Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Get the Attention of the Media: A Case Study with Jaime Tardy

Are you looking for a simple, yet effective method to getting more press coverage?

Would you like to hear from an entrepreneur who’s been on the home page of Yahoo as well as CNN?

To discover how to one entrepreneur has done exactly that, I interview Jaime Tardy 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 Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

An Interview with Jamie TardyTrent Dyrsmid: Coming up in today’s episode, how do you make a 6 figure income by the age of 22 and then be $70,000 in debt by the age of 24 and then go on to have your story featured on CNN and on the homepage of Yahoo!? I guess she’s gonna share with us exactly how she did that. Imagine not being well-known, not having many contacts yet wanting to start a mastermind group with millionaires that wanted to participate in. Well, my guest did that as well. Or how about this? Have you wondered how to start building those really pivotal or powerful relationships that are gonna help you to succeed faster? Well, my guest did that as well. All of these and more so stay tuned.Hey everyone! My name is Trent Dyrsmid and I’m the founder of BrightIdeas.co and on the show with me today is a blogger, interviewer, business coach, succeeding in all three, and a mom and a wife and her name is Jamie Tardy. And I got to tell you this has been one of the more fun interviews I’ve done in a long time so you’re really in for a treat. Please join me in welcoming Jamie to the show.Hi Jamie! Thank you so much for making some time to come on and do this interview with me. I’m really excited about our interview today because you’re an interviewer and I’m an interviewer and I’m sure that we’re gonna get to compare some interesting notes and hopefully the audience is gonna enjoy that process. So welcome to the show.Jamie Tardy: Thanks so much for having me Trent.T: So in my research on you, I made a couple of bullet points. I’m gonna throw this up so the audience has some idea of who you are and how you came to be an interviewer. So you did the college path, made 6 figures by 22, racked up a whole lot of debt I think about $70,000 in debt by 24, quit your job in 2007 and nearly failed as a blogger in the first 6 months I think. How am I doing?J: Well you tell me all that crappy stuff. Yes! Oh yeah, exactly right, perfect. Good research.T: So I wanna dive a little bit deeper into the psyche of Jamie because for me this interview like all the interviews that I do is the study of success. You have become a very successful online marketer. You got a lot of press for yourself. You’ve had speaking engagements. You’re building a solid reputation and we’re gonna dive in to how you did all of that. But before we get into that let’s just talk a little bit about so you went to college, you got the career thing and then you went “this isn’t working for me”. Kind of what happened back then?J: Yeah. Hopefully people will take this too because I know I felt really alone when I was in that point. And I know now of course I hear from tons of other people saying “oh I’m going to be that few things” but now it’s not a big deal. Now we’re lucky enough to have the people online telling their stories and stuff but then I did everything I was supposed to. I had a goal to be a millionaire, that was my whole thing since I was 8. I went to school. I know that’s kind of weird for me, a little girl, but I went to school and made lots of money, thought I was a success, I travelled around the US, had a really nice title, expense account, got really fat coz I ate out all the time.And so thereafter a few years of doing like “yeah I don’t like being called at 2:00 in the morning saying ‘oh this is broken, can you fix this right now?'” And I was like “oh this is all there is?” Actually one of the key turning points was a lot of my co-workers, I worked in a video on demand, so like when you go on TV you can order movies, right? And so we’re working I think like 40 hours in a row or something ridiculous where we were up for days. And one of my co-workers just like “you know, Jamie, you shouldn’t be so stressed. It’s not like we’re curing people.” I was like “yeah I’m helping people who don’t have to go to the video store to get real CDs.” Like yeah this was so sort of that whole like “what is my purpose here?” Was it really to help people get more movies online which don’t get me wrong, it was great but that wasn’t really what it was about.So that’s where the turning point of going “okay what am I actually doing with my life?” It’s not about the money so why am I here? And that was sort of the thing that I tipped.T: Okay so at that point in time you had this decision that is I would say the pivotal decision for so many people who make the transition to becoming an entrepreneur and most that don’t make it as the quitting. I mean some of them get a boot, they get laid off, they get fired and so the decision gets made for them which seems really crappy at the time but those that make the transition in hindsight always go “hey that was awesome and best thing that ever happened” like our good buddy, Pat Flynn.J: Exactly. I was thinking exactly as Pat too. I was like sometimes it’s easier, just kicked out and you have to do it.T: Yeah. So in your situation much like mine you made the decision, if I did my research correctly, to quit. So there’s a whole lot of psychological stuff, and for those folks who are listening to this interview, yes we are gonna get to the online marketing techniques and strategies don’t worry but so much as I’ve become older I’ve realized that so much of successes is really what’s happening, it’s your belief systems. So can you talk a little bit about what was happening in your head around this thought of quitting your job and I guess was your original vision you’re just gonna become a blogger and magically somehow you’ll turn that into money? What was the plan back then?J: Okay so I mean the hard thing is that when I had that realization I thought I was successful and really noticing the $70,000 in debt was like oh maybe I’m not actually, maybe I made really bad choices so I couldn’t even just quit. So it took me a good, and my husband is a performer, he does like juggling and contortion and crazy stuff and always worked for himself and so quitting my stable job, my husband hates it and I’m always like, and my husband was juggler like I’m gonna quit a 6 figure job, my husband is a juggler. No offense to my husband. He’s wonderful. Really great at what he does. Makes really good money now but still back then it was sort of like “hhmmm yeah” like good idea Jamie.

So it was more of about like what are we gonna do? Like how can we do this? So it was a good that year of paying up over $70,000 in debt even before I could figure this out. And then I had that realization of going even if I have to sell my house, even if I have to go to extremes I’m gonna figure out a way to do this no matter what. And this worked on my mind, right? No matter what. So it wasn’t this whole thing of “yehey, let’s quit and I’m gonna know exactly what I’m gonna do.”Actually what I did I don’t recommend for other people which was I quit, actually one of the catalyst also was I wanted to have a baby and I couldn’t when I was travelling, you know, no time. So I was pregnant through most of the paying off all that debt and so my goal at first was just to have 3-6 months at home with my son. And then I was gonna figure out business stuff. I’ll figure out what I wanted to do which isn’t really a good idea. We had a good year and a half of expenses so that was great. We took that ton of money so that way it would be possible but yeah it was like “hhmmm now what do I wanna do after I quit my job? I don’t know.” And then it took over a year to even have general idea of what I wanted to do which was really bad.That’s why I don’t really suggest it. I suggest sort of struggling in your job and figuring out what you want to do. That way if it doesn’t work you don’t have to worry about it. Coz I tried, I have an iphone app, I have a provisional patent, I tried like all these different things just because I was curious and I wanted to learn it, figure out business stuff. And so that sort of why I started. I didn’t even start blogging. I mean I started it but it wasn’t even the thing. I’d started the blog almost 2 years before when I started paying off my debt and stuff like that and that was just a whim coz I wanted to start a blog. It didn’t have anything to do with it.T: Okay.

J: That was all over the place.

T: Okay so it wasn’t so much the decision of “hey I’m gonna be quitting and become an entrepreneur.” It’s “hey I’m gonna quit, I’m gonna spend some time, I’m gonna get my life back in order to balance, or whatever word you would like to use. I will spend some time with my new baby and then we’ll figure out the business thing afterwards.”

J: Yeah. Not a good idea but yes. Coz I knew I was gonna be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t know exactly what I was gonna do.

T: Yeah not entirely dissimilar to mine. Quit at $20,000 a year job, sold my house, put all the money in the bank, went back to school and had a plan to get a job. But I came up with a business idea while I was in school, draw out a business plan, got some funding, graduated from school, but the business didn’t succeed because it was a .flop a .com and then in the ashes of that, coz now I’m at zero, everything’s up from zero. I decided to start what ultimately the company that I had last and I built into a couple of million dollar a year company and sold it but again I don’t recommend for that transition or that path to anyone either.

J: You know what’s funny. It makes perfect sense to us now but of course you don’t know that at that time anyway, You’re just looking to do what you need to do and so while I know that now I don’t know if I’ll necessary would have changed it. And you probably wouldn’t do it. Like probably that failure was probably huge for you.

T: Yeah after selling that business it had a really profound impact on what type of business that I wanted to do next. And that’s why I’m online because and I think it’s such a great way for so many people to start because it doesn’t cost a lot of money, because you don’t have to quit your job to do it although it’s definitely helpful. There’s a whole bunch of really good reasons. So and this isn’t my interview, this is yours.

J: Right, sorry.

T: I read somewhere that at about month six of blogging you were ready to give up, I think. Have I got that right?

J: Yap. They say like do your blog for 6 months until you can find your voice and figure out your audience. And so I was like working my butt off trying to do the best blogging job I could ever do and I was a business coach at that time. So I have been a business coach for a couple of years before I started my blog back up. And I was going “this is wasting so much time and now I’m not making any money. Why am I doing this?” Right? Travelling is kind of important and blogging seems kind of them. And then the next week I couldn’t pull the trigger. I had a business coach and he was like “then just send an email to all your subscribers and say that we’re gonna stop this and that sort of thing.” I couldn’t pull the trigger. And shocking short days later I got an email from CNN saying that they wanna feature my site. And then from there it just started going kinda crazy.

T: Out of the blue. You didn’t pitch CNN beforehand, nothing?

J: Nope. The reason I found, I think I found out the way that they found me. I had a guest post on get rich slowly on my story and apparently, quite a few actually, writers for big publications got to read that blog and that’s where they got my story. But yeah I hadn’t pitched them at all.

T: Okay so that’s an important, very important point that you just mentioned and it piggy backs on an interview that I did with Ryan Holiday just not so long ago. So for those who’re listening who don’t know who Ryan Holiday is, he just published a book called Trust Me, I’m Lying… Confessions of a Media Manipulator. And in my interview and in his book, one of the things and we’re gonna talking much more about getting press in your and my interview, but one of the things he really stressed was important is don’t pitch the reporters of CNN, pitch the blogs that those reporters read. And so in your case did you know that get rich slowly was read by so many reporters or was that just a fortune smiling down on you?

J: I was like “hey that’s really big blog.” It took me a while to even go like I was big enough to guest post. Now I know JV well and we met and he’s super cool but at that time I was like scared. And so the funny thing is now I know a lot of reporters that actually read get rich slowly. I have a friend, Lorie Amandacamp that actually featured me in fortune.com coz she writes there too. And she reads get rich slowly too. So it’s kinda simple, yeah it’s just kinda driven. I just did a conference where I talked about how I think people should guest post on bigger blogs, you know, not necessarily star blogs but bigger blogs coz you really don’t know who’s been reading it.

T: Well let’s divert, I mean coz that’s a very interesting topic, I’m gonna see which questions here in my questions that I wanna skip. Coz I was gonna talk about interviewing but before we get to that let’s sidebar on to guest posting because it is something that I have had some success with and something that I think I need to do more of. I’m sure many people who are listening to this would also greatly benefit from it. So Jamie’s crash course on guest blogging in 10 minutes or less. Go.

J: Okay ready? Well it’s funny. So I guest post in get rich slowly. I guest posted a few times since. The first time I did it it was awesome like 400 subscribers especially when I was a brand new blog I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I haven’t gotten that much fun then except way later someone who kept lingers for slow finance found the article. Even though it wasn’t new, even though it’s not big of a deal I think when people are searching which is one thing that we don’t really think about, when you write a guest post for someone else’s site that is a high ranking site especially with the SEO, when somebody searches for that free or something like that, that has a lot more chance of ranking especially if you’re a newer site. So that’s where I think it’s also very valuable that we don’t really think about stuff so when you’re writing guest post start thinking what the press might be putting in for search terms or when they’re trying to look at blogs, what would they really be looking for. I think that’s really important point for you.

But I might be distinct for guest posting in general in bigger blogs is to build relationships and you probably know that too. It takes a while. Sometimes people will, like JV, except when they’re trying to accept guest post which is great but some of the other people that are harder like Pat Flynn, I’ve known Pat for almost 3 years and I go “Pat, please give me guest post.” Well, I’m finally gonna have one coming up really soon. But in general I now have really good relationship for all the people so it’s really easy to get guest posts in other places because of that. So that I think is one of the big keys.

T: So how does someone begin to build a relationship with whomever at whatever blog? How should they start?

J: Interview them, not.

T: That’s one of my secrets. That’s why I’m an interviewer. It’s the best networking tool in the world coz nobody hardly ever says no.

J: Exactly. Okay I’ve interviewed over 70 millionaires so yeah. I have millionaire friends. I’ve been invited to Greece, to Fiji, and then for Maine. Like come on, so random come over to Maine and there’s like 2,000 people in it. Anyway, so I think you’re right. I think that’s huge. That’s not actually how I’ve gotten most of my relationships because my online marketing buddies and friends like most of them are millionaires and it’s kinda funny. So that’s not actually how I got that. I mean I never tell Michael Hyatt that I’m actually gonna be guest posting in Michael Hyatt’s too but that wasn’t really how I did it.

A lot was when I very first started online at all I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing but I have a lot of video background but I didn’t really know that much about blogging and internet marketing so what I ended up doing was going I need a mastermind group of people that know what they’re doing and I’m just kinda ask them. Coz there is so much stuff online, it’s so overwhelming. I have been online for 3 months going “I don’t know what the right stuff is.” And so I asked Pat Flynn and Mary Kate who actually used to work, well it’s a nice company now but she used to be just a blogger. Now I have millioinaires in the mastermind group too. But I decided that I thought it would be a great idea to start this mastermind group with a ton of really good people.

T: Wait a minute. Let me interject here for a minute and pardon my crass description, you were a blogging nobody who knew nothing and you went to Pat Flynn and said you wanna be in my mastermind group and he said yes?

J: I did. Now I remember this was 3 years ago so he wasn’t as huge as he is now, right? So I looked for people that were pretty big but not too big and I’ll give you one tip on how I got him to say yes. He’s gonna love that I’m talking about him now. Oh I talk to him all the time so it’s no big deal. So the way that I got him was I said what I was good at so I had been part of the viral video sensation called eepy bird who did diet coke and mentos online and so I knew a lot about viral video and I did a whole bunch of stuff to do that. So I’m short of said “you know I’m just getting online but I have a lot of experience and all that stuff.” And then I was like I wanna get really good people so I went on and found, tried to find as many other really amazing bloggers as I could.

So once you get lots of amazing bloggers then the other amazing bloggers want to come in on it, right? And Pat Flynn and I had a bunch of other people say yes that are pretty big. And so that was really cool. And then I set it up so it was very structured. A lot of people are like “hey, let’s start a mastermind group.” Yeah I don’t know, when do you wanna meet? My whole thing was very structured. I had pdf documents. So I had to actually ask Pat twice before he said yes but he said yes.

And so that was huge for me online in general so when I went out to blog world my first time I knew a whole bunch of successful bloggers who introduced me to a whole much other successful bloggers which made me cool, right? I’m now that cool blogger. I didn’t have to speak my first time even though speaking was great. I was sort of to be on the same level as them even though I had an itty bitty blog.

T: Yeah very nice. So you talked about structure and you talked about a pdf can you just give us a little bit more details on what you meant by that?

J: So I have run mastermind groups before and so I had sort of an outline of structure of like okay the first 10-15 minutes were going over the accountability from the week before we’re doing our wins, this is the same thing that we do every single week right now. And then we do a hot seat so every week there’s one person in the hot seat where we really talk about their issues and what they’re going through. And then we’ll do a resource or two so if there’s anything online that you’ve been really using that you really love we share resources. And then we talk about goals for the upcoming week and then we call each other accountable the next week. So that’s sort of the structure and that was laid out in the pdf and also people can’t skip more than 2 meetings. They have to really be dedicated and that sort of stuff.

T: Okay terrific. I like that. It’s nice to talk about wins, put someone in the hot seat, talk about tools and resources, talk about goals and then hold each other accountable.

J: Exactly.

T: Interesting.

J: Pretty simple.

T: So going back to my second tangent, I don’t know if people noticed, my first tangent was guest posting. So you talked about building relationships. You’ve mentioned that several things here that I hope people have noticed. Attend conferences, preceeding those conferences by doing the mastermind and reaching out to people, obviously interviewing is a fantastic way to do that but not everybody maybe wants to be an interviewer. What about in the social networks, did you retweet people’s stuff? Did you tweet at them? Did you comment on their walls? Were you doing anything like that to get on the radar screen of people that did not know you existed?

J :I didn’t do too much of that. It’s hard because if you’re not very big, like I did a lot, you probably too, I did a lot of messages like “oh my gosh, I love you. You’re awesome.” That were just some sort of laughed in the same thing. Like “oh thank you. Thank you so much, it’s awesome.” But it’s not, what you really wanna do is be on the same level with them to make sure that you’re not going “oh my gosh, you’re awesome. Thank you so much for what you do.” That’s it. They’re like “oh thank you.” But make it so that they know that you might be wanna set someone that they wanna know too. So what I actually did when I was first starting is that I emailed a lot of people and sort of what I always look for whenever I build any relationship whatsoever is connection. So what can we connect on? I remember there was a blogger and he used to write about lots of different stuff but one of the things that he liked was buddhism and a couple of other things that I really connected with him on so I sent him an email and I was like “wow, you like this which is the same thing. I did karate.” He was into karate. So I was like “we like all these things. That’s awesome.” Thanks for going over here. And so that makes someone go “oh they like the same stuff as me. That’s pretty cool.” That’s putting me on the same level. That’s not necessarily going “oh my gosh, that’s great. Thank you so much.” So that’s sort of what I try and do too. Even when I meet people now, even when I go to conferences, it’s really interesting to go “oh you like pasta?” Ah I love people. You know what I mean? Coz I all like all that stuff too so it’s pretty easy for me. But I love being able to connect with people and stuff like that so that’s usually the way I try that to start building a relationship with people.

T: Okay so you just email them, here’s what we have in common, do you wanna talk, some of them say yes some of them say no, great, and the ball begins to roll from that point.

J: As a name dropped in times too by the way. So like if I know they’re good friends with someone that I know I’m like “oh I’m friends with so and so. I just looked at your stuff.” And then start building connections and stuff like that.

T: Okay so now when you’ve done this, when you’ve planted these seeds, when you go to a conference it’s gonna be quite a bit easier coz now you’re not walking up to strangers and saying “hey what do you do? What do I do?” Which most people really don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of or on the initiating end of. But this way you’re up to say “hey man, nice to meet you in person first time blah blah blah.”

J: Yeah finally. Exactly, that’s exactly it. From the very first time, the very first blog world or any conference that I’ve ever been to I try and do my research on who’s gonna be there ahead of time and then connect with them beforehand and say “oh we should meet up. Oh I should see you.” So when I message them on twitter or when I see them it’s like “oh I’m supposed to be talking to you.” Not who is this random person coming up to me say trying to touch me when I’m trying to do something else. So definitely, from that very first one. And I’m trying to convince you to go to new me expo, I’m speaking there. Actually I’ll do the interviewing in January. But everytime I’ve gone, I went and spoke at the world domination summit you know I just love doing conferences. There’s actually a conference in Maine, so excited. Gerry Hepburn was there and Amy Porterfield and Chris Brown and then we all got to hang out this past weekend and just conferences are just super fun. I know nobody knows about that conference.

T: No and I tried, it’s late. Derrick, keynoting that, didn’t he? Coz he and I just traded an email coz I’m gonna interview him shortly and he’s like “hey dude, sorry coz I was just on the plane from keynoting something.”

J: He was hanging out with me. I have a picture of him with a big old lobster with his girlfriend eating lobster.

T: Nice. So which conference was that?

J: It’s called agents of change and my friend Rich Brooks put it on. I think Rich usually speaks at new media expo and blog world auction too.

T: Okay.

J: That’s actually how I met him. We’re both from Maine. I met him on the plane kind of I knew him a little bit but we sat together and the thing right down to blog world and he was speaking and I was speaking. I was like “hey wow, that’s really weird.” And we started a relationship that way so.

T: So new media expo, agents of change, blog world and there was another one that you mentioned.

J: World domination summit which is Chris Guillebeau’s. That was the best conference I think I’ve ever been to.

T: Really?

J: That was a very very good.

T: Have you ever been to Ryan Dice’s traffic and conversion summit?

J: I haven’t. Was it good?

T: I haven’t been but a good buddy of mine who had the same kind of company that I had and hands down he said best conference he’s ever been to.

J: Really?

T: Yeah.

J: Oh I love finding out what the best conference people have ever been to. Like that to me that’s what I wanna go to. I think I’m going to south by southwest this year too coz I’ve heard so many things about that so we’ll see.

T: Yeah that’s one on my list. And I attended Yanik’s underground in DC.

J: Oh yeah?

T: Last fall I guess it was now, earlier this year. Man I don’t even remember. It was pretty cool. There was a lot of people there.

J: Was it the best conference you’ve ever been to?

T: I think I might have said that. Hopefully Yanik is listening to this. I did get to meet him. He’s a super cool guy. Kinda short though.

J: I need to interview him. Really? That’s why we were just laughing about that in this last conference how short people are. I’m really tall. Nobody realizes how tall.

T: You’re tall?

J: Like I’m not that tall. But I’m 5’9″ but when I wear heels.

T: Yeah you’re 6 foot.

J: I’m really tall. And so like Derrick, not very tall.

T: Not so tall.

J: That’s very funny. Pat Flynn also. Sorry I’m giving away all these secrets of all these people but when you meet them in person.

T: The blogosphere is filled with short people.

J: Yes. It is.

T: I’m tall. I’m 6’1″. And not even, when I put my heels on I’m even taller than that.

J: I need to see that. Come with me to the expo out.

T: I will. Wow! Okay our tangents are really good and off track.

J: I know. So bad.

T: So this interview was supposed to be about, alright, let’s try and see if we can get this back on track. Hopefully our audience is having a laugh but they’re still listening.

J: I was gonna say one another thing. I interviewed Dane Maxwell just like you did and I’m friends with Dane. It was really bad. So this is not so bad. That was like an hour and a half of I don’t know what to say.

T: All over the place.

J: Everyone loved it. There were people even out, got lots of emails, people obviously were loving it. I was like yeah. He was like hiding the food that he was eating and goes I’m not gonna tell you what I’m eating.

T: Okay wait now I wanna really run and get my cat and just hold him up in front of the camera. I said to Jamie off here that I think my cat was gonna try and sit on my lap for the interview but I had to shoosh him away coz he purrs really loudly and the mic would actually probably pick it up.

J: I love the background stuff, you know what I mean? I love that stuff. I think it’s great.

T: Alright so you’ve had a lot of success getting press. Now so where you talked about how you got to CNN. But you were on the, and I learned all this in our pre-interview call, you’re on the homepage of Yahoo for 48 hours, sadly 46 of those hours ended up being a waste but I’ll let you tell that story. First of all, how did you get on to the homepage of yahoo?

J: Well I was already featured there twice in 3 months. So the first time was because of that CNN article. They had me listed in CNN then they asked me to be on the TV show within the next day or two. So Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt was actually in that same article. I didn’t realized I was the only one that there was about 6 other people talking about getting on the deck. I was the only one that they asked to go on CNN. So I went on CNN with Tony Harris on TV. And then from that a couple of days later they featured the story on yahoo and my face was on Yahoo’s homepage. So part of me was like maybe it’s coz I’m a girl, that kind of thing, that’s why they featured me up or something. I don’t know but that was the first one.

T: That was my next question, why do you think they picked you out of the whole crowd?

J: I don’t know. Yeah I mean there were 6 of them and I looked at the photos of the 6 of them and maybe I had a professional headshot so maybe that was why. I mean I don’t know.

T: Was there any other girls?

J: There were girls and guys but there was not one just girl so. I mean I know it happened again so that was a different picture of me so I mean that might be it too when the second one came about shortly after and watched it. I was in October, it wasn’t 3 months and then in March I was featured again because I was in Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine. And yahoo, the reason why I was in yahoo is coz they were syndicated so they syndicate CNN and they syndicate Kiplinger’s personal finance. And so it was the same of very similar story, dude pays of $70,000 of debt and a whole much other stuff.

T: So it was a good human interest story that obviously many people in the audience especially, and what year was this?

J: Well 2, well yeah.

T: Okay.

J: A while ago. When I first started. So a year after blogging. I’ve been blogging for just about 3 years now so about 2 years ago.

T: So during this current recession so lots of people could relate to being $70,000 in debt and in particular for you to be a young woman who was successful at getting herself out of debt and you’re not exactly hurt on the eyes, all of those things together I’m sure contributed to.

J: Can I quote you on this? A quote from Trent.

T: I told you yesterday I look like John Hem and I go to her and I go “who’s John Hem?”

J: I think I know who that is.

T: It’s the guy from Mad Men, Don Draper. I knew his character name but I didn’t know his real name. So she was laughing at me coz I had no idea coz I’ve been told quite a few times actually that I look like him.

J: I bet you should have a code.

T: A code, yeah maybe. Maybe I can call myself the Don Draper of blogging. Oh I’m gonna get some hate mail. Do not send me a nasty email. Jamie started this.

J: I know. Send him a nasty email, that’s fine.

T: Okay so you should probably tell what happened for 46 of those 48 hours or whatever the number is. Why it didn’t do you any good because while it’s not marketing related at all it’s a pretty important thing for people to understand if they’re going out to get press.

J: Yap. And this is what I tell, and I hate telling it everytime coz I feel stupid but let me tell it again. So both times my server crashed. So the first time it wasn’t that big of a deal, I had about a 1,000 people come because there was no link. Second time I was on the homepage of yahoo for 48 hours and there was a link.

T: Did you have control over whether there was a link or no link or is that up to them?

J: So the second time, everytime now I ask and so with Kiplinger’s personal finance I asked her to put a link online. I didn’t know it was gonna go to yahoo but I asked her to make sure there was a link and she said okay. So yeah, always ask, always always ask for a link. It’s really good for SEO anyway but also nobody, another issue. So the very first time I didn’t have, so I was on yahoo’s home page. When you googled my name my site came up. When you yahoo’d my name, which nobody says yahoo’d I think, someone else’s site came up and then my facebook page came up and I wasn’t even to like the bugs. So even when my site was up when there was no link it was just bad. There was really facebook fan request but that was about it.

T: I think you got a marriage proposal too, didn’t you?

J :I did. I’ve gotten a few more since then. I’m very proud of those.

T: And when you were on the homepage did you by chance dance around your office and say “yahoo!”.

J: No I didn’t. I should have. Maybe I can do it again. So that was the thing. Really, really ask for links and also if there is no link make sure when you google your name just in case they don’t have your website and google or yahoo or bing your name make sure it comes up in search results. So for 2 hours the second time works from going back and forth, the second time I was up in 2 hours, I got 8,000 visitors to my site in 2 hours.

T: That’s a lot.

J: Yeah. And then it crashed. So 4,000 times 46 hours, yeah I know it hurts a lot. So make sure that your site can handle it. I had a hosting site, a hosting company and it’s just a shared server and I’m a geek. I have a degree in IT, I know this, I saw work in the server room at a place and I was just dumb.

T: And you were on a $10 a month cheap skate hosting plan back then?

J: Yes I was. Till I see someone dumb. Yeah really dumb. Don’t do that.

T: Two thumbs up.

J: For me, yeah. Learn from me, don’t do that.

T: Okay so let me go back to my notes here coz we are eventually gonna get, I want people to learn more about this interview business coz it really is such a terrific business but I also wanted to make sure that we keep talking about press. Alright can you summarize for us then just like you did with guest posting the Jamie’s 10 minute crash course on how to get some press?

J: Alright I just did a snitch on this, it was a lot longer than 10 minutes so we’ll see if I can do this.

T: Maybe you’ll do a master class for me hopefully, hopefully.

J: Nice shot.

T: Maybe.

J: I don’t know. I’m kidding. So the first thing that I say is to start with like helpareporter.com. I don’t know if you guys know too much about it already but it connects journalists with people that are potential sources. I’ve gotten quite a bit of press from them. I’ve gotten fox business, success magazine, like a bunch of kinda cool places from there.

T: Say that url, Jamie please say that url again because I think they missed it.

J: Helpareporter.com.

T: Isn’t it helpareporterout.com?

J: No.

T: No, oh my bad.

J: The name of the service is help a reporter out. The website url is helpareporter.com. Not very smart but that’s what’s written.

T: No yeah.

J: So I would do that and try and practice right pitching coz you need to get better at pitching before you get bigger stuff. So you can do some of the lower stuff that’s good for backlinking anyway. And then try and get the bigger stuff. And then the reason why that’s good is because when you’ve already had some press it’s much easier to get more of it. So on my site when it says I have all these press, people that come to my site go “oh I already know. She’s okay with the media.” Especially like TV stations and stuff like that don’t want you if you’re not very good on camera. So they wanna know that you’ve done stuff ahead of time or a good resource. So that just makes you a little more credible so that’s also why I say to start up with that and then move forward.

T: Okay so help a reporter out resource no. 1. Try and get some of the low hanging fruit, get some social proof, hone your pitch skills, build relationships with those reporters and over time you’re snowball will get bigger as it rolls down the hill.

J: Yeah. Just like I said with Laura Bandecamp who actually reads get rich slowly but that’s not how I met her. I met her because I was using help a reporter out. She needed a source for her book. I didn’t even know who she was. I became a source for her book. Later she emailed and was like “Oh my fifth for this fortune.com article I’m doing.” And we’ve since build a relationship again going like “Oh I should take you out for coffee. You’re great.” You know that sort of stuff. So definitely start building relationships even when you don’t necessarily know where they’re gonna go.

T: Okay. Thank you for that. Now you have, I know you’ve talked about other ways we’re only gonna have so much time in this interview. So when we get to the end of this interview or the heck you can even say it now. You know people how can they reach to get more of you to get more of these stuff.

J: My blog is eventualmillionaire.com.

T: There you go.

J: Yeah. I have a whole thing on press and stuff like that too.

T: Okay. So let’s talk about the interview business for a bit. It’s one that obviously we’re both actively involved in. And it’s your interview so you get to give answer to all the questions. Why is this such a good business to be in? And does it work in any niche?

J: It’s so funny because usually I am on the other side. I love talking. It’s so hard being an interviewer and going and I don’t say anything.

T: I’ve had people write me to tell me to shut up. They say let your guest talk so and here I am talking. So shut me up. Start talking.

J: I had that too. I just sent out a survey and someone said you talk too much and you just need more pictures of yourself on the site. So I’m like “oh you want me to shut up and then you want more pictures of me.” Yeah okay that’s funny. And it’s hard. There’s a fine balance coz you really want your audience to know who you are and there’s people that listen to my interviews love me which is great. I mean not all of them of course, right? But most of the interviews are from millionaires but a lot of them really like me too. So I love interjecting but you really have to make sure they haven’t heard this before because hearing the same story more than once is so annoying but you also wanna be able to build the relationship with like the millionaire. So when I’m talking a millionaire I want the millionaire to know all about me too.

T: Exactly.

J: So that way we can start building a relationship. So I try and look for like those connection points with the millionaire that I haven’t you know same old same old for my audience and not talk too much at the same time. So there’s a lot of different things going on. But yeah I absolutely love interviewing because almost no one, even millionaires, say no.

T: Yap.

J: Coz they’re flattered. You can start building relationship big time because there’s a lot of prep work before he enters the whole interview. You have to tell them later you know when it comes live you’re a lot of different touch points as you go. And you can continue the conversation and go “oh I love to have you on the show again in a little while”. That sort of stuff. So I think it’s huge for building relationships even if you didn’t get any traffic from this. You should interview. My mentor who taught me business coaching, I’m like you need to interview people because it’s the best way for him to get infront of even prospects or people that might be good relationships for him locally, he should do it too. So I think it’s huge.

And I think you can pretty much do it in just about any niche. I have a friend who’s a performer and I was like go interview all of the venues that you wanna be booked at because it’d be great. You’d have a podcast talking about like what they look for, you know maybe how they market so that way other venues can listen to them. And then you’re getting an email. It just makes sense.

T: Yeah it does. I just can’t say enough about all of the perks. I’ll be honest with you I started interviewing on my internet marketing blog called onlineincomelab.com because I was looking for an easy way to produce more content. I knew that people were getting sick of hearing my stuff all the time and so I thought well coz I haven’t been successful at everything obviously. I’ve only had at that point in time I had a limited amount of success and so I thought well I wanna get free lessons, no. 1, I’d like to expand my network and I don’t wanna have to type all the damn content all the time.

J: Thank you for saying that.

T: Voila! The interview business was born and in my case it ended up spawning an entirely new business brightideas.co where this interview will be posted and I think that the potential for that business is just so much more than the internet marketing audience.

J: Yeah.

T: And I gonna give props to you because I took your advice for the people listening to this, in the pre-call Jamie told me about how she’d attracted all these millionaires to be as interview guests for her and some of them opted in to her mastermind and again you know what? I’m not gonna tell the story. It’s your interview. You’re gonna tell us, right?

J: Well what I was gonna say before, the reason why I started interviewing was I never saw myself as a writer. I can write and that’s great but to me, it took me a while and my mastermind group thanking this for them was like you’re really good at communicating and that sort of stuff. And so I was like I should do a podcast coz both Pat and Murin had a podcast already. That’s a great idea why wouldn’t I do that. And Murin was like you shouldn’t interview only millionaires. And I was like that’s a good idea I should totally do that. And it sort of came about from that. So because it’s so much easier to produce content this way too. You get new and interesting. You can have people that specifically know hard core all about that specific thing is huge. It’s awesome for content definitely.

T: And you know we all get transcripts done so this is just a little take away for anyone listening to this. If you still want to have written articles when you do an interview like this you end up with 10-12,000 words of content that you didn’t have to pay for. If you’ve asked your questions in such a way you can just get your VA to go and take the transcript and strip out one question and answer and wala! blog post.

J: Yeah it can be a huge thing. So yeah it’s huge. The transcripts, now I’m writing a book proposal right now who actually found me from my blog because I had all that press on there. Was like oh she must know what she’s talking then. And I looked at how many transcripts I have and each of them are 15 pages and I have 70 of them. Like that’s a lot of content. That’s so much content and it’s crazy. So definitely.

T: You and I are on similar paths.

J: Well you meet me in person.

T: I think I told you I’m doing a book as well.

J: Oh are you really?

T: Yap. And this is again I was attempting to give you props I meant in the go so I wanted to get some, people who’d made the million dollars online. And so I took your advice and I went and put a thing up on haro which was free by the way. And I said looking for people who have an expertise in online marketing and sales automation who are millionaires and would like to be featured in a book. And my book is tentatively titled, I don’t know if I wanna give the title away, somebody might turn off the registry so I’m not gonna give the title yet.

And I got a lot of responses and I did a pre-interview this morning before this interview of this guy, he’s got a $7,000,000 a year business that makes this hot sauce and he was jazzed to talk to me. And he was a really cool guy and he’s gonna do 2 interviews and he’s gonna be in the book and he’s gonna blah blah blah. You wanna make it bad, he’s probably got a mailing list for his $7,000,000 a year company and when my interview goes live it’s just promotion for him. If I have rapport with him, I’m thinking it’s fairly good chance he’s gonna tell his list about my site, his interview on my site which creates all sorts of opportunity for additional opt ins and traction and traffic and all these wonderful things.

And again I’m totally hijacking the interview but I wanted people to understand that this is it. It’s really such an awesome business to be in.

J: It is. It totally is. Congratulations on taking my advice now.

T: Yeah thank you.

J: That’s one of the biggest question I always get from everyone is how do you find millionaires. And as I responded to it, Trent, the very first time I put it out at haro. I thought I was gonna get 2 and I got 30. And I was like oh I should make this once a week instead of I was gonna do once every while, maybe once a month. I didn’t think it’d be that easy to find them.

T: Yeah and now a question that I haven’t asked yet and I’ve been thinking about, do you validate that they’re millionaire in any way, shape or form or do you just take their word for it?

J: I did that a lot. So I specifically asked them if they have a net worth of at least a million dollars or more and I need them to say yes. So I don’t go in a look at stuff. If I do the interview and I feel like they’re not telling me the truth or that they’re sort of shady then I’m just don’t post the interview.

T: Yeah.

J: But in general like if they usually seem really genuine and stuff like that I think it’s good. And I’ll look for stuff. Maybe when the book comes out that’s actually what I’m talking to my agent about. When the book comes out I think there’s gonna have to be more validation, more verification.

T: Yeah.

J: It’s like go through a publisher.

T: Absolutely.

J: Definitely.

T: And we could do, and we should do a whole other interview about publishing a book but we don’t have time for that one today. Maybe if you’ll be kind enough to come back on we’d do that.

J: Yeah.

T: We can maybe share our learning experiences. And a friend of mine who is been a marketer for quite a while, she’s written a number of books and just swears by the kindle platform. She said you know you don’t need traditional publishing around.

J: I know.

T: So there’s just a huge debate of which way to go and honestly I don’t know which way to go yet. I need to talk to more people who are smarter than me.

J: I was gonna say have you ever interviewed Johnny Andrews?

T: No.

J: Okay, Pat interviewed him, he’s a friend of mine and he’s been yelling at me too like don’t do it, don’t go to traditional publishing. You should totally have him on because he’ll give you his opinion. Now it’s just an opinion but he’s hard core.

T: I’d love to.

J: He’s got a lot of really good stories.

T: Can you make an email introduction?

J: I can.

T: Thank you.

J: Send me a note later.

T: I will. So it’s Johnny?

J: Andrews.

T: So if that’s not evidence of the awesome networking of interviewing people I don’t know what is. Alright.

J: And he did interview me way back so I didn’t even interview him.

T: Let’s talk about the interviewing business model for a minute coz I know that when I meet people and they ask me what I do for a living I tell them I have an online talk show coz it’s easy to understand.

J: It’s better. I should do that. I say I interview millionaires.

T: Well that’s cool too. But then they go the very first question is they go you can make money at that? And so there is a business model and not everyone’s is the same. Would you like to talk about yours?

J: Yeah mine’s? It’s fine coz we’re talking about this before. Mine’s a little different than yours. Well I mean not different. What I primarily was before and became online as a business sketch. So I have businesses locally, I have businesses all over the world now that I help. Usually they’re doing less than a million it depends on where they are now. So that’s what I love to do. That’s my passion. But I only work 20 hours a week so there’s always too much coaching that I can’t do. So I’m starting moving on to more sort of internet marketing types of things. So I have a membership site and I’m doing the book. And so doing a little bit more stuff that’s gonna be a lot more passive. And 20 hours a week it’s kind of difficult to do that much.

T: Yeah tough.

J: So it’s a slow process and I’m trying to make it be okay. But in general I’ve got my business coaching practice and then I also have the membership site and the marketing.

T: Okay so let’s just walk through this really simple. The interviews provide the content. You make the interviews available for free, correct?

J: Correct.

T: Are they always available for free or do you do like Andrew at Mixergy and put them behind the wall after 30 days?

J: I don’t but iTunes only shows the last I think 15 or so. You can get the rest if you come to my site.

T: Yeah. Andrew only shows the last 5 as and I decided to take a page out of his book on that one.

J: I just interviewed him and we talked all about interviewing so he care about interviewing. I just interviewed Andrew Warner from Mixergy and he gave really good tips that I have to implement also.

T: Yeah.

J: And so is this stuff.

J: The same thing that people talk about when you start a business like having your ideal customer. Well when you’re first starting you’re like I can’t, I’m gonna take anybody. Anyone that’s willing to pay me I’ll take them. And as a business coach, exactly. You wanna be working with the ideal customers. You wanna be working with the people that aren’t complainers. You know and that sort of thing. You’re gonna be so much happier. It just creates so much less stress with them also. So for your regular business make sure you’re listening to them.

T: And I wanted to take an opportunity to plug Mike’s book, The Pumpkin Plan. If you’re listening to this show and you’re running a business or your business is running you, and you just can’t figure out how to make the thing grow anymore but you’ve got a good product or a good service and you have some customers that really love you, you need to go buy Mike’s book, The Pumpkin Plan. You absolutely must buy this book and then you need to follow what the advice that he gives you because it’s really really awesome advice. And he gives evidence of how it impacted his own business and people he’s coached. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the book and that’s why I wanted to get him on the show.

J: I need to write it down too. Make sure you remind me. I don’t have a pen near me. Make sure to remind me to write that down later.

T: Alright I will. So I think we’re like way off topic now.

J: Yeah.

T: If somebody is still listening to this at the end and hopefully they’re fist pumping in their car and going yeah yeah yeah, you guys thanks for rumbling on for a while because I think it’s important stuff. So is there any other questions that I wanted to ask you? There was one tip you gave and we’ll close on this one on using haro to get press. And it was about response time.

J: Oh yeah. I actually ended up talking to somebody at haro because I wanted to find out what the real people did. I actually interviewed a bunch of PR people to try and find out what they do to get it. And it’s the same with enough 15 minute window. So when you sign for haro you’ll get an email 3 times a day which is a lot. And some people just delete them coz it’s really annoying. But if you can actually take a couple seconds to scan through and try to find exactly one that works for you and then within 15 minutes do your reply and send it back. There’s 2 reasons for this. The first is because you get a buzzillion replies and at first you’re like oh look can you read them? Especially somebody who’s a reporter, a bigger reporter. They’ll get a couple and then there’s just so many you have to start moving them into a folder and you don’t have the time. And the other reason is that a lot of times there’s bigger people like the bigger national media are on deadlines and they need to know something fast. So not only respond as quick as you can. You also include a phone number so that way they can call you and follow up too. So those are definitely good tips. I’ve gotten a lot more because of that.

T: And I took your advice on that and the first email for me comes in coz I’m on the pacific coast or pacific coast time it comes like at 3 in the morning so I just ignore that one.

J: What? Come on. Aren’t you dedicated?

T: That’s a lot for right now. The other 2 they come in at the same time everyday within a couple of minutes so I just set an alarm in my google calendar peep peep peep and I flip over to the gmail account that I use for that. Soon as they come in I scan it. It takes me 30 seconds and I’m only on 2 so I get 2 emails twice a day. Well 3 times a day but I don’t even look at the first one. And it doesn’t take very long. Like today for example somebody, they wanted someone with significant start up experience. Well you know hello, I’ve started a couple of companies, sold one. So I thought yeah okay so again I took your advice, I wrote them back , hi my name is, here’s the press I’ve been featured in, here’s my about page, here’s my relevant thing, here’s my phone number, here’s my email, I’m ready to go, if there’s anyway I can help you please let me know.

J: Perfect. Now in my speech if I do that again I’m gonna tell people to set an alarm. Do what Trent did.

T: Yeah.

J: That’s a really good idea. Awesome.

T: And I’m looking actually at my email inbox right now to see if I got a reply and I don’t think I did on this one but it’s a numbers game.

J: Well that’s the thing. It depends, right? So it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gonna use it right away either. And that’s the thing that’s hard. The success magazine one I didn’t hear back for weeks. I thought I would just assume they didn’t get it. And then she’s like oh you’re in. And I’m like okay good, thanks.

T: Yeah actually now that’s a really good point and I’m gonna hijack you one more time because it’s relevant. So I got myself on Fox 5 news here a couple of times. And the first time that I did it so I met someone who knew the producer. In the subject line I said so and so referred me. She told me exactly how to write the pitch. It was 3 bullet points, you know, my name is blah, I think your audience will be interested in this because point no. 1, point no. 2, point no. 3. It’s the hook. I didn’t hear back from them for like 6 weeks. And then they had a slow news day presumably, a slow news day. And I get an email like 3:00 in the afternoon can you be at the studio tomorrow morning at 5:45 am? Absolutely I can. And once they have you on once then what do they think they did? They invited to come on again.

J: That’s a possibility.

T: And you know what? The funny thing was, this is before my online business and I get to talk about some failure here, this is awesome. In the time between selling my technology services company and going online I spent about a year learning everything I could about real estate coz I wanted to become a real estate investor and I was gonna buy all these foreclosures and flip them. And so here’s a guy who’s I’d never done a real estate deal. I think coz I just was a horrible failure. I just didn’t understand the price these people wanted to pay for these deals. I couldn’t see any profit so my offers never got accepted. But I got myself on TV as a real estate expert because I asked and I knew what I was talking about. I’ve been reading, I’ve been studying these stuff big time. So I bring that up only to say that don’t let your limiting beliefs like my buddy who’s been a realtor for 10 years, he’s a top producer, he looked at me and he goes are you out of your mind? He says you’re going on TV as some supposed real estate expert? And I said I know how to answer the questions. I know the answers.

J: Exactly.

T: And so my point is don’t let any kind of limiting belief get in your way. If you know your material, you know your stuff don’t be afraid to tell people that you are an expert coz the interview was easy and good and it’s not like they’re doing investigative reporting and trying to trip you off.

J: Yeah definitely.

T: It’s not what it’s like. Alright we need to wind this up coz I think I’ve got other interviews to do today but yeah it’s been a really good time. Jamie thank you so much for making the time. Obviously I’d love to have you come back on. You know I’m gonna ask you to come back on. I’m also asking you to do a master class for me on maybe starting a mastermind actually. Wouldn’t mind doing coz you seem to be like that’s something some people might like to do. I’m not gonna put you on the spot on air and ask you to come.

J: You have to ask me when you’re in Vegas when you go to the new media expo.

T: Absolutely I think that’s what I’ll do. Alright so that wraps up this episode. Thanks very much Jamie for being on. Last thing, if people want to get a hold of you, the best way to do it is…

J: Just go to eventualmillionaire.com. You can shoot me an email there if you ever need anything or you can find the podcasts on itunes which is eventual millionaire podcast. That’s it.

T: And if you’re in a hurry to become a millionaire I think I’m gonna start a new plight inside that says become a millionaire faster than jamie can teaching you .com.

J: Oh I am a brown belt on karate. We will get started on that one.

T: No we’re just gonna stick with Bright Ideas I think.

J: Awesome Trent.

T: Alright folks that’s it. Thanks very much. That is a wrap for this episode. Thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you in another one.

J: Thanks so much.

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

Media Attention Made Easy

Jaime’s Crash Course on How to Get Free Press

Jaime is a rock star at getting press coverage.  She’s been on tons of media outlets, including heavy hitters like CNN.  She was also on the front page of

Press coverage has been key to Jaime's success.Image Source: 123rf.com

Press coverage has been key to Jaime’s success.
Image Source: 123rf.com

Yahoo, free coverage which at first she was unable to take full advantage of.

In fact, when Jaime got on Yahoo, she realized she wasn’t prepared to be on Yahoo.  Hear her openly share the mistakes she made.  She also shares

one thing to ask for every time you get press coverage, whether it’s Yahoo or something smaller.

Listen to the interview to hear Jaime share her mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Jaime’s Crash Course on How to Get Attention from Other Bloggers

Jaime is a master at building relationships with others.  She has leveraged these relationships to get tons of additional free press coverage.  She is a big proponent of guest posts, and sees this as a major component of what helped her grow her site quickly.

Hear Jaime share her tips on getting guest posts.

Jaime’s Crash Course on Interview Sites

I’m obviously a big fan of interviewing and interview sites.

Interviewing is an excellent tool to leverage for business growth.Image Source: 123rf.com

Interviewing is an excellent tool to leverage for business growth.
Image Source: 123rf.com

If you like Bright Ideas, you’ll definitely want to head over to Eventual Millionaire and check out Jaime’s site too.  She’s an engaging interviewer and her site is an inspiring example of how to leverage interview sites for your business.

Hear Jaime talk about why interview sites work so well.

All the Extras

Now, I have to admit that Jaime and I had mad tangents all over the place during our conversation.  I guess that’s what you get when you interview an interviewer!

But that also leads to some great content for you.  Jaime shares all sorts of hidden gems.  She even provides a crash course on mastermind groups.  And this interviewer of millionaires has formed some stellar groups full of millionaire, so you know this is good stuff!

Listen to the interview to hear Jaime share all her best secrets.

About Jaime Tardy

Ever since Jamie was little she’s had this weird feeling that she would someday have a million dollars. While she’s not quite to a million yet, she’s always been intrigued by how to do it.

She started out thinking the only way she could do it was to get a good job with a great salary.  So she went to a great (expensive!) school, and began working full time while still in school. By the age of 22 she was making six figures, and had an expense account. By the age of 24 she was in over $70,000 in debt.

Unfortunately, she hated her work. She had worked so hard, and had some cool stuff. But she was stuck in airports all the time. She dreaded Sunday nights because they marked the beginning of yet another long work week.

Jamie determined that living an enjoyable life was worth far more than a million dollars. So she updated my goal. Instead of just a million dollars, she wanted to find work she loved and the life she loved, and THEN make her million. She took time off to find out what work excited her.

And, she found it. Now she helps entrepreneurs focus their money and their strengths to create an amazing life while they build their net worth.

Jamie’s still learning too, so she interviews millionaires to get their best tips, tactics and advice from their successes and failures.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Build a Profitable Software Business Without Writing Any Code: A Case Study with Spencer Haws

Do you have a great idea for a software but you don’t have any coding knowledge and experience to transform it into an actual product?

Are you looking for an effective means of marketing your software to your target market?

To discover how to create and market a software product without writing a single line of code, I interview Spencer Haws of Nichepursuits.com 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 Spencer Haws of NichePursuits.com.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

An Interview with Spencer HawsTrent Dyrsmid: 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.And in this episode I am joined by Spencer Haws. Spencer is an online business owner, a blogger and a software developer from Richland, Washington. And back in 2009 he started off by building a portfolio of niche websites that made quite a bit of money with Google adsense. And that led to a successful blog called NichePursuits.com which then led to an even more successful software development business and that’s what we’re gonna be talking about in this particular episode of Bright Ideas.So Spencer thanks so much for making the time to talk about your product Long Tail Pro and how you’ve made it successful. Welcome to the show.

Spencer Haws: Hey thanks Trent. It’s great to be here. I know we’ve chatted quite a bit over the last year too so I’m more than happy to do an interview here to talk about Long Tail Pro.

T: We have indeed Spencer. I started off much like Spencer did. He was very generous with information for me back then. I’m no longer in that business but I definitely appreciate all that past advices. It was very helpful. So for the people who are in this audience which is predominantly small business owners and marketing agency owners they’re probably thinking who’s this guy, why do I wanna listen to this interview. So please just start off with who are you and what do you do?

S: Okay absolutely. Yeah you gave some brief information about what I’m doing now. Before I was a full time entrepreneur which I am now, I quit my corporate job about 2 years ago, it’ll be 2 years in just a few months. But I was involved in the financial services industry. I got my degree in Finance and worked for a large bank after that in business banking.

And so being involved in the internet and building websites was really nothing that I had a background in. It started as a hobby for me. Probably back in 2005-2006 I built my first site just to see if I could do it if I could get something online. And that led me over the next few years sort of moonlighting after my corporate job to building sites and learning and beginning to understand how Google works, how to get things ranking in Google and that led me then to finding niche sites. And that is a big part of my story.

I started building lots of small niche sites that could rank very quickly for small keywords because the big problem that a lot of people have is they see a really big keyword that gets tons of traffic and they try to build the site targeting that one keyword and the problem is they never rank for that keyword because it’s so extremely difficult. Everybody else is trying to rank for that keyword in Google and they’re nowhere to be found.

T: So this is probably that a lot of small business owners do. Let’s say there’s a guy with a plumber or a flower shop or whatever and they make this mistake of trying to rank for that keyword instead of maybe what we call the long tail phrase where if they were to attach a city name or a town name or something so that they’re drastically reducing the number of competitors that they’re against or are competing against rather and have a much easier time getting traffic to their site.

S: Right absolutely. I mean if you take a flower shop in Richland, Washington if they try to rank for the keyword flowers it’s just never gonna happen. There’s too many big corporations trying to rank for that. But if they try to rank for something like flowers in Richland, Washington they have a much better chance of doing that. So it was understanding the long tail keywords for me and I’m kinda going to why this will matter to everybody else as well but that’s what led me to quitting my corporate job. I did very very well with these niche sites. I built a couple of hundred of these, monetized them with Google adsense and that was in March of 2011 that I quit my job. And then I started a blog at almost exactly the same time NichePursuits.com where I blogged about how I was building these small niche sites and what was working for me, how others can rank those sites and all sorts of tactics that you could do to essentially do what I was doing.

And also around the same time I started building Long Tail Pro and so I continued to sell Long Tail Pro. It’s a keyword research tool that I built really for myself because I was frustrated with how long and how slow the keyword research process was using other tools. There’s lots of other great tools out there but for my needs where I wanted to find lots of keywords very quickly and be able to analyze if I could rank within Google quickly I decided to build my own tool and now I sell out Long Tail Pro. So we’ll dive into that a little bit more but that’s what I’m doing now.

T: Okay so for the folks who are listening there’s really kind of 2 main ideas that I’m hoping to get across this interview. One of them is for all those small flower shop owners and whatever type of business that you’re in local markets there’s a great benefit to be had by figuring out a plethora of long tail keywords that you can create content for and individually these keywords they don’t add a whole lot of traffic but they’re very easy to rank for and when you do them in aggregate you can actually translate into quite a substantial amount of traffic and it’s really not very difficult to do. However, you have to know which keywords that you’re going to go after because that’s where the science is. And that’s why you created Long Tail Pro.

The other audience is the folks who are thinking hey I might like to get into the software business. I’ve been thinking about creating an application for a long time so we’re gonna really focus in on that. So let’s give some results so that people who again don’t know you think oh yeah hey man, Spencer’s done really well. So how much revenue have you done with Long Tail Pro?

S: Yeah Long Tail Pro and it’s a long story as well because and maybe we can dig in to this with some of the mistakes I made early on and how I fixed those mistakes.

T: Yeah that would be good.

S: Yeah I created a first version of Long Tail Pro which is not the current version that you see today. That I guess quickly to answer your numbers to get the numbers out then we can maybe drill in to what happened. But I had a first version that I launched in right around January of 2011 and I only sold it for about 3 months from January to March. But it’s sold maybe $2,000 or $3,000 a month. I didn’t do much marketing at all. I didn’t have much of a blog or a list at that point but it was enough for me to know that there was interest.

T: Absolutely.

S: So that first version maybe did $10,000 or so. Then I went back and again I’ll explain why I did this but I hired a new programmer to develop an entirely new from the ground up, a new code, everything, new version of the software which I launched in beta form around July of 2011 and really didn’t launch until October publicly October 2011. So from about, with the new version I’ve done about a $150,000 in revenue. About a $100,000 of that this year 2012. So I get you a rough idea of what I’ve done and I’ve got big plans of course for the future as well.

T: I’m sure.

S: In the future there’s more marketing as well.

T: So we should take into account the cost of the first and the second version because it is part of the reality. What do you think that you spent, coz you’re not a software developer, you don’t write any code, correct? Coz I don’t want people to think I don’t know how to write codes so I can’t build an application coz that’s not true.

S: Yeah absolutely. I’m not a programmer by any way, shape or form like I said my background is business and finance. So I hired somebody else to do the code completely. I just had the idea, I paid somebody to do it for me.

T: And what did you spend to develop this application?

S: Yeah the first version was very cheap and this was my mistake. I hired the cheapest programmer that was overseas and he was able to produce something and I really think that he essentially used some code that he already had which was why he was able to do it so cheaply. But it was about $3,000 to $4,000 to just get that first version up and running. It was pretty bare bones at the beginning. But it quickly had lots of bugs and issues that made it stop working. And I guess maybe now is a good time to explain what happened but it needed lots of attention.

And so I would go back to my programmer and say hey this little parts stopped working, it’s got a bug, can you fix it and he would do the best he can but because he was overseas he didn’t speak english well it was difficult to work with him, to communicate and get things done in a timely fashion. And so I decided I think I just want to hire a different programmer to take the existing code that I can work with that speaks english that I know I can count on for the future. And so when I asked the original programmer for the code he said no, not gonna happen. He said pay me $15,000 and the code is yours. And I mean you have to understand I paid like $3,000 to $4,000 and I thought that was it originally. And also when I posted the job I did this on a freelance website I figured hey I was protected and that’s what I paid for was the source code originally or so I thought. And I probably could have gone through the dispute process on, it was Freelancer.com and perhaps gotten the original code but it would have been a huge headache probably taken months to go through.

And so I was essentially faced with the dilemma of hey I can pay this guy $15,000 and get the original code which I know is kind of buggy already. And then just hire somebody else to fix it. Or I can scrap the project completely, I can just hey I made a few thousand dollars, just tell people sorry you’ll refund them or whatever. But what I decided to do is fire the old programmer and completely start from scratch. Just hire a new programmer, have him create his code from the very beginning and that cost me about $15,000 to $20,000 to do anyways. So I figured I was about even whether I got the old code or the new source code and because I did it from scratch with the new guy the source code I knew was mine. I hired a very programmer who spoke english. Things have been much better since but that was some pretty trying times. I learned quite a bit in those early days. I made quite a few mistakes that made me dig in too deeper but yeah that’s sort of what happened there early on.

T: I think that that is not uncommon at all.

S: Unfortunately.

T: I know personally I never get anything right the first time. I should call myself Captain Do Over coz I always need another time to assess all the errors that I made and try and fix them on the next go around.

S: Yes. So the one point I will make just very quickly that one of the big things that I learned in software development is that hiring cheap usually is not the cheapest in the long run. I would advice what I do now whenever I hire a programmer is hire the absolute best. Even if they’re more expensive they’ll typically get the job done quicker so they’re spending less hours even though they have a higher hourly rate. They do it quicker. It’s done better and there’s less maintenance down the road. So absolutely I would hire the best from the get go.

T: And how did you find the second programmer? Did you go back to the same site and just pick a higher quality person or did you go to like a local meet up and meet someone face to face? What did that look like?

S: I probably could have gone back to freelancer. I actually went back to elance or over to elance. So it’s another freelance website. But I just did a lot more due diligence and paid a lot more attention to the higher quality high end developers whereas before I was just looking to get the job done. I posted a job and I figured hey if they get the job done I don’t have to release my money until I get my product so right, I’m covered but no. So the second time around I just looked at the higher end developers and hired them.

T: Quick side bar for the listeners I have interviewed another fellow by the name of Travis Ketchum who you can find it on the blog. He developed some software as well and his experience is very similar to Spencer’s and the version 1 was unsuccessful coz he hired the cheapest person. So if you’re thinking about doing software in addition to listening to this interview make sure that you go and do a search for Travis Ketchum on BrightIdeas.co and you’ll find his interview.

Now back to you Spencer, you just mentioned due diligence so let’s not skimp pass that because that’s an important part of how you selected your contractors so can you share with us what did you do to do due diligence?

S: Absolutely. And I recommend this whenever you hire any freelancer not just a software developer. Essentially I tried to communicate as much as possible before I hire anybody. The instant messaging, email and I would essentially ask them questions like do you understand the job, can you restate in your words what exactly I’m looking for. And so I would try to exchange at least a few emails so that a) I knew that I could communicate with them, that their english was good and they understood what I was saying.

I ended up hiring somebody here in the US so that’s not a problem but exchanging those emails helped me to know the depth of their knowledge of what I was looking for and you can really see the good freelancers or programmers when they bring up potential problems. They say hey I see your job but have you thought about this, this and this. And those are the people you want to key it out on. Key in on and say no, I didn’t think of that one, let’s discuss. And so that’s great when they can come up with potential problems before you ever hire them.

I actually spoke to a couple of different people on the phone and that’s a big plus to know if you could develop a good rapport and then basic things. I looked at their past jobs, what they were rated on those jobs, pluses and minuses from previous people that have hired them. I looked at resumes and things like that. But I would say the big thing is definitely pre-hiring interview questions and just getting to know them a little bit better and making sure they fully understand the entire project.

T: Did you check with any other references?

S: You know, I didn’t and that is certainly another step that I could have gone to ensure and that’s not a bad idea at all. But just after talking with the programmer that I hired I felt pretty comfortable.

T: And when you say talking did you have a voice conversation with him as well over Skype?

S: I did yes.

T: Especially if you’re hiring someone from another country it’s not to say that there aren’t any good programmers outside the United States but in my experience you really need to have a verbal conversation with them because when you’re trying to explain post production or after the fact issues chatting and skyping and emailing in a non-verbal form can only go so far.

S: Yeah and absolutely. And what I didn’t fully understand the first go around with Long Tail Pro is that I figured software development was a one time deal. I get my product, it’s a package that’s done I sell it forever, right? But I mean that’s not the way software usually works and particularly something as intricate as Long Tail Pro where we’re using lots of different resources any time there’s a small change we have to tweak our software. And so I understood fully the second go around that this was a long term relationship with this software developer. I needed to know that they would be there a year down the road to continually develop and fix bugs or changes that may come up. So that was very important.

T: So coming up over we’re gonna talk about how Spencer marketed and sold his software but I have one last question for him on how he got it developed and that is when you created the scope of the project, coz I’ve been involved now at 2 software development projects myself. One of them we’re just getting ready to release and it’s done and the other one we’re very early in the development phase. And in both of those projects we put a lot of time into screen shotting so that you could have a conversation with your developer that says when you click this button this is what’s supposed to happen. Did you go through a process like that or did you have a different way that you did it?

S: I would say it’s a similar process. I did a lot of referring to similar tools that are out there. So I say hey here’s some similar tools to what I’m looking to have created. Here’s what I like about them, here’s what I don’t like about them. And yes I did take some screen shots. But I wrote out a very detailed explanation of everything that the software needed to do, what was required of the programmer. And just really divided it up into each function of the software. Here is the keyword research function. Here’s what it needs to do and maybe here’s some examples of other tools that do this and here’s what they look like. So yes I did very detailed write up and even more so the second time around.

T: So the interface design that you ended up with, was that really the developer’s interpretation of your detailed instructions?

S: Yes. And it was something that he came up with that we really worked on together. And that was also part of, that’s one of those points where I posted my job and before I hired my programmer that was one of his points. About hey I see a problem here or this is something else we need to talk about is the overall interface. He asked do you want me to do that or do you want to hire somebody else to do that. I ended up hiring him because he also have a lot of experience doing user interfaces. But yeah that’s something that I worked with him to come up with the design and the look.

T: Okay. There’s a lot more we could talk about obviously with respect to how to build software more than we could cover in a short interview. So I’m gonna leave the development side alone now and let’s go on and talk about marketing. So you obviously, just walk us through your marketing plan and what executed and maybe highlight a couple of things that worked really well and maybe if there is things that didn’t work well maybe you could talk about those as well.

S: Okay. Yeah my primary marketing plan early on and a big part of the reason that it worked for me is because I am the target market. I was the target audience essentially. I created this software for me so I fully understood the needs, the problems, what was going through the head of the potential market. And also because of that I already started a blog at NichePursuits.com essentially my target audience is for people that are trying to build websites whether they were niche websites or large blogs or local businesses building websites that wanted to do keyword research more quickly and effectively.

And so I essentially started marketing the software to my blog audience. That’s from the get go I essentially emailed out that hey I’ve got this software that’s available and even before it was done I was very open about my developing a software. I made posts on my blog about this. And so that’s essentially how I marketed it from the get go is just to my blog audience. And that’s a big thing for anybody out there is that if they can have a blog that they’re building out and building an audience it makes launching any product so much easier to have the audience built in. And so that was my primary way of marketing was just to my blog that already existed.

I marketed a little bit on some forums like the warrior forum essentially putting up offers on these forums for people to purchase. And then I reached out to a few other bloggers that were in the same niche to do either webinars or get them on as affiliates to help me promote that.

T: So the percentage of your revenue that came from your own list versus affiliates, what would you guess that was?

S: Well early on I mean it was a 100% me starting probably the first several months was essentially just me. I didn’t go out and I probably could have done this better. I didn’t go out and try to do a big launch with other affiliates and all. It was essentially just me. I threw it up on my blog and emailed my lists and said hey it’s ready, go buy it. And that worked enough to know that people were interested. Now the breakdown this year I don’t know the exact number. It’s still the majority is coming from me and my blog but it’s maybe 60% is me, 65% is me and 30-35-40% is affiliates.

T: Okay so people listening to this are gonna know how popular your blog is or isn’t so is there any in terms of size of your list or daily traffic stats or anything that you feel like sharing?

S: Sure I’ve got about 10,000 subscribers to my email list and to my blog so that gives you kind of an idea of that. So it’s a decent amount.

T: Okay so a reasonable amount. And I think that the key take away that I’m hoping that the small business owner, coz I remember when I ran my technology services company prior to this business and this was from 2001 to 2008 when I sold the company, I didn’t blog. I didn’t know what blog was. In hindsight I just wish that I would have understood the power of blogging. You can create so much engagements, so much relationship, you can build that subscriber list and if you’re a small business owner and you’re listening to this and you haven’t started blogging yet you really need to.

And if you’re thinking gosh I don’t have time hopefully this story with Spencer here and the story of other guests and even my own story because the reason that I do Bright Ideas and the reason that I give all of this content away is to build a list for my software application that is in development currently. That’s my monetization strategy. So when you say I don’t have enough time to blog coz I’m doing all these other stuff it can be a really really valuable activity if you learn how to do it right. And there are lots of other guests and interviews here on Bright Ideas that have lots of success blogging. And in those interviews we go into some particular and I’ve got some how you can do that.

So sorry for hijacking a little bit there Spencer but I really wanted and so passionate about it.

S: Absolutely.

T: You wanna talk to so I’ll stop right now.

S: Yeah well I was just gonna say I can tell you 2 other stories very very briefly of people blogging that has really driven sales to their business. And these are both local business owners who own a small company so maybe it will resonate well with your audience. One is Marcus Sheridan who owned a small pool company in Virginia. And I’ve done an interview with him on my blog but he install pools, fiberglass pools and all they had was just a website. I’ll try to make this story short. But essentially they were about to go financially bankrupt. He finally discovered content marketing. He decided to blog about everything and about fiberglass pools. His website started ranking for every single question that the customers could ask about how much does a fiberglass pool cost or everything that his customers were asking. And within a year they completely turned their business around. They’re now doing millions of dollars in sales and it’s literally, and he contracted because he does this very well, that those sales have all come from his blog. And it’s because he’s targeted these long tail keywords, ranked in Google and so literally changed his business.

The other story I’ll tell briefly is actually my cousin. John Haws, who I also interviewed on my podcast, he decided he wanted to build niche sites. He has a background in landscaping so he built some websites about landscaping in his hometown. He was in Chicago, Illinois at that time going to nursing school. He built some niche sites targeting landscaping in Allen, Texas. Within a couple of months people started calling him saying I want you to come on my lawn. He wasn’t even there, didn’t have a landscaping company. He put them off until the summer until he was off school. He built up a customer base before he even had a business. He went home during the summer and he’s never gone back to school. His business now, he’s done like $70,000 in 6 months, his very first 6 months. The majority of it is online that people are typing and finding him because he blogs about landscaping. And he plans to never go back in his nursing degree just to build this landscaping company.

So that’s 2 small examples and I can tell you if I owned a small local company I would be blogging the heck out of it.

T: Yap coz if you’re not blogging you gotta be doing something. And the cold calling while it can be very effective, it’s not a lot of fun. It used to be a bit mind numbing and the direct mails takes and costs a lot of money. There’s a lot of other things that you can do but blogging you can do it from anywhere. You just flip your laptop open. And I’ll refer to another interview, his name is Peep Laja, it’s here on Bright Ideas there’s an interview. He got 50,000 visitors in his first month. He had no list, no affiliates and it’s a very interesting interview because he talks about how he adopted the reporter’s style of blogging. Then again I’m not gonna go down that rabbit hole, just go check out that interview if you wanna learn more about it.

Alright, so in our off camera talks, Spencer, you shared with me that you were getting quite a bit attraction with small business owners. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you think that happened?

S: Yeah absolutely. So you’re right. I’m starting to get a lot of my readers on NichePursuits.com are actually small companies. I don’t know the total variety of types of companies but at least that have emailed me recently have a pest control company and these are people that have purchased Long Tail Pro and are actually using it. Pest control company, lawyers, real estate agents, small printing company and I’m sure there’s dozens of others that I just am not aware that they’re using my software. But lots of them are starting to really understand the power of the internet, content marketing and ranking in Google just like we described those stories of people that are turning their business around. And the reason for that is because customers nowadays go online and they search everything on Google.

So I mean people used to go to the Yellow Pages now they go to Google. And so these small business owners are becoming savvy and so they found out about me probably from reading my blog, trying to figure out how to rank their business websites in Google because I talk about how I rank my niche sites. And those tactics apply directly. I mean it’s the same process, the same thing just different keywords. And so these small business owners are now definitely very interested in keyword research. And they should be because these are the companies that should be ranking for landscaping in Richland Washington and things like that because they provide the service. And so they’re very interested in doing the proper keyword research, analyzing whether or not they can rank in Google and then making it happen.

So definitely lots of small business owners are using Long Tail Pro and I see that definitely as the future for my own company that they are most certainly part of my target market where I may have not thought that originally when I created the software.

T: That’s one of the things that I really love about being in business and I’ve referred to this previously as I called my green dot theory. You have this idea we’ll call it we’re selling green dots. So you decide to start and a lot of people don’t do that. They let fear get in the way and hopefully this interview will help them to get over that cliff. But once you start to be in business you uncover all these other opportunities which you probably would never have discovered have you not first started to sell your green dots.

And those extra little nuggets that you find can often turn into phenomenal business opportunities and yours is a good story of that. You started off building a software product for internet marketers that wanted to build little itty bitty websites to make money with Google adsense or Amazon affiliates or whatever and now you’re tapping into this market of main stream business customers who have these needs and you’re starting to create brand awareness with them and recognition to the relationship there’s so much that you can do with that for the years ahead. That had you not started you probably wouldn’t be thinking about these things and you wouldn’t be exposed to those opportunities.

S: Absolutely.

T: Alright so we’re getting to the end of our time window for this interview so there’s a couple key things that I wanna cover off. No. 1 is I know that you have recently released, this interview will be published after the release but I think that your special would have ended, but you’ve recently released a very updated version of Long Tail Pro and you have for Bright Ideas listeners you can get the product for $77 instead of $97 if you go to LongTailPro.com/BrightIdeas.

And I guess the last thing, Spencer, if people wanna get a hold of you they know that they can do that on NichePursuits.com. Is that the best way to get a hold of you?

S: That’s probably the best way. I’ve got a contact page there. They can certainly use that, that will send me an email and we’ll communicate that way. Or leave a comment, I’m very responsive on comments. They can certainly follow me on twitter. It’s @NichePursuits. So yeah those are couple of ways they can definitely get a hold of me.

T: Okay. And I also noticed that you have a free webinar that you’re doing. I guess maybe you do it every week or something like that on how to get traffic. You can find more information about that on Niche Pursuits. So last question I have for you, what books are you reading these days? Maybe give us one or two if you’re reading any.

S: I am just about to finish The Lean Startup which is a good one. I’m sure you’ve maybe talked about.

T: I haven’t read that one yet actually.

S: Okay. Yeah it’s definitely a good one. Other than that I don’t have any books I’m reading. I enjoy reading my wired magazine. That keeps me up to date with some pretty interesting articles as well. But yeah that’s sort of what I’m reading now.

T: Okay. Spencer I wanna thank you very much for making some time to come here on the Bright Ideas podcast and share your experience with building software and turning it into a business. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.

S: Absolutely Trent. I appreciate it. It’s been good to be here. Thank you.

T: Alright, if you wanna check out the show notes for today’s episode go to BrightIdeas.co/17. And while you’re at Bright Ideas you may also wanna go and get the massive traffic tool kit. To do that just go to BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic and enter your email address. When you do you’ll be given instant access to the tool kit. So what is the massive traffic tool kits? It’s a compilation of all the very best ideas that have been shared with me by my guests here on Bright Ideas and some of those guests or all of them in this case are absolute power houses at getting traffic to their sites. And the really cool thing about the tool kit is that you do not need to be an SEO guru to be able to execute the strategies that you’re gonna learn. Everyone can do all the things that are in the massive traffic tool kit.

So this brings us to the end of the podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. If you loved this episode or even if you just liked it please do me a huge favor and head over the itunes and give us a 5 star rating and leave a feedback of some kind. Whenever you do that it helps the show to go up of the rankings in the itunes and more people can learn about what we’re doing here at Bright Ideas. And the more people that learn, the more people that we can help to massively boost their business. So thank you very much. It’s been a privilege and I’ll see you in the next episode. Take care.

About Spencer Haws

spencer1-150x150Spencer Haws was a business banker with an MBA who quit his job as a Business Relationship Manager at Wells Fargo Bank to build websites full time. He has more than 200 small niche sites that he monetizes primarily with Google AdSense.

Spencer is the owner of the popular blog nichepursuits.com, where he details his methods as well as his results. He is also the creator of Long Tail Pro, a keyword research tool that niche website builders can utilize to create the right content that targets the right keywords.

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

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

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

  1. 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

  1. 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

and a feedback comment for the Bright Ideas podcast if you’ve enjoyed this

episode.

It’s really important because every time you do that, it helps the show to

get a little bit more exposure in the iTunes store and we attract a few

more entrepreneurs every time and the more people who are here to consume

all these great ideas, the more entrepreneurs that we’re able to help.

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.

12875559_s

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.

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

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.

 

How to Use Infusionsoft to Increase Business Automation, Double Revenue, and Increase Customer Engagement: A Case Study with Samantha Bennett

Are you constantly thinking about how to grow your business?

Would you like to hear how one entrepreneur has been able to double her revenue without killing herself in the process?

To discover how to get more referrals, increase customer engagement, and improve business efficiency, I interview Samantha Bennett in this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. When you listen, you are going to hear how Samantha used Infusionsoft in her business to achieve a 100% increase in revenue.

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 Samantha Bennett of The Organized Artist Company.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

Trent: Hi there idea hunters. Thank you so much for joining me for this

episode of 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.On the show with me today is Samantha Bennett of the Organized Artist

Company and in this episode, she’s going to be sharing with us a couple of

really interesting ideas. The first is how she used a very unique referral

strategy to boost her business by 10% over about a four day period. The

second is her very own customer engagement strategy that results in a very

high level of open rates on her e-mails.And this is something not like anything I’ve ever seen before and finally,

in 2010, Samantha was nominated as one of the Infusionsoft Ultimate

Marketer of the Year. Or ultimate marketers of the year, I should say and

the reason that that’s going to be such an interesting part of the

interview is that Infusionsoft is a tool that she and I both use. Is a

really powerful software tool that you can use to automate all sorts of the

sales and marketing and execution portions of your business and in the

interview you’re going to learn how Samantha is doing that and the results

are pretty astounding. Her growth rate is 100% year over year and she’s

forecasting to do the same year ahead. So, please join me in welcoming

Samantha to the show.Hi, Samantha.Samantha: Hi, Trent.Trent: Thank you so much for making some time to come and do this interview

here with me. Welcome to my show.Samantha: Thank you. My pleasure. I’m happy to be here.Trent: So, I first learned of you in San Diego here where there was very

recently an Infusionsoft marketers day or some kind thing like that and you

were a case study. Or I don’t even know if case study is the right term,

but you had an awful lot of success with your business, your online

business which we’re going to talk about in just a second. And you won an

award as the Infusionsoft Marketer of the Year which is really a big deal.

Because what that demonstrates to folks in the audience don’t know what

that is, you’ve got to be really good at online marketing and sales

automation to win that award.And so when I heard that Samantha had won. I thought, especially how unique

your background and your niche is, I thought, “I really need to get

Samantha on the show.” So, Samantha, give me the. First of all, how much

revenue does your business, is it going to do this year? And how much did

it do last year?Samantha: Last year was about $50,000 or so and well into six figures for

this year. In fact, I just sent one e-mail that I believe is going to

generate $120,000.Trent: Not bad. All right.Samantha: Not bad.Trent: So, now, everyone’s wondering, “Well, what does this woman do?” And

you do some really, what I’m going to call, unusual stuff. Because for me,

like I’m your black white capitalist business kind of guy and you’re more

kind of like this artsy, fluffy, actress on stage, artist. What is it? Tell

me about your business.Samantha: That’s what I am. That’s my background. My background, talk about

anybody can do it. I do not have a background in business. I do not have a

background in computers. I do not have a background in marketing. None of

that. I know nothing about any of it. Or no training in any of it. I’m an

actor and a writer. And, about 15 years ago, I started teaching a course,

called the Get it Done Workshop. Just to help other creative people get

their work done and out there. Because it’s really hard when there’s no

quarterly review on how your novel is going. So, it’s hard to stick with

those projects. So, and then in 2009, you know when God sends you the same

postcard like eight times in a row?Trent: I do.Samantha: Okay. Fine. I had the Organized Artist Company was one of a lot

of things that I was doing and then all of the sudden, sort of everything

else, fell away. I had a bunch of projects come to their natural

conclusion. I had a couple of other things I thought were going to happen

and not happen. And I was thinking, “Oh, I guess I better get another gig.”

And then I thought, “Or I could see if I could do that Organized Artist

Company full-time.” Then I thought, “I guess I better get some business

cards.” And that year, I signed up with Infusionsoft very early, almost

right away. Much, much sooner than my business warranted it. It’s a

complicated and expensive system, and my business was that big and had no

revenue. I needed Infusionsoft to pay for itself before the American

Express bill came. There was no budget. There was nothing. There was no

safety net, nothing.Trent: Wait a minute. You mean you started this with almost no savings as

well?Samantha: Oh yeah. This whole thing has been bootstrapped . . . It’s had to

pay me. I’ve had to make a living wage off of the Organized Artist Company,

almost from day one.Trent: Wow. That’s such an important point. I hope that the people who are

listening to this . . . I have a mixture in my audience of people who are

running businesses and want to get them bigger. I also know that there’s a

meaningful portion of my audience that’s still working for somebody else,

and they have these, “I don’t know if I have enough savings. I don’t know

if I have enough of this, that, and the other thing.” Yours is a fantastic

story that you went into it with that attitude. You had the courage to do

it still. I really take my hat off to you, for that.Samantha: Thank you. Sometimes, I’m at like that event in San Diego, and I

hear other people be like, “Oh yeah. I spent $30,000 on pay per click

advertising. Oh yeah.” I’m like, “Oh. A lot of people invest in their

business? Interesting.” That would be fun. Gosh, having a marketing budget.

I should look into that. It’s true. You can do it. You can absolutely do

  1. I work with creatives. I work with artists. Some people who are self-

defined as artists, they’ll say, “I’m a singer. I’m an actor. I’m a dancer.

I’m a writer. I’m a ceramicist. I’m a timpanist.” Other people who would

not say necessarily that they were professionally creative, but that they

want to be feeling more creative in their lives.Trent: Okay.

Samantha: It’s a great demographic. It’s a great group to work with. They

are really fun people.

Trent: What is it that, in case there are some of those people listening to

this and wondering, ‘How? What? What is it? What are you going to help me?’

Just explain the business model real quick. I want to make sure people have

context, because coming up, we are going to talk a lot about marketing and

conversions and opt-in pages and sales funnels, and all this stuff that’s

really important. To give context for that, at the end of the day people

are buying something from you. I don’t even know if I know what they’re

buying yet. What exactly do you sell?

Samantha: My flagship offering up until now has been a 6 week teleclass

called The Get it Done Workshop.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: People come in with a project. They want to finish their

screenplay. They want to get an agent. They want to get back to dancing or

poetry, or whatever. They’ve got 37 projects, and they don’t know what they

want to do. They can’t decide. That’s very common. I have a lot of

questions, worksheets, and exercises because there’s not one way.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: There’s not the way. There’s not a way to be an artist, any more

than there’s a way to be an entrepreneur, or a way to be a good parent or

partner, or a good citizen. There’s just your way. It’s not like I’ve got

some incredible method, and everybody should just do things my way. I have

an incredible method for you to figure out what your incredible method is.

Trent: You have a process.

Samantha: It’s all about process and reconnecting people with their

intuition. Really getting good at listening to those half ideas. Because

especially if you put it into an entrepreneurial context, the amount of

things that you could be doing at any moment in time is endless.

Trent: Absolutely. It’s a big struggle.

Samantha: There’s the things you could be doing, the things you really have

to be doing, the things that really should have been done yesterday, the

things that really should have been taken care of three years ago. A list

is enough to make a person crazy. How do you discern? How do you decide

where am I really going to get the most return on my investment,

personally, creatively, spiritually, financially? What can I do that’s

really going to make a difference? That can be very hard to see when you

are in the middle of it.

Trent: You had to make your business pay, right from the start. You were

your own student. In other words, you created this, I’m guessing to a

certain degree, to scratch your own itch, which is why I created Bright

Ideas. I love talking to people like you, because every time I do, I get a

free hour of consulting. I get a little smarter. Let’s talk a little bit

before we get into all this sales automation stuff, that’s going to be the

bulk of our conversation today. You are there, and you are thinking, “Hey.

I want to do this creative artist company. I want to do it full time. I

need to deploy Infusionsoft. I need to come up with marketing. I need to

create my information product. I got to do a sales pitch. I got to, got to,

got to, etc.” How did you figure it all out?

Samantha: Very slowly and one teeny-tiny step at a time.

Trent: But wait a minute. You’re in a hurry. You got to generate cash flow.

You got to make sales. Panic! Panic! Panic!

Samantha: Yeah. The first thing I did was I chained myself to the desk and

made myself learn Infusionsoft. Like I said, I didn’t have any real

background in this kind of thing and I knew I needed to learn it, and this

is back in 2009 when, frankly, it was a lot harder to learn.

Trent: Yeah. That’s how it earned its nickname, Confusionsoft, perhaps.

Samantha: Yeah. Exactly. I just really buckled down and made myself learn

  1. That was step 1, as I sort of dove right into the software right away

and got a sense of what it could do and what could happen with it.

Trent: How long did that take? How long did you dive into that particular

phase? Because, again, I’m still thinking, “Revenue! Revenue! Got to make a

sale! Got to make a sale! Got to get the cash coming in!” So how long did

you allow yourself to dive into that?

Samantha: I spent four straight days learning it, and then it’s an ongoing

and uphill climb since then.

Trent: You’re watching training videos and you’re mucking around and trying

to set stuff up, or what were those four days?

Samantha: There weren’t any training videos.

Trent: Back then there wasn’t any? Okay.

Samantha: There weren’t any training videos. [inaudible 00:11:20]

Trent: There are lots of training videos now.

Samantha: There are lots of training videos now and they are excellent.

Yeah. Yeah. I just made myself do it. Then I just started sending

broadcasts.

Trent: You had a bit of a… That’s right. Because you had done this, you’d

been doing this [part-timers], so you had a little bit of a list. Is that

correct?

Samantha: Yeah. I had about 700 people on my list. A lot of them were

friends and family, like everybody when they are first starting out.

Trent: Yeah, absolutely. They were just there to support you?

Samantha: Yeah. That’s why I had gotten Infusionsoft to begin with because

every time I offered one of these classes, and at that time I was still

offering them live, I wasn’t doing teleclasses yet, I was sort of hand-

sorting my list. I’m going through the marketing thing going, “Okay, I

should send it to that person. I think that person lives in Chicago. Yeah,

I should send it to that person. I think that person already took this. Who

is that person?” My list was outgrowing my brain.

The other thing I’d learned how to figure out how to do right away was put

up a little web form and it honestly said, “Stay in touch with me.” I

didn’t have a lead magnet. I didn’t have anything. It just said, “Stay in

touch” or “Join my list” or something really lame like that. The first time

a total stranger joined my list, I was like, “[inaudible 00:12:38]. It

works!”

So, yeah. I just started the broadcast. I started with a little web form.

It was another year or so before I even added the shopping cart

functionality. I was just going on PayPal [buttons]. Yeah.

Trent: Okay. I love this because I really hope that the people who are

listening to this interview, who maybe haven’t taken the plunge yet, are

going to find inspiration in your story. You thought, “All right, step 1,

forget everything else. I’m just going to learn about Infusionsoft. To the

exclusion of everything else in my consciousness, I’m going to focus on

this one task and thereby eliminating that level of overwhelm that we often

suffer from.” You get a little handle on that, you thought, “Okay. Well,

I’m going to build a web form.”

Samantha: Right.

Trent: “Now I’m going to send an e-mail. One step. One step.”

Samantha: Right.

Trent: So what did the first e-mail say? Did you make revenue off that

first e-mail?

Samantha: I don’t know that I did. Do you know where it really slipped from

me? Honestly, I wrote a poem called “In Praise of the Capable”.

Trent: Yeah. All Internet marketers write poems, definitely.

Samantha: I’m here to tell you. I sent it out. At first I wrote it just for

fun and I sent it out to a couple of friends and they really liked it. I

thought, “Oh, well, this is sort of cute. I’ll send it to the list. Now I

have this list. I should send them something, so I’ll send them this

thing.”

I got this avalanche of response back. People really felt like I had

written it for them. They really wanted to communicate back with me about

how much it had meant to them. That was when it tipped for me that this

thing that could seem cold or mechanical or manipulative was actually a

device to communicate very personally with a lot of people.

Trent: Yes. Yes.

Samantha: So now my initial follow-up sequence, and this is what got me the

ultimate marketer finalist in 2010, is… Right to this day, if you sign up

on TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com, the first bunch of stuff you’ll get is a

bunch of poems. There’s the Praise of the Capable, the Ode to the

Overwhelmed, there’s one for the entrepreneur, There’s one for the grouchy.

And, by the time, people get three or four of these, like they feel like I

am their sister.

And, what I love about this is exactly what you said. There is not a

business book in the world that says, here’s what you do. Write a bunch of

poems. That’s the ticket to profit. But, because of who I am and because of

who my people are, it’s just makes me a welcome guest in their e-mail box.

It makes them feel like I know that, like I understand where they’re at.

And so when I do try and sell them something, which I don’t do that often.

The response is huge.

Every time I do a JV offering, every time I offer something, the response,

I get these calls like, “What is your list? They’re so responsive.” I’m

like, “I know. Because they trust me.” And they get excited. They see

something in their box from me and they’re happy about it.

Trent: And nobody else is doing it.

Samantha: No higher compliment can a marketer get.

Trent: Yeah. Nobody else is doing what you’re doing, either. You’re off

sounding so much different than what everyone else has got to be sounding

like. I’ve got to think that really works for you. Let’s go into a number

here. Do you know what your open rate is on your typical e-mail broadcasts?

Samantha: I don’t know. We all know the open rate is not a reliable number,

right?

Trent: Why?

Samantha: It’s one of the worse metrics we have because when people open

something on their smartphone it doesn’t count as an open. That little one

pixel bing, bing, bing.

Trent: Really?

Samantha: Let’s somebody know that it’s open doesn’t happen.

Trent: I didn’t know that.

Samantha: So this doesn’t count as an open and when people are looking at

something in their Outlook or their Apple.

Trent: Preview.

Samantha: You just scroll through things like delete, delete, delete. That

does count as an open. Even though nobody’s actually looked at it.

Trent: Oh, wow. Okay.

Samantha:. So that number is not a good, not a reliable number. It is

however, the only number we have to start with. So, yeah, my open rates are

usually between 16% and 35%.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Something like that.

Trent: So, that’s still a pretty healthy, for inaccurate number, it’s still

a pretty healthy open rate. Now, by the way, just a little quick, maybe

it’s a take away for you, I use on my sites and I just started to use this.

There’s a plugin called iMember360 which very tightly integrates. Do you

use it?

Samantha: I don’t. I have customer help.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: But I know.

Trent: Very tightly integrated with Infusionsoft and you can apply a tag

just when someone views a page.

Samantha: Well, you know the new.

Trent: Well, hello, kitty cat.

Samantha: The new, the latest version of Infusionsoft, the one from the

spring release, there’s web analytics in Infusionsoft.

Trent: Yeah, there is.

Samantha: So you want to put.

Trent: You’re right.

Samantha: And it will create, it creates a visitor record for everybody who

visits your page and if they then become a contact, it will still have all

the records of every page they visited. You want to get that snippet and

put it on every page you have.

Trent: But do you, where I was going with my comment, is there a better

number for the open rate? Like can you say, “This is how many people viewed

this page from this e-mail.” And I guess there’s lots of different ways to

do this. You can use.

Samantha: Oh, I just track that off of clicks. To make the link to the page

a clickable link and then just track.

Trent: Absolutely.

Samantha: My clicking rates great. My conversion rate is great.

Trent: That’s another way. Okay. So, let’s get into some more marketer’s

nuts and bolts as it were. So, let’s talk a little bit about your sale.

First, let’s talk about how people find you.

Samantha: Right now, they find me almost exclusively by looking for me. My

Google Analytics are all about Samantha Bennett, the Organized Artist

Company. Samantha Bennett, Organized. Samantha Bennett, get organized

artist. Like the people, it’s really people who are looking for me. So, I

have, while I have thesis on my site, so I’m sort of automatically

optimized for SEO, I haven’t done any deliberate SEO activity. It’s on the

list. You know.

Trent: I know when I typed in Samantha Bennett. You come up first. I think

your site the Organized Artist company comes first. So, therefore Google

thinks that you are the most important Samantha Bennett in the entire

world.

Samantha: Well, that’s good because there’s a couple of us out there,

actually. There’s a writer.

Trent: I’m sure there is.

Samantha: There’s a journalist in Pittsburgh. There’s a couple of Samantha

Bennetts out there with a profile but you should always come up first for

your own name. So, that’s another tip for marketers out there. If for some

reason, you are not showing up first for your own name, fix that.

Trent: What if you are John Smith? That’s harder to do.

Samantha: Become John Fabulosity Smith.

Trent: All right. People find you predominantly, it sounds like, word of

mouth. They’ve heard of you in some way, shape, or form, which is the

natural by-product of when you have content that people love. When you have

engagement.

Samantha: That’s it. The e-mails are very formidable to those poems, and

the stuff I write about, creative inspiration, and staying motivated. It’s

content people love to send to their friends or their sisters.

Trent: Let’s jump into another nugget, then. In the Infusionsoft e-mail

builder, there’s a share bar, a social networking share bar. I didn’t learn

this until the day that I met you. I want to know if you do this. If

someone receives an e-mail, and they want to share it on their social

network, Infusionsoft puts that content on an Infusionsoft hosted page, and

to the right of it you can have an opt-in form.

Samantha: That’s right. You have to tell it you want that form. You can

have the form on the right or left of the e-mail, but that’s absolutely

right.

Trent: Is that something that you do?

Samantha: Every time.

Trent: Every time. Okay.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. In fact, now I almost don’t send out an e-mail

without a link to a form. It doesn’t get used all that often, but I want

people to have the option if it’s there.

Trent: Okay. I just learned about that, so I haven’t done it a bunch. Is

there an easy way to get analytics on how many opt-ins you are getting, as

a percentage of how many e-mails were shared, or that kind of thing?

Samantha: You just tag off the form, submissions on the form.

Trent: Yeah. I guess you could. That would be a unique tag. You could

create a tag for that particular e-mail and that particular form. Then, you

would know. Okay.

Samantha: Yeah. Speaking of tagging, whatever your tagging protocol is,

have a tagging protocol. Have a way that you do it every time. For me, I

put dates on everything.

Trent: How about you give us an example?

Samantha: If I sent out an e-mail today about a beautiful sun shiny day, it

would say, “Beautiful day.” It might say, “Content only.” If it was in

regards to a class, I might have something else in there about the class.

Then, it would have today’s date at the end.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: I tag everything. If people do something, I want to know about

it.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: I’ve got tags from when I first started that say, “Workshop.”

Trent: In hindsight, it means nothing.

Samantha: Try 700 workshops that I have no idea what that’s about. It says

, “Workshop. February 2009,” I’m like, okay. I had some idea that that’s

the last time somebody clicked, they’re not that interested.

Trent: Did you learn that, by chance, from Jermaine Griggs? Or did you just

think, “Hey. This tagging stuff is the coolest thing ever. I’m going to go

nuts”?

Samantha: It was the tagging thing is the coolest thing ever, I might as

well go nuts. Jermaine makes me look like a child, in terms of tagging.

Jermaine’s system is so beautiful and precise. The man is a twisted,

twisted genius. I love it.

Trent: Yeah. I want to get him on the show, definitely.

Samantha: Yeah. He’s brilliant.

Trent: For people who are not using Infusionsoft yet and don’t know what we

are talking about, can you just please tell us what this tagging thing is

all about?

Samantha: Yeah. Infusionsoft is an e-mail marketing machine, like MailChimp

or Constant Contact or iContact, any of those things that you might be

using. It’s also a customer database management system. They talk to each

other. You can create an e-mail, and in each e-mail you can say, “Click

here to read my blog. Click here to find out more about this workshop.

Click here to get the free PDF.” Whatever it is that you are offering. In

Infusionsoft, you can tell that link not only where it goes, but you can

tell the system to apply a tag anytime somebody clicks that link. I can

see. It’s a great way to measure engagement.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You really want to get people used to clicking on your e-mails,

partly for sales purposes. You just want them in the habit of clicking, so

then when you’re selling them something, they are in the habit of clicking.

It doesn’t feel weird to them to click and be taken to a page. Also, for

the Internet service providers, that’s one of the ways they gauge whether

or not your stuff goes in the spam box or not. It’s not just does it get

opened, but is there engagement. Are people clicking on it? Are they

forwarding it? Are they saving it? Are they flagging it? Are they putting

it in a file? That’s one of the ways that you stay out of the trash bin.

Trent: Yes. I didn’t think of that. Very good. Again, just in case folks

still don’t get this clearly, tagging is just a means of categorizing

people, or making a notation on their file as it were, based upon an action

that they took that you asked them to take.

Samantha: That’s exactly right; just slapping a post-it on somebody. They

did this; they did that; they did this; they’re interested in that. So that

then you can really target your marketing. And, again, this is a great way

to get a really high response rate. You don’t want to be selling cat food

to the dog people or dog food to the cat people. You want them to segment

themselves a little bit so you know who is interested in what. Then you can

really be sending specific stuff to specific people.

One of my favorite ways to use Infusionsoft is this; if I send out a

broadcast for example, about a class, and there’s a certain number of

people who open and click, and there’s a certain number of people who

register, the people who click but don’t register, I send them another e-

mail almost right away. Because I don’t want to pester the people who

haven’t opened and haven’t clicked because they’re not interested. I might

send them a second one in a couple of days but I don’t want to be all up in

their grill about it.

But the people who have clicked but not registered, they’re interested.

They’re warm, they’re ready and they just need a little nudge. So I send

them a little nudge.

Trent: Give me an example of a nudge. What does a nudge look like?

Samantha: Just a little, “Hey, I forgot to say, there’s going to be a

special something on this teleclass” or “Wait until you hear me talk about

thus and such . . .”

Trent: So you don’t write them and say, “Hey, I noticed you clicked my link

but you didn’t buy.”

Samantha: No, because I think that’s creepy.

Trent: And especially in the artist’s community; they’re not going to know

anything about this stuff so they’re not going to know that we have this

level of visibility into their mouse clicks.

Samantha: Right. That’s right. But you can say, “I think you’re interested

in . . .” or “I really think you might be interested in this course.”

Trent: I love what you said though: “Oh, I forgot to mention . . .” and

throw in another benefit. I think that’s brilliant. It’s authentic because

you can plan to forget something and that’s just good marketing.

Samantha: In the same way, if you were trying to talk somebody into going

to the movies with you; you’d say, “Oh no, it’s a good movie. You should

come with me. You know what, I didn’t even tell you this, and I’ll give you

a ride. How about that?”

Trent: Great metaphor. So they’re like, “Yeah, all right, I’ll come.” Then

they go to the movie and say, “Hey, you know what Sam. Thanks so much for

getting me to that movie. I had a really great time. That was awesome. It

was a good movie.”

Samantha: But be careful because it is your reputation. If you take someone

to a bad movie, they will never let you forget it.

Trent: I was just going to say, and it feeds right in to what you just

said, if you really believe in your stuff, like you really believe in a

movie, you almost have the obligation to do everything that you can to get

them there, because you know that they’re going to have a positive

experience. Why would you not want to have people do that?

Samantha: Exactly.

Trent: Let’s go back to your sales funnel. So they find you, they come to

your site. It all starts with a lead magnet. I’m looking at your site right

now. The side bar, is that the primary place where people opt in?

Samantha: Yep. You want to have it above the fold, right there in the upper-

right. That’s where most people look for it these days. So you want to have

it right there, very easy and visible. Right now, mine’s usually a free

recording, a free webinar. I think the one that is up right now is called

Ready Set Um. It’s about moving from having a great idea to actually being

in action around your great ideas.

Then they hear from me quite a bit in those first couple of days. This is

all Infusionsoft doing this for me automatically – I am at the beach. It

automatically sends a double opt-in e-mail. It automatically sends them a

welcome e-mail. It sends them that free thing that they’ve signed up for,

whatever that is. It sends them a poem; the next day it sends them

something else. Three days later it sends them something else.

These are almost all content e-mails. There might be a little Johnson Box

or something in them that says, “Oh, they got it done. Home study kits

available,” or “You can buy the book of poems, if you feel like it.” But

it’s very low-key. And it’s actually one of things that I’m trying to work

on; I tend to have the selling style that’s a little like, “Um, you know,

there’s a thing, if you want . . . you could . . .” I think, sometimes, I

need to be a little more aggressive in my selling. But initially not.

It’s a lot of content; it’s a lot of feel-good stuff. I’ve had people ask

me, “Do you worry about turning people off by sending them so much stuff in

the first couple of days?” I don’t worry about that for a couple of

reasons. One, I figure you have about 36 hours before somebody forgets that

they have ever heard of you, been to your website, signed up for anything,

seen you, ever had any interest in anything you ever did. So I really want

them to know right away, like, “Hi! Hi! Sam Bennett, you signed up! Hi!

Remember me the day you signed? You were there, I’m typing in your name,

I’m not spam, swear to God!”

So that’s one reason, is I really want to cement for them that this is

something they’ve requested. But also, I’m kind of an overcommunicator, you

know? You’re going to hear from me, and if that bothers you, you should get

off my list sooner rather than later. God bless the unsubscribes. Go find

your people.

Trent: That’s such an important point. I interviewed a gal by the name of

[Jamie Tardy] a couple of days ago, and we talked so much about that, and

then we talked about a guy by the name of [Derrick Halpern], who I had a

very nice conversation with on Friday…

Samantha: Yeah, he’s a smart guy, that guy.

Trent: Both of whom are super, super smart marketers, and they’re, they,

much like me, believe that you need to figure out who your audience really,

really is, and to heck with everybody else. Trying to please, trying to

please everybody is insane.

Samantha: It’s, first of all, it would be creepy.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: If everybody liked what you did, that would be weird.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You don’t want that. You want a small, passionate group.

Trent: Yep. I heard, and I don’t remember where I heard it, but it was in

the music scene, and it was basically, if you can have an audience of rabid

followers, you only need a thousand people, and as a band, you could make a

living off of that. Only a thousand.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Trent: And so many people are focused on, I need 50,000 or 100,000 or 5

million or whatever, and they’re trying to be, trying to appease everybody,

and in doing so, they’re appealing to nobody.

Samantha: Well, exactly. And, you hear a lot of this, you know, my list

size poker, well, my list is this big, and my list is that big. It’s like,

okay. I’m sure it is. But again, I’m much more interested in clicks and

engagements.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: I don’t want to know how big your list is. I want to know how

many of those people are clicking, forwarding, signing up.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Just another fun little metric, and this is something, again,

that if your Infusionsoft people aren’t doing, they should be, and if

people who aren’t Infusionsoft people, you can probably do this without

Infusionsoft if you have a little bit of JavaScripting.

There’s a function on the, in the lists, in the link filter in Infusionsoft

where you say wanted the link to link to this webpage, or this in this case

a form, web form that says, “Hey, sign up for a free class,” and then

there’s a little box of “other” and it opens up a few more options, and one

of those options is “Pass this person’s information along at the end of the

link,” then it says, “For Techies.”

And what that means is that it takes the person’s first name and e-mail

address, and passes it to the web form. So they go to a web form that is

pre-filled out for them. I have had conversion rates of over 100% for a pre-

class.

Trent: How is that possible?

Samantha: Because… Yeah, I know. I did the math a couple of times.

Because if people go to the form, it’s already, they don’t have to type

their name and e-mail, it’s already filled out for them. All you have to do

is press the big red button that says, “Sure, sign me up,” and they go

sure, sign me up, and then they forward it to a friend.

Trent: Oh. That’s how you got over 100%.

Samantha: That’s how you get over 100%.

Trent: Okay. Fantastic. That is a brilliant idea. So people come to your

site, they enter into the sales funnel, you communicate a lot in the first

36 hours. You’ve not generated any revenue yet. You’ve built some

credibility, relationship, and trust.

Samantha: Yep.

Trent: Now what happens?

Samantha: Well that’s, that’s 90% of the game. I mean, that’s 90% of what I

do it’s just keep them warm. Keep them supported, keep them feeling

connected to me. I write articles, I answer advice columns and then a

couple times a year I offer a class, and so a couple times a year I do

affiliate offers, and I’m just really straightforward about it. I say I’m

offering this class, and if you’re the kind and if you’re thinking that you

should do it, then you should do it.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: And then I offer a satisfaction guarantee or your money

cheerfully refunded. Most of my stuff is very low-cost. The only thing

that’s not low-cost is working with me one-on-one, working privately, but I

have a membership site that’s really cheap. I have these home study kits

that aren’t very expensive. When I do affiliate mailings, I’m very straight

forward about that. I’m like, “This is my friend. They are offering a thing

that I think is really cool.” They are actually my friend. I don’t do it

for people I don’t know.

Trent: That you don’t know. Yeah.

Samantha: The sort of recurrent thing that we keep coming back to here is

treat your list like they’re your friends.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: There’s all kinds of tricks and strategies and stuff. There’s

tricks and strategies to friendship too. If you gave me a necklace, and I

knew we were going to dinner, I might where the necklace you gave me.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: So that you could go, “Oh. I gave you that necklace.” I go,

“Yeah. I know. I love you. We have this thing together.” Is that

manipulative? Maybe a little bit.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: But it’s also a warm, loving, and considerate thing to do.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: That’s really what I think about, when I think about marketing.

There’s a lot of tricks and strategies and games, and things you can do.

The fact of the matter is that people are going to do what they are going

to do, when they’re going to do it, and not one second sooner. Not for love

or money, same as you. Nobody can make you buy anything. Nobody can make

you interested in something you are not interested in.

All you can do as a marketer is just stand there in as genuine a way as

possible, just going, “Hi. I’m doing that thing. That thing that I said I

was doing. I’m still doing that. You know anybody who needs the thing, I’m

the one doing that.” When you put out this clear, authentic and consistent

message about the truth of who you are, and what you do, you become like

the whistle only dogs can hear. Your people start to find you.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Again, those people who are not interested in you, who are not

good clients for you, who are not good customers for you, will not find

you. That’s almost as important.

Trent: Wise words. Very, very wise words. A couple more things I want to

cover off before we finish up this interview. One of them is you ran this

referral strategy. We are going to save that for last, because that was

pretty awesome.

Samantha: That was pretty cool.

Trent: I think you said you grew your list by 10% in a week, or something

like that.

Samantha: 4 days. Yep.

Trent: 4 days. We are going to get into a little bit more detail on that

one. I want to go back to your product for a minute, for a little bit. For

the folks who are listening to this and just want to get organized, let’s

give them something. What do you see as the number one mistake that people

make? When they have that pile of all the things that they need to do to

accomplish whatever their project is, screenplay, book, business, whatever

it is, what’s the number one thing, hopefully there is a number one thing,

that you see most commonly as the big mistake?

Samantha: The big mistake is thinking about everything all at once and

getting overwhelmed, and quitting before you even start because you feel so

overwhelmed. The number one strategy I have, and listen carefully to me

when I say this because the clients and students I have who employ this

strategy, see amazing results, sort of jaw-dropping miraculous results. The

clients and students I have who do not employ this strategy, some have

amazing results, and some don’t.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Here it is. This is not unique to me. I didn’t make this strategy

up, but I’m a big proponent of it. 15 minutes every day, before you check

your e-mail, before you check your e-mail, before you check your e-mail.

Trent: So after my e-mail?

Samantha: Spend a few minutes on the projects that matter most to you.

Trent: Sorry. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said anything. Please say that

again.

Samantha: Spend 15 minutes a day on the projects that matter most to you.

Trent: Okay. Focus. Really, that boils down to focus.

Samantha: Daily chipping away at it.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You sort of feel like 15 minutes, that’s not going to help. It’s

amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes. It’s amazing what happens when

you spend 15 minutes every day for a week, a month, a year, 2 years, 10

years. There’s something about claiming that time and space for yourself,

and for the work that matters most to you, that has a really lovely effect

on your life. It’s a little like when you go to work out in the morning.

You spend the rest of the day like, “I’m so awesome. I went to the gym

today.”

Trent: Yep. Yep.

Samantha: It’s a little bit of the moral high ground like that. You just

feel great. We know it’s true. If you spend 15 minutes a day practicing

guitar, it wouldn’t be very much time before you were a much better guitar

player. 15 minutes a day to work on your novel, 15 minutes a day

strengthening your core, 15 minutes a day looking for the perfect life

partner, whatever it is that you’re thinking, “Wow, if this were

accomplished, I think my life [inaudible 00:40:19]. You have that control.

I know we don’t control everything about our lives, and there’s a lot of

other people’s fingerprints all over us, I get that, but you have 15

minutes.

Trent: Yes, you do. And I want to just jump on the piggy-back on that, and

say that that’s the strategy that I try and do. I try to not check my e-

mail till around four in the afternoon, because you know what? It’ll still

be there waiting for me. If I get sucked into e-mail early, the whole day

is maybe one-third or less as productive as if I can maintain what’s

supposed to be my daily routine, plan my day the night before, think about

what are the key drivers to move me closer to this project’s completion,

and then to the exclusion of everything else, I focus on just those things.

Samantha: Yeah.

Trent: It makes a huge difference.

Samantha: It makes a huge difference, and this is why we created our own

businesses, right?

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: So that we could be the boss, so that we could determine how we

spend our time, and to give up that control is mind-boggling to me. Why

would you create your own business and then work yourself harder and

stupider than any boss ever would?

Trent: I’ll tell you why. Because people aren’t organized, and they don’t

prioritize. They get overwhelmed. There’s all, there’s a lot of noise.

Samantha: And it’s hard. I mean, it’s really, really hard. It’s no joke,

man, it’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of time, and particularly writing

and I think copywriting, good copy, is the key to success, something you

certainly need in marketing, certainly in Internet marketing, I think you

can make videos, you can make audios, there’s other ways to communicate

with people, but predominantly, we use the written word, and to get really

good at that takes a lot of time. To find your authentic voice takes a lot

of time. To really target in on your niche audience takes time. But then

when you’ve built it, it’s yours.

Trent: Absolutely. Here, here. And then some of us will get to the level of

somebody like Jermaine Griggs, who, and I have not met or spoken to

Jermaine, perhaps you probably have, but I know in his messaging videos and

so forth, he at least tells the story, that he has a fair amount of free

time because he was willing to invest the time to learn how to run

Infusionsoft so that the level of automation in his business if phenomenal.

Samantha: It’s jaw-dropping, what he’s created. I mean, it’s beautiful.

It’s really beautiful.

Trent: I think he’s doing, like, 10 million bucks a year, somewhere around

that range.

Samantha: Yeah, and he really does. He works four works a week.

Trent: Wow. Very nice. So, for those of you who are listening and you’re

wondering what’s all the fuss about. Hopefully, that will give you some

idea of what all the fuss is about. That’s where we’re all trying to get

to.

Samantha: And become a hundredaire. Don’t start trying to work four hours a

week and make ten million dollars. Start trying to make an extra hundred

bucks this month.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Well, see what happens.

Trent: So let’s get into, let’s close up on this, because I know we’re even

closing in on an hour now, and I want to try and keep this as close to an

hour as we can. Tell us about this super-duper referral strategy, the thing

that you did that got you, what, 10% or 11% risk growth, like another, I

mean, that’s a big number. If you can take however many subscribers you

got, and grow it by 10% in four days, clearly you did something that worked

well. Tell us about that.

Samantha: Yeah, and this was, I have to actually give a lot of the credit

to Mr. Jordan Hatch, who’s the Head of Training for Infusionsoft and, like,

another sick, twisted genius, and a very lovable person. He’s the

mastermind of webinars for Infusionsoft, and he and I were talking. He had

an idea he wanted to test out, and I had an idea I wanted to test out, so

we got together, and I could never have done this without Jordan, because I

don’t have the technical . . . I wouldn’t have known how to do it.

But what happened was this. I had a project I was launching called the

Procrastination Domination Starter Kit, right, it’s a $47 webinar, great

little product, very tight. So I sent an e-mail to my list that said, “Big

News! Launching the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit, $47. If you

want to buy it right now, $27. Special Introductory offer, $27, click here

to buy now.” That just took them to an order form to buy it, and a lot of

people did that.

If you would like to get this for free, refer three friends. You’ll get the

Procrastination Domination Starter Kit for free. They get an e-book that I

wrote called 365 Reasons to Write, and I get to triple my list. Fun for

everybody. So the people who selected that, they clicked on it, that click,

the first thing I did in Infusionsoft was make everybody, everybody on my

list a referral partner for a program I called Refer-A-Friend. Now this was

a referral program with no commission payout, no nothing. I just needed to

be able to track who came from whom.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Okay, so that was the thing that happened, was everybody became a

referral partner without even them knowing it, and then in everybody’s e-

mail, their link was personalized with their affiliate code. Again, this is

part of the magic of Infusion software. It can do this for you.

So, they click on that, it takes them to a web form that pre-fills in their

name and e-mail address, and asks for their friend’s name and e-mail

address. And then the, okay, yes, please send this to my friend, this

person. Takes them to, normally you fill out the web form and it takes them

to a success page that says “Thanks so much for filling out our form” or

something like that.

The success page, however, was a second web form, almost a clone of the

first one, that said, “Please tell us friend number two’s name and e-mail

address,” submit. Please tell us friend number three’s name and e-mail

address. Submit. The final page had, “Here’s your free, here’s where to go

to get your free thing. Thank you so much.” I also sent them an e-mail that

said, “Here’s your free thing, just in case you didn’t get it from the

success page.”

Now, each of those three friends got an e-mail that said, “Hello, contact

first name, your friend, referring affiliate’s first name, thought you

might like this.” So, “Hey, Trent, your friend Samantha thought you might

like this information from the organized artist company,” and then they got

a little e-mail that said, “Hi, I’m Samantha Bennett, your friend so-and-so

put you on this thing, if you would like to join my list, you can get this

free, 365 Reasons to Write, just click here. If you don’t want to be on my

list, no pressure, you’ll never hear from me again. Don’t worry about it.

Trent: Very, very cool. Did those new people also go through the refer-a-

friend process?

Samantha: They didn’t. They could, I could put it on some kind of a loop. I

wouldn’t want to do it to them right away. I would probably want to keep

them on my list for a little while.

Trent: Yeah. Because I thought about that after I talked to you, after I

heard you explain this. I thought, well, why not make the same offer to

everyone that drops into your list? Why not say, “Hey, if you want to refer

one more person, I have an extra special prize for you, or reward, or

whatever, a piece of content, something.

Samantha: Yeah. You could absolutely, and there is actually two other

things that sort of kept it, kind of speak to what you’re saying. The, I

got e-mails from the people who were referring, the people who were already

on my list, saying well, I want a copy of the 365 Reasons to Write e-book,

too. Can I have what they’re getting? So, I included that for them as well.

So they got that bonus as well.

And at the end of the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit webinar, I

give them a link to a survey, a little three-second, three-question survey

that says, “What three words would you use to describe this webinar? Are

you very satisfied, satisfied, not that satisfied, Sam I hate you?” and

anything else you want to say, just an open text thing in case they want to

say anything else. And that, but their prize for filling out, so it’s take

this three-second survey and get another webinar called “I love money and

money loves me” that’s about creatives and making money.

So that also had, had two important things. One, it gave me feedback and

testimonials right away on a brand-new product. So I can say here’s what

people are saying about the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit,

illuminating, inspiring, fun, helpful, warm, intriguing, blah, blah, blah,

blah, blah. It gave them a second thing, which I’m happy to do, and again,

it gives me some idea about the level of engagement, and that was really,

in some ways, everything about that referral program, the thing that meant

the most to me was that people would do it at all.

I sort of haven’t thought about it until all of a sudden, these referrals

started coming in. I thought, how lovely. How sweet of them. Take the time

out of their lives, we were just talking about how an e-mail can just eat

your life. To take the time to actually think of three friends who might

like it, and send this out. It was really moving to me.

Trent: How much revenue did you generate from the referees, the people that

were referred to you? There’s approximately 650 of those people.

Samantha: There was 600 people referred, and about 150 of them ended up

joining my list.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Permanently. The rest of them, I deleted because I don’t have

permission to e-mail them. I have no idea what that number is.

Trent: Really? I would have thought you would have known that. All right.

There’s some portion?

Samantha: I’m sure some of them have bought something at some point. Yes.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Or if they haven’t, they will.

Trent: Yes. Absolutely. The point is that those leads were very easy for

you to acquire. You now have them, and have a relationship, or building a

relationship.

Samantha: Right. The statistic I hear is that a referred client is 70% more

likely to close and will spend about 70% more with you.

Trent: Absolutely.

Samantha: That’s what the numbers I’ve heard out in the universe. I don’t

know if that’s true of those 120 people or not.

Trent: In my old business, absolutely that was true. I had an offline

business. I always met with the people. I knew that data pretty accurately.

Our biggest customer ever, they were a referral from another customer. That

particular customer paid us more than two times per month of our previously

bigger customer. Without the referral, never would have gotten them. Not a

chance.

Samantha: Never would have had them. Again, it’s just like all

relationships. To make a new friend, to have a blind date, I’m so much more

interested if you say, ‘Oh my gosh. Wait until you meet my friend Trent.

You are going to love him. He’s so smart and funny and charming. You are

just going . . . ” Okay. Great. That sounds great.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: As opposed to somebody that comes cold. It takes time. This

organic search thing takes time. This building a dedicated list takes time.

I would rather have something that takes longer and goes deeper, than

something fast that burns out. That’s me.

Trent: Samantha, you have been an absolutely fascinating guest to have on

my show. I want to thank you so much for making the time and sharing all

this with us. I never want to put anyone on the spot while I’m recording

the interview, but I sure hope . . .

Samantha: I’ll do it. I’ll do it.

Trent: All right. Awesome. There you go. There is a master class soon to be

available. We will schedule that as soon as we hang up.

Thank you everyone for listening. It’s my privilege to have the opportunity

to interview so many really smart people like Samantha, and get a free

education myself. I hope that you find inspiration in these. If you do, and

you have feedback that you’d like to give, please do get in touch with me.

You can find me on Twitter or the comments under the forum. It’s not hard

at all to get a hold of me. Use the contact form on any of my sites.

We will see you again soon. I guess you will see me again soon, because I

can’t see you, here on Bright Ideas. We will have some more. I’ve got just

some amazing guests coming up, founders. I’ve got this one guy coming up.

He’s got this hot sauce company, does $7 million a year in sales. This is

like the world record hot sauce. I got another guy coming up who’s the

founder of V-worker. He’s doing $11 million a year with his show. Not his

show, his site. It’s just awesome. I love doing this stuff.

Thanks everyone for tuning in. I look forward to having you back soon. Take

care.

If you want to get the show notes for today’s episode, just go to

brightideas.co/11. The other thing I want to tell you about is if you go to

brighideas.co/massivetraffic, you are going to get access to my massive

traffic tool kit. This tool kit is chalked full of the very best traffic

generation ideas that have been shared with me by previous guests on the

show. The great thing about all the ideas that have been shared in the tool

kit is that you don’t have to be some kind of SEO guru to be able to do

this stuff.

Go check it out. Just enter your e-mail on the page. It’s

brightideas.co/massivetraffic. That’s it for this episode. I’m your host,

Trent Dyrsmid. Want to ask you a small favor, if I can. If you love this

episode, please head over to iTunes, and give it a 5 star rating. Also,

leave a little feedback comment. Every time you do that, the show gets a

little higher in the rankings on the iTunes store. More and more people

find the show. Therefore, we can spread all these great bright ideas with

even more and more entrepreneurs out there in the business community.

Thank you so much. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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

How to Increase Web Traffic with Marketing and Sales Automation via Infusionsoft

Samantha Bennett, an artist by nature, has created an online business that has gained her recognition in the world of online marketing. She was a finalist for the Infusion Ultimate Marketer Award in 2010. Her unique referral strategy has allowed her to boost her business by more than 10% in just four days. This level of growth for any business is almost unheard of, until now that is.

Listen to this episode to learn just what Samantha did to grow her business phenomenally in four days.

Emails are very much ingrained in the marketing strategies of any business. Your online business will either thrive or perish with how you manage to engage your customers through email. Samantha has developed her very own customer engagement strategy that has allowed her to achieve high levels of “open rates” on the emails that she sends.

Listen to the show to learn what Samantha wrote in her emails and just what she does to compel people to open them.

With the strategies that she has developed and employed herself, Samantha has managed to grow her earnings from $50,000 the previous year to well over 6 figures this year. She has even sent a single email that has generated $120,000 in revenue. These numbers are impressive. If you want to find out more about how Samantha increased her earnings, listen to the show and hear her explain her methods and her strategies.

Before her success as an online marketer and entrepreneur, she was predominantly an artist (writer, actress) with no real background on business and computers. Since she discovered that she had the knack for helping other artists out with their works, she has spent most of her time working on that aspect of her business. It is inspiring to hear what she has done to build her business with nothing but Infusionsoft and a strong desire to succeed.

Listen to the show to find out how Samantha started out with no savings and no training to create a thriving business one tiny step at a time.

Customer engagement and response is really crucial to the success and development of a brand or business. When you send out emails to your target customers, you want them to respond positively by having them click to your site or sales page, having them forward the email to their friends or even having them refer your site or offers to their friends. Listen to the show to find out how Samantha got an avalanche of response to her emails.

If you are running and marketing an online business, it goes without saying that you need to market to people who are interested or who will be interested in what you are offering. Samantha has successfully done this with the help of a customer database management system, in her case Infusionsoft. Listen to the show and learn just how she automated a system that kept her emails out of the trash bin allowing her to get a high open rate and response rate.

With all the distractions in today’s modern world, a typical person or potential customer will usually forget your business in 36 hours. Your goal as an entrepreneur then is to maintain your potential customers’ attention long enough to create a relationship.

Listen to this episode to learn what Samantha does in this crucial time period to create a lasting relationship with her potential customers.

It’s all already been said. Just not by you.

Many online entrepreneurs think that it is mainly a numbers game. They think that the size of the mailing list alone is enough to ensure success. Samantha knows through experience that this is not the case. She has found a way to gain more targeted potential customers and increase her conversion rate by over 100%.

Business is a relationship between the entrepreneur and the clientele. It is your responsibility as business owner to keep a relationship going with your clientele. Samantha shares her views on this relationship and her thoughts on just what it takes to be a successful marketer and communicator.

Samantha is a great communicator and artist. In the interview, she shares how she acquires leads easily and build lasting relationships in ways that encourage referrals. Listen to the show to learn more about her highly effective super referral strategy that allowed her to grow her business by 10% in 4 days.

As a bonus, Samantha also generously shares a piece of advice that has allowed her and many of her students to achieve jaw-dropping results with their art and other projects.

Listen to the episode to learn Samantha’s best secrets.

About Samantha Bennett

49kb-BennettOriginally from Chicago, Samantha Bennett is a writer, actor, teacher and creativity/productivity specialist who has counseled hundreds of artists on their way to success.

The author of the surprisingly popular book of poems, “By The Way, You Look Really Great Today,” Samantha is currently writing “The Organized Artist Book: A Success Book For Creative People Who Want To Be More Organized And Organized People Who’d Like To Be More Creative.”

 

How an Auto Mechanic Became a Millionaire Business Owner Using Advanced Marketing Tactics, Sales Automation, and Infusionsoft: A Case Study with Bob Britton

Would you like to learn time-tested marketing strategies you can use to market your business and brand to your customer?

Do you even know who your customers are and how to keep them interested in your business?

To discover how to create and grow successful businesses with the use of updated old school marketing methods in a high-tech business world, I interview Bob Britton 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 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 Bob Britton, owner of Pro Autocare, direct response specialist and winner of the prestigious Infusionsoft Ultimate Marketer Award of 2010.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

Trent: Hey, everybody. My name is Trent Dyrsmid. I’m the founder of brightideas.co. In this interview, I am joined by a fellow by the name of Bob Britton, who got his start actually as an auto mechanic and then became an auto repair shop owner.This was an absolutely fascinating interview because he’s now got this auto repair shop, in addition to two other businesses, and this thing is doing just over $1 million a year. Most auto repair shops make 1% to 2% profit. Bob is doing over 25%, actually closer to 30% net profit and he hasn’t even been to his store in six months. How is that happening?There’s a whole lot of direct marketing, using Infusionsoft and really leveraging automated processes. In this interview Bob and I are going to go on to explain conceptually how he does that. I really encourage, if you have a business, that you feel like you’re working too hard to make the marketing happen and you’re working too hard to attract the customers to the business, or you’re just working too many hours, this is an interview you absolutely want to watch. Please join me in welcoming Bob to the show.

All right, Bob. Thank you so much for making some time to do this with me from your home office. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview someone who has been as successful as you have. Welcome to the show.

Bob: Thanks for having me, Trent. It’s really great to be here today. I’m looking forward to it.

Trent: Very first thing I always want to do, I always want to give my audience a reason. They’re 30 seconds into this interview and they’re going, “Why am I listening to this? Who’s this guy? Why do I care?”

Bob: “Who’s this joker here?”

Trent: Yes, exactly. In the pre-interview you told me that you’ve actually built a pretty successful offline business and then you used a lot of online stuff to really make that business successful. Tell us really quickly, what is that business?

Bob: My core business that I started with is an auto repair shop. We fix cars. I used to be a mechanic years ago. I worked on cars myself. I kind of went from being the guy under the hood to a multiple business owner now. A lot of that success has been due to the help I got from using Infusionsoft to build my companies.

Trent: Think back, if you can., how much revenue are you doing and how many locations are there?

Bob: I had two locations at one point. I did downsize a couple of years or so ago into one location. I do about $1.1 million a year at that location. The thing that a lot of people don’t realize, that I’m very proud of, is I’ve got a three-bay operation. It’s got five total employees there. To do that kind of volume in that space is virtually unheard of in the auto repair space.

Net profits typically in an auto repair shop tend to be around one and 3% net profit. It’s not a very profitable thing. We typically run around 28% to 35% net profit. It’s not only huge volume, it’s supremely profitable. A lot of that is because the direct response marketing that I’ve used and Infusionsoft that goes along with it.

Trent: Wow. This is going to be an interesting interview. I’m looking forward to this. I notice that you’re not doing this interview at the auto repair shop. Do you go there every day?

Bob: I have not been to my repair shop in probably six months. I don’t go there on a daily basis. I have no need to. I have a general manager that takes care of the day to day operations. I do some things remotely. But in a weeks’ time I may spend a couple hours working on the repair shop stuff. Very little is required of me at this point.

Trent: Let me make sure I really understand what you’ve just said. You have a business that’s making about a $300,000 a year profit for you after everyone’s been paid and you haven’t been there in six months?

Bob: Yes. That’s correct. I take that back. I did stop in to get mail.

Trent: All right.

Bob: I don’t work there on a day to day basis.

Trent: Alright, folks. If you’re not hooked on listening to this interview now, I don’t know what we’re going to be able to say to get you interested. I want to get into the auto business now.

Bob: Oh, no you don’t. I have since learned there’s a lot easier ways to make money.

Trent: Yes, probably. Probably there is. Maybe you could interview people for a living and put all the interviews on a website?

Bob: You could do that.

Trent: You could do that. I’ve got to make some notes to myself so I can keep asking interesting questions. $1.1 million and $300,000 net. Let’s go back. The people who are going to be most interested, I hope, in listening to this interview are maybe people who have a business that they don’t feel like they’ve got their marketing figured out yet.

Back when I was running my tech company, lead generation was God-awful, customer acquisition was brutal. We were sitting, cold calling all day long. It wasn’t a lot of fun. It was exhausting. It was ultimately one of the reasons why I sold the business. It just was so hard to get customers.

Since I’ve started to learn about direct marketing and not just the concept of it, I always knew about that, but since I started to learn about the specific tactics and tools, it’s getting a whole lot easier to get customers. Let’s go back, pre-Infusionsoft, just for a few minutes and talk about how did you get customers. I want to see if people can relate to the situation you were in.

Bob: I was in a really unique situation. You’re not going to believe it, but I swear everything I’m going to tell you totally is true. I was in my 20’s. I had very big ambitions about being my own business owner, running my own company. My wife and I, a new baby came along kind of unexpectedly, so my ambitions got siderailed. I took a job working as a mechanic literally just to make ends meet.

I had never actually even grew up knowing the difference between an import and a domestic car. I saw an ad in a paper one day and I’m like, “I need a job”. It was an ad for auto repair and I said, “You know what, I could do that job”. I went and applied for the job. I went out to the library that night and checked out every book I could find and read them all in the next few days. I went and got the job.

Six months later, I was working as a manager of the store. Six months after that I was a certified master technician and I worked about eight years under the hood, fixing cars. It was some tough times but it was enough to put food on the table and take care of my young family. It was a growing family at the time.

Along the fax machine one day came this fax. I was working for another owner and I happened to see it. It was talking about how to really explode and get a load of customers for your auto repair shop. I knew I wanted my own business. I knew I was planning that so I kept that paper. I set it aside.

Trent: You stole his fax?

Bob: He didn’t want it. He was going to throw it out.

Trent: Okay.

Bob: He said, “That’s garbage”. I ended up doing a deal with that owner. It was a horrible deal. It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. I didn’t understand the terms and conditions of what I signed for, but making a long story short I bought a business that was just about out of business, doing total gross volume of around $20,000 a month for a $1 million dollars. I personally signed on.

The problem was that didn’t include any real estate. It didn’t have any employees there other than myself. I basically bought myself a job for $1 million. I didn’t come to that realization, obviously, until a few years later after paying the bills and trying to grow that company.

There’s that old saying that “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. I lived that. I lived it in a very personal way. I went from basically turning wrenches myself, having to put a huge amount of money to the old owner to pay that debt and grow that company at the same time. It wasn’t in a good location and it didn’t have a good reputation in the community. But I dove into direct response marketing. I went and spent tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands by today.

In my own education, just really learning what the heck is this direct response stuff and what can it do for my business, I took that single store and grew it to two locations, started doing several millions of dollars in volume in about five, six, seven years. That was a direct result of learning direct response marketing, learning how to get people to come in. That was mostly done with direct mail.

At the time, Google wasn’t really out there yet. Infusionsoft wasn’t even around yet. I was old school by any stretch of the imagination. That stuff still works today and I still use a lot of that stuff. But with the tools that are out there today, it’s a whole new ball game.

Trent: Back then, you basically just, I’m assuming, bought databases or lists of people that were probably in your geographic area, blanketed them with mail so they knew you existed. When they showed up at the store you made sure they had the best possible experience and then you probably kept in touch with them with mail again afterward?

Bob: I wish it was that simple. In a nutshell, yes. That’s what we were supposed to do. Unfortunately, I had hired the wrong people. I had some tough lessons there to learn about hiring the right and wrong people. I hired the wrong people. I drove in an avalanche of customers. We had tons of people coming in and they burned them right back out again. I called them the ‘churn and burn’.

That was another valuable lesson there, about having the right people behind your team, learning how to find the right people and manage them accordingly. I did make a lot of mistakes there, some very painful ones, but the end result was I learned some really powerful lessons in a very short time frame. It gave me a lot of strength moving forward to do new opportunities and new ventures.

Trent: Yes, no kidding.

Bob: Yes, you’re right. I did a lot of direct mail, bought lists of what I would consider my ”A” client, the people that fit my profile the best, that would allow me to make a good profit and all that.

Trent: Let’s dive into that for a moment. Customer profiling is so important. I know for me, when I was running my company, I was frightened to be too focused. I thought, “If I get really focused on just this one type of customer, what about all those other people? I won’t be speaking to them”.

In hindsight, I think I was a dimwit because that’s exactly what I should have done, was get really focused on that one customer. How did you figure out who your one customer was going to be? When I say “one customer” I don’t mean one person, obviously, I mean this profile.

Bob: Actually, in auto repair it boiled down real simple: there are a certain number of people that walk in, they throw you the keys, you have their credit card on file and they say, “Bob, just fix it”. They don’t want you to bother them during the day. What I did is I went through my database of customers and I had a handful of those people. I liked to call them my advocates. These are people that love me, trust me, no matter what I said, they just buy it.

It’s not a hassle. They allowed me to be profitable. I took really good care of them. I gave them everything I could. I would think up new things to give them to keep them happy. What I did was I analyzed those people based on their income, where did they live, those types of things.

I built this picture of an “A” client. I went and bought lists of people that matched that criteria. Lo and behold, we got a successful business. The formula is not that complicated, but getting all the pieces together is sometimes going to be a little crazy. That’s what we do.

Trent: Where’d you learn that? Was there a book?

Bob: I learned that from Dan Kennedy. I learned that from being around direct response marketers. I got involved with a mastermind group at a young age. Thank the Lord above that I did because I was able to really accelerate my understanding with that.

Trent: Let’s talk about that for a minute because I’m a big believer in masterminding. I’ve been a participant of masterminds in the past. I’ve launched my own masterminds. I’m getting ready to relaunch my mastermind. Tell me, why do you think being in a mastermind is such a good thing?

Bob: You don’t know what you don’t know. In the simplest terms, that is the absolute reason you need to be in it. I’ll give you a quick story. This is the power of a mastermind. I’m struggling to grow this business. I’m deeply in debt. I’m charged up to the wazoo on my credit cards and I needed a loan. I knew that if I didn’t get this loan I was going to be in some deep trouble.

I went to the bank, they said “No”. I had made one late payment on my mortgage. It was just over 30 days late. It was a black mark on my credit. It was the only black mark, but they would not loan me any money because of it. I was kind of embarrassed about that.

I look back now and I can smile. At the time, it was a really big deal to me. I was really upset about it. I was involved in this mastermind group. I was committed to it. I flew out. The meeting was whatever, but I was having lunch with this guy. We were sitting there and I was struggling with this in my mind and I was worried about it. The conversation came up so I said, “I’m just going to let the guard down. I’m just going to be honest”.

I told this guy what was happening and he goes, “You know, Bob, why don’t you just call them up and ask them to remove it?” I went, “What? They’ll do that?” He goes, “Yes. It happened for me. Just call them. You have a good payment record. Just call and ask them to remove that. Tell them your situation and see what they do.” It never occurred to me, ever, that I could call the creditor and that they would even consider doing that. That little piece of information twisted my head and I went, “Okay”. I went home and called them.

Sure enough, they removed it, got the loan, boom. I was rocking and rolling. All of that changed because I was in an environment with other entrepreneurs and other business people who have been through and around these types of things. It made all the difference in the world. That’s just one example that I can think of. I could give you 100 more. We could talk all day about it. The power is in other people’s perceptions.

Trent: We could go on and on. I’m sometimes known for hijacking my own interviews and telling my own stories. I’m going to refrain. I’m not going to do it. No. What were you paying, though, for this mastermind, to be a part of it?

Bob: Ten thousand dollars a year was the cost of that one, plus airfare and hotel, meals and so on. I look back now and I did not have the money. I mean, I had to scrape up the money together, every dime I had to get to those things and be part of that. Oh my God. If I hadn’t done I know for a fact I would still be either turning wrenches or slaving away at some repair shop and not where I am today.

Trent: Chances are you wouldn’t have got that loan. If you didn’t get that loan…

Bob: Who knows? I would have gone bankrupt.

Trent: All right. You’ve been doing this direct marketing. This is all pre-Infusionsoft. Back then. Let me guess, lots of moving parts, lots of manual processes, lots of work and things falling through the cracks. Am I kind of painting a reasonably accurate picture?

Bob: I don’ think you’re painting it as painful as it actually was. We were doing a lot of direct mail. I do multi-step sequence mailings to get people to respond. It was our most successful thing. I think you can imagine. Let’s say you get a list of 3,000 people. This is a real world example.

You divide that up and let’s say we divide that into 1,000 each. We’re going to mail it and 1,000 people get letter number one. Two weeks later those same people get letter number two. Another two weeks later they get letter number three. I called it my three step letter. Each letter is specific to that person. It has a specific expiration date and it’s always the same for those people. You get a letter and it says this expires six weeks from now. That’s letter number one.

Letter number two: “Hey, it’s still six weeks from now”. It’s very, very powerful marketing. That’s cool. That itself is pretty complicated to make sure the right person is getting the right letter at the right time. Now, what if you wanted to do multiple mailings at the same time? There’s a two week window. What if I decided we’re going to mail out this letter, letter number one, to this 1,000.

Week number two, in between, we’re going to take the second part of that list and mail them letter number one. We started multi-stepping these things. We had calendars going, I had assistants to try and track this stuff and make sure it all went right. I’ll tell you what, it didn’t always go right. It screwed up a lot.

Trent: I’m seeing landmines all over the place here.

Bob: The process was a nightmare. I tried to outsource a couple of times with minimal success. A lot of times, even the mailing houses would screw it up or they wanted a lot of money to manage a campaign like this. It became the law of diminishing returns when you start doing that. We had some fun in the pre-Infusionsoft days.

Trent: You mentioned you had some assistants. In addition to your own time, you had labor costs associated with all of your hard costs of actually mailing these letters out?

Bob: Oh, yes. Yes, I did. She still works for me part-time. She was responsible to get all those mailings out.

Trent: Where I’m going with this is, for example, when I spoke with Janette Gleason the other day, folks, if you don’t know who she is she’s another interview that I’ve done so look for that interview on the blog, they, pre-Infusionsoft, were spending $15,000 per month.

After Infusionsoft was deployed they were spending $1,500 per month and they tripled their revenue. Can you give me a sense of what was the spend before you put Infusionsoft in place? You probably had much higher labor, I’m guessing, than you did afterward?

Bob: Yes. There’s actually no comparison. I don’t have the exact numbers here but I can tell you it’s probably a third. My assistant was full-time with me at that point trying to manage all these. I gave you the example of the three-step letter campaign but we were doing follow-up mailings, new customer mailings, we were doing all kinds of different moving parts. There was a referral program that she would manage. Even with her working full-time, a lot of these pieces would break. If she took time off, some of the things didn’t get done.

After Infusionsoft I took all of those processes, put them into Infusionsoft for that business, I have 72 individual processes that work now. We’re doing my Infusionsoft app for that repair shop business, and I cut her time down to about five or six hours a week. That’s all she works now. She physically makes sure the stuff gets in the mail but she doesn’t have to know who gets what or when or keep track of any of that stuff. It’s all automatic and done with Infusionsoft.

Trent: All right. The audience is probably saying, “Enough with the old school. Let’s talk about what’s working today.” I just wanted to make sure people really understood the problem that Infusionsoft helps people to solve. In case anyone is curious, yes, I’m an Infusionsoft user as well. I’m a big advocate. As a matter of fact, that was one of the reasons why I started Bright Ideas.

Once I started using Infusionsoft in my business I thought, “Oh my God. If I would have known about this stuff back when I had my tech company” I don’t know when Infusionsoft was started, it was probably available in a more rudimentary form, but all I can say is, “Good Lord”. It would have been exponentially easier. Back then I wasn’t even building a list. I had a website with no opt-in form. Can you believe that?

Bob: I actually know that most businesses these days don’t. Even though it seems like we talk about this stuff all the time, if you stopped 100 people on the street that are business owners and said, “Hey, you got an opt-in form on your website?” They would be like, “What’s that?” This is the thing that really gets me excited, Trent. Anyone who is watching this, you are on the absolute bleeding edge of what I believe is the next revolutionary technology.

Not just Infusionsoft, but marketing automation, along with Infusionsoft, understanding these principles, will transform small businesses. It is going to have an enormous impact not just on small, but on small to medium businesses. It’s going to have an unbelievably huge impact. Those people who are going to take that technology and start to use it and run with it are going to be the next Bill Gates. That’s the impact this is going to have on the American and worldwide business community.

Trent: I couldn’t agree more. Again, that’s why I started Bright Ideas, because I wanted to interview guys like you who can say to my audience, “Look, this stuff works. This is how you do it”. Enough. Let’s get into it. Let’s talk about Infusionsoft. We’re going to need to do a master class, which is when we get into it way, way more details. I’m going to be all over you afterward about that.

Those are only available for my premium members and I’ll talk about that later. As best we can, let’s talk about the overview of the process. I call it the ‘life cycle of a lead’, from how you’re getting the lead, how it gets into Infusionsoft, what happens. We’re not going to go super granular and talk about action sets and campaigns because without seeing it on the screen people won’t have a clue what we’re talking about. But, conceptually.

Bob: Until you dive in there, I won’t go to that depth. You want to start with capturing leads?

Trent: Top of the funnel, yes.

Bob: Start with your website. Here’s the best gift I can give to anyone that’s watching this: 99.9% of the web designers out there don’t know anything at all about how to make money online. If they did, they would not be working building websites for $15.00 or $20.00 an hour or whatever they’re getting paid.

There is such an opportunity to make enormous amounts of money if your website is properly designed by somebody who understands direct response marketing, understands how to capture leads from the web. That is the foundation piece.

All this Infusionsoft stuff is kind of behind the scenes things that happen. It manages all these processes and it markets to your people and it can do all that stuff. If you don’t have a good lead generation thing to start with, that’s going to bring people in. I don’t care if that’s brick and mortar or online business. It’s the same for both. I’ll give you some statistics about that in a second. You’ve got to start with the foundation piece. It’s a properly designed, direct response website. There are almost none out there. That’s part one.

The top of the funnel, you’ve got a lead coming in from your website on an opt-in form or people are requesting more information. That information goes into Infusionsoft, triggers a response. They’re going to either get an email back or get physical mail back, a DVD, a CD, they’re going to get something from you. They’re going to get a phone call from a sales rep. All of those behind the scenes things can be managed through Infusionsoft, but that’s where it all starts.

Trent: Okay. I want to go a little deeper there because I know that 99% of the people who are listening to this are kind of going, “Well, how does that happen?” They fill out the form, name and email, they hit that Submit button. They get an email and it says, “Here’s your report” or whatever it was that you promised. That’s called a lead magnet, for anyone who’s wondering. That then creates a record in Infusionsoft, which is the software that you and I pay to use. Then what happens?

There’s all these processes that we can create to have them fire all on autopilot. Can you give me an example of how that works for you? You mentioned some things that I don’t do. I don’t do direct mail. I don’t mail CDs. I want to know how automated is that kind of thing?

Bob: It’s completely and totally automated. One of the things you can decide to do, a lead comes in, you can say, “Okay, send an email to a sales rep with this person’s information and have that sales rep call them”. You can have a fulfillment list that goes out to a mailing house that says, “Send this person this CD”. You can have a letter that goes out, a postcard, a voice broadcast where an automated call goes out to the person and says, “Hey, thanks for reaching out to us. We’re going to get back to you”. You can do so many different things.

It’s virtually only limited by your imagination. I just recently started playing around with text messaging. If somebody comes into my funnel I’m going to text them and see if I can get them to respond that way. We’re going to do some testing in that area. All of those things are part of this whole marketing system that you’re going to put together for your small business. It really is what makes the difference.

Trent: What I’m trying to get people to appreciate is that back when I had my business, the only marketing that I did was picking up the phone and making cold calls. If I wasn’t picking up the phone, and if I wasn’t making cold calls, there was no marketing happening. Every day that I went to work I had this panic feeling of, “There are no leads coming in. There are no leads coming in”. I hated cold calling with a passion because it was so ineffective.

Bob: Let me put this in perspective for anyone watching this. Forget about the new leads just for a second. It’s super important for every business. I can guarantee you that almost everyone watching this that’s in business right now has a stack of papers or business cards that they’ve collected that they know for a fact there is money sitting in that pile, but they haven’t followed up with those people.

What if you had an automated system that you didn’t have to do anything at all and it followed up relentlessly with those people, those new people, those contacts that you’d made, talking about your products, your services, educating them and giving them free stuff. What would happen? What would happen? Would you make more money?

I’ve never met anyone yet who is in business that doesn’t have that scenario. The reason is that in business you’re busy. The phone rings, you have this going on, there’s all these moving pieces. You, as the owner, are typically running around doing all of that stuff.

Sometimes those things fall through the cracks and that’s the power of having a system in place that works 24/7, never gets tired, never takes a day off, using and putting together all of these marketing sequences to make money and make sales for you. It may not be instant. It may be down the road. It seeds the list. It works the people and educates them for you, so you can continually just make sales.

Trent: That’s why your car repair shop makes so much money, because that’s happening all the time. Let’s go back to that. I know we’re both pretty excited about Infusionsoft and I don’t want people to listen to this interview and think, “Well, that was just one big Infusionsoft commercial”.

Bob: By the way, you can do this all without Infusionsoft. That’s a disclaimer right there.

Trent: It takes a lot more work. What is your website for your auto repair shop?

Bob: It’s pro-autocare.com.

Trent: All right. If anyone is listening and they’re not driving their car, presumably they’ll punch up this. There you are.

Bob: You’ll recognize me right away. You’ll notice that it doesn’t look like an auto repair shop website.

Trent: No, it definitely does not. $200.00 at the top, which is your guarantee, you’ve got your contact info, okay. Walk me through. Someone comes to this site and where do you get most of your leads from on this site?

Bob: Two things. Right on the right column, you’ll notice that there’s an opt-in form for a free report. Also, it should pop up a banner at the bottom offering a free report as well.

Trent: There’s the “Make an appointment” button.

Bob: If you scroll down slightly on the right.

Trent: Free report: learn the seven deadly sins people make when choosing an auto repair store.

Bob: Interestingly enough, and anyone who’s in the internet marketing space would say, “How come you make them scroll to make them see the opt-in?” I’ve tested this. We used to have it right above the headline.

Trent: I was looking at it and going, “I don’t know about this”.

Bob: I tested it. It works better that way, believe it or not. We get more opt-ins on this particular one because the headline is so important. I’m driving a lot of traffic from pay per click and other places and they need to see the headline right away. Obviously, they see the banner. But the headline is very important as well.

Trent: It’s funny you mentioned the banner and I scrolled to the bottom of the page. I’m like, “What banner?” Then I just noticed the big orange banner across the bottom.

Bob: Yes, the other one. That’s the second opt-in that pops up.

Trent: People fill this in, they get a report. What happens next? Does it go by email? It must.

Bob: Yes. I deliver the free report by email. Obviously, we follow up and invite them in. We do a couple of other things. We offer them a discount to come visit us for the first time, so it gives them some incentive to visit us the first time. Here’s the thing that you should really take away from this, tracking is one of the big things we talk about in direct response marketing.

You’re not going to do anything if you can’t track it, which is why I love the web so much because it’s so easy to track everything. I know for an absolute fact that when people find my repair shop on the web, versus coming in any other way, that they spend almost three times more money. I started to look at that. Why would people be spending more when they come from online versus direct mail or other ways they come in? If you think about it, it makes total sense.

The people that are looking for repair shops online have a broken car. Something is wrong right now. This is the beauty of the web and getting all these pieces right. Back in the old day, when I was doing all that direct mail, I would have to front all this money, spend all this money to put the mail out then hope that somebody had a need and they would come in and take advantage of that offer. Now, this whole thing has been flipped upside down.

Somebody has a need right now, they’re looking for me. All I’ve got to do is not mess up the sale. I’ve got to convince them that we’re the best option for them to get their car fixed and it’s an immediate sale. They have a need, they find me and we’re golden. They see that website, I’m putting my money where my mouth is right away. This is the beauty of this whole thing, this whole internet marketing for small businesses. This is where it’s at. This is exciting stuff.

Trent: I’m willing to bet that the 99.99% of your competitors are completely and totally clueless.

Bob: Utterly clueless. I love going and looking at my competitors. I have competitors who are spending humongous amounts of money on pay-per-click advertising with Google ad words and other things. I know where they’re driving the traffic. I go there and I’m like, “These guys are just killing themselves and they don’t even know it.” They see me doing it so they’re doing it too, but their website is never going to convert anyone to buy ever.

Trent: They opt-in. They get the free report. You guys follow. I’m assuming you must have some sequences that include making a phone call. Do you get the phone number at some point in here?

Bob: It’s on the bottom of every email that comes in. Obviously, as soon as you opt-in an email actually goes from my service manager to you, inviting you to come in. He doesn’t send it, but Infusionsoft sends it for him. It actually drives you back to the web to make your appointment.

If you click the “Make an appointment” button, that’s an Infusionsoft web form that then follows up religiously with people once the appointment request is made. He will either call or email. He’ll email automatically from Infusionsoft but we’ll follow up with a phone call to get people to come in. All of those processes that are happening, you can see the front of it is the website. The whole behind the scenes stuff is Infusionsoft.

Trent: I notice you have a tab called “Internet coupons”. Does that work well?

Bob: It works very well. You’ll also notice that the coupons have an expiration date on them. If you look closely and come back tomorrow, you’ll realize that the expiration date is based upon 14 days from the day you view the page. We’re always timely.

Trent: Are you using iMember360 as the plug-in on that? Is this a WordPress site?

Bob: It is a WordPress site. I am using iMember360. I have a membership portal for my customer base there. They can log in, look at their invoices, it actually does up-sells within my membership portal.

Trent: How are you having the date automatically change? Is that just a bit of Javascript?

Bob: Yes. A little bit. Now, we’re getting granular. It’s a little Javascript that does that. That’s an important point from a marketer standpoint. You guys have probably seen this, anyone watching this. You go to a website and you see coupons and they’re expired or they’re out of date. Just that one little tweak and that’s an automation thing. Put a little bit of script in there, we’re able to keep the coupons fresh. I can update them if I want to. The expiration date puts a sense of urgency on the coupon.

Trent: There are a lot of lessons to be learned. You don’t need to be in the auto repair business. I hope that you’re realization that if you’re cutting hair or you’re a florist or you’re an accountant or whomever is running a brick and mortar business and you’re relying on just foot traffic to bring people to your business, there’s so much more that you could be doing, so much more. It’s not terribly expensive to do all this stuff.

Bob: You know what it takes, really? Getting around some people who are doing this stuff and they can show you how. That’s the big thing.

Trent: Back to the mastermind yet again.

Bob: Yes. It really is. Like we started out saying before, this stuff is so cutting edge that nobody knows this stuff. It’s not that many people. You can’t stop people on the street. It’s not common knowledge that this stuff even exists or how to put all the pieces together. I’ve had people come in to my group that have spend 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars on a website and it doesn’t make them a dime. They didn’t know that you could get this stuff done for a couple hundred bucks.

Trent: Are you still direct mailing where you’re just buying lists?

Bob: Absolutely.

Trent: Okay. How much are you spending per month on direct mail versus how much are you spending, I’m assuming you’re doing pay-per-click to drive traffic to your site?

Bob: I am.

Trent: How much on each of those two activities?

Bob: I spend about a grand a month on pay-per-click and I spend about maybe $1,200 on direct mail.

Trent: You said you track a lot of your stuff.

Bob: I track all my stuff.

Trent: How much revenue is coming, and it might be blurry because your direct mail is probably driving traffic to your site, right?

Bob: Well, it is, but it’s a specific offer with a coupon code so when they physically show up in my shop I know that they came from direct mail. I did one other thing, too, that we’re getting a little granular but I think it’s important because people like this. I did something that nobody had done before.

I don’t know that anybody has done it again. I tied Infusionsoft into my point –of-sale system at my repair shop. This point-of-sale, which is a computer, physically, sitting at my repair shop, at my service manager’s desk, is at night synchronized and all the data goes up into Infusionsoft by a special program link that I had created.

When I do all my direct mail now, that entire list is imported into Infusionsoft. There are no email addresses so it doesn’t violate any terms of use. You get a piece of direct mail from me, even if you don’t use the coupon code, you’re in Infusionsoft.

I had a special algorithm written so that the point-of-sale, when you show up at the shop, it says, “Hey, wait a minute. This guy lives at this address. He must have been direct mail. He’s a response to this direct mail”, even if you don’t use the coupon or the offer. I’m tracking it automatically based upon that, using that system.

Trent: Which is giving you the higher ROI: direct mail or pay-per-click?

Bob: It’s definitely pay-per-click, by probably 10 to 1 at this point. The last I looked, I haven’t looked in a while, I’ll be honest, at last look we were doing $45,000 a month in direct from my website and/or pay-per-click combined from the web.

Trent: It makes perfect sense because of what you said before. The pay-per-click is working because people have a problem with their car. They’re looking for a solution right now. Direct mail, you’re just farming. You’re planting seeds. “I’m in your neighborhood. When your car breaks down, think of me. Think of me. Think of me”. Again, that’s why the whole online part is just so incredibly effective. Are there any video customer testimonials? Are they anywhere in your sales funnel? Like, “Bob’s a great guy. I love the store. Blah blah blah”?

Bob: I do not have video but if you go to the testimonials page, there I have pages. I actually built a custom automated system for testimonial collection as well. When a customer picks up their vehicle there’s a nice thank you card that drives them back to the web to leave their remarks. When they do that, they can go right online and put that in.

It’s an Infusionsoft web form that then captures that information and automatically publishes it to my website upon my approval. I’m getting new stuff coming in. Again, the testimonials page is no longer a static thing, it’s constantly being updated by my customers.

Trent: Yes, there’s a gazillion of them on there.

Bob: There’s a gazillion on there, yes. In fact, every couple of days, sometimes there’s gaps, but every few days somebody puts one on there. It’s a great way to constantly have that happen.

Let’s go back to the beauty of Infusionsoft. Back in the day, somebody would send a testimonial in or leave one for us someplace and we’d have to write them a letter saying thank you and send them a little thank you card or whatever. Infusionsoft now automates that whole process.

If somebody fills out the thing it sends them a thank you. I do a little gift card that goes along with it as a thanks for their testimonial. I don’t have to do anything. Nobody has to do anything. It just happens.

Trent: Are you using send-out cards?

Bob: Yes.

Trent: Janette, she has it tied directly into Infusionsoft.

Bob: I do as well.

Trent: You do as well. I think somebody makes a third-party piece of software to do that. Is that correct?

Bob: That is correct. There are a couple of guys doing that now. It makes it real simple that Infusionsoft basically sends an email and they can get a gift card, greeting card, cookies, whatever you want to send. I do birthday gifts, greeting cards, cookies, that kind of stuff, all kinds of different things. Again, the sky is the limit. What your brain can conceive, you can get it done.

Trent: What percentage of your annual revenue comes from repeat customers versus new customers?

Bob: Repeat business is three-quarters of my business, three-quarters at least. It has to be that way, too. Otherwise I’m not doing something right.

Trent: Yes. I don’t want people to think that by hearing that they should just focus on their existing customers. People are always moving and dying. If you’re not bringing new blood into the fold then you’re dying as well. It’s important that you do both.

Bob: I think you do have to do both. Although, most of the time, as business owners, I do think we get caught up in new business, new business, new business and we forget that, actually, if we worked a little bit harder on getting more money out of our existing customers we would do really, really well. There is two really good targets right there.

There’s only three ways to build a business, right? Three and only three; you get more customers, you get each customer to buy more, so a higher transaction size. Then you get them to come back more frequently. Out of those three, 66%, now, the two, are dealing with existing customers, higher transaction size and more repeat business. I think it is a valuable target to go after the new customers and you definitely need to spend time there. It can be more profitable if you focus on those other two areas as well.

Trent: Bob, I want to talk a little bit more about, if you haven’t covered it already, your best strategy for getting repeat business from your customers. Then, if people want to get a hold of you, because I know that you’ve got an Infusionsoft mastermind and I want to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit about that. So, let’s go with those two and then we’ll wrap up.

Bob: The first one was what’s the best idea for getting repeat business?

Trent: Yes.

Bob: The best idea I’ve ever heard or came up with and developed was getting people to pay me in advance for my services. Here’s the thing that I’ve come to realize: we all, as business owners and human beings, actually, accept that there’s boundaries and limits based upon our own thinking. I think if you stopped 100 people on the street and said, “Would you ever consider prepaying for auto repair?” 99 out of 100 would say, “You’re out of your mind. I’m never going to do that.” I get a lot of people to do that.

The benefit to me is that I give them a lot of benefit for doing so. There’s a whole program that goes along with it. It’s a great sales pitch that I put together for it. It actually benefits them tremendously. They get the best price, the best discount all the time, all that kind of stuff. They’re prepaying me every month. Their credit card gets dinged for a set amount that we’ve agreed upon or they’ve opted-in for.

I have money rolling in before I even put the key in the door and open for day one of business at the first of the month. That is guaranteed locking them in to do business with me for as long as they stay in the program. I already have their money. It’s already been prepaid. It’s a great program. I think with a little bit of creative thinking and stretching your own assumptions of what people will or will not do.

Just about any business can come up with something that gets a cash flow system like that in place. In the info businesses we call that continuity. We want to add continuity coming in. I haven’t seen a business yet where we haven’t been able to come up with some way where we have that kind of thing. That’s one. That’s a higher level.

Trent: Can I interrupt you for just a moment? Something I want people to understand: I had a computer fixing business. We built continuity into that business and I was able to sell that business for $1.2 million when I was done. If I did not have that continuity, that business would not have been worth 10 cents because people who are wanting to buy a business, they want certainty. They want predictable cash flow.

If for no other reason other than your exit strategy, which is the time when it comes to sell your business, if you want to build value you have got to figure out some way to build continuity into your business. Sorry, I just could not go past it without hammering that point home.

Bob: Couldn’t resist that one, could you?

Trent: No. It’s so important.

Bob: The other thing you can do is never work in your business and it makes it a lot more valuable to an investor.

Trent: It does. They don’t like buying businesses that are all wrapped around one person. People don’t like that.

Bob: That’s very, very true. The other thing, real quick, is to have some kind of club or membership that people can buy into. Obviously, I call that my VIP program when it’s prepaid. I also have what I call the ‘Car Care Club’ card where they can buy a card and it’s a bunch of services at a discounted price which also locks them into doing business with me.

They’ve basically bought a discount and it’s guaranteed that they’re going to come back to me again and again and again when they have a problem. Those are two quick strategies that pretty much any business can use to get that working for them.

Trent: Okay. Which kind of segues us into the whole mastermind thing because people might be thinking, “Well, yes. But how do I figure that out?” That’s, I think, a great segue. If you want to talk a little bit about your mastermind, this is your chance.

If you have a URL where people can get more information, please feel free to give that. If there’s any kind of coupon codes or anything that you can extend to my audience, mention that and we’ll make sure that underneath this interview there’s whatever links they can click on to get whatever deals there might be available.

Bob: Let me tell you how this came about. I built this whole system with Infusionsoft, took this business to the moon and was kind of bored. I was home and I was like, “This is boring”. I started another business and started another one after that. I’ve got three different businesses now. My second one was in the IT industry like you, Trent. I sell marketing information to the IT industry. That’s completely online, completely automated business.

Then, I won the ‘Ultimate Marketer’ from Infusionsoft in 2012, got a lot of notoriety around that. It talked a little bit about my repair shop and these other businesses that I started. I realized that there was a real need within the Infusionsoft space to have a sense of community. There’s some there now but I wanted to take it to a whole other level.

I wanted to get a group of people who are serious about taking their business to another level and helping other people work together. I kind of felt like it was almost my duty to do so because I had been given so much in the past at my own mastermind that I had been part of and I had some real key people that made a big difference in my life. I said, “You know, it’s time to do the same thing”.

I created what we call the ‘Marketing Automation Group’, or MAG, for short. Some people who are in the Infusionsoft space may have heard of it. It’s not a huge group. I don’t want a great, big, huge group. It’s a small group of very passionate entrepreneurs. We work on all facets of business: hiring and firing, management, sales strategies, marketing, direct response marketing.

The common theme that runs through everything is automation. We take all of these ideas and we say, “Okay, how can you take that strategy and how can we automate as much of it as possible, if not all of it?” We come up with new ideas. Members share with each other. It’s really a fun and exciting group.

You can go to marketingautomationgroup.com. I just have a basic funnel there right now. I don’t really do a lot of online sales for that business. I actually do most of it in person. At this point, we get a lot of referrals from people that are members who have friends and they’re wanting to get in business. Don’t expect a big, fancy sales funnel because it doesn’t exist. But, make no mistake.

When it comes to building your business, we’re very, very serious about helping our members. We’re seeing some tremendous results that people have gotten. I’ll give you another link, too, actually, at the end of it. I don’t want to say the wrong thing in the recording.

I’ll give you another one, Trent, that you can put underneath the video. People can get more information as well. It’s not for everyone. It’s not cheap to be part of our mastermind. It’s for people who understand what we’re doing here and want to be part of something bigger. I think one of our members said it really well. He said, “My sales are up but the most important thing is having infinitely more fun along the way than he ever could have doing it himself”.

Trent: My sales are up but my work is down.

Bob: Yes. And he’s having fun with his new friends. It’s pretty cool.

Trent: How much is it for people to become a member of this?

Bob: It’s $13,000 a year to join plus travel expenses. There’s a whole list of things that you get as part of your involvement in the program. I’ll give you the link that gives that out to everyone. I will make an offer to your people that are watching this or want to join your master class. We’ve got to talk about the specifics of that. I’ll definitely discount that some for people who see this and say, “You know what? This is the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for. I know this is going to be right for me”. They can see the ROI of being part of something like this. I’ll make a special offer to them.

Trent: Okay. Terrific. Thank you very much for making the time. This has been a fun interview. I think that you and I are going to be talking lots more in the months to come. I just love being around other passionate, energetic entrepreneurs who are excited about what they’re doing. That’s why it’s such a privilege for me to be the host of Bright Ideas because I get to talk to you guys every day.

It’s pretty rare that I have a day where I feel like I’m overworked or things aren’t going that well. They have. We’re entrepreneurs. We’re humans. It all happens. But every day that I do an interview, I get this dose. I get my fix basically.

I hope that my audience gets as much of a fix out of these interviews as I do. I want to thank all of you guys for being my audience. If you think this is good stuff, please tell somebody else about it. Put it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, wherever it helps spread the word. For that, I would be really appreciative.

Bob, again, thank you so much for making the time.

Bob: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. It was really fun.

Trent: All right. Take care.

Bob: Okay. Bye.

Trent: Okay. If you want to get the show notes for today’s episode, go to brightideas.co/14. The other thing I want to tell you about is the Massive Traffic Toolkit. If you go to brightideas.co/massivetraffic and enter your email address you’re going to get instant access to the Massive Traffic Toolkit.

What is the Massive Traffic Toolkit all about? It is a compilation of all the best traffic generation strategies that have been shared with me by all those really smart people that I’ve had here on Bright Ideas. The really great part about all these ideas is that you don’t have to be some kind of SEO guru to be able to implement them.

To get access, again, just go to brightideas.co/massivetraffic and enter your email address. You’ll have access right away. That’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid.

If you really loved this episode or, heck, even if you just liked it a little, please do me a favor and head over to iTunes and give it a five-star feedback. Go ahead and leave a comment.

The more people that do that, the more visibility that comes to the Bright Ideas podcast and the more people that we can help with all of the really terrific bright ideas that are shared by the experts that I’m so privileged to have on my show.

Thanks very much for being a member of the audience. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

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

How to Increase Web Traffic and Stay Well Ahead of the Competition by Marketing to a Huge Volume of Customers

Bob talks about his success building and running a brick and mortar business with the help of marketing strategies that are also applicable to small and medium online enterprises.

You’ll hear him discuss these marketing strategies that can be applied universally to all forms of business.

Marketing plays a big part in the overall success of a business or brand. With well implemented and well planned marketing strategies, entrepreneurs can expect severalfold growth in profit.

Bob’s automotive shop earns exponentially more than the industry norms. Image source: 123rf.com

Listen to the show to discover how Bob managed to create and implement efficient plans that helped him grow his profits both online and offline.

Automation is an important key step in maximizing the returns of any investment. Bob paints a realistic picture that shows just how essential automation in marketing really is for the overall financial success of a business.

A business that wants to dominate in a field or niche will ultimately have to deal with competition. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you should be able to make full use of all available technologies to market your business efficiently to your potential clients. To do this, you should reach huge volumes of your target clients. Bob makes this clear as he explains the best strategies that entrepreneurs need to utilize to market to their customers.

Bob’s business is so profitable largely because of the marketing automation he’s put into place. Image source: 123rf.com

Listen as Bob shares his extraordinary tale of triumph as he reveals his beginnings as a young man in need of a job to a mature and successful entrepreneur earning $1,100,000 a year in his auto repair business.

Many modern day online methods of marketing evolved from old school strategies. Learn the connection between the old school and the modern-day marketing strategies by listening to the show.

If you wish to build and manage a successful business, whether online or brick-and-mortar, you first need to hire and manage the right people. Learn from Bob’s experience by listening to him recount his beginner’s mistakes in hiring the wrong people.

If you wish to go far with your business, you need to take good care of your clients or customers. Before you do however, you must first know just who your client or customer really is. Bob discusses just how important customer profiling is and relates the techniques he has used to bring him his present day success. He first starts by describing what he calls his “advocates” and later on proceeds to outline his method of creating an ideal customer profile.

Customer profiling has played a huge role in Bob’s success. Image source 123rf.com

Listen to the show to discover just how you can use your creative mind to gather and analyze information required to help you create a clear picture of your customer.

The Mastermind Principle helps individuals achieve their goals with the help of others. Bob describes the importance of a Mastermind concisely by relating it to the single piece of information that changed his entire life.

Listen to the show to learn just how being in a Mastermind has allowed Bob to achieve the successes that he has now experienced.

The internet is an extremely powerful tool for business. It allows entrepreneurs to run their operations faster, more accurately and infinitely more fun. Bob explains the great potential for success that current entrepreneurs have with the available software and technology by comparing the next successful small or medium sized enterprise to Bill Gates- type success.

Bob explains just how to boost your sales with direct marketing and automated marketing campaigns. He shares many proven strategies that defeat the law of diminishing returns that are so inherent with today’s websites and business models.

Direct marketing is an absolute must, say Bob. Image source 123rf.com

Listen to the show to learn why it is important to have an Opt-in Form and just where to place these forms on your site.

Bob boldly states that 99% of web designers and web masters DON’T know how to create websites. He then proceeds to state the common mistakes of average or ordinary websites and web designers that don’t generate and convert leads into profit.

A business always aims to bring in new customers and keep old ones to remain successful in their specific field. Listen as Bob enumerates wise business facts that allow you to do just that.

Listen to the show to learn Bob’s best ideas for creating and keeping leads.

About Bob Britton

BobBrittonFeaturedBob Britton is a business owner, direct response specialist, author and speaker who has 19 years experience building and growing brick-and-mortar companies as well as online businesses.

He started his career as an auto repair mechanic but his ambition brought him to new heights. He soon built and managed his very own successful auto repair business at pro-autocare.com. His business genius has allowed him to win the Infusionsoft Ultimate Marketer Award for 2010.

Aside from running three successful companies he is also actively involved in his Infusion Coaching Group and Marketing Automation Group that allow him to coach and influence other hardcore entrepreneurs.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Use Internet Video Marketing to Drive Traffic to Your Business with Chris Savage

Chris is the CEO and co-founder of Wistia. He lives and works in and around Cambridge, MA.

He likes to talk about startups, marketing, video, evolutionary health, company culture and doing a lot with a little.

You can bribe him with coffee, a delicious and healthy lunch or a game of ping pong.

He also likes to play with Instagram.

Listen to the Audio

Digital Marketing Strategy: How a Brand New Blogger Got 50,000 Visitors in His First 30 Days – Without a List or Affiliate Promotion

Peep is the face of ConversionXL. His unusual name (to most people) is actually pronounced ‘Pep Laya’. He’s from Estonia, but lives mainly in the US these days.

Peep is an entrepreneur and a conversion optimization junkie. He runs a unique conversion optimization marketing agency called Markitekt (they make existing sites better and build new conversion optimized websites) + several niche internet businesses such as T1Q.

Peep delivers trainings and workshops on conversion optimization and internet marketing, consults businesses in need and plans the architecture of websites that sell.

Listen to the Audio

Digital Marketing Strategy: How One Entrepreneur Used Media Coverage to Go from Zero to $20 Million: An Interview with Jeremy Shepherd

Would you like to learn successful PR strategies that will reliably generate more media coverage?

How valuable would it be for you to learn actionable take-aways from someone generating millions in online revenue?

(over 20 million, to be exact)

In this episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast, Jeremy Shepherd reveals one golden nugget after another.

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 Jeremy Shepherd, founder of Pearl Paradise.

Watch Now

Transcript

An Interview with Jeremy Shepherd

Trent Dyrsmid: Hi there! 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.On this episode I am joined by the founder and CEO of a company called PearlParadise.com. His name is Jeremy Shepherd and this is an amazing story of entrepreneurial success.Way back in 1996 Jeremy started this company. He was working as a flight attendant and had gone over, bought some pearls for his girlfriend, turns out they were got appraised for home issurance reasons they were worth far more than what he paid. And he started this business by financing it with his mastercard and he’s now doing $20 million a year at PearlParadise.com. And in this interview you’re gonna learn about a social media strategy that is unlike what I’ve heard of from any other guest that accounts for 30% of his sales and it takes him an hour a day to do this social media strategy.Then he’s also gonna explain his particular PR strategy that he’s used to get on TV, to get on major newspapers and one of those pieces of coverage in the newspaper accounted for millions of dollars in revenue. It actually tripled the revenue of his company. And then we’re also gonna talk about his very specific search marketing and search engine optimization strategy that he uses to drive traffic to his website.So I gotta tell you I get to do a lot of these interviews and this one I had a blast. You’re gonna love it. I have these things called golden nuggets, actionable take aways and I told Jeremy I said “Jeremy, I think you broke the record for golden nuggets in a single interview.” So please join me in welcoming Jeremy to the show.Alright Jeremy, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time to do this interview with me. Yours is a very interesting story that started all off with the trip overseas and a mastercard. So we’ll get to that in a second but welcome aboard.Jeremy Shepherd: Thank you. Nice to be here.T: So as I just mentioned before we started recording, I always like to right away give my listeners kind of the reason why they wanna keep listening to this interview and yours is a phenomenal success story to say the least. So why don’t you first of all tell us a little bit, tell us what your company does, how you make money and then kind of how much revenue you’re doing today and then we’ll go back and talk a bit about how you got started.J: Well my company is PearlParadise.com Incorporated. We’re doing about $20 million a year revenue and we sell pearls, nothing but pearls.T: Pretty simple business model.J: Pretty simple.T: In a cocktail party what do you do? I sell pearls, a lot of pearls. So this started back in 1996, is that right?J: Right.T: So at the time you were a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines. You were overseas in Asia somewhere and you bought a string of pearls for your girlfriend and then suddenly they were worth a whole lot more than… do you wanna talk about that story?J: Yeah I was a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines. I grew up as an army breadth and I was speaking multiple languages so it’s easy for me to get a job at the airlines. They’re always looking for foreign language speakers. And it was all the way over at Beijing actually. One of the popular things for flight attendants to do was either go to the pearl market, the hometown of *inaudible. And everyday flight attendants go there they buy bags, whatever, you name it. But there was a section there actually 2 floors of the market they were dedicated to nothing but pearls. I’m not much of a shopper myself and I certainly wasn’t much of a jewelry shopper but one day I did decide to go there to get a string of pearls for my girlfriend. And I paid around $20 for the string of pearls and brought them back to the States, gave them to her and she had them appraised for her home owner’s issurance. And the appraisal came back at $600 and that was sort of an aha moment for me where I thought wow, maybe there’s some sort of business opportunity that I can make out of this. And that’s basically where the seeds are sown and where I started the business.T: Okay and then you didn’t get online for quite a while and I know that from now I think it’s fortunately all of your sales come from your website, is that correct?J: Yes. Now actually I did get online right away but I didn’t start with a website right away.T: Oh that’s right.J: Well I started out, well when I first brought the pearl, I started bringing pearls in and just keeps growing over the time. I started visiting stores, a couple of jewelry stores, and I couldn’t really find a way to market that because jewelry stores for the most part they buy on consignment, on memo, they buy from the big pearl houses in New York where they’ve been purchasing for the last 100+ years and so it was difficult to break into that market. And a friend of mine called me one day and he said “hey Jeremy, I’ve got great idea where we can sell your pearls.” He’s been selling items on the internet on this new website called ebay and said “hey maybe you can sell pearls there too.” So pearls I sold actually were on Amazon. Amazon had a format similar to Ebay at that time Amazon auctions and it was a little bit difficult for me to figure out coz I had no experience on the internet whatsoever. And I started to dutch auctions on the Amazon giving them the information from the appraisal that my girlfriend had to describe the pearl and then he put a picture of it, put a dutch auction up and immediately started selling pearls. And my first dutch auction closed with everyone in the items up that I put up there sold.

T: Wow! Talk about a rapid reinforcement that you were on to something that was gonna work. That’s something we talk about anytime I’m talking to someone about how to get going and validate a market is surveys are great, customer focus groups are great but there ain’t anything better than the buy button.

J: They’re always better.

T: That is the best validation there is. So you very quickly were strongly reinforced that hey there’s something going on here so over the next few years how long was it until you built your own website? How long did you just keep doing this dutch auctions for?

J: I did auction probably for the first, I think close to 3 years. What I did was sell everything that I brought back from China, take the money go back to China, buy the same things and more things actually, and just kept doing auction. It didn’t occur to me at the time to build a website. When I started first selling pearls I barely knew how to turn on the computer let alone put up a website.

So my brother came up with the idea to build a website around 99 or 2000 and this is around the time where websites were a little bit more *inaudible things came out platforms that mom and pops could actually build their own websites without any background on HTML or programming. And so I built my own website myself. I sat about a week in a room, doors closed, working on it for a week’s straight. I took photos without a digital camera, a regular film camera, I got the photos developed. Went to Kinko’s where they had a scanner, scanned the photos up on to a disk, a real disk. Got the photos back home, loaded them up onto the website.

I think it took about a full week to build my website and put it this way, I wouldn’t be successful today if my websites still looked like the day I built it.

T: Yeah.

J: So 10+ years ago you didn’t need the flashiest websites to be able to sell online because the online medium was relatively new. Well it still is relatively new but it’s very new at that time. So yeah that’s how I started on the internet with my own website.

T: How long was it before you quit your job working for the airline?

J: I quit my job, well there’s actually 2 parts to this. I started to go abroad in the year 2000 or was it 2001, I’m sorry 2001, spring of 2001. And I took a leave from here. And I took a leave because I wasn’t a 100% confident that I could do this on my own coz up until this point it was really just sort of a part time hobby. I would carry pearls with me in my flight bag. I would carry a credit card processing machine in my flight bag and my computer. And so my business was raised from hotel rooms all around the US and around the world while I was still making money as a flight attendant. So I decided to take a leave of absence and I believe it was just a few months and focused solely on the *inaudible .com website. And by the end of the first month I knew that I would never go back to flying again.

I kept on taking leaves for a number of years because of course 9/11 happened so a lot of people in my industry lost their job and so they let more senior people like myself take leaves of absence so that they wouldn’t have to fire the junior people. So I was able to take leaves to about I would say almost 4 years before they finally asked me to come back to work and at that point I told them that it wasn’t gonna happen. But the great part of that was that taking a leave of absence not only did I save someone else’s job at the airlines but I got flight benefits for all those years. So I was able to travel all over the world to buy pearls and it was a benefit that you can’t imagine.

T: Well yeah you saved a whole bunch of money for sure.

J: Sure.

T: So when you first built the site how did you get traffic back then and is that in anyway, we’re gonna later in the interview of course we’re gonna talk about what’s really working well for you today, but I’m curious back then was getting traffic was it completely different strategies that you used to get traffic today or are they somewhat similar and what were they?

J: Back then we didn’t have the books that we have today, the leaders in the industry that we have today. It’s just things like SEO and SEM, social media, those sort of things, you know, those words weren’t even around back then. When I first started the way I got traffic for my website was again through the auction. I put advertisements up in all the auctions that I put on Amazon and on Ebay. I did very traditional method in the very beginning, business cards. I even tried some advertising in the newspapers, etc. But it really wasn’t until about 2003 when I started getting tremendous traffic to the website and that was from probably the best move I’ve ever made and I was hiring a PR agency.

T: Really, you mentioned that in the pre-interview questionnaire that you filled out for a side guy by the name of Paul Collins I think.

J: Paul Collins, yes.

T: Alright so we’re getting way out of order in the interview but whatever it doesn’t matter let’s talk about that because I think people are always looking for how do I get more traffic and I wanna give them that information. So let’s talk about what Paul did for you.

J: Well Paul called me out of the blue. And he found my website, saw my story and called me up and said “hey, who represents you as your PR agent?” And in my line, PR agents were for movie stars, bands. It never occured to me that I might need a PR agent. But that’s an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for opportunities. So I started to have lunch with the guy. Thought what could get hurt if I did have lunch with him. He brought forward that he wanted to represent me and what he did charge me I think was around $1,000-2,000 a month for a 6 months contract and at that time it sounded like buying a lottery ticket. What can I possibly get from a PR agent?

So we renegotiated a bit and I decided to have his services for a $1,000 a month and with no contract so I could let him go immediately. Because at that time a $1,000 a month, it was quite a bit of money. I was still a sole proprietor working on my own. And within I would say the first month he not only paid for himself but he paid for his services for a year. It was phenomenal. I was travelling in China during the SARS outbreak, he got public radio to interview me on the ground in China. He got News Weekly to interview me. It was like a roller coaster. Our sales increased exponentially immediately.

And he ended up moving out of the country after a couple of years but the last thing he did for me was he got me an interview with the Wall Street Journal. And it was nearly a half page interview on the front page of the market place section and that was the million dollar interview that changed my company from that day forward. The last paragraph in the interview said PearlParadise.com is the place for people to buy a strand of pearl they know would cost a $1,000 on a jewelry store but only $200 on PearlParadise.com. And the interview and the article literally tripled our traffic, tripled our sales and we’ve taken off since that point.

T: Wow! That is a phenomenal story. Now do you still work with Paul or is he?

J: I don’t. He moved believe it or not China, Shanghai, China. He lived there as a child and decided on a whim that he wanted to go back and he wanted to spend the rest of the days there and call me when they have send me up so *inaudible. And he’s still in China. Since then I’ve had a few other PR agents that have been a bit more expensive but none of them have been quite as successful as Paul Collins was.

T: Yeah, geez that’s too bad coz I’m hearing this I’m thinking I’d like to work with Paul as well.

J: He was pretty amazing.

T: Yeah. Do you know what he did that why he was so successful?

J: I think maybe it was his personality. He was the kind of person who could walk into a room and not only be the center of attention but everybody enjoy being around him. He would talk at everyone. And he really believed in me. He believed in my story and my company. And I think that the combination of his personality and of course he believed in me really made him a powerful PR agent.

T: Yeah no kidding. And you haven’t, do you have, how big of a role does PR play in your marketing strategy now?

J: It still clearly plays a sizable role. We do things like editorial look books 2x a year. We get magazine poll because of our PR agency almost on a daily basis. They don’t know which ones magazine but yes it’s still part of what we do.

T: You said editorial look books, what’s that?

J: Twice a year we do look books for what we call editorial reviews where we create new lines in pieces and we meet with editors on the west coast and the east coast 2x a year and show them all of the new pieces that we’ve created for the year strictly for editorials. There’s some pretty crazy pieces that might not necessarily sell well on the website. And we also create look books so they can take it with them. And what that does is it sort of puts us in a place where the writers, journalists, the reporters, when they think of pearls for a particular story or for a model’s shoot for a magazine, we become sort of the go to company getting those products.

T: Yeah okay. Now I’ve gone and jumbled up the whole order of my interview by jumping ahead to that. So I wanna go back coz when I create interviews like this I have a couple of goals. One is I really wanna give people tons of usable strategies that they think they can put into work in their business now. But I also wanna give them motivation because I want people to, there are gonna be people listening to this that maybe don’t have a business yet and are just kinda like teethering and I think that’s why your story of starting off part time using mastercard to buy your first little string of pearls is such an excellent story. So we’re gonna back up just a little bit. How long did it take you to get to say when did you have a year where you did a $100,000 in revenue?

J: $100,000 in revenue? I’m trying to think around the first year, the first holiday well I did about $20,000 in sales. It was probably around 3 or 4 years before I hit a $100,000 mark.

T: Okay. And a $100,000 in revenue because the profit margin is pretty high on this. I’m assuming that that was enough for you to be able to be full time and continue to run the business.

J: Oh absolutely. When I was full time I took very little lull in business basically rent. And I didn’t buy any toy. I didn’t buy my first until a couple of years ago actually. So it didn’t take much to live on the way I was living. I wasn’t living large at all. So yeah the $100,000 a year was more than enough for me to do the business full time.

T: Okay. What toy did you buy?

J: I bought a Tesla.

T: Nice.

J: Lighter vehicle.

T: Yes. I actually used to have the Lotus Exige that the Tesla’s shares the same chassis with.

J: Same chassis, yes. Whole lot of fun.

T: A very fun car to take to the race track, that’s for sure. So I wanna dig into the psychology a little bit as well. Was anyone in your family in business before you decided to start your business?

J: My father, well I’m sorry my stepfather started his own business. He started a plumbing company when I was a child. Other than that no.

T: No. Okay.

J: But I was a serial entrepreneur growing up. It was something I always knew that I’d probably do. I started my first business very young selling cookies and I started to make a calling card business when I was a flight attendant. When I was 19 years old I started a small transportation business. *Inaudible. I was always looking for something new and I knew that I probably wouldn’t be completely happy or satisfied until I had my own company, successful company.

T: Yes absolutely. Was there a time, we’re updating with these questions as, when things weren’t really working out coz we know that’s a part of the entrepreneurial journey, highs and lows, we get down on ourselves, the visions start to fade, the confidence in the visions starts to fade, how did you deal with those particular times? Did you have a strategy? Was there certain books that you read? Did you do stuff in the morning, like what did you do to keep your head in the game for lack of a better term?

J: No I can really see where you’re coming from. You know, when people look at my business and look at me, a lot of friends that I’ve had in the past, they all think “oh, he’s so lucky. Or oh, his life is so easy.” But starting a business you’re absolutely right, you got ups and downs. There are times where you think this is not going to work, fail and plummet for a period of time. I think that innovation is probably the most important thing that I’ve been strong with over the years and that I’ve always looked for new ideas or new ways to strategize, new ways to market and a lot of that doesn’t need to come from books.

Early on in my business I decided I needed to read 2 types of books, books about online business and books about pearls. Nobody taught me anything about pearls. I had become a pearl expert on my own. Finding time to read is not the easiest thing when you’re an entrepreneur so what I did is because I go to the gym nearly everyday I started going to the gym every night and spending an hour on the bicycle and I would read a business book for an hour every single night on a bicycle in the gym. And that was the one place where I could confidently say I’m gonna spend a whole hour reading a business book every single day. And I did that for a number of years.

T: Interesting. So you read a lot of books?

J: I read a lot of books. If I can point this camera on my bookshelf I probably have a lot of same books as you do but it’s a lot of books.

T: And if any of those books come to mind, coz again I like actionable take aways. Is there any particular book that you think man oh man, this is a must to read?

J: Oh wow, a must read. Well Jake O’neil’s books on usability are very good. They helped me a lot early on in designing my website. Purple Cow. One book that stand out to me that changed a lot was Web Design for ROI by Lance Loveday. Web Design for ROI is a book specifically written for what I do, how to build a website and get the best conversion out of your website. I was so impressed by this book that I called him and actually hired him and he still works for me to this day.

T: Works for you as a contractor or works for you as an employee?

J: Contractor yeah. He reads all of our idea.

T: Okay. Great segue because now coming up, I wanna spend the rest of our time really talking about what are you doing today that’s really driving traffic, driving sales, driving conversions because there’s gonna be, I hope, some couple of golden nuggets in there that people who are listening to this who have a business can say “hey, that’s a good idea. I can do that.” So top 3 things that are driving revenue for your company right now are what?

J: Well the no. 1 thing has to be social media. That’s the most important thing I would say for my business and I start every morning with social media and I am active in social media all throughout the day. No. 2 of course is PR. And no. 3 would be search engine marketing including SEO and PPC.

T: Okay let’s dive into those, let’s dive into social media coz it’s big. Social media, what do you do? Are you tweeting? Are you hanging around facebook? Like what’s on your playbook everyday and is that the first thing you do each day?

J: First thing I do everyday.

T: And how long do you spend doing it?

J: Well I use it when I wake up around 6:00 in the morning and my wife doesn’t usually wake up though until 7. So for the first hour of the day I’m on social media. And yeah social media is a vague word, sort of a buzz word. Everybody thinks they need to be involved in social media, having a facebook page, having a twitter account, etc. My social media is very specific to what we do and in 2003 and 2004 I built another website called pearl-guide.com where I wrote a few hundred articles and posted them online.

And about a year or so later I entered a forum and at that time I didn’t even know what social media was but what I was doing was I was creating a social media platform. That forum is what I’m primarily involved in now. It had nearly a 100,000 pages in content and thousands and thousands of members. And why it’s so important is because the hundreds and thousands of pages of content, any one searching for anything pearl related online, if they’re doing the research specially they’re gonna come across pearl-guide.com and the articles that I’ve written or even just posts I’ve written on pearl guide they live forever. There are posts that I’ve written on pearl guide say 5 or 6 years ago that may have 10,000 views on them now.

And so I spend 15 minutes writing something that reach 10,000 people over the course of 5 years. Now today I’ve got thousands of posts that I’ve written and posted on pearl guide and that drive easily 25-30% of our business and it cost absolutely nothing. The only thing it cost is time, time and dedication. And of course we have a facebook page. We’ve got around 11,000 fans on facebook and we do post a lot on facebook. I have a twitter account, I post a little bit on twitter. But being so specific to our niche which is pearl it has made us the undisputed leader online for the pearl industry.

T: And then looking at pearl guide it does not appear at first glance that it’s in any way, shape or form affiliated with pearl paradise.

J: You’re right.

T: So then how’s it driving traffic? Are people finding out hey, you’re the guy writing a lot of these posts and then they click on your profile like any other forum when they say who’s this guy or gal they click on the forum and they go oh, he’s from pearl paradise, maybe I should go check out pearl paradise. Is that more or less what’s happening?

J: More or less. I think with social media there’s a mistake a lot of companies make with social media. I’m sure you’ve seen it before as well. Just think companies that have twitter accounts for example that all they do is post about stuff. They don’t post about other people. They’re not there to help people. Social media is not a talking to people sort of system, give them interaction and by meeting the CEO of a large online pearl company in the world being on pearl guide everyday and interacting not only with the members, the thousands of members that are the normal members, but interacting with people that just come on and ask very simple pearl questions. Just being there to help people has created a fan base for me and my company on pearl guide.

So not only do I go on there and talk about pearls but all the other members talk about pearls as well. They make sure photos of the pearl they got from my company, maybe even other company, but there are no other companies that are involved in pearl guide that are as highly recommended as our company. And that’s specifically because of the amount of time that I spend personally on pearl guide.

T: Interesting. So to draw a parallel for either myself or someone who’s listening, you’re saying that whatever niche that you are in you think that it is a very valuable way to spend your time to find the most popular discussion forum that’s most closely related to that niche and spend say an hour a day everyday becoming a very active participant. Even if you don’t know the discussion forum just participating in that discussion forum.

J: But there’s more to it than just participating and I think this is what the real key is. It’s not just participating, it’s being selfless in the discussions. It’s actually helping people. The people that are successful there are other companies on pearl guide, some of it buy pearls from us, some of them don’t but they participate in pearl guide. The ones that are successful on there never actually sell. It leaves sort of a bad taste to people’s mouth when people come on to these forums and they start trying to sell themselves, tell other people how great they are. When the best thing to do is just get on there and help people and if you’re seen as not only helpful but very knowledgeable people are gonna do business with you.

The analogy that I give for people that you know I’m a pearl guide and start selling themselves or go into twitter and just do nothing but link to their own websites or link to their own products. It’s almost like standing on the top of your office building with advertisement trying to make a paper airplane and start throwing them out to the street. Maybe somebody’s gonna pick it up and read them but more, gosh you’re just wasting your time and you’re just wasting money. It just doesn’t work. It’s about interaction and it’s just helping and it’s about making yourself out to be an expert without trying to sell your actual product.

T: They like showing up to a cocktail party with a fistful of business cards and go “hi, how are you? Buy my stuff” “hi, how are you? Buy my stuff”. I mean no one’s gonna want to talk to you.

J: Exactly. When they show up to the cocktail parties and you tell people what you do and they ask you some questions about maybe their business and you give them advice, well certainly they have a completely different picture of you and they’ll want to do business with you. They will take your business card. They may stay in contact with you. It’s the exact same thing in social media.

T: Yeah and that’s per my experience.

J: It’s a hard context for people to grasp because you get marketing department involved. They only know sell, sell, sell.

T: Yeah.

J: And that does not work for social media whatsoever.

T: Okay. Now well on say facebook, have you ever, let’s say someone says well you know I have a facebook page but I don’t have many fans or likes, I don’t get a lot of traffic, so what they could do is they could go to find other popular facebook pages within their niche and do what we’ve just been talking about on those facebook pages to add value to those people’s community which will then in turn draw traffic back to your own. Is that something that you’ve ever tried? I mean I think it’s common sense it will work I’m just curious as to whether you ever devoted any time to it.

J: Oh absolutely. On even my competitor’s facebook pages or just pearl fans facebook pages I’m personally on there all the time. And I will like people’s post. I will like pearl pictures that they put up. Yap it’s very similar to what I do on pearl guide. I spend a lot more time on pearl guide but our facebook fan page is if you look at the site that people like you’ll see about a half a dozen other competitors that we’ve actually included on our facebook page.

T: I was writing in that one, run that by me again. You’ve got on your facebook page…

J: Yeah I’m gonna pull over our facebook page right now and…

T: Facebook/pearlparadise okay. So I wanna make sure I’m on the right one. Yeah I am. It’s breast cancer awareness month at pearlparadise.com. Good. Still 11,000. Okay so you mentioned you somehow promote or display or added your competitors on here? How do they fare on that?

J: If you look at the things that we like.

T: Yeah pearl perfections, sea hunt’s pearls, anthony dryer. You liked your competitors.

J: Yeah.

T: Okay.

J: And what you notice what we do is in turn they’ll like you back and it’s almost like a cross promotion between the companies.

T: Yeah. I’m just pulling up my own page now to see whether or not my likes are displayed in the same way. Likes, there we go. Yeah I’ve got some of my competitors on there as well. But sadly my golden nugget here we go folks. I always try and get a golden nugget as I need to be doing a way better job with spending some time on some discussion forums and other people’s facebook pages. So you’ve motivated me.

J: It takes the dedication of time. I would say probably the most difficult part about it is that social media is not something that happens overnight. It’s not something you can throw an hour at it every month. It’s something that I’ve been doing daily for years and years. And so it’s a habit of mine. But I also know that without the work that I’ve done with social media my business wouldn’t be as successful as it is today. And it’s really cost nothing. So it’s what you actually dedicate their time in doing this. It really comes down to how bad you want it. And it’s just like getting big abs. If you wanna get in shape you gotta dedicate yourself in going to the gym. You gotta work hard. You gotta eat right. If you want to be successful in social media you have to dedicate your time to it.

T: Yeah it’s not difficult, it just takes discipline. And I know I have been absolutely guilty of like getting on the band wagon for a while but then more pressing immediate stuff, oh you know I’ve got a product launch coming, I’ve got this, I’ve got that so I can’t divert it. And shame on me for today. Okay so that is a really awesome strategy for people who have some time and a high level of motivation. No. 2 is PR. This PR is this time consuming for you or is it more of you writing checks and other people doing stuff?

J: It’s about both. I bought down into the *inaudible and those come in 3x a day. I respond to queries more or less just about every single day. So that does take time. I spend probably about an hour a day just on that. I used to handle all of the PR myself and that is dealing with all the PR agencies that we’ve worked with in the past. But now I have a team here, a team of 2 ladies doing a fantastic job. They’re both designers and they work hand in hand with the PR agencies now. So I’m not as involved as I once was but I still deal with it on a daily basis.

T: So back at my hometown there’s a guy by the name of Brian Scudamore who runs a company 1-800-got-junk. I don’t think you and I were talking about this but I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

J: Sure I remember a deal like me.

T: Yeah maybe it was you and I that were talking about Brian but he’s kind of famous for getting a lot of PR in the beginning and probably still now. And I remember talking to him and he goes “Trent, it’s not rocket science. It’s just like sales. You just pick up. You don’t need to hire a PR agency coz you can pick up the phone and call them. Keep calling, keep calling, keep calling.” People, they associate cold calling can work with sales. You pick up, you talk to enough people somebody’s gonna buy. Reporters are basically the same thing.

J: Sure.

T: And these gals that work for you, are they reaching out to the media like that? Coz you said they’re designers so what do they do?

J: Right. No they don’t reach out to media themselves although it is definitely possible. I think a great PR strategy for entrepreneurs is helpareporter.com doing exactly what you’re saying and reaching out to journalists and writers themselves. The team that I have in the office works hand in hand with a company in Los Angeles called In House PR. They are an actual PR agency that we contact on a monthly basis. And the reason we do that is because that’s all they do. Yes you can handle PR yourself but if you get a great PR agency that has all the contacts, that has writer’s that they are friends that work for different magazines, they can lead you along a lot quicker than you can do it on your own without a doubt.

But that instead doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with something as simple as helpareporter.com. I have managed all that personally and I’ve been included in books, like I’m doing this interview right now. I’ve been on Fox 2x. I’ve been on Entertainment Tonight several times. All these things I’ve got directly from helpareporter.com.

T: Now I have an alarm set 2x a day so that I know when those, the emails arrive at 9:30am and then I think it’s 2:30. There’s one that’s when I’m still sleeping so I ignore that one.

J: Yeah.

T: And another of my guest told me that, and I don’t remember if it’s here she had this point but it’s important to respond to the hard query to the email that comes out within 15 minutes. Has that been your experience? Do you set alarms? Do you know when these things are coming in? Or do you just kinda like remember to check? Or how does it work?

J: I have the query coming to my 2 email addresses, my personal email address which sound an alarm on my cellphone and my business email address. And yes I check that immediately when they come in, scan them immediately to see if there are any responses that are perfectly suited for me. I have a few emails that I have set coz a lot of them you shall find the queries although they’re completely random a lot of them might follow a similar type format it might be asking a similar type thing. So I actually have responses to the queries that I may just have to twitch that and be able to send them out almost immediately. I can only imagine that when these queries come out especially from good ones like say USA Today or Wall Street Journal. They must get thousands of responses, literally thousands of responses and there’s no way that the writer is going to read every single one of these responses.

I think that the key is getting on there quickly no. 1 and having a good headline no. 2. You gotta have something in the headline that’s going to make them want to open the email otherwise you’re gonna be buried along with everyone else. It’s all the same as applying for a job. When we put out an ad for a position in our company there are times we’ve got thousand resumes. And you cannot go through every single one of them. You start soon as they come out, you probably gonna read the first 15 or 20 of them but after that you’re just gonna start getting one down based on what’s the title of the email.

T: So let’s talk about the headline for a minute. So I’m looking at the harrow email that came in probably while we’re doing this one hour ago so just before we started this. High tech crowd funding experts is the first one. So for me I would have or I have been replying with re: crowd funding expert. You’re not doing that I’m guessing.

J: No.

T: Alright.

J: I responded in the one this morning right before our telephone call and it was without pulling it up what was the aha moment of your business. And I’ve actually already talked about sort of the aha moment of my business, getting that appraisal but I responded to it probably within about 5 minutes after receiving the harrow query and the title of it was one big whapping aha moment for you.

T: Aha, so you used some of their words but then you sensationalized it a bit so that it would stand out from all the idiots like me who are applying with re: what is the aha moment of your business.

J: Now I can’t say whether or not it’s gonna get used but I can almost guarantee it’s gonna get read. And it would turn great when it was reported.

T: Wow excellent. So another golden nugget for me right there.

J: And the reason is just looking at in my left and right I have 3 screens in front of me so I can see my other email in the other screens.

T: Yeah I’ve got a couple of screens here as well so if I’m looking down I’m writing notes. If I’m looking over here I’m looking at my laptop.

J: And you know what this might be another actually great tidbit for entrepreneurs and that is when I got 2 screens installed in my office I felt like my productivity nearly helped. The easy thing having more than 1 screen I like it so much that I had my TV pull himself a 3rd screen. Now I’ve got 3 screens in front of me. And if you work a lot with spreadsheet for example especially if you got an online business there’s nothing better than having 3 different topics going on all at the same time on your screen.

T: Well I use a really big monitor and I think it’s big enough that it’s basically like 2 screens, I just have 2 browsers and then I have my email running over on my laptop coz I try and do not look at my email generally till around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Coz email for me it’s such a distraction. I get so many of them and it takes me away from producing the content and if I don’t produce content that would be like you not selling pearls. Content is my pearls.

J: Yeah but you must be very buried at 3:00.

T: You know I’ve done a pretty good job with filters and I have 3 different email accounts and certain people gets one and another people gets other ones. It’s far from perfect but it’s working for me at this point in time.

J: And just no support.

T: With that said it’s not like I have a 100,000 people a month coming to my website, hopefully it’ll get, but it’ll be a worse problem when that happens.

J: Get on with that social media, Trent, you’ll get there.

T: Yap absolutely. Alright so anything else, any other silver bullets or golden nuggets on PR before we move on to SEM and SEO?

J: I think we’ve pretty much covered it.

T: Okay. So we know that social media is 25-30% of your sales so that’s 5 to 6 1/2 million bucks a year just by spending an hour a day for years on social media so big payback. PR any idea what percentage of sales is coming from PR coz it’s probably kind of hard to track unless you’re like a tracking link niche ninja?

J: Well it is hard to track but I can say it has been worth millions and millions of dollars, just to be on Wall Street Journal article was worth millions for us. But yes definitely hard to track except for the time when we get what we call it a big hit for example. Like if we’re on say a television show like we were on Oprah for example you would be able to track that simply because the website crashed. But for the most part it’s sort of like all of this is over. We’re always sending things out to magazines. I’m always taking interviews whenever they come. And you really never know what’s going to happen. But sometimes you’ll get a good hit and it will almost be like a domino effect and you’ll start getting other calls from other people or you get a piece of a magazine and they even get to the cover or something like that. You never know which one is going to be a big hit so it’s again something that you just have to commit to and dedicate to. Sort of like the helpareporter.com works.

T: Okay. So let’s go to SEM and SEO coz those 2 are very different, SEM is generally pay per click traffic and SEO is generally organic traffic.

J: Right.

T: What percentage of your pearlparadise.com’s traffic is coming from paid traffic and what percentage is coming from SEO?

J: Well with SEO it’s a bit difficult to tell because of course that’s organic. Some of these are trackable, some of these isn’t. The PPC is very easy to track with analytic. And it’ll vary month to month but to give you an idea we typically spend around $20,000 a month on pay per click advertising. During the holiday month we can spend a $100 to $150,000. So each one of those clicks will cost us about a $1 to $1.50 depending on what time of the year it is. So we’ll be looking at about 20,000 visits on an average per month from PPC.

T: Okay.

J: On the SEO side which of course is again very, very valuable but a lot of work, we are etched in the search engines, we’re no. 2 for the word pearls right after wikipedia, we’re no. 1 for things like Nagoya pearls, Asia pearls, all the different genres that we sell. So a tremendous amount of traffic comes organically as well.

T: Okay. Sorry I’m was just punching it and spelling the word pearls when you were saying that. Your SEM has not over the last say year coz the search engine world google has changed a lot as they always do.

J: Oh they can’t.

T: And they have been particularly aggressive or at least so it seems in this past say or even 6 months, have you noticed much of a change? For example, a lot of people using SEO have been pretty aggressive in building manufactured links, article marketing, form marketing, press releases, link wheels, yadadi yadadi ya. Did you do any of that stuff?

J: No. The thing when updated what you were referring to that destroyed a lot of websites, a lot of my competitors fell tremendously in the ranking but a couple of them more or less disappeared. There are just links anywhere, natural linking is really important. Now there are a lot of SEO companies out there that practice into the grey areas. They probably reached to the top of the ranking. And in the past it very well been successful doing that but what they’ll do is they will like you said basically manufacture a link all over the internet whether be in comments, spam or forum, on blogs, that sort of things. We’ve never done that.

What we try to do is go after links to get it more organic fashion. Blogs for example, blogs are a big part of our SEO strategy. What we’ve done over the past few years is we research a lot of blogs online that seem like they might be a good tip for our company and then we contact the bloggers and say can we host a contest on your blog. We’d like to send you a piece of pearl jewelry. You tell your readers exactly what you think about the piece of pearl jewelry and then we’ll give one away to your readers. And we’ve done this literally on hundreds of different blogs and every one of those blogs link back to our website but they do it more of organic fashion. They’re not just putting a link in the middle of it said pearl paradise where we were say for example we were buying links from these blogs. That’s how it would appear. And so when the penguin update did happen it sort of solidified my approach to the way we do this because we weren’t damaged at all by the penguin update. In fact we were helped and we knew we were doing things at the right way.

T: Yeah no kidding. The contest on the other people’s blogs that’s a strategy I haven’t heard of before now, ding ding ding and another golden nugget. And I wanna dive more into that one a little bit.

J: Sure.

T: So first of all, researching the blog how can we talk about that people can figure out how to find a blog and see just google around that’s not very difficult to find blogs in your niche.

J: I would say there is a bit of side to that. And the reason that you will want to have like your google toolbar installed. You wanna make sure that the blog you’re reaching out to is a blog that basically google likes. You know they may have a high page ranking. You’ll wanna reach out the blog that make it inadvertently reach out to one niche is blacklisted on google and if that’s right about your product. So we specifically look for blogs with good page ranking and blogs that have a lot of twitter followers and blogs that have a lot of facebook followers. Those are the 3 things that we look for when we choose blogs to reach out to.

T: Do you look at the alexa rank at all?

J: Not the alexa rank.

T: Nope? Okay.

J: Alexa ranking is usually pretty low for blogs just as compete.com rank is pretty low for blogs.

T: Yeah.

J: For most part, for mommy blogs or mommy bloggers are the primary bloggers that we reach out for as much as possible.

T: So mommy blogs. So lots of social proof and the approval of uncle google and you’re good to go.

J: Right.

T: Okay. So then you make contact with the mommy behind the mommy blog. Generally I’m assuming you just email them.

J: Yeah absolutely.

T: What do you say?

J: Well when I first started this program I personally let it up because I didn’t know who was going to be worth it or not. I didn’t know how many people would respond to me. And I just reached out to them and sent them an email and said “hey, my name is Jeremy Shepherd. I own pearlparadise.com. I read over your blog. I think your blog would be a great place for us to give away pearls to your readers. Can I send you this strand of pearls for free and you write about them. Tell your readers what you think and offer to give away a strand of pearls on your website.” Nobody said no. It’s simple.

And we’ve been sending a strand of pearls that may cost us anywhere from for a pair of earrings for example that might only cost us $20-25. And the way the contest usually work is and if they don’t understand how to run this sort of contest we can explain this to them, their followers can leave a comment for one entry, they’ll go to our website, they’ll look over our website saying what is their favorite thing on our website and leave that in the comment section on the blog. That’s an entry. They can tweet about the contest on their twitter account. That’s another entry. They can post a message on facebook about the contest. That’s another entry. And they can post about it, repost about it on their blog. That’s another entry.

So we had contests before for a simple pair of earrings that may generate thousands and thousands of entries and thousands of tweets, hundreds of facebook posts, hundreds and hundreds of comments in the comment section of the blog just for basically a few dollars.

T: How are you managing the contest because you gotta track all these entries?

J: We don’t manage the contest. The blog owner manages the contest. The blog owner just tells us who won the contest.

T: Okay.

J: And there are different apps and things like that on blog that they can use to do that and they do.

T: Yeah there are as a matter of fact. And I interviewed a guy by the name of Travis Ketchum a while ago and I think we actually did a master class, we have one on the works, and he’s got a wordpress plugin called contest domination, plug for you Travis, that works phenomenally well. And he actually has a case study on how a make up company used his plugin and they wanted to get 5,000 new email addresses they end up getting almost 7,500 new email addresses as a result of the contest. I’m gonna be using his plugin coz I haven’t even officially launched Bright Ideas yet and somehow I wanna pick your brand a little bit on that one when we’re done.

J: But you said contest domination is the name of it?

T: Yes.

J: Okay I’ll just write it down and I’ll check it out after this call.

T: Yeah. And listeners I mean it’s like $37 to buy the plugin. It’s not expensive. Now what he’s also doing, I don’t know well I don’t know if I should say it or not coz it’s not launched yet, he’s got another bigger, better, badder version of that coming out. So that’s all I’ll say at this point in time coz I don’t wanna breach any trust of stuff that he’s told me in the confidence of a private conversation. But he was very successful with this plugin and it still sells a lot of plugins everyday.

J: Well definitely I’ll check it out.

T: Contester obviously. So what if someone doesn’t have a physical product like let’s look at we’ll just use an information marketer like me. I’ve got nothing to ship anybody but I’ve got really great content. How could I run contests or how can I get other bloggers to run contests and how can I incent them in the way that you’ve kind of done without having pearls to send?

J: Well I may take some strategizing. But I think there’s quite a few things you could do. You could offer to write for blogs first of all. Create information which is what blogs are. But not only could you write for blogs but you would definitely wanna target blogs that are specific to what you do. But like entrepreneurs for example, you could offer contests an hour of your time for business coaching for someone that wants to start their own business. We all have a product whether it be a physical product, whether it be information, either way business product.

T: Yeah absolutely.

J: So figure out a way to strategize and sell or give away again coz it is social media give away your product.

T: I give away memberships.

J: Yeah.

T: And they’re even less expensive for me than pearls are for you. Yet another gold, I think you might be taking the world record or the Bright Ideas record on golden nuggets here so far Jeremy so kudos to you.

J: Glad to help.

T: I really hope that people who started at the beginning of this interview listen to the whole thing and when I do send the email out to everyone I’m really gonna drill home. And you guys gonna hang around by the end of the interview coz there’s some good stuff, some really good stuff.

J: Well thank you Trent.

T: Alright so why don’t I wanna finish off with you. There are so many other questions that I didn’t get to ask you yet. So we haven’t talked about fulfillment, we haven’t talked about team building, we talked a fair amount about marketing. You tell me where is your next, I’m on another golden nugget out of you before we finish so shall we talk about coz fulfillment, I mean 20 million pearls, you got stuff moving all over the place. But team building I don’t know which one do we wanna go on?

J: Wow, you know fulfillment is basically the core of our business and we’ve done promotions, we did a promotion for example Dec. 7, 2010 and sold 33,000 units in one day. How do you fulfill this?

T: Let’s go down that road.

J: It’s almost the topic for a whole another interview.

T: Deal.

J: I’m sorry.

T: Deal. Let’s do another interview on fulfillment.

J: And actually how to do that promotion would almost be another topic for an interview as well. We did $240 million in sales in one day for that promotion.

Teambuilding I think is also very important and we do that equally. And just a couple of pieces, we meet every morning for 5 minutes in the morning where each one of us states what we are going to accomplish that particular day. And we hold each other accountable to it every single day. We meet once a week for an hour and we recognize each individual accomplishment for the week prior. And we meet once a quarter to strategize when each individual team member is going to get done for that quarter and take responsibility for that particular quarter.

And then we have a sort of master dashboard that we got from a company called results.com and we track of all these goals and anytime somebody falls behind in their goal or doesn’t keep up with the timeline the dashboard changes colors to that particular goal and so the rest of the team see where somebody else might be needing some help and comes and help those other people.

Other than that we do company trips. We’ve gone on cruises, we’ve gone on to Las Vegas just to build a team that builds camaraderie between the employees. And I think that as any successful entrepreneur with a company will tell you, building a company on your own is really really difficult but if you can motivate and build a team around you that is not only loyal but dedicated to their job and enjoys what they do, you’re going to be a lot more successful.

T: Yeah absolutely. Richard Branson who I’m a big fan of, that’s his big thing. I mean if you’re gonna be a successful entrepreneur and you can’t get people happily, cheerfully all rowing in the same direction, good luck to you.

J: Absolutely.

T: Alright so on that note we’ll finish off this interview coz it’s already been a long one. I wanna thank you very much. It’s been fantastic. I’ve got pages full of notes here of all the things that I think I need to be taking away from this interview. Social media, being chief among them I think. And I’m sure the listeners here, by the way if someone wants to get a hold of you easiest way to do that is what?

J: Email jeremy@pearlparadise.com. It’s pretty simple.

T: Yeah like no one could ever guess that one. Alright and Jeremy I would love to have you back on the show to talk about that 2 and a quarter million dollar promotion. And I think there’s a number of master classes that you could teach so you know I’m gonna be up for that in the email after this episode.

J: It would be my pleasure.

T: Alright thanks very much. And to all you listeners and watchers however you’re consuming this content thank you very much. Without you I’ve got no business to run. And if you think that this was a really awesome interview please tweet it or share it or pinterest or whatever way to try and help spread the word because there’s somebody out there whose business isn’t firing on all cylinders just right now and they’re waking up and they’re stressed and they’re wondering what to do and maybe it’s this interview that’s gonna inspire them with a new solution or a new strategy that they can use to help dig themselves out of that hole or just simply take their business to the next level. So please share this interview and the others with people who you think might benefit from it. Alright thanks so much. Many more interviews to come. Many more master classes to come out too soon.

Alright if you wanna check out the show notes for this episode just go over to BrightIdeas.co/8. And I also want to mention if you head over to BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic and enter your email address you are gonna get free access to my massive traffic tool kit. Now if you don’t know what that is the massive traffic tool kit is the compilation of all of the very best ideas that have been shared with me by all of the experts or many of the experts who have been here on Bright Ideas. And the very best part about this tool kit is that you don’t need to be some kind of guru, SEO guru or traffic guru to be able to do the things that are gonna be taught to you in the massive traffic tool kit. Regardless of your skill level you’ll have no trouble implementing these strategies but they are a very bright set of strategies. And by the way you get that at BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic.

So this brings us to the end of this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Well if you could do me a small favor if you really enjoyed this episode please go over to itunes and give it a 5 star rating and even better just leave a little comment. The more of the listeners that give the show a rating the higher it goes in the itunes store and then of course the more people that see it and the more people that we can touch and help with all of the free information that’s shared here by the expert guests on the Bright Ideas podcast. Alright so thank you very much for watching or listening, however you consumed this. If you have a comment or thoughts that you wanna share please make sure that you do so in the comment form at the bottom of this page. We’ll see you in the next episode. Take care and have a wonderful day.

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

Generate Millions in Online Revenue Using Social Media & PR

How To Maximize Your Investment in PR

PR plays a very large role in Jeremy’s success. Image source: 123rf.com

Jeremy credits an investment in PR as his best initial traffic-generating move.  This was a catalyst that took really began to generate tremendous traffic to his website, and it’s a strategy he continues to make the most of to this day.

You’ll hear Jeremy describe what works for him with PR, and learn tips to maximizing your investment in this area, whether you’re outsourcing PR or instead investing internal time.

Listen to the show to find out Jeremy’s PR strategies. Top 3 Revenue-Generating Strategies From Someone Who Built an Online Empire

Jeremy shares that PR is his #2 strategy for bringing revenue to his site.

To learn #3 and #1, listen to the podcast.

Here’s a hint: one of them is social media.  But Jeremy doesn’t do social media in quite the same way that most companies do.  In fact, he shares his perspective of the mistake that most companies make with social media.

Find out if you’re making this mistake when you listen to the interview.

How to Build a Multimillion Dollar Online Empire

Jeremy has made it a part of his daily routine to study other business leaders. Image source: 123rf.com

Over the course of building his company up to the empire that it now is, Jeremy learned a great deal.  After all, when he first started selling pearls, he was still working as a flight attendant!  He learned much through the process of owning and running his business, but he also found a clever way to make time for outside knowledge and learn from other business experts.

You know that I think learning from others is crucial if you want to build or grow a serious business – hence Bright Ideas!  Podcasts are a great way to learn new information.  So are business books, and Jeremy shares his top recommendations in the area of web design and business .

Listen to the show to find out how Jeremy made time to learn business strategies that would radically grow his business.

The Ultimate SEO Strategy

Hear Jeremy talk about his proven natural SEO strategies.  Jeremy divulges what he does to have bloggers jump on board and happily promote his products to their readers.  He also shares what criteria he uses to choose the best blogs to approach, and a template for how to approach them.

Listen to the show to find out more about Jeremy’s killer SEO strategy.

About Jeremy

By the ripe old age of 33, Jeremy Shepherd was able to build a $20 million on-line empire known as PearlParadise.com. To this day, he does very little advertising. His unique company’s success is based primarily on word of mouth, honest respectability and helpful service that Shepherd cultivates as carefully as his beloved pearls.

He now enjoys a worldwide reputation for his uncompromising quality standards and farm-direct prices. PearlParadise.com has been featured in such high profile magazines as Newsweek, Inc., and Entrepreneur. Although his company continues to grow exponentially, Jeremy Shepherd still delights in traveling to the far flung reaches of the globe to personally handpick and inspect each and every pearl for his customers.

Most people know that a pearl starts out as a tiny bead, around which many layers must form. It acquires its beauty and luster only through the passage of time, which is why it has become a legendary symbol of wisdom. It could be considered appropriate that the pearl also happens to provide the perfect metaphor for what Jeremy Shepherd has striven to achieve throughout his life.

 

What Would You Do If Your Employees Turned On You? My Story Revealed on Mixergy.com

What would you do if your employees turned on you?

If you are a CEO, this is probably something you think about from time to time. How would you handle it? Are there things that you should be doing now to ensure it never happens?

Well, guess what? It happened to me back in 2008 when I was running my last company, and in the Mixergy interview below, I share, for the first time, exactly what happened, how I dealt with it, and how it all turned out. Hopefully, by sharing my story with you, you will be able to avoid at least some of the awful mistakes that I made in my maiden voyage as a CEO.

(Note: I also interviewed Andrew Warner of Mixergy. You can find that interview here.)

 

Digital Marketing Strategy: How To Build and Sell Premium WordPress Plugins (and make $100,000 in 90 days) with Travis Ketchum

Are you looking for a way to quickly build a list of qualified buyers for premium WordPress plugins?

Would you like to discover a method for building a software product that does not require you to be a programmer?

To discover how to build a WordPress Plug-in AND hear how my guest brought in over $100,000 in just 90 days, I interview Travis Ketchum for 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 Travis Ketchum, Founder of Contest Domination, an Entrepreneur and extremely smart marketer.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

Trent Dyrsmid: Would you like to create your own software product but you don’t know how to write any code? Today’s guest built a WordPress plug-in whose launch was so successful it did $100,000 in its first week and it continues to passively bring in $3,000-5,000 a month in revenue and he’s going to share with us exactly how he made that happen.Finally, if you don’t have a big list and you want your launch to be a success, you’re going to love hearing how my guest made that happen for him. All this and so much more.Hey, Travis, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time to do the interview with me.Travis

Ketchum: Yes, thanks for having me on. I’m happy to be here.Trent: As I mentioned to you before we started to record, you and I have a mutual friend, a guy by the name of Chris Guthrie. [sp] Chris was kind enough to make an introduction to you. This all kind of came about after I heard an interview you did on another site where you had some pretty spectacular success by launching a software product. It was a plug-in as a WSO. Real quick, how much revenue did you do with that?Travis: Yes, with Contest Domination as a WSO, we did a little over $100,000 in sales over just a couple months so that was pretty exciting.Trent: A hundred grand, that’s pretty awesome. This was like, what, your 10th or 12th WSO?

Travis: It was my first WSO.

Trent: Confession: I knew it was his first but damn, dude, that is awesome. That is absolutely spectacular. Did you have any idea when you went into this that that amount of revenue was going to be possible for your first WSO?

Travis: No. I mean, I didn’t know anything about WSO. I had seen people do them and people like Chris had told me, “You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to launch a WSO. There’s good money there,” I looked at them and usually the sales pages look kind of clunky because it’s in a forum. I was like, “How much money are these guys really doing on these things?”

They just don’t look like they would perform that well because they fly in the face of everything you expect from a high-converting sales page. We sold like 2,000 in the first 24 hours, 2,000 copies of the software so that blew me away.

Trent: That’s 2,000 new customers into your sales funnel, which there’s all sorts of fantastic things about that and we’ll get into that a little bit later. Before we get into that, I know there’ll be people listening to this show who have never made a dime online and there’ll be people listening to this show who have an existing business but they are struggling with, “Well, how do I get more leads for my business?”

The reason I thought this would be such a great interview is one of the things that people who aren’t familiar with WSO’s might not understand is they’re not only good for making money when you sell stuff but they’re also really, really good for generating leads so we’re going to get into all that.

You had a strategy of not trying to make money on the launch and just getting leads, I mean, giving 100% of whatever was paid on the WSO to the affiliates just for a lead grab.

Travis: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Trent: We’re going to get into all of those details here in just a few minutes but I don’t know you very well, well, I don’t know you at all. This is our, really, first live conversation. We’ve traded a few e-mails. I know my audience probably doesn’t know you so tell us a little bit about your background. You probably went to school and had this vision of corporate life or what have you. I don’t know. How did you get started?

Travis: I don’t know if I had a vision of corporate life per se. I was definitely an entrepreneur kid. I was the one going around, everyone else wanted to go hang out at the beach and I wanted to do that too, but I was more motivated to mow 10 yards and wash 50 cars and grind out an extra buck, even though I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to buy with it. I just knew that if I hustled I had money, if I had money I had options and that started really young.

I did go to school for marketing at Washington State University. I started my first business, actually, when I was in high school, my senior year, after I turned 18, which did pretty well. It went like gangbusters for a few months and all it really ended up being was a arbitrage play in eBay where I was drop shipping hundreds of laptops a day at narrow margins but it scaled well.

Trent: Really?

Travis: Yes. That worked pretty well for awhile until two things happened. One, more people caught on to the opening of the market and so margins were getting pinched. And then, two, this was in 2006, and eBay had a rush about midway through the summer of fake bidders. They were going to “but it now”. It was ending the purchase cycle but it was a fake bid and they were like, “Oh, I’m sending the money through Western Union,” which is obviously not OK.

It went from insanely profitable to kind of profitable to actually costing money just because of the time and effort of going through arbitration with eBay about, “Hey, this wasn’t a real bidder,” and just screwed it all up. I was 18 and I was like, “Hey, I just made way too much money for being an 18 year-old,” I had to pull the plug on it.

Went to school knowing that I wanted to start something else but I wasn’t quite sure what yet. Someone turned me on to Shoe Money. I was like, “Man, there’s got to be some more options here,” I dabbled with a few other ideas that didn’t go anywhere. They were crap.

Trent: Give us an example because we all come up with crap ideas in the beginning.

Travis: One of the ones that I was most jazzed about, I was like a freshman in college, is I wanted to call it DropBox and I actually owned a typo on the domain DropBox because DropBox hadn’t really been launched yet. That wasn’t like a common brand like it is now. The idea of it wasn’t software for synching.

The idea was I saw all the Greek systems creating t-shirts and I thought it would be cool if you had an online configurator for t-shirts where, if it was a frat or a sorority, they would fill out a profile ahead of time and advertisers could subsidize the cost of the t-shirt printing.

Like if you’re doing an event shirt like for a rafting weekend, maybe Coca-Cola say, “Hey, our male consumption 18-24 isn’t as high as we would like,” and they could subsidize the cost of printing fraternity t-shirts or group events. So if normally your shirt would be $12.00 a shirt based on your volume, maybe Coke wants to pay a couple bucks to buy a sleeve or buy the backside, obviously, a lot of moving parts there and sponsorship problems. Yes, that’s an idea that I spent time on that just went absolutely nowhere.

Trent: How much revenue, like goose egg?

Travis: I never even actually fully launched it. I got to the stages of qualifying what it should be and all of my advisors at school were like, “This is a terrible idea. You should just not ever do this.”

Trent: OK. Like everybody else in the beginning, you didn’t light the world on fire. How did you get to the point where you thought, “I’ve never built software before but I’m going to make software.” Or maybe you had built software before. I’m actually some things which I shouldn’t do. How did this Contest Domination idea get up in your head?

Travis: A series of events happened that kind of put me into the affiliate world and as I got more comfortable and familiar with it in my own kind of affiliate mini campaigns, nothing crazy, I ended up being a JV manager for a couple different people because I could always talk to people and make a biz-dev type deal. So because of that, I’ve kind of had this intense focus on performance-based software and marketing.

I was watching all of these people that were willing to share things like Groupon and everything else where they were incentivized to share and the amazing power that had for leads. Then I looked at the readily available kind of prepackaged contest market and most of the stuff there I didn’t feel like was hitting the nail on the head because it either did one of two things.

It either only rewarded the user for the act of sharing and not the performance that came from it, so that doesn’t reward your influencers that can maybe tweet once and give you an extra 100 leads. That only rewards people that are on every social profile but might not actually have a following. Or they were overly complicated, where it’s like to get points you’d have to go create a YouTube video with a backlink or you’d have to do all this crazy stuff which, again, only rewarded someone who had the time to do that.

I wanted something that was simple, that was e-mail-based as far as collecting entries and if an influencer came through, like if Michael Arrington decided to enter a contest and tweets it out and it takes him less than a minute, that’s obviously infinitely more valuable than even 300 maybe qualified people taking the time to create a YouTube video for you with no following.

I thought that if I could focus in on something that was performance-based yet simple, that there might be something better. Then I started the journey of finding a developer and a designer and trying to put the pieces together.

Trent: We’re going to get into that. I want to hang around here this idea, the genesis of the idea for a minute. At this point in time, you’ve never built any software. You don’t write code, I’m assuming.

Travis: I don’t write code. The closest I ever really came to writing code, and I said this in the Mixergy interview too, is being like a stubborn, defiant nerd in high school. Instead of learning, back of my hand, most of the formulas you were supposed to memorize, even though I was good at memorization, instead of spending the few minutes to just memorize the formula, I figured out how to write the applications on my TI-83+.

It would just ask for the variables and then spit out in long form the solution so it was perfect every time. The thing that used to make me angry is I would mess up little, basic math stuff sometimes, like in the sequencing and it would screw up my end result. I’d get dinged the whole way through it. I got really upset about that, so I would write and bug test these apps that would ask for the variables and spit out the perfect answer every time. Then I would go through and just make small, little errors at the end so that I didn’t get 100% because they didn’t like us to do that.

Trent: Yes. I don’t even know what a TI-3 is. What is that?

Travis: It was the Texas Instruments, the high-end graphing calculators and you could actually write your own codes. It wasn’t crazy. We’re talking maybe 15, 20 lines to make it all happen but I was like going through the manual that comes with to figure out how to write an application that would graph or show me in long form how I got an answer so I could then write it on the test. I guess that’s technically cheating.

Trent: OK, You’re really not a software developer.

Travis: No.

Trent: You decided that you wanted to create some software. Tell me a little bit about just kind of the psychology that went into it because a lot of people who, and I know I’ve fallen victim to this, I thought about building software years ago and I’m like, “Well, I don’t know how to build any software,” so I never did anything with it. What was it that gave you the belief system that made you think, “Yes, I could do this”? Did you have someone in the mastermind? Did you have a mentor? How did that happen?

Travis: I knew that the way I was currently doing things, which was very much tied to opportunities of working for someone else was only scalable so far. I knew that if I wanted to scale my income and I wanted to scale the end production of my time, it would require some kind of unit, software unit of some kind. I went beyond just trading hours for dollars. Even though I was working for myself and that was great, I knew I needed some function that could accelerate that.

That’s only really possible through software to extend your total production value and you had to own it. So to own it, that means it has to be developed under your company so you have to hire a developer and a designer but to me that was a worthwhile risk because if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results you’ve always gotten, right?

Trent: Yes.

Travis: I kind of went on this little bit of a witch hunt so that was my main driving mission is like, “I don’t care what it takes. I have to figure out a way to get a quality developer, a decent designer, to help me make a product that actually solves a real problem.” Finding the real problem was actually the easy part. Then it became the execution of it.

I asked people that had done it well, I was fortunate enough to have the Chris Gutherie’s in my life that have done something like that before to kind of set the ground work of what’s even involved, to give you kind of an overview. There are still quite a few blanks to fill in but it’s such a worthwhile thing to do.

Trent: And what were you doing to put food on the table? Obviously you’re at zero revenue from your software at this point in time, so were you just running JV’s and working for other people?

Travis: Yes. I was promoting some different JV programs for some speakers and authors. I had my blog, which I had written about just kind of my experiences doing that and what successful campaigns have looked like in the JV world. Then obviously there’s a handful of affiliate type things so I wrote simple guides like “How to Set Up WordPress on Bluehost,” the affiliate Bluehost, little things like that, affiliate links and stuff like that was enough to cover my base plus a little. It gave me enough breathing room to make a bet on developing my own thing.

Trent: OK. Let’s go into the development process. The very first thing that you had to do before you ever go to hire a developer or a designer was what?

Travis: Decide what had the greatest profit potential while solving the biggest market problem that wasn’t currently being solved. Most people that are entrepreneurs have thousands and thousands of ideas. At some point through the day there’s just fire. You can’t help it. There’s like, “Oh, this would be cool,” or, “This would be cool,” and just keying down to kind of like saying, “Maybe that’s not as cool as I thought it was,” or, “Yes, this is really cool,” and you looked it up and there’s already 10 people doing it.

Just kind of qualifying down that lead list of ideas until you get to maybe 5 or 10 that sound like they have some promise and then going through your due diligence process of, “How big is the market, really? How much do people make that are in my marketplace? Can they afford to buy what I want to build them but not quite afford to build it themselves from scratch?” Figuring out the different market information like that and then deciding, “OK, this is something I want to build. I think it’ll be successful. The price points seem to be bearable by the marketplace. Now how do I build it and bring it to them? How do I get it in front of that audience?” is the next part of it.

Trent: How did you figure out who your market was going to be and how did you figure out if they were going to be able to afford it or not?

Travis: It’s relatively open data, especially for WSO-type launches. People were loving to buy WordPress plugins. WordPress is obviously a popular platform and I saw a use for it not only in the Internet marketing space but for – I’m going to say this loosely – real businesses and regular businesses have a use for contests as well so I thought, “OK. I can focus on the Internet marketing space to launch this but there’s growth ability above and beyond that.”

WordPress seemed like a natural first step because it was relatively cost effective to produce. People could understand it. It was simple to use and that gave me data on what people are willing to pay for a list-building WordPress plank.

Trent: How did you find out what they were willing to pay? Was it because you were looking at what else was selling and looking at the price points?

Travis: Yes.

Trent: OK. All right.

Travis: So that gave me a ballpark of where it could sell and then I also looked at ClickBank, which is the main marketplace I launched in to start with and I saw that most things there were selling for $97.00, $147.00. There’s another contest software out there for $147.00. I thought, if I wanted to expand on an Internet marketing space and I want to get the Mom&Pop shops in this, I don’t think they’re willing to spend $150.00 to then pony up their own prize and so on and so forth, so I priced it low. Even on the ClickBank side of things I priced it at $37.00.

I knew that if they were interested and they sought out a contest solution, that if $100.00 is what they’re willing to bear and I can make it better and make it $37.00 and the math on my Excel sheets still says I can turn a profit, we might have a winner.

Trent: Yes. OK.

Travis: That was the train of thought anyway.

Trent: OK. So you’ve researched it. You’ve conceptualized. You still had to figure out, because you can’t just go to a developer and say, “Hey, I have this idea in my head. Make it,” so there’s still some stuff that happened before you could actually engage a developer. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Travis: Sure. I think pretty visually so when I think about an idea, it kind of starts forming in my head, loosely, kind of like a foggy picture but it’s there. Like I said on Mixergy, I actually took a really basic, kind of like Paint program, like the equivalent to Microsoft Paint but it’s a free one for the Mac. I did a really ugly, hideous wireframe of kind of like, “This is what a user would hit in step one. This is what a user would hit in step two,” and then just try to conceptualize it in words what I was trying to achieve.

Then I gave that to a developer and said, “Hey, do you understand what I’m trying to build here? Can you bring it back to me in developer-speak – ‘if this then that’ – kind of talk and make sure we’re on the same page? If we are, how much will it cost me for you to develop this?”

Trent: OK. You had something that was enough information that whoever you were going to hire was basically going to be able to grasp the idea.

Travis: At least get the gist of what I was trying to do and maybe fill in a few of the blanks.

Trent: Your first developer, it didn’t work out so well, did it?

Travis: No because I went cheap and it bit me in the butt.

Trent: It’s a valuable lesson so if you don’t mind sharing it, I’d love it if you would explain what you did wrong maybe.

Travis: Sure. At first, since I was on my own, I was totally self-financing it. It was kind of a solo gig. I was like, “OK. I know I need to spend money but I don’t know how much. Less is better if I can get away with it,” and that is the wrong kind of thought, I now know.

I wanted to start by just asking my network because I do have a decent amount of one or two tier away connections so I thought, “Hey, I’ll just throw it out there I’m looking for a WordPress developer. If anyone has a good recommendation, make an intro please,” and I put it on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

I know a guy who is a Google app engine developer who has a pretty big following on Google+ and he’s like, “Hey, I’ll repost it and I’ll see if I can’t get someone for you.” I got a referral through him who I later found out they didn’t even really know each other, that he just happened to be, bumped into each other on Google+, which is kind of a weird community to start with. I got this referral and he gave me a cheap price and Chris referred me to someone and he gave me a much higher price. I’m like, “These are pretty dramatically different.”

Trent: What were the prices?

Travis: The cheap price was $750.00 and the expensive price was like $4,000.

Trent: OK. That’s a big spread.

Travis: Yes. There was one other person that was kind of in between but they even, just flaked out. I was like, “OK. Well, so it’s really just these two options without having to scavenge the Internet to find a development agency.” A lot of time agencies are people that have a big reputation for developing marketing-related products will be like, “Oh, $20,000,” something crazy, so I went with the $750.00 guy and that was one of the worst experiences of my life.

Not only did he infinitely delay it to start with but then the code he gave me was total, utterly useless crap. The way I tried to explain it when I passed both developers ultimately, booked both offers to make it, as I said, “I realize that I’m a little more technical than most people but I need to you build this as though a 15 year-old, female, fashion blogger in Florida or wherever is trying to set up a contest on her blog, she needs to be able to use it. That’s how simple it needs to be. Just upload, unzip. Like we all know, install, activate, fill in the blanks and you’re good to go.” That’s what it should have been.

The first developer’s idea of that type of usability was like going into your C-panel, installing PHP Scripts, even stuff that I’m like, “What? How do I do…?” and I’m not an idiot. I work with hosting quite frequently even I was like, “Are you kidding me? I can’t use this. This is totally unusable.” There was a big debate as far as him delivering or not. It was just a mess.

I went to the new developer and was like, “Hey, I know you’re more expensive. I know I should have come to you in the first place. Can you use this code? I paid for it,” and he looked at it and he was like, “It’s garbage, dude. I can’t use any of it.” I ended up paying the $4,000 plus the $750.00, which, shame on me. I deserve to pay a little extra.

The first guy took months to try to get it to me and the more expensive guy, because he was sitting on a big code base of his own from prior projects, it took him days from the time that he said, “I’m starting on it,” to, “Hey, here’s the first beta,” and it was pretty close to done.

Trent: In a couple of days.

Travis: Couple of days. It’s crazy.

Trent: That’s pretty awesome.

Travis: He was that good and he was sitting on that much code. He was good, he had been hired so frequently that a lot of these functions were similar to other projects and his contracts always say he can reuse his own code. He wrote it by hand at one point but he just compiled it and then did some unique things for this plug-in.

Trent: For people who are listening to this who have never built software before, I’d like it if you’d expand on that a little bit because they might not understand this whole process of having objects that are premade and already available and building software, kind of like, Legos. D you want to talk a little more about that?

Travis: Sure. Probably the best analogy I could use, is imagine if you need to do some kind of remodeling project in your house. If you want to do it yourself, you probably don’t have all the tools so you’ve got to drive to the store and get a special kind of hammer and a special kind of nails and, oh, you forgot this other tool.

You’ve got to go back to the store and get a saw blade, whatever. If you hire a carpenter to come in and do it, he shows up, his truck is full of everything he needs and even though it’s a new project, he can knock it out in record time because he knows how to do it and he’s got everything that he’s used in prior projects to do it.

That’s probably the best analogy I can think of because you think about it, “Yes, you can do it. You can save some money but you take a lot of time and you have to get everything you need for the first time.” That’s an infinitely slower process than someone who, that’s what they do. Is that a good explanation?

Trent: Yes. I think that’s an excellent explanation and I think folks who are listening who have never built software before will get that.

Travis: Hopefully they’ve never had to remodel their own wall.

Trent: Yes, that as well. One of my questions, and you’ve already answered it for me, was, what’s the number one mistake that most people make when they’re going to build software? I think I know what the answer is. I think you’ve given the answer but just in case I’m offbase, what do you think the number one mistake is that people make?

Travis: They trip over pennies to try to get dollars. Obviously, in the long run, that $750.00, we make that back in a matter of days now. The $4,000 is roughly a month of income on that plugin now even many months after the launch.

Trent: You mean it’s still doing $4,000 a month for you now?

Travis: It varies. It goes anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 of profit a month after paying an affiliate without any active promotion, just hanging out.

Trent: Wow. That is because of the ClickBank product that you created?

Travis: Yes.

Trent: We’ll get to all that in a minute. Before we get to there, I want to talk about the WSO – and if anyone’s listening to this, they don’t know what a WSO is, well, I’ll let you explain it. What’s a WSO?

Travis: I didn’t really know what it was either until I decided that this is something I wanted to launch. A WSO is just a warrior special offer, which is the marketplace, essentially, warrior forums, which is a forum dedicated to Internet marketers.

Trent: Most discussion forums you’re not allowed to say, “Hey, buy my stuff,” but in the warrior forum they have this section called “Warrior Special Offer”. I think it’s still $40.00, isn’t it, to run a thread?

Travis: It’s like $50.00.

Trent: Is it $50.00 now? Yes. Boy, the guys are making money running that thing. Anyway, so you pay your $50.00 and you can put up your thread and you can say, “Buy my stuff.” There is a little bit more that goes into it than that. Now you’ve got your product done and you need to sell lots of it, and you did, 2,000 units I think you said, in the first 24 hours.

Travis: First 24 hours of the WSO but the WSO wasn’t the first thing I did.

Trent: OK. Let’s back up. What was the first thing you did?

Travis: The first thing I did is, because I wasn’t even convinced that I wanted to do a WSO yet, I had gone through all of the approval process and everything to get it onto ClickBank. Then I just opened it up to my very small, existing audience and it did a couple thousand dollars in profit in the first month.

It was on ClickBank exclusively for about a month before I did a WSO. I didn’t make all of my money back but I made about half of it back with very little promotion. I was like, “OK. If I can do that once I get some real JV’s onboard with this and do a real launch, then we might actually have something.”

Trent: When you did that very first launch just to your own list, how many people were on your list back then?

Travis: It was kind of embarrassing. I only put it on my blog list, which was like 400 or 500 people. It was like nothing.

Trent: OK. What’d your sales page look like? Was it just a video demonstration of the software and a “buy now” button or what was it like?

Travis: Actually it looks just like it does now because I hired one of my friends to help me crank it out and he did a nice job.

Trent: What’s the URL?

Travis: ContestDomination.com. It has a product image. It goes through the features. Now that I’ve had it in, since then, some social proof now that I have more people using it and I can take snapshots of the actual performance. It’s pretty basic and straightforward, no video, just text and a couple of images.

Trent: Very simple. That’s a thesis theme, it looks like.

Travis: It’s actually not. It’s a custom woofing.

Trent: It is. OK.

Travis: Yes. They did a lot of custom stuff to it though.

Trent: OK. Very cool. You test market it on your own. It did well. Then you thought, “All right. Clearly I have something here that the market likes, that they think is worthwhile. There’s people buying it.” By the way, did you track your conversion rate on this sales page when you ran it to your own list?

Travis: Yes. I’m a numbers guy. With that small of a sample size, it’s pretty inconclusive. At the end of the day, that sales page converts around 4-6%.

Trent: Wow. That’s pretty good.

Travis: With my own list, it’s not even a fair comparison, to be honest, because those people knew me really well. It was a small group. They’d been following me for a couple years and I had kind of teased them that it was coming up so I don’t even want to say the number because it’s totally outlier. It’s irrelevant. I understand why you’re asking but it’s not a number that people should get excited about because it doesn’t indicate the real market success.

Trent: No, but now we’re all curious.

Travis: It did like 30% from my list.

Trent: That’s pretty awesome. That obviously speaks to the relationship that you had with your list. I think that that’s something that’s important for people to understand and that’s why it’s so important to blog or put yourself out there and build a list because this is one of the things that can happen.

Now you thought, “All right. This is a great product. People love it.” You’d sold some copies. You got some feedback from your customers. Was there any revisions to the software that you made between your first release and when you did the WSO?

Travis: No but there was one almost immediately after launching the WSO because once I had thousands of people using it, the squeaky wheels made a lot more noise then.

Trent: All right. We’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s talk about the WSO itself. You’d never done one before. There is a very specific process to creating a successful WSO so at the kind of high-level, in the interest of time, obviously we don’t have time to go into absolute detail, but what are the steps to a successful WSO?

Travis: You talked about credibility and I’m glad you brought that up. I had never, in fact if you look at my profile now, it still says technically 0 posts because it doesn’t count posts on a WSO thread. So I didn’t have my street cred in the Warrior forum. People didn’t know who I was. Everything I was doing was kind of below the radar or for other people. My work was out there but it just didn’t have my name on it so no one really knew who I was.

I was like, “OK. Well, obviously credibility’s huge so let’s find someone who is well-ingrained in the Warrior forum and has repeatedly been successful launching products and let’s just work out a term sheet that makes us both happy.” Essentially they end up being like the JV manager for that particular launch because they’ve got the JV connections.

People trust them on the forums so let’s kind of leverage their brand equity a little bit and their connections and just share the revenue because it’ll be significantly more successful than if I just get on there, blazing, as my own because then I’m just giving a discount to people who just didn’t buy on the first wave of my tiny list. That wasn’t the goal. The goal was new leads, new revenue, new people I’ve never been exposed to before.

I partnered with a guy named Mark Thompson. It was a great experience. He repeatedly gets WSO of the day, which is the product, for those who don’t know, it gets kind of hand-picked as the best product for sale of the day, which then gets further promoted by the forum guy himself.

Mark really helped lay out like, “Hey, we’ve got to do this for the forum. These are the price points. This is how we should tweak your existing funnel to work for a funnel for the Warrior forum and then he just leveraged his connections in a way that was awesome and drove a ton of traffic to the WSO.

Trent: So what did the deal, if you’re at liberty to disclose, and you don’t have to say, obviously, anything you don’t want to, but what did that deal look like with Mark because you didn’t know him before? Did you get referred to him?

Travis: I got a referral to him and I had kind of heard of him before, mainly because he had another list-building product and I just sent him a cold e-mail. I was originally interested in putting his list-building product as an upsell on the ClickBank sales process of Contest Domination. Then over a couple weeks, as I was looking into the WSO and realized that he actually had a big footprint there as well, we decided to, instead of integrating our ClickBank product, to just do a WSO with it because we’d get more leads and more money.

Trent: OK. Essentially there was no relationship there, contacted him. Do you think it was mostly the fact that he looked at the product and thought, “Hey, this is a really kickass product. I know I can sell a lot of this. Sure, I’ll work with this guy that I don’t know,” or was there anything else that happened in there that got him onboard.

Travis: I think he realized the product was a quality product that hadn’t been launched, like nothing like it had been launched in the Warrior forum before, which is important. But I think what ended up happening is we both got on a couple Skype calls and just talked to each other. You have to kind of do a gut check and say, “Is this a decent person? Are they going to do what they say they’re going to do? Can I trust him at least somewhat and is this potentially beneficial?” You have to take a leap of faith.

With him, I kind of get the feeling that he’s a straight shooter. His terms seemed generous that he threw out. I said, “Hey, let’s just jump on it. Let’s do it.” It took just a couple minutes talking on a call after a few e-mails exchanged for us to decide to work together because we quickly found amicable terms and we both felt comfortable with what each other did, I guess.

Trent: What did those terms look like?

Travis: I ended up sharing a percentage of profits that was a large percentage but less than half because I had had the cash outlay myself.

Trent: Yes. You have gross revenue, then you have affiliates getting paid, after that is profit and he got a meaningful percentage of that.

Travis: Correct, Yes.

Trent: OK. And that worked out for you, obviously.

Travis: Yes. He, at the end of the day, probably made more on the product than I did because he had a bigger list to promote it to as well, which counts under the affiliate payment but that’s fine. It’s deserved. It’s his asset and he brought a lot to the table. I feel like it was money very, very well spent.

Trent: I think that that’s something that some people maybe get hung up on. I remember maybe two, three weeks ago, I found these guys that had this software and I thought it might be applicable for one of the niches that I was in. So I called them up and we had this conversation and they didn’t know anything about marketing so I had proposed some ideas and I said, “What do you want to share?” and they said, “Well, 25%.” End of conversation.

I thought to myself, “Man, you guys just don’t get it. Having someone like Mark,” – and I’m dwelling on this because I hope there’s some people listening to this interview who are thinking, “I built it. I should get the bulk of the revenue.” If that’s your thinking, you’re going about it the wrong way. I know why I think that is but, again, I’m interviewing you so I want you to share with the audience why you think being really generous is worth it in the long haul.

Travis: Well, especially if it’s your first product, it’s even more important, I think. You have to look at it this way: it’s guaranteed profitable user acquisition, guaranteed profitable user acquisition. For anyone who’s serious about Internet marketing, they know that the real money is in the list. I’ve made a multiple since then off of the list. I’m not saying that to brag. It’s the legitimate asset that I walked away from with that.

It’s what I can leverage into new products. It’s what I can leverage into a new version of the first product. That’s my list. That’s my communication with my users. That’s my asset. There’s no way, starting out, that I could have added 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 people to my list in a matter of days. Guaranteed profitable on the Internet plus including the promotions that happened after the fact.

So be generous. Reward people for their time because then they’ll want to work with you again too. If you come out with something else, they’ll be like, “Man, I made a killing working with this person. I definitely want to work with them again, no questions asked. I love it. I’m in. Let’s do it,” and you’ll get another wave of thousands of people.

The next thing you know, you have a big list that not only are you making money on your front end launches, but then you’re making $2,000, $4,000, $8,000, $20,000, $30,000 a month off of an e-mail list. That’s not unrealistic if you do it right over time.

Can you tell us a little bit because you talked about the list and you alluded to some of the things that you’ve maybe done since? It sounds like this launch was really a game changer for you because I’m going to guess that your average monthly revenue before this product was launched was a very different number than your average monthly revenue now after the launch, even though the launch is over, so to speak.

You kind of alluded earlier in the interview or maybe it was before we started recording and we were talking, there’s this kind of cash that keeps coming in without a whole lot of promotion. Can you tell us a little bit about why getting that list is so important and then what it is that you’re doing to make this a residual income product?

Travis: Sure. But just to give some context to it, it’s not like I was making chump change before. I was working my tail off for other people and getting compensated well for it. I don’t have to work as hard as that anymore. I put in hours but it’s not as stressful and I make about three times as much, just to give some context, of what I made before and, like I said, it wasn’t terrible money to start with.

Trent: Do you feel like sharing the number?

Travis: Not really. All I’m saying is you can have a decent job and if you can leverage that into a product and a list, you can make exponentially more money for the same amount of time and less stress, in my opinion.

Trent: OK. That should be sufficient to convince people.

Travis: It just works. Trust me. As far as what I’m doing since then to make it more of a residual income is two things. The one, I still have kind of an evergreen sales process for the plugin. It’s still doing quite well because there’s either reviews out there about it that people are sending traffic to the sales page.

On the sidebar of the contest, since it works so well as a tool, people will use it frequently, and on the sidebar is an opt out for them where it says, “Powered by Contest Domination” so we get a handful of hits everyday from people who are running contests and leave that enabled. They can just put in their ClickBank ID and get a commission for it. I’m cool with that.

Trent: Oh, so everyone who’s using the plug-in by default, unless they turn it off, they’re actually an affiliate that’s promoting you.

Travis: They have to put in their ClickBank ID so by default it’s just promoting it. They can put in their ClickBank ID or disable it. There’s not a ton of options. It’s not like it’s hidden or buried. I try to be upfront about it but it is an opt-out versus opt-in. That alone keeps a steady stream of new people coming in. These interviews are great, just kind of spreading the word about it. That organically does pretty well. The only overhead there at this point is really support because the same technical overhead I have, it’s a blip on the radar for everything else that I have to pay for anyway.

Then when you have those leads to, I try to do about two campaigns a month where I promote a paid product, someone I know that I’ve vetted, that I’ve tested the product myself. I think there’s a real use case for it. I think it’s relevant for my audience. About twice a month I’ll do a paid promotion to other plug-ins where they pay me an affiliate commission and to keep those leads warm I usually try to send out free actual content, just kind of keeping them nurtured and warm with content.

Twice a month is a paid campaign where they pay 50% or more of an affiliate commission on what’s being paid out. That alone is just easy money. It’s not abusing my users because, like I said, I always vet the product. I know the person is going to take care of my users. It’s actually useful and I can see a use case for it and they’re happy to get it when it’s still cheap.

Trent: Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So some people listening to this are thinking at this point probably, “Hey, Travis seems like a pretty smart guy. Is there any way I can get a hold of him?” How do people get a hold of you? Obviously they know the plug-in is at ContestDomination.com. I don’t know whether we can offer any kind of, do you have any kind of discount codes that my listeners could be able to get or anything like that?

Travis: It’s a pretty rudimentary process, so I don’t have any discount codes on hand that work automatically but if anyone shoots me an e-mail after purchasing saying they saw this interview, I can send them a version that has additional skins for free.

Trent: Cool.

Travis: How’s that sound?

Trent: Yes. That’s excellent.

Travis: Ten extra textured skins to help them change the look and feel so if they thumb through a buy a license and just forward me the receipt and say they saw this interview, I’d be happy to upgrade the product they have access to.

Trent: What’s the e-mail address they would have to use for that?

Travis: Just travis@contestdomination.com.

Trent: OK. Obviously if anyone wants to get a hold of you for anything else, that’s probably a sufficient e-mail address for them to use.

Travis: Yes.

Trent: All right. It’s been a fascinating interview. I’ve learned a whole bunch, Travis. You seem like a very, very smart guy. Congratulations to you on the success that you’re having.

For those of you who are listening to this, thank you very much for tuning in. If you have questions or comments of course, please just use the form that is below the interview.

If you’re not yet ready to be a BrightIdeas Premium member, but you would like to get the transcript or the audio file so that you can download it onto your mobile device, there’ll be a way just below this video that you can opt into the list. It’s totally free and you’ll be able to access all of that stuff.

So that’s it for now. Thanks very much, everybody. Talk to you again in an upcoming interview.

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

How To Build a WordPress Plug-in and Earn $100,000

In this episode, Travis shares with us exactly how he created his own widely successful software products without knowing how to write a lick of code. Travis will tells us about what he did to make his first software launch a massive success.

In Travis’ own words, he went from working his tail off to earning “exponentially more money for the same amount of time and less stress”.

You’ll hear Travis discuss the software development process, his marketing plan, and how he recruited a super-affiliate to help him ensure his launch was a huge hit.

Listen to Travis outline the step by step process he went through to make this happen.

What Makes Him an Expert

After a small launch to his own mailing list, Travis debuted his software as a WSO.  In his very first WSO release, he attained ‘WSO of the day’. There is an extremely high level of competition for WSOs, so this was quite an accomplishment – in addition to having a product that people want to buy, there are so many details to get right.

Travis not only got it right, but he also brought in over $100,000 in his first 90 days and added 2,000 new customers to his list.

If you don’t yet know what a WSO is, you’ll hear how you can use them to generate revenue and build your list.

Software Development Made Easy

You’ll hear Travis talk about the development process, the exact psychology that goes behind software development, and how he arrived at the decision that he needed to create a software product.

Travis shares what you need to consider to make certain your product will be a big hit.  He provides a list of questions that you’ll want to ask even before the first line of code is written.

Next, Travis imparts his process he uses to outline his idea and convey it do a developer.  It’s so simple that you may not believe how quickly his developer was able to go from concept to final product!

Listen to the show to find out more about software development for the non software developer.

What Travis Did Very Right (& Very Wrong)

Travis reveals how he gained instant credibility with customers who had never before been exposed to him or his brand.  This was a key component that enabled him to land so many new customers in such a short period of time, and was something that Travis did very right as he sold his software.

I also asked Travis for the  #1 mistake people make when they’re going to create software.  Hear Travis share a story about a huge product development mistake that bit him in the butt, but turned out to be a valuable lesson for him and us.  Once he corrected his mistake, he was able to create a product that sold like hotcakes.

This one lesson will help you manage expectations and will create a better product, much more quickly than you might expect.

If you’d like to save money, time and frustration, listen to the show now.

About Travis

I’m into marketing, but I have a sense a humor and very particular way of doing things.

I don’t settle.

Currently located in Seattle, WA and having attended Washington State University (whose Entrepreneurship program is notably & consistently in the top 10), I’m surrounded by motivated geek culture that inspires me every single day.

This is after all the land of Microsoft, Amazon, too much caffeine and the great outdoors.

I do my best to “do right” by the clients I work with & the people I hire.

Feel free to ask anyone I’ve done considerable work with before – they will tell you the same.

More important than being featured or mentioned across some of the top blogs and websites in my field, I just want to make cool things and help people do the same.