Episode 158

Scaling eCommerce Sales from $17k to $2 Million Per Month with Matt Clark from Lifeboost Coffee

Matt Clark - Life Boost Coffee
April 21, 2021
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Matt Clark knows what it takes to scale a business.  He’s the CEO of Amazing.com the creator of the most successful information product of all time - Amazing Selling Machines.  

He’s also the co-owner of Lifeboost, a company that he and his business partner Charles Livingston have grown from just $17k per month in sales to over $2 million in monthly sales in just a few short years.  So that begs the question - How did they do it?  That’s what we dive into in this episode.  We discuss their keys to scale both from a marketing and a product development standpoint.  Here’s a snapshot of what we cover:

- How focusing on the hook, headline and offer in their ads allowed them to scale from a few thousand in spend to over $400,000 in monthly Facebook spend.

- Their simple approach to testing and optimizing that doesn’t require any fancy software or split testing tools.

- How they are building their business to sell to the right investors

- How they forecast and measure to make sure they are constantly improving and hitting targets

- Mistakes they made while expanding their product line and their new approach to developing products

- How to better listen to customers

- More!


Mentioned in this episode:

eCommerce Evolution 98 Charles Livingston

BOOM by Cindy Joseph

Ezra Firestone

eCommerce Evolution 96 Matt Clark

SellerCon

Facebook Ad Library: Lifeboost Coffee

Matt Clark

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Amazing.com

Amazing Selling Machines

Lifeboost Coffee

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. Today is going to be an amazing episode. We have a returning guest and this guy is the man. He probably needs no introduction.

Brett:

This episode is brought to you by Ecommerce Influence. If you enjoy my podcast, you've got to check out Ecommerce Influence hosted by my friend, Austin Brawner. Austin interviews world-Class e-commerce operators like Native Deodorant founder Moiz Ali, Movement Watches CEO, Jake Kassan, and Pura Vida Bracelets founder, Griffin Thall. He deep dives into what's working right now to scale your business and he offers a refreshing break from the crush it culture plugging our industry.

Brett:

The Ecommerce Influence podcast will not only change your perspective on building your business, will change your perspective on what's possible for your life. I've known Austin for years, he's the real deal. And he's someone you need to listen to if you're serious about growing your business. Check out the Ecommerce Influence podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. And now back to the show.

Brett:

Matt Clark is joining me and he is the CEO of Amazing.com, creator of Amazing Selling Machines. And there's also the co-owner of Lifeboost Coffee. And so this is going to be a merchant story. We're going to dig in, see behind the scenes of how Matt and his business partner, Charles have scaled Lifeboost Coffee. It's an amazing stories, it's amazing product, and they do some really, really cool things. And so we're going to dive into that.

Brett:

But with that intro, Matt, welcome to the show, man. And thanks for coming on. Appreciate you taking the time.

Matt:

Hey, what's up Brett? Thanks for having me on again, excited to be here.

Brett:

This is round two on the podcast. And the first time you were on, we went meta or something, like we were talking about making better decisions. That was a really fun podcast. Today, we'll do maybe a little bit of that, but also going to get pretty tactical and practical as well, which will be really fun also. Do you want to share maybe just the brief origin story of Lifeboosts like how did it come to be? How did you and Charles start working together?

Brett:

Were you like workout buddies? You're both very buss and very fit. How did that all come to be?

Matt:

Charles started in Lifeboost, it was like a side project, I think back in like 2015. This was before he and I started working together maybe 2016 or so. I didn't even know he had it going on. And so he and I met because we were doing our big events for Amazing and Amazing Selling Machine. And I saw him, somebody told me he was sitting in the audience and I was familiar with him because he used to have the number one product, him and his business partners on ClickBank called Fat Loss back there.

Matt:

When I was first getting started in like internet marketing stuff, I was trying so many different businesses trying to get something to work. And I tried a few like info products, like a muscle building one, a weight loss one. And basically I was just ripping his stuff off, not the content, but the whole marketing for -

Brett:

Like his style, his approach type of thing.

Matt:

Yeah. I was like, "Okay, long form sales letter, cool videos." I was like all this kind of stuff. That's how I was familiar with who he was. And then, yeah, long story short, went and did a whole thing with amazing and e-commerce and everything like that and found my path there. But then yeah, he was looking for another business to do, and so he bought our course and he was in the audience. And then he and I hitted off a lot of similar interests. I did some work with them off and on for a while.

Matt:

And then I think it was 2000, I guess it had to have been like 2018-ish, I started having some more time because we'd grown Amazing so much. And I was like, "Okay." Because I went from doing only e-commerce to teaching e-commerce to being like, "I've been teaching e-commerce so long, can I still actually do it myself?" I was looking for something to do in that space because I finally had some free time again.

Matt:

I started getting really into healthy coffee and then was reading all of Dave Asprey's stuff and going into all the coffee shops. Yeah. And then I found out he had this business there that was selling the same exact kind of product. And I was like, "Okay, this could be cool." And so I was looking at his numbers because he wasn't really doing much with it, because he was just busy on doing other things.

Matt:

And then I found out though, people just kept rebuying, and rebuying, and rebuying, and rebuying. And I was like, "Okay, there's something really to this product, I love the product-

Brett:

The science of a great product.

Matt:

Yeah, for sure. It's amazing coffee, but when we first started working together in beginning of 2019, it was only doing like 16, 17 grand a month at that point. That's how we got started.

Brett:

Which is amazing. And so, to get the intermediate story, I did interview Charles Livingston, he was on the podcast for episode 98, so I'll link to that in the show notes, go back and listen to that from Charles' perspective. And he shared some great insights, but what's crazy is even since that episode, you guys have scaled even more, just amazing growth. And if anybody's watching the video, can see you get the Inc 500 plaque behind and you guys are rising in the ranks there on the Inc 500 list, which is awesome.

Brett:

But now let me make sure I have this right, just doing like two million a month in revenue, so from 17,000 a month to two million a month in just a few years, that's pretty insane.

Matt:

Yeah. I think after about the first year, so we started 2019, beginning of 2019, started scaling it. By the end of that year, we were doing about a million a month. And then we're right here at the beginning of 2021, but basically another year later, so two years total, yeah, we've gotten to about two million a month right now.

Brett:

That's insane. And so I wanted to look at this from a few different perspectives. We're going to talk about keys to scale from a marketing perspective and the way you guys approach your marketing efforts and how you scale those. I also want to talk about product because you guys have done a good job of adding to your product line and getting people to buy more. And of course, it is a consumable, so that's nice to, get people on automatic reorder and it's an awesome product.

Brett:

But you've also had some mistakes along the way with the products that you've shared with me, so I want to dive into those. But before we do that, you mentioned something before we hit record that I thought was really interesting. And I think this is a great place to start the conversation. But you talked about how you believe one of the keys to your success, that you and Charles have had is your ability to forecast.

Brett:

And your ability to look at the business, create this forecast and set these expectations for you thought you could do and then compare and measure along the way of what you were actually doing. And then being able to know, hey, should we do more of this, less of this, and that type of thing. So do you want to explain that a little bit and what that process looks like?

Matt:

Yeah. I actually got this from a coach of mine and his kind of story is he took a company public in his late 20s and went on a whole self-development journey after there. But he ended up teaching the model on the finance side that's worked amazingly. It's basically just like a 12-month rolling forecast. And so you have a few targets for the year. It's like, okay, we think we want to do 20 million in revenue, 10 million in gross profit, two million in net profit, for example.

Matt:

Like a high level forecast for the year and then you break it up by month. And so like for the month we could say, "Okay, January, we think we're going to do this, February, March and so forth for the rest of the year." And then when January comes, okay, you're doing your thing, you're growing your business, you're producing sales. And then by the time February is there, you compare that to, okay, what did we think we're going to do in January versus what did we actually do?

Matt:

So then you're able to reality check yourself and see how far you're off. When we first start doing this, you're going to be pretty far off, most likely, unless you've already got all your numbers dialed in. And then you do the same process again for the rest of the year. Update those numbers, another month comes comparing to what you thought you were going to do. To me, this system is like a perfect compliment to somebody who's very marketing-focused, which is me.

Matt:

And maybe a lot of people that are listening to this, you love doing the marketing stuff. You love figuring it out, selling stuff online. But if you don't sit there and try to forecast what you think is going to happen versus what actually happens, then I feel like it's really easy to start lying to yourself and diluting yourself, which ties back to the more decision-making podcasts we did. But I think it's a great compliment to direct marketing.

Matt:

And so rather than just doing a bunch of stuff and being like, "Well, maybe these numbers are kind of good or I think they're okay." It's like before you even start, you have an expectation of what good is going to look like. Write that stuff down, even if you only do it for one month. Write what you think is going to happen, do all the stuff you're going to do, and then compare what actually happened to what you thought was going to happen.

Matt:

You're going to get a lot smarter, a lot better at forecasting and allows you to plan expenses and cost of goods sold and all that kind of stuff. Because maybe you produce good sales, but maybe your gross profit was way lower than what you thought it was going to be. And it could be nothing sales-related. Maybe you spent too much on ads, maybe your supplier overbilled you.

Matt:

But if you don't have that kind of forecast in place, I find it's real easy to not be able to sort that stuff out when you're just like in the weeds. And we've done it with Amazing also. At one point we were paying affiliates 50% commission, and we're like, "Okay, if we keep paying them this amount for the whole year, it's going to cost us however many millions of dollars." We're like, "That's a lot of money. What happens if we reduce this to 40%?"

Matt:

And so we did, and then didn't lose any affiliates, and all of a sudden we made way more money. But without extrapolating that out for a full year, it's like we would've never had that clarity because we'd been doing this for years, and years, and years, and years, but you're just in the weeds sorting problems out. And so we did the same thing with Lifeboost and I think it allowed us to be a lot smarter with our decisions in terms of how much to spend on ads, how much to focus on recurring sales. When does it make sense to try to reduce cost of goods sold, all that sort of thing.

Brett:

I love that. And yeah, it's interesting how you find areas, and then to use that example from Amazing where you can reduce something by 10 points, or maybe it's only a couple of points or five points or whatever. That can sometimes double your profits. It can double your total profits, and so looking for those little things. But you're right, we did this on the agency side as well where we've got specific targets we want to hit for our net income.

Brett:

And then if we don't hit those expectations and you want to look at why. So I love that process because if you don't have an expectation of the goal upfront, then you'd be very tempted to say, "Well, this could have been worse. This was probably good." Right? Or maybe it wasn't.

Brett:

Any tips on how to go through that process? Like where do you come up with some of these numbers? And I know we could get too complex, I want to keep it as simple as we can. But where do you come up with some of these numbers? Are you just pulling them out of the air? Are you basing it on previous businesses? Where are you coming up with these baselines?

Matt:

Yeah. I think it's like the less experience you are in this specific business, it's the more you're kind of just guessing. For Lifeboost, for example, the business was only doing 17 grand a month at the beginning of 2019. We put together a full 12-month forecast for that business. It got to be like a few months in and we were so far above that forecast, the original forecast, but that's the point of like re forecasting. You've got your annual targets and we're like, "Okay, we're going to blow through these."

Matt:

Great. But now that we have more real data, say, we originally thought we were only going to be doing 50 grand a month and say, it was by I don't know, halfway through the year. But instead we're doing like 200 grand a month in sales. Is that great, pat ourselves on the back? Awesome. But now that we have this information, what do we think we're going to do next month? We're not going to do 50 grand a month in sales, but are we going to do 300, we're going to do 400.

Matt:

What our cost of goods sold going to be? What is the resulting gross profit and net profit? And then allows us to sort out any surprises like, "Hey, what the heck is this operating expense that popped up that's like an extra $1,000?" Without that kind of forecast, we're just tiering throughout the year, but then we're missing all kinds of opportunities to be more efficient financially.

Matt:

And so I think at first it's going to be pretty much a guess, and you may end up completely overshooting your annual numbers, but each month you should get smarter, and smarter, and smarter, and smarter. And so you're really dialing it in. Our sales can fluctuate because there's... Especially last year with all the craziness going on in the world-

Brett:

Sure.

Matt:

... and politically and all that kind of stuff. And with a lot of our acquisition being from Facebook ads, it's very volatile because of all that stuff going on. But we're still in general fairly accurate, I would say on the revenue side, plus or minus like 15%, and then on the profit side-

Brett:

Awesome.

Matt:

... it's like we're definitely digging into stuff far by more than like 25% on net profit after everything than what we expected to be.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Awesome. That's super helpful stuff. Let's dig into the marketing side of things because you guys are fantastic at this. But what are some of the keys to success, what you've identified as keys to success that has enabled you guys to scale with your marketing efforts?

Matt:

I think the first one is picking your battles. I don't claim to be a great person on social media, or even SEO, or any of that kind of stuff. It's like my main tool is direct marketing and the best way to do it now, I think for most businesses is going to be through Facebook ads. And so we pick that channel, and then at first I was running all the ads myself and we kind of had a process that we ran through that I think is very replicable.

Matt:

It's a bit of work, but I think will work for just about anybody if they're willing to put in the time and effort. The first step is to think about like what is the main hook? And I hate to use that word because it sounds... people have a hard time understanding what that even means in marketing. It took me probably like eight years of doing marketing before I really wrap my head around it. But in general-

Brett:

It sounds like a really simple concept, but it's not that easy to execute. It's almost like landing on a good tagline or something. A tagline is only eight words, but yeah, it could take you like years to really get a good tagline.

Matt:

Yeah. So to me, a hook in general is like, what is that thing that's going to grab people that stands out that's going to make them want to buy? And you may have a lot of ideas for the general angle for that in your business because a lot of times we just assume, and then we run with it. And so for us, it was like, okay, is it that most coffee is toxic and this one's not. That's a potential angle.

Matt:

We donate a portion of profits to an environmental organization so it's like is it the environmental angle? We try to make it the healthiest coffee possible, and so is it that angle? A lot of people have stomach pain and then this coffee helps them drink it, so is it like a stomach pain or acid reflux angle? So we had these guesses, and I cannot remember who guessed what, but it's like, okay, these are the general things that we think is going to get people to buy.

Matt:

And then we basically put those into headlines, essentially. Headlines and a leading paragraph on the sales page and didn't change anything else on the page. And we used a very direct marketing typical long form sales page. Still to this day, that's our main acquisition funnel. But all we did was change the headline and maybe the first paragraph or so, and to tie into the headline.

Matt:

And so we threw these angles against the wall, had one ad for each that tied in, so there wasn't a big disconnect between the ad and where they hit on the page. And then we started testing. That was the first thing that we tested was like, okay, what's the main angle that's going to grab people? So we figured that out. And then the next thing we tested was like, okay, a big thing in direct marketing is the headline can dramatically improve or hurt your performance.

Matt:

And so we're like, "Okay, we got the general angle, what are like 10 different headlines that fit that angle?" And so then we tested that next. Once again, didn't change anything else on the page. And so then once we figured those two pieces out, the next major thing we tested was the offer. And so the typical direct marketing from supplement funnels all the way back in the day was like a one, three, six. So you can buy one model at this price, three models at this price or six models at this price.

Matt:

We replicated the same thing, one bag, three bags, six bags. And then we tested a ton of different variations. Like what if we give people the same discount on all of them? What if we give people escalating discounts is what you would expect? What if we frame the discounts and dollar amounts versus percentage amounts? What if we did a two, four, eight, what if we did a bunch of different combinations?

Matt:

And what ended up working our best for us was just, they didn't have to buy three or six. We don't even have a one bag option on there-

Brett:

Nice. Nice.

Matt:

... because shipping costs just kind of kills you. So we do three or six and we give them a 50% discount versus retail price. And so it's a huge discount, we frame it basically as like a first-time customer discount, but they have to buy three or six, then we do all kinds of order bumps and upsells and that kind of thing after. And so once we really dialed in the main angle, the headline, the offer, that's when we were able to scale this thing extremely quickly.

Matt:

So I was running all the Facebook ads at first for the first few months, but I had a friend of mine who his main expertise is taking you from like 100 grand a month in spend to like 500 grand a month in spend, plus he's good at the scaling piece. But he's very honest like, "Look, I'm just going to be costing you a bunch of money if I'm trying to get you from nothing to like picking up traction."

Matt:

And so he was working with me behind the scenes because I had run way more Facebook ads and stuff for like an information marketing business at Amazing than I ever had with e-commerce. That was years ago and I used different channels and very big on Amazon, but it's different than that sort of channel. So he was mentoring me a little bit behind the scenes on the e-commerce side.

Matt:

And then as soon as we picked up the right numbers, handed it off him and he's been scaling it ever since. He basically scaled it from like when we were like maybe 30, 40 grand a month in spend and now we spend 400 plus $1,000 a month on Facebook ads.

Brett:

It's amazing. I wanted to get into a few things, and then first of all, that was awesome, and I love the breakdown of the hook, the headline, the offer. What's interesting, when you laid out in the beginning, these like all the potential feature/benefits, right?

Matt:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's free trade, it's low acidity, it's clean, it doesn't have all these pesticides and stuff, but what's really going to resonate. And so one of the things I think is pretty easy for entrepreneurs is that step, here's all the benefits. But then what is going to be the hook? What do we lead with? That's the really tricky part. And so a way we frame it as we're building YouTube ads, we call it the supporting cast versus the golden thread.

Brett:

All those benefits, hey, free trade and we donate 1% for the planet and stuff like that. That's probably your supporting cast. Those are nice things that once someone is really hooked and interested, it's like, oh wow, this is the great company, of course, I want to buy. But those are not the main thing. I'm just curious, were there some surprises along the way? Were you surprised by what hook and/or headline actually landed?

Matt:

The environmental thing just completely bombed. It's like as much as people say, they want to feel good about the products they buy and stuff. That's not been our experience for this product anyways. We have like-

Brett:

What's the worst thing about that is, I think people... Obviously, nobody wants to hurt the planet, but we still buy for selfish reasons. Maybe I don't buy if I know a company is really harmful to the planet, but that's not the main reason people buy.

Matt:

Yeah. But we do use it as you call it a supporting cast, we have all those things on there somewhere. Because it's like, okay, if there's just one person who's sitting there, that's like, hey, they also support the environment. Okay, I'm in. After everything, then it's totally worth it. One thing that has surprised me is like, we've run so many different headline tests and we have not been able to beat one of the original headlines that I came up with for the ad, which is like coffee almost as alkaline as water.

Matt:

Within Facebook, if your headlines too long, then it gets truncated and you can't really read it. And so it's what kind of punchy headline, I think really stands out. We've tested so many things that have not been able to beat that. Also on the creative side, what tends to work best for us is almost like this really delicious looking little video clips of like a piece of cake getting cut out of all thing.

Matt:

But one of our first early ads that just crushed, it was literally just a piece of chocolate cake being cut with a fork, and it just grabs people's attention and it clicked on it-

Brett:

And there was like coffee next to it or something, right?

Matt:

No, no.

Brett:

No, just the cake?

Matt:

Just really a very close up image of like a piece of tape getting cut. And so we run a bunch of different ads like that. And then we've run more typical like before and after ones of somebody who was like their stomach is hurting with a coffee and then another person is holding it up and they're happy and stuff. But yeah, a lot of those little like food tasty videos of have worked really well.

Matt:

I had a little of an advantage because I've been writing copy for 10 years or so. But I don't think it was anything that crazy. I think it's like you either hired a copywriter or just picked up your copywriting one-on-one stuff for like... The good thing is, is like with an e-commerce business with a relatively low transaction value, it's like testing is so cheap as long as you stay focused.

Matt:

I think if you start trying to test a million different things at once or you aren't really clear on your ad channel stuff, it's like it's almost impossible and it's going to be way more expensive. But if you're focusing on like one channel, one ad, one landing page, then testing, as long as you don't get too distracted is relatively cheap. And so I don't think you have to be the best copywriter creative person, because I think you can just add so much stuff and figure out what works rather than guessing.

Brett:

And this really, this process of getting a little bit better each time, gaining a couple of points of efficiency, increasing your conversion rate just a little bit and increasing the AOV just a little bit. It all really adds up, and so I'm glad that you said it because I think sometimes we're looking for like one magic breakthrough, which is that's not the way it works. Like test headlines, find the winner, test the offer, find the winner, tweak the landing page.

Brett:

Any insights you can share on your testing process or methodology? How do you know what to focus on for your tests and how long do you let a test run? Any insights there on testing?

Matt:

Yeah. Our main Facebook ads guy would be able to talk to this way better, but it's like I was running it with him at the early stages. And so a few tips or principles is like, one is, test as cheaply as possible. Even though we knew we wanted to scale up really big, we were starting with... The campaign structures changed a little bit over the past year with Facebook's campaign budget optimization and all that kind of stuff I'm sure you could tell people about.

Matt:

But back then, we were basically running like $20 an ad set to start off with. And so super low budget because I find with most of these businesses, every business I've been involved in, the biggest nightmare at the beginning is the tracking piece. And it's like, you can spend 1,000 bucks a day if you've got the budget, but it doesn't mean the tracking is going to be any more correct until you really have like beat it up and you're very confident.

Matt:

And so starting super small helped. And we started off trying to use Google's split testing tool, but then we found that it was way easier for us to just test, do our split testing with Facebook. And so we would run like a brand new clean ad set. And then we would have a control version with no social engagement history or just a clean, basically fresh one. And then say, if we wanted to test five different headlines, we would have five different landing pages where the only difference was a different headline.

Matt:

And so then we would have five different ad sets all with the same ad, same ad copy. The only differences are going to a different headline page. And that for us has been the cleanest way to test. We actually don't use any split testing software-

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

... kind of a unique, they don't really have a lot of people talk about, but it's worked really well for us. It works so well that we just stop looking at split testing software, and that's how we test. Whether it's an ad test or a landing page test.

Brett:

It's a simple thing, and then you're only changing one variable in this case. Right? It's just the headline. The ad's the same in same ad set, but different different landing page.

Matt:

Yeah.

Brett:

Whereas if you're testing a whole bunch of things at once, it's hard to know, was it the headline or was it the ad or was it the audience?

Matt:

Yeah. And for us it was like, I didn't want to have to spend the rest of my life running freaking Facebook ads. So it was like trying to pick up enough traction where it made sense to hand it off to an agency. Because the guy that we hired, we get a little bit of a discount because we're friends, but it's like his normal fee and it's not that far off what we pay. His normal minimum is like 10 grand a month, and so you got to be doing some certain volume for that to even make sense.

Brett:

Absolutely. Just starting out, you can't really make the numbers work paying that kind of fee.

Matt:

Yeah. So my whole thing was trying to do like the 20%, the 80/20 that was going to get us enough traction to I didn't have to run Facebook ads any more myself so that he can manage all that split tests and stuff and I could move on to other things. Other thing that surprised was, on the landing page, we have this long form, ugly landing page that we've tested all kinds of stuff. We try to have a nice little pretty landing page, it looks like a nice e-commerce store and stuff and it's just like completely terrible performance.

Matt:

And so I would love to beat it because I think it would make our brand look better, but we haven't been able to beat it. And so like along the way, we also didn't really focus on the e-commerce store at all. We still don't spend a lot of time there. We spend it mainly on the acquisition channel and then the email marketing after, and the subscription. But we don't spend a ton of time optimizing our own e-commerce store, because it's just one of those things. It's like we run this business super lean even at $2 million a month in revenue.

Matt:

So it's like, that may be an eye opener for some people who think they have to have the prettiest, nicest looking e-commerce store that's on par with all these billion dollar direct to consumer businesses and stuff. And that's not been our experience I guess.

Brett:

And you're tracking and measuring it. And that's one of those things where, man, don't let your preferences dictate what you do. Look at the data and the way you guys are scaling and growing with Facebook ads, if those are the pages that are working, that's what you got to double down on. And it sounds like you're making the right choices there for sure. That's really good.

Brett:

Any other thoughts on keys to scale with your marketing before we transition to product strategy?

Matt:

Yeah. We've been able to get multiple channels to work well, but I think it all was because we had one funnel that we really dialed in the numbers. And so we had this one funnel that we focused exclusively on Facebook ads, Facebook and Instagram together, but Facebook ads. And we really dialed in that thing. We knew our conversion numbers, our revenue per visitor, all that kind of stuff.

Matt:

And then we were able to take that and then use it to get a lot of other channels working very quickly. Started with affiliates, and so affiliates have been huge for us. Charles and mainly him has a lot of personal relationships in the health space from all his past stuff, so he's got some of them to promote. I also started contacting all the sites ranked for like best organic coffee, best low-acid coffee.

Matt:

Started contacting all of them and was like, "Hey, you're promoting this Amazon associates thing where you're making your like stupid 5% or whatever." I was like, "We'll pay you $30 per person that buys."

Brett:

Wow.

Matt:

"You're going to have a lower conversion rate because we're not Amazon, but it's going to make up, so you're going to make way more money." And I even made them an offer, I was like, "Hey, I'll guarantee you I'll double your commissions next month from this page if you put us there for a month. You can always swap us out later. I'll literally guarantee you this amount of money no matter how many sales you make." And so that was enough to get a few people to try it out.

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

And then was able to say... I went to their competitors after that and I said, "Hey, this site is promoting us because they make way more money off of their best coffee affiliate site." And then, so it was real easy to get people to sign up back to that. So if you search for any of those terms, now you'll find us listed like all over there. We're the number one organic coffee, number one low-acid coffee according to all these coffee affiliate sites.

Matt:

And I used to think, it opened my mind because... And I've been doing marketing stuff for a long time now I feel like, but I still had something that was like, "Yeah, these review sites, it's people that are just super passionate about coffee. They're literally talking tasting and reviewing all these."

Brett:

testing, they're just choosing this..

Matt:

Oh, freaking way. It's just somebody who took a course or something on how to do SEO. Not really good at it, and then now created a site that basically just has all these review pages, which is 100% and just engineered for Google. Some of them asked for coffee samples, but some of them don't even care. They're literally just that's his business. Usually a guy, I guess it could be a girl, but in experience, it's guys.

Brett:

Whatever reason in the SEO space, that has always been dominated by dudes. I don't know why.

Matt:

I don't know. Literally just whoever can make them the most amount of money is all they really care about for the ones that I've seen. But it all started with having one funnel working really well, which I think is the secret for all affiliate stuff is like, you can have relationships and you can beg them to promote, but they're not going to keep promoting unless they're making money. So it's like once we have this dialogue get affiliates working, Google search working.

Matt:

Some more retargeting, but YouTube a little bit. We have some acquisition on Snapchat, a lot of retargeting on Snapchat and Pinterest. And it's all because we have this one funnel working and getting everything else working at the same time was all very easy at that point.

Brett:

Got it.

Matt:

That's basically been our approach to marketing, and Charles manages all the email marketing stuff. But it's like pretty typical email marketing stuff for like a direct marketer. That's like, we want to manage the relationship with the customers and all that, but we're doing promotions all the time and we're probably mailing at least five times a week or so. Which somebody who does direct marketing through email is going to be like, "Yeah, that's normal."

Matt:

But then other people are kind of like... More typical e-commerce people are terrified to email people too much, which I think is a mistake, but that's like-

Brett:

It is a mistake, yeah. You're almost certainly not emailing your clients, customers enough. I want to just highlight a couple of things. One, I love that approach of, hey, get one funnel that's working. So one landing page, one offer, that whole formula that's working because to your point, if you're going to get people to promote your product for you, you can get them to do it once. But if it doesn't work, then they'll likely never do it again.

Brett:

And I love, I love your approach to SEO because a lot of people are probably thinking, oh man, I got to get my site to rank so that I can capitalize on organic traffic. That's not the best strategy. Right? What's that?

Matt:

I don't have the patience for that.

Brett:

Yeah. It's great, so okay, create some content, do some things, of course, get your page looking good instructional that, but it's a slow game, man. It's months and months and probably years. So why not just contact the people that are already ranking and say, "Hey, I'll cut you a deal." And I love the fact that you were bold enough to say, "Hey, I'll double, your commissions, doesn't even matter how it works." Because you knew and the fact that you had a funnel that worked gave you the confidence for that and it was totally worth it in the end.

Brett:

You sort of bought your SEO to a certain degree and now you're in so many more places than if you had just said, "Hey, I'm going to go hire an SEO firm and see if I can start to rank over time -"

Matt:

It's like we could have spent 12 months doing SEO ourselves and maybe got the same result and there's this thing we have to manage. Or instead we had literally number one rankings all over the place in like a month, like 30 days. And the other benefit too of that is not only the consistent sales and everything, but we've taken screenshots of our number one rankings on those sites and added them as social proof, because we're like, "Hey, we're the number one coffee on this, we're the number one coffee on this."

Matt:

Because it's like a lot of people like look at those sites and they think they're super credible. Maybe to some extent they are, but it's your opinion, I guess, but I'm like, "Hell, if they say, 'We're the number one coffee,' I'm going to let people know that just until I get something that

Brett:

Absolutely.

Matt:

... gives you an award or something."

Brett:

Absolutely. And that's just looking for all the assets that you have at your disposal leveraging it, and getting a little bit more from each channel, each opportunity. It's brilliant. That's awesome. All right. We got about 15-ish minutes, something like that left. Let's talk product for a minute because you and I had a fascinating conversation about product several weeks ago when we were prepping. If you're going to get to $2 million a month in sales in e-commerce, you probably don't have just one product.

Brett:

You probably got several products and a variety of stuff. Walk through how you scaled with your product development, product launches. And I'd also love to cover some successes and failures along the way.

Matt:

Full transparency, Charles manages most of the product stuff, but we make a lot of the decisions together. Like we started off with our basic product, which has all the major roasts, medium, dark, light, decaf, espresso roast, but the main ones are medium, dark and light and decaf. Those are the main products that bring in probably 70% of the sales if not 80%. And then we also have a line of flavored coffees. Charles has been building those out for a while. We keep adding new flavors.

Matt:

And then along the way, we had one kind of premium more exclusive coffee that we would do like limited batches just to have extra stuff to sell people that were already customers. Because it's like, if you just bought six bags of medium roast, because that's what you drink, it's like getting you to buy more bags of medium roast. It's like you can only physically drink so much coffee.

Matt:

If you have a flavor that you can buy or a special roast, you can buy that and maybe give some bags or something like that. It's like it works out well there. But then along the way, like any business, we're like, "Okay, cool." I've done a bunch of information marketing stuff, so is Charles. Used to have as super successful weight loss product and stuff. That was all information-based.

Matt:

And we're like, "It'd be nice to have like a product that we could sell that at zero cost of goods sold, 100% digital." So we ended up paying a guy to create like an inflammation course that... We paid them like a fixed fee. So then once it was created, it was ours to sell for whatever we wanted. It just didn't really work out. It's not really what people wanted. They knew us as a coffee business and they were sitting here trying to sell like an inflammation course.

Matt:

Then we started talking with an investment bank because we're eventually going to sell this business. And so we were talking with the investment bank and then they were advising us and stuff and saying like, "Hey, stay really focused with your products there. Otherwise, it's going to be way harder for like a potential acquirer to wrap their heads around this business."

Matt:

We also tried like a few supplements because we both sold lots of supplements in the past. -

Brett:

Yeah. It always another recurring revenue product and-

Matt:

Yes.

Brett:

... you're selling healthy coffee, so the supplement made sense. And honestly, the inflammation product made sense too, it's healthy coffee so that it makes sense that you tested it, but it also makes sense that it didn't work.

Matt:

Yeah. And so then with the supplement is the same kind of thing, it's like we did all this work, created this product. Sold okay, but then we're like, "This is just like a huge distraction and it's also like really diluting the brand." And it was harder for us to sell, but it's like as soon as we add like a new coffee flavor, a new special version of coffee, then those are so much easier to sell.

Matt:

And it's like I found the same that... I learned the lesson quicker in this business because I'd already learned it very painfully in Amazing where just like back in the day with Amazing, we tried to go from like just teaching Amazon stuff to teaching everything in business, and then like nearly killed the company. And then had made a few more mistakes. It took multiple mistakes to really ingrain that in my head.

Matt:

But then as soon as we went back to like, okay, what else can we teach related to Amazon courses, events, mastermind, software? Everything sells very well because that's what people are expecting. Same thing in this business, it's like we started deviating from coffee stuff. People are like, "What the hell is this?" But then we'd go back to selling more coffee stuff, it's very easy.

Matt:

And only slight variation we've had from that is we've created a coffee creamer product, which we both, Charles and I both, we both try to be pretty healthy and stuff. We both literally put college and creamer and MCT, the whole kind of like bulletproof approach in our coffee. And so from an authenticity standpoint and also it's very much related to the coffee experience. That has gone pretty well.

Matt:

And we think that'll be more of a long-term product, but anything that's just started some random other health product is been a waste of time for us and waste of money too.

Brett:

Yeah. Keeping it tight and focused and also being simple. I think sometimes entrepreneurs, we're idea people and we're always thinking about the next thing, the next innovation, the next breakthrough. And so that can lead us to wild ideas. And sometimes it's okay, but with your product mix, stay tight, stay focused. What do your customers expect? What do they know you as? And really double down there?

Brett:

I love the creamer idea. I think that is going to stick, and that is very... For a lot of people, the two go together, you can't have coffee without creamers. I think that totally makes sense.

Matt:

Yeah. I think it also depends on your goal with the business. Our goal has been very clear, to sell it. And so, because that's our goal, it's like we want something that's very easy for people to wrap their heads around it, potential acquirers like, "Okay, this is a coffee company that sells typical coffee stuff." Also, what's gone very well for us is adding K-cups, biodegradable K-cups, because we're in line with the environmental angle. So we didn't want to do typical like plastic K-cups biodegradable.

Matt:

Those have also gone exceptionally well. Another coffee product, big surprise, it goes very well for us versus like other stuff that didn't. And also it's just makes it real easy for a potential acquirer to wrap their heads around this thing versus like, oh, I'm buying this coffee company, but they're also selling these inflammation products, inflammation. They also have some supplements it's like... Nevermind, I'm going to get something else that's easier to understand.

Matt:

Maybe somebody's goal is different though. Maybe their goal is like, I want to build a lifestyle brand and around me is like an influencer or just try to produce as much profit as this thing. I don't ever really care about selling. And maybe their answer will be a little bit different, but for us, the outcome has been very clear, so if that is your outcome, I think also thinking in terms of like, why would somebody actually buy this thing and what's going to be like the easiest thing for them to understand? That's helpful too.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. What is your ultimate outcome? And how do you build towards that end? Because yeah, to use an example, look at Amazon, they're always inventing crazy businesses. They're venture into voice devices, and a voice assistant, and speakers. That was a departure from a lot of what they were doing before, but now it all totally makes sense and it ties together. And so, yeah, I think that's a perfect clarification there, really depends on what your goals are with the business. That's going to dictate product strategy too.

Brett:

Any tips or insights you can provide on like when do you add a new product? How do you get ideas for new products? Is it driven by customer feedback? Is it just you and Charles like brainstorming? What does that process look like?

Matt:

As far as when is, I think the whole theme for this thing for me has been staying as focused as possible, which everyone talks about, but it's like how do you actually put that into action? And so for us, it was like very focused on the marketing side. I know Amazon stuff better than a lot of people because I've been doing it for so long and we teach and all that kind of stuff. I've got access to everybody on the planet.

Matt:

We didn't add Amazon until like four months ago. It is because-

Brett:

Interesting. Would we can elaborate on that a little bit? That was actually one of my next question was, what was your Amazon strategy? Because you were the Amazon guy. But behind the most successful Amazon course or most successful info product of all time, Amazing Selling Machines. Why did you decide to go that route waiting before you got on Amazon?

Matt:

Because we knew we were going to have another channel we had to manage. And as soon as we have multiple channels to manage, we're probably not paying good enough attention to the first channel. And so for me, the channel being like the Shopify store, another channel being Amazon. We didn't want to have to do any of that sort of stuff and take our focus away from the sort of main channel we were running.

Matt:

But then for us, it's like once we got, call it like 18 plus months into this and the Shopify store, we've got our Facebook ads acquisition dialed in, our subscription dialed in or email marketing dialed in. It's like there wasn't a lot of variability happening over there. We could very well kind of predict what was going to happen and we... It wasn't a big load on us anymore. So at that point we were like, "Okay, now we're ready for another channel."

Matt:

And it's like, I'm not saying one is necessarily better than the other, but it's like, I feel like you've got to pick your battles. Basically we tell the same people the same thing on Amazon, "Don't start trying to add another channel until that first one is super stable." And so for us, that's how we made the decision to transition from Shopify and add Amazon. And we actually have an external team who manages the whole thing for us, because we've kept this business as lean as possible.

Matt:

And it's like our model, it's like me and Charles are full-time. We've got a full-time operations person, a bunch of customer service people that are kind of full-time, but they're contractors. Everything else is outsourced. All the ads, design, development, managing Amazon, all that kind of stuff is outsourced, which has been our model. And so for me, it's the same thing on the product side is when we felt like we had really tapped out the potential of our core products, like we're trying to get as many freaking customers as we possibly can and sell them our main rows.

Matt:

And we're trying to sell as many of these flavors and other products to our current customers. It's like at that point, it makes sense to start adding more products. And we feel like we fully tapped out the first ones versus like adding a whole bunch of stuff, it's a whole bunch of extra stuff you have to manage, but you're leaving the low-hanging fruit, which is all your current products.

Brett:

Right. Really maximize and be very, very good at your primary channel and to expand from there. And one thing too, I think in some ways it's harder to build a successful brand off Amazon than it is on Amazon in some ways. And Amazon is a jungle, it's tricky for sure. But I think if you can build that momentum, that brand off Amazon, then when you do launch on Amazon, you are going to have a ton of momentum, there's going to be a lot of people looking for you. Native Deodorant... Go ahead.

Matt:

Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. That was one of the big reasons we jumped on there is because like, if you went and did a search for our brand on Amazon, there was already like a million different searches that were in because people are looking for it and I was like... And we experienced the same thing with another brand. We manage for a period of time, those super heavy into direct marketing. Just being on Amazon, we immediately start making sales because some people will just-

Brett:

You immediately get a lift.

Matt:

Or buy on your store.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. We worked with Native Deodorant and they saw the same thing where they built this amazing brand off Amazon and they knew, and they were getting feedback from Amazon too, that as soon as they just put their product there, an immediate lift. We're helping Boom, as we run Boom by Cindy Joseph right now, we run their Google, and YouTube, and stuff and we're helping them now on Amazon or get ready for Amazon and expecting the same thing.

Brett:

There's already a ton of people searching for Boom on Amazon right now. It's not available, so it's going to be a pretty and immediate win that way. That's awesome. Any, any other thoughts on timing and where you get the ideas for new products? Just any other insights on the product piece?

Matt:

Yeah. I wish I had more to add there. The big one for us was on the K-cup side. That actually wasn't even on our radar because neither he nor I use K-cups at all. But he did say, because Charles, he likes to be very tied into the customer side of the business, which I think makes sense for his position. And so literally, every customer support ticket gets emailed to him in addition to the normal ticketing system where it's handled, but he just wants to see all that stuff..

Matt:

Because he would say like, "Probably a couple of times a day, somebody would be asking for K-cups." And so eventually we're like, "Okay, we probably got to add this thing." It's a bit of a hassle because you got to find, where do you get the little cup things? Who's going to put them in there. Where do you get the box there? Who's going to ship them all out? So was a little bit -

Brett:

How can you environmentally friendly? Otherwise, you're going against your core.

Matt:

Yeah. So it's a bit of a hassle that we're going to figure all that out. Now that we've done it, it's getting better. But that was another thing where we were seeing the data from the customers, and then we are also heard about this from the investment bank that we're talking to. And the thing is helpful to talk the whole idea of like thinking with the end in mind. If your goal is to sell the business, talk with somebody who sold a lot of these businesses and they may have some good ideas for you to.

Matt:

We've run a lot of ideas by them and they kept hounding us. They were like, "When are you going to have to K-cups? When are you going to K-cups? When are you going to add K-cups?"

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

Why they keep making such a big deal about this? It can't be that big. And then, so I started researching statistics and it was like one in four coffee drinkers in America only uses K-cups.

Brett:

Is that right? I had no idea it was that many.

Matt:

I always thought it was just like a separate thing that people did, but it's like almost one of those core forms of coffee. There's people who like ground coffee, there's people who like beans coffee, and there's people who like pods. They're all equally as important, and so as soon as we added that, the thing started selling like crazy. Because some people will only use those and they don't really have to use the little one where you put it in there yourself and stuff. It's messy, but we used to that back in the day. So yeah, that has been huge for us too.

Brett:

That's awesome. I love several elements of that. One, Charles getting those customer emails. And I hear, and prick off as true. Bezos did the same thing, he would get customer complaints. They would be sent to him because he wanted that data, he wanted that information and-

Matt:

I did the same thing in Amazing. It's like we've got a lot of customers over there and but I eventually just put my email inside of the actual course. I was like, "If you ever have an issue, email me." And there's a lot of times people think that all people are just going to hound you all day long, especially with ad business, if I get info marketing like mini celebrity kind of business. But it's like most people, unless they're just crazy, are only going to email you if there's a real problem.

Matt:

And it's like, I may get a few a week in there, and like thousands of people have seen that. And usually it's pretty legitimate stuff. And so, I'm a big fan of that strategy, of like being as close as possible to the customers, literally let them contact you directly.

Brett:

Being as close as you can and getting data as quick as you can. Don't have it filter through three levels of people before it gets to you, just get it. Get that feedback. Because sometimes it's like a really simple thing, or sometimes I know in our business like as an agency, reporting is an issue, like how do we show the results that we're getting for our clients? And I remember early on some things that people just kept having issues with, and I'm like, "Man, that seemed obvious to me." But now I see that it's not obvious.

Brett:

And so we fixed it, and added more visualizations, stuff like that. Or in this case where I would have been in the same boat as you and Charles. I hang out with coffee snobs at times. I like fresh coffee and I've got a nice Bonavita coffee maker and a nice grinder. It's like, K-cups, no way, man. I'm not using the K-cup. But listen to the customer. And if it's 25 or 30% of people use a K-cup, you better offer it. That's a no brainer.

Brett:

But if you're not listening to the customer and then also people will experience like your investment bankers and stuff. Really good -

Matt:

And I think, because we've had some products that it works, some products that have not worked. I think that as long as you're maximizing the sales of your products that you already have, and with the new products you roll out, you try to reduce risk as much as possible. And that is one smart thing we did on some of the supplement products is we found a way toe barely order any or get the supplier to actually fund the inventory and stuff.

Matt:

Then I think it's way less risky to add and test more products. And we've used that to be able to scale up pretty quickly without huge financial risk.

Brett:

Yep. Small calculated risks. Then you find winners, you double down, you go all in on all those that are winning. That's awesome. Fantastic stuff, man. This has been a ton of fun. This was a perfect compliment. Go back and listen to the episode where Matt and I talk high level decision-making and mass process there, but this was tactical, practical, really, really good insights. Appreciate it very much.

Brett:

Matt, how can people find out more about you? If someone's wanting to enhance their Amazon game. Talk a little bit about Amazing.com and your events and products and stuff. And then we'll talk co coffee in a second too.

Matt:

Sure. I finally have created like a personal brand website that's like a hub for everything.

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

Everything Matt Clark has taken, so I did mattaclark.com. Middle name is Alexander, mattaclark.com. You can have links to social. I've got a few blog posts I've been putting there that are the best advice I can possibly give on how to make money, how to keep money, time management, building a team-

Brett:

Awesome.

Matt:

... is so far what's on there, so it'd be cool to check those out. If you're interested in e-commerce stuff, building an e-commerce business, we've got amazing.com. We've got our main program, which teaches you how to go from scratch, which is Amazing Selling Machine that you'll find a link to on there. We've got other free training. We've got some stuff for existing sellers, if you want to scale sales on Amazon.

Matt:

Our main wheelhouse at Amazing right now is very Amazon-centric, so we've done a course with Ezra actually. That was basically how to go from Amazon to Shopify, but still your main thing is Amazon. So you're probably better off going to Ezra at this point, by the way, if you want to learn Shopify stuff, like he's got that stuff covered, so ours is more Amazon-centric. But yeah, check us out if you're interested in that stuff.

Brett:

Awesome. Then you also have an amazing event, SellerCon, which is annual, which just happened. And I got to speak there, thank you for that. Are recordings and stuff so available from that? Or was that live only?

Matt:

Yeah, we do have recordings. They should be available for sale by now. But yeah, if you hit up amazing.com, if you don't see them on there and then definitely just email our support team and we can kind of get you a link. But I'm not 100% sure if we put those up yet, because it takes a little bit to get them. But yeah, we do have our events that we typically do annual, which is SellerCon, which is, I would say, 70% Amazon, how do you sell more on Amazon? What products do you sell on Amazon. Then maybe 30% more like general e-commerce and business.

Brett:

It was a great event. I got to participate in a little bit, got get to meet other speakers, get to see behind the scenes. Of course this year was virtual, so it was interesting, but a great event. So highly, highly recommend that. And then now let's talk coffee. Man, I do enjoy coffee. I'm sure as people are listening to this, they're like, "Man, I got to go brew a cup. I got to go make some." Talk about Lifeboost. Where can we find Lifeboost coffee?

Matt:

Definitely hit up a lifeboostcoffee.com. And for all of the marketers out there, give you like a little bit of a hack is like, if you just look up in Facebook ad library, if you look up Lifeboost coffee in Facebook ad library, you're going to find our ads there and you're going to find our 50% off page and stuff. We do some cooky things on there, so maybe it's like some people who don't really know what they're doing can't buy multiple times and stuff.

Matt:

If you want a discount, you can definitely go over there. Or if you just shoot me a message, DM on Instagram or something like that, I can hook you up also. But yeah, just check out lifebosstcoffee.com.

Brett:

Sweet. I'm really glad you mentioned that resource. That's one I don't mention on the podcast enough, but the Facebook ad library it's like go and find all the top advertisers, find some of their best to add. So look at what Lifeboost is doing on Facebook. And then I also recommend, go to their site, sign up for their emails. Get those emails. Even if you put them in a folder and only review them from time to time. Get those emails, see what they're doing. We learn a lot by observing smart marketers.

Matt:

Yeah, you can definitely sign up for our email list wherever you find it on the site and we're not crazy. It's like if you unsubscribe, you're done. It's not like we're somehow take your email and then spam you from multiple places. Literally, if you unsubscribe, you no longer get emails. So it's definitely a great place to check them out. You'll see all the emails that Charles primarily writes himself, but we have some copywriters. but it's what we do, it's how we sell a lot of coffee.

Brett:

It's really good stuff, really good stuff. Awesome, Matt. Thanks, man. You crushed it. That was an amazing interview. Really appreciate taking the time.

Matt:

Thank you, Brett. Appreciate you having me.

Brett:

Awesome. And so with that thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear your feedback. Let us know what you'd like to hear more of, what you'd like to hear less of. Any feedback on the podcast, we'd love to hear it. And hey, if you feel so inclined, we'd love that five star review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. And with that until next time. Thank you for listening.


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