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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: 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: 88 Monks – Website Has Been Updated; New Background and Header

So I feel this is all I can do with the site as of now. I don’t want to touch the shop just yet since I need access to his Big Cartel site and he’s considering changing eCommerce platforms. Also, he doesn’t have consistent product pics so I’m not going to start updating something only to change it up halfway through it.

5.14 88Monks Landing Page

What do you guys think? Feedback is much appreciated.

Check out the progress from then till now.
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

ChoyBoy Solutions: 88 Monks – New Landing, About, Store and Contact Pages (Still a Work In Progress)

Been working on the site since the 9th (when eNom finally decided to release the domain to Bluehost).

Here’s a screenshot to the landing page. I made it so there’s 3 featured photos.

Featured photo 1: “Welcome to 88 Monks”

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 8.26.32 AM

Featured photo 2: “Hip Hop, Kung-Fu, Video Game Shop!”

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 8.35.42 AM

Featured photo 3: “625 N. Alvarado St. Los Angeles, CA 90026”

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.30.23 AM

I made it this way so its easier to navigate. There are still some lingering issues that I need to take care of like adding the social media links and removing the unwanted post tags. I’ll have to dive deeper into the HTML for those…pain in butt.

Finally got the shop loaded. Originally, I was going to use WooCommerce but I decided that it was too much work. I decided to stick with Big Cartel and seamlessly integrate it by using iframe tags. I did do some HTML work on the Big Cartel side. Still needs work.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.31.47 AM

As I mentioned on the other post, the About page is fine the way it is. I couldn’t find the old picture they used so I just added something from their Tumblr account. Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.32.04 AM

Finally added a much needed contact page. It’s pretty basic and it doesn’t say much but at least its up.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.32.12 AM

There’s still a lot of work to do on this site…mostly on the back end and some aesthetic tweaks but it should be up and running soon.

It looks a lot better than the what it looked like before:
Landing Page
About Page
Product Page

Stay posted.

ChoyBoy Solutions: A Small Introduction to AdWords – 6 Steps to Get You Started

I don’t claim to be an AdWords expert but I’ve dabbled in it enough to admit that I know a few things. I’m not going to go in great depth because AdWords is actually quite simple to use but also quite complicated – it really depends how far you want to go. It takes a lot of trial and error to see what AdWords campaign works best for what I’m trying to accomplish. Is it to drive traffic or is it to create conversions? Do you want people to buy a product or do you want to create an audience for your blog? Its all unique. The internet is your friend. You can search for “AdWords Tutorial” and find a lot of information – many of which I found to be redundant. So I decided to write this blog up just for you to simplify it. Keep in mind that this is all coming from my experience and may not work with what you want.

1) You want every link on your site to redirect you to the correct page. If not, site-crawlers will see that it leads to no-where or someplace where it doesn’t match keywords and it’ll hurt your conversions and cost you on clicks.

2) Make sure you’re campaign has the correct settings. If you are targeting search results, you need to go into settings and change it to Search only. If you want to make a display campaign then you should make another campaign for only display. It matters. A lot.

3) Target the right location. So let’s say you have a brick & mortar business or a service based business and you want to find customers in your general area. The first thing you should do its limit the target geographic location to the area you want to reach…and be specific! For example, let’s say you run an A/C repair business in Los Angeles, CA and you want to target Beverly Hills, CA because of all the rich folk. You don’t want your business in Los Angeles, CA to target Beverly Hills, FL when you’re trying to reach Beverly Hills, CA all because you forgot to specify the state. It’s such a simple yet common mistake.

4) Keep your keywords to a minimum but tailor it to the segment you’re targeting. You don’t want people you don’t want to reach to be clicking on your link. Keywords are not cheap. There’s 7 billion people on the planet right now and a click from even 10% or even 1% of them will have you go over budget. You are however lucky enough to be capped $2,000 per AdWords account but $2,000 spent is still $2,000. And if you’re targeting the wrong people and not getting any conversions, you just wasted $2,000 and the time it took for you to set up your campaign. On another note, you don’t want broad keywords because they’ll clash with your other keywords and then your bids will go up and soon you’ll be broke (not really, you’ll reach your daily cap). After following step #3, try doing something like “+Beverly Hills +air conditioning +repair” rather than “Beverly Hills air conditioning repair” and “+Beverly Hills +air conditioning +repair”. (the +’s makes it so that those words HAVE to follow).

5) Don’t bid too high. Don’t bid too low. Now this is actual something that you’ll have to play with. You don’t need to be the first link of the search results, just be on the first page. See what works to get you there. Having your link on #2-#6 works best but you get there by doing AdWords right. If you don’t have much of a budget, see what works with you.

6) Get your hands dirty. Track your results. See what works with you. Make adjustments.

Good luck!

ChoyBoy Solutions: 88 Monks – Why You Don’t Cheap Out on Hosting Servers

I received the login information and ready to go to town on this site. 88 Monks is a wordpress based site with a Big Cartel plugin for a shop, which is cool. There are many way to go about having an online site and this is a cheap way to go. After you get the domain and host, you get the Big Cartel shop. You can get the free version, which is good for 5 products (I think) or you can pay monthly for up to 100 products and options (again, don’t quote me on the number).

So I logged in. Much to my surprise, this site is dated. I mean, this needed more updates than Internet Explorer. I did everything I could to update the site. I tried updating WordPress itself but that didn’t work so I deactivated plugins in one at a time, then all of them, then some but not all plugins and nothing worked.

4.30 Failed Plug ins

“Download failed. Destination directory for file streaming does not exist or is not writable.” It’s a problem with the server. It has to be.

Turns out that I was right. The server is complete crap. 88 Monks was originally hosted on GoDaddy but the domain expired and eNom, a second rate host, bought it. I logged in to their back end and I thought it would be a simple WordPress install but it wasn’t.

5.05 Enom 1

I couldn’t even make a fresh install. The user interface was minimal but crap. It wasn’t functional. What you’re looking at below is the actual control panel. You can’t do anything. Not even through FTP.

 

After going back and forth with eNom customer service and 88 Monks, I decided it was best to bring 88 Monks to the present. I decided on Bluehost since it’s reliable and I’ve never had a bad experience with them.

Do you see this? This is how most hosts look like when you first log in. Its simple, it’s clean and its easy to use.

5.05 Bluehost 1

 

Moving on the cpanel, baby, look at those drop-down menus. It’s easy to use even for a novice user and its functional.

5.05 Bluehost 2

 

The next step was to move hosts domains from eNom to Bluehost. And this is the part that really ticked me off. When you work with hosts and decide to move domains, the process usually takes anywhere from 24-48 hours. For reasons unknown, eNom takes anywhere from 7-10 days. This whole process started on May 1st. I have a few more days to go. I talked to eNom’s customer service on this and they politely said they can’t do anything about it and that’s just the way it is. Now the reason why you don’t want to cheap out on hosts is specifically for three reasons: 1) Customer Service, 2) User Interface/Ease of Use and 3) Reliability and Speed. eNom is far behind the rest of the players in this game. They do have price on their side but when it comes to technology, you don’t want to cheap out on hosting servers.

Check out the previous 88 Monks related posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

ChoyBoy Solutions: Why a Premium or Pay-To-Use eCommerce Platform is What You’re Looking For

When there are free options to running your online store, why in the world would you want to pay for eCommerce services? Sites like WordPress make it easy for you to create your online store with plugins like WP-eCommerce and WooCommerce. I’ve personally used both of these plug-ins and they worked fine for what I needed at the time since I was low-volume seller. Later on, when my store became more and more popular and as WordPress started to release more and more updates, I started to notice some problems; mainly with compatibility and customization problems. I’m sure now these plug-ins have evolved into something more powerful but plugins can never compete with a full-fledge eCommerce platform. Sites like Big Cartel and Shopify are years ahead of what simple plugins can do.

Big Cartel has an amazing free and premium storefront options, which range from $10 a month to $30 a month. The question that I’ve found that most Big Cartel users ask themselves is “will I ever need to post 25/100/300 products?” The answer is, maybe. Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t. But you will need more than 1 product image. Customers want to view different angles of product images and see how people look like when wearing your product. Stats are important but with Google Analytics, you might not need that option. You will however need customization, inventory tracking and discount codes.

The drawback with Big Cartel is that you won’t get the customization options like that of Shopify. Shopify has a whole team dedicated to assisting their clients with everything from designing to marketing to merchant services. You won’t get that with Big Cartel or WordPress. You won’t really need to learn how to code or even touch the code. If you had your store on WordPress and had a shopping cart plugin, you’ll get your hands dirty once a week at the least; coding the templates, adding in a payment gateway like PayPal, and blah blah blah.

The thing with these eCommerce platform is that you don’t have a blogging option and that you might just need to link it to your WordPress (but that’s really easy and not all online stores want/need a blog).

I’m not endorsing Shopify nor am I hating on Big Cartel or WordPress and it’s plugins. All I’m saying is that if you want to make your life easier and have someone deal with the nitty gritty, by all means, pick an eCommerce platform that allows you to customize your site with ease and lets you process payments so that you can focus your attention to marketing your brand. $30 a month is a small fee compared to a headache that lasts for hours and hours.