And, let me tell you, when you hear that, buckle your seatbelt because you might be along for a ride. And so these guys, what they do is, I walked in there with a ten page grassroots marketing plan and about being grassroots but doing some online marketing.
This was back in, you’re talking 2008. You’re talking when Facebook, it just went from college campuses to becoming public for consumer use. Things were opening up and marketing on Google and it was super hot. So I’m like, guys, I want to do this innovative stuff. And they said, no, Nick. We’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. A hundred years combined. You need to do TV commercials.
And I’m like, what? Commercials! And they took my marketing plan and they literally, I literally watched them throw it in the trash. And they were so cocky and arrogant and I looked at them and I said, well, I’ve been recommended to them by some very significant business owners in town.
And I pushed back and I pushed back and I pushed back. And said, I just don’t understand. You know, at that amount of money, I’m going to blow. I’m not only going to blow everything I have, but I’m going to be investing money into this that I wasn’t even getting yet. Even though I was doing well, a few hundred cards in circulation was a good sign of hope, but that wasn’t like huge numbers. It wasn’t monstrous.
So I’m about to put everything I have into this thing and I, of course, didn’t have any savings, because I had failed in plenty of other things leading up to that. So I was about to credit card and invest everything I have into it. And so I ended up looking at it at one point and saying, you know what? Maybe I need to get out of my own way. Maybe I, at the time I think I was about twenty six. And maybe I need to just trust these professionals and just go with it. Because I’ve been failing everything else. Maybe I should know better, right? Or they should know better.
So I take it on. We film an animated commercial. Super expensive. And when it came time for the air time for the commercial, it was two choices. There was a statewide get on the 6 o’clock news commercial spot. Or you can go cable and I can drill down into just West Hartford, Connecticut.
I said, guys, why on earth are we marketing to the entire state of Connecticut? My card is only good in West Hartford. And they convinced me that there were better viewers, there were better eyeballs at 6 o’clock for the news, than if we focused that budget on West Hartford, Connecticut. It defied all logic. All logic. And they sweared by it.
Nick:And I said, oh, my God. This seems crazy. But I, you know, I trust them. They really think that this is going to work. And we went into it. And I blew and hemorrhaged money faster than you can even believe. I mean, if I had a bonfire, I could not have burned it faster than these guys were burning it through these commercials.
It was absolutely unbelievable. It was devastating. And I pulled the plug. I was under contract. As fast as I could. Burned through, collectively when it was all said and done, about fifty grand. Then all kinds of other expenses. I ended up about fifty-thousand bucks in the hole. And what was crazy about the whole situation was, from all the traffic, I only moved, I moved less than a hundred cards. In all that money.
And a couple were handwritten checks. It was just nuts. So it didn’t work at all. It was awful. It was untargeted.
When I look at this, I say, wow. This was devastating. This could destroy everything. And I looked at it and said, you know what? My outlook is that at least I learned that traditional marketing doesn’t work. My next ah-ha is maybe I should pursue something that will work and find that out.
And so I’m like, all right. I’ll find a way. I’ll be resilient.
Jack:I want to force you out of this just a little bit. In that you spent fifty thousand dollars on statewide, throwing out a wide net, to people that the majority of them clearly had absolutely no reasonable expectation of buying or using your card. You did a statewide television campaign for essentially a coupon that was only good in a what? What geographic area?
Nick:In one town. In one town alone.
Jack:In one town. So, so you learned about the importance of targeting, even though it was a very expensive lesson in targeting. And it was more on the brick and mortar. But you definitely learned a very, very strong lesson in targeting there, I guess. Which has benefited you, right?
Nick:Absolutely. And that’s the beauty of online marketing, how you can drill down and zoom in so closely now.
And so from that situation, here I am getting out from under that contract and getting these things turned off as fast as possible, as soon as I was allowed to. And as soon as that happened, I remember looking at. I had a very, it wasn’t Google analytics. It was very basic, funky online statistics. And that was the first time I built a website.
And actually, when I looked back. I was looking at screenshots the other day. I mean, there are actually printouts of it. It was actually a heck of a site. I did a pretty good job putting it together.
And what was crazy is that after that, the TV campaigns were done, I noticed that my traffic was still rising. And what was crazy is that it drove so much action. I was getting thousands of visitors to this site a day. Thousands. But none of it was targeted, as we said, right? So no one was buying. Cause they don’t live in the town.