HOSU 7 | Shopanova eCommerce

Daniel Stafford And Robby Switzer – Founders Of Shopanova

From working as fishermen in Alaska to running an eCommerce marketing agency. This is the career path of Daniel Stafford and Robby Switzer. Daniel and Robby are the founders of Shopanova. Shopanova helps online stores grow with their top-notch digital marketing strategies. Join your host, Matthew Sullivan as he talks with this remarkable duo. Learn why Daniel and Robby wanted to start to change their lives and start a company. Discover how the pandemic shifted in their favor, how data privacy affects them, and learn their marketing strategies.

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Daniel Stafford And Robby Switzer – Founders Of Shopanova

We have on the show, none other than Daniel Stafford and Robbie Switzer, who are Founders of Shopanova. If I switch over to the interweb, Shopanova helps online stores that are ready for massive growth be as shoppable as possible. That’s a fantastic strapline. I wish I thought of it.

It took a long time to get it dialed in.

It looks like it’s one of those taglines that is incredibly simple. It delivers the message with the punch. Who was it that said, “If I had more time, I would have written less?”

I don’t know who that was. Is it Steve Jobs?

Welcome to the show, guys. It’s fantastic to have you on. You’ve got an incredibly interesting business that’s right at the heart of driving traffic to eCommerce platforms. You have an incredibly cool website. I’m envious.

Thank you for having us on. We’re excited to chat a little bit about our story. We’ll dive into what we do in eCommerce and stuff. That’s going to be great. We got a special story for you.

HOSU 7 | Shopanova eCommerce

Shopanova eCommerce: Let the doors open as you take the right first step. You might have no idea where you’re going to end up but it’s important to at least start trying something new.


How did it all happen? How did you guys get together? What’s the genesis?

Like most people probably reading, we were two young guys who had the entrepreneurial bug. We wanted to go out and do something amazing, make a ton of money, and do something impactful. Naturally, coming from this small town of 5,000 people in Homer, Alaska that we do, we knew exactly how to go about doing that.

It’s the epicenter of eCommerce. Everyone knows that.

When we got started together in our career, it was following this model that everybody else in front of us had done here in Homer, Alaska and that’s to go and take on an ungodly amount of debt, buy a commercial fishing operation, and then say goodbye to friends and family for months at a time. Go and see if you can catch fish. We started our professional lives on fishing boats as commercial fishermen. We’ll expedite the story.

Sometimes it’s smarter just to listen to your gut.

No. Was that following the family’s footsteps or was there nothing else to do? You go to the local job center and it’s fishing, next is maintenance and engine repairs.

There’s oil work, construction, and there’s fishing up here where we live. I was born and raised in Alaska and my dad grew up fishing with his dad and I grew up fishing with my dad. My dad is a local legend here. He has the world record set. He’s good at what he does. He loves it. I grew up in that. Naturally, as I got older, I thought, “That’s what I’m going to have to do to provide for my family.” I fished with him. I started when I was three, going out on the boat with him. I was a full-time deckhand by the time I was age ten, which means I had full responsibility on the boat, getting paid like a normal crewman, which was awesome.

Did you have to pencil on a mustache and beard so that people would take you seriously?

I first learned penciling it on when I was on the boat.

I imagine you with a long trench coat and a hat with someone sitting on your shoulders. You’re strict over there. He’s the new deckhand. You better do what he says.

It was a fun way to grow up. You’re out on the water for months at a time and away from everything. There were tons of marine wildlife around, lots of adventure, and lots of hard work. When you’re ten and when you make $20,000 a summer, you bring it home and you buy a new dirt bike and your friends think you’re awesome.

They’d think you’re a drug dealer or a bubble gum dealer.

Something along those lines. It was a good way to grow up until the point when I got married and started having kids and then I was like, “I got to be gone for months at a time and leave the family and leave my wife and everything.” When I did get married, I decided, “It’s time for me to start a life of our own, start a business of our own.” We did what Robbie said, we went $300,000 in debt, bought a fishing boat, and we’re going to fish three months that summer hoping the fish show up. That’s another thing. It’s a big risk because you don’t even know if the fish are going to show up that year. You don’t know how much you’re going to get paid for them if they do show up.

That in itself is a matter of what you’re doing.

It’s crazy looking back on it. That was normal here. I did what I needed to do and I was like, “It’s time to start our own business. Here we go. Hang on.” We got the boat already. We’re having a killer start to the season and doing good. One day, it got windy on our way back to the port. I was going to pick up my wife from the port. She was nine months pregnant at the time. We’re about to have our first child. We’re heading back and the wind starts picking up heavy. It’s right on our stern. We’re going in towards the port and it keeps picking up and getting bigger.

All of a sudden, a big wave catches us and we surf down the face of it. It turns us hard over at the bottom and we rolled the boat. This is a 45-foot boat with three of us inside. We had 10,000 pounds of fish on board. It rolled over quickly. We all locked eyes at each other, every man pulled himself to get the hell out of this thing as it’s capsizing. I was luckily on the uphill side, so I opened the window and crawled out of the boat as it was rolling. I stayed dry the whole time. I walked over to the bottom and stood on it.

I had my cell phone in my pocket and I called my dad who was fishing a mile away. I was like, “We rolled our boat.” He jumped in his little boat and started heading towards us. It seemed like an eternity waiting for the crewmen to pop up. Finally, one guy pops up, thank God. The other guy and then the third guy took forever and we’re all yelling for them. Luckily, Patrick popped up, too. He works with us, which is cool. We all got onto the bottom of the boat. My dad picked us up. It was a wild experience.

Was your dad annoyed with you for rolling the boat? If you roll your car, your parents normally get upset.

Boat rolling is a little different. You’re thankful that everyone’s alive. A lot of times, when people roll boats out there, the whole crew goes missing and a lot of people die from it.

They didn’t tell you off? I presume you were older than ten at that point.

I was 23.

I can imagine. That must have been about an 11 out of 10 on the scary scale.

Especially after taking on all that debt, getting married, having our first kid a few weeks later, it was a lot at once. It’s like, “Daniel, welcome to adulthood.”

It’s baptism by fire.

How do we go from something like this? I’ll share what was going on in my life around this time because I had a story that was parallel to his. How do we go from that to now running this eCommerce agency out of Alaska? Over the years, we’ve generated our clients over $100 million. Directly attributed to our campaigns. We have 40 full-time employees working with us. It’s this amazing thing. That’s the start of us out of the water here in Alaska.

Around that same time, I had married his little sister. We were always friends and we knew each other. We went and we bought our boat and took on a similar amount of debt. I didn’t roll my boat, thank God. During the same time, I was starting to have kids. What used to be fun is this lifestyle of working hard but then also playing hard. There’s a lot of freedom in the offseason and resources to do cool and fun things. It’s fun for a while but once we started having kids and got married, it was hard to leave the family.

I remember being out there one night and there’s this old man off in the distance doing his thing. It was the end of the season and you wanted to be home. I was thinking about my wife and my brand-new daughter. This guy is out there all alone drinking and pulling in gear. It looks dangerous. It’s crappy weather. It’s raining. I was like, “I don’t want to be out here. I don’t want that to be me in 40 or 50 years.” We were talking about it. After his traumatic experience, we didn’t feel like that was our future. We had this idea to start pursuing a passion and change the outlook of what our life was going to look like moving forward.

There were a lot of things that helped us believe in something possible. We both read the book Think and Grow Rich and had several conversations after that. We’re like, “Maybe we can make money in a way that’s different than everybody else in this town. Maybe there’s a better way to do it.” When we were out on the boats, we always had a video camera with us. We like to make videos. We became a video production company and we started working with Alaskan companies to do video production.

What we didn’t realize was happening and what was cool is it started us on the journey of marketing. We were developing marketing assets. We cared so much about our clients that we wanted to know what the value of these videos was. Oftentimes, we’d make an awesome video and then they’d go and they’d post on their website that nobody ever sees or they post in on their social media account that has three followers. They’re like, “I paid you a few thousand dollars but my business isn’t growing.” We’re like, “That doesn’t make sense. How are you going to make this work?”

HOSU 7 | Shopanova eCommerce

Shopanova eCommerce: Most of the time, people are putting out their best impression of a faceless corporation. People buy from people. They’re wanting to experience an authentic brand.


We did that for a year, trying to figure out how to answer that question, long story short, led us to running traffic and learning to learn this game of paid advertising, whether that’s through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all these other things of paid media. We got more and more niche down into eCommerce. It was a process of getting connected with mentors, getting our first few clients, and then validating our services and starting to come up with case studies for these clients. Once we got our first case study, I feel like that’s when our momentum started to build as an eCommerce growth agency.

What you’ve done though is you started without any preconceptions about how this is going to work. You started solving a real need, which was the need of your client at that time to try and get some traction for this video that presumably, you had a huge amount of pride in. You didn’t want it withering on the vine. Was there a lot of trial and error? Did you find that there was a lot of received wisdom? In other words, this is how you should grow your business but when you tried it, it didn’t work? Were you building your approach and creating your formula as it were? Is that how you came up with the approach that you have now?

Yes. That’s what was unique about us coming from commercial fishing. Client services are the opposite end of the spectrum. When we came into it, we were blind. We didn’t know how to start a business and how to run a business. We knew we’re passionate about something and we wanted to help people. That was our guiding light in starting it and we realized, “These aren’t getting results. How can we get results?” That helped us over and over again in the industry where we don’t know how to do it the proper way because we’re happy to find our own way.

We’ve had lots of good mentors and stuff along the way that has helped us but there are also have been times when we were first getting going where we’re trying a lot of stuff that people were telling us and nothing was working. It was true for us. It’s like, “They say to do this. Let’s spend a bunch of time here. It’s not working.” The times where we’ve seen the biggest leaps of growth are when we’re listening to our gut or intuition and following that.

If I was going to give somebody advice, I’m always torn between having a good written out plan, an idea of how it’s going to all workout, and like a good business, model to start and getting clarity on and putting plans together and attacking it. I find that it’s hard to balance that with this idea of taking the first right step and letting doors open as you take the right first step. For us, we had no idea that this is where we were going to end up but it was important for us to at least get off the fishing boat and start trying something.

If you tried to write a business plan, it probably would have led you down a completely different path. There didn’t seem to be any logical connection between what you were doing and what you’re doing now. It is that voyage of discovery if you excuse the pun. We get a lot with entrepreneurs who do fly by the seat of their pants. We got aviation fishing. We got all these metaphors here. You do need to do that to a certain extent. You probably have developed an amazing ability to react to situations and assess them in the cool light of day and say, “This is where we are now. This is what we need to do.”

Probably spending all that time in the boat has taught you not to panic and not to make rash decisions but to be able to react under fire. I spoke to someone who’s an engineer by trade. Because of the way that his mind worked, he had to try and set everything out. I don’t think I’ve ever done it. I’ve done it retrospectively. This is how I got here and probably this is what I need to do to avoid running out of money or something. That’s hugely interesting advice.

One of the gifts that came from being out on the boat, too, was this gift of a can-do attitude but also a gift of innovation. If you’re out on the water miles away from anybody and you break down but you don’t know how to fix it, you’re going to figure out a way.

There’s no AAA.

When we found ourselves in situations like that when we’re maybe starting to run our first campaigns trying to get the first results for some of our first clients, it’s like, “We know that this is an avenue for making them money. Maybe what we’re researching isn’t panning out.” We know there’s a way and we know that you need to market a company to make them grow and believing that it was going to work out one way or the other and staying pressed into the process of trial and error, testing and validating. That was a huge advantage for us. We also joined a few masterminds where we’re in programs with people who have a similar journey like us, trying to figure out how to build and grow their agency and trying to figure out how to get their clients’ results.

Some people would have this attitude where it’s pessimistic and they’re saying, “This was all a scam.” We’re doing the same work and we’re both seeing the same results but we had a different belief where we’re saying, “These failures are learning lessons. This is experience. These are building blocks.” Eventually, we’re going to figure out how to do it. Even though we’re getting the same education, doing the same input, even getting the same results but we had two different beliefs, it gave us two different destinations. That’s what the book, Think and Grow Rich, did for us. It gave us a firm belief that we could make something work, even if it’s video production but eventually, it turned into an actual paid ad agency.

Own the failures. Own the journey. Own the brand.

The keyword is innovation. When you went to all of these masterminds, did you find that there was a lot of me-too or sameness in terms of the messages from all of these different groups? In other words, people were recycling the same approach over and over again.

We saw that a lot. Are we in a mastermind right now?

No, we’re not because we started seeing a lot of the same me-too stuff, regurgitated information. A lot of fluff is what it felt like to us and no one being real, honest, vulnerable, what’s not working and the struggles of running their business. It was all selling you on only the good side and we got tired of that.

What’s funny, too, is it seems like you’re experiencing a lot of the same faces and a lot of people trying the same thing and that’s hard for the consumer. Everybody is lined up and they’re saying the same things. They’re all promising the same things. They have the same offers and same pricing. There’s no differentiation between you and the guy next to you who’s providing the same service. When breakthroughs started to happen for us is when we were like, “We’re going to throw all that out the window.”

Coming from little Homer, Alaska, we were embarrassed about that for a long time. It was when we started owning our story and we’re saying, “We’re an eCommerce marketing agency in Alaska.” That would catch people off guard and they’re like, “That’s interesting.” Building on our story of resiliency from him rolling the boat, the early years were difficult, and us incorporating this into our marketing propelled our business.

What’s funny is we encourage our clients to do the same thing because we work with a lot of people who are apparel brands. Most of the time, people are putting out their best impression of a faceless corporation. People buy from people. They’re wanting to experience an authentic brand. We encourage people to follow a similar journey. Own the failures, own the journey and own the brand. Put a little bit of yourself into it because that’s what people are going to buy from you.

What made you focus or what was the pathway that led you to this particular vertical? What was the journey there? You talk about eCommerce. You said that you niched down to eCommerce. What did you try that didn’t resonate with you?

For me, I like eCommerce because we could see from start to finish the impact we’re creating. Whereas if we were trying to create leads for a realtor or some type of lead generation service through paid ads, there was so much in their sales process that we didn’t know. Once they make the contact, it’s up to them to hop on the phone and close a deal. How many deals are they closing? What’s their revenue compared to what we’re spending on ads and stuff like that? Whereas with eCommerce, we could see every step of the buyers’ journey.

What was cool about understanding that is realizing that there are benchmarks of how many people need to see the ad to get a sufficient amount of traffic to the website. Out of that traffic, how many people need to view products, add to cart, initiated checkout and eventually purchased? It highlights if you have a bottleneck somewhere in your sales process. For us, we feel like if we have the information available, we’re going to be able to dial in growth a lot better.

It’s the instant results or the instant feedback that allows you to finesse the machine.

We used to take on anyone and everyone. We did a lot of lead generation, a lot of core sales, and stuff like that. First of all, we enjoyed eCommerce more and the direct ROI we were able to get for our clients. Looking out over ten years, we saw how quickly eCommerce was growing. We wanted to be a part of that wave. We had a lot of friends starting eCommerce businesses as well. It’s this buzz around us where we knew like, “This is going to be the future and it’s going to only keep growing. Let’s hone into this niche.”

Do you find that the work that you’re doing is more of science based on the information that you receive now as opposed to gut instinct? The amount of data that you’re getting, does that enable you to become much more predictive than perhaps you thought you could be?

There’s an element of that. When we’re talking about eCommerce, that was an industry we saw growing and we wanted to be a part of it. COVID happened and then it blew up because everybody is shopping from home and they don’t want to go into brick-and-mortar stores anyways. That happened and we had a big boom of business there. There’s also a huge push towards data privacy. A lot of the measurability is getting stripped away from us. We know less now than we did before. What’s funny is now we’re having to reinvent all of our strategies because there is less visibility.

This is the new approach that Apple is taking, presumably. It’s reducing the amount of information that’s shared with third parties.

Yes. For so long, marketers have relied on that information to take this buyers’ journey, this marketing process, and turn it into a science but you can only do that if you have the data necessary to do that. Now they’ve taken that away from us. For a while, we had a granular idea of what was going on. Now that’s being stripped away. We’re in a season where we’re shifting away from the science and back to the art of whoever has the best content strategy is going to win and back to the basics in the Wild West of content marketing. We’re still using these tools of paid ads to amplify and allow people to scale when something is working.

When it was just us, we relied a lot more on gut instinct even for running ads and stuff because we didn’t understand the data as well as someone that had been doing it for years. We’re testing and trying things that we thought would work. We’re getting good results doing it. As we began to scale the team, we had to turn it into more of a science or be more scientific about it so that other people could follow it. It was scalable for our clients as we’re growing the business.

If it’s back to basics as it were, the basics, as far as I understand, you’ve got an audience and you’ve got a copy. It’s what you say and who you say it to. There are two schools of thought. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as you say it to the right audience. Others say, “It’s absolutely about what you say.” If the message is right, the audience becomes secondary very much. As you’re going back into the real basics, the real psychology, I suppose, of connecting with customers, what are you uncovering? What are you revisiting that is surprising you?

There’s a lot of pioneering going on. We’re trying a lot of different things. For a long time, we would start with specific audiences. We’d start out with general messaging. Now, we’ve almost flipped that where on the frontend we’re doing a lot of rapid-fire testing across broad audiences to allow people to start self-identifying with the message, the ads, and then hone in from there. As far as strategy goes for these eCommerce stores, this shift is being less focused on getting the right high-quality small audiences and getting ad creative that is pulling people out of the masses and attracting them toward your brand.

Everyone is in the same boat. Any online transaction has been affected by Apple’s new technology. Does that give you a big advantage because of your ability to know when to be able to react when a lot of other agencies who have relied completely on the numbers find themselves like a fish out of water?

We think along those lines. When all these changes were happening, these big announcements, marketers were freaked out. Everyone was panicking and thinking they’re going to lose all of their clients right away. We told our team that things happen for our business. We’re going to stay agile and we’re going to stay on top of this and figure it out. This is going to give us a leg up on the competition. From the beginning, our Director of Results was very diligent about researching. We find a different tracking software we were able to start using and how can we stay ahead of this? It’s served us in the whole team. It’s almost this excitement of like, “We’re reinventing this and we’re all doing this together.”

There’s still sufficient data available to do a lot of cool things. A lot of cool data-driven strategies changed. The cool thing is anybody who’s in this industry knows that it almost changes daily. We’ve always viewed those changes as an advantage because we’re fully committed to making sure we figure things out whenever something does change. We’re excited because anybody who’s getting started or maybe not fully committed to staying on top of everything, that’s where they’re slowly going to be falling behind. We like the changing landscape.

Can you talk about the systems that you use as well? One of the big issues with eCommerce and online transactions is knowing what’s real and what isn’t. There’s a lot of click fraud. In other words, you’ve got non-human interactions that are creating false results. I’ve certainly seen lots of software that’s being developed to try and go underneath what appears to be happening. What’s your experience of the concept? Most people understand what they think is happening but the reality in terms of what happens behind the scenes with all these different software engines that are designed to create false realities.

If we get too far down the technical rabbit trail, we’ll start to sound less intelligent. Our Director of Special Ops has a good grip on this. Long story short, for a long time, many other agencies and we relied on the Facebook pixel integration for all of their data. This is a snippet of code you put on your website and it gives you all your standard events, whether that’s a page view or add to cart. If somebody purchased, how many items they purchased, what’s the conversion value of that. That all goes into Facebook Ads Manager and you understand, for the most part, what’s happening with the ads you’re pushing out there?

A lot of that went away with the iOS 14 updates and with everything that Apple’s doing towards privacy. Now we’ve developed a strategic partnership with a tracking software called Hyros. This is an Alex Becker. I don’t know if you know who he is. It’s a different way of going about the tracking. It doesn’t break any laws. It’s completely ethical. It’s running off of the server in the website that they own. They’re still allowed to see what’s going on, on their website. There’s a way for this software to be able to talk with Facebook Ads Manager without having to use the pixel, which is fairly limited for several reasons. It gives us real-time information on consumer behavior but then it also gives us valuable data that we can interject into the algorithm of Facebook to help it continue to optimize.

One super helpful thing is when if you have a certain objective for a campaign that you’re running whether you want to see add to carts or conversions. Every time that happens, you pat it in the back that it’s going in the right direction. When that’s stripped away, it doesn’t have a compass for knowing whether or not it’s successful if it’s testing different audiences for you and stuff like that. Hyros gives Facebook the ability to do that still and it’s not in a way that’s invasive on privacy. It’s ethical. We’re excited about that. That’s something we offer to all of our clients as part of working with us.

That’s one of the biggest challenges. First of all, the clients that come to you, do they come to you when they’re at the end of their tether? Is it a tough job trying to convince a company that you can do a much better job than they can?

We try to stay away from being people’s last resort because we don’t want them to spend the rest of their money on us and then have to pour a ton of money back in ads pend. If it doesn’t work out, then they’re bankrupt. We prefer people coming in that have validated products that are seeing some success organically and that’s when our strategy starts working well for those peoples. A lot of people don’t understand paid marketing at all, at least the clients that we work with.

It’s easy to show them our value once we do start implementing the strategy when they have a good organic system, they have good creativity, they have good branding and all that. They see results fairly quickly. Some people take up to 6 or 12 months. A lot of people in the first three months are noticing the effects from our marketing. I almost hate to attract businesses that we’re their last dying hope because I don’t want to be that guy that sells them on something that’s not fully going to work for them. A lot of times, pouring more money on a dumpster fire doesn’t make sense.

It’s challenging. The more you know about your business makes you quite selective. You don’t want to work with the people that have tried everything themselves because they think that they can do it all. Talking about these new technologies that you’re bringing in, it is an incredibly complex and fast-moving specialized sector. There is no room for guesswork. It’s trial and error. It’s testing on many different levels. Many people don’t understand the amount of testing or science or the amount of product knowledge and specialization that you guys have to be able to do what you do. Is that a common myth that you come across?

Yes. It’s crazy because it’s changing for everyone. Everyone’s doing the same thing. You can’t go ask someone, like, “How do you do this stuff?” They’re doing the same stuff of trial and error or testing. Everyone’s in it together. You can’t go to a university and learn it. It’s on the fly changing every day. It does become a real challenge for our Director of Results, Wyatt, to always stay on top of things, rewriting our internal SOPs and re-educating people.

That’s probably where your initial experiences on the boats have given you the strongest foundation possible because every day is different when you’re fishing, I would imagine. You can’t predict the weather. You can’t predict where the fish are going to be. You have to continually reassess. What do I know? I’ve been on a ferry once and that’s about it. It stayed the right way up, thank goodness.

That’s accurate. Since marketers are marketers, they view marketing services as like a silver bullet to fix their business or make something happen. They have 100 other issues that they need to address before they’re even ready to dump money into paid advertising and start scaling their volume of orders. There are a lot of people who come to us hoping that our ads will take them from being nothing to one of the best eCommerce businesses out there. The reality is they need some basic business principles. They need some basic business consulting because there’s a lot that goes into it.

Marketing is a function of running a healthy business. There needs to be sufficient income. To be able to invest in that, you need to have a strategy around the way you purchase and hold inventory. There’s a lot of stuff that comes down. You’re getting in the nitty-gritty of somebody’s numbers. We try to guide people through that as much as possible. Our account managers are good at that and they provide a consulting element to the services we provide. There’s a whole heap of knowledge that is super beneficial to a lot of the people that come to us for help. The more you know, the more selective you become.

HOSU 7 | Shopanova eCommerce

Shopanova eCommerce: Because of data privacy businesses are shifting away from the science and back to the art of whoever has the best content strategy.


That’s been a little bit of a painful process at times, too, because we don’t want to bring anybody on that we don’t feel 100% confident that we can help them. It’s also sad to turn somebody away. There’s another agency who will say yes and they will promise them the world even though maybe they see the holes and they’re ignoring it or maybe they don’t care about that or maybe they’re unaware. I wish we could provide that basic level of business knowledge there as well.

I can see that growth in that area being quite exciting because it is building on the knowledge that you’ve already got. It’s not as if you’re moving into uncharted waters. Last question on this before we move into the quick-fire round. Is there still a place for newspaper advertising, stuff that you shove through in people’s mailboxes? Is that disappearing? Is that still active? Is there still a place for that?

We might have different answers on this. I think there is. You just need to figure out when is the most appropriate time to invest in those. When I observe eCommerce brands that are doing well, they start with the most efficient way to acquire a customer, which happens to be some form of digital marketing, whether that’s through Facebook ads, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever. They’re building up a customer base. A whole another phase of their growth is creating this omnipresence, this brand authority, and getting tons of brand awareness. You see these startup brands all of a sudden showing up on TV commercials or potentially in mail-outs and stuff like that. It starts with the necessity of building your customer base, your revenue, and all of that. If you want to continue growing as a brand, there’s an opportunity to be indulging in older forms of marketing.

If someone came up to me and asked me, “How should I market myself right now,” and they’re starting any type of business, I probably wouldn’t push them towards newspaper or print. You got to know your audience and where they are. Maybe it’s an older demographic you’re going after that does read the newspaper and the ads in them and they’re going to shoot over to your store after reading it. For us, in our customer base and even our business, most people are on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. You can cover 90% of the people with that.

Your customers range from small startups to large conglomerates. Do you focus on a particular size of business?

We’re all over the place. We don’t have any massive, huge brands that you would have heard of. A lot of our customers are around the $20,000 to $50,000 a month mark when they’re reaching out to us. We have people that are doing all the way up to $2 million to $3 million a month. It’s all in that range.

It sounds like you’re ideally suited to the small to mid-market guys that presumably don’t think they have access to this level of intelligence or capabilities. You’re bringing that style down to a level where people cannot just afford it but benefit from it and grow from it.

It’s a fun demographic to serve. Someone that’s doing $20,000 a month and then gets all the way to $150,000 a month changes their life. You see them hire people. They’re moving houses. They’re expanding their business. It’s life-changing. If we’re going to do that same increase for a big brand, you don’t notice the same life-changing effect it has. It’s part of the reason we enjoy the size of businesses we work with.

That’s hugely exciting. What’s in store next for you? What’s the next big leap? You mentioned the possibility of setting up a consulting vertical. Is there something big on the horizon that you’re excited about?

There is. We’re launching creative services along with our marketing services. That’s a big thing that we run into where we feel like we could serve people better and a lot more people if we offered the website design. Also, build out from the ground up if we offered the video, the photography, the logo, the branding, and all of that in addition.

It’s almost back to the beginning.

We’re rolling that out next. It’ll take us maybe a couple of quarters to get fully implemented but that’s been in the works. We’re super excited.

I can imagine that because then you’ve got control of the creative side and the position so you can put your arms around it and make sure that you get the best results.

Previously, we’ve worked with assets that they already have and then we’ve helped them get optimized on that with limited services but now we’re excited to offer the whole thing.

There is nothing more exciting than seeing these creatives come together. Do you know that moment, when you look at a piece of artwork and you think, “This is it. It’s encapsulated everything we ever wanted a brand to say in that one image or that one five seconds segment of a video?” It feeds the soul.

The creative side is such a blast. We have Josiah here, who does all our internal ads. We have so much fun creating ads and being involved in the creative process. We are super excited to offer that to our clients.

I’m now going to ruin everything by heading onto our quick-fire round. I’m not sure how you want to do this. There are two of you, so I’m going to get two answers to each question. Number one, Robbie, this is to you. What is your favorite word?

Inspire. I like the Latin root of that word. It’s literally to breathe life into something.

Mine is nice. I say it all the time. When someone says sometimes, I’m like, “Nice.”

It’s an underused word, nice. It’s a bit like the F-word. It has all this fabulous intonation in it. Question number two, to you, Robbie. What is your least favorite word?

Bully. I don’t like bullies.

That’s a person. That’s not a word.

It sounds weird, too. I don’t like it.

If you say it over and over again, all words start sounding peculiar.

What I had for this one was moist. I don’t like the way it sounds.

To some, that is their favorite word. That’s what makes a market. Question number three, Robbie, what are you most excited about?

I’m excited about summer. Here in Alaska, we look forward to those summer months.

Is that where you get five hours of sunshine rather than four?

Twenty hours of sunshine.

That’s where the sun doesn’t go away.

For me, it’s moving into our new house. We’ve been in a rental for eight months. Our new home finally got built. We moved in and it’s an exciting time.

I can imagine. Is it your design?

Anybody who’s not fully committed to staying on top of everything will fall behind when things start to change. 

We found a cool design online that we liked the layout of and then we edited it down to exactly what we wanted.

It’s everyone’s dream. Number four, Robbie, what turns you off?

I don’t like this idea of grinding away your joy. We like having a good balance between personal life and professional life and keeping everybody happy.

That is quite poetic. Can I have that?

That’s all yours.

That is very good. Mine is so much more. I was thinking about it and mine are masks. I get annoyed putting a mask on and breathing my breath.

It’s a bit of a reality check. I’m like, “Do I, really?” Number five, Robbie, what sound or noise do you love?

I love when you’re at a lake or the ocean. It’s flat, classic, calm and you pick up a big handful of pebbles and you throw it across the water.

It’s rhythmic. The rhythm increases as the pebble get further away. Daniel, how about you? What sound or noise?

Mine has to do with water as well. Mine are waves. Not huge waves but when you’re walking along the beach and its nice waves crashing along the beach. It’s a super peaceful and serene feeling.

Question number six, Robbie, what sound or noise do you hate?

Squeaky brakes, I don’t like them.

For me, it screams. When my kids scream super high pitch and one of them is dying or something and then I go, “They’re just messing with me.”

Number seven, Robbie, what’s your favorite curse word? You can plea the fifth if you wish.

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Shopanova eCommerce: Since marketers are marketers, they view marketing services as a silver bullet to fix their business. They have 100 other issues that they need to address before they’re even ready to go into paid advertising.


I’m not a big curse word person but I find myself saying, “Dagnabbit.”

We’re going to have to cut that out, I’m afraid.

We’re going to edit that out. My favorite word is fuck because there are many different uses for it. There is almost an art to it sometimes.

Fuck is the primordial molecule from which everything has been built. The world the people came from, the fuck molecule or whatever that is. You’ve got, “Fuck that. For fuck’s sake.” It’s brilliant. If fuck was an element, you could build anything out of it.

That’s what I love about it.

Number eight, Robbie, what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Being an artist, a painter, doing fine art paintings.

By the way, he’s good at it. Do you want to plug in your website?

I love painting. It’s a fun hobby for me. It might be fun to try it one day.

I thought an extreme sport would be it would be cool, so I put skydiving.

You got to watch that because of the bump at the end.

It can be a little rough.

It can be a lot of paperwork involved. Question number nine, what profession would you not like to attempt, Robbie?

I don’t think I would ever like to be a litigator.

You could be one of those court artists, though. You could be halfway there.

That could work.

If you draw people, you can accentuate their noses. The defendant could have big ears and hairy noses like trolls.

I would never want to start a band.

If I started a band, I would be the first person to be fired. I would probably fire myself.

I’m the same. I have no gift for it. As fun as packing out a stadium sounds, it’s not for me.

Imagine, it’s like, “I’m afraid that Daniel has left the building.” My final question, Robbie, to you, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Welcome home. I’m proud of the man you chose to be.”

Mine is simple, “Well done, bud.”

It’s been an absolute pleasure. Robbie and Daniel, final question, how do people find out more about you? How do they get hold of you? How do they begin the journey of benefiting from your huge knowledge, experience, and passion? How do they get in touch?

Marketing is a function of running a healthy business.

Shopanova.com is the best way to get ahold of us.

We got The eComm Growth Show on there that people can watch. We got three seasons out with a ton of great content and lots of interviews with people. We got some free resources, too, on how to get your store to convert better and all that good stuff. If they head over to our website, they can learn more.

It’s been a huge pleasure having you on. Thank you for joining me. I look forward to staying in touch and watching your company explode as Shopanova becomes a supernova. Thanks again for coming on.

Thank you. It’s a blast.

Thank you. This was fun. Nice to meet you.

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