Show Notes 

Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast today’s guest is Lee McAlilly, and he’s the founder of original files. They make guitar straps gear bags and accessories and all of this is made in Nashville welcome to the podcast Godly how you doing. I’m good. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Yeah, thankful for being on and if you can just give us a quake overview. All original files just background of what you guys doing sure we like to say that we are outfitting creative people like musicians artists photographers chess anyone who is making things. We want to make gear and accessories for them this stylish and reliable our core products right now are for guitar players because I spit it came from that world of playing music and guitar and rock bands, so.
We got started with that, but especially next year. We’re going to be branching out into a lot more products for Creative people of all stripes, and we do all of the manufacturing here are shop and Nashville, Tennessee, and we also work with a lot of cool textiles from around the world we import some hand-woven Peruvian Fabrics that are fair.
Trade with a sustainable co-op in India to do some blocked so we make everything here, Nashville. Oh, but we try and find interesting curious to work with us from all over. Yes, that’s pretty cool that you started in music, but now you’re going to be expanding congratulations. You just shows that the business is growing.
Yeah. Yeah, I think it was really crucial to start with an itch. I mean we started with guitar players and made a gear bag for guitar player. That was our first products, and then eventually we found a really nice Market with. Pressure house and really it to this point. We’ve been really focused on our guitar stress.
That’s been our big product, and I think that Focus has helped us get established, but now we got our legs under it and we’re growing and we’re going to start branching out into other product categories. What are some of the top marketing strategies that you’re using to sell this product for mine, OK, Lisa.
What are the top marketing strategies? You’re using to grow your business. For us content marketing has been really huge and in conjunction with that we do a lot on social media with Instagram being a really big platform for us. We have over 30,000 Instagram followers and a lot of those have come from just this year.
That’s a really natural place. It’s a social network that fits in with our brand and where our customers like to spend time online, but the table Stakes for that strategy is our content marketing. And we do that through and we call it a magazine, but it’s really just our blog, but it’s just every month.
We put out an issue of blog posts and package it up and call it a magazine issue, and it’s just the kind of stuff that we want to read as musicians and creative people that work here too original cause we hope connects with our audience so truly a Content marketing strategy combined with sharing that content through social media.
We really feel like if we’re providing value to our audience. Going to appreciate that they’re going to trust us and they’re going to want to try out our products OK dunno like what kind of traffic Joshua Lee get from from Instagram or just from the content marketing that you do yeah, I mean we can track that directly, but one really crucial thing that we do is we ask we have an automated email sequence that goes out after every order we ask them how they heard about us.
And a lot of times you know. I you know not everyone takes the time to respond to us what we get a lot of responses, and we track all of those in a spreadsheet, and they usually break down into really specific categories like I heard about you on Instagram or through a friend, or I saw you in a guitar store, or I read an article where you were mentioned and a blog post or magazine so we kind of have where our actual orders are coming from not just traffic through that survey and.
You know it’s not a perfect survey, but it’s a pretty good data, and we actually get about 30% another 30 percent comes from what I would call Press. Just and then the rest of that comes from you either direct traffic word-of-mouth guitar stores, okay, so so asking that question and the check during the checkout process is really really crucial.
Yes, so from the information you get by asking that Savvy question. How are you planning to improve your results as far as the traffic and the different marketing channels? Are you getting people form yeah? I mean, that’s a good question. We’re trying to get better at writing the type of content and doing the type of posts that really connect with our audience, so that’s always a process of looking at the analytics and seeing how much traffic post yet certain post get and and trying to learn about our audience.
Overtime and what they respond to not in a process that we’re always trying to continue, and we’re also trying to bring our customers into the design process and like survey them on what they want to see from us next and talking to customers just directly to. See what’s working about both our content marketing and our products and what they’d like to see from us, if there was a product that we could design for them that they would really like to have what is that could offer in a product that would help so those types of questions is really talking to customers about both our marketing and our products has been really helpful in that as well okay, and as far as once you get the customers on your website or even in your break in.
Order what you guys do in to increase or to make the customers spend and convert, that’s one thing that I think we could be doing a lot better right now as you know we use Shopify as the backend for our e-commerce, and we’re just using a Shopify template that we bought in the Shopify simplest store, and that’s been really great.
I mean we’ve we’ve been using that for a couple years now, but I think we’re at this point where we’ve got to do a custom design. Shopify site that’s going to be tailored toward towards our specific products, and how we want to communicate about those products to our audience, so we’re actually working on that right now, and we’re going to be doing a process I used to be a web designer before I started this company so I have a background in this, but I really believe that you have to start with your content first.
So actually doing a rewrite of our entire site before we even do any design work and once we have a site Rewritten a lot of that coffee is we test that an emails we might do a b tests on headlines. We try to see what people respond to and social media posts what type of blog posts get the type of reaction that resonates so once we have that copy nailed.
We’re going to be redesigning the site and then sort of like the final stage of that will be. Start using A/B Testing to test very specific sections. You know like just something on a product page convert higher does an element such as a button or a piece of copy convert higher than the other and that’s that’s one thing that we have not done extensively.
Yet is a be testing, but I really think that we need to have a custom design side and not just be using a Shopify template before we even get into that because I don’t think you can learn that much from AV testing if there’s. Lot of stuff that you know you could be doing better. You just haven’t implemented yet, so I want to have like the table states of the kind of site.
That’s designed specifically for our audience. You know out there in the world as a baseline before we start doing A/B Testing. Okay. Thanks. Yeah, it makes sense, but how did you come to this conclusion that hey? Maybe I need to start doing AP testing, and they need a custom design, what led you to get to the conclusion?
I guess just see research and like you know following podcasts like this one that teach you about how to how to be a better marketer and how to run a better e-commerce. You know I’ve you know been studying about a beaten for a long time, and we use it in some places like we use Sumo me, which is a great tool for finding out more about your visitors and tools for like doing pop ups and Paige taker takeovers really easy we use that for like our discount codes for when you sign up for our email list.
Bav test you know what percentage discount really moves the needle on getting people to sign up for the email lists and get a discount code, and you know what headline well AP test the headline and email what we have it done much like on on-site AV testing, and it really felt like received such good results from doing things like AV testing the discount codes or.
Our email list that we figured you know the next natural step would be to actually start applying that methodology to our pages on our site. Okay, and are you doing all of this by yourself, and do you have a team? How many people involved in setting up your marketing machine? Yeah, this is you know started just as B
You know I was the founder that led the marketing and now we have a full-time person running our marketing and all of our editorial we. An internship over the prover the summer that program was great. We have a designer who’s not on staff, but it’s sort of like our CO2 freelancer. That’s helped design everything we work with a lot on everything from our logo
It’s a product designs to you know pages that we want to a BTS and things like that and then everyone else that work forces production, so we’re still small team it’s myself our marketing manager and freelance designer right now okay with the free last design and. In monitor how did you find them and what were you looking for when you are searching for them all Sarah the marketing manager great
Writing skills and ability to edit other people’s writing was a crucial factor in our marketing manager. Actually had a has a background in retail so she knows a lot about how to merchandize a store and not a lot of those same. Skills applied to online marketing. I mean the way you merchandize if you will an Instagram photo or a product page is similar to how you would might set up a display in a retail store, so I’d say anyone with like sales background
You know actually that’s just sometimes selling stuff and good writing skills or what I was looking for in that with the designer again like I think the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is an important. Skill because design is just a visual way of communication, and you know we were just looking at little more subjective
We were just looking for someone that fit our aesthetic and understood the brand and designer that we work with is a musician in her own right places drums in a band that tours, and so just a good fish. He understood what we were going for and she was an actual user of our products, so did you that helped as well
Did you find through like a website like a block or? Did you find both know these are the actually both of them are friends friends of friends and just being engaged in the local music Community is how how we found them, that’s really the best way to to find people. I think at the beginning. Just get involved in your local community
Whether that’s going to like meet ups for. For developers or just going to shows and events around the music Community. It’s kind of something that we try to do is say engage that we’re always meeting new people and in finding. You know potential collaborators like that. Okay, you mentioned earlier that you guys are going to be getting more products
You just not going to be focused on just because you’re going to create new products might you’re going to be starting that next year. What are some of the struggles. You’ve had this. Here we just with the whole business, and how are you planning to I guess overcome them and just try to help you sell better next year
I mean. This is probably the type of thing that any any start-up deals with so which is just you know time time and there’s only so much time and energy and a day, and you know we work super hard and nights and weekends with there’s only so much time and just trying to get better deploying our time
It’s the most important thing and that’s one thing. We’ve been struggling with us and trying to build better processes so that we have room to grow it’s kind of like a always a push and pull between one and two do more, but not having the time or money to do everything that we know we could do and trying to pick our battles
One thing that we did this year is we we set a goal for ourselves, and we had one goal for the entire team and doesn’t matter if you’re working in production making the guitar straps or doing marketing everyone’s been a line around the same goal, and that’s been really helpful that goal was just to grow our online sales specifically through our website 2.5% week-over-week and just having that single goal has helped us Focus
I think next year we want to it’ll probably be related to sales, but I think. To be doing it in terms of units sold just thinking about the metrics that your tracking and using that to help you set priorities something we’re trying to get better at all the time, and you know we do monthly reviews where we look at our numbers that were tracking and we think about is there something here that we’re tracking that we don’t need to be tracking
It’s actually just a distraction or noise, or are we not looking at how we’re performing in the right way, and we and we try and do that kind of self-analysis it on a monthly basis. Okay, and other than your website. Do you use any other distribution channels to sell we’ve tried out a lot of what we’ve done Etsy Amazon
There’s a niche site for music gear called Reverb. That’s a great site, but we actually ran into problems with scaling that because we make everything ourselves were you know we’re small manufacturer, and we’re trying to practice adjustment. I’m lean manufacturing and methodology, and there’s no
Where all the software that we’ve been able to find to manage inventory assumes that you’re buying finished goods, and then selling them on multiple channels. There’s nothing that’s been able to manage our workflow, so we actually are only selling on our website right now, and we’re going to be hopefully building a tool that enables us to practice just-in-time Inventory management, and then automatically
The finished products on Shopify Amazon Etsy Reverb any other third-party site like that that we might want to sell on so it’s a combination of not. You know just trying to focus right now. We’ve really been focused on growing our website. I mean there’s only so much attention that you can give anyone channel
It’s almost like you know like a social network Instagram has been our biggest outlet for getting the word out there because it resonates with our audience and while I know we could probably get some benefit from being more. Of on Pinterest for instance we only have so many resources here, and we we don’t have the bandwidth to really do Pinterest right side rather take each Channel
You know when we can and do it right we experimented with a lot of platforms what we’re going to be rolling out future channels as we have the ability and the bandwidth to focus on them, and we’re going to take it one at a time. You know we go back to Amazon. We’re going to make sure that we really focus on that and we do it well before we launch on Etsy again
No guy leave. Thanks for being on the podcast. I just two more questions before let you go, okay. Yeah, what is the one thing an e-commerce business can do right now to help the business grow get traffic and get selves. I think that that content marketing is Table 6 this day and age. I mean there’s a lot of noise out there, and if you can find a way to give something of value
You know be that a video or an. Or guide PDF for a podcast like this one to your audience. That’s just that’s crucial this day and age is the only way you’re going to grow your traffic and build a following okay, and how can if people have questions about anything you mentioned today, if somebody wanted to come and check out you stole how can they find you you can find us at original fuzz com that’s our website with all our products and everything we’re doing
You can send us an email to hello at original fuzz calm, and I’ll that’ll go right to me love to hear from anyone if they have any feedback from anything. I said and especially if you’re operating a small business, and you’re doing manufacturing like we are and you’re trying to figure out the Kinks of how to do just-in-time inventory without enterprise software, or if you know some schools that will help with that
I’d love to hear from you okay, and also we’ve you had mentioned your Instagram, and how you guys are doing well. Instagram what’s the Instagram? It’s just original fuzz so Instagram com slash original foes OK any final thought. Maybe if someone out here is listening to it. They’re running a they’re on web store
They got a product of their working on just keep in mind that you know it’s a marathon. It’s not a Sprint and I can say that like a lot of times you spend time on something that won’t seem to move the needle but a year two years out just making a lot of incremental changes to improve your. Act and your marketing will eventually started have a compounding effect and then start to pay off so don’t give up
Thanks Lee for being on the podcast. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing Partners join the e-commerce marketing podcast Facebook group to learn connect collaborate and grow with other e-commerce marketers at e-commerce marketing podcast Ford / FP e-commerce marketing podcast for
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