SFIMA

ROUGH NOTES



Theme: You ARE an expert in your field, so leverage that expertise online with compelling content to get more traffic and convert even more of that traffic.
1) Establish that authority both on your site AND in your industry's online ecosystem... (here's how we do it)
2) When folks come looking to buy what you sell, recommend specific solutions for customer problems instead of just offering things for sale. (here's how we do it)
3) When you sell the same thing as so many other people, you have to give folks a reason to buy this from YOU, so go out of your way to list what makes you THE PLACE to buy this. (here's how we do it)
The more I think about it, the less advice I should give to folks NOT in small-medium sized e-commerce. I don't know ANYTHING about all those different types of businesses. Not as worried about making it universal as making it as this is what we did, this is what worked for us, take and use what you can...
--------------------------------------
thx
PIX
__ "hey, puppies..."
__ steve as rob, rob as steve

BACKGROUND


About 6 years ago, we hit a sales plateau
and decided to change the way
we approached selling online.

In 2004, our family business,
GUN DOG SUPPLY, had a sales slump.
Somehow we wound up in the ditch!

Panic city!

We took a hard look at what we were doing online,
and we made one simple, but substantial change
to our Web site and how we sold online.

And the effect? Over the past 6 years?
Over $10 million dollars in additional revenue

That's ADDITIONAL revenue.
Sales ABOVE our normal growth.

So what did we do? How did we do it?
That's what I'm going to talk about today.

FIRST, A LITTLE HISTORY

GUN DOG SUPPLY is our family business
We sell training supplies for hunting dogs

My parents started GDS on their kitchen table in 1972
My dad was unhappy with quality of some dog supplies
started making his own collars, leads, and leashes
to sell these, he bought ads in hunting dog speciality magazines.
pretty small circulation, pretty targetted audience.

He expanded his product line to carry more products,
products OTHER people manufacture

And WE marketed these through a small B&W mail order catalog.
At this point he decided to put the family in family business
by recruiting Steve and me to help with the catalog

In 1979 he quit his job to go full time on the DOG stuff
A few months later, we had a major set back
when the PEARL RIVER FLOODED
and put 6 feet of water in our house.

No insurance.

We pretty much lost everything.
Destroying all of the inventory in our house.

Why am I telling you this?
You need to know where we started from.

So my folks decided to dig in and make this thing work.

Anyway, folks knew we were in MS ...
local folks wanted to come shop with us,
so we added a retail showroom to the warehouse.
We started selling premium dog food, stuff you couldn't get
Pretty soon we were selling more stuff
to pet owners than hunting dog folks



-- -- -- GDS GETS ONLINE (1997) -- -- --

And then in 1996, another set back: Petsmart came to town.
We knew that would SEVERELY impact the business

Went back to our roots
and in 1996 rebooted the mail order catalog.
for HUNTING DOG FOLKS

By then I was out of college,
Steve & I had started what's now SNELL BROTHERS,
our own retail business up in Starkville

but I came back home for several months
and we hammered out a catalog.
Sent out THOUSANDS of copies
and we got bupkiss. Nothing. Zilch.

And at this point my Mom was pretty desperate,
and she became OBSESSED with getting on the Internet
And she said, "Son, I want you to build me a Web site."

And I said, "Mama small businesses aren't making money online..."

"Son, I want you to build me a Web site..."

And I said, "the Internet's all about PORN...Big companies losing
money IPOs and stuff"

And she said, "I don't care, make me a Web site. So I did.

So we did, and long story short it worked.

We found Yahoo! Store,
and uploaded our catalog
and we were off and running

-- -- -- JUMP to 2001 -- -- --

It worked so well that Steve had to take over
order fulfillment & customer service.
Mom was too old to be working 60 hours a week,
Steve was tired of selling comic books & baseball cards
he said the DOG STUFF was the next big thing

So by 2001 ONLINE sales were 4x retail sales
my folks were able to SELL THE DOG STORE, and we went Web only

I was more interested in Internet Marketing
and SEO and Yahoo! Store development,
but I worked on GDS as I had time in between other projects

-- -- -- JUMP to 2004 -- -- --

Now my baby brother, Steve, was running the company.

My Dad passed away 6 months earlier,
and we were dealing with all the fallout from that
and Steve stepped up to fill some pretty big shoes
and things were pretty good...

And then, we hit a snag.
We started having negative cashflow.
Our expenses were growing faster than our sales.
And then our sales STOPPED growing

And then our sales STARTED dropping
And we had our first "down" month
in the history of our Internet business...

Here's a closeup of a sales graph
Every year we have this dip in sales
and every May sales pick back up
here's 2003, and you see the dip,
and then people start thinking about hunting season,
and sales pick up

Well, here's 2004 and you see the dip
And then it DROPS. It DROPS.

And Steve's freaking out. And I'm saying don't worry,
it's just a blip -- things will pick back up.

And I'm digging in our analytics,
trying to see if anything broken
anything technical wrong and it's not.
So I'm freaking out and trying to
find what's going on.

AND IN HINDSIGHT
it's pretty easy to see
what was happening:
More and more competitors
were coming online.

All the old school catalogs in our industry now had shopping carts
with virtually the same catalog that we had...

And all these new school, dot com kids were popping up, too...
Selling the same things we were selling...

2004 SEO wasn't new.
Competition for those 10 spots on page 1 was getting FIERCE

AND Paid Search was coming online then.
CPC's were skyrocketing
More and more folks bidding on the same keywords
It was EXPENSIVE.

And all the OLD ways of driving traffic?
They weren't working as well as before..

GREAT, SO NOW WHAT DO WE DO?
Steve and I had one of our knock down,
drag out "conversations"

Maybe this is the new reality?
Or maybe we're going to have
to change how we do things...

So I'm sitting in Steve's office
WAITING for him to get off the phone.

Steve has these MARATHON phone conversations with customers.
I'm talking 20-30 minutes... easy...

And they're talking about their dogs...
and they're talking about TRAINING their dogs...
and their talking about HUNTING with their dogs...
and their talking about their hunting GEAR ...
and their GUNS and their TRUCKS...

And next thing you know, the guy places an order.

And he's a customer FOR LIFE. FOR LIFE.

And it's GREAT, but it doesn't scale.

I mean we handle dozens and dozens of these calls every day.
There's no way STEVE can do this with every customer over the phone
It just doesn't scale.

He has TONS of other things he's gotta take care of, too

SO I HAD AN IDEA...

"What if we do the same thing online
that you do over the phone?"

What?

You know how when a customer calls and you talk to 'em.
You find out what kind of dog they have,
what they're trying to do with their dog?
And then after you get to know them and their situation,
YOU TELL THEM WHAT TO BUY TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM
and then they BUY it? That's AWESOME.

What if we did that on the Web site?
What if we took everything you ever said to a customer,
and put it all over the Web site...
Wonder what THAT would do?

Steve said,"Couldn't hurt. Do it."

And that's what we did.

The one single, significant thing we did?

We put STEVE ALL OVER THE WEB SITE.
We put his recommendations on the site.
We put his opinions on the site.
We put the experience you'd get on the phone
on the Web site. And it WORKED.

This graph shows you our sales from 1997-2004
(Rolling 12 month average to smooth out the bumps)
And then we "put Steve on the site"

Just for fun, I modeled what our sales would have been
so I could see what the difference was
and over the past six years it's over $10 MILLION.

$10,354,767 in additional sales

Looking back, it's pretty easy to see what we did:
we decided to push three pretty powerful ideas:

1) Steve is an EXPERT on dog training supplies.
2) Steve says this PRODUCT is what you need to solve your problem.
3) Please buy it from US.


They're not IN the store. They can't see
make a connection
---------------------------------------------
STEVE IS A DOG TRAINING SUPPLIES EXPERT
---------------------------------------------
+ dad didn't want to SAY he was an expert
+ you ARE an expert.
you're a real person / company
1) BE REAL AS YOU CAN IN A VIRTUAL WORLD
- come as you are. - look as big or small as you are.
- put a name + face online (easier w/ social profiles)
SOUND REAL -- VOICE -- Write with the voice you would use to talk to the customer
+ my book >>> "I feel like I know you"
- show your physical plant -- address | maps | business hours
- show off all your peeps: -- customers, staff, vendors, thought leaders, influencers
2) ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY
hey, you're just like me
- dogs - hunting - outdoors - kids
You have a lot of experience
- "Hey, I'm an expert!"
- Demonstrate expertise
- reputation: other people say you're an expert

demonstrate your domain expertise on your site
publish compelling content
- complete product pages (top 100 pages example)
- product buyers guides
- product reviews
- photos
- answers to FAQ
- product support info
- video demos
- repurposed MFG content
get credit for all your hard work
- claim content w/ + google authorship
- use FB open graph mark it up
- mark-up your pages using rich snippets
????? curate additional quality content
- link to it
- share on FB/twitter/G+
amplify all this content
- show it to your prospects and customers
- pimp on FB / twitter
- advertise it
TAKE YOUR PLACE IN THE ECOSYSTEM
help folks pro bono (no quid pro quo)
facebook, twitter, topic interest forums, groups, email lists
support your suppliers improve what they sell
- vendor prototype / beta testing (helps products leapfrog)
- be available for press opportunities
- informal networking / r&d / food and drink
support organizations that support your industry
clubs, forums, user groups
- great for meeting influencers (and doing them favors)
- get access to new customers
- sometimes get extremely relevant links
speak in public any time the opportunity presents itself
write articles, blogs, books for DEAD TREE PUBLISHERS
---------------------------------------------------------
RECOMMEND SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS FOR CUSTOMER PROBLEMS
---------------------------------------------------------
old: don't just offer things for sale, tell them what to buy
1) Simply tell folks what to buy
STEVE'S PICKS $10 lift
- sell everything you want, but give CLEAR choices
- take an editorial position / - tell folks what YOU use

2) Educate: Give them enough info to sort through themselves
3) Let other customers tell them what PRODUCT worked for them
4)

____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
ASK FOR THE MONEY
why should they buy it from you?
- pimp your USP
- enumerate your value adds
- reduce / eliminate risk
- flesh this out

- have multiple ways to contact you online/offline
- answer promptly
- be a person, not the marketing or support "team member"
- have a damn phone and answer it

SKIP THE HOW WE CREATE THE CONTENT (prolly a separate thing
AD FOR SFIMA http://www.pubcon.com/sfima-pubcon-summit
Pubcon SFIMA TUES May 14
$10 Million+ Extra Sales
See Pubcon SFIMA: Rob Snell's keynote.  Just one change on website changed his life 
In 1997, PETSMART dropped in across the street from our DOG STORE, and we took a MASSIVE sales hit. What's worse was the anticipation of doom for 18 months before we knew the true business impact.
Family friend Gary Morse said, "You know, it looks pretty bad now, but this MIGHT be the best thing that ever happened to you..." And I thought he was CRAZY. Who would say such a thing? But given time to sink in I realized that one sentence totally reframed things in my brain. Never let a crisis go to waste, folks.

My name is Rob Snell, I'm from ... and we sell dog collars. Starting out 17th year of selling online.
Not everyone is a retailer, but the reality is that EVERY company has to sell something to someone so these lessons are relevant to most folks
How to establish your bonafides as a subject matter expert, leverage that authority with compelling content by recommending products that are solutions to your customers' problems, and how to get them to buy it from YOU.
OUR BACKSTORY -- blah blah blah
family biz > hunting dogs>1972>ads>catalog>store>...>starkville > petsmart > reboot catalog > mama:online > catalog requests > yahoo! store > HOLY MOLY
9 years later In 2004, our family's dog supply business came off the tracks. Sales growth stopped. Overhead skyrocketed. We took a hard look at how we sold online, and made one simple, substantial change to our online store which literally changed our family's fortune.
ONE THING -- PUT STEVE ALL OVER THE STORE.
"FIND YOUR STEVE"
BE REAL AS YOU CAN IN A VIRTUAL WORLD
- come as you are. - look as big or small as you are.
- put a name + face online (easier w/ social profiles)
- show your physical plant
-- address | maps | business hours
- show off all your peeps:
-- customers, staff, vendors, thought leaders, influencers
- have multiple ways to contact you online/offline
- answer promptly
- be a person, not the marketing or support "team member"
- have a damn phone and answer it
ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY
+ you ARE an authority
+ you know more about what you sell than anybody
+ customer don't know what they don't know

demonstrate your domain expertise on your site
publish compelling content
- complete product pages (top 100 pages example)
- product buyers guides
- product reviews
- photos
- answers to FAQ
- product support info
- video demos
- repurposed MFG content
get credit for all your hard work
- claim content w/ + google authorship
- use FB open graph mark it up
- mark-up your pages using rich snippets
curate additional quality content
- link to it
- share on FB/twitter/G+
amplify all this content
- show it to your prospects and customers
- pimp on FB / twitter
- advertise it
TAKE YOUR PLACE IN THE ECOSYSTEM
help folks pro bono (no quid pro quo)
facebook, twitter, topic interest forums, groups, email lists
support your suppliers improve what they sell
- vendor prototype / beta testing (helps products leapfrog)
- be available for press opportunities
- informal networking / r&d / food and drink
support organizations that support your industry
clubs, forums, user groups
- great for meeting influencers (and doing them favors)
- get access to new customers
- sometimes get extremely relevant links
speak in public any time the opportunity presents itself
write articles, blogs, books for DEAD TREE PUBLISHERS
TELL FOLKS WHAT TO BUY
( was RECOMMEND SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS TO CUSTOMER PROBLEMS)
old: don't just offer things for sale, tell them what to buy
STEVE'S PICKS lift
- sell everything you want, but give CLEAR choices
- take an editorial position
- tell folks what YOU use
ASK FOR THE MONEY
why should they buy it from you?
- pimp your USP
- enumerate your value adds
- reduce / eliminate risk
- flesh this out
------------------------------------------------------
RECAP: FIND YOUR STEVE
TAKEAWAYS
if you're real online, and show your expertise, folks trust you faster, you convert more traffic, lower marketing costs, save time / make more money.

Sharing your knowledge / experience online is a lot of work. TO START there's a huge amount of work on the front end, you're never, ever really finished, UPKEEP and a lot of maintenance, and updating content and lot of customer support, but it's worth it.
-- MASTERCARD THING
/end slide
--------------
other stuff
--------------
Building a relationship.
Lifetime value of a customer when they're not dead
delegating video: shooting videos SET pic
new MFG asking for STEVE'S PICK + Good Review
GDF: bought a forum
FB: PUPPY pix / more icing than cake
Can dress up as an authority but doesn't make it so.
WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S
downside of "Don Burleson"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------





Make more money with your online store.

  • How I took one Yahoo Store from $15K a year to over $5 Million+ in sales.
  • How I got $10 million in ADDITIONAL sales by changing ONE THING.
  • How to make your store more Google-friendly for more free SEO traffic.

    Input Your Email: