How did you get started in this online marketing?
I launched my first online marketing campaign when I was 14 years old. At the time, it was a simple email submit campaign. The campaign opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity. Being said, I was really big into sports during my high school years and put most of my focused on playing for a Division 1 school. I went on to run track and play football for Syracuse University. During the summer going into my junior year, I wanted some extra cash and turned to the first thing I knew, online marketing. I went on to start an incentive-based website, that we sold 6 months later. At that point, I made the hard decision to quit sports, and move into doing online marketing full time. I never looked back since. I went on to found a popular tracking platform and ad exchange, Bevo Media, which was acquired in 2015.
How do you make money these days?
I am active in the e-commerce space working on and investing in a number of different projects. The world of e-commerce is extremely intriguing to me because there are essentially an unlimited amount of opportunities and audiences to market to.
How long does it take for a typical e-commerce campaign to become profitable?
That answer can vary greatly. I’ve seen some niches become profitable instantly, and other niches that take 2 years. It really comes down to saturation and how well you are monetizing your sales funnel. There is a whole other world of data monetization that most product owners with online campaigns do not realize even exists. It’s what separates the small hits from the home runs.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted online marketing? If so, explain further.
To be honest, never. The internet is still in its adolescent phase. The strategies are always changing, and I’ve found the people who are the most successful at online marketing are those who have the ability to self learn. There will always be strategies ahead of the curve. It is up to you to do the research and stay on top of the trends.
How did you normally get your first customers for a project?
It really depends on the product. If it is a unique product, some sort of specific niche that a common person probably doesn’t know about, then the search channel is the obvious answer. Since it is such a niche product, search traffic allows you to pre-qualify users easily as they are searching specifically for the product you are offering.
If it is a product in a more well-known niche, Facebook and display media buys tend to work well, as educating potential customers on your product is less of an issue.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new customers?
Calling your leads that did not turn into sales. The benefit far outways the small hassle of setting up a call center team. You get more sales, the customers are happy, it works out well.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Passing on really good partnership opportunities. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is that more projects do not mean more money. Every project requires a certain level of attention for it to work. This requires time and a ton of thought. What I’ve found is that if you do not put this extra “thought” into each project, you tend to forget about the details. The details are what makes your project work. Being said, the more projects you are working on, the higher the likelihood you are making LESS overall. I always say you have enough time in the week to have 2 projects going on and a hobby. If you take on more, you are likely leaving money on the table because of your lack of focus.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
There was an awesome Ted Talk on the difference between smart people vs successful people that really resonated with me. When you break it all down, it comes down to the word, “Grit”. Once I have my goal imprinted into my head, I will absolutely not stop until I achieve it. I’ve always said, a truly determined person is almost impossible to stop. I structure my life around my goals and do whatever it takes to improve my chances for success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I would actually say that it is when I have an idea on how to market a product to an audience and it works. It’s one thing to do research and think you found a huge demand for a product, but it’s another thing to actually prove it. I have done this quite a few times throughout the past decade and I can honestly say it’s one of the most fulfilling feelings you can have.
What does the future hold for your e-commerce? What are you most excited about?
There are literally endless opportunities for e-commerce. What I love about it is the ability to innovate good products that people will use and be happy with. I love creating brands and building funnels.
What business books have inspired you?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It basically proves that timing plays a huge role in success. Some of the most successful people in this world are products of when intelligence and preparation meet up with perfect timing.
What is a tool you use regularly that’s helped with your business?
Jing – it is an instant screen recording tool, that allows me to easily document any bug or suggestions I find with my projects. I use it many times a day and it is the main tool I use to work with my developers on improving my projects and implementing ideas.
What suggestions do you have to beginners in online marketing and e-commerce?
- You learn the most when you try. You can read all the ebooks and forums you want, but from experience, the information is often times outdated or second-hand information from people who are relaying it to improve their reputation. Give things a shot and learn for yourself. You will be surprised by how much further ahead of the curve you will be from everyone else simply by trying out an idea while everyone else is just asking about it.
- Genuinely try to help people to the best of your abilities. This has gone a long way for me. Help as many people as you can and expect nothing in return. You will find yourself building a strong network of people that way, and the dividends can pay off years later when it is much more valuable for you. Being a good, honest business partner can go a long way.
- Be upfront with people about your problems and concerns. As an entrepreneur, you already have a ton of problems to deal with every day. The fastest way to deal with them is to be upfront and see what you can do to find a resolution as fast as possible. Not only will you be saving yourself a ton of time, but you will find yourself becoming a more efficient problem solver, which is the number 1 job of any entrepreneur.