You’re just a Sheep, and that’s okay

You, and I aren’t much different than sheep when it comes to our nature in business and marketing. You tend to follow the path of what others are doing. You do this because it’s safe, and it’s tested. You’re risk adverse, and you’d rather fail doing what everyone else is doing than be the black sheep and fail at something no one is doing. You may not think this is true, but it is. Even if your larger than life ego tells you you’re different. I’m here to say you’re not, and the proof is out there.

sheep, pasture, sheep in pasture

Digital Media

This is the pen where all the sheep are. 10 years ago this was an unkempt grassland just looking to be harvested. Pretty much every player – big and small – has an online presence or will have an online presence very soon. It’s still seen as the ‘shiny’ new thing, and uneducated business owners are dumping thousands of dollars a month into online / social / retargeting / remarketing / SEO / SEM and the list goes on. Why? Because everyone is doing it, and you don’t want to be the black sheep – do you?

Here’s the deal – I’m a firm believer in digital and what it can offer, but let’s pull back the curtain and be self-aware of what’s going on. Your business is currently one of the millions online. You’re just another sheep, so let’s take a look at other, greener pastures shall we.

Direct Mail

This is making a resurgence in the marketing world. Why? Because no one else is doing it. Everyone is obsessed with the shiny objects, and most forgot about what came before the newest, shiniest thing. Maybe your market is different, but I remember getting loaded with direct mail marketing pieces on what seemed to be a daily basis. Now, I usually get a few direct mail pieces at the beginning of the month and that is it. This could be a market for you to exploit. Why be one of millions when you can be the ONLY business in your category mailing direct to your potential customer.

Legacy Mediums

Just like sheep move from pasture to pasture only to come back to where they started and do it all over again. Your business can take advantage of where the sheep used to be, and where they’re headed. Knowing the legacy mediums like print, TV, radio, and direct mail is where businesses used to be throwing their money and now have cut back. This leaves you the opportunity to attack. If you’re going to dabble in one of these mediums – ask your sales rep how many competing businesses in your category are currently advertising. If the number is low – that’s a good sign for you to get an extremely high share of the marketing voice.

Legacy mediums aren’t dying – the fat is merely being trimmed. The strong will survive – the weak will not. I’ve started publishing hyper-targeted monthly magazines that are directly mailed to some of the most affluent people in the country. And we’re one of the fastest growing privately held media companies in North America with close to 3.5 million readers every month. With zero magazines going out of print over the past 7-years. Print isn’t dying. The content has changed a bit, but the medium itself has not.

Go where people used to be or are going to be

One way to gain a considerable advantage in getting your businesses marketing message out is to realize where your competition used to be, and see where it could be headed. It’s impossible to be an early adopter of everything, but at least try and be aware of it. If no one in your category has experimented with e-commerce – take some time and figure out how it works. It could be a HUGE goldmine for you in the future. Or look at other categories of business. What are hotels doing to stay ahead of the curve? You may be in the car business, but you might be able to see how other companies are operating and try and be the first in your category to tap into an untapped market.

New Opportunities

Social platforms are starting to get heavily involved in the e-commerce business. Facebook and Pinterest are both working on, and have launched (in small scale) the ability to buy a product on their platform. No clicking a link and going to a website – you can conduct business directly on the social network. With my wife and I’s online store (EverRose.com) we have the ability to promote our products on our social pages, and with the click of a button you – the customer – can purchase. Unfortunately, these features haven’t been rolled out in Canada yet, but when they are – we’re already optimized and ready to go. We see this as a future opportunity, and we’ll be one of the first to pounce when it’s launched. Total time investment – 5 minutes. Not much when opportunity knocks.

Follow the Sheep

It’s okay to follow, just be aware of WHY you’re doing it, and don’t forget to ask yourself – where did business used to market? Where people have been and where they are going are enormous opportunities for your business to gain market share and invest marketing dollars. Just like sheep go round-and-round looking for the best pasture only to come back to where they started – business is similar. What’s old is new, and what’s new is old. Just be aware of where your market is currently at, and you can gain a distinct advantage on the competition.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Putting money where your mouth is

For the past two years I’ve been passing along unsolicited advice…at least what I considered to be advice. I’ve spent close to a million dollars in the marketing realm from Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist) to Facebook ads. Although 99% of this wasn’t money of my own. Through this I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of how each medium of advertising worked.

Now, I have skin in the game. I’ve followed the advice I’ve been dishing out over the years, and am starting to turn the marketing crank on a couple of my businesses. Maybe the below can help out your business. Here’s a look behind-the-scenes:

Facebook

I hate giving my money to Silicon Valley as I’d prefer to keep it local, but there’s no doubt they have built a successful platform, especially when it comes to marketing your goods / services. There are flaws like not being sure if clicks are actually clicks when it comes to your ads, but you can never really know who’s receiving your message and who isn’t when advertising with any medium.

Typically you can expect to see a 0.2 to 0.3% click-through-rate on your FB ads. My wife and I’s Ever Rose campaigns generate a 2.5 to 4% CTR. Impressions are great especially when starting out because the more people who can see the message the better. At the same time you want to craft a message, that resonates with your potential customers. Here’s how we do it:

Ever Rose Modcloth Directed Ad

The above was targeted to women in certain cities across Canada who had an interest in companies like Modcloth (a US competitor of Ever Rose). We pushed the message out to that audience with a very pointed opening line. We know that our potential fans who are interested in online shopping, especially with a US based company have the pain points addressed in the first line. They don’t like paying duties, high shipping costs or having to deal with a pesky exchange rate.

What are the pain points of your customers or potential customers? If you don’t know – you better find out. Ask questions of your existing fans to see why they spend with you opposed to someone else.

Find what you can own, and hammer away your message. In the case above there was no special tactic. We crafted a message that spoke to the audience we knew we could own (we don’t have a HUGE marketing budget), and we targeted the fans of our competition while knowing the pain points of our potential customers.

Fashion Bloggers

Another way we’ve started to roll out the brand is hooking up with influencers on social media, and the blog-o-sphere. Seeing as we’re a fashion brand – it’s pretty easy to find influences. A simple search on Google or #fashionblogger on Instagram and a bunch come up. From there you can see how many followers, shares, etc… these influencers are generating.

We then reached out to these influences, introduced our brand, and asked to be showcased through their social channels. We have to give up some of our product, but it’s totally worth it to get added exposure.

Another avenue we’ve ventured into is hooking up with like-minded e-commerce businesses. For example – there’s a jewellery shop in Toronto that has some amazing products. We could pair many of these items with our dresses. A simple cross-promotion can go along way.

Who can you reach out to that has a strong following on social media or through their blog? Maybe there’s a blog you read. Try reaching out to him / her, and see if they’d be interested in showcasing your brand in exchange of your product / service. Or extend a hand to a similar business that can compliment your product.

Mass Media

There’s no better way to reach a HUGE number of people with your message than mass media (typically radio, print, TV). At the moment – it’s the most cost-effective way to reach the masses – as long as you believe in their method of surveying their audience. Like I mentioned above – there’s no real way to know how many people are receiving your message.

If you have the budget, and you want to put a strangle hold on your market this is the way to go. At this point and time – my businesses wouldn’t benefit from the added exposure of mass media because there’s not enough inventory or resources to fulfil orders / services.

The key with mass media – as it is with any media – is the message. I can’t stress this enough. How do you craft your message? Check out this post from last year.

SEO & SEM

If you have a decent web developer you shouldn’t have to pump a bunch of money into SEO. I know some companies who charge thousands a month to get you on the first page of Google. What a crock. Find a web developer, who has a clue about how to play the SEO game or reach out to John at Summit Protocol. He’ll shoot you straight. And tell him ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ sent you.

As for Search Engine Marketing – again find what you can own. My biggest thing is to own my name, or the name of my business. I do this through tagging everything on my site with my name or with the brand name of my website (EverRose.com). You might have to dish out some dough to own your name when it comes to search platforms, but it’s worth it. When you Google me – a bunch of articles / social channels will come up. When you Google Ever Rose – we’ll be the first thing you see. OWN YOUR NAME.

If you have any questions or would like a more in-depth explanation on what I covered above – reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn or comment below.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

The Unglamorous Entrepreneur

Money, fast cars, yachts, extreme vacations and all the other things you see in the headlines from 20-something entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, those entrepreneurs are like 1 in a million. For you, and I it’s a grind everyday.

You may hold down a 9-5, while dabbling in a business venture you’ve always wanted to launch on evenings and weekends while trying to provide enough family time, so your other half doesn’t run you out of the house. On that note, you may feel like you have to keep the 9-5 going because you want to keep your existing comforts like the house you live in, the car you drive or the ability to go out to your favourite restaurant. Congrats – you’re the Unglamorous Entrepreneur.

Guy With Bow Tie and Mag

My 9 to 5.

Social media and self-worth

Why is it that your friends and family only share updates about the ‘good’ things that happen in their life? Why does it seem like they’re always on vacation? Do these people actually work?

Social media provides a filter for your life. You can pick and choose what you want to showcase, and what you don’t. You don’t showcase the $2500 vet bill after your cat got ill. You don’t hashtag the dinner you burnt or the suffocating cubicle at your 9-5.

However, you’re proud to show off the caribbean vacation you dropped 3k on, the $200 cat tree you just purchased for your furry friend or the new shoes you bought for work in hopes someone will compliment you. Why do you do this? Maybe it’s validation, maybe it makes you feel good or maybe you don’t even know that you’re doing it. Whatever it is…we all do it. We’re always more willing to shine the spotlight on the good opposed to the bad at least when it comes to what we put out into the world.

Therefore – you may be envious of so and so who just got back from their second trip in as many months to Europe. Don’t be. You don’t know what’s going on behind-the-scenes. And what goes on behind-the-scenes isn’t as pretty as you think.

Day in the Life

Here’s a clip of an entrepreneur I follow. You may know him – Gary Vaynerchuk
Not a lot of celebrity or glamour there. Just believing in what you do, and the unrelenting desire to be successful.

Stop trying to go from an idea to a billionaire. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the work, and the process. Maybe you’ll end up where you want to be or maybe you won’t, but along the way you may fall into something that you never thought of. Hell, I own an online dress shop…A DRESS SHOP… that did 1k in sales in 3-weeks with a little to no push. Never have I ever thought I would have a women’s fashion store under my belt, but I do, and I love it.

You can see the end result at www.EverRose.com, and shortly you’ll get to see more on what happens behind-the-scenes. It isn’t glamours – it isn’t sexy – it’s real and that’s all you can be.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Keeping it Real – as cliche as can be

I’ve been on quite the authenticity trip lately, and here’s why – it’s imperative to your brand. Whether it be a personal brand or professional brand, people will see through your BS.

My wife, and I started Ever Rose with the mindset of being as transparent as possible. The same holds true for my ‘Guy with the Bow Tie’ brand, and the community magazines I publish. Be authentic, and you’ll start to see amazing results.

Breaking down your brand

How real are you? I want you to stop and ask yourself this. When you wake up in the morning are you excited about doing what you’re doing? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, and I’m not going to preach about ‘doing what you love’ and all that. I want you to get real, because if you aren’t real you’re robbing this world of your natural talents. And if you aren’t being real when you step into work whether it’s your business or not you’re only hurting your bottom line.

With Ever Rose – we’re proud to be 100% Canadian owned & operated. We even go so far as to run on a Canadian web platform (Shopify is based out of Toronto) as well as use Canada Post exclusively as our shipping partner. We’re also committed to working with as many Canadian clothing partners as possible (although this has been quite the challenge as not too many Canadian clothing companies have clothing MADE in Canada). We may even get to the point where we design, and manufacture our own line in Canada.

Anyway, this comes to mind as I’m working with an inspiring entrepreneur who’s going to be launching an online platform shortly where you can use Bitcoin to book hotels online. You can check out a tiny glimpse here: BookwithBit

He lives in the Southern US, and is originally from India. He runs a couple hotels, and as such he started getting fed up with OTA sites (Expedia, Trivago, Travelocity, etc…) eating into his margins, and taking away from his LOCAL business, and the LOCAL economy. So, he does what any entrepreneur or savvy business owner would do – he’s fighting back. He’s so passionate about creating a fair, online portal for hotel seekers that he decided to build his own platform, and it’s going to be launching soon. His company is a reflection of his personal beliefs, and feelings. He’s REAL.

Your Personal Brand

Jordan with wife

A little photo with my wife

Whether you like it or not, you’re being judged everyday. People are Googling you and colleagues interact with you at work as they try to figure you out. On this note – have you Googled yourself lately? What comes up? Anything?

If who you are in the office, doesn’t reflect who you are outside of it, people are going to find out, and call you out on your BS. That’s just the world we live in. So, instead of trying to have ‘work’ self, and ‘home’ self. Try being you. When I made the change from the corporate world to the life of being self-employed, I was going back to my original self. The guy who I am at home, and on weekends. The guy who I knew I wanted to be when I was growing up. I dropped the act, stopped caring about what others thought, and started being REAL. It’s not easy – it took me 10-years to figure out who I REALLY was, but it all started with my gut. How I felt in the morning was a HUGE indicator of who I was and what I wanted to do. I went from wanting to hit the snooze button repeatedly to bouncing out of bed, and ready for the day ahead. I no longer had visions of me quitting my job while I brushed my teeth in the morning. I’m doing what I want, and what I’m supposed to be doing…at this point in my life anyway.

Anything is possible, if you believe, and follow your gut instinct. Start being REAL and the rest will come.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. If you’re wondering about the bow tie – it’s REAL. I’ve been wearing one off-and-on since I was 4-years-old. However, most of you probably haven’t seen it until recently because I probably wasn’t being REAL around you. I was being my fake, less fulfilled self.

You’ve launched an online business – How do you get your first sale?

The advantage of a bricks-and-mortar location is foot traffic. That’s why you pay a premium for real estate. In the online world – web traffic is difficult to come by. And don’t bother going down the rabbit hole of trying to trick Google or search sites into sending traffic your way. It just won’t work when you’re starting out. ‘Build it, and they will come’ just doesn’t work online, and it rarely works in bricks-and-mortar locations unless you’re in a small town.

If you’re launching online, and you don’t have a following already. That’s a problem. You need to go back to the start, and focus on what I wrote about here. It’s so important to research, and test your assumptions BEFORE you launch. My wife, and I went straight to our family and friends when it came to the research. We sent numerous surveys (using Survey Monkey) to friends and family to gauge interest, and price points for certain objects we were interested in carrying for our online dress shop (Ever Rose). It also helped having this blog, but YOU don’t need a blog to get feedback from friends and family.

The First Sale

Ramit Sethi always preaches getting your first sale as it’s the most challenging one to get. If you don’t know Ramit – check him out here. I’ve learned a ton from him.

Then after you get your first sale you can optimize that, and scale. Your first sale will most likely come from a friend or family member, and that’s okay. It’s what you do after that first sale that counts. Yes, my wife and I posted on our social media pages, and our first fan liked, retweeted, etc…That’s another bonus by having a friend or family member purchase your first item, they’re more willing to share with their friends through their social channels. This is how you can build organically.

On top of that, you should reward your first few customers with incentives to review your products, and share your online store to their friends (stay tuned Kate – you’ll be receiving a gift from us soon!). Kate was our first fan, and she will be rewarded with not only a dress that’s going to look amazing on her, but also with future incentives.

Ever Rose Order Payment, Shopify

First sale!

Building organically

This is how you create a following without spending too much on marketing, and customer acquisition costs out of the gate. You also can figure out your processes to see if they’re working as effectively as you thought. Then you start turning the crank encouraging your first few customers to come back (through incentives / customer service), and share with their friends. All this from simply involving friends, and family in the process from the beginning. Then you can start hammering out the marketing. More on that to come.

Things to watch for

It took less than 12-hours for my wife and I to get our first sale. It may be different for you, and that’s okay, but if you build a strong following through family and friends from the beginning you will see a quicker return. And that’s why I write this. I want to give you some insight into launching your own store as it’s very humbling, and time consuming up front. At the same time – when you make that first sale – it’s exhilarating. It’s also frightening because then you’re like, “Now what?” You actually have to fulfill this order, and sometimes things pop up that are unexpected.

With any online store shipping is a HUGE expense. My wife and I didn’t realize how much of an expense until we got our first order. Having said that, you have to understand there is always going to be costs associated with business whether you like it or not. You have to spend money to make it, and we now have a firm grasp on what our shipping entails, and we will continue to tweak it as much as possible to ensure we’re not adding costs to our fans. We’re trying to make it as affordable as possible. There are some brands who have beautiful packaging, and boxes, and displays when they ship. And that’s okay. You can do that too, but you have to realize someone has to pay for these costs, and usually it’s the consumer. My wife and I are trying to be as affordable as possible while maintaining a solid service, and experience aka we’re trying to limit the costs we pass on to the customer.

At the end of the day – it’s all about your customers (aka fans), and whatever you can do FOR them. You aren’t going to be making thousands of dollars within your first week of launching your business, but if you make a solid plan from the start, and get friends and family involved – you can jump over the largest barrier to your success…and that’s getting your first sale.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. I mentioned Kate above as she is a former colleague of mine who reads this blog often. She was involved in the process early, and it just so happens she was our first fan. Thank you Kate!!!!

Pps. Case and point – the process works.

Journey of the Do – The Launch

It’s finally here. What you’ve been working on for months, maybe years is finally ready to launch. My wife and I’s new biz is in the same boat. We started working on it at the end of January, and now it’s time to launch. As with everything – you probably found a few things pop up that you didn’t expect. Whether it be supplier issues, cash flow issues, design work…whatever. Alas, it’s time to showcase the world what you have to offer. Your gut has been telling you to do this forever, and now it’s your time to do it.

What you’ve learned

For me I’ve always loved the process of starting a business. It’s in the creation where I get really excited, and then I get to sprinkle in my marketing talents, which is even more fun. You may not share the same love as me, but you know you want to create something. Whether you’re a tech company, a contractor, or someone who’s launching a blog about how to eat healthier. Whatever it is you’re a do-er. You’re about to create something when 95% of the population would rather think of cool ideas, but never put the time in to act on them. You’ve learned a lot, and what you’ve learned will stay with you for a lifetime.

This is the scary part

Before you launch there are going to be a bunch of nagging things in the back of your mind like, “What if no one likes what I have to offer?” or “Am I sure this colour scheme really works?”

Whatever is nagging you don’t let it eat you up. You’ve put in all this effort, and now it’s time to launch. This is the moment you’ve been building toward, so don’t stop now.

Funny enough – this is the toughest part. Whether you’re a writer, entrepreneur, designer…it’s always the toughest part to finish. To actually put your product / piece / service / book to market. Why? Because you’re afraid. You’re afraid you’ll fail. You’re afraid people will make fun you. There are so many things urging you to stop when it’s the most important time to move forward. It’s easy to say, but you have to conquer this fear, and you have to finish. Believe me – I know how hard it is to battle these negative thoughts.

Battle the inner voices

One way to battle the ‘lizard brain’ as Seth Godin calls it – is to JUST DO IT (thanks ad agency representing Nike). Keep in mind your product / service doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch. It can still be rough around the edges. That’s okay as long as you’re open about it. Call it a soft-launch. You’re putting the fruits of your labour out there, but you don’t have EVERYTHING figured out yet. There are going to be some things that pop up over time like shipping issues or customer service that you’ll have to take care of, but right now you have no idea about what’s to come. By soft-launching you’ll be able to test the waters, get your processes down, and truly find if there’s a market for what you have to offer.

For my wife, and I – we have a limited product selection of female fashions, and we’re okay with that. We’re also very transparent about how new we are. We want to build something alongside our customers.

First, and foremost – we’re going to reach out to family and friends to take a look at our site, and to potentially even order stuff from us. We want to build organically before we start turning the marketing crank. Early adopters of your brand are generally more lenient on you than the general public. Early adopters understand there may be some hiccups when a business is first starting out, so attach on to these early adopters, and work with them to build your business. In our case – the early adopters are going to be friends and family. How do we know? They’ve already been apart of our research before we decided to jump into this business.

Here it is

Ever Rose, Fashion, womens fashion, dress, dresses

I’ve also decided to share this with you. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. Ever Rose has launched and you can check it out here: www.everrose.com.

Currently, we’re only shipping to Canada, but you can still provide feedback from wherever you are in the world. Please take a look around. Let me know what you like, don’t like or can improve.

Thank you for being apart of the journey from day one to launch. The Journey of the Do is now complete. Now, comes the tricky part…actually keeping this thing going 🙂

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft