JP Brousseau dropped and broke his fair share of phones. Sick of replacements and repairs, he started Phone Loops and designed finger and wrist straps that give users a secure and comfortable grip on their devices.
Despite solving a common problem, having massive media coverage, and being a part of the Oscars VIP gift bags, JP credits project management as the key to Phone Loops’ longterm success.
In today's episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll hear from JP and COO of Phone Loops, Alex Gingras on how project management helped them reach millions in sales.
You really have to start putting things in a mechanized system rather than just playing by ear.
Tune in to learn
- How they appeared on national TV programs, received media coverage, and got to be apart of the Oscars VIP gift bags
- What questions your facebook ads consultant should be asking you
- How to scale a 2,000 influencer marketing program
- Store: Phone Loops
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Zapier, Monday, Quickbooks, Cognito Forms, Langify (Shopify app), Stocky Inventory Management, ShipStation (Shopify app)
Felix: Today I’m joined by JP, the CEO and Alex the COO from Phone Loops. Phone Loops sells finger and wrist straps for smartphones helping users secure a comfortable grip on their devices. And it started in 2014 and it's based at Quebec, Canada and has sold over a few million units. Welcome guys.
JP: Hi Felix. Thanks for having us.
Felix: Cool. So JP. I think you’re the one that had mentioned to me that like many of us, you drop your phones over and over again breaking more than your fair share of screens over the years. And you just decided there has to be a better way to do this and you don’t have to be breaking your phone all the time. So tell us about how you came up with that better way.
JP: Yeah, so after a while the bills have started stacking up and, I realized I wasn’t the only one without issue. I was making sketches and prototyping some solutions. And once I figured out a more simple and efficient way to hold my phone in that prototyping some straps and I’ve been given out to some friends and family. I was getting great feedback about the product and decided to crowdfund it.
Felix: So you said you had many ideas were they all around the idea of this kind of loop around your phone or were they other potential solutions for that problem or are you talking about ideas for completely different problems and completely different industries?
JP: Oh yeah, for sure. People don’t realize, but I know sometimes to get myself that it took a thousand ideas to get to this point. Years and years of trying and prototyping, thinking about a solution to common problems and spending lots of money on bad ideas.
Felix: Yeah, I think this is a very common process that entrepreneurs go through, which is that they have ideas, they try it out. And this one obviously stuck and has led to a lot of success for you. What do you think about this particular idea, this particular problem that you’re trying to solve? What made this one successful? And the other one’s not.
JP: For sure the investment side of it wasn’t rocket science. So when Kickstarter and Shopify came around, the timing was right. I decided to run a Kickstarter campaign, and it all started with a wrist strap actually, like you’re fine on ski poles and putting shoot cameras. Then a few months later we introduced the grip strap that we used to call the Ninja loop that allows a better grip. One edged grip on your device. And that was a home run.
Alex: So yeah, it’s basically a self-adhesive strap that fits around the vast majority of phone cases. We soon rebranded the product as a phone grip strap for SEO purposes of course.
Felix: Got It. So, but what made you take this idea further? Because set up a crowdfunding campaign. Everyone that I’ve spoken to has done this, it is not easy, right? It’s not like you just put something up, and you expect money to roll in. You have to invest a lot of time and putting out the page and kind of telling your story. There is certainly an investment of your time and potentially money to build up the stories, the photos, the videos and everything like that. So what made you decide that you’re going to take… And you mentioned that Ninja strap. What made you decide to take that particular product to the market, to the crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter rather than some other idea that you had in the past. And what about this one? Did you say that this one has the best shot?
Alex: Okay. I’ll take this one, Felix. So basically everybody has a smartphone now and everybody’s looking for safety. Everybody’s looking for ways of protecting their investment because fixing smartphone costs so much. And there are a lot of solutions that have been coming out and we’re lucky enough to get into the game early with regards to the phone grip business. And because there’s such an intricate part of our daily lives, we interact with them over a hundred times a day. It’s everybody’s experienced some kind of accident with them dropping them in water, dropping them on the ground and so it was an idea whose time had come.
JP: So yeah, everyone can afford and benefit from a better grip strap considering you are getting a hold of your phone over a hundred times per day on average. And that’s true replacement costs hundreds of dollars and bold investment in a phone loop is pretty much a no brainer. So there was a great fit, with a great market fit, great timing, people five years ago started to get more and more phone cases. Sound like 10 years ago where you had some people with no cases. So the timing was right. And that’s why we decided to go ahead with the startup.
Felix: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of other successful entrepreneurs will say that the best products to bring to market to an event are products that you are surprised or feel like should already exist. So selling this was one for you guys where there was… Everyone was facing this problem. And people, their hands, their phones are slipping out their hands. Why isn’t there something out there, five years ago that is why something out there that helps prevent some of this? So you mentioned, JP you mentioned to me before the interview about phone loops was a one giant project management exercise where you’re learning improving and mastering and the art is key. The Art of project management is key suits of surviving in a startup of an eCommerce, in the eCommerce environment. And I’m sure the crowdfunding process was very, a big part of this. Tell us about that. What kind of project management experience that you guys have at the company before launching this business?
JP: Yeah, well for sure. The Shopify store is, of course, the backbone of all of our retail side. It’s simply the best online tool out there. Zeep serves as our digital conduct sort of say. As for project management in broadway, one of my greatest finds is the project management tool now called monday.com. I’ve been on the lookout for something like it for years and I was really glad to find it. So yeah it’s a slick and flexible solution for managing almost everything. And there’s a new automation feature that allows us to streamline some workflows, that allows our team to know what tasks need to be carried out and it offers threads into a report and discusses possible issues since the deadlines reminder and, all sorts of things. And yeah, with some as Zapier integration also. It makes a great project management tool that I think it’s my engineering background that just helped with that side of the business. Because Indiana, it’s just a big project to manage.
Felix: All right. Very, very logical and kind of process-driven approach to solving a problem. Did you before you found monday.com or any other kind of project management software, what were you just doing? Like were you guys, like just using spreadsheets or just kind of kept it all in your head? Like how did you guys kind of put this all together before you found a tool like monday.com?
JP: Oh, well we tried lots of solutions and in house systems, task, email structures what we probably used before that. I have run through so many tools and apps till we … Because the best project management tool is the one you use and that works for you. So it takes a few months to see if it fits the bill. If it fits a team. If everyone adopting it and can’t remember all the other solutions we try out there. But in my opinion, you just have to be patient about it and try some solutions until you find the one that’s right for you. And monday.com is pretty flexible, so you can …We get the way you want it to work for you. And it’s been such a relief.
Felix: Right. I did this concept of premature optimization where a lot of entrepreneurs are kind of get stuck in this early phase of, I have to pick the best app for everything from here all the way to my path, all the way on my path to success. Otherwise, if I don’t know what it is, I can’t get started. So is it ever too early to pick up potentially heavyweight? I guess the solution for project management right off the bat. You already think, you always just start off with some kind of tool to manage the entire project from the beginning?
JP: What do you mean, if it’s better to start small and to… Because I know-
JP: That is, it’s a paid solution. Monday.com is a paid solution. I think it’s great advertising for a monday.com.
Felix: Yeah, I guess the idea is like, if you were to… If let’s say someone out there, once it gets started, they want to get started down a path of creating their own product, maybe launching it on Kickstarter or something. Do they need a tool like this to manage the process or can you start off sooner rather than, because you’re learning a new tool? You get everybody on board.
Alex: Yeah. And I had some background also in that field, so that helped a lot setting up the workflows and processes and automate things. But I can imagine for someone that starts from scratch, it’s very hard to structure such a project management tool. But at first, you don’t have to go all-in with robust and big solutions. I like to keep it clean and simple, and you can go really far with just emails. Just keep it clean, don’t spread around with all of these other apps. And because soon enough, you realize that, okay you’re chatting on slack, messenger, SMS emails. You’re calling each other. And so you have to just find a way that your team is working in one place, and it can be just emails and just to keep it clean, keep it simple. And emails are basically free. So that’s my recommendation I guess.
Felix: Right. I think that’s a good point about how tools should help you move faster and not to slug you down. So I think in your case it makes sense as your point, did you guys have to go through that where you’re like, “Okay, now is the right time for us to bring in a more specialized tool for project management.” What did you guys come to that realization?
JP: When the task list is too long and when you can’t keep up with the projects. You can’t get the ball rolling with some emails. That’s okay, but if one doesn’t reply or if a client doesn’t reply, you have to ensure some followups to all of these projects and tasks. So that’s when we knew we needed something that we could rely on and go back and see what’s the status of that project, what has been done, play with the deadlines and just get the ball rolling 15 minutes at a time, just get it rolling, pass it to another team member and don’t wait about for an email return or just forgetting about things. So that was a kind of a wake-up call.
Alex: And I just wanted to add also that I think a lot of early on in the business, a lot of it wasn’t your head JP. I mean you had everything in your head. And so as more and more team members started getting on board, there were more and more projects and we have to keep track of everything and made sure everybody sort of knew where everything was at. And so that’s when you really have to start putting things in a sort of mechanized system rather than just played by ear or just follow up with sort of simple methods.
Felix: Right. So I’m looking at the site now. So we mentioned that there were a couple of products, you have the grip strap and a wrist strap and a bunch of different designs and colors to reach one of those. So when you talk about the project, are you talking about launching it in a new product? Like what encompasses a project that requires you to kind of manage everything through a tool like monday.com.
JP: Oh, we have that. For example, we all have our editorial calendar is managed through that tool. All of our ads are created within that tool. So a visuals copy targeting, and so our content creators just create some stuff there, passes through our consultant who’s like more on the technical side, just build the ads within the Facebook ads and Google ads platforms. So that’s one, they are working by with boards. So that’s one board, that’s one aspect. We use it at CRM for some of our corporate clients because we do lots of custom branded loops for companies like Disney, Netflix, Airbnb, and just want to drop the ball on these orders. So we use, we have another board for that hacked as CRM to do some followup on trackings and everything, invoices.
JP: We have another board, which is called processes. All the processes in the business, all the workflows are mapped there. So we can monitor which workflows, which processes are not as healthy as they should be, who’s in charge of them. So we can act pretty quickly if for instance, some outreach pass doesn’t work or if a specific workflow is in need of attention. We have another one that’s just an agenda where we can tackle each week some of our big topics. There is a pipeline with the other, the major projects with a schedule. And so it can pretty much be anything you want and you just understand your needs and try to map them with baby steps and yeah, manage a big project.
Felix: My workflow is definitely less, simpler than yours, so I don’t use a pick tool like monday.com. But I just use something simple one, like Trello for example. I think one of the difficulties that I have and maybe other listeners might have is when you do bring on a new freelancer or a new employee is get them onboarded onto your process. And especially when you’re just [inaudible] or it’s your kid that everything is inside a large tool. How do you do this? Or how do you make sure someone is onboarded? They know where they kind of had to step into, see what they had to pick up, where they have to kind of ask someone else to do their part. How do you get them integrated into the process?
JP: So you just make sure they understand where to fit in a certain workflow. So it’s very structure. There’s no, and that’s through the-
Alex: There’s no uncertainty.
JP: Yeah, there’s no uncertainty about like, what they have to do and when did they have to do it? So if we take the editorial calendar example, we would just flip a switch. When the content is made, we just always change the status. And when the status has changed, it just adjusts who’s in charge of that task. So the next one is our consultant, and when the consultant has set up the ad, it switches back to, okay it’s ready to roll. And then our content creator can go and take that task and go validate and approve the content, so the copywriting. So if everything is in place, then she just switches it back to another status that you just go ahead and post.
JP: And so that has it to just jump in right into the correct inbox. So just to have the little bits of tasks followed by each other and get the ball rolling. So everyone has a responsibility in workflows and they are all visual, in maps and all clear.
Alex: And basically, it’s fairly, what I appreciate about JP is that his workflow is very straightforward and once you get the hang of it really there’s hardly any issue. So it’s once you do it for about two, three weeks, one month you serve to know the ins and outs of things and it’s sort of overall very similar.
Felix: You use a process like this, this kind of project management process for the crowdfunding campaign?
JP: Not that advanced. Not really, but I guess my engineering background has always been following me. So I’m always thinking in systems and processes. But we didn’t have a tool like that. It was more hectic.
Felix: That makes sense. So let’s talk about the crowdfunding campaign. Was this the very first time that you are able to truly validate that people were willing to pay for a solution like this?
JP: Sure. We set it out a goal of a pretty low goal of $4,000, I just wanted to win. We just wanted to get funded. So we ended up having about $6,000 of pledges and a fun fact, Alex was the first pledger, and the last one to close the campaign. We started with a local awareness radio, paper.
Alex: Yeah, word of mouth spread. The Ottawa Metro area is a fairly small place and everybody’s two degrees away from each other. And so the focus was really around there and it sort of spread from there basically.
JP: Well, shout out to Rick Broida from CNET.com who has been a great fan of our products from the start. He’s publishing great posts about phone loops year after year, even after the Kickstarter campaign. He felt in love with the product and yeah, he deserves a lot of credit for getting the word out about loops, especially in the US market.
Felix: Got It. So after the success of the Kickstarter campaign, what was the next thing, how did you guys start to build this thing into an actual business?
JP: So we started to reach out to some outlets and some reach out to us as a product awareness grew. It started locally, then province-wide, radios, papers in Quebec. And we were very soon featured in Vouge, Wired, Money, NBC, CBS, and CBC in Canada. We had that like notorious, kind of getting some notorious press and then started to run Facebook, Instagram, Google ads, understanding the ins and out of these platforms before hiring consultants. And yeah, we also did some great stock marketing gigs sort of say. So we ended out in 2016 some custom branded loops for the Oscars in the VIP bags, the VIP gift bags and it made for some great press back here in our home province, which was our first big a hit in terms of product awareness and acceptance.
JP: Later on in 2017 we were featured on the French Canadian version of Shark Tank and we were offered a deal that, 15, 20 minutes of airtime plus a double our sales figures again for that year. Ever since we’ve gotten pretty good with influencer and marketing also we have over a thousand active influencers out there onboard, still growing with our in house systems. We’re getting sold, all the marketing and retargeting machine is working well and we just keep going with what we know was working.
Felix: Yeah. You’ve mentioned a bunch of marketing channels. Not understand why project management is so important to you guys because there are so many different ways that you are able to drive new customers. So let’s talk about some of them. So you mentioned that your feature and all of these sources, these publications, was that all organic or did you do outreach to get published in those places?
Alex: It was 50- 50. I mean, I’m saying 50-50, I’m not sure of the proportion, but some of them we reached out to, some of them reached out to us basically. For instance, the Dragon’s Den, we auditioned for that. And so that was our own marketing effort. And as the person who operates the custom loops side of things, have a lot of companies that reach out to me and ask to have their, to have custom loops made, for instance, Amex, Disney, Netflix and Airbnb. And often when I asked him about how they heard about Phone Loops because we want to know which marketing channel works is basically, we have a colleague in the office who has a Phone Loop? Some of basically, the best marketing is the loop of themselves. So you can ask for a better marketing tool.
Felix: Yeah, I’ve heard that too. About how if you want to kind of expand your B to B, your corporate client base, the best way is to have a great marketing and have great word of mouth from your irregular kind of B to C customers because they’re the ones that are going to be making the decisions or at least talking to people that might be making these decisions. So that’s another great point for that. So when you are reaching out to them, what’s your pitch? Like how do you position the company? Like what, how do you position in a way where they think that it’s worth telling your story?
JP: With regard to a corporate client said, it's an easy pitch. I mean people are getting tired of the hats and pens, shirts. It’s just okay that it did as well, they’re still the most popular swag items in the industry. But when you come up with something very affordable and seamless that fits in your pocket without any bulkiness added that it’s a win for the ones who are using it. And the brands that put their logos on it.
JP: And I mean it’s the greatest marketing tool. You can have the proximity with the user and the brand is, it couldn’t be much better. As I said, you pick your phone a hundred times per day. So everyone can benefit from the loop. It’s a one size, fits all. My solution everyone has a smartphone nowadays and so that’s basically the pitch. It’s probably one of the most affordable swag you can get for your brand. So it’s trendy, it’s a new thing-
Alex: And it’s subtle enough too.
JP: Yeah. So it shows a lot about the companies that just go ahead with new swag like that, giveaways. That’s a bit big hit in any kind of trade shows, festivals, and even fundraisers and all sorts of events.
Felix: What about from the PR perspective when you’re pitching to them to get them to feature you guys? What’s the best angle?
JP: Basically, what’s the angle? What do you mean by the angle? How do we approach them?
Felix: Yeah, how do you approach them and what are you telling them? Because when you… And I’m sure they’re getting people pitching them all the time to feature different products, what do you try to say? So that you stand now and that they decide to cover you in these publications?
JP: Yeah, so our approach is pretty lean and we have some… And we’re making some great mockups, out of our system is a very automated also. So clients keep getting, giving us some great feedback about how we work with them, how the relationship is built. So we first sent out some samples, we showed them a mock-up with their logo on it. It’s very neat, very clean, it’s very good looking. And there’s a quote also attached to that email.
JP: So everything is there, they can pass it out at the office. They can print it out, they can show it to their teams. And Alex is doing a great job with nurturing these relationships. And after that on the operational side, if I can say it’s also very much automated with Zapier and QuickBooks. So all the invoice side of it is automated. The shipping is… We deliver on time, it’s pretty.
Felix: I got it, right.
JP: It’s a very nice experience in regards to some other experiences you can get in the promotional industry, which is quite an old industry.
Felix: As you’re saying, so you guys are able to scale up this process very very quickly because you have everything integrated. And so is this the same, I have to make sure I get the question there. So is this the same, when you want to get covered in the magazine or online for example, are you doing the same thing where you’re like putting their logo or something or branded for them on the Phone Loops, so that they are, so it catches their attention? Is that what you do to catch the attention of websites that might want to cover you?
JP: Oh, no, not really. For CNET.com for instance, we did. And we did some custom loops for them and, some of their bloggers. But not really, we sent some samples, we send a few samples for their team and they try it out. And most of the time they come back with a love letter and they said, “Oh, wow, this is… I can live with that anymore. We want more loops for the team.” And then yeah, it can translate into an article, some press. So we have that advantage our product is very much affordable, so we can capitalize on the sampling side of outreach and sales pitching.
Felix: Got It. So Dragon’s Den, so you’d mentioned that after being on the show, it doubled the sales figures for that year. That’s pretty amazing and kind of scary that sometimes it just takes like one of these opportunities to really blow up your business. So talk to us about that. How did you guys get on that show?
JP: Oh, we applied.
Alex: We auditioned.
JP: We auditioned yeah. We auditioned, and we were looking for a strategic investor and some good press also, good visibility. It was a very long process actually, and quite scary at first. Our first TV experience and our first pitch experience also. We put a lot of time in preparing a perfect pitch and a practiced. Alex was a big coach in that regard, with his PR background. I guess, yeah, it went really well. We ended up with a deal on TV and, it didn’t follow through with the technicality after that with, in regards to making a deal.
Alex: Yeah, it basically created a new normal after that. That was really the sort of point where we crossed a threshold and sort of awareness and acceptance in Quebec. It was just like, it went to a completely other level and it’s stayed there. Ever since then things have been… People are very familiar with our product and in the province of Quebec and that sort of helps to get the word out both on the retail and custom side.
JP: And to get back to the question, we were just filled out the application. Then we got to choose after one or two auditions I guess.
Felix: What do you think made them choose you? And what do you think, if you were to do it all over again or to coach someone through this process, are there certain things that you would mention to people to highlight, that makes it more likely for you to be featured on a show like this?
JP: Sure. So the main thing you have to understand, it’s a TV show. So they are looking for a show. They’re looking for some… My initial line was dropping my phone on the floor, so I was talking about, hi I’m JP, from phoneloops.com and I’m dropping my phone as I speak, so that to surprise all the dragons and made some kind of a show. We made the clip, the ad clip. The preview-
Alex: Yeah, the preview.
JP: Yeah the TV preview, commercial preview. So they are looking for a great performance-
JP: Entertainment and all the business side of it is the hold other the thing, it’s not what people think about what it should be, I guess. But we can understand the investors' side also where there’s a lot going on and not every deal can be landed. But most of all it’s a TV show. So you just focus on giving your right performance, something that you would like to see on TV. And that’s about it. What you give us, you give yourself some chance to get picked.
Felix: All right. So you mentioned this is now a new baseline for you guys in terms of sales and just acceptance and credibility for your business. So what did you have to change in your business today to support this now that the baseline is a potentially, two times greater than what it was before?
JP: Oh, lots of things. At that point, we knew, we had a… I like the analogy of a car. So we drove our car from Ottawa to Montreal or Ottawa to New York, but like, it was shaking. We were working very hard to fulfill all of the orders and customer relationships and getting on top of things. And so that’s why we sat down and said, “Okay, all right, are we changing the car or are we just putting upgrades and new features,” And what do we need to fix to sustain that volume and still deliver quality and maintain our reputation. So lots of changes and monday.com sure helped. Again, shout out.
JP: But you just have to… Yeah, we hired more people. My brother came in, my wife was working also with us and Alex is actually my childhood friend. So more and more and more people coming in, more consultants.
Alex: I just wanted to add. It was important to get the right team, with the right knowledge and just keep it streamlined. Like not do, what do we call a Bozo explosion and just keep it very, very focused to capitalize on the momentum and go on from there, we grow together, get the right team, get the right tools and carried away forward.
Felix: Got it, it makes sense. So I want to talk now about the Oscars VIP gift bags. So this is a pretty big win too, for that credibility and getting it into the hands of lots of potentially massive influencers. How did you get involved in this kind of program?
JP: That’s pretty funny. They reach out to us. I received an email late 2015, it was like a senior producer of the Academy Awards and it was… I thought it was a scam. So didn't reply, waited a few weeks, got another email. So they were proposing us to set up a booth and getting some activation on the ground there. And yeah after thinking about it, it was about a $20,000 investment from our side. So that would never happen. We just pivot and proposed them to make some custom loops for the gift bags. And that’s when they went crazy about it, they said really, you can do that, oh for sure we can do that. And we ended up sending I think 500 custom loops for the event and it did more whiplash, more press back here in Canada, in Quebec actually. And so yeah, that’s an opportunity that happens just because we are out there. We started our project, we were committed to it and just working hard. And was just an act of God, I guess, getting reached out by such an amazing academy.
Felix: Right. It sounds like basically years of effort that you put in to really to get this opportunity at all. You had to be out there, be exposed and be doing business before someone will come along and give you this opportunity. So certainly not just all luck that’s involved here. So you also mentioned that Facebook and Google ads that you have now hired consultants for, but at first you wanted to do yourselves and learn it yourself before hiring outside help. Talk to us about this. Like why was that important to you?
JP: I like to understand what’s the technicality of things, the details and how things work before hiring someone. So I can speak the same language and understand the limits and constraints of any kind of platform. So testing the grounds, what’s working, what’s not working, and yeah, I understand what a consultant needs to know and what I need to know. So we set out some limits with a CPA.
Felix: So basically you have some goals like these cost per acquisition goals.
JP: Cost per acquisition is all about that. We set limits and we create new content like every week, every day. And we know what’s the requirements of, for example, Facebook Ad Manager and all these platforms. So we were not like in the dark and throwing money at consultants that just do things that, yeah we don’t understand, I guess.
Felix: Yeah. So say more about this. You mentioned that you wanted to understand what the consultant needs from you and then you also want to understand the deliverables and what you can expect from them. So first, starting off with what the consultant needs from you, what are certain things that a good consultant should ask for from a business owner like yourself?
JP: Oh, CPA for sure, budgets. There’s the tone also, the vibe, the taste of the brand. You have to communicate that. So to ensure consistency in the brand. And so that’s an ongoing work and ongoing thing with the consultant. But yeah, you sure need to understand what you’re all about and what’s your goal? But also I like to hear from them, for instance, our consultant is always keeping up to date with the new things. So listening to podcasts, reading things about the ever-changing algorithms and all sorts of things. So we need that from them. We need them to be the watchdog for our campaigns and performances and, he needs to communicate that. So we have like biweekly meetings with them and we keep it tight.
Felix: Got It. What about the other way? What do you expect to get back from them? And is it like a report or something that you’re getting weekly, or what kind of information do you want to get back from them on a recurring basis?
JP: Oh, one of the great finds is video reviews. That’s a great thing, so each month we receive a quick, like it can be 10 minutes review, a screen share a recording of the consultant with all the dashboards open and it gets through all the campaigns, all the metrics. So you don’t have to jump on a call. For instance, our consultant is a digital nomad. So we were not under the same time zone and is just sending out a report, video recording of our Instagram and Facebook and Google ad platform. So that’s a good form. So each month we get that. We can have a look and stay close to all of our campaigns.
Felix: And you mentioned, when it comes to influencer marketing, you guys have a thousand active influencers in your marketing program. How did this happen? How do you get a thousand people promoting your content for your good products?
JP: Soon 2000 ads, it’s going pretty well. Vivian is working with us with reaching out to potential influencers. It’s really scaling the unscalable, and entertaining relationships. And it’s a very human way. It’s not like some kind of hacky and a generic approach. So she builds a relationship with the people that we want to work with. We are sending them some samples. They like it, they promote a story or post.
JP: So we get lots of new content all the time with different people, different like environments and all sorts of vibes. So it’s pretty straightforward, you just contact them, you propose you have a little pitch where you propose some samples and, we take it from there and it’s all automated in the background on when we can. We have an interested influencer. It just gets through that automated processes of the sampling, the email, the followups and so we can scale up. It’s all linked with that, some other tools I guess. So that’s what we do, that’s how we do it.
Felix: And to wrap this all up, I want to mention something that you had quoted to me, which was that for you guys, success has never been around one specific marketing strategy or one shady growth hacking shortcut. But most important was that consistency and you mentioned leadership and your management abilities. So let’s start off with consistency. What does that mean to you?
JP: Wow. What a great question. How can I answer that?
Alex: You can take a few seconds to think about it.
JP: Yeah. I love that you mentioned leadership, it’s all about leadership and maybe I can take a little time to think about it, Felix.
JP: Or ask the question in a different way.
Felix: Yeah. I think here’s a better way to ask, for me to ask it is, what’s an example of something that you have made sure to stay consistent in that you’d think has had a big impact on your success?
JP: Having kids? I’d always say it sounds funny, but it’s very structuring. At one point I realized that I cannot work 60, 80 hours a week. So, the amount of time you can work on your business is limited, so you better make the most out of it and be efficient. So yeah, I guess it’s all about efficiency and structuring your week, your days.
Alex: And also if I can say, one more thing that’s really, really important to us is quality customer service. Like you got to be on the customer’s side in a reasonable way, but you got to, most people who come and buy from you are in good faith. And if a package is lost and you get on the ball, you set things up and you make things work and you make sure that people are taken care of. And if you take care of people, they’ll take care of you. And it’s a mutual like, you’re helping them with their brand or their mobile lifestyle and they’ll help you build your brand. And it’s really like a natural mutual relationship from the retail side to the customs side and ensuring consistency as in like we always give her 200% and make sure that our clients are happy that things are taken care of and that any issues are addressed quickly.
Felix: So you mentioned, as well about the apps and services that you use. Are there any customer, CRM software that you use to help manage all of this?
JP: It does a lot, is about 200 online accounts. Lots of them are linked together, but it’s quite crazy.
Felix: Do you get 200 accounts that you use… 200 tools that you use for the business.
JP: Yeah. I listed them at one point, and it was, think about it, all the shipping accounts, … You have Shopify, you have QuickBooks, Google Suite. You have your hosting, you have… I’m sure every business is the same. You just list all the accounts that you have. It’s over a hundred for sure. And my favorite one is Zapier. We use Cognito Forms for onboarding new influencers and, corporate clients. We have… It’s endless. We have Langify because we have lots of French clients.
JP: So we must have a bilingual website, which is great. The tools are the tools are the apps. We have a page builder in Shopify. So we can have a very neat sales page, mobile-friendly because it takes more than 80% of our visitors are on mobile, which is astonishing. I can wrap my head around that, but yeah, all these little accounts, our single accounts and to that in the end.
Felix: Yeah, it makes sense. So I want to leave you with this last question. What would you say was the biggest lesson you learned in the past 12 months that you guys are making sure to apply today?
JP: Yeah, time management and energy management. Filtering the noise, keep focused and gain momentum, it's all related. It's all the same for every business. The more you gain traction, you start to get more and more cold calls and sales pitches by numerous agencies, freelancers, and potential partners and whatnot. All claiming to make an offer you can't refuse, it's easy to get caught up in the name dropping hype. Quick gain and "what if it works" mindset and take on risk. Even when your gut feeling says otherwise. Especially in the startup phase. Being a little naive, I guess. One good example, we were involved with a marketing campaign with a Shark from Shark Tank and it was one of our biggest financial losses. We have numerous stories about things going bad. Bad collaboration and all sorts of things. As a result, we analyzed all the things that went wrong, we actually came up with our own red flag system. Alex and I sat down and looked at all the things that went wrong over the past few months, found all the patterns and that turned into a trigger list where we could avoid getting caught in bad situations with disrupting people and bad businesses.
JP: It was kind of mapping our gut feeling. I don’t know if you understand, so it precious sales, generic outreach, unclear plan, too good to be true plans. So we’ve learned to listen to our instincts ever since. And 95% of the time we’ve been right. It’s really something that can make or break a business. So yeah, that’s one of our biggest learnings.
Felix: I like that. The idea of mapping your intuition so that you can kind of logically look at it rather than making emotional decisions. I think that’s, I’ve never heard someone talking about like that, but I can see how valuable that is, especially when you are starting to get overwhelmed by all these, “New opportunities.” So I think that that’s a great lesson to learn and to leave us with. So phoneloops.com is the website. And thank you so much JP, and Alex. Thank you for coming on and sharing your experience.
JP: Thanks, Felix.
Alex: Thank you.