I can’t believe it has already been a month and a half since the ASM event in Vegas. I’ve made a ton of progress over the past few weeks in terms of ramping the business up and getting ready for the madness of summer.

 

A large part of my progress can be attributed to the fact that Caecilia and Dorothy are managing almost all of the day to day tasks in my business. I’ve winded down Hyacinth Marketing so I only have a few clients left. I upsold the remaining ones so I’m actually making more money on them and streamlined the operations so I’m personally doing less work.

 

For the first time in my life, I can truly say I’m spending the majority of my time working on my business instead of in it. Instead of getting bogged down with day to day tasks, I’m building a lot of systems and delegating more and more to Caecilia and Dorothy.

Leveraging Big Data From Big Companies…For Free

 

I’ve been experimenting with scraping for about 2 years now. I’m not a programmer, but I can understand the core elements of html and css and piece things together to do what I want them to do. Up until this past month, I would consider myself a complete novice when it came to scraping. Now I would consider myself an absolute expert. I’m doing tons of cool shit with scraping and am honestly addicted to it. I just want to scrape websites for the sake of scraping them just to see if I can do it!

 

One of our highest ROI activities is to give free products away to bloggers in exchange for a review. We reach their entire audience and get a review out of the deal. Some bloggers get upwards of 30K views per month, so it more than pays for the small cost of shipping the product out to them.

 

The other day I told Dorothy to build a list of about 100 bloggers that we could use to send products to. It took her at least 5 hours and her list was shotty at best. I knew there had to be a better way. There’s a website called www.tomoson.com that I used in the past, which connects brands with bloggers so you can do reviews. I canceled my subscription though because it was $90 a month and the only real value they have is a trust score that lets you know the blogger isn’t going to disappear on you before leaving a review. So I started thinking about it and figured why have Dorothy do all the leg work when these guys already have all the information on the bloggers compiled?

 

I started doing some more research into scrapers and spent about 4 hours one night getting nowhere with it. Later that week I tried again and was able to get some of the data I needed but not all of it. On my 3rd foray into cracking Tomoson, I was able to scrape their entire database of bloggers. Approx 18,000 to be exact, and completely categorized by niche in a tabbed out spreadsheet. Boom Baby! I’ll get back to how I’ve utilized this in a bit…

 

Shortly after scraping the Tomoson database, I commented on my friend Pete’s post in our Blacksmith Camp (Lithuania Entrepreneurs) facebook group and mentioned how much of a bad ass I was. A few days later Pete messaged me and told me he was developing a new software that hostels could use to run/manage their businesses. He was wondering if I could get a list of all the hostels in Europe.

 

All that “wasted” time I spent figuring out scrapers turned out to be pretty helpful because I was able to get this one on my first try. I went over to Hostels.com and scraped their entire database. In 4 hours (scrape time. My time approx 30min), I sent Pete a tabbed out spreadsheet of every country in Europe, broken down by every city in that country, broken down by every hostel in that city. I think it was about 26,000 rows of data in the spreadsheet!

 

Pete was obviously ecstatic about the goldmine I just sent him and he offered to pay me anything I wanted for it. I told him that since he was starting a new venture to save his money until they are cashflow positive. At that point he could pay me whatever he thought it was worth to him.

 

A few nights ago I was speaking with Justin’s wife Dreama. She recently started her own paleo chocolate pyramids food brand. She’s doing really well and starting to pick up distribution all over Vancouver. She also has a local celebrity Cross Fit/Radio personality as her brand ambassador helping her promote the chocolates.

 

She knew from speaking with Justin that I was using bloggers as a source of PR and wanted to see if I could teach her anything. Her case was a bit difficult because she can only ship locally since it is a refrigerated product. That means we could only use food bloggers located in Vancouver. Very niche case in terms of scraping big data, but I set out to see what I could do.

 

In an hour I found a list on UrbanSpoon of Vancouver food bloggers. Scraped the entire thing and sent her all of their information along with the categories of food and restaurants that they typically review. She absolutely loved it and sent the whole spreadsheet over to her intern who is now contacting all of them!

 

I also sent Dreama my entire operating procedure for blogger outreach (20pg) and youtube tutorial video explaining how I set up all my systems and have my outsourcers managing the entire process for me. It felt really great to be able to give back to Dreama and Justin like that after they have given me so much over the years.

 

Remember my business partner Ben from Montreal? We had a chance to catch up the other day after not having a serious conversation for almost a year. We’ve kept in touch over facebook, but honestly no excuse to not have a good convo in that long. Ben is a fast learner, so I actually spent about 15 minutes and explained exactly how to scrape to him and what softwares to use and gave him a quick live tutorial.

 

The next day he messaged me and was super excited.

 

“I mostly cater to professional services and IT firms… I attended an event for IT CEOs 2 months ago and I now have a list of all the participants, their title, their emails, the size of the business
[9:24:03 AM] Benjamin Beauregard: powerful shiznit!
[9:24:13 AM] Michael O’Donnell: It’s your new secret weapon
[9:24:26 AM] Benjamin Beauregard: you’re my new secret weapon
[9:24:31 AM] Benjamin Beauregard: lol”

 

Amazon has a list of what they call Hall of Fame reviewers. The status is determined by how many helpful votes your reviews have. If you get a review from an HOF reviewer it’s a big deal and you can literally see your sales increase over night because they are thorough reviews and people trust them.

 

So of course, I went ahead and scraped the entire list of HOF reviewers and all their contact info and now added it into our product launch to get at least 3 HOF reviews on every product and have them voted up to the top so they are front and center for all potential customers.

 

Was that enough examples of how bad ass scraping can be?

Building a Blogger Out Reach Process For Mass Publicity

 

Scraped data is cool, but you need to have the systems in place to be able to utilize it. Sweet I now have 18,000 blogger’s information, but do I do with it?

 

First thing I did was ship the excel spreadsheet off to Heidi to clean it up and make all of the data look nice. She’s my data entry girl and she spent probably about 10 hours working away at the spreadsheet. I definitely don’t envy that job, but she didn’t mind. After Heidi was done with it, the spreadsheet was pretty much ready to import into my new CRM system, Highrise.

 

We trimmed the list down to about 9,000 bloggers in our niche (Mommy, Food, Home and Garden, etc.) and added custom fields so we could tell what products they reviewed and when, what their unique blogger id was, address and shipping information, etc. Pretty much everything we would ever need to know about each blogger was uploaded into the system and is easily searchable. I can now do a quick look and find only US based bloggers who have reviewed our grill brush, but not our grill set, use rafflecopter for giveaway promotions, and has X amount of social media following. It’s pretty sweet!

highrise

 

So now that we had this entire searchable database, it was time to build a process so we could efficiently work it. I streamlined Dorothy’s gmail address into the CRM so she could send emails without ever having to leave the system. I then created template emails (initial contact, reviewed different product in past, 1 month follow up, etc.) that she could literally click 1 button and would auto populate the emails for her.

 

The goal is to get up to 1 giveaway per product per day so we have a constant stream of blog reviews coming in from around the internet. We did about 30 giveaways total over Christmas to generate that ridiculous amount of buzz we got! She spends about an hour per day on blogger outreach right now. I can only imagine what it will be like when we get up to full speed.

 

Dorothy does all of the communication with the bloggers to set up the reviews. We then give them the option for us to ship it to them or for them to buy from amazon and we refund them the money. This is sweet because we are generating sales velocity on amazon from giveaways as well. She then gets their shipping info and sends it over to Caecilia.

 

Caecilia goes into the backend of our fulfillment and sends out the product to the blogger. She then responds to Dorothy’s email with the expected delivery date of the product. Dorothy communicates with the blogger and then sets a 1 month reminder in the CRM system to follow up if the review hasn’t been posted.

 

Once the review is posted, Dorothy adds the link to our SEO software and promotes it on social media to help generate more traffic. She then pins all of the pictures to pinterest and adds the blogger as a contributor to the pinterest board. This means that any time in the future the blogger uses our products, they can pin a picture to our board. We are effectively leveraging our bloggers and customers to build our social media presence on Pinterest! I’ll talk more about pinterest later, but this is ridiculously beneficial because they are doing all the work for us.

Implementing Professional Helpdesk Software

 

I never knew how powerful and useful helpdesk software could really be. Now that we have it, I’ll never go back. Just having the peace of mind that it brings to the business is providing the foundation for my rapid listing expansion that I’m working on in the next couple weeks.

 

Caecilia used to respond to customers by logging in directly through Amazon. I get customer emails in my outlook as well so sometimes I would respond. On some occasions emails could be marked as read, but never responded to. It was just a very amateur way of handling customer service from an operational standpoint.

 

With HelpScout, emails are never marked as read or unread. They are just open or closed and it keeps all communication together so no customer is ever over looked.

 

I also added in Smart Automation into the help desk. Now, when emails come in, they are automatically tagged based on the product the customer ordered and the channel they ordered through. Using those tags, we can sort the emails into different folders. By having the sales channel on there it helps keep things so much more organized. Did they order a grill brush from amazon, a meat claw set from shopify, or maybe a bulk order of 3 thermometers and 1 grill set from 11main.com? With auto tagging it makes the back end operations so much smoother.

 

When Dorothy sends emails to Caecilia, they automatically get tagged as blogger outreach and ship now. We also tied the help desk over to our CRM so everyone automatically gets added into our CRM system and tagged in there so we know their information and purchase history. Even if they have purchased from different websites and different times, we can merge the data based on overlapping information (ex: email) and create 1 profile for them. All of this is done automatically.

 

I used to have a bunch of Notepad documents in Caecilia’s dropbox for our frequent responses. Just like I did in the CRM, these are now templated out so she just clicks a drop down and 90% of the work is done for her.
Before we had the help desk, I really had no way of measuring Caecilia’s effectiveness. Now we have all sorts of automated reports that can tell me what is going on in customer service with just 1 quick look

scout convesions

scout productivity

 

 

See the average response time? We need everything to be under 24 hours. In my opinion, she is really toeing the line. We had a conversation about response times this week because a couple slipped through to 48 hours. In the past when that would happen I would normally catch it and respond myself. Now I get alerts when these things happen and I can more effectively manage our customer service. It’s Awesome!

Tying Everything Together With Task Management Software

 

I really struggled with training Dorothy over the first couple months. I had my detailed written outlines and video tutorials on how to do everything. I knew she went through them all and I did some live demonstrations with her to make sure she completely understood everything. But time and time again she would mess things up or skip steps.
I started looking into the Hyacinth Connect (my training resource center) analytics and it was obvious that after going through the training she never really went back to reference them. When you have 38 Steps involved in publishing a blog post, you can’t possibly do it all right by just keeping it in your head. You have to follow the system and constantly refer to your framework. Same thing goes for our video submissions which have over 24 steps involved.

 

The number of steps involved may seem ridiculous, but I want to make sure we get the absolute most benefit out of every piece of content we product in terms of publicity and SEO value. We are going for super high quality on everything instead of just churning out content in mass volume.

 

In Dorothy’s Hyacinth Connect dashboard she has access to almost 30 different operating procedures and trainings on various tasks that she is supposed to perform. Caecilia has about 8 different tasks that she is required to perform. In the past I had them giving me daily reports, but that didn’t really do much to ensure all of the tasks got done on time. Not every task is a daily task and I already have too much on my plate to keep track of everything they are doing and making sure it was all done on time.

 

Setting up Asana (Task mgmt software) has been an absolute game changer in terms of management and productivity. I can now create tasks and assign to either Caecilia or Dorothy and know that it is going to get done. If it doesn’t then I can track and follow up on it. In order for Dorothy to start a blog post, she has to duplicate our Blog Post Template Project, which already has prepopulated in there all 38 steps in chronological order. There is no skipping steps or missing anything because she literally has to check off each box and mark is as complete before she can advance.

Example of Standardized Product Launch Template with Tasks and Sub Tasks

Example of Standardized Product Launch Template with Tasks and Sub Tasks

 

Dorothy is finally starting to catch stride and she is doing an awesome job. I’m finally using her at her full potential and I can tell just by talking to her that she is absolutely loving her job. There is firm structure in place so she always knows what is do and how to do it, but there is a ton of freedom involved as well and I let her use her creativity and I respect her input.

 

Caecilia on the other hand is having a little bit of difficulty adopting to the task management software. She has never really had much structure when working with me, so this is more of a change for her. She is also still an hourly worker so she has to manage other clients as well. Hopefully soon I can full time her and then make sure she completely adopts into the new processes and ways of doing things. She’s at about 30 hours per week now so come summer time we should have plenty more work for her.

 

I also downloaded the Asana app on my phone so I can see what is going on on the fly. Since Caecilia is struggling to adopt at the moment, I actually subscribed to her task feed. Whenever she completes a task I get a notification on my cell phone. She doesn’t know that I am being notified, but in the mean time it is helping me keep track until she becomes better.

Heading Back To Lithuania For Sovereign Academy?

 

A little early to jump the gun on a guaranteed acceptance, but I’m liking my chances. I just submitted my application video for this year’s camp last week and I’m amazed at the amount of progress I’ve made in just 6 months. It was also really cool to compare my 2014 application video with my new 2015 video. I ran this one by my dad before submitting and he wisely advised me to modify my ending to give a stronger What’s In It For Me reason for Simon to bring me back.

 

2014:

 

2015:

 

A few days after I submitted my application video, Simon posted this message in the Facebook group.

simon1simon2simon3

 

I know this year’s camp is going to be even better than last year.

 

Remember I ran into Yanik Silver in Vegas? When I was speaking with him I was asking about the young entrepreneurs camp that he runs called maverick next. Their website is still set up to apply for last year’s camp, so I PM’d him on facebook to follow up and remind him who I was. I’m on their list now so I’m going to apply for that camp as soon as registration opens http://mavericknextsummit.com/

Infomercial Production Has Commenced

 

I mentioned in my last post that we were working on an infomercial for the Meat Claws. This whole thing came about when I randomly stopped by the Parcel Place in Newtown to ship out a box. The owner mentioned that I had a bunch of mail in my P.O. Box that it was accumulating because I hadn’t checked it in a while. That’s the address I use for Cave Tools, but I never thought to check it regularly for mail. Inside was a letter from Landmark Direct.

 

From there we started talking and basically the deal they gave me was that they would shoot the infomercial for $7,000 with professional actors and everything like that. Then they would run the infomercial as a test market for 2 weeks. If I sell the target number of products during those 2 weeks (300 units) then they will purchase wholesale from me and I have to give them the TV rights on the product for a full year.

 

I wasn’t planning on doing any TV advertising over the next year so I was completely fine with giving up the TV rights. $7,000 is a bit expensive for a video, but they are doing a professional job on it and I will own it either way. If I pass the test market, they said they will purchase about 10,000 units at wholesale straight up. Basically, if I do well in the test market, I will turn a 20K ish profit over night. It’s a very TV Infomercial type product in my opinion so I am pretty confident we will do well.

 

The cool part about them running all the tv ads is that they only have the rights to phone sales direct from the TV. Everything else still comes through me and I get all the increased exposure and brand recognition.

 

I also priced the wholesale rate of the claws lower than I normally would for them. That way they can be profitable longer and they will run more advertising. My product inserts drive people back to the website so they can claim their free bbq recipe book. On the bonus page, I add them to my retargeting list and I also make additional offers to them. The way I see it is that this TV campaign is going to create an absolute firestorm of exposure around my brand and all of my other product sales will go up as a result.

 

I’ll post the video on the blog once it’s finished (only a few days left), but in the meantime, check out the script we agreed upon for the video. It’ll be interesting to see how closely the video comes out to what is written in the script.

Meat Claws Script #4 – Final

The International Housewares Tradeshow

 

I am so happy I did not get a booth for the IHS! I applied back in October or November and was told they were already sold out of booth space. In my head, I was just thinking I would lay a folding table out, put up a Cave Tools banner and call it a day.

 

This thing was huge! All of the biggest brands in housewares (think every product at bed bath and beyond) were there with massive booths. I’d bet the average booth spend was somewhere in the $15,000-$30,000 range. Companies built these giant structures and would send anywhere from 5-20 employees and execs to work the booths. Some even had private meeting rooms built so they could meet and negotiate with big purchases like Walmart and Target.

 

I think if anything I would have really hurt my brand by showing up as an exhibitor. Not that it really matters though because the biggest thing I learned at the tradeshow was that I definitely don’t want to go the whole retail route. It is such a cut throat game with everyone hocking the same products and fighting to the bottom on price.

 

I would grab a pizza each day and sit at a random table. Normally I would try to sit with purchasers (I could tell bc of color of their badge) and pick their brains about how everything works and what matters to them. Really interesting stuff. According to one guy, IHS is all about who can put on the biggest show and spend the most money. Kind of like puffing out your chest to show how relevant you are so the big box stores buy your stuff.

 

If I really wanted to get into retail for bbq products then the National Hardware Show would be the best place for me to go. I could go that route and try and pick up more retail accounts, but I don’t see it happening. My quality is way better than your standard mr bbq or Weber, but from a pricing standpoint I can’t compete. The price I would need to sell at doesn’t justify the marginal quality increase for the retail stores. In stores there isn’t much “selling” of a grill brush that goes on. People look at it and the price and toss it into their cart. Online I write full sales letters to show the importance of each feature and I can justify the price of the brush.

 

Online and retail are completely different environments and business models. If I went retail I would need to deal with returns, ship in pallets and change all my packaging to point of purchase displays. It would just be a totally different animal. It would also probably cost me a shit ton more money and take way longer to turn profitable. I spoke to one guy that spent 2 years and about $250,000 of his savings to develop his own soap dish and start getting it into stores. What a fucking idiot! He put his whole savings into it and is nowhere near close to breakeven. I can buy soap dishes in China and start selling them tomorrow and be in the green in 2 months.

 

When I normally go to events and shows they are entrepreneurial events. All of the attendees are business owners. This was such a corporate event and everyone was an employee for the most part. Totally different type of people and atmosphere. Made me so glad I’m not working in corporate America anymore. It’s hard to explain, but it just really bothers me.

 

The tradeshow was held in McCormick Center. The place was giant. I’m talking 4 full days of just walking up and down aisles of booths for 6 hours straight just to see everyone. The pamphlet book of companies was about 2 inches thick.

 

One of the funniest things I picked up at the show was the strong preference for American companies. You have to understand that all of these big companies like Cuisinart and Kitchenaid do exactly what I do and manufacture their products overseas in China. But everyone there is an employee, not a business owner so they don’t realize that it’s all the same shit. They understand the products are made in China, but they don’t make the connection that all of the Chinese manufacturers that the tradeshow hid in the back are actually the ones that make all of the stuff these American companies are selling.

 

People looked down on the Chinese section in the back because it was all “Low Quality” Chinese products. But when you walk back there you see all of the same products that all of the Big American Brands are selling. Execs from the American companies would go at great lengths to meet with the Chinese in private meeting rooms or far away from their booths so nobody would know who they were actually meeting with. It was actually quite hilarious.

 

I spent a good amount of time going around to American brands, taking pictures of their innovations and then going back to the Chinese section to negotiate with suppliers and see if they could do the same thing. I’ve looked at bamboo cutting boards before, but never saw one with magnets like this one American brand had. So then I went back and met a Chinese mfg and discussed it with them and they can do it for me. The magnets are a cool feature because as soon as you’re done the knife just sits right there.

cuttingboard

 

A lot of companies would also hire really cute girls to be their sales reps for the show. I would go up and talk to them/hit on them just to see their rehearsed pitches. It was really funny cause they knew what I was doing but they couldn’t not take me seriously because they had to work. A lot of times I would ask the rep or company if they would be open to letting me private label from them. AKA, They would order from their mfg and then put my packaging on it. This makes no sense because I would just cut them out and go to the mfg myself. By asking them about private label though, it would bring down their guard and I could ask a whole bunch of pointed questions about the product and sales. There was one product I really liked that the rep told me how they manufacture in Vietnam. I never would have found that product, but now I know exactly where to look.

 

One morning I was particularly hung over walking around and I came across the Mr. BBQ booth. Taking pictures is very frowned upon at the show because nobody wants their stuff to be exposed. I came across a double grill brush model and started asking a lot of questions about it and also taking pictures. I’ve seen a lot of these things popping up online and they claimed they had a patent on it. I called bull shit on the guy and he looked into it and their patent was pretty much worthless. He then started asking me some questions and I just told him we sell bbq products in our store.

mrbbq

 

I then went to the other side of their booth to get away from him. I proceeded to take pictures of a bunch of their packaging and picking up and feeling the weight of a bunch of products. The next guy that came over was seriously pressing me on questions and was getting pissed at all the pictures I was taking. Finally he read Cave Tools on my badge and asked me straight up if I was a competitor. I was like yea we sell similar products, I’m just checking out what you have. At that point he escorted me out of the booth and told me not to come back haha

 

In terms of products and ideas, I would say it was a successful show. I’m not at the liberty to just launch a whole bunch of new products right now because I already have so much stuff going on, but I got some good ideas and contacts with manufacturers. Also got some competitive pricing on my current manufacturers.

 

I am planning on launching 1 new product though that I picked up at the show, a grill degreaser spray. The company that makes it is Parker and Bailey up in Massachusetts. They have been around for years in the cleaning chemical business and are made in the usa. I asked the President about private label and he seemed open to the idea. Called him up on the phone when I got home and the wheels are in motion. This is a little more difficult than usual though because they don’t do packaging at their facility. Normally they just ship a pallet to a retail store.

 

So I’m working with a packaging facility up in Boston that should be able to do what I want. Basically Parker and Bailey will make a bunch of bottles for me and then ship them about an hour away to this packaging facility. They will then box them up in my Cave Tools designs, put the insert cards in, and then ship them all out to my Amazon warehouses. The average retail price of the degreasers is about $7.99 in stores, but online with my marketing I’ll get in the $12-17.99 range for them. My landed COGs after packaging and all the shipping will be somewhere in the $5-6 range. After advertising and sellers fees and stuff I should be able to turn a 30-40% profit margin on the product. Sounds good to me!

Rapid Product Listing Expansion

 

When we were out to dinner one night in Vegas, Shane made a comment about how you can use merchant fulfilled listings to list multiple products together. He didn’t really elaborate more on the subject, but said it was a huge game changer for him. So I wrote it down and started mulling it over.

 

In the past, all of my stuff was Amazon fulfilled. AKA a person orders and Amazon ships it out. Merchant fulfilled would mean I would have to ship it out so I always stayed away from that due to scalability issue. But the thing with merchant fulfilled is I can still parse the order over to Amazon and have them ship it out of their warehouse like normal. The only difference is that the process isn’t automated. We would have to do it manually for every order.

 

I do this when we sell on other sites like eBay for example. It’s kind of a hassle though because of the admin work involved. However, now that I have my kick ass help desk in place with auto tagging based on sales channel and product, the idea didn’t seem too bad anymore. All I needed to do was teach Caecilia how to ship products out and handle orders from multiple locations.

 

With FBA, everything has to be packaged together for you to list it. For example, If I wanted to sell 2 grill brushes at once, they would have to be packaged together in 1 sku so Amazon knew what to ship out. With merchant fulfilled, I can sell 2 grill brushes on a listing and they don’t need to be packaged together. When someone orders it, Caecilia just ships 2 individual brushes out. Same with combo listings now. I can sell a product listing of Thermometer and Meat Claws. When somebody orders it, she just ships one of each and they never have to actually be packaged together.

 

I already have people buying 2x and 3x of tons of products now where in the past that would rarely happen. If you think about it, they used to have to change the quantity field to get more. Now it’s right in front of them and they can see a discounted price for higher bulk orders. This is instantly increasing our average order value and profit per order.

 

This is a monster discovery! Think of it from an online real estate standpoint now. On my grill brush listing, I was always targeting the word “Grill Brush”, but now I can sell a 2x grill brush listing and also target “Barbecue Brush”. I can then sell a 3x listing and target “BBQ Brush.” The possibilities are endless and I can now take over a whole range of keywords to increase my exposure.

 

Normally with a new listing you have 0 reviews and 0 traffic going to it, so this would be super difficult to get the momentum behind it all. But what I’m doing is using parent child relationships. Normally they are reserved for things like sizes or colors. You wouldn’t want separate listings for each variation of the same T-Shirt, the reviews for the blue color would also be similar to the white color, so parent child brings it all together under 1 Parent Listing.

 

Each child can rank for their own target keywords, but when you click to view the child you see all the other children. So if you stumble across the 3x listing by searching “bbq brush” you also see all the reviews I already accumulated on the 1x brush and you can purchase the 1x brush at the same time. Basically they borrow credibility from each other and there is no lag in building momentum.

 

Between multiple quantity of the same product and mixing 2 or 3 products together as one listing, the possibilities are now endless. At my current product catalogue I can do something like 800 listings. I’ll never be able to do that many, but the point is that I can take out any keywords I want. I’m even targeting keywords like “gifts for men” which get massive search volumes. Normally I would never go for that because it’s too generic to get serious momentum and rankings behind, but with the borrowed credibility of reviews and the fact that all traffic on the product can see it under the parent listing, it makes total sense.

bulklisting

 

It takes a while to write and optimize each listing, but I’m starting to get pretty good at it. Let’s just say I can get about 80 listings up by next month. What is stopping me from copying and pasting those 80 listings over to eBay, NewEgg, 11Main, Fancy, and every other ecommerce site online?

 

The answer is nothing! I’ve already built the pricing and shipping models for 7 other stores so I can know exact financial stats on each site so I’m always maintaining margins. When people order on all those other places, it used to be a major bitch in admin. But now everything is auto tagged in our help desk and Caecilia is managing all of the multichannel fulfillment orders and shipping them out to customers.

 

Right now my plan is to get as many up on Amazon as possible. Then go through and copy and paste to all the other websites. I have most of my formulas and spreadsheets built and automated now. I just need to add in sales reports for each of these other websites and tie it into my inventory management spreadsheet. Sounds easy, but it’s much more difficult than it looks. I’m fine if reporting lags behind a little bit though until I get it all figured out. I know because of my models that the listings will be very profitable on the other sites, it’s just about getting the reporting to catch up.

 

Pinterest Advertising For Dirt Cheap Traffic

 

One of the big takeaways from the Ezra Firestone mastermind I did in Las Vegas was to get set up doing Pinterest advertising. A few years ago when Facebook advertising was new, it was like the wild wild west. You could get tons of cheap traffic on any offer you ran and turn it profitable. Now that everyone is advertising on facebook, it is way more expensive and harder to turn profitable.

 

With Pinterest, we are right at the beginning of that cheap stage. The difference between pinterest and facebook is that facebook is all about interest targeting based on things people have liked in the past. Pinterest on the other hand is a futures engine where people pin things to boards that they want to get in the future.

 

The promoted pins are also native to the news feed. This means that there is very little difference between a regular pin and an advertisement. People can’t really tell the difference. The strategy here is to drive people to an engaging article and then use that to sell them or you remarket to them later to sell the products to them. It’s a much more indirect way of selling to people than just driving an ad that says buy my shit.

 

So the way I set it up is I look on sites like Buzzfeed and Zergnet for viral type of headlines. Things that people click all the time. We then write an article about it to get people to the page. I’m testing out a soft sell on some products and a hard sell on some others to see what works and what is converting. Total sales on the campaign right now are in the red, but a huge indirect benefit is that I am building a large retargeting audience that we can continue to market to so sales will come in later that can be attributed to these campaigns.

pinterest

 

The actual numbers I am getting right now on the Meat Claw campaign are pretty outrageous. 1,181 visitors for only $60. At $0.05 per click all I really need to do is make like 1 sale per 200 visitors to be profitable.

 

I installed heat maps on all of my landing pages, so once I get a little more data, I’ll be able to see exactly how people are interacting with the articles and the website once they land. We’ll make the necessary tweaks and we should be able to turn pinterest into a cash cow for us.

Preparing For ASM 5

 

ASM 5 is launching in April (couple weeks) and Jarod and I are starting to prepare now. We have our own affiliate system ready so our members can promote our group to their family and friends and receive commissions. Jarod has also been working on developing more software for ASM Elite.

 

I actually backed out of the software side of things so I didn’t have to fund it and I gave him full ownership rights. In my opinion, getting into software development would be too much of a split focus for me at this time. I think there are also a lot of big dogs in that arena that would end up blowing us out of the water anyways. They can reverse engineer our stuff just like we did to our competitors. The only difference being that they have full time employees working on their software where Jarod and I would be piecing things together ourselves.

 

Jarod really wants to build his own software company so I’m happy to step out of the way and let him go for it. I still get to use all the tools for free anyways, so really all I’m doing in giving up the potential profits from a business opportunity that would make me pull my hair out anyways.

 

We have software, we have our affiliate system, we have our strategy we used last time for scraping interested people and contacting them. In terms of our offer, most of that is going to fall on me because I am the marketing/strategy guy. I’ve decided that our angle this time around is going to be more on the done-for-you side of things. We surveyed all of our members to get their opinions on us in the beginning before they purchased, what their thoughts and feelings were about ASM, what they need the most, etc.

 

Turns out that a lot of people need guidance on the actual processes and workings of running the company. I have tons of processes and guidelines I am willing to share (not giving up the house on marketing techniques though) that will be super helpful for them. The angle and the sales letter I am going to write will end up being a lot about how everyone is offering them so much Extra information when the biggest problem people face is execution. People want to know that they aren’t going to fail and our done for you scripts and processes and training will help you run your business like a pro and make sure you don’t fail. It’s going be good

 

We are also adding a lot more training into our members area. Jarod did a 30 minute presentation on the entire patents process. I just did a 45 minute presentation on outsourcing. We’re also going to add in some advertising modules in there so our content is bulked up. We’ll have a list of recommended softwares and step by step operating procedures for them to use.

 

The way I see it is that this is going to be the biggest launch ever. They just bought Amazing.com. Last time around a lot of people weren’t super trustful of amazingsellingmachine.com because they didn’t know who they were. With Amazing.com there is an instant credibility boost. Kyiosaki and Richard Branson promoted last time. This time I can see them pushing even hard and getting more big names to promote as well. Jarod and I just need to scalp the followers of these big names just like last time and we are golden. The only difference is we split things 2 ways instead of 3 ways. I would love to get an extra $30K ish dropped into my account, I really would 🙂
This is also the last time they are launching the course in the U.S. After this launch they are setting their sites on Europe and other parts of the world. Luckily for us…

I Leave For Aruba In The Morning

 

At the Aruba mastermind, one of the biggest action items is to get every single one of us up and selling in Europe. They will take us through all of the tax requirements and get our businesses set up so all we need to do is ship our products over and we can start selling. In terms of future ASM launches, this will position us as having the international experience necessary to mentor new students.

 

Originally when I was considering the whole Europe thing, all I could think of was that I would need to start a whole new brand because bbq isn’t huge in Europe. But apparently I don’t need to set up foreign bank accounts or a foreign corporation to start selling there, so in the mean time, I might as well send some products over and test the waters. Plus I’ll be able to deal with VAT issues and stuff like that on an already established business instead of adding that on top of all the new business regulations associated with a new foreign entity.

 

Coincidentally, I just got off the phone 10 minutes ago with an Amazon Canada rep. He is part of the recruited merchants team and his job is to help get Cave Tools selling in Canada. They are going to map all my listings over and help streamline the entire process so I can start selling in Canada as soon as possible. All I really need to do is ship products up there and I should be good to go.

 

Canada definitely isn’t going to be near the demand as the US is, but it will be an extra sales channel and less competition. There are some international duties I need to pay to get the products over the borders, but that’s it really. After that, I don’t need to pay any taxes in Canada from what I understand.

 

I was going to have to do this anyways for the UK, but currency conversions will be interesting. For instance, I’ll be paying for products in USD to China, but then when the products sell they will earn CAD and then Amazon will pay my bank account back in USD. Currency rates fluctuate so this could be interesting and it will definitely add a wrinkle to my spreadsheets to track all of this shit and make sure I know my numbers. I’ll also have to adjust all my pricing in Canada and the UK to accurately reflect the currency differences.

Injecting Cash Into The Medium Rare Bloodstream

 

My biggest issue last year was staying on top of inventory. Now I not only need to be on top of American inventory, but Canadian and UK and whatever other countries I decide to target in Europe. I could go into all the retarded issues and regulations I had to deal with to get my line of credit and loan, but it would just take up space and infuriate me. In short, it took an extra 3 weeks to get the money and the government owes me $250 that they probably aren’t going to give back.

 

Anyways, I now have access to a little over $100,000 worth of capital to use in the business. Aruba alone cost $15,000 but I paid for that mostly with my commissions from last ASM launch. Only about $5,000 of it came from the bank money. Besides the remaining payment on the infomercial, almost all of that money is going towards inventory and new product launches.

 

I calculated that about 80K is going to go towards just stocking up now for my core products to make sure we don’t face stock out issues over the summer. The other 20K is going to go towards ordering new products. Just like that, all the money is spent.

 

My goal for this summer is to string multiple 100K months in sales together in a row. Once my next 2 shipments get into inventory (been waiting at the dock still because of the strike), I should have a retail value of about $220,000 worth of inventory. That’s only about 2 months worth of inventory on hand at projected/desired sales levels. When you have a 90+ day supply chain that’s not enough inventory. I just placed a bunch of inventory orders yesterday, so we should be able to have some reinforcements coming in in about 60 more days. From there I will monitor and continue to place more orders as the sales increase. If I have to, I will do some plane shipments, but really hoping to do as much ocean as possible.

 

In terms of inventory requirements in Europe and Canada, I’m not sending a whole bunch right at the outset. I need to take care of my primary source first, which is America. I’ll most likely test the waters with 500-1000 units of each product and then measure to see how things go to see when I should send more inventory. The cool thing about adding international markets is that I don’t need to go through manufacturing just for them. I can group my manufacturing together into larger order quantities so I get better pricing. Then just split the shipments up based upon demand.