How to Master Consumer Engagement – Webinar with Laura Patterson

I recently did a webinar with consumer engagement expert, Laura Patterson, of Vision Edge Marketing, a company that improves and proves the value of marketing (online and offline) through data, analytics, metrics and marketing processes.

Laura speaks at shows like the Online Marketing Summit, where we met early last year, and I was immediately captured by her passion and knowledge of sales processes and marketing measurement for B2B and B2C consultative type buyer behaviour.

She took the sales funnel model and turned it into a sales pipeline model that others would soon follow. From it, she teaches us that buyers are basically at different stages of the sales process but can jump back and forth between the state they are at quickly and linearly.

This pipeline and process can be used online and offline and through multiple channels and touch points at the same time. We created this webinar together to showcase what this buyer pipeline meant, and showcase how it works with different marketing channels such as search, social, mobile, affiliates, within shopping comparison engines and more.

Further, it gives specific examples of the types of touch points within each of those channels that engage with customers when they are at different stages of their buying cycle.

The first few minutes, presented by Laura, outline what you need to know about customer buying behaviours, what drives leads and what the six stages in the buying cycle are. I take the lead in the middle of the presentation to showcase the different marketing channels and tactics and how they work based on different buying behaviours and needs of the customers, and Laura finishes it off with some information about measurements, optimization and tracking.

It’s interesting to see this process in action and is especially obvious in larger ticket items such as cars, houses, boats, vacations and any other “consultative” type of sale.

I encourage you to watch the video all the way through as there are some great tid-bits that might spark some new ideas about how to understand your buyers, and how to engage with them at different touch points in different channels at different times in their sales process.

Start Your 2014 with Clear Purpose – Define Your Why!

 All Inclusive Marketing AIM DIGG Motto, Delight, Innovate, Grow, Giveback

2014 is here and to differentiate yourself and get ahead of the pack, its essential to know where you’re going and how to get there. In order to do that, every business needs to have  a clear purpose and goals, a reason for doing what they do that’s greater than themselves. It’s their “Why?”. One of the most useful TED Talks I’ve seen talked about what makes successful businesses, like Apple and Amazon, from the simple concept of starting with your “Why” first.

All Inclusive Marketing has the very clear purpose of pushing our industry forward and improving the lives of those around us. We do a ton of volunteer work for different boards, such as the Online Marketing Institute, The School of Internet Marketing and the Performance Marketing Association.

We work closely with our industry partners, clients, affiliates and team in order to ensure they are equipped with the proper tools and expertise they need to stay ahead and take a strong leadership role in what they do.

We contribute hours upon hours of content, videos, educational material, all for the  purpose of pushing this industry forward in the right direction and it falls entirely in line with our DIGG Motto: to Delight, Innovate, Grow and Give Back. Every decision we make in our business needs to fall into one or more of these categories. If it doesn’t, we don’t do it.

So in 2014, I ask you, what is your purpose? What is your WHY? What makes you and your company tick, the something that’s much bigger than just making money that fulfills what you do?

With that, and your eye on the ball of living and breathing your “why”, 2014 will be bound to hold great things for you too!

Exclusive Interview: Tricia Meyer Comments Black Friday / Cyber Monday Results

Tricia-Meyer-Cyber-MondayWith some of the hottest sales days of the year just passing us and Affiliate Summit West just around the corner, I wanted to get some insight from one of our industry veterans on how Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales went from an affiliate perspective, what challenges the industry is facing going into 2014, advice from an affiliate to a merchant and a few other tid-bits.
This month’s exclusive interview is with the well loved and respected, Tricia Meyer.

1. How did you find Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales this year compared to other years? What changes did you make to get different results this year?

This year sales started much earlier. Years ago we didn’t even have traffic on Thanksgiving. This year, we saw a huge spike in sales…rivaling Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I think it was a combination of fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as all of the media attention on Big Box stores starting their sales earlier. We loaded up everything that we could to start on Thanksgiving but still took the day off to spend with family. Now we have fewer days between Cyber Monday and Christmas so we are having to stay on top of sales hourly.

2. As an affiliate of a community blog, a loyalty site and multiple micro-niche-sites, what do you want merchants to know about working with you?

More than anything else, the more that they can help us automate and streamline our processes, the better chance that we will be able to include them on our site. When merchants load coupons into the network as text links rather than promotions, we do not get them automatically in the feed. So the merchants want us to add them manually from the newsletters. But with over 1000 merchants, we just can’t get to them in time. The more that we can use the technology that the networks give us, the better.

3. What do you see as the single most challenging issue with the affiliate marketing industry right now?

From my perspective, content sites are getting squeezed out. Between cookie overwriting, Google’s fickle rankings, and the legal issues of disclosure and taxation, veterans with content sites are finding themselves looking for full-time jobs to pay the bills with their affiliate sites now just being on the side. If that continues, we could eventually see more and more of the piece of the pie going to the biggest sites with less going to the little ones that truly provide unique content. We need affiliates of all sizes to stick with it to keep the industry strong.

 

4. Of all the sites you own, which are your favorite Top 3?

I love Sunshine Rewards just because it is my primary focus and where I have gotten to know so many members over the last 8 years. Second would be WineClubReviewsandRatings.com. That one is just fun. I get to make money essentially drinking wine and writing about it! Lastly I would say Tricia.me although I don’t spend as much time on it. It’s the only site where I feel like I can write about anything. It isn’t about making sales or profitability. It’s just about writing about what I think is important.

5. I see you will be speaking at Affiliate Summit West 2014 about affiliate management. What is the main premise of your session and what do you want merchants to take away from it?

I will be moderating a panel called “Grill the Affiliate Managers” where I will be asking tough questions to affiliate managers and OPMs. Merchants will learn just how important a good affiliate manager is to the success of their program plus the kinds of decisions affiliate managers have to make (working with toolbars, choosing networks, approving affiliates). There are a lot of gray areas and a lot of ways that unseasoned affiliate managers can kill programs.

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6. Bonus question: Who are the people to watch in 2014 in the affiliate marketing space you feel are making a difference to our industry, who don’t get a lot of attention?

Someone who I think is brilliant but I hardly ever hear people talking about is Tony Pantano. He is the kind of guy that you need to meet at the conferences and just spend time talking to. He has his fingers on the pulse of every network plus he will be returning to a position on the Performance Marketing Association Board of Directors. He’s been in the industry a long time and was active in the Affiliate Tax fight. And it is terribly biased because he is such a good friend, but Eric Nagel is still one of the smartest people I know in affiliate marketing and is always on the cutting edge of everything related to affiliate marketing. As more of us are looking to automate processes, Eric is the go-to-guy on figuring out how to do that.

6 Tips to Rock it with ShareASale This Year

shareasale end of year helpful tipsAfter receiving an update from my amazing account manager at ShareaSale, I wanted to share with you a couple of new tools they’ve introduced that may be helpful to you now and in the new year, as well as some life hacks that might make things a bit easier for you moving forward.

They are:

1. The ability to schedule new or update banners in the Creative inventory.  You will now see an “Or Schedule for Later” button when you go to upload a creative or edit a creative. YAY! This is an awesome one for anyone who’s ever been up at 4am PST getting ready to post some banners for a busy sales day.

2. There is a new tool to add in the ability to apply rules to certain affiliate applications by state.  What this means is if you are a merchant who has nexus concerns outside of California, for example, and you have a specific affidavit or form that you’s would like the affiliate to comply with work with the program, you can now do so.

  • The form that the affiliate agrees to and digitally signs can be easily found by navigating to the Your Affiliate List>Links>Download Affiliate Contact Information and importing the document into Excel

3. ShareaSale now let’s you request to enable a privacy waiver for affiliates.  Enabling this function allows affiliates to share their contact information with you.  Yes it’s true! This is great for you because they can share their email address, physical address, etc. with you so you can build closer relationships with them. Double YAY!

4. If you have not already done so, check out the affiliate storefronts, because it is a tool that can be used with nontraditional affiliates who may not have their own websites.

5. Did you know there is the ability to pre-approve affiliates to a program and also expedite their approval to the ShareaSale network (generally cuts at least a day from the process) by using this link?  Yay again!

6. Lastly, this month especially, its recommended that you consider increasing your account deposits.  ShareaSale noted they have found  a lot more programs going offline over the last week (great for sales) but it can often frustrate affiliates. Don’t let that be you!

AND A BONUS TIP! If you haven’t used it already, be sure to check out ShareaSale WIKI!

Hopefully these tips have been helpful as you push to the end of this year and into a new quarter, and as always feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

How to Build a Seven Figure Business in Under Three Years

Sarah Bundy on Extreme Business BuildersI don’t normally do interviews like this, as I prefer to speak about performance marketing, digital marketing or ecommerce over my own business.  However, Iman is a friend of mine and someone I have an immense respect for. He recently immigrated to Canada, taught himself English and has built three successful businesses from scratch, one of which as the fastest growing business network in Vancouver.

He’s also the founder of the Marketing Mastery Summit and Extreme Business Builders who help small businesses kick start their companies the right way.

In this interview Iman asked me about my “Why”. What the purpose is behind All Inclusive Marketing. He asked me about my greatest failures and what I would have done differently if I could have started again. I share a lot of personal and private information in this video. If you’d like to watch it, you can do so here.

Let me know what you think!

Watch video.

Sincerely,

Sarah

Attribution Today: What Advertisers Need to Know

Attribution Tracking in Digital Marketing

Source: Adobe Attribution

Studying 11 different advertisers in the retail sector, here are some common “how to” best practices around attribution tracking strategy and execution:

 

Approaches:

  • Last click (still dominant)
  • Algorithmic
  • First click
  • Hybrid model

 

What’s included in the attribution model?

  1. Paid search/display
  2. Organic / non paid / social
  3. Affiliate / referral

 

Attribution timeframes commonly tracked:

  • 30 mins
  • Less than 6 hours
  • 7-24 hours
  • 25 hours – 7 days
  • 7-29 days
  • 30 days+

Only 8% of advertisers factor in viewability.

 

Attribution tracking has three parts:

  • Campaign management – tag management systems, ad servers, ad view-ability measurement.
  • Analytics – web analytics, attribution pure players (adclear, encore)
  • Consultants – agencies and management companies who interpret and manage this data effectively.

 

Alternative methods:

  • Second opinion (about 15% of advertisers use this)
  • A/B tests (about 28% of advertisers you this model)

Mobile came sooner than anticipated by most. It breaks the tracking continuums thus making it difficult or advertisers to accurately report user behaviour.

 

Here are a few additional thoughts:

  • Companies are used to last click models and find it hard to move away from the internal systems that support this. Companies are forced to build a business case to showcase the reason behind moving to a different model all together.
  • Companies struggle with fitting the advanced tracking technologies with older internal technology integrations. The change is accepted and needed, but time and cost for technical transition remains a barrier.
  • Companies need to understand that in order to remain competitive this change is inevitable. Gradual analysis per channel is the way most companies are dealing with this.
  • There seems to be a disconnect between theory and effective execution and real life comprehension of data. Affiliates have to prove their value which could make them earn less, but on the flip side, if they can prove their value, then they can earn more.
  • Unless you’re accurately testing the data and understanding it correctly, you’re taking a gut feeling guess from one channel and putting it into another channel. With the time commitment to proper attribution tracking, the guess work is removed and true ROI realized.
  • More effort needs to be put into AB testing affiliate sites and advertiser landing pages and campaigns.
  • Companies need to consider the differences in tracking mechanisms, such as the accuracy of cookie tracking, and what alternatives need to be considered.
  • Mobile tracking and desktop tracking are VERY different from each other and we need to consider the behavioural and technological changes to accurately track new buyer behaviour.
  • Even though both advertisers and publishers would benefit from transparency around attribution data, both affiliates and merchants tend to keep the information to themselves. This mindset will eventually need to shift if the affiliate industry is going to be successful long term.
  • How do we bring offline data into the mix? This is an ongoing challenge people are still trying to understand industry wide.

What are your thoughts on attribution tracking and affiliate/merchant participation in data sharing?

How To Remove the Reliance on Incentive Sites

affiliate cashback sitesOf the 9 Billion pound per year affiliate marketing industry in the UK:

  • 31% comes from cashback sites
  • 17% comes from coupon sites
  • 17% comes from loyalty /reward sites

The difference come from:

  • Price comparison
  • Paid search
  • Content
  • Other (such as email marketing)

 

So how do we remove the reliance on incentive sites?

Here are a few tips to help:

  • Focus on quality vs quantity buyers. Consider the lifetime value of buyers that come in through different affiliate channels and focus your time and resources on the ones that are the highest value.
  • Attribution tracking will help you understand where the value is, however based on several UK studies, cashback sites DO in fact bring in high value buyers that are authentic incremental value leads. The “skimming” that existed amounts cash-back and loyalty sites was much lower than expected when attribution assessments were completed.
  • Changing the focus from the type of affiliate to the type of  buyer will help to determine how to best utilize affiliate groups to reach different buyers during their buying cycle.
  • Have an existing process for your segmented affiliate groups to offer tools and resources that will make them more successful. Management can’t be a one fit wonder for everyone, so customizing based on specific affiliate needs will bring more success to different groups outside of strictly incentive site successes.
  • Consistently provide quality content and invest in quality resources, tools and creatives to affiliate types you want to see the most growth in. You have to be proactive about it and put the effort in.
  • Be approachable so affiliates can easily communicate how they can help you, the advertiser, more, leveraging their skill sets and assets. Sometimes your own approachability and availability is the only roadblock keeping you from increased sales.
  • Try to understand your affiliates data and work closely with them to be transparent and understand KPIs and metrics. Be open to being transparent with your data before an affiliate will be open to sharing theirs. Work closely together to build trust and synergy which will lead to making better decisions as partners.
  • Offer exclusive codes and incentives on other types of sites other than incentive sites, such as on blog posts or within affiliate email lists.
  • Look at the DNA of your business and understand how different affiliate groups help your overall brand presence, exposure and consumer engagements.
  • Be sure to dedicate enough resources to your affiliate team to build relationships, negotiate placements, create tools and monitor opportunities. If you do not have the resources in house, consider outsourcing an extension to your team, such as the-la-cart or full service affiliate management support services offered by Outsourced Program Management companies.

Exclusive Interview with SEO & Affiliate Marketing Legend, Rae “SugarRae” Hoffman

Rae (Sugar Rae) Hoffman of PushFire

Rae (Sugar Rae) Hoffman of PushFire

I recently had the privilege of spending some personal time with SEO and Performance Marketing legend, Rae “SugarRae” Hoffman of PushFire.

I wanted to get to know her more, having watched her over the last few years, reading her blog and admiring the woman she is, both as a mother and a business owner.

She was wonderful in answering my very personal questions and I appreciated her genuine answers and heartfelt replies.

Exclusive Interview with Rae “SugerRae” Hoffman: 

 

Q. You’ve accomplished an incredible amount in your life and you have much to be proud of. What would you say are your top three most precious accomplishments either personally or professionally?

LOL, thanks. You know, it’s funny – I really had to think on this one because looking at individual past accomplishments isn’t something I do often – neither on a personal level or a professional one. I think sometimes I’m so busy moving forward I don’t have much time to look back. That said… On a personal level it would have to be being a mom. Cliché, yes. Campy, yes. True, yes. I had nothing when my first child was born. My oldest son was severely multiply handicapped – both mentally and physically. By the time I was 27 (which was nine years ago) I was a newly divorced, single mom of 3 until I got remarried about three years ago. Being able to raise them on my own – without any outside financial support and without any financial struggle despite my oldest son’s needs – while still being able to be an “active mom” to them is the thing I’m most proud of at the end of the day. I like to think I’ve shown my kids you can do anything if you work hard and don’t see failure as an option.

On a professional level, it is so hard to pinpoint one specific event. I think for me, it’s the entire gamut of going from foster kid to CEO and every single step that occurred between. It’s very hard to pinpoint one individual thing because it was such a long series of steps, milestones and occurrences that got me from there to here. But, at the end of the day, I like to believe that never losing site of “who I am” through it all is something to be proud of. I’ve seen success ruin so many personalities over the course of my career. I’d like to think I’m the same personality wise today I was 10+ years ago – with a little more confidence, LOL. And I actually do my best to keep myself surrounded by people who have no problem “checking me” when needed vs. “yes men” so to speak.

Lastly, I think I’m pretty proud of making the decision to partner with Sean and build PushFire. Being able to create a company that is independent of relying on me as an individual is something I’m pretty stoked to be doing. I handle managing the SEO side of things while Sean focuses on the PPC side. We have the same values as far as our number one priority being to deliver ROI to the client. It’s not about how much money we can make ourselves – it’s about how much money we can make the client.

 

Q. From someone who specializes in Search Marketing what do you like and dislike most about the performance marketing industry?

The thing I like the most is the independence of it. As an affiliate, I answer to no one except my own bank account. I work when I want to and my revenue potential is directly tied to how hard I’m willing to work for it – but it’s done on my own terms.

The thing I dislike to most is the negative opinion on our industry fueled by ignorance and some “bad apples” who will promote anything, in any way, honest or not, to make a buck. I hate that the legitimate, value add, honest affiliates out there are often undervalued and underrated for the benefits they bring to a merchant.

 

Q. What do you find are the greatest challenges retailers are facing today around SEO and PPC efforts?

Ha. The challenges are plentiful. Google removing the ability to track keyword referrals from organic search is a huge, huge issue in the SEO side of online marketing right now. It makes tracking the success and value of SEO campaigns so much harder – in addition to making it an uphill battle to identify and rectify SEO related issues on the keyword level. Their Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates – and the lack of transparency around them – creates a lot of collateral damage that seems to be ignored. Figuring out if any of the above is affecting you is easy. Understanding how to rectify it – not so much if you’re not completely immersed in the world of SEO.

PPC isn’t my specialty. But, from what I see relating to PushFire PPC clients, I think a lot of people simply aren’t utilizing PPC to their fullest advantage. For instance, if merchants are running PPC campaigns but aren’t involved in (smart) remarketing – they’re missing out. Same goes for merchants who aren’t running PLA when their target search results have big emphasis on those listings. Setting PPC and then forgetting it – instead of optimizing the hell out of it on a continual basis.

 

Q. What three recommendations can you make to retailers preparing for Q4 shopping season right now?

Understand the “SEO ship” has already sailed for Q4. You can’t begin working on improving SEO efforts in late Q3 and expect to see any ranking miracles occur in time for Q4. If improving SEO for Q4 is a priority, it’s one that needs to be addressed no later than Q2.

If you don’t have your remarketing efforts for PPC integrated into your checkout process, get it done. Example: Someone put an item in their cart, but didn’t complete the checkout process. This is obviously someone “warm” to you, but for whatever reason they didn’t complete the sale – so maybe you decide to remarket them with an offer for free shipping or a discount code to sweeten the deal.

Get your affiliates updated creatives and create some sales increase incentives for your top affiliates to help them kick ass for you over the holiday season. Also, not specific to Q4 per se, but, if you don’t have the ability for affiliates to deep link within your site, I’d heavily suggest considering it. My conversion rates as an affiliate are much higher when I can link to a specific product page versus merely linking to a homepage or category page.

 

Q. What are three things you’d absolutely love to do in your life that you have yet to accomplish?

You like making me self reflect, LOL!

I’d like to see PushFire on the Inc 5000 list when it’s eligible company age wise. I have a side project I’m working on that I unfortunately can’t release details on yet (sorry) haha.

Lastly, I’m chomping at the bit to get land and move more into the country. Like… 40+ acres with cows, chickens, horses, hay production and four wheeling in our “backyard” country. I am a redneck girl and suburbia isn’t my thing. We wanted to wait until my older children were at or near driving age though before making that move. We’re almost there!

Six Digital Marketing Tips for Retailers this Holiday Season

Digital marketing tips for retailers #HolidayShopping

Digital marketing tips for retailers #HolidayShopping

With Q4 officially starting tomorrow and a whirlwind of excitement around holiday shopping season already underway, I asked a few of our team leaders what advice they would give advertisers who are looking to capitalize on this year’s final and most exciting sales season.

Here are some great tips from a few of our key strategists, here at All Inclusive Marketing, to help you be more successful this holiday shopping season:

 

SEO Strategy

As September rolls around, there is always a looming sense of urgency while merchants and their marketing teams prepare for the major Holidays.  Some merchants increase their marketing budget, and as a result, decide to incorporate SEO as an additional channel.  The decision can be hasty given the timeline, and leaves open the chance of  hiring an SEO who uses outdated or questionable techniques (especially if the SEO is tasked with getting results in time for the upcoming holidays!).
With new search engine algorithms measuring backlink quality and velocity, the long term result to this type of decision can be devastating.  My advice to merchants is this: If you are considering SEO for this Holiday season, you’ll probably be considering it again next year.  In that case, take your time to find the right team now, and task them with performing steady, effective SEO in anticipation of the 2015 Holiday season.
By same time next year, you won’t be making rash decisions about SEO – you’ll already be well positioned for the holiday rush.  Further, you’re SEO campaign should already be producing a positive ROI, giving you extra revenue to invest in additional holiday marketing efforts. – Jared Mumford, Senior SEO Specialist 

 

Tech Strategy

Try to establish and enforce a code freeze starting on October 1.  That means, no changes to page layout, no shopping cart changes, no changes to anything that involves website experience.  As fourth quarter heats up, your site needs to be able to handle all the extra traffic and transactions.  If something breaks, causing a drop in conversions, it could be very challenging to figure out the root cause of the issue.  Further, because there is a constant flow of traffic in Q4, every second the site is down equals lost revenue. – Carolyn Kmet, CMO

 

Business Strategy

Meet the needs and engage with today’s connected shopper! Nowadays, and especially during the holiday, people are looking to shop as comfortably as possible from their mobile devices or desktop in order to save time and avoid lines. Having an optimized website, fast checkout process and preparing your e-store early on to rank 1st in Google for specific keywords will allow stores to staying on top of customer’s needs and offer shoppers a great experience to find the products they like and buy conveniently. In the meantime, having a strong inventory management system and the ability to quickly ship to a broad range of destinations efficiently will allow merchants to increase customer satisfaction and boost sales.  – Julia Stanescu, Director of Business Strategy & Development 

 

eCommerce Strategy

The key to a smooth and successful holiday season is the scheduling and management of IT and developer resources. So many changes take place on websites during the holiday season, whether it be thematic changes to align with the current holiday, landing pages that need to go live and expire on schedule to align with campaigns or product and pricing changes to reflect holiday specials, there’s a lot of technical need in a short period of time. There’re five holidays between October 31st and January 1st (seven if you count Black Friday and CyberMonday), so keeping your site and products up to date and inline with your campaign goals is key. This means ensuring that your IT and development teams have a clear understanding of those goals and a strategy to make them happen. – Jon Levine, Director of eCommerce

 

Social Media Strategy

Using social media as a sales tool can be a great idea for the Christmas Shopping season, however, you want to make sure you’re doing it right so you can gain that optimal outcome. So here are some tips:
  • Using Pinterest showcases your favourite items beautifully: Include a detailed description, link to the product, and price- This can answer all your consumer’s questions and lead to that final sale.
  • If you’re a fan of Twitter, include pictures or video’s with a quick fun caption and link to the product page, but remember: Stagger your product Tweets to reduce the risk of sounding/looking overly salesy, it can result in being ignored or un-followed.
  • Facebook is excellent for gaining lots of interest- but remember to build on your existing relationship with your fans: Give them a holiday gift or run a Christmas Contest!
  • LinkedIn is a perfect channel to share news about various holiday offers your company is providing. Write a brief blog post to update your company profile with, and don’t forget to include that image!

Remember- It’s the holidays! Spread some cheer by sharing some fun quick pics from your staff Christmas party, or Secret Santa gift idea’s you thought up for your staff members & colleagues! – Jules Babcock, Social Media Strategist 

 

Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Holidays shopping is a perfect time to create buzz about your services/products, and increase your sales! You are aware of this, and other merchants are as well. If you have an affiliate program, it is very important to contact your target affiliates/bloggers now, to schedule placements and promotions before they are fully booked. Make your affiliates’ life easy, by providing some exclusive content they can take inspiration from, while writing they reviews etc. – Frank Ravanelli, Affiliate Marketing Specialist

There is a ton of opportunity over the next two and a half months to boost sales, and as Jon Levine pointed out, there are five holidays (and seven major shopping days) all happening in the next few weeks.

What are you doing to ensure your success in the coming weeks?

There is Still Honor in Business. $27,000 Says So.

Itamar Cohen, Owner and CEO at ZIPIT

Two and a half years ago All Inclusive Marketing helped a client called ZipIt Zipper Bags with an integrated online marketing plan and digital integrations. They hired us to optimize their website, increase conversions, perform affiliate marketing and search marketing duties, and naturally, we put several of our best people on the job.

A few months into the contract and after having several delays in payment from the client with promises of “the money is coming next week” we got ourselves into a big hole. We paid our team on time and in full, not expecting that one day several months in, ZipIt Zipper Bags would just disappear and back out completely…

When you’re a start up this is a really hard and expensive lesson to learn. We took great care of our team and their account, but didn’t receive a cent in return and went $27,000 into a hole in the process of doing what we thought was right.

As it turns out, there were two different partners and a strange legal arrangement between the owners of ZipIt. One owner had rights over the online store under one legal name, and the other over the offline distribution and sales. The owner of the offline sales and distribution, Itamar Cohen, had no idea that our team was $27K in a hole because of the other owner’s dishonesty and poor money management.

Through a legal battle of their own, they parted ways and Itamar Cohen got ownership of the whole company, including the online store, and promised to honor what was due and pay it back in full, no matter how long it took, even though we didn’t have the contract with him. He gave us his word.

To many people in business, a person’s word doesn’t go very far, but week after week Itamar called to update us on his progress, on his finances, shared his online sales stats so we could see how they were progressing (naturally we weren’t touching this account anymore at this point). Some weeks he couldn’t pay anything. Some weeks he’d send $500 or $700.

It’s been two and a half years since we lost $27,000 on a client we wanted to help. Two and a half years later, and just as he promised, Itamar Cohen has paid back every penny owned, even though it was not him we had the direct contract with. He proved that honor does still exist in business and a man’s word can still be worth something at the highest level of corporate promises, contracts aside.

I have the utmost respect for this man, who did what was right, even though legally, he didn’t have to. It’s great to know ZipIt is now entirely under the care of a man who understands true business sense and takes great care of those around him. It’s leaders like this who make the greatest companies.

Itamar Cohen, CEO of ZipIt, receives my medal of honor in business this year hands down.

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