In today’s episode you are in for a real treat. My guest on the show is an e-commerce entrepreneur by the name of Travis Marziani, founder of a company called Performance Nut Butter. When I heard what Travis had accomplished with this company, I knew that I had to get him to come onto the show so I could grill him with as many questions as possible to get him to share with us all the very clever tactics that he used to achieve some pretty extraordinary results. And let me assure you that Travis did not disappoint. So if you’re listening while driving, you can get to the show notes for this episode of Brightideas.co/248. Please join me in welcoming Travis to the show. Hey Travis, welcome to the show.
Travis: Thank you, glad to be here.
Trent: Yeah, I’m happy to have you here. So, folks have just listened to your intro or your bio in the show intro I should say, but let’s get the — let’s get it right from you directly. Who are you and what do you do?
Travis: Yeah. So funny enough, I’ve been really obsessed with the idea of story lately. So I’ve been thinking like what is my story. And the short version, relatively short is like most people, I was working in the corporate world and ended up absolutely hating it, really like kind of slowly dipping into depression. And I’m not someone that normally gets depressed, read the Four Hour Workweek, ended up finding a friend even that was doing this whole like passive — and passive income we can talk about that later, is a relative term, but like living this lifestyle, ended up quitting my job and ended up starting an e-commerce business, spent about five years struggling in e-commerce trying to make money — can get into that too, if you want.
Ultimately created a company called Performance Nut Butter, which kind of combines my passion for health and my knowledge in the e-commerce world, launched that and now, once again the word passive income is a relative term but kind of hitting my financial goals. Obviously, growing the business takes work but I just got back from a trip to Italy and didn’t really do much work and the business was fine which was kind of nice. So, that that’s the short version of my story.
Trent: Yeah, that is nice when you can go away and the business keeps on going. It’s one of the things I love. All right, so just to give folks an idea of where your business is at today, most guests answer in terms of like a monthly revenue figure, you’re okay sharing that number?
Travis: Yeah, yeah.
Trent: Okay so let’s bet that.
Travis: So funny enough, I’ve actually recently on my YouTube channel sharing this every month just because I think it’s kind of fun to share in the journey. So, right now the company is I think $42,000 in revenue for the month of September. Of that, I’d have to double check the numbers, like $11,000 profit, w4hich I’m pretty happy with given the entire month of September, I was in Italy. So it’s growing. My goal is to hit $100,000 revenue by probably June of next year, so yeah.
Trent: Per month you mean?
Travis: Yeah, 100,000 per month yeah, by next year.
Trent: And for folks who don’t know, including me, because I don’t remember, I looked when we did the pre interview, but I don’t remember now, what is Performance Nut Butter? Like, what’s the product?
Travis: Yeah, it’s a macadamia, coconut, cashew blended nut butter. So, it’s a premium nut butter, perfect for people on the keto diet and it comes in little pouches. And one of the things I realized is there’s not a lot of healthy fat options for like on the go nutrition. If you want a protein bar, there’s a lot of protein bars out there, though most of them are full of sugar and other crap.
Travis: Yeah. And there’s also not a lot of really natural — like a lot of the foods that say, oh, this is a natural food, they still add things like dates, which are full of sugar, they add all this other stuff, which is fine for some people, but I’m really interested in keeping low sugar. So my product, macadamia, coconut, cashew, hint of Himalayan sea salt and that’s it.
Trent: No anything else, no junk. So let’s kind of hop back to the beginning before this existed. I know that you had had, I think another site or two, another business or two that were doing okay. This has been your biggest success by far. How did you come up with the idea for this product?
Travis: For Performance Nut Butter?
Travis: Yeah. So there’s kind of a personal answer and then there’s a business answer. I think like most good companies, the personal side was I was — like I said, I was interested in eating more healthy fat options. I would blend up different nut butters. I tried, oh man, I tried this that, I found that the macadamia first off tastes really good, but it’s a really healthy nut, same thing with the coconut and the cashew. It was kind of this perfect mix in my mind of flavor and health. So that was a big part of it. But I also came from the e-commerce world and it checked all the boxes of its consumable, so people would buy it, and if they want more, after they eat it, they have to buy more, which is it’s a big thing.
I think a lot of companies, they don’t think about that. My friend was selling a leather wallet, and that’s something you buy once every five years and you don’t really talk about it with your friends and any of that kind of stuff. It checked the box of premium, which is another big thing because I don’t want to be trying to sell the cheapest nut butter out there because I’m never going to be able to beat someone with economies of scale. My product is probably one of the more expensive nut butters, but it’s also one of the highest quality ones and checks the box of something I was personally passionate about, which I think my first company was a dance clothing company which I had no experience in.
So if I’m trying to write an article about seven tips for dancers, yeah, it killed me a little bit because I’m trying to put on my like 18 year old dancer girl hat. And I’m like, oh my gosh, totally, that’s so amazing, where with this company, it’s something that I understood the market because I am the market. So, it really was creating a product that I knew worst case scenario if nobody bought it, well, that’s cool. I have a year supply of nut butter. I’d be happy with that.
Trent: Yep. And when you came up with this idea, so you went through formulation, I’m guessing did you fiddle around in your own kitchen or like how did you actually make the product?
Travis: Yeah, I just bought a food processor and just started messing with a bunch of different things. And a big inspiration — actually funny enough, the big inspiration for actually turning it into a company was the fact that I did have a YouTube channel at the time teaching people about e-commerce, and I kept telling them man, if I could do it over again, I would start a company that I was passionate about, I’d start a company that only has one skew because my other my other early start was just one skew. My other company, the dance clothing company, we have a ton of skews and we do our own production.
So, it was kind of in the background of my head, and I kind of started fiddling around with the food processor and just kind of documenting the progress. So my goal was, can I work on it one day a week and within 30 “working days,” can I have a company up and running? And for me, that was very helpful because I had a deadline. I’m like, all right. I told YouTube that I’m going to do this in 30 “working days.” Let’s try to get it done. Where I see a lot of people just say, yeah, I have this idea and I’ll get it done one day. And it’s like, no, you won’t. That’s never going to happen.
Trent: All right. And then once you — so you messed around with various formulations until you thought, all right, this tastes good. I like this. This is what I’m going to make. How did you get it made?
Travis: So, just got on Google and searched around, called a bunch of different nut butter companies. That was not an easy part of it actually.
Trent: [inaudible 00:10:07]
Travis: No, yeah, because it’s very specific. What I wanted was someone that would blend up the nut butter and put it into pouches. And I called a lot of people that put stuff in the pouches but they couldn’t do the blending of the nut butter or they had allergy restrictions. And I ended up getting kind of lucky and finding someone basically that at first said no to me, and then I think later maybe they reviewed their numbers and realized actually we will do some co packing for you. I think they took a chance on me because they’re like, we have a machine that does this, we have some extra capacity, let’s go ahead and do it.
Trent: How big was the company? Was this a manufacturer
Travis: I don’t know the exact number; they’re not that big of a company. They have a few owners. If I had to guess, probably like a few million dollars in revenue the company that’s doing. It’s nothing crazy. I mean the fact that they were willing to take a chance in someone like me meant a lot to me, because a lot of the other companies I talk about their minimum order is like, oh, you got to be spending like $200,000 per run. And I’m like, that’s not feasible, where my first run was 30,000, which is still a lot but I was able to raise a good chunk of that via Kickstarter. So that helped.
Trent: So let’s talk about that because that was actually my next question. So nice job on doing the segue. So you decided you were going to launch on Kickstarter? Let’s kind of walk through at a high level what that process looked like for you.
Travis: Yeah, so at a very high level, it’s all about building up an audience. Obviously, before you launch on Kickstarter, I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking, oh, if they post it on Kickstarter, people will come. For me, I’m trying to think of the best — it was a Facebook launch group. I created a group in Facebook and it was the “launch group,” and then I’d get emails from people on Instagram. And basically, this group helped me formulate the product, helped me not so much the flavor itself, but helped with the design of the logo, helped with the design of the packaging, helped with a ton of little small details, the layout of the Kickstarter page.
And so by the time it finally launched, they were a part of it. They helped create this as much as I did. And I think that helped me a lot. Within the first — as soon as I launched it, my girlfriend was sitting next to me and she wanted to be the first one to buy off Kickstarter. And before she even got a chance to purchase, six other people had already purchased it. And this is like six in the morning. So people woke up early and were sitting refreshing the page because I launched it a few minutes early so she could be the first one to purchase it. And still people were just sitting there refreshing the page. So that was a sign to me that it works to do this thing like creating this launch group.
Trent: Yeah, no kidding. So I want to dive a little bit deeper into those weeds. So you create a group on Facebook. It’s got nobody in it. You’ve got no product, you got no nothing. I’m assuming you don’t even have a blog audience at this point or maybe you do, but it’s…
Travis: Not related, nothing related that.
Trent: So how do you start getting people in the group, Facebook ads?
Travis: No, I didn’t spend — I don’t think I spent any money on Facebook. I spent a little bit of money on Facebook ads towards the end of the Kickstarter and that didn’t really do much. It’s an interesting strategy. So a few pronged approach here, but one of the big things was Instagram. And basically, you post photos on Instagram like showing people the journey of creating the product and then do the comment, like, follow on other accounts. So I’d find my related accounts and then comment, like, follow on the people following that account. So, let’s say other nut butter companies.
Trent: So wait a minute, you’re on Instagram.
Travis: I’m on Instagram yeah.
Trent: And you’re finding somebody — because you don’t have a following on Instagram yet, right?
Travis: I don’t have a following, no.
Trent: Okay. So you find some other company who, or some other Instagram account that is on a topic that’s kind of sort of pretty closely related to yours, right?
Trent: So what was the first account if you can think back? Was it like a fitness person or?
Travis: It might have been hashtags at first too, like I do hashtag nut butter or hash tag nut butter addict. So anyone that used the hashtag nut butter addict, I’d go in comment, like, follow that person because I know if they’re a nut butter addict, they’re going to be interested in a nut butter company. And the name of my Instagram account was Performance Nut Butter. And I imagine if I’m using the hashtag nut butter addict and a new nut butter I’d never heard of comments on my photo, I’m going to be like, what is this and look, and in my bio, my Instagram bio, I had a link that said hey, enter to win a free box and hear about the updates as we launch.
And so, when someone would sign up for that link, I’d send them a personal email and basically say, hey, thanks so much for your interest. By the way, what do you do for fun? Just a very open intro question and the whole point of that was to try to get them involved in a conversation because we’ve all signed up for a ton of email things and you get some bulk message and you never do anything. But I was trying to say, explain to them I’m a real person and I really want to create a product that is for you. I don’t know; does that make sense so far?
Travis: Yeah, I’m actually, I’m looking over here because I’m on my other screen and I’m looking at your Instagram account. So you got 70,982 followers. So when you would find someone else by using hashtag searches on Instagram, you would then comment on whatever their posts that caught your attention, you’d give it a like and then you would follow them. And then what would happen after that, would they follow you back? How did you get to sending somebody an email? I want to make sure we didn’t skip that.
Travis: Yeah, so the way it would happen is in my profile, there would be a little description of my profile saying hey, Performance Nut Butter is coming out soon. If you want to enter to win a free box or be a beta tester, click the link down below. And basically, people would click the link, give me their email to enter for the chance to be a beta tester, enter for the chance to win a free box or a free jar, and that’s how I’d get the email.
Trent: Okay. All right, and there was no autoresponder, you would literally just personally sit down and — I mean you had some templates.
Travis: It was an autoresponder that looked like a personal email. I can explain. It’s kind of technical, but the quick version is in Gmail you’re able to hook things up. So it sends from your Gmail account as soon as someone signs up for like your MailChimp list. But it looks like, no one would know that it’s — there’s no one subscribe button.
Trent: I don’t know if I will just say this. I mean yeah, did you use Zapier for that?
Travis: Yeah. It’s part of the process.
Travis: So Google script.
Trent: Yeah, Google script. All right, so someone fills out this form. So you’ve got a link on your Instagram profile that takes them to a landing page with a web form, right?
Trent: They then fill out the website form which adds them to your MailChimp account; you’ve got a zap which then triggers when they get added to a certain list that then is connected to your Gmail account. Your Gmail now sends out this pre scripted email but it’s coming from your Gmail account so there’s no unsubscribe link. So it looks like you actually wrote this thing yourself. And then where did Google script fit into this?
Travis: So maybe there’s an extra step that I didn’t need, but the Zapier, I had Zapier put it on a list and then Google script sends it using my Gmail account. Maybe I could have done it in a more direct way. I didn’t know that Zapier can do that.
Trent: Okay and I’m just jotting questions for the show notes. That’s pretty crafty, how did you come up with that idea? Did you learn that from somebody else?
Travis: I have been in the e-commerce world for so long now that I think I kind of piece different things. I probably learned it from someone else all the different little pieces but yeah. I mean, the big thing was after the initial email, it really was me responding. So I’d say, hey, what do you do for fun? I think I literally kept it that open ended. And then I had a thing that I would paste pretty normally. But whatever they said, let’s say, oh, I love doing yoga and going for hikes, I would have a normal thing that I’d paste that says something, well, I might respond to them and say, oh, I also like going for hikes. Where’s your favorite spot?
And I always tried to engage with the question. And then I’d paste on top of that a thing that basically said, by the way, if you want an extra chance to win a box of Performance Nut Butter, you should go join the Facebook group. And that’s how I’d get them into the Facebook group. And there’s probably more direct ways of doing it. But I wanted to make sure that they were engaged too. And then I think people would invite their friends into the Facebook group. And I think it kind of snowballed from there. That’s my opinion.
Trent: Yep. Okay. So a chance to win a free bit of product. I am really digging this. So far I got to tell you this is Guerrilla Marketing at its best. So folks, I hope those of you who are listening, which is everyone who’s listening, every once in a while, I say really dumb things. That would be one right there. Anyway, I hope you guys are taking good notes. All right, so you’ve used what we’ve just explained to get people to join the Facebook group. And the great thing about a Facebook group versus a Facebook page is engagement, and or is visibility. On Facebook page, almost nobody sees a post, on a group, everybody gets a notification. So how many people were you able to get into the group?
Travis: I think it was 650, which isn’t a crazy high amount, but it was enough for me to raise like I said, about $15,000 on Kickstarter. And of that money, let’s be realistic, probably $5,000 came from friends and family. But the exciting part to me was there was $10,000 worth of random strangers that believed in this product. They weren’t going to get it for four months, but they believed in it so much that they were willing to put their money into it. And that’s to me how I knew this was a real business.
Trent: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So in the time from when people joined the group to when you launched the Kickstarter, for the very first person that joined the group, that would have been how long?
Travis: Probably three to four months before that.
Trent: Okay, what did you do during those three to four months in the Facebook group to continue to get engagement? I’m assuming you just continued to share your story and what logo do you like best, and helped ask questions and so forth.
Travis: Yeah, exactly. And I probably didn’t even do as good of a job as I should have. In retrospect, I could have done better but it was basically sometimes I’d show images of the logo. Sometimes I’d even just do a quick like one minute video. I did do a lot of videos because I knew that Facebook at the time and I think they still might be were pushing videos. And it helped them — when you see a video of someone, it helps you actually connect with someone way more than just text. Most people post an image, that doesn’t help you connect with someone. But when you see someone talking with you, you hear their voice, and you see their mannerisms, you’re like, oh, I either like this person, or I don’t.
And obviously, there’ll be some people that didn’t like me. But my hope was that more people would be like, wow, that’s Travis, like yeah, I know him. I’ve seen him, every week he posts a video. And so that was a big part for me was posting videos, just updating them even because sometimes there’s nothing going on. Sometimes it’s like, hey, just want to let you guys know, I’m still waiting on X, Y, and Z. But that’s an important part of being entrepreneurs, the waiting.
Trent: Yeah, absolutely. All right, when did you know that it was time to launch the Kickstarter?
Travis: So I’m not saying this is the best method, but I gave myself a date and I said, okay, I’m going to launch it by — I forget the exact date now, April 23, whatever it was. And there’s something for me personally nice about telling everybody, it’s going to be launched on April 23. And even though I didn’t feel like it was as launch was getting closer, I would have loved to have more time to build up a bigger audience. I just needed that specific date because then I knew two months away, hey, there’s only two months, I better grow a bigger Facebook group, then one month away, oh wow, I have so much to do. So, it wasn’t that I knew that there was a time. I set a deadline a few months ahead of whatever I really got started and said okay; everything else needs to find its place.
Trent: Mm-hmm, crafty. All right, so then you did the Kickstarter campaign, you raised 15,000 bucks, what happened after that?
Travis: Yeah, so after that I also did like an Indiegogo and raised a few extra thousand dollars, started the production run. And for anybody listening and this is probably — it’s obvious when someone else says it but you always forget it for yourself; it takes way longer to like actually get the production run done. You plan everything out, everyone tells you, oh, it’ll take two weeks for this and two weeks for that, and you like, okay, basic edition, it should only take four to six weeks. But no, there’s always a ton of delays.
And ultimately, yeah, so ultimately, right after the Kickstarter was over, I started planning everything out. And I probably realistically as soon as I — I think within the first three days of the Kickstarter, I hit $10,000. So at that point, and that was my goal. My goal was $10,000. I probably should have started production three days after the Kickstarter started, but instead, I waited until after it was fully complete, which made it delayed by a few weeks. So basically, after that there was production and then the next big thing that is really important is once I got the product, I sent it out to all the Kickstarter people. But launching it on Amazon was the most important thing I did by far.
I mean, that’s why right now, 95% of the revenue for the business comes from Amazon, which I don’t love because it’d be nice because Amazon can shut you down at any point. But it’s pretty easy money in my opinion because Amazon has all these people naturally searching for a keto snack, for whatever nut butter, all these different terms. And what I did was I launched — I waited until after I knew people were probably done with about their first box because — so it comes in a box of 10 pouches. So after they’re done with their first box, I put it on Amazon and I put it at 19.99 which is the same price that the Kickstarter was, and I told everyone, hey, this is your last chance to get it at this 19.99 price.
So if you want to go to Amazon, also by the way, please leave a review. Like if you liked the product, even if you don’t share you can still leave review. It would really help me out if you leave a review on Amazon. And within the first week, I got something like 50 to 75 reviews on the product which if you’re an Amazon seller you know it’s super hard to get people to come leave a review. And that snowballed.
Trent: So you went — did you go to your Facebook — so when you launched on Amazon, you created the product listing and the pictures, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You had all that stuff. And then you told your Facebook group, hey everybody, it’s on Amazon. It’s live now, you can buy it. And boy, oh boy, oh boy, it would help me so much if you would leave a review, and here’s the link.
Travis: Yep. And I will add I also obviously — I guess this isn’t obvious to everybody. But I also had an email list because I had all those people that signed up for the thing. I was sending out emails. I was also reposting this on my personal Facebook page because I have some friends that never joined the Facebook group. And I should say this too, for the Facebook group, the way it works at least it did, I think it still works this way, with a Facebook group is you can just add people to your Facebook group. So I went down my entire friends list and I added everyone that’s a friend with me into the Facebook group. I’d say probably a half the people in the Facebook group were friends with me through Facebook.
That being said, not necessarily everyone that’s a friend on Facebook is a real friend per se. But yeah, I mean when I launched on Kickstarter, I hit the email list, I hit my personal Facebook page, I hit the Facebook group, I basically threw everything I had, same thing when I launched on Amazon.
Travis: Yeah so during this launch phase on Amazon because Amazon is great once you have visibility, but getting that visibility in the beginning is really, really hard because there’s so much competition. And if you’re not on page one you’re nowhere. So when you launched, were you also running Amazon Pay Per Click campaigns during the same period of time?
Trent: Nope, I actually I didn’t run Pay Per Click until months later. And then I still – yeah, I wasn’t running any PPC at the time. It was purely just I knew how to format an Amazon page, how to do a good title, how to do good images, all of that kind of stuff, and then I think by driving a lot of external traffic to the page because Amazon sees wow, this product just launched first day and all of a sudden 100 people came to this page and bought it. Huh, let’s rank it a little bit higher. So, there was those two things I think. So did it stick, did the sales velocity that you created from the lists that you’d build generated, was it maybe 100 sales in the first day?
Travis: I’d have to double check but it’s something like that and it’s snowballed. I mean, now we’re doing like I said, probably close to $40,000 revenue just on Amazon. And that’s way more than I had, the first month I probably did $10,000 or maybe like $15,000 revenue the first month I launched on Amazon. And then over time, it snowballed because I think people then see oh, it’s got reviews, and then Amazon will rank it for different search terms, so yeah.
Trent: So in terms of units per day, how many units per day are you doing now?
Travis: 50 to 60 is pretty normal.
Trent: Okay. And every day, day in day out.
Travis: Every day. Yeah, and it’s pretty consistent knock on wood here.
Trent: Yeah, thank you, Jeff Bezos.
Travis: Yeah, and that’s the main — I mean, as someone that I cut my teeth on, my first company was an external e-commerce or not external, just a regular e-commerce website. It is very hard to convince people to come to your website first off, then it’s very hard to convince them to put in this credit card to this company they’ve never seen before. Amazon eliminates all of that because — and I don’t mean to sing all his praises. There’s definitely a lot of downsides, but it’s just people are naturally searching on Amazon and they’re like, oh, what’s this new product? Let’s buy it. And they trust that everything will be okay.
Trent: Has there been any downside for you on being on Amazon? I mean, I can think of a few things but I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
Travis: The only downside I have is the potential fear of the ‘what if’ because I have heard the horror stories of people getting banned or random things happening. It doesn’t worry me too much. I think that I haven’t had any issues with Amazon and I don’t have too many — every once in a while I get the one star of someone that’s just like, oh, I don’t like the way this tastes, but I don’t have too many major issues. So it hasn’t worried me too much. But there is that underlying fear of hmm, at any point there could even be a glitch, Amazon just decides we don’t want you on here anymore. But other than that, I haven’t had any issues with Amazon.
Trent: Touch wood [ph]. Speaking of reviews, there is a one of my videos in my daily nugget videos series I talk about how Zoo nutrition gets rid of or does a pretty good job of getting rid of negative product reviews. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I’ll send you the link afterwards because what they do is pretty brilliant. So, let me just make a note on that.
Travis: Yeah, I’m interested in that. I’ve heard some different — I don’t know if this is what they did. I did hear of someone that basically would get an unrelated account to reply and comment on their comment with a bunch of like profanity, and then the person would tell Amazon hey, there’s a bunch of profanity on this comment, on this review, you got to get rid of it. I’m not saying to do that. I’m curious; I’ll listen to your method.
Trent: Yeah, they’re not doing that. I can assure you they’re…
Travis: That was just a funny way I’ve heard of.
Trent: Indeed. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t want to do that. That’s a little too gray/ black hat for me. Thank you very much. All right, let me look at the rest of the questions. Artwork for your packaging looks good. How did you get it made?
Travis: Yeah, so pretty simple, I did a 99designs competition for the logo. So, I don’t know, I’m assuming most of your audience is probably familiar with 99designs. But in a nutshell, you basically say, hey, I’m willing to spend $800 for a logo, and whoever wins the design — like so hundreds of people will submit designs and whoever win the competition gets $800 is more or less how it works.
Trent: And is that how much you offered was 800?
Travis: I did. I figured I didn’t want to because I’m a cheap person. But a friend of mine convinced me, hey, you’re trying to build an entire brand around this one logo, 800 bucks isn’t an insane amount of money. I mean, you hear of companies spending tens of thousands of dollars for a logo. Obviously, I wasn’t going to do that. But I’m like, all right, $800. And then the logo I got, I’m happy with. It’s nothing — the hard part about logos for me is when you see it, you’re like, oh, I could have come up with that. But you probably couldn’t.
Trent: So is the logo — and looking at the package, I’m looking at the picture when you’re in Italy, I’m assuming on your Instagram account, and you’re holding it up in front of some pretty cool backdrops. Is the logo just the three — I think they’re octagons, or is it also the writing underneath and the coconut and like is the whole thing the logo?
Travis: Just the — so it’s the hexagons, three hexagons and the words underneath but then I hired the same guy. So I paid $800 just for that little logo, then I hired the same guy to do the design of the entire package back in front and that was $250. So I’m like, it makes sense because he knows for sure he’s going to get a paycheck. But I know that, oh this guy understands my brand, he understands what it’s about. So it was around $250 for that, same thing for the box that comes in. It was another $250 or so for that. And I was happy with that. And part of designing the pack, the pouch was doing the pre call, like the nuts that are underneath the logo.
Trent: Yep. Cool. It looks good. It looks very good. It doesn’t look like you went cheap on it at all.
Travis: Thank you.
Trent: Plus, the great thing about 99designs and the road that you went, you got to see all these other variations of potential logos. And then this guy worn, he’s kind of now your guy, right? Like I’m assuming anytime you need any graphic design you don’t go back to 99designs, you just email this dude and say, hey, can you make me this?
Travis: Yeah 100%, and so now especially with Performance Nut Butter, I have done — I’m actually helping my girlfriend launch a product very in a similar fashion to what I did, and we ended up going with a different graphic designer because I asked my main guy, like hey, this is the — it’s called vino card so it’s wine flashcards basically. And he said, look, I can do this for you but this isn’t really my style, I’d recommend you going with someone else. And I’m like great, I love the honesty because he’s more on the masculine whatever like my brand is, where vino cards is more of like a feminine organic feel. But at that point, I was able just to ask a friend and the friend recommended me someone, but yeah, it was worth it to do the 99designs the first time.
Trent: Yeah, absolutely. I’m absolutely loving the story so far. I hope everybody else is getting as much out of this as I am. I’m taking notes like crazy. All right, so you’re now at the point where you’re doing 40 odd grand a month, you’re still not spending anything on Pay Per Click advertising?
Travis: I recently — so now I am. The last month, I spent a few thousand dollars like $3,000 on PPC and got — it’s weird how it works. Supposedly I got like a 3x of return on investment on Amazon. But I need to do a little bit more digging and make sure those numbers are actually correct. But yeah, so now I’m doing a little bit of PPC and I have a whole list of things that I want to do. So I haven’t done — since I launched it on Amazon, I then went and launched it again on Shopify so that all the people that were back the Kickstarter can get a reoccurring subscription basically at the cheaper price.
But since then, I haven’t done as much for this company as I know I should, and I can talk about that. But a big part of it was I finally hit this number that I’ve wanted to hit for so long, I’ve always wanted — since I quit my job over five years ago, I’ve wanted $300 a day passive income, “passive.”
Trent: And now you have it.
Travis: And now I have it. And my goal for the company was by the end of this year to be hitting $300 a day passive income. And I hit it in January. And that kind of screwed with me a little bit in a very positive way. But it’s like, all of a sudden, oh, I’m making as much as I wanted to by the end of the year right now. And at the same time, I was selling out of inventory fast about at almost exactly the same speed as I could replace it due to cash flow, due to issues working with my manufacturer.
And so it put me in this weird position where, oh well, I want to keep the snowball going and I want to keep this going, but I if I market harder, I’m just going to sell off the inventory faster. I’m not going to make more money. In fact, it might be a very bad thing because Amazon will see, oh, he’s been out of stock for a month. He’s not very reliable. So in January actually, at one point I did turn on PPC. And then I quickly turned it off when I realized that my sales velocity was growing.
So now I have production hopefully under control. I have the cash flow, which is a big thing a lot of people don’t talk about because I raised $15,000 from a Kickstarter and I took $15,000 of my own money, which is a lot of money to me, put it into a production run and then I needed to order another production run before I had been fully paid from the previous one. And I’m like, oh, I think the timing worked out just well and I don’t know, but it worked out well enough where I was able to order it but I wasn’t able to put in another one to cover the timeframe, I don’t know yeah.
Trent: Welcome to being in an inventory based business, they are cash sucking monsters.
Travis: Yeah. Now cash flow is somewhat under control hopefully, and now it’s time to like actually go back in and start doing everything to market this company. And there’s a lot of things that I know I can do.
Trent: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So with that in mind, let me ask you, so now you are — so you’ve got your Amazon PPC turned back on. Is that correct? And what’s your ACOS?
Travis: I always forget how that works. I mean, it’s basically 3X. I spent $3,000; I had $9,000 in revenue.
Trent: Okay, so your ACOS is probably about 30%.
Travis: Yeah. So for folks who don’t know what that term is, ACOS stands for, it’s ACOS, Advertising Cost Of Sales, it’s how much you have to spend as a percentage of the revenue to get the revenue. So if you wanted $30, and your ACOS was 30%, it’s 30% of $30. So you’d spend nine bucks in ad spend to get $30 in revenue. And so you want your — and for most products depending on your gross margin, ACOS of 30% or lower is generally pretty good. And if you get really good at optimizing your campaigns or you use, like we use a tool called Teikametric which is fully automated.
So for a guy like you who loves all that free time, I would strongly encourage that you check it out because it has done a fantastic job of driving down the ACOS on the campaigns that we do. And the amount of time that it takes one of my team members to manage them went down by like 90% because managing Amazon campaigns can be very time consuming if you’re doing it manually. Another thing that I learned from another couple of entrepreneurs that I don’t think I published the interview, it was just a conversation, but are you doing anything with product placement ads yet and do what type of ad that is on Amazon?
Travis: Oh no, not on Amazon? I know Google product listing ads actually, no, I don’t know if I’m familiar with that actually.
Trent: Okay. So, when you’re on Amazon and you hit the big yellow Add to Cart button, the buy box as we call it, so right below the button, you can put an ad there. So unlike what you’re doing where you’re targeting keywords right now with either sponsored products or headline search ads, you could identify a competitor’s product, and you could then put your ad right underneath the buy button on their product. And what this brother and sister team did which I thought was absolutely brilliant, so they were marketing one of these cat boxes, you put your cat in the thing and you go on the plane or put in the car whatever, and their product was identical to the other person’s, both from the same factory, different colors. So how do you get market share?
What they did was they included a couple of extra things. So they included this little portable kitty drinking cup and a portable litter box, and a little like when you get like a little mini fishing rod with the tingly thing at the end and the cats love to swat at and chase it around. So they were able to get all of those extra three things for, I think it was like a buck their cost of goods sold, but the perceived value of those extras in the consumers’ mind was maybe 10, $15 worth of this extra stuff. So here they are, they’re getting ready to check out on the competitors’ product, as the competitor ranks organically much better than they did at the time.
And they’re right about to hit add to cart and they’re like, oh, wait, hey, what’s that? That cat box looks exactly the same, plus it comes with this extra stuff and it’s two bucks cheaper, hmm. And they did a phenomenal job and soon, they were the market leader. It’s an offer that is something that you may want to experiment with. So you said there’s lots more things that you could do, what are some of the things that are on your roadmap to do in the next 90 days?
Travis: Probably I have about 20 major things, but I’ll condense it down a little bit. Instagram, I’ve kind of let up on Instagram which is a little bit crazy. So I don’t like Instagram, for personal use, I do not enjoy Instagram at all, but I need to start doing it again for Performance Nut Butter. And I actually recently hired a virtual assistant that’ll handle all that kind of stuff for me. So, really gearing up on Instagram, doing better photos, and one of the things that I realized is I’m not a great photographer but what I can do is give people free product and exchange for photos. And they’ll usually post it on their Instagram, and they’ll give me a photo like a really, really high quality photo. So Instagram is a big thing.
Influencers is another big thing because the way my product works and there’s a lot, obviously it’s in the health space and there’s a lot of health influencers on Instagram, on YouTube, bloggers, I want to start capitalizing on that. And again, I’m going to probably go on the lower end at first, just dip my toe in and give people free product in exchange for posting on their feed. In my opinion, and this is debatable, I’m sure as I grow, it’ll change. But in my opinion, if someone is willing to post a photo on their Instagram just for free product, that probably means they really like my product. And those are the kind of people I want to work with.
I don’t want to work with people that don’t like my company unless I pay him $2,000 to post on the Instagram. So those are two of the big things. I mean, I just recently set up AdWords and product listing ads for my company. Facebook ads, that’s another big one. Facebook ads and Instagram ads. I’m really excited to start playing with those because I do have some experience with Facebook ads. And I think my product will do better with Facebook ads than AdWords because not a lot of people are searching for stuff related to my product, where I think on Facebook, it has a little bit of the wow factor, not wow, like a curiosity factor. You see it and it’s like, what is this? This is new. It’s interesting. It’s different.
And this isn’t the nicest thing to say, but when people on Facebook, they’re usually not feeling great about themselves, they’re usually looking at their friends and saying, wow, they have a better life than me. Maybe this product will make me feel better. I mean, that’s really, I do think that is why people shop in general, a lot of times online is a little bit of a dopamine boost. And so if I can say, hey, this is actually a healthy product, and maybe it’ll make you feel better and go have fun occasions like your friends on Facebook. I don’t know, maybe it’ll work.
Trent: It’s worth testing. Everything is worth testing. Have you done any experiments with running sweepstakes to build your list?
Travis: A little bit, not as much. And that’s another thing. So that’s my VA is going to take over all that kind of stuff because I’ve done it a little bit. But I’m sure as you know, there’s just so many little things that I’m like, is this going to move the needle enough? For instance, I spent a few weeks working on my Amazon and it increased my revenue by $5,000, and I’m like, okay, everything I do I’m thinking, is this going to move the needle enough to be worth it? And so, yeah, that is one of the things that’s on my list, but it’s pretty repetitive. And I feel like that’s something I can hire someone in the Philippines to do as long as they have really good English. So that’s on my radar.
Trent: And especially if you had a standard operating procedure in place for them to use.
Travis: Yes, and I do. I mean, I have it and that’s why I did on my own a little bit first, and I have all the steps. I think I’ve even recorded screen recordings on how they can do it. But it’s pretty simple. And I feel like that’s a waste of — I don’t want to say it’s a waste of my time. It’s just, it’s not my specialty. I’d rather pay someone else to do it.
Trent: I think that’s a very wise decision. You know I own a software platform for standard operating procedures, right?
Travis: Okay. No, I did not know that, yeah.
Trent: We’ll talk. I’ve got some ideas for you after the recording. Well, I want to run a few of them by you. There was — oh yes. So regarding contests, in Episode 240 of the show which is I’ll put the link in the show notes for anyone that’s listening or you can put to Brightideas.co/240, I interviewed another very smart entrepreneur by the name of Steve Chou. And he has built a very successful brand. They sell linens; he’s also got a blog called Mywifequitherjob.com. And in the episode, he and I talked extensively about how to use sweepstakes to build your list quickly. And he’s actually got a platform that is totally free at this point in time. So, if you’re interested in potentially using sweepstakes and your product strikes me as one that would be very good for that to build your list; I would definitely check that out.
Travis: Okay. Yeah, I will do.
Trent: All right, so we’re coming up on a 45 minute mark which is usually about when I conclude the episode. So let’s wrap with this, if anyone is listening and wants to get in touch with you, what is the one, please don’t list four or five, just one easiest way for them to do that.
Travis: Getting in touch with me hmm…
Trent: The contact page on your Shopify store?
Travis: Yeah, no, I mean, sure that works. Just, I mean, I guess, email me, Travis@effectiveecommerce.com is probably the one place.
Trent: And we didn’t talk about this before. So if you don’t have anything ready, that’s fine. But if you want to offer up any kind of coupon code for people who are listening who might want to actually just go buy your product.
Travis: Sure, bright ideas, we’ll just do that as the coupon code, we’ll do 20% off, but it’ll last for a month after this comes out let’s say that. I’m not sure exactly what — I’ll figure out when this comes out and it’ll in one month after whenever the release date is.
Trent: Okay. And we’ll make that brightideas, all one word with no caps, okay.
Travis: No caps, yeah, it’s all lowercase.
Trent: Okay, great. Well, I have to say Travis; I really, really enjoyed the interview. Thank you for coming on. I’d love to have you back in another six or 12 months when you’ve got more successes. And because you take a very formulaic approach, which is something that I really, really enjoy, because my mind works the same way. And so, thanks very much for making some time being on the show.
Travis: Yeah, thank you. Hopefully by then I’ll have hit my 100k per month revenue goal. And again, just a quick shout out, if anybody wants to follow the journey of trying to hit that goal, just YouTube search Travis Marziani and every week I post a new blog on what I’m trying out and what works and what doesn’t work.
Trent: All right, that’s it for today’s episode. Thanks for tuning in and take care and we’ll see you in the next one soon. Bye-bye.
Outro: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas Podcast. Check us out on the web at Brightideas.co. All right, sure I’ll go, I’m tired.