, his cats really loved it and he really loves it.

Steve: Okay. Yeah. So clearly that guy would have been willing to pay lots of money to ship it. I would guess?

Dawn: he would be yes. I’m not sure how you know if he’s unusual or not.

Steve: So what are some other marketing methods that you’ve tried or in the process of implementing actually?

Dawn: Well in anticipation of offering a new product I am trying to just see if I can get one of my boxes up on Amazon. It’s there now. I gotta watch some more of your videos, Steve. I’m not doing something right. So I searched for it. I can’t find it. That being said I sold a couple through Amazon and one person bought one through Amazon and then went and bought three or four more through my website after that.

Steve: nice.

Dawn: So I don’t know somehow somebody else found it. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong either in my search or the creation of my listing. So it’s a work in progress, but it but it because I’m really not going to make a profit selling on Amazon. That’s not a priority for me at the moment. It’s just something I’m going to fiddle with as I go along in anticipation of being able to put this other product on Amazon.

Steve: Gotcha. Gotcha. So looking back with your business. Do you have any advice for the listeners who are kind of on the sidelines? Just thinking about starting their own.

Dawn: I would say well first of all, I would say take your course. I’m truly I’m not and I’m not just plug in next. I’m talking to her really I wish now and I said to you at the beginning of this that I’m really really frugal. And I want to see if I can do things myself and you do offer a lot of free materials which are helpful, but not the whole story. So I highly recommend if you have the money to invest in your class to truly start that from the beginning. So maybe you don’t make some of the mistakes that I made right from the beginning like in terms of having a product. That’s too large. That’s something I may have learned a little sooner from you if I’d started it and you know done the process in the right order here, but I would say the other thing is that I know that you devote a lot of your course to choosing the right Niche on the right product and I would say maybe you disagree with me.

It’s not so much about the product. It’s about the implementation and what you learn the starting a business like this is that’s what stays with you if the particular product that you’re trying to sell doesn’t work out that doesn’t matter because the bigger part is all the other stuff that you learn and you could apply that to anything so I would say just jump in and give it a try and don’t blow the bank on the first thing that you try and do I think there was somebody on Five Minute Pitch who had said something about starting with an $80,000 mold for his product?

Steve: Oh yeah yeah

Dawn: And that’s that was one of my criteria right from the beginning one of the reasons I chose cardboard because I have all these crazy ideas about things. Well, it’s got to be cheap. I can’t you know, first order of business is not to bankrupt the family.

Steve: Yeah.

Dawn: So don’t bankrupt or family, but just jump in and give it a try and everything that you learn can apply to something else. If in fact the one thing doesn’t work out.

Steve: Yeah, I would actually agree with everything you said I think one of the problems with when people just get started and they have no idea how to get started, sometimes on Amazon you can get away with just a good product right? Because Amazon is not really good from a branding perspective. And then once you get that confidence that you can get some sales and then you start your own website, then you know, it’s all about implementation marketing and that sort of thing and in fact, you know, I think I revealed this at seller Summit. I started an e-commerce store with my kids selling T-shirts. T-shirts completely saturated. It’s going to be all about marketing. So if you know what you’re doing on that front, you’re right the product Almost Doesn’t Matter. Long as you’re really good at getting the word out about your business. And as long as you have some sort of hook and some sort of story to get people to buy.

So Dawn, Thanks a lot for coming on. I really appreciate you being a contestant. I’m really glad we connected through the contest. I’m glad to have met you in person at seller Summit and I thought you’ve just done a great job and I wish you all the best with your business.

Dawn: Oh, thank you so much and thank you for saying that was a complete pleasure talking to you today.

Steve: Oh and on forgot if anyone wants to see your boxes, I where can I find you online?

Dawn: Oh, they can look at the cat is in the Box.com.

Steve: Okay, so The Cat Is In The Box and then everything related to purchasing and all that information is on that site.

Dawn: Absolutely

Steve: Cool. So if you’re a cat lover, I’ve actually seen her products in person. I’m not a cat lover, but just the design of the boxes. I thought was very impressive.

Dawn: Well, thanks for saying that to that’s that’s very nice to hear.

Steve: All right. Well, thanks a lot for coming The Showdown really appreciate your time.

Dawn: Thank you very much.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, If you cut Dawn’s Five Minute Pitch finals presentation, you know that she’s a hard worker and I have no doubt that her business is going to totally blow up. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode272.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo. Klaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Oh, I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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.

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271: The Top 5 Best Entrepreneurship Books Of All Time With Mani Vaya

271: The Top 5 Best Entrepreneurship Books Of All Time With Mani Vaya

Today I’m thrilled to have my buddy Mani Vaya on the show. Mani is someone who I met at the Menfluential conference formerly known as StyleCon and we hit it off right away.

Mani is the founder of 2000books.com and like myself, he’s a former electrical engineer who worked in tech for over a decade before starting his business selling courses and entrepreneurship book summaries.

Today we’re going to discuss Mani’s business and his top favorite entrepreneurship books of all time.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Mani built traffic for his site
  • How Mani created an engaging YouTube channel to generate sales
  • Mani’s email marketing strategies
  • Mani’s all time favorite business books

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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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
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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 bootstrap business owners, and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today, I’m happy to have Mani Vaya on the show. And Mani is the founder of 2000books.com where he makes a living selling courses and Entrepreneurship book summaries and you’ll learn his secrets for getting customers and his favorite business books of all time.

But before we begin, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast, simple, and repeatable ways to grow. And with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing, build your customer relationships, and automate your online sales. And it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneur growth guide, packed with must read blog post, case studies, and getting started content. This guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth. Now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating, but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now I encourage you to check out this free content now over at klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again that is K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/my wife.

I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 e-commerce. And right now, I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up. Basically, user gives your 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 a hundred thirty one percent. I’m also using their new cart saver pop-up feature as well to recover abandoned carts. 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 preview.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 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 my buddy Mani Vaya on the show now Mani is someone who I met at the Menfluential conference formerly known as StyleCon and we hit it off right away. Now Mani is the founder of 2000books.com and like myself. He is a former electrical engineer who worked in tech for over a decade before starting his business selling courses and Entrepreneurship book summaries. Now when it comes to reading books Mani is probably one of the most prolific reader that I know and he actually averages one book per day believe it or not and as entrepreneurs the best way to grow is to feed your mind. And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to discuss Manny’s business and his top favorite entrepreneurship books of all time. And with that welcome to show me. How you doing today man?

Mani: Great man. Thanks for having me and thanks for the warm introduction. It was yeah. It was fun getting to know you at Menfluential.

Steve: Are you still reading a book a day? Is that accurate? I pulled that on your website.

Mani: But so that’s more like seven books a week is what I do. So it’s never a book a day as you would think it it’s more like okay, some books are going on on audio. Some books are going on on Kindle. Some books are going on on paperback and hardcover, whatever. And on the average in the week, I’ll go through seven books. Some days, It might be half a book some days It might be two books and a lot of the times I’m listening to books in the car or while I’m running or I’m just trying to relax in between some tense work.

Steve: Okay. Well, hey. Mani, we got a chance to hang out for what three straight days at Menfluential but I actually don’t know how you got started with 2000books. How did you get the idea? How do you make money and how hard was it to leave a cushy engineering job?

Mani: Yeah. So for those of you who don’t know I came to the us back in 2000. I’m originally from India. I came to the US In 2000 got my graduate degree in electrical and computer engineering at Rice University. And then I started my Tech Career around 2003 and I was in The Tech Career high-tech career 2003 to 2015 worked out a lot of big big tech companies like Nokia and Texas Instruments Qualcomm, all of the biggest names you can imagine in high tech in the electrical engineering or engineering a computer engineering fields. And I was in the wireless engineering space for the longest time, but one thing that was a common theme amongst my in my career was there I got laid off quite often.

I got laid off like three the, first time I had a job at Cirrus logic I was writing Software firmware for DVD players and in 2004, I got laid off from my job and back then when you had an H-1B visa and you get laid off from your job. You have 30 days to find a new job or leave the country. So that was a very sobering experience for me like 30 days to find a job or take the country. I hustled I did whatever I could to find another engineering job well-being engineering job because that’s what you need. You can’t just get a job at McDonald’s. You need a high-paying engineering job, which is just as good or better than what you previously had. And in that 30-day period I ended up getting three job offers, but at the same time I saw something very interesting the how we’re able to create or we’re able to do things when we were put under pressure when we are able to when we are required to do stuff we come up with really great things in life.

And only that I also started to begin to question this whole job thing. What was in our parents are I was supposed to be a job for life. And here we are. Are getting laid off within a year or two of you starting a job. So I was starting to question and getting dissolution by this whole Tech thing and the sense like what the hell I just started and I got laid off and that happened again. And again like three different times in my career when I got laid off from Ti from Nokia and um, I was I was like, okay. Well, maybe I should start a tech startup. So in my mind, I was thinking of starting a technology company for a while, but then partly I was skeptical of doing a tech company because I knew that if I did another tech company or if I’ve started a tech any kind of tech startup I would have to be again tied to the location tied to wherever I was maybe mostly in Bay Area and I would be there for a very long time. Partly, my parents are getting older.

So I was like, I don’t want to just do that either. So I was stuck. I don’t really know. I don’t really have an answer. I didn’t really know what to do until A girlfriend of mine back in the day around 2009. I think 2009-10 she, around Christmas time she gave a book to me but changed my life. That book was the 4-Hour workweek.

Steve: Of course.

Mani: Yeah, and I read the book and I was just like I knew he was speaking to me. That’s exactly like everything he was talking about was me. Like, are you going to delay your life for the next 40 years to enjoy your retirement years? I was like no hell, no. Are you going to be the guy in red Ferrari, you know the bald guy in red Ferrari hoping you know after you sell your startup and you enjoying your life and that’s all life is about now and I was like, no I don’t want to do that either. I want to enjoy my life as I go. I want to like what he’s telling is exactly what I want to build. So I kind of started to think along those lines after I read the book I cuz he literally says that most people you, you I don’t know if you’ve read the book but most people are.

Steve: yeah, I will yes

Mani: It’s the Bible for those of us who get into the online marketing space or become online entrepreneurs even crazy Engineers like us to believe that crazy amazing career to do this, but the book kind of starts that process in your head and you start to question everything and he’s like you can have freedom. You can have you can work on your own time at your own Leisure. You don’t like in many ways. He defines life. He explains life. What is possible in a way that you’ve never seen before or at least I had never even dreamt of before and the fact that I could have location Independence and time and about that was very very very appealing to me. Like would you rather take hundred million dollars 10 years from now and slog away for ten years. I would I rather take a couple of million dollars every year for the next 10 years and have the freedom of location and time and all those things.

Well, you know my answer because I don’t I want to be able to spend time with my like I want to be able to go travel. I want to go see my parents they are in India. They’re getting old I want to be able to take care of them. And that was one of the biggest motivators for me. I didn’t want to be stuck in a job or even in a start-up job where I would be answering to people to VC’s two angels or whoever else and I’ll be stuck in that thing for 10 20 years before I saw any returns on their investment.

Steve: So for starting 2000books?

Mani: So I started 2000books back in 2015 and it happened just around when Qualcomm was laying off a bunch of people and I said, hey, please let me off too because I think I’m going to do my own thing. And the reason why it took me so long was because I was waiting for my green card.

Steve: Ah, Okay, so..

Mani: I could not leave until I had my green card. So as soon as I got my green card, it was already planted in my head there was time to go and then when the layoffs were happening, I was like okay time to go. So I started 2,000 books back in 2015. And the reason why I did this business 2,000 books is because I always enjoyed learning from books as I said four hour work week change my life, but there were a lot of books that have been instrumental in changing my life in different ways. So I always enjoyed learning and reading from them. And so I would subscribe to these book summary businesses that were out there so I could absorb like ten books instead of one book and I found that most of some resource are drab very dull very boring not as engaging. I couldn’t write it wasn’t like I wasn’t learning anything new from those summaries, but I was just spending time listening to them so I was like, I don’t like this. I’m going to create my own and that’s how it started.

Steve: How did you know people willing to pay for that?

Mani: Because they were existing book summaries out there.

Steve: I see.

Mani: There are existing businesses that were doing book summaries, like there were three or four existing businesses that we’re doing book summaries. I just don’t like the way they did them.

Steve: I see. Okay, so you decide you want to do book summaries. How do you get the word out about that? How do people find you?

Mani: Yeah, so it’s a long haul like that’s probably the biggest haul of this whole part of the journey in building an audience and initially what had happened was I had put up a couple of my summaries on YouTube my mind map summary. So I I like to make things very visual. I’m a very visual learner as an engineer. I think very logical. I like to break down things and I want to still conceptualize them in a very visual fashion. So I would create these mind maps of books and Put them on YouTube, these summaries on YouTube. And that was I just put them maybe in 2014 just to see what people like or don’t like it was just an experiment. It was nothing more than that. I wasn’t even thinking so much about businesses. Oh, this would be a fun thing to do and 2015 whenever

Steve: So you’re using the webcam or?

Mani: I was a mind map. So it wasn’t even me with a webcam. It was just a screen recording of the book broken down visually.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: So if we think of books they’re very linearly like you have to go through all three hundred pages to get the ideas from the book. Instead, what I did was I would take the big ideas and I would create a web or a tree hierarchy of information in some ways rather than just a linear page one after the other after the other on that one mind map. You can go through all the different ideas the Big Ideas in the book very quickly rather than linearly try to figure out where the ideas are and what and how they fit into the grand scheme of whole thing.

Steve: Okay, and then the

Mani: yeah

Steve: video do really well or?

Mani: well Bell for my standards of the time I come back a year later in 2015 when I was leaving my job and I’m like, oh look at this YouTube because before then I was thinking I’m going to do a podcast but then I saw this YouTube thing and I’m like, oh look at this. It’s already got a few thousand views. I wonder if what if I made a more of these so I started doing YouTube videos and I started creating more YouTube videos and I started seeing some innovation videos pop up. So I started doing animation summaries of books and that initially start to pick up momentum.

Steve: So animation, you mean like someone like hand drawing like a narrative.

Mani: Yeah where I it’s a software that we used to do that to do the animation part of it, but it looks like a hand-drawn thing where people are you know, someone’s hand drawing while I’m narrating.

Steve: Nice! What is the name of the software?

Mani: It’s called videoscribe.

Steve: videoscribe. Okay, cool.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great software for that. So, yeah initially I started doing those and like some of the popular books like getting things done and how to win friends and influence people and millionaire Fastlane and all those things. And you know it started to kind of show promise and show hundreds and thousands of views coming in and I was like, okay. Well this kind of makes sense. This is working just to get the audience building but at that time, you know in the early phases, I don’t really know much about audience creation or monetization. So I was like, well, let’s just keep doing whatever is working.

Steve: How did you steer those YouTube folks over to your products?

Mani: So initially there was no product.

Steve: Oh, okay.

Mani: Yeah for the first seven eight months there was no product because I was still searching for an audience to sell the product to.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: Yeah. So for first six seven months, it was just me building audience on YouTube and what I think till date I think that was probably one of the biggest mistakes in my entrepreneurial career was I started YouTube seriously around October November of 2015 time frame and in June, I launched a podcast. Where I was interviewing authors and the biggest mistake I think in the space and a lot of entrepreneurs make this mistake again and again and this is something I’ve become very very off now, is splitting your energy your focus very quickly early on when you still haven’t figured out one thing that’s working well and you suddenly move on to the next time.

Steve: right was the podcast. I mean actually looking back now you have these two properties. You have a podcast and YouTube channel, which one would you have started with in retrospect?

Mani: My answer keeps changing. So at this point I would say podcast.

Steve: interesting and okay.

Mani: Yeah, the reason why I say that is because it’s a much quicker medium to get the word out compared to YouTube and video which takes a lot more consuming time-consuming effort for in terms of telecommunication.

Steve: The production time.

Mani: Yeah, the production time the efforts in getting a YouTube video is way bigger than the effort in getting a podcast out there. And also what I don’t like about YouTube is that you’re beholden to one company, which is Google or YouTube

Steve: But on a flip side the podcast Discovery mechanisms, aren’t that great. Whereas YouTube is this like the second largest search engine in the world.

Mani: That’s exactly why YouTube is so good. And that’s why I have a tough time answering this question and the more I think about it. It’s I think I would have done well either ways. I should have just stuck with that. One thing rather than started the second thing.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: Yeah, you know, whichever one I think podcast would do just amazingly well as much as YouTube would do it just so happens that both have different Discovery mechanisms that you just pointed out YouTube search is amazing. Like I was just looking at some Trends on my YouTube search on a book called Good to Great which is one of the greatest business books of all time. And I had done a summary of it and I was looking at how YouTube search was initially YouTube search was really big for that and now outside like Google search is taking over Google is serving up more of that video. Then YouTube is serving that video right now in search in terms of volume.

Steve: Just by referrals or recommended or suggested?

Mani: No, so early on what was happening back in 2015-2016 for the video was that when people searched good to great and YouTube they would find that video and it would rank. So it’s really SEO like it’s called a lot of SEO juice. So it ranks fairly. Well when you search for good to great and people would view it on YouTube. Now what’s happening is the trend has reversed in the sense. The Google search results. Google is sending me more traffic than YouTube for that video.

Steve: Okay, just results.

Mani: Make sense?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah.

Mani: So it’s showing more in Google search results than an even YouTube search results because YouTube is the second largest and Google is the first largest. Google is still way bigger than YouTube search and but now it’s getting integrated to the point where Google’s search volume is taken over the YouTube search volume.

Steve: Interesting. So back in the day, you mentioned using YouTube to build an audience that usually involves steering them away from YouTube, right? So just what are some of the tactics that you use to do that?

Mani: So I did it all wrong.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: You guys are learning from all the mistakes I made which is part of the journey. Initially on YouTube, You are absolutely right. You don’t want to steer them away from the channel and from that from that medium and that’s exactly why one of the reasons why I would go with podcast rather than YouTube because podcast allows you to do it podcast doesn’t have any of these challenges with YouTube ordered it was with even with early videos. I had put links in there to let people download the Mind map or get access to those things the freebies that I was offering and that’s something in the early phases. I would say till you get to your first 10,000 subscribers. You don’t even want to mess around with that because it’s just not worth it. Everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s specific. Like everyone has a different requirement for how you want to do this.

If you have the runway you want to delay it as much as possible, but you don’t have enough to run by you need to make money. Well, then you do it. So this is very subjective.

Steve: Can you put all this things after fact, I mean let that let the video get popular and then put the links in?

Mani: Yeah, but the problem is its marketing so Steve as we know that if you don’t really build a case for that link in the video, you’re not going to get as much juice from it.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: right. You’re not going to get as much traffic from it. You’re not going to get as much traction from those links because if the link is just hanging somewhere in the video people are not going to link click on it. But if throughout the video I’ve made the case for that specific thing and then I say click here you get way higher people with a lot more people to actually click on it. So if you can’t sell the click it’s not going to get quite is the way to think about it.

Steve: right. Okay.

Mani: so you don’t and if you don’t sell the click in the video, you can’t really go back retroactively and try to put that in there. So that’s part of the challenge of YouTube in the sense that yeah, you can have those links in the description you can have those links. In the video inside the video itself, but unless you’re selling those links they’re not going to be as effective.

Steve: All right, and then what do you do in podcast land then?

Mani: in terms of getting people away from it?

Steve: Yeah.

Mani: Well podcast is much easier in the sense. You can build that case and let people go and download your free these download your action guides download your free summaries or download for your E chord. So whatever else of course the challenge with podcast is the conversions are not as good as Youtube’s conversions are.

Steve: Yeah, I was gonna say because most people aren’t by computer or whatever when they’re listening to a podcast where thing. Just click on a link, right?

Mani: Yeah. I agree. I think podcast is a longer-term play and I would love to get your opinion on this as well. What are your typical click-through rates on a podcast link that you guys have a call to action that you have in the podcast?

Steve: I’ve actually looked recently but it’s very low and

Mani: 1%

Steve: I don’t know. I don’t know off the top of my head. Maybe I’ll put that in the show notes. It was so low that I stopped tracking it basically.

Mani: mmm. I started yeah, I know what you’re saying and I think one to two percent is what you get from podcast at best with podcast you get I think very high engagement.

Steve: Yes. So if here’s what usually happens on a podcast, you give them a special link they’re not going to remember that link. They’re just going to do a search for you, right and click on it. And yes, the people that listen to your podcast for 40 minutes or an hour or however long it is they become like real fans of your product. I don’t know if that happens on YouTube. I’m still a beginner when it comes to YouTube. So yeah.

Mani: Yeah YouTube has a different YouTube and podcasts are such different mediums and such different challenges because podcast has engagement through the root. In the sense, If I looked when you look at some podcast addicts on statistics on iTunes, you see that you literally get people listening 80 to 90% of Episodes on YouTube you’d be lucky to get even four to five minutes average view duration on your videos. Hmm average like most the Youtube average overall is like around 4 minutes or something. YouTube is very like you’re constantly people’s attention spans are so limited. They are constantly switching constant searching. So the same episode I do on YouTube. So let’s let’s take the book Contoured Me. It’s a mental toughness book that came out recently by David Coggins was a former Navy SEAL. So I did a mindmap video summary of it. It’s on my YouTube channel and it’s on my podcast on the YouTube channel, we have around what twenty nine thousand views on it in the last five six months. On the podcast, It’s gotten probably just around that much downloads, but the duration on YouTube it’s around like 6 minutes average Bosch time on the podcast, It’s around 80%.

Steve: Yeah. I mean the thing that you can measure someone’s attention span, right usually when someone listens to a Podcast in the car or whatnot and it just kind of runs in the background a lot of times. Yeah YouTube like you got to pay attention the entire time. So yeah people’s attention spans are short.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah, but and that’s in some ways. That’s a good thing. I think because with podcast you’re almost subconsciously constantly in their world.

Steve: Yes, I agree.

Mani: like when they’re listening to you for so many hours they get used to you. They buy into you and that’s why they allow you to be there in their world for so long.

Steve: Yep, and then like slowly your voice gets into their head.

Mani: Yeah, and they feel like you they know you.

Steve: Exactly, would you say that’s more the case then YouTube video like when people recognize you.

Mani: That’s a good question because we I don’t do as many on camera videos. I do have some but I have a lot of like mind maps and animation video so that way it’s difficult to assess how that

Steve: I see, your faces isn’t actually in the video.

Mani: it is maybe in in 20% 30% of our videos, but the remaining most of them are mind map or animations.

Steve: I can tell you for me almost everyone recognizes me through the podcast and not through I have I have a few YouTube videos, but not definitely not to the blog which gets way more traffic.

Mani: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing right people feel like they know you after they have heard use for so long.

Steve: So, okay. So let’s say you’re getting traffic on YouTube and and your podcast. What was your tactic for getting them over to your product?

Mani: So the first time I launch my product was a mental toughness course where I summarized mental toughness books, but I didn’t have all of those book summaries ready to go. So I did was I did a very scrappy launch that was like six months into the business seven months into the business. I said, hey guys, I’m launching this mental toughness course where every day you get one new video on building mental toughness. It will be summaries of 60 of the greatest books or 40 at that time. I was 40 of the greatest books ever written on building mental toughness self-confidence self-esteem all those things and if you buy right now and I just did this on YouTube what I did was I Put a sample video on YouTube of from the membership area. And at the end I said, by the way, if you want more of these for the next six months every day, I’ll send you one new video which will come from one book from all of these books. You can sign up for it here and the price goes up next week.

Steve: nice

Mani: or in three days time or something like that. And that was like my bare bones Lean Startup test to see if people actually would buy this stuff.

Steve: So you didn’t have an email list. You just literally just posted a YouTube video.

Mani: I had an email list. I was building on the side, but I wanted to test it on YouTube for some strange reason even I don’t know. Why.

Steve: how did you do?

Mani: It did pretty well like I got I got quite a few takers for the number of views I was getting. I think I got like a couple hundred views and I got like 40 people signing up for that product I was like hey, that’s really interesting seems like the I just was pretty lucky. But partly lucky also partly also it was me being able to convey what was being sold and selling at a ridiculously low price.

Steve: So just to be clear you talked about what you were selling you gave a link and you put a link in the description.

Mani: Okay. So let’s let’s go back even further before I even did that. I actually, so instead of selling instead of the video title had nothing to do with the course.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: The video title was six pillars of self-esteem number one way to build self-esteem or the most powerful way to build self-esteem and and it was from the book six pillars of self-esteem. And for the first seven minutes of the video. I just talked about the first pillar of self-esteem. This is what it is. And then I said by the way if you like this video I have I’ll be talking about all the six pillars of self-esteem and a bunch of other ideas on building mental toughness. I’ll be deconstructing all these great books on mental toughness. So if you are interested in more ideas like this every day, you’ll get one new video and I have put it all in the membership area into the in 2000books.com/tough. And that’s how I got people to sign up for that. So educate first and then seven minutes of Education, maybe one minute pitch and then saying click right here or the link is also in the description below.

Steve: Cool, so it’s like a mini webinar kind of

Mani: yeah, extremely mini webinar I’m talking seven minutes five minutes six minutes, but the key that’s like interesting sales mechanism because what I’m doing is I’m really educating the customer and then saying by the way, if you’re interested in more, hey, go by go buy the stuff and I did it again two days later and then I did it again two days later and I did it again two days later again. And again, it was new vide, new Idea, new education and said, by the way, I have 200 of these. I’m just giving you examples of these right here. I have 200 of these ideas and then it became 300 of these ideas. So over time it kept on increasing and I was able to educate and then make a quick pitch educate and make a quick pitch.

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Steve: Nice, I actually see a lot of YouTubers use this exact method. There’s just like basketball site where he like breaks down NBA games and you know, every time he gives a great break down. He said hey, by the way, you can get a more in-depth breakdown by joining this membership. So it’s really cheap. What now, he does that for every video. I’ve been tempted.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s it’s really good. Like what what you said was it’s a mini webinar. In fact, it is true. Right? It’s it’s a very very simple sales strategy, but I bet you do the same on podcast as well because that’s what I do on podcast as well I go educate and then I’ll be like, okay, by the way, if you’re interested, here’s the link to buy.

Steve: Yeah, I’m so it’s actually funny. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately right now my podcast I have these ad slots and what I had these ad slots, I was totally promoting my stuff but less so now they that I have the ad spots and so I’m wondering whether it would make sense to remove them at some point and just go full on my own stuff.

Mani: I see I see, oh how many hotspots do you have now?

Steve: I have three ad spots.

Mani: Okay.

Steve: Yeah, so it’s really hard to, I mean, I have it in the in the end bu

Mani: Oh are they all in the end?

Steve: No, no, no the ad spots are more prominent than my stuff.

Mani: Hmm.

Steve: Yeah. So interesting do you have ads on yours, on your Youtube videos or anything?

Mani: No that I never did. I’ve been taking them down. Okay, I’ve been turning down all the ads just so I can focus people on my brand and my business and like just taking off all of that away build my list my Brands my business.

Steve: Yeah, that’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Mani: Yeah. It’s I think people do this in phases. They go through like I think I’ve seen quite a few people go through ads and then to remove them and then come back and I think it’s

Steve: For the Podcast especially I mean, you know, we were talking about the click-through rates. I don’t even remember getting one to two percent to be honest with you and it was just very hard to track right you either have to give a special URL or some sort of code. Right? And I don’t think people use those and the only reason I know and totally is all ask these people and I say, oh they found me through the podcast almost all of them found me through the podcast. So that is why it’s a little harder to justify going all in it’s not as easily measurable.

Mani: Yeah. I see what you’re saying. But here’s how here’s all I think about it. If on the podcast, let’s say I’m doing a con launch of a new course. Let’s say 50 best books on leadership or something like that. Some reason 50 greatest books on leadership. What I will do is I’ll start talking about that every single podcast episode leading up to the launch and all the way into the launch. Keep telling them. This is what’s happening. Even if they don’t click on that link all of my podcast audience know that this is happening.

Steve: Yeah.

Mani: so they are going there in some way shape or form. They may not follow that link, but they are you know

Steve: Yeah you’re right, they will searched for it for sure.

Mani: Yeah, they’ll go to the website. They will find the course whatever it is and they’ll probably on the park as they can go find the link if they need to but the podcast audience does convert is just that you cannot measure it as precisely as what you could do with search or YouTube or paid media.

Steve: Exactly. Yeah, therein lies the dilemma and I guess all the Chances are taking that leap of faith and clearly it’s working right otherwise, continue to re-up.

Mani: yeah, if it’s working for sponsors. Why wouldn’t it work for me?

Steve: Yeah, exactly.

Mani: Exactly, So so I think it is a leap of faith in the sense, assuming that it will work for us as well. But I have basically a sign that leap of faith to myself and said it let’s just **** it yeah, I’ve just said and that’s why I like I’m going to make a video at some point saying why Gary Vee is wrong because I see him I see him running a lot of ads on YouTube and I think that’s just not right given what he’s doing.

Steve: I know youtube pay outs for those ads have just decreased dramatically over the years, right?

Mani: Yeah, He doesn’t need that money. Why would you dilute your brand with ads? Yeah from random people rather than just have an ad for yourself or have a call to action to build your own brand like tell people to go sign up for your email list or Instagram or whatever the hell you want to get them too. Why would you run ads on like I don’t see any reason for running YouTube ads unless that’s your only model. That’s the worst possible model for anyone who’s in the space of building a .com business building an entrepreneurial business or building a business where they are trying to sell their own things.

Steve: Yeah, I would agree with that for sure. Did you anything on the social front?

Mani: Well

Steve: Facebook, Instagram, Or..

Mani: Not so much not so much. I have done a little bit a little bit here and there but I feel like the traction is really on the content platforms more than on the social platforms for me.

Steve: Let me ask you this. So you got YouTube in the podcast. Do you focus equally on both at this point or do you repurpose the content? What do you do?

Mani: Yeah, right. Now, I’m repurposing all of my YouTube content to podcast and now I am considering spending a few hours every week to make it a daily podcast where I just give another like one quick idea every single day for you to make it a daily podcast while YouTube repurposing goes on.

Steve: Daily podcast, wow.

Mani: I don’t know but those will be really quick. These are like three to five-minute episodes. So I’ll be like one have you heard of Newport else podcast or have you recorded.

Steve: Of course, that marketing show? Yeah.

Mani: Yeah, so that one something similar to that really quick like for five-minute episodes while the repurposing still goes on.

Steve: So when you ask people now, where do they were the most people find you of the people that actually pay you money?

Mani: Hmm, its a mix of a lot of different things. It’s YouTube podcast lot of affiliate deals as well. We do a lot of affiliate email deals where will promote products through our Affiliates or I would call them joint ventures not Affiliates because these are people who I only we actually appreciate each other and we we are promoting the product.

Steve: Okay.

Mani: So those work as well. It’s a mix. I don’t pick one or the other is doing more right now

Steve: cool. Well, let’s let’s switch gears. I know originally we were going to talk about your top five business books or online business books right of all time.

Mani: Yeah, I would quantify it as like top five books that every online entrepreneur should read and these books will be different if you’re a tech entrepreneur, but if you’re an online entrepreneur, I think these books would really help.

Steve: Which is the majority of my audience.

Mani: exactly yeah.

Steve: So I’m actually curious what is on this tough five?

Mani: Okay. So yeah, let’s get started and I’ll A bonus at the end just so people can enjoy it. By the way. I yeah, so we just talk about this book two days ago, but I think this is one of the greatest marketing books of all time. It’s called influence by Robert Cialdini. It’s all about persuasion and the key is if you are in the online world today, if you are an online entrepreneur, you have to learn to be able to sell online and influence literally gives you all the tools to be able to Market effectively. So.

Steve: Absolutely Mani and I, we literally just talked for almost an hour about this just a couple days ago on Mani’s podcast which will give a link to at the end of this episode.

Mani: All right. So yeah the hopefully that episode we’ll be out before this episode goes out. So people will be able to listen to our discussion about the six key triggers that influence people that literally persuade people to buy or to take action on whatever you want them to take. So influence.

Steve: Incidentally, It’s my all-time favorite book of all time for business.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah. It is your all-time favorite Business book. That’s why we talked about that book on the 2000books podcasts. I told you. Hey, we’re going to talk about your favorite Business book and you came up with that and I said man that is one of the greatest marketing books of all time. So definitely

Steve: Nice.

Mani: Yeah. Now the next one I want to talk about is the one page marketing plan by Alan Deb.

Steve: I have not read that book.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah. It’s again a marketing book, but it’s a very comprehensive marketing book very comprehensive in the sense. You get to understand marketing all the way from ground level all the way to 30,000 feet level as in how do you think about Marketing in general the different phases of a customer through different phases of a customer life cycle. And how do you cater to them at different parts of the journey and one of the things he said and that was really fascinating to me. He said in the book. He said if you want to become a high growth business you’ve got to Make more offers consistently.

Steve: Hmm,

Mani: And that was fascinating as you know, and you know,

Steve: It’s what we talked about right like what 20 minutes about your YouTube strategy, right?

Mani: And the more offers you can make you will make more money. If you don’t make enough offers, it’s very hard to make money, but it’s really easy to take that. Okay, that makes sense. But when you are in the nuts and bolts of building your business you forget sometimes that the simplest Act of making more offers and more consistent offers is a requirement in order to grow your business. And that is like a requirement of marketing in some ways. You need that in order to grow the business so that book one page marketing plan is all about breaking down the different stages of the customers life cycle from the lead from a prospect to a lead to a customer to repeat customer and how do you nurture them. How do you take them through all of these different places. And incidentally I interviewed Alan dip on the 2000 books podcasts just recently and I was telling him that, hey I have this list on my on my website The Top 10 marketing books of all time and one page marketing plan is on that list. And he was really happy to hear that. So that podcast is episode is coming out soon as well.

Steve: Nice.

Mani: Yeah.

Steve: So this applies to e-commerce as well. Right?

Mani: it applies to any kind of marketing you do whether you’re doing paid media, whether you’re doing online like search media, organic media, whether you’d using YouTube or Facebook ads or you’re using podcast whatever it is the the Journey of the customer the Journey of marketing to a customer doesn’t change. Okay, however, you sell to them.

Steve: Okay, I’ll have to check that one out for sure.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great marketing book. The next one. I want to talk about is Good to Great by Jim Collins. Now, this is my like this is more of a big picture business building book not just online entrepreneurship book. So I don’t know if you have you read it?

Steve: I have a long time ago. It’s not clear in my head because it was a while ago. But yeah, I remember it was a very high level book.

Mani: it’s a very high-level business building book. It’s not so much about the nuts and bolts of building an online business. It’s not at all about online business, but it tells stories of great businesses and how they became great and the fundamentals there are three key fundamentals that he talks about I think Jim Collins is at Stanford, right? He teaches at Stanford.

Steve: I’m not sure actually.

Mani: Yeah. Tim Collins is a professor of art Stanford Business School from what I remember, so he wrote the book good to great. And in the book, he talks about three key disciplines that we need to have if we’re going to grow a business no matter what kind of business the first discipline is people their discipline of people and saying get the right people on the bus wrong people off the bus what that means is you must have great people if you’re going to build a great business no matter what role you’re hiring for. You want great people if you want to bring a great business a great brand. No matter where you are like what kind of whether it’s online whether it’s e-commerce whether it’s info products. Whatever it is you want the best possible people for the role rather than just say, okay, I’m gonna spend a little less and get the second tier of the 30 or person because the best people will make all the difference in the long term in the business.

So the first discipline, is discipline of people. The second discipline, is the discipline of thought. Which is don’t go don’t try to do too many things stay focused stay in your lane. And not only that like Focus your business on a few things that will really move the dial rather than trying to do a lot of different things and he talks about quite a few key principles in business the Hedgehog principle which which basically says stay in your lane stay in your lane continuously stay on your lane. Because the fox the he kind of makes a comparison between the Hedgehog and the fox most successful businesses are like hedgehogs. We just do this one thing and keep doing it well and keep doing it well and keep on doing it again. And again again while the fox is scattered. It’s just tries to All these different things.

And the third discipline, is the discipline of action and the discipline of action and discipline of partner kind of tied together. The discipline of action kind of rolls in with the idea of the flywheel principle, which is saying whatever is working keep doing that. Don’t try to invent new things to do just keep pushing more on it and you will turn the flywheel faster and faster and you’ll build a bigger and bigger and better and better business. Businesses that fail are the ones who are constantly looking for a new way to explore the business rather than just keep doing what’s working and two more of that and do better and better and better and better. So these principles are like so fundamental to building any kind of business because these are some of the fundamental mistakes I made when I started like I start I was doing YouTube and then I started podcasting and I was like, what the hell am I doing with my life?

I’m crazy. I’m going nuts and that was you know, one of the things I kind of did not listen to from Good to Great. I did not realize I thought I was still staying in my Lane anymore, book summaries, but I had already Diversified my efforts initially in my marketing.

Steve: I tell my students this all the time because they try to run Facebook ads Google and they started do SEO all at the same time, they end up doing anything. Well, yep, so.

Mani: You’re right man. This is like the hardest letter to learn just stay on one like make one marketing channel work because that is huge all by itself.

Steve: I mean, I always tell my students just one marketing channel by itself is usually enough to make a six-figure business.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah, and it can it can even get you seven figure because once you figure out the ins and outs of that marketing channel, like how many people do we know who have literally made Millions on Facebook advertising millions and millions and tens of millions.

Steve: Absolutely, absolutely.

Mani: Like I’ve literally have friends who have retired after running ads on Facebook for a couple of years. I’ve a friend who’s made 15 million dollars cash after being in the Facebook advertising space for like four or five years. So one marketing channel can blow up your business. It’s very easy to get lulled into thinking that somehow the other marketing channel is easier or if you just did a little more somehow to take off.

Steve: Hey, by the way, that blurb you just gave about Good to Great. Is that typical of one of your book summaries? Like is this style?

Mani: Yeah.

Steve: the way to Okay cool. So we’re again like a taste of real life Mani tutorial here or summary version.

Mani: Yeah Yeah Yeah, the more the funny thing is the more I had now learn about these ideas in the more I learn about these books the more I can kind of associate them with my own experiences. And also with other books in the same domain. So it makes it more Compact and more sophisticated as an idea and in some ways more and more dense compared to just an idea standing by itself.

Steve: So I’ve read two of your first three so far, what’s next?

Mani: Nice, The next one is Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco.

Steve: I’ve been on the forums. I have actually not read the book yet.

Mani: Oh man such a good book.

Steve: It’s older. Right? This is ad older book.

Mani: Well, not that old. Well newer than good to great. Newer than influence order than one page marketing plan.

Steve: Okay, do you go to is event by any chance?

Mani: No, I think I’m scared that his event will be a bunch of newbies. So I’m kind of not..

Steve: Oh, I see. Okay.

Mani: Yeah because there will be a bunch of people who are trying to figure this out trying to do the thing. I love about this book so much is that most people and even you and I we’ve been there where we see people in our engineering career who are stuck in that mediocrity Lane who are stuck in that slowly in or meet or the not the slow lane but not the fast line either. What do you call it? Yeah the slow lane not the fast then. So the slow lane is the one who’s saying, Okay, Let me just go do my job collect my 401k make some save some money and some point I will retire and enjoy my life kind of the same thing that Tim Ferriss are you again? Argues again, Same thing like MJ DeMarco talks about it. Most people are living the slowly in life. There are of course some people who are living on the sidewalk, which is the homeless and the poor or the ones who are really living paycheck to paycheck or even worse. But then the fast lane is the where is the only way to make money fast is through business.

Birds, there are a lot of people who fall into this the fantasy of the lottery mindset that somehow if they just make the right investment in the right business at the right time. If they just invest in Facebook at the right time suddenly, they’ll become rich and I’ll be fine.

Steve: Ah, I feel for that, by joining a start-up and I thought my stock options were going to be my retirement plan.

Mani: Yep. Yep. And we do that all the time right Engineers are the worst at this because we think we’re so smart. We can outsmart the market. So I remember so many people are Qualcomm back in the day. That was they’re paying like somehow they wanted to find that one stock that would hit it and now they wouldn’t have to worry about anything so they would make all these stupid gambling moves. Trying to make it big and that’s the lottery mindset. He and MJ is like no, you can’t I don’t play the lottery mindset. You got to build a business if you’re going to go in the fast lane. That’s the only way to make fast money. Everything else is a game of Lottery. It’s a game of luck build a business and that’s going away from the lottery mindset and into the process mindset where it’s like, okay, I got to do this thing. And if I do this thing, I will make money I will grow this business. I will become richer.

So the Millionaire Fastlane and in many ways is kind of for the entrepreneur or the early stage entrepreneur who’s trying to figure out what should I do? Should I not do this? Like maybe I can just go to investing in all that stuff, dude? Building a business is the fastest lane to Building Wealth in America today or in the world today. There’s fun..

Steve: What’s funny about this is, I used to go on the forums all the time because I met one of my buddies there on that Forum. I just never thought to read the book.

Mani: Yeah. It’s such a good book man. Like he.

Steve: okay.

Mani: I think I should I did a summary of it. So it’s the summary of This Book is on my YouTube channel. So if you just search for 2,000 books millionaire Fastlane.

Steve: okay.

Mani: it’s got like 50,000 to 60,000 views. So it’s a pretty decent summary.

Steve: I’ll link up all these books and and any links had many talks about in the show notes for this episode.

Mani: Yeah, I’ll provide them to you.

Steve: All right. What’s number five?

Mani: Number five is actually number one. So number one. Is it number one greatest book of all time for me. The one book that I recommend. It’s beyond everything else and This book was written in 1906. It’s a..

Steve: I know what it is. Yeah.

Mani: it’s a 45-page classic. It’s a PDF that you can find. You can actually download it. You can download it from my website. It’s called As a Man Think It by James Allen.

Steve: I take it back. I got it wrong. I haven’t read this one.

Mani: You thought it was thinking already.

Steve: Yes. I did.

Mani: Yeah, which is great to I was kind of I would have said that if not this so they’re both great As a Man Think It is a classic man. It’s so powerful because in entrepreneurship one of the most important things is to be able to manage your mindset manage your philosophy manage your thinking is if you if you no matter what you’re doing the nuts and bolts of the business if your mindset is not right if your philosophy is not right you’re going to constantly fail you’re going to constantly challenge yourself, you’re going to constantly run into obstacles, which you will not be able to work on. So as As a Man Think It is literally training you like it’s one of the most powerful books on how to use your mind the right way. And some ways. So here’s a

Steve: Tell me more sorry in what way?

Mani: yeah, here’s a here’s a quote from the book that I think I have now memorized even though it’s so long, but it’s worth it. I literally do the whole podcast episode on just this quotes and this is the quote “To begin to think with purpose is to enter the enter the ranks of the strong ones who make all conditions serve them.” Okay, I’ve just given you the first two parts of this quote there is more to this quote. But let me just break down the first two parts quote. He say ”To begin in to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of the strong ones who make all conditions serve them.” Now for those of you who are listening on the podcast. You’ll probably have to rewind and listen a couple of times to get the hang of this quote. What he’s saying is when you are clear on your purpose when you are absolutely clear on your purpose is when you stop being a victim of circumstances. Then you become a master of your circumstances. You make every circumstance every conditions serve you when you have a goal.

When you have a purpose when you’re not clear on purpose when your purpose is not clearly defined when you’re not clear on your goal. You will be buffeted by circumstances. You will get thrown around by the winds and the vagaries of like but if you’re very clear on your goal, every circumstance is now your slave you become the master of every condition every circumstance.

Steve: Is there a second part of this quote too?

Mani: Yes, and then he goes on to say so I’ll say the whole quote again “To begin to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of the strong ones who make all conditions serve them. And who think of a failure of any failure as a pathway to attainment”

Steve: This is a common entrepreneur saying I mean just not in those words.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah, so it’s a very it’s obstacle it’s a way kind of what he’s saying

Steve: Yes.

Mani: At the end as in like whatever the obstacle there’s a actually becomes a way forward but way before the compactness of this quote is really the beauty of this quote is like the clarity of purpose actually defines your life in some ways because most people ninety nine percent of population here is a victim of the circumstance or that’s what they think.

Steve: Right.

Mani: But the 1% the entrepreneurs are the ones who are thinking for themselves. They say I don’t I’m not going to be a victim of the circumstance I take I take charge of my life, but the key to taking charge of your life is to start with purpose. If you don’t have a purpose you will not be able to take charge of your life you if you’re not clear on your vision or your outcome that you’re after be very difficult to not be swayed by the winds of live in some ways of not differently very difficult to not be thrown about in the waves of the ocean. It’s almost like if the if the ship doesn’t know where it’s going. It’s just going to get thrown around by the obstacles to all the waves of the ocean.

Steve: You know, it’s funny about your book recommendation, Mani and I just notices is that it covers the entire gamut along the journey, right? So if you are kind of on the sidelines right now and you want to get started, it sounds like this book that you just recommended plus the millionaire Fastlane are the ones to get your mind set in place right to motivate you to actually get started and then once you’ve started the other three books, I think persuasion is more tactical sort of book, a good to Great is more high level and what you need to do to get accomplished and the third one. Actually, I forgot with the third one.

Mani: One page marketing plan

Steve: One page Marketing Plan. Yeah, they’ll the one I haven’t read yet. That one also is a great summary of tactics.

Mani: Yeah. Yeah. So you’re absolutely right. Millionaire Fastlane is like one of those were before you get started. You actually need to get yourself on the journey. That’s per book you need and then influence and One Page Marketing Plan. One Place Marketing Plan is what you would need in the journey to be able to do online marketing property to be an ornament on an entrepreneur influences kind of the strategy behind marketing. So tactics or strategy of marketing in some ways. Good to Great is something that will take you along the journey no matter how big a business you want to build your going to keep coming back to those principles of building the business the right way and you’re going to keep on making the mistakes and you go back and you read the book and you’re like, ah, Yes, I need to go do their thing.

I need to be on point with my people are my thoughts are my action and As a Man Think It this kind of a comp. It’s your friend for the rest of your life along the Journey of Life along the Journey of Entrepreneurship because it’s constantly going to guide you in your thought process. Like I’m why am I doing that or I can see the mistake I’m making in this thinking or stuff like that. So yeah

Steve: cool

Mani: different stages of the journey.

Steve: Great recommendations many if people want to find more of these type of summaries or key points, where can they find you online?

Mani: Yeah. So you guys already heard find it on 2000books. So if you are listening to the podcast the best thing to do is search for 2000bucks on your podcast app 2000 books. And you will find two thousand books. And if you loved YouTube just search for 2000books on YouTube channel. Just 2 0 0 0 books or go to my website 2000books.com. And I have already created some lists for people. All to go check them out. So it’s at 10 best books dot orgy people can find all sorts of lists. I’ve created 10 best books on productivity, 10 best books on building mental toughness, that by spokes on marketing. 10 best books on sales 10 best books on leadership all of those. I’ve created a bunch of lists that people can find so then just put start orgy is the place to find those books.

Steve: and and I love how you do book summaries. Sometimes if I see like a really thick book like I started reading Ray Dalio’s the book but I couldn’t quite get through it.

Mani: Yeah.

Steve: That’s one of the types of books where I probably want a summary for.

Mani: yeah. There’s quite a few books like that that I feel like for people when they’re trying to read it and I know they’re going to give up cause it’s so damn big Steve Jobs biography is one of them. It’s humongous.

Steve: Remember, reading the intelligent investor. I think I think that’s well and that was a really dense one. I probably would have gotten to summary for it too

Mani: Oh, yeah. That one is Hardcore. So on the podcast I do a lot of some reason. I also do a lot of interviews with authors and now the new format where I actually interviewed, people like Steve to talk about their favorite books. So it’s it’s kind of a fun mix up different kinds of different elements different ways to digest books if I say, so, yeah.

Steve: Well Mani. Hey man. Thanks a lot of come on the show. Really appreciate your time.

Mani: Hey Man, Yeah. Thank you very much for having me. And if you guys have any questions, I’d love to feel them on our YouTube channel, or just send me a tweet.

Steve: Sounds good. Take care.

Mani: All right, bye-bye.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I’ve read a lot of business books in the past decade and it was great getting more book recommendations from Mani because he’s read practically everything. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitjob.com/episode271.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now. I talked about how I use all these tools in 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 a 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!

270: How To Build A Facebook Messenger Bot That Sells With Natasha Takahashi

270: How To Build A Facebook Messenger Bot That Sells With Natasha Takahashi

Today I’m thrilled to have Natasha Takahashi on the show. Natasha is someone who I met at Social Media Marketing World and she’s an expert when it comes to Facebook Chatbots.

She is the chief marketing officer and founder of the School Of Bots and she’s spoken at many industry events like Social Media Marketing World and Traffic & Conversions.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about the best way to implement a chat bot on an ecommerce store that sells physical products.

What You’ll Learn

  • The best way to get new messenger subscribers
  • Some of the best chatbot implementations for ecommerce
  • The rules for sending broadcasts
  • How to send promotional broadcasts without violating Facebook’s rules
  • How to use auto responders for ecommerce

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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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
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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 delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses Now today, I’m thrilled to have Natasha Takahashi on the podcast and Natasha runs the School of Bots and today she’s going to teach us how to create high converting Facebook Messenger Bots or e-commerce stores.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who’s also a sponsor of the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences so want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support researches they can actually check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife 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 can spend more time with your family 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 Natasha Takahashi on the show. Now Natasha is someone who I met at Social Media Marketing world and she is an expert when it comes to Facebook Chat Bots. She is the chief marketing officer and founder of the school bots and she spoken at industry events, like social media marketing world and traffic and conversions now, I’m really happy to have Natasha on the show and with that welcome.

Natasha: Thank you so much for having me, Steve. I’m really excited for us to talk about all sorts of chatbots up today.

Steve: So Natasha, what’s funny about this is we didn’t really talk that much at Social Media Marketing world, but I listened to a couple of the other interviews that you’ve done and I heard in one that you actually dropped out of college to pursue the school of bots and the only reason I’m bringing this up is because you were Asian my parents would have flipped.

Natasha: I’m actually really excited that we are both Asian and that we get to talk about, you know online business and stuff because you’re totally right. I think that in the Asian Community, there’s still such a big stereotype and in terms of you know, starting your own thing, Or like leaving College leaving that traditional route, right? And so I’m really excited that we both kind of have that same angle so we can talk about this because I usually don’t get to really talk about this because people just don’t get it.

Steve: So did they flip or?

Natasha: So, they actually didn’t so funny story behind it is when I decided to leave school, I was enrolled in a like traveling Business program. So I was supposed to graduate with three different business degrees one from USC in Los Angeles and to from a college in Hong Kong and Italy. So I thought that I kind of had the best of you know, the college experience that I could have gotten and at that point I was like, okay if I’m gonna do college I’m just going to do this and then unfortunately experienced kind of disappointed me when I got to USC in the fall and so about Midway through my spring semester, I was like, you know what I’m just going to leave. I like a nun enrolled myself from all the classes. So I did it pretty official. I didn’t just leave I tried to kind of tie up everything.

Steve: This is your freshman year? Or, I’m sorry.

Natasha: Yes. This is my freshman year. Hmm. Yep, so Midway through my freshman year. And then I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell my parents. So I was very confident in my decision because my father actually passed away when I was seven and he was the Asian one in the family. Now, My mom is Mexican and she’s actually still pretty Asian. It was the way she acts that you know, you think of the typical Asian mom, she kind of exhibit some of those features and so I wasn’t quite sure how she was going to react obviously because both my parents are immigrants and so the whole story where my parents came here to give me a better life is definitely very prominent in my family

And so I was trying to figure out the best way to tell her and my stepfather who is also Asian, he’s Japanese and I ended up writing them. I think a five-page letter was probably five to seven pages and the letter pretty much explained all of my thoughts on the college education system how it’s broken how you know entrepreneurs can really thrive in that environment. And also what my plans were moving forward to just kind of share with them. Like hey, I’m not just going to leave and you know, just go Something random. I’m actually going to try to start my own thing, you know figure out I have a plan and a strategy in mind and so I wrote that to them.

I sat them down at our kitchen table in Irvine where I’m from and where I grew up and I was like read this letter don’t say anything back to me until you finish reading it because I think in confrontations like that and I don’t want to call the confrontation but you know conversations like that were you’re trying to share something with your parents at the probably going to be uncomfortable with most of the time you get started talking and then they’ll cut you off or you know, maybe stop you and then you lose your train of thought. So I was like, I put everything into this letter. Please read it and pretty much after they read it they were pretty calm and they were like, okay take a leave of absence and see how it goes.

So I think I’m technically still enrolled in USC system, but I’m long gone. I will not be returning but I will say my student ID has served me very well. Ha ha

Steve: Ha ha, so let me ask you this, so you presented this letter and you didn’t have any business or any income, right?

Natasha: Correct. So I did have some income because at the time pretty much from about junior year of high school on I decided that I wanted to start working with like online businesses and Tech startups. I thought I was going to go very much like the Silicon Valley Tech startup CEO route. So I did actually have some income because I was doing marketing for startup grind which is a global entrepreneurship community. And then I was also an independent contractor for a few other startups doing some marketing and sales for them entirely virtually. So I’d kind of had already a taste of the you know, online entrepreneur lifestyle if you will.

Steve: it’s a, did you already have an idea for doing school bots when you dropped out?

Natasha: So before I dropped out so this was in 2017 it’s when I left USC and the year before Facebook Messenger Bots had come out right in early 2016. So I had been looking at them. I’ve been kind of testing a few things but I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to like deep dive into them and then at the beginning of 2017 I was like What let’s just do it. And so I actually didn’t start school at Bots at that time. I started my chatbot agency with my co-founder and that was my first, you know, step into the entrepreneurship world, but also chat Bots and about a year and a half after that once we had served quite a few clients and had you know, great case studies results Etc and the Bots world. That’s when we started school at bots so that we could just be confident in you know that we were sharing the right information and and the right policies etc.

Steve: All right, so a couple questions there.

Natasha: Yeah

Steve: Yeah, pretty young. So how did you get clients? And then how did you meet your co-founder? Also? Was it someone you met at school or?

Natasha: Yeah great questions. So I met my co-founder actually two years before that. We met through a mutual friend and at that time like we obviously were just kind of friends like talking about business. That’s actually what got us to become better friends was like, you know, we had met through a friend that he had gone to college with and so at that time he was just, you know, kind of like in this party frat face right where he was, you know coming out of he had also dropped out after about two years and so because of that, you know, when we talked about business he was like, oh wow, you know, usually I don’t get a chance to talk about this stuff with people around me.

And so we didn’t talk about doing a business together until about two years later because at that time we were talking more and more about it. I was talking about how I wanted to drop out and start an agency and so in discussing that we realized we had very complementary skills. So we are complete opposites in the sense that the way that we talk about things the way that we not necessarily think about things now that we’re very aligned but the way that we approach as well as the fact, you know, he’s a white six foot tall male that is more like a sales background and then I am, you know a small Asian woman right?

Who like we portray ourselves to very different audiences and appeal to all sorts of different types of people together and then individually so it’s been a really interesting Dynamic to just kind of see the audience that we attract and why people like us or by From us but that’s how we met. And then your second question was about?

Steve: First client clerks?

Natasha: First clients. Yes, so it was really freaking tough people say that now obviously because I have some credibility. I had the chance to speak on awesome podcast like this and stages things have changed quite a bit and then people don’t really ask or you know, think about my age too much at least, you know from my observance, but at the beginning because we were actually also traveling so we decided to become digital Nomads at the same time as start our agency. So we hopped over to Asia. Of course. We went over to Hong Kong Japan Thailand Australia and a couple other places over there. And so most of our prospecting happened either like at events that we would go to in those areas as well as a lot of digital prospecting.

So we did a ton of cold email cold Outreach and also because I had started to build up a personal brand before I started my business. I was pretty active on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram there were some people who knew what I was doing especially since I was posting a little bit about it and so they would reach out and say hey, can you you know help us with this or I think I have a client for you. And so some of those conversations eventually turned into paying clients, but the first few Bots we built were free and they ended up to be great case studies.

But it was very tough at the beginning especially because we were trying to Target big companies because we thought we were going to go all in on the beauty Niche without going too deep into this but just saying that at that point where like, okay, we’re going to talk to Revlon and L’Oreal and sexy hair and we got on sales calls with all these companies but we have no idea what we were doing. All right, so it was silly of us to even think that we could have closed them let alone if we had closed them actually deliver because it was going to be some of the first few projects that we had done. So I’m happy with the route that we took in the sense that we then focus on like digital small and midsize businesses and then ended up growing from there. But yeah, I will say it was very tough.

Steve: I really loved your story because there’s always people that email me saying hey, you know, I don’t have any skills. I can’t do anything. How am I going to get my first? Here you are ingratiating yourself into a community and then doing jobs here and just gradually building your portfolio to eventually Land one of your clients. That’s what you got to do today. Right?

Natasha: Yes, exactly is. it’s very true. It’s so interesting to me because I was actually thinking a lot about this the other day is like for you for example, you know, your kids are going to be very familiar with the business model and you know type of lifestyle that you’re able to live and work in but for me when I was growing up, I didn’t know anybody else who had parents who were running online businesses or works for around my business, right?

You know, because I’m thinking also, you know, like companies like yours like we all have employees and contractors as well and those people’s Soul jobs or one of their gigs, you know is to do all this online work and then they have kids and friends and family. So it’s just really interesting to me how that’s shifted and I guess I’m just so interested to see how it’s going to be like five ten years and then when I have my kids as well, you know, what what that perception is going to look like and.

Steve: yeah, I mean So my kids are still going to college and they’re going to finish college. But you know, my whole perspective on education is kind of flipped as a result of my experiences.

Natasha: Yeah.

Steve: I was planning on being an engineer all of my life and then this happened and then I just realize that you know, you know, you can have your time to yourself and you can make a lot more money than than working a full-time job. Yeah, but let’s get to chat Bots. What I was hoping to do today was kind of go into depth on maybe the best way to implement a chatbot on an e-commerce store that sells physical products. There’s also people my audience that sell digital products and membership sites too and what is hoping to get out of you today. Maybe is I know you have a lot of templates and you work with a lot of agencies or people who want to start agencies and that sort of thing and so walk me through what a good chat bot looks like that you’ve implemented for an e-commerce store.

Natasha: Yeah. So what I would say just at the very beginning is that it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and excited about what Chat Bot I can do right and so what we one of the biggest mistakes that we made at the beginning and I see most people make is they come into the chat bot world or are a business that wants to implement a bot and they see all of these potential use cases to implement into the by right. And so then that leads to that may be testing 20 different things and then all of a sudden they have no idea what’s working because they didn’t properly test one by one, you know without overloading their system essentially.

So for an e-commerce store, it’s going to be a little bit different for each store, right depending on what their overall marketing looks like if they are creating a lot of content and that is essentially serving as a funnel for some of their products right as well as influencer marketing kind of falls under that category as well. Then there are quite a few ways for Bots to help either deliver that content or create experiences out of content that already exists and to give you an example. We were working with a e-commerce store that These like lifestyle lounger products. I think they kind of blew up a few years ago and then have still become a pretty solid product for companies online. And so these things you know, you can take them onto the water you can Lounge on…

Steve: Are these the inflatable things?

Natasha: They are. Okay, yes.

Steve: I guess they’re, yeah.

Natasha: played body, exactly. So those products of course are you know or hinted against like appeal to travel influencers and people who are going to be on the go right who want to take something with them? And so what we did was they have this great blog they had had all these ambassadors across the world create, you know, all of this content for them and put it into like a like a docu-series kind of blog thing where you take them through, you know, two days of your adventures, but no one was reading the blog and no one was really interacting with it and it wasn’t doing a lot for them. So what we did was turn those blog experiences into a three-day drip sequence inside of their Bots, and essentially what the sequence did was take them through the experience of going to Bali going to Iceland going to Mexico these three main countries that we had blog articles for.

Then at the end of it they had a very clear understanding the users of what the inflatable could actually do for them. Right? Because you see a product online. You’re like, how am I going to actually use this for myself? And so when we did that show the images let them kind of Choose Your Own Adventure within it that essentially served as a funnel for us to have one of the highest converting bought funnels and overall any marketing funnel that they’ve ever done. So that was really interesting for me to see because that kind of combined, you know, a company that makes a lot of content with Bot typical e-commerce store that maybe has been working on a blog or has some content but they’re not quite sure what to do with it because oftentimes with blogs, you know, it’s tough to kind of carve out a strategy unless you’re going to be posting very consistently. So that’s one..

Steve: was that company using email. I’m just kind of curious

Natasha: they were yeah, so they were using the email was pretty much the only thing they were doing before and of course Facebook ads as well and they sold on Amazon too so they had their Shopify eCommerce store and then their Amazon Our which honestly with Amazon it was just kind of doing its own thing. So we were just really focused on the Shopify. Yeah. So that’s one way that..

Steve: I’d like to dig a little bit deeper.

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely mine.

Steve: So we’re their email efforts failing?

Natasha: they were a little bit so I will say they weren’t very strong. They’re open and click rates were blow. I’d say like industry average so off the top of my head. I can’t remember exactly what they were, but I know that their click rates were in the single digit, right and they’re open rates were somewhere between like 10 to 30 percent sometimes less, right and their emails also weren’t crafted very well in terms of the formatting copy images kind of all that stuff was a little bit lacking like there’s a lot that we could have done to improve which we don’t do it our company so I don’t really focus on that.

Steve:Sure, sure. Of course. But how did they get chatbot subscribers or messenger subscribers? Like what was their primary method?

Natasha: Yeah, so one of the things that we did for them, which I recommend honestly for any e-commerce store is giveaways are really big part of the e-commerce ecosystem. Right? I think that every E Commerce or at some point has done some sort of give away whether it was rumored to be big or they do something monthly or whatever it is. And so for them, what we did was run. They typically do a giveaway or two every month. So for us it was a really easy way to implement the Bot into what they were already doing. They do these joint giveaways with other e-commerce stores kind of the lifestyle category. So, you know, they get hotel stays plane tickets and then we’ll get some other swag and products and things that they kind of bundle up into this giveaway.

So those were the initial subscribers that we got and I think we got about seven thousand subscribers from our first giveaway that we did and then a few weeks later we got I think another 10,000 subscribers from the giveaway and the opt-ins were, you know, on the registration page someone in signs up for the giveaway. We had, you know, your typical checkbox on that Page and then on the confirmation page usually with these giveaways. I think it was Dojo Mojo was a software that we were using and on, you know the backside when someone signs up it’s like you’ve got to do certain things, you know to increase your number of entries in the giveaway. And so messenger was one of those as well, which also helped us get more organic traffic to it.

Steve: So these are group giveaways then right?

Natasha: correct. Yeah. So that was their main kind of way to get new people into the body as well as their brand and kind of get things out

Steve: You know, what’s interesting about this is I actually run a group giveaway service called Gzobrandwin. What’s funny about this is that you know with messenger subscribers if your block rate is too high. There’s like this risk of getting banned, right? And so you’re going to get a lot of subscribers that aren’t really interested in your product or saying just went the right way. So how do you Rectify that?

Natasha: Yeah. Absolutely. This was actually something we faced initially where we realized because they had actually done some chatbot efforts on their own before we started working with them. So they had done one for a giveaway. And then what we realize just as you said, you know not all of these people were very interested in everything that we had to offer. So because of that when these new subscribers came into the chat box, we would take them through some of the lead qualification as well as then ask them what types of messages they wanted to get from us.

And this was really important for us to weed them out. And this is the best practice that we do for any type of bots regardless of you know, what the company does what they sell. Yeah, but this was the best way for us to figure out okay who actually cares about us and who’s just here for the giveaway and we kept the people who weren’t very strong leads on the bot list anyways, but we had them obviously tagged and you know, we are mainly using many chat so many chat makes it very easy to segment out your audience with Fields tags all that good stuff.

Steve: You walk me through that entire sequence of qualification?

Natasha: Totally. So when people first came into the chat bot because they there were a couple different entry points. So one someone could enter because they wanted to go to the giveaway and then we’d send them to the giveaway page. But after that when someone comes into the bot to either increase the number of entries they have or we know that they’ve entered the giveaway then we would obviously send the robot message saying, you know graduation is your entered and then from there what we would do is pretty much ask them a couple questions about their interests what you know, they thought of these loungers right if they had used one before and a couple things just about their experience overall in like Persona is the best way to kind of put it and then from there if they kind of answered you can kind of think it fit like a quiz right from the back end even though we’re positioning it like that so that you know, there’s maybe three at that point different kind of end scenarios that someone could hit.

So the first one would be that clearly they weren’t really interested in what we were offering they were very interested in maybe like a competitor’s, you know product inside of the giveaway the group giveaway, but they weren’t ultimately super interested in our product. Okay, that’s fine. Thanks for entering the giveaway a that’s pretty much the end of it. Right? And then at that point though, we also asked them if they would want to get any messages from us in the future about a few different topics. So we had our blog article content we had events because they would go to all these different events and kind of sponsor and have their products there. And then the last one was discounts which then just as a side note would mainly be sponsored messages right that we would then send if we ever had anything happening.

Steve: Yeah..

Natasha: So that was the first and scenario the second and scenario would be someone who seemed interested. Maybe we asked them why they sign up for the giveaway and they said, you know, I thought that your product is really cool. But I’m also, you know equally interested in other stuff that was happening in the giveaway. And then at that point then we would ask them a few questions about the product as well as ask them what types of messages they wanted to get from us and also then lead them into that sequence that I mentioned that three-day sequence where we took them through we called it waking up in a new country every day.

So pretty much that 3-day thing where we had Iceland Ali Mexico, you know in an experience inside of the pot so we would then lead them into that and that would also take Them through our bot onboarding. So there’s quite a few steps happening here

Steve: Yeah.

Natasha: But all of this again kind of creates this full system that you want for the user experience inside of the bot.

Steve: This is one of the huge advantages of chat Bots over email like in chat Bots. If you can make this all really interactive with email..

Natasha: right.

Steve: People aren’t opening at a high rate and then you can actually I guess you can have them click on links in an email and tag them that way but it’s just doesn’t work as well as messenger.

Natasha: Yeah, totally end. One of the biggest differences to that actually one of my clients brought up yesterday cuz I wasn’t meeting with them they were like, so what makes the conversions higher in a bot then email right? Like what are some of those factors and I think the biggest thing is that you get more highly qualified leads because people have to interact with you in order to get the content that they want right there has to be a back and forth happening in order for them to get you know, for example, a free pdf guide or a free mini course or in this case, you know, the free three-day sequence that we were taking people through.

So people have to have that conversation with you in order for it to happen and For obviously, there’s more touch points in and you feel a little bit more intimate with the company Etc. And I think that makes a huge difference compared to the fact that email is still very much a one-way Street where people might click some people May respond, but typically emails don’t encourage a response right? very much like a read and be done with it as opposed to interact.

Steve: Is it important to clean up your messenger list from time to time?

Natasha: I totally think it is and this is something that we do then our subscription system actually. So this is something that we’ve created for each of our clients, which I kind of hinted at where we ask and make sure that we’re only sending relevant messages to people who care about certain topics and that’s going to look different for every company but the examples I gave earlier events discounts and the new content that accompanies pushing out, right and those are pretty typical topics that people might send updates about via email for example, so inside of messenger, what we do is if someone has not engaged within a certain amount of time, but we’ve been sending them messages.

So usually that’s 60 to 90 days for us as well as within the subscription system. If someone wishes to unsubscribe, then we make sure to tag them as soon as they come into that flow, even if they don’t confirm their unsubscription and then we keep track of those people for the next 90 days as well because if someone at all hinted that they want to unsubscribe entirely from the bot not just from certain topics, but you know from all messages to stop them then we also want to weed them out. Even if there may be still opening the messages, but they’re not clicking on them, but they’ve hinted at it at all. So that’s usually how we automate being able to weed out people who maybe just aren’t interested to keep the list healthy and continue to have you know, good open and click rates overall.

Steve: Okay. And is there an easy way to bulk unsubscribe?

Natasha: there is inside of many chat, but at the same time what happens is many chat lets you do two things. So you can either see your audience tab. So all the people on your list that are subscribed or you can turn on the ability to see people who have unsubscribed or deleted the conversation from their inbox, which is interesting as well. However, you can’t filter by it. So what happens is you say, you’ve got a list of only a few thousand people you still gotta like go through manually and pretty much checkmark anyone who would want to see the data on so because of that what we do is add that tag that I mentioned when someone wants to unsubscribe because then that allows us to filter them through in the audience Tab and then if we need any data on them, or if we need to do some sort of bulk action, that’s why we add tags to pretty much every single interaction any time someone clicks a button says something clicks on a quick reply to kind of bring in somebody verbage as well. That’s the way that we’re able to really make sure that that we’re serving the audience that were able to complete any actions fill in any missing data that we need to at any time.

Steve: Are these included on the templates that you sell in your site?

Natasha: So we do include the subscription system as well as unsubscribe and then the tagging and whatnot. Honestly. That’s tough. Just is unique for each company. So we do have some like specific tags and Fields that we include in every single template that we build. But ultimately when we’re doing client work those tags are going to look very different depending on what campaigns were running, you know what their offers are what their email system looks like as well, but we want to track to but we do our best to kind of provide the foundation of what we typically builds for a client inside of the templates that we sell.

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So this Ecommerce client that we were just talking about are they now prioritizing messenger over email

Natasha: t\They are so it’s interesting to kind of see the differences between companies that have done email really well and then get into Bots and then companies that have struggled on email but you know are still getting conversions and opens and stuff in their email, but then bring in a bot and to be a hundred percent honest. I prefer at this point to work with companies that have done really well with email really well with Facebook ads and pretty much they have at least a few core, you know marketing funnels that work really well for them. So that one it makes it a lot easier for us to implement the bot right? Because we know kind of exactly where we want to start they know their pain points very clearly and we can tell exactly you know, how the boss could play a role.

But at the same time it’s very cool to see how a messenger brought could revolutionize a business and kind of transform what their audience interaction looks like how people care about their product as well because that One of the biggest things that we noticed was because they started to then be able to interact with their audience on messenger much better than they had ever done email that we saw a lot more loyal audience members and you know customers and I think for e-commerce that’s one of the hardest parts is a lot of e-commerce stores do it really well, you know on Instagram they build their audience kind of their crowd there, but if you’re not producing content regularly or, you know even have like a go-to place for your audience to kind of talk to each other and form a community essentially then I see a lot of e-commerce stores struggling with pretty much, you know, getting their product out there and getting people to to buy it and be proud of it, right simply because there’s not that community.

So I think a messenger brought does that really well, especially for a companies that don’t really have another outlet for a community

Steve: So I was actually ready to go all in on Bots and prioritize that over email and then I actually got banned for short period actually had to reach out to some of my buddies in Facebook to get me back in and that’s that really scared me. Have you had any of those experiences?

Natasha: Yeah at this point for our clients we have not but I have talked to quite a few people and as well as consulted for companies that got their Bot band and I think we have a very clear understanding now of kind of what causes that right because there’s two main factors inside of the messenger Experience One, Someone can totally block your Bot right? Then just turn off the messages. It’s just a quick little, you know tap of the button inside of the conversation. But they can also rate the messenger experience and if there’s too many bad ratings and that can also cause you know a temporary ban or a penalty or you know a message from Facebook. All right.

So those are really the only two metrics that you have to you know, see if your body is doing well or not essentially and the biggest That I think helps that situation that we have seen especially for one of the companies we work with I will not name them but they had a 50% block rate on their Bots crazy crazy. And so we were brought in to obviously reduce that very heavily and also figure out like why that was happening what they had done because they’ve been running their own bought for about two years prior to us coming in. So so they had been you know in the bus space pretty much since the beginning running their bought for their company which produces info products. They just had no idea what they were doing in regards to the policies and kind of all that stuff. So the biggest solution that we found for them as well as any other companies that then were able to you know, get their bought back on the platform never got banned again is allowing people to subscribe to specific types of messages and also creating an onboarding within the bot that makes it very clear, you know, as to when people are going to get messages from you.

How often and what those messages are going to be about those are the two most important solutions that I think contribute to because overall the Users are making you know, they’re calling the shots. Right? So if too many users, you know block you then obviously Facebook steps in but if you can just keep that relationship really transparent from the beginning between the user and the page aka the bot then honestly there shouldn’t be any issues with blocking or Banning the Bot.

Steve: Okay, Okay, and oh one of the questions just about the giveaways that we were just talking about.

Natasha: Yes.

Steve: In a group giveaway environments. Like how does it work in terms of who gets the messenger sub or are they just different tabs for it?

Natasha: Yeah, that’s a great question. So honestly, I don’t know how they initially negotiated that with their group because I know that the other companies obviously had opt-ins and stuff on there. And at this point I have seen like after we did that initial one and you know, we obviously shared a little bit about the results and whatnot in the following group giveaways. I did see that some other people added Messengers well, but I believe for them in their agreement. I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but from my understanding they all kind of get equal share and so because of that they could all add, you know an email list the messenger list and if they needed people to do other things like I can’t remember off the top of my head but..

Steve: But I was just kind of curious.

Natasha: Yeah. No, that’s a great question though. And I think it’s it’s tougher when you have like maybe two or three companies, but I think they were like five or six companies in these group giveaways.

Steve: So in terms of sending out messages to your message subscribers, do you have any specific strategies that you use in the past in regards to that?

Natasha: Yeah, so just in terms of maybe like content or like what and..

Steve: the frequency that you send actually also.

Natasha: Yeah. So typically the rule of thumb that I’ve kind of put in place for this is you want to message your list at least once a month to make sure that people don’t forget about you. And also I don’t know if you saw that businesses tab that popped up for like two days ago messenger.

Steve: Yeah I got so scared. Okay, everyone freaked out.

Natasha: Yeah

Steve: you have to everyone was freaking out right and they’re like, oh my gosh, it’s changing and then people are like, yeah, it’s a great thing because now you can you know, categorize your business messages and then people were also upset of course and the interesting thought that this brought up for me, which also kind of helps solidify. What I’m about to share is that these business tabs that you clicked into you couldn’t see bot messages that were older than a month inside of that Tab. And so that was really interesting to me because I was like, oh my So these messages still like in my inbox and they were when I search for them, but the business is tab specifically only held messages that had been there for shorter than a month.

So if you had had any sort of interaction with a page within the last month it was in there at the top of the chat box. I’m inside a messenger. But all the other businesses were all the way down kind of mixed up, you know in Lost in your in your messenger inbox. And so that helped solidify the fact that yes, you do want at least interact with your audience once a month. If you are not producing really any new content or have anything really to share with your subscribers. Maybe you just have like a few paid products or one core product right that that you kind of cell and if someone’s not a recurring customer or if they haven’t bought from you, then you might not really have anything to share with them and update them with.

And so sending them a message at least once a month is going to be best for those types of companies and just across the board. But if you have any sort of new content, you’re creating like a podcast blog articles videos even You know combined kind of efforts with influencers since we’re talking a little bit about e-commerce then messaging your list at least once a week. I would say is the happy medium because this allows you to be in their inbox without annoying them that also lets you if you create a lot of content like daily content, then you can give your users two options. You can either send the messages every day or every other day which gets a little bit too much in our experience or you can send them kind of a digest every week that is kind of like a email newsletter except making that interactive is really key there.

Because otherwise then it does feel just like a blast out and people don’t really care but if you can create an experience at least a few back and forth interactions about that content, then that’s what is really winning.

Steve: Can you give me an example though? because I’ve always thought that like, I’m on a whole bunch of people’s chatbot lists and like when I have to click and interact just to get to the content that actually annoys me a little bit like I just want to read the content. So what is your approach?

Natasha: Totally get that. So for us what will actually do with so the best thing that I’ve seen which is a little bit more time consuming but I think it’s worth it for for companies that can do it or at least take the time to for us or you know for them if they’re doing it internally is to actually break down that content into a bot experience. So that means if you’ve got a podcast then putting some audio inside of the bot. If you have a video then breaking down that video into many videos and putting them inside of the Bots and then if it’s a Blog article then breaking down that content or a PDF breaking it down into multiple bot messages that are usually maybe 5 to 7 interactions long is usually what we see.

And so this way it’s not like hey click here to answer this question Okay, click. Ok, now go and view, you know this new blog article, right? Because I think that’s what you’re talking about is like you don’t like, you know, what’s coming after that button, right? And so for us for example is social media examiner, since we were both at Social Media Marketing world that did not work well for them and we had a hard time actually figuring out how to deliver. Their content because they create so much every single day that it was I think looking back at it now because we decided to stop sending their content in their body because it just wasn’t bringing in Roi looking back at it.

What I would have done is take the most popular piece of content from that week or something that I performed really well, you know, as soon as it came out and turn that into a bot experience instead because then most of the time if that’s their highest performing piece of content for the week most of their audiences going to be interested in it because they put out content on so many different topics that then it also becomes tedious to be like, okay. This person doesn’t want to get content on Facebook ads or Instagram ads, but they do care about messenger and YouTube for example, right? It’s so with companies like that. It’s really tough.

If you’re more Niche where you just have a couple core topics that you talk about I’d say three to five Max then that’s where the strategy can really be implemented right where it can actually be an experience. You can take the time to do that and you don’t have to worry about Doing that every single day for your Bot subscribers.

Steve: I guess ultimately the goal with a content creator is to just get people reading the content, right? So how did you know it wasn’t working with it just because people weren’t clicking on it or opening it.

Natasha: So for them, we had quite a few different metrics and things that we were looking at so because social media examiner doesn’t amazing job with like analyzing literally everything mainly through Google analytics and drip to see exactly how long people are reading their content, you know, where they coming from. They have a pretty tedious and detailed process of Automation and whatnot. So for us, what we were really looking at is the difference between the deliverability as well as the interaction so mainly open and click rates between the box versus email since they were very similar messages being sent out except they were little bit different in the bots in the bot. They were pretty much every day there was a piece of content being dropped of course was for people to a certain extent and then we turned it into every other A which was fine, but the problem also with it was exactly that experience that you mentioned earlier like you just want to see the content.

Well, we tried that as well as having people click on a button that shared a little bit about what the article was about and then they could either unsubscribe from there or click into it and then they would go to the article right after that and while it was interesting we found some pretty interesting data like for mobile, for example, people were reading or staying on the page four times longer than they were when they came in from email from desktop or mobile. So that was pretty fascinating. But after I’d say about three or four months of us sending out the message has obviously open and click rates declined very steadily because people knew what was coming it was too much and I think honestly for them ultimately they just have way too many pieces of content that we could send inside of the Bots and they didn’t really want to prioritize in a one topic.

Over the ten different topics that they talk about. So I just don’t think that a bot is a good delivery. Mechanism for a company like that. We’re obviously a website is just going to present everything in a much clearer way. You can quickly skim through and kind of find what you want to what you want to read about.

Steve: interesting. Yeah. I’m just kind of curious like so in order to be sending out that frequently you have to have a really good in flow of new Subs because at least for me, I don’t interact with a lot of people who run Bots or share these statistics, but my unsubscribe rate is easily like at least one percent every time I send something out right? I don’t think that high?

Natasha: that’s actually fair. I would say that that’s not bad and especially if you’re it depends on what you’re sending out to because we do have I guess different standards and it’s kind of different for every industry, but they’re you know a certain good unsubscribe rate and bad one for you know, for example, if you’re sending out a follow-up message about something promotional or if you are sending out a piece of content or something about a free webinar coming up, you know, and kind of those things so I would say 1% like across the board on average for any of your messages is a pretty good percentage and it’s usually going to be higher than email too

Steve: yeah, that’s what I was saying. It’s tremendously higher than email. And so what is like the best way people have for like bringing new Subs in it seems like you have to go all in on it?

Natasha: it. I’d say going all-in is not the best way to do it initially, but your goal should be to will be able to implement messenger like at every point in your funnel like at the end of you know, implementing all of this right, but again, it also depends on what’s going to work best for you for example on websites. So this also goes back to social media examiner because they have so many crazy analytics and it like really detailed information. Right?

Steve: Mike is hilarious righgt?

Natasha: Yes. He is very detailed and I know they just hired a marketing manager so luckily some of this work will be passed on but he was you have he was doing a lot of this stuff, you know himself for years pretty much the social media examiner was created. And so what we noticed with the Opt-ins for example, which I had seen quite a bit with my clients before but we don’t necessarily use websites as our number one source of traffic or messenger Bots and that was quickly confirmed as well with him, especially because we are able to segment in Split test things like so detailed, right? So what happens on mobile for example with the messenger opt-in so that means the buttons as well as the checkbox and even the customer chat, you know that lives in the bottom right corner of the site any widgets that you add if you’re using something like many chat, you know, they have a bunch of different website widgets that pretty much just use the messenger Button as well.

Any of those options on mobile are usually not a great experience because if someone does use Facebook on their phone, they’re going to be using it on the Facebook app, right? Why would you go subscribe user? And so the problem is that messenger requires you to be logged in to Facebook on the browser that you are opting in from and because people were already logged into Facebook on their app when they see that they have to log in on their browser that turned off a lot of People then we quickly saw that in the numbers where we were actually getting I think less than or about 50% of the opt-ins through Messenger than they usually sought with email. And as soon as we turned off the bot there they were back to normal.

So it was really interesting to see that that really threw off people and I think it also depends on the audience. I’ll say that this has been different for each client, but it’s about 70% of our clients end up seeing a similar result with that because a lot of their web traffic is mobile, but the messenger opt-in doesn’t provide the best experience there. So that was just kind of something I wanted to share because in terms of traffic points people think about their website, right and kind of what messenger can do their desktop is great with the messenger opt-ins because obviously people are logged into their Facebook their but with mobile, it’s just not so in terms of other entry points, I’d say that Facebook ads and running page posts with the comments as ads are probably the fastest way to get more and more subscribers, especially if you’re, you know adding the bot to it.

System marketing funnel that you typically do as like add to landing page maybe to opt in to either, you know, webinar lead magnet whatever it is, maybe with an upsell right just as an example. So that’s probably the best way honestly to get subscribers really fast and scale and grow but at the same time there’s a lot of creative ways, you know, such as giveaways or like joint kind of collaborations or sending people from other platforms as well. So like what we’ll do is test out a messenger opt-in in as many places as we can and compare head-to-head with email. So I mentioned websites, of course, you’ll want to do that within your email newsletter Footers, for example or email signature footer as well as within your emails kind of making it clear to people. Hey, if you click on this, you know, they’re going to get sent to Messenger as well as on confirmation Pages for webinars countdown Pages for webinars again.

But pretty much anywhere where someone might interact with your company, it’s always interesting to just test it and see and if it performs better than email keep it and if it doesn’t, you know, then keep the For now, but our people into messenger at some other point, you know within their customer lifecycle.

Steve: So Natasha, I know you just recently went to f8, which is Facebook’s industry conference. Last did you gleam any insights on where messenger is going in the future?

Natasha: Yeah, they shared quite a few really interesting things and actually have my list. I should have brought it up, right?

Steve: It’d okay, just highlight the main points. But yeah

Natasha: So off the top my head some of the main things that they shared specifically for Messenger is one interoperability is the word they used for it, which pretty much means that announcement that they made earlier this year where they’re going to be integrating what’s up Instagram and messenger is still happening and they’re making it a priority. So that’s really big because even though they didn’t say here’s what’s going to happen for Bots when we do that. It’s implied that Bots would also take on this ability because how they explain it is a messenger user can now not need to have an Instagram or Whatsapp account, but they could Message Instagram and WhatsApp users and so thinking of that from the but perspective while you apply that same, you know, kind of concept and now Bots can talk to users across three different channels, which are two of the highest monthly active user messaging Platforms in the world, right?

So that that gives you an instant audience of like three or four billion people, right? Yeah, and it also allows for more International conversations to happen as well because obviously messenger and WhatsApp or both almost equally huge WhatsApp has I think like point one or two more billion monthly active users but combining those two like anywhere where Messengers not being used WhatsApp is usually the head and then vice versa like in the US for example, what’s up? It’s not the biggest but everyone’s on messenger and then if you go to like Mexico, for example, people are on WhatsApp and not as much messenger, but either one they’re both owned by Facebook and they’re both going to be a part of that interoperability Circle. So that was a huge announcement because they’re just kind of confirming that This is a serious thing. We’re going to make this happen soon.

They didn’t give a deadline for it. But I know that that’s going to be coming and then they also mentioned a messenger desktop app that is going to drop this fall. And that’s really interesting because I’m curious to see kind of what that will look like for the bot opt-ins for example and see if that brings in, you know higher conversions or faster kind of conversions from places like ads and in other places where people can opt in, you know from within or outside of Facebook and that’s also a competitor to iMessage now as well, which is interesting to see so those two were pretty big.

Steve: Are they going to fix the mobile problem where you have to actually opt-in from a website?

Natasha: they didn’t mention it. So I wish they had and at the same time because obviously messenger runs off of you having a Facebook profile or phone number. I don’t know if they would even ever be able to fix that. I’m sure they’ll figure out some sort of solution, but I guess the easy fix would be to send people directly to like the Facebook app to opt-in kind of like what happens with mobile apps right where you like try to login with Facebook when you download a iPhone app, for example, and the taking Facebook App you say OK continue as you know my profile and then you jump back to the app.

So that’s one way I see it happening, but I don’t know if they have control over this because some of the other things that kind of came up for example was you know, you can’t buy and this goes a little bit off topic but at the same time contributes to this, for example, you can’t buy digital products inside of Facebook Messenger and as a business, you can’t sell them and the reason is because of Google and Apple’s app policies that they have. So it’s not a Facebook thing. It’s the fact that the device that you’re on doesn’t allow that to happen via the app.

Steve: Yeah. I had heard that some point you would be able to buy physical products on the platform. Is that still the case or?

Natasha: Yeah, I don’t know if they didn’t mention anything about that going away. But right now you can do that, you know with the buy button or sending people to a checkout page. You just have to get pre-approved but from my knowledge, I don’t think they’re going to get rid of it. But I don’t know what their stats and stuff on that look like because you know, if you think about it, it’s not the most convenient way, especially for an e-commerce store right already kind of build up your site. There’s Integrations and stuff like shop message for example is a platform that helps you do that. But yeah using that buy button and having to build that whole system yourself is in my opinion a very slow way to do it.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah for sure. I’m actually using shot message right now for myself,

Natasha: Oh nice.

Steve: I’m actually working quite well

Natasha: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, he was at f8 as well.

Steve: Oh yeah, yeah Arjun?

Natasha: He is awesome.

Steve: Yeah, so Natasha, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I wanted to give you the opportunity to tell everyone where to find you and you know what you sell and what your business is all about.

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you. This has been awesome and I’m really glad we got to dive into a bunch of stuff that honestly I usually don’t get a chance to talk about because most of Podcast I’m honor more like General marketing and people aren’t super familiar with Bots. And so it’s refreshing to be able to like deep dive into all this stuff. So thank you for asking great questions.

For me what I am working on right now and how you guys can reach me. So feel free to connect with me across all of my socials. I do my best to check that and I’m pretty good at getting to inbox zero every day. So if you guys want to shoot me an email, it’s just natasha@schoolofbots.co not com. and then on Instagram Facebook and Linkedin, it’s just Natashaz_official and in terms of what we do at school bots. We at this point in help quite a few different audiences. So as you mentioned in the beginning Steve, our main objective is to just teach marketers and entrepreneurs how to use messenger marketing and how to build chatbots as well as sell them.

So we have a main program that we do this through called the chappa agency accelerator and it’s best for either beginning entrepreneurs or agencies that are existing that want to add chatbots, you know to their services and so we run that main program as a core part, you know of our overall company, but at this point we also offer Consulting we still do full service agency work for companies like Mind valley Matthew Hussey social media examiner all sorts of different kind of companies in mainly the info product space right now, but we take on anyone and we have a by agency Network where we can service pretty much any Niche within that network with through our partner agencies.

And then we also sell our messenger templates as you mentioned messengertemplates.com is where you guys can check those out if you want to kind of fast track through all those best practices and things that we talked about on today’s podcast and I think I pretty much everything we’ve got a ton of free content so you don’t have to buy anything from us you can we do.

Steve: Have you launched the channel?

Natasha: Yes, we launched it about two months ago now so we do three videos a week on their on it’s a lot of work. I will say I’m like, ah, I told Michael Bedros like we should only do one or two videos a week. He’s like, no we gotta do three. So right now we’re doing three maybe will increase but we have all sorts of different chatbot tutorials chatbot sales tips and strategies agency stuff on there, and we have our Facebook group as well. So if you guys want to grab free stuff from us, those are the two best places.

Steve: Well, hey Natasha, thanks a lot for coming the show. It was great. I learned a lot and we did get a lot deeper than I have in the past with my other chatbot

Natasha: awesome

Steve: So thanks a lot.

Natasha: I’m glad to hear that. Yeah. I hope it’s super helpful for your listeners and thanks for listening to my episode guys

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now right now messenger marketing is actually performing much better for me than email and I plan on expanding this platform going forward for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode270. And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence it post purchase flow win back campaign. Basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

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 and sectarian tools and make it super simple as well and I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your Ecommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free. So head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s privy.com/steve. Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store headed over to mywifequitjob.com and sign up for my free 6 day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

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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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!

269: How My Student Makes 60K/Month Selling Party Supplies With Amanda Wittenborn

269: How To Make 60K/Month Selling Party Supplies With Amanda Wittenborn

Today I’m really happy to have Amanda Wittenborn on the show. Not only is Amanda a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course but she was also a finalist in the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show, where she competed to win $50,000.

Amanda started AmandaCreation.com where she makes over 60K/month selling children’s party supplies online. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of entrepreneurship and how Amanda got started with her business.

What You’ll Learn

  • What were Amanda’s motivations for starting her business
  • How Amanda validated her niche before she began
  • Where Amanda produces her products
  • How she found her suppliers
  • How Amanda has grown and scaled her business

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

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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 deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today, I’m happy to have Amanda Wittenborn on the show. And Amanda is not only a student in my create a profitable online store course, but she was also a finalist in the five minute pitch. Now, Amanda makes over $60,000 per month selling her own invitation designs and party supplies over at amandacreation.com and she’s got an amazing story that I’m happy to share today.

But before we begin I want to thank klaviyo for sponsoring the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now, you can check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife.

I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s also sponsored the show. previous a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy’s an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 are managing email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. 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 can spend more time with your family 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 really happy to have Amanda Wittenborn on the show, now not only is Amanda a student in my creative profitable online store course, but she was also a finalist in the five minute pitch. My Shark Tank like show where she competed to win $50,000 in cash. Now Amanda started amandacreation.com where she makes six figures selling children’s party supplies online possibly seven figures by the end of the year. She’s been to my annual conference the seller summit multiple times now where I’ve gotten to know her and her husband very well. Anyway, I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking forward to this interview. Now that the finalists for the five-minute pitched have been announced and we are going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of Entrepreneurship and how Amanda got started with her business and with that welcome to show Amanda. How are you doing today?

Amanda: Thanks Steve. I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on the podcast too.

Steve: So Amanda, I just saw you literally like a week ago, but please tell the audience about your business. What you sell and how you got started.

Amanda: Sure. So I design creative and unique birthday party invitations and decorations and supplies that match those invitations and I got started out of my love of throwing themed parties. So I have three sons oldest is 13. I have a nine-year-old and I have a four-year-old and back 13 years ago believe It or not Pinterest did not exist. And so I know right nobody remembers like pre Pinterest parties, but I was throwing those Pinterest worthy parties 13 years ago. I like to go back to the very first birthday party I threw for my son when he turned one and it was this incredible monkey themed party and I handmade every single invitation with stamps and scrapbook paper and all sorts of stuff and I convinced my husband who he’s so willing to do anything, but he created eight foot tall balloon palm tree sculptures for the star.

Steve: Oh my God.

Amanda: So it’s just been a love of mine for a long time. And I think you know what happened is, you know, you have the one kid and you can hand make everything but then you have two and things get time gets a little tight. And so kind of out of just a wanting to still throw the theme parties but do it a little quicker, you know, I started designing things online so that they could be printed, you know multiples could be printed. So I wasn’t me hand making 30 invitations for and so it kind of just grew from there and I was creating all sorts of decorations like water bottle wrappers and candy bar wrappers and Banners and posters and all these things to kind of tie the theme in together. And of course then friends are coming to the party and they’re going wow, where’d you get this really cute stuff and you know, they found out I made it and then next thing, you know, I’m recruited to make all their party supplies.

Steve: Hahaha

Amanda: And so I did, you know, because I love it and you know one friend was like you should really try to sell this. And I had tried and I didn’t have a lot of success selling and I was like, I don’t know nobody’s ever gonna buy this stuff and then I opened up an Etsy store and sure enough people were buying it and so back then everything that I made was like a digital download so it could be purchased by the customer and downloaded and they could print it out on their own home printer and doubt and kind of assemble it. And just as business grew and as things kind of changed and I then you know had another baby, you know, I started to you know hone in on who my ideal client was and who I was really helping and you know a crafty mom there are tons of those out there but there are way more busy moms.

There are way more working moms who want to be crafty, but don’t necessarily have the time for it but still kind of want to have that that handmade crafted look and so that is kind of what spurred me to do more of a printed and finished product and you know, the ultimate goal being able to deliver those products right to her door and all she’s got to do is open them up and everything’s ready to go. So there’s no downloads. There’s no printing there’s no cutting or taping, you know, everything is just ready to go.

Steve: So back when things weren’t working what platform were using light before you found out Etsy?

Amanda: I had my own website at that point. I actually started with a digital scrapbooking store. So actually designing digital scrapbooking kits and the shopping cart that was kind of widely used in that industry was a Zen cart.

Steve: Oh, yes.

Amanda: Yeah free open card. So I had learned how to use Zen cart.

Steve: Okay, and then you moved over to Etsy and then you got that’s where you kind of validated that people wanted to buy your products.

Amanda: Yes. That was for sure validation.

Steve: And then I’m sure you found Etsy limiting at some point. And so how did it evolve after that?

Amanda: Well, actually I mentioned this to you at lunch. I actually got banned on Etsy about five years ago.

Steve: Okay. Do you want to tell the backstory behind?

Amanda: Yeah, I could talk talking about that because I think it’s you know, it’s kind of an important part of my story overall in that I had asked the Minecraft company for permission to design my own Minecraft themed birthday party supplies and I had gotten permission from them and their only request was that I didn’t use any of their copyrighted images or terms so I couldn’t call anything Minecraft. I couldn’t you know say creeper or Steve or whatever, you know Steve’s like the main character and so I created my own things and it was about two weeks after I had my third son that I got flagged for my Minecraft party supplies and being home with the newborn and exhausted and knowing that I had permission I just was like, okay, I’ll take care of this later. Well a couple more days went by and Flagged again and that was enough so that Etsy shut the story down. So then even though I contacted the Minecraft company and Etsy and cleared it all up that’s Etsy refuse to open my store back up and that was that for their..

Steve: So basically you lost all the revenue from Etsy pretty much overnight, right?

Amanda: Pretty much overnight. Yes. I had lost what I had built. It was about two and a half years building up products and sales and finally getting to a point in my business where I was actually making money.

Steve: Yeah.

Amanda: It was gone overnight. Yeah.

Steve: So let’s just make that a lesson to the readers that you shouldn’t depend on a single platform for your revenue.

Amanda: For sure, which is you know, part of the part of the lesson here right?

Steve: Why I didn’t give up their right. So yeah, where did you go after that?

Amanda: So after that happened obviously that was quite devastating and you know, I think I cried for a couple of weeks there with that and I kind of just poured myself back into digital Scrapbooking for a little bit and then another party supply company that I followed was looking for a designer and I applied for that position and I was hired and so I started designing the party supplies again for them. And that kind of sparked me again. I thought for sure I would never do it again. And that was kind of like the little bit of a push like no you really do love this and it was kind of this, you know, she can make this work I can make this work. And so I really just started trying again and I thought man, and I could get my own website working. There’s got to be a way to drive traffic. There has to be a way to make this work if I can just get these things in front of the right amount of people. I know it’ll be a success. And for another probably year and a half to two years like things just got worse.

Steve: Things just got worse?

Amanda: Thing got worse. Yeah. Yeah. I was trying to I was trying everything and nothing was working and you know, I ended up hiring a business coach at some point in there and working with her and she actually had got me started on doing a custom graphic design service for business owners and stuff and yet there was still this like nagging you the party stuff. It’s just that was what my passion really was and I was like, there’s got to be a way to make it work and it was 2016 or 17 maybe I can’t remember right now, but kind of mid year. I was like, you know what? I had tried to find a way to sell personalized invites on Amazon. And at the time there was no way to do that. And so at that time I said, okay if I can’t make what I’m doing work on Amazon, what could I make that will work on Amazon?

And so that’s when I had the idea to do the fill in style invitations and I thought for sure nobody would buy those because who wants to hand write in all their party details, but I thought I’m going to just try it. I’m going to stick some invites up on Amazon and I’m just going to see what happens. And so that’s what I did. I designed I think I started out with maybe ten invitation designs. I wrote the listings put them up there. They were horribly written. I mean everything was all wrong about it and I just kind of stuck them up there and said, okay, we’ll see what happens and it was about maybe two or three weeks. I had like my first sale I was like, oh my gosh, somebody actually bought this.

Steve: Were using Merchant fulfilled or FBA? for this..

Amanda: It was Merchant fulfilled. Yeah. It was not Merchant fulfilled to start and so I got that for sale. I was like, okay and now how do I do this? How am I going to print this? Then what are we going to do? And I actually printed it at Office Max.

Steve: Haha nice.

Amanda: So I like nice office fax what picked him up hand cut them out went to Michael’s but envelopes and like shipped off this, you know, half put together package to my very first customer and it was very clunky and it didn’t work and it started happening more and more and more. And so I was like, I’ve got to figure out a solution for this.

Steve: So where did you go from there?

Amanda: Yeah. So after they started selling more and more and more I ended up figuring out that Vistaprint would do white label shipping. And so that’s where I went next. So when somebody would purchase the invite I would go and place the order on Vistaprint and then it was shipped straight to the customer from Vistaprint with no Vistaprint labeling on it at all. So it looked like it was just coming from a printer and that was how is filling the orders there and it was about six months in that that was getting very tedious to do and I started thinking well and you know, when customers were buying these Merchants filled it was not quick.

So if you purchased an invite from me, I had a three to four-day handling time you were paying for shipping and all in all you were probably it was probably taking seven to 10 days to actually get it in your hands if not two weeks.

Steve: Okay, okay.

Amanda: plus shipping costs and I thought if people are willing to wait this long and they’re willing to pay this much and pay shipping. I wonder what would happen if they were in stock and they were available for Prime shipping. And so that’s when I decided I was going to buy my first batch of inventory and start with FBA. So I think that was January 2017 was my first shipment of invitations went into FBA and I was right, you know as soon as they were available for Prime they started selling like faster then I could have been imagined.

Steve: Do you know what the percentage increase was going?

Amanda: It was yeah, it was huge is probably like 10 times.

Steve: Oh, wow. Okay.

Amanda: Yeah, like we’re ten to one. I’ll sell ten Prime to one Merchant filled. It’s insane the difference in that. So we really cater to kind of the mom who really needs those invites really fast, maybe forgot that she needed invites or you know wants to throw a party quickly but doesn’t have time to wait or doesn’t want to print them, you know doesn’t want to have to go through the hassle of sending them to Walgreens and getting them printed or whatnot, you know Prime shipping just it changed everything.

Steve: So do you still you obviously don’t put all of your invitations upon Prime, right?

Amanda: No, actually when I design new ones, they always start Merchant filled. Okay, so they can pretty much you know, because I have ways to fill them if they’re ordered ahead of time and so while I’m waiting for the printer to print the first Batch of them, you know when they’re new I stick them up there for merchants filled and sometimes they sell I mean before they get in stock. I mean, it’s very common to sell some of the invites when they’re not in stock, you know, we run out of stock on some of them sometimes two and so I just switch it to Merchants filled and it always kind of excites me that somebody is willing to number one wait for them and then pay the extra shipping for them too. Then, I was like, oh this must be a really good design.

Steve: So how do you, what are your metrics for upgrading something to FBA and choosing to carry inventory for it?

Amanda: You know, I pretty much try all of it. So it’s very low cost for me to give an invitation to try so my pack cost is about two dollars and eighty cents for a pack of invites and so I’ll start with five packs because they’re digitally printed. My printer doesn’t have a minimum. Fourth because you know if I let’s say I start with 20 new designs, you know, if I buy five packs of each we’re looking at a hundred there so you can do digital printing with variations like that and it doesn’t have to be a hundred of the same design which is really nice. So it cost me maybe $25 to test a design on Prime and so I just do it because I figure every design is worth testing out.

Steve: Absolutely. So I’m just curious so you’re still doing everything printed in the U.S Right?

Amanda: Yeah, everything is printed the US and actually I use two different local printers. So their local to me only about a half hour away both of them.

Steve: I’m just curious for like your top top sellers that are just selling really well. Have you checked like how much cheaper would be to just have them printed overseas or it’s not worth the time?

Amanda: Yeah. I don’t know that it’s worth the time because the turnaround time on printing is so quick for me here in the It’s I can’t imagine that savings would be significant enough to deal with the waiting for them to arrive and inventory planning and whatnot. I mean, I don’t know how cheap it could be overseas, but I don’t think my cost is super high at two dollars and eighty cents a pack.

Steve: Okay, and just before this interview, I went on Amazon and I just look for you know invitations and that sort of thing. There’s a lot of competition out there. So I’m curious what you do to make your listing stand out.

Amanda: Yeah. Well, I think the number one thing that helps them Stand Out is just the design in general. They’re really cute. I mean, I’m not gonna lie. They’re super cute.

Steve: I’ve seen that they are very cute.

Amanda: Yeah, so I just have like a really different style and a different way of Designing and they’re bright and they’re colorful and I love bold colors. I love bold fonts and you know packing every inch of the invitation with some sort of fun design. So they stand out in that way all ready, and then you know, it’s if I had to guess that that probably is what makes them stand out the most because I do have a listing that I had professionally written and you know, maybe it helps but my price is higher than most and yet they still sell so, you know everything about my listings and the price point and everything says that I should not be selling that many and yet they are and so the only thing that I can think is, you know, the design is really what it comes down to if somebody’s comparing my unicorn invitation to somebody else’s unicorn invitation.

The higher price point lead some to believe that it’s higher quality, which it is when listing does say that it’s made in the United States and you know if they’re deciding which one fits their theme a little better and which one’s cuter, you know, mine’s going to win that way and now if you get the shop around Who’s like I want to do this part of cute, but as cheap as possible, they’re going to go to the competitor, but I’m not too concerned about that because people are still buying mine.

Steve: So, can you describe your launch process?

Amanda: Yeah, it’s so not fancy at all. I make new invites and you know, I get on a roll. So sometimes when I start designing I can design 20 to 50 new within a week’s time when I get going on it and I probably do that every other month or so where I’ll just like be bit by the creative bug and just start going. Once the invites are designed. I actually have somebody who makes all of my Amazon previews for me from templates that I’ve provided to her. And so I will send her the invite files and she’s got the templates and she’ll make all my previews. Once the previews are made. Then I have somebody who writes the listings for me also with a template that I’ve provided to her. She knows where to put in Keywords and right descriptive text and things like that and then she will write those descriptions and she will load those on Amazon for me.

Steve: And do you run ads?

Amanda: Yes, I do not usually right away. So usually I get them put up on Amazon and I don’t usually start the ad campaigns until they’re ready for Prime.

Steve: Okay, and then do jump start the review process in any way?

Amanda: I don’t.

Steve: Okay. So it really is just your designs and your listings. I’ve seen them. They actually do stand out. I think the colors are we make them pop too.

Amanda: Yeah

Steve: Which kind of brings me to my next question. I know there’s a huge counterfeit problem on Amazon. Have you had your designs knocked off at all?

Amanda: A little bit. So it’s happened a couple different ways when I was first starting I actually had somebody jump on my listing and that was it didn’t take long for that. I mean I was on Amazon like less than six months and somebody Had jumped on my listing and I found out about it because there was a one star review and the review said these look like a blurry pixelated copy of the actual image and I realized that they had bought it from another seller and that seller had basically just taken my image my preview image and printed the preview, which is not print quality at all. I mean, it can’t you can’t get a quality print out of that. And so that was one way that it happened and I was able to get them off my listing but Amazon would not remove that one star review, even though it wasn’t purchased through me.

So for that particular listing I ended up just closing it and I just started a new listing and that worked just fine so that I love when that one cells in particular because that was one that kind of like sat in my basement for a few months while I figured out this problem. That one makes me really happy. It’s going well. Now I’m brand registered. So people can’t hop on the listing which Is good, but what people can do and has happened is they can take the theme and the colors and they can make their own version of an invite.

Steve: Right.

Amanda: They can sell their own version of it and that that has happened with some of my better Sellers and I can’t stop that but I also am not too concerned about it because if I run the numbers on it and I look at how many they’re selling and the price they’re selling a math. And then how many I’m selling in the price. I’m selling math, we’re both making about the same amount of money, but I’m doing five times less the work and so I’m okay with that.

Steve: If you sell on Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge counsel because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecounsel.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

Yeah, so it has happened and you just kind of Let It Go are these like identical copies or they are there slight differences?

Amanda: Yeah, they’re different. They’re not identical and you know, nobody can really do an identical copy that I could have taken down pretty easily for copyright infringement. So to be a new design really only have to change 20% of the original design and to have it be considered a brand-new design and that’s for all artwork. So, you know, you’re just not going to you’re not going to be able to stop that.

Steve: Okay, and are you making any off Amazon sales right now?

Amanda: My website has been kind of in the works for the past few years, but I do have a few sales coming through on that and the goal from now moving forward is to start really promoting that website getting an email list up and going and starting to use social media marketing.

Steve: and what platform did you ultimately choose to go with and how much does it cost you to run that website?

Amanda: Yeah. So I have a WordPress website with a woocommerce shopping cart, and there’s not a lot of monthly fees. I do have you know the hosting fee and the there’s a couple plugins that I use but I would say like as is as it’s running right now, maybe under $300 a year.

Steve: Okay. And then why did you choose to go with Woo?

Amanda: Woo, wondering why I did choose Woo? I think it was recommended by the designer that like over In the store or so when I was switching from Zen cart. I hired a web designer to do the design that you see up there now and I believe we talked about it and that was the recommendation that they recommended and that’s why I went with it at that point.

Steve: Okay. Now today it’s the way you’ve grown the business. Is it just by introducing more designs?

Amanda: Pretty much. Yeah, so that was working for us. And so we just kind of doubled down on what was working and my thought process kind of from the beginning was okay. Well if I’m making a thousand dollars a month and I have 200 designs if I have 400 designs make double If I have 800 designs I’d make double and so I have an endless list of ideas for birthday party themes.

Steve: Yeah.

Amanda: I can’t keep up with them. So I just keep creating new ones and we basically are having success by having such a wide variety of invitation designs and themes and then picking those top-selling invitations and adding matching items to I’m like thank you cards stickers and other items like that.

Steve: So with more skews the inventory problem becomes a little bit more complicated. What do you use to kind of manage your inventory?

Amanda: That would be my husband? Okay, so super great tool.

Steve: So I understand you got your husband to quit his job?

Speaker 2: I did get my husband to quit his job. And that was always my goal. That’s why I liked My Wife Quit Her Job so much because I was like, that’s gonna be me. My husband quit his job. Yeah. He quit at the end of July last year. So we’re at about the nine ten month mark here, and he actually last year was it had 2018 January was when I had asked him to start helping me with inventory. So the ordering process and deciding what to order and figuring out what was needed that was definitely not something I was really good at. I was doing it on a weekly basis, but we were running out of stuff all the time. And so when he came in and he started looking at it, he was like, okay, what we need to do is make sure that we keep these things in stock because then will you know, he called it saw to thing, you know ramp up sell out and then we got nothing.

Steve: Yep.

Amanda: And ramp up and sell out and we got nothing and so he really made some great changes with the keeping inventory and stock and we started to see sales increased tons by having things staying in stock.

Steve: Imagine that.

Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. So that was a really good choice on my part to involve him and have him start doing that and he’s really analytical like that and he loves Excel sheets and data and all those things that I don’t love and so he’s the one who is in charge of deciding what needs to be ordered and how much of it to order and keeping things in stock and he does a pretty good job. I mean that was kind of our focus at Seller Summit was talking to people about Inventory management systems and what they’re using and looking into maybe some tools or maybe even like a 3pl.

Steve: I’m just curious. Was it a hard decision for your husband to quit?

Amanda: Yes and no, Yes and no. So you get two different stories, but I’ll tell you the truth. So..

Steve: Haha. Okay.

Amanda: You know the business had gotten to a point. We had talked about wanting him to quit for a long time. Our priority has always been time and time together and time as a family so the job he was working in he was not real thrilled with there was no room for growth or advancement for him. It was quite boring actually, but it was only three miles away from home and he could get in at 6:30 and leave at 3:30, which meant most of the time he was able to pick the kids up from school. He was always able to go to after school activities and because he was so close to home many days of the week we had lunch together or if the kids had something at school he could go to it.

So that was already a priority for us and he was staying in a job that he didn’t really love because he didn’t want to give that aspect up but then the business had gotten to a point where I would like wake up in the morning and I’m like, okay, I’ve already sold more than you make in a week. So may I start talking about this and he’s funny because you know, there’s that whole safety aspect of it all and so he would create a list for me like, okay. Well when we pay this off and maybe when we do this and we get a new car then I’ll quit my job and I would do his list and then he’d have a whole new list for me.

And so I think he was I’d like his fourth list. Let’s do these things and then I’ll quit my job that I think I might have had like a little bit of a snap out.

Steve: haha Okay.

Amanda: And I think I might have said something like you’re never going to quit and almost maybe dared him just a little maybe. And the next morning, he went into work and quit out of the blue. Like wait, what did you just do like what I thought this was you wanted? I’m like no. I just wanted to be on the same page. Everything worked out just fine. But yes, he kind of freaks me out and quit kind of out of the blue, but you know, we just kind of got the health insurance information, you know together and we made it all work.

Steve: Which actually isn’t that bad. I know a lot of people are afraid of the health insurance aspects.

Amanda: Yeah, the health insurance is bad in the cost of it. But you know, we just factored that into how much we needed to be making or the business need to be bringing in before we felt comfortable with it.

Steve: Yeah.

Amanda: So we’re covering the cost of it. I try not to think about how expensive it really is and you know put that on autopay and we’re good.

Steve: So let’s switch gears a little bit for the listeners out there who haven’t started their business yet. I wanted to talk about some of the more difficult parts about getting your business off its feet and many be any sort of advice that you could give.

Amanda: Sure. Yeah, I think getting in front of people is one of the hardest things and that was kind of the blessing of Amazon is that that platform is in front of so many people so the struggles that I was having before getting on Amazon, you know were being found being found on my own website. And that was before I found your course or found any kind of information on how to actually run your own e-commerce website and store and so Amazon was really kind of a blessing as a newbie to get out there put the product out and have some success selling it because it is in front of people and then I’m able to use the income from that to then build off Amazon. So, you know being found is for sure. One of the biggest struggles that I had and I’m sure it’s going to be as I’m now starting to drive traffic to my own website. So we’re just getting started with that. So we’ll see what happens.

Steve: Are you afraid of what happened to you on Etsy happening on Amazon?

Amanda: absolutely.

Steve: Has anything bad happened to you yet. Have you had a listing suspended or anything like that?

Amanda: No, nothing. Nothing bad’s happened. There’s been a couple like little glitches, but it’s not really been like of any of my doing so somehow one of my stickers got labeled as like a jewelry product and so it was restricted and they couldn’t figure out what the problem was and then finally figured out it was in the wrong category or something and I don’t even know how it happened. So I mean, there’s been like little snafus but nothing like scary.

Steve: Okay.

Amanda: But for sure it’s always in the back of my mind. Like I don’t I don’t want to be in a position where it could all be taken away again.

Steve: So can we talk a little bit about your off Amazon strategy? What’s in the works?

Amanda: Yeah. So the First thing was my website is going to kind of cater to a different kind of customer and that is kind of the more prepared mom. I guess you could say the one that is looking out months in advance for the party wants everything personalized doesn’t want to hand write in the invitation once the perfect invitation but they want the details all put on there. And so we have been working on creating like a customization aspect on the website where the invite is up there and the customer can type the details right onto the invite and then we get the print-ready file and we send it off to the printer and then they get them shipped right to them.

So that is just now being finished up. Our very first strategy is going to be building the email list. So I do have an email list from years ago. So we’re going to start sending out the emails again and really honing in on that list and making sure that people who want to get it are the ones that are getting it if they don’t want to receive it, you know, getting them off that list and just really kind of starting from scratch. I really feel like it is starting from scratch all over again.

Steve: What is your traffic strategy going to be?

Amanda: Yeah. I’m my strategy is going to be start going through every video in your class and working strategically through them to drive traffic to my website. So, you know, I think our focus is build the email list first. We are starting to post more on Facebook and really it’s just going to be a learning process. I mean, we are barely scratching the surface and we have barely just started this.

Steve: And in terms of just the print on demand like the logistics gets a little bit more complicated now, right because you’re sending out custom orders for everyone is that your husband’s domain or?

Amanda: Yeah. Well that the nice thing about that is that when the order is placed we will have the print ready file and then it’s simply uploading it to the printer system. And so that is something that somebody I have working for me is already trained how to do and so that will be somebody else’s job.

Steve: So does that mean you’re going to essentially fulfill those yourself? Right?

Amanda: Yeah all the orders on my website that are custom will be filled by us.

Steve: Okay.

Amanda: We do have the plug-in for FBA installed on there where my Amazon stores up to my website. And so the FBA doors will be filled directly from Amazon for some of those ready to go items. But we plan on having a whole bunch of custom items offered on that website to custom stickers with the child’s name on them custom water bottle rappers. Again, same thing like happy birthday Emma or whoever the kid is you’ll be able to put their name right on the stickers the water bottle wrappers and the invitations and everything like that.

Steve: Yeah that makes a whole lot of sense. So is that where you see your business moving towards going forward the custom side?

Amanda: For sure like pie in the sky dream of mine is to be able to personalize every little piece of a birthday party to make it extra special. So, you know, ultimately down the road. I would love to even be able to possibly personalized like paper plates and napkins and cups. So we’ll see. I don’t know the possibilities of that. I don’t even know what equipment prints those things but that is my that is the big dream.

Steve: Why not?

Amanda: It’s super fun to have your name like on your plate just they could be the coolest.

Steve: No totally and I know on five minute pitch you talked about a party in a box.

Amanda: Yes.

Steve: How is that going and what are some of the challenges with that and first of all, what is it for the people?

Amanda: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So party in a box is kind of like one of those also Big Dreams that I had I had the idea for probably about five years ago, but I had no idea what to do with it. So I just kind of it went on the back burner and then about two years ago. I was like, okay, I’m going to make this happen and I ordered paper plates and cups and napkins and they sat in my basement for a year because I had no idea how to make it happen and then, you know, I was part of This book club and we happen to be talking about like those dreams that are beyond your means and those dreams that you really you want to make happen. But you really have no idea how to make them happen. I was like, oh, I got one of those, you know, it’s party in a box.

And so we talked about like asking the universe for provide the means to make that dream happen. And so I was like, okay, I’m gonna do this University gave me the stream now provide me the means to make it happen and I kid you not Steve. I did that two nights in a row and the third morning I woke up to you can win $50,000 for your business enter the five minute pitch

Steve: ha ha ha

Amanda: And I looked at that email and I went no no way. I’m not gonna do this. This is so far out of my comfort zone. I can’t even imagine doing this and I close that email and then there’s like this little tap on my shoulder and it was like, well, you did ask didn’t you I was like, oh no, I can’t believe this is what I gotta do. And so I felt like compelled like I had to enter this contest, right and so party in a box is basically, you know it my goal for it. Is that everything you need to throw a perfect Pinterest worthy party with coordinating details going to come in a box ready for you to go.

So it’s about 11 products right now invites decorations stickers a banner everything you need the paper products, plates, cups napkins, water bottle rappers, thank you cards in a coordinating box. So the Box actually matches the party theme to which then can double as a centerpiece or gift box and even inside we have tissue paper that kind of matches the theme which is really fun. And so doing the whole five minute pitch thing and going through all of it was exactly the Catalyst I needed to make that party in a box happen and I actually launched the first five boxes, it’s like four days before the five minute pitch finale.

Steve: Nice.

Amanda: So it did happen and I did get the means to make the party in a box a reality. And so I don’t know if you saw me before the final but I was pretty much a hot mess over and.

Steve: we sat next to each other at lunch you seemed okay?

Amanda: Yeah, and I was like nerve wise I was totally okay, but when I was sitting there before we were going to do our final pitches and I’m like sitting there with this box and I’m thinking back to the fact that I had no idea how it’s going to make this happen. And here it is like in front of me. I was pretty overwhelmed. So I was having a little bit of a meltdown and just really really grateful that that is what came out of it. You know that I actually made it happen.

Steve: Yeah, and I saw the Box looks fantastic.

Amanda: It is it’s like better than I could have even imagined and making the boxes like step one right? Now, we gotta sell the Box because that’s all part of it too. But it was overwhelming to be there at in the finals, you know, make the final five and and have this product finished which is what I ultimately asked for right? Was you know, that’s all I wanted to give me the means to make this box reality and there it was and so like I went into the final just being like it doesn’t even matter what the outcome is at this point because I got exactly what I asked for, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Amanda: So I was just super excited to be there and super grateful to have made it that far and You know, there were so many other positive things that came out of the whole experience. You know, like my husband’s like are you nervous to be on Steve’s podcast? I’m like, no, it’s Steve. Like I’m totally excited because oh before you would have been super nervous about this.

Steve: ha ha ha

Amanda: It’s true. But I’ve grown so much and so much has changed just for me personally just having gone through that whole experience that I was just overwhelmed and like super grateful to even just be there. So it was a great experience overall and party in the box. It happened. There are definitely challenges to it. But we like I’m like this party in the box getting launched before we go. I don’t care what has to happen and I have to do I am launching this thing and so we actually hand cut the banners for all of the boxes that we want.

Steve: Oh, I did not know that. Okay.

Amanda: Yeah, because Banner the banner fulfillment or manufacturing is still one of the struggles and getting it to where I don’t have to buy 10 thousand banners of the same design so it’s hard and cost-wise, you know, they’re very expensive to produce. And so we printed them and cut them out ourselves and punch the holes in them and everything and they look pretty good. I mean, I’m not gonna lie they’re.. but obviously going forward, you know, we’re not going to be able to hand cut them all.

Steve: Sure.

Amanda: But that’s what we did for the first, you know, I sent in 20 boxes. So that was definitely one of the pain points of the box. We have found a plate cup manufacturer for a really great price and lower minimum quantities, which is wonderful and most of the other items we can print our printer can print napkins is still a little tricky that is still like a high order quantity for us.

Steve: Right.

Amanda: But pretty much we’ve worked out the logistics of the boxes and I think when we first talked on five minute pitch, you know, I was talking about it costing about Nine or ten thousand dollars to start a design in box form and we’ve actually figured it out to where we can start them for about 2,500 to 3,000 dollars.

Steve: Nice, nice.

Amanda: So a lot has changed since that very first, you know pitch of the idea and whatnot. And so to me now, it seems much more doable.

Steve: right.

Amanda: You know, I could start a new design for $3,000.

Steve: So Amanda, I want to end this interview with some quick fire questions that the audience is probably interested in how much money did you risk to start this business?

Amanda: Oh, none.

Steve: none. Awesome. How long did it take you to just get a product up and just start selling?

Amanda: Oh, well, I probably thought about it for two years before I tried it.

Steve: Well, how about once you actually sat down got started in and working on it?

Amanda: Yeah, I went away for a weekend and I was like, I’m figuring out Amazon this weekend. That’s what’s happening. And it really was not as complex as I had made it out in my mind. So once I had the design, you know getting the listings up maybe a couple hours figuring that out.

Steve: Okay, and then how much did you spend on marketing?

Amanda: None, when I first started I did not spend any money on marketing. It was probably five or six months in before I started doing PPC campaigns and pretty much I mean PPC experts close your ears. I just threw everything into an automatic campaign like everything and has let it just let it do its thing and my A cost was about 12 percent and I was like, all right. Well, hey, it’s not really costing me too much and I’m making money. So

Steve: yeah.

Amanda: I just let it do its thing, you know back to your how much they invest like when I started it was nothing. My very first FBA order was like about $750.

Steve: Nice. Yeah. I mean, it just goes to show that you don’t actually need a whole lot of money to get started specially on Amazon.

Amanda: Yeah. Oh and I also locked out too because I applied to be on handmade Amazon before I went on to I guess what you’d call regular Amazon and because I got on handmade my seller my $40 a month seller fee or whatever was waived.

Steve: Oh my..

Amanda: Through, Yeah through 2018 or something like that. So I didn’t even have the $40 a month Amazon fee.

Steve: Do you have any advice to people who are just kind of on the fence about starting something?

Amanda: Yes, I would say first of all, you just got to start I think you know, one of the things that I’ve learned along the way is that I can like think things to death and you know, you you’re not going to have it perfect. When you first start something the way I do things now is nothing like how I did it when I first started and the only way you know, that is to actually start it and get going and my other advice would be to make sure that whatever you’re selling has some sort of meaning to you. It makes it a lot easier to keep going if there’s some sort of meaning or purpose behind it when things get rough because they will get rough things, you know, things will happen and there have been times that you know, I’m up late at night trying to get things done or you know, it’s stressful around here, but it all is worth it because I really do love what I’m selling and I love what I’m doing.

Steve: great advice Amanda where can people find your invitations and your website if they want to see what you, what you’re selling online.

Amanda: Yeah, my website is www.amandacreation.com. No S in there. I’m on Facebook Amanda Creation. I’m also on Instagram and Pinterest and you could also search Amanda Creation invitations on Amazon and you can find a whole bunch there too.

Steve: And you can also find Amanda on the 5 minute pitch. She I don’t know how many episodes you were in actually I want to say at least 4 right?

Amanda: Well, we did three pitches

Steve: Right.

Amanda: Then, you know, I was mentioned in a couple Facebook lives. So that was nice too, but three official pitches.

Steve: Yes, so you can actually get more detail about the numbers side of her business by actually checking out five minute pitch over at 5minutepitch.com. So Amanda, thanks a lot for coming the show. This interview was a long time coming and you delivered fantastic.

Amanda: Thank you.

Steve: Thanks for coming on.

Amanda: Thanks for having me.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, Amanda is one of those entrepreneurs that I knew would be successful. As soon as we met and her business is killing it right now. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode269.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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. Klaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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

I Need Your Help

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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!

268: How To Rank An Ecommerce Store In Search With Dan Shure

268: How To Rank An Ecommerce Store In Search With Dan Shure

Today, I’m excited to have Dan Shure on the show. Dan is the founder of a boutique SEO consultancy called Evolving SEO and he is an SEO expert with a fantastic reputation.

He’s helped entrepreneurs like Nathan Chan of Foundr Magazine and Noah Kagan of Sumo.com with their SEO in addition to popular startups like Ring, and Hint Water.

He also runs a popular podcast called Experts on The Wire. In this episode, Dan and I discuss what it takes to rank an ecommerce store in search.

What You’ll Learn

  • What’s working with search engine optimization today
  • How to rank an ecommerce store in search
  • The right way to do keyword research
  • How to write clickable post titles
  • How to get the featured snippet
  • The main strategy when it comes to ranking a site in search

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

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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!
 

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!

267: The New Amazon Ads You Probably Aren’t Running Yet With Brett Curry

267: How To Run Amazon DSP Ads With Brett Curry

Today, I’m thrilled to have Brett Curry back on the show. Brett is someone who I met through Drew Sanocki at the Traffic And Conversions Summit in San Diego.

He has spoken at my conference, The Sellers Summit, for the past 2 years and he runs OMG Commerce which is an ecommerce agency that has helped over 125 companies with their pay per click advertising.

In this episode, Brett and I talk about combining Amazon PPC with Amazon DSP to grow your Amazon business.

What You’ll Learn

  • What is Amazon DSP?
  • What ads can be bought through Amazon DSP
  • How is Amazon DSP different than the Google Display Network
  • How does Amazon DSP compare and differ from Amazon sponsored product ads
  • How to implement Amazon DSP

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

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

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 bootstrap business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I’m happy to have Brett Curry back on the show, Brett’s been on many times. And today what we’re going to do is we are going to cover an entirely new topic called Amazon DSP. Now, if you don’t know much about this new Amazon advertising platform then this episode will enlighten you.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode whether you were getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow and with Klaviyo, you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now, I want to talk about Klaviyo is new entrepreneurial growth guide. It is packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content. This guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast, proven technology and countless support resources. Now, you can check out this free content now over at K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife. Once again, that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife

I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who is also sponsored the show previous a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do? Well previous an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 are managing 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 her an email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and what I implemented this form email signups increase by a 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.

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 Brett Curry back on the show. Now Brett is someone who I met through Drew Sanocki at the Traffic And Conversions Summit In San Diego a while back. He spoke at my conference, The Sellers Summit last year and he runs OMG Commerce which is an ecommerce agency that has helped over 125 companies with their pay per click advertising.

And I’m also happy to say that he’s speaking yet again at the Sellers Summit this year so if you want to meet the guy, you’ll see him in Miami on May 15th. Anyway, today Brett and I are going to talk about combining Amazon PPC with Amazon DSP which stands for demand side platforms to grow your Amazon business. If you don’t know what Amazon DSP is, stay tuned to find out and with that, welcome to the show Brett, how are you doing today man?

Brett: Steve. I’m awesome. Thanks for having me on really excited to dive into this topic is going to be fun.

Steve: It was great to hang out with you last week as well in person.

Brett: Yeah, man, that was great. That’s one of my primary reasons to do that event. Social media marketer. It’s a great event, but I love pain you know, guys like you and other speakers and it’s good time.

Steve: So Brett since you’ve been on the show before we are going to skip the intro this time around but what has been going on lately with OMG Commerce, where have you been seeing the biggest growth in advertising?

Brett: Yeah. So, you know, we’re growing as an agency. We’re up to 30 people now, which is super exciting and challenging and all that which is cool. So, you know, we primarily focus on two platforms. We were huge Google agency. That’s not talking about a seller Summit. So, Google search shopping YouTube lot going on there. On that side, YouTube is the piece that’s just kind of blown up for e-commerce Sellers and it’s been a lot of fun. I think we’re actually getting YouTube dialed in for e-commerce, which is great.

You know about going on three years ago now, when we started running Amazon ads or just a natural progression because we know search and a lot of similarities between sponsored product ads or now just called sponsor products, but those in Google shopping ads but less similarities. So serving those about three years ago and that’s been doing great. And we’re kind of leveraging some of Amazon’s new smart bidding. Some is not so good.

Steve: We’ll get to that. Yeah.

Brett: Yeah exactly exactly and you know Amazon DSP, which really we can talk about how it works and we’ll get into all that. But it basically the primary benefit is it allows you to remarket to people that visit your asons and don’t purchase. You can remarket to them with display ads that run across the web. And so that’s been that I spoke at Prosper Show recently James Thompson’s events event that we really well, but it’s mainly about DSP and a lot of Amazon sellers are pretty excited about the potential with that platform.

Steve: I want to ask you a quick question, since you run a ton of ads like how much has advertising increased in cost on Facebook Google and Amazon and just like the last year and what you’ve seen?

Brett: Yeah, it’s really interesting what we’ve seen with Google. So, okay. Let’s just talk Google in general. I think CPC’s have gone up. So if you look at search ads across the board. CPC’s have gone up. I believe though on the e-commerce side. It’s relatively mature. So if we look at Google shopping for back in 2012 to where it is today costs are definitely up but over the last year not a whole lot has changed because I think it’s reached a level of maturity where people are saying.

You know, because it is auction-based and you’re saying I can’t pay any more than this or that it becomes not profitable. So it’s kind of self-regulated. We did not see major increases for our search and shopping cost for most of our clients over the over the past year, but that’s because we’re running e-commerce campaigns. We still consult talk to like local businesses attorneys’ things like that. I think those cpcs are still on the rise to a certain degree.

Brett: What about Facebook?

Brett: Yeah, Facebook has definitely gone up and that that’s been a kind of a combination of Facebook restricting inventory. You know, trying to kind of clean up the feed and make users happy and you know, it looks kind of gone through a couple of crises but that stuff like going up right to the tune of about 30 plus percent. I don’t manage Facebook campaign. So I’m not in the platform very frequently. I understand it to a certain degree, but I know costs have gone up there.

We are seeing YouTube costs go up some so YouTube is one of those things where everybody’s excited about it. It’s actually we’ve got some ways to make that profitable costs are going up. And then with Amazon, so as we compare like CPCs are often higher with Amazon sponsor products and they are with Google shopping. But the conversion rates better on Amazon and so off probably.

Steve: Way better?

Brett: Yeah way better substantial better and some cases 3x better some cases. So the metrics still work but yet the CPC’s are almost always higher on Amazon and they are on Google shopping as an example.

Steve: Okay, and you know, if you guys didn’t catch the last interview that I did with Brett that was actually on YouTube advertising. So if you understand that you guys Check out that episode. I don’t have the number off the top of my head, but I’ll post in the show notes.

Brett: Great.

Steve: So Brett. What is Amazon DSP? What is it exactly?

Brett: Yep. So DSP, some people think it stands for like a display. It’s a shortened version of display. You do run display ads room is on DSP, but actually stands for Demand-side Platform, which will just means it’s self-service. So you get into the platform and you can build out your ad campaigns and things like that. And so basically what, it’s a layering of Amazon’s Shopper data.

So what they know about Shoppers and obviously hit they have millions of millions of Shoppers. And so it’s the layering of that data onto ad networks. So what we can do then is we can say hey I want to remark it to all the people that visit my asons either all of my asons or my top asons and I want to remarket or retarget those that visit those product pages and don’t buy and now, you know if they my product page and I’ll buy and a seminar on espn.com or MSN or something like that. I could run one of my ads to them to get them back to my listing.

Steve: This is very similar to the Google Display Network, right?

Brett: Absolutely. So it’s actually a combination of about seven networks plus some Amazon own properties. So it includes amazon.com also includes IMBD internet movie database, which is an awesome site if you’re researching movies. Amazon owns that then there’s Amazon publisher Services, which is a couple of kind of Comscore 100 sites that Amazon has control over. So that’s included.

And then there’s about seven open networks that Amazon participates in and allows you to run ads on. So basically those are other AD networks, you could advertise on on your own but what makes it kind of magical as you get the Amazon data that you’re using for your targeting purposes. So.

Steve: Just to be clear. These are the ads that kind of follow you all over the web on any arbitrary website, right?

Brett: Correct. Yeah. It’s standard retargeting. Right, which if You’ve been running your own website, you know, you potential been running retargeting for years and years. But sometimes Amazon will run retargeting ads on their own for your listings through vendor or whatever. But now this this gives you the option to do it yourself and it’s a pretty powerful.

Steve: Actually. That was my next question. I already see my ads follow around the web on Amazon, right Amazon’s running Those ads for me. So the question is why should I pay for them?

Brett: Yeah, it’s a great question. So one gives you more control right? You, you get to pick which of your products you’re going to retarget. Because Amazon is not retargeting every product that’s available on their site. So, you know, depending on who’s listening they may or may not have Amazon running ads for them at all. But usually Amazon’s not going to run retargeting ads for all of your products and not all of the time. So it gives you much more control.

Obviously you can see all of the data so you can see your cost per impression and your return on ad spend and all of that to kind of dial things in but ultimately just gives you more control and allows you to grow your business the way you want to grow it.

Steve: Do you have any visibility into because I still I notice an Amazon only runs Those ads for my best-selling products. Is there any visibility? Otherwise, if you’re not using their DSP platform.

Brett: Not that I know of, there may be something but I have not seen it. So that’s the other thing and I know you’re the same way Steve, but I love to see the data right? If we see the data, we know the data then we can make decisions and we know what to do. And so seeing that data is super important. Yeah.

Steve: How do I get access to this? And what are the requirements?

Brett: Yeah. So the requirements are actually a little bit steep right now. So you got a couple options. You can either go direct to Amazon and use Amazon’s managed Services where they’ll build campaigns. You’ve got a rep they’ll manage everything for you. We’ve had a few clients use that with different degrees of success, but the tricky part is they want to charge like 35 Grand minimum spend to get started.

Steve: Right.

Brett: So in that can be spent over a couple months, but 35k is kind of the minimum. You can also go direct. So DSP is the self-service platform you can get into that. Has a minimum too right now. It’s something at about 15K initial spends what they’re looking for. So that can be kind of steep for some people as well or you can find an agency like ours are there are others as well, but we meet all the minimum so we don’t have a minimum for people to run and test on DSP. So that, that’s an option as well. You also find an agency that has that direct connection to DSP and run your ads that way.

Steve: So just curious. Do you have to be brand registered like are than you requirements from the perspective of an Amazon Seller?

Brett: So you do not have to be brand registered. Yep. So that that’s not a requirement. You can actually run, there’s not a ton of restrictions on the ads you run. You could even run ads and direct people back to your website if you want it to.

Steve: Oh really?

Brett: Or or yeah. Yeah, they really are pretty lenient about that. It’s just a matter of you know, you’re paying for the you’re paying for the ads, but you can send them back to your site if you want. Or you can design your own ads obviously or you can kind of use ads that look like an Amazon listing and so that that’s typically what we do.

Steve: Well, so this is just like Google Display Network, except you have all the Amazon data.

Brett: Yeah.

Steve: You can take them anywhere you want you can put anything you want in the ad as well?

Brett: Absolutely. Absolutely and we’ll go ahead and fall apart.

Steve: I was just going to say can this be text-based as well as image based or is it just image-based?

Brett: Yeah. It’s all image-based right now. So you got kind of you know, the various sizes of image ads, you know skyscrapers and Banners and stuff like that, you know. The square ads 250 by 250. So yeah, it’s your standard display ad sizes.

Steve: Okay. And then can you target specific sites? Like how powerful is it right now?

Brett: Well targeting specific sites. You can Target specifically Amazon property. So if you want to choose Amazon and IMBD, or you can you can run just app ads inside the Amazon app. But we found that a lot of results from the open network as well. So we will build campaigns targeting both what kind of use your segment them, but the open networks work really well also.

Steve: What does that mean please? Open? What’s an open network?

Brett: Sure. So the open networks would be, networks, like AOL. As an example their ad Network or there’s other AD Network names that that basically they’re like an alternative to the Google Display Network. So it’s a group of sites where you could go directly to them if you wanted to and buy ads, but this is allowing you to run ads with those networks using Amazon’s data. Even cooler I think than placements because ultimately the placements are an important, aren’t as important as the people that you’re targeting right? So it’s really about the Amazon data.

What’s awesome is that it’s not just about targeting people the vizier asons or your product pages and then bounce without converting. You can also Target your competitors and you can also Target people that are just in the market so kind of shopping, browsing. So it’s really, I’m happy to break down those audiences for in kind of other words.

Steve: Yeah how do you the target your competitors?

Brett: Yeah. So this is yeah. This is one of the coolest thing so, you know, I’ve been in a Google guy forever, you know, and we’d always ask people are people always ask us. Hey can we retarget to people that visit our competitor sites in through Google Display Network, you know, the in the quick answer is no. You can build certain type of audience that sort of gets you close. It kind of builds a look-alike audience, but it’s called custom Affinity audiences.

But really you can’t you can’t quite retarget visitors to your competitor sites. With Amazon DSP, you can. So basically what you do you give Amazon a list of your asons, you know, either all of them or just the ones you want to advertise and then they’ll build a list of similar asons, right? They’ll build an audience of similar asons, which would be your competitors asons. And it’s actually an audience of people that have visited those asons but did not purchase. So it is literally retargeting my get people to visit.

Steve: Oh my Goodness..

Brett: It’s crazy.

Steve: That is crazy.

Brett: To clarify this like three times because the marker and me was nerding out when I when we first learned about it, but yeah, it’s people that visit your competitors asons and don’t buy. What’s also cool is that the audiences are updated in almost real-time. So if someone visits, you know, this competing spatulas page, they don’t buy now. They’re on my list for me to run ads to but then you know this afternoon they do by their taken off the list almost immediately. And so that audience type is extremely powerful.

Steve: That is crazy.

Brett: Yup, yup.

Steve: And then you can go those people back to your own site or anywhere you want to.

Brett: Yeah, anywhere you want, you know, usually we’re we’ve tested that somewhere we’re finding and obviously these are Amazon customers and Amazon Shoppers. So an ad that looks like your Amazon listing that points people back to your amp bacterium is on listing. Those do work best. But test whatever, you know, I’m always about testing to see what’s going to work.

Steve: Totally makes sense. So, do you have any numbers that you can share like what sort of results you’re seeing targeting your competitors? That sounds amazing by the way.

Brett: Yeah, it really is. So there’s a couple ways to look at the numbers. So when you run Amazon DSP get a couple different reports, you get kind of this direct sales report right that just shows people that click on ads and convert. And so, you know, we’re seeing in the high range of you know, 4x, 4x, 2/5x for those similar product targeting. So 400, 500 return on ad spend.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: Kind of on the higher side were seeing lows of you know 1 to 2, but that’s just people that click on the added by immediately. There’s also what’s called a brand halo effect. And this is something I’m sure you seen Steve and something that I’ve noticed forever. Once you start running ads, you’ll just see everything increase right direct traffic will increase. People you know, searching for you by name only increase things like that.

So that happens on Amazon, so Amazon will give ran halo effect report as well aware of the opinion. It’s a little bit greedy right now. I can I think it over Rapport so sometimes it’ll be like 3x what that is. So it’ll still say like a yeah 12x return on your ad spend when you look at the halo effect. I don’t know. I don’t know that I buy that so the truth is probably somewhere in between. Yeah, the results have been going out results for asons retargeting where your retargeting people to visit your products and don’t buy. That’s great. I mean that’s a no-brainer. I think that works for essentially everybody.

The similar targeting, you know or competitive targeting works for most people. But you’re not in all in all cases. So as an example for retargeting, I mean we’re seeing return on ad spend of 11, you know, 11x 20x from the direct sales report.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: You know, yeah. and then, and then the brand Halos higher but you know average your least 4x on.

Steve: That’s still pretty cool. I mean 11 X is crazy. These are just straight retarding ads where you just retarding back to the product they were looking at.

Brett: Yep. Correct, correct.

Steve: And are you able to put in your at exactly the product that they were looking at?

Brett: So no, so that that’s what okay, so so there’s a couple ways to do it. Basically what you’re doing is you’re Building audiences and audiences are based on asons. So you can either send Amazon single asons and ask for an audience for each ason or kind of a group of asons and ask for an audience around that group. And so if you their requirements as well, so you can’t do this unless you have Five thousand unique visitors per month to either one a son or your group of Aces.

Steve: I see.

Brett: So where that becomes tricky as if you’re kind of just getting started and I have a lot of traffic you may have to bundle all of your asons together to get an audience that’s sizable enough to Target. And then if you get a lot of different, you know use it you’re a sins are very different from each other that it may be hard to serve the right ad. Because basically you’re matching add to audience if that makes sense.

Steve: So basically it’s the dynamic aspect is not quite there yet?

Brett: You have to put there is not correct. There’s not a dynamic aspect. So it’s you building audiences and they can either be single product audiences or audiences based on a group of products. And then and then you have to run an ad to those people. Say there’s not a dynamic offering yet. I’m sure that will happen yet. That’s the way it works with Google and GDN which is a beautiful thing. So that will.

Steve: Force your Facebook already to so

Brett: For sure. Yeah. Uh-huh Yeah

Steve: So on these Ads like recently Amazon allowed you to run display ads on people, other people’s products right? And have control over that.

Brett: Yup, yes.

Steve: I’m just kind of wondering how that compares here?

Brett: Yeah. So those are those are really good. So those are from about the same thing and I think we are product charging.

Steve: Yeah. Product listing ads I think they call them? I don’t remember.

Brett: Yeah It’s a subset of sponsored products, but it is part of product targeting and just like with kind of like with Google Amazon changes the name of things, you know monthly it seems. But you can Target specific products and then, you know towards the bottom of the page your sponsored product or your sponsored listing will show there. And what we’re seeing with that is the results are really good almost identical to sponsor product ads that run elsewhere like in top of search and search results like that.

We are seeing volume is lower. So, you know some product targets work some don’t obviously but once we kind of down into the ones that work the returns are great. They’re just using not quite as much volume on.

Steve: Sure.

Brett: That’s but that is a great way to Target but that’s actually a subset of sponsor products. There is one other audience that was kind of interesting for display for DSP. And this is kind of a little a little broader. So, you know, we talked about funnels, you know, shopping funnels and things like that. I think it’s fairly instructive. But you know the top of the funnel that’s where people are maybe just becoming aware of your product or product options and then we’ll lower the funnel. It’s more of a comparison evaluation. I’m really shopping and comparing my options and then at the bottom its decision time. And that’s a, over simplified funnel, but we kinda get the idea.

So, you know retargeting that’s definitely bottom of funnel. The similar product argument that’s kind of mid funnel because that’s when someone’s doing some evaluating and they’re clicking on different products and trying to decide what to buy higher higher in the funnel than that is what’s called in-market audiences.

Steve: Uh huh.

Brett: So these are these are interesting. These are kind of based on category page activity. So basically you build, that you can build an audience of people that are in the market for organic dog food as an example. And that doesn’t mean that they necessarily clicked on specific asons or similar asons, but they were kind of on category Pages or there. They’re doing things on amazon.com to make Amazon say hey there in the market for organic dog food or there in the market for toys for kids ages 5 to 8 or whatever the case may be.

Steve: So they copied Google’s terminology here, right or is this? Okay.

Brett: Correct. Yep. Yep. So yeah in-market audiences at some of the Google builds as well. So this is a direct copy of that same thing happens though. Those audiences are updated in almost real time. So someone starts kind of shopping organic dog food there on that organic dog food in Market audience. Then later today, I you know, I buy my organic dog food now I’m off the list. So it does save you some money because what’s interesting about this platform versus others, is you’re actually paying for Impressions.

So we’re still seeing return on ad spend, you know, we’re really dialing in and looking at the return and all that and you can see CPC’s but you’re paying for Impressions so that that’s where it’s important that those audiences are updated in near real time.

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You know, this is really powerful a lot more powerful than Google in my opinion, right? Because people are actively shopping on Amazon in a category. So if I understand correctly this in Market is category based on Amazon.

Brett: It is category based. Yeah, and I totally agree like I mean, I love obviously love running Google ads and stuff. But Google will put someone in and in and in Market audience based on you know, what searches they’re making and what sites are clicking on but yeah, it’s kind of hard to tell exactly where they are in the process.

Steve: Yeah.

Brett: But your conversion rates are so high on Amazon. And so if someone’s on category Pages really browsing on Amazon that they’re likely to buy pretty quickly.

Steve: How did the returns look for the for the in-market audiences as opposed in targeting your competitors?

Brett: So as you could imagine, because this is a little bit higher in the funnel the returns are lower. So, you know, this is where we talk to advertisers whether it’s on the Google side of the Amazon side, you know, we like to say, okay we need to get an overall return that makes sense. Right? We’ve got to we got to watch our overall money spent versus money that we’re getting in sales, but we can’t necessarily the same goal for every ad type. Right?

Sponsored products. They should just kill it. You know, they should do great High return on ad spend or actually it’s sponsor products a measure a cost. So it’s you know low a cost but for in Market, that’s kind of top of the funnel see I don’t want to spend the whole lot like, you know, that’s a smaller budget item depending on how aggressive want to grow but the returns are lower. So, you know, we’re seeing on the high side like a 3X return on those.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And again, this is this is direct sales. The halo effect is always larger, but but you know, you have to trust it and I don’t really think I do yet. To kind of an average of between 1 and 2x return.

Steve: That’s If you just try to keep the Amazon flywheel going, right?

Brett: Exactly. Yeah, you’re trying to say, you know, because the Amazon loves you getting traffic from outside of Amazon, you know that can help with Organic rankings and those wasps and all that. So again, we like to at okay, if we if we look at all of our ad types is kind of a portfolio and we need a total, you know, return an spinner total a costs. Then let’s see where we you know, we just put a little bit of money to in Market because we’re always getting new people finding new people that way and so.

So yeah, we use this very heavily around the holidays for a large toy seller and man it did well. It was it just crushed it which that makes sense kill the market around the holidays and toys and you know impulse type purchase. So that worked very well, but yet it’s exciting audience type. I do viewed as a little bit higher in the funnel and so you just have to kind of budget and plan accordingly because of that.

Steve: Are you able to calculate lifetime value of a customer with this platform?

Speaker 1: That’s not something that I’ve seen yet. I would love to be able to do that. I mean, the oh that’s the other thing. That’s the other audience that I forgot to mention is as you give Amazon a list of asons, they’ll give you know, your retargeting audience will give you similar products, but it will also give you buyers. So you can you can find hey this is this is my list of buyers for these asons. Now you can Market to them and try to sell them something else right?

Steve: Ah, yeah cross sales.

Brett: Exactly so, you know, I bought a guitar. I did not buy a case. Okay, let’s run ads for the case or I bought the eye serum but not the facial mask. Let’s run ads for the facial mask. So it’s another way to kind of yeah cross promote and cross-sell.

Steve: Can you market to people who have purchased your competitors products or just looked at them?

Brett: Yeah, right. Now it’s just looked at them so that. And used to like when we first started doing this we could give Amazon a list of our competitors. Like he wanted we want to target these guys can’t do that. Now, It’s just all automated you give Amazon you’re asons you want to target they’ll automatically build that similar list. But yeah right now it’s just people that have visited those products and have not purchased.

Steve: And what’s in clear me is you keep mentioning that everything is in real time in people getting taken off a list, when they’re taking off a list is that when a purchase occurs of any type?

Brett: Yeah, so it’s near real time. So I don’t know what the actual delay it is. It seems like it is same day which is which is interesting. But it should be a purchase related to that category. So the way the way it was explained to me and you know, there’s always some of the some of these things that a little bit Black Box, you know, where you ask questions and you don’t always get super clear answers. But the example was given to me on the organic dog food as an example.

So now I’m in the organic dog food I go ahead and purchase them. I’m not in Market anymore. But then in 30 days, I’m back in Amazon searching again on category Pages. Now, I’m added back to that in Market audience. So it’s definitely one that you can you can be added to it again, but it seems like it would certainly make sense that it’s related to that I purchase that specific product. Or a product in that category.

So I know when it comes to the similar audiences and stuff, that’s did someone buy one of those specific products in Market. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten confirmation, but I think would have to be a purchase in that category.

Steve: Do you get to set the duration?

Brett: Yes, there’s remember all the options that I know. I know the Google options a lot better, but you can, you can set the duration. Yes. And I think it’s I think it’s default 30 days if I’m remembering correctly, but you can modify that some not as much control as Google. So like with Google as an example, you know, we’re building sometimes three-day audiences and seven-day audiences and 14-day audiences and then being more aggressive with our targeting in different Windows. You can’t at this point. You can’t be that detailed with Amazon.

Steve: Okay. Can we talk about the creative little bit?

Brett: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: Do you just take your GDN creatives and roll with it or do you create a fresh set just for just for these Amazon DSP ads?

Brett: Yeah, so we’ve tested it and you know Amazon DSP says, Hey run whatever you want. I mean obviously with some policy guidelines, but run whatever, you know, make the ad look like whatever you want to look like. So we tested it. We we’ve taken kind of our GDN looking, you know ads and we were Designers are really good really talented. And so we use some of those ads, but we also wanted to test you can kind of build these ads automatically in the DSP platform. It basically had just looks like your Amazon listing just you know, it’s got the Amazon add to cart button and it’s got the pictures from Amazon and ratings remember that just looks like Amazon.

Those ads always do better. They just do I I think it is one of those things that there’s some triggers there some visual cues or someone sees it I yeah, that was the product I was looking at. Even looks like the listing I was looking at and so the results are just better there. I think everybody still needs to test you never know but in our experience so far and we’ve done quite a bit of this the ads that look like Amazon there. Right now, they’re winning by a healthy margin.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And they’re easy to build to because you just build a right there and DSP the not a ton of creativity. There you kind of decide you want to pull in your reviews or Price or you can have ads that kind of rotate and show multiple things. And so that’s what we’re doing primarily. But yeah, you can be as creative as you want and essential upload any add to test.

Steve: So these are just set templates like I want to display these three Essence and it’ll just put together an ad with add to cart buttons.

Brett: Correct. Okay, correct.

Steve: Does it add to cart when you click on it?

Brett: That’s a that’s a great question.

Steve: Or better yet. Is it one click sell, one click page?

Steve: That is what, no it’s not one click. That’s actually a great question. I haven’t clicked on the ads. I’ll confirm it. I’ll confirm that we can drop it in the show notes, but not actually certain on that. My thought is that it probably does go back to the product detail page. Yeah, that’s super interesting.

Steve: What other levers can you play in the ad itself that Amazon gives you?

Brett: You can add headlines. So there are depending on the ad size. You can add a headline. So even if even if you want it to look just like your product listing on Amazon’s, you get the picture and the reviews and you know, the Amazon looking buttons. You can still add a headline and test that and you’d be on the ad size that may or may not be eligible to show if it’s a smaller add than you have.

Steve: So do you create ads for like all the different ad types? There’s like a bunch, right?

Brett: Yeah. So when you when you go in and kind of build the basics, it’ll auto adjust to fit those different sizes. So but we do like to write headlines and that’s something that, you know been marketers for a long time.

Steve: Sure.

Brett: And we seen the power of one headline versus another even in search ads or on a landing page. So we do like to test headlines for sure and but you can also, so to clarify you can build specific ad sizes as well. So 300 by 300 whatever like you just build those sizes as well if you want. And you can get to the smaller skyscrapers or the smaller. I forget all the names of them, but you can just create those individually, and It’s one.

Steve: And on mobile as well, right?

Brett: Mmm. Yep.

Steve: And you can you control like I don’t want anything in an app or a game or anything like that?

Brett: So there are some controls you can you know, you can choose only on Amazon only in the Amazon app. You can choose only in these open networks. There are there are a few things you can kind of restrict on where your ads show. But it’s not quite the same as against it’s a GDN now, although I will say on Google. They’re getting a little more automated where they’re kind of automatically excluding things like, you know, sexually suggestive content or violent content. You kind of you can opt out of all of that if you want to. And that makes it pretty easy. So there are some controls with Amazon but not quite the same.

Steve: It’s really didn’t use it. Maybe they’ll get.

Brett: it is. Yes. Yes. Exactly.

Steve: So DSP like to get access to this two completely different site, right? You don’t get this from Seller Central for example, right?

Brett: Correct, it’s not in sort of central at all. It’s actually just obviously Google Amazon DSP, but it’s advertising@amazon.com and that’s when you kind of go and get some of the details and there’s some videos about it and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s separate from vendor or seller its own its own platform.

Steve: So I know you run ads like across the entire gamut, right? So let’s say I came up to you as an Amazon Seller. So let’s say I’m just doing 1 million a year. How do you prioritize the ad spend?

Brett: Yeah, it’s a great question. So same way I would do if I was talking to someone, you know using Google and so their own site. I want to maximize that bottom of funnel first, but specifically sponsor products. So our sponsor product ads what they used to be called so sponsor products and then headline search ads which are now sponsored Brands. You have to be brand registered for that though. So usually to maximize that or at least get that to where get some good volume the return is what you need it to be, I would prioritize that.

Steve: Sponsor products and headline ads. I know they’re not called sideline ads anymore.

Brett: But yeah exactly sponsor products and headline acts. Yeah. Those would be the primary drivers just because the return is so predictable and it just works. So then as you have..

Steve: About the product listing ones, I mean in my opinion, those for me have been the highest converting ones.

Brett: You talk about products targeting..

Steve: Yeah I’m talking about

Brett: Where you learn how to talk

Steve: Exactly. Yeah.

Brett: So those that’s a subset of sponsor products I can,

Steve: Oh okay. Yeah.

Brett: Sorry lumpy.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: Yeah, so I’ve got a lump that together but I totally agree. Those are those are awesome. And now you can Target those specifically which is really cool. So I would maximize the budget there before I would look at anything. That’s DSP related and then if you, so, you know that this will vary from seller to seller but maybe you’re saying hey 60% of my 60 to 80% of my ad budgets going to go to sponsor products in headline search ads with sponsor products taking the majority of that budget.

And then I’m going to take you know, 20 or mittens that maybe like 10 to 20 to 30% of my budget going to retargeting once I start doing some DSP. And then I would just use you know, and like that 10 to 15% range. And now that I’m doing math on the fly I’m not sure hundreds..

Steve: Haha

Brett: We always give we always give 110% Yeah, I don’t know. But then the rest would be targeting similar products and and in market and then you know, you can always shift things as you go. But I think that’s the allocation that makes the most sense. And that you can really grow as you get that bottom of funnel built out high converting, you know, consistent predictable ads really push those first and put most of your budget there. And then start with a small amount and then ramp up as you see results with other, you know audiences and add types that are a little bit higher in the funnel.

Steve: So let me ask you this. Typically when I do retargeting like I do it based on duration, right? Like if they looked at the product within the last three days seven days 14 days and 30 days. Can you do all that stuff and ESP as well?

Brett: Not quite that detailed and I totally agree like that’s exactly what we do on the Google side will split even you know, product detail page viewers, versus cart abandoners and put these tight Windows on it. And will be be super aggressive for that narrow window and then we’re less aggressive as we go. So right now no you cannot be that specific.

Steve: Okay. So basically it’s just kind of like this blanket 30 days.

Brett: Right.

Steve: Okay

Brett: Right. Yep.

Steve: I mean this is new I imagine all that stuff is coming on down the line, but that’s just the way

Brett: yeah and depending exactly and so he like depending on when someone listens to this maybe Amazon or at least they’re releasing new things all the time and we’re actually we found out we’re fastest-growing Agency on Amazon DSP. So I get to go to the Amazon headquarters with my.

Steve: Whoo Hoo!

Brett: yeah going there next week with my..

Steve: Can you take a fellow Asian guy along too. I’d love to

Brett: Dude, Come on man, come on yeah. Let’s do it.

Steve: While we were chatting earlier before I hit the record button you were talking about like Amazon’s automated bidding and your experience with that. You want to just comment on that real quick.

Brett: Yeah. Sure. So this is one of those new things for primarily for sponsored products right where, we’re all we’re always a fan of testing new things were pretty big believers. In Ai and machine learning and it just because we’ve seen what that’s done on the Google side and how that’s changed performance there. So as an example to make a comparison on the Google side, they go uses smart bidding. Specifically Target return on ad spend or Target CPA and that’s basically where instead of getting up and getting down on your own. You’re giving the Google algorithm a Target.

So hit five hundred percent return on ad spend and then we found the algorithm now is so good. It will dial in and hit that row as maybe exceed it and help you get more volume. so really powerful there, but what was interesting is that first came out though, it kind of sucked like for about a year and then it got better and better and now, it’s so good. Google leverages all kinds of data that you won’t be able to ever see as an Advertiser. They’re looking at, you know, 70 million signals that they’re kind of calculating it at auction time, you know some cool stuff.

Well, I would kind of you Amazon as being at the same place we tested the bit up, bid down feature for kind of our top 20 advertisers or so. Just a little bit on a few campaigns here, there and the results were interesting to say the least so..
Steve: It usually means negative But yeah, yeah.

Brett: Yeah. kind of yeah. Yeah. So the 50% of the campaign’s just went nuts, haywire, like spending a lot just going crazy. So we pretty quickly mix those about 30% of the campaign’s just fluctuated too much too much volatility. Like there be one week where they’d be Okay one week where they would just do weird things. We couldn’t explain, so all-in-all now, you know like 20% did okay. But anyway to date we only have about 10% of a campaigns we started with actually still use the bit up and down functionality.

So just a tiny fraction of our campaigns overall. We manage are actually using that using the bit up and bid down functionality. Here’s what I know about machine learning and I’m not a programmer not a computer scientist, but the one thing that machine Learning Systems need to perfect their craft is data, right? They need lots and lots of data my advice to people listening is, let other advertiser’s Supply Amazon with data for right now. I would probably avoid it, you know, maybe test it with the campaign or two just to see how it does for you.

But overall it just increased spending and increased a cost that that’s what we saw that those kind of end of story. So I think it will probably get there, you know, if because Amazon’s pretty smart lots of other scientists and just some really smart people. So it will probably be a tool that will be useful maybe you know in the next year is the results will change but for right now I would say proceed with Extreme Caution and probably. Just wait a bit the bit down only which is kind of been around for a while that still works well. But bit up and down is a I would give that a strong caution and probably just avoid.

Steve: So Brett you’re going to be talking about Google shopping at the soda Summit this year. And I’ve been asked this question in the past, and I’ve never tried it so I don’t actually know the exact answer. I thought take the opportunity to ask you right now. People have been wondering whether you can run Google shopping for an Amazon portfolio of products on your site where you’re actually linking direct to Amazon in your feed. Is that possible?

Brett: That is not currently possible.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So Amazon has been kind of in and out on running ads themselves in the Google shopping results for longest time. They would not run Google shopping ads and then they were and so that’s kind of on again off again type of thing. You can run Google search ads to your Amazon listings and we do that a decent amount. It’s a great way to get you know, people off of Amazon to your listing and increase velocity and ranking and all that.

It’s hard to track currently, you know, because you can see the click and cost data inside Google but then you can’t connect that with conversion data because the Amazon and Google, you know won’t connect to each other that way. But you can only do that if Amazon isn’t already bidding on your keywords. So Google’s policy is for any given keyword, they’re only going to show one ad for a given domain. So if Amazon’s already bidding on ads for your top keywords, then you’re likely not going to be able to run.

Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still create it because you know Amazon may be bidding in such a way that you would win the auction versus them or what have you but you can’t have an ad and Amazon have an ad both to your listing or both just the Amazon for the same keyword so search yes with those caveats shopping ads to Amazon listings, No.

Steve: Okay, even if this is the structure that was thinking like even if the shopping at takes them to a page on your website on your domain with the add to cart button leading to Amazon?

Brett: You can totally put that yes, you can do that. Yep

Steve: But it’s just not track, the conversions aren’t trackable?

Brett: Correct and you can’t see it and we’ve had some clients that have done that where you know, they’re get their listing on the shop store, you can check out there or you can check out on Amazon. and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You may get overall more conversions, but it will make the data a little bit a little bit messy. There is a kind of preview some of that’s kind of cool that’s not really ready for prime time, but it is interesting. Have you heard of Amazon attribution?

Steve: Nope.

Brett: It’s a new tool. We’ve got done now several webinars kind of still in beta right now, but basically it’s a way to track campaigns off Amazon and see whether those people convert on Amazon. So basically, it’s just pixel-based but you’re creating pixels for

Steve, Oh yeah yeah, I have heard of this. Yes, yes.

Brett: Yes, it’s really cool you can search campaigns. It’s for criminals work on Facebook, but for Google search campaigns or the display campaigns or whatever the only not the only one of the drawbacks is it only works for vendor right now? So if your Seller Central you can’t use it, but it’s coming, you know Amazon’s working on in perfecting it’ll be available for everybody at some point.

So once that’s available. Now you can start tracking and seeing okay this campaign did lead to these conversions on Amazon. So that that has the potential to be a game-changer as we’ve kind of demo to I think it’s going to be a potential little bit confusing a little bit messy in the beginning but promising for down the road for sure.

Steve: Cool. Well Brett where can people find you online if they have more questions about DSP or anything advertising related.

Brett: Yeah. Would love to connect left to talk Amazon DSP one of my favorite topics or sponsor products. Or I can connect you with the true wizard of all Amazon ads and OMG Chris Tyler’s our director of Amazon, but go to omgcommerce.com. It’s the best place and info their info on Amazon ads. Reach out If you’d like to schedule a free consult, happy to do that, and then you can actually on LinkedIn. I’m also on Facebook happy to connect with fellow Amazon sellers and marketing nerds alike. Happy to connect.

Steve: Cool. Well Brett. Thanks again for coming back on the show.

Brett: Yeah, man. Thanks for the invite had a blast and I really appreciate it.

Steve: And I’ll see you in a month and a half. It looks like.

Brett: Yeah, just a few weeks excited about it.

Steve: Alright, man. Take care.

Brett: Okay. Thanks Steve.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode now. I’m pretty excited about Amazon DSP because Amazon has so much shopping related data that you can use to drive targeted traffic anywhere you want. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitjob.com/episode267.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now. I talked about how I use all these tools in 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 a 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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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!

266: How To Invent A Product From Scratch And Sell Over 300K Units With Kim Meckwood

266: How To Invent A Product From Scratch And Sell Over 300K Units With Kim Meckwood


Today I’m thrilled to have Kim Meckwood on the show. Kim was the winner of the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer and Scott Voelker where we gave away 50,000 in cold hard cash.

Kim invented an ingenious product called Click And Carry that has sold over 300K units. Click And Carry is a tool that allows you to comfortably carry a bunch of bags all at once and sling them over your shoulder.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of entrepreneurship and how Kim got started with her business.

What You’ll Learn

  • Kim’s motivations for starting her business
  • How Kim validated her niche before she began
  • How Kim designed and manufactured her product
  • How Kim generates most of her sales and how to get on QVC

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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Avalara.com – Handling sales tax is complicated. Fortunately, Avalara simplifies sales tax with real-time tax rate calculations and automatic return filing. And the best part is that Avalara already integrates with your existing accounting, e-commerce and marketplaces like Amazon, so it’s super easy to setup. Click here and get a FREE TRIAL.

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 bootstrap business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today. I’m thrilled to have Kim Meckwood on the show.

And Kim is the founder of Click and Carry. The ingenious invention that allows you to carry an insane number of bags hands-free that she was also the winner of the five minute pitch. And today we are going to do a deep dive into her business and her story.

But before we begin, I want to give a shout-out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is a 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, these are gives our 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 a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well and 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.

And I also want to give a shout-out to Klaviyo who’s also a sponsor of the show. Now whether you are getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow and with Klaviyo, you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email in advertising experiences. So I want to tell you about Klaviyo new entrepreneurs growth guide.

It is packed with must read blog posts case studies and getting started content. This guide helps you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth. Now moving to any new marketing platform can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now you can explore this free content now, Over at K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife. Once again, that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the my 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 Kim Meckwood on the show. Now, Kim was actually the winner of the five minute pitch my Shark Tank like show with MIke Jackness Gregg Mercer and Scott Walker where we gave away $50,000 in Cold Hard Cash to a single company. And that was Kim’s. Kim runs an e-commerce business selling Click and Carry, an ingenious tool that allows you to comfortably carry a bunch of bags all at once and sling them over your shoulder.

Now, it is truly an amazing invention that has sold over 300,000 units. Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to this interview now that the winter has finally been announced for 5 minute pitch. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of Entrepreneurship and how Kim got started with her business and with that welcome to show Kim. How are you doing today?

Kim: Hi Steve. Thanks so much for having me. I’m doing well, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be here and I’m really honored to be your winner on Five minute pitch. It’s huge for me. Thank you.

Steve: You know what’s funny about the five minute pitch, you know, we only saw each other virtually and then we finally got to meet in person at my event to seller Summit and it was awesome. It was great to see everyone in person.

Kim: I couldn’t agree more and I can’t believe how many great new friends. I have as a result of your five minute pitch. So thank you all around. I feel really lucky and it’s an honor to meet you.

Steve: Yeah, you know, it’s amazing how all the finalists got along really well and just started, you know, hitting it up. Basically.

Kim: Yeah, they’re pretty great. In fact, I actually have John’s product for my cat.

Steve: Oh, you purchased it already. Awesome.

Kim: Yeah, and I sent one to my mom to so, so prudence and Leila have a cheese.

Steve: Nice nice. So Kim, please tell the audience about your product what you sell and how you got started.

Kim: Sure. So I have a product it’s called Click and Carry and it’s just a simple handle device and it has two areas that allows you to put in as many bags as you can fit. Each side takes 40 pounds for a total of 80 and then you can secure them into place by rotating the top into place and then you either hold it in your hand with a comfy gel grip or even better you wear it over your shoulder and your hands-free.

It’s just very necessary for condo living or for moms who have to have a free hand for their baby or for people who just want to have a free hand to unlock their door.

Steve: I’ll post a picture of it in the show notes. So people can, sometimes you really have to see it in order to understand the product fully.

Kim: I agree and as you know, because you’re you were one of the few judges who actually had a Click and Carry, it’s one of those things where once you use it, you can never go back because it just really saves your arms and hands from getting the grooves from carrying so much weight.

Steve: Absolutely, so how did you get the idea for this? And yeah, how did you get started manufacturing? Did you start already knowing how to make stuff, or?

Kim: Okay, so this is such a bizarre story, but I have really vivid dreams and, in my dream,, appeared to Click and Carry but it was actually flat and it was a Jetsons ask dream where there are those flying cars and they zip in and zip down kind of like a helicopter. And in my dream, it was basically a line of those cars but one slot was missing.

So this car zipped in and zipped down and the Click and Carry was there it was in the form of an ex the cars zipped down it closed and then the train took off so I thought to myself. Oh, wow, that makes sense. That’s a way to secure things together, but you’ll still have room in the middle to put your hand. So I just modified it slightly. I made it a little bit rounded so it fits perfectly on one shoulder and then the product was born.

And the interesting thing is that I was talking about it for a while and I was sketching it. And at the time I was in medical device sales for Medtronic I used to work in Brain stimulation. So one of my clients she’s a neurologist at USC. She I guess was sick of hearing me talk about it. So she said you know Kim will you shut up and stop talking about it and do something about it. So I took her advice.

I actually met her neighbor who at the time was studying an entrepreneurial studies at the Pasadena design school. So I hired her neighbor to help me with the prototypes because the Pasadena design school had access to a 3D CAD printer so which was huge because at that time each CAD print was about $175, but if I had done it in just the real world it would have cost me probably a thousand each time.

I made a prototype. So with the help of this design student, I created the winner and once they had the winning clicking carry prototype, I sent it off and I made a mold in China.

Steve: How did you get in touch with a vendor who would make a mold for you?

Kim: That’s another weird story. Okay. So I live in a Condo building in Los Angeles and they call me the mayor here in my condo complex because I talked to everyone and just so happens that across the hall. There was this guy his name is Stewart and he worked for TIE and Tie’s the company that makes beanie babies.

So I told him all about my invention and what is trying to do and he put me in touch with his Factory that made the beanie babies. They were able to make a steel mold for me. And so I made the mold

Steve: Wait. Okay. So the Tie manufacturer you got in touch with them and they decided to make a mold for you?

Kim: Yes. Well, I mean, they also made steel molds. They didn’t just make Beanie Babies. They had, it was, it’s a really big Factory over there.

Steve: Okay.

Kim: But..

Steve: How much of the mold cost?

Kim: At that time, It was $5,000

Steve: That’s really cheap. Actually.

Kim: It is. But not when you’re bootstrapping. I mean for me at the time it was a lot of money, but the sad news is that I knew that it wasn’t going to work that it wasn’t going to be perfect. But I also knew there was a good chance I’d be able to modify my mold. So what happened is I received the first prototype back from the mold and initially, I’ll actually send you a picture of the original one.

Originally the slot where it turns it was just a straight line. So what would happen is when click into place, even though there was a male female parts prevent it from moving and dang stationary since it was just a single line. It was easy for the Click and Carrt to continue to move. So it just didn’t suit the purpose.

So I redesigned it and I made it kind of like a tooth and I’ll make sure that I get that to you so you can show your podcast viewers what it looks like but I changed the groove which also allowed me to modify my patent. So I ended up getting two patents from the same mold and now I finally had the winner. So that’s when I decided I did that I was going to take that revamped version and go and get a patent. So that’s just what I did.

Steve: So in terms of manufacturing the mold part, how much did it cost to redo the mold?

Kim: That was about $3,000 to modify the $5,000 molds. Luckily, It was using the same shape of the product. It just needed to be modified slightly so you could only take away from a mold. You can’t add to a mold.

Steve: Right.

Kim: So I was lucky in that sense that I was able to just take away a few things and modify it slightly. So ultimately the first mold cost me about 8,000 and my current mold cost about 25,000

Steve: And this mold is it’s in China?

Kim: it is in China. Yes.

Steve: Okay. And did you ever go visit there or was this all done remotely?

Kim: It was all done remotely and lucky for me the factory that I used to work with, they used to do a trade show in Orange County, California once a year, so I would meet them once a year here in the state.

And we would just talk to each other via internet. I should have gone but the interesting thing and sadly this is still the case in China if you’re a woman owner or inventor, you’re just not taken as a credible.

Steve: Mmm.

Kim: Inventor, in fact, many of the times when they were when they were in town meeting me. I would bring my nephew who I had working for me and my company and they would always ask questions to him, even though he wasn’t the owner or the inventor but he was a guy so

Steve: Right.

Kim: So I felt safe that they came here to meet with me. So it was a much safer way to go.

Steve: Okay. And so at this point you’ve spent $8,000 you have a new mold what happened next?

Kim: So I just started going around town and talking to local stores and I started sewing up farmers markets and I even did the Pasadena the Pasadena Rose Bowl, which is a swap meet that has I think 50,000 visitors once a month and I was just trying to get the word around and..

Steve: How many did you make in your first production run? I forgot

Kim: Probably about 5,000

Steve: 5,000 Okay.

Kim: Yeah.

Steve: And how much did it cost for that? First run, per piece?

Kim: Oh my gosh, they were really expensive and luckily I’ve turned things around but I think when I first started they were two dollars and nine cents a unit and then they ultimately went up to about two dollars and Seventeen cents a unit and that remember that’s not including importation taxes and getting it to the United States.

Steve: Mmm. So your landed cost was maybe around $3 or?

Kim: Pretty close. Yeah. It was it was pretty high. Luckily. I’ve modified the mold and made a new mold that and reduce cost but at the time that was what I had to work with and that was kind of a hard sell because it’s just a plastic piece of good. So people don’t want to pay a whole lot of money for it.

Steve: What was the selling price in the beginning?

Kim: It was $7.99 in the beginning.

Steve: Okay and two x mark yeah

Kim: Yeah. It was fine for me because I would you know, I was just bootstrapping it and just selling out of my out of my place. So I didn’t have to worry about getting margins for retailers and things like that.

Steve: So did they just fly off the shelves at the swap meets?

Kim: No, no. No.

Steve: Okay, I’ll let you continue.

Kim: They didn’t because it’s the kind of product that needs a demonstration and all of the sales that I made were made showing how it’s used or demonstrating it on a mannequin or actually physically showing the person they use. Once they actually had it in their grasp or over their shoulder, that’s when I would be able to sell them. But it was a one-on-one kind of thing. So.

Steve: Okay.

Kim: That’s when I really knew I had to really Branch out into the website thing.

Steve: Okay, and then so how did you start generating sales at the swap meets and that sort of thing weren’t working that well?

Kim: So then I started to get smart and I did research and I found out about a trade show in Chicago called the home and housewares show. And I knew it was a big risk. It was going to be very expensive. It probably cost me close to 10,000 to do it because I think..

Steve: So you bought a booth at the show?

Kim: I did there they have a section and this is great for young companies who want to get their product out there if it fits the genre. There’s an area called the inventors corner where you get a discounted Booth.

I think it was something like five or six thousand, but obviously that doesn’t include getting all your stuff there and you know having monitors to show videos and things like that, but the beauty of inventors corner is the fact that all of these bigger companies come in and try to find a young brand new company or brand new unique product and then they allow you to pitch your product to a panel.

When I pitched, the people on the panel were QVC, HSN, and SkyMall and companies like that. They were always looking for new products oh, Lakeland UK, which is a popular retailers in England. I was able to pitch to them. Unbeknownst to me, they really liked my product.

And the funny thing is I’ve gathered all of their cards and when I got home from the trade show, I followed up and I reached out to QVC. Bernadette of QVC didn’t call me back and didn’t call me back. I thought that was really strange. She seemed to like my product but then I got a call from the Bethenny Frankel show. Bethenny Frankel is the girl who sold this Skinny Girl Margarita franchise for I believe about a hundred million dollars.

Steve: Wow Okay.

Kim: I know, she’s a rock star. She makes margaritas and wine that they’re low-calorie and I think she’s well not I think, she’s one of the New York Housewives. At the time, she had a talk show and so I had applied for it months earlier because she would help a female entrepreneur once a week and a segment called Bethany, Bethany in your business, and I never received a call back.

But then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, I got a call from her people. And they asked if I would be interested in doing her show and I said, yes, of course because I knew I would get business advice from her. And again, she had just sold her company for something like a hundred million dollars. I knew I would get her business advice and perhaps a stipend.

I was expecting maybe five or ten thousand dollar stipend to help me in my business. And instead, I ended up getting a contract with QVC which was a Cinderella. It was crazy. It was such a Cinderella moment and it really it changed the trajectory of my business.

Steve: How does QVC work exactly? so they have a contract. Do you have to produce a certain amount of units?

Kim: You do. So it works in many ways. I was really lucky. They basically brought me in under their Sprouts program. So they really made it easy for me. Usually people have to pay for all of their inventory and they only get paid as they sell the product.

But because I was the Sprouts winner that year, I was the gadget of the year. Since I was the winner, they allowed me to have a guaranteed sale. So they initially ordered I think it was thirteen thousand six hundred units.

Steve: Oh wow Okay.

Kim: I know it was crazy. It was it was an interesting time because they made a lot of exceptions for me. Usually you have to have all those products in stock and I just didn’t and I had like maybe whatever the leftover what from my 5,000 units was. And they ordered 13,500. They filmed me. I filmed that Bethany episode in April.

That’s when they told me. They wanted to order the 13,000 units. I went on a month later, but the units weren’t ready. It takes about 3 months to create that many units at that time. It’s different now. And then like another month or so to get to the United States, so I filmed in May I sold out in 7 minutes.

And then customers were going to receive their products in August of that year. But the funny thing is I did so well that they added another five or 6,000 units too, to that initial order because I sold out.

Steve: So, did you have to front all that money for the production or did they help you with that?

Kim: No, I had a front all the money, which means I was out of that money from April until a month after it was delivered which was August 8th. So until September 8, I was I was out that money and then when they do send you the money they take away five percent because they count on returns. So.

Steve: What are the terms of the QVC deal? Like how much do they take? So you retail price before you said was $8.00, right?

Kim: Yes, yeah because I sold a set of four and they sold it for $25.

Steve: They sold 25 and how much of that do you get to keep and how much do they take?

Kim: I ended up keeping a little bit over five dollars a set. So was it wasn’t huge obviously. It was like well, let’s say about a dollar forty a unit is what I made. Okay. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time. But it was it was still okay, it was fine, but it was a real success story in that right after that delivery. They ordered 60,000 more.

Steve: 60 thousand. Wow. Okay.

Kim: Yeah, so I had to figure out how to find the money to make the product. So that’s when I made a really big error because I didn’t really know how to go out there and pitch and find investors at that time and I had to learn these things kind of on the Fly and my Dada just passed away. So I wasn’t going to ask my mom for the money so what I did as I use my 401 k because you sometimes you have to strike while the iron is hot.

Steve: Sure.

Kim: Though I knew I was going to have a tax penalty. I thought I was going to be 20 or 30 percent but it ended up ultimately being about 50%. I know, on a bright note though. I didn’t get that tax penalty until about a year and a half later. So I was able to really function and build the business in the meantime.

Steve: So 60,000 units menu had to front like a hundred and twenty k or a little bit more than that?

Kim: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Steve: Okay.

Kim: I think was like a hundred and thirty thousand and that wasn’t including shipping it to the US and oh one thing I forgot to mention about the initial order is you know, you have to keep your timelines if you’re working with QVC. You don’t want to set the wrong precedent. So my factory lagged a little bit and I actually had to fly the first order into the United States which cost me an additional 13 thousand which would normally have cost me like maybe 5,000 if I shipped it.

Steve: Right.

Kim: So.

Steve: So the money that you made from that first run of QVC, wasn’t that much was it like on the order of 20 grand then?

Kim: I don’t remember the exact amount and I should have had this prepared for you. But it was I want to say offhand I made, I don’t know, I didn’t want to discuss..

Steve: It was just far less than you needed to front the money. Right?

Kim: Far less. Yeah.

Steve: Okay far less. Okay.

Kim: Far less, yeah I was I was lucky I had the money in the 401K to be able to continue working with QVC cuz it and it was a great thing for a few years and I could I could go back and I eventually will but it was a really great thing.

Steve: So, okay. So you you borrow money to buy this production run for 60,000 units what happened after that?

Kim: So then I continued to go on until you go on until the units are sold. So I’ve I was on like seven or eight times on QVC. In fact, they even did a segment on me during breast cancer awareness month because I’m a Survivor. And they brought me on and they did a beautiful segment and I was able to tell people how you know, you have to believe in yourself and you know stick with your plan and try to get over adversity and do what you need to do.

So QVC’s been amazing to me and it’s been a really credible source, for example, when I go and I try to sell to other retailers when I say that I have been working with QVC for so many years they’re really impressed and they know that I have a quality product because it takes a lot to be proved as far as the quality of your product at QVC.

Steve: So there was a gap where you stopped selling all together, is that because that tax bill finally hit and then you for to produce anymore?

Kim: Yeah. It was a little bit of that in a little bit of, you know, I was to the point where I was just living off the proceeds from Click and Carry. That was great. But when you have these orders and that was at the same time getting orders from other places like Ralph’s which is a local grocery chain here in Los Angeles, you’re putting out all this money, but you still have to live and I was to the point where it was really hard for me to pay for my mortgage.

And more importantly for my health insurance because I was a cancer survivor. So I had to make the choice to go back to work. I kept Click and Carry alive and I continued to sell the whole time. But I had to go back to a daytime job just to just to make sure I was going to survive with Click and Carry.

Plus on QVC, I received 4.7 out of five stars. And that was after many many reviews hundreds of reviews. And the only negative comment, I would get on Click and Carry is the fact that it was difficult to open. So that’s when I realized that I needed to make a new version and I decided to back off a little bit on QVC to re-engineer my product and that’s when I met an amazing Mentor. His name is Mark and he invented the perfect push-up and he then taught me the ropes.

He taught me how to pitch to find an investor. He taught me how he used his Factory and how his Factory produced over 10 million versions of the perfect push up with very little error and he put me in touch with them. So then I switched factories and now I’m proud to say I’m with a new Factory. My new mold is significantly better in that, there’s very little error in the product that I produce and I’ve reduced cost and the amount of material going into each product by 81 cents a unit which is about a 37 decrease in cost. And that’s just it’s a game changer for me. It just it brought me to a new level and that’s, all thanks to mark.

Steve: This new mold. Was it significantly more expensive than the last mold?

Kim: It was, my new mold is 25,000.

Steve: Okay. So that was more in line with what I was expecting actually for the first round.

Kim: Yeah, that’s it was it was 25,000 and in the United States the same mold would be somewhere between sixty five thousand and eighty five thousand. And the per piece units were more expensive in the United States. I wish that weren’t the case because I’d prefer to make a US.

Steve: Sure.

Kim: Company, but unfortunately it was a lot less expensive for me to make my own mold in China and to produce there.

Steve: How did you get into Ralphs and those other stores?

Kim: All just knocking on doors, cold calling? I really used the clout that I had with QVC to get into these places. The same with the Container Store and Lakeland UK and then there’s a Japanese company called Essaouira Park. And it was all because you know, just being aggressive and getting out there and just doing your research or going on LinkedIn and finding out who the buyers are.

Steve: So what is it cold call look like? Like, pretend you were cold calling me.

Kim: Sure.

Steve: What would your script like?

Kim: So I have this cute little PowerPoint presentation and I had a printed out version as well and I told them about my success on QVC or I would play them my b-roll that I show on QVC. A b-roll is a, in my case. It’s a 53 second video that shows all the different uses of Click and Carry. I would show that to them I would tell them how the function.

Steve: Back up for a little bit. How did you get that first meeting did you cold call? Were you introduced by someone from QVC?

Kim: Glad you asked that question because I’ve missed that part right? I would send samples in the mail to them. I would find out who the buyers were. I would send a little care package. I would send pictures of the product in use. That’s how I would get my foot in the door. So many of those times people would call me or you know, email me and ask for more information.

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Okay, so they didn’t know you at all and you didn’t have any warm intros to these people. You just literally cold called them sent them a care package and then they reached out to you?

Kim: Yep. That’s right. In fact.

Steve: Amazing.

Kim: Yeah. In fact my buyer from Ralph’s. He’s one of my best friends to this day. He’s since retired from Ralph’s his name is Chris, but he and I probably talk once or twice a week. He’s in fact if I get to the point where I’m very successful, I’m bringing him on board for operations. He’s awesome.

Steve: It’s funny how these things work out, isn’t it?

Kim: It really is.

Steve: All right. So you have your pitch deck and I’ve seen this pitch deck obviously since you pitch this in five minute pitch. And is a very compelling pitch.

Kim: Thank you.

Steve: So I can see why after that you got into these stores. The one question in my mind is I imagine the margins are better than QVC for these retail shops. So how come the money from that wasn’t better than QVC?

Kim: Actually, no, I’m sorry. You’re not right. The margins are about the same and it’s because remember it at the time it was a $7.99 item or let’s say all the way up to $9.99. because that’s what the container store sells it for is $9.99. You have to give them a price so that they can make at least a 50% margin.

Steve: Right.

Kim: So it, I would say the average was about a dollar forty a unit as what I would make.

Steve: Okay.

Kim: Because it’s retail and I think I told you this because one of my issues with retail is that when people see it in retail, they’re not sure what it is. They don’t know if it’s a chip clip or if it’s one of those little gadgets that women hang their purse off the table with.

Steve: oh yes, yes.

Kim: So I actually need to revamp the way I work with retail and there’s this new idea now where there’s a mini screen that Loops a video and they could be charged with a UCB charger and they last for about six months and they continuously Loop a video. So people can actually see the product in action and see what it’s for, but I’ve actually pivoted and changed my strategy because of you and because of the other judges because you’ve opened my eyes and you’re absolutely right.

I was missing the boat in regard to selling online because the margins are significantly higher. I can make my money there and then I could afford to buy things like this little screen that would Loop a cute b-roll and show people the product in action on a show, at a store and actually relay the proper message. And so that’s what my concentration is right now online.

Steve: One thing I was curious about also is how did you come up with your pricing? Like was $7.99 kind of arbitrary?

Kim: It was kind of arbitrary and now I think $9.99 is probably the perfect price. In fact, I get a lot of feedback that perhaps it’s too low, but since it’s a brand new product It’s an Impulse buy. I think you have to kind of lower your cost to entry initially to get it out there. So I kind of think it might be a fair price at $9.99.

Steve: I was just kind of curious if you tested that at all because impulse buys for me are anything under 20 bucks like a no-brainer buy anything under 20 bucks.

Kim: Mmm-mmm

Steve: And I was just wondering what you could get away with. I don’t know. Just thought I just wonder if you do any testing on the pricing or if you got any feedback from people from QVC or the retail shops on your pricing.

Kim: No, I didn’t do any testing but see that’s that just goes to show why I am so lucky that I won the five minute pitch because that’s a great suggestion that you just gave me and that’s something I will Implement. Because I didn’t do any testing and the beauty is then now I’m concentrating online. It would be easier to test their and fast.

Steve: Absolutely.

Kim: Yep, and I’m currently testing a single unit on Amazon Prime at $11.99 and then a set of two for $19.99. So it’s incentive obviously for people to buy two. But I’m so I am selling units at $11.99.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there’s room for to go up. I don’t want to just preemptively say that but it seems to me that you could get away with higher pricing.

Kim: Thank you.

Steve: So let’s switch gears a little bit. So a lot of the listeners of this podcast are people who want to start a business and follow down your path. And so I wanted to get your perspective on some of the more difficult Parts about getting your business off its feet and what you did about it. What would you say was your greatest challenge?

Kim: Well, my current greatest challenge is showing people what it is because it’s basically changing the way people shop for groceries. My biggest challenge right now is getting the word out and product awareness.

Steve: What about in the very beginning when you first got started? Actually one question, I forgot to ask you is did. You know that this was going to sell when you started making it like did you have any initial orders before you create the mold and invested all that money?

Kim: No, I just knew in my heart and I know in my heart that this is going to be everywhere. It’s going to be like an umbrella and I know that sounds like a conceited thing to say, but I know I feel like that dream that was a gift from God. Like it was this is something that’s going to make people’s lives easier. Even if it’s just a little bit easier, especially people who don’t have cars or in third world countries who have to carry heavy things. It’s going to make lives easier. I just know it’s going to be out there everywhere. One day it’s just the challenge is getting to that point with a shoestring budget.

Steve: Sure. Absolutely actually. My next question was how much did you invest it sounded like $5,000 to get started with this?

Kim: Yeah. No, it’s way way way more I would say today, I’ve probably because I put a lot of my my proceeds back into it because it takes money to make money, you know, making marketing pieces packaging promotions. I probably put about a quarter of a million dollars into this business and much of it was the patents. And the multiple molds and shipping and production there. There’s a lot to it keeping up licenses every year.

Steve: I meant like to get your initial first couple of units for sale. So you spent 5,000 for the mold and maybe an additional production of 5,000 units, right?

Kim: Yeah.

Steve: So we’re looking at like 15 grand or so.

Kim: Yeah, that would be about right.

Steve: Hey, I know you’ve invested obviously a lot more over the lifetime of the product but also produced a lot of things as well.

Kim: Yeah, I have yeah, but yeah initially, yeah, I would say 10 to 15,000 like I did it as inexpensively as I could.

Steve: Then so once you had produced your product, I’m just trying to get an idea. So the swap meets was your initial strategy and then what kept you going? I mean when things weren’t going well.

Kim: Just that believe I just for example, when I had to go back to work because I didn’t want to lose my condo. Like I mean, I had already lost my 401k the anxiety level if I lost my condo on top of that I wouldn’t be able to handle it and I would be homeless.

So I just I knew that I had to step back for a little bit and be conservative but I kept the dream alive and I would work nights and weekends. Wake up super early mornings to keep the dream alive and it’s just something I know in my heart that has to be out there and I’m not going to stop until it is. I am not gonna stop until I can do just Click and Carry again because there was nothing more exciting than to wake up and to be creative and to work on your own dream.

It’s in fact, my days would be 12-15 hour days because I loved what I was doing and that’s what I would I would push to every entrepreneur out there who has something and has something that they believe is special, believe in it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Just keep moving forward because if you believe in it, there’s a reason and I really, I believe there’s a reason and I’m going to get this out there if it kills me.

Steve: In terms of your initial motivations for starting this, it wasn’t because you didn’t like your job or anything right? It’s just because you had a dream one night and then this you just knew that you had to bring this product to the market?

Kim: Yeah, actually, let me go back and tell you, I did love my job. I loved it. It was amazing and fulfilling. But when I first started talking about it when I first had the dream, I was in pharmaceutical sales, and I was selling this drug for Parkinson’s that was just a slight modification to the gold standard. It’s called was called Percopa, which is the staple of a Parkinson’s drug regimen is called Cinema or Cardio Levodopa.

The company I worked for put this product on the market as of a kind of like a Band-Aid because they were going to be launching a new product once it was FDA approved. And the FDA approval kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed.

So initially when I first met the doctor Jennifer who helped me to find my help me with the cad design. I had really nothing to talk to any of the doctors about because it was a slight modification on the gold standard said that’s when I would talk to them about my ideas and inventions and we talk about life, but then I end up getting a job with Medtronic and deep brain stimulation.

So it was a very serious job and it was a very exciting job, but what happened is a couple of years later, I was there for about five or six years. A couple of years later I ended up getting breast cancer. That was a really scary time and luckily everything’s fine. I’m cancer-free. But when you go through something like that life event like that you realize how short life is and even though I made it a ton of money. I didn’t really have any free time. I realized what really made me happy was working on Click and Carry.

So I ended up getting breast cancer in February of that year the completed all my surgeries by the end of March of that year and I decided right then and there I was going to quit my job. So I saved up all my money till the end of the year and then I just did something crazy and starting in the new year. I started Click and Carry and it was never so exciting as those three years where I just did Click and Carry. And didn’t have a day job and I can’t wait to get back to that place and I’m going to get there soon.

Steve: Okay, So last question for you Kim if you were to start all over. Again, and I never you’ve made your share of mistakes and whatnot. What would you do differently today if you were to start all over again?

Kim: Gosh, well, so there’s so many different tools now available to people and online sales have really blown up. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, they’ve all blown up. I would use those vehicles to get the word out and the awareness out versus starting in retail, which I enjoyed.

Those something that you pointed out to me and you were absolutely right. I started with the hard part first. The good news is now I know the Beast that is retail, and I know how to be successful in retail, but I could have made this a lot easier on myself by starting out selling online or starting on Amazon and that’s something that people now have the luxury to do.

Steve: Would you go back to that trade show again or?

Kim: yes, I would I wouldn’t be allowed to go back into inventors corner, but though I would obviously have to be more successful in order to go back. Because the booths on the regular stage are a lot more expensive than and inventors corner. But that Is just the end-all be-all for products like my product. It’s the home and housewares show is a magical event that really introduces you to a lot of people around the world.

Steve: You know, one thing I actually forgot to ask you to just popped into my mind. Was that worth getting was it a hassle and has it protected you in any way?

Kim: I wouldn’t say it was a hassle because I did it the right way in that. I actually hired an attorney was very expensive. I actually have two attorneys. I have an attorney for my patents and one for my trademark, but it was the best thing I could have ever done because it gives me the confidence to know that I’m protected at least in the United States.

If someone were to infringe on my patent, I am very safe. I’m I have two utility patents on Click and Carry, but even better the United States patent and trademark office did a story about me. They have a publication called it’s called, Inventor’s Eye and they put me in a segment called Spark of Genius. So if someone were to try to infringe on my patent, I’m not only do I have a United States Utility Patent, but I’m also in their publication so I’m extra protected.

Steve: So just curious have there been any copycats that you’ve experienced at all?

Kim: There have been 16 products since 1962 to carry groceries. But the reason I was awarded a Utility Patent is because mine is the only one that can be worn over the shoulders as well as carried in the hands.

Steve: I see.

Kim: But there’s a new product. It’s called grocery grips and it’s just a strap that you kind of Sling over your shoulder kind of like a hobo strap and in a way, I think they’re infringing on my patent to a small extent but it’s not truly hands-free.

So I haven’t filed any paperwork, but they’re trying to say it’s hands-free when in actuality. It’s not necessarily hands-free because you can’t you have to hold it with your hand down one side and it doesn’t evenly balanced though, the weight so it defeats the purpose.

Steve: So Kim moving forward, it seems like you’ve had a lot of hardships and you recovered from them and you’ve won $50,000 from five minute pitch. What are your future plans in the near future?

Kim: So my future plans are number one, I’m going to get the mentorship from the four of you. I am so thrilled about that. Because one thing I won’t do is waste money in the wrong direction. So I’m going to hopefully with your help take that money and I’m going to produce many ads for Instagram for Facebook for YouTube. I’m going to reach out to influencers who are let’s say Mom bloggers do-it-yourselfers for the construction industry. I’m going to use my money wisely. I’m going to do that because I’ll be educated by all of you.

Steve: Awesome. Well Kim where can people find you online and get a video demonstration of your product?
Kim: So if they go to clickandcarry.com, it’s C-L-I-C-K-A-N-D-C-A-R-R-Y.com, you can see quick video that shows how the product is used. It’s the b-roll that I use on QVC and it’s also available on Amazon Prime and the videos also there.

Steve: Awesome Kim. Well, you know what I like about you a lot? And this is what made you stand out in the competition is that you’ve went through all these hardships, but you didn’t give up and you’re in a really good position now to kick major butt.

Kim: Thank you. I can’t wait to get out there and kick major butt and I know I’m going to be able to do that. Thanks to you. So thank you for picking me.

Steve: And Kim, Thanks a lot for coming on the show.

Kim: It’s an honor. Thank you.

Steve: Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I just love Kim’s spirit, her work ethic and the fact that she’s not willing to give up no matter what the circumstances. And with an extra 50k and our mentorship, I know that she’s going to be successful. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode266.

And once again, I want to thank Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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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!

265: How To Be More Efficient With Your Time With Thanh Pham

265: The Secrets To Asian Efficiency Revealed With Thanh Pham

Today, I’m really happy to have my fellow Asian compatriot Thanh Pham on the show.

Thanh runs the popular site AsianEfficiency.com where he teaches others how to be more productive with their time.

He is considered to be one of the top thought leaders in the productivity industry and he has been featured in Fast Company, Inc.com, Forbes, Huffington Post, and The Globe & Mail.

In today’s episode, we uncover the lost Asian secrets of productivity.

What You’ll Learn

  • Productivity tips on how to manage your inbox
  • How Asian Efficiency gets its traffic
  • How AsianEfficiency.com makes its money
  • Top productivity tips for small business owners
  • The Pomodoro technique

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners, and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. But today, I’m happy to have Thanh Pham on the show, and Thanh runs the popular site asianefficiency.com where he spreads the long-lost secrets of productivity from the asian culture. Do not miss this one.

But before we begin, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast, simple, and repeatable ways to grow. And with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing, build your customer relationships, and automate your online sales. And it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneur growth guide, packed with must read blog post, case studies, and getting started content. This guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth. Now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating, but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now I encourage you to check out this free content now over at klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again that is K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/my wife.

I also want to give a shout-out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what is Privy do, well Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all 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 e-commerce. And right now, I’m using privy to display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up. Basically, user gives your 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 a hundred thirty one percent. I’m also using their new cart saver pop-up feature as well to recover abandoned carts. 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 preview.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 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 really happy to have my fellow Asian compatriot Thanh Phan on the show. Now Thanh is someone who I met at Billy Murphy’s mancation and we’ve hung out on several other occasions, including the men potential conference a couple of weeks ago. Now Thanh runs the popular site asianefficiency.com where he teaches others how to be more productive with their time. And he is considered to be one of the top thought leaders in the productivity industry and he has been featured in Fast Company, Inc.com, Forbes, Huffington Post, and the Globe and Mail and in today’s episode, we are going to uncover the Lost Asian Secrets of Productivity and with that welcome to show Thanh. How you doing today, man?

Thanh: Hey Steve. I’m glad to be here and thanks for having me.

Steve: So Thanh, we both turned 13. We signed a solemn oath to never reveal the Lost Art of Asian efficiency to the mundane world yet here you are spraying the hidden secrets of our culture to the masses. Please explain yourself. And what caused you to sell out.

Thanh: Hehehe well, thank you for introducing me in a way. Uhm yeah, I think you know in our culture we have this secret that I think everybody would benefit from. So I thought, “Why not let it out and share with everybody and not give the Germans so much credit for their efficiency.” And so, I thought let’s launch asianefficiency.com and spread the message. But it all seriousness, really started off as a passion project for me back in 2011. I was trying to figure out how to be more productive at my first job and I was so behind at work. I was losing clients. I was just so overwhelmed. I started to gain a lot of weight from all the stress and such and so I start to figure out okay, I need to be more productive because like behind and everything.

So, let’s read some books and let’s go to a bunch of seminars. And so, I started to document everything I learned and throughout the whole process in one year was able to read 35 books, listen to 21 audiobooks and drop the excess of 25 pounds or so that I gained from being so stressed out about my job. And so, people kept asking me all the time “Thanh, how did you do this?” “What did you learn?” Like, how should I go about this and I started documenting everything on asianefficiency.com which kind of started off as a joke and now is a full-time business for me. And so, I’m super fortunate to be able to do what I love and help people.

Steve: So, it’s funny as you learn how to be productive not at work, right? But with your own stuff.

Thanh: Yeah, I was just trying to figure out like, okay, if I’m like a few weeks behind at work. What do I need to do to change my life there? And then I started to learn all these different things and then I started to apply that to my own life as well. And so, as you gain control of your life you get more time you start to think, “Okay, what should I do with this time?” And I’ve always been somebody who’s really interested in personal development and developing myself. And so, I started to read more books and listen to more audiobooks and just trying to figure out like, okay, how do I get the most out of my life? And that is always been my guiding compass to say, “Okay, let’s maximize my life as much as possible.”

Steve: So how many hours do you work? Because I always see you doing two things shopping and traveling just curious right now in your current lifestyle.

Thanh: Hehe well, fair enough. I probably work anywhere between like 30-35 hours a week I want to say? Definitely few years ago. It was more in the 60s and 70s, so I definitely cut back a lot and I remember meeting you a few years ago and we were having this discussion was actually a Billy saying that you mentioned at the beginning and I remember you saying how, how little you worked and I thought that was really amazing and I was at that time trying to transition into that myself as well and it was the whole idea of something that you can have like set off the cuff as well. It’s like you’re basically trying to focus for happiness. Right? Like what’s the point of making more money if you’re you know, if that’s not going to make you that much happier, right? And you want to spend more time with your family or kids and only do the things that you love and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things that we can discover in life is that it’s not all the time about working harder, making more money, but also actually enjoying our lives throughout the journey and process as well.

Steve: Absolutely and we both know that you love Louis, right? So, Thanh…

Thanh: I think that’s partly an Asian thing.

Steve: So, before we get to the productivity section of this interview, I am actually curious how you built up your site. So, first off, we talked about it earlier. It is a seven-figure site. So, you make seven figures off of it. And where do you actually get your traffic from?

Thanh: We got most of our traffic from organic. So, we started back in 2011 and we just started to post once a week. And at the time I was having a partner alongside of me to help me with that and I said, “Okay, let’s publish something once a week and just share our message.” So, we posted every single Tuesday and over time, it just got so much traffic and traction that all the people than our friends and family started to email us and ask questions and we just kept this publishing schedule over the last eight years now. So, we’ve never missed a Tuesday ever from just publishing that over the last eight years has garnered so much organic traffic that, that’s pretty much our main source right now.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: And then over the last two to three years or so we started adding Facebook on top of that. Where we basically set aside a budget every single month and just spend that on look-a-like audience to kind of like get exposure to new people and then we run a lot of targeting on top of that as well. And so, that’s our main traffic source right now.

Steve: What’s funny about your story is that it’s exactly how I got started. I started publishing once a week and I’ve done it for the past nine years now, I should say? And yeah, just traffic just builds over time and the majority of my traffic is through search as well. So ha-ha, I want to ask you, are you very deliberate in what you write about? Or is it just kind of off the cuff? Whatever you think it’s going to be interesting.

Thanh: So, we have a quarterly publishing schedule so we know every single quarter ahead of time. What podcast is going out, which blog post is going out and over the years, we kind of tweaked it where we definitely started off by saying, “Oh, let me just write whatever I want to write about.” And that was completely fine. But, as our audience grew and we kind of got to know better who audience was what they wanted, what they needed, and then also matching that with the several products that we have nowadays. We are more strategic now in terms of, what content we publish, when it goes out, and what we should write about. So now we have our quarterly publishing schedule so we know for example, okay, if we want to launch this product on this month, we should probably write about that particular topic in this week. And this week leading up to the launch for example, so it’s a little bit more strategic now and we try to mix it in kind of like own accord off weeks where we just want to write whatever we want to write about. So, it’s still you know is fun at the same time while also having strategic content in place.

Steve: I guess what I was trying to ask was do you do and do you write your posts to actually target specific search terms?

Thanh: So, I would say tiny part of it. We know we want to rank for five to six keywords and we have like specific landing pages where we try to rank them and try to target them. And so, when we write publishing or and publish blog posts about certain keywords, we will try to obviously redirect all that traffic to the main landing pages and such. But for the most part, we really focus on solving problems. And so, we have this huge community called The Dojo where we have tons of people in there and we have a private forum and I’m talking to customers like five hours a week. So, I’m always in the “Marketplace”. So, I have an idea of what people are dealing with, what kind of struggles are having. I also review customer service tickets every now and then to kind of see what’s going on there and what people are dealing with and so I always have a pulse of what’s going on and that gives me a lot of ideas and inspiration to say “hey, this is a product we should create this is type of content we should write”. And then once we have that kind of like topic figure it out, then we will look for keywords to kind of match with that. So it’s kind of almost like an afterthought not the other way around where hey let’s try to rank for a certain keyword and then published content around that.

Steve: Okay, and you mentioned a bunch of things. There are private Community. Is that on Facebook or is that your own private Forum now.

Thanh: We have a private Forum. I think it runs on in vision boards. And yeah, we’ve been doing that for the last four years now.

Steve: Interesting. So what’s the rationale of doing in there as opposed to like Facebook groups? For example.

Thanh: We actually started off on Facebook and I think it’s mostly specific to our audience where most of my audience hates Facebook because they want to be more productive and going on Facebook as well.

Steve: That’s true. Yeah, I didn’t think about that

Thanh: Productive for them. So they all said to us. Hey, we hate Facebook, please move it away. And most of our audiences can go into code organized or they want to be organized. So they love the search function. They love to be able to revive old topics and look for stuff and we kind of realize that the form or having a private forum is the best thing for them.

Steve: Okay, and I actually, you know, I don’t even know the answer this how do you make money? Like, what do you sell exactly?

Thanh: Yeah, when people come to our website they can enroll in one of our courses. So we have about seven courses right now. Most of them are like anywhere between like fifty dollars to a thousand dollars. Hours and then we have a members area as well as our membership site for $49 a month or 350 a year.

Steve: So for the thousand-dollar course, for example, is that a high-touch course?

Thanh: Yes. It’s a high-touch course you work with a coach. So as soon as you enroll, you get a few sessions with a coach and then that coach will help you walk you through the program and kind of like help you stick to it. Make sure that you’re accountable for the things that you say you will do. So it’s a little more High touch and for people who want to have a little bit more personal attention. Where’s the other courses that are on the lower end. It’s all kind of like do-it-yourself go through it at your own pace and make it make it happen.

Steve: And how many people are employed by you right now?

Thanh: So right now we have about 12 people.

Steve: Oh, wow. Okay. So yeah actually have quite a few people and how many of those are coaches versus writers versus marketers?

Thanh: So coaches, we have two coaches and marketers. We have one marketer and then writers we have like four of them.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: And you mentioned earlier that you’ve branched into Facebook ads which I find kind of funny because people don’t want to be on Facebook and I guess the audience who aren’t productive yet are still on Facebook. But what is your ad strategy look like?

Thanh: Yeah. It’s actually really simple so I am of the mindset of okay, let’s publish amazing piece of content on our blog or have an amazing podcast and let’s share it with as many people as we can. So what we do is we will have a look-alike audience in Facebook of all of our customers and then say, hey, let’s target all of these people and just get them onto the website. So every time we publish a new blog post as long as we’re really proud of it, it should usually be published. And then also we want to send it out to as many people as we can. So we have a fixed budget every single month where we just say Hey, Let’s just get the word out there. It’s kind of like putting a billboard on the road and no it’s not. It doesn’t even matter how many options we get or how much traffic we got is really just like advertising in the traditional sense. Right? So we just want to get the word out there as much as possible. And then on top of that whatever traffic comes to that we will then retarget those people to then either join us on a live webinar or an evergreen webinar or a specific landing page where we try to give them some sort of lead magnets and get their name and information so we can follow up with them over email.

So the strategy is relatively simple, but it really just started off one thing at a time. I just said, hey, let’s start off with like five hundred dollars a month. So you just, you know, promote our blog post and then we just increase that budget over time. And then as soon as we start to get more traffic, you know, some people opted in some people didn’t and then on top of that we just added over time to say. Hey, let’s try to retarget everybody that came from Facebook and see if we can collect very name and email address as well. And then that is where we are today and we just continue to do that in just cycle that over and over and over again.

Steve: So you have you put out content?

Thanh: So we have a weekly podcast on Monday and then a blog post that goes out every Tuesday.

Steve: So terms of these ads does that imply then that you’re rotating out ads once per week?

Thanh: Yes and no. We sometimes we find a one of the ask just what just takes off right and you just never know which ad that is and if we see one ad just taking off then we just keep it running because you just what we’ve learned is you just never know which ad is going to really take off and the Beautiful Thing with Facebook is if an ad takes off a lot of people start to organically share it and then we’ll take a life, It takes a life of its own so you get a lot of traffic that way and so you’re not just limited to your own budget.

Steve: So these ads are just traffic ads?

Thanh: Yeah. Exactly. We just want to get people to the blog or to the podcast and just grow it that way and I’m not too concerned about how many people opt in or like take a specific action. It’s really just like hey, let’s get the word out. And as long as you have a profitable business in my opinion, that’s one of the best things you can spend your money on is just to get the word out.

Steve: What do you consider a good ad versus a bad ad I guess in terms of how much money you’re paying per click?

Thanh: Yeah, so I don’t even look at the like cost-per-click or anything like that like to me a good ad is when people are organically sharing the ad so that’s why we know the content is really good and it’s resonating and the ad itself is really good. So when people are organically sharing a ton of ads then I know OK that’s the thing that’s resonating. We should continue to publish that even more

Steve: What are certain guideline for like share percentage?

Thanh: No, like as we see like as long as we get over like 10 shares or something that’s probably something worthwhile continuing to maximize and optimize.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: So it’s really simple because the flip side is if nobody sharing this ad then the ad as probably not that great. And also if a lot of people are just like, you know skipping it or just not checking out the the post then we have that data. So we just try to continuously, you know evolved that strategy.

Steve: Okay. So basically it’s you looking at shares rather than likes and comments for the most part?

Thanh: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: Yeah, because I just know that the more people share this stuff the more it’s resonating and the more benefit we get as well, right so we know that the content is good. This is something that’s obviously very helpful. It makes certain people look good as well, right? Like a lot of people want to share stuff because it makes them look good. And so if we can accomplish these things with our ad and contents then I think that’s a winning strategy and then if you see that taking off, then it’s worthwhile to put in extra money in there because now, you know more and more people are going to come to the website.

Steve: So you mentioned you have seven courses and you do a lot of email marketing. Does that imply that you have seven different funnels that kind of funnel different products? Like how do you organize your email funnels?

Thanh: Yeah, so when people come to the site they can basically buy like three or four products. So we have like an evergreen webinar. We actually have two of them now so people can join one of them and then usually most of them funnel into the members area. So the membership site that we have and that’s really the main focus we want to get as many members as we can that’s kind of our strategy but sometimes people don’t want to subscribe to a subscription right away and sometimes they just want to buy something first and then decide later on to join the members area. And so we have a few lower ticket items that people can buy and then say hey, oh just this content is great. This has been really helpful. And then from there we try to get them into the members area or some higher ticket programs on the back end.

So it’s a very simple strategy in terms of like come to the site join the members area. Okay, if you’re not interested, That right now then you can buy one of our other lower ticket products kind of get some few quick wins. See that what we do actually works and as legitimate as well and it’s helpful. And then from there, you know, it’s up to you to decide like how you want to evolve, you know your own life and how you want to maximize your time.

Steve: How much is the members area cost?

Thanh: So right now it’s $49 a month or three hundred fifty dollars a year.

Steve: Okay. And then so how long is this sequence to get them to pay $50 a month?

Thanh: So the sequence that get them into the members area is right now, I believe like seven or eight months or something

Steve: a seven or eight month email funnel?

Thanh: Well, once people get on the campaign, you know, we will try to get them on the webinar.

Steve: I see.

Thanh: That’s the most effective strategy I find terms of getting people in the members area, but that campaign will keep running for eight months basically. So.

Steve: I se.

Thanh: It’s like an evergreen process. So some people you know are ready to jump in right away and some people it takes a few months to kind of, you know convince them to join. And so I also don’t know what the right length is, but we just found out that we have eight months of content that we can give them.

Steve: Right.

Thanh: And not every single email is like hey, you should join the webinar or hey, you should join the members area. Some of the emails are just like hey, here’s some useful contents for you to you know look into but it’s strategic in the sense that it’s hopefully getting them closer to joining the members area at some point.

Steve: And you mentioned you run webinars are those Auto webinars are those live webinars?

Thanh: So we have about to live webinars every single month that we do and then we have to automate a webinars as well. So the automated ones there on the website you can find them there when you join our email list, you’re going to get the opportunity to join one of them as well. So we have basically to “sales processes” going on all the time that people can join plus, you know, the email funnel itself and then the live webinar we do about twice a month as well to talk about specific topics something that’s little bit more up to date of what’s going on sort of in our industry and then also have a good time with people.
Steve: Are they all different content all the four webinars?

Thanh: Yes. Yep. So the to automated ones are completely different. They talk about very different topics. So for example one is more about habits. The other one is more about Focus. These are two things that we see in most people struggle with so we decide to make ever Evergreen webinars around that and then the live webinar is more about like, oh, let’s pick a topic every single month and then talk about that and it’s really just partly fun. But also partly just you know show people some of the advanced strategies that people can learn when they join the members area.

Steve: And those webinars that they funneling to the members area or specific classes?

Thanh: Most of them are for the members area

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: Because the product that we really want most people that buy and join because once you become a member you also get access to all the other high ticket courses that we have as well. So it’s almost like a no-brainer.

Steve: It’s like a gateway drug. So to speak.

Thanh: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Steve: Okay and just curious. What is your turn right look like on the membership site and how do you keep people interested?

Thanh: Yeah. So one of the things I’ve learned is that you know, when you started off building courses, you sometimes have the mindset and or at least as was the case for me like this is an evergreen product. So let’s just build it and then just try to get as many people as we can and what I learned from the membership site is that it’s really evolving product. It just changes every single month in terms of like what we introduce what we take away and it’s like a product that is just constant evolving and improving. And when we first started off the average Troon in terms of Lifetime, Lifetime is the easier way to calculate.

Steve: Sure. Yeah.

Thanh: For you is roughly like seven months or so.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: So we find out that’s okay, on average when people join they stay for about seven months. Hence why the pricing is also annually at 350.

Steve: Right.

Thanh: For us, because we just know that okay, that’s the average price that people are willing to stay on for a while. And then from there is just making tweaks and opportunities to make it better. So we run sprints in our company. So we have like a scrum methodology in terms of how we run everything. So every two weeks we have like things we need to do like publishing content, you know recording a podcast and such but also we always try to add one or two things in there to improve the members area as well. So we always have like little tweaks and fixes that we introduced and a lot of that comes from the feedback that I get from either, you know talking to people that are in there or what we see are happening on the forum or we have a private slack as well. We kind of see what’s going on. There and then also from a customer success team where they are interacting with people and they’re getting you know bugs, bug fixes submitted to them as well. And so we try to like evolve and fix it all the time.

Steve: So let me ask you this. You mentioned your lifetime values about a 350 bucks. So why not charge like five hundred dollars and give them life time and have payment plans?

Thanh: Yeah. That’s the thing that we thought about as well. And the bury we ran into was like the whole price point, what people are willing to pay per month and then also per year as well. So we’ve done a lot of testing around that and we just found that like over 49. It was almost I wouldn’t say impossible but it was definitely more challenging to get people in versus, let’s say it’s like we saw no difference between 39 and 49 for example.

Steve: I see.

Thanh: And we started off at 29 that’s when we first started off like four years ago. And so we moved around to like 69 to 99 to 150. We’ve tried all sorts of different things and it seems like 49 is the sweet spot for us.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: And yeah, we also you know, anybody that’s listening you just never know until you test. And testing can also take a lot of time because you know, when you test a new price when you have two tests are going how long do they then stay on right? Because if you get somebody a 39 versus 49. if the turn rate is exactly the same then that’s great that you can charge $49. But sometimes you won’t know until you know, eight months later because our lifetime was about seven months. So we had to wait.

Steve: Right, yeah.

Thanh: Eight or nine months or 12 months sometimes to kind of see what’s going on there. So if anybody that’s listening right now, you haven’t run any tests yet. I would say, you know start sooner than later because there’s a big waiting game that has to happen.

Steve: in terms of lead Gen. Would you say that your podcast is more effective or your blog?

Thanh: Oh by far? It’s the blog.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: I think the Podcast, I always have a love-hate relationship with the podcast because I love the podcast, it’s engaging, it’s so intimate. People love the contents and it’s a great way to stay in touch with people. but as you probably have seen as well, It’s a terrible way for getting people to take action on something.

Steve: Right.

Thanh: Because the conversion of the so low from hey, I’m gonna make you this offer on the podcast and then actually seeing people take action on that compared to the download numbers is really low. So what we found is that the block is the most effective way of generating leads for us, but the podcast is the most effective way for keeping people in the members area.

So an interesting Insight that we’ve had is we had the members area before we had the podcast and what we found is that most members who are in there are podcast listeners and then also once we introduce the podcast we noticed that our turn rate went down. And this is before started introducing a new sort of fixes and changing the product and stuff. And so what we found from also talking to our members in such is that whether they admit it or not, they almost like subconsciously associate the podcast with being a member. And so, the more amazing content we put out when it comes to the podcast the longer at this stay on in our members area. And so what we found is that the pockets is a great retention tool for your members area. And so if you have a members area, I would highly encourage you to get as many members on the podcast because it’s just another channel to keep people excited and you know stay on top of mind and continue to be part of your community.

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Yeah, you know most of the students who sign up for my course say that they really started trusting me once they started listening to the podcast. Which is kind of why I asked that question, but in terms of tracking conversions, it is very difficult to do so, you basically have to ask.

Thanh: exactly yeah. You don’t know until you start talking to people and that is one of the reasons I spent about five hours a week just talking to either prospects or customers. So I always have an idea of like what’s going on? Why did they buy? You know, why did they decide to join us? Why did they decide to leave? So once you kind of start talking to people that’s the only way I found out that there was this relationship between people being a member and also listening to the podcast and so, you know, as you know, all of us have like internet businesses and we tend to shy away from talking

Steve: I know like talking to people. What’s that?

Thanh: exactly. What’s one of the most valuable things you can do and that’s one thing I took away from tending a couple scaling up workshops and they encourage all the time for CEOs or like business owners, like continuously talk to your customers because that’s where all the insights come from.

Steve: Do you do live sessions as part of this membership site on a regular basis?

Thanh: Yeah. So we have a monthly live coaching session that we do.

Steve: Okay.

Thanh: So once a month we talk about a topic and we talk about industry news and that kind of stuff so people Always on top of things. Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Alright. So let’s switch gears a little bit now and talk about the Asian secrets of productivity. You probably get asked these questions a lot. So what would you say is your number one top productivity tip that you get asked about a lot for business in particular.

Thanh: Yeah, whether it’s business or personal I think the most important thing that you can do is whenever you start your day, tackle the most difficult task first. So whenever you look at your to do list as you’re starting your work day, pick the thing that you find most difficult to do or the thing that you will most likely procrastinate on. Because if you get that out of the way first, then you can go on with the rest of your day knowing that you got that done and then everything else that comes your way is relatively easy. So I’m going to copy this analogy that John the Cavalier share with me on my Instagram page because I share this tip with some people and he said well, you know the way I see it is I just climb, I climb a mountain every single morning and then I hang glide down for the rest of the day. And I thought those are really interesting analogy. And I feel that way too. Like if I get the most ugly thing out of the way first then everything else all my to do list looks really simple and easy to do. And I have confidence, I have momentum. And even if I don’t get anything else done, at least I got the hardest thing out of the way, so I still have a productive day.

Steve: What if that hard thing cannot be accomplished in a day and it’s more like a year-long study project?

Thanh: Yeah, when it comes to things like that, what I encourage people to do is to break it down as much as possible. Right? So let’s say you want to publish a book this year. Obviously, you’re not going to publish a book on one day, but what if you broke it down and say hey, I’m going to maybe write one chapter a month for example, right? And then every single week you could say, okay my goal every single week is to have a draft ready of Chapter and then every single day you can break that down to say. Hey, let’s let’s write at least for 50 minutes for example, or let’s write at least for 90 minutes or let’s write at least 1,000 words a day or something like that. So the key is if you have a big outcome or a project break it down to its smallest Parts as much as you can and just start there.

Steve: You know, what’s funny is tackling the hardest thing of the day. It’s actually a mental issue. Right? Most people want to just get some of the simpler stuff out of the way just so they can get those items off their checklist. So is there any ways of mentally preparing yourself to I mean, it’s easier to say hey, I’m going to tackle the most the hardest thing in the beginning of the day, but are there any mental ways to get over that hurdle?

Thanh: One strategy I find really useful is where you basically set a timer for yourself. So some people called the Pomodoro Technique. It’s like the most popular strategy out there. But it’s the idea of okay, if I’m going to tackle something and I have sometimes troubles getting started, what I find really useful and what a lot of people find useful is if you just commit to saying doing 15 minutes or 25 minutes or even just 30 minutes? If you set a timer for let’s say 15 minutes, you just say, okay, I’m just going to do this one thing and after 15 minutes I can stop. It’s usually good enough for people to commit to at least for that short period of time.

And the reason that works is because you give yourself an excuse or a reason to stop working after a while. And that is often times good enough for people to get started and just focus on one thing and often times, what you find is that as soon as the timer runs out you got oh man actually, you know what? I’m going to keep going because I’m in the groove right now. I have this momentum. And then often times people will just continue to work on the thing that they you know, didn’t want to do in the first place. So setting a timer really helps.

Steve: I see, your kind of tricking yourself into just getting started

Thanh: Exactly. So the language I usually coach people through is to say to yourself, “I will just do this, so I will just write a few hundred words” or “I will just write for 15 minutes and that’s it”. And so you’re essentially tricking your own brain to say, “Okay, I mean, I can do 15 minutes, right? I can do 25 minutes. That’s not a problem. And then after that I can do whatever I want”. But then often times you’ll find yourself in that groove to say “Oh man. I feel so good about myself now. I’m so glad I got started. Like I actually want to continue to work on this” and then oftentimes people will.

Steve: You know, this isn’t exactly the Pomodoro Technique, but I remember when I wanted to start my blog, I kept putting it off, kept putting it off, but then once I installed WordPress it became a lot easier because that just one main hurdle of having like the infrastructure in place allowed me to just start writing on a regular basis.

Thanh: Yeah, when it comes to getting started and procrastination and just getting things done, one big thing that just I hope people take away from this is, the more friction you removed from everything that easier it is for you to get things done. And often times, It’s not just about learning a new strategy or learning a new way of doing things. But sometimes it’s just about like how do you remove friction from your life? So for example, it’s way easier for me to get started when my desk is clear and it’s clean and tidy. Whereas, if there’s papers on there if there’s books on there, there’s like dishes on my desk as well. Then I’m not going to feel motivated to start working because it then I have to remove some stuff first. I have to get rid of some stuff before, before I can actually do the thing I’m good at. Right? So when I know for example the next day that I’m going to be writing and I need to be creative, I will actually put an effort the night before to clean my desk make sure everything is put away so that my future self when I wake up the next morning I can get started right away. So it’s just all about removing friction as much as you can.

Steve: And I imagine that applies to working out and that sort of thing as well, which is kind of why I moved all my work out equipment to the garage. I mean, there’s no excuse for me not to go in the garage every day.

Thanh: exactly. Like how do you make it inevitable and that’s kind of like what I teach people as well as like the inevitability mindset. Like, how do I make it inevitable for me to do this? So for example, if I want to work out? Yes, I can go to the gym downstairs or I could go to a gym that’s one block away from me. Right? Like how do we remove that friction? Because if you have to go to a gym that’s 50 minutes away and traffic, you know chances are you’re not going to go as often versus having a gym at home for example, right? So, how can we remove friction in our lives? And the more you start to look for opportunities to remove friction and getting rid of that the more you start to see that you can actually accomplish way more things.

Steve: I don’t know what you call this technique either. Maybe you can classify it. So I have a pull-up bar right outside the bathroom and before I can go to the bathroom, I have to do some Pull-Ups. So that’s just like another Fitness thing that I do.

Thanh: Yeah. I have the same thing. I have a pull-up bar in my bedroom that connects or transitions into the living room. So anytime I go to my bedroom. I have to do 5 pull-ups and that’s just.

Steve: Interesting. Okay.

Thanh: A commitment that I made for myself and you know, I could be an ugly pull up. It could be really good pull up. It doesn’t matter as long as I do five. You know, it’s my Integrity that I like to stick to, right? and that’s really important to me as well and something I teach clients as well, like, if you have integrity you do what you say you will do. you’re going to live, you know, authentically. And that’s the kind of person I want to be. And so, every time I do 5 pull-ups, you know, I’m living up to my own integrity and I want to stick to that and that’s why I am and that’s what I value. and so you know, pick a number that works for you, you know, if you have a pull-up bar, but it’s just the whole idea of like how I how can I stay with doing this and also have my word that I said I would do.

Steve: Yeah

Thanh: just having Integrity in my life, you know.

Steve: That’s interesting. I would probably never go to the living room then. at least, you know with the bathroom. I gotta go to the bathroom. So, All right. So Thanh, I have I guess a personal problem. I want to talk to you about, like how do you manage your inbox? My inbox is crazy. I was hoping you’d provide some insights there.

Thanh: Sure. Well, we have one course that’s going to help you. It’s going to cost you $499.

Steve: Amazing. You know, 499 I don’t know Thanh. Sorry go on.

Thanh: So it’s called Escape Your Email, but the short version is there’s so many things you can do. One, is most people have no clue or no system for managing their email. it’s kind of assumes that everybody knows how to manage your email inbox, right? So some people do it from top to bottom, some people have to email inbox open all day long and there’s like hundreds of different strategies. And what I found most useful is setting aside, maybe two or three times a day to check your email for 30 minutes or less. Each time you check your email.

So if you can commit to just doing a 30-minute sessions of checking your email, if you do it twice a day, that’s one hour a day on email and then, and as soon as that timer goes off right for 30 minutes, then you can stop and you can continue to do other things. So this is one simple strategy I recommend for most people to do because most of my clients tend to have their email client open all day long, and then they easily get distracted, they feel like they’re on edge all the time. They can’t really focus because this email notification will always distract them and derail them. And that’s the last thing you really want. Right? So especially if you’re a business owner you need to have like Focus time and create stuff. The worst thing you can do is having your email client open next to you while you’re producing video course content or recording a podcast or whatever, right? So closing your email client as much as possible and then only checking it two or three times a day is the best thing you can do.

Steve: but if you do it that way email tends to pile up right? So do you just not let that bother you?

Thanh: Well, when you process your email, you can then kind of like prioritize right? what you want to tackle. And so whenever I check my email I try to get it done as much as I can but realistically that’s not always going to happen. Right? So for some weeks, it might be where I have more emails to process than others and that’s totally fine. As soon as I dive into my email inbox. I know I have 30 minutes and then I’ll just try to go through as many emails as I can. And I personally just want to spend less than an hour a day on my own email and I know this is going to be different for certain people. Right? Let’s say you work in customer service, for example, that’s obviously going to be different than somebody who is a sales person versus somebody who’s a marketer somebody who runs their own business. So my guideline is usually shoot forward an hour a day, but for some people might mean two hours or three hours, but what I don’t want you to do is to spent your whole day in your email inbox.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. I have the opposite actually try not to spend much time at all in there and I have like a dedicated support desk for the important emails that I have to respond to any given day.

Thanh: Yeah, exactly. Yep.

Steve: So Thanh, let’s pretend that you were to start Asian efficiency all over again. What would you say are some of the most important aspects to this success of Asian efficiency that you would carry over if you were to start all over?

Thanh: Whoo, interesting question, I would say one concept that I would instill in others, is to show up consistently every single week. Whether that’s podcasting, blogging, doing a webinar. I think the key to our success was to show up every single week to publish something and that lets you, you know, lots of organic traffic and such but it was, you know, found it on the foundation of showing up every single week. So that’s one thing I would continue to do if I were to start all over again. The other thing I would say is, I wish I had done webinars much earlier. I was definitely late to the game when it comes to that. I think we started doing webinars and maybe like 2017? so not too long ago.

Steve: hmm mmm

Thanh: And Yeah, like we just seen that one people really love them, and to I think it’s one of the most effective strategies for selling. And then three, it can also help you generate more email subscribers and leads as well. And then four, if you make it Evergreen as well, you basically have a new sales person in your company working 24/7 for you. So yeah, definitely more webinar.

Steve: Can you comment on auto versus live and why you kind of combine both?

Thanh: Yeah so auto I think is great when you have an evergreen topic. So when it comes to productivity and procrastination is an evergreen topic how to focus is an evergreen topic. So for our particular industry, that’s great. And you know, it took a lot of live webinars to eventually make a really good Evergreen webinar. And so we want to give people the opportunity to sign up for this material when it is convenient for them because when we do them live we can only cater to one specific time. And so, we can’t cater to everybody. Whereas with Evergreen we have, you know, just in time webinars where you can sign up and then 15 minutes later get started or one minute later, depending when you sign up. But there’s also specific times as well.

So I like to think of it as like you can pick a time and place that works best for you to learn something really interesting and beneficial. and even if people don’t buy on the webinar, I’m still happy that people go through it because we just know that the information that’s in there is really helpful and beneficial to them. So even if they don’t buy, that’s totally fine. Because as long as we make that impact then that’s really good for us. And eventually, you know, the more people spent on webinars in terms of time, the closer they get to purchasing from you anyway, right? So we’ve also learned that for example, some people like to watch the same webinar like two or three times before they make a purchase and that’s totally fine too. Right? So, it’s really just a tool for us. You allow people to get educated become more familiar with us and then hopefully down the line bring them closer to making first purchase with us.

Steve: So in terms of the lives, I’m just curious why you haven’t doubled down on the Autos then maybe just narrowing it down to just one live webinar.

Thanh: Yeah, so we have the auto one’s going where we have like Facebook traffic sending, you know, to landing pages to the webinar. And then we have like our own email responders as well. But there’s something about live that just one, is more interactive and converts better. Because as you probably have seen as well, as soon as you go from left to automate it the conversion numbers are never the same.

Steve: Yeah, right.

Thanh: So if you do live at ten percent, which is pretty decent then if you go to automated if you do like, I don’t know, anywhere between like three and five percent that’s really good. Right? So like the numbers are never going to be the same but in terms of the impacts, I think combination of both is the way to go.

Steve: Okay. Hey Thanh. We’ve been chatting for quite a while now. Where can people find you to become more efficient.

Thanh: Yeah, you can go to asianefficiency.com. We also have a podcast called The Productivity Show, so you can look for that as well. And if you want you get in touch with me, you can just go to asianefficiency.com and reach me there.

Steve: Cool. And Thanh, where are the next events you’re going to be going to?

Thanh: I have no clue. My schedule is pretty empty this year. So I’m going to be playing it by ear and see what’s going on every single month.

Steve: Cool. Well, thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate your time.

Thanh: Thank you.

Steve: So there you have it all of the secrets to Asian efficiency in just 40 minutes. It is now a Level Playing Field for everyone, great. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode265. And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term 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 is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, 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 or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading 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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264: What Amazon Strategies Are Working Today With Brad Moss

264: What Amazon Strategies Are Working Today With Brad Moss

Today I’m thrilled to have Brad Moss back on the show. Brad is the former head of Seller Central at Amazon and he’s also the founder of ProductLabs.net where he helps Amazon sellers blow up their businesses.

As a result, he has intimate knowledge of how Amazon works from the inside. This year, Brad spoke at my conference, The Sellers Summit, for the 3rd straight year, and his presentation was very well received.

Brad is one of my go to guys when it comes to Amazon and today, we’re going to talk about the latest Amazon strategies.

What You’ll Learn

  • The biggest changes with Amazon in the past year
  • The most effective way to launch a product today
  • Notable changes with Amazon ads
  • Email append services – Are they worth using
  • External traffic strategies that are working well

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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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

Steve: 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. Today I’m thrilled to have my friend Brad Moss back on the show, if you don’t remember him, he is the former head of seller central and today he’s going to give us an update on what’s working with Amazon today.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use preview to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well 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 if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who’s also a sponsor of the show. Whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow.

Now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. So I want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide. Packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth.

Now moving to a new marking platform can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support resources. You can actually check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family 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 Brad Moss back on the show. He’s the former head of Seller Central at Amazon and as a result, he has intimate knowledge of how Amazon works from the inside. He’s also the founder of productlabs.net where he helps Amazon sellers blow up their businesses.

This year, Brad is speaking at my conference, The Sellers Summit for the 3rd straight year, and his presentations are always well received. And in fact, Brad is one of my go to guys when it comes to Amazon and today, we’re going to talk about the latest Amazon strategies and sale. And with that welcome to the Brad, how are you doing today?

Brad: I’m doing great, thanks Steve thanks for having me. I’m really happy to be on your show again.

Steve: So Brad, we haven’t spoken I guess since the last seller Summit what’s been going on with product labs? And what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen with Amazon in the past year?

Brad: Yeah it’s kind of a loaded question there so much that goes on every single year you know I’ve actually noticed a trend I think during the end of February beginning of March. Amazon belong to some new big thing for sellers last year it was they got rid of vendor central our vendor express on vendor central.

Steve: Yeah.

Brad: This year now, they’ve recently just kicked off. Well not in this a kicked off its not fulfilled POs for over 10,000 different vendors outside the platform

Steve: That came without warning right?

Brad: Yeah, It came without warning and it was a lot of confusion some vendors were getting notices of all there’s a problem in our system other ones were saying, yep. We’re just not reordering from you anymore.

Steve: So what are those? I don’t know if you’ve been in contact with any of those vendors what recourse do they have?

Brad: I know they don’t have anything in particular, Amazon’s acting like a retailer, right? so they have the right to order from you or not but these people who are depending upon these order from Amazon or no longer getting, it’s just, which is a little, spooked a lot of people and it’s also going to speak on how. In general, how much control Amazon has over these things but they do make policy changes as they said and they review them and sometimes they make adjustments.

Now, the kind of silver lining here is that there is there’s another way of selling for these vendors it’s just they’re going to have to spend some time in shifting their business model over to two or three P the market place side has a lot of benefits that I think these be seven or double we’ll see as they jump into it.

Steve: I mean will they be competing against their own vendor central listings, though?
Brad: Not necessarily, so once Amazon ships out the last of their goods then inside so essential if they have an account set up they actually can jump in and have control again over some of their aces and there listings inside of Amazon.

Steve: Okay I didn’t know that, so they’re basically taking over their listings their vendor central listings and turning them into third party seller listings.

Brad: Yeah there’s some complexity there and how to do it but in general Amazon is selling your product through vendor you cannot change anything about it through 3P but once they’re out of inventory and we help clients sometimes even buy back all their inventory from Amazon because soon as themselves out then we can go through and start making adjustments on the three P side of the other listing.

Steve: I see and that’s assuming that Amazon’s knocking a reorder again though, right?

Brad: Yeah or it’s assuming you may just not fulfill the PO even if they do re order because it’s all done through systems right? And that’s the that’s the hardest parts of the vendor model is that it serves the very large companies very well but it doesn’t serve the mid-sized or smaller companies very well.

I mean, I got buddies over there who are running you know five hundred thousand SKUs right? so how are they are they giving you or even more? But how are they giving you any attention for your you know kind of SKUs or your even a couple thousand SKUs.

However, you need that much attention and so that’s what’s so hard that model the doesn’t scale very well from the vendor side because they have to spend so much time on each one so they have systems that are doing these things and so Amazon and systems are doing kind of predictive reordering of their products and goods and when you’re relying the whole thing your entire business on that was on the system you don’t have any control over the intimate you know, knowledge that you have in your business saying, “Hey look springtime’s coming I know our sales are gonna be bumping up an extra thirty percent”.

Amazon’s now ordering an extra thirty percent for me and I can’t get a hold my mentor manager to tell him to order an extra thirty percent or whatever. it might be and that that’s one of the beauties of three P side. as you have full control over what you’re doing with your business on Amazon and really the customer sees no difference if you’re selling prime then there’s no different to that to the consumer.

Steve: It sounds like just say no to vendor central at this point.

Brad: I don’t necessarily want to. There’s different there’s different businesses that work different ways. And I always say it’s more like vendor Central’s like putting the plane on autopilot. Seller Central is more like jumping in there and having full control over all the knobs and wages of what’s going on with your business. and for us and you know, I think my perspective for us who have such a deep intimate knowledge of how to run these businesses inside of Amazon from the third party side. We love it more because we have more control.

There’s so many more knobs that we can adjust and to get more out of the business versus some companies are just large enough that it doesn’t matter for them. They say this is fine. I wasn’t just another channel. So let’s just set this whole thing on autopilot. We don’t need to squeeze out an extra 10% or 50% out of Amazon.

Steve: I mean I guess from the perspective of the listeners of this podcast I would say three P is the way to go right?

Brad: Yeah yeah I think I think you’re probably right.

Steve: So what are some of the most effective ways of selling today and have the metrics change at all like the past year in terms of strategies or what not?

Brad: So I think what’s happening, and this we predicted this several years ago when you look at the general market place you know there was when I first was at Amazon talk about this a little bit. I was inside Amazon I was looking at all these numbers in these categories and saying well there’s so many holes in the system and then this is back in 2014 when I was inside Amazon and looking at this stuff.
So many holes here.

Say, well there’s a lot of opportunity right with Amazon and then did the guys down a couple people down from me, he created the whole brand idea inside of Amazon. And launched that whole component and then mixed with Alibaba. you know created this kind of brand revolution you know that the new brand private label movement essentially that’s come on Amazon.

Now, since then, what’s happened is the market is starting to get full. it used to be a land grab and now the land’s there and now it’s more real estate development right?

Steve: Yeah.

Brad: Dealing with what’s going on and so it’s the people and the business are more and more sophisticated. they are the ones who are winning out now and so you used to be able to put the product up and sell it. Now instead, you have to start using more and more of your analytics and looking more and more deeply at the market of what’s going on with your competition to make sure you’re staying in business staying healthy and not just relying on and not and you get to know your numbers you’re not relying on top line that you’re acting as your bottom line also.

And so all this kind of wraps into being more more sophisticated. And how you’re selling so you can make sure you stay alive. And then also, so that you can start climbing various different categories knowing what your limit is. You know a lot of people came to us in the early days “Hey here’s a switch and I want to sell a million dollars worth of it”. And the market wasn’t there.

And so, but they didn’t know that, we did we had to do the research and looking into Amazon and “hey your markets only big enough for you to sell five hundred thousand”, not a million dollars for this product. And so it’s understanding your limits on the various different products, kind of have the full category is and then using various techniques to kind of grow your ranking position inside of that.

Steve: Can we talk about some of these metrics? You know in more depth.

Brad: Yeah. So.

Steve: So let’s say someone comes at you with the product what are some things that you look up?

Brad: So, we don’t, we take a look at who are the top sellers inside of Amazon. Kind of what the estimated search volume is for the key words for those top sellers. A lot of it’s straight up math right? so if I’m going to look at, if I’m going to look up paper towels, that’s kind of a lame example.

Steve: It’s okay doesn’t matter what the examples listed as the mechanical pencils.

Brad: Okay. Sure. So I’m going to look for mechanical pencils. I got a look at the key word by a mechanical pencil right?

Steve: Right.

Brad: And if I’m looking at the total volume of that key word it might be say fifty thousand searches a month. You want to look at the whole landscape and see okay, well who are of the competitors this mechanical pencil? How powerful are these competitors? And socially, how may refuse to they have? How well is there, are other listings developed? You know sometimes, there’s listings I just need a lot of help but they’re the top sellers. So that might be an opportunity for you to come in.

And with all those very factors, we I mean, we create internally kind of like a string to string factor of how competitive this category is.

Steve: Can we talk about the components of that strength factor? I mean, like how many reviews is too strong for example?

Brad: Yeah it’s. So. Reviews my view on reviews our view is different from a lot of people out there. We consider reviews one of four key input into your conversion rate. And so, review is reviews are one thing. The price is another the key inputs. Your images, you have on your listing is another input. And the last one is the text you have on the screen. So those four things make up your conversion rate.

And so if you have no reviews you can still sell product and do well, for example, we had a client come in launched a brand new product in a category that was really old. I had a lot of old big brands in it and we got them to over a million dollar run rate with zero reviews on that product. And I only bring that up because to make the, to emphasize the point the reviews are one of four main inputs.

Steve: Can we use that example that you just gave? Like, what are some of the things that you did that allowed it to sell so much even without the social proof of reviews?

Brad: Yeah exactly yes, so what it was, was we came in we had a much better image. So our listing was a lot better than all the other competitors, I guess. It was a little bit older guard inside this brand. There were some really old brands that were there but they just didn’t do a great job with their listings, right?

Steve: Okay.

Brad: Amazon was selling their products and so they might have had like two pictures or three pictures. We came in and it all nice you know six or nine pictures for these products and then we had a really nice description. Product description, people appointed that spoke to the consumers need for these products and those things like we said those are four different inputs back to make their conversion rate go up or down. And those things are powerful enough to overcome any idea of reviews of needing refused to sell that particular product.

Steve: How did you get the visible in the first place was it just sponsored content ads.

Brad: So, this an interesting one like, yeah, we get just a little bit of sponsor product content. But we had done a really good job with the key word research in getting them indexed for the right key words for their for their category. And there’s another interesting point here, in this product was American made and said made in America versus all the other competitors were made overseas. And so and in this particular category people care about. And so, that I think that also had a factor there. But because of those things we actually need to push too much marketing into this at the very beginning. And I know it’s kind of counter to what the general strategies are from our people out there.

And I like to bring this up because I will work for one thing. There’s no silver bullet and these things right and want to bring that up but a lot of people believes there is a silver bullet. But there is no silver bullet, it’s really taking a closer look at all the different strategies and factors that you need to consider for your business.

Steve: When you’re doing their key word research, especially on search volumes, what would you say like you would estimate your conversion rate would be? Assuming you fully optimize the listing.

Brad: So a couple different things. There’s a click through rate since one is on the search results. That’s how like you’re going to get that click on the convert from that key word. And then once you’re on the page, there’s the conversion rate of one someone then your detail page, how often are they convert. The general number that we like is around ten percent conversion rate. One, some of on your page. Now that’s an Amazon, that’s a general one. Based on all categories, there some categories are smaller some that are much bigger.

Steve: Sure.

Brad: So, I am not much higher general ECOM right? ECOM is closer to three percent conversion rate. Now, taking a half step back on to the click through rate. So you’re, someone types in mechanical pencil and I show up. How many of those clicks? You know, if there’s fifty thousand clicks on mechanical pencil. How many does can I allocate to my particular product? That’s a little it’s a little trickier, but we do like to look into that. And the General numbers are the top three listings, are going to get between 40 and 60% of that traffic. The top three listings on that keyword.

Steve: Hmm-mmm

Brad: And so if you’re number three, if we’re saying, okay, we’re going to try and get you to number three. So we’re going to estimate, we can get 15% maybe 20% of the of that volume of the 50,000 volume. Like that would be the ideal position to be for this product. So then we take you know, take those numbers or say with 10% just for easy math, right 10% of the 50,000. So you get 5,000 clicks once your number three, so that’s 5,000 clicks. And now in the conversion rate once they’re into your product is 10%. So now we’re going to say, okay you’re selling 500 units.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: Your product, based on that one keyword, right? And so there’s probably a list of 25 to 50 keywords that you could be could be doing this on but that’s I mean that’s so that’s the general approach. We start taking into it when we really look. Closely at the numbers.

Steve: And In terms of actually getting that product visible initially though, what did you do, cause in the beginning you get no reviews, nothing. And you said you ran limited sponsored product ads how did you actually drive product ads into the listings?

Brad: So, for that one, that, strategy worked. I would say in general using the sponsored product ads are the way to go.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: We used to get the product team with the sponsored product ads and you’re trying out this key words right? So you have the list of your fifty key words, that would be the most important key words to you and you want to start putting money against those ones on the sponsored product ads and then you want to be tracking your ranking because to us, It’s more important than getting your return on that ad. You want to be moving up your organic ranking on those key words also, and so that’s the, it’s the most, it’s the purest, most authentic way growing your organic ranking inside Amazon is to use Amazon systems to just do it.

We know in our world all of the various different “hacks” out there to try to increase the ranking and all of those things. And the ones that Amazon likes the ones they frown upon. So in short, it’s the most authentic way to use the Amazon systems to do it the right way.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: In using the advertising systems.

Steve: Let me ask you this, you know, In your listings, in your key words tab of you listing, there are a variety of fields like intended use subject matter and that sort of things, how much do those field do actually take into account in the rankings for key words?

Brad: So in the rankings for key words, very little.

Steve: Okay.

Brad:They do take, they to matter certain parts of Amazon’s back end. So they’re trying to map different categories and different use cases with the really complex back-end network of things. But when clients talk to me about it, it really comes down to more of a, it’s like creating just the keywords, because someone people so many people search through keywords. And so the vast majority of all searches are through keywords because that’s the case adding. The rest of those fields is more like is more like saying, hey, we’ve got 95 or maybe even 98% of this listing complete. Doing all the rest of that stuff is like filling the last two percent right? To make the rest of it complete.

So it’s more of saying hey, what’s our biggest priority if we want to make sure everything is listings done a hundred percent great, but that last five percent or two percent could take you know, double the time of doing everything else on the you know on the listing.

Steve: The only reason why I’m asking this question is because there had been rumors floating around that the subject matter field you know, which I can’t really confirm or deny with my own account. That the subject matter keywords are very important. I don’t know how people came to that conclusion. I was just curious you talked with a lot of you work with a lot of Amazon sellers. So I was wondering what your opinion was.

Brad: Yeah. I mean they also very important subjective term, right?

Steve: Yeah.

Brad: So it’s like I said, there’s value in all of them. It’s just questions of what’s the highest value that you’re going to get? And I wouldn’t deny that someone might, you know, there might be one or two examples of someone finding “Hey, I actually put this in in my keywords or in my fields” and all sudden, I’ve seen some growth and that happens a few times. But in the vast general landscape, it’s looking at you know, the core keywords that you’re putting in are what mattered the most from what we’ve seen.

Steve: Okay, okay, what are your views on some of the other services? So we’ve been kind of chatting about, you know prior to this interview about customer demographics and getting a hold of their customer data outside of Amazon. What are your views on like email a pin services and what are some techniques for data mining?

Brad: Yeah. So I think one of the one of the most valuable things that we try and help our clients understand, general businesses understand is that a lot of people inside of Amazon because Amazon posts up that big A cost number and even many third-party software’s are built on top of that idea of the a cost number. A lot of people are really focused on the A costs, right?

Steve: Yep.

Brad: And which is the advertising cost of sale and what that number is telling you is that it’s telling you how much I spent on ads and then how many sales resulted from those ads. And so what that’s not taking into account, so say my a cost is 50 percent right, which a lot of people be like.

Steve: Gosh that’s so high.

Brad: But if you’re spending money on the right keywords and you’re moving up the organic ranking, you’re going to also see a bunch of organic sales that come along because you’re doing so well on your advertising. And your actual your total what we call your ad spend over sales is the real number that matter. So what’s your total marketing budget, divided by what your total sales are that’s it. I mean, that’s the simple math. Let’s say, my total marketing budget was $30,000 this month and my total sales were a hundred thousand dollars. So my total ads been over sales is was 30% that’s actually high. But in my example, we could say $200,000, 30 to $200,000 So it’s 15 percent.

Steve: So that’s the number that you primarily look at? Instead of a cost? Because I guess it’s all intertwined right?

Brad: Yep. It is and we do look at that because that matters so much more. I mean someone saying “hey I’m going to do a giveaway”, right? And I’m going to give away, you know, $10,000 worth of product and my margin on that $10,000 with the product is going to be, I’m only getting 10% of that and so I’m now giving away nine thousand dollars in advertising essentially by doing a promotion. You should take that put that in your marketing budget and say okay. I just spent $9,000 to do a giveaway to try and rank on something. Is that more valuable? In spending nine thousand dollars on ads to also to rank through Amazon for the exact same keyword.

Steve: I guess the problem arises though, when you start lumping a whole bunch of other stuff in there, right? Like I could run and spend 50% on Facebook ads, but the Facebook ads are in fact driving any sales, right? and then it wouldn’t show up.

Brad: Yeah. So that’s why you got that’s the complexity and some of this is trying to take all of your marketing budgets and add them all together and to giving you a true or number there because the a cost is really useful or the account has a sales is really useful when you’re looking at a campaign by campaign metric of how well is this one campaign doing versus this other campaign? And so are you using those relations there? That’s it’s really used to I mean, it’s like the key metric you got to be looking at but if I’m looking at my business, I’m taking a step back from my business and say okay how well is this generally working for my business or how well is this product working? The entire catalog of Amazon I have to take into account what my SEO, what the Amazon SEO is doing. Because the advertising that I’m running also.

And a lot of people don’t know that because Google is different. In that Google, it doesn’t matter, the Google SEO algorithms are totally different than Amazon. Amazon, it’s hey, who’s number one when I’m looking at mechanical pencil, the guy who’s number one, guess what? He’s the guy who has the most sales right now on mechanical pencils. And so if I have more sales on a particular keyword that I’m going to be moving up that SEO ranking. Make sense?

Steve: Yes as far as you know Brad, is there a way to figure out which keywords organically are translating in a sales?

Brad: We have our own algorithms that are backing into that. There is no way Amazon’s not giving any data, any of that data to people and that’s all close. So we’ve actually come up with several algorithms internally that look at that.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: It’s a really complicated takes a lot of a lot of math to try and back figured that out.

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Steve: Based on what you are saying. I think Amazon advertising is you can lump the ad spend over your total sales for that because the sponsor product ads you’re bidding on keywords and those keywords directly attribute those sales will affect your rankings for those keywords?

Brad: Yes.

Steve: So for that it’s probably okay for the other stuff. It might not be okay to lump in?

Brad: Yeah, I mean.

Steve: Was that?

Brad: Yeah. Yeah, I mean perhaps yeah, it’s what we look at it on a product basis and then on a business basis, so I would say from a business perspective you still should be looking you should love everything in and look at it from an entire business perspective. But if it’s are you looking at on a project by project basis and then are you looking at on a campaign by campaign basis. From, so campaign by campaign, Is that a cost the product or product, you do the ads over sales for those and then from a business, you should probably won’t be in all the advertising activities and see how that’s working. Because it’s your margin in the end. Right?

Steve: Sure.

Brad: So after giving Amazon 15% that’s 15% out of my margin and by spending 10% on all add activities great as 10% out of my margin. That’s how you to operate a business.

Steve: So what are some external traffic strategies that you’re employing for your clients or that you’re using?

Brad: Yeah, so externally some really interesting stuff that we’ve been getting into as looking at lifetime value of customers repeat purchases repeat purchase rates and starting to figure out who are these customers. Because Amazon in general doesn’t want you to have a relationship with your customers. That’s how Amazon is treats it. They like to have a relationship and they don’t like to share it but in the end they are your customers and there’s some data inside of Amazon that you can start looking at. At least understanding generally who these customers are and what the repeat that repurchase rates are the life and values are.

And so what we’ve done is we go through and we creating some ways of finding who some of your customers are. As you mentioned, there’s some email append Services. We have some stuff that’s kind of taking another step deeper that we do internally.

Steve: Tell me.

Brad: So if someone saw that our work that the software that we’re working on and we’re still debating whether we’re going to launch it external or not or just keep it for our clients.

Steve: I mean strictly turned against terms of service, right? So I would imagine you might have some conflicts with Amazon if you were to release it.

Brad: Yeah, that’s some of the fine details that right?

Steve: Okay.

Brad: But what people can do actually, I mean I want to offer information people can just go use so, you know, you can go in and download your Amazon shipping reports and find some of that information who you’re shipping to and then use some of that with inside of Facebook. Of say, create some groups of who you want to target at like groups. Not those people but, people like those groups and we’ve done that before and found some really discounted. Well, our ads used to be like a buck 20 per ad and once we started finding these groups and refining the group’s it dropped it to like 40 cents per click or even 20 cents per click on some of them. So we’ve been able to find some Facebook ad efficiencies by grabbing some this information from who your customers are and just grabbing some similar target groups through Facebook’s systems.

Steve: Right. And that is generally not risky at all, right? B=Because it’s not like you’re targeting the exact Amazon customer.

Brad: No, no, you’re not you’re just finding like people and saying here’s general people who order from us and it’s either an a Facebook has their own algorithms that say it they have a whole little upload portal that you can say. “Hey you want to find a light group to the current group of people?” upload information about them here. And we’ve done that and create some really efficient Facebook advertising that way.

Steve: So when you’re doing your analysis on who to create these look like audiences from, what are some of your metrics?

Brad: So, we look at repeat purchasers. So if you grab everyone I would say, you know, we don’t like describing everyone who’s ordered from you. We like people who have purchased from you more than once. We actually look at geographic information as well and start looking at which regions are these are people purchasing from me is really interesting. We had a brand that was selling jewelry. And this is just a fun example, a brand that was selling jewelry and another brand that was selling athletic socks. And we compare the two and the price point was the same there around 20 dollars each for the products. But the jewelry was over-indexing which means, in relation to the population more people are buying it in Florida for the jewelry. And the athletic socks, it was under indexing in Florida. And so, I don’t know that speaks about Florida but.

Steve: But they don’t wear socks, they probably won’t wear flip-flops. So hot there, right?

Brad: They love it. Yeah, exactly and but ever they want to wear some bling right? Some really good jewelry. So it was just interesting looking these exact same price points, but there’s a different distribution of the geography and both of those were kind of generic brands. There’s some brands that are specific to a region. So we see over indexing in specific States and the U.S of the region say, hey this was over-indexing in California because it’s a West Coast brand. This one’s over indexing in New York. It’s an East Coast brand and what not, but that just gives you some higher-level insight into your business it right? And how you might want to think about it, or even if you’re looking for retail strategies. Some estate is useful there, of talking would read it with retail buyers now, I don’t know how many of your listeners actually are.

Steve: So, so how does that affect your bidding? So that Florida case did you just not run ads in Florida for those socks?

Brad: For those socks the experiments we did there. I don’t think I can fully answer your question where you’d like me to. To satisfy you, but.

Steve: Let me re ask a question after you’re done. Yeah, go for it.

Brad: Okay. No, but I think it’s in Florida. We didn’t use geography to be to be doing those Facebook targeting ads. We used more of specific individual profile information.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: Yeah demographic information and send Geographic.

Steve: The way I was going to refine that question was you know, how useful is that Geographic data? Because most of our sales and most of the sales for anyone happened in the large the larger metropolitan areas, right? California, New York, Florida, is one of those Texas is one of those States. And so, isn’t just creating a look-alike audience. Doesn’t that just kind of circumvent that whole thing?

Brad: Yeah, I guess your point. You can circumvent it by just doing the look-alikes. Now the Geographic, I think you’d have to think kind of one step up is saying how is my brand position in these areas and these regions or are there things about the people in those areas or their Lifestyles that I’m really kidding or not hitting.

Steve: I see.

Brad: We’re selling we are selling a for another example. We’re selling a water aquatic product and it was selling really well in the Great Lakes area, but not very well in the coasts. And so some of the information they took back to the manufacturer. Well they were the manufacturer actually, they’re saying okay, well, these are all these are more targeted towards specific Lake people and people who like to go to lakes and hang out on lakes all day long. Versus people who like to you know, be really active in not seem like people aren’t active. I’m an active like person myself, but you know versus people who are on the coast and might be more of like an ocean kind of water aquatic products.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: So with that they took it back in the kind of double down. They actually went after a license for their products. That was really, that would target that Great Lakes area and it was really heavy in that Great Lakes area. And they’re now launching, they got the license and now they’re going to be launching a big thing that’s going to push heavy to the people in the Great Lakes area for The Aquatic products. I mean, it’s a perfect example.

Steve: I can see how that effect copy and marketing strategy. Can we switch gears a little bit? And just kind of talk about, you mentioned, in the early days it was a land grab now. It’s about building up your real estate. So when we are competing against sellers in China who might have a pricing Advantage what are some things that you’ve been doing with your clients to kind of combat this?

Brad: I think one thing we still in, I think when you say, we you probably more referring to people here in the in the states were selling these things. Is that right?

Steve: Basically, anywhere that’s not in Asia

Brad: That’s not China?

Steve: Yeah. Basically, yeah.

Brad: So there’s, actually we found some pretty fascinating manufacturers locally that are all in the state. There’s over 300,000 manufacturers in the United States. Did you know that?

Steve: I did not know that.

Brad: There’s a lot and so most people, I think it’s just we have access to overseas manufacturing so easily through Alibaba. But there is, you can make some really good advantages locally in the states. I mean, that goes the back to your supply chain, right? As saying well are there other options in the States. But in terms of, you know, what to do with where you are now, where most of these sellers might be now, there’s a whole concept that I think, speaking to, knowing your customer is extremely valuable and extremely important. So I would double down on how well, you know, your customer and making it, making your experience that much better. Because if you’re living in the states you speak the language, you know how to perhaps market and brand your product to them, price matters somewhat. But again, it’s one of four different inputs into your conversion rate, right? And so how well can you treat your customers that really do love your product.

We have another brand where we’re actually selling it for twice the cost that Amazon selling it for. And we’re still out selling Amazon with the product. And the cost is I think it’s up to $16 versus Amazon’s $8. The exact same product, but it’s much better branded has better reviews better, just the detail page and the whole experience is better.

And I like to bring up these outliers to just give people hope too and saying well, you know, you know, I’m not falling into all these just general boxes, but there’s plenty of outliers out there that are that show that you can do it. If you, if you kind of hit if you really focus on the key things that you have an advantage for. So the question is, what is your business? How’s your business differentiate itself from other people’s businesses? Are you just going to do a land grab? Just do a me to hey, we’re grabbing, we’re going to grab our own bit fidget spinner and put our own twist on it. Or we’re just, we’re just going to be a me to fidget spinner company, right? You know that strategy, that’s not a strategy. That’s just trying to move product. But if you’re building the brand and focusing on what are you building as part of this? Then you can, there are unique angles and that’s the create, that’s the creative side that you know, people like to deploy and get really good at.

Steve: So using that example that you just talked about. Is that an Amazon only brand or are they doing a lot of things outside of Amazon?

Brad: This is an Amazon only brand.

Steve: Interesting.

Brad: Only on Amazon.

Steve: So it was just purely based on their listing that they

Brad: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: And good and really good customer service. So we had some people who didn’t like the product or had some problem with it and you know, they reached out to him like the day, you know, the day something happened reached out to them sent them some free product and try to get on the phone with them and even talk with them. I know that’s not, they did that, we didn’t encourage that. But it really took the customer service to the next level of trying to make people happy with their product and their brand. And they you know, they built it in a really good clean way and it’s been it’s still been very successful for that.

Steve: It’s funny that you say customer service. I just think of that as like par for the course, right? Someone complains you just give them a refund. I mean, I feel like almost everyone’s doing that already like

Brad: Yeah.

Steve: It seems like it’d be really hard. To stand out from that perspective.

Brad: Yeah, it can be but I guess versus and maybe it’s just unique for this category, right? As is versus the other people in their category. They’re doing better.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: On that and then so again, it’s a question of how do you stand out versus your competitors too? And you might be right, It might be customer service. You can’t do anything unique in customer service in a certain category because everyone else is doing an A+ job. And so it’s well, you know, what else can you do that differentiate yourself?

Steve: I just saw this question just now. In terms of enhanced brand content, based on the clients that you’ve seen, what has been the lift for doing a good job there?

Brad: We have seen a minimal lift.

Steve: Okay.

Brad: What it is it just gives, it my opinion, I think it gives a little extra confidence in the brand. But we have never seen any huge changes in conversion rates. And I think some of that speaks to over 60% of people looking at product or doing it on their mobile devices. And your enhance credit on content is squashed in a mobile device. You’re seeing one picture and like one small snippet of information there on your mobile device. And so it’s still the hero pictures, the hero are one two or three pictures that people are looking through on mobile.

Steve: Okay, that makes sense.

Brad: Now out the minority of sales still come from mobile from what I understand. It’s people look at it on mobile put it in their car and they buy it eventually on their desktops. That’s General the behavior in general right now.

Steve: I also wanted to get your opinion real quick on, you know, Amazon developing their own brands, and I know for a certain listings where I’ve done a search for like glad trash bags for example. And then all of a sudden Amazon has this gigantic pop up that fills up like a third of the screen that says, you know, their own brand the same quality as the Glad bags for like almost half the price.

Brad: Yeah.

Steve: And it just seems like those are unfair tactics that Amazon is employing to compete against their, the third-party sellers. Are you seeing more and more of that and how do you fight against that?

Brad: I think we can agree that we are extremely frustrated with that kind of behavior. I’m very frustrated Amazon’s kind of behavior. And it’s just them we have multiple examples of how they’ve done stuff that only they can do, they only they have access to and their squishing out all the other sellers. I know there’s been some articles written. I’m not sure what to do about it because some of us try drives me crazy, honestly.

Steve: Okay

Brad: Honestly, with what they’re doing. Now, I think some of the interesting things they’re trying to do, so you got to think the other side to is Amazon, there’s a whole section of Amazon that loves their customer loves their sellers and they really want sellers to do well. So there is, you know, they’ve started opening up more and more information to sellers now. It’s just lagged, right? So, you know something that we saw, you know an ad spot that was there for Amazon a year ago, finally is coming out for a 3rd party seller can do the same thing now and it’s lag.

So, yes, they have a first mover advantage of advantage and all of these things but there’s a side of everything. I think that really really cares about their sellers and are trying to get these tools in these spots open for their sellers also. And so I don’t want to just come out and say Amazon’s the devil because they’re not. They’re doing, there’s a lot of good stuff that they’re doing but I think there are certain groups inside of Amazon that are taking advantage of their space a little bit too much and it’s driving drives us crazy when they do.

But some of the new brand stuff that’s come out. It’s interesting. They’re talking to date now in this seller and the advertising portals, at least in the ads. You can see how many people are coming that are new to your brand, versus people who haven’t seen your brand name or that’s really cool. That’s really good information. You have more control now in the market in the advertising of where your product placement. With the called.

Steve: Yup.

Brad: Is your placement. Now, on that piece of you want to say, you know, certain people start talking about hacks and everything there. There’s no hacks. It’s just it’s just how the system works. And Amazon’s now giving you access to bid extra if you want to be on the first page or if you want to build a product pages of the rest of search results.

And there’s some extreme, some people saying, hey just do everything for the first page. I would say that’s short-sighted and that you should look at your A cost between those three placements and try and balance those. That’s a kind of a side tangent. But I think that’s a you know, again, it’s many times new stuff comes out people find a little a little trick that works. It’s the whole ecosystems, you’d be able to adjust a little bit better right now with these new features, so.

Steve: Okay, well that’s good to know. So Brad, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I wanted to also give the listeners a chance to kind of know a little bit more about product labs and what you’re up to. So anyway, they can get it get ahold of you.

Brad:
Yeah, so come to our website at any point at productlabs.net or productlabs.ai actually. We have both domains that we are some interesting things were trying to do there. Check out what we do as a service that we do, many times clients will come to us and say hey my business is too big or I want to grow I want to get a little bit more sophisticated what I’m doing. We do full on operations. So we’ll take over the whole Amazon channel for our clients, but we add a whole level of strategic analysis and strategy and analytics of everything that we’re doing.

So myself and Tim my business partner, we will become from more formal business backgrounds. And so we believe in setting out long-term 6 months, 12-month plans for our clients or even longer. S couple of year plans. And we look at the marketplace. And so we a lot of the value that aside from the core operations that we do for our clients is looking at this this whole strategic piece that we’re putting into play for them. And so they can understand for the Strategic level what to expect and what our goals are and everything. And so we got, we have some larger companies that come to us. We also have some business that are growing and they want to just off load everything on Amazon on to a team which allows them to do more stuff or allows them to maybe go find more product or focus on off Amazon tactics and things that they want to do there.

So that’s you know, that’s kind of the core offering that we do but the fun stuff that we’re doing for me is, well, aside from growing businesses, it’s always super fun to grow businesses for our clients and see all the success. But the technology that we keep developing. We like, you know, my background I worked inside and ran the other Central platform built the Amazon seller app. So there’s a Tech in my background and we just have a lot of cool Tech that we have going on. And it’s all kept under the hood at this point, and some point will let in more and more people see it in the light of day. But it’s just been doing really well for us internally and so.

Steve: Cool.

Brad: We’re building lots of cool Technologies. Some of these things that we’ve been talking about that’s been really good for our clients.

Steve: And I know there’s like a signup form on your site. If you want to be a part of the beta program too, right?

Brad: Yep. Yeah and do that and that’s the group we’re going to go to first when we launch. Something that people can take a look at and start using. I think, in general, we have a very different approach to what from what we found is this whole community. And when we launch something, you’ll be able to see that. It will be pretty evident of our whole different approach of how we look at a business and look at how you want to grow your business inside of Amazon. or even operate your business inside of Amazon.

Steve: Cool. And Brad is also going to be speaking at the seller Summit this year again, I’m saying this little late because all the tickets are sold out. I was going to say go buy your ticket, but I mean if you already got one, great. You’ll see Brad there. He’s very knowledgeable and he’s a lot of data. So if you are at the summit, be sure to flag him down and ask him your questions.

Brad: Cool.

Steve: So Brad, thanks a lot for coming on the show man.

Brad: Yeah. Thanks a lot Steve. I appreciate it.

Steve:
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now Brad is one of those guys who is always up-to-date with Amazon. And if you need help with your Amazon business and you’re in the seven to eight figure range, then he is your guy for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com episode 264.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence it post purchase flow win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

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 and sectarian tools and make it super simple as well and I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your Ecommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free. So, head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s privy.com/steve.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store headed over to mywifequitjob.com and sign up for my free 6 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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263: How To Outsource Your Amazon Business For Less With Omer Riaz

263: How To Outsource Your Amazon Business With Omer Riaz

Today, I’m really happy to have Omer Riaz on the show. Omer and I just hung out for 3 straight days at my annual event the Sellers Summit. He’s been an Amazon and Ebay seller for many years and now he helps others manage their own businesses.

Today, he runs the popular Amazon VA service Urtasker.com and in this episode we are going to talk about how to outsource and scale your Amazon business even if you are a one man show.

What You’ll Learn

  • Common mistakes Amazon sellers make
  • Which Amazon tasks are easy to outsource
  • How much it costs to outsource Amazon management
  • How to work with a virtual assistant
  • The biggest mistakes sellers make when outsourcing

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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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 deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’m happy to have Omer Riaz on the show, and Omer runs the popular Amazon VA service UrTasker.com. And in this episode, we’re going to discuss how to outsource and scale your Amazon business if you’re a one man show.

But before we begin, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Whether you are getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast, simple and repeatable ways to grow. And with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing, build your customer relationships and automate your online sales. And it’s now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. Now I want to introduce Klaviyo’s new entrepreneur growth guide. Packed with must read blog posts, case studies and getting started content, this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth.

Now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and growing fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now you can actually check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife.

Now 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 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 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%.

Now I’m also using Privy for 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 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 really happy to have Omer Riaz on the show. Now Omer and I just hung out for three straight days at my annual event the Sellers Summit. He’s been a seller on Amazon and eBay for many years until he decided to help others manage their own e-commerce businesses. And today, he runs the popular Amazon VA service, UrTasker.com. And in this episode, we’re going to talk about how to outsource and scale your Amazon business even if you are a one man show. And with that, welcome to the show, how are you doing today Omer?

Omer: I’m doing good, what about you?

Steve: I’m doing well, still recovering from the event however, since a full week of lack of sleep has gotten to me, but I’m slowly catching up.

Omer: Same here.

Steve: So Omer, I understand that you used to be an Amazon and eBay seller. So first off, are you still selling today? And then how did you kind of come up with the idea of starting UrTasker?

Omer: Sure. I mean, currently, I’m not selling on eBay or Amazon. My story started in 2015. So my background is in IT. I have worked at Accenture and Deloitte as an IT consulting for implementation of ERP softwares. So me and my brother, we started selling on Amazon in 2015. And when we started, we obviously started with the retail arbitrage. And then later on, I moved to private label. And that’s how we started. But when we started, what I felt is there is a huge gap when it comes to staffing for e-commerce. You can find people, and if you find people they’re not economical. So we basically brought our third co-founder and we set up a team in Pakistan with three people.

And what happened after a year or so, they were managing our listing, listing creation, PPC management. Obviously, when we brought them in, I got myself training first and then I trained them on these basic tasks. So after one year, we were doing pretty good. Like we were six figure seller, and we had some of our suppliers in New Jersey, and by the way, I’m from Long Island, New York. And so they were asking, you guys are from IT and how you guys are doing e-commerce, it doesn’t make sense. And we could see our orders and everything. And we said, we have our own team, which is managing all the daily tasks.

And they said, wow, where is your team? And I said, it is in Pakistan, and they said, okay, can we get those guys to manage our account? And that’s how the idea came in. And we said we could be sellers. But then we started, we felt the gap. I mean, these guys are facing the same issue so we should start growing that outsourcing practice because in our IT background, we have managed teams in India and Philippines. So we had an experience to manage and grow our teams. So we said we should apply the same experience in e-commerce, there is a huge gap. So that’s where we started building our team. And now I was back in Pakistan two weeks ago, and we completed our fourth year in business. We have about 200 trained e-commerce specialists on our team. I have three offices, one main office in Long Island and two offices in Pakistan.

Steve: So Omer, I’m just kind of curious, why did you outsource to Pakistan so early? I mean, a six figure business is still manageable with just like a couple of people, right?

Omer: Yes. At that time I was working full time. So it was not easy for me to do e-commerce as well as do my job. So I had to delegate to someone who could basically do all the product research criteria, because it was taking a lot of time. So I was not ready to invest that time. I mean, I was good learning stuff and then delegating stuff to my VA. So that’s why early in the race[ph] when I started selling I started delegating, and that’s how we came up with that team.

Steve: I see. So in Pakistan, these are just your friends who are helping you out with the business. And it just — you just kind of stumbled upon UrTasker or basically.

Omer: Yeah, so UrTasker is basically a family business as well.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Omer: Yes, yes. So we are three co-founders, three brothers, one in Pakistan, two here in US. So we brought our younger brother who is helping us, he’s the director of operation, he is doing great job. So it started within the family. And now we have a family of 200 people.

Steve: Oh, wow. Okay cool. And so when did you decide to just shut down the e-commerce business and just focus on the outsourcing part?

Omer: In early 2016, where people are demanding a lot of where we can allocate time to train people rather than just focus on our Amazon account. So we stopped selling and also it’s not interest of the sellers because if we keep selling that and it’s a conflict of interest, I would say.

Steve: If there’s an overlap of product, I would say.

Omer: Yes.

Steve: Okay. All right, so I mean, you’ve been doing this for quite some time now. What would you say are some of the most common tasks that you believe that everyone should be outsourcing with their business? And I understand you do more than Amazon, right? You also do PPC advertising, you also do Shopify store outsourcing and that sort of thing. Is that correct?

Omer: Yes. So we started delegating very basic tasks, like we were doing Amazon wholesale, retail arbitrage. And so basically, we started with the listing creation. Then when I learned Amazon PPC, I delegated that to PPC. So we were growing our team. And one of the basic concepts behind UrTasker is that we always vet the skill set of our VAs. So if I’m not comfortable — I was not comfortable two years ago when we were doing PPC, but now I’m comfortable. They can manage PPC because they have this knowledge and experience as well managing multiple accounts. So I would say everything which has to do e-commerce, whenever I talk to someone I said, other than making your coffee in your room, we could do everything like customer support, listing.

Like the other day, I heard a story which I would like to share. One of my guys reach out to me, and he said a lot of time when I was at Sellers Summit, they said, a couple of people were asking me how do you do inventory management? So one of the managers shared a story that we were doing, we were filing case in Amazon for missing inventory and they basically helped the client to recover around $5,000 which is amazing. We’re doing that job, which probably could take a lot of time like researching, and doing data filters on Excel and getting all the data and then submitting cases. So these kind of tasks. So I mean anything which has to do with Amazon, other than shipping your product can be delegated.

Steve: Well, okay, so if you look at your client base right now, what would you say is — I want you to just give me like a prioritized list. So let’s say I’m a seven figure amazon seller, and I need to offload some stuff, what are some of the low hanging fruit things that everyone you believe should be outsourcing right now?

Omer: Well, it depends on the business model. Let’s say, if you’re private label, and you’re running business on private label, and I think the major part is listing optimization and PPC management. That takes a lot of time because you’re getting data from your PPC, you’re downloading reports, now you have to get the data and put into your listing whatever you find. Initially, you have to do optimize your listing based on best images based on Amazon standard, you have to check your title, bullets, backend keywords, description to make it attractive to whoever comes to your product listing. Then you have to come in the second part is like when you start running PPC, now you’re getting very valuable in information you need to input.

A lot of what I have seen the past two years, a lot of people miss that opportunity, they are so busy in their day to day tasks that they don’t focus. I mean, how I see like a lot of people are focusing on listing optimization and as you have seen since 2015, Amazon is changing a lot of things. Back in the days if you remember, you were allowed to have 500 characters in the backend. Now, they only allow you do 55. So a lot of people don’t know these basic things. So the VA should not only be doing whatever you assign, but also researching whatever is going on Amazon or eBay or Shopify, just to bring the latest stuff in your plate, so you decide what to do and what not to do.

Steve: Okay. And so, in terms of the listing itself though, there’s a lot of components of that, that need to be provided to the VA, right, like product images and all that. Is there any disconnect then with the message you want to give across? And I don’t know, for my listings for example, I would tend to want to try to handle those myself rather than someone who does not know anything about the product to handle the listing, right? How do you rationalize that?

Omer: I mean, the very first thing which I tell everybody whenever they come to get our services or inquire about our services, I say that the very first thing you need to ask yourself is, are you following Amazon standard? Okay. I mean, titles are you putting — are you utilizing the full space available? When it comes to bullets, are you putting relevant keywords there? Description, is your description attractive that people can make decision based on that? Are your images optimized? I mean, back in the days, there was only like people used to focus on the main image, now you have lifestyle images, and based on your product category you need to optimize that so it can convert well.

Steve: But are those images, those aren’t something that a VA can handle; you have to take your own images?

Omer: Yes, VA can basically, I mean, you have to provide basic images. And then a VA can also suggest you, if your VA is on advanced level, that once you’re taking images, you need to keep this thing in mind in terms of lifestyle images, these are the things which I need as a VA from product. So it makes your job much easier when you’re taking photos of your product.

Steve: Sure. Okay. So I guess the real question I’m trying to get at is what is the best way to work with the VA, right? Basically, you’re contracting your work out to someone who knows nothing about your business. What are some of the best practices with working with the VA?

Omer: Sure. I mean, one of the concept which we’re trying to implement at UrTasker basically is we want to provide or any other agency, it’s basically provides same services which fortune 500 companies get. I mean, obviously, these are small sellers, they don’t have like, probably they don’t have corporate experience. But there are a couple of things which they need to keep in mind whenever they are working with the VA or any agency or freelancer. I mean, the first thing is you have to be patient, you need to spend some time to know your VA, since you’re working with a human being. So you need to build a strong sense of mutual understanding. That’s the very first thing, because that guy is working as your employee, so you need to be patient, learn about them.

The second thing is that you need to make sure, and that’s very important, whenever people come to us, and they said, well, you said that your VA is trained and we could start working from day one. And I said, well, that’s true. But what you need to do is you need to make sure that your VA understands your business process, okay? So everybody has a different way of doing things. So you need to show them what and how, okay, so this will basically eliminate roadblocks and downtime. So you need to spend some time to make sure how your business process works, it is documented, it’s great. If it’s not, document that and make sure your VA understands your business process. And don’t start from day one. Obviously, everybody wants to utilize their VAs from day one, but spend some time teaching them or helping them to learn about your business process. That’s the second thing.

Steve: What does a realistic onboarding process looks like? So let’s say I approached you guys, and I said, hey, I need a VA. What’s the onboarding process look like?

Omer: Well, onboarding process is basically — I mean, if you ask about your task, and obviously we do account audit first, okay, that’s the very first thing just to know how you’re doing, what you’re missing. It’s basically give us the scope of the work. And then we take the task which you want to delegate, and we make it a complete scope of work which needs to be done. But onboarding process, I would say, let’s say, I mean, it depends on the availability of the VA or the skill set you’re looking for. But once you start, you need to at least for two weeks, you need to have continuous meetings, spend some time.

So I don’t know if I answered your question. But it depends on the skill set of the VA. If availability how long it — but normally, onboarding would take probably two weeks I would say from the day when we do analysis, and then you should probably spend like one or two weeks, not every day, but maybe spend every day maybe 30 minutes, 40 minutes with your VA to help him or her to understand your business. So that’s how the typical…

Steve: So you mentioned the skill set of the VA. I understand like at least in your firm everyone is trained right. So is that not a factor any more then?

Omer: I mean they are trained on different levels. But again, what is your requirement, what exactly you are looking for? You need to match the skill set of the VA and then the business process. I remember when I used to work in big for IT consulting firm, they used to spend a lot of time during the project implementation for requirement gathering for defining the scope of the word. So that is also very important in e-commerce world as well.

Steve: So outside of listing optimization and let’s say PPC because PPC involves money, I would imagine people might be a little bit squeamish about that, what are some other things that people have been outsourcing?

Omer: I mean, customer services and other stuff like basically talking to your customers, let’s say if they have an issue with your order that is another thing. And then inventory management, which that takes a lot of time as well, like you are creating FBA shipment orders whatever, and then you take like number of steps just to make sure all of your inventory arrives at FBA warehouses, okay. And let’s say if they are doing FBM, then you need to have run the whole system at your own, whether you’re selling on multiple channels, so every seller has their own ways of doing, they have different softwares to manage that. So basically, depending on your business model, inventory management would be another.

Steve: Can we go into more depth on the inventory management? So am I using a VA just to make sure all my stuff arrives on time, and then nothing is lost? And will the VA also just contact Amazon for a refund in case things do get lost? Like just outsource that whole section? Is that what you’re suggesting?

Omer: Yes, yes. I mean, there are two ways. One is like manual way of submitting cases. Now there are like software as well, we are working with a couple of vendors who are basically, they are using different softwares, but at the end of the day, there are still some manual work which you need to do. Like when you’re pulling up the report, inventory report and you just have to filter out some data just to see what exactly you’re looking for, so these kinds of tasks needs to be — that can be managed by a VA as well.

Steve: Okay. And in terms of customer service, I know you said your team is in Pakistan for the most part, right?

Omer: Mm-hmm.

Steve: I guess one of my concerns if I just — off the top of my head if I didn’t know you would be okay, how is the English of the people? And can someone really manage a customer service team because they’re representing your company, right, and you want everyone to respond appropriately?

Omer: Definitely, definitely. For customer service — I mean, in Pakistan, the second language, I mean, English is obviously a second language, but they, for past 10 to 15 years, they start teaching from grade one. So obviously, the level is good. But if you compare to a US resource, you cannot compare. Obviously, there is a difference in skill set and all those things. But what I suggest is whenever you’re working with VA, or you’re going to delegate, I tell people that you need to build your templates. That’s very important.

There could be communication, which is outside of those templates which can be handled, but you need to have your templates, and every business has different scenarios, and you need to build those templates so your VA can easily use those situations, scenarios, and reply to customers, or Amazon using those templates. So that is another way of doing smart things. Rather than yourself, you’re putting yourself basically applying the same thing over and over again.

Steve: Do people ever outsource their voice support over to you guys, because I know you guys do more than just Amazon?

Omer: Yes. I mean, voice support, not much. I mean, they can call to Amazon, okay or they can talk to their customers as well, but not much, mostly focused on PPC and listing optimization. And some of our clients have their own rep in US which they would like to use.

Steve: Okay. And I know, I’ve heard some stories about this in the past, but have you ever seen the issues with Amazon sellers allowing freelancers and VAs into their Amazon accounts? And the reason I bring this up is because I have a buddy who once allowed a VA into his account, and that VA had been doing some suspicious activity with other accounts kind of inadvertently and he ended up getting suspended for a brief period.

Omer: Mm-hmm. I mean, that’s a very important point. I mean, that’s how — we try to manage it in this way. Like we have our own offices and all of the traffic is managed. The very first thing, whenever we work with someone, we will tell them, like what is your scope of work? What exactly you want your VA to do? Okay. And then we suggest, okay, we need permission using user permissions of those stuffs, don’t allow us anything else, okay. And we continuously review that after a month or so if let’s say, the VA is just focusing on some tasks and he is not authorized for other one, we tell the client right away, you need to take back access for those stuffs. So it’s very important.

I mean, Amazon encourages people to give their staff permission using user permissions rather than giving them admin account. So the way like you have seen in offices, people have signs like no smoking, so we have signs, posters in our offices saying no admin account, okay? Don’t log into any admin account. So there is no admin account, obviously, and everybody who’s starting, who is thinking about delegating it, they need to make sure that whoever they give access, it should be through user permission. And they also need to inquire about, let’s say, a freelancer, if he or she has admin account, because they need to add that extra layer as well.

My younger brother, he’s a cyber line Pro local, cybercrime lawyer, and he recently recorded a video as well just to educate people that what they need to do when they are delegating, just to make sure they are not end up giving their account to a freelancer who is basically also having his own account or managing someone else’s account through admin access. So you need to be very careful, make sure. And also, one other thing you could do and all of our client do with us is sign NDA as well. So in this way, they are safe since we are located in the US. So, we sign NDA with everybody, whoever gets our services. So that’s another layer you can add to just protect yourself.

Steve: So what are some of the biggest issues and pitfalls you see with Amazon sellers? What do they run into while outsourcing? Like what are some of the common problems that you’ve witnessed?

Omer: I mean, let’s start with if someone is very fresh and start planning to sell on Amazon. I think the major mistake which they make is they rush into their product research, okay, they don’t spend much time looking at different categories and looking into different options, looking at the market, their competitors, they rush into first product. I mean, that is fine if you have a lot of money, but let’s say if you’re trying to build your dream, and if you’re working full time, and you have low budget, so you have to be very careful when you are selecting the first product.

The way we do is now like for the past one and a half year we started — we said okay, you don’t have to hire a VA, we could give you a small package where you could hire someone for a time being who could do product research. So this way you are safe, you basically get maybe five or six choices of product research and products, and then you could basically order them in like less than 100 items, and launch maybe four or five, and obviously one or two is going to work. That should be your product rather than just rushing into the product research phase, and then ordering thousands of items and they are just sitting in a warehouse or Amazon.

And that’s how you basically, the dream you’re trying to build or being an entrepreneur or having your online business, it’s basically you just making a mistake right there. That’s for people who are starting up. So if you’re starting out, just make sure you spend your time just learning about basic stuff and spend time on product research.

Steve: I guess specifically what I was asking is what are some of the problems or unrealistic expectations that people have when hiring a VA and what are some common mistakes? So for example, let’s say I get a VA, and I expect this VA to be able to do everything right off the bat, and I just throw everything over and expect my business to take off. It’s stuff like that, what are some, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people performing when they’re just dealing with VAs for the first time?

Omer: Sure. I mean, there are two things. First thing is people who basically give everything to their VA, okay, and then they expect that this VA is going to work like them in first two months, or one month or two. It’s going to take time. Basically, if you’re making a photocopy of yourself, it’s going to take some time to have level of that VA, if basically, your level as a VA should have your level, so it’s going to take some time, that’s the first thing, okay? Obviously, you have to review some of the stops in the beginning, you have to spend some time so that you need to have real expectation. They going to do stuff for you, but as an owner of the business, you have to review their stuff and make sure there are things which need to be improved next time, you highlight those on, okay, you do that.

The second thing which I have observed, a lot of people, they get their VAs okay, but they don’t know how to delegate. They still like to micromanage their VAs. And that takes a lot of time. And that creates a lot of frustration on our end as well. And we basically, the way we have structured our business model is every VA has a quality assurance manager. So whenever someone gets a VA, we provide complimentary quality assurance manager who reviews the work before it is submitted to a client. So the quality assurance manager maybe has like 10 to 15 years under him and he makes sure that the quality of work is delivered.

But on the client end, if start doing micromanaging, it’s not going to work. It’s basically you have – you now you’re managing your VA and then you have to do your work and that creates a lot of frustration as well. So whenever when I talk to someone and they said, we need to hire a VA and I say that are you ready to delegate and said, what do you mean? I say, well, did you listed all of your tasks you want to do and how you’re going to monitor those? And I mean a lot of people they say they are not ready, or they have not thought about that. And I said; spend some time before doing that. We can educate you in first few weeks that how you need to monitor work of your VA or what are some best practices, we can educate you.

Because at the end of the day, what we want to do is we want to free up some of their time, so they could focus on strategy or important part of their business to grow their business. Let’s say if they are good in product manufacturing or product research, they can focus on that and all of their day to day tasks can be managed by a VA. So these are the two things which we observe that people have issue when they try to delegate.

Steve: And specific to UrTasker, you employ all of your people and VAs. So if I were to go to you, does that imply that I might be sharing a VA with other sellers?

Omer: Okay, so let’s say if you’re hiring a full time VA, okay, obviously, that VA is fully dedicated to you. Or if you’re hiring like let’s say, a half VA or four hours of VA, obviously that we have to put their hours somewhere else. But most of our clients have dedicated VAs and they love that, because they have someone who they can reach out every day, at any point in time during the day, they can call them, Skype them, message them so they have this back office team during the whole day. And that’s how people have built their team from one VA to like 15 VAs right now.

Steve: Is there an option to hire the VA outside of you guys like if you like them?

Omer: Outside of us, what do you mean by that?

Steve: Meaning you just want them as an employee of us and not of UrTasker, does that make sense?

Omer: Yes, a couple of people have presented that. I mean, I wouldn’t say a couple of, maybe one or two. But there is an option, they can do that. But obviously, they have to pay a certain number of fees.

Steve: Sure. I was just wondering if that was a common practice. And I’m just kind of curious, since your team is in Pakistan, how much would it realistically cost for me to have a full time VA handle my Amazon listings and my PPC and my inventory management, that sort of thing?

Omer: I would say that probably less than, way less than if you hire a full time resource in your office.

Steve: Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m just trying to get an idea. I don’t know if you feel comfortable just giving me a ballpark?

Omer: Sure. I mean, it depends on the skill set. We have basically three packages and that ranges from $6 to $15 per hour. So it depends on the scope of the work, what exactly you’re looking for. I mean, a lot of people have hired expert level VA as well, because they found it very helpful to have someone, there is only month to month contract, you’re not paying for anything. We take care of everything basically, we take care of their trainings, we take care of their benefits, we provide — I mean, obviously, we’re providing backups to clients whenever they go on vacation or something like that.

So we take care of that, we have a lot of benefits that we will provide them since they work full time employee, so we take care of that, I mean everybody. On top of that what we do is, which help us a lot in past three years, is that we get a client feedback every month. And based on that feedback from our payroll, we give them bonuses. So client is not paying for that, they are just paying the fixed amount. But that help us a lot in growing our practice because everybody is interested to make their client happy.

Steve: Sure. Yeah, I’m just thinking in the back of my mind right now, I guess a couple things I might be nervous about would be like if that person decides to leave you, leave UrTasker, the person that’s been assigned me who has intimate knowledge of my business, and then all of a sudden I have to start all over with someone new, right? I guess it’s the same whether they’re an employee of my own.

Omer: What we offer is basically we say that, okay, obviously, whoever leaves they have to provide us a two month notice. So, we basically prepare the replacement during that time, and obviously, the client has to agree, are they have to be happy with that new guy. Let’s say if someone leaves immediate notice or whatever the situation is, we take care of the replacement better in training. So let’s say if the new guy needs two big training, we’re not going to charge to client, we’re going to take care of that. So replacement is complimentary as well.

Steve: Can you give me an idea of what I get for six bucks as opposed to $15 like at the ends of the scale?

Omer: Sure. So six bucks is I would say like someone who has six months or one year experience, okay, and they could do like basic data entry. Obviously, they’re trained on Amazon, eBay or Shopify, Walmart, but they would know basic stuff with one year experience. Then we have specialist and expert and expert is basically lot of people who use for PPC management, just focusing on PPC. We work with a lot of agencies as well, they get those guys. But the middle one is the most popular one specialist one where he or she can manage all the tasks for listing, listing optimization, PPC management, all those things.

Steve: So it sounds like realistically for like 10 to $12, you can get someone to just do listing optimization, PPC management, and all the basic tasks I guess that an Amazon seller requires. And then the most expensive part would be just specialists that have been doing this for a very long time if you need more specialized help.

Omer: Definitely yes.

Steve: Okay cool. Hey Omer, I also wanted to give you a chance to talk a little bit about UrTasker and the special offer that you’re giving. Before you talk about that, I just wanted to just mention that I had — the reason why I came across Omer in the first place for the listeners out there is they came to me and they said, hey, we’re willing to do this free account audit for you. And because I treat my e-commerce business like a laboratory, I was like, sure, why not? Let’s see if they can find anything.

And during this free audit, they discovered that my team had made a couple of mistakes on my Amazon listings and they were there actually embarrassing mistakes. I guess someone on my team had mistakenly put something in the incorrect field on my Amazon listing and once that was rectified, sales have gone up close to 30%. And when you have a lot of listings, oftentimes you might lose track of some little details and just using and getting another set of eyeballs on your listings is actually quite helpful. So sorry, Omer, tell them about this, the service and where they can find you.

Omer: Sure. I mean, what we offer is — I think we offer at Sellers Summit as well and through people who are coming from your podcast, it’s a special offer as well. Whenever we onboard someone or we talk to anyone, the very first thing we do is account audit, just to make sure how your account is doing. Basically, it serves two purposes. On your side, it tells you like, do we really know Amazon? That’s how we know each other when I talked to you and you said, what is UrTasker? I don’t know. I said; okay let me do an account audit. And we did that and we found a couple of things which are helpful to you.

So we do a very detailed account audit. And I’m going to offer through this podcast free of cost. We could basically audit your account, and if you want us to focus on some listing, we could do that as well, just to find out and it’s great information, no obligation you take it, okay. If you like it, that’s great. And you could basically use that information to improve your account, or make those changes. And it shows you that what we know about Amazon. So it’s a free account audit, it takes us two to three days to perform. So that is the offer which I have.

Steve: Yeah. So just for you guys listening out there, you got nothing to lose. Like I said, Omer just came up to me and said, hey, let me audit your Amazon listings. And I didn’t think he was going to find anything to be honest with you. But he ended up doing it. And it’s actually this PDF report that he sends you which is pretty good. So I mean, even if you already been selling on Amazon for a while, it’s worth just getting this account audit, which is free. And since that, they found some stuff and I’ve been using UrTasker to do some listing optimization and basically just to check up on my work. Anyways, so Omer, they can find you at UrTasker.com, right?

Omer: Yes.

Steve: Okay. And they can just ask about this offer they just heard on the podcast.

Omer: Yes, they can ask us through Facebook, on our website. Our reps are there so you could find us.

Steve: Awesome. Well Omer, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with respect to outsourcing. Thanks a lot.

Omer: Thank you so much. And at the end, I would say that I was at the Sellers Summit and it was great, great summit, and I would tell everybody to go next year. It was such a great summit. I still have memories, talked to so many people. It was so different. It was amazing.

Steve: Awesome. And I hope we’ll see you there next year again.

Omer: Definitely.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Omer: Take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now if you find yourself overwhelmed with your e-commerce business, it makes sense to outsource some of these tasks overseas. And right now I have a full time VA in the Philippines who has worked out great and I’ve used UrTasker to help update my Amazon listings as well. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode263.

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 parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. Now 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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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!

262: How Amazon Counterfeits Nearly Destroyed A 7 Figure Business With Kevin Williams

Today I’m really excited to have Kevin Williams back on the show. Kevin runs the site BrushHero.com where he sells a power cleaning brush.

Last time we spoke on episode 209, Kevin’s company was doing great, sales were going gangbusters and they had just been on Shark Tank. But last year, things took a sharp turn due to an unfortunate sequence of events involving IP theft and piracy.

In today’s episode, Kevin and I talk about what happened and how he almost lost his entire business.

What You’ll Learn

  • The revenue and profit of Kevin’s business
  • How Shark Tank affected sales
  • The dangers of comingling inventory
  • Amazon’s take down policy for trademark and patent infringement
  • How to fight the fakes

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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Avalara.com – Handling sales tax is complicated. Fortunately, Avalara simplifies sales tax with real-time tax rate calculations and automatic return filing. And the best part is that Avalara already integrates with your existing accounting, e-commerce and marketplaces like Amazon, so it’s super easy to setup. Click here and get a FREE TRIAL.

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’m thrilled to have my friend Kevin Williams back on the show. And the last time I had Kevin on; his business was flying high and growing at an exponential rate. But this past year, a group of malicious Amazon sellers basically came close to destroying his entire multimillion dollar business. And in this interview, we’re going to talk about what happened and what you can do to fight the counterfeits.

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%.

You can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pops and abandoned cart 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. Whether you’re getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale, Klaviyo offers fast, simple and repeatable ways to grow. And with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing, build your customer relationships and automate your online sales. And it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences. So I just want to introduce Klaviyo’s new entrepreneur growth guide. It is packed with must read blog posts, case studies and getting started content and this guide will help you prioritize what you need to do to maximize revenue growth.

Now moving to a new marketing platform can be intimidating. But Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support resources. Now you can explore this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/mywife, 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 really excited to have Kevin Williams back on the show. And Kevin runs a site BrushHero.com where he sells a power cleaning brush that hooks up to your hose and spins with a lot of torque to clean up hard to clean objects like wheels, bikes, boats, and more. Anyways, last time we spoke on episode 209, Kevin’s company was kicking butt, they had just been on Shark Tank, sales were going like gangbusters. But last year, things took a sharp turn due to an unfortunate sequence of events involving IP theft and piracy. And I want to let Kevin talk about what happened. And with that welcome to the show Kevin, how are you doing today?

Kevin: I’m doing great, Steve, how about yourself?

Steve: I’m doing well. And you sound great by the way.

Kevin: So last time we talked was…

Steve: Six to eight months ago I want to say right.

Kevin: Yes, six or eight months, February or March last year. Our Shark Tank episode aired right at the end of January, which to be honest, was a little sub optimal for a water power clean brush. But still all the anecdotes you hear about Shark Tank are pretty much true. We got a bunch of media attention, we got a surge in sales, real high levels of morale. And then we realized that the judges and the American public weren’t the only people that were watching Shark Tank. It turns out that a lot of Chinese manufacturers were watching Shark Tank as well.

Steve: Why is it always the Chinese manufacturers? I mean, you could have just said manufacturers. But I guess they were…

Kevin: No, it was Chinese manufacturers.

Steve: Oh they were, okay right.

Kevin: It’s true. It’s true that it is — it could easily have been Bangladeshi or…

Steve: I’m just giving you a hard time sorry, go on.

Kevin: But it is a good question, it really is. And I think the answer in my case is that because it’s an injection molded product, and China is the land of injection molded products. For clarity, I produce my product in the UK and then assemble it in the US. So I don’t actually do Chinese injection molding. But China is the source of all things plastic, generally speaking.

Steve: That’s correct.

Kevin: Anyway, so we’re doing well, we’re selling a lot of units, even though it was cold and dank outside. And then right around the end of April and the beginning of May, we started to see fakes pop up. And the way that we just discovered it was truly unfortunate. We started to get calls into our customer service department saying, hey, my brush popped off or the turbine just broke, or hey, this thing is just a piece of junk. Or most disturbingly, why does it say made in China on the box? That raised all kinds of red flags.

So we had some really well-meaning customers send in their packaging and it turned out that not only did we have knockoffs, but they were true fakes. They were using all of our images, including images of me, they put our patent numbers and our customer service phone number right on their fake box. So after they sold the product, and people had trouble, those customers rightfully dialed that customer service number and it was absolutely devastating for us.

Steve: Are you sure the – so how did this affect sales? So first of all what were your numbers in profit? I guess the last time we talked and what happened immediately after that happened?

Kevin: Well, we were on a big upswing anyway. Before Shark Tank, we had both Walmart and Costco retail distribution heading our way. So we were – oh gosh, in 2017 we were heading towards $3 million. After Shark Tank in 2018, we were projecting hitting about five and a half million dollars all things considered. Remember, this is early in our season. Our season really hits its stride somewhere in April, May, June somewhere, but we absolutely started to see some sales impacts because first there was one and then there were two and then there were five and then there were dozens and dozens and dozens.

First day really popped up on eBay. Then they popped up on the Amazon EU marketplaces, we sell in most of the Amazon marketplaces. It actually lagged a little bit with Amazon US because due to a quirk of fate, we had brand restriction or brand gating in the US, which prevented sellers from selling on our listing.

Steve: How do you get brand new gating by the way? What did you have to go through to get that?

Kevin: You have to know the right people. No, that’s not true. Brand restriction, which is the actual term that Amazon uses, we all say brand gating. Amazon doesn’t really like that term. But brand restriction is granted on a case by case basis. And it’s rarely, rarely granted. My supposition is often it’s granted these days as a result of arbitration or litigation of some kind. In my case, our brand was a very early participant in something called the Launchpad program. And the Launchpad program was what Amazon was terming an incubator for little brands to help them grow.

And I think that our rep at some point, just basically flipped the switch on the back end, we didn’t get any proactive notice about it. We didn’t even know it had happened until we had an authorized reseller try and list the product and bump into the gating screen or restriction screen, which says, hey, you need written permission in order to sell this brand. Honestly, there was a ton of rejoicing in our ranks when we found that. We were like, yay, we’re gated, we’re safe, it’s good. And then gating went away.

Steve: They took it away?

Kevin: They didn’t take it away. As best as we can figure, there was a big upgrade in the Amazon Brand Registry system in May, April, May of last year to Brand Registry 2.0 which offers a whole bunch of new IP enforcement tools to sellers, which is great. But when we upgraded it, we think it did something on the back end of Amazon that just refreshed our records. Amazon has zero record of us ever being restricted but we totally were. In retrospect, I really wish that we’d taken screenshots and had some sort of proof that we had restriction in place because once it went away, Amazon just said, no, you weren’t. We had really no way to do anything about it.

So basically, hours after gating went away, we had our first hijacker on Amazon. And for your audience, the difference between a hijacker and say an imitator is that the hijacker actually lifts on your listing. So they undercut your price and they sell a counterfeit or alternate version of your product. And they steal the Amazon buy box, which gives you the best opportunity for sale. This is different from somebody just listing and another product that similar or even a counterfeit of your product in parallel.

And it’s much more damaging because the listing that we had established over several years of operations had 1,200 reviews, it had over a four star ranking. It had keyword relevance all over the map. We were pushing traffic to it externally through media activities like Shark Tank and our own Facebook activities. So it was horrifying because we had all of these dollars that were floating around there in marketing and all of those dollars were basically going to Chinese fakes.

Steve: So these fakes, these are the guys that were copying your packaging, everything, your customer service numbers, everything exactly, except it was made in China.

Kevin: Except it was made in China. Well, it was all inferior quality. I like to quip that had they done a better job with the counterfeit, everything would it be a lot better for everybody because the counterfeit was such low quality that it just didn’t work. My device is — it is a little complicated as far as a spinning brush, and they just sort of slapped it together. So my brand was then on a product that just didn’t function very well. So the next thing that happened is because it was being sold on my listing on Amazon, I got just a flood of one star reviews. So I had something like 150 one star reviews in a row, just it was funk, a POS etc.

Steve: So those who weren’t malicious right, those were legit one star reviews.

Kevin: Oh yeah, that wasn’t one of these scenarios where somebody is like paying to hurt me. These are real customers who thought they were buying my product and instead got a fake version that was a piece of junk. And they got on the internet and they told the world. That was a giant deal. So we went from number one in the number of categories to just off the first page, sales plummeted by 50% plus on those listings, and that’s not even including the issues that we had with the hijackers.

Steve: How did they get the buy box? Were they just drastically undercutting the price? Is that what happened?

Kevin: Sure, yeah. We had both FBM, so fulfilled by merchant hijackers at extremely low prices that were shipping direct from China. And we had FBA hijackers, who were either directly placing their inventory in Amazon under their own seller name, or they were commingling their inventory in Amazon based on just the UPC.

Steve: Let’s talk a little bit about that. So first of all, if you wouldn’t mind defining commingling for the audience, that’d be great.

Kevin: So commingling is seems to me that it’s on the way out. But a few years ago, Amazon, it was really hard to the idea that you could have what you call fungible inventory. So we all know what a UPC is, the labels in individual product. Well, from Amazon’s perspective, if two products have the same UPC, they’re the same product. So if you Steve in California are selling let’s just say a coke, and I’m in Utah selling a coke and they both have the same UPC, and we’re selling it on Amazon, from the consumers’ perspective, as long as those products are identical. It doesn’t matter if Amazon grabs your piece of inventory or my piece of inventory, because they’re fungible, they’re the same thing right?

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: That breaks badly when you have a counterfeit situation. Because in the vast fulfillment centers of Amazon, what happened was, we ended up with a boatload of products that had our UPC on them, but were fakes. So I would end up selling a product to someone that totally legit, I’d have the buy box, but an Amazon fulfillment center would grab a fake off the rack, and then they’d ship that to that customer. So now the customer gets a fake that I actually sold. And then they go back and they write a one star review.

Now, I go back to Amazon and say, hey Amazon, you know we’re having a fake problem, a counterfeit problem, help me out here, this one star review is clearly related to it. And Amazon says no way. Look here, this buyer Steve is connected to one of your orders. And since they’re connected to your order, you sold it to them and go on, prove to us that the inventory we shipped is fake, and just can’t. The flip side is the fake seller would occasionally sell a real unit to their people. So somebody would buy a real Brush Hero for 9.99 or 12.99, and get my real product.

Steve: So what’s confusing to me is I remember, you were featured in Inc. Magazine recently and it said that you are the only seller of your product. So what are the chances that someone else would be selling it and so what advantage did you have on commingling your inventory?

Kevin: It was encouraged by Amazon early on in that from an Amazon fulfillment efficiency perspective a lot of my inventory tends to go to Stockton, the Stockton fulfillment center for whatever reason. But if I have an East Coast customer and some East Coast seller of the product had the product and inventory over there, they’d far rather be able to give the amazon customer one day delivery than two or three day delivery by having to airfreight it from Stockton.

Imagine what that would cost if all my inventory was in Stockton, and I had a New York customer and Amazon needs to meet their prime promise for New York, yeah, a New York customer, they’re going to have to fly that thing all the way across the country. And they’ll do it so they can satisfy that customer. But when they analyzed it, they thought oh well, inventory is inventory, all the UPCs are the same. So why not just pick the one from New York? It also saved some complexity in my warehouse. Most of my volume actually comes off Amazon. It is from retail and from my direct channels. So if I’m having to sticker Amazon inventory with FN SKUs, it just adds complexity, it adds a little cost etc. In retrospect, it was a huge mistake. So if you take one thing away from this Amazon sellers, don’t ever commingle your inventory, don’t do it.

Steve: So what you just said implies that you have resellers that are actually selling your product legitimately, right?

Kevin: No, I don’t. I have pretty tight channel control. In various times that has happened. It’s not something we encourage, it’s not any part of our strategy. And in our reseller agreements, we actually prohibit it now. But for a brief time, we thought that it might be a good idea. That’s also a horrible idea. If you can control Amazon, you should control Amazon.

Steve: Okay. All right. So in terms of – all right, so obviously, you complained to Amazon. And what happened after that? First of all, what is Amazon’s takedown policy for this sort of thing?

Kevin: So we have three different types of protection in Amazon. We have well, three different types of intellectual property protection in general. We have utility patents, US and some international utility patents, we have our trademarks which are registered with a USPTO and we have general copyright protection. In Amazon land, in excess of 85% of our successful take downs, actually just at large, 85% of our successful take downs are related to copyrights. And the reason why is there is something called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, even Google or others to make a reasonable effort to remove infringing copyright material once it’s reported.

So they’re pretty clean and clear reporting mechanisms and Amazon for saying, hey, this is clearly our image. Where it gets really complicated is when a seller who may or may not be in your listing by the way, a lot of these copyright claims are, they’re not hijacking our listing, they’re actually creating a parallel listing, and then they steal our images. So there’s a picture of me standing there cleaning my neighbor’s dog, literally. And that’s something that’s in one of our listings. And it’s pretty obvious that it’s me, and we can point to the copyright and Amazon will take that down, sometimes in as little as 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, not a big deal.

Where it really stinks is when there’s a hijacker or there’s somebody who’s not superficially using copyrighted material. You actually have to purchase the item, and demonstrate the copyright or trademark infringement. So again, my brand is Brush Hero. So I bet if you looked on one of the Amazons right now, you’d find something called 360 brush cleaner. And 360 brush cleaner at this point has done away with stealing my images but they’re still using the box. So I have to buy the product, have it shipped from China, which can take two or three weeks and then photograph the box, which always still includes pictures of me, and then report the box. Meanwhile, that listing has been sitting up and active for two or three weeks, and it’s been siphoning off small amounts of my traffic the whole time.

The most insidious example of this was over Black Friday, Cyber Monday weekend. I was on — you should never go on vacation that particular weekend. Yeah, in e-commerce world, you pretty much give up Thanksgiving. But I was in San Francisco with my family. And right around four o’clock on Thanksgiving afternoon, we had seven hijackers pop up on our listing, because they knew full well that it being a US holiday, followed by Black Friday, followed by a weekend followed by Cyber Monday, it wasn’t likely that Amazon was going to be able to take down those listings.

So even though we reported them by 4:30 on Thanksgiving, it took until Tuesday or Wednesday for them to go down. So on one of the biggest sales weekends of the year, and this was just a few months ago, we didn’t own our buy box for significant portions of the time. And that could have directly cost us $30,000 over that weekend. It’s sort of hard to quantify. But they’re smart. They know what they’re doing. They know how the system works, and they know how to work it.

Steve: All right, so you just presented two problems. So it sounds like the parallel listings are not really a problem. Is that accurate?

Kevin: No, they are definitely a problem. They’re out there. They look a lot like our product. They generally have low star rankings.

Steve: But they’re not pretending to be you. It’s just like another piece of competition from your perspective, right?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah, at this point, it’s less of a problem now because we’ve been very effective in our whack a mole efforts. I looked last evening, and we have 7,200 individual intellectual property actions since May.

Steve: Oh my gosh, okay. Do you automate this process or is it just like a real manual process?

Kevin: We use — last year, when it was really starting to ramp up, at one point we employed three different intellectual property whack a mole firms. I mean, that really is the best way to describe them. These are firms that specialize in identifying keywords, images, multilingual references to your product in market places all over the world. And they’ve established API, or in some cases manual reporting mechanisms through those. And just every single day, they’re refining and reporting more.

I also have a virtual assistant who spends a chunk of every day doing our own internal checks and then adding those to the firm we use, which the firm that we landed on is one called Pointer Brand, which is out of the Netherlands. They’ve been a very good partner. And we now have a lot of data as far as who these people are, where they’re coming from, what the countries are, etc.

Steve: Okay, so you went to Amazon and there’s this process for getting them taken down. So presumably, once you actually get the product in hand, you take a picture, and they’ll take it down, right. But obviously more pop up faster than you can take them down. So what can you do about that?

Kevin: Well, we are a participant in the transparency program; it hasn’t fully kicked in yet. But that’s an individual unit labeling program that provides a born on date, and basically a unique identity for each unit. So if you were to use your Amazon consumer app and scan one of these little QR codes on the back of my product, it would say built in Salt Lake City in November of 2018 because that’s when we initiated that particular production run that the stickers are using. Amazon is supposed to prohibit units that don’t have the transparency code affixed to them from entering circulation. But we have yet to see that kick in. It’s in process, I have faith in it, but it hasn’t fully kicked in yet.

Similarly, there’s an FBM version that requires fulfilled by merchant sellers to demonstrate that they have the QR codes through photographic evidence. But that is in beta and hasn’t fully rolled out yet either, so other ways to prevent this from happening.

Steve: So before it came back up on the transparency program, why hasn’t it kicked in yet exactly, or what hasn’t kicked in yet?

Kevin: It’s a big rollout for Amazon, and they’re still basically trying to figure it out. We enrolled in transparency in mid-2018 and it has, it’s still rolling out. The fulfillment centers are still dealing with how to find these codes and identify them and scan them accurately etc.

Steve: Are you paying money for this right now?

Kevin: So yes, you pay five cents a code plus you have the sticker itself, which is it can be a center too and then you have to adhere it. So I would say I’m spending 10 cents a unit to make this happen. There’s no subscription fee, there’s no recurring fee that’s tied to it. Given the issues I’ve had and the sort of financial impact we’ve had, to me it was a no brainer to at least give it a try to see if it would work.

Steve: It’s really new so I’m not sure what the procedure is. So let’s say someone gets a fake, are you supposed to have that customer report that code to Amazon?

Kevin: So they wouldn’t be able to have a code. It should never make it into the Amazon system. These things are — they look like little QR codes, and like a data matrix and every single one of them is unique. Unlike an FN SKU which is the Amazon unit identifier within the fulfillment system, you can print those right on a box and it’s not going to change. Every single unit I have has a slightly different QR matrix that is machine readable. Theoretically, those are encrypted and it would be very, very difficult for somebody to spoof them. They can spoof one and copy it over and over again but Amazon is supposed to pick up on that.

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Right, okay, and that infrastructure is not in place yet right, the detection and enforcement?

Kevin: It is in place. It’s just it doesn’t feel like it’s at full force yet. We know that we still have hijackers, and we know that we still have fakes. This is one of — I feel pretty positive about this program. And I feel that Amazon will get it under control, they will recognize this issue. This is one of the ways that they have to mitigate it. And I absolutely see down the road, everyone who’s in any sort of sensitive category, like toys or nutraceuticals or high counterfeit items, you’ll see Amazon pushing everybody towards this program, I’m sure.

Steve: So that actually solves a problem at the end customer. But is there anything that you can do at the source to like shut down the manufacturers themselves?

Kevin: So we have — in 2018, we filed for a pile of Chinese intellectual property documents. So we filed for utility patents, for trademark protection, for copyrights, etc. Those are all going through the Chinese patents in the intellectual property system right now. And had we had the trademark in particular filed in China, we would have had a lot more teeth. Alibaba has been a decent partner as far as taking down trademark violations because they recognize the bad press it creates, but some of the others less so. And they want to see that there’s actually a Chinese violation. In my opinion, the Chinese tend to respect Chinese law a little bit more than they do other laws. So had I had those pieces in place before, I may have been able to stem the tide.

Steve: Did they register the trademark in China though?

Kevin: They did.

Steve: Oh my god. Okay.

Kevin: So they registered my patents, they registered my trademarks; they even tried to register some of my copyrights. We’ve won some of the trademark battles; we’re probably going to lose the patent battles. But we’re actually trying at this point just to invalidate their patents based on the fact that there was prior art as in the product is already out there. So you don’t get to patent it. But it’s expensive. And I think this is it’s a good point to be made. People say, oh, what do you wish you’d done differently? Well, the company was headed towards $3 million in revenue.

Had I known what was going to happen to me at that sort of scale, it probably would have made sense for me to file for the Chinese trademarks then. And it’s ended up costing me almost $50,000 to do that. So that’s not an easy thing to do for a small company that’s growing really rapidly. I would way rather spend that $50,000 on most of a new person or a new product or whatever. But instead, I’ve been playing whack a mole. So before we went on Shark Tank, which that was never a sure thing, right. It’s not like you know you’re going to go and you know you’re going to air. But we were on an upswing, things were going in the right direction. So it would have been smart for us to invest in that sort of protection before we grow.

Steve: So trademark is $50,000 in China?

Kevin: Well, but by the time you go through a reputable firm and register for multiple categories, and in our case, we had to battle down the previous filers of our trademark. So there was some back and forth, not necessarily litigation, but there was a lot of administrative process that we had to go through. Had we filed before there was anyone, it would have been quite a bit less than that. I don’t have a particularly good number. We also went through a large US law firm DLA Piper, because at that point we just needed to make it happen and make it happen right. I’m positive that if you found local council, you could pay a lot less.

Steve: But once you have the trademark, I guess your point is you could have shut these people down?

Kevin: Faster and easier. It would have stemmed the tide. Just picture it like a funnel at the very top of the funnel, it’s like an inverted funnel are the manufacturers. And as far as we know, we had at least five distinct manufacturers making the product. And that comes from an analysis of the fakes that we’ve seen and their mold lines and things like that. They’re all slightly different from each other. And if those guys are getting battered down when they’re doing their first test runs, they may decide not to proceed with the run. But we also think that they made hundreds of thousands of units.

And although we’ve been very successful in battling them, they’re still out there, and they’re still out there in big piles, and they’re devalued because their customers don’t want to buy them because they know that we as the brand are going to go after them with vigor. So now they’re pretty much dumping the inventory. We’re seeing listings popping up. Yesterday we had one pop up in Bangladesh; we see them in like Bolivia, and really crazy places. Those of you who backpack and travel, you might well see my product in like