The Instant Pot Phenomenon

We got an Instant Pot for Christmas. I’d heard of Instant Pot before. Many times. But, when I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen an ad for one. EVER!!!

No Advertising Marketing!

I decided to look up the founder’s story and found this:

“To be honest with you, we haven’t spent much money on advertising,” Wang says. “In fact, that is not part of the business plan. We really spend money on product development and customer support.”

Robert Wang, a fellow Canadian and Techie, invented this. It’s an inspiring story, actually.

The problem: “What if there is a machine which is smart enough, which can automate the entire cooking process for us, so that we can fix dinner when we come back from work.”

While my perception of this brand (or category, which they created, or rather re-invented?) was neutral, I understood that it was this “craze”; almost a cult-like following had developed.

A non-cooking friend told me about theirs over the holidays. And since the price point is very reasonable, that put me over the top.

A relentless focus on a product development that meets a consumer’s problem. Instant Pot built it and their consumers propelled them to amazing growth.

Great business story!!!

Brand Affinity is Created by Great Customer Experiences

[LinkedIn Post]

Apple’s greatest asset is one that you cannot see, feel, or touch. That is, its Brand Affinity. Buffet is not a technology investor, but he bought APPL because he saw “an extraordinary consumer franchise”. Apple customers are “very, very, very locked in, at least psychologically and mentally, to the product you are using. [The iPhone] is a very sticky”.

I noticed one of my connections wrote a lot about Toyota. I asked him: “What’s your affinity with Toyota”. He told me about a story when he was younger, how he was in a pretty bad car accident with his family, but luckily nobody got hurt and he attributed that to the safety of the Toyota vehicle. He is a Toyota customer for life.

My kids play a lot of Fortnite. It’s a free game, but players buy V-Bucks for new skins, etc. [Aside: As a parent, Fortnite is the most expensive free game there is!]. I bet if Redbull or Monster or equiv, purchased the ability to brand the Chug Jug or Shield Potion, they would create a positive brand affinity to millions of youth, for life.

Brand affinity is created by great customer experiences. I believe that the more bland or generic the product is, the greater effort you need to put on your customer service/marketing/engagement experiences.

[More to come at a later date]

Understand Your Edge

I’ve been reading a lot about copywriting, persuasion, and sales strategies recently (I need to be writing about that more). It is a fascinating topic. And when I say copy, this incorporates (verbal) sales messaging. It makes me wish I had taken more philosophy and psychology classes in school.

In business and in any realm where there is competition you need to beat, it’s crucial to understand your edge. Why should the buyer select your product or your service? We live in the information age and it is almost certain that the buyer can/will research the competition (although, in simplistic transactional sales, this can be countered by techniques like limited time offers).

The copy needs to reflect this edge. Does your edge solve a pain point and/or deliver a pleasure? Your copy needs to amplify the pain and pleasure points and it needs to specifically do so around your edge.

One edge that a small company can have over a big corporation is speed. I really like John Boyd’s OODA loop. John Boyd was a F-86 Pilot and Commander in the US Airforce.

Boyd believed that when at a disadvantage, a competent pilot could still overcome that disadvantage by “Attacking the Mind” of his opponent. The OODA loop is a process that defines how we react to stimulus.

“In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop … Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against.”

Colonel Boyd trained his pilots based upon his observations of Human reaction time and as a result his pilots had a 10 to 1 kill ratio over the superior Mig-15’s.

“The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible.”

The OODA loop has become an important concept in many areas outside of air-to-air combat (dog fighting).




Dropshipping Experiment: Setting Up the Store #WatchMe

I’m sorry, I’m lagging on this area. But I feel like every day that passes, I’m just losing out on (almost) free money. The FOMO has gotten to me, so I got to work last night.

I did some more product research. I got tuned into another site that is great for research. It’s Wanelo (Want Need Love). It’s great because you can see what products are trending by number of people who have saved the products. You just have to weed through the brand stuff because we can’t dropship that stuff, obviously.

Anyhow, I found a couple. If you follow my STUFFker Facebook page, you’ll see me drip them out on posts there.

I reached out to each supplier, just to confirm that they will dropship. Reaching out also tests their communication (English skills) as well as their responsiveness. I don’t want to work with anyone that isn’t responsive or not willing to communicate with a partner. So, I’m awaiting those.

In the mean time, I started to set up my Shopify store. Basically, I just registered and pointed my domain to it.

I chose Shopify because most dropshippers do. The alternative was to use Clickfunnels, where I already have an account going. This would save money (the $29/mo Shopify fee), but in the end, I read a bunch of posts that said people have A/B tested ClickFunnels and Shopify and Shopify wins out because of the familiar e-commerce layout. $29/mo really isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things.

I also downloaded all the images and I will start to upload the products into Shopify and create the catalog. I wanted to get at least a handful of products. I’ll run separate ad campaigns for each, but I did get some related products so that I can experiment with up-selling and cross-selling.

[Aside: I just noticed that my logo is strikingly similar to Shopify’s. I see where my $6 Fiverr designer drew their inspiration from. Ha!]

The other thing I started to do was ask FB Friends to LIKE that page. This will benefit me when I want to run ads; Facebook will be kinder because I have some traction.

More to come soon!

Best Sites for Royalty-Free Images for Your Blog

A picture says a thousand words. More relevant for this context is that a picture just adds visual appeal to the blog/site.

Here are a couple blogs that list several sites where one can obtain royalty-free images.

Personally, I’ve been using Pixabay almost exclusively. It has a pretty good selection of photos. I’ll keep using it ’til I find it harder to find good images. I’m not a fan of hunting around to multiple sites to find the perfect image. Good is good enough for this purpose.

Dropshipping Experiment: Choosing a Product #WatchMe

This is the first in my #WatchMe series. I’m going to try and make as much money in as short a time possible by Dropshipping.

Reminder, I’m going off of this system. So, here we go…

I’ve done two things today. I created a Facebook page for my store. I’m calling it STUFFker. Go there and LIKE it (that’ll help me as I go through this!)

I got a logo created a Fiverr for $6. Unbelievable!

Now, I just need to select a product.

I spent some time (really, not that much) finding a couple products that could work on AliExpress. Somehow I got drawn to baby stuff and socks.

Any of these could work. Which do would you choose?

  • A = Mens Fun Designer Socks
  • B = Unisex Copper-Infused Compression Socks
  • C = Baby 0-12 mths Shoes (Option 1)
  • D = Baby 0-12 mths Shoes (Option 2)
  • E = (Keep Looking)

There are People Making Millions Dropshipping. Why Not Me? Watch Me Try…

Here is the formula:

  1. Find a product on AliExpress. Something under $3. Make sure that it is from a reputable supplier (lots of positive reviews). Connect with them briefly and let them know your intent. They know the game.
  2. Create a Shopify storefront ($29/mo for basic)
  3. Create a post that says something like: “FREE ________, just pay shipping”.
  4. Boost the post or run an ad campaign to a highly targeted audience that drives them to the Shopify product page.
  5. Place the order with the supplier.

Let’s say your cost is $3. You sell the shipping at $9.99. BOOM! That’s $7 profit minus the cost of your Facebook advertising costs. This can be a wild card, yes. But I’m seeing very low estimates in my research to this point.

I’m going to find a couple products and run an experiment. Feel free to follow along and see how much we can make with this system. 🙂

[Quora] Why should a startup hire a sales consultant?

Originally seen at:

Startups should hire consultants to complement areas where the team is weak. If the founding team doesn’t have sales experience, it would be wise to leverage a sales consultant or find a strategic advisor with a sales background (preferably someone who’s sold a similar solution). This could save a lot of time and heartache instead of learning by trial and error.

Growth is driven by:

  1. Increasing leads (marketing)
  2. Increasing customers (sales … conversion of leads)
  3. Increasing margin
  4. Increasing frequency of sales (product and/or account management)

My guess is that your current challenge is #1 or #2. Which one or both? If you have had even a few leads, but have failed to convert them, then it is a sales problem. Yes, consider finding a consultant if you’re even pondering. Talk to folks in your network, get advice; it may not even be necessary to hire a consultant. Sometimes a professional that will provide you with proper attention can be worth it, though.

How To Simply Your Mindset to Increase Your Sales


I really like this formula that I was introduced to by Ryan Deiss, CEO at DigitalMarketer. I’m a big Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) fan. This really simplifies things and allows a business to create a growth strategy and measure the outcomes.

You can even department-alize this. Leads is Marketing. Customers is Sales. Margin is Operations. Frequency is Product.

Double one factor and that doubles your business, if all other factors stay the same. If each department increases their factor by 20%, that’s a double as well.

He goes on to further discuss a Customer Value Optimization system. Good stuff! I really lik the flow chart. 🙂

Hello world!

So I had this whole elaborate plan to build this site myself, but at the end of the day, with all the functionality that I wanted, it just would’ve taken forever. I kept putting off writing for lack of a canvas.

It got to the point where it was better to just get an MVP out. As they say, you should always be embarrassed about your first release.

I ended up using WordPress since it has a boatload of themes and plugins and online help. I was able to get things up and running relatively quickly.

Here are the other solutions I’ve got hooked up:

As I build thing out and discover new tools/solutions to use, I’ll write about it.

I don’t know where this journey will go, but I’m looking forward to it. If you can learn something as well, so much the better.