Getting Back To The Basics: Helping New-to-Online Brands Apply Marketing 101 to their Growth Plans

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How diversification has helped brands adapt and thrive online
  • Why Eric decided to create his own marketing agency
  • Why focusing on price alone can be the downfall of brands who are looking to make it big in the online marketplace
  • What does scalability and efficiency mean, and how brands can achieve these
  • Eric talks about the strategy he uses for his work with churches and nonprofits, and what he learned that he applies with brands
  • How Eric helps brands control their branding on Amazon and other online marketplaces
  • How to help brick and mortar brands excited about going online
  • Common mistakes brands make when looking for and selecting agencies to work with
  • How Eric realized that he was good at helping brands grow their company and build their roadmap
  • Eric shares the five things you need to do effectively to grow your brand
  • Eric’s advice to brands that have grown offline on how they can use the knowledge acquired to help them grow online

In this episode…

When brands are in the market for agencies to help them establish an online presence, many of them opt for the first one who promises them a website. They fail to look at how that agency will promote their brand and how this agency can create traffic that will help their sales grow. And according to Eric Kooymans, finding the agency who will take the time to get to know your target clients and build a roadmap for you, is the key to making your business grow.

In this episode of Buy Box Experts, James Thomson interviews Eric Kooymans about what scalability and efficiency means for businesses going online, the most common mistakes brands make when selecting marketing agencies to work with, how brick and mortar brands can use their knowledge in offline selling online, and the five things brands need to do in order to effectively grow their business. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace. 

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload. 

Buy Box prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

James Thomson 0:18
Hi, I’m James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and formerly the business head selling on Amazon at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon team. I’m co-author of the books controlling your brand in the age of Amazon, and the Amazon Marketplace dilemma as well as co-founder of The Prosper Show. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. Buy Box Experts is the only agency that combines executive-level advisory services with expert performance management and execution of your Amazon channel strategy, go to BuyBoxExperts.com to learn more. Our guest today is Eric Clemens. Eric is founder of Harnessing Strengths, a website design and e-commerce marketing agency helping brands to get online. Eric has over 15 years experience helping brands with e commerce development, search engine optimization, paid search marketing, inbound marketing, influencer marketing, email marketing and lead generation for b2c b2b and b2c Industries. Prior to founding harnessing strengths, Eric worked at various agencies and brands, perfecting his perspective on what brands need to do to be successful online. Eric is bringing his expertise to us today, sharing best practices on how brands grow online. So welcome, Eric. And thank you for joining us today on our Buy Box Experts podcast.

Unknown Speaker 1:49
Thank you. I appreciate your time.

James Thomson 1:51
So let me start by asking you, I’d like to get your perspective over the past couple of decades. How have you seen brands thrive or not? thrive when it comes to adapting to the fact that there are now these online channels.

Eric Kooymans 2:06
Without I think the big thing is being able to to diversify so is in a sense that, that brands sometimes often put their all their eggs in one basket. And that’s a situation where, where it’s either one product or one little niche of products. Sometimes it’s only on one channel. And with that, being able to weather the ups and downs of a changing market and to be able to adapt as you grow. That’s kind of the biggest, the biggest hurdle that many companies have just because it’s tough to scale. And it’s tough to be able to, to get traffic from many different areas or to be able to have different multiple channels to sell from. And that’s sometimes that’s most often the toughest challenge that companies have to be able to scale the brand.

James Thomson 2:52
So tell me, I’m curious to learn more about how did you come to found your agency, what caused you to get to the place where you said I want to be in business myself, I’m crazy enough to do this, how do I get to that place?

Eric Kooymans 3:05
Well, with SAP, I work with many different agencies doing everything from, from all the different pieces of marketing from search engine optimization, to paid search to, to social marketing, all of those different things. There’s, there’s many different, you know, budget constraints and different things that that we’re unable for us to do a great a fully Great job. And so with that we focus everything from from not just doing great marketing, but also having a great foundation. And that was our biggest goal is that we want to help clients grow in a very scalable way and not just to do a bunch of advertising and say, and then all of a sudden stopping the train stops, that’s not the goal. And so we really focus you know, really go deep into making certain that you have a great website. And, and and be able to have diversified channels. And and that was our main goal is just to be able to do it right from A to Z. And, and and to really, really structure our company around a grocery You’re not just say hey, here’s a website, or here’s some Facebook marketing or here’s one piece of it. Our goal is to really put together that that global strategy to have you know, a long term relationship and to grow, you know, evenly over time so

James Thomson 4:11
so online marketplaces have been around opportunities for brands to go direct to consumer has been now around for at least a decade. What mistakes Do you see brands still commonly making when it comes to thinking about an online channel relative to the rest of their business?

Eric Kooymans 4:25
That elicits when it comes to mistakes that’s something that that you know, I think that the the big thing that that in today’s world is it’s there’s is that price is really kind of as become the you know, the big driver well on Amazon you know, with the Buy Box it’s there’s a lot of repricing and different things. And and we’ve often seen the best success with brands focus on the why not just the price, but what is not just the the solution that this is providing but a couple people go to Amazon or go to Go to Google and search for a problem that they have. And And oftentimes, there’s 50 different answers of how to fix that problem. But we’ve learned at companies focus not on just selling the features of the product, but focus on the why that this product is better, and how this will change your life, not just improve your life, but change your life. That’s something that that people are then not focused on the price. They’re not focused on the, on the, on the ability to, to that this feature does it over this but really focusing on that there’s a bigger picture here and this is a complete solution to your problem. And then with that allows them to really scale that when it comes to putting together either a bundle of products, that allows you to have enough margin to be able to scale and then also the ability to to effectively drive traffic because you have enough margin to be able to, to pay for your costs, pay for your colleagues pay for all the fees and and really be able to scale in that direction. But that’s kind of product strategy is something where where I really Feel that most brands kind of stop it, okay, I can get this for a good price. And they don’t think about our do the competitive analysis, build it around the demand of what people are searching for. And if you spend half your time telling what your product does, they’re not the why it makes your life better, then then then it gets a lot more expensive and the ability to compete against, you know, all the different brands that are out there oftentimes gets lost in the shuffle because they’re not focused or focused on the features and not the big why that makes people want to pull the trigger and and make people not focused on the product and the features but on a bigger problem that they had when they first started searching.

James Thomson 6:33
So you work with companies to help them with consistency and scalability of their businesses. Talk to me a little bit more about the types of steps if I’m a brand that’s brand new to thinking about building an online presence. And you tell talk to me about these things called scalability and efficiency. I’m not necessarily sure what that’s going to mean to me and how I need to change the way I do business today. Tell me a little bit more about what scalability and efficiency mean?

Eric Kooymans 7:01
Yep. So with that, we don’t just say, okay, we want to go sell this many products. And this is your goal and just hope we get there, we actually really focus on planning for that. And so we first start off always with just doing a market analysis, starting with the keyword research, the competitor analysis, I’m looking at the social analysis of that using tools like keyword CAG, which allows us to search and see how many people are searching on Google, how many people are searching on Amazon, and where the demand is, what are people looking for. And then we also use tools like sem rush that basically allow us to see what are the competitors doing? You know, and what are people selling on that? Where are they getting their traffic, and that’s a big thing is that people don’t, there’s so much data out there that we just kind of, you know, kind of just jump in a pool and hope you float Well, in this situation, we can actually literally map out where people are where people are searching and and be able to do a full, you know, for kind of a roadmap that says this month we’re doing this this month, we’re doing that and Be able to really scale through that. And then also when people go to start doing advertising, it’s a situation where people don’t realistically look at the budget to be able to say, okay, Hey, can I I just want to launch a product on Amazon, I hope it sells well, that’s a little bit tougher these days, we actually have to do some things to drive traffic to do that. And, and you guys, of course, are the experts with that. But the goal is, is that we look at that we try to say, okay, hey, if we’re going to build a website, if we’re going to build a a product strategy, what is the cost of advertising to do that, and you can see exactly what the cost per clicks are, be able to say what the cost for the audience is, and on Facebook and really be able to map out this is what a budget would look like. And this is what based off your your product margins, what you can expect to get in return that most little details allow you to get the formula right to say, okay, hey, if we drive this much traffic to Amazon, we’ll make this much margin if we drive this much traffic to your website, and have that for example, you know, one impulse buy that says, hey, here’s a digital product, a guide or a download or Here’s something that that allows us to upgrade to a bundle, then all of a sudden, we’ve now make this profitable and we can afford to, to really, we can afford to to push the ball up the hill on Amazon so that the ball then starts rolling by itself, and you get enough reviews and traffic and all the different performance enhancers to be able to help help help your product perform, but then also on your website to be able to say, okay, hey, I spent x and I make you y. And that’s a scalable business model and that’s the goal that with a cost of advertising, it’s gone up 171% in the last two years, so so that’s like a big thing to note that that you just can’t say okay, let’s launch a 1999 product let’s look we’re gonna win you know, that’s that’s that’s that there’s FBA fees. There’s, you know, there’s all the fees in between, there’s Mark cost the mark, you know, the of the product, and then also, you know, all the different things that go into that and we say, okay, hey, if we can get a product bundle, that is a real product strategy that’s based off of the demand that people Looking for because we want to tell people what they’re what we sell, we want to know what they search for. And then we build a product bundle around that 75 to $99. price point, then we would be able to say, okay, hey, I can spend $20 I can pay for my cogs, I have the one click upsell to pay for my shipping and any of the, you know, other things that come along with it. And then I can scale, then I can also diversify effectively, because I can launch a product and say, okay, hey, this budget I’m going to send towards Amazon. And it’s tougher to track our eyes on that. But I can effectively, you know, do an overall analysis on that and really get those reviews, get everything that we need to do. And, and then but be able to have a very scalable this month we’re doing this this month, we’re doing that we’re tracking ROI every step of the way. We’re building content, we’re talking with influencers. We’re getting all of the different metrics to say, and the foundation on your website from content marketing and all the different things to be able to say when I stopped marketing, and I stopped paying for it, the trains keeps going. But that’s the problem. All these people You know, the biggest problem with brands is they just base it all off of this, you know, artificial growth, which is great. But we need the bus to keep moving after we toned it back or do the different things of that nature. And that’s, you know, really focused on making sure that you’re getting those reviews on Amazon, but you’re really getting the, you know, all the different marketplaces set up so that if you have an issue with Amazon, you can weather the storm before you get turned back on. Or as an also, when it comes to your brand and your advertising, you have to be able to pay for all the advertising and, and sometimes you’re gonna have slow months, you know, you’re going to have the five to one ROI, the Christmas time and holiday. But with that, you know, you really need to be able to weather those one to one months, whereas just, you know, summertime it’s slow or whatever it might be, and to really be able to scale and diversify with that.

James Thomson 11:44
So one of the unusual aspects of your business is that you work with churches and ministries, helping them build their websites and building their online strategies. Most of the folks that we talked to on this podcast helped companies sell physical products, when you We’re talking about churches and ministries the offering is a very different type of offering. I’d love to hear more about the types of things you’ve learned working with these types of clients that have helped you in the physical product space.

Eric Kooymans 12:14
Yes, yes so so the biggest thing that that that really is our biggest passion when it comes to working with ministries and this is from churches to nonprofits to to all different sides of of of it but basically they often have lots of great products and and or great content that they’re providing with great principles that can apply to anybody in their audience. And so with that we really focus on doing the same product strategy when it our keyword research when it comes to when it comes to the when it comes to the the keyword research and the competitor analysis and and really looking at what are people in their area searching for and what are they Want to provide this ministry or provide this resource, but they sometimes come up with a very creative name, that nobody knows what that means unless they come and listen to the whole sermon or they go listen to the whole book or do whatever, go to that full conference. And and our goal is to be very tactful to say okay, hey, if you’re going to go sell a book or go you know, have a ministry and we’re and and whatever that your topics might be, you don’t have to guess how many people are in your area at 100 mile radius or searching for Google tells you that Oh, and and we can easily be able to, to to really map out this Okay, hey, our audience is struggling with these topics. And and really be able to, to package that in a way in which they want to consume it because that’s a big issue that people that for example, with churches, that that often people that want to be there might not be sitting in their in their in their in their service or you have a big great conference that’s great for moms. And and there are some moms that are crazy. They can’t go to a conference and get time off. So you have to be able to get away there on social media or there. wherever they are, you have to be able to talk to them the way in which they want to consume it. And that’s the big thing that doesn’t apply to brands often don’t think about that as well. Okay, Hey, I got this great problem, I solved your issue. But they don’t put together the 30 seconds, the one minute clip so they could put on social where they could really build a relationship. And that’s the goal. You can’t just say, walk up to me, let’s get married. You gotta there’s a courting process involved in that. And there’s a whole time of building that relationship. Same thing with products, same thing with ministry. And so we really say okay, hey, let’s use the data. Let’s figure out what their problem is. And the best really fix is not just a little improvement, but how do we really change your life and really get them to that little small little nuggets to be able to say after they’ve watched two or three of those videos, then to be able to you can effectively remark it to them and say okay, hey, they’ve engaged with us. 30% I’m now going to or and watch the video 50% I can announce them another video on problem number two. And here’s the solution though. And and and brands don’t do that as well, where it’s like, they just say hey, here’s the bottom left. Go buy it now. And that kind of marketing doesn’t work anymore. And you really have to build that relationship. And and and lots of ministries do a great job with this. But they don’t take it tactfully and saying, okay, I spent x i make y, they’re saved to the book authors, they have the same problem, like, okay, hey, let’s just go spend lots of money. Let’s hope it works, that doesn’t know how it works these days, you have to be very tactful with it at Google, and Facebook provides you the knowledge of exactly how many people you’re going to get in front of, you can apply industry stats, you can put together different you know, landing pages and funnels to be able to effectively try things you could work with different influencers that are out there that are specific to your niche that allow you to effectively send traffic to Amazon and syntactic that traffic to other places. But an influencer is not going to do that unless you have great video. And and somebody wrote a book about a topic that you’re writing about, is not going to go share it to their audience unless you have something great to say, you know, and so that’s where these little nuggets of videos, allow them to, to to build that for you to build the rapport and audience with them. Then that’s where, you know, working with ministries that that’s helped helped us understand that and see that probably a bunch of great content. And then from a product perspective, there’s a bunch of great products, but they aren’t effectively communicating. So they both kind of have the same problem. It’s just that we have the data, let’s make use for it and really build a strategy to grow that relationship.

James Thomson 16:19
So let’s shift gears a little bit. At our firm buy box experts, we consistently are surprised by how many brands don’t work to control their branding on Amazon or on other marketplaces, letting other companies create listings with products and brand content that may not be aligned with what the brand is trying to do in every other channel. How do you handle this problem today with clients that come to you and you discover that they have this big problem

Eric Kooymans 16:45
with that when it comes to this to brand enforcement on Amazon, you know, that’s a that is a big, a big issue. Because if somebody’s looking for a product like 55 I think percent sold on Amazon those so so that’s why we kind of say if you if you’re We always want to focus on on the on the on the problem and the big Whys so that then you’re providing content and controlling that strategy, but reputation management, it’s not just big on Amazon, it’s big everywhere. And, and, and, and, you know, the ability to control your brand from a from a Google perspective too. And there’s 10 spots on Google that you have to protect yourself. But that’s where it’s really important to not just build, you know, have a great product, but to really build a great foundation on the website to really do a lot of guest blogging and do a lot of, you know, assist example doing podcasts and doing different things that allow you to, to have great content that talks about the conversation that you’re in, that’s your product niches in and then with that allow you to to really scale it and there’s lots of different influencers that are out there that that that brands can work with, that allow them to understand that that that you that this brand is the leader you know, and then with that you have to employ somebody at any brand and this Not just because I’m on this podcast, but you have to employ employ a company like a Python expert to be able to, to, to protect your brand. Because if you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before there’s 10 guys in China that are providing your product. And and and then all of a sudden you don’t control your brand and a product in that relationship that you’re building your equity with your clients goes down because somebody actually bite it and you get a couple bad reviews, then it the whole, the whole game changes. And so you got to start from day one, to be able to really foster those relationships, make sure that you’re getting the reviews, make certain that you’re controlling the conversation offline and online as well. So that you’re working with the different influencers so that your top 10 and really 15 spots of Google are controlled by content that you’ve put out there. And and and so that you can really scalable grow and and you have a team of people that if something bad happens with a review or something of that nature, you are able to weather those storms with the diversification and with that influencers to be able to have another round of guest posts about this other problem that you solve or whatever it might be or you know different things about nature. So

James Thomson 19:08
one of the other strange issues we run into with with prospective brand clients is they may have people in house who handle various online presences of sorts. And yet, when we explain to them the types of skills they need to be able to do well on Amazon, it’s it’s, it’s mind boggling for them to understand that, in fact, it’s a totally different set of skills. It’s a different sandbox, a different set of rules. Why can’t we just do what we do elsewhere and apply that to Amazon? Why does Amazon have to make it so different and so difficult at times? How do you deal with product clients who want to do things in house but don’t necessarily have the Amazon capabilities?

Eric Kooymans 19:50
Yeah, well, I think there’s two things one, with Amazon, you’re guilty until proven innocent. So so you know, you could not be doing anything wrong and then all of a sudden, you get a little You know, and then all of a sudden your game changes and and it could be a bogus review a competitor doing something bad. But that makes you know, but that can definitely affect you. And then also you don’t know what you don’t know. And and, you know, we got into this industry specifically with Amazon because my wife was selling handbags, handbags and all of a sudden on Amazon and then all of a sudden Facebook’s Amazon’s like, Hey, no more counterfeits. He’s like, wait, I supply from the from the, from the vendors, I can tell you exactly where I got them from and all of that, it doesn’t matter, you know, and so that’s a situation where, where you really have to have the right, the right team in place not for when things are good, it’s for when things are bad, you know, and that’s the catch is is that a brand owner needs to focus on growing on all channels, okay, and Amazon is a piece of that channel, but it’s not a channel that, that that that you know, you can’t hire somebody to do even better job that you can do. And then from there, you focus on some of the other aspects. We talked about building a website, diversifying other channels to being able to have Some of the all the content marketing really focused on you know, hiring, you know, getting the right you know, Facebook team in place and all those different things because running a business is tough. And and and while the gravy train is working on Amazon, we want to ride that wave. But you know, Amazon has their own goals too and it might not be yours, you know. So that’s something where you have to really be able to diversify with that to be able to, to have the right people in place because you might not know you’re doing something wrong. And or you might not be listening and going to all the conferences and doing all the things that Amazon’s talking about. If I have an Amazon expert on your side, then you don’t have to worry about that you can sleep at night you can have the capacity in life to go do other things to be able to grow your brand, you know, and that’s something that that is very important because, you know, we just say we use our Amazon money to go make more money doing other things and it builds a brand and then from there, you know, do all the things you can because you know you might do great yourself but if you had these little things done, do all these basic keyword research and pattern analysis knowledges and you put that You’re listening. So you actually launch a product. That’s the difference between waiting three to six months or two years, you know, to do it a lot quicker, because you actually had a team that knew what to do and launches effectively, you know, and that’s, that’s always our goal. You know, with that, and

James Thomson 22:15
there are a lot of brands that are starting to realize they’ve got to get online. And in some situations, it’s basically viewed as a necessary evil. They’re used to selling in brick and mortar, they don’t necessarily get excited about being online. When you come along, and you’re talking to companies, and you’re helping them understand that it’s not just, hey, we have to get online. But how do you get these brands excited about being online? How long do you typically find it before they say, oh, we’re starting to see some successes here, whatever those successes may be, but we’re actually excited about the fact that we are now online as well as being in whatever other channels we’re in.

Eric Kooymans 22:52
Yep, well, the biggest thing is that the whole brick and mortar world is changing, and exactly where it’s going, you know? We don’t know. But Amazon’s going to be in the big two factor of that. So you have to come to that realization. And so we talk about the the exciting part about it. People that are kind of, you know, are stiff army, the whole online industry are saying, Hey, I’m gonna stay in this building until it closes or whatever, you know, I can’t pay it. You know, that’s a situation where we actually take a different approach, arc, the art part is excited about a brick and mortar store has the space, they have the building with all the stuff in it, we might as well sell it outside the building, too. And when I talk about that, I talk about that experience. I do the basic keyword research before if we were to talk about anything, I’ll do a basic audit on your website. And I’ll let our basic audit and your your market analysis and say, Hey, this is how many people are searching right now, in your city. This is how many people are searching right now in the United States. And this some people are searching in the world. And then with that be able to say and you provide this and you provide this. And when I google that this is what people see. They don’t see You they see this, you know, and by doing these three steps, you got to make it accomplishable that’s the whole big thing. Like, I go to everything I’m gonna say, here we go. So here it goes here, and they fail with everything, you have to be able to, to effectively scale be grow, and you put together a roadmap that’s a constant accomplishable with their budget, and that’s the big catch is that, you know, it’d be great to be able to, you know, to just go and you know, you know, put our stuff up on Amazon said a whole bunch of traffic towards it. But if you don’t have the, you know, don’t have the momentum, I don’t have all the reviews and all the different things in the sandboxes you know, with that, you’ve got problems, you know, it’s not going to just be as effective and so with that you have to be able to scale of growth Be realistic with your budget, and you don’t have to jump in the pool all at once but you got to be very tactful with how you spend your money and and to really focus on diversifying where your sales are so am I saying you have to close your store or just only sell online, but you have to tough part taking care of most companies are going Hey, how do I get a fulfillment company? Or products, you know, if I ship my basement or my garage or do I get a fulfillment company, you know, all of that and there Trying to scale. So the goal is diversification helps you sleep better at night to be able to have all the different, you know, aspects in line. And really that product strategy we talked about earlier, being able to scale, there’s no reason why you can’t be selling a million dollars from one bundle of products, but you have to have all the pieces in place. And that formulas got to make sense. And most people are not honest with Hey, I see if I have this much cost and this much these, and this many returns, I’m going to make enough to live that. And that’s the problem that you have to be very, very, you know, realistic with, hey, this is how much you know, the you know how much all my expenses are, here’s how much my cost per acquisition is. And if that doesn’t make sense, you need to adjust and you have to be able to use the profit that you have the keep finding the abilities of the niches, and really the create the audience and the people that believe in you and believe in your products and believe in your brand. And then from there you can use those people to remarketing or keep growing and be able to expand you’re solving the problem and the goals that they have.

James Thomson 25:58
So you An agency. I have an agency we work with prospects all the time. I’d love to get your thoughts on the types of common mistakes you see companies making when they select agencies to help them.

Eric Kooymans 26:14
Yeah, well, my biggest concern is anybody can build you a website. But can they make it perform? And I’ve been in agency meetings, providing consulting, and they build a website, they go, Okay, how are we going to market it? And they go, Oh, how big is your email list? And you’re like, Wait, you’re just asking about this question about how you market it. We don’t take a step forward, unless we know where the demand is, and you don’t go buy a product or even think about a product until you know who your customer is and what the problem is. And that’s the big detail because it doesn’t matter about how custom and cool and your website your app is and how many bells and whistles your products have. If you don’t have an audience that’s cost effective in the VA wouldn’t go in sell it, then it doesn’t work. And then sometimes you also have to think about the back end as well. Just because you can get a great product, can you cost effective making it? Can you cost effectively ship it? You know, that’s the biggest thing is that? Okay, the boxes here? Well, what does that put your costs? And if you got to compete with today’s shipping, how much does it cost you to ship that? Yeah, you know, and so that’s something that you have to really put together all that forethought in place, because that’s what it takes to really be successful. And, and, and, and when it comes to, to, to, you know, to brands, it’s some of the biggest the biggest struggles that they have is just because, you know, they got a great idea. They want to excited, they want to make it happen. And when you buy they get an agency to help you. They’re like, Cool, let’s go do it. I’m gonna go take care of your problem, but not the real, what you’re, what you’re asking them to do, but not stepping back and saying, hey, do you have all these things in place? Because they want to take your money or take your service. And that’s, I mean, they don’t have good intentions, but you have to build it around a marketing strategy. The whole and and in this situation, we really focus on the data, the strategy and I and you have performance metrics in place, if I don’t perform, you can just stop, you know, same thing with anybody that’s out there, you have to have that metric in place. And, and with that, I’m not going to tell guests what I’m doing in six months from now, if we’re going to start working and you any business owner has to have this this month, you’re doing this this next month, next six months, next 12 months, next 24 months, if they don’t align with that, and you don’t really start with that focus and you know exactly where you’re going to get there and are realistic with how you’re actually going to accomplish it and pay for it and all of that, then you’re working with the wrong company and and that’s something that that you know, as and and and that’s the biggest thing that I asked is okay, not just what’s your portfolio and how big is your website, you know, how many clients you work with is what are you our allies? You know, what, what are your cost per acquisition? What have you done to scale a business because if you’re not growing 40 to 80%, year over year, you’re doing something wrong. And if you haven’t gone viral or been able to have two or three or four x groves, you’re not doing this product strategy well, that I’ve talked that we’re talking about earlier. And those are things that you really have to be able to have those, those upset that those those product strategies in place, so that you’re growing strategically with that, because you’re going to have bad months, two years, and they’re gonna have these tough times. And but if you’re not effectively growing, you’re optimizing and growing and how you’re doing it, then and changing your business and adapting with all of these changes, you’re going to struggle this because the best part about the industry is it’s changing. And if you’re ahead of that curve, you’re going to keep on winning and keep on you know, doing good because a lot of companies don’t change website, they don’t do optimize website, they don’t change your Facebook, they’re there. They don’t touch anything just because it’s working. Don’t Don’t break, don’t touch it. But you have to, you know, be able to keep growing because if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards. You’re not going up on search, you’re going down, and because other people are doing our movies, and so that’s where you have to be We focus on

James Thomson 30:01
So Eric, let’s talk about you and your business. Talk to me about early days starting your agency. What happened? What was the turning point for you when you realized I’m actually good at working with brands and helping them coach to coach them through these different steps? Was there a particular point where he said, Yeah, actually I can make a profession doing this?

Eric Kooymans 30:22
Yeah, well, I think the biggest thing that I learned from my mistakes and also weaknesses Oh, so so you know, when I first got started, I kind of had a programming mind so I could program something and and and just make it super cool and and with that would be able to make a brand successful and luckily, I landed at a great marketing agency that I quickly learned that if I’m not growing their could the brand and and and growing their whole, you know, this, you know that their traffic and their sales, that it doesn’t matter what it looks like, you know, it doesn’t matter how great and how perfectly the code was written. That’s and that’s where a lot of companies get get stuck on. They get stuck on the little details, but it’s all about what are your Your reports and your metrics that are growing, you know, and so that was my when I came to that understanding to be able to say, hey, how am I growing a company? You know, and what am I doing to really build that roadmap, because if I’m not giving the right ROI, you know, you’re gonna get, you know, they can’t continue to keep paying you. And so that was kind of the biggest thing that also, you know, coming from a search engine optimization background, and then really focusing on that kind of e commerce side of things. I quickly learned that I can do you know, I can get you anywhere that you want to be. But the catches is, that’s a six to 12 month game, what are you doing the one to six months, and that’s where I really then kind of stepped back and said, hey, there’s a bunch of great opportunities on on, on on on paid avenues and on Facebook, in terms of paid avenues. You know, Google and Facebook and but then I quickly learned that, hey, this is tough. I mean, there’s the margins are slim, there’s no ads, and you know, managing $5 million budgets, you quickly learned that that you’re like, well, we have to really focus on the details. So you can pull out money quick, you know, and that’s a situation where working all the little details. And really working on that product strategy that made sense. That was where we got really excited about working with e commerce brands because, and really, we’re moving to kind of more of a platform business model where you not just have have a product, but also be able to have a digital product or something where you could pay for that shipping. If it’s a guide, if it’s a checklist, if it’s a course, it’s whatever it might be, but the goal is, is that you have to be able to whether you might have the greatest product out there and the greatest thing, but if you can’t effectively scale it, and whether a another hundred and 50% increase in advertising costs, you can’t you can’t scale, you know, and that’s the really big thing that you know, we want to leverage Amazon and leverage all of the different marketplaces as much as you can. But you have to be able to send traffic there you have to be able to really effectively push it up the hump so that up over the hump, so the ball will roll by itself. And but the way that you do that is to be able to to make enough margins on your website to be able to put money towards it, and to really be able to have the right team in place so that you can protect your brand on Amazon and protect your brand all tomorrow. places and then effectively launch products and push them up up the hill to be successful. So that was kind of my evolution was, you know was kind of that kind of Route so

James Thomson 33:11
in your own professional journey to where you are now, what types of professional mentors have you had and what kinds of advice Have you taken from your mentors that really helped you rethink the way you were going to market and doing what you’re doing?

Eric Kooymans 33:24
Yeah, so So with that, you know, one of our specifically somebody that that I followed closely is Sam o with h refs, you know, with a is a very good you know, SEO kind of minded person working on building strategic relationships and specifically with with building backlinks and that’s a piece that that a lot of companies fit, you know, Miss is that they do the on site stuff and they don’t do the off site stuff. And then from there, you know, I, you know, honestly I actually, you know, very stiff armed and did not want to follow the whole, you know, funnel side of things. Just be Because I thought it was spammy. I thought it was, you know, a situation where, where people were too aggressive and Google slapped. And there’s a whole bunch of different things. But the one thing that I’ve quickly learned is, is that the cost of advertising, you have to least pay attention. And there are strategies that you can apply to great brands and provide an educational experience. And that’s the biggest thing is that you want to really be helping people solve their problem and educate them on why if you just do this, you aren’t going to do this and this, but if you do these three things with these three products provide, then you can effectively educate your folks on that, why and not the problem. And when I learned that, then all of a sudden, and that’s why I really focused a lot on Yeah, I read some different books from everything from brand storyboard to to, you know, to expert secrets to a lot of the different you know, you know, performance, you know, direct response marketers that are out there and with that really focused on just not not to spam Enos because everybody’s too aggressive, but how do I take those good principles and apply them Brands effectively and and to really build a relationship and not just upsell and drive people crazy. And that’s the big thing is that if you just do just bottles, eventually you will fail. If you just do SEO, it’s great, but it’s gonna take time, you know, if you just do, you know, Facebook marketing, you have to keep spending or then you don’t have a brand, you know, you stop, you know, so if you do all of those five things together, there’s basically everything from you know, basically, it’s the SEO, the paid stuff, the funnel stuff, the B, all the inbound marketing, email marketing, building relationships, those five things, if you do that effectively, you can really effectively grow your brand because you’re driving traffic, you’re taking care of them one to six months, the gravy is going to start coming in at six to 12 to 24 months because you have a great content strategy. And if you lose one channel, you’re diversified enough and you can weather the storms to get that taken care of. And that’s kind of the goal that that that when it comes to to those, you know, those three things, those five things I really tried to focus on learning and also not stiff arming. That was my biggest thing. That learn from what everybody’s got to say you don’t agree with it, you’ll have to do it all, but you got to learn and keep learning. And if you’re stuck in your ways and say, well, that’s just, you know, crap, well, then what’s the good point you can get out of it? You know, and that’s the goal. And what what has really shaped my career just by saying, I don’t believe I know everything. And even today, I’ll tell you if I don’t know something, you know, but this is what I’ve learned. And from there, you know, every if you’re not learning, you’re not growing, you’re not moving in the right direction. So

James Thomson 36:23
so I want to wrap up our discussion with with one final question for brands that have historically grown up through offline channels. Give me your your first piece of advice that you would give to a prospect around, how do you take what you’ve learned offline, and use that as a good starting point for building an online business?

Unknown Speaker 36:46
Well, the you know, the one thing that that

Eric Kooymans 36:52
an offline business does when somebody walks in the door, they talk to somebody that they’re coming in the door, and they kind of develop a rapport and people often We’ll buy from people not just from the product, the store that’s there and maybe it’s convenience maybe it’s other things but, but that same things got apply online. And and as I talked about before, we always like to focus on the foundation that you have and develop that relationship with somebody and and that could be through a video if there’s a video on a page and a website 72% of watch the video. So if it’s you with your iPhone and selfie mode, that’s okay, you know, but the point is, is that you’re they get to know who you are, and what the resources that you’re providing. And then from there to actually grow, don’t go jump in a pool and try to do everything you’ll fail. But just that hey, this is Goal number one, this is problem number one, problem number two, problem number three, and just tactically grow what you’re going to do and do it well and then check and remodel it go back and look at it actually are we ranking here are we doing? Are we are we do we have a good ROI with that what is our cost per acquisition and a tactfully be able to do that. And then as soon as you can hire an assistant be able to to get a expert team in place to effectively be able to spend your money and I That’s the first thing the last thing that people want to do is like, Okay, I’m just getting all my profit and go do that. Well the catch is that unless you get the right team in place, if the things hit the fan, you’re the person and that doesn’t work you can’t scale up and grow if there’s a person as a general I have that problem you know, and I have a tough time of of paying the extra money to get the right people in place but it’s important to do so because then you can walk and chew gum and scale and take care of problems and and and really be able to get the right people in place so that you can stay focused on the vision of where you’re going and not in the day to day weeds. And that’s a problem most companies if you’re a brave you have your own magical own store, you’re used to doing everything from payroll to this to that to setup but online you can’t do that as well you have to have the right team in place and and it doesn’t mean you have to go get the bit you know the you know the you know the big brainy packages and stuff that aren’t going to bring you direct ROI. Be very smart with the people you hire, you know and use tools you know, when it comes to online, you know, like free tools like WordPress For us look at, you know some of these things that get you a basic foundation, and then focus on content and building content. And then focus on you know, conversion rates and really focusing on those things and start small with your advertising. But you have to spend money to make money. There’s no there’s no secret than other than that you have to spend money to make money. And if you’re not making a good ROI, don’t keep spending stop focus, figure out what you’re doing, you know, and and figure out what the problem is what you’re doing wrong and be able to scale from there.

James Thomson 39:28
Eric, I want to thank you for joining us today. For those of you interested in learning more about Eric’s organization, visit harnessing strengths.com thanks for being on today, Eric. Great.

Unknown Speaker 39:39
I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Outro 39:41
Thanks for listening to the Buy Box Experts podcast. Be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we’ll see you next time.

Meet the Speakers

Eric Kooymans

Founder of Harnessing Strengths

Buy Box Experts
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