The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast
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“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” – Walter Chrysler
Most Recent Podcast Episodes
All of the following episodes can be listened to in any order. So find a subject you’re interested in and start there!
Sam Priestley talks about his first business and how it led to his six years as a professional gambler. Everything from simple matched betting to running around London in disguises placing bets.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:
- Matched Betting – Risk-Free, Tax-Free Profit
- The Best Sports Arbing Software
- How To Make Money Arbing And Avoid Getting Your Accounts Closed
This is an interview I did for the podcast Life, Love & Entrepreneurship back in 2015. It is fairly short but I think gives you quite a good insight into the way I think, enjoy!
It is very hard to compete in an already established industry but it is also very difficult to create a whole new industry yourself. So in this episode, Sam Priestley talks about a fundamental concept behind how he positions his businesses: find a new angle to compete in already saturated marketplaces. An angle where you are the market leader.
Sam Priestley talks about one of the ideas central to the way he does business. Serendipity. And how he prepares himself and remains ready for unforeseen opportunities.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur:
- My Updated Investment Strategy – Investing In The Light Of Brexit
- Be Ready For Anything – Surviving The Turmoil Of Post-Brexit Britain
Ben is one of my favourite people. Someone who really inspires me and have a huge influence on the way I do business. In particular, he approaches problems in a unique way and is very comfortable going against the advice of his peers.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:
In this episode, Sam Priestley goes into depths on how you manage international logistics remotely and as a one-person business. In particular, we’re looking at a product-based business. Where the product is manufactured in one country and sold in another. We cover:
- Dealing With Factories
- Inspection Team
- Freight Forwarders
- Customs Brokers
- Final Fulfilment
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:
How logistics can all be managed by one person [01:07]Sam demystifies coordination with factories [03:52]Things to be wary of when seeking out an international factory [05:32]Why getting used to communicating via skype or whatsapp will serve you well as a one-person entrepreneur [06:09]The multiple levels of product samples [07:28]
How do you pay factories? [10:48]The role of inspection in creating a quality product [12:02]What might you do differently with factories when you have a very high quality item? [15:59]Sam discusses freight forwarding at length [19:51]An anecdote of a freight forwarder successfully managing difficult logistics in India [22:46]Discussing the final fulfillment and delivery to the customer [32:19]In summary [35:18]The role of automation in sales [34:03]
Hello and welcome to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur. I am Sam Priestley and this is my wife, Emma. Today we’re going to be talking about how to manage international logistics as a one person business. Hopefully it will be interesting and is something I get asked a lot by people, and I think are intimidated by it and it doesn’t take that wrong to research and pick out most of the steps and this should give you an idea about how the whole thing works. What I am really talking about here is a product based business where it is made in one country and is sold in at least one other country. There are many types of businesses that fall into this category and generally fall into the same thing where someone makes it, someone else transports it to its destination, someone then stores it and then someone fulfills it and delivers it to the final customer. Now each of those duties can be done by the same person.
How logistics can all be managed by one person [01:07]
Let’s say you’re a multinational business and you have your own factory and distribution centers around the world than you can do it all yourself. But in reality what almost every business does including people at Apple will be taken on by different people and different businesses. Specialty business who focus on each of these things. Things will get split a little bit further so I am going to talk about the different roles that we have. So the first role is the factory, the person who makes it. And we have an inspection team who will go in and view the products and make sure they are good enough for the final payment and shipment. And you have a freight forwarder to manage the delivery of the stock from the origin country to the destination.
E: That is the one I can never understand.
S: So hopefully by the end of this you’ll have a bit of a better idea. And if you have any questions, jumpin to ask.
E: Why thank you
S: So there’s another role which is tied up in a freight forwarder and customs broker. They are the one who negotiate your products through customs and duty in both the leaving country and the destination country. Normally your freight forwarder will also do your customs broking, but now they’re in separate role especially if you’re using an intl freight forwarder but dealing with conflicting countries which we’ll talk about in a bit. And once you’re in the destination company, you’ll have a warehouse where it’s kept and it will often require some prep for the products
E: So like packaging, labeling.
S: Yeah, also a bunch of things that take on multiple products and you’re putting it into a gift box, they might be coming from different countries in the factories, they’ll get to a central point and then get packaged together to get sent to the final customer, or it could be well we’ll talk about that a bit more in a bit. And then finally you’ve got the final fulfillment to the customer. Customer could be a person such as you sold on Amazon and then they received it. They could also be a business. Say you sold a pallet full of something to someone or a creative gin to a bar.
Sam demystifies coordination with factories [03:52]
Alright let’s dive a little bit more into these things. And I’ll talk a little bit about common questions people have and your different approaches to them. Let’s talk about a factory. Now the common thought is that you’re dealing with a different country from the one you live in. If it’s in the same country you live in, it might be fairly easy for you to go to visit the factory, or to do a tour for potential factories to try and find the one that is right for you, but generally that is not the case either because they are a long way apart even if they are in the same country, or if they are in a completely different country, it could be prohibitively expensive to get there. And what we often find there with these sort of small starter businesses is it is cheaper to produce your first lot of products with your factory than it is to fly out there and speak to them. So for instance you could produce 500 products something as an initial start of 2 or 3 thousand pounds. That’s kind of what it might cost you to actually start looking around and trying out different factories. And what you’ll find, especially if you’re dealing with in India or China is actually going out and listening to them isn’t particularly useful anyway because if they are dodgy they will put on a show for you and might even take you to a factory that isn’t theirs, so it is quite common that investors will go out to China and India or places like that, they’ll meet their rep that they’ve been talking to and the rep isn’t actually associated with the factory and is more like a salesperson and he will take you to the most beautiful looking factory that he is linked to and then might actually outsource your stuff to another factory.
Things to be wary of when seeking out an international factory [05:32]
And then the other reason is that there’s often bigg language barriers. When you’re going to rural industrial parts of China where there really isn’t any english speakers and you’ll be reliant on whoever your contact is, and often these factories, they’ll have a front person who you can communicate with in English but their English will be very bad and you’ll get further by talking to them via skype messaging or whatsapp or something like that, then you would actually speaking face to face because they can go back and google translate things. And also getting used to communicating with people like that will serve you well as you go forward
Why getting used to communicating via skype or whatsapp will serve you well as a one-person entrepreneur [06:09]
Because translators aren’t going to fly out there every few months to speak to them. You’ll be mainly communicating through technology. Well how do you find a factory? There are lots of ways and I don’t want to talk about it too much but you could use Alibaba or google and contact them. Generally what I like to do is contact a few different places and find ones who talk about pricing, getting onto pricing first because that is often the thing, pricing and minimum order because some places might have 100,000 units minimum order which would raise the price enormously, and that is not a risk I want to take. I do not want 100,000 units, I want 500 units. ANd also talking about price, because sometimes they want you to be committed and spend money on prototype only to tell you the final price. You probably won’t get a final price but you will get a general range which you can then refer back to later at the end negotiations. Generally what I do is ask for samples. There are normally multiple levels of samples.
The multiple levels of product samples [07:28]
The first level will be getting just their kind of stock products. Which often places will send you for free. Or just at the cost of shipping. Be wary, some places will charge you loads for this, saying it is 100 pounds to send you one t-shirt. It is up to you what you think is worth it, but a lot of places will just send you stuff out for free. If places do want to charge me a lot for their base product, what I will do instead is get them to send me a prototype of the product that I want. You want to see that they’re not just taking someone else. You want your customization. You want your branding, your colors, fonts, etc. So if it is prohibitively expensive just to get their stock items, it probably won’t be that much more to get them to create your own personalized version. Whereas places that will send you the stuff out for free, when it is just from their stock, will charge you for the prototype. And eventually you want to do the prototypes before placing the big order. So that is sort of like that, you’ll probably go for a few rounds and it can get a little bit expensive. Because bare in mind you will be shipping, sending by airfreight, whatever the prototypes you’re getting to you. Then you’ll ask for changes and they’ll send you another one and it can take a long time, but it is worth sticking with and is something you should factor into your cost. And every time you spend 50 pounds to get the product over to you, that is a lot cheaper than it would be to sit over there and work through it.
E: WHat is the average amount of time people should expect to go through finding a factory, prototyping, to then agreeing a price and then putting your order in. Where you talking 6 months?
S: Yeah, probably, a little bit less than that. Probably about three months to get your prototyping done and then probably another 3 months to actually make it. If you factor in three months, you might do better than that. People talk about getting it all done in a month but realistically that is not going to happen.
E: Well when you’re starting a brand new business relationship with a factory, it might happen in the next product range for someone that you’re used to working with.
S: Yeah, or if you’re just jumping on a trendy bandwagon, like you want a fidget spinner and all you want is just your logo on it, you could probably do that straight away, you might not even need prototypes. But there you are relying on speed to market rather than customization and rather creating something actually unique and a good product.
Alright so let’s talk a little bit about the other issue that people have with factories which is how do you pay them, dealing with somewhere you’ve never been, doing it with people in China or Pakistan or the Philippines or some country you’ve never been to before, you don’t know much about their culture, and there’s loads of different ways, some of the suppliers I work with I just pay them once it is all ready.
How do you pay factories? [10:48]
But, you know there are people who I have worked with for a long time. Most new relationships you start off with will require some sort of upfront payment. Some places will ask for 100%, which I would probably never agree to, but generally somewhere between 30 and 50% upfront. Followed by sort of 50% to see you take control in the stock.
E: Yep, that sounds good.
S: There are ways you can make it a little bit safer, you can pay through esgo [?] services where you don’t receive the money until you’re both happy. So stuff like alibaba’s Alipay, paypal also has stuff. Just be aware that they take quite high commission, so you’ll have to pay extra in order to have the factory allow you to use these items. And generally I don’t bother because normally my first order is fairly small and then slowly scale up and by the time I am sending 30,000 pounds for an order we’ve been working together for so long and it is in there interest to play fair.
The role of inspection in creating a quality product [12:02]
Next I want to talk about inspection, and it kind of ties in a little bit with the kind of when you pay because, especially if you are starting a new relationship, you probably want to have some sort of quality control done before you accept receipt of the goods from the factory. There are a few different ways or terms for how you accept the goods from the factory. You don’t really need to know what they mean, and you can kind of google them, and generally you either accept them at the factory or onboard a ship so the two most people talk about are freight and board which is when they’ll deliver it to a ship or x-works when you pick it up from the factory. I’ll almost always use exwork, but it doesn’t really matter, just make sure you get quotes for it because what is quite common is you will do freight and board and will have agreed on the price for the item and then they will have charged you a huge shipping cost to get it from the factory to the ship, which is generally why I don’t do it because I know I can get it cheaper through my freight forwarder than what they will charge me. But that is something that you need to think about ahead of time. Almost always, especially when you’re ordering large amounts, you will want to sort out the shipping yourself, because there is a third type of term which is when they deliver it directly to your house or warehouse which is fine for prototypes but generally it will be a lot cheaper if you organize it yourself. So, x-works, the other thing I like about it is before you actually accept the goods you can send an inspector to the factory to check them and do some quality control. What they’ll normally do is they’ll go in and they’ll take ones at random and they’ll run through a checklist of checks for quality. And what you want to do is before the factory starts work on the products, you’ll have negotiated some sort of terms as to what sort of default rate you’re happy with. And what will happen if they fail to meet it. So, they will, inspectors will go in if everything is good, you’ll then pay the rest of the money and they’ll ship the products out. If they fail the inspection, then they’ll have to make good and bring the default rate up to the level you’re happy with before you pay them the final bit of money. What you’ll sometimes fine and generally as you start working with people and they get better in knowing what your needs are is your default rate will drop to a low enough rate that it actually becomes cheaper not doing any inspection at all and just to take the default rate and ship it out. But I think inspection is very important especially when starting with a new supplier. That is the case whether it is a factory in China or a distillery in just around the corner from where you live. So for instance we went and did an inspection on our first batch of gin that we ordered and we found that there was a real problem with the labelling and them putting the labels in the bottle and the way they were packing them into the boxes, which is something we were then able to sort out for the next round, but if we just then sent straight to the warehouse or the customer than we might never have known it or it would have taken us a lot longer before we got the feedback from the customers that osmethings wrong
E: And it affects your brand image.
S: RIght. You can do a much more intense inspection if you are doing a really high quality product, the factory might still be within your defect rate that you’re happy with but you might never want those defect ones to reach your customers at all, so the inspectors can go in, check every single product and throw out the ones you don’t want your customers to have. If you’re doing a high quality brand that is probably something you want to do. If there is a high price, you might spend 10-30 p an item to do a thorough inspection of each one.
What might you do differently with factories when you have a very high quality item? [15:59]
S: Okay let’s move on to a freight forwarder. This is a company that specializes in moving a product around internationally. It is usually big names, and they are good at doing smaller quantities via air freight, and then there will be other bigger companies that you’ve never heard, for whom you’d need a freight forwarder with to work through. Especially if you’re doing anything by ship, let’s say you’re sending a container load, a 20 ft container of products via ship. That would work out very very cheap per item but you need a freight forwarder to negotiate for you. There’s all types of freight forwarders you can get, you can get even get someone in your destination country who will be more expensive but easier to deal with, or someone in the origin country. If you’re producing in China, someone in China will sort all of this out for you. Really there are probably people in both countries, so if you go to someone say you’re shipping to the UK, they’ll have a partner freight forwarder in China who they’ll work with. So that is generally if you’re going from one country to another. What I do is slightly a step more abstract than that, so I go to a freight forwarder broker for all of my kind of international needs. So when the factory produces 4,000 table tennis bats, that might be split between six or seven different countries, so the freight forwarder will go and pick up all the stuff and.. Rephrase: I will organize it all in one city, so I will say we’ll send this amount to this country, and the broker will then go and get freight forwarders or freight companies in each of those countries who can then organize it and get it through, and then they’ll sort it all out from there.
E: lots of logistics.
S: Yeah, and so I just use a company called FlexPort for that. I’ll go to the dashboard and sort it all out and then they’ll organize it all for you. It is a bit more expensive, it is cheaper to work with the smaller freight forwarder in each country, but as you expand and get more international then it becomes quite a bit of work working with all these companies, and then also finding a freight forwarder you’re happy to work with. And they can also get more complicated in terms of their pricing. So what I say is don’t be afraid to look like an idiot and asking loads of questions. What I do is after we’ve talked all about it and they’ve given me a price list, I’ll go through it and calculate exactly how much it’ll be and then I’ll go confirm the price list, which will include 101 different items and you need to add them all together and work out how much it is going to be for whatever and it can get quite easy to miss things. So don’t be afraid to confirm exactly how much it is going to be. But generally, freight forwarders, international freight is very complicated but it is very easy to outsource. So I, especially at the start, didn’t really know anything about it. But you’re just paying someone to do it for you.
Sam discusses freight forwarding at length [19:51]
E: How did you select your freight forwarding company initially, did you do research, are there reviews online?
S: Yes, there are, but it is a very old fashioned sort of business, so it is very much a terrible website, speaking to people in person, talking on the phone, when I first started, what I did is I posted on a forum, I can’t remember what it was, maybe UK small business forum or something like that, and I asked if someone could organize this. At the time I wanted them to send it to an Amazon FBA warehouse, and this was before Amazon was well known. So I needed someone who could support from China and then prep it such a way that it’d be accepted by Amazon because they have very strict delivery requirements, and then we prepped Amazon. Eventually we moved to flexport, they’re kind of just the best known international one, they’re a google backed startup who received a bunch of money and they basically brought the web to freight forwarding. So now it is all just like an online dashboard where you put everything in, and you don’t need to talk to anyone on the phone and negotiate. You just get your price, yes or no. There is, so freight forwarding, the other side of freight forwarding is custom brokerage, which is often, I’m going to kind of put them two together, so someone like flexport or freight forwarder would be able to sort it all out for you. And the really nice thing about this is that each country has a very different requirement for what it takes to get your stuff in there. What licenses you need, how they need to submit the reports or whatever. Having a good freight forwarder will do all of that for you and just tell you what you need to do. Is that what happened. So India is the most bureaucratic place I’ve ever dealt with, and getting your stuff into there was something I am going to talk about in a second. So if anything goes wrong, having a good freight forwarder, they can sort it all out for you.
An anecdote of a freight forwarder successfully managing difficult logistics in India [22:46]
The way I normally do it is I don’t bother doing much research into the countries, I’ll just say send my freight forwarder a request saying can you send this number of stock to this country. And they’ll give me a quote. So normally they just give me a quote and then they tell me what I need to do and it is all very straightforward. In the US, they’ll say oh, you need an import form or you need this thing or that thing, here are your choices here is how much it costs. With the UK I needed to send an email to a government agency to get an importation number. But the freight forwarder tells you all that. With India, they said India is a hugely bureaucratic thing, so before we give you any quotes, let’s sort all this out. We need a, b, c, d, e, f… there are many documents we needed. Even then, we did all of that and even then when it arrived in India, there were issues. So we thought we had everything, it arrived in India and the first problem we had, there were a bunch of problems, the first one was that we needed to have stuff stamped with our company stamped. And we hadn’t we just signed it, but what do we do now? Who has a company stamp? We don’t. ANd our freight forwarder told us about this and we eventually got some friends out in India to make a stamp for us and stamp the documents and eventually sold it. There are a few things like that where there are issues in India or moving across state lines in India that we weren’t able to fix if we were trying to navigate it ourselves which is good, and stuff does happen like your stuff can get stuck in customs and be inspected by customs agencies or whatever, and your freight forwarder is good at dealing with all that. So I’ll say just kind of outsource all this and make sure you build in the cost of all this to your business, and then yeah. I think nowadays it is getting easier to find freight forwarders. But when I started it was very very old school and we actually went around to a few like freight forwarders and houses and stuff. The only other thing to our freight forwarding is generally you have two choices which is sea freight or air freight. Sea freight is very cheap but it takes a long time. So say we ship from China to the UK, or China to USA. We’re talking 6 to 8 weeks and it often gets delayed by a few weeks and there will be a storm somewhere in your ship or you’ll get them lost to the sea. It just takes a long time and you’re paying pennies so if you see the cost breakdown of shipping by sea, let’s say our quote might be $1,500 for a shipping container. Of that, the actual sea freight will be like $400 and the rest will be like the paper work at this point, taking it off the point, the final delivery to this place. The actual on the ship is very cheap. The other way to go is air, which takes only a few days which is how I do pretty much everything nowadays. It is a bit more expensive. But it means that your logistics and cash flow is much easier to manage, and generally I prefer simplicity. But with something like flexport, they will give you a quote for both and then you can weigh out, is it worth spending 30% more to send it by plane but have it there in a week as opposed to be sitting in it for 2 months waiting for it to arrive. Alright, the next step is warehousing, actually keeping it and getting it into something you can do yourself, you can keep it in your garage or whatever.
Understanding warehousing [27:04]
This is something you can use like Amazon FBA, which is Amazon’s network, where you’ll store it in their warehouse and then whenever someone orders something on Amazon, they’ll deliver it. Or you can go to a completely third party company for. For instance, a lot of people doing the FBA nowadays, including me. It is a very popular fulfillment service. What they do have is very high long term storage fees if you keep your stock in there for six months or more. So what people will sometimes do is they’ll store their bulk in another warehouse which is very cheap for storage costs, and when they’re ready to store it to Amazon, they’ll just send smaller amounts. If you’re doing, so with our gin for instance, we’ll do a lot of wholesale, which isn’t very good for Amazon. So we’ll take an order in person, say via email, for any number of bottles of gin, and then I can just go onto our warehouses onto our online thing, and then they’ll go send it out in boxes. Super easy, and if I have something very specific, let’s say we’re delivering to something like Mars’s Mob for instance who require all the number printed on all the boxes, then I can get the warehouse to do that. But Amazon FBA wouldn’t do any customization and they charge you a per item delivery rather than the lot as a whole.
E: Yeah, it is B2C rather than B2B.
S: The other reason to have a third party warehouse that is not linked to fulfillment is for prep. We talked a little bit earlier about if you have stuff coming from different factories and countries, you can have a central location where they are packed together, you get something like subscription boxes, you get them from all different places and have them packed into one box and sent as a whole. A classic example of this is with bottles. With Gin as an example, in order for them to take our bottles in an Amazon warehouse, they need to be packed in individual boxes with airpacks, which are inflatable things around them. But they take up a lot of space, so it works out a lot cheaper to actually produce it near us in the UK, but if we produced it in China, it would be cheaper to store the bottles on a pallet and then send that to the UK warehouse and then have the warehouse prep them in individual boxes and then send them to Amazon.
E: And one of the requirements is you have to be able to drop the box from a certain height without them smashing.
S: From two meters on all four sides.
E: It’s quite specific.
S: It’s quite specific and in order to package it in that way and ship it internationally would be a real pain. Another reason to prep is for stuff like when we first start on Amazon, they require certain labels for different types of stuff. It is kind of important and also they might have different hazmat and requirements depending on your product, or electricity requirements that your customers might need and if you make a mistake and you have waited six weeks for it to arrive by ship in China, what are you going to do about it. The easiest thing is to find a prep service to go in and then change everything for you. Also if you have a really high value item, then having another quality control service at this point is also quite useful. So originally when we started doing table tennis bats and we weren’t too sure about the people we were working with, we would have our prep service go through and do a quality control on the items, so for instance the cases, they would go through each one, they would bend it, look for scuff marks, all that kind of stuff, now that we’ve evened out a lot of our issues, with stuff like that, now the factories good enough at producing stuff that we want to our requirements that we no longer need that, and can save money at that point.
E: So you had inspection at the factory as well as at the warehouse.
S: So we had full quality control at the warehouse in the destination country and that is because a lot of damage happens during the transit. So, because they are chucking it around and all this stuff, so stuff does happen and break and so we wanted our inspection to happen as close as possible to the final customer.
Discussing the final fulfillment and delivery to the customer [32:19]
If you’re storing it in your garage, you can go to the post office, put it in a box and send it off to your customer. What you will find is that it would be very expensive. Because big fulfillment centers have very good deals with delivery companies that means they get it a lot cheaper than you, and in fact places like Amazon FBA, if you are selling on Amazon, subsidize it even further so it ends up being very cheap for you to deliver parcels.
E: And then working at packaging is quite complicated and can be quite complicated in small numbers if you’re starting up.
S: Yeah, because they’ll just put it in an Amazon box and deliver it like that. Whereas you might need to buy delivery boxes if you are doing it yourself, and then you are getting a lot of boxes and could get a cheaper unit.
E: Something we found when we started out with gin and were packaging some of the first batch ourselves, is that not all of the packaging we purchased first time round was good enough quality. It took us a while to get the right box, the right package, etc. etc.
S: Yes indeed. So depending on your type of business, I have talked about Amazon FBA quite a bit because they’re basically the best on the market. For our table tennis bats we actually used Amazon FBA for everything. That is for sales on everything, for ebay, for our own website, for one of our sales in person. We’ll put it through that. And there are ways to automate that.
The role of automation in sales [34:03]
So you can link up say ebay or your website to Amazon and then whenever an order comes in it will automatically put through to the warehouse without any work on your half. I wrote a blog post recently that you can check out about that. And for other types of businesses, as we already said, we have different fulfillment options for different types of customers. So for gin, for one thing on Amazon, we use Amazon FBA, and that is because not only does it work out a little bit cheaper, given that Amazon FBA has subsidized rates for sales on their own website, but also it makes you earn more on Prime, and the Amazon algorithm means that you’ll appear higher up on search results if you’re using them. So AMazon will punish you if you’re not using them for sales on their service. But for sales on our website or wholesale sales, we will use a different fulfillment center, one that particularly suits our needs a lot better. And that is kind of it. So let’s quickly run through the different points.
In summary [35:18]
So someone makes it, you find the factory, you negotiate with them how they’re going to, what they payment terms are, what the minimum orders are, what the price per quantity is. You make sure that you have some way to inspect or quality control. And then you go for it. You don’t worry too much about having to visit them because you probably have it cheaper to order that first lot. And then if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, it is costing less than a flight. If you fly over there and it doesn’t work out it still costs you the flight. Secondly you need someone else to transport it to the destination country. If you are only dealing with one country you are probably best look for a small freight forwarder who will be very affordable and work with them direlt.y If you are shipping to lots of different countries than a bigger broker like we use Flex Port works well. Then in the final country you need someone to store it, if you’re just reselling on Amazon than Amazon FBA is a no brainer. If you are doing no sale or a lot of other types of orders, than you can find a different way to do that. Or if you are dealing with large quantities and you are worried about the storage fees at Amazon, than a third party warehouse to store stuff for you could work well. And finally you need someone to deliver it to the final customer. Again, if you are using AMazon, Amazon FBA is good or there are a whole host of other fulfillment options. You can read lots of options on the website, but if you’re kind of at a loss or just starting out, I recommend Amazon FBA because it is easier and simple. And slowly as you start building up your business, you can cut costs and one of the ways you can do that is finding a new fulfillment provider and warehouse.
E: How do you deal with losing stock at any point during the process, and stock that isn’t fit for sale, so would you recommend baking in some percentage to allow for that, particularly when you’re starting out, or is that something you just have to wait and see as you go.
S: It depends on what point you lose the item.
E: It could be several points.
S: With Flex Port, they can bake insurance into it if anything is lost during that process, they’ll reimburse you and that’s kind of baked into it. With other freight forwarders you get the choice of getting insurance or not and it is your turn to price it out and see if it is worth it.
E: Have you done that?
S: Yea, and we decided not to get insurance because the cost of losing one shipment, we didn’t think the risk was that high or the premium for insurance was worth it. If it gets lost on the way to an amazon fba warehouse, then amazon will pay you the retail value of whatever you’re sending in. So if they receive say six cases of 10 they should have 60 items but if they only have 54, they will pay you the retail value of those six items. So in that case you make quite a lot of money if they lose your items. I try to aim for between one and two percent defect or return rate, and that should be baked into your margins. If you’re hitting five percent returns or defect rates, yeah, you need to either, some industries that is fine like clothing has high return rates but that really needs to be built into your margins.
Okay, great, I hope you find that useful and as always if you have further questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to sampriestley.com where I have quite a detailed blog post on various different parts of this sort of process.
“The most important skill as an entrepreneur is knowing how to learn and how to improve.” – Sam
On this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast, we talk about six skills that you can work on now that will be crucial in helping you become a successful entrepreneur. Skills that you can work on improving right now:
- Financial Literacy
- Getting Over Fear of Rejection
- Written Skills
- Self Discipline
- Creativity & Out Of The Box Thinking
Sam describes the importance of management and leadership skills [01:06]
What business did Sam start in primary school? [03:00]Why is it important to gain experience managing people even when you don’t have the title of “manager” [05:00]Emma describes how to cultivate the skill of “upward management” [07:48]What are some ways you can gain leadership experience outside of work? [08:30]What is the importance of financial literacy or accounting for an entrepreneur? [10:29]What accounting terms did Richard Branson not know until he was in his fifties? [11:30]If you were a business, would you be profitable? Are you a good investment? [12:38]What role does rejection play in the life of an entrepreneur? [14:52]
How to learn how to get comfortable with rejection [18:37]Why Sam wishes he worked at a call center for two weeks during school, and why Sam actually used to volunteer as a police officer [19:37]How repetition breeds comfortability [21:10]Writing as an essential skill for anyone [23:37]The struggle of self-discipline [27:13]What role does thinking play in productivity? And how does it differ in an entrepreneurial versus a corporate setting? [28:30]Why does Sam set 30 day challenges for himself? [30:08]What role does creativity and out of the box thinking play in entrepreneurship? [32:29]How does generating 10 ideas about a particular topic enhance your understanding or efficacy in that area? [34:29]Why meetings are not “dead time” [36:52]
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur. I am your host Sam Priestley and I am here with my wife Emma. Today we will be talking about the six key skills that every entrepreneur needs. tHese are skills you can develop and work on and that you don’t need to be born with. And also skills you can do whether you are an entrepreneur already or just aspire to be on one day. And ones that I personally believe that while you can get by without them, your business is really going to suffer. And to get all meta on you, I also believe that the most important skill as an entrepreneur is knowing how to learn and how to improve. So hopefully by focusing on these six key skills, we’ll also be learning how to learn. Alright, let’s get started. So the first one and something that I am notoriously bad at and if you listen to my podcast or read my blog you’ll probably know that I go on about this a bit too much is management and leadership skills.
Sam describes the importance of management and leadership skills [01:06]
It’s something that I have kind of fallen into the self employment trap of by knowing that I am not good at it so trying to build businesses and avoid having to have them, so doing stuff that is relying on automation or technology and not on other people. Or focusing on sort of highly skilled other companies to do stuff for me, so instead of hiring people in a house, finding a company who can take a specific role in the business. And yes it is something that I do try quite hard to improve on and I have done quite a few businesses where I have tried to hire people and manage them and have struggled. So it is something that has been a real sort of long running battle with me.
E: Yeah, like the tech start up
S: WIth the tech start up, with the coffee shop. And now I have gone backwards and don’t have any businesses that have any employees at all.
E: Yeah, but do you have a management role in a lot of your businesses. You manage suppliers and have business relationships. That might not necessarily be full time staff.
S: Yeah, so managing business relationships with a factory who might develop your products or with supply chain, all that kind of stuff. Actually kind of management and leadership is something that I have been trying to work on the whole of my life. I have always known I’ve not been very good at it. As a student I would try to start a society or start a mini business in school, so when I was in primary school I started a school newspaper.
What business did Sam start in primary school? [03:00]
Started a couple clubs in secondary school. I joined the cadet force where I was in charge of other students. I think that leadership and management is something that a lot of people consider that you don’t need or don’t need to start working on it until later in life and kind of assume that you start off at the bottom of the ladder as an employee and then you get given a management role and then you convincingly become good at it or it is kind of a natural skill and it is not something that you learn. It is not learning how to use an excel spreadsheet, it is more of a soft skill. Some are better leaders than others. Some are better followers. I think that’s true to some extent but that doesn’t mean it’s not a skill that you can learn and get better at. There are hundreds of management books out there and big corporations are constantly sending their people off to management schools to get better at it. The whole idea of doing something like an MBA is to get better at managing people and businesses and when you were working at PWC you had to demonstrate your management abilities before you were allowed to even apply to become a manager.
E: Yeah, which is really difficult because how do you manage someone when you’re not a manager. You have to go out and find those opportunities, so whether it is starting your own initiative like a little club like I did, the same colleagues that are in the same grade as me or you put yourself forward within your team to run projects but that is all about the relationship that you have with your boss and putting yourself forward. I wouldn’t have gotten a manager if I would have just let things be and just not seeked out any opportunities because ultimately I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to manage someone and then I wouldn’t have been able to get to manager.
S: So you can get experience managing people without someone giving you a job as a manager. Can you give me some examples?
Why is it important to gain experience managing people without necessarily having been given the title of “manager” [05:00]
E: So there were marketing execs that would meet once a month to discuss issues we were having. It could have been something technical with some of the systems we were using, it could have been a training opportunity that one of us has found and we would recommend, or it could be that we are having this real issue with someone in our team and we just wanted someone else impartial to talk about it that we didn’t work with. That was like an open forum for people to discuss. And I would control the topics and run it.
S: Yeah, so I think kind of what you are saying is that you don’t need to have people underneath you in order to be doing some management. You can be in a group of peers and start something which you are kind of running. And then managing kind of sideways.
E: Yeah, but that does take a bit of courage and also a bit of creative. It is not just following what everyone else has done or is doing around you.
S: Yeah, it is not just waiting for someone to give you the management or leadership sort of stuff. I 100% agree, and I actually think the skill of managing and leading people who are the same level as you or even more important than you is an even better skill. If you can do that, you’re going to have no trouble for whom its their job to do what you tell them. If you think that just because you have a title, that you’re going to be able to tell people what to do and they’re going to do it, it doesn’t really work like that. I think it’s something that I, especially as a child, when you think about stuff like a general in the army, you think people do what they tell them just because they’re a general, when actually that isn’t really the case. Being a good leader means you’re someone that people look up to and want to follow or just a good manager, good at inspiring people, good at getting people to do what you want is just as important. So you kind of talked about how you do that in a big corporation, you set up something sort of different like an outside of work project. There is also stuff like you can talk to your boss and take the lead on certain projects. Which might include managing upward. Sort of partners who are all involved and you kind of take the role of managing the project and making sure it gets delivered.
Emma describes how to cultivate the skill of “upward management” [07:48]
E: Yeah I was going to talk about the skill of upward management because for me I had a lot of skills around digital marketing and we’re talking kind of four years ago now so digital marketing was still quite new for someone like PWC so me taking the lead on social media, email marketing, general use of the website, even as basic as that, kind of carved out a bit of a role for me and made me look more senior and more in control than I guess I was, because the people I was working with were a lot more senior to me, and they didn’t know or have any of the skills that I did. So by teaching them about digital marketing, I kind of boosted myself up.
S: Yeah, and if you don’t have those opportunities, maybe you’re not in that sort of business, there is always a bunch of stuff you can do outside of work. For instance, if you’re in a local church, you can speak to them about running an event and take control of that. Get a bunch of volunteers to help you and manage the whole event. If you’re in school, you could talk to the faculty about putting on another sort of event or specific project. You can do stuff like Duke of Edinburgh or join a society or create your own and take the role on that, you were president of a couple societies at uni, which again teaches you a bunch of skills which will kind of cross over to entrepreneurship.
What are some ways you can gain leadership experience outside of work? [08:30]
Another thing I think of when I think of management and leadership are you organizing our wedding. And there you had to manage a lot of different suppliers and juggle everyone together. I think what I’m saying is to be a good manager, you don’t need to be in a management position. You can look at the skills that a manager can have and then try and do stuff that will then teach you those skills and then learn them. So it doesn’t really matter if you mess up or don’t get along with the people you’re managing because it’s just one small project, which means you’ll make all the mistakes early on so by the time it comes for you to hire you first full time employee you’ll know who you can work with, who to look for, what sort of person will be more rebellious than you can handle, whatever. Ok, let’s move on to the next one which I am calling financial literacy or accounting.
What is the importance of financial literacy or accounting for an entrepreneur? [10:29]
This is something that a lot of people kind of know is important but also think that they can outsource. I think it is terrible the number of small business owners I have met who have no idea whether their business is profitable a lot.
E: That is crazy
S: Especially stuff like coffee shops or little small shops, they don’t really, and sometimes you’ll sit down and look through the numbers and you’ll see that there is almost no way they can be profitable. So if you just sit down and put together a simple spreadsheet, how many customers do you need, how much do you make per amount of coffee you sell, they’ll hire an accountant to look at their numbers for a half hour every three months or once a year and then they’ll give them advice. That is not good enough, you need to have a really good grasp of what’s going on with your business. That doesn’t mean you need to know all the terms. Richard Branson famously didn’t know the difference between net and gross until he was in his fifties.
What accounting terms did Richard Branson not know until he was in his fifties? [11:30]
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t know what makes a business profitable. He knew logically and the common sense of how to look at how much you’re spending, how much is coming in, take the two away and you’ve got your profit. How to use a simple spreadsheet. You don’t need to be using pivot tables or macros. Simply plus or minuses to work out what it is your business needs to do. It is something that people do neglect and we don’t really get taught it at school, I don’t think. We kind of get taught maths but we don’t get taught to apply it to stuff like this. So again I thought a little bit about how you can learn these things without actually diving in and starting a business ike this to begin with. The most obvious one is to think about your own finances. Have a look at your income, your expenses. If you were a business, would you be profitable?
If you were a business, would you be profitable? Are you a good investment? [12:38]
If someone were to invest in you, would it be a worthwhile investment.
E: This is the most you think I have ever heard.
S: It is so geeky but I love it. What would you have to do, what are the risks about you? If you lost your job, is your business bankrupt or would it survive? HOw much are you saving. There are loads of other things you can do, doing one off projects and events. If you are running a pot roast at your local church. Do the finances for it. HOw much does it cost for the ingredients. How much do you need. How much are you going to make? That sort of thing. Community events. Stuff to do with school, young enterprise, things like that, run a society or university, make the books balanced, do all the maths, make sure it is actually not losing money. There are video games you can play or board games to give you a little idea on how to balance the books, how to make money. If you can’t really do any of that, think about maybe offering to help friends who are already doing things like this. Let’s say you have done your own finances, maybe talk to a friend who is kind of struggling and offer to help them with that. Think of them like a business, offer to go through their finances, maybe create a budget, look where they can save money, what are the best they can do? That way you are going to help someone as well as helping yourself to learn these skills. There are also charities you can volunteer at to do a similar thing and then do sort of financial literacy classes. YOu don’t need a maths degree to do this, you don’t need an accountant degree, you just need to be able to know where your business is going to make some money. Alright, onto the next one, we don’t really have a good title for this so I’ll call it fear of rejection and I’ll put down a bunch of things like dealing with confrontation, dealing with rejection, cold calling/approaching, sales.
What role does rejection play in the life of an entrepreneur? [14:52]
E: It is putting yourself out there isn’t it. Instead of being in a big company where you’ve got loads of colleagues and you’re protected, potentially you are going out there on your own.
S: Yeah, and I am kind of including anything in here where you’re going to either end up in a confrontation or you’re going to face rejection. You’re going to be turned down a lot, you’re going to be told no a lot or people might be angry or aggressive with you. Which is something again we don’t really learn at school. You can follow through life a very ABC pattern where you don’t really have to deal with this too much. But it is very important, especially if you’re running your own business. A lot of businesses struggle to get sales, and part of that is that they want to only be approaching and selling to people if there is a good chance that they will say yes. Whereas you’re going to struggle to grow that much. I really struggle with this with my blog. In fact, I kind of stopped marketing my blog because I didn’t like putting it out there in front of a bunch of people. And then getting mean comments from a few people. Even though 8 out of 10 really appreciated the content that I was putting forward, 2 or 1 out of 10, maybe even less than that, would say mean things or criticize it. So I struggle with it. But if you’re going to do anything entrepreneurial which is different out of the box, you’re going to get rejection, to face confrontation, you’re going to have people tell you what you’re doing is rubbish and a bad idea. It kind of crosses over a bit with our first one, leadership and the confrontation, how do you tell off bad employees, how do you let people go, how do you fire them? It is not easy. Especially if you are quite an empathic person, if you’re the sort of person who wants people to like you.
E: I think most people are aren’t they.
S: I think most people are.
E: I guess with every business you’re opening it up to negative feedback and criticism. So with the gin business, there could be customers that don’t like the taste of our gin. That is not something that we want to hear but ultimately that is part of having a business. We haven’t made a product that every single person in the world is going to love and that is the point.
S: And the gin business is a classic example. We aren’t going to door to door trying to sell it, we’re going to bars and restaurants. And a lot of them will say no and that is a terrifying thought for many people, including me. Walking into somewhere apprentice style with a product that you’re trying to sell to someone who might well not want it.
E: Whereas in reality, when you meet people, or when I meet people and give them a sample of our gin, everyone is usually quite pleased to see me and they love the fact that they are getting a free mini bottle of gin and actually it kind of breaks the ice. It is the bit afterwards where you follow up several times over email and phone to then, well I have only had it a few times. But for a manger to then say, oh no, I don’t like the taste of the gin. No I can’t stop any more gins. So then you suffer rejection and then it feels worse because you’ve worked harder for it. It isn’t a rejection straight off.
How to learn how to get comfortable with rejection? [18:37]
S: So how can you learn this as a skill? When you don’t have a full time job, it is kind of an easy solution. You get a job or a part time role and you just learn these skills. As a sales person or you there are hundreds of position based only sales jobs around. It is a lot more difficult to get a job where they pay you an hourly wage and hope that you’re worth it vs. a job where they pay you nothing but it is just based on you selling their products. ANd then there is also a lot more on you and it is much more on you. THe better you get at sales and approaching people and cold calling or whatever, the more money you will make, the more sales you get. In year 11 we do a week or two work experience and I went and did something kind of pointless. I think I went to primary school or something like that. I always think the best thing I could have done would be to work in a call center, cold calling people. It would be horrendous, but only for two weeks, and making hundreds of calls a day like that would definitely get you over that hump of fear.
Why Sam wishes he worked at a call center for two weeks during school, and why Sam actually used to volunteer as a police officer [19:37]
Something that I did for quite a few years would I would volunteer as a police officer. I think if I can deal with arresting people, if I could deal with…
E: The general public shouting at you
S: If I could deal with people fighting… I could deal with anything. What’s the worst that could happen if you pitch an idea? They could tell you no it’s rubbish. What is the worst that could happen if you’re a police officer and you could try to arrest someone? They could attack you. The scales are totally different. Again it is still something I am not very good at but it is something I am working on and have put quite a bit of effort into improving and it is something you should be working on and you should be trying to improve, get yourself out of your comfort zone.
E: With the cold calling, it is something that I had to do with my first job in London. It is not easy to start with, it is not a natural skill for me but I did it so many times that it did become natural. The fear was removed and I am actually quite happy to be speaking to people on the phone. It does not worry me because I had to do it so many times. So I think practice and doing something that you’re scared of could be going for a job interview, doing it multiple times makes it a lot easier.
How repetition breeds comfortability [21:10]
S: And if you’re working in a big corporation, it could simply be going over and speaking to the important people. You could be going over and talking to the important partners. Most people get us to do it, it will make you stand out and will help you get over that fear of the unknown.
E: And the more you do it, the more you realize that you are just talking to another person. They are not a monster. You can have a personal conversation with them.
S: Alright, now we are going to go to something quite different. Written skills. It is something that I am naturally very bad at. I am not a very good writer.
E: I don’t agree with you.
S: That is only because you’ve known me after I have put a lot of effort into getting better at it. But it is something that at school I would always choose subjects that didn’t have any writing at all. Maths, computer science, where it would always be number answers rather than having to write an essay. But really, written skills are an incredibly important skill, whatever you’re doing. If you’re going to work at Google, you’re still going to have to write reports on whatever you’ve done. You’re still going to have to give feedback to people, to comment your code, if you’re a mathematician, a scientist, you will still have to write up reports.
S: Presentations, whatever, the same as if you’re an entrepreneur. You still are going to have to write emails, do customer service, write your business plan, do your grant applications, write your press releases, do your business procedures and your instructions for your employees.
E: And the marketing.
S: And the marketing. If you avoid writing, then you are never going to get good at it. And the gap between you and everyone else is just going to get wider and wider and wider.
Writing as an essential skill for anyone [23:37]
S: It is really an important skill. So how do you get better at it? Well you don’t need to be a fiction author. You don’t need to be really eloquent. You just need to be not making spelling mistakes, get your thoughts out onto paper. You need to not be afraid of writing 1,000 words or 2,000 words. So how do you do that? Well, practice is really the only thing. You can take courses, like a journalism course in your spare time like one day a week is quite useful because it teaches you certain skills in journalism you have to churn out a lot of quantity rather quickly and you learn how to write basically.
E: And take notes and edit.
S: One of the things I did is I started a job as something I did to get better at writing. Actually at A level I took history rather than something else. Even though I knew it was pretty much impossible for me to get an A in it, I ended up getting a B which was definitely as good as I could’ve got. I put a lot of work into that. Just because I thought it would teach me how to write, how to get my ideas down on paper. Whereas the other modules I had were physics and math and they didn’t need any of that.
E: Yeah, I think it is interesting that on your computer science degree, you did have to do essays as part of the degree. It wasn’t all numbers.
S: Yeah we did and we were all terrible at it.
E: Yeah but I think the fact that you had to do it was quite interesting. They recognize that you’re all on average not going to be very good at writing so you should be forced to do it.
S: Yeah, there are a lot of excuses people have for not being good at writing. You’ve got one, that you’re dyslexic. And also, when you went to work at a corporate job, you purposefully didn’t tell anyone that you were dyslexic at the time because you thought that it would hold you back. It would be seen as an excuse, and in fact, and therefore you had to overcompensate by spending a lot more time on the written parts. And I remember maybe a couple years ago we found your original dyslexia report and I am not sure you would have, if you would take it again, if you would be classified as dyslexic. Not because you’re not dyslexic, but because you have spent a lot of time learning the skills to actually write coherently and get around it.
E: Yeah, and there are a lot of comprehension skills that I was having. It wasn’t just getting words to paper. A lot of the comprehension stuff I definitely got over.
S: And that doesn’t mean it isn’t harder for you than others, it just means that you have had to put a lot more work at it but you have still got better at it, and that is true for everyone. Just because you are bad at something, if you avoid it you are not going to get better. Just because you are bad at something doesn’t mean you won’t get better. You might never be a proper author or whatever but you can be good enough. It just takes more work. Okay, moving on. Here’s another one which I find particularly challenging, and that is self discipline.
The struggle of self-discipline [27:13]
Again, all of this stuff, people are sometimes naturally good at or naturally worse at. And some people are obviously self disciplined and very good at making themselves do stuff but other people are naturally lazy like me.
E: It is interesting that you say you are naturally lazy because other people in our lives think you are very productive, particularly once they read your monthly reports and they realize how many different businesses you are juggling and how many things you have achieved that month.
S: People judge me on my output, not on my day to day. Whereas you see my day to day life and you see just how little I actually do.
E: See how many video games you play, yes.
S: Yeah, I find self discipline very difficult.
E: One of the big things with you is you actually spend a lot of time thinking and you might be doing another activity while thinking and that is part of your work, whereas when I was in my corporate job, I wasn’t given time to think. I was expected to do that outside of work and really you don’t want to be thinking about work all the time, but that is a big part of your business and your success.
What role does thinking play in productivity? And how does it differ in an entrepreneurial versus a corporate setting? [28:30]
S: Definitely. And actually, that is what we would be moving onto the next section. It is a balance right, you do need self-discipline and self-discipline is something that you can learn. One thing I like to do is set challenges for myself. I’ll set myself a time limited challenge. If it is going on forever I won’t do it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for me, setting day habits, saying every morning I am going to do this forever. That doesn’t work forever. If I say forever, I’ll stop in two days. What does work for me is for the next month, I am going to do this. Competition is good and works quite well with me. So that is kind of my internal motivation. My competitive side. I also don’t like letting people down so I will often tell people my challenges so they can hold me accountable to it. So for me, the way I practice self-discipline and actually which then translates into how I get certain things done is by setting challenges and then making sure I do them. Announcing them and then doing them.
Why does Sam set 30 day challenges for himself? [30:08]
There are other ways of helping to learn discipline. Taking a difficult sport or hobby on is another example of that, especially if you are young and, actually it doesn’t matter if you’re young. I am practicing a lot of jiu jitsu and it will take me a lot of time to get good at it.
E: And there are lots of different ages.
S: It is something I can do forever, but it is something that requires discipline because it is hard. But I think people think about this more at school because there are more opportunities to start a new hobby, a new sport and then if you end up doing that properly and you reach a good level of it throughout your school career, along the way you would have learned a lot of self-discipline.
E: So whether it is learning an instrument.
S: Or learning to play chess, or juggle. I am really quite bad at that. There are other things you can do outside of this which can also help you benefit by creating something productive for you. So what I put down is find a dead time in your day which is time spent on the train commuting, or your two hours of TV that you watch every night. It is time you are not producing anything and you can set that time to be a challenge and do something else. Write a book, learn a language, take a journalism course, or you can use that for maybe once a month you focus on a different one of these skills. Find dead time and then use it to focus on one of the six skills we’re focusing on today. Okay, let’s move on to the final one. Which I am calling creativity and out of the box thinking.
What role does creativity and out of the box thinking play in entrepreneurship? [32:29]
I have put this one last because it is really difficult and kind of hard to quantify. I think that people just assume that you’re creativity or ideas you come up with are due to innate creativity.
E: It is something you’re born with.
S: Yeah, it isn’t something you can train… I obviously disagree. Yes, it does come more naturally to some than others, but it is something you can cultivate, so for a long time, I did this 10 ideas a day practice. Where I would pick a subject and come up with 10 ideas of it. I first heard it from James Altucher. And that worked really well for me. So I would pick a subject such as ways to improve sales for our gin. I would come up with 10 ideas. I then kind of developed that into more targeted stuff, so if I had a meeting that day, I would think of 10 ideas of stuff I could say at the meeting that would be useful. Or 10 ideas for something that are relevant for whatever the meeting was about that would be a good point.
E: It was interesting because that wasn’t all about business was it. Sometimes it would be about things in your personal life. What was really prominent, what were you thinking about at that point in time.
S: Exactly, it is going deeper into a subject. Like your birthday is coming up, let’s come up with 10 ideas for presents for you. Because often your best idea comes up at 7, 8 or 9. It is something that then goes deeper. So your first idea might be to start a gin business, so I could come up with 10 ideas for how to start a supplier or for what kind of brand I might like, or 10 ideas for different publicity stunts that would get into newspapers.
How does generating 10 ideas about a particular topic enhance your understanding or efficacy in that area? [34:29]
Yeah, so that helps developing out of the box thinking. Robert Rodriguez, who is a film director who I really like, what he does is he flicks between creative stuff but a different target. So he will get one of his actors to at one point be given a guitar, but they don’t play guitar, so he’ll have them play the feeling of the character, or draw the character, or write a short story of the character. All kinds of different things that tug on different parts of your brain and hopefully bring forth that creativity. So how do you go about doing this as a student or employee? Well, as a student there are quite a lot of opportunities. At school you have things like Young enterprise, at uni you have entrepreneurship opportunities, you have events like pitch nights where you pitch a business plan, you get better at your presentation skills and come up with good ideas.
E: And listening to other people’s as well, giving them feedback, seeing how other people think when they are trying to think outside of the box and think of creative or unusual stuff.
S: As an employee, you’ve got, I have already spoken about thinking about meeting and preparing and thinking about a bunch of ideas you can contribute to a meeting. I find that whenever I go to a meeting, most people don’t think at all until they’re in the room. If it is a brainstorming meeting, people try to go to the meeting and then think about it. So I try to think about it ahead of time, and then I won’t tell anyone that I do this so people think I am a genius because I’ve come up with loads of ideas because I have spent 45 minutes beforehand thinking about it.
E: Well that makes sense, I have been in some of those meetings!
S: I think it helps you stand out a bit at work. Having something to contribute at the meeting because you have spent time beforehand. I would argue that if you’re looking for a promotion, standing out in meeting is one of the best ways to do that, more so than what you are doing outside of it. A lot of people think meetings are dead times and they can’t wait to get out, when actually meeting are the time where you’re most going to impress and you’re most going to demonstrate what you have produced. Something else that I think about with this and kind of ties into sort of fear of rejection is just giving ideas to your bosses or higher up people in the company.
Why meetings are not “dead time” [36:52]
So thinking say 10 ideas of how they can improve their product or they can market the business better or they can solve a problem that you know the business is having. And then just emailing it or speaking to your boss or whatever, picking the best couple of ideas and then sending it to the CEO of the company or something like that. Chances are they just ignore it, but if you do it a few times you can be known as…
E: Someone to bounce ideas off someone you respect their opinion
S: Someone who thinks independently. You might be thought of as an annoying geek about how the company can improve its bottom line. It makes you stand out. They might not think you’re cool, but they’ll think you’re a good employee. And it also helps your creativity as well. And that is it, that’s the six. Let’s go through them quickly again. You have management and leadership, you have accounting and financial literacy, you have no fear of rejection, you have written skills, you have self-discipline, and then you have creativity and out of the box thinking. Obviously there are hundreds of other skills out there, technical know how, building websites, things like that, logistics, vocational skills around your business, how do you make gin, how do you program a web app, how do you make coffee, but all of those things you can learn on the job. I think they are less important than the six we have spoken about.
E: Yeah you can learn as you go along.
S: And if you learn how to learn, that stuff all becomes easier. But those six skills are key and if you are lacking in any of them, then your business is really going to suffer. It doesn’t mean you’ll be a failure or won’t succeed, but it will never reach the potential it could. But there is a slight loophole to getting around a real deficiency, and that is partnering with someone who has them. Someone who has the complementary skills that you don’t. And that is where we’ll leave it today. Anything to add Emma?
E: No, I don’t think so.
S: Good, you want to hear a bit more about how to find a partner and is it right to get a partner for your business, then we have another episode on that. As always, if you have suggestions for
We discuss the different ways you can promote and market your business:
- Public Relations
- Content Marketing
- Community Building
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Business Development
- Direct Sales
- Affiliate or Commision-Based Marketing
- Paid Advertising
Listen to this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast on:
This episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast was turned into a blog post here: How To Get Customers For Your Business
S: Hello and welcome to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur. I am your host, Sam Priestley, and once again I am joined by Emma Priestley, my wife. Say hello Emma:
S: So for the last couple of episodes we’ve used a new format, so let me know what you think at email@example.com. So let us know what we can do with these podcasts, I am open to suggestions. A few people mentioned they’d like to hear a jingle at the beginning. If you’re a jingle producer to create one for me, I’d really appreciate that. Alright, on for today’s topic. Today I’d like to talk about how to get customers for your business. So we’re assuming you’ve got a business, you’ve got a product to sell, there’s a blog that you’re writing that you want people to read, software as a service that you want people to sign up for. Maybe start freelancing and you’re trying to get customers. Generally, the way you market these businesses is quite specific. And some general guidelines we can follow, or pretty much all of them. And hopefully this gives you a look into how I think about marketing, how I think about getting customers. So what we’re looking at today are marketing split into 10 different categories, and generally what I try to do with any of my business is to do a bit of trial and error for each of these types of marketing and I see which ones work and then I really go in deep onto that one type. Generally, you’ll find that one will work really well for a while and you’ll reach a saturation point and then it is time to move onto the next one. Or you change your product slightly on the original product you’re doing, and then you tweak the product, or you get higher margins so you can spend a bit more and do a different style of marketing. It’s one of those. So we’ll cover a bit about each of these and then we’ll talk a little bit about how I’ve implemented each one to a business. And Emma is going to help with that because she is a marketer. She was a marketing manager at PWC and then freelanced doing digital marketing for a year and a half after that.
S: So we’ll get a pretty good discussion out of that and hopefully you don’t disagree with everything I say.
E: I think I will because I am a corporate sellout and you’re the entrepreneurial do things differently.
How do Sam and Emma’s approaches to marketing differ? [02:44]
S: You’ve actually odne courses, I just make things up as I go along. Alright, let’s dive in. So the first one I want to talk about is PR, public relations. And by that one I mean is getting other people to write about you or produce content for you that can be other bloggers, it can be from instagram, but generally we’re talking about media, about newspapers, online news signs, stuff like that. One of the reasons I really like this type of marketing is that it doesn’t cost you anything. You may have to hire someone to do it or your time to do it but you’re not actually paying them any money for you to appear in their newspaper if you just get all that free publicity. It’s something that Donald Trump has honestly done very well when it comes to his presidential election, he has an incredible amount of free publicity by creating these PR storms that people just love to write about, as compared to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was the first person who spent less and won, which is quite interesting and shows the power of this type of marketing.
What type of marketing did Donald Trump use well in the presidential election? [03:30]
It is also quite a daunting one and one that I’ve only really started doing since pretty much Pipehouse Gin about a year ago. Like how do you get in touch with newspapers? How do you write a press release? How do you provide – who do you email? Editor at the times dot com or something? Editor at bbc news dot com? These are obviously really big companies that specialize in just that. People that are probably ex-editors of these places that have all of the contacts and it is a bit of an old boys network. It works very well.
What sort of marketing did Pipehouse Gin use? [04:51]
S: So for pipehouse gin, we went quite a traditional route. We submitted a press release statement which went out to all of the local newspapers and media outlets about something that is interesting about our business. We just won an award, or we have a new flavor coming out, or a launch party coming up, or any excuse. We will send it out, if it’s an event we might invite some of the journalists along as well or the local bloggers or the instagram celebrities. And hope that they will then translate the sort of information we have given them into newsworthy articles.
E: Yeah and we also attach some professional photos of the product and of us because we wanted to promote ourselves and tell the story. So, actually having pictures of us was quite crucial in that.
S: Yeah definitely. It is kind of like we wrote that article for them. We gave them a structure of what we thought they might want to write, we gave them the pictures, and just made it very easy for the journalist to turn that into something. It works quite well in the local settings like where we are. Especially for a small time business, local newspapers or bloggers want to hear about the latest Kent gin .They’re all keen to write about it and they notoriously don’t have much to fill their papers with.
E: We’re doing them a favor
S: THis process wouldn’t work so well in much bigger places and it’s a sort of PR that we’re probably going to outgrow at some point but right now it’s working quite well for us. The other side of PR is what, called like PR stunt where we do something potentially outrageous or silly to try and get sort of media attention.
E: Like BrewDog
What sort of PR does Brewdog use? [06:48]
S: Brew dog is a good example they’re constantly doing things to get people to write about them. Whether that is brewing beer while skydiving or any sort of craziness. There’s loads of examples like people who protest their own store opening. Which is something I really like the idea of to create a sort of false outrage to trying to get people to hate their product. There was one writer who wrote a book about picking up women and his marketing strategy was to contact all the feminist groups and try and arrange protests against his new book. So he created a big uproar on one side so that people could disagree with him, and even if they don’t then people will still just come hear about it.
How can outrage be leveraged for success in marketing? [07:20]
S: I always think about blogs and blogging and youtubers and generally if you’re liked by everyone then you’re loved by no one. We’re quite a clanny people. People like outrage, they like, there’s something about being unpleasant that makes people want to write about you or be really polarizing. It’s something I don’t really do on my blog because I quite like being liked by people, but I know if I start having opinions on controversial subjects, not only will I get people writing about me to support me but I also have people writing about me to disagree with me, and all of those people that are disagreeing with me will be inadvertently promoting stuff. Giving me extra SEO, introducing me to their audiences, most of whom have probably never even heard of me.
E: Yeah, but you don’t want to go down that route from a personal perspective.
S: Yeah, but in some ways PR is the most exciting type of marketing. If you have a really good creative idea for a PR stunt, it can translate into something really great.
E: Would you want to talk about the video.
What is content marketing? [09:37]
S: I do but I think there’s the next topic of marketing I want to talk about ,which is content marketing. So I am differentiating slightly between PR and content marketing because content marketing is when you’re creating something, a blog post, video, instagram pages, whatever, you have control over the content vs. PR where you are trying to get other people to write about you. And there is a bit of a crossover, so you can do something with your content marketing which leads to more PR and other people are then writing about you, sort of a classic example of this is stuff that goes viral. Say a video. That you create like a–the example from my experience is from our table tennis business, we created a video of me learning to play table tennis, it was kind of a one second a day video going from a complete beginner to fairly good, and that video did really really well. It was shared by lots of people, it went viral, and it now has over 10 million views and has led to a bunch of other PR. We were on BBC news, a few TV shows, all sorts of newspapers. And also to some extra sales for our table tennis business, and some extra SEO for my own personal blog. But all around, that was something where we created content with the hope that other people would look at it and it would help whatever else we were doing at the time. Another would be my blog where I am trying to produce good quality content that people like and people read but that hopefully will then lead to some sort of marketing for me whether that is someone will go out and buy a bottle of our gin because I have told them you really know in depth how to start a gin business, or someone might sign up something unaffiliated with a commission. Content marketing is something that you’ll see quite regularly basically most articles you see online by any sort of businesses is content marketing . you often have whole teams to do it, they’ll hire people out to create content that keeps people interested. And I’d include social media as well, where one of our directors on Pipehouse Gin is in charge, she takes pictures, does some nice animations under the hope that people will see that and go off and buy our products. Content marketing is one that I think is a bit more wishy washy, it’s not my favorite which you might be surprised about because I have a whole website about that, but you can go viral and the work will be totally worth it, or you can spend two years writing blog posts and no one reads it at all. It is something that could work but it isn’t my favorite it. There is no guarantee. Compared to something like PR, where if you get into a newspaper, that will translate into something good for you because they already have a readership.
How does Sam feel about content marketing? [12:45]
By producing the content yourself when you don’t have leadership, knowing how that’s going to go down is a lot more variable.
E: On that, what do you think it was about the youtube video of you playing table tennis one second a day that made it go viral?
Sam and Emma discuss viral content [13:36]
S: I think it was that it shows what it takes and generally it seems that what it takes is a critical mass of interest in a short period of time. So with that table tennis video, it wasn’t that we slowly got loads of views over a load of time. 9 and a half million of those views happened in over a two year period. But what made it go viral first was a lot of views, probably about 40,000 in the space of a few hours and that kind of trending really pushed it up and then pushed it into a lot of other people’s consciousness. So it reached the front page of reddit, we were on the youtube trending for a while. Then loads of other people picked it up and started promoting it, loads of mainstream media. Which then looked like a long tail of the majority of views that you ended up getting. So there are ways to game this system. There are ways to fund the clap for twitter, where you get a group of people together who support you and then you all tweet about the same hashtag or subject at the same time within a few seconds of each other and that will push you up into the trending section. There are more black hat ways of doing it. Reddit has an up or downvote system, so some hackers create loads of fake accounts and then upvote their own stuff to try and force it, to try and set off the avalanche. But there are people who are experts in creating viral content, knowing a bit about psychology, what people want to see, tweet their interest. The wording, the imagery, the outrage, And you see them all the time. So a recent one I saw is that someone posted that he had got in an uber and the uber driver took him to a baseball game and he had a spare ticket and there were pictures of him in the uber and then gave him the ticket and then they all went and watched a game together. And that went viral, loads of people read about it and loved it, but then it quickly transpired after people did some digging. The guy who created it was a marketing specialist who happened to be working for a company that was hired by uber in order to create viral marketing. There is quite a lot of that going around. And it is the stuff that you can do to your own advantage. It is not something I would really spend much time looking into or doing. But it does work. And again it is kind of thinking creatively outside of the box. Ways in which you can get that interest. I suppose the other way you can have that kind of instant viralness is by already having a large community or audience that you can push out to. Which brings me to our next form of marketing.
What is community building? [16:47]
This is where your focus is on building a loyal fanbase or really selling or really marketing to people who have already heard about you or already are your customers. So now we’ll talk about building an email list and sending out emails. Let’s say you saved the email of everyone who’s bought your product on your online website, and then when you release a new product you send out to all the people on your list. Or you upsell. They buy one thing, and then you send an email about whatever the next step is. Or, if you’re not actually sending something, you could do it the other way around, where you try and get people onto your email list, maybe free content marketing, and then hopefully turn them into loyal customers way down the road. I am also talking about having lots of followers on social media. WIth our instagram post, that is content marketing but it is also community building. We’re trying to get as many followers as possible. Right now, we’re running a giveaway where if you like or share a post, and tag in a friend, then you’ll be entered into a free giveaway for a bottle of gin with the hope that this will be pushed out, people will share it, it will have enough of a spread that we’re now getting more customers and followers and more people who have heard about us basically. Now, community building works really really well if you have the type of product that loyal fan base would be into. Particularly if you are doing something quite creative. Let’s say you’re writing a comic book, or doing an online webcomic, or running a youtube series or writing a blog, all of those things rely on a big community or following, whereas if you’re doing something different like selling table tennis bats, its harder to build a loyal fan base of people who are into your table tennis products
E: Also, it would be harder for them to become a return customer wouldn’t it.
S: It will be harder to make them a loyal customer, and also it’s a game that people love. If you’re cards against humanity and people love your board game and PR stunts, then that builds your customer base. That is not always the case. Some brands have done a really good job of building a loyal fan base. THink about Apple and all their crazy fans. Think about the supreme, the clothing brand, who have hour long queues to buy their stuff. THink about high fashion that has built a loyal fan base that has a value in itself, where people put more value on a brand than they would if it was more generic. I am going to take a slightly different twist with the next one. Let’s talk about events.
What role do events play in marketing? [20:27]
S: WHere I am going with events is more talking about building a presence. Building sort of what people know about your product, on the marketing not on the direct sales. FOr gin, we do market stalls. For one, we’re making money off of them. We’re there, we’re getting sales. But the more important thing is that it brings people to us, it is a kind of free advertising because we’re covering all our costs by selling there, but then we’re also handing out fliers, and everyone sees us as they’re walking past.
E: ANd it also gives us an opportunity to talk to our customers. So some people say that they saw us in the paper and really wanted to buy a bottle. Or i saw you in our local pub and I wanted to come and meet you. Whatever it is, it gives us an opportunity to see what marketing is working.
S: Yeah, and there’s a bit of community building in there as well. They’ve met the makers, and now when they buy a bottle of gin as a present, they’ll buy ours because they have a story. So that’s market stalls. There’s also going to trade shows to meet customers. We’re spending quite a lot of money on a stall and on staff to man it, but then also hoping to build off customers on the back of that. Build publicity for whatever it is you’re selling. Or we can do some market research to see what over stuff is working, what people like about the brand. I’ve also put down here speaking engagements, so talking at conferences. Things like that. And then there is the slightly different side of the events, which is going to other people’s events vs. putting on events yourself. When we launched the gym, we had a launch party where we invited local media and the press and tried to create a bit of a buzz about us in the local area. We had a bit of PR and told local newspapers what was happening.
E: ANd the local bloggers as well. All the amateurs that have really big followings locally.
S: ANd people who are amateur photographers. Instagram photographers as well who can come along and take some nice pictures. THis kind of event marketing is what Emma used to specialize in when she worked at PWC.
Emma describes her specialty within marketing [23:09]
E: Yeah I love it, it is all about meeting customers face to face and having a relationship with them, getting to know them, and then promoting your product or service. It is all about developing relationships rather than a hard core sales.
S: So PWC where obviously what you’re selling is worth millions and millions of pounds, spending quite a lot of money on an event where only us small group of people are coming but are all high value customers, you’re not selling them anything then and there, but you’re hoping to build that relationship and do some marketing to let them know about you. HOpefully that will then translate later into big sales.
E: Yeah, the ultimate goal was always first of all the decision makers turned up to the event and then second of all, we would get a follow up meeting in their office with one of our directors or partners to then have a more formal business conversation rather than a more broader hot topic related conversation or even a personal conversation.
What are direct sales? [24:15]
S: WHich brings me on to the next one. Let’s talk about direct sales, which is when you’re actually speaking to people one on one. So direct sales in what you just said would be your directors coming to your office and then selling something in person. For us, Pipehouse Gin, that is going into local bars and restaurants and trying to get them then and there. Or maybe in the future to place an order with us. That is also going to biggest distributors or supermarkets. Pitching to their buyer team and then hoping they’re going to place a big order. Direct sales works very well for something like Gin, but it doesn’t work well for something like my blog, where for each reader of the blog, I make a very very small amount of money and so actually me talking to everyone, me going and walking the street and trying to get people that I meet randomly to read my blog is not a very good long term marketing business. Whereas on the flipside, if you’re working for PWC, maybe going through and trying to sell directly to the CEO of the top 500 companies in the UK directly might be a very good use of your time. It might be you spend a year and only get one sale, but that sale could be work it. So this is kind of dependent on your business. But where it could work better for smaller business is affiliate based marketing or commission based marketing.
What marketing might work best for smaller business? [25:50]
S: This is where you are getting other people to market your business and you’re paying them to do it through commission. An example could be say pipehouse gin. We could find and influencer through instagram. We could go to them and say, let’s do a deal. If you post about our stuff, we’ll give you a discount code and anyone who uses that code, we’ll give you a commission. Say, 1 or 2 pounds a bottle for any sale that you directly deliver. It is also one of the ways I make money on my blog. A company will come to me and say, you need to talk about our product, talk about it a bit more and any sale you drive to us, we’ll give you a percentage of whatever they’ve done. It is what amazon does quite a lot. I’ll tell you about the microphone we’re using right now for this podcast, and if you go buy it off amazon, I’ll get a bit of commission. Affiliate marketing works well because you don’t have to have any upfront costs. It is all about the cost, the costs are back loaded so you can open up your affiliations to anyone. You can have just a sign up thing on your page and then anyone can sign up and start promoting it. It is also refer a friend deals. If you have a good community, all of your customers could get a refer a friend deal. For everyone else they refer, they will get a bit of money or a bonus.
E: Or a percentage of your product or service.
S: Affiliate marketing works very well for software as a service type business. Business where there isn’t really an upfront cost to the product. IT could work quite well for Pipehouse Gin but we couldn’t get everyone in the world signed up using and promoting it because we can’t deal with that sort of quantity and there’s quite a lot of costs per product that we’re selling. Maybe the commision we can give people probably isn’t really worth their time. Whereas let’s say I have a video course online on how to play table tennis, and everyone who signs up to it pays 100 pounds. It doesn’t matter because it’s just a download and the cost per sale is low to me, so I could afford to give people who are affiliated with me very high commissions, say 50%, which means that suddenly, someone getting to buy a bottle of gin could be worth only 1 pound while getting someone to sign up for the video course could be worth 50 pounds. That is how commission based things work, it is only worth the time of the people you’re getting to do it if you can get them a decent chunk. Next, I am going to talk about business development.
What is business development [29:33]
S: Business development is used to talk about a few different things and often if you find people hiring a business dev manager, what they often mean is just a salesperson. That is not what I am talking about here, I am talking about building relationships with other business where you can do a sort of collaborations or partnerships or joint marketing stuff that benefits both of you, where you coming together, leveraging both of your audiences and communities actually benefits both of you. So this could be, I actually haven’t written down any examples here. Let’s say with my blog. It could be working with another blogger and us both producing a bit of content together and then pushing out to both of our audiences. If you have a youtube channel, it could be having other youtubers onto your channel and doing collaborative videos that hopefully both of your audiences will want to listen to. With your podcast, it could be having guests on that my guests would want to hear from and then combining audiences. Let’s say you have a big brand, it could be partnership deals or Coca Cola or teaming up with someone where they end up building something or creating something that is more than the sum of their parts.
E: And both their followings have a mutual interest.
S: BUsiness development can work very well and come quite naturally just by networking and being friendly and helping out other people in your business or industry. So, for instance, with the gin, because I have written quite frankly about what it takes to start a gin business, quite a few other people who own alcohol business have contacted me just for a chat. Not wanting anything from me, but by talking to them we’re able to share tips, like saying what margin they got with distributors
What are the benefits of talking to other businesses within your market? [31:27]
S: So generally, I think it is a good idea to be on good terms within your industry because you can help each other. It’s not a zero sum game, but generally, by working together, you can grow the market and can benefit both of you.
E: Yeah, you can better both of your businesses.
S: One sort of example of how we’re doing this at the moment with the gin is by going around and doing professional photography at each of the bars. So we’re paying the money it takes to get all of those lovely pictures, and now these pictures, they can use for their own marketing and they can use for our marketing. We don’t need to rent a location to take great pictures and they don’t need to hire a photographer to take great pictures. Alright, let’s talk very quickly about Search Engine Optimization.
What is SEO? [32:30]
This is a bit more specific topic but I have put it up because it is very important, especially if you’re running an online business. And this is about hitting high on the search terms. It is called SEO, but really what I am talking about is whatever platform it is that you want to appear high on. It could be google, youtube, amazon, if we want to appear high when someone searches for gin. SEO is a skill in itself and it is often combined with a bit of content marketing, right in the stuff that you know people want to read and will get people coming back to the website.
E: It’s popular.
S: Yes, it’s popular but it’s also about PR as well. One way to appear high is to have links coming in from other places. These are the only two other things that are important for optimization. You want as many readers and customers as possible because surf engines are quite good at picking up on that. And you want people linking to you.
E: Making you look credible.
S: So let’s talk about biz dev again, what a lot of bloggers do is they’ll get friendly with the other bloggers in their industry and then they’ll link to each other so their combined SEO rankings go up. It is quite important so those are really the two things. You have good content, quality stuff that people want to see and you get as many people as possible going to you and linking to your site. And that is all I am going to see about search engine optimization because it is quite a big topic but is something you should take quite seriously. Onwards, and for the last two that I want to talk about are paid advertising.
Discussion on paid advertising [34:46]
S: So first I’ll talk about general paid advertising and then second, I am going to talk about pay per click advertising. First, with general paid advertising is say I talked to a newspaper, they’ve got an advert section where I can put like a big banner or a picture of our gin or whatever it is we’re trying to sell and get people going onto it. Or yeah. So if your Emma’s Nomad Kitchen or supper clubs, you can put a banner up somewhere and get people coming along. Generally paid advertising is easy to get into because anyone will take your money really to appear on it, versus PR where you are putting it in the same paper but you’re not paying for it, and people know what is and what isn’t and advert, and so will more likely trust the one that isn’t. But it is also hard to track how well it is doing. One of the nice things about most of the other things we talked about is you can very easily see the return on investment for what you’re putting in. Whereas with the paid advert, say you spent 1000 pounds for a paid advert in 10 different newspapers, we don;’t have a good way of tracking whether it was worth it.
E: Yeah, you could do a specific email address just for that ad.
S: Yeah, you can do a different phone number so you can track that way, you can have a discount code so you can track it that way.
E: WHich will help you to decide or how you do that again.
S: But then on the flip side of that is sometimes when you’re doing advertising, you aren’t looking for direct sales. So with advertising what you’ll find that it’s very difficult to track, or if you can find a paid advert that is a direct RoI. Really it is more for the direct promotion of your brand. They say the average person needs to see your brand seven times in order to remember it. So maybe our target is doing market stalls, so maybe doing adverts in a few different papers, so they see paid adverts on facebook that are targeted at people who live locally, and then we have it on the front of shelves in local bars, and I think that is the better way to focus on paid advertising. Especially ones where you are just paying a set amount for a banner, or paying a certain amount for an advertorial. That is where you write a fake article that is really just an advert but it is kind of presented as if it were a normal piece of journalism or a blog. That is one type of paid advertising.
What is the other type of paid advertising? [37:49]
S: The other type is pay per click which you can only really do online. For obvious reasons, because the way it works is you pay per person who clicks on whatever it is and then goes to your website. This sort of advertising is very good for very specific tracking, so you can get a very direct RoI for whatever you’re putting in. And if you get it right it’s amazing because it’s instantly scalable. The more money you put in, as long as you have a formula that works and you’re getting it for a cost per click that you know will turn into sales, you can scale it right up.
E: THe other thing is you can pick a specific audience as well. Whether it’s geography, agenda, or age. You can be selective of your demographic as well.
S: You can if you’re doing it on facebook
E: Or linked in
S: And that is the value in that sort of social media advertising. YOu can also just do general pay per click ads on someone’s blog for instance. You have no idea who the audience is, you just know there are people who paid that blog and that might be the type of audience you’re looking for. Or you’re looking for some keywords and you know what words translate into sales for you/
E: How does it work with Amazon?
S: Amazon is similar. It’s pay per click. It is quite simple, where you target keywords either manually or they have an automated thing where it will sort of look for what people have searched for and then bought your products and then target them. And then what you can do with the automated one is you can go back and then remove key words that aren’t relevant to you. So for instance, with our table tennis bats, with automated advertising, we’ll find that we’re finding search terms that are for tennis bats, or tennis rackets, so we can go back and remove them. Amazon advertising obviously works very well for direct metrics because we go on their platform and then it tells you directly your cost of sale. The percentage of each sale that you’ve spent on advertising. Yeah, we can do that with the gin and the table tennis stuff at the moment. You can build in that sort of direct tracking with facebook adverts, with google adverts as well. Technology is very clever these days so you can track with someone who clicks the link on google. You can track them right through to the shopping cart on your website. If you’re running a restaurant where you want bookings, you can track people going through to your booking form and see how many happened and see how many turned up to see if it was worth it. If you take phone bookings, you can track how many people phoned you based off the advert. You can have a specific phone number in the advert and then have automated software which tracks how that is getting on. Alright, those are my 10 forms of marketing that we got into. We’ve got public relations, content, community building, events, SEO, biz dev, direct sales, affiliate marketing or commission based marketing, page advertising, and paid advertising via pay per click. I know we whizzed through quite quickly and each could be multiple hour long podcast in themselves, so if you have any questions please email me and hopefully at some point I’ll turn them into a really in depth blog post with examples and how to go on each one. So if you have any advice or tips, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org, I would really appreciate it if you could leave me a good review on itunes.