TAS 416 Strategies for Building a BRAND Using Social Media that Competes in a Highly Competitive Niche (Product and Market Revealed)

How can you push your brand to exceed expectations and thrive in the marketplace? What will it take to build a reputation that creates raving fans and loyal customers? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Lucas Walker as he opens up about lessons he has learned from creating and growing a successful ecommerce brand. What lessons can you learn from Lucas’ story? Make sure you have pen and paper ready as Lucas shares key insights that could make all the difference for ecommerce sellers like you – don’t miss it!

Social Media Promotion

Let’s face it, it is very difficult for a brand to gain momentum and financial success without having a social media presence. What Social Media strategy do you have in place to expand your brand’s public profile and engage with customers in a memorable way? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from business leader and entrepreneur Lucas Walker. Lucas has been able to grow a thriving and expanding business largely due to his savvy Social Media presence. Make sure to listen to this episode as he explains his approach and how leaders like you can follow suit.

Build An Email List

If you had a sure fire way to communicate with your customer base, roll out new promotions to spike your sales, and a test new product ideas, would you jump on board? Of course, you would! So how’s your email list strategy working out? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott and his guest, Lucas Walker make the case for leveraging a well thought out email list plan to build your business. While it’s not always perfect and there can be issues along the way, building an email list has proven time and time again to be one of the best ways to connect with your customers and drive sales. Hear more on this topic from Scott and Lucas by listening to this episode!

Customer Engagement

When you sell your product in a digital space, what does it look like to go the extra mile and connect with your customer in a meaningful way? Is customer service a practical goal when it comes to the ecommerce space? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from business leader and innovator Lucas Walker. Lucas breaks down his approach to connect with new customers and following up with them in a way that elicits engagement in a unique way. Lucas’ customer engagement strategy is brilliant – make sure to listen to this episode to hear more!

Be Patient and Consistent!

What qualities are necessary for a business leader to find the success they are looking for? Intellect? The perfect product? Luck? While all three of those would be nice to have, according to Lucas Walker the key ingredients are patience and consistency. Lucas is convinced that in order for sellers like you to get anywhere with building your brand, you’ve got to exercise both of these qualities. At the end of the day, it comes down to keeping an eye on the big picture and remaining consistent in your approach to building a brand that will last. To hear Lucas expand on these ideas and much more, listen to this helpful episode of The Amazing Seller!

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER

  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
  • [4:30] Lucas Walker joins the podcast.
  • [6:00] Lucas tells his story about getting involved with ecommerce.
  • [11:30] How did Lucas connect with his first customers?
  • [14:00] Figuring out packaging and pricing.
  • [16:00] Promoting your brand via Social Media.
  • [22:30] Utilizing contests and other ways to engage with customers.
  • [28:00] Email follow up with new contacts.
  • [32:00] Advertizing to customers and encouraging return buyers.
  • [38:30] Lucas talks about his plans for the future.
  • [40:00] Parting advice from Lucas.

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TRANSCRIPT TAS 416

TAS 416: Strategies for Building a BRAND Using Social Media that Competes in a Highly Competitive Niche (Product and Market Revealed)

 

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 416 and today I’m excited because I have…

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…another guest on that I actually ran into when I was visiting Toronto. I was there in Toronto for a game that my son and I went to, met up with Dom Sugar there, spur-of-the-moment, you might have heard on a past episode when I actually planned that trip which was literally like in a day’s notice.

We went to one of the playoff games and I had a little meet up there. I had a little TAS meetup in Toronto, never done that before, so decided to do it. We had about 15 people show up literally within 24 hours so it was last minute thing and this guy happened to be there, a listener of the show and also someone that’s building a brand and really gets social media, he really gets email lists, he really gets brand and how to build a brand and he is also open about discussing his brand because he is building it for the long haul. He is not just banking on Amazon he is building it on Shopify and his own platform and he is using his own channels and all of that stuff.

His name is Lucas Walker. I had a great conversation with him, a long conversation at our Toronto meet up and he had a lot of great conversations with a lot of other TASers there just explaining what he’s done and a lot of what he’s done is about, it's very similar to what we’ve talked about and that is building a following in a market with an email list or a social presence.

Now, he is doing Instagram, he is doing Facebook and I wanted to have him come on and really talk about his overall strategies as far as moving forward. He does a lot of really cool things, I love the way that he thinks and then that’s why, again I wanted to have him on here and really also to catch up with him. It’s been really a little while since I’ve wanted to get him on. We’ve really trying to get together to record this and then either something came up on his end or something came up on my end but finally I get to have him on the show and since I talked to him things I’ve happened.

[00:02:13] Scott: So I’m like, “All right, you’ve got to catch me up to what’s happening now and what has happened since we last talked and that’s exactly what you’re going to hear here. So, you’re going to hear all of that stuff. You’re also going to hear how he discovered the product that he is now selling and the brand that he discovered by coming up with a solution for a problem that he was facing and then literally him and his wife came up with it and then started doing this thing on the side and then said, “Hey wait a minute! If other people are doing this in the ecommerce space, why can’t I?”

The other really interesting thing is, he really didn’t look at the competition as far as like, do I need to worry about this market because it’s very, very competitive and he’s going to talk all about that market, how this all came about. He is going to talk about his strategies for building the social media, how he really communicates with them, how he gets buzz, a lot of really cool thing.

So, I am going to stop talking now so you guys can listen but I’m super excited for you guys to hear this because Lucas is a really, really smart guy and whenever we can get in the room with a smart person, we want to listen and pay attention and he is doing really good things. So, I really want you to listen and pull out some of these nuggets that he’s going to drop on us and implement those. I just want to say, a lot of the stuff that he is talking about we are actually doing in our new brand, and that’s why I love talking about this stuff even more because I know the power in doing this stuff.

Little quick reminder, two things, number one, the show notes can be found at theamazingseller.com/416 and then you can grab all the show notes to transcripts if you wanted to read through them word for word, they are there for you, for everyone that wants those show notes and those transcripts.

[00:03:56] Scott: The other thing that I want to remind you is there is a free resource that will go really, really well with the conversation that we had today, that Chris Shaffer and I had already done and that is our list of building workshop. It’s free, you don’t even have to register for it, you don’t even have to enter your name and email address, you just go there and it is going to be there for you guys to start going through.

That can be found at theamazingseller.com/buildlist and that is where I suggest you go to really start understanding, number one, where your market is and then how to build a list inside of that market and then also how to use social media to help you do that as well. So, sit back, relax, enjoy this deep dive into this amazing brand that Lucas is building and all of the things that we are going to learn, so enjoy.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:04:46] Scott: Well hey Lucas, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, how are you doing man?

[00:04:50] Lucas: Good, good. I’m glad to be here, thanks for having me and I know it’s been a few weeks in the making so I’m glad we can finally find a time for both of us that works. When we met, you were coming down for the NBA playoffs, it was Raptors, probably in the first round, so that would’ve been April-May, so it’s been a few months.

[00:05:11] Scott: It’s been a long time. It’s been a long time but it’s… The thing is, there’s a lot that’s happened and there’s a lot of things that we want to talk about then and now there’s other things that have been happening, so I just really want you to kind of give me a little bit of catch up and for everyone that is just tuning for the first time.

I want to give them a little bit of the background but I met you at one of our TAS meet ups in Canada, in Toronto and you just kind of blew me away with all of the different things that you are doing with your brand and really talking about social media, Shopify not just Amazon and that’s really what I was really intrigued by is that, you weren’t like, “Okay, everything is Amazon,” you were like, “Amazon is a part of it but there’s so much more that we are doing and you see the big picture in social media and pages and using contest and all of that stuff, so I guess I just want to kind of go through what we kind of discussed but then really dig into a few of those topics. So maybe give us a little bit of a background like how you even got involved in this ecommerce game.

[00:06:14] Lucas: Yeah, so we started Treetop and it’s a national dog treat company. Three years ago now we were just making treats for our dogs because we’ve got big boxers and most of the pet stores here are really geared towards smaller dogs because that’s the trend right now with dogs ownership and also it’s easier to hit that sweet retail price falling at $4.99, $9.99 but we were tired of going and buying three packs and spending a ton on treats because we didn’t want to give our dogs all the crap that’s in, or the mass products. We were making are our own and I actually had a bunch of friends selling on ecommerce, selling socks and stuff. I figured you know what, if they can sell socks on internet I’m sure we can find a community of dog owners that want to buy some treats, so we built the first Shopify site back in October-November 2014 and then it took a couple of weeks to get that first sale.

We didn’t really advertise or promote it too much. It was actually an organic sale, somebody found us through Reddit and I remember, I was coming back from a Buffalo Bills game because I was only leaving the country for a few hours, I didn’t have any [inaudible] on, so I’m sitting in line in the bridge, I just turn my phone back on and I see this notification that I’ve never seen before and it was a little Shopify icon so I’m like, “Wow! That’s addicting.”

So a few months later when I was actually like off my job, it was two weeks before a big Pet Expo. We figured, “You know what, let’s do this as the test, if we can get people who have never heard of us to purchase, then let’s see if we can make a go at it.” I think we did probably three grand that weekend in sales, so we thought, “You know what, this is something, if that’s one show in one revenue stream and we can boost online and go wholesale.”

I think we have business here, we’re looking at the competition and they just didn’t really connect with their customers so Riley and I, my significant other who also is a huge part of Treetop and wouldn’t be possible without her, we were just like, “You know what, let’s do this and make it happen.” So we did a bunch of little shows over the summer and we are actually on  an episode of the Shopmasters podcast talking about how we built the brand going to all these little trade shows.

That first summer we spent 30, 40 days on the road, just going out there and talking to people and you don’t always see the ROI going to tradeshows and I guess it will be that for sort of revenue stream but you are talking to people, you are building connections, who knows what will come out of that connection or the value of a customer you might get especially with us, when it is a consumable product we have a fairly high lifetime customer values.

So, if we get one customer in one of these events that stays with us for their lifetime of their dog, that will pay for the show and then some plus everything else that we make. It’s also nice to get the feedback from people. Everyone is just trying a new trick, we can try that with 50 different dogs in a day, they say, “You know what, our dogs like it but it’s not that popular, maybe that’s not something that we want to go on release.”

[00:09:30] Scott: Okay, I’m going to pause right here, just because that’s… You just a bunch of stuff that I want to dig into because it sounds pretty straight forward and I know a lot more went into that but you have these dog treats that you are making and I’m assuming you are making them yourself, just kind of putting these things together, and you kind of did a little bit of research to see like, “How do I perform these things,” and like all that stuff.

So, you had to do all that stuff, you make these things, your dog likes them and you know people that are in the ecommerce space and you are thinking yourself like, “Wow, if they can sell these things, I can probably sell these things.” So you never thought for a second though that this might be like a competitive space, you didn’t look at how many numbers are being sold, you didn’t look at any of that stuff, you just thought that, you know that there is pet owners out there like yourself that probably want better treats and we will go out there and we’ll see what happens, is that correct?

[00:10:18] Lucas: Yeah, we didn’t take a pragmatic approach at all because we weren’t planning on building a business, it was really just going to be a hobby to make few extra bucks, similar treats are being sold at PetSmart at all the big pet stores, there is enough demand out there so it wasn’t completely blind but nowadays at incredibly competitive space, I would caution anyone looking to get into the pet industry that you are competing against PetSmart, Petco, treat.com which is now PetSmart, Walmart, Amazon, Nestle, Mars, you are competing against huge brands so your advertising cost can be significantly higher which is a nice transitioning into talking about some of the social stuff that we are doing to really build our audience and engage with them

[00:11:04] Scott: That’s going to be really what l’m going to want to focus in on because again, people would say, “I’m not going in that market because it’s way too saturated.” And I would agree with that if you don’t have a plan in place or something that you know that you can have some type of unique selling proposition, some type of brand recognition or a loyalty or any of that stuff.

Okay, so you start selling these things, now let me ask you this though, at these tradeshows, were these too like people that were buying them for their pets or were they businesses that you were going to wholesale? What was that customer?

[00:11:36] Lucas: Yeah, it was, I would say 90% direct consumer then usually we would end up at least talking to your couple of retailers, they would say, “Oh you what, I’ve got a store, or I work in a store.” So it would be both. The ideal trade show or little show that we do, we would be profitable that weekend directly, first pick up lifetime customers and get into a retailer. That would be the ideal weekend for us.

[00:12:04] Scott: Okay, cool but mainly you got people walking through that are pet owners, they are looking at the stuff and then you are like, okay cool, and then you might strike a few that are retail that you can maybe get into those locations eventually which would be great.

[00:12:19] Lucas: Exactly, and our big retail strategy is, we ask our customers which retailers they want us to be in and then they will tell tag on social media and some listen, not all do, but it shows that demand will at least get us in the door to talk to a lot of retailers or maybe we wouldn’t be talking to otherwise and when you are doing sales it gives you a reason to give them a call.

So when you call them up and say, “Hey, you know what, the reason for my call is that we have mutual customers and they would love to buy our products from you,” it’s a lot more compelling than, “Hey retailer, we’ve got a new brand, you want to carry it? Even though it’s competitive to products you are already selling.”

[00:12:58] Scott: I like that. Yeah, you're kind of like validating formulae, like, “listen, I’ve talked to a bunch of our customers and they would really love to buy it in your but it’s not there yet.”

[00:13:06] Lucas: Exactly, the number one thing you can do when selling to retailers is to help help them make more sales. So it’s, “Here is a silver platter of customers for you with all the data.” That actually goes to our long-term strategy with Amazon is eventually, we’d love to be in a Pet Smart or big national chain. We are not quite there yet but when we are, we will have that data on what products are being sold in what area and we can do a little nice little overlay map of, “Hey, this is where we’ve sold products and let’s narrow it down to a five mile radius of your source.”

[00:13:38] Scott: Okay, yeah, I like that. Now, let me ask you this too, okay so when you are first starting out, how did you come up with the size of the treats, how many come in a bag, how many packs? Did you start off with just one pack or did you start up with like you were going to do three pack, five pack, how many in a bag? How did you come with that stuff? Before we get into the social plan here.

[00:13:59] Lucas: You know when we started out, and again it wasn’t very pragmatic at all but basically we just got some coffee pouches and what felt good in the bag. Our pricing was all over the place so I don’t if you want to cut this up but here is a major nugget for anyone doing consumer package goods into line price everything.

So as we matured we learnt to set the same price at everything, don’t have some products at $8.99 and other products at $16 if it’s going to be very similar in the eyes of the consumer so try to make everything a line price, which was the lesson that we did learn along the way but when we first got started we did all kinds of stuff that didn’t really make sense but it’s one of those lessons that you learn along the way.

[00:14:47] Scott: What would be an example of that? Can you give me an example of how you line your pricing so it kind of aligns, you are not all over the place?

[00:14:55] Lucas: Yeah, so all our products are either four ounces or six ounces unless they are done by individual account and then our prices are all $14.99 for the individual bag and then it goes down as you buy more, so we also do five packs and 10 packs so obviously there's a bulk discount. So then five packs are $60, 10 packs are $100.

[00:15:18] Scott: Got you. Okay, that makes sense and I think it’s simpler, it kind of simplifies the process.

[00:15:24] Lucas: And we are not big on discounts so we can always say, “Hey, well, if you want to save 25% buy a 10 pack or a collection.”

[00:15:30] Scott: Yeah, no I like that, that’s really good. That’s smart. Okay, now let’s talk about this, I think this is what everyone is probably curious about, I’m curious about. You are saying to yourself, “Okay, we just need to build ourselves a social presence, we got to get people talking about this stuff, what better way nowadays with social media to make that happen?” What was your first plan? Or was there even a plan in place that you said, “We are going to start to get some buzz and this is how we are going to do it.” What was your first social platforms that you started and which ones are the best today?

[00:16:04] Lucas: Yeah, Facebook and Instagram is where we started, that’s still where we spend the majority of our time. Instagram was the best when first got going because it was very easy to make those one to one personal connections and we we’d just sit there on the couch at night and comment and message 10 or 20 people each every night and maybe between the two of us doing this a couple of times a day.

All of a sudden we are having a hundred, one to one connections and that’s really how we built up our fan base early on was, we would search for people posting our product, search for because we are in Toronto, you know the #dogofToronto, really getting micro focused to build that brand and that loyalty with our customer because we couldn’t afford to spend $50,000 on advertising for months to create brand awareness but people would buy from us. They were receptive to us at the trade shows and the nice thing is that social media really helps scale that out and helps you find those people that will always be loyal to your brand which down the road.

The more engagement you can have on your content earlier on, so let's you posted, the more engagement you going to have in that first hour, the higher the number of people that will see it will be because Facebook says, “You know what, this is the content let’s show it out to more people,” and so by building these personal relationships will say, “Yeah, I like Treetop and I’m just going to habitually like their content.”

It also helps by posting good content that people like but that’s really what we do, is really sort of pound the pavement on our smartphones on Instagram to build up that initial following.

[00:17:53] Scott: So, were you then looking at similar pages that had your idea of clients or your customers and then you’d reach out to the customers or do you reach out to the pages on that?

[00:18:03] Lucas: Yeah, we will reach out to the customers. We followed a lot of hashtags on Instagram and that was actually one of the reasons why we did feel that there was that opportunity. One of the smaller independent brands, didn’t have good social presence. So their customers may have been posting on Instagram but they weren’t doing anything. I'm a big Gary Vaynerchuk guy so it’s if you get to Gary V. the thank you economy, if someone takes the time to post a photo of your brand on the internet, the least you can do is leave a comment saying, “Hey thank you so much for the share.” A lot of people weren’t so that was a very low hang opportunity there.

[00:18:44] Scott: I know, it’s so simple to do too and people they like that because you kind of actually reached out to him and personalized it by saying, “Hey, thanks,” and how long does that take you? I mean not long at all, so you basically…

[00:18:56] Lucas: No, you can do two a minute for 10 minutes and all of a sudden you're connecting with 20 people, it’s not, you are out of the discipline to do it every day and a lot of people don’t but it’s not hard.

[00:19:07] Scott: No, it’s not hard, like it’s like you said, you need the discipline and the consistency to do that over and over again and it’s going to be a slow start but it’s going to start to build momentum over time. Now, you did that on Instagram, did on Facebook, what were you posting for content? I know it’s also another big one that a lot of people want to know. What kind of content are you creating and it seems like that’s a chore to have to create all this content yourself?

[00:19:30] Lucas: We scheduled it a lot on Instagram, we repost a lot of things, just good dog pictures, it’s not rocket science, show the people what they want to see, so a lot of quotes too in Instagram, just finding and looking at what other pictures in your, you didn’t ask me if it’s niche or ‘niche' but it’s…

[00:19:49] Scott: It’s nishe where you are, right?

[00:19:52] Lucas: Most people are not saying nishe but I watched a lot of King of the Hills as a kid so I say niche.

[00:19:57] Scott: Do you really?

[00:19:59] Lucas: I just remember Kate saying, calling Bobby, find what your niche is and that will lead to riches, so I was saying niche and people looked at me kind of funny but niche or ‘nishe' whichever you want. See what kind of content is doing well there so I now that you like the garlic press example or the bass fishing example.

Maybe pulls a nice picture of a boat out in the water and take the time to write a couple of sentences about what that photo means or if you are doing the garlic press, take, find a nice photo with some cloves of garlic and some nice tacos and talk about that, inspire people a little bit.

You don’t need to inspire them to go change their lives but you need to get them to just think for half a second, you can’t just post generic photos, have a call to action, leave a question, maybe say, “Hey, when you are making tacos, what do you prefer, chicken or beef?” And just encourage that engagement. So I like to find good stuff, I’m a big Redditor so I will find corn in the desert on a wedding night, try get it posted pretty quickly and I pride myself on beating a lot of the top viral pages for finding things like that.

[00:21:14] Scott: Nice, there’s definitely some things you can take away from Reddit just from seeing what’s trending, what’s working and then you’ve been taking…

[00:21:22] Lucas: Like celebrities with dogs for us is always popular because people like that and then we also post all the behind the scene stuffs so whenever we are doing an event, whenever we are at a retailer doing a sampling day, we try to post as much of that as possible.

We post stuff with us a little bit, we probably should do a little bit more on the personal branding side of things but we also, we like to give back a lot so with the hurricane Harvey and Irma, we found these cool little canvas prints at Home Sense. So we gave them away and just to enter the contest, you had to donate five bucks to any charity whether they are helping animals or the Red Cross or someone and this we would comment saying that you did that.

So, we do a lot of serve more unique ways that way as well to build it up, we try to do fun little giveaways. We don’t give away a ton of products but we give away that our customers would like.

[00:22:15] Scott: Let’s talk about that a little bit because I know we talked about that in Toronto. You had did some types of contest and stuff to kind of get that going and you’ve also even did some stuff, you donate to charity, I think in your market it’s really good of our charity and people love to get behind that. Talk a little bit about that and what was your main goal in doing a contest or a giveaway, other than just brand awareness?

[00:22:44] Lucas: Yeah, for us we always encourage the behavior that you want. For us and any brand it's to drive sales, so we'll use a Gleam Contest, that is just the app we use and it goes on our Shopify page and you can assign different points for different things, so big thing for us is email. Refer a friend. We always say, “Hey, are you a customer?”  Our customers confirm, “What was your order number or where did you purchase from?”

Then we will encourage those people. Another one, “Hey, go leave a review on Amazon if you purchased,” we make that one where the list man appoints those so it’s not like we are incentivizing the reviews but it is asking our customers to leave their review on Amazon.

Those are the big ones that we do with the tool and sometimes we will partner up with other companies to give away something. We gave away a tether tag a couple of weeks ago so we had whoever give the most referrals and then one winner picked at random got the tether tags. We will do cool stuff like that. We actually find it really cool promo products so we do and that got picked up by buzzfeed it’s actually blown up, but we found a supplier that can do custom printed pillow covers so we will do, one of our loyalty program in the stores, if you buy 10 bags of treats you get the free pillow cover.

So, you can upload a picture of your dog, or your cat or your pet anything that you want and they will print it on the pillow cover for you. Some of these pictures are just absolutely stunning and then really, it’s like a little treats having billboards in your living room. So always remember you got it from us.

[00:24:22] Scott: Yeah, and that’s clever, that’s definitely clever. Okay so are you building an email list of non customers as well as your customers? I know if they buy through shopify, they will automatically add it but with Amazon it’s harder, are you building an email list outside of that? Is that like an interest from a contest of some kind?

[00:24:40] Lucas: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m going to give my big secret here that I wasn’t sure I was going to give away. We do a lot of trivia, that’s the other time that we post and we target it by blitz. So, let’s say, can you score, can you get over 7 out of 10 on box or trivia because people with boxers don’t really resonate with that then when we get is your score for your email address then we will usually do a little promo, “Hey enter your email for bigger treats, if you spend over 50 bucks in your email address.” That’s what we do to get it and that’s really how we build up our email list, which is still the best converting for us by far.

As sexy as social is, it’s still to drive emails because there is so much you can do with an email and especially for a brand like us which is not, this is where we going to be, “Oh, I see a picture of it and I got to have it so I’m going to go and buy it and it’s very transactional. Here’s a little bit of brand warmth, that I call it. We do a lot of our advertising, the other reason to have high engagement with your audience is because you can actually create a Facebook Ad audience to remarket to anyone who is engaged with your brand so in the US we’ll send a lot of the time we are actually advertised to send to our Amazon page.

Then the next set of ads will be ‘buy from us' because Amazon in the eyes of the consumer and it is easy for us to forget this, is it’s a very trustworthy source. There are a lot of you who only want to buy from Amazon whether it’s because they have prime or they just trust it.

We say, “Hey, you know what we are on Amazon prime or and then you can come to the website and buy from us.” We do a little bit of retargeting to both, just give people the options of where they want to buy. Then here in Canada we don’t have too much of a retail presence in the US yet. Here in Canada it will be, “Hey find a retailer carrying our products.” Again, people don’t always want to buy online from a website, maybe they just want to go somewhere local and pick up their product.

[00:26:42] Scott: Yeah, that makes total sense.

[00:26:43] Lucas: Yes, I know I said a lot there.

[00:26:46] Scott: Yeah, you did.

[00:26:48] Lucas: It’s really taking that holistic approach to look at everything whether it’s engaging social content that leads to if they don’t purchase then you get an email address. Using that engagement to retarget to your audience and keep them warm and give them a couple of options.

It’s not just, “Hey, you can only buy on Amazon. I’m only going to do Amazon PPC. It’s not, “I’m only going to drive foot traffic to my retailers.” It’s not “I’m only going to bring people to my website.” It’s a blend of everything.

[00:27:18] Scott: When you are let’s say you collect an email address and I know it’s probably going to be different on how they entered their email depending on what they did. Maybe you can give us an example, so if someone enters their email for one of your lead captures what would you follow up with?

Would it be a follow up with more content that they could resonate with of people using the product or maybe just a tip that they can use for their dog or so that way there and then you can wrap that around maybe your product. What’s your strategy with an outer responder responding to those after they've entered their email?

[00:27:57] Lucas: Yes, so the first email's actually an intro from us, from myself and Riley. It’s a picture of us and our dogs, a couple times that we’ve been featured in various publications and then we say, “Hey, reply back with a picture of your dog.”

A lot of people do take the time to send us a picture and we started that mail engagement with them going on. Obviously not everyone will but it’s going to take some time to introduce themselves. Even if it’s five to ten emails a day, I can quickly just say, “Thank you so much for sending this it’s great to meet you.”

Then the next email is just talking about different treats because we do get our store a lot well what trick should I be giving my dog. We educate the customer a little bit in that email. Then the next one is just sort of something fun, “Hey, here is our top five funny blog posts.”

Just keeping that engagement up but then in each email there is also hey you can always grab our core product on Amazon and here are some of those popular products. We put  those in the email as well but it’s more of a secondary thought not necessarily getting them to purchase right at that moment, but getting them to warm up to the brand and giving them the option to purchase.

[00:29:15] Scott: Yeah, no I love that I think that works really well because again you’re giving them value. They are not opening the email every time thinking they’re going to be sold your product. They’re going to see you're giving them… first of you’ve introduced yourselves so they know who they are speaking to.

Then number two they also then start to see that you’re going to give them good tips and advice because you guys have positioned yourself as not necessarily the experts but people that have done the research to find the best stuff for your dogs. Then from there you get to have some humor in there and some comedy and people love to laugh.

Why not make them laugh they’re going to become more of a fan. Then from there you could always sprinkle in and oh, by the way if you wanted to check out our treats go here or whatever, it’s just so easy.

[00:29:56] Lucas: Exactly, it’s a lot more especially for us because we have such a high lifetime customer value, the last time I clearly remember I think 37% of people had purchased more than once. That’s not including people who had purchased in a store and come to the website or on Amazon because we can’t track that, so it's probably a bit higher.

We don’t need to go and create as much urgency as someone that says, “Hey, sign up for you 20% discount that’s going to expire in 24 hours and then sends six emails in that 24-hour span saying hey it’s done and then that that emails oh, by the way because I like you I’ve extended it for another 24 hours in creating that false urgency.

We don’t need to do that as much. You always want to create some urgency so we’ll do and I get into something that you had mentioned a few minutes ago when a lot of times we’ll do sort of rescue days where we’ll donate say 10% of the sales that day to a rescue that we’ve gotten to know and mean something to us.

That’s not, we do seen uptake in sales because of it, but we do it as a way to get back if we can over the course of the year on a few different days donated a couple of 100 bucks to different causes and that’s, it’s something that’s nice to do and it’s a nice way to get back.

[00:31:07] Scott: I love that, yeah, no I love that it’s again it’s a way to give back. People love to be part of something, they also like to know that I’m not spending anything additional I’m just buying something I’m already going to buy. I might buy a five pack now instead of waiting or whatever.

I can also then donate, I think that’s great and it also shows what you stand for it shows that you’re not into it for just the money. You’re into it to make a difference. I think that’s really, really important. Let’s finish on this. I know we can keep going we’ve a hundred different things we could talk about but I know that you’re really good about planning out a funnel of some kind for someone that takes an action.

We just talked about that with your nature sequence. What about if someone goes in and buys a product? Do you have anything that is like a lead in buy that then shows them other things that they can buy in the backend or more of something? Do you have anything of that in place that you’re running Facebook ads to currently?

[00:32:06] Lucas: The biggest thing is once they purchase getting them to make it a subscription. We have a lot of follow ups around that… group for just repeat purchasers so it’s not huge, but it’s really our most loyal customers. Once we get people into that then we find there is a lot more of purchasing as well and we show a lot more behind the scenes stuff in that.

It’s not just buy, buy, buy but to build a brand first. It’s those two things it’s really the email sequence. The hardest thing is, knowing when they would want to buy more product. We experimented with a couple of up-sale things on the way they check out but we found it actually lowered our conversion rates.

It wasn’t really worth it. On the product pages we do have an ad just about buying and saving in the five pack and the ten pack. That’s really what we, where we aim to push it. Then we use free shipping on our Shopify site at another up-sale mechanism.

We do 5$ flat rate shipping or free over 100 box. Then a lot of you will do but in the buying that supersize collection or a ten pack just to hit that free shipping threshold. Nothing formal, we’re not using any click funnels or anything like that to do post purchase up sales. There are a few up-sale mechanisms along the way to increase your order size as well as to come back and make it a subscription.

[00:33:39] Scott: Let me ask you this so are you right now currently or have you experimented with running a Facebook ad to your target audience. Are you amplifying a piece of content where then they will be retargeted later because they’ve shown interest because they went into that ad and then maybe in that ad or in that blog post that you wrote they were educated and now throughout that you’re also sprinkling in some of your products. Are you doing any of that?

[00:34:04] Lucas: Yeah, in a couple of ways. The first thing is retargeting to that audience who’s engaged with us to then they get the hard sell of they buy some products either from Amazon or from my website.

We also do some, we hang those buzzfeed posts like ten things only box owners would understand. We had created a box of collection and then we used the buy button inside of that post so people could actually buy the product right inside of that post.

[00:34:32] Scott: Love that yeah.

[00:34:33] Lucas: Then our email popup will actually target that based on dog breed based on the URL so we can capture that information as well.

[00:34:42] Scott: I love that and what I’m hearing from you and it’s interesting and I think a lot of people need to pay attention to this. You could be talking about dogs and just all the dogs, but you’re talking about you can have specific breeds and then once you understand who that customer is as far as the breed, now you can almost position the content towards that breed owner. How much are you breaking it down to that level, because I think that could get, it could get a little overwhelming because you have so many different breeds.

[00:35:16] Lucas: Yeah, we focus on probably two or three core breeds that we know we have a lot of customer basis with.

[00:35:22] Scott: Got you.

[00:35:23] Lucas: Boxers, because we have Boxers so that’s very easy to relate to. Greyhounds because we do a lot of stuff with the retired Greyhound owners, and then we do a couple of other larger breeds but really Boxers and Greyhounds are the ones that we really identified with.

Those are the main ones that who we tend to focus on. We roll a segment content or we create content specifically for them, but like you touched on you could easily hire a staff of several content producers to just create content only on these specific dog breeds.

[00:35:54] Scott: Yeah and I think it’s pretty important though because once you call it out especially in a email I mean the title of the email could be ‘The best treats for your Boxer', right. If I own a Boxer I’m opening if it just says ‘The best dog treats', I’m not so interested, right.

That’s what I’ve said all along everyone is always like how do I differentiate my product. Figure out who your ideal customer is that’s using that product and then just tailor all your stuff towards that customer. Then you’re going to be like okay, they made this garlic press for this type of chef because the one that created the garlic press is this type of chef or whatever.

[00:36:32] Lucas: That’s it it’s and to use a garlic press example if you know that a lot of your customers make their own spices and rubs because they are really into barbecue, you can even go as specific and say, “Hey, 10 things only treager owners will understand” or “10 things you only get if you have a big green egg “

Or '10 signs you’re like me and you are a weber show and if you can really drill down into that people will resonate with that. If I get an email that says, “10 barbecue tips…” maybe I’ll open it but if I see 10 weber tips I’m definitely going to open that because I’ve got three webers.

[00:37:12] Scott: Right, so you just basically called out more specifically to you versus it just being so broad and I think that’s huge especially in your content.

[00:37:24] Lucas: Exactly and people really think that it needs to be this massive home run but even looking at the patent industry in Toronto and we did do a bit of research not as much as we would have probably been launching a brand specifically. We just went on YELP and searched pet stores in the GTA. The GTA alone, so that's the greater Toronto area for all the American listeners.

It’s probably a billion-dollar market, if you look at the number of pet stores and you figure each one is doing a million dollars a year in revenue plus that veterinary clinics plus dog groomers and dog walkers. It’s a big enough market like that’s more than enough pie for two people to cut out and go and make a business for the lifestyle that we want.

[00:38:09] Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so let’s wrap up with this, what are your plans? I mean you’ve been at this now for three years, started out as just thing that you’re dabbling in and then it started to show some legs. Then you got a little bit more serious and now you’re extremely serious. What’s the next 12 months look for you and your business?

[00:38:32] Lucas: Yeah, the biggest thing for us is really increasing distribution. We do have… I don’t know if I should say it in a risk of jinxing it. We do have a couple of big meetings coming up with a couple of big distributors. They will really make that retail push. That’s the biggest thing and then also just continuing to grow Amazon. Surprisingly we haven’t launched dot.ca yet so we were doing Amazon in the US, so finally getting our butts in gear and launching on dot.ca.

They’re have been a number of reasons for that, but really just increasing the distribution and continuing to grow. We’ve been fortunate to really experience a good month over month growth and just taking that and continuing it to grow and then landing a couple of big fishes if you will in terms of our retailers.

[00:39:23] Scott: Yeah, no I mean it’s pretty much rinse and repeat what you’re doing and just double it down on that, I think more things that are working. I know that you’re experimenting with a lot of other things and you are just always doing that with social especially.

Then from there starting to hone in on that stuff, but no man I think you’re doing great things I’m definitely going to want an update and see what you’re doing as far as in what you have done in the past 12 months because I know things change but you’re a doer.

You’re going to be doing stuff, so I’ll definitely want to definitely check in with you again. Is there any other last little bits of advice that you would give someone that’s either looking to start a brand from scratch or that’s taking a current brand and just making it better?

[00:40:09] Lucas: Yeah, be patient and be consistent. It takes on average five to fifteen years to build a brand and obviously that’s been accelerated through social media. It’s easy to read the stories of MVMT watches for example. That just blew up overnight and it’s like the analogy I draw is it’s like becoming a professional athlete.

You might be able to be a Bryce Harper or a Peyton Manning where you’re drafted first overall. You made it to the big leagues and you’re competitive from day one. But realistically, it’s going to take a lot of time to really go and find your market, find your first 100, 500 customers that you’re really are passionate about your brand as much as you are, and being able to leverage them.

As easy and sexy it is to look at all those stories of people going from zero to $50,000 a month in their first year, that’s probably not going to happen. If you are patient and you’re consistent and you can continue to grow, you will outlast everyone and that’s really the key to victory.

[00:41:18] Scott: Yeah, you said it perfectly. I mean patience, consistency and just again being in the game for the long haul and again I guess outperforming and outlasting your competition and just being consistent and patient. I want to thank you Lucas I know this is, it’s been a while coming and we finally did it. We finally got on a call, so that’s awesome and I definitely want to catch back up with you in the future.

I’m going to thank you once again, I want to wish you all the best in the fourth quarter which is going to be a big quarter for a lot of us. I just wanted to say thank you and I appreciate it and I know that the audience is thanking you as well. Take care brother and I’ll talk to you soon.

[00:41:59] Lucas: All right, thanks so much for having me Scott cheers.

[00:42:03] Scott: All right, so I wasn’t kidding. Once again another great conversation, I learned so much. I get inspired so much, I get more ideas the more that I talk to people on this podcast or in person like I was there in Toronto talking to Lucas and then just getting these creative ideas of what we can do to further build our brand because moving forward if you’re just starting and you’re on Amazon, that’s great right.

We’re going to tap into their marketplace all of their power of marketing and all of that stuff. If we want to really compete especially long term, we will be wanting to think about brand and really how that cultivate our own customers and market and be not necessarily a leader in that space but just front of mind. I think social media allows us to do that very, very well.

I think as you guys heard from what Lucas is doing they’re putting all of their energy into social media and then building that email list and then follow up and all of that stuff. If you have the power to be able to do that the leverage to be able to do that, your competition is not even going to know what’s happening when you’re able to boost your sales on Amazon and then start to rank higher because you have the leverage of the social media presence or the maybe the repeat sales or maybe the email that went out.

These are assets that you are creating and the one thing that he said which I have to remind you guys one more time is patience and consistency. You have to be patient with this. Social media is not going to be something that’s going to grow overnight. It’s going to take time but also I want you to think about this. I want you to think about this when you’re either creating your own content or even if you’re sharing people’s content.

[00:44:02] Scott: I want you to start thinking about that piece of content like an asset that can always be working for you after you create it and release it. You have to be thinking that way because if you have a piece of content today that shows how to do something really cool with your tool or your widget or whatever it is that you’re selling you want that to be relevant a year from now or three years from now.

Now that’s not always going to be the case but if you can think about that as you’re creating the content or even going out and finding the content, to me that’s going to also help keep that flow of traffic coming because it’s going to be relevant down the line. Okay, so just another little side tip there but patience and consistency.

You’re not going to see results overnight and if anybody is telling you that that you are, I’m here to tell you that they’re not telling you the truth. There is no way you’re going to go out there unless you borrow someone’s audience or leverage someone’s audience you can see an instant boost but that doesn’t mean that that boost is going to be there long term because you don’t control that, right.

       

They can delete that post or their traffic may die off after a week. If you have control of that asset, that’s something that you’re going to have forever and then you can repurpose that. What I mean by that is that you may have something that really does well on social media, and then you may put that into a little bit of a content schedule where now you can put that into your rotation.

You might post it this month and then next month you might repost it again and there is going to new people that have never seen that or even people that are on your social media or even on your email list that never seen it right. It’s okay to go back and remind people of that stuff or even just reminding them that you posted it in the past.

I think that’s one of the big mistakes a lot of people make and they think is that I don’t want to overdo it. I don’t want to give people what they’ve already seen and the truth is, not everyone is seeing your stuff.

[00:46:02] Scott: Okay, it’s just the way it works. I’m fired up as you guys can tell, lots of things we can do creativity is just going crazy right now in my brain once again every time I go through that I get more fired up. That’s where it also comes down to channeling, what’s going to be the best bang for the amount of work that you’re going to be doing and you want to look at that stuff.

What’s the low hanging fruit right now that you can advantage of? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. The show notes, transcripts, links all that stuff can be found at theamazingseller.com/416 and you can get all that stuff there. Now if you guys are brand spanking new and you’re new to the podcast, welcome number one hopefully you enjoyed the show.

If you’re thinking to yourself I just want to get started, I just want to launch my first product on Amazon and get the ball rolling. Well, I would recommend going to this resource right here and that is theamazingseller.com/workshop. It’s where I take all of these podcasts and all of the information and I break it down in about 90 minutes.

I give you five phases to go through step by step. I give you the road map so this way at least you can get the ball rolling. That is really where I always tell people to start is because it’s the easier way to start and then you start to build the brand on the back end of that.

Just wanted to throw that out there because I know I get a lot of new listeners and then they get overwhelmed and they think they have to do all this branding upfront and you don’t. The best way to start is to just get started selling something on Amazon, starting to validate the market, starting to get a little bit of momentum and then start building the brand around that once you see it has likes.

All right, so that’s it guys, that’s going to wrap it up. Remember as always, I’m here for you, I believe in you, and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.

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