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Small Biz Buzz—134—Ernest Saco—Automation, Growth, and Serial Entrepreneurship

Ernest Saco isn’t just a Sr. Product Manager at Keap, he’s also a bonafide business creator and serial entrepreneur. He’s built a career on understanding problems and developing solutions for both end users and his internal stakeholders. As such, his story is one many fellow entrepreneurs can relate to - he’s a visionary.

But starting and growing multiple businesses is not easy. Fortunately, the very product Ernest helped build and optimize was the solution to his chaos. Keap gave him the power to streamline the leads, improve communications, and deliver emails all in one place. In short, it gave him the power to be a visionary and launch multiple businesses.

One of the reasons Keap is so powerful is the power of automation it brings to businesses. Automation isn’t just about the low hanging fruit opportunities, it’s finding touch points throughout your business that can be automated to save you time and money, but also provide a better customer experience.

“The amount of emails I had to respond to, I kid you not, fell 80% just by doing that [automating].”

Click the play button now and hear first hand how growth, automation, and life as a serial entrepreneur can revolutionize your approach.



Transcript:

Speaker 1 (00:05):

What is Big Grit? Starting October 19th, Keap will begin a new documentary series devoted to the struggles, adaptation and triumph a business owners like you, and how they've been able to thrive amid absolute chaos. Join us for a raw and unflinching look at what Big Grit means, if you have it, and how to find it when you need it most. Visit keap.com/big-grit. That's keap.com/big-grit. Subscribe to get updates on new episodes as they release. As a business owner, you know it takes something extra to succeed. See the stories of entrepreneurs that exemplified Big Grit. Visit keap.com/big-grit.

Speaker 1 (00:50):

See how people like you have found growth by filtering out the chaos. Once again, that's keap.com/big-grit. See for yourself how greedy entrepreneurs always make a way.

Dusey (01:01):

Okay. I'll kick it off and we'll go from there. Everybody ready?

Ernest Saco (01:20):

Yep.

Laura Dolan (01:20):

Ready.

Dusey (01:21):

Okay. Hello everybody. This is Dusey, and welcome to Small Biz Buzz. I did those in the wrong order because now Laura is supposed to say, "This is Laura."

Laura Dolan (01:35):

Hello there. This is Laura Dolan. Thanks, Dusey, how's it going?

Dusey (01:39):

Smooth intro ever. Today we are joined by Ernest Saco. Hey Ernest, how's it going?

Ernest Saco (01:48):

Hey, I'm doing great. How are you?

Dusey (01:51):

Doing well?

Laura Dolan (01:51):

Doing great.

Ernest Saco (01:51):

Thanks for having me.

Laura Dolan (01:53):

Thanks for joining us.

Dusey (01:54):

And Ernest helps make Keap. And I say, make Keap in terms of making the software and, I don't know, you describe better. I sound like an idiot. Ernest makes Keap.

Ernest Saco (02:05):

No. I like the way you described it, it almost made me sound like a baker, like I'm in my kitchen, sprinkling ingredients, and then just cook it for 350 at 45 minutes and you've got Keap. I'm a product manager here at Keap, and what that means is, I feel like I have the best job, I get to work with our customers and really understand them and their needs and other small business owners that may or may not be customers of ours. I get to work with software engineers and designers, and really figure out, what problems are there that our customers need solving or other small business owners that fit the space? And how do we come up with ideas on what those solutions should be?

Ernest Saco (02:53):

Go out and test those solutions, and then once we find a winner, actually put them in the product so we can solve those problems really well for our customers and make our app better every single day.

Dusey (03:03):

That's awesome. There's a lot about that that we may get into that I would love to hear about that, but that's actually not the number one reason that we brought you on here to talk about ourselves. But Ernest also run his own small businesses, I think multiple times you've spent up a couple of, more than a couple of different things, I think, right Ernest?

Ernest Saco (03:25):

Yeah. That's right. So I've always had the entrepreneurial itch, that's what made Keap so attractive when I started working here, it's been over six years now. One thing that's really awesome is having had the chance to work with so many small business owners. I started out helping them implement the software as a coach, you get to know what makes businesses tick and it makes that itch itchier, so to speak.

Dusey (04:01):

We have a cycle of people, come work for Keap, they see really cool businesses do things, they get inspired, and then they leave to go do their own thing. It's a little bit of a problem.

Laura Dolan (04:11):

It's a good problem, but it is a problem.

Dusey (04:14):

It is.

Ernest Saco (04:15):

And one thing that I really love and respect about Keap is just their entrepreneurship is so close to the chest here that they actually encourage their employees to be entrepreneurial themselves. So yeah, I've started multiple businesses, or side hustles, or whatever you want to call them since joining Keap. One of the ones that we stuck with the longest was a t-shirt business, actually, it was called Mom Shirt Co., it was momshirt.com, and it was my wife and I. We just sat on our couch one night and we were watching an episode of the Bachelor, for those of you that have watched it, it's back on.

Laura Dolan (04:59):

Yes, it is. Clare Crawley season.

Ernest Saco (05:02):

Yeah. We can talk about that.

Laura Dolan (05:06):

I'm sorry, I throw you off. I'm sorry.

Ernest Saco (05:11):

So we were watching an episode and there was a contestant on there who wasn't a mother, and she said a phrase, she said, "Being a mom is my jam." And my wife tweeted and said, "I'll be right back printing, being a mom is my jam shirt." Well, that contestant saw the tweet and she favorited it. And then people started responding and they said, "Wait, I want one. I want one. I want one." And a friend of ours who owns a screen printing business just in our city here, he saw what was going on and he said, "if you guys decide to do this, I'll print them for you." So that night I bought momshirt.com. It's like there was finally something to scratch the edge. I bought momshirt.com, I built a website out, I connected Keap to it.

Ernest Saco (06:04):

It's actually Infusionsoft that I connected to it. And we had everything ready to go except for the actual product itself. So a couple of days went by and they printed a sample for us. We picked it up, put it on my wife, a friend of ours came over with a nice camera, we took a photo, and less than 48 hours, we went from idea to launch.

Laura Dolan (06:27):

That's one of the best origin stories I've ever heard.

Ernest Saco (06:32):

It gets better. My wife printed, "We're live," with a link to our website. And the contestant, the original contestant saw it and retweeted it. And we did $1,000 in sales in our first 24 hours. We had a launch share.

Laura Dolan (06:47):

Unbelievable.

Ernest Saco (06:47):

Yeah. It was like winning the lottery. It was actually my birthday. I was going to say, "it felt like my birthday." It was actually my birthday. So we're at my birthday dinner, just hearing the chain over and over again in the Shopify app. It was awesome.

Dusey (07:01):

Oh my gosh. It's so good.

Laura Dolan (07:04):

That's awesome.

Ernest Saco (07:05):

It was awesome. And we used Infusionsoft and Shopify combined for that, and we actually have, I don't know if you know this, but we actually ended up selling the business in March of this year. So that was fun to start that business, grow it, and then got to the point where we wanted to transition and do other things. And we were able to reach out to our customer base using Infusionsoft and have some folks fill out an application and found a buyer. So it all ended up working out really well.

Dusey (07:42):

A little side step before we dig in more here, but what's the favorite shirt you guys came up with? Is it that first one sale or was there one that just you love that you came up with?

Ernest Saco (07:53):

Ones that I loved or just like, what was the most popular?

Dusey (07:56):

Yeah. Just one was your favorite. Yeah. What did you like? What was the one you were most proud of?

Ernest Saco (08:03):

There's a couple of that pop in my head, one of them was, count blessings, not calories, and it just had like images of food all around it. So I thought it sounded cool. There's one that said nap club and it almost looked like a patch. So nap club was in cursive across the side and over the top it was like official members seen just after lunch. That was funny. So those were fun. You know what's funny is, one of the designs that I came up with, you know how there's Tommy jeans, Tommy Hilfiger?

Laura Dolan (08:40):

Yeah.

Dusey (08:41):

Yeah.

Ernest Saco (08:42):

So I came up with Mommy jeans and I kid you not, Tommy Hilfiger's People reached out to us and they told us to take it down.

Laura Dolan (08:51):

Oh, no. Did you guys cease and desist?

Ernest Saco (08:55):

Yes. Were this small cry, like this [inaudible 00:08:57] packaging shirts out of our garage company and Tommy Hilfiger's legal team comes to mind.

Dusey (09:06):

Does that fall under parody? I don't know. Anyway, that's funny.

Ernest Saco (09:10):

I don't know either. It was flattering, to be honest, we took it down really.

Laura Dolan (09:13):

I was going to say, that's pretty rad actually, that you got their attention, that you got that much notoriety that fast, but they were like, "Please stop what you're doing."

Ernest Saco (09:23):

Yeah. It was funny.

Dusey (09:25):

I would love to just hear a little bit about, you said you were using Infusionsoft, and I think what our listeners would love to hear is, "Okay, cool. You were able to spin up a business in no time flat." And I'd be curious, what tips in terms of setting up automation? What do you think was key besides hitting zeitgeists moment, which is great, to getting something up and running fast and efficient like that in terms of automation?

Ernest Saco (09:55):

I think that the most important thing was we moved really fast. And the reason that we moved really fast is because we weren't concerned with things being perfect, we just needed to go from zero to one. And I think that a lot of people will be a little bit apprehensive about actually hitting live. And if you don't ever hit live, then you don't know if it's going to resonate with your market, you don't know if it's going to be successful. You have this fear of it not being successful, but the fear is so hypothetical.

Ernest Saco (10:25):

So I think that was the thing that was critical to us was we need the minimum viable, just give people the ability to buy the thing, and we can tweak and change whatever we want all day long because this business isn't going anywhere, it's ours. I can open up my laptop that night and I can make whatever change I want and I can hit the publish button and that change will be there. So I think that was the most important thing, we didn't stress much about the content. And I get it, my wife, she's a perfectionist, she was the one trying to pull things back, and I'm the one that's saying, "Let's go, go, go." And yeah, it worked out well.

Laura Dolan (11:08):

And that's really great because you want to customize your company and you want to make those changes. And it's great that it's immediate, you make the change and bam, it's right there on the site. So it's great that there's no delay there.

Ernest Saco (11:20):

Exactly. Saying something is always better than saying nothing at all.

Laura Dolan (11:25):

Absolutely.

Ernest Saco (11:25):

So version one better than version none.

Laura Dolan (11:28):

Great slogan.

Ernest Saco (11:29):

Thanks.

Dusey (11:29):

Could you put it on a t-shirt for us?

Laura Dolan (11:32):

There you go.

Ernest Saco (11:33):

I actually can for three years, thanks to [crosstalk 00:11:37].

Dusey (11:36):

Oh, that's part of the saying.

Laura Dolan (11:38):

It's a whole deal.

Ernest Saco (11:40):

Yeah, exactly. So I'll call you all in three years.

Laura Dolan (11:46):

Did you have any other side hustles between then and now since you've been with Keap?

Ernest Saco (11:50):

Oh my gosh. Yes, of course. So if we want to start at the front at the very beginning, as a coach, one of the things that was really important to me is I didn't want to give one of our customers advice if it wasn't something that I had tried myself, because anyone can read a book, anyone can read an article and then pass that information along, but if you haven't gone through the journey yourself, then it's hard to truly navigate someone through it. So one of the things that I heard as a marketing tactic was doing something like free plus shipping.

Ernest Saco (12:28):

It's just this model where you're providing someone a product, it's typically a product, for free, and then they just pay the shipping costs. And typically with the shipping costs, you make a little bit of margin, but psychologically, someone feels like they're getting it for free. So what I decided to do is I decided to go to this website, it was either Alibaba or Ali Express, one of those where you can get products really, really cheap because they're coming from overseas, and I bought credit card knives. They're in the shape of a credit card and you flip them out and they're a knife, and they were 50 cents a piece.

Ernest Saco (13:09):

So I bought 20 of them for $10. Three weeks later, they arrive at my doorstep and I decide to go make a page using my Infusionsoft app and some other tools. And I decided, "Let's sell these for free plus shipping." So I set it all up, it was free, shipping was $5.95. I had a couple upsells, if you wanted more knives, it was another $5.95 and so forth. But the knife cost me 50 cents, the stamp cost me 45 cents, the bubble wrap mailer costs me 45 cents, and then the merchant transaction fee was like 44 cents. So I was making like four bucks on a knife.

Ernest Saco (13:50):

And all I did was I posted on Facebook just to my friends and said, "I never have a knife when I need one, now, I can just put it in my wallet. I'm giving them away for free on my blog, click here." And I had to turn it off because I sold all 20 so fast. And off it went, I shipped a mountain and we were good to go. So that wasn't necessarily a business I started, more of an experiment, but it's just another thing to show you, it doesn't take much, just get to one, just go live, you never know what's going to happen. And that entire experiment didn't cost me much, 15 bucks, I think, and I made 80 or whatever. It's date money.

Dusey (14:36):

I had a similar thing that I did where I just spun up an Infusionsoft page, and I'm a huge nerd, I play Dungeons and Dragons a lot. And I had this idea, people were getting these tattoos where you're supposed to Keep track of when you're about to die and you're unconscious, how many times, how many rounds it's been. If it's too many rounds, then your character's dead. And people would get tattoos so they could mark that off on their own body. And I'm like, "That's cool. I'm not that dedicated."

Laura Dolan (15:06):

Wow. That's dedication.

Dusey (15:06):

Yeah. I was looking for, I'm like, "Well, there's got to be one of those little bands that you wear on your wrist that could be made this way." And I was trying to find a custom place to make one. And I finally found one that would do it just the way I had it in my head, but I had to order 50 of them. So I order 50 of them, they sent me 100 for some reason, I don't know why. Now, I didn't pay for 100, but they showed them at the door. So I've got 100 of these things and It was the same thing where I'm like, "I'm just going to put it out there for cheap and sell the rest of my stock."

Dusey (15:41):

I still probably have like 20 of them here, but it paid for the price of getting 100 of them ordered, plus a couple hundred after that, like you said, some date money or whatever, buy some more Dungeons and Dragons books.

Laura Dolan (15:54):

And you scored the buy 50, get 50 free sale. That's awesome.

Dusey (16:00):

So these are great examples of like you were saying, "Hey, I've got this idea, I can push it out there." And I think someone that has a more established business, I think there's still something to learn there because we're just talking about, "Oh, here's this wacky little side thing that I did." I don't want to demean it, I think it was super cool and super fun, but I'm thinking of someone who's like, "Okay, well I'm really into business and I'm not just going to add 20 knives to my sales." But I think that concept of put something out there, try it as an experiment, is really good.

Dusey (16:33):

I remember the first time I heard this idea of building a landing page that says, "Hey, do you want this product? Here's this product." Whatever the thing is, the service that they're trying to come up with, that they're trying to get out there, and then you go click to do it, and it says, "Hey, we don't have this product yet, but sign up if you're interested in it." And they're literally doing it just to gauge if their audience is interested in the thing or not, like if I put out there that there is this product, or there is this service, I don't know if anybody would like it.

Dusey (17:06):

Well, put it out there as if it's out there already and gauge interest and say, "We'll notify you if we move ahead with it."

Ernest Saco (17:11):

I have totally done that too. Yeah, absolutely. And right now, I do have another business. I shifted... One of the things that's interesting about automation is once you get past the fear of it and you begin to automate and you see the benefit of it, you almost end up becoming a bit of an automation junkie. It's like, "Well, what else can I automate?"

Laura Dolan (17:38):

It's addictive.

Ernest Saco (17:41):

Yeah. You begin to notice things that you do throughout your day. And I'm really doing that a lot, I wonder what can be automated. One example of that was with our t-shirt brand, for example, we were getting customer service emails that I had to respond to every single day. Those customer service emails typically were in one of three categories. One category was returns and exchanges. One category was collaboration requests, essentially influencers trying to get free products so that they could promote your product. And then the last one was sizing questions, like "How's this clothing going to fit?"

Ernest Saco (18:23):

So we ended up doing is, well, I ended up answering those questions one by one for like a year, and then I got so sick of it because it was every day that I just made a form in Infusionsoft. And in that form, it was just a contact form. And all they had to do was fill out why they were reaching out to us and just a drop down; this is a sizing inquiry, this is about returns and exchanges, or this is collaboration. And if they selected either one of those, then the appropriate email went out or I would get notified if it was someone that I needed to pay attention to.

Ernest Saco (19:01):

So the amount of emails that I had to respond to, I kid you not, fell 80%, just by doing that. It was really awesome. So we sold that business and now I've got another one with actually a fellow Keaper. And what we do is we provide educational material and courses for people that are in the sports card collecting hobby. So I shifted out of selling products to more selling expertise. And one of the big reasons for that is because I can't automate packaging and shipping, I can outsource that if I want, so I wanted to get out of that game a bit.

Ernest Saco (19:45):

I can automate the delivery of information, so that business is completely automated end to end with the exception of, we do get people emailing us now, and then if they want to cancel something or if something's not showing up right, for example.

Dusey (19:59):

Not only are you selling something that you don't have to, it can be very passive, but you're simultaneously still building relationships and brand with them as they continue to come back and use your stuff and learn from you, they have a real positive outlook if they had a good experience with you and you maybe have never even talked to them before. So that's a great way for somebody that does coaching or anything in that realm, you can get your toes wet with something like that, and you're getting people interested in you.

Dusey (20:36):

And then when there's somebody that needs more than whatever your course or whatever your information it provides, then you can step in with the bigger ticket, like personalized, "Here's the coaching that I do." So it can be a business of its own, but it can also be a marketing tactic that earns you money instead of having to spend money on marketing.

Ernest Saco (20:56):

Absolutely. It's very rare. In fact, I can't even think of an example where someone is selling their expertise and they're not able to automate the delivery of that expertise to some degree. I was on the phone with, he was not a user, but he was in our target market and this gentleman's been doing interior design for 20 years. Well, because he's been doing it for 20 years, his way of getting clients was primarily through word of mouth and referrals and so forth. But what he's noticing is because he hasn't necessarily caught up with technology, that there's more and more competitors out there, and it's harder and harder for him to get business.

Ernest Saco (21:41):

Another thing that's really trendy right now is, do it yourself, DIY interior design. So one of the ideas that he came up with is, "I have 20 years of experience, there's very much a format to follow for good interior design. There's no reason why I couldn't take that out of my head and put it on paper or in a video or on a site or whatever and package that up as expertise that I can now sell." Now, it doesn't matter to him whether that client that's reaching out to him is down the street or halfway across the world because he can reach them through packaging up his expertise and delivering it through automation.

Dusey (22:21):

Are you worried at all in situations about that, of giving away too much? Is there some trades secret? I know a lot of times people feel like, "Well, hey, that's why people come to talk to me because I'm the expert." So what are your thoughts on that?

Ernest Saco (22:39):

If you don't give away too much, someone else will. So there's a lot of competition out there. And the goal is to try to be the person that people go to when they need help with whatever problem it is that's in that space. And oftentimes, you're going to have to give away some of your best advice for free in order to get someone to have a light bulb like, "Wow, this person really knows what they're talking about. This is speaking to my problem. I wonder what else they have to offer." So is there a science to it?

Ernest Saco (23:11):

Yeah, probably. I don't know the perfect science, all I know is that the more helpful we are for free with our content, the more business we end up getting in return. So that's really challenging for a lot of people too. It's challenging for me at times, because I don't want to give away secrets, but it's the secrets that hook people.

Dusey (23:29):

Yeah. It's that bank account analogy and I can't for the life of me remember someone that we've worked with and we partnered with before that told us this analogy of putting... A lot of people talk about delivering value, and he said, "You're depositing in a bank. You're putting money in the bank account when you're giving that information away for free so that when the time comes to make the ask, it's not like it's just out of the blue and just, 'Oh, here's this pitch he sell.' It's somebody that you have relationship with."

Dusey (23:59):

And, "Oh, yeah, I love their stuff and they've really helped me." And now when they ask, I'm much more likely to say yes, or I'm more likely to go to them and ask myself and say, "Hey, I could use your help." I love that.

Ernest Saco (24:11):

Absolutely.

Laura Dolan (24:12):

Yeah. You're building that rapport. You're nurturing that relationship and that's what helps the most.

Ernest Saco (24:19):

Yeah. Well, and industries don't stay static. If you're the expert at it, that means you're the one that's staying on top of it, you're one step ahead and so on and so forth. So a secret that you share today is public knowledge tomorrow. So if that's the case, then why not be the one that's providing that light bulb to these individuals so that they're looking to you on what should I do now, or what's happening now? Or what advice can you give me now? Even think about this year, think about someone that was an expert at event planning in February, well, hopefully they've turned into an expert in virtual event planning because that market has shifted.

Ernest Saco (24:58):

And imagine all the secrets maybe they've kept in their head about filling an audience in-person, what good is that if they kept it a secret in this day and age now? It would've probably been better for them to share a lot of that expertise and a lot of that information and then establish themselves as someone that someone goes to to figure out how to create the appropriate events, and then they might be in a different spot today.

Dusey (25:28):

Does that information, does that expertise, like you are saying that I had before, it doesn't even apply now necessarily, but if you've been established, then you're the one that people go look to. And if you're the one that is on top of that, putting that information out and getting it out there first, people are looking to you and your name is there, but after some time, if you're just repeating after you've seen other people share it already, people aren't looking to you, you're just repeating something that was already common knowledge. That's interesting. That's interesting. I hadn't thought of it that way before.

Ernest Saco (26:08):

Yeah. And you can still survive doing that. And the reason that you would survive doing that, just regurgitating what someone else says is because that's a distribution problem. If I get to you first before the other person that shared that knowledge with me got to you, then I'm the expert in your eyes because you don't know the other person exists. So there is that aspect of it, and there's plenty of room there's plenty of space for people to gain business. But those that are viewed at the forefront, they're usually the ones that are sharing things as they hear them or as they learn them, I should say.

Dusey (26:50):

As you look back, I'm especially thinking of the t-shirt business, just because you run that one for so long, is there something that you wish you knew? What is something that you struggled with in terms of getting that, where it needed to be, what is something that you hit your head against?

Ernest Saco (27:13):

It was really time, for us was our biggest barrier. It was interesting, we were actually taking a look at our financials or the t-shirt business as we were gearing up to sell it, and one of the things that we noticed was there was a direct correlation of the number of email blasts that we sent and the amount of money that we made. So if we sent a third less email blasts, we made a third less money. And as I think about that, I realize, in a given day, there are so many bits of inputs that are happening. There's people that are messaging me at work, people that are messaging me personally, there's ads that I'm seeing ,posts that I'm seeing, all sorts of things.

Ernest Saco (28:08):

And in order for someone to have all these inputs, everyone's trying to sell something all the time, how are they going to remember you in the sea of all the inputs that they're seeing? The only way for them to do that is if you're one of those inputs as well. So during seasons where we wouldn't be one of those inputs, our sales fell, and those seasons where we were one of those inputs, our sales rose. And it's just because I can't expect someone to remember to come to momshirt.com when they want a shirt that speaks to them. I needed to be proactive in letting them know, "Hey, I'm still here. Look at how awesome this product is. You should buy it because of X, Y, Z," and so forth.

Laura Dolan (28:54):

You have to stay top of mind and just Keep promoting yourself.

Ernest Saco (28:57):

Exactly, exactly. And I think that that's probably the biggest takeaway from running that business is staying on top of mind is so critical.

Dusey (29:08):

Is there a point where it's too much? Does that mean that the answer is like, "Okay, send 10 emails every single day and you're top of mind"? I imagine that that could be detrimental too, people go, "Oh gosh, this guy won't shut up."

Laura Dolan (29:23):

That would definitely have an opposite effect for me

Dusey (29:27):

How did you find that balance? It sounds like your natural position was maybe like, "Hey, I don't like getting tons and tons of emails, I don't want to be putting that much out there." But it turns out that there's a certain amount that's effective, and there's probably a certain amount where pass that or it becomes ineffective. And I would just love to hear your thoughts on arriving at that cadence. There's probably not a magic number for everybody depending on your business and your everything, but what was your thought process in determining how much was the right amount?

Ernest Saco (30:00):

Frankly, I don't know that we ever determined the right amount. I still don't know what the science is there. I can tell you that there's folks or businesses that email me way too often, and then other ones that don't email me very much at all. One of the ways we thought about it was we should be launching a product once a month to Keep things new and fresh. And so when we were in that cadence, it seemed like things were a lot more steady. I think it also depends on what it is you're providing and who your audience is. For example, if I am a destination that people go to for recipes, a weekly email of that week's recipes is probably the appropriate amount of frequency.

Ernest Saco (30:51):

If I'm in the financial planning space, a weekly email is like, "Get out of my inbox." There is not that much that changed a week ago. So I don't know necessarily that there is, like you said, a magic number, that cadence for us seemed to be once a month. And another thing we took into consideration is we send an email, someone buys a product, it takes us a couple of days to pack and ship that product, it takes a few days before it gets to them, might take them a few days before they even decide to wear it, are we really going to email them, trying to sell them another product before they've even worn our product a couple of times? It just seemed like too much. And we also-

Dusey (31:35):

What about like a follow-up email, like a survey? Because I get those too, and those actually drive me nuts.

Ernest Saco (31:40):

Yeah. We actually used a third party service for product reviews. And what it would do is it would send an email asking for a review on the product 14 days after they purchased. And it was successful in the sense that we did get reviews. Now, what our conversion rate was for that, I don't know, but it was always fun to see those reviews coming in and we believe that those reviews helped drive people to buy more in the future. But those weren't the same type of emails that we were sending around selling. Those were just, how did we do, type emails.

Ernest Saco (32:23):

Yeah, I agree, I don't like survey-type emails either. And what I've learned with that is you're typically only going to get really good results if you're providing some incentive. And sometimes it made sense to do that, and sometimes it didn't.

Laura Dolan (32:37):

I don't know about you guys, but since COVID and everything, I've been doing a lot of ordering from Amazon and they will send me an email, like, "How did we do? Well, you delivered it and you did what you were supposed to do, so I don't know what you want. What else do you want me to say? If it didn't get here, then you would hear from me, but you did what you had to do, you did what you were supposed to do. So for them to ask, how did we do rather than what do you think of this product? I get those two from the third-party companies, but I just find it hilarious whenever Amazon is like, "How was our delivery today?" Good job, pat on the head.

Dusey (33:16):

There's two options, it was here in good condition or it wasn't.

Laura Dolan (33:19):

Yeah, exactly. It either made it here or someone stole it.

Ernest Saco (33:24):

Yeah. Another thing to consider too is email is no longer our only form of communication to our leads and prospects and so forth. I don't have to have someone's email address for them to be a lead. Any one of my followers on any one of my social media platforms is a lead, and a post on there can be just as effective if not more effective as an email. And it's appropriate in social media to be posting more often than it would be to send an email, for example. So it depends on the business, it depends on the channel there. There are so many things, as a small business owner, the best way to figure that out is to just like I've been harping on, just do it, do it and see what happens.

Dusey (34:07):

And just go ahead with it.

Ernest Saco (34:08):

Yeah, exactly.

Laura Dolan (34:09):

Troubleshoot. If you fail, you're going to learn from it and then take that going forward. But yeah, absolutely.

Ernest Saco (34:16):

You know what was surprisingly effective for engagement? Not photos of our product, but memes. Motherhood related memes, we got triple the engagement on those than we did. And how would we have known that?

Laura Dolan (34:30):

How did you go about doing that? Did you do that on social or how did you present the meme?

Ernest Saco (34:34):

Yes, on social. And the way that we did that was we just decided one day, "Hey, this is funny, it relates to motherhood, should we post it?" We posted it, we saw triple the likes, and we were like, "We should probably sprinkle this thing to our content."

Dusey (34:47):

How did you do that all the time?

Ernest Saco (34:48):

Amazing. It's amazing what you don't think of that can actually be effective.

Dusey (34:55):

There's a transcription service that we use called Rev, and I'm on their email list because I use them a lot and their email list, I don't know how often they send, it's not super often, but whenever I see it, I read it because it is such a joy to read. And often, it has nothing to do with their service or their job. It's related and they have a message there, but they understand the type of people that are going to use their service and they write to them. There's a lot of people that are in media production, that are in that kind of world, and they write in a way and referencing the things that we love.

Dusey (35:34):

My favorite, I may have given this example, but my favorite was a Christmas email. As the holidays were ramping up and it was like, "Everyone is sending holiday emails. So we thought we would to, buy someone to transcription for Christmas. Isn't that a great idea?" And then obviously, nobody's going to buy the gift of transcription for Christmas, but [inaudible 00:35:55].

Laura Dolan (35:55):

That's a great tactic, great way to stay top of mind. as a copywriter myself, I can respect the art of the copy that went into that email. That is great.

Dusey (36:07):

Well, I think that just about does it. Ernest, I would love to just hear from our conversation, what piece of advice you would give to our audience when they're looking at how to automate their business, what is the one thing that you would want to leave them with?

Ernest Saco (36:27):

Yeah. I'm going to sound a little bit biased here, but automation historically has been something that's been intimidating for small businesses to venture into, especially the first go at it. So at Keap, we've strived to make it really easy for small businesses to achieve the benefit of automation, so much so that we've released a new version of automation called Easy Automations. And what we learned through our testing is that people don't think of automation as automation, they think of it as when this thing happens, then I want these things to happen.

Ernest Saco (37:09):

And we've made it so simple for someone to do that that justify any excuse on why you shouldn't automate parts of your business is gone. So my ask is that take the fear aside, sign up for a trial if you don't have one, log into your Keap app, if you have one, and pick one thing, just one thing to automate that day, just one. Hit the Publish button one time and you will begin to catch the bug. And then you'll start to see what are the other things that I can automate in my business. And before you know it, your business is growing, but you're not spending as much time or more time in your business. And that's really where the magic occurs. So go from zero to one. That's my ask.

Dusey (37:57):

That's awesome.

Laura Dolan (37:57):

Baby steps. I like it, especially for those people like me, I don't like to relinquish control, and I know entrepreneurs and business owners, they want to know that something's getting done and they want to know they want that recollection of it. So I think it's something you have to get used to, you just have to let go of certain things and just trust that it's getting done. And then before you know it, you have more time to devote to actually growing your business and nurturing your customer relationships. So yeah, absolutely.

Ernest Saco (38:26):

100%. We actually had a user of easy automations reach out to us and say that she was getting people filling out forms on our website, which she always does. And before she could reach back out to them, the automation did it itself. And she was able to land a speaking engagement as a result of that. And it's just so powerful. Or we had a customer that came and spoke to us on stage, this was years ago when we'd bring customers in before COVID. And I remember one thing she said stuck with me, and she said, she stood up on stage and she said, "The best part of me being here is, as I've been here speaking to you guys, I've sent 45 emails."

Ernest Saco (39:13):

It was all automated, so her leads, her prospects, her customers, were being touched on even while she was standing on stage in front of 400 Keap employees telling us her story. How incredible is that? Everyone has a dream of being on a beach somewhere and their business is running and they're making money and so forth, what are you doing today to get you closer to there? And automation is that first step. So go do it. Stop listening to us, just go do it.

Laura Dolan (39:47):

Just go do it.

Ernest Saco (39:47):

Stop fire up here, keep at it.

Dusey (39:51):

You can go find, I made a video on a company called Rock and Rapid in the UK. And I'm sure if you just search, Keap Rock and Rapid, you'll find their story real quick. But that was one of the things that he said at the very end is, we went out to the beach and they had this giant standup paddle board that you can fit like six people, and we got film of them and we were talking to him and he's like, "Yeah, while we're doing this, emails are going out, new people are signing up for trips and it's just happening on its own."

Laura Dolan (40:18):

The engagement is still happening.

Ernest Saco (40:20):

You know what's so fun? With easy automations, you can automate push notifications to go to your mobile app, and it's whatever content you want it to go. The funnest push notifications are the push notifications that say, "You've got a new lead," Or, "You've got a new sale. You're this much richer." It's so fun.

Dusey (40:42):

That's way better than most of the notifications I get. I can keep going on that.

Laura Dolan (40:48):

Definitely motivating. Well, great. Well, thank you so much, Ernest, for coming on. This has been a fantastic conversation.

Ernest Saco (40:56):

Thanks for having me guys.

Laura Dolan (40:57):

And that will do it for this episode of Small Biz Buzz. See you guys next time.

Dusey (41:01):

Bye.

Speaker 1 (41:02):

Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five-star rating, it helps Keep the show going. And if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to keap.com. That's K-E-A-P.com, and get started. More business, less work, that's Keap.