Oftentimes, the best thing to sell customers isn't your product's features but their own potential. Who can they become or how will their lives change with your product in their hands?
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from an entrepreneur who focuses on selling her customers on a transformation and why the phone is one of her most important channels.
Misha Tenenbaum is the CEO of EditStock: a company that provides unedited film projects for students to practice video editing.
Mario plus flower equals fire power. And so Mario is your customer, flower is your product and fire power is what they want. And what you've got to sell is the fire power.
Tune in to learn
- How to find your first 100 customers and what you what you should try to learn from them
- Why you need to sell your customer’s transformation instead of your product
- Why it’s so important to get on the phone with customers especially when you have a higher ticket product
- Store: EditStock
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Hotjar, The Lean Startup (book), Google Optimize, Mailchimp (Shopify app), Digital Downloads (Shopify app), SendOwl (Shopify app), Locksmith (Shopify app), Metafields Editor (Shopify app), Product Filter and Search (Shopify app), PureChat (Shopify app), StoreTasker (Shopify Expert)
Felix: Today I’m joined by Misha Tanenbaum from Edit Stock. Edit Stock provided unedited film projects for students to practice video editing and was started in 2013 and based out of Las Angeles. Welcome, Misha.
Misha: Nice to see you.
Felix: Nice to see you too. So we were just talking off air about how you launched this business with $4,000 in 2013. You said that it was the most you would put in, too, because you weren’t sure it was going to work out. So tell the story. What did you, first of all, do with the $4,000 when you first started the business?
Misha: So I’ll just start with what I did with the $4,000. I actually didn’t even want to spend $4,000, I wanted to spend $1,000. I had built up the Shopify site to sort of look the best that I could. Then I hired my close friend to create a logo, to create, to rebuild the look of the site, to make it sort of presentable, and to work out any kind of technical portion of it that I wasn’t capable of doing in Shopify. Shopify was very different five years ago, it’s changed a lot. It’s gotten a lot better. Basically, my goal was to spend as little as possible because I was fairly certain that I wasn’t going to be able to make a living out of it, and I was fairly certain … I just thought to myself, like, I don’t want to lose any money on this. I was really just trying to hedge my bets. I think that was probably the best decision I made.
Felix: Interesting, because I think it’s a little bit different, maybe polar opposite, actually, than what you hear a lot from the entrepreneurship kind of circles, which is you’ve gotta’ just go all in, put all your money into it, dive right in and basically have no backup plan. But you had a safety net, you had a safety net and you didn’t want to overinvest and then lose everything. So what do you think was the advantage of that approach?
Misha: Yeah, and I also want to say that it was a fairly reasonable and small amount of money. It’s not like $4,000 was my life savings at the time. I had a $100,000 a year job, I was doing well. So it wasn’t a huge deal. It wasn’t a huge investment. Mostly, I was pretty sure … I definitely did not want to leave my job until I felt pretty comfortable that my store was going to make money. I don’t know why, I didn’t exactly believe that it would. But I just wanted to do it so bad.
The reason I wanted to do it, there is an important entrepreneurial lesson here, I had the idea for Edit Stock years before it started. Probably three years before it started. I did an interview, a webinar, about how to be an editor with someone, and I told them my idea, and I said, “Boy, someday I’d really love to do this.” Then I did nothing. Then three years later, the person that I told the idea to did it, essentially. They opened a website called Film Dailies.com, or Stock Film Dailies.com, something like that.
I got the newsletter from them, and actually, what I felt was not … I didn’t feel any anger towards the other person. I felt shame because it was that I felt sort of like I was a coward about it. It became, in that moment, more important to try and fail, than it was a fear of failure. That’s … It’s just so important for entrepreneurs, which is basically like there is no such thing as failure. You just really … You gotta’ go for it and try, but also don’t waste all your resources. But absolutely go do it. I can’t believe that it took me that long to get started, and the other website, the competitor, at first I begged them to join me and do it together, and he said no. Then like a week later, he closed his company, and that was it, that was the end. It literally only lasted one week. Mine has lasted now for five years.
Felix: Wow. I like that, that you’re saying that feeling of shame and cowardliness is what drove you … It basically stuck with you where you’re more fearful of that than the fear of never having tried at all. So when you were making this decision that I’ve got to at least give it a shot, what were some of the first things that you did to start setting up the business?
Misha: I highly recommend reading the book The Lean Startup, which probably every entrepreneur has heard of at this point. Basically, I read that, and then my college roommate became quite an impressive entrepreneur himself, and was building a business at the time. We talked about what would be my MVP, my minimum viable product, and I built … The website started out with just one commercial and one short film. The short film … So just to clarify, I sell movies, but I sell the raw footage, the unedited footage.
So a company hired me to shoot a film once, and they gave me $6,000 to shoot the film, but I spent 10. I don’t want to be a director, I don’t want to be a producer or anything. I just like editing. So I didn’t want to lose the $4,000. I sold the movie back to my film school, the raw footage, for basically $4,000. I thought, my god, there has got to be other film schools out there. So that’s where the idea came from. Then to build the actual … The idea for Edit Stock. Then to build the actual MVP, I spent that $4,000 to set up what the site would look like and then just posted two films, my film, which I got access to for free, and then a filmmaker who I was introduced to gave me their commercial which was shot for nothing, you know, just a few hundred dollars. I just started selling it right away.
I guessed on the prices. The first customer that I had buy something from Edit Stock said, “I want to buy this for my school, your price si $50, is that per student, or for the whole school?” I said, “No, it’s the whole school.” She said, “Do you have any more? I want like 10 of these.” So the second customer I talked to, I said, “The price is $100.” They said, “Do you have any more?” The third person I talked to, I said, “The price is $200.” Again, they were like, “Do you have any more?” So finally I settled on a price of $400 a project for a school. I found that price point, basically, through trial and error, basically through hiking the price until someone said no.
I actually did the same thing with the individual projects, because the way … I sell a digital product, so that means that my cost of goods isn’t fixed, it fluctuates. So I pay the filmmakers a percentage of whatever I take in. For example, they earn 30% of the sale price. So if I sell it for $100, I get 70, if I sell it for $10, I get seven. So for me, the goal is, always, make the sale, and collect the most amount of money possible. So anyway, it was a whole process of trial and error. Also, I had no infrastructure, I had no other monthly service fees, other than just Shopify, which I think was $20 or $30 a month or something like that. So it was pretty easy to not fall into a pit of debt.
Felix: I would think it’s a positive, because this approach to figure out pricing, a lot of people are always stuck and aren’t sure how much to charge. You took a very … It sounds like a very manual approach, but direct feedback from the customers. Were you talking to them on the phone or something? Like, how were you able to kind of throw this price out there, and then get the feelers out of it? How long did it take you to figure out the max that you could charge?
Misha: Well, the first three months of Edit Stock I earned $100 in sales, total, in three months in sales. In part, nobody was visiting the site, but also because my prices were just ridiculous. I was selling short films to people for, you know, $999, or something. Okay, the way that you would do it nowadays, and the way that we test, for example, coupon codes, is of course, ABB testing. With just Google Optimize you can do it for free. But the way that I did it then was talking to customers. A great piece of advice that I got early on was to talk to 100 customers. The reason that you pick a number, the reason that you pick 100 is because it has to be more people than your direct circle of friends. It has to be people you don’t know, it has to be real, actual random customers who are coming to your store. You have to speak to them in person, and just try something. Just put it out there. You know?
Felix: What if you don’t have 100 customers yet? Is there a way to kind of get the ball rolling, even before then?
Misha: You gotta’ kind of man up and go find 100 people. You have to have … If you don’t feel like you can get 100 customers, you don’t have a company anyway. So you gotta’, whatever it is, go out on Facebook, or go to a conference. For example, I went to a lot of conferences, like the University Film and Video Association, UFVA, the National Association of Broadcasters, the … I don’t know. Oh, the Student Television Network, which is high school teachers.
So I went to a lot of conferences, I had face to face interactions with hundreds or thousands of teachers, thousands of students. You have to get in their face. The idea of … I also had this idea early on, I don’t want to pester people with my newsletter. Now, it’s such a ridiculous concept to me that you wouldn’t build a newsletter immediately. Now, I’m actually building a new company, and I’m starting to collect email addresses for the newsletter and announcements. We don’t even have an MVP yet. Even with Shopify, as you’re building your store, you can lock your store and collect email addresses on the face of it.
You should absolutely be doing that, because as important as it is to figure out your actual product, you will not know what marketing messages work on your audience unless you’ve literally delivered the pitch 1,000 times. So I’ve refined my pitch, some people call it the elevator pitch. But just from discussions at conferences, I have such an approach, such an answer to every question. The answers to my questions are based on hearing form so many customers from doing surveys for people. If you have no product to offer, which I think was part of your question, which is how do you get 1,000 customers … Or, how do you talk to 100 customers if you don’t know 100 people?
Basically you have to offer them something of value. So for Edit Stock, for example, you could write a blog post that, you know, you want to learn about what the best computer is for video editing? Sign up for my email and find out. Or, interview me for five minutes and I’ll share that with you. In the case of Edit Stock, actually, we gave away a free scene, just three clips, and it was three clips in exchange for your email address. Then we started sort of a set of welcome newsletter campaign, which, again, you can set up in Mail Chimp for free. First 2,000 members on Mail Chimp is free, unless they’ve changed that.
Felix: I just want to kind of recap. So you, if you’re starting from scratch, you have nothing yet, or maybe you do have a business, but you just don’t have a good way to communicate with them, you offer them something of value to get their emails, get them to opt in. Now you have the channel of communication to talk to them. What are you asking them? What are some key questions that you asked early on that were kind of game changers for your business and the direction that you took the company?
Misha: Basically I asked people … The first question is like, who are you? Basic demographics, how old are you? Are you a student? What’s your job? How do you see yourself as an editor? Are you a beginner, is this a hobby for you, are you a professional looking to advance in your career? Then you would ask them questions like what’s your goal in editing? What’s your goal in life/ What’s your biggest obstacle to that goal? I know these questions may sound sort of broad when you’re thinking about your product. But one just terrific piece of advice that I got from … Actually, from the Shopify blog, which I get, you know, every day, or every week, I think it’s every day, is this formula.
The formula is Mario plus flower equals fire power. So Mario is your customer, flower is your product, and fire power is what they want. What you gotta’ sell is fire power. You don’t sell the product. So like for example, I may say something about my films that I sell, like this footage was shot on the fanciest camera in the industry. But that doesn’t necessarily resonate with the customer the same way that if I addressed the fire power portion, right? The best camera is talking about the product. But if I say something to them like, build the career you’ve always been looking for, that speaks to the fire power. That’s what they want.
Felix: Right. You want to sell the transformation and what they’re getting on the other end of getting and using your product, not the product itself.
Misha: That’s exactly right. That was something that I did not understand initially. I wish I had gotten to that understanding faster. But now I feel totally, I look at … It’s like I can look at a product offering in a totally new light.
Felix: Got it. Okay, so you are using these kind of questions to understand your customers, and how do you implement this into your marketing? Where does it actually spill out into the marketing and the messaging back out to your prospective customers?
Misha: On the Edit Stock main landing page, if you were to go there now, it says, “Build your editing demo reel” which is the thing our customers want the most. The tagline below it says, “stop waiting for your big shot, and own career opportunities.” So what we heard back from our customers is actually not that they feel insecure about their abilities to edit, which is something that you would maybe hear from a student. But what we heard back … That’s what you would think Edit Stock customers are, they’re the students. But they’re not. The students receive the footage from the schools. So the schools, the teachers need to hear a different message.
The individuals buying things on Edit Stock, the person that they were is usually someone who is already a professional in another field, like maybe they’re a graphics designer, or maybe they’re an editor already working in, say, reality shows, and they already feel capable of editing a scripted movie. But what they feel that they’re lacking is the opportunity to show a director what they can do. So by buying Edit Stock footage, what they’re doing is giving themselves the opportunity, as opposed to needing to go out into the marketplace with no demo reel, and try to convince someone just verbally, I can do it.
Felix: So there is a couple of different customers, is this what I’m hearing? Different customer types? Because it sounds like you’re saying that a lot of the …
Misha: We have basically two different market segments. Market segmentation is a very important thing for your audience to hear, for the audience of this podcast, because if you … So the more you understand who wants your product, the more you’ll understand that there is a pattern among them, that they fall into different groups. So for example, telling a teacher that a teacher needs to build a demo reel isn’t a message that resonates with them. A message that resonates with your teacher is when the class ends, give your students inspiring material so that they want to stay after class and work, so that you’re not just giving them something they can throw away. You’re giving them something that they can build their career out of.
You want to give them the message that their students are going to get real world training, real world examples of things. So that’s a very different message than to an individual. Or a school might be interested in hearing something about multi user licensing, right? Or that you can place an order with a purchase order, which takes a month for me to receive. That kind of messaging an individual doesn’t need to hear. If you put that all on the same page, on the same webpage, you could very easily turn off half your audience. You want to be as focused on each segment as you can be.
Felix: How do you do that? How do you set up the segmentation so that you’re hitting the right type of customer with the right message?
Misha: One good way to do that is by making different landing pages. One piece of advice I would give someone is one page, one purpose. So each webpage that your user goes to has to have a very specific purpose of what you want them to do, or who the person is and what information you want them to garner. So for example, on Edit Stock, we have in the upper right corner, a button that says EDU. Actually, during the site rebuild, one of the main things that we did was get rid of all of the top navigation to the website. There is none. There is only one button that says EDU, or on the landing page, there is only one place you can go, which is view the films.
All the links on the landing page go to view the films. If you were to set up a new site, the only navigation you should have at the top, specifically for a service, is pricing. That’s it. Whatever helps you sell. You could have a tab for testimonials, you could have a tab to request a quote. You could have a page for just schools, or business to business. But what you don’t want up in your main navigation is like your blog, or like your tutorials.
The reason is I spend all this money, and time, and effort, and advertising, and focus to try to get the user to do a very specific thing, which is walk through a very specific funnel, and answer very specific questions that we know that they have along the way. For example, our landing page, the purpose of it is to educate the customer about what Edit Stock is, because we don’t have a product that you would just by default know what it is. When you go buy a Tshirt, you know what a Tshirt is, you don’t need any explanation. When you go to Edit Stock, you don’t necessarily know why it’s different than other stock footage, or why it’s … Or even why it will help you become an editor. So there needs to be some explanation.
Felix: So you set up the specific landing page, so that each landing page is targeting one customer type, and has only one outcome that you want them to leave with. How many … How much segmentation do you have? How many landing pages do you usually create?
Misha: We have two main ones that … There is also, have you heard of the 80/20 rule?
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Misha: Very common, I think, problem that new entrepreneurs have is that they have all these different ideas, maybe 10 different ideas, but only one or two of them, or only 20% of them are going to lead to 80% of the revenue. The other 20% of the features you want to build are only going to lead to 20% of the revenue. You shouldn’t build that stuff at all. So when Edit Stock started, I had a sound library where you could build projects for sound effects, for sound design. I had a project called the camera film database, where you could download one example piece of footage to test in your editing software. It was all free.
Then, you know, nobody bought the sound products. Nobody bought the camera footage database stuff. People were only buying the footage. Ultimately, I actually decided that the other things were a distraction. So even though you could in your mind think, well, but they lead to 20% of the profit. But they take so much time to develop that your time is much better spent focusing on the part that works. So to answer your question about how many landing pages we have, two main landing pages that deal with 80% of our customers. That’s the main landing page and the educational one. The main landing page for the individual segment.
Felix: Individual meaning people that are not from education or institutions?
Misha: Correct. Then we have a separate landing page for each one of our partners. So for example we’re partnered with a company called Avid Technologies, which is a $500 million company, which has 500 schools using their official curriculum, and Edit Stock is used in that curriculum for those 500 schools. So we built a landing page just for them. So if you’re an Avid teacher, you go to Editstock.com/Avid, and there is all the information, very specific to those teachers, including specific offerings for those teachers.
Felix: Got it.
Misha: Yeah, we have a similar thing with another company called The Foundry, where we offer some footage for a tutorial that they’re teaching. But in order to get that footage, you have to sign up for our newsletter. That page only has one spot, just to sign up for our newsletter and that’s it.
Felix: So these landing pages that you’ve created, how does the traffic get to the landing pages?
Misha: Great question. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, I’m certainly working on it, but Edit Stock basically doesn’t advertise. We do pretty well organic traffic wise.
Felix: You have these landing pages set up, and they’re very targeted to a customer type. So how do you make sure that the right customer type actually falls into the right funnel?
Misha: Right. Okay. So for something like Avid, which is this is a, that’s B to B. Whenever you’re doing B to B, you don’t need to worry as much about something like SEO, what you really need to worry about is how does the customer find out from my partner that I exist? So in every single … As soon as a school becomes an Avid certified training school, they get a link in the email that says visit Editstock.com/Avid to download the materials you need and hear about offers. So that is very specific. In terms of the main landing page of Edit Stock for the individual segment, I’ve absolutely used Google Webmaster tools and Google Keyword planner, which is in Ad Words, to make sure that my page is showing up to relevant searches.
I mean, basically, I spent a lot of time, and actually made some investments on SEO. I do not recommend hiring an SEO person. I recommend becoming educated on how SEO works, and becoming diligent about making sure all of your product images have alternate text, making sure that in your product pages on Shopify, when you go down to the bottom of the product page, product building page, that you have included really good headlines and really good descriptions of your links, because you can hire an SEO expert all day long. But if you, as the CEO, don’t … If you don’t know what they’re doing, how can you lead them towards success? You have to understand it yourself, and then later on, I can hire an SEO person and say, reread my product descriptions, check my product descriptions against Google Keyword Planner, and make sure that I’m making smart decisions there. But if you just say go do SEO, then you are just a ripe target for one of the [inaudible] nonsense people who will be contacting you.
Felix: So you mentioned that you partnered with these two companies, Avid Technologies and Black Magic Design to have your product used for training classes. How did you come across these businesses? What is the … How did you begin this relationship?
Misha: Well, in part, I know people who work there personally. I want to say, about entrepreneurship, boy, I had such a good lesson fairly recently about this. So I had a meeting with someone, just a phone call meeting with someone who owned a company that, let’s say, doing $10 million a year in revenue. My company does significantly less than that. Before the phone call, I had read about their background, I had created a document where I just thought about, ahead of the phone call, key points of the phone call that I’d like to have with them. What do I want to get out of the phone call? What do I have to offer them?
Actually, Felix, I did a similar thing before this podcast, because what you do when you do that is you’re showing respect for the person’s time. You’re not wasting their time. You are providing something … You’re bringing value, and you know what you want, because you don’t have too many opportunities to have important phone calls like that. But what really surprised me, and the sort of moral of this story is that the person on the other end of that phone call did the same thing. I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting them to say, who are you again? What’s your company again? What do you guys do?
I think what I realized is that professionalism goes such a long way. All the partners that I’ve worked with, the reason that I’m allowed in the door to talk to them at all is professionalism. You know, you don’t just call a company with hundreds of million dollars in revenue and say, we should partner. I’d love to work with you guys, what can I do? You go to them and say, I have a very specific thing, I want to have a contest, I want to give you guys X, my customers, I want in exchange, you know, your platform, how can we make this work? Right?
You’ve got to bring something of value to them. You don’t just come up to a company and say, oh, please, please, please, because that’s not how … They don’t care about that. Oh please, please, please is worthless. So for Avid, for example, they used to deliver their footage on DVDs in the back of the book. What I told them is I will make this a downloadable process that is instant, and you will not have to pay data transfer fees, my company will take care of that. That, to them, was enough.
Felix: I think one key thing you bring up here is that you’re not coming to them and adding more things to their to do list, giving them more work. You’re trying to see how you can make their job easier, by bringing this kind of value. Even if there are things that you guys need to partner on, you make it very clear what they need to do, what you’ll be doing, to accomplish that. So it makes that yes a lot easier to get to.
Misha: Exactly. Also, have some confidence in yourself, man. They don’t know, when they talk to your company, when you approach it as a professional, they don’t know how big or small you are, they don’t even care. They literally don’t care. They care about what do I want? So just have some confidence in yourself, if you’re that entrepreneur, and you feel like … You’re a new entrepreneur, and you feel like, if I could only get into Bed, Bath, & Beyond, then I’ll be successful, make your plan and call them. You know? Don’t be shy about it.
Felix: Definitely. So you also mentioned that most of the business right now, or a lot of it is B to B, and you want to transition more towards B to C, sell directly to these individuals, which is an interesting challenge, because a lot of times, we have guests on this show that are going the opposite direction. What has that been like? What has is the strategy here to make this transition from B to B over to more B to C model, or at least expanding the B to C model?
Misha: I don’t actually … So just to give you some sort of loose statistics, about 75% of Edit Stocks revenue comes from B to B, from directly from schools. It’s not because there is more of them than there are individual customers, it’s because they place much larger orders, just literally they spend more money. So the reason that I want to … I don’t want to shift to B to C and get rid of my school customers. Actually, I’m focusing on improving both avenues. There is no limit to how well you can know your customer, or how specific a message you can be sending to them. If history has shown us anything, it’s that over the last 10 years, it’s gotten more and more and more refined as you add things like retargeting of ads, or just the … You can get such much granular knowledge of your customers nowadays.
The reason that I want to grow the B to C segment of the company is because there is a lot more of them out there. There are about 20 million editors out there who own editing software, and are editing projects. They might not all be looking for training, but some portion of them is, and there is only 6,000 colleges in the country. So it’s, there is a lot more opportunity, I think, in B to C. So what we’ve been working on lately is actually our very first Google AdWords testing, and we’re placing our introduction video in front of very specific YouTube channels, and we’re doing just five dollar a day mini experiments to hone what works and what doesn’t work, and finding a lot of things that doesn’t work.
Felix: Well, I think because you are so experienced with educational institutions, that this is an interesting topic here about how to do that. What is it like to sell to educational institutions? What do they typically care about that maybe an individual might not care about?
Misha: A school cares about … So for example, very early on, I learned from feedback from schools. What they care about is that there is no swearing, or violence, or adult themes in their movies. That the movies have to be rated P … Sorry, G, or PG–13. That was something that I never considered, especially because most of my movies come from 20 to 35 year old filmmakers who mostly want to push the envelope. Actually, 20 is a little young. They’re mostly like in their 30s. They enjoy pushing the envelope.
So I actually get a lot of submissions where I say, you have great actors, you have great film festival awards, you have great footage, but your total revenue is going to be low because you have a subject matter that isn’t going to sell well to schools. One example of that, we have a movie here called Ashes, which does sell to individuals pretty well. People love it, it’s beautiful. But it’s a horror movie. At one point, somebody shoots themselves in the head with a shotgun, and their head explodes. That’s just like, it’s really cool if you’re just some guy that wants to become an editor. But that’s not really cool if you’re the dean of film studies at Paramount University, you might not want that to share with your class. You know? So yeah, anyway, they have different needs.
Felix: Makes sense. So I want to talk a little bit about scaling up. So you mentioned early on that you are the core of the company, and most of the other people that are working on it are contractors or people that you hired part-time. Talk to us about this, when did you start looking to expand outside of just yourself?
Misha: Not for a long time, and maybe I waited too long, actually. My web designer, like I said, I put that $4,000 into the company, and I just said to myself, from now on, everything that goes into the company has to be from the revenue of the company. That idea is called bootstrapping, but it was something that I just didn’t know what that even was. I was mostly doing it out of fear of the risk of losing money. So actually, for the first, say, maybe six months, I used to mail out, physically mail out, every single months, checks to my filmmakers, and when I did that, I hand wrote on the envelopes their addresses, and my address. My address, specifically, over, and over, and over again, and I refused to buy a $12 stamp with my address on it, because I just said, I will not spend another dollar that this company doesn’t make on its own.
So I’ve had these sort of mini celebrations along the way. Some of the mini celebrations were like I hired a bookkeeper, who now works all the time, and I receive quarterly PNL statements. I don’t know that that was necessary early on, when there were no sales and no expenses, but now that’s absolutely necessary. You know, when you’re spending thousands of dollars a month. I hired an assistant editor. So when I first, my first movies, I only had one or two movies, and I had no customers. So I spent my time preparing the products.
But as now we’ve grown, and now I’m spending my time making quotes, and answering customer questions, and you know, dealing with sort of a more busy day to day, I hire an assistant editor to come in when I have new movies, and prepare the movies for sale. Other people that I hired, not just my web designer, but also a web developer who does more hard core coding. So for example, and this is cool, this is really cool to talk about, if you pick any product on Edit Stock, the number one request that we heard back from customer surveys when we were doing this rebuild was that customers wanted to see the footage first. So this is the equivalent of trying on the clothes before you buy them.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Misha: I hired my web developer to make the view footage button. When you press it, a sort of, a new tab opens up, and you can actually look at all of the footage inside of the product before you buy it. One cool feature we added in is the buy button. So in Shopify you can make a new channel, the channel can be a buy button, which is essentially HTML text that you can embed inside of another website. So now when a customer presses view footage, not only does this new webpage open up, but they can actually buy the product right there using the HTML snippet from my site.
We’ve done a similar thing with other companies that we’ve partnered with. One specifically called Master the Workflow, they teach editing assistant … Sorry, assistant editor training, and we provide the course material for them. So I’ve got a partnership with them where using and embedded buy button, when a customer places an order, I actually receive the order, I fulfill the order, and Master the Workflow, my partner, gets an email, I’ve set them up as if they were a vendor, as if they were providing a hard product item. So they get an email saying what the sale was, who it was to, and then I fulfill the sale, and at the end of the month, I send them a report with what their percentage of the sale is. We split the profits.
Felix: Got it. One thing that I think might be custom on your site that I like a lot is this section called compare edit stock to traditional editing practice footage. It lists Edit Stock, traditional stock, YouTube, online training, freelance client, and then all of these different features that Edit Stock has that other, I guess, methods do not include all of. Where did the idea behind this come from?
Misha: The idea from this came from my second web designer. So I had my first guy, he’s a graphic artist living in Las Angeles, and a close friend of mine. He has rebuilt Edit Stock every single time. We’re on version 4.0. So about every year we massively overhaul everything about the website. Actually, initially when we did this rebuild, we were only going to rebuild the product pages. We were only going to start from sort of the bottom of the funnel, and work backwards.
But it became quickly clear to me, this time I hired a marketing person to help me with the process. So the marketing person came in, we did the surveys, and we realized that the problem … Actually, we also used an analytics company called Hot Jar to record user, visitors, and record heat maps, so we could see, and mouse clicks, so we could see where users … What they were clicking on, what they weren’t clicking on. We were trying to determine where are people falling out of the funnel? So in that process, we came to a pretty good landing page, but I kind of felt like it wasn’t quite right yet.
So I hired a second opinion web designer, and I think we kept about maybe 30% of his ideas. The most important one of them, by far, was this chart. The chart does a good job of answering the question why don’t I use just regular old stock footage? Or why don’t I pull something off of YouTube for free? These are common questions that when people talk about my product on places like Reddit, there is … You might have five people say, oh, we love it. It’s the greatest footage ever. But you’re always going to get one or two people saying, yeah, but you could just rip something off YouTube for free, or yeah, but you could just use traditional stock footage and pay less, or yeah, but you should just go get a job on Craigslist for free, and then you don’t have to pay anything, and you have a real client. Right? So we wanted to lay out for them, for everyone, why Edit Stock really is the best approach. This sort of helps answer all of those questions.
Felix: Yeah, I think any business out there has the same type of questions that their customers are asking. Why should I buy from you? Why shouldn’t I go for a free solution? Why not buy from your competitor? I think something like this really lays it out very clearly, and answers that question for them, that almost makes it no longer an objection.
Felix: So other than these changes that you’ve made to your site, talk to us about how it’s all run. What kind of apps do you use to keep … You mentioned Hot Jar is one of them that you use. Are there any other apps that you rely on to run the business?
Misha: Yes. I do. First of all, Mail Chimp or another newsletter platform is just absolutely essential. I’m going to run through, I’m on my apps page. So I’m just going to run trough some of the apps-
Misha: That I use. These are also very practical. I don’t have any … I’m not going to name any names, but I don’t have any gimmick-y apps. I don’t have any apps that are like, you know, spin the wheel, or sign the, or play the game, or whatever. These are all super practical, needed day to day. Not that I’m poo-pooing the value of those other things. It just, this is my approach. So even though I don’t use it even more, or not very often, the Digital Downloads app. It’s free, it’s built by Shopify, and it was how I delivered all of the footage on my website until I ultimately decided I wanted a more robust solution, because the Digital Downloads apps has some limitation, like it can only do five gigabyte downloads, and some of my downloads are more like 20, 30 gigs.
So I ultimately … But it was great, because it was free. So I used it for a long time. I’ve replaced it with Send Owl. Send Owl is amazing. Send Owl can do subscriptions for you, or it can do multi part downloads. It can track … It can create, if you’re selling software licenses, it can create IDs for those. I use it to deliver … Let’s say a customer buys three movies from me, they’re going to get 20 download links. Now it can all be spread apart on one nice page. Okay, I know that was a lot about Send Owl. I just really like them.
I use an app called Locksmith, which only allows certain users access to certain pages. For, if you think about my B to B customers, for example, Avid, I don’t want every customer in the world to have access to the material that their customers are paying for. So some pages are locked, and the only way to get access to those pages is with a password. So Locksmith makes that possible.
A great app for developers, and this is not for the everyman, this is for if you have a developer, and you need a very specific thing, Medifield’s editor, which is free, allows you to … I’m not going to explain this as well as my developer would, but it allows you to access, I guess, more of the Shopify API. So we used it, for example, we used to have a sound effects library, where you could press play on a sound, and it would play, and you could press download, and it would download. Those sounds needed to be connected to a cloud storage solution. One way to make that possible was to use Medifield’s editor.
We’re using product filter and search, that has become essential to Edit Stock. That was a big part of the rebuild. So I used to have Top Menus that had all my different product categories. So for example, if you wanted a movie that was a horror film, you would go to the genre menu and pick horror film. Then if you wanted a movie that was rated PG–13, you would go to the ratings menu and choose PG–13. But if you wanted a horror movie that was rated PG–13, you couldn’t do that. So Product Filter and Search allows you to do that. It also allowed me to not use a main menu navigation for this purpose. I actually made a menu on the left side of the screen. So that allows me to declutter, take away noise from my funnel, because I don’t want that menu on my landing page. I only want it on the collections page.
Felix: Got it, so this helps customers really narrow down what they’re looking for.
Misha: Exactly. Then finally, sort of the last … Well, I guess I’ll talk about two more apps. I don’t know if this is too many apps to talk about.
Felix: I think the more the better, especially if you can tell us about your experience with it and how it’s helped you with your business.
Misha: Okay. Okay, great. You asked earlier about how do you find those first 100 customers.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Misha: The answer to that question is by installing Pure Chat. Pure Chat is free. You can … I mean, people will use it. So you can literally sit there and just, as you’re working on X, Y, or Z for your company, if a user comes by and they have a question, they’ll ask you. What you’re looking for in their questions is not any one question, it’s a pattern in their questions. If 25 people ask you, is this a multi part download, or is this a one part download? You may think the first customer’s question was a stupid one, but if you heard it 25 times, it’s not them who aren’t being clear, it’s you who is not being clear.
Misha: Pure Chat has been great for us.
Felix: This is like a live chat in the corner of your website?
Misha: That’s right. Sometimes I turn on the chat function, usually I don’t, because it can be a little overwhelming. But I do leave up email us and download us. Email us and download us, I’m sorry. Email us and call us. People do absolutely take advantage of those contacts. That’s especially true if you’re doing the B to B sale. You’re going to convince someone to spend $50 or $20 without a phone call. There is no way you’re going to convince a person to spend $1,000 without a phone call or an email. It just won’t happen.
Felix: They want to talk to a human.
Misha: Yes. Even if they know, 100%, even if you made your landing page as clear as day, they might just call you and just read to you the landing page. This happens to me a lot. They’ll call and they’ll say, okay, so your package deal is any three projects for $1,000, right? I say yes. They say, and students can use this on their demo reel, as it says in the grid? Yes. They can … I can do X, Y, or Z? Yes. Okay, great, we’d like to place an order.
Felix: A big part of it is that as a customer, it’s a lot more palatable to give money to a human than to a faceless website like a machine, essentially. I think just being able to talk to someone allows people to be like, okay, they’re exchanging money with someone that is a real person, on the other end, like you mentioned. Especially as the price points get higher, that expectation to talk to a human gets even more necessary.
Misha: Yes. You’re 100% right. The last app to talk about that I think is worth mentioning. I have others in here, but I’m kind of giving you the ones that are my day to day beasts of burden. Another app that I think is really worth it, and I’ve used it a few times, it used to be called Hey Carson, but now it’s called Store Tasker. You can hire someone for 60 bucks, 50 bucks, I think it’s … Maybe you can do three small projects for $150. You can hire a developer to handle some little thing, like my newsletter is not working, or my … I can’t figure out how to change the menus, how they look, or where they are, or whatever.
Unless you are a developer, every entrepreneur on Shopify is going to run into something, some little thing that they wish they could do. I don’t have a full time in house developer. So generally speaking, from my web developer, I have a task list that I assemble over a period of time, maybe a couple of weeks, and then I say, hey designer, here are the 25 things I want you to do, and then I hire them to work for a week straight. But every now and then, there is one little thing I need to get fixed, and when it’s one little thing, I’d rather just … I just do a little one off whatever. When my designer isn’t available, I just do a little one off thing.
Felix: Got it. All right, so Misha, thank you so much for your time. Editstock.com is a website. Where do you want to see the business go over the next year? What are you focused on?
Misha: I am actually building a second business called Edit Mentor, which is going to be an interactive game that teaches people the creative art of editing, and solves what is now my customer’s biggest question, which is for not just the physical materials, but also the actual curriculum. So I have a super interesting way to do curriculum, and that’s … Yeah, that’s where my business is going.
Felix: Awesome. So is that editmentor.com?
Misha: Editmentor.com. Literally nothing is built for the website, and you’ll notice that you can already sign up to join the beta.
Felix: Nice. Well, definitely following the advice that you gave. Again, thank you so much for your time, Misha. Editstock.com, editmentor.com, coming soon. Thank you so much for coming on.
Misha: Thank you very much.
Felix: Thanks for tuning into another episode of Shopify Masters, the eCommerce podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, powered by Shopify. To get your exclusive 30 day extended trial, visit shopify.com/masters.