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CHOYBOY SOLUTIONS: MARKETING – THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT

I have a confession to make. I’m no where close to being good at taking advice. See, all my life, I’ve learned the hard way but its the only way that I can call something my own. I’m very skeptical of things that people tell me and I take everything with a grain of salt. I have to experience everything myself to truly understand and I’ve learned some great things from mistakes and failure than I have learned from success.

Usually, if I’m helping someone, they’re less experienced than me. I don’t mean less intelligent or less of anything but I do mean less experienced. I’m but a tiny dot, not even a blip on the radar, in the world of eCommerce – you must be an ever smaller dot…spec of dust on the screen, maybe?

But I am experienced. I founded, ran and crashed my own eCommerce apparel site which generated $36k a year of passive income. I was part of the startup crew who launched a flash-sales site catering to the street, surf and skate market (streetwear) which generated revenues upwards of $250k a year.

I have some experience. So given my experience, what is a man to do when working with a client who won’t work with you on his marketing/business plan?

This particular client has a physical storefront but it needs a lot work. It’s in a not-so-safe location and is near the freeway but on a busy traffic. He’s fortunate enough to have his own parking lot but the location is not a stand-alone building and is pretty hard to notice when walking by, let alone driving by.

He wants to focus pushing his brand and he’s been going about doing this his own way – advertising with slap-stick stickers – for about 3-4 years now. It’s obviously not working. Frankly, his designs are sub-par and he should use the money that he has to hire a graphic designer or to spruce up his store rather than pushing his brand.

My advice to him was to stop throwing away money by making more shirts, accessories and stickers and instead remodel the store and focus on lean/low-cost marketing through consignment (selling other brands in the store). Utilize the space you have the space you have now. Maximize.

The response, and this is the way I heard it, “No, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope it works.”

Marketing doesn’t work like that. Marketing is dynamic and requires you adjust as you go judging by the feedback or response from your target demographic and marketing efforts.

The customer is NOT always right. Not even 80% of the time. Not even 90% of the time. But you can either choose to bite your tongue or you can do your job and help. So what can you do when your client disagrees with you? What can you do when you and your client are at a stalemate? I usually succumb to 4 decisions:

1) Give the client what he wants. He’ll keep shelling out the cash and wondering why he’s so deep in the hole. You’ll feel guilty and you’ll end up with a massive headache when he asks you what you’re doing wrong.

2) Keep pushing for what you think would work best. Most likely, the client won’t listen and eventually drop you.

3) Drop the client. One source of income gone but you could be focusing your efforts elsewhere with someone who will listen to you.

4) Prove him wrong. Run your own marketing campaign and show him that its better than his. Often times, this would be the best decision. You can show him hard data and results.

May favorite is #4 (However, in my case, it won’t work since I would need access and use to the physical storefront). It shows how dedicated you are and how invested you are in the client’s success. Normally, I won’t go for #3 since I don’t take on anyone I can’t help. #1 and #2 only furthers the stalemate but you will only lose in the long run (although you do make a nice consultation fee).

Of course, you’d have to gauge where you are in the marketing process, if the client will even consider your advice or if you should do the bare minimum and give the customer what he wants because your efforts are going to waste.

It’s all up to you.

 

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CHOYBOY SOLUTIONS: A GUIDE TO MARKETING ON INSTAGRAM

Instagram is one of the easiest social media platforms to market your products and gain followers. You don’t need to be a social media mogul to use and market yourself properly on Instagram but here’s a little guide to help you get through it.

  1. Set up a username. Make it short, catchy, relevant and easy to remember. Do not use special characters. No _, @, $, %, # or any of that. Do not make your username “C40Y130Y” if you’re trying to write “CHOYBOY.” Just don’t. It looks like a fake profile or a spam/scam profile.
  2. Now that you have a username and your Instagram set up, log in to Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) or any Instagram analytics software. This is important because you want to be able to quantify what posts gets the most views/likes and why. Which leads to…
  3. #Hashtags. Unlike long tail SEO methods, hashtags should be short and to the point. You want to make sure it’s relevant to the niche you’re targeting. You should probably do some research on popularity of hashtags by just searching the term in Instagram’s search bar. You also have the benefit of creating your own hashtags. I don’t use Instagram to post pictures of my projects since it doesn’t make sense to send pictures of a wall of text, but if I were to post pictures, I’d hashtag #choyboy or something like that.
  4. Make your biography simple. Explain in a few words who you are, why you do what you do, your links, and maybe a few promos.
  5. Take a screenshot of your followers. There are times when a user would like every one of your pictures. Take a screenshot of that and Instagram their support. Everyone loves shoutouts.
  6. Social media is a place to engage in conversation. Tag people who engage in constant communication on your posts. Reply to users. Create conversations and build relationships. Start searching and liking other pictures. Comment.
  7. Automate your #hastags and likes. There are applications available that allow you to search a specific hashtag and like up to X-number of pictures per hour. Warning: Use proper hashtags and be creative. There are millions of pictures with #fashion hashtagged on it. If you like that, it will get lost in the clutter. Try to be specific and creative to search for hashtags with less than 50k pictures and focus on those.
  8. Like any other social media platforms, content is everything. Post at least 5-10 times a day. Instagram has millions of users and its extremely fast paced. People will scroll through pictures fast and not all pictures will appear on people’s feeds so don’t worry about reposting content. FYI, Instagram users are most active at night. Don’t worry about running out of personal content. Use content found on Instagram and just give credit to the poster by tagging them and mentioning them in the comments.
  9. It’s always hard in the beginning but don’t give up. Once you’re past the first 500, 1000, 2000 followers with original and reposted content and proper engagement of followers, your posts and popularity will eventually just take care of itself.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me. I’d be happy to talk.

ChoyBoy Solutions: Why AdWords is a Waste of Time and Money; An Intro to Social Media Marketing

I apologize for the misleading title. At first glance, it may appear as if I hated AdWords, which really isn’t the case. AdWords is a great tool meant to drive traffic and create conversions but like any other tool, it’s only effective if you know how to use it. If you don’t know how to use it, you’re most likely wasting your time and time is money…so it’s like losing twice as much money! If you don’t know how to use AdWords, check out the 6 steps I use to set up my AdWords campaigns.

From the perspective of a small startup brand, AdWords may seem enticing to use to generate traffic and create conversions but all that money you’re shelling out could be used to create products and hold events and pretty much build your brand. Most brands are looking to create a following; a loyal group of people that absolutely loves what your company is about and would kill (not really) for the products you make. I’m sure you’ve all seen the long lines that wrap around corners for shoes or shirts from brands like Nike or The Hundreds. Love like that cannot be bought nor can it be replicated through the use of AdWords. It can only be built through the blood, sweat and tears of creating solid content through writing, YouTube videos and interacting with people face-to-face…then posting it on your blog for the world to see. But not everyone will see it. Not everyone would want to see it.

An extremely quick intro to marketing via Social Media.

1) If you haven’t already done so, create a blog (I use WordPress), Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr account. Pinterest is a big maybe for me because it’s not where my target market is BUT if you’re targeting women ages 16-35, go ahead and join Pinterest. Pinterest is heavily dominated by females so it will work to your advantage, just not mine. Spruce up all of those accounts to make it look like nice and consistent with your website. Make sure all your accounts are listed on each other. You want a link to your Twitter account to be on your Facebook and a link to your Facebook account on your Instagram and so on and so forth. Make sure they all link back to your online shop.

2) Download HootSuite or any other application to manage your accounts. Start sharing and start #hastagging. I know, I absolutely hate #hashtags but guess what, deal with it. They work. Hashtags allow you to search by that specific hashtag. Let’s say a fitness company wants to post a picture about legs. Hashtags for that would be something like #legday or #legpress. Well guess what, people who use hashtags use that hashtag. Just go ahead and search that hashtag and like the customer! Sometimes the customer will find you! But be selective when you choose hashtags. Nothing vague. Be specific to save time.

3) Start blogging. You know that WordPress account I told you to make. Use it. Start writing content and make sure they automatically post on to your other accounts to take reach the audience on those platforms. Make sure your blog posts are anywhere between 350 to 500 words. Make sure that all your efforts on social media can be collected onto your blogging platform. There’s plugins to make it happen so it’s not that difficult.

4) SEO plugins/Meta tagging. You need this. Rather than spending money on AdWords, building rich content and optimizing those pages with keywords is a smarter way to go. It may not produce the results as fast as you want but you’ll gain a following of avid readers who are genuinely interested in you and your company.

5) Engage your readers. Start asking questions. Start leaving comments. Start suggesting products. Don’t just set up your accounts and leave it be. The internet is dynamic, not static. There is no such thing as “if you build it, they will come.”

So what would you rather do? Spend money to gain random traffic or build a following through sharing your experiences? One may convert to sales, the other, no questions asked. It’ll work.

 

ChoyBoy Solutions: You Can’t Do It All; A Strong Team is Better than a Strong Individual

People often forget that they are human. We forget that we are prone to making mistakes and that we are physically and mentally limited. We should always remember that, even though we are limited in skills and experiences, we can surround ourselves with people who can support us. We can’t do it all but we sure as hell don’t need to.

When I was working at my first startup, a flash sales site, there were only 4 people in the company. 2 of which were the owners of the company and pretty much focused on the sale end of things and 1 developer. I, an intern at the time, handled everything from logistics, sales, account management, to marketing. I learned everything hands on. I even took on extra roles and did my best to learn SQL, HTML and CSS. By the time I left the company, I’d say was well versed in running a business.

At this same time, I ran my own eCommerce site. It was first based on WordPress with WP-eCommerce plugin and then it was WordPress and Big Cartel. Keep in mind that I was the only employee. I was swamped. Every time there was a bug, I had to fix it. Every time there was a sale, I had to fulfill it. Every time, I had an idea, I had to create it. It was tiring and with that much stress, I lost my sight on the goal. I couldn’t do it all. I hired a few interns and had one running the social media, one in charge of fulfillment and logistics, and I outsourced the development problems to a third party. I was so busy with my other jobs that I even hired a brand manager who I later made partner. I built a strong team and we accomplished more together than we could as individuals. Our different sets of skills and experiences complimented each others and we developed synergy.

You can’t do it all. A strong team is better than a strong individual. A team of strong individuals is what you need to reach success.

ChoyBoy Solutions: A Constant Work in Progress

This blog will solely be dedicated to the work that I am committing my time and energy to. This blog will be constantly updated with recent events (i.e. progress, problems and successes) pertaining to the world of eCommerce and all the like. All of my experiences are from my own. Any new discovery will be shared. Any and every questions will be answered to the best of my ability.

We are all but a work in progress.

Sit back, buckle up and enjoy the bumpy ride.