Joe Troyer: Jamie asks, “what is the better business model in your opinion, eCommerce, Digital Agency, or else? Which model is more sustainable, more hands-off, easy to scale up, etc.?” So this is like a loaded gun, this is a loaded shotgun. This is a very, very awesome question, though, at the same token.
Joe Troyer: So, I think it’s important to kind of break this question down a little bit, because it is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s not. If you are a beginner to digital marketing, you don’t know SEO, you don’t know PPC, you don’t know retargeting, you don’t know Google Tag Manager, you don’t know the major platforms and how to run them, you don’t know WordPress. If that’s you right now, give me a two. And it’s okay, I won’t make fun of you, I promise. It’s okay to be number two. I want to give you some really good clarity, though, right now. Like, really good, like you will walk away feeling amazing. Give me a two if that’s you right now.
Joe Troyer: Two, all right Willie. Hey, Willie, good to see you, man. Steve says 1.5, all right. So, even 1.5, I’ll take that. If that’s you, understand that, for me, I think that you’re a beginner in this digital marketing world. I would never recommend that you jump into eCommerce as a beginner in this digital marketing world, okay. Willie says you look amazing dude, thanks boss. Been a long time, man.
Joe Troyer: So, I believe that if you’re a beginner, if all those things are foreign to you, you wouldn’t know how to go in and launch a campaign in the next 30 minutes on any of those platforms, and know it was going to do okay, you’re a beginner. And that’s okay, I’m not saying that to talk down to you. But, if you’re a beginner, I believe that there’s not a better model than learning and creating income at the same time. You learn how to do it, you create income, and that’s via an agency, right. Performing services as an agency.
Joe Troyer: Where else … it’s like a fricking high paid internship. Where else can you be a high paid intern like this? Have your own business, make your own schedule. Learn how to do all the marketing, and create an income. I think, if you’re a beginner, that you should be doing some type of consultative services. While you are learning how to do things. Should, why? Because you can make money, make bank, bro. You can pay your bills, and you can get paid to learn.
Joe Troyer: I started as a beginner right here, doing this exact same thing. Learning and creating my income. What has always worked best for me, what has always worked best for me, is my agency. My agency has been the most sustainable business that I’ve ever had. My agency has been the most repeatable business that I’ve ever had. It has been the business that, once it’s set up and going, the processes may change a little bit, but they don’t change that fast, and when you have key people in place in the agency, they go updated that documentation.
Joe Troyer: So, for me, what’s been the most sustainable for me has been the agency. That’s for me, though. Giving my advice to you guys, most scalable, most leverage, what is it? Is it eComm, is it info products, is it software company? Honestly, software company, just get out of your fricking head. So many costs, so much overhead, you’re a dime a dozen. Software companies fucking suck. If you look at the revenue that you make, versus your investment, and the constant, ongoing grind, trust me when I say you’d be better off doing any of the other business models.
Joe Troyer: Most scalable and leverage could really be either eComm, or an agency, depending on your execution. I think that the easiest for me, and my skill set, is definitely agency. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t invested in some eComm businesses. I’ve built quite a few eComm businesses. And before we move on, I’ll kind of give you guys a little bit of feedback or criteria about eComm, though, eComm specifically. Just so you can think it through.
Joe Troyer: I’ve had eComm businesses that worked for like years, and then fell apart in my face, and so I’d like to share my takeaways from that. If I were to do eComm again today, these are the things that I would think about. See the smile? I’d stay away from brand-controlled markets, okay. What I mean by that, to take it a step further, is I wouldn’t be drop-shipping other people’s brands. I’ve gotten myself in big trouble drop-shipping other people’s brands, because when you’re drop-shipping other people’s brands, you’re completely reliant on them for your markup, what you’re going to make, for your supply. They also help control the demand.
Joe Troyer: I would focus on creating your own brand. So, now you’re talking about eComm, creating your own brand, your own packaging, your own formulation, and your own product, right, and now there starts to be a whole lot more work involved than building this eComm drop-ship, do seven figures in the next four hours business that everybody seems to be toting these days. I would not be doing drop-shipping. You won’t be able to compete. You won’t be able to be able to compete with the big box stores. How can you offer free shipping on an item that costs you sixty bucks to ship? You can’t, right, and you’re not going to be able to compete in price, either, because they’re buying in ridiculous quantities.
Joe Troyer: The other thing with eComm is … So, I had a master distributorship with a company, and then some basic distributorships with some other companies, all under one brand serving one market, and we were crushing it in eComm. This was many, many years ago. Shortly after I got my start, did the agency, that went well, it went great. We kept growing the agency, and the agency resources, when we had extra time in that business, we would work on our eCommerce assets that we were building.
Joe Troyer: So, we built up these businesses from scratch. They were going fricking fantastic, we were in markets that weren’t fads, and weren’t just going to go like this, and then just completely fall on their face after. We were drop-shipping, we were in quote-unquote brand-controlled markets, and we had 60% markup, something like that. And guys, it all came crashing down and in my face, because it was controlled by those brands. Those brands decide that you no longer a part of their bigger vision for where you’re going as a company, you’re screwed, right. I didn’t own my own brand, I didn’t have my own product, and so I just literally lost everything with the eComm.
Joe Troyer: What really sucks, is that I was in the middle of actually selling the eComm companies. So, they were going to give me a two year multiple on earnings, and I lost the distributorship that made the whole business work. They just yanked it from me, and instantly I went from having a huge payday as soon as this deal was done to having nothing. It was literally worth nothing.
Joe Troyer: So, those are kind of my learnings from eComm, and I tell you that because I don’t want you to feel bad for me, I tell you that because I got burned, like raw, dog. Like really fricking bad, and I don’t want that to, obviously, happen to you.
Joe Troyer: So, if you’re going to go into eComm, I caution you. Think about those things, but make sure that you have huge, crazy margins, become your own brand, and be reliant on fucking no-one. That is the only way I would ever get back into eComm.
Joe Troyer: The other lesson that I want to talk, here, about the agency. We talked about it earlier in the AMA, is that I’ve had local agencies and agencies of kind of different types, honestly, over the years, okay. I’ve had agencies where I was the face. Where, without me, nothing would work. I was the sales guy, I was the guy that then was the go-to or the in-between person and had all the meetings while fulfillment was happening. When a project was wrapped up, I was the one, as well, getting the sign off and everything, where literally if it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t know anybody else in the business. All paths led to me. Trust me when I say that that sucks.
Joe Troyer: I’ve also had business, like the agency I have right now, where I wasn’t the face. By all means, I sold a couple of deals here and there, but in the grand scheme of things, out of all the total sales, I sold maybe 2% of the sales, right. That’s where it’s at, okay. So if you can build it in a way where not all roads lead to you, then by all means you’ll have the opportunity to not only sell and to exit, but it’ll be a much more scalable and leveraged business for you while you’re in it, as well.