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EFP 101: Retail Vs. Wholesale Marketing

Justin Cooke July 10, 2014

“Do things that don’t scale.” – Paul Graham

Most of the time entrepreneurs look for scalable processes they can implement so they can make more money and save more time. But what about the smaller, more focused attempts that can create super fans and evangelists more effectively?

The Retail Versus the Wholesale Marketing

Joe and I talk about the benefits of low volume, high touch marketing and treating customers like absolute gold. For example, sending new customers a personal video greeting them or getting on the phone as the founder.

Obviously, you can only do this to a certain point, as this doesn’t scale (Apple won’t be able to do this,) but bootstrapped entrepreneurs have the flexibility to take advantage of this.

Check out our case for retail marketing:

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

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Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • The difference between retail and wholesale marketing.
  • Advantages of retail marketing and how to execute.
  • Leveraging your free time as a bootstrapped entrepreneur.
  • The role relationships play in big purchases.
  • 10 practical examples of retail marketing in action.
  • Cocaine and strippers!


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Spread The Love:

“You need to leverage your resources. If it’s time, leverage that to drive your customers down the value chain.” – Justin – Tweet This!

What are some of the personal, non-scalable touches you give customers? Leave a message on SpeakPipe or join us in the comments below.


Speaker 1:           Welcome to the Empire Flippers podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that eBook you bought for 17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for?

                                Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.

Justin:                   Welcome to episode 101 of the Empire Flippers podcast. I’m your host Justin Cooke, and I’m here with my business partner extraordinaire, Joe ‘Hot-Money’ Magnotti. What’s going on buddy?

Joe:                        Hello everybody!

Justin:                   We’ve got a great episode this week. We’re going to be looking at retail versus wholesale marketing. So, we’re actually going to pair this a bit to politics, and you’ve probably heard of retail politics versus wholesale politics. We’re going to talk about this under … Joe’s looking at me funny. Like, “Why are you comparing politics and marketing?” I think it will be really interesting.

                                We’re actually going to talk about when you should use retail over wholesale, and we’re going to come up with some concrete examples you can use in your business for retail marketing.

Joe:                        I bet you 95% of the people haven’t heard of retail or wholesale politics.

Justin:                   I don’t know. If you have heard of this, please leave a message in the comments. I want to know. Someone’s heard of this, man.

                                Basically, the idea is that retail politics is when you see the guys in New Hampshire shaking hands and kissing babies, right. They’re going door to door trying to win your vote. Better example of wholesale marketing would be California in the U.S.

                                For our non-American listeners, California, they don’t do that. So, they’re not going door to door and kissing babies. Maybe a couple of events, but really it’s won on radio and TV. So, they’re putting out major radio and TV ads trying to get your vote. It’s a much more wholesale approach.

                                We’re going to be talking about retail. The hand to hand, door to door approach that you can use in marketing, and why, in certain situations, that’s actually better than the wholesale approach.

                                Before we do that dude, let’s do some updates, news, and info. First thing is we’re rolling out the Empire Workshops.

Joe:                        Yeah, hit me up buddy. What’s that all about?

Justin:                   So, we did that blog post about this last Monday. You can check it out. We’ll link to it in the show notes, but basically we’re going to be in Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as I like to call it, on August 7th. We’re going to be renting out a space, we’re going to be having some snacks and lunch.

                                What we’re going to do is we’re going to dig into the exact process you need to do to prepare to sell your site. So, six months out, three months out, one month out. How to get your financials in place, how to make sure you’re getting maximum value, what you need to have ready for your broker and any potential buyers, where you should shop it first. We’re going to get into all this, all the way through the sale.

                                Secondly, we’re actually going to look at some case studies. So, examples of sites that have sold through us or not sold through us. We’re going to look at some of the highlights and the reasons why they did sell, why they sold quickly, why they didn’t sell and kind of break that down so you can see with actual examples what’s going on.

Joe:                        Yeah, I love the case study stuff, and I’m looking forward to getting out on the road and doing this in front of some people.

Justin:                   Yeah, by roadshow now. It’s the Empire Roadshow. Also, we’re going to be doing … The third section will be where some of the attendees were going to do website and business breakdown. So, we’re going to have them share the nitty-gritty behind their website and their earnings, their traffic, and we’re going to work with them to show other people exactly how they can improve the value in that if they’re looking to sell.

                                And by value, we’re talking about from a buying perspective. We can point out a few of the things that buyers will be looking for if they’re looking to pick up their website, and how they can improve that so they can get higher value from buyers.

                                I think it’s going to be really fun man. I think people are really going to dig it. Right now, we’re definitely set. It’s happening August 7th in Ho Chi Minh, and we’re tentatively planning one in Chiang Mai October 6th to 11th. I know we got a whole bunch of interest from people in Thailand that were looking to hook that up. So we’re going to be in Chiang Mai, and we’ll have one somewhere around that timeframe.

Joe:                        You’re going to have me flying all over the place, aren’t you?

Justin:                   Yeah, but I’m bringing you out, man. I’m getting you out of Davao man. I’m leaving Davao September 15th. I’ll be out of the Philippines, and I’m going to do my damnedest to sneak you out with me.

                                Next point is we wanted to talk about this. This next Monday, it’s not out yet, but this next Monday, we’re going to be listing my favorite website that we’ve ever listed. I’m really fired up about this one. I came across this site before he’d even reached out to sell it with us, and I was just a fan. It’s an informational site that I’ve used in the past myself to determine what we should use. It sounds very vague.

Joe:                        Yeah, very mysterious.

Justin:                   I know. Well, we’re not sure if we’re going to share the URL in this one or not, so I’m being intentionally vague, but I’m telling you, I’m really stoked about this one. I’m going to ambassador this one because I really like it.

Joe:                        Yeah, I did the vetting myself today and went through all the financials on the side, all of the statistics, and it is a very interesting site, and it’s very passive. It’s a good candidate for people that are close to this ditch or want something like this.

Justin:                   I have a game plan for this one, man, because I actually looked at this, and I looked at building out a site similar about a year to a year and a half ago. I was stoked about it. I actually want to do this as part of our partner program that we’re talking about launching with the new redesign, but I’m fired up. I want to be involved in the growth on this one. I would be happy to work with a buyer in terms of strategy in trying to plan this one out because I see a ton of value there.

Joe:                        So look forward to that feature listing soon. What are we going to price it at?

Justin:                   It will be out Monday. It’s going to be pricey, so we’re looking 220 to 250, somewhere in that range. We’re looking at it now.

Joe:                        That would be the biggest listing we’ve ever had.

Justin:                   It will be, it will be. I’m just stoked that there’s a site, or a website, that I was a fan of before that has now come to us saying that they want to list. I didn’t even reach out to him, he reached out to us. So, that’s pretty cool, man.

Joe:                        It is, it is.

Justin:                   I’m a fan of that.

                                Alright man, enough of that. Let’s get into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 1:           This is the Empire Flippers podcast.

Justin:                   So at the top of the show, we told you a little bit about what we’re talking about today. Retail versus wholesale marketing. Let’s explain this a little bit more. We talked about how it’s compared to politics, but let’s get into the nitty-gritty on what this means from a marketing perspective.

Joe:                        Yeah, because when I think of retail and wholesale, all I think about is brick and mortar and then warehouses.

Justin:                   So wholesale marketing would be kind of widespread, or wide catching, content marketing. This would your blog channel, this would be getting first page of Hacker News, it would be getting a great Reddit thread growing about you. It’s a whole bunch of people checking out your site, it’s a wide-ranging audience, but it’s not as targeted. It’s definitely not individualized in any way, shape, or form.

                                When we talk about retail, on the retail side of things, that’s much more direct. It’s the handshaking, the backslapping, the baby kissing. When we’re talking about this from a marketing perspective, there’s a scale, there’s a sliding scale here.

                                So, a slightly personalized automated email will be probably leaning toward the wholesale side. It’s retail kind of. It’s somewhat personalized. Down to meeting someone in person, looking them in the eye, shaking their hand and doing a deal. That would be hardcore retail. That’s as one on one, or one to one, that you can get. It’s just talking about taking a more individualized approach to your marketing.

                                We’re going to talk about some scenarios where we think that a retail approach is definitely worth looking at. Again, it’s not like retail versus wholesale, like you do one or the other, it’s actually, generally this is a gray area so you can use both. But I want you to particularly look at retail when you’re in these scenarios.

                                The first one would be when you’re first starting out. So, if you’re just getting your business off the ground, every single customer you pick up is gold. Gold. You want to treat them with a ton of love because these are going to be your evangelists. These are going to be the people that tell everyone about your business, that promote you on social media channels, that love your stuff. So, you want to treat every one of these customers like gold.

                                There’s a great article by Paul Graham. He talks about doing things that don’t scale. He starts off specifically talking about founders trying to find other programmers or other employees, and that’s a form of marketing your business as well, but continues to go on to talk about what you can do for customers that some of your competitors or even the big companies aren’t doing or aren’t able to do.

Joe:                        Yeah, it kind of makes sense to me because I see people that are starting out definitely having more time than money. So I see this being a huge point to use when you’re just starting out. Get on the phone, start talking to people, meet in person if you can, maybe join meetups especially if you’re local. If you’re still back in the States or you’re in a country where businesses are, customers are, that are buying your products. Try to go meet them in person.

Justin:                   Yeah. You need to leverage the resources you have, and if your resource is time, leverage that. Have that make you more money. Have that drive your customers down the value chain.

                                What I think this really does too is it’s going to set you apart. It’s going to set you apart from the big companies that it’s just too time consuming to really go out and do all the personalized attention. They just can’t do it or they’ve got this huge monster of a process in place that doesn’t allow them to do it. And if you’re competitors aren’t doing it, that’s fantastic. You’re going to have that personalized touch that no one else has. This is exactly what Seth Godin is talking about when he talks about things like a purple cow. You’re the one that stands out.

                                I think there’s, especially in our community and the expat entrepreneurial community, there’s this big push to have a four-hour work week business. Like, I want to sit back on the beach, I want to have my drink in hand, I want to hear my PayPal ka-ching, ka-ching, just making me money. That’s ideal. I don’t have to do anything, I don’t have to answer any emails or get on the phone with anyone. I don’t have to meet anyone in person. It just prints money for me.

                                But everyone wants to do that.

Joe:                        I totally agree with you Justin. I see this a lot where everyone is looking for that automated revenue stream all the way from sales to operations to just billing and everyone. And if you just had a little more personal touch and invested a few more hours per week, maybe it wouldn’t scale but right now, it would make you more money and that would help build the war chest and make things easier.

Justin:                   It will build up that base of customers that need that hardcore core customer to you need. That’s going to help you start hitting that exponent or that hockey-stick growth.

                                Plus, the other thing with the four-hour work week business is, is that they all rely generally on the same broadcast or traffic channels. So, it’s like, go out and us this, pay for your traffic via ad words, do some blogging. Do all these things and then just kind of start collecting them. So, everyone’s trying to do the same thing there whereas if you can go out and do the individualized touch, it’s the path less traveled. It actually might be easier because the other channels, the other traffic channels or growth hacker channels, are full because everyone is trying to do that. Everyone is trying to build this business that’s just automated and already laid out and down and easy. They can just sit back.

                                So, why not do the things where you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. I think you’re going to have a better chance of success simply because there’s less people doing it.

                                One of the reasons you want to consider doing this, especially if you’re just starting out, is that you’re going to have closer connections to your core audience and customers. You’re going to be connected to them. You’re going to know what their real pain points are. What that does is it gives you an open and constant feedback loop. So, you’re constantly getting feedback from them about what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing right, how you can solve other problems and make even more money.

Joe:                        So important when you’re just starting out because maybe your idea is not perfect, it’s a little bit jagged on the edges kind of thing, and in order to smooth it out and make it right and more sleek, you need to talk to people to find out exactly what they want so you’re not just pounding that square peg in a round hole.

Justin:                   That’s why it just rips my soul out when I see people who are just starting, they’re just getting started, and they have a blog, and they have a few blog posts, and they’re trying to sell the eBook because it’s just easy. Someone can go there and pay them their 15 bucks or 20 bucks or whatever. And they think this is the magic, they think this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They think this is the thing that’s going to do it for them.

                                No. If they just got out there and started handing their eBook out to people and getting feedback from them. It’s painful, man.

                                But yeah, I think these are the things you’re going to want to consider when you’re just starting out is that you need to go out there and shake some hands, get on some phone calls, and hop on some flights and meet people in person. Obviously, you have to limit it to what your budget can afford, but it’s worth it if you can do it.

                                There’s one thing I think you need to be a little careful about here, or I should probably give you a warning about, is that you have to be careful not to make big changes in your strategic direction, in the business and where you’re taking the company, based on feedback from one or two customers. These one or two customers might not be your target customer. They might not be your perfect customer or your avatar, whatever, they might not be it so changing your business course based on feedback from these one or two people, you got to be careful with that.

Joe:                        I think especially if they’re a high-value customer. Like, if you sign a high-value customer early on, big deal, $10 000, and you just keep looking at that going, “Well, they wanted this, they wanted it this way and this way.” And you start changing and going down that particular route. Try to have a bigger look than just one or two customers.

Justin:                   You’re going to need a few, I’m not sure the exact number, but it’s going to be more than one for sure. So, a customer of one and their feedback, not quite so helpful. When you start hearing it from other people or they’re all hinting at the same thing, that’s a much better sign.

                                Second point we want to get into, or scenario, I think it makes sense to look at retail marketing, is when you have a very high customer lifetime value, or the potential for your customers to have a very high lifetime value. And this could be either a really high initial price, and I’d say that applies with us for example. You know, someone buys that $50 000 site from us, the price is high and the earnings are high on that for us. Or, if they have recurring, and generally it’s a long-term stickability plan.

                                You have a $200 a month, $500 a month plan you’re going to put them on, in general your customers are sticking for 18 months, 24 months, 36 months.

Joe:                        Yeah, this is my favorite on here because obviously if they have these high ticket sort of items to sell to people and these kind of customers, it makes the money thing just that much easier. You realize you only have to do just a couple of closes in order to make up the amount of money it took to go visit these people or spend some time with them. That kind of thing.

Justin:                   Let’s say that your average customers that you’re getting is worth $10 000 to you. You start out with 100 prospects a month, and right now, you’re closing two of those prospects. So, you’re making $20 000 a month, which is very high. We’re talking lifetime value, we’re talking initial price, either way. And you, just by being there shaking their hands and doing some of these personalized things, doing this retail marketing, you’re able to bump your 2% close ratio to 3%. That’s $10 000 more. That’s huge.

                                So, making these small changes, these little small incremental changes to your close rates based on kind of some of this goodwill, some of this serendipity if you will, can have a huge effect on your profitability.

Joe:                        Yeah, definitely worth getting on a phone and getting to know a little bit about each customer.

Justin:                   And the important piece here is that these small improvements are going to have, or have the potential to have, a very big change to how much you’re able to make. This is one of the things that we’re looking at with our Empire workshops.

                                We were talking about this, right Joe? We were saying, “Alright, how much would it cost for us to have to go out? We go to Austin, or we go Ho Chi Minh, and we kind of do these events. How many people do we have to get to sell a deal with us to make it worthwhile?” And it’s really easy to make money on that. It doesn’t take many at all.

                                So, doing that high-touch kind of stuff, we started looking at it, and it just totally makes sense for us and that’s one of the reasons that we’re going down this path. I think one thing you should consider when you’re looking at high customer LTVs is that large purchases, or large buys, are often made on relationships.

                                First off, in our example, no one comes to our website brand new, just came across us via whatever, FaceBook ad or something, and just buys our stuff.

Joe:                        Just think about cars, right? You might find your car on Auto Trader or something like that, you might look for it, but you go in person and you meet the person and you look at the car and you go through it.

Justin:                   I don’t know. I’m sure someone’s done this before, where they bought on eBay and had it shipped to them. Maybe like a specialty car or something. Even then, you’d think they’d get on the phone.

                                There are certain things that you’re going to want to go feel it. You’re going to want to touch. And some of you will say, “Ah well, that’s not necessarily true with business to business.” But no, it’s absolutely true.

Joe:                        Oh yeah. I mean, those guys want to be wined and dined more than individual customers.

Justin:                   Right. A nine month sales process. They come out, I’m taking them to dinner, I’m showing them the town. I mean, absolutely for B-to-B.

                                But it’s a very similar thing when you’re talking about small business to consumer, when you’re talking small business to small business. A lot of times these larger purchases are made based on relationships.

                                One bit of warning here, I think, is that, and hat tip to the Tropical MBA podcast for talking about this, I thought it was really interesting, but with recurring, you don’t want to just look at your average drop points. So, let’s say for example Joe, I’m looking at my average customer. I’ve got a $500 a month package. I see on average that people are leaving in 12 months. Across the board, my average customer sticks 12 month. So, I know that every 12 months I’m recycling all of my customers.

                                So, you might think to yourself, “Well, on the 11th month, maybe 10th or 11th month, I’m going to reach out to all of these customers, and I’m going to start touching with them and making sure that we’re cool so we can extend that 12 months.”

                                The problem is is that you may not be segmenting your audience. So, you may find that half are leaving in 3 months and a whole bunch are staying 2 years, 3 years, to where it averages out to 12 months. So, at the 11th month, you’re just preaching to the choir. You’re just talking to the people that love you and were going to stick with you 3 years anyway, it didn’t matter, and you’re missing all the people that are leaving in the third month. Those are the people you need to be talking to it you want to extend your 12 month average. It’s getting the 3-monthers to go to 6 months or 8 months.

Joe:                        It’s an interesting data point. It’s definitely where the data could be misleading if you interpret it the wrong way.

Justin:                   Third scenario we want to talk about is when custom work or expertise is required. We’ve done a little bit of this with our outsourcing company.

Joe:                        Absolutely, that’s exactly what comes to mind for me. I think we could’ve made the outsourcing company a lot more successful had we gone back to America and met with companies and shook their hands and took them out to dinner and found out more about their process, spent time at their offices. That kind of thing.

Justin:                   I don’t know if you remember this or not, but our mentors in the U.S. really recommended that. They said, “No, no, no.” They left, and I was having some drinks at, I think, our VPs house, and we’re talking and it’s like, no. They were saying, “You should really stay. I know Joe’s over there in the Philippines but you should stay. You should be doing the high touch stuff in the U.S. to drum up clients.” I just, I didn’t want to do it man. I wanted the lifestyle business. I was sold on it already, I had to go. But I think if my main purpose at that point was to make our outsourcing business successful, that was probably good advice. That probably was the right move. It just wasn’t the right move for me at the time.

                                Either way, talking about custom work or expertise required, we had a bit of that definitely with the outsourcing company because a lot of times people bring in their process and it’s different or they have different needs. And you have to actually get in and feel your way through their business, through what they need, and it’s not something that you can just easily do remotely via email.

                                We’ve actually seen this. We’ve worked with vendors who do try to just handle things via email, don’t really … Meeting up with you or whatever just isn’t really on their radar. They’d rather do it remotely. They’d rather do it via email. Skype, not so hot on that.

                                And that’s bad when the work is custom or there is this, you know you have to get a connection for kind of the process or what’s going on. You have to really understand stuff.

                                And I think when this kind of custom work needs to be done, it’s a great idea to just meet with them. Like we were talking, if I was in the U.S., I could just go to these companies, sit in with their management team, sit with their employees for a week or two, and I could really intimately understand what it is that they’re doing on a daily basis so that we could start to put our team into their process.

                                We just recently dealt with this with our designer. We were looking for a designer that could kind of really understand our business, and some of them were great via email, but when we asked, “Hey, can we fly you down here? Can we bring you down to Davao, have you spend a week or two with us and really learn our business?” Everyone’s kind of like, “I don’t know. What’s that all about?”

Joe:                        Yeah, even the ones in Manila didn’t want to come down to Davao. It’s amazing to me that John Meyers really stepped up to the plate and said, “Yeah, I’ll come all the way from Vietnam down to Davao.”

Justin:                   He was like, “Done.” So, that was really helpful to us because there’s something different about being with someone face to face, getting to know them and learning about their business in person. You can just get through things so much quicker.

                                And I think when you do that, when you’re able to meet with people in person, you have a much better opportunity to make them evangelists. So, we’re the kind of guys where if you meet with us, we like you, we like your work, there’s a much better chance that we’re going to talk about you, on our podcast for example, or on our blog, and we’re going to tell people about the great work or what we loved about what you did. And if we’ve met you, it’s just more likely that’s going to happen.

                                One of the reasons, if you do custom work or you have expertise required, I think you should consider the retail approach because it’s just so much easier to get to know people, products, and businesses in person. If you really need to get to know the people you’re working with or understand their process really well, you’re just so much more able to do that live.

Joe:                        Yeah. And I think it’s going to be much easier to collaborate with prospects and convert them into customers than it would be trying to do it on the phone or something like that when your in these custom scenarios.

Justin:                   I think too that sometimes taking that step will allow you to over-deliver for your clients or allow you to, at least, meet the requirements whereas if you’re a little more standoffish, you may be just shooting yourself in the foot there. A customer, a big customer, you might’ve had for the next two years in now going to stick three months because it just really wasn’t working. You weren’t able to give them just the right amount of touch.

Joe:                        I think it’s because you fundamentally understand their business when you meet with them in person and you spend some time with them rather than just doing it remotely. It can be something that can be easily missed.

Justin:                   This is something I think that you can do preemptively too. Maybe they’re not even asking for that, but if you’re suggesting it and talking about the value that you’ve provided other businesses by meeting with them in person and doing whatever it is you do, that’s something that’s going to stick in their minds. They’re probably shopping you. They’re probably going to a couple of other potential vendors or other businesses, and if you’re offering that high touch environment or the high touch situation and explaining the value, I think that’s going to be a sign that they should go with you. That’s one of the pieces that makes it more likely that they’re going to go with you.

                                One warning on this one, I would say, is that you don’t want to go chasing down potential clients that have sketchy objections. So the, “That sounds pretty good, but I need to talk to my partner” isn’t the guy that you want to fly across the country for and spend a week with.

Joe:                        Yeah. I mean, I could see this being someone who’s not familiar with sales. They could think they were a lot further along on the sales funnel than they really are, and they could make the mistake of just flying all the way out there, spending all this time with these guys, and they just say no anyways.

                                So, make sure that it’s a solid deal, or close to a deal, before spending a lot of time with a client.

Justin:                   I think this is a good time to mention too that I don’t think that marketing ends when the deal signs. So, your marketing piece is continuing through and past the sales process. What you’re trying to do by … Let’s say you’ve just got the deal done, and you fly out to meet with them. What you’re doing is preemptively trying to increase that lifetime value of the customer. That’s a marketing piece. That’s a service and marketing piece that you’re trying to get them to stick with you longer, both because the relationship you’ve built but also because you’re better able to understand their business and provide and deliver for them.

                                Alright man, so we’ve talked about a few scenarios that I think really highlight the benefits of retail marketing and are situations where you should really consider retail marketing. Let’s look at some more concrete examples of how you can actually use retail marketing in your business and put it in action.

                                So the first of the 10 examples, I think, is something that almost any online business can implement pretty easily, is to add a personalized email with your phone number for every new subscriber or customer that you get. I think a great example of this, I’ve mentioned this before, is Shopify. We signed up for Shopify. We were just looking, just kind of playing around, and I wanted to see what Shopify is all about and sign up process was, and I got an email from this guy, and it was very, it was like, “Hey, it’s really me.” He included a picture with him holding up a sign that’s from one of the customer service agents. I just thought that was the bees knees man. I was all about it. I was like, this was awesome.

Joe:                        When we first started out outsourcing company, and this was something that I used to do too, I used to put my phone number and signature, I used to be available for chat directly and tell people to contact me on Skype and stuff, and it led to a lot of dead ends too, but it led to me learning the business a little bit better.

Justin:                   Learning what they wanted, what they needed, having them just get on the phone with you. Making it-

Joe:                        And how to identify a real prospect from a tire kicker.

Justin:                   Yeah. This is especially important, I think, when you’re just starting off. Remove that friction, remove that barrier to contacting you. You’re going to learn a lot more about your potential customers and your actual customers when you do that.

                                The second point is to actually encourage your subscribers to contact you. It’s pretty similar to number one. We’re going to include, you know, you’re going to do a personalized email, you’re going to include your phone number, but actually asking them, “Hey, I respond to emails. Shoot me an email. Love to hear what you have to say.”

                                Someone who does this and does a good job of it is James Schramko. He sends out emails to his list, and actively encourages people at the end of the email to reply. What that does is that connects them to him. They can ask questions, they can reach out directly, and he can build a one-on-one relationships, via email, but he can build those relationships with actual customers and potential customers.

Joe:                        I know you’re a little worried about this with now our going to our [Zenda 00:26:51] system, but I think we’re still going to do that personal touch. If people email us there, and it’s a question or a comment directed directly at us-

Justin:                   I’m getting back to him now. I’m just getting back to him through Zenda, that’s the only difference.

Joe:                        It just gives us a better way to organize it. It doesn’t mean that it has to go directly through email, but giving that personal touch is probably something you should never give up.

Justin:                   Here’s one I like. It’s a bit more personal, and I think, again, it’s not that difficult to do. Our third point is you can do a video greeting to any new subscriber or customer that you receive.

                                An example of someone that does this is Jake Hower over at He also has a podcast. What he does is, he was getting subscribers and maybe he’d get like four or five a day, and he would actually record a 30 to 60 second video saying hello, talking a little bit about what he does and asking them questions. And it’s just really cool. I mean, you’re seeing him in person with a quick little YouTube video talking to you. It’s pretty cool.

                                It’s very personalized, and I think those are the kinds of things that major businesses, they’ll never do that, but you can do, especially as a small business or when your customers are highly valuable. Again, think about that two to three percent. If you can just get one extra out of those 100 potential prospects, that’s an extra $10 000 a month, what’s a video.

Joe:                        We’re not huge video guys. I mean, the audio thing seems to work a lot better for us, but we do know other video guys out there.

Justin:                   It’s because we have faces for radio men right? Isn’t that-

Joe:                        Definitely that’s part of the thing. But yeah, I think it works for a lot of people. And if you think about it, it’s just more personal and it allows them to get to know you a little bit better.

Justin:                   Fourth point is to add a bonus or a present with every product you ship to your customer. Someone that does this is Johnny over at He also runs the Travel Like A Boss podcast. But what he’ll do is he’ll include in every physical product that he ships out to someone like a little add-on.

                                So, let’s just say for example that I was shipping cameras. I would include with that camera, it doesn’t come with it automatically, but I would include a lens cleaner. It’s just a nice little touch. I can easily clean my lenses, not have to go out and buy one, it’s included in the package. So, these little kind of soft extras I think are pretty cool.

Joe:                        It definitely distinguishes you from the Amazon shipper out there. The faceless Amazon person selling stuff. It builds your brand.

Justin:                   Another thing I love, and this is the fifth point, is to do local or small group meetups. I’m picking this up from Dan over at Tropical MBA who, if you know the guy, what he does is he just bounces around southeast Asia.

                                So this guy, they’re pretty informal, but he’ll just show up in Bali for a couple of weeks and just reach out to people that are in his sphere. He’ll say, “Hey, let’s meet up. Let’s grab coffee, let’s do dinner.” He’ll come down to Davao, hang out with us or hang out with people here. Go to Chiang Mai, go to Ho Chi Minh. He just bounces around as these little small group informal get-togethers, and what that does is that’s expanding his sphere, adding it’s working customers or potential customers down his value chain. They’re like, “This guy’s around, he’s cool.”

                                I think that’s something that we’re looking to do. We love the idea, so we want to start doing that with our Empire workshops, and that’s something that we’re implementing now because we’re fans of it. We just like it.

Joe:                        I think it’s going to be a big advantage. Once you get out there, look people in the eye. You can get on the road, and you can kind of help people network that way too. You can say, “I just met with this guy in this last city. He does this, he might be a good person to reach out to.” So there’s actually that added benefit as well.

Justin:                   A sixth example, I think is pretty cool, is you can do some social media stalking, and then send them gifts. So, say for example, I see that one of our major customers on Twitter follows the Chicago Bears and I see on FaceBook he mentioned them, he’s a big fan. What I can do is send him a jersey or send him a mug or send him something that’s related to the Bears from us.

                                A good example of that sort of company that did this is the CD Baby. They didn’t do the social media stalking, but what they did do is they would ask you if there’s anything else they can ship you with your order. Is there anything else you need? They left it really open-ended, and people would put these kind of crazy requests. Can you send me a chicken? And so, they’d include a rubber chicken in the package. It’s crazy stuff, but it’s the kind of things that people remember, and then they later Tweet or tell their friends or do a YouTube video responses to that go viral.

                                These are the kinds of the things that I think are just awesome, and if you’re a smaller company or if you have a higher value customer, these are the things, the little, I mean it doesn’t cost you much at all, but you can really put some joy in somebody. You can really wow them with these types of things.

Joe:                        I definitely think in today’s online world this would be an easy one to pull off too. If you have the margin in there, do it. This is definitely worth it.

Justin:                   I want to do more of this ourselves. We haven’t. We’ve done a little bit. I remember, what’s one thing we did? We had Pat Flynn on as a guest, and we actually sent him, sent his son Jeepney. So, we sent him a little toy Jeepney, and we shipped it to him from the Philippines. That was pretty cool. I know he put it on FaceBook, and I’m sure his son appreciated it.

                                But those are the small little things I think we can do for podcast guests, we can do for customers, buyers and sellers, that I think will really distinguish us. It’s just cool stuff. That’s the kind of serendipity that just … I don’t know the ROI man. It just works. It’s good.

Joe:                        We just need a gift department.

Justin:                   A gift, yeah a gift manager. We got to hire a gift manager. Jesus.

                                The seventh thing I think you can do is you can build meetups around larger events. So, maybe it’s harder for you to get, or you have a smaller, because your customers are high value, you have a smaller audience. What you could do is if there’s a major event in your industry, for us it might be something like BlogWorld, might be World Domination Summit, might be our buddies DC Bangkok. What we can do is we can attend those events, but more importantly, we can do like a dinner a couple days before and have a little side meetup for our crew. For people that are there who are fans of Empire Flippers.

                                Someone who’s done this I know and is [inaudible 00:32:55] successful is Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn did something like this for I think BlogWorld and had a nice dinner. Took everyone out to dinner, answered their questions, got to meet with them in person. I know Andrew Youderian from eCommerceFuel has done this around the DC Bangkok event last time. He’s actually at the point now where I think in August he’s doing his own eCommerce meetup in Austin. So he’s actually turned it into his own event.

                                I think these other meetups around other major meetups are great if you don’t … If you’re like, “I can’t get 200 people in a room, but I can get 20 people in a room that are already attending this Ford Motor Exhibition” or something.

Joe:                        Or even five people.

Justin:                   “I know I’m in the auto parts space, I know that a bunch of people are going to be there. I could meet up with them and take them to dinner.”

Joe:                        Absolutely. I think that it’s a great networking opportunity.

Justin:                   Eighth point is that office hours for prospects and customers. They can schedule some one-on-one time with you and ask you anything they like. You set the particular hours, and they pick times in your schedule when they can get on Skype with you, they can meet you in person if they’re local. But these are the times that you have designated to meet people.

                                Someone I know who did this recently is Ian over at Tropical MBA, part of the Dynamite Circle. He said, “Look. Here are my office hours. If you want to reach out to me, you want to connect, do anything, schedule something during this time.” It will give them time to get one-one-one with Ian.

                                What’s really cool about that is it’s not like, “Okay, I’ll get on a webinar with 50 of you and handle your questions” or like an Ask Me Anything, an AMA, on the [order 00:34:27] forum or on Reddit or something where you guys can send it a bunch of questions. No. This is like one on one.

                                I mean, that’s expensive. Those are consulting hours. $200-an-hour type hours, and you’re able to get in there, they’re offering it to you, for free.

Joe:                        I’ve done a little bit of this myself with just [inaudible 00:34:42] once and sending people a link, and whoever signs up for one, signs up for one. I think it’s pretty good, and it’s a good way to develop a prospect into a customer for sure.

Justin:                   I much prefer this too Joe. I remember we did some consulting, and I didn’t like it. I felt like my time was just owned whereas with something like this, I’m cool with that. It just feels different to me. I’m doing it to help.

Joe:                        Yeah, but you can’t complain about free either. I always feel that when someone’s paying $200 an hour, you got to really pack a lot of value bombs in there, and if someone’s getting it for free, if they didn’t get a lot out of it or you didn’t bring your A-game that day, heck it was free and they can always schedule it again.

Justin:                   That’s interesting, because there’s an alternate argument where if someone’s paying for it, they tend to in their own mind value it more whereas if they’re getting it for free, they kind of might have different expectations. It’s interesting.

                                If you’re a consultant listening to this podcast, I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you think, because you’ve probably done both free and paid consultations, whether you thought that people who paid more valued it more.

Joe:                        It’s an interesting thing. But I think that, in our particular situation, paid versus free, free works a lot better.

Justin:                   So the ninth point, and I love this one, I said this one pre-show and Joe was looking at me like I’m an insane person, but you can do customer retreats or vacations.

                                A good example of this is the guy Anton from Drop Ship Lifestyle where he gets people off the ground on their drop-shipping business. But basically he has a bunch of people that have paid and they’re part of a membership community, and he said, “Hey, I’m going to be in Chiang Mai, love you guys to come out and visit. I’m going to rent out a mansion. It’s got a pool, I’m going to have it totally serviced. We’re going to have four, five days of learning. I’m going to bring some of my friends in. We’re going to learn a bunch of stuff, and we’re going to have some fun too. And it’s free. All you got to do is get out here. Who’s coming?”

Joe:                        Yeah, I’d love to see the balance sheet on this thing, but yeah.

Justin:                   Ah dude, that’s value buddy. That’s awesome. So think about this, right? I’ve got my drop-shipping business kind of up and running, I’ve made some money, but I really want to take it to the next level. I’m a fan of you and other people I’ve connected with on this forum, maybe I haven’t left my home country. But you’re offering to me the opportunity to come to Chiang Mai, meet up with a bunch of other people I’ve met in a forum that I think are pretty cool, and stay in a baller place and meet all these other people and entrepreneurs, and it’s free. I don’t know man, that’s kind of awesome.

Joe:                        Hey, the timeshare people make it work.

Justin:                   Think about the timeshare, Jesus. “Yeah, just come out and listen to my pitch, baby.”

                                I don’t know man. It’d be so cool. You’d get like a, 8 or 10 bedroom place, some crazy place, and you get a whole bunch of people out there. And they get to work together, they’re learning together, and they’re making all kinds of connections. I mean, it’s not going to cost you that much money.

                                Let’s say I spend 2500 bucks for like four or five days, and we really impacted or changed these peoples lives. For that amount of money? And really all we’re doing is leveraging connections to get people there and spending a bit of cash to make that kind of impact. I think that’s pretty cool.

Joe:                        It would be an interesting thing to try out. I want to see it.

Justin:                   You know I’m going. I’m going to this thing.

Joe:                        Yeah?

Justin:                   Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was talking-

Joe:                        Do you have a room reserved?

Justin:                   No, no, no, but I want to go. So, I’m going to be one of the presenters at his DL, talking about how to improve value in your site, how to prepare your site for sale, that kind of thing. You’re going too, man. You know I’m taking you to Chiang Mai for this event, you know that right? It’s done. It’s a done deal.

                                I think the second week of October buddy, you’re coming to Chiang Mai because we’re doing our thing, right?

Joe:                        We’re doing it.

Justin:                   So yeah, we’ll be there, and I’m snagging you out there.

                                Anyway, I just think it’s awesome. I think for a couple thousand dollars putting that on is sweet, and the impact will be fantastic. I’m talking about high touch. I mean, really. You’re like, they’re out in this mansion, you’re visiting them every day, everything’s taken care of for them, you’re taking them out to the waterfalls, have an amazing time, learn some crazy biznass from super sharp entrepreneurs that are there. It’s sick dude, I love it.

                                Alright man, this tenth point, this is all you. I’m going to say this upfront. This is totally from you, but when all else fails, our tenth point is just get some cocaine and strippers. That’s the plan. Just some blow and strippers, and everyone has a good time.

Joe:                        Cookies and watermelon.

Justin:                   Cookies and watermelon. Basically, the idea is this is some Wolf of Wall Street shit, but it’s funny. Like, the old school business guys, and you’ve done some of this old school B-to-B, is that it is kind of like the old boys game. Take them out, show them a good time, and there is some of that.

Joe:                        It definitely works. I mean, I’ve taken clients out, big clients out before.

Justin:                   I’m not saying actually buy the cocaine.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   It’s like a metaphor.

Joe:                        It is, yes.

Justin:                   We’re talking metaphor [crosstalk 00:39:21]. Just so it’s clear for legal reasons.

Joe:                        Right. If you show clients a good time, it does work. It sticks in their mind, it makes you the [inaudible 00:39:30] factor. And if you have a good product to back it up, you can definitely be the one that they select. There’s a reason why this has gone on for many, many years.

Justin:                   Joe’s choosing his words very carefully. Alright man, before we get ourselves thrown in jail, let’s move on to our tips, tricks, and plans of the future.

Speaker 1:           You’re listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   Our tip this week, we actually were just talking about it but, I encourage anyone who’s looking to get into drop-shipping to go to Anton’s site over at He also runs the forums at

                                Here’s the story with this whole deal. Anton reached out to you and us for something like a year, year and a half ago or something. He was just coming out with Drop Ship Lifestyle, and he kind of like … You got on the phone with him. I think we both did, and we kind of listened to his spiel a bit, and it was pretty interesting. He had done quite a few drop-shipping sites and was looking to get in the game and show other people how to build these drop-shipping sites.

Joe:                        Yeah, I went through the course a little bit. I think it wasn’t for us at the time, but it’s very interesting and very applicable and easy to use.

Justin:                   It was outside our core, right. It was one of those things where we have to go down a different rabbit hole, and it’s like where’s our time better spent. But here’s the thing. I compare it to, it’s like niche adsense sites are to larger content-based sites as drop-shipping sites are to branded large eCommerce sites. So if you want to go down the physical product space, I think this is a fantastic way to kind of cut your teeth, get some chops, and really learn eCommerce. And I think his course is fairly straightforward. I mean, I think most people with a bit of Internet basics can get it. It’s cool.

                                Plus, he’s got a really cool forum in there where I’ve been engaged in there a bit, and people are really helpful. They’re really trying to help each other out, and trying to help each other succeed. There are some failures, there’s some successes, but it’s interesting to watch their journey. I’ve seen some people start doing really well.

Joe:                        I don’t think that there’s anything in there too complicated, that you don’t need to be an engineer to figure out for sure. I would say that, unlike niche sites where I would say build 20 or them or 50 of them, just build one drop-ship site and stick with that.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think that’s … They don’t do a whole lot, but I think generally the sites, the plan is for them to earn more so it’s not a ‘throw things against the wall and see what sticks’, it’s a ‘get this one working’. And there’s various levels of “working”, right I say with air quotes. But yeah, stick with the one and really knock it out.

                                An interesting side note Joe, in terms of this, is that I was in his forum, and there was someone that kind of slagged us a bit. They were saying like, “Oh, I got this email from these Empire Flipper guys and they have this website for sell. That site can’t be earning that much. I’m not sure about this.” Blah blah blah. And then some other people went in there and said, “No, you know those guys are legit.” And then he kind of came back and was like, “Ah I don’t know about that.”

                                But I could just tell, reading it, that he was frustrated. It had nothing to do with us. He was just frustrated with like, he hadn’t had success or he had some setbacks and was just really frustrated. So, I got in there and just started responding to him. Just kind of laid it out. It’s like, “Look, I really appreciate the feedback because I know it’s very honest, but let me kind of explain what’s going on.”

                                Anyway, totally connected with the guy. Like, we’re going to have a beer in Chiang Mai. He’s actually in Chiang Mai right now. We’re going to have a beer when I get out there. I’m looking forward to it. He’s a cool guy. It’s just so funny. Someone who was like kind of beating us up a bit-

Joe:                        It’s always great when you convert one of those people, isn’t it?

Justin:                   It’s so cool, because he’s loud and outspoken. I mean, he’s kind of outspoken about not digging us, and I’m hoping that if he does dig us, if we can connect and he likes our stuff, then he’ll be outspoken as a proponent. He’ll support our stuff.

                                Anyway, I just thought that was really cool. It was interesting. I recommend checking out He’s got a great, I guess, apprentice or almost like a partner it seems like. But his buddy Johnny and him, they do a lot of videos and stuff, and they’re kind of living the life in Chiang Mai and showing other people how to get started with the expat entrepreneur lifestyle and the drop-shipping stuff.

                                I love what they’re doing. They’re really helping people with really tactical stuff. I think we’re not doing that anymore. We’re not building the sites, so I want to highlight some other people that are helping people get started, and I think they’re a great resource for you.

                                And that is it for episode 101 of the Empire Flippers podcast. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to check us out on Twitter @EmpireFlippers, and we’ll see you next week.

Joe:                        Bye bye everybody.

Speaker 1:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.



  • Johnny says:

    Love that random, kind of creepy photo of Rob Ford kissing that baby. Also thanks for the mention.

    For those who don’t know the backstory, I met Anton exactly one year ago out here in Thailand and signed up for his drop shipping course as a student. It took me two months to make my first sale, but it’s been my primary source of income ever since. One of the reasons for my success was figuring out how to optimize customer traffic to be higher converting. Small things like giving a free bonus gift, whether it be a cheap add on item like a guitar pick, lens cleaner, or even a box of Mrs. Fields cookies with every order has doubled my conversion rate for certain products.

    I ended up partnering with Anton to create Optimize Like a Boss ( which is basically a sneak peak into what my stores look like, and how I’ve figured out how to optimize for more sales.

    As far as Anton’s Drop Ship Lifestyle, I’ve always been just another successful student and even wrote a pros and cons review on his course, as it isn’t as easy money as a lot of people make it out to be. The review is here:

    I wrote it originally in January 2014 after being a part of the course for 6 months, and then updated it again after being part of his course for 1 year. Anyways, I do look forward to meeting everyone at Anton’s Drop Ship Lifestyle retreat. Here are some more details about the retreat as well as a video.

    Best regards,


    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Johnny!

      Yeah, hoping the cocaine didn’t dribble out of his nose onto the baby. 🙂

      I’ve never actually read your review of the course – will check it out now!

  • Anton says:

    Awesome episode and thanks for the mention!

    Just a few things that I should point out – the retreat was free for the first two weeks after I opened registration but then it switched it to paid.

    I originally planned to have a small group of 8 – 10 people but it blew up fast and we now have over 70 registered attendees 😮

    I actually flew out to Chiang Mai last week to book a conference center. While I was there I filmed a quick video with Johnny to show everyone around CM and what they can expect:

    side note; it was actually filmed by a Drop Ship Lifestyle member who gave up his career as a videographer in Cali to pursue his eCom biz in Chiang Mai. He’s only been there a week and he’s already making consistent sales 🙂

    Regarding how it’s effecting the balance sheet; I figure I’ll probably put in ~$5k (+ a decent amount of time) when all is said and done but it’s more than worth it. I started Drop Ship Lifestyle to help people who are seeking a simplified way to break into eCommerce and location independence and in return it has provided with an amazing extra income stream.

    The time and +/- $5k that I’ll invest into this retreat is just another way that I can give back and offer massive value to everyone who trusts me and my course and I think it’s the best way to get people to finally leave their country and give this lifestyle a try. I’ve technically been location independent since 2007 but it took me almost seven years to start living this lifestyle and I haven’t looked back since. I’m hoping this retreat gets a least some members on the same path as me.

    Also, I can’t wait for your presentation at the event! I love the podcast and the blog and can’t wait to see it “live”. I noticed the majority of people that are really doing the best in my course (making more than full time incomes) are people that I have met personally and I think actually networking with people are practicing what they preach has a huge impact on others successes. I’ve noticed a lot of people who want to get started with their own businesses lack any real support network/mentorship and I think that makes all the difference. This is one of the reasons I put so much emphasis on how important it is for members to share their questions, comments, successes and failures on my forum.

    If you really want to be successful you have to connect with other successful people which is really what Drop Ship Lifestyle is all about.

    Thanks again for the mention and please keep active on our forum. Your comments are appreciated!

    • Anton says:

      Also; I totally understand where you’re coming from with the thought that this will be a “time-share upsell” type event but that’s not how it’s going to work. Every presenter knows they’re not allowed to sell anything.

      The way I do business is give value and get value and that’s how this retreat is going to work with my presentations and everyone else’s.

      For example; I’m sure the Empire Workshop section will give my course members tons of value and help them increase their sites value and prepare them for sale. When it comes time to for members to sell their sites I have no doubt that they will chose one the people who helped get them make more money from their existing stores.

      In addition I’m sure that everyone who comes will take away tons of value from all of the presentations and tell all of their family and friends about their success from my course which will lead to more course members for me.

      Give value and get value. Everyone wins.

      • Cool Anton, hope my time-share comment didn’t grind your gears too much. I was just interested in how the balance sheet works. I think it’s great you’re moving it to a paid event, it makes providing value so much easier when you have a little cash to work with.

        Justin has convinced me to come out for the event, so I will be there as well. Looking forward to meeting up.

        • Anton says:

          haha, not at all man! That’s why I said I totally understand. I know that a lot of these big conferences are nothing more than high-ticket pitchfests so I get where you’re coming from.

          I just wanted to make it clear to everyone coming that they don’t need to show up with stacks of cash or huge lines of credit because there really is nothing to buy.

          Anyway; I’m glad Justin convinced you to come out there and I excited to finally meet up. I’m sure you will be seeing a lot of familiar faces out there too.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Anton!

      Love what you’re doing with the DSL community. I think your dropshipping course looks like a great intro into eCommerce for someone just starting out.

      I like how your community is so positive, helpful, and supportive of each other.

      I really, really like the retreat idea. What an excellent way to get your students to explore SE Asia and a great way to connect with other like-minded people looking to build similar businesses. I think it’s really going to be a success and I’m happy to stop by!

  • Andrew Hiddleston says:

    great stuff guys – funny picture (Rob Ford), I live just outside Toronto and we’ve had fun at his expense the last while.

    excellent topic as usual.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Yeah, Andrew – that was a crazy story, eh? Did Gawker (or whoever) publish/release the video of him smoking crack?

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