In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, my guest is Scott Griggs, founder of trainz.com; a leading online retailer model trains and accessories. After starting out as a model train collector as a child, Scott has grown his business into a thriving $5M a year enterprise and Infusionsoft is playing a huge role in his success. Approximately $4M of that revenue comes from selling used trains that he has acquired from estate sales, widows and a variety of other sources.
When it comes to the “buy side” of Scott’s business, there are a lot of moving parts. However, there is also a great deal of profit potential, so ensuring that his company is able to predictably acquire $4M worth of used inventory each year is incredibly important.
Listen to this interview and you will hear:
- how Scott has used Infusionsoft to significantly streamline the “buy side” of his business
- how he finds people with used train collections for sale
- how he has automated the process so that he rarely loses out on a chance to buy valuable used inventory at wholesale prices
- how he generates leads for the “sell side” of his business
- how he uses Infusionsoft to segment these buyers into sub-groups and is able to automatically send them highly customized emails for only the things that each buyer is interested in, at a frequency that the buyer has selected
- how to use contests to drive more referrals
- how to use video to increase engagement
..And so much more!
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.
<div style=”width: 700px; max-width: 100%; height: 500px; border: solid 1px #000000; padding: 5px 5px 5px 5px;”>Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas
Podcast. I’m your host Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast
for marketing agencies and entrepreneurs who want to discover
how to use content marketing and marketing automation to
massively boost their business. My guest on the show today is
Scott Griggs, Founder of Trainz, with a Z, .com, a leading
online retailer of model trains and accessories. After starting
out as a model train collector as a child, Scott has grown his
business into a thriving $5 million a year organization that
employs 28 people.It didn’t start off so very well as you’re going to hear in this
episode, and Scott’s use of InfusionSoft has made a massive
difference in the success of his business. Before we get to that
I’ve got my technology tip as well as a special announcement.My tip for today is something called, and the URL is
express.mogreet.com. What I use this for is you’ll notice at
the end of this episode I’ll say, ‘If you want more, text Trent
to 585858.’ Mogreet is a software that powers that. Why is that
important? If you are wanting to capture leads when people are
on the fly, they have their mobile phone with them, but maybe
they’re not in front of their computer, Mogreet allows you to
get them to text you, whatever word you want, to that number and
you can, in my case I send back a welcome video, and I also send
back some copy, some marketing copy, some words and the link to
a mobile-friendly, opt-in page.Why I do this, of course, is because I want the people who are
listening to my podcast, as they’re driving down the road, to be
able to very easily opt-in to the list. Why would you want to
opt-in to my list? Well, one of the reasons why, as you’ll find
out about my second announcement, a webinar coming up on life
cycle marketing.If you don’t know about life cycle marketing, it’s a topic that you
need to understand if you really want to grow your business,
broken down into seven steps: attract traffic, capture leads,
nurture your leads to become customers, convert them with sales,
deliver your product or service and wow your customers, increase
with, revenue, rather, without sales and cross sales and then
generate more referrals. We’re going to cover all of that in
that webinar. Make sure that you go to BrightIdeas.co if you’re
in front of your computer and you can register yourself. Just
opt-in to the list, is all you need to do and you’ll get a
notification. With that said, let’s transition over to the
interview with Scott. Scott, welcome to the show.Scott: Thank you. Glad to be here.Trent: Scott, for the folks who maybe aren’t familiar with you or your
company, I’ve given, of course, the little introduction at the
beginning of this but it’s always best for them to hear in your
own words who you are and what you do. Could you just very
briefly speak to that?
Scott: My name’s Scott Griggs. My company is Trainz.com, and that’s
Trainz with a Z. We buy and sell model train equipment,
primarily used collectible trains but we also do a fair amount
with new trains as well. We do pretty much all scales and gauges
and 99 plus percent of our business we do online.
Trent: You’ve been in the model train space for a very long time. You
started off, I think as, in your childhood, right?
Scott: Right. When I was 15 I opened my first train business in my
parent’s garage, fixing model trains and small appliances. Did
that all through college and really haven’t stopped since, doing
it one way or another.
Trent: No kidding. What we’re going to talk about in this interview,
because I’ve never interviewed anyone that’s in the train
business before, is that I learned of Scott at InfusionCon,
which is InfusionSoft’s annual event and he had a particularly
interesting story of how he transitioned his business from
several stores and not really making a whole lot of money, and
we’re going to talk a little bit more about that in a minute, to
a very successful online business. And InfusionSoft, from my
understanding, has played a pretty big role in that. Is that
Trent: Let’s get a little bit of the back story. You went down the
traditional retailer route. You went from your parent’s garage
to, I think you peaked out at three retail locations?
Scott: Right. I went to work in corporate America for 13 years, well,
starting and during that but after about, well, after five years
or so, before I left, I was with General Electric. I had started
the train business in a bigger way, actually my wife started in
a rented flea market booth and then we put it out into a real
Trent: Then there was a second one and a third one?
Scott: Then we bought a second, then I left corporate America and had
a 7,500 square foot retail store, then I bought another
competitor’s store, and then I figured the solution to make
things better was to open a third store. That didn’t go so well
and I ended up folding all those into one store and then,
actually went bankrupt in that process and sold the store and
then went back to work in corporate America.
Trent: That does not sound like the American dream.
Scott: That wasn’t too fun.
Trent: The bankruptcy, was that due to that $350,000 inventory
Scott: That was the problem. Yes. At the time we were doing the retail
store, I was doing mail order, I was running all over the
country doing train shows, and had three stores and we looked at
every which way of just doing perhaps one store and mail order
or just one store and train shows, and we really just couldn’t
find any way out of the mess that we were in and the best way
was just to shut it down and be done with it. That’s what we
Trent: Not a lot of fun.
Trent: I want to make sure that the people who are listening to this
have a real compelling reason to keep listening. I always like
to give the conclusion first and then let’s, we’ll back up and
get through the details that got you to that conclusion. Your
business now is pretty successful. It’s all online and how much
revenue are you doing per year?
Scott: About five and a half million.
Trent: This is not just some little rinky dink little business
anymore. You’ve built yourself a really nice company that’s
doing substantial amount of revenue after having a pretty
horrible start to the whole thing. I really want people to
understand because some people listening to this might be near
that bankruptcy phase and that’s not a fun place to be.
Everybody, I’m sure, would like to be at the five and one half
million dollar phase, unless, of course, somebody’s listening to
this and they’re doing more than that.
Your dream kind of went kaplooey. You went back to work for a while
and then you went online. How did you get started? What was the
thinking that went into that and why did you even want to be in
the train business again?
Scott: That was 1997 and I learned of this small company out in
California called eBay. Back in ’97, I mean it wasn’t, that was
the Wild West of eBay big time because there were no automated
tools that, after being in the, in any business or any industry,
I guess, for a long time like I had been with model trains, I
pretty much developed an encyclopedia knowledge of trains and
their values, and I saw what things were selling for on eBay,
and it was just amazing. I knew that I could buy things for less
than that and resell on eBay. That’s what I did about six months
after the train store shut down, I started selling on eBay. I
just didn’t figure that out fast enough while I still had the
Actually, funny story there. I had a guy tell me when I was
struggling with the stores at the very end about eBay. I
couldn’t figure it out and I actually had a price list on the
Internet at the time. It was, kind of, way before e-commerce or
at the very beginning of it because I wasn’t doing that. I
couldn’t figure eBay out by the website so I called them up on
the phone. Can you imagine calling eBay? It’s like, “What do you
guys do? I hear that might be something that I could take
advantage of.” That’s what I did. That’s pretty bad.
Trent: Well 1997, that’s like 9,436 years ago in Internet time.
Trent: What year did you start using InfusionSoft?
Scott: That was somewhere five, six years ago, something in that time
frame, I guess. [inaudible 00:10:00]
Trent: You’re an early adopter, man. InfusionSoft is only six and a
half years old.
Scott: That was pretty early in InfusionSoft time too, as far as
trying to figure out how to use their software and configure it,
make it work. At that time, I’ve got an engineering degree and
I’ve done some programming although I’m not really good at it
but at least I understand it. I had a hernia operation, so I was
kind of out of commission for a while and that was a good time
to sit in my recliner and figure out how to set up InfusionSoft.
So that’s what I did.
Trent: For the folks that are listening who listen to that and think,
‘Oh my god, I don’t want to do that.’ InfusionSoft is not like
that anymore. You don’t need to be a programmer or anything
fancy. The interface is all visual. If I can use it, because I
don’t know how to write a line of code to save my life, I think
that most anyone with enough desire can use it.
What was the problem that you were trying to solve when you decided
that, I need to get on board with this InfusionSoft thing?
Granted, back then it wasn’t nearly as capable as it is today
but you’re still using it today so there’s got to be good
reasons for that.
Scott: Right. Actually there were two things. One is the conventional
way to use it and the other is the unique way that we use it and
I’ll probably spend more time talking about that today unless
Trent takes me elsewhere, but two problems I had was, number
one, keeping up with all of the opportunities to buy trains.
Like I said, most of our business is selling collectible trains
and with probably three and a half, four million dollars-worth
of collectible trains that we sold last year, which means I have
to find that many trains.
It’s not like I can just put a purchase order in to some manufacturer
or wholesaler and everything just shows up, and I sell it. I’ve
got to find all this stuff in people’s basements or train stores
that go out of business or whatever. We do a fair amount of
advertising to educate people, ‘If you need to sell your trains,
that’s what we do.’ We didn’t have anywhere near a good process
of keeping up with all that, and since we’ve really got so many
lists coming in everyday, it was just a struggle to keep up with
figuring out what I wanted to offer for this and make the offer.
Then tomorrow, it’s another set of lists and forgot about the
one I did yesterday, or the one I did last month or six months
I wanted to test out InfusionSoft on that side of the business before
I went to the other side of the business, on the sales side, and
how can I use it like normal people do to get people to come buy
whatever it is on sale [sounds like], and to develop a pool of
prospects and ultimately turn them into customers and then turn
them into better customers as time goes on.
Trent: Very interesting. I do want to dive down that a little bit then
because there’s probably somebody listening to this who is
thinking, ‘I’d like to know a little bit more about that.’ How
you’re using it to find that inventory. Can you explain a little
bit more of how it has made that a more efficient process for
Scott: Absolutely. It’s moving out of spreadsheet world into a real
database driven program to be able to keep track of that. What
we’ve done is we’ve got, the way the process starts and what
InfusionSoft or marketing people call lead magnets is the idea,
‘What do I do to get people interested in me?’ On that side of
the business actually it’s money because what I’m offering is a
pile of cash if you sell me your trains. I’ve got to convince
people that, first I’ve got to have people be able to find me
and then, of course, I’ve got to convince them that we’re the
people that are going to do the best job for you in buying your
Primarily, what we use is actually Google pay-per-click ads, so
if you search anywhere on the Internet for, ‘I’ve got a train
set to sell,’ I think it’s a pretty safe bet that whatever you
can imagine you can type into Google whether you’ve gone
bankrupt with a train store or you’re an attorney and you’ve got
a client and the lady’s husband’s died and she’s got all these
trains and how am I going to find somebody who’s going to come
in and buy all these, we’ve done the best job we could think of
to make sure we’ve hit all those terms with Google.
Then that takes you to a landing page, basically where we’ve got a
video with Cindy, which is one of the ladies that works here. It
explains how our process works as far as buying your train and
actually coming and picking them up and how all that works.
Then we also, on that page we also offer a free report so that if you
give us your email address and your name and what state you’re
in, we will send you a free report on all of the different ways
that you can explore to sell your model trains. It’s kind of
interesting. In writing that report I kind of figured out myself
that it all boils down to three different things. It’s how much
money do you want to get, how long do you want to wait to get
the money and how much work do you want to do?
Depending on which two of those three that you pick, then our report
says, ‘Well, if you want the most money, and you’re willing to
do all the work, then you got to go sell them on eBay yourself
because that’s probably how you’ll get the most money, if you
want to spend a lot of time doing it. But if you don’t have a
lot of time and need the money quickly, then you need to send us
a list, and we’ll buy them from you, and that’ll be fast and
It’s kind of interesting. I went through this probably, believe it or
not, ten different ways theoretically that you could go about
selling your collectible trains. We tell you what the pitfalls
and the benefit of each one of those are and three of those
where you just happen to be working with us.
InfusionSoft manages all that. The key there is once somebody fills
out that form and gives us their email address, what we’re doing
is we’re sending them a report on how to sell their trains but
what that tells us is, ‘If you need a report to sell your
trains, guess what? You’ve got trains to sell.’ Then we program
InfusionSoft to send out a series of emails that, ‘We saw you
downloaded our report. Is there anything else that we can help
you with?’ Carly [SP] is our buyer and all emails are signed by
Carly, like she’s sitting there typing them, but, ‘I see you
downloaded a report a week ago and I haven’t heard anything from
you. Is there something I can do to help you?
This goes on forever actually. Pretty much for six months, starting
out, it’s a week and then it’s another week and then it’s two
weeks, then it’s a month and then it’s two months and then they
finally get into a sequence that every month they’re getting
some email from us. The classic one, and this is part of what I
got when I signed up for InfusionSoft a long time ago is some
suggested sales letters on copy writing and I’m not a real
flamboyant, extravagant kind of person but the way that the copy
writing is done is not exactly my style but they say it works,
so I tried it.
The classic one is the one that goes out at six months from Carly and
it says, ‘Hi. It’s Carly again. I can’t believe it’s been six
months already, and I haven’t heard anything from you. I just
really want to help you, and I can’t help you. My boss is going
to be asking me why I haven’t been able to buy your trains and I
just really feel like I’m a failure. God I hate feeling like a
failure, so if there’s anything I can do to really get that list
and talk to you, I’d really appreciate it before I have to talk
to my boss.’
You would not believe how many people, after we’ve talked to them ten
times, when they get that one it’s like, ‘Oh my god, Carly. I’m
so sorry. I didn’t know it was that important to you. Here’s my
trains.’ That’s just not me, but it’s just hilarious how many
people will go for that.
Trent: That’s just basic human psychology. Most people want to help
somebody and Carly’s saying, ‘I need your help.’
Scott: My advice there is don’t be afraid to use what may seem like
extreme psychological tactics like that because it works in a
nice way without people feeling duped or tricked or mad at you
or anything. It’s just, it gets the job done.
Trent: In your case, you’re not trying to sell them anything. You’re
trying to give them money. Really, these people are, as was
pointed out, I just interviewed Dustin Burleson early this
morning. I’m sure you know him from Burleson Orthodontics and we
were talking about the follow-up sequence and he realized, he
said, it’s not that people are disinterested, it’s that they’re
He gave the example of this woman that walked up to him at a Costco
and she’d recognized him from all the videos and stuff that
she’d seen in his funnel of him. She said, ‘I’m coming in to see
you guys tomorrow and it was ironic that I saw you at Costco and
I wanted to say hi.’ She’d been in the funnel for 11 months of
nurturing and she has, I think he said four or five kids and on
any given weekend has like eight volleyball games to go to. This
is not a disinterested person, this is a busy person. That’s why
all of this repetitive follow-up works so incredibly well.
Scott: That’s what worked for me to sign up for InfusionSoft. I think
it took me ten or 11 or 12 months. I knew I wanted it. At the
time I really didn’t want to spend the money and I knew I needed
to do something different from what I was doing and they finally
got me into one of those sequences. ‘We’ve got this big sale.
We’re doing it for X percent off and you get this extra
coaching, this extra copy writing package,’ and all this stuff.
‘It ends at 6:00 Friday.’ It’s like, I’m a smart person, and I
know that it doesn’t really end 6:00 Friday but I was on the
phone at 6:00 Friday with one of their sales reps and finally
gave them my credit card and just said, ‘I’m doing it. I’m
finally going to get it done.’
It took me that long and getting all their information and actually,
kudos to Clay at InfusionSoft because he writes a lot of really
good articles on how to make your small business better. Really
doesn’t have anything to do with InfusionSoft, I mean it does,
but it doesn’t. He’s sending me all this great information on
how I can make my business better and certainly after I read all
that stuff for months and months, he is definitely done a great
job, in my mind. It’s like, ‘This guy really knows a lot about
small business.’ It’s like, ‘By the way, we’ve got this nice
software packaged that you can buy that’s going to help you be
an even better small business too.’ It’s like, ‘I believe you. I
just really believe you.’ I didn’t even look for anything else.
It’s like, ‘This is the place to go.’ It turned out that was a
really good decision, and it was correct, but it’s all about
Trent: It is. And delivery. You can’t market and have a hollow
delivery because that won’t last for long.
Scott: It’s the real deal.
Trent: If you’re listening to this for the first time and you’re
thinking, ‘This is kind of cool,’ but you’re not sure what to do
yet, if you go to BrightIdeas.co, up on the navigation bar
you’re going to see a link called InfusionSoft Success Stories.
I use InfusionSoft. I interview all of the top people that use
InfusionSoft and you can hear interview after interview in a
variety of different markets and niches of people who have had
the most amazing success using InfusionSoft and I would
encourage that you go and check that out.
Where do we want to go next? One other question for you. On the
follow-up sequence, and I got this from Dustin in my interview
this morning. They do, in the first week they do four emails.
One on day one, day two, day three and day five, I think it was.
I don’t have the notes in front of me anymore. He’s a religious
tester. What he realized was email number two, after they
download the lead magnet is the highest converting email. I
thought that was really interesting. I’ll see if I can find my
notes, which of course, now I can’t find.
A lot of times when people download your stuff, they’re busy and they
don’t get to it and they don’t open and they don’t read it. Here
we go. The second email reminded them what they had requested
plus it provided them with and FAQ as well as to summarize the
main points of the free report they’d offered. Have you ever
tried anything like that?
Scott: We do it, I haven’t tested it and done anywhere near that
scientific about it, unfortunately, but actually we’re actually
going back down to Arizona in a couple of months to redesign and
do one of the makeovers on our InfusionSoft setup actually
because what I saw at InfusionCon last month and some of the
things that other people were doing that seem like a pretty big
step above some of the things we’ve got in place. It’s like,
time for us to do that, but we wait. We send the report and then
we wait three days because I want to give them a little bit of
time to think about it, and I don’t want to just start
bombarding them every day as soon as they do that.
I can’t tell you honestly, is it that one or the one that I send a
week later? The one that goes a week after that, but we’ve got a
whole sequence of, I think, 12 different emails that are all
asking the same question in a different way. ‘What can we do to
help you to send us a list?’
Trent: Dustin didn’t want to bombard them either, which is why he used
to not send four emails in the first week. It’s day one, day
three, day five and day seven and then he tested it and much
like you, tested copy that you wouldn’t necessarily write, with
Carly saying, ‘Help me out.’ It works like that. Moral of the
story is test, test, test.
Scott: I agree. I’m one of those busy people and haven’t done it as
Trent: Where do I want to go next? Let me look at my notes here.
Scott: I’ll tell you, I’ll keep going down that path if you don’t
Trent: Please do.
Scott: I’ll tell you how InfusionSoft really plays into that because
the first thing is the thing of getting an inventory list of
what people want to sell. We use InfusionSoft as a business
management system as much as anything. We’ve actually got three
people to work for us, two in the Philippines and one in India
that do all of our data entry work and a lot of pricing research
to basically get back to me, ultimately, the list of what these
people have to sell, what I think it’s worth and ultimately,
then I want to offer to buy their train collection.
We use InfusionSoft to manage the whole process so once we get a list
in, we update the contact record that we got the list, then we
update who we send it to to do the data entry work and actually,
those three people overseas, one of them does data entry, one of
them does pricing research and another one actually does
Over the years, I’ve actually worked with them and trained them on
how to do this really specific work that you wouldn’t think
you’d be able to do unless you were a trained expert.
Ultimately, in InfusionSoft, they go into InfusionSoft when they
complete their piece of the work and they pass it on to the next
person and so I can see, in this business process, where all my
lists are and who’s working on them.
We set them up as if an A list, which is the top priority, or a B
list or C list and all these kinds of things. When it comes back
to me, then I ultimately set the price. I send it back to one of
the ladies and then she goes in and updates all the fields in
InfusionSoft and then based on how large my offer is, we will
either just send them an email with the offer and, of course,
and there’s a button right in the email, ‘I accept your offer.
Send me your call tags and pick up the trains and I’m ready to
send them in.’
That goes into a whole follow-up sequence. ‘We sent you an offer for
$500. We haven’t heard anything. Is everything okay? Is there
anything else we can do?’ That goes on, pretty much forever
until they tell us, ‘I sold my trains or I’ve changed my mind.’
If it’s a higher offer, then we do all those via phone and we’ve
actually got an interview template and keep all the answers to
that in InfusionSoft so that we can keep track of what we’ve
asked them and what they’ve told us.
Again, after we make that phone offer, on the bigger ones we put them
in a different sequence that’s similar, but different than the
smaller ones because it’s more of a high touch process
[inaudible 28:05]. Ultimately, when they tell us, ‘I accept your
offer. I want to sell you my trains,’ then we update that.
Then it’s a matter of some people are going to send their trains in
through FedEx or UPS. Other ones we have to schedule trips to
actually go, either drive or fly out and rent a truck to pick
them up. We keep track of that. We know which ones need to be
picked up, where in the country they’ll fall on our dashboard in
InfusionSoft, and then we update the status, that it’s scheduled
for pickup so we know when that truck comes in which collections
are on each truck and then if it’s a situation where we agreed
to pay so much up front and so much later, our accountant’s tied
into all that so she knows how much everybody needs to be paid
at what point. We use it for far more than just marketing.
There’s a whole business process around it.
Trent: I’m glad that you shared that because it made me think of the
question that I would never have asked in my interview prep. If
you didn’t have InfusionSoft, Scott, how many more employees do
you think you would have to have to manage the buy side of your
Scott: That’s a good question. I think the bigger issue is it’s not
the payroll expense, it is just the, even if I had a full time
person or two, whatever, it is having the discipline to remember
to keep touching and checking on all these things. Even if you
use some kind of email that some person would send all these, I
mean, it’s just a nightmare. Right now I’ve got, I didn’t check
this number but it doesn’t matter, I would say we’ve got
somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 offers that are in
process right now, that are in all these different sequences
that they haven’t said yes or no yet.
Some of those you have are a couple of years old and they’re pretty
cold, and they’re pretty unlikely that something’s going to
happen, but every once in a while one does and I didn’t have to
do anything to get it. It was just I finally sent an email at
the right time, and the person was ready to sell, which is,
that’s a big part of the whole success and marketing of the biz
is presenting an offer when somebody’s ready to do something,
not necessarily when you’re ready to do something but when
they’re ready to do something.
It just, it makes us so much more efficient and organized because we
tried to do this with spreadsheets when we were a lot smaller,
and we did a terrible job at it. We’d get some great collection
that maybe we’d offer them $50,000, which is like, ‘Man, that’s
fantastic. We’ve got to win that one,’ but then in the whirlwind
of everything that’s going on, a month later it’s like I forgot
about that one. It’s like, ‘Oh my god. How could I have
forgotten about that?’ Then you call them back and it’s like,
‘I didn’t hear anything so I sold it to the other guy.’ Then you
just want to kill yourself ‘How did I do that?’
Trent: For those of you that are listening, if you are a marketing
consultant or a marketing agency and you’re thinking about how
the acquisition of used train inventory parallels the
acquisition of new customers, send me an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a completely pre-built marketing
funnel for your industry that I think will save you a truckload
of time if you decide you want to use InfusionSoft, and I will
give it to you for free. Send me an email to
email@example.com if that’s you.
Before we go off the buy side of your business, is there anything
else that you think, because I wouldn’t have thought to ask you
about this, is there anything else that you think that’s really
important that you want to talk about? Sounds like you’ve done a
pretty decent job.
Scott: No, I don’t think so on that side, but it just organizes
Trent: The one thing I would encourage the listeners is think about,
because this has kind of been fascinating for me because I would
have thought to myself, because I remember thinking this
actually when I was doing the research for this interview and I
realized, because I originally thought that you were just
selling trains, that you would send a PO to a manufacturer and
you could have as much inventory as you like. Then when I
realized you were buying used inventory I thought, ‘Oh my god.
How does he do that at that scale?’ Which we’ve just discovered
how you do.
How many people who are listening to this, they’re not in the train
business but they’re in the some kind of something business and
maybe they’re not even, they have never even thought about
buying used inventory from people. The margins on the used
stuff, I’d have to guess, are much better than it is on the
margins on the new stuff. Perhaps this is a way for you tap into
something that none of your competitors are even doing. A whole
source of profit that you didn’t even think was possible to
achieve. I hope that’s been helpful.
Let’s talk about, we use the conventional, like what most people
would use InfusionSoft for. Can you, you’ve got, on the
marketing and selling side starts off with you’ve got to track
leads so that you can sell this inventory to people. Can you
talk about how you’re using InfusionSoft to help you do that?
Not even how I’m using InfusionSoft, just, fitted in, of course
but just how you’re generating leads.
Scott: We sell, we’re a multi-channel ecommerce seller, so we sell on
eBay to a much lesser extent now. At one point, we were one of
eBay’s top 200 sellers on the whole platform when we were just
using eBay for everything. Since that point, we’ve put our own
website in place and I don’t know, five, six, seven years ago.
We’ve been doing that quite a while. We also sell new product on
Amazon. We sell a little bit on Buy.com.
Then earlier last year we also set up our own auction platform so
instead of sending everything to eBay auctions, it’s like we’ve
got a custom list that’s 100,000 deep. I think we can just set
up our own auction site and do it and not have to pay eBay. We
tested that and it worked and so now every week we run usually
about seven different auctions, one for each scale and they end
on different nights, so we try to make it easy for our customers
so that if you’re doing [Y&L] modern era trains, those auctions
always end on Saturday night from 9:00 to 11:00 or 8:00 to
10:00, or I can’t remember how we set it up so you don’t have to
look at our things all the time. We’ve made it pretty easy for
We attract customers, they are certainly from all of the emails that
we’ve collected from our customer selling on eBay. We do some
magazine advertising in model train magazines. I’m a member of
three different train clubs so I advertise in their
publications. We actually even have a TV commercial that runs on
cable for the sponsors of a show called “I Love Toy Trains.”
That’s been a new thing we’ve been doing for a few months now.
It’s not huge, but hopefully something growing and we’re having
fun playing with it.
We develop, we get all those leads, get people to opt-in to wanting
to hear from us, and if you’re in this hobby you’re generally
pretty passionate about it and anything you get an opportunity
to hear more about cool stuff that we just bought that you’re
interested in, it’s pretty easy for people that really want to
do that. InfusionSoft powers all of our emails, actually we have
a process that, when we sign up we ask, or if you’ve been in our
database forever, we send out, we’ve got a whole sequence for
this, we want to know so that we can segment our list and target
people appropriately instead of spamming you with everything
about [inaudible 36:56] scale trains and you’re doing HR, you
don’t really care about that stuff.
We ask them what scale that they’re interested in, or scales which
are the different sizes of the different trains and then are you
interested in new trains or used trains? Then something we’ve
been thinking about, we haven’t implemented yet, was we really
want to go one other dimension in, ‘How do you prefer to buy
your trains? Do you prefer to buy on auction or do you only want
to buy on fixed price?’ So the people can say, ‘I don’t really
want to buy auction.’ It’s like, ‘We won’t send you emails about
our auction then,’ because if you’re going to opt-out, we really
don’t want you to opt-out just because you don’t like auctions.
We just want to kind of opt you out of those kind of emails
instead of other emails that you may be interested in.
Trent: You touched on, I want to jump in here because you touched on
some things that I really don’t want you to skim past, which are
really important. You talked about this segmentation. When you
get someone on your list by however you do it, if you have a
variety of products, you just don’t want to treat everybody the
same because people are at different points in the buying cycle,
from a psychological standpoint, they’re interested in different
products, different services and this is one of the areas where
I think InfusionSoft works really well. Can you talk about how
you allow your list to segment themselves?
Scott: Well by sending them a form that says, ‘Tell us about yourself.
Which [sales] are you interested in?’ Actually, something else
that we do is, to solve this problem of how often should we
email these people? That’s just always a burning thing and I
don’t want to email them too much but I want to email them as
much as I can because I know when I send out email blasts I get
orders. What we’ve done is, one of the questions we ask is, ‘How
often do you want to get emails from us? Every day? Every week?
Every month? Just before Christmas? Never. We get it.’
Then we also send out customized emails, really every day, to people
so those people that are really fanatics and they say, ‘I want
to hear about stuff every day,’ we send them an email but we
also use a recommendation engine software that it knows, ‘Here’s
all the products that this person has bought. Here are all the
products that we’ve got available. Then there’s some fancy
calculations, so that right in the email we feature five
products today that we think, or that the software thinks that
that person’s going to be interested in, unless, if they’re the
everyday people, tomorrow it recommends five more things.
We also put a link on there that at the bottom that there’s some kind
of text around it that says, ‘Would you like to change your
email frequency?’ You want to give it too much or too little so
they can click that and go reset it. If they thought they wanted
to get them every day but they decided that’s a bit over the top
and they can change it to weekly, or monthly or whatever they
want. I think an important thing is to give some thought to how
your customers may want to be treated and then give them the
opportunity to, like you said, go in and set that up themselves.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Trent: Absolutely. You mentioned Recommendation software. What
software is that?
Scott: Currently we’re using Certona.
Trent: How do you spell that?
Trent: I was going to say how do you spell that, but if you’re about
to switch to something else.
Scott: C-E-R-T-O-N-A. Part of that, we use it on our website also so
you’ll see it on our website, on our item page, on our category
pages and on our checkout page. Again, they get data feeds from
us and they’ve got code in our shopping carts so their systems
are keeping track of, to some extent, right now it’s limited to
just what we saw on our website which is pretty limiting.
Actually one of our IT guys has been working on that as kind of a
little side project. He’s getting really to roll out, we’re
going to do our own recommendations based on what we’ve seen
people buy and what people generally try together and what our
most popular products are. We’re going to test doing that
ourselves both on the website and in the emails because we’ve
got our own custom written software that we manage all this with
in-house and in that database we aggregate all the sales,
whether the person bought it on eBay or they bought it on Amazon
or our website or our auction site. Whereas [inaudible 42:04]
can only pick up information on what we sell on our website, so
it’s kind of operating with a crutch because it just doesn’t see
all the data.
But still, it doesn’t matter what product you use but I read about
that a long time ago this idea of mass customized email, that
every single email is different based on the person. It’s like,
that’s a really cool concept but how do you actually make it
work? We’ve done that. I think it’s worked pretty well but I
think it could work a lot better. We’re just constantly trying
to do things better and that’s one of them right now.
Trent: I also, on my opt-in page, have a checkbox for email frequency.
It says, ‘If you want to get only one email per week, put a
check here.’ When you, and then I tag them, as a result of that
checkbox. Have you figured out a way in your automated marketing
funnels to be able to only send them, to “slow down the funnel.”
Let’s say the funnel was originally designed to send an email
every three days, just for an arbitrary number. When they opt-in
they say, ‘Well, I only want one email a week.’ Have you figured
out a way to slow the funnel down? Did you create a separate
funnel or is this just affecting the broadcasts?
Scott: You just create a different schedule for a different sequence.
I’ve got the daily sequence and I’ve got people tagged that are
in that. I’ve got their weekly sequence and I got the people
that are tagged in that and the monthly one, the quarterly one,
the annual one and I just don’t email them at all.
Trent: You’re just creating separate funnels that probably have a lot
of the same content but distribute that content into the
Scott: Yes. [Exactly], just triggered differently.
Trent: Simple answer. Great. I want to make sure that we’ve really
covered this lead generation topic because it’s such a pain
point for so many people. Is there anything else in lead
generation that’s working really well for you or any tricks that
you’ve figured out on how to use InfusionSoft, which have really
boosted your results?
Scott: Other than just using it.
Trent: Nothing’s popping to mind.
Scott: Yeah, nothing is jumping into my brain on that one.
Trent: No problem. That means we’ve covered it adequately. Now you’ve
got leads in the funnel, they’re in the top of the funnel and
you need to nurture them, in other words, build a relationship
and you need to convert them to customers. We’ve talked a little
bit about that. You’ve talked about you’re going to send
information that’s relevant to the type of trains that they’re
interested in. You’re going to send that information on the
frequency that they have selected. Is there anything else, in
terms of content that you’re sending or the way that you’re
sending it that you think works particularly well to nurture
your, we’ll call them cold leads so they become much more likely
to become a warm customer?
Scott: Not as well as I would like. I think, I’ve got a pretty good
idea of what to do but unfortunately, we haven’t done a good job
of implementing that yet. That was part of the reason that when
I went to InfusionCon and just looking at what other people have
done and saying, ‘Man, we so need to do that and we so don’t
have the time to do that. We’ve got a million other things going
on,’ and that’s why we decided to actually take up the folks at
Sixth Division and sign up for one of their makeovers and it’s
like, ‘We’re just going to fly three of us down there for two
days and just knock it out.’
One of the things we used to do is we used to send out a monthly
newsletter but the people that we have writing all the
newsletter articles moved on and are doing other things and we
just haven’t, nobody here who has been trained has bubbled up
and wants to do that, so unfortunately it hasn’t been getting
done. The idea of, in addition to just sending emails, to
actually sending things out in the mail or sending gifts, like
when somebody spent $5,000 that, that triggered some fulfillment
service to send them some cool train related kind of gift with a
thank you. It’s like, ‘We so need to do that kind of stuff.’
Conceptually we’ve got a half-baked plan but certainly, yes,
we’re going to do that but unfortunately I don’t have a good
story on that because we just haven’t done it yet.
Trent: Well, I do have a good story. I’ve interviewed a lot of people
using InfusionSoft and the interview will be published before
this one is, is with Andy Michaels from Blue Chip Athletics. I
recorded it just the other day and Andy, they’ve done a
phenomenal job of what happens after somebody buys something for
the first time? Go ahead. Just make sure that you listen to that
interview and I think that you’ll get a lot of very good ideas.
Blue Chip was one of the ultimate marketer finalists at InfusionCon
this year. In InfusionSoft’s opinion, they were one of the top
three companies that was really crushing it using their
software, so I think that you’ll find that’s a really
interesting interview. Andy even goes so far as to give out his
contact information so he’s very approachable. I’ve, in my
subsequent emails with Andy, because I’m always looking to
improve my business as well, he’s given me some really killer
ideas and screenshots and I made a video for him of this thing
that I’m doing, so he’s a really good guy and I think you’ll
thoroughly enjoy the interview.
Scott: Great. I’ll check that out as well.
Trent: Let’s then transition to, are you, before I transition off
this, are you, in your ecommerce store, are you using
InfusionSoft shopping cart? I’m thinking maybe not because you
have too many SKUs.
Scott: No. We’re not.
Trent: Let’s transition into referrals, upsells and repeat business.
Is there something in particular, Scott, that you guys are doing
to encourage your existing customers to refer you more? Because
I’ve got to think that I’m into trains, I know lots of other
people who are into trains.
Scott: Right. Not really, I hate to tell you. Again, that’s on our
list of things that we know we should be doing it and it’s not
there. We offer a reward or a finder’s fee on the buy side. If
you refer somebody to us, the seller collects and we give you a
percentage of whatever we pay for it but we’re really doing not
a great job at this point and time on asking for referrals and
doing upsells, other than just bombard them with the upsells on,
‘Here’s some other stuff that we think that you’d be interested
in.’ I mean, we do that in a pretty big and a pretty automated
way and it works pretty well.
We’ve got some issues with our tracking on that so that’s one of the
other things that I want to see us get fixed is to get some much
better, clearer stats on exactly how well those things are
working and where they’re coming from [sounds like], so that we
can do a better job of doing more of the things that work and
the things that we thought were working but aren’t working as
good, figure out how to improve those. We’ve got some more work
to do on both of those areas.
Trent: Luckily, I have some more ideas for you there too. Earlier this
morning I interviewed Dustin Burleson from Burleson
Orthodontics, also one of the InfusionSoft Ultimate Marketer
Finalists, tripled his business in 18 months and he, prior to
using InfusionSoft and a contest strategy, 15 percent of revenue
came from referrals. Now 60 percent of revenue comes from
referrals and he’s using raffles, prizes and contests. I’ll just
say go check out the interview. Just do a search on
BrightIdeas.co for Dustin Burleson, B-U-R-L-E-S-O-N, and you’ll
be able to listen to that interview.
We talked about that at some length but essentially it boils down to
running contests and a past guest of mine by the name of Travis
Ketchum runs a company called Contest Domination, which I think
is probably one of the best contest platforms that are out
there, in the show notes for this episode, I’ll put a link to
that but you can run very easily run contests on his software
kind of automates the whole thing and picks the winner and
encourages social sharing and all this really cool stuff that’s
going to help you [inaudible 51:34].
Scott: I actually love that idea. A few years ago I came up with the
idea that wouldn’t it be cool if you come to the website, we
have a daily trivia contest because a lot of train people seem
to really get into that. Then at the end of the month, who’s the
top trivia player and you get some kind of prize. Also is to set
it up in such a way that you know, obviously they’ve got to sign
in to answer the question of the day, so you know who they are
and so my Recommendation software is going to put right on that
page, ‘Here’s six or eight things we think you’d like so long as
you’re here today for the contest.’ I’ll check that out as well
because I think those two things tie together just have to be
super powerful and would work really well.
Trent: It ties into InfusionSoft, which is all the better. We’re
getting close to wrapping up here. Let me ask you, because in
the beginning, if you really want to hear Scott’s story of how
bad it went, I think he puts a lot of it on the abode of his
site, but having those three stores and going bankrupt, that’s
no fun. Then probably, go ahead.
Scott: No. I’m sorry. What I did on my website, what you read was
Scott’s story and the reason that I put that out there is not
because I’m an egomaniac or anything, and I want to tell my
story, but it’s really to make people feel comfortable with who
I really am because selling your train collection or a wife
selling a husband’s train collection that they built together
for 40 years, for a lot of people that’s a pretty emotional
And so what I wanted to do was to convey to the best of my ability
that I get that. I understand that. I want to be compassionate
about it, and ultimately, I’m not going to screw you because
I’ve heard some horror stories for guys that have built
$100,000, $200,000 collections and somebody goes in and the wife
doesn’t know anything about it and sells it for 20 grand and
that is just so not right. I’m the guy that you don’t have to
worry that is what’s going to happen to you. I put my story out
there and I’m real. I get a lot of compliments on that, by the
Trent: Deservedly so. Can I offer you two points of feedback on that
Trent: Number one, please make the font bigger, especially if your
target market is someone who’s a little older. It’s hard to
read. Number two, put a video. Just put you in front of a camera
saying, ‘This is me and I’ve been in this thing my whole life.’
Just mostly what you just said to me, just talk to a camera.
People love that. I know that, well, because it’s common sense
but also my own experience and guests.
I interviewed a lady who uses InfusionSoft who runs, her name’s
Yvonne Howling [SP]. She runs a bed and breakfast over in
Champagne, France and when you opt-in to her list, one of the
very first things you see is here sitting in her backyard with a
glass of champagne talking with the camera. She says that many
people who book with her take the upsells that she subsequently
offers them in her funnel before they ever even show up for
their first experience of the weekend that they booked at the
bed and breakfast. She asks them, ‘Why’d you do that?’ ‘We just,
after watching your video we felt like we knew you. We felt so
comfortable with you that we just knew our vacation was going to
be a great experience.’
For you, Scott, and for anyone listening, if there is not a video of
you somewhere in your funnel where you’re just you raw on
camera, it does not have to be polished. You’re not letting
people get to know you as good as they could.
Scott: Very good.
Trent: My last question, well, one of my last questions is, you got
online and you had eBay and spreadsheets and email and moving
parts and probably were working an insane number of hours. How
has InfusionSoft changed your life for the better?
Scott: I’m not one of those guys that’s going to tell you, ‘I go on
six weeks of exotic vacations every year,’ because that’s just
not me. What it’s done, obviously is allowed my business to be
much more successful but allows me to work on a lot of other
cool stuff that I want to work on instead of just doing mundane
things like keeping track of did I do everything or did somebody
do all the things that they should have done to make sure that
we maximize, especially acquiring all the inventory that we can
get our hands on.
It’s just allowed me to check that off my list for the most part. I
know that’s working right. There’s certainly some things I know
I need to work on that I mentioned but just knowing that that’s
working in an automated, predictable, it’s working fashion that
I can go spend my energy working on something else like spinning
up a cool contest. I love that.
Trent: For you, I’m guessing the predictable acquisition of used
inventory translates into predictable revenue. Is that correct?
Scott: Right. We’ve got, actually I think we’re up to 28 employees now
and that’s one of the, well there’s two huge challenges wrapped
around that. One is getting a steady stream of inventory in here
so I don’t have to send people home. Number two, it’s kind of
interesting, we went through, myself and my management team, a
couple of things we’ve done recently, we went through the Good
to Great book last year and one of the things in there is what
is your number one most important thing that you need to do?
This year our number one liable important goal is to get $4
million worth of collectible inventory in here this year. That’s
it because if we can’t find the inventory, we can’t hit the
sales numbers. There’s just no way around it. That’s a critical
piece of our business to make sure that we do that to the very
best of our ability.
Trent: I don’t know if this has any interest for you whatsoever, what
just popped into my mind, what if you created a training product
for other people who need to acquire used inventory in their
business to resell it? You’ve got a pretty compelling success
story of like, ‘Here’s how you find this obscure stuff.’ Anyway,
just a thought. Lightning round, last three questions before we
go. What are you most excited about for 2013?
Scott: Actually [inaudible 59:03] the course of the interview, but
it’s actually leadership development. One other issue that we’ve
had is our sales had plateaued like at this $5 million point and
I read a fair amount of business books and I know that there are
predictable plateaus in business. That’s one of the things you
guys at InfusionSoft talk about a fair amount as well. The
number one thing that always points to is the leader.
For the past year or so I’ve been working really hard leadership
development with both myself and my management team and we’re
making huge progress in that. We’re implementing a thing called
4DX or Four Disciplines of Execution which is a Franklin Covey
book and program. How do you execute things and get things done?
Actually this year that’s the thing that most excites me. I’m
also in Boy Scouts, and I just went to the first weekend of
their wood [batch] course which is six [dark to dark] days of
leadership training in the Boy Scouts. I’m all over it. I’m
really excited about it.
Trent: That’s awesome to hear. What is your favorite business book?
Scott: Right now?
Scott: It’s the “Four Disciplines of Execution.” I don’t think it’s in
this book but certainly the phrase that execution eats strategy
for lunch. It’s like, man, I am all over that because I can
strategize until I’m blue in the face and then I get red in the
face because we can’t get anything done. It’s like, this is
really laying out for me an operating system or framework on how
to get things done. It’s exciting.
Trent: Definitely. If there’s anyone listening to this who wants to be
able to get in touch with you, Scott, what is the best way for
them to do that?
Scott: My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trent: That’s Trainz with a Z.
Trent: Scott, thank you so much for taking an hour out of your day to
be with myself and the guests here on the Bright Ideas Podcast.
It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. I
think you shared some very unique ideas that I’d never heard
anyone using InfusionSoft for and I think that’s really cool.
Scott: Great. Well thank you, Trent. I really appreciate the
Trent: No problem at all.
Scott: I wish you and all your listeners great success.
Trent: Thank you so much. Take care.
Scott: Thank you.
Trent: If you want to get the show notes for today’s episode, head
over to BrightIdeas.co/57. When you’re there, you’re going to
see all the links for all the software and books and anything
that we’ve talked about in the show today as well as some other
valuable information that you can use to ignite growth in your
If you’re listening to this on your mobile phone, just text Trent to
585858 and I’ve got some very special stuff for you. You’re
going to get access to the massive traffic toolbox which is a
compilation of all of the very best traffic generation
strategies shared with my by my guests here on Bright Ideas, as
well, you’ll get access to a list of what I think are the best
of the best episodes here on Bright Ideas.
If you’re a marketing agency and you’re thinking about using
InfusionSoft, send me an email to email@example.com. As I
mentioned earlier in the episode or maybe mid-episode, I have
built a full marketing funnel because your marketing funnel and
my marketing funnel are basically the very same funnel. What I’m
using to attract customers for my products, and my customers are
marketing agencies, you can use to attract and use your clients
for your business. I will be able to save you a ton of content
creation and I’ll give it all to you for free so that you can
have your InfusionSoft rep plug the campaigns right into
InfusionSoft for you.
Finally, if you really enjoyed this episode, please head over to
BrightIdeas.co/love where you’ll find a link and you can leave
us a rating in the iTunes store. Really makes a huge difference.
Helps me to attract more traffic to the show. Thank you so much.
That’s it for this episode. I’m your host Trent Dyrsmid and I
look forward to seeing you in a future episode. Until then, take
care and have a wonderful day.
Recording: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas
Podcast. Check us out on the web at BrightIdeas.co.
About Scott Griggs
Scott is an innovator, business builder and an expert at applying ecommerce technologies. His passion is developing the vision and providing the leadership to build successful business operations, especially on-line.
Scott has over 25 years of corporate Fortune 100 and small business management experience. He led the team that built Trainz.com into one of the largest and most efficient hobby retailers over the past ten years. Trainz became a top 100 seller on eBay and made the Inc. 5000 list twice in 2007 and 2008.