The Story Behind the Creation of vWorker.com with Company Founder Ian Ippolito

Would you like to learn what goes into creating a website that does over $11 million a year?

Do you ever wonder how such a business attracts so many customers?

To hear the story behind vWorker.com, I interview company founder, Ian Ippolito in this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Ian Ippolito of vWorker.com

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Transcript

Trent: Hey there, Bright Idea hunters. Thank you so much for joining
me for the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is
the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to
use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their
business.Now in this episode I am joined by Ian Ippolito, the founder of
vWorker.com. If you’ve ever used one of these sites to find outsourcers,
vWorker is one of the most popular of those sites. Now in this particular
interview, Ian is going to share with us his particular strategy for how to
design the perfect product for your customers. Many companies go down the
road and they build in features that customers don’t end up wanting and Ian
is going to share with us his process to avoid that.The next thing is early on in vWorker’s life there was a very deep-pocketed
competitor that came in and they could outspend vWorker 10 to 1, but yet
vWorker prevailed. Ian’s going to share with us the strategy he used to
make that happen.Finally, if you’ve been considering starting an affiliate program for your
site, you really want to listen to Ian’s ideas on how to create the
ultimate affiliate program. Affiliates are the largest source of revenue
for vWorker and in this episode, Ian is going to share with us exactly how
he created it. So please join me in welcoming Ian to the show.Hey, Ian. Thank you so much for making the time to do this interview with
me. You’ve got a very successful company you’re at the helm of so I’m super
stoked to get into that and find out how you built it.Ian: Thanks, Trent. It’s a pleasure to be here.Trent: Just for the listeners who are, I shouldn’t say “listeners”.
For the people who are watching this, you’ll notice that Ian is a little
blurry. We did do our best to figure that out before we decided to record
but, sadly, neither one of us could make it happen so this is the best
video that we’ve got for you for today.All right. Ian, you’re the founder and, I’m assuming, still CEO of
vWorker.com. This has become a pretty big site so for the people who maybe
haven’t heard of you and don’t know what this, can you tell me how much are
you doing in revenue right now, how many years have you been in business
and what does the business actually do?Ian: Sure. We’ve been in business since 2001 and last year we did $11.1
million in revenues and what vWorker does is we connect together typically
business, so sometimes small businesses, sometimes larger. A lot of times,
just entrepreneurs with remote workers and these remote workers can do all
sorts of things for them a lot cheaper than bringing someone on-site to do
the same work.Trent: OK. That’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve had
remote workers on my team for probably 18 months now but, man, 2001, wasn’t
even on my radar screen. I was the CEO of my last company then and I, in
hindsight, probably could have saved a bunch of money if I had known that
stuff like yours existed. So I have to guess that back in 2001, was this a
really foreign concept for people back then?Ian: Yes, it was. It really wasn’t something that anyone would think
about. Outsourcing or just kind of getting a remote worker is something a
really big company could afford but nothing that the typical sized company
or the entrepreneur would ever even think of.Trent: OK. That leads me into the story that many of us think about
is, “How on earth did you come up with the idea?” Let’s go back to 2001,
you’re a coder by training if I’ve done my research correctly. You’re a guy
that liked to write software.Ian: Yes, that’s right.Trent: You started off with, I think, Planet Source Code. Was that
your first kind of entrepreneurial venture or had you kind of done a bunch
of stuff that did or didn’t work before that?Ian: That was the first entrepreneurial venture that did halfway decent.
Yes, I did a bunch of other things beforehand. I think I was like most
entrepreneurs. I tried a whole bunch of things and learned a lot of lessons
from things that didn’t succeed.Trent: Yes, absolutely. I learned most of my lessons from the mistakes
that I make. All right. In the early years, you started off with this thing
called “Planet Source Code” and then did that eventually, because vWorker
started as Rentacoder, that was the original brand, did Plant Source Code,
did it sort of feed you into Rentacoder? Can you talk a bit about how that
transition happened?Ian: Yes, you’re exactly right. It not only physically fit in, like not
only did we physically move the people in but even conceptually. Basically,
the idea for what was vWorker, which was Rentacoder back then, was that, I
owned the Planet Source Code site and I was a computer consultant.I was just, I guess you could say, minding my own business. I would
constantly get these e-mails and these e-mails would be, “Hey, Ian, you’re
the webmaster of this site. I like it. I just don’t have the time to use
it. Could you do some programming for me?”That was my job and yet I was so busy, I turned it down. I got e-mail after
e-mail, the same thing over and over again, people asking the same thing.
They needed some help and I didn’t even know really where to turn them to.
After probably, maybe, about 20 or 30 of them, turning them down and
turning them down, I finally thought, “Ooh, you know what? I think I’ve got
this all backwards. There’s an unmet need here and people really, really
need this.If I could come up with some way where they can hire someone, obviously
they can’t hire me, but if they could hire someone else and if somehow I
could guarantee it or make it safe because they’d be hiring someone that
they don’t know and do it over the Internet, wouldn’t that be awesome.”That was basically the idea. That’s how it started. I just kind of one day
just did something on my laptop, kind of typed it all up and made a little
prototype and thought, “Hmm, I think that could work,” and I put it out
there to try it.Trent: OK. So for the folks, and I’m going to put myself in this camp,
who aren’t familiar with Planet Source Code, if I did my research
correctly, you had built that into a fairly popular, highly trafficked
site, is that correct?Ian: Yes, that’s right. That’s a whole story in itself, Planet Source
Code, because this was in the first dot-com crash. It was before the dot-
com crash so pre-2001 and back then, as long as you had a high traffic
site, you could make really, really good money just putting up ads.To give you an idea, for example, I remember Microsoft and Oracle were
advertising on this website, this website for computer programmers, and
they would pay 60 CPM, so $60.00 to show a little 468 x 60, which is a tiny
ad by today’s standards and that site was doing at least a million visitors
a month, it was doing very, very well pre-dot-com crash.It was a great business model. Basically, it was just myself. I had a
second employee who kind of handled the paperwork and the accounting and
that was it. It was a great business model but, also, unfortunately, it was
a little bit doomed to failure because the dot-com crash came and all of
the sudden now all of the people that were advertising on the site couldn’t
pay their bills.I had my own bills that I needed to pay because I had purchased these
things called “T1 lines”. T1’s are like high-speed lines because back then,
you didn’t have high-speed to your house or anything like that. Each one of
those was $1,000 a month yearly contract and I had six of those.My advertisers were drying up, my expenses were still about the same and I
was like, “I need to do something here. I need to find some other way to
monetize this audience. I don’t want to end up as a casualty of this whole
dot-com crash.”Trent: As many did. Your decision =then was to transition your
business model completely away from advertising to helping connect people
who needed talent and talent that needed work.Ian: Yes, exactly. Rather than advertising, an actual service, which was a
lot more difficult but it also provided a lot more value, it ended up being
a lot more lucrative.Trent: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about the business model that you
had back then because you had this traffic so that wasn’t really going to
be a problem, per se. Well, let me think this through. Because you have to
connect two different parties, you’ve got people who can write code and
people who are going to need code. The traffic at Planet Source Code was
probably people who were going to write code because they’re coming there
to get snippets of code that they can use in whatever projects that they
were working on. Is that correct?Ian: Yes, that is correct. It was only half of the audience I needed,
basically.Trent: In the other half, you’re pretty much a startup, and these are
the guys with the money.

Ian: Yes. Yes, exactly, and without them, it’s a chicken and egg because
it’s like I don’t know which side you have to develop first. You kind of
have to develop both of them at the same time. Yes, the ones with the money
were not there. I had to find some way to generate those and bring those
people in.

Trent: All right. Let’s talk about the first year. You’ve got lots of
people willing to write code, nobody who wants to hire a coder has ever
heard of you. You had to get the word out and that’s a challenge that so
many of us, well, everybody who’s in business is faced with this. What are
some of the things that you did to make that happen?

Ian: This was awhile ago, this was 2001. It was actually before Google ads
were even out there. The equivalent back then was called “Overture”. I put
out a bunch of ads on Overture and it was really cheap by today’s
standards. You might pay $0.05 or $0.10 a click, which anyone that does
Internet marketing today, if you can do $0.05 or $0.10 a click on something
that’s converting, you’re just printing money.

This was the early days of it and it was very cheap. Even then, it was
difficult to drive enough traffic to it because Overture just wasn’t
Google. They didn’t have all the traffic that Google has today. I tried
that. I tried e-mailing to people but a lot of it was actually, and
especially at the beginning, probably more of our customers were like kind
of on a word of mouth thing.

I told you I had all those people in Plant Source Code requesting things so
I was like, “OK. Send out e-mails to them. Get them coming in,” and they
told other people and they told other people so that’s built. It wasn’t
fast but it was something that slowly built. Then we kind of got our first
break, our first lucky break, which was one of those people that they
referred happened to be a guy from The Wall Street Journal.

He used the site and he was like, “Wow,” and he was so amazed by the fact
that he could hire someone that he didn’t know, he asked them all sorts of
questions, got him to send pictures of himself and then wrote an article
about it. That was the first big break that just “boom!” popped up the
visibility of the site.

Trent: What did that do to your traffic, do you think? Yes, let me
just leave the question there.

Ian: Yes, it was instant spike. It was almost too much to handle because
the servers were only built to a certain capacity. It isn’t like today
where you could probably just ramp up a server virtually and things like
that. We had physical machines that all the software was on and it was
tough for them to handle.

I think when that article came out, the phones started ringing off the hook
and instantly the traffic just went “pfft”, through the roof, probably
about four or five times.

Trent: It’s not the worst problem in the world to have.

Ian: It isn’t the worst problem in the world but at the same time, as a
business owner, you are running frantically trying to make sure everything
can keep up because the customer service people couldn’t keep up and if the
website went down it’s almost like not having a building open to welcome
your customers. Yes, it was exciting but it was also worrisome too at the
same time.

Trent: Before that article, do you remember what revenue looked like
on a typical month? And then do you remember what revenue looked like after
that article?

Ian: It started very slowly. I mean, it was profitable from the first
month but it made something like $50 on month one and probably a little bit
before the article I would guess maybe it was making a few thousand dollars
a month, around that line, so it definitely popped it up. What was
interesting, I did that and at the same time I also kind of started a whole
marketing strategy, which was based on a book that my brother had given me
called ‘Crossing the Chasm’.

Which is a book about tech startups, why so many tech startups, kind of,
just start off, and they have this great idea and they get a few early
adopters to kind of be interested in their product. Then, they just can’t
get the momentum to keep going, they kind of fall in this thing that the
author called “the chasm”. Awesome book. It was perfect timing. So we had
that big, lucky break with The Wall Street Journal and then at the same
time, try to take advantage of it with some of these techniques.

Trent: This is obviously now ten years ago, can you think back, was
there any particular strategy that you learned from Geoffrey Moore’s book,
I think that’s his name . . .

Ian: Yes, that’s right.

Trent: That was really helpful to you back then?

Ian: Pretty much all of it was helpful. I was clueless. Like for example
the idea of the whole product, so so many companies will go out there and
they’ll say, “Look, I have a great idea,” and they develop a few of the key
things that are needed. They open up shop and try to get everyone to come.

What happens is people come, and they’ll go, “Wow, you’ve got three of the
things that I need but without these other two things, it doesn’t really do
what I need it to do,” and what they find is these people won’t come back
two months, three months, or a year later when they actually have that
stuff up. They’ve kind of blown their opportunity.

It’s a coupling of the lean startup methodology, which is do the minimum
that you have to get something out there, but at the same time, that
minimum, make sure it really does meet their needs and there isn’t
something in there that’s missing that’s going to make them say, “Oh, why
should I hang around?”

I spent a lot of time thinking about the whole product. It has a good
section in that book explaining how you analyze who your target market is
and you kind of identify what those markets are and then you figure out
what are their needs and what product features did they need in order to
develop the whole product. It worked really well.

Trent: It did. When you were going through this phase and I always
think of cash flow and what a challenge it is, especially in the early
years or what I call “the lean years”, did you have just you as a full-time
employee and then maybe a couple of contractors? What did overhead look
like back then?

Ian: I had the Planet Source Code already, so I already had my CFO.
Remember, I said there was one person doing the books. I brought her over.
There was her and then there was a part-timer who was a contractor. That’s
how it looked, just running out of a room in my house, yes.

Trent: Was it cash flow positive back at that point after The Wall
Street Journal article came out? Were you able to run the company off what
it was bringing in?

Ian: I guess I was very lucky. It was actually cash flow positive even
from the beginning just because, in a way, the Planet Source Code, I had
already invested all of the money in Planet Source Code for the
infrastructure so it was like I already owned the software, I already owned
the computers.

I had this CFO already so then when I brought them over to here, really the
only extra overhead was this extra contractor so it was positive from the
beginning but not much, very tiny, tiny amounts, not enough to make
anything.

Trent: Did you take a salary back then?

Ian: No, no. There was very little left over. All that money was being
saved.

Trent: OK. If you accounted for your time, it wasn’t cash flow
positive.

Ian: Oh, no, no, no. It was definitely cash flow negative. I was investing
huge amounts of time in there. I was probably investing 60 and 70 hours a
week.

Trent: Yes, my first three years of my last startup, I didn’t see a
dime so I understand what that’s like. Alright so you had in your first
year you were very fortunate to get some exposure from The Wall Street
Journal but you also had a really big issue and it nearly put you out of
business.

Ian: Yes.

Trent: You want to talk a little bit about what that issue was?

Ian: Well, it was credit card fraud. What had happened was we were
starting to gain a little bit of momentum and then starting to do a little
bit better and numbers were starting to look better, starting to get larger
and larger projects and just when momentum was going really, really well
there, I thought.

We had a little bit of momentum, we had a really big order and I was like,
“Wow, this is awesome!” Very big order. At the time it was a big order for
us, $1,000. So this $1,000 came in, I said, “Great. Awesome. This is
probably going to be a great month.”

End of the month came, and the way we work is we take money in, so we take
$1,000 from the employer and we give the worker their percentage of it and
we take a percentage of it. We take anywhere from 6.5% to 15%, so we did
that.

The worker was supposed to get paid so they got probably $900.00-something
out of it and we got maybe, whatever we got, $100.00 or something.
Everything seemed fine and then the next day, the credit card company sent
us a fax and they said, “Oh, by the way, that $1,000, that was from a
stolen credit card. That money’s going back.”

Trent: You’ve already paid the worker at this point.

Ian: Yes, yes.

Trent: Wow.

Ian: Not only were we just out the $1,000 but we’d already paid the worker
the amount so not just out our profit but it was a big mess so I was like,
“Wow, this is a crazy concept. They can just take our money back at any
time. That certainly can’t be right.” I called up the credit card company
and ended up arguing with them for a long time but in the end they were
like, “Well, no, this is a stolen card.” I said, “You said it was fine a
month ago.”

They said, “Yes, well we found out since then that it was stolen.” Yes, so
they were like, “There’s nothing we can do. You’ve lost that money.” I
thought, “Whoa, OK. I’ve lost that money.” I was already feeling a little
bit depressed just from that and then next day I got another fax and it
said, “Oh, this $700.00 charge that you thought that you had, that was
fraud too.”

Trent: Oh, man.

Ian: The next day came another one. Within a period of four days, about
$5,000 worth of these fraud transactions came through, one after another
and there didn’t seem to be any end to it. In fact, it seemed to be getting
faster. I guess the big problem is, on the Internet, you don’t know who
anybody is. Everyone is completely anonymous.

What I did was I closed the account of the guy that did the $1,000 one but
then he comes back and creates a brand new account as someone else, creates
a fake e-mail address, pretends he’s from another country and starts over
again.

I thought, “Oh my goodness. We are going to be out of business at the end
of the month if we don’t figure out something.”

Trent: This fraudster, he was his own worker as well. It’s not like it
was a legit worker where you could say, “Hey, man, you didn’t do any work.
Give me the money back.” He was basically using a stolen credit card to pay
himself.

Ian: Yes, that’s exactly right. He was using us as an ATM basically.

Trent: Yes. Wow. That’s tough. How did you solve this problem?

Ian: Basically, I did a lot of research. I just sat down with Zoey [SP],
my CFO, and we researched on the Internet and we were like trying to
understand how do people do these things, how do they steal credit cards,
and we found out that actually, it’s very easy to steal a credit card.

You can actually pay not very much, about $0.50 per stolen credit card. You
can go to these sites where people just have thousands of these things. You
buy a bunch of them and then these thieves will then go to sites and try to
use them as quickly as possible before the credit card company finds out
about them and try to extract as much money out of the vendors as they can.

Understanding that, we thought, “Well, you know what? OK. What separates
them from a real credit card user? They don’t physically have the card.” We
were like, “OK. Well, this is what we’ll do. For every person that runs
through a card, we’re going to ask them, turn over your card, take a look
at it and tell us the name of the bank that’s on the back and give us the
bank phone number.” We didn’t know if it was going to work but we tried it
and it did. It stopped that guy and whoever, maybe that group of people. It
worked well for probably about three or four months.

Just as we had kind of stepped up our game, then thieves decided to step up
their game too. Then all of the sudden they were able to pass that test so
we’re like, “Hmm, OK. We’ve got to take it to the next level here. What are
we going to do?” We thought, “OK. You know what we’ll do? We will force
them to give us a phone number because a lot of these thieves, they’re from
another country. They pretend they’re from the United States or wherever
they steal the credit card from. We’re going to require the person to give
us a phone number and we’ll just call them just to make sure that they
authorized the card, that way we know that they’re in the right country,
gives us a little bit more protection.”

Again, that was something that worked well. That one probably worked for
another six or seven months and then they found another way to get around
it, which was there started to become available these phone numbers that
you could buy and you could say, “Hey, I’m going to buy a phone number in
Colorado. I’m going to buy a phone number in wherever you wanted to be.”
So, even that stopped working.

Again we had to go to the next step which was, we were like, “OK. Well what
else can we do? OK. They don’t physically have access to the account so
what we’ll do is we will charge a small amount,” and this is something that
happens on a lot of sites these days but back then we had to kind of figure
it out ourselves because we didn’t have other sites to model, but we’re
like, “We’re going to charge a small amount on the credit card and not tell
them how much it is, a number between $0.00 and $5.00, then we’ll refund it
back and if they can tell us what that amount is, then they have access to
the card.”

That one stopped it for a good two or three years but I regret to say even
today, we deal with people who I think what they’ve done is they basically
hijacked people’s information to log into, for example, like their Citibank
account or whatever. Not only do they have access to the credit card and
can run through everything on it, but they can look up things and go, “Oh,
this charge was $1.27.” It’s always a cat and mouse game.

Trent: OK. There’s no super happy ending. It’s an ongoing issue of
something that you have to deal with.

Ian: Unfortunately not, no.

Trent: OK. How long does it take you to get the company to its first
million in revenue?

Ian: First million in revenue was probably around, I would guess . . . I’m
sorry?

Trent: We’ll call it like the ‘million dollar run rate’. You’re doing
just under $100,000 per month times 12 months is a million dollar run rate.

Ian: Yes, yes. It was probably, I would guess it was around the fourth
year, third or fourth year.

Trent: Really?

Ian: Yes. It took awhile to get it going. Even with that Wall Street
Journal article, what we noticed is that we had a huge amount of traffic
but then it tapered off so we had to find ways of generating the traffic
ourselves. A lot of it, like I said, was that word of mouth and some of the
marketing that we were doing.

Trent: Expand a little bit on, because I’m really interested, as I’m
sure the audience is, because the lean years are always the toughest years.
People say, “Oh, when you got lots of revenue, you could just buy lots of
ads. How hard can it be?” In those first three or four years, I’m guessing
. . . when you were doing a million dollars in revenue, was it a very
profitable company?

Ian: It was OK. I was still working as a consultant up until like maybe
year two and a half. It was doing OK but not enough to pay me where I felt
like I could let go of all the other work that I was doing.

Trent: OK. It’s not like there was money sloshing all over the place
so you couldn’t just go and be the free-spending maniacs on marketing. What
were some of the other marketing activities that you were doing in those
first three or four years?

Ian: I mentioned some of them. So kind of keeping up with how advertising
on search engines was evolving, so it was evolving from Overture to Google
and things like that and Yahoo. Making sure we were seen on the search
engines.

A lot of search engine optimization, so I learned a lot about, “OK, how do
I make my site friendly for these different keywords? What keywords do I
want to target?” creating specialized pages that kind of catered to the
people that would be looking for those things, paying for search results
and at the same time, trying to drive it up from the bottom with organic
results, trying all sorts of things, basically.

What I found was interesting because a lot of times things would work, kind
of like with the credit card thing. You find something good and it works,
it can work for two or three years and then it stops working so you always
have to kind of reinvent. I remember one thing that worked awesomely at the
time, which was that I was like, “Well you know what we could do?” We were
just Rentacoder, so we didn’t necessarily do all the types of things we do
now, people looking for a programmer in my city.

I created this thing that would basically show all the programmers in, say,
New York City and then optimize searching for that, so a very local thing,
which is much cheaper to advertise on. But, again, it was one of those
things that worked great for a few years and then had to be reinvented
because it stopped working as well. Everyone else starts doing the same
thing and then you have to find something new to do.

Trent: Especially with the Internet and really business in general, I
think everyone listening to this who is in business is probably already
nodding their heads up and down going, “Yes, that’s just life. The only
constant is change.” I wish we could just put things on autopilot and have
them work for years and years but it just does not work that way, which is
why I do all these interviews. There’s always new stuff to be learned and I
want to learn it all and my audience wants to learn it as well.

You’re now at third to fourth year, doing about a $1 million, how long to
get to $3 million?

Ian: Let’s see, third or fourth year was a million so I would guess maybe
that was around year five or so, maybe year five or year six. Yes, that’s
what I would guess at. It definitely took awhile. The other thing that was
happening around that time too were competitors, new competitors, new
people popping up. New people popping up that didn’t run their businesses
the same way, vWorker was always run off of profits.

The new competitors didn’t even worry about profits, they kind of had that
spigot that you were talking about where they could just blanket ads
everywhere that they wanted to and kind of crowd out our ads. There were
definitely a lot of challenges.

Trent: Yes, so let’s talk about that because there are probably some
good lessons in there. You’re one of the earlier companies that’s got this
particular business model. Now all these, I’m assuming they’re probably
venture-funded organizations who they don’t care about profits, especially
in the early years, because they’re really just looking to build revenue
and then get acquired.

Ian: Exactly.

Trent: These guys are spending, as you just described, a ton of money.
What was that like? How did you compete with them because you didn’t have
their marketing budget, obviously?

Ian: Yes, yes. The first reaction is, “Oh, this is no fun.” It’s like,
“Not fair. They can overwhelm me with firepower.” I thought about it and
it’s a little bit like warfare in a way. It’s asymmetrical warfare. They
have certain advantages but also because of their advantages they have
disadvantages. They’re larger companies and they take a long time to make
decisions and adjust where vWorker could be very nimble. It’s a smaller
company so we could be more flexible.

I tried competing head-to-head, foolishly, on different things and I was
like, “This is not working. They can just overwhelm. They can outbid me
anywhere.” Then I realized, “I need to be where they are not. So I need to
figure out what they’re overlooking.”

For example on Google, there’s obvious places to advertise and then there’s
kind of what some people might call the “long tail keywords” or the places
that are less obvious where, for us, an obvious place to advertise would be
“programmer” but we can totally get outbid there so instead we will look
for a long tail thing that they haven’t thought about yet. That’s how we
kind of rise up from the nooks and crannies.

Trent: OK. Did you happen to read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” back
then?

Ian: No. I haven’t read the “Blue Ocean Strategy”. Is that basically that
idea?

Trent: It’s been quite a few years since I read it, but essentially,
if I remember correctly, it talks about red oceans versus blue oceans and
red oceans are where everyone’s competing, there’s a lot of noise, a lot of
competition and it’s expensive. Blue ocean is you’re trying to find, as you
said, the nooks and crannies where people, they’re not aware of them yet so
when you’re bidding for keywords, yes, that would be long tail keywords.

The book goes on to give many, many examples, again, a long time ago that I
read it, of things that weren’t so much relevant to keywords as they were
the niche, the type of customer that you would want to pursue versus what
your competitors were pursuing.

Like as an example of that, yesterday I interviewed a guy by the name of
Mike Michalowicz, author of a book called “Pumpkin Plan”. Before that he
was running a technology services company, much like I was. We didn’t have
a lot of differentiation and what he figured out was by going after
specifically hedge funds and hanging out where the hedge fund guys hung out
and reading what the hedge fund guys read and getting a couple of different
skills that the typical IT service guys didn’t have.

Like, “How to set up a trading desk.” He did all these things where his
competitors, they weren’t necessarily going, and he cleaned up, absolutely
cleaned up.

Ian: Awesome.

Trent: Yes. It’s a strategy that I always try and do when I’m doing a
business. I don’t know if I always get it right every time but it’s sure
something that I’m trying to think about.

You went out into the long tail to try and compete against these guys who
were basically happy to spend more money than you. Was that the only thing
that you were really doing that was getting the results at that phase or
was there other stuff that you were doing?

Ian: That was definitely just one thing but the other thing was trying to
compete on . . . it’s like, “Well, if we can’t compete on that kind of
firepower, we can still compete on serving our customers better.” I
invested a lot in customer service, making sure that every single day that
there would be somebody that could answer the phone when people had
questions, improving the speed of the turnaround of the e-mails.

Then the other part of that was also the features of the site so it was
like things that people wanted, I wanted to be able to say, “Look, here’s
us and here’s them and here’s the things that we do differently that nobody
else does. We have a 100% guarantee and nobody else does that,” things like
that.

Spent a long time developing those, then creating marketing strategies to
try to present them, even though I just said that kind of very simply right
now, it took a long time to get even that thing of a free guarantee kind of
in my head and get the company aligned with that.

Trent: Well that’s a nice segue because coming up on our interview,
we’re going to be talking about product development in a little bit more
detail, how did you figure out what features to add, of all the features,
how did you know which ones to choose. Then we’re going to be talking much
more about your current marketing strategy, what’s working for you today,
whether social media is coming into play, PR, that kind of thing. So for
the listeners, that’s what’s coming.

Let’s dive into this a little deeper. So product development, because,
you’re right, you could make features that somebody else doesn’t offer that
might give you an edge in some way, shape or form so you’re got this big,
blank white board but you have a finite amount of resources. It’s not like
you can just throw 10 coders at it and say, “Go nuts, guys.”

What was the process that you went through with either on your white board
or in your head or with your team to figure out, of all the opportunities
for product development, these ones seem like they’re going to have the
least amount of risk and the highest rate of return?

Ian: I think the good thing that we did there was I was kind of inspired
by that book, the Crossing the Chasm book, was understanding who our target
customers were and trying to get into their heads as much as possible,
talking to them as much as possible too because a lot of times we guessed
and we didn’t quite guess correctly. It starts with trying to understand
them first and kind of having a mental picture of who they are, their
needs, their desires, what worries them and what problems they have.

Trent: Did you do this with surveys or did you just literally go into
the database and call people up and ask them?

Ian: Both. Yes. The first thing was kind of like just even just
generalizing and saying, “OK, well you know what? A lot of our companies, I
could say this big buckets of companies are the entrepreneur and these
people who, they’re not 100-person companies but they have very specific
needs. So then I went into the database and said, “OK. Here are all the
people that meet that criteria.”

Sent them surveys but also talked to a lot of them. I still do that. About
once a week, I’m still talking to a customer, trying to keep my pulse on
what they want.

Trent: Yes. So what were some of the things that you learned, say,
around this point in time when this competition was coming on to the scene
that were kind of the bigger takeaways or the more pivotal features? Is
there anything that stands out to you there?

Ian: There were so many. I’m trying to remember if one or two were
pivotal. I remember the biggest thing was just trying to make things
easier. Make it easier. Make it simpler. A lot of people don’t really want
to think about what they’re doing and a lot of the sites at the time
required them to think, or at least to read. Even today, it’s a never-
ending process, always trying to make it simpler, always just trying to
refine it and make it even less and more to its essential core.

I’m trying to think of some key features. One of the big ones was the
rating system. So at the time, we just had a normal ratings system just
like everybody else, just like eBay, and we had the same problems that eBay
had, which is that people lie on their ratings, people cheat, people trade
ratings.

They might say, “Hey, I’m going to give you a higher rating if you give it
to me,” even though the transaction didn’t work well. The opposite happens
where they go, “Hey, you stink. I’m going to give you a really, really bad
rating,” even though the person didn’t deserve it.

We were like, “We need to solve this problem with the ratings somehow where
we can make it so that other people can rely on.” That was a feature. We
talked with people. We came up with the idea, “Hmm, what if we made it so
that the whole problem with trading ratings and retaliatory ratings and
things like that is the other person knows what the other person rated
them.

What if we made it that both of them have to rate because neither one gets
to see what the other person rated them.” That’s what we did. That got rid
of all the retaliatory ratings. It got rid of all the trading of ratings
because now you couldn’t trust that the other person would actually do what
you were hoping that they’d do. Things like that were features that we
added.

Trent: Let me make sure that I understand that. You and I are on
opposite ends of a transaction and I get the little e-mail and you get the
little e-mail that says, “Hey, go and rate your transactions.” I rate mine
but you can’t see it until you rate yours.

Ian: Yes, exactly.

Trent: Obviously if I’ve rated first, as soon as you’ve rated, I can
see your rating. Once I’ve rated it, I can’t go back and change it. If I
was unhappy with your reciprocal rating, it’s too late. Mine’s done. Is
that correct?

Ian: Yes. That is exactly right. You are rating me just based on your own
impression of me and not based on anything I said about you.

Trent: OK. Were you able to, from a marketing perspective, were you
able to leverage that little piece of differentiation or did you
competitors knock you off so quickly that, yes, it gave better customer
service but it didn’t end up translating into something that we could talk
about to say, “Hey, this is one of the reasons why you should use us versus
them”?

Ian: They actually didn’t copy that one, which I don’t know why. One or
two of them did but it wasn’t one that got copied across the board. Then we
definitely had that challenge which was like, “Well how do we communicate
this to people and do in an effective way that makes them want to use us?”
Then the other challenge with that is there’s not only that one feature.
There’s like about 50 of these different things so the competitor matrix
became a really good tool.

Trent: There’s the fly I told you about. He’s been bugging me the
whole time. Like I said, people are going to think I have Tourette’s.

Ian: I can vouch for everyone, it’s a fly. I heard it before.

Trent: Go away. I’m being taunted.

Ian: Anyway, it was a challenge to try to get that one little piece of
information out there to them and so we created a competitor matrix. There
are about 50 different things there, compares us to all the different
competitors and how we are different and the things that we do better than
them. Then the next evolution of that was, “Well, even that’s too
complicated. I don’t want to read 50 things.”

The next evolution of that was, “Well, let’s take just the top main three
things and compare it to each competitor,” and we started marketing that
and then people that want to read more could then read the detailed
information.

Trent: OK. I want to shift now, because we’ve been a fair amount of
time here and I really want to kind of bring this up to speed on the
current stuff that you’re doing in marketing because in online marketing,
everyone’s got kind of a sales funnel, the nurturing process. You’ve got a
lead and then there’s a bunch of stuff that happens between getting the
lead and converting that lead to a customer. In your case, your customers,
they’re the employers with the money. Is that correct?

Ian: Right.

Trent: In your organization, do you see the developers as customers as
well or do you think that they have their stuff up on everybody’s site
anyway and so you don’t necessarily look at them that way?

Ian: A lot of them do have it up on every site but they are our customers
too because we need both sides in order to function. If we don’t have the
developers or the writers or the translators and the designers, no business
is getting done. We have to treat everyone as a customer.

Trent: Let’s talk here first about your number one marketing activity
to attract more employers. What are you doing there?

Ian: It’s actually the same thing that’s worked well for both of those.
Like I said, what’s worked well has changed over time. Things that have
worked a long time ago worked for awhile then stopped working but the thing
that’s working now, and it’s gone through a couple iterations to kind of
get it there to the point where it’s working, is an affiliate program.

This affiliate program, it started off as kind of just the typical
affiliate thing, “Hey send us an employer. We’ll give you a certain amount
of money.” I forget how much it was, $25.00 or whatever it was. We rolled
that out and then so did the competitors. Pretty much everyone had the same
thing so it was a situation that, “OK. I need to take it to another level.”
But the challenge, again, is these competitors are so much better funded,
how do we actually make it so it’s more compelling and yet be able to do
it.

I thought, “You know what? We do have an advantage over these competitors.
We have one of the highest repeat business rates in the industry. It’s
really, really high. It’s above 80%. It’s like 85%, 89%. I thought, “Hmm,
maybe we can take advantage of that.” I thought, rather than giving them a
one-time fee, we’ll make them true partners so that everyone that they
refer, they will get a portion of the money that we make off of them for
the rest of their customer lifetimes.

I thought, “Wow, it’s not us paying an upfront fee but over the long-term
we could end up paying out hugely a lot more than any competitor could.” So
that’s been working well for us.

Trent: OK. We might want to dive into that one a little bit more right
when we finish up if there’s more. So let’s go on the contractor side. What
are some of the things – actually, no. I want to stay back because I’m not
sure yet that I understand. Let’s say an affiliate refers you a lead, well
I guess it’s going to become a customer, otherwise they’re not going to get
paid, but do you have a sales funnel? Does an employer come to the site and
are they opting in and getting a report or going to a webinar or what
happens when someone shows up the first time?

Ian: We have a number of ways that they can come into the site and
something that’s worked really well is exactly what you’re talking about.
You can just bring them to the site and hopefully they’ll sign up but much
better is to bring them in, offer them something of value.

We have something that we give them something for free that’s of a lot of
value to them. What it is, it’s a project management guide that show the
average failure rate in the software industry is really high. It’s like two-
thirds of projects fail. We’ve got it to the point where almost 90% of
projects will succeed using this methodology so, yes, they can just totally
turn around.

We give them this very, very valuable free information, this guide, and
it’s not short. It’s probably about 30 pages long with all these different
things that they can do if they’re interested in it. They sign up for that.
That is kind of the thing that establishes us as someone credible and we
now have the right to kind of talk to them a little bit more. We can send
then an e-mail and they’ll look at it and say, “Hmm, maybe I will consider
signing up.”

Trent: After they get the guide, now they’re into the sales funnel,
are there other things that happen after the guide that are happening on an
automated basis because you’ve predesigned the sales funnel?

Ian: Yes, so there’s e-mails that go out to them so we send out an e-mail
to them saying, “Hey, since you enjoyed this guide, maybe you’ll enjoy this
other guide that we have that’s kind of similar on another topic and, by
the way, you might want to check us out. Here’s how you do it.” Then they
download the guide, maybe they don’t. We send out another e-mail.

The first e-mail goes out pretty quickly. I think it’s like a week after
and then the next one will wait about a month. The month one is like a real
pitch and at the point we’ve kind of established enough trust where they’re
not going to hit delete. “So here’s our deal for you. We can save you this
amount of money. Click here to sign up right now.” It’s a pitch.

Trent: They don’t get a pitch like that before the first month?

Ian: Not a hard core pitch, a very soft pitch. It’s like, so in that
manual for example, on every page it says vWorker and blah blah blah blah”
and on the very last page of that manual, if they read through it, they’re
like, “And if you would like to actually hire someone to do this, here’s
how we can do it and we can guarantee it safely.”

The other way, it’s subtle is in the manual, we point out, “Oh, well, you
can do this yourself or you can just do it on vWorker and it’s done
automatically for you. If you want to be covered with a contract, if you
want to have a guarantee, all these things.” It’s more of a subtle pitch
rather than in the face.

Trent: OK. They go into a drip campaign. How long does someone get e-
mails for if they don’t become a customer? Forever?

Ian: No, I think they end up getting maybe three or four and then after
that point, maybe we’ll change our strategy at some point but it seems like
the ones that tend to actually respond, it kind of dies off the longer it
gets and after awhile, it becomes less valuable. We don’t send them
forever. We don’t want to bug people too much.

Trent: Three to four e-mails, if you can’t convert them at that point,
they just become a dead lead.

Ian: Yes. They’re there, we may decide to use them in the future but we
don’t right now.

Trent: OK. Are you using webinars in your marketing mix at all?

Ian: No. that’s something that actually we have thought about. Maybe it’s
something that we’ll be doing soon. It’s definitely something that people
have asked for.

Trent: OK. It’s something that a lot of people, I’m sure you’re
already aware, a lot of people are using with a lot of success. It works
well for myself and many of the people that I interview. You can do them
live or you can also make them look live. There’s various software packages
out there, Stealth Seminar is one of them.

If you’re going to go that road, I use what I call automated webinars but I
don’t say they’re going to be live. I just say, “Sign up for my next
webinar.” I don’t say, “Sign up for my next live webinar,” because that’s
not true.

Ian: Right. OK.

Trent: They work and the software’s actually quite well developed
where the experience that they receive is very interactive and it saves you
because why say the exact same thing every week? It’s not like you’re going
to say any different or say it any better.

If you record your webinar, it’s not like it’s any less value to the guy
that watched the recording that the person that watched it live because
it’s exactly the same message. It just didn’t seem to me like an effective
use of resources, because I was doing them live, to say the same thing over
and over. It gets really boring, as a matter of fact.

Ian: Now what software do you use?

Trent: I use something called “Stealth Seminar”.

Ian: OK. I’ll make a note of that.

Trent: I think it’s like $60.00 or $70.00 bucks a month. It’s
developed by a guy by the name of Geoff Ronning. I have an affiliate link
for it if you’d like to use it.

Ian: OK. I’ll go to the website. Yes, there we go.

Trent: It works very well. I have one of my low-end products, it’s
just a $10.00 a month product on one of my other sites and every week a
couple more people sign up for that. It seems to work just fine and I know
that in the marketing space, a lot of people use these with a great deal of
success. Live webinars can work incredibly well, also, just depending on
what your frequency is going to be and how often you want to do them.

Ian: That’s a great tip.

Trent: Now, in your sales funnel, what I’m curious about is in every
list, there are lots of people and they don’t all want the same thing. They
don’t all have the same timeframe. They don’t all have the same objectives,
etc. The best lists are lists that are segmented, you know, blue people,
red people, green people, whatever, just to use metaphors. Are you doing
any of that kind of segmenting or someone who opts in, there are four steps
and everybody who opts in goes through the same four steps?

Ian: It’s not as sophisticated as that. I wish it was. I guess there’s a
challenge in the beginning with try not to scare them off by gathering too
much information, but at the same time, you need the information in order
to be able to do that segmenting. I wish I could say we were doing a better
job at getting that information.

Probably right now, we are maybe erring on the other side, which is try not
to bother them but also not being able to do as much segmenting as I’d like
to.

Trent: Yes. OK. Again, I’m supposed to be interviewing you, so I want
you to give all the answers but I do want to throw this out for you because
this might be useful. I use Infusionsoft. It is really wonderful for
segmenting. You can basically allow your list to totally self-segment
themselves by the links they click, the forms they fill out, the pages they
view, all of that stuff allows you to get really, really targeted and then
based upon, and it uses a system called “tagging”, which is really just a
way of categorizing.

Then you can have other follow-up activities and sequences and campaigns
automatically fire based upon what tags get applied and those tags are
applied based upon the actions that the person has chosen to take.

Ian: You have a tag on every page on your site, basically, so you can
watch their behavior and then based on that behavior, they then become
tagged and then you can do actions based on that. Is that right?

Trent: Every time they click their mouse, a tag can be applied. Every
time they fill out a form, a tag can be applied. Depending upon what plug-
ins you’re using, if you’re using a membership site, Infusionsoft out of
the box doesn’t necessarily allow you to apply a tag when you visit a page
but there are certain plug-ins that work with WordPress or if you’re using
an Infusionsoft membership site software called “Customer Hub”, I believe
it is, you can tag based upon pages that are viewed. What precedes a
pageview? It’s a click. They’re clicking a link. You can tag on a link.

I interviewed another fellow who’s the founder of a fitness chain called
“Iron Tribe Fitness” and their funnel is amazing. Ninety percent of their
leads come in through the web and they all go through this funnel based
upon the links that they click and the videos that they watch. Then once
they sit them down for a consultation, their close ratio is 98%.

Ian: Wow! That’s awesome.

Trent: There is another guy by the name of Jermaine Griggs, who I know
of him but I haven’t interviewed him yet and he runs a company called “Hear
and Play.com”, which teaches people how to play music by listening to it.
The person I interviewed yesterday, the name’s escaping me because I’ve
been doing a flurry of interviews this week, tells me that Jermaine works
only about four hours a week and his sales funnel is apparently
[inaudible/simultaneous audios 51:58]

Ian: Well, I know what made it not successful at the beginning and I think
avoiding some of the things were very helpful.

Trent: Perfect. You should talk about that.

Ian: One was I really should have thought a little bit more about the
whole competitive landscape rather than just myself. I kind of got into
that where I was like, “Well, this is how it’s going to work and this seems
like a great deal.” Then pretty soon everyone copied it and it dried up.

I think one of the real important things was really taking a look at the
whole industry and thinking, “Well, if everyone copies this idea, what can
I do differently that’s going to make it work?”

The other thing is it didn’t just happen. There was a lot of work that went
into, like, chasing down people that I thought would be good affiliates.
Certain companies might just hire an affiliate manager and that’s what
their job would be but we are a smaller company. I didn’t really know what
I was doing. I kind of wanted to oversee the process. That’s the way a lot
happens.

At vWorker, basically pretty much every job, I was the first person to work
in that job and then once I felt that I was doing it well enough that I
could write it down and describe exactly what needed to be done and hand it
off to someone else, then it gets handed off to someone else.

The affiliate thing was the same way and I kind of wanted to try it. Could
I be the affiliate manager and learn what that is and then maybe eventually
we would hand that off to somebody else. That was a big thing. Rather than
just posting it out there and hoping people would come, I would go on
Google and say, “Hmm, it would sure be nice if we were on this keyword or
on this,” and just target these people.

Trent: Let me make sure that I understand what you just explained. You
would chose a keyword, type it into Google. It’s going to give you a list
of results. Did you then individually contact those companies and say,
“Hey, I notice your ranking for this word. Here’s a way for you to turn
some of that traffic into revenue that you maybe aren’t getting at this
point in time.” Was that more or less what you did?

Ian: Yes. That’s it. That’s exactly what it was. If they were, like,
especially high up and on a really great looking keyword or topic, then I
might say, “Oh, well you know normally you would come in on the affiliate
program at this level but you look like you’re going to be bringing in a
lot of traffic. I’m going to bring you in at a higher level.” It kind of
gets their attention, you know? I’m already giving them special attention,
which they like. Everyone likes attention.

Trent: Yes, no kidding. That’s a very smart idea. I like that. It’s
not one I’ve ever thought of and I’ve never heard anyone tell me that
before.

Ian: Oh, good, I’m glad it’s useful.

Trent: There’s our golden nugget. I always like to try and get at
least one real super golden nugget that if people who are listening, they
forget everything else, if they remember that one thing that they go, “You
know what? I’m glad I listened to this interview while I was commuting to
work or riding my bike or sitting in front of my computer or whatever
they’re doing while they’re listening to us.” I want to thank you for that.

Ian: My pleasure.

Trent: Before we sign off, is there any other golden nuggets in your
affiliate program that we would want to quickly talk about?

Ian: I think that was the biggest one. Just not expecting it to work but
going in and working it. Yes, that’s about all that I can think of there.

Trent: My follow-up then on that is when you contacted these
companies, I’m assuming they didn’t all respond to you right away, did you
take on average three contacts? Did you use e-mail? Did you use the phone?
Did you use direct mail? What were some of the activities that you did to
try and make that contact successful?

Ian: I used e-mail and phone. Maybe direct mail might be another way,
another avenue to get them but e-mail’s the fastest and easiest so that’s
what I did first. With one or two e-mails a decent number, maybe about 25%
of them would at least respond and say something back.

If they didn’t do that, then we’d try a phone call, some people wouldn’t
respond favorably to a phone call. Some people don’t really want to be
bothered by a phone call. Everyone’s different. That’s kind of as far as it
got. It never got to the point of direct mail. That might be an interesting
thing to kind of work into the mix there.

Trent: Yes, there are lots of guys out there who talk about direct
mail. I’m reading a book by Dan Kennedy right now and he’s obviously been
around forever in the marketing space. There’s a thing called 3-D mail.
People have a higher propensity to open lumpy mail.

We all get so many e-mails, we don’t get as many letters so I think the
probability that people are going to open your direct mail is probably
higher than they’re going to open an e-mail but, of course, you’ve got to
spend money to do it.

Ian: I know someone, his company is called “Enthusin” and what they do is
exactly what you’re talking about, the 3-D mail. They send just a little
kind of open-up postcard with a link on it and it really kind of gets
people’s attention because they’re like, “What is this weird postcard?” An
invitation for you, and then they open it up and they click on the link and
it takes them to a webpage that’s a customized invitation for whatever it
is that you’re trying to target them for.

Real good way, if what you’re selling is not a low dollar amount thing. It
takes considerable work to customize it but if it’s a higher dollar amount
thing, it’s a really nice way to get a good return.

Trent: Yes, and actually I’ve just been reminded of something that I
read about years ago. I don’t remember the name of the firm, he ran a
market research firm and his data was valuable to large businesses that
wanted to sell their wares to small businesses. The value of his sale was
very high.

What he did was he found the 100 customers that he really wanted to have
and then he bought a drill, like an actual tool, a drill, put it in a box
and the branding on the outside of the box had a picture of some guy’s head
from behind with a drill bit, no blood and guts or anything, just basically
looks like he’s drilling into his head with the phrase, it said, “Get
inside the head of small business.” Everyone who got a drill called him.

Ian: I can imagine. Wow!

Trent: So 100 drills, what are they, like $50.00 each so that’s $5,000
but one of those customers is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year
to that guy. That was a pretty awesome campaign, I thought.

Ian: That was awesome. Very smart.

Trent: Yes. I wish I could remember who it was so that I could go and
interview him today. All right. If anyone wants to get ahold of you, what
is the best way for them to do that?

Ian: I have a profile on vWorker.com so they can contact me there. If they
want to call, if they’re interested in vWorker itself, we’ve got the
customer service lines open but ianippolito@vworker.com.

Trent: You said that pretty quickly. You want to spell that out again
just for the folks?

Ian: Sure. It’s ianippolito@vworker.com.

Trent: Terrific. Ian, thank you so much for making some time to do
this interview with me. That was a really awesome golden nugget and I hope
that people who are listening to this are able to put that and all of the
other ideas you shared into action.

I want to thank everyone who listens. It’s a privilege for me to be able to
do these. Of course, if you have any questions for Ian or myself, there
will be a comment form, below the page that hosts this video and I’m sure
that if you make a comment there that one of the two of us will get an
answer to you.

That’s it for now. We have many, many more interviews coming. Thanks so
much for being a watcher or a listener, whatever way it is that you’re
consuming this content. We’ll talk to you soon.

All right. If you want to check out the show notes from today’s episode,
just go to BrightIdeas.co/13. Another thing I want to tell you about is the
Bright Ideas Massive Traffic Toolkit. If you go to
BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic and you enter your e-mail address, you’re
going to automatically receive access to the Massive Traffic Toolkit.

What is that? It’s a compilation of all of the very best ideas that have
been shared with me by prior guests here on Bright Ideas. The really great
thing about all the ideas in the Traffic Toolkit is you don’t have to be an
SEO guru to be able to do this stuff. It’s really a very smart collection
of traffic generation strategies. To do that, just go to
BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic.

That’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. If you could do
me a very small favor, please head over to iTunes and leave a 5-star rating
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Thank you very much for being a listener and a subscriber. I look forward
to seeing you in the next episode.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

How to Target Customers with Perfectly Designed Products and Overcome Bigger Competition

An excellent product is crucial to the success of a business. This is true for a business that provides a product to a customer or for a business that brings two parties together to complete a transaction. This is what Ian’s business is all about; vWorker brings employers and contractors together from different parts of the world. He has managed to bring together workers and employers successfully together via his online system.

Listen to the show to learn Ian’s process of designing products that perfectly target the needs of his specific customers.

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vWorker was massively successful at connecting remote freelancers with jobs.
Image source: 123rf.com

vWorker wasn’t a large company when it started. It was just Ian himself, an assistant and a part-time contractor. Over the course of ten years, it grew from just $50 the first month to $11.1 million in revenue. Being the small outfit that it was, it was constantly being copied and bullied by larger competitors that had much deeper pockets.

Watch the interview to learn just how Ian not only managed to keep his business afloat amidst all the big competition but actually achieved success far better than his well funded imitators.

Getting the word out is always the necessary step before customers know that your company, products and services exist.

Listen to the show to learn about how Ian got the word out for vWorker in 2001 prior the DotCom crash and how he has kept the business fresh in the years since.

When working with remote customers and remote methods of payment, there is always a threat of fraud. vWorker was at the receiving end of a rapidly growing problem of fraud that posed a real threat of snuffing out the business’ early success. Watch the interview to find out what security measures and system developments Ian and his team implemented to fight against the wave of internet fraud that was threatening to shut his business down.

In business, you need to recognize problems and then constantly adapt and change to these problems in order to survive and become profitable. Through the early years— or the lean years, it can be difficult to make a profit.

Listen to the show to discover the methods that Ian used to sail his ship safely through the tides of the lean years.

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Ian beat back big competition.
Image source: 123rf.com

vWorker had no real marketing budget and yet the competition were big and backed up by financiers. It made Ian cry foul, but he stuck to his guns and waged war against his competition. He developed a strategy that his competition didn’t expect. He was a step ahead of his competitors and imitators which allowed him to beat the larger competing companies.

Listen as Ian describes how he blindsided other larger companies with his business strategies.

Ian developed a multitude of features for vWorker that allowed him to compete with his competition and win. He made many changes to his system and added in features that his customer liked. In trying to find out what his customers liked, Ian also developed his system of keeping a pulse to what his customers wanted.

Listen to the show to find out how Ian gathered his information to learn what features and additions need to be put in place.

A Sales pitch is massively important for a business to promote its products and services. This is why emails and offers sent to the database of customers need to pitch customers every now and again. Listen to the show to learn just how often and by just how much Ian pitches his customers to his site, affiliate program and online system.

Increasing web traffic was a massively important part of vWorker's growth.Image source: 123rf.com

Increasing web traffic was a massively important part of vWorker’s growth.
Image source: 123rf.com

Attracting customers and achieving high yield marketing is always one of the most crucial goals in marketing a business. Online entrepreneurs need to learn how to increase web traffic to their sites to increase visibility, brand recognition, click throughs, registrations, business and profit.

Watch the episode to learn how Ian attracted customers and increased his business by exploiting his advantages to attract customers through his very own affiliate marketing program.

Ian shares with us his effective affiliate program that has allowed him to turn his hard work chasing down customers and companies into his current $11 million dollar revenue. Communication is key to any business; this is especially true for Ian’s vWorker that has two sets of customers to take care of.

Learn the special twist that Ian adds to his Affiliate Programming to bring in larger customers and companies as high-profit affiliates.

About Ian Ippolito

Ian Ippolito is the founder of vWorker.com (recently acquired by Freelancer.com) and is a highly successful serial entrepreneur.

While at the helm of vWorker, the company was called “One of the 100 smartest, most innovative, hands-down brilliant companies on our radar” by Entrepreneur Magazine. vWorker was ranked as an Inc 5000 company for four consecutive years, and has done over $139 million in business.

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