How One Entrepreneur Built a Business by Licensing Another Brand

How One Entrepreneur Built a Business by Licensing Another Brand

old guys rule

Dave Andrews is the owner of the official Old Guys Rule online store.

Find out how he built a business targeting baby boomers by becoming a licensee of the already-established Old Guys Rule brand.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to identify brands to license from.
  • What a licensing deal look like and how to set one up that’s beneficial for you.
  • How to successfully start an online community for your brand.

Listen to Shopify Masters below…

Show notes:


Transcription

Felix: Today I’m joined by Dave Andrews from OldGuysRule.com. Old Guys Rule is dedicated to showing that age is a badge of honor for a life well lived and sells everything from t-shirts to watches. OldGuysRule.com was started in 2015 and based out of Hermosa Beach, California. Welcome, Dave.

Dave: Thank you.

Felix: Yeah, I’m excited to have you on. Tell us a little bit more about your background. We were talking off-air earlier about how this is not a typical business model that we typically have on the podcast, so we’ll get into that in a second. This is also just one part of your entire ecosystem of businesses you own. Tell us a little bit more about your background and the entire setup that you’ve got going on.

Dave: Yeah. Thank you for having me on. I’ve got a few companies that I run. I’m an entrepreneur at heart; been doing this for about 9 years, but I was in the corporate world before that in the digital space, and I was in the original .com boom and bust in 2000, and before that in entertainment and interactive television space as well. About 9 years ago or so I started a company called Devious Media, and we do consulting; digital entertainment consulting. Anything from doing the entire strategy development and operations for some of these TV networks around the globe to consulting for the Emmys … I did the Emmys’ iPhone app in about 3 weeks from start to finish … To small startups to help do the social media strategy for NFL Network, et cetera. We’ve got about 100 developers, so we can pretty much build anything. Then I’ve gone any device including OTT and mobile consults et cetera.

Then I got another company that is called community 102. That company is a community moderation and customer support company. We do everything from doing customer support for companies whether it be in social through something like Zen desk, message boards, et cetera. We also manage various facebook pages for various brands to make sure no one is trolling but also be a first line of defense for support. We also do a lot of content management and clearance. We work with a company like MakerStudios to help them clear their content before the syndicate it out to various different companies.

My company that we’re talking about today is called 360 Ecomerce consulting. We’re a fully 360 view of Ecomerce. You can call us for as much or as little as you need whether it’s for an entire solution or you just need someone to do customer support. You need to get something built out. You need to source products. Whatever you need, we can pretty much help you out with anything you need along the way. It kind of gives you general overview of the company.

Felix: That sounds like you do a lot. I’m not sure how you have time to do all this. Let’s definitely just narrow in on the 360 ecomerce consulting. Did you have a background, I know you were saying that you were part of the original .com boom and bust, were you in ecomerce previously? How did you find your way toward opening up a store?

Dave: I’ve done various different project dealing with ecommerce or dealing with transaction base. I’ve done stuff with magneto and various hard coded sites back in the day. Love Shopify makes it simple. It’s like explaining to potential and or existing clients, I explain it to them, it’s kind of like the iPhone and you just add apps. You can make it look the way you want, add apps on top of it. Low cost to get going and dip your toe in the water but it allows you to scale.

For me with ecommerce, I did it a little bit beforehand but really going gunge hoe with some previous clients I worked with in the past.

Felix: Is 360 ecommerce consulting, this is the umbrella company that houses Oldguysrule.com do you also have other ecommerce properties? Is this the main one.

Dave: This is the main one. We’ve done some development for another company, Lardin Hammelton is another company we did the development for. He’s a big wave surfer. He’s got a lot of stand up paddle boards. We did that and Shopify, we created word press into it because they want to do some content. We did an intoner site before that as well. We’ve done a few other various different project here and there. Lardin Hamelton are some of the mains ones that we’re doing. Actually, right now we’re just focused on Oldguysrule as we’re starting to grow the 360 brand.

Felix: Oldguysrule, when we were talking in off air. This is already an existing brand and you have, not a completely brand new business model, but at least something that’s different than what you typically hear on this podcast. Explain to the audience a little bit about how this business specifically is set up.

Dave: I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I like to look at things differently than just figure out … literally people call me for all different reasons. How do you make money off this? How can I make money, I’ve got something. How do we generate revenue, build a brand, etc. I’m usually the idea guy and I follow it through to execution.

They reached out to us. They’d been doing some BSE with their ecommerce site using Pennecole, an old version, it was an licensee who managed all the t shirts managing the sells direct to consumer. They wanted to get a more holistic project they could offer and be able to have a better experience and really dive into the brand of oldguysrule. What is it? It’s not just t shirts and hats. What does it mean to be an old guy that rules basically and deliver on the brand and promise.

We literally talked about it for about a year. It took about a year and a month to close the deal. What happened is it ended up becoming the licensee for the brand in North, Central, and South America for all the digital rights. Basically their model for oldguysrules is they license out the brand for various different companies to take it over for them to get it into brick and mortar. We take those different products that are being created and put them on the website and distribute them from the main domain also to amazon and eBay. We basically figure out how we grow the oldguysrule brand digitally.

We’ve got lots of different things we’ve been doing to help. We’re literally just getting over version one of the whole entire experience.

Felix: This company Oldguysrule they had zero ecommerce presence anywhere or just in the America’s? What was their situation prior to you guys stepping in?

Dave: They had a site that was built in O6 in pennicle. It was probably last updated in 08. Not responsive. The check out process was arqueic. They had a lennox. When I look at Google analytics, you’re just trying to figure out what was and what wasn’t happening to try and figure out what do we know so you can make decisions.

Typically I like to look at analytics and figure out what are we building and why are we building it? I don’t want to build on gut, I want to build on fact. Basically, I had very little to work with and try and figure it out.

When we began it, it became a lot of discovering. Discovering who our new target audience was. What do they like? Why do they like it? How do we make it simple for them to build off a platform. With our deal, we manage the entire process from development all the way through to every single line of communication with customer whether it be marketing or customer support, phone support. We do all the fulfillment. Literally every single thing. The way it works is we provide a royalty payment to the brand owners of Oldguysrule.

Felix: Cool. I think this is probably a business model that other people might be interested in. Is this something that you would recommend for a first time or beginner entrepreneur to consider going this route to licensing a brand and then paying royalties to that brand?

Dave: I personally wouldn’t recommend for the first timer. It really is something that needs experience in the states or in digital. It’s not something you jump into because you’ve got to know brands. Oldguysrule is very successful. They’re in 600 to 700 plus brick and mortar stores domestically but then they’re international as well. They do have a UK ecommerce site that’s managed by another licensee who does brick and mortar there directly whose very successful with it.

They just did a deal with hobby lobby for a lot of their man cave signs and things like that so we’ll be in another 700 stores with hobby lobby. They do very, very, very, well. You’ve got to know how to deal with brands and how to talk to brands and present to brands. Not only that, you’ve got to know the business side of it all. For me, I would be cautious to jump in. Maybe if there’s a smaller brand. Someone also just getting off the ground themselves and you want to dip your toe in the water and help them out, I’ll say almost like an internship, say let’s do it. I’ll help you out, that’d be great.

I’m not saying Oldguysrule is the Coca Cola of the universe, it’s a decent size company that makes significant amount of revenue. You want to be cautious about being a first timer in the space.

Felix: I’d imagine there are some challenges too when you are just one sales channel or one licensee out of not many but at least you’re not the only one. If you own the brand and you start it from scratch and everything, the decision you make are impacting you only. At least you’d have the opportunity to make more of your own decisions. Do you run into those kinds of not necessarily issues. At least you’re dealing with a lot more other companies when you are a licensee as opposed to starting your own brand. Can you talk to us a little bit about those challenges.

Dave: You mean challenges working with other licensee of the Oldguysrule brand?

Felix: Yeah, exactly.

Dave: The good news is the people that own Oldguysrule, at the end of the day, they’re good people. I like to work with good people. That’s part of the reason I became and entrepreneur. I was talking to a friend of mine who asked me if I wanted to take a job with a particular company as a client. It was great pay. Ridiculous amount of pay, over paid actually. I just said no. He goes, oh, why? Because there’s certain people you have to work with. There’s certain people you like working with and certain you don’t. At the end of the day they’re good people.

The people that are licensing Oldguysrule brand, they’ve got good people. They didn’t just do a deal with anybody, the did deal with people you could talk to that are human. That respect you. It’s been very nice. I know it won’t always be that way with other brands you work with but they’re good people. There’s various conventions and shows and calls and emails we have, it’s 100% polite and it’s people that are passionate about the brand they’re licensing it. They’re open to creativity. At the end of the day, some of the liscense are their liscense but if I see a cool product that might fit in their license, I’m going to send it to them and say, hey you may want to reach out to this person, here’s the website, here’s a video, I found this person on linkdin.

What happens that product gets created and or liscense to Oldguysrule. It can then be on the website and then it helps me for that side of it. We’ve actually helped, you’ll see on the website for Oldguysrule a product called Ball keeper, we actually liscense that bottle for Oldguysrule. We’ve talked to them, had to get it all done, had them talking to Oldguysrule, we’re the person that helped negotiate that whole entire process. Sourced the product and got the deal done. Now it’s a very, very, very successful product. It’s flying off the shelf.

Felix: That’s awesome! If an entrepreneur out there is looking to follow in your footsteps, follow down this path, how do you even begin the process of finding a brand that would be open to licensing, is this something that you can look up somewhere? There’s got to be networking.

Dave: It’s networking. Personally, I’ve never really done marketing for myself. It’s just the relationships. If there’s one thing I’d say to anybody is just be nice to everybody. There’s plenty of people that are mean. Just be nice to everybody because whether it be a year, 5 years, et cetera. I’ve been in digital probably 19 years, 20 years total and I still have those friendships. With the connectivity social whether it be linkdin, facebook, just email et cetera, word can get around pretty easily. If you’re nice to people, they’re going to refer you. It’s kind of how I’ve always worked, it’s always been referral, word of mouth.

It starts with just being nice to people. The other thing is look at companies, see what they’re doing. I almost looked at Oldguysrule as like a house flip. The site hadn’t been updated since 08. Brand, I saw it around here and there. I looked at the demographics. It targeted the Baby Boomers. I did a lot of research on the Baby Boomers. I said look, I think there’s a business here meaning that I did do, how would we do the deal. Why would we do the deal this way. It was basically a house flip.

It was a 2000 website from 08 and it’s 2015.It’s not responsive. It’s not on the latest technologies. Let’s take it over and go from there. If someone’s out looking, I look and see what brands may be valuable. You can also source brands. Look at brands from the 80s. Look at brands from the 70s that were popular, or 90s et cetera. Just go by decade and see what were the hot brands. See what they’re doing now. Look it up. Find out who owns them. See if there’s a way to work with them and try to revitalize them digitally going direct to consumer. That’s a creative way of doing it.

Felix: You’re almost recommendation that you look for brands that need your help based on you expertise or based on your experience. Is that what you’re saying? Look for brands that maybe don’t have a strong online presence or have an online presence but their site hasn’t been updated in almost 10 years. Those are usually ripe for an opportunity for you to work with them to create a business.

Dave: Yeah. Everybody knows ecommerce is blowing up. We do great sells on amazon and they do our fulfillment it’s really turn key for us. Ecommerce is growing. Look at all the big boxes going out of business. Red is very expensive. It’s not expensive when you’re doing fulfillment. There’s a lot of brands that could go direct to consumer so I look at the companies that were selling to the big box at whole sell prices, they have a margin, why not sell direct to consumer and keep it map pricing so you’re not undercutting your big box store but you’re building your list.

I heard, and you can correct me later, was it Dick’s Sporting Goods bought Sport’s Authorities, all their lists for 15 million. The list was something like 50 million plus. That list is great. I know there’s probably some over lap but you know email marketing is crushing it. It’s very cheap. They probably got those names at less than 25 to 30 cents a name for people that are interested in that vertical. Ecommerce is crushing it with email. It’s an incredible business to be in.

That’s why for me I look at companies like Oldguysrule that were typically selling to those Brick and Mortars out there. We have the opportunity for them to sell to consumers directly. If you see the t shirts are a great billboard. They’re a great product. Great quality. People that read them love them, whether it’s a person wearing it or someone walking by reads it and laughs. They enjoy it. It’s light heart ed. It’s a billboard. Everyone says Oldguysrule. Where are you going to look it up. What are you going to Google? It’s Oldguysrule.

It’s like that with any brand. You’re not going to Google Macy’s to find it. That’s why I would encourage more brands to go be the C and focus on that part of their business. It doesn’t mean it will be the main part of it but a significant part. We can handle that literally soup to nuts.

Felix: When you are looking at brands that you want to begin relationship with to potentially liscense from them. I’m assuming the brands you guys want to work with, they’re going to be very selective with the people they work with. Are there ways to at least set yourself up to be more attractive to having them work with you? To make it an easy yes for them to say yes we want you to liscense our products or liscense our brand?

Dave: I think it comes from experience. I think it comes from presentations you give. I think it’s how you speak to people. Once again, it kind of goes back to being nice. It goes back to being honest, be transparent. Show them what you can do. Show them your past history and talk to them and brainstorm with them. It’s not, I’m the licensee, it’s I’m a partner. I’m working with you. I’m trying to help grow this business. I’m passionate about it.

As I mentioned earlier, I love the Baby Boomer brand and demographic because they have 50% of the disposable income in the US. It’s an undeserved audience. They love brands and they don’t disappear. They stay with their brand forever. They don’t swap, switch, anything. They love their brand, they’re going to stick with it. That’s one of the reasons I chose this to work with Oldguysrule and take risk and it’s been incredibly successful.

If you’re going to approach these brands to work with them, you should definitely be buttoned up. You should be honest. Don’t come to the table with I can build you a store. Anybody can build a store. Look at Shopify and others out there do a great job at it. There’s a lot of great, incredibly talented, people in the states to help build you stores. You have to come with other things and other solutions. You have to think holistically. What is it going to cost to operate. How are we going to get people there. That’s another cost. People think, I just build a store and they’ll be there. It’s not you build it they will come. You build it, you need to also have a significant amount of money set aside for marketing.

You have to be able to get people in your list. Email marketing is by far the most effective way to generate revenue for your company. It doesn’t matter what demographic it is. You have to be able to generate a list and get it growing. You’ve got to get people to you website first.

I don’t know where else to go with that but that kind of gives you an idea of how I think.

Felix: Maybe from the business perspective, this deal took about a year to come to fruition. What does a typical deal like this look like if, again, someone out there is thinking about doing this for the first time. Maybe they’re in the middle of finding a brand to liscense from. What do they need to keep in mind when you want to construct a deal that ’s obviously beneficial to both people but then also protecting your opportunities.

Dave: It’s a creative deal to put it that way. Really it was a lot of lawyers. That’s why it’s not cheap to get it going. Now we have something set up that’s in place to move forward with others in the future. For me, there’s various incentives. Obviously it helps if we hit certain points for everybody right. There’s a percentage of net sales because there’s various shipping costs, products we may give discounts on shipping, we may give discounts if you spend so much in your cart et cetera.

We give the royalty out over certain periods of time without going into too many specifics per year that we just hand a nice check out to Oldguysrule.

Felix: Makes sense. A little bit earlier you were talking about how one of the key reasons you wanted to liscense from this brand was because of the demographic. You did you research to find out more about them. Talk to us about this process. How did you discover, not necessarily this particular target market, but how did you learn more about the demographic that would buy from Oldguysrule?

Dave: A long time ago, it seems like forever, inforgraphics are great. They’re simple. It’s the quick digestible information that you can just get. Not saying always sided but usually sided. I used it a long time ago to check out and see how to drive traffic. With one of the things we did with the InteligAcademy, we created an infographic to see how it would drive traffic. A great company called Column 5 out of Orange County did it.

What you can do literally with a lot of different things, I’m not saying all. I looked up Baby Boomers. They said that they’re audience. Obviously it’s male. It’s, I’ll say 55 plus domestically. Internationally it’s a little weird but Old Guys is about 30, 35. Which we can talk about that too. All I did is literally look up Baby Boomer Infographic on Google. And look at Google images and pop open a new tab of every single graphic and looked at all the stats. What are the key things I’m seeing over and over and over again. Typically with infographics one designer might steal the information from another designer but what am I learning about? What do they know about that demographic.

You can do the same thing with millennials. You can do the same thing with pretty much gen X. There are plenty of those infographics. Yes, I can also just Google and read articles, read wiki, et cetera. A lot of what I do is just reading and seeing what’s out there just anywhere just to learn more. The quick down and dirty is infographics. There’s a lot of great stuff out there. I like the short significant facts. Just give it to me bullet point. I need to know what do I need to know.

Felix: Infographics are way easier to digest than just reading articles because they really do pull out what’s most important and then the visual elements of course also lets you know what’s being emphasized. What kind of data is most important. When you are looking at these infographics, what are you handing for?

Are you looking to see how much they’re spending? Where they’re spending it? What are some key question you wanted to have answered when you were doing this research?

Dave: It’s how much revenue do they bring in per year? How do they live their life? What’s the size of their house? How much are they paying in a mortgage? Do they have kids? What are they spending on their kids? What about health insurance? What are their bills? What kind of discretionary income do they have to be able to spend on anything they want to spend it on? What do we know about them?

Part of the things I know is that it’s the largest demographic out there. They’re living longer. They’re only going to live longer. I mentioned early, one of the things I saw was they don’t leave a brand. When you start to think about these things, about the Baby Boomer audience. Yeah, I know my dad, my mom, the like a certain type of food or a certain restaurant or whatever. They’re creatures of habit even more so as they get older.

When you look at the disposable income that they’ve got. Think about it, the kids are out of college. They may still be working or getting ready to retire. Their homes are probably paid off. They’ve been wise with their money. They’ve seen various recession et cetera that have happened. They’re getting their grandkids now. They’ve got a lot of free time.

The other thing to look at is what are they doing digitally? At the end of the day, that audience is still that audience. This is one of the the things that got me worried. They like tactile. They still want to touch the newspaper. They still want to pick up the record and touch a record, not even a CD but a record. They want to feel it, touch it, taste it, smell it, see it. Our generation, I’m not a millennial, I’m more of a Gen Xer but I’m okay with buying something digitally and not even seeing it and just owning it. Music, not big deal. Movie, cool. Whatever. Don’t care about it. They would rather get a DVD in the store and touch it.

That’s one of things I was really worried about looking at the demographics, one of the things I saw, as I talk about the flip of the website is, it’s about 50% of them that was going onto their site was on mobile.

Felix: Wow, surprising.

Dave: Yeah, right. When you get a site that’s not optimized for mobile, you got a lot of little hanging fruit there that you can start targeting and really going after. That’s one of the other things that got me excited about flipping the website. Make it responsive so it will work on any device.

Felix: Using this research, you notice that their was an opportunity because you saw the large disposable income, you saw that they were very brand loyal, they don’t leave brands, did you also learn anything that you could apply towards the marketing itself. This kind of research, can you use that to influence the way you sell the product, sell the brand?

Dave: A lot of it goes into just traditional sites. Keep it simple. There’s a great book that’s been out, I don’t know maybe 15 years, 12 years now, for digital design. It still applies today. It’s called Don’t Make Me Think. I would encourage everybody to read it today. Even though there are sites in there that may not be relevant. It’s don’t make your customer think.

One of the other things that I realize, this is working with the people from Oldguysrule that are just great people, they said, Large Fonts, we can’t read, we have reading glasses, so make it large font. It’s funny but me being a little younger than them, I wouldn’t realize that. I haven’t started using reading glasses. You just got to think about those.

The other thing to look at there is who’s the target? You think it’s Oldguysrule, it’s males. Well, once again it goes back to the Baby Boomers. It’s not necessarily males. It’s about 50/50 split of people buying female to male. And during the holidays and father’s day, those are our super bowls, it’s about 60 - 65% female. You kind of got to figure out where is that target especially in your email and other things that you’re gonna do.

Felix: This market definitely seems like a great market to get into. At least this particular demographic. This Baby Boomer demographic that you’re talking about, the issue you brought up before about who they’re tactile, about how they want to be able to actually see thing before they buy them. Did you find out that wasn’t actually true? Or did you find away to get around that issue?

Dave: Shopify is great tutorials and articles and if you look at just getting a product done right, I’m not a great copy writer, I don’t pretend to be one in any way shape or form. Looking at what they say about what you need, for copy and the various tutorials that they have, it’s making sure the copy for product page. Sorry, copy images. As I put more images than I need. There’s a close up of the graphic of a shirt.

T shirts are the big primary sellers by far with the other products coming up pretty fast. It’s making large images so they can see exactly what it is so they know exactly what they’re going to buy. It’s not like I’m selling too unique of a product. If you go to the sight you’ll see a product called bottle keeper. That’s a unique product. You can see the difference between what we did on a page for a t shirt which people are used to buying versus a product that we’re breaking for people, meaning bottle keeper.

That’s basically, I keep mentioning it, but it looks like a water bottle. Typical stainless steal water bottle with a black cap. What it is is a beer cozy. You unscrew the bottom and inside’s cozy material, you slide your beer in there, close it back up and then the top, the black caps got a little grommet inside of it that it screws down and seals your beer so it won’t leak. It keeps your beer cold and protects your bottle from breaking. It’s a little spin on the typical cozy you might have been used to your whole life.

Felix: Are there any specific ways that you’ve found that work better to target Baby Boomers specifically? Than the millennials or generation X online.

Dave: I think email is still by far the number one way to hit them. You’ve got to get people to you email. You’ve got to get them to sign up. You’ve got to give them a reason to sign up. We offer a few things. We use storias, coupon pop, and I’ve seen dramatic increase in registrations. We give a 20% off for liking us on Facebook or signing up for email. I mean, I can show you the charts, it’s triple, quadruple, what we were doing when we just had a standard sign up for an email kind of thing. It works great. Getting people in your email database especially that demographic is key.

We also use storia’s traffic boosters. That just gets people to the site. I don’t know what they do over there. What kind of drink they’re making people drink over there or what but their stuff works. It does. It sounds weird to say in heavily endorsing et cetera. I was like, okay, it will drive traffic. I tried driving traffic with Google and I was on the phone with them for about 12 hours doing some Google adds. Part of the challenge I had was, other brick and mortars were selling our product. They may not be selling it map pricing. We’re supposed to be a minimum of 19.99. We’re selling on the website 24.99 but we’re giving people discounts and incentives to get it cheaper. When you look at Google, there are people selling it at 14.99. I just can’t compete at that price.

I was on the phone with Google for quite a while. It was hours and hours and hours. I talked to friend in SEM and SEO business what do they suggest. Did various things and still couldn’t compete. I was like okay, I’ll just try traffic booster. I closed that off. $99 boom. I was getting 5x return. Okay, I’ll do $400 boom. I was like let’s just drop 1,000 a month. It’s been 5x return every time, minimum. It’s been very good to us.

Getting someone over to buy, great, we make money. But getting them into an email, we make money because when we send an email out we’re going to make money off of them. It just happens. It’s a life time value of a customer. It’s been incredible working with them.

We also use various other add companies, technologies, and we’ve been testing a lot of them out to see what is and is not working. Like I said, I don’t know what they drink or what they’re doing, what they’re feeding them but they’ve got some good products.

Felix: Yeah, if it’s working don’t question it too much.

Dave: I was like, I’m looking at Google analytics and truthfully, I’m talking to other companies and I’m like here’s what I’m getting with these companies for a bounce rate for a conversion rate for anything. The revenue coming in versus what I’m spending, I will let you compete. You win. I’m being transparent. As I mentioned earlier I want to be transparent not just [inaudible 00:33:51] but these other companies.

There’s other entrepreneurs. I’ve been in there shoes. I have failed in the past. If these guys are doing something right, great. If they’re doing something wrong, I’m going to show them. I’ve had incredible feedback. Some of them have been failures but the feedback and the relationship that I’m building with these companies has been great. I like them a lot. They’re good people. Whether they’re company succeeds or fails I have no idea, they probably do great stuff for other people too. I always try to help other entrepreneurs in this space anyway I can.

Felix: That’s awesome. When you do give an incentive to sign up for the email list, you also give them the option to like on Facebook as well. It sounds like even marketing, I think this is a consensus as well is way more of a prophet able sales channel than just a like on Facebook. Do you then decide to go one or the other or do you still cage those kind of offering both incentives for that 20% off.

Dave: For both. Some people don’t want email. They’re fed up with that. I’ll give them an option. Facebook, as you probably know, over the years, they’ve really changed their tune with brands. It was all about brands to get people on there and then all of the sudden the brands had to start paying to drive their traffic. Even though I like their brand, if I didn’t engage with it, I wasn’t going to see it. I have to start paying to get that traffic over. I was like, man, that’s a little shady there.

I love Facebook, I love so many things they do but if someone likes my brand and they want to see, why are they not seeing what they should? They adjust their activity feeds and everything else all the time so, they got the science behind it, great cool. As I look at and see the engagement, we haven’t really gone after Facebook even though I know it’s old demographic. The revenue isn’t necessarily the best. I’ve done the Facebook store. I’ve done through Shopify has that plug in. I’ve looked around at expert conversion on Facebook, looked at types, do I do just content to see if we get traffic. Do I do a product to see if we get a conversion. What works, what doesn’t?

Story is that coupon pop is working is to get people to like our page. I builds more of an awareness and reminds people we’re there. It also helps me figure out our look a like audience who we want to target. I know who does and does not like our brand. I can target the right consumer. I use Google analytics as well to figure out what our audience is to be able to target them too on Facebook with adds.

Felix: When it comes to just the email portion alone, could you give us an idea of how large the email list has grown since you, or maybe how large is it today or how much has it grown since you’ve implemented this coupon pop app?

Dave: We were getting maybe a couple hundred, now it’s over a thousand a month. That’s why I say it’s dramatic. Is it worth the cost, yes. We were doing similar thing, it’s just that they got a better mouse trap. It’s worth spending the money. What is the value of someone signing up for an email? To me it’s very valuable. I don’t mind spending that money. There’s a lot of apps out there that do that. I looked at all of them, I won’t say all of them, I probably missed a few. I looked at many, many of them. Some are sexier than others or build it faster of do whatever. I just wanted one that was going to get people into my database. At the end of the day I want people in my email database.

That’s how we make money. I send an email, we print money. It just truthfully is. I’ve got 2 times year where it’s very very successful. That’s Father’s Day and Christmas. The other times of the year, we do various marketing campaigns with email and it does very very well. They’re not the Superbowl.

Felix: Let’s talk about that. What kind of emails are you sending? Once you get the email address, are they just getting these promotional emails? Give us an idea of what might someone receive if they sign up for the email list.

Dave: It kind of depends on the year. We’re just getting over V1. I’ll say the store launch. We had about 6 weeks to get the site up. We launched October 21st last year and literally site up, get all the products, we used amazon’s FBA. Get everything there. We didn’t have any skews. We had had the FN skew to get all that set up. Get it stitch integration, just figuring out how we’re doing returns, exchanges. Everything, like I said, soup to nuts, what is the communication? How do we communicate? Who do we comunicate with within the tone of the brand? It was very very very tough to get up with that time.

We’re starting into the V2 of the experience with Oldguysrule. For email, before it was just hey we’ve got shirts. Here’s the shirts, here’s the hats. Just to get it going, get some traffic there. What we need is a reason to talk to people. You don’t just want to send an email to send an email. That’s not a good experience for the customer and it damages the brand. My goal is to have a communication with the customer every 2 weeks. What is going to change on the website every 2 weeks?

I’ll take Christmas and Father’s Day out of the picture because those are very targeted, a little bit different audience that they have to target what’s on the home page et cetera. For the other times of the year, I really need to figure out, I have 2 week window people come about every month or so just to check out shirts here or there. One of the things we did was we created Bottle Keeper. Okay, I gave it a 2 week window. With that 2 week window, we’ll do 3 to 4 emails. One is announcing the product, a home page the main market, it’s the bottle keeper. Everything in sync. Talk about it on Facebook. All channels are going to talk about the bottle keeper.

That’s first email. Second email might have the bottle keeper, maybe a couple of other products. 3rd email it’s the bottle keeper and a few more products. It slowly starts to trickle down a little bit. Then we move from the bottle keeper, it might go to the 2nd position on the home page and we have anew product. We launched watches. It’s by the lady that brought Swatch to the US. She brought the Oldguysrule watches out. We promote those. That will be for 2 weeks and it will slowly trickle down. We just keep trying the cycle with breaking a new product or a new vertical or category, every 2 weeks so we have a reason to comunicate and let our fans know what we’re bring to market.

One of the cool new things we’re actually doing which is a little different for the digital brands is we’re actually creating, it’s called the Oldguysrule club. You’d think when you hear a club with a traditional brick and mortar it’s spend money and you get discounts. No. That’s not where we’re going. We’re actually taking shirt that will be custom brand and we found that when you create a custom shirt, we did one for 4th of July, sold through the roof. When we do it for Christmas, sells through the roof. We created the Oldguysrule shirt but we also created the Oldguysrule bottle opener which is credit kind of membership card, size of a credit card, it looks like membership card. It fits in you wallet and it’s a bottle opener.

You get the shirt and membership card to be an official member. Then what we created is the community. We created a virtual community where Oldguysrule did a premium members. It’s $29.99 a year. You get a shirt and the bottle opener. Bottle opener membership card. And you get access to the community. You can also join for free but the premium members get access into a premium group where we’re going to work with our fans of the brand to help design new t shirts. It will be new sayings. New designs of t shirts. Other things that we could do with the brand to help work with these evangelists.

We have such avid fans. The emails we get are awesome. We get a lot of hand written cards from fans. That’s one of the things we want to start to break out to help nurture a community around the brand. That’s something we’re just going to do a little bit different than what other brands. When I looked at the Baby Boomers, that’s one of the things I thought of doing that’s just a little bit different.

Felix: A couple of question that come out of that explanation you gave. Does it always have to be a new product launch as a reason to send the emails? Or are there other ways to get around that especially if there’s listeners out there that don’t have such a large catalog or at least a cataloger that turns over that frequently?

Dave: I would say, its not necessarily the catalog but ask yourself, if I got this email why am I going to open it, why am I going to click on it, and what am I going to do once I click? Remove yourself. Maybe ask some of your friends on Facebook. Post picture of the email. Would you open it? Why would you open it?

Maybe get a survey monkey. As a pool of your fans, what do you want to hear from us? Have it open ended and listen to them. Why do you want to hear from us? Do you want to hear about new products? Truthfully, the new products, new t shirts, new things we role out, fans love our … rates are enormous. Conversion rates are enormous.

If you talk about your brand, that’s another thing you can do it. You don’t always have to sell. Let them know what else you’re doing with your brand. If you say it’s smaller, not a big catalog, are you out in the community doing something? Are you helping with charities? Are you working on a new product? Let them know what’s coming out? Maybe there is a pre sale you could do?

What is your relationship with your customer. That’s what I think you have to figure out as the owner of that brand. What are you delivering to your customer. It’s not necessarily a product. What are you delivering from a brand value? What do they want? Don’t just give them something. Ask them.

Part of why I created that community is because we found that people love cares and love to talk about them. We have an area for guys to talk about cars and share with one another. Make it the local bar so they can hang out and talk about their 57 Chevy they remodeled. Post the pictures. See where they got their parts from. What do they do? What are the tips and tricks. That’s why I like doing that community.

For other brands, how can they connect fans of their brands. I know one brand has a weekend getaway where, hey, we’re going to be here. We’re going to have a band planing. If you want to come, come here and meet in person. Meet us. Great. That’s another thing they could do for an email. Figure out how they need to connect with their brand.

Felix: I really like this idea of this club that you’ve created because I feel like it’s really applicable to really any brand, any company, any store out there that has customer. You can create a community around some sort of shared interest. You came up with this online community based on the things that you’re hearing from your customer about the interests that they have. You give them an exclusive product and a card. Some way to show them that they’re a premium member, a premium customer and part of this club.

How do you set this up? Is there a specific software you’re using? How would someone get something like this rolling?

Dave: There’s various software out there for community building. We chose to go with word press and use budypress for the customization and for the Shopify’s integration with word press so if we want to sell product or promote product. People can buy within the community. Within the community built on budypress, not directly on shopify. They don’t have to leave and go to the store.

Truthfully, and think about your experience. How often do you go to a store? You don’t go every day. You may go to amazon. That’s about it. You’re probably not going every day. You’re probably going to Facebook everyday and checking out what’s going on with you friends. I’m looking at it as this is it’s own Facebook. People can join in in a conversation. Part of that goes back to that one of companies, community 102, I did that with Sony. I did that around anime and their TV network.

Ravid fans. I used to manage the Twilight brand in the community. People where there everyday because they’re passionate about that brand. That’s why I see that with Oldguysrule and that’s why the direction we went. Every brand, it may not be perfect for every brand but I like it. You can’t just say, I built a community, everybody hang out. It takes time. It’s literally like you’re a farmer. You’ve got to plant the seeds and sew it. We’re not going to have millions of people day one. It’s going to be a slow slow process to get it growing. You’ve got to show them value. You’ve got to show them why we appreciate them and comunicate with them. Appreciate the feed back.

Too many brands just think, I’m just going to make it and they’re going to buy it. Then their stuff ends up at a discount shop. I’m more looking at it as, man, if I can work with them, and show them what we can create and get in valuable input, I’ll give them free t shirts. I don’t care. That’s great. They help develop and make something better.

Felix: I think you’ve touched on this a little bit about how it’s not just you open the doors to your club, to your community and all of the sudden you have this thriving community, you have to plant the seeds. Tell us a little more about these seeds that you have to plant. I think a big part of the fear, hesitation about starting a community is that it’s a lot of work to manage it, to actually get people to interact, and talk with each other. There’s so much involved. Give use some ideas on how you can actually plant the seeds so that it can be set up to be a thriving community eventually.

Dave: First you have to have a fan base. Luckily we have that. We at least can start out by reaching out to them and letting them know it exists. For Oldguysrule I know that when I launched a unique shirt that you can’t necessarily get in stores, it sells. I know that when we do this we’ll get people buying it. And unique product. The membership card is really unique. The fans of the brand are going to love it.

It’s a bottle opener. At the end of the day Oldguysrule fans of the brand love beer. They do. They love their beer and they’re going to use it. I know that’s good. I’ll get at least some people in that way. Within a community a lot of times what people do is they just make it too deep too soon. Here’s a forum and inside the forum there’s 500 things. You become, for lack of a better phrase, paralysis by analysis. There’s too many things. As a fan, you’ve got to keep it simple. Keep the topics in your groups, forums, whatever you may choose to use very top line and broad. As people start discussing things and the group starts to grow, you can expand out and add another vertical, and then add another vertical. Slowly let things splinter off into other verticals within the community. That’s one of the ways.

One is just when someone joins, thank them for joining. Reach out to them. Give them a link that tells them the tips and tricks of the community. I’m here if you need me. Here’s a link to my profile. You can message me. Let’s imagine if you had someone over for a party and somebody just walked in the door and no one said hi. No one told them where the food is. No one told them where the beer is. Whatever. You really got to nurture them.

That’s why I say you’re like a farmer and you’re planting the seeds. It’s not just like a passive experience. The good part about why 360 ecommerce works for this area is because one of my companies that I own, another one is called community 102. We do community management. We also do customer support. It’s a nice marriage that my team doing customer support, it’s going to talk to you about a return or exchange, is also going to be those people that are in the community talking to them and building a relationship. With the fans of the brand that have become members.

Felix: That makes a lot of sense. I think that’s an important part that you said very early on which is don’t go too deep too soon because that’s when you start making assumptions about what people care most about in the community rather than having them tell you. If they start talking about cars a lot of beer a lot then that’s when you know you want to kind of bring some organization to it but you don’t want to organize it and give them too much friction. I keep going back to the book you’re talking about Don’t Make Me Think. You don’t want to add too much friction to the conversation. I think that’s an important part about creating the communities that you want to make the communication and the conversation fluid. Don’t add roadblocks in a way. I think that’s a great point. I think a lot of entrepreneurs it there are thinking about starting communities definitely follow that advice. I really like it.

Thanks again so much Dave. Oldguysrule.com is the store. 360 ecommerce consulting.com is your other business. Anywhere else you recommend the listeners check if they want to follow along with what you’re up to? Or just learn more from you?

Dave: First and foremost, anybody wants to reach out, Dave@360ecommerceconsulting.com. I’m happy to talk. If you’re an entrepreneur, you got a question, feel free. I usually answer as fast as I can. I apologize if I don’t get to you fast. You can reach out to me on LinkdIn as well. Dave Andrews. That’s actually it. I was one of the early guys on LinkdIn a long time ago. Or on Facebook as well. I’m on twitter as devious media. I don’t really use twitter as much as I used to. Just got to Oldguysrule and check it out. Ask questions, I’m happy to help. Happy to give advise anyway I can. It’s tough being an entrepreneur and if you’re passionate about it, you sleep, eat, breathe it, et cetera, any way I can help, I’m happy to do.

Felix: Awesome, thanks so much for your time again Dave.

Dave: All right you take care.

Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the ecommerce marketing pod cast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today visit Shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 free trial.


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About the Author

Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, and founder of TrafficAndSales.com where you can get actionable tips to grow your store’s traffic and sales.

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