PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
Pete talks to his friend Dave Jenyns about how they met and how they both had the idea to sell the MCG at the same time. They also discuss the importance of taking action on your ideas (before someone else does).
Pete talks to Dave about taking entrepreneurial actions to build your business
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The Importance of Taking Action with Dave Jenyns
Dom Goucher: Hello, everyone and welcome to the show. Dom Goucher here with Pete Williams, as usual.
Pete Williams: Hey, buddy, how are things?
Dom: Pretty good, pretty good. In this show, folks, we have a bit of a… Whoa, I don’t know how to present this one, really. It’s the story of Pete’s archnemesis — there’s no other way to say it really, who is now your best buddy Dave Jenyns.
Pete: Yeah, when I first heard about Dave, he was also selling the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground], which previous and long-time listeners to the show would know all about. Back in the early 2000s, I had a project where I sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium. I was able to get a whole bunch of timber, and crested carpet which is very famous from the MCG’s Members’ Dining Room, and framed them up as a series of memorabilia pieces.
Davey J, at the time, had the same idea and was doing things very similar. I was, as you’ll hear in the conversation, that I was lucky enough to do a bit of a grander scale than Dave. But nonetheless, he started off as my archnemesis. Subsequently, we’ve become best friends. We both spoke at each other’s weddings and we are now best buds. So I thought it’s about time, after 130 odd episodes, we should get him on the show, share his story of how he started and all the other projects he’s been doing on his entrepreneurial journey as well.
Dom: Cool. Before we get to the main body of the show, what’s been going on with you recently, Pete?
Pete: Oh, Easter? Easter and the Anzac Day in Australia, so it’s been a weird week and a half with a number of long weekends and short weeks. It’s been a bit chaotic in Australia this week. But it hasn’t stopped us from getting a couple of blog posts out. We’ve got a couple of new posts on the site over at PreneurMarketing.com. So if you haven’t checked out the blog recently, make sure you do. We’ve got a couple of great essays for you.
One is actually from the editor of ConversionXL.com, who I believe is probably one of the preeminent blogs on conversion rate optimization [CRO]. Tommy, being the editor there, kindly donated his services to write a guest essay on our site which is all about what really matters for conversions and happy customers. He takes it beyond just the CRO, and talks about making sure you have happy customers. It’s a really good essay there.
And also, one that is worth bookmarking and putting into your swap file is 10 Guaranteed Templates You Can Swipe to Instantly Increase your Conversion. So, if you’re writing some sales copy or thinking about how you should improve the conversions on your business, then definitely check out that essay because it talks about how to use guarantees effectively. Because the thing is, you have to offer a guarantee legally anyway. So why not use it as part of your marketing and really scream it, and make it a preeminent part of what you’re doing? That’s what that essay is all about over at PreneurMarketing.com.
Dom: Cool. Did you manage to squeeze in any real-world stuff as well, or did those public holidays and everything else get in the way of that?
Pete: Oh, it has been a bit crazy. My focus for the next month or so in the telco world will be looking at reengineering our entire system and the SaaS stuff that we use. I’m going to move away from SAP B1 [System Application & Products Business One], which was a $60,000 or $70,000-investment about six or seven years ago in the business.
Dom: Can I just do an alarm noise and go, ‘buzzword, buzzword, buzzword’? SAP, SaaS, CRM [customer relationship management].
Pete: CRM, yeah. Okay, good point.
Dom: What are you talking about?
Pete: Basically, with the telco business, we have a sales pipe where we have to manage the sales as the leads come in, and manage that through. We’ve got the installation of the phone systems once we sell that solution to a client. We’ve got the ongoing support and maintenance of the client’s phone system. So, we’ve got a product called SAP B1, which is one of the leading, all-encompassing software programs that run a business like that and take care of all those things.
Now, we put this in back in 2009 (I think it would have been) at a cost of about $60,000 or $70,000 for the software and the setup. We’re in that process now, we’ve outgrown it and changed our business a little bit. So, I’m on the hunt for the next couple of months to reengineer and relook at how we’re going to run that side of the business. Just literally went back to the drawing board this week or set up Nutshell, which is a really simple sales and lead management tool, a little very simple CRM software package which is 20 bucks a month per user or something like that.
We’ve pulled the sales lead management out of SAP and putting into Nutshell. If you are running a sales business, I highly recommend you check out Nutshell. It’s just an online application. I’ve set that up this week to get that running. Then now it’s on to bigger and better things in terms of looking at what we’re going to do to run the whole business, whether it’s Salesforce.com or maybe SugarCRM, or look at the new cloud-based version of SAP. It’s going to be a big project, no matter what it is. So, that’s the next big to-do thing on my list, which is a little scary but exciting as well.
Dom: Wow, wow. Huge. Have you managed to get back on your reading, listening track?
Pete: Yeah. I got a book recommendation from Ryan Holiday who I think everyone who, again, has listened to the show a few times would know. He’s written a number of great books. One of his most recent ones was Growth Hacker Marketing, a Kindle version book. His new book, The Obstacle Is The Way, is out in a couple of weeks’ time. Really excited to check that one out in its final format.
But he recommended a book called Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products. He described it as a book that took off where his Growth Hacker Marketing book finished. It goes through a whole bunch of stuff about what it takes to grow, or start and build a business, and make it something that’s going to become a habit for your consumer.
So, yeah, it’s been interesting so far. I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of the book, so I can’t really give my take on it yet. But maybe in next week’s show, I can come back and give you some feedback on what I’ve learned from going through the book itself.
Dom: It sounds interesting. Certainly, if Ryan recommends it as the thing that comes after the thing that he wrote, it’s got to be worth a look.
Excellent. All right, folks, let’s get into the main core of the show, which is a conversation between Pete and Dave Jenyns. Pete gave a bit of an introduction at the beginning, but there’s so much to this than just the story of how Pete and Dave got together in the first place, or didn’t, as the case may be. It’s a great little back story, as Pete said, about the sale of the MCG. But there’s lots and lots of other stuff in there, including a complete surprise for me about a project that Dave worked on. So, listen out for that and listen out for probably the most important thing which is where Dave talks about taking action.
[Pete’s conversation with Dave Jenyns starts]
Pete: All right, Davey J. This is the great debate.
Dave Jenyns: Yes.
Pete: Who had the idea of selling the MCG first?
Dave: Well, I don’t even know if I’ve heard your full story either. So, we’ll have to have a part two. I’ll have to interview you for my podcast and then you can interview me.
Pete: All right, let’s do that.
Pete: Awesome. You were selling MCG at the same time I was. We didn’t know each other at the time. I mean, I knew of you and I think you knew of me, which we’ll get to in the conversation. But it wasn’t until probably three, four, five years later maybe that we met, and decided to be friends and not mortal enemies.
Dave: That’s right, archnemesis. I’m sure it was an internet marketing conference or something like that near the Exhibition Centre, I think that’s where.
Pete: Yeah, and then we cooked up there, and then a few months later we shared a car ride to Beechworth.
Dave: Yeah, yeah.
Pete: A little big country town in the middle of nowhere in Victoria for a three-day, four-day intensive marketing course, marketing conference.
Dave: Another conference.
Pete: Then we got stuck in the car for three hours or so, and hit it off really well.
Dave: And realized, hey, you’re all right.
Pete: There we go. Then we spoke at each other’s weddings.
Dave: Yeah, and the rest is history.
Pete: Exactly. I guess let’s start to tell your MCG story. Because I think people know drips and drabs of mine because I’ve shared it on the show before in bits and pieces. But what’s your selling the MCG story?
Dave: Well, I’ve always been interested in marketing. I think it started off, I created a product in the niche very early on. Realized that you have to have a great marketing plan to actually get the message out there.
Pete: Stock market product?
Dave: Stock market, yep. And I think that just got me started reading a whole lot of self-development books, and direct mail, and sales letter copy, all that type of stuff. And one of the books I came across, there’s a marketer in Perth called Mal Emery. He was actually I think good friends with Paul Hartunian, or a client, or something like that. I had seen his name pop up a couple of times. Heard the story because it’s one of those stories — the guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge, that’s gone around many times. So, it was in the back of my mind.
Then what was coming up was, I was actually attending another conference (wow, there’s a bit of a reoccurring theme here), up in Brisbane by a guy called Brad Sugars. He had sent out the same book as you were reading, which was The One Minute Millionaire. It told the story of Paul Hartunian in pretty good detail, along with a few other bits and pieces. They were having a bit of competition in the lead up to Brad’s conference. They said, from these books anyone who could take it and apply something from it, and bring their story as a result of reading the book could end up winning this prize.
Pete: That’s kind of cool.
Dave: Yeah. And so, that was bouncing around in the back of my head.
Pete: Do you remember what the prize was?
Dave: Yeah, I got a thousand dollars. I won it.
Pete: Oh, cool.
Dave: Yeah, so that was good. Everybody got up in front of the microphone and told their story. Everybody was just like, “That is an amazing idea.” For people who don’t know the guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge basically saw them doing their renovations on the Brooklyn Bridge, and called up the people who were doing the wrecking, called them up and said, “Hey, can you deliver all the discarded wood to my place?” Wrote up a press release, and chopped up the bits of wood, and then said, “New Jersey man sells Brooklyn Bridge for $24.95,” and then got loads of media attention.
So as two young, aspiring entrepreneurs, that’s a story that definitely peaked our interest. And for me, I was driving past the MCG and then saw that they were doing renovations and thought, this is it. This is the stars aligning, this is going to be awesome. Straight away, went home and started acting on it. Did some research to find out who was doing the renovations, and got in touch with a company.
It was not really the wreckers first, I actually went to the people who were working with all of the bricks and things like that. My initial plan was to take bricks and mail them out, of all things. Clearly not the smartest tack in the box. I wasn’t thinking about shipping or anything like that. But I went along. I was out in Essendon or something like that, and the guy was showing me around some of the bricks and things like that. I kind of told him what I was planning on doing, and he said, “Oh, you should contact Whelan the Wreckers.” He said they’ve got discarded carpet, wood, much more interesting stuff than just bricks.
Pete: What were their plans with the bricks? Were they just going to sell them?
Pete: Not sell them as the MCG bricks? Just, ‘here are our bricks’?
Dave: Yeah. Just cleaning off the concrete and stacking them up, and then going to resell them as secondhand bricks. I remember kind of ferreting through, I ended up buying some of those bricks. I’ve still got those bricks back at home, which I never did anything with.
Pete: Are you going to [use them for the] back of the new house?
Dave: Yeah, that’s right, I should. Well, I’m actually thinking some of the old stuff. Because I’ve still got bits of the wood, the green wooden seating as well. Maybe making a bench seat or something like that.
Then he gave me the lead to go to Whelan the Wreckers, which is out — is it Port Melbourne?
Pete: Yeah, just behind the Williamstown Football Club.
Dave: So, I went out there. I remember walking into this, they had a big warehouse. It was kind of dusty, and they had big rolls up of the carpet, and they had a huge pile of the green wood. Now, initially I thought the most valuable piece that stuck out in my mind I thought was going to be the wood.
Pete: Yep, me too.
Dave: I ended up buying a whole bunch of the wood. We filled up the car, got a few rolls of the carpet as well. And at the time, they only charged, it was like a grand a grand and a half or something like that.
Pete: It was ridiculously. It was just crazy cheap.
Dave: Yeah. Then there was a big pile of carpet left. There was still a lot of wood — they had a heck of a load of wood. Ended up heading home. And just before I left, because I borrowed my dad’s van, my dad came with me, and we had filled it up. He said, “Oh, look the carpet will be here tomorrow.” So I just said, “Earmark it for me and I’ll come back.”
It ended up being a couple of days. We went back and then he said someone came and picked up the rest of the carpet. And I said, “Aw, nuts.” Then the dude goes, “But it’s okay. The guy said that he was just going to use it to line his pool room floor with.” I don’t know if you remember saying that.
Pete: Possibly. I think I may have said something along those lines, just to not let them think, ‘we should do something on our own with the carpet.’ Because there was no carpet left. The guy had said to me that some other guys bought some of the carpet and was going to do something with it. I was like, screw it, I’m buying it all. It was quite cheap, a few more than a couple of grand. I bought a lot more than you, but still bought a chunk and took it all. I was like, “I’m not going to let him know what I’m going to do with it,” because they had so much timber left. Again, they were planning on selling it similar to that brick stuff.
He’s like, “Here’s this recycled timber. Just do your own decking, do whatever you want with it.” And I’m like, if they actually realize the value of this and turn around and say, “Do your decking outside your house with MCG timber, two, three, four hundred times markup, they could have easily put on there and people would have paid it. I was like, I don’t want to let these guys know because I was thinking, naively at the time, that they might be savvy enough to do something.
But the interesting thing is, they’re in the demolition game, they’re in the recycling game. They’re not in the memorabilia, or the marketing game. That’s something that I didn’t realize at the time. So, yeah, I bought it all because the guy said there was someone else doing something similar.
Dave: Well, you moved quicker. Because I got her back to Dad’s, wrote up the press release, I was all ready to go. And then I thought, but I can’t mail the press release just before I go on this conference.
Pete: Just like a couple of days before you flew into Brisbane?
Dave: Yeah. I was going to be away because we were going on this road trip for a couple of weeks, and then I had the week of conference. So, it was going to be three weeks. I thought, I can’t do it while I’m away. Because if it does blow up, I won’t be there to take the calls or do anything.
I just thought, all right, we’ll just leave it be until I got back. So, we flew up, did the road trip, went to the Brad Sugars event, and that’s where they had the competition. They got everybody to come up and tell their story, and I mentioned what I was planning to do with the carpet.
Pete: You already bought the carpet, it was ready to go, “Here’s the press release. When I get back from this conference, I’m going to apply all of the great marketing stuff I’ve just learned, and go to town with this.” And they said, “Awesome idea, here’s $1,000 prize.”
Pete: Very cool.
Dave: Someone in the crowd goes, “That’s you? Oh, really, well done.” So you must have done it almost straightaway from when you got it.
Pete: Yeah, I think my press release came out like three days after I bought it. So, it would have been like, you bought it, two days later I bought it, three or four days later my press release went out. And then, yeah, Herald Sun, Today Tonight, the news, that kind of stuff.
Dave: So, I’m up there and they said, “That was you,” They did a congratulations-type thing. And I was like, what are you talking about? Before I left, I told two or three friends, or Remy and a few of the others. And then they called and they said, “Did you give the wood to anyone?” I was like, “No, what do you mean?” They said, “There’s another guy, almost the same as you, doing the same thing.”
Pete: Similar, same way.
Dave: That’s right. And I remember at the time thinking, this has got to be the worst thing. This was my opportunity, once in a lifetime moment to shine and I missed it because I’m up doing this conference. So I had to stew on it.
Pete: It’s like cursing me.
Dave: That’s right. Going, “Pete Williams!”
I was up in Brisbane at the time, so I had to stew on it for a week before I even got home. So I got home, and then had seen some of the media attention that you got. Saw some of the different newspaper articles and things like that as well. And then I thought, I’m not going to not market it. I thought, well, I’ve still got all of this stuff. It’s still limited. People are still going to want it. So, I ended up starting off by running ads — I did the press release and got a bit of nibbles from the press release.
Pete: Channel Nine or something?
Dave: I started running ads in mX.
Pete: Oh, okay.
Dave: The mX newspaper had just launched. They hadn’t got their pricing right. Because I learned all the direct mail stuff, so I did this little advertorial. It looked just like an editorial piece saying, “Melbourne man sells the MCG for $24.95.” Ran it for about two or three weeks.
Then someone in the Herald Sun picked that article up, called, wanted the full story. Then they did a big piece and then got the photos out in front of the MCG. Once it went in the Herald Sun, that’s when it got picked up by the Today Show. Then it flowed onto Nova radio and got a few other bits and pieces after that. It was kind of that chain reaction, but I almost started the fire myself by running these ads and paying there on the ads.
Pete: Do you have still copies of those?
Pete: We should put them in the show notes. On our site is all of the stuff I did in my media, but it’d be really cool to see your media as well and put it on there. So, I’ll have to get it off you.
Check out the show notes guys because we’ll link it up to some PDFs and some JPEGs of what you guys did.
Dave: We’ve spoken about it a couple of times, I think the media must have gotten confused between you and I. Because same age pretty much, same sort of entrepreneurial endeavors and ideas and things like that, so I picked it up as well. At the time, when I look back now, I learned a couple of really important lessons from it.
One, when you’ve got a good idea, you’ve got to act on it quick, because there’s a very good chance someone either in the same suburb or on the other side of the world is having the same idea that you are. You’ve got to start implementing straightaway. And also the idea of, I suppose, making lemonade from lemons. There we go.
Pete: Lemonade from lemons.
Dave: And still roll with it. I mean, stuff’s always going to pop up, and it’s only added to the story. From there, like you said, a few years later, we caught up. We’ve done multiple different programs together. I’m renting out of the office where you guys are, so we’re at the same place.
Pete: Our wives think we’re the same person.
Dave: The same person.
Pete: They just freak out that we do exactly the same thing.
Dave: Yeah, yeah. Living along the bay here as well in Melbourne. Very similar. And from a business point of view, it would have been easy to go, “Oh, he is now officially my archnemesis.” And I think, really, there’s not any point where you can’t cooperate with whoever you think your biggest competition is. There’s a few things that came up from that.
Pete: How did you go? Because you primarily sold the certificate with timber pieces, as opposed to the frames which is my primary focus.
Dave: Yeah, I started off doing the certificates where we chopped it up into little slivers, and then stuck it to certificate paper that I got from Officeworks. Got some photos from — what was his name, Peter (there’s a photographer who had taken these panoramic photo prior to the demolition), and then a history, sold it for $24.95. Probably, it cost me about six bucks or something like that, or a bit less to put together, and that included shipping as well. So the markup was pretty good.
Probably the biggest sale that worked for us (I didn’t even get that much from being on The Today Show or anything like that), relatively speaking was through Wishlist.com.au. It was just at the start of the days when it was bubbling up, almost like those deal of the day-type websites.
Pete: Spreets, and the Scoopons, and the Groupons and things like that, but prior.
Dave: Yeah, prior to that. Then they were sending out all of the orders through fax. So, one day when they mailed their list (they must have had a huge database), I literally had the phone ring for 24 hours straight. Because each time the phone would ring, it would be one order, and then I would fax the order through. So the fax machine connected…
Pete: Wishlist was faxing you the orders. So someone would go to Wishlist.com.au to buy a gift or a present, they were like an online shopping mall just full of products. They would then take the money from the client, fax you to say, this is someone’s order, this is what they want to have delivered, and pay you on a monthly basis or something?
Dave: Yep. And then we had for, no joke, 24 hours straight, the fax machine just, ring, the fax would come, ring.
Pete: That’s pretty cool.
Dave: It was probably one of the most exciting things I remember. I was just like, this is out of control.
Pete: If only iPhones were around in those days, it’d be really cool video to watch.
Dave: Yeah. I’ve still got a few photos of us sitting on the floor as we made them up. I started getting a bit of a production line going, and had Mum and a few friends, and we would build them up. I was living in a two-bedroom flat with my Mum on Porunga Street in Glen Iris, and there was a framer around the corner. We started doing those orders. Then I still had the carpet, thinking, what are we going to do with the carpet? I did some of the frames, but I did really limited numbers thinking, well, I’ve got a limited amount so let’s make it clear that there’s only a couple hundred of them, and then sold those for, I think they were about 700 bucks.
Pete: How did you market those?
Dave: A few different ways. Most of them was upselling to the people who purchased the $24.95. I did like a follow-up marketing campaign to them.
Pete: So, they go to Wishlist, they buy off Wishlist or off The Today Show. Then when you sent this to them, did you have an upsell letter in there or was it a separate mailing later?
Dave: Towards the end when I got smarter, it was included in. But there was a period, like the first batch we mailed out afterwards. So, I sent the first letter out and then sent the follow-up. I think I did it around an event. It was either Father’s Day or Christmas Day that I then did the follow-up mailing through to that first batch, and then I started sliding little things in. But we even did stuff like, I had a couple of friends, dress them up in little tight tops.
Pete: Was it a male friend or a female friend?
Dave: Female friends, and sent them down to the MCG at the end of a game, and started handing out fliers. It would have been about maybe a thousand fliers, and we sold maybe three or something out of it. I was really disappointed. What we were trying to do was to guerilla marketing as we could, and then there were the ads that I was running in mX which were cash flow positive. They were working all right. That was on the front end not even on the back end.
Pete: On the ‘front end,’ for those who don’t understand the terms, it’s like you pay for the ad, a couple hundred bucks, I don’t know how much it was.
Dave: It was five or six.
Pete: So, 500 or 600 bucks for an ad in mX magazine, which is a free city newspaper (which I think is still around, I never go into the city anymore). It’s put out by one of the major newspapers here in Australia. They have this free version. It has maybe 30 pages and it’s just the top stories of the day. It’s like Twitter in newspaper terms, the highlights of the day. They print it at like three o’clock, and it’s just available for people in the commute.
[You find a lot of] ads in that. There’s all these people commuting on the trains and the trams. This was, again, before iPhones and iPads. This was 10 years ago. People were actually reading these things on the trains. Whereas, today, everyone’s head is stuck in their iPad and their iPhone. So, it probably wouldn’t be as effective I would think. But you were spending 500 or 600 bucks for this little ad, and it was the advertorial still?
Dave: Yeah, yeah.
Pete: So, it was like a little story, not just saying, “Buy the MCG.”
Dave: “Melbourne man sells the MCG for $24.95.”
Pete: Talking about what it was, how you did it, and where they could get it. That was just making positive cash flow in terms of the revenue that was coming in after your costs. And your backend sales or additional profit, you weren’t doing it to help cash-flow the actual big-end sale, which is pretty cool.
Dave: We started trying to do everything because we had a whole lot of this wood. So I went back to my old school, Melbourne High School, and tried to do a JV with them where we put together some old frames as a fundraiser, and then they sent it through the old boys’ approach.
Pete: How did that work?
Dave: Again, handful. I think all up, it was a lot of work. I mean, people look at these things and then think, oh, yeah, that was a million-dollar idea that didn’t require any work.
Pete: You still have to market.
Dave: It’s just all in the idea, yeah. There’s a lot of execution in it. We sold a good handful through there. Then we also tried to look at going through a couple of charity angles, didn’t quite stick as well. And then, what else did we do? We approached some of the memorabilia shops as well. There was a couple on Swan Street and things like that. They took a couple on consignment, but they’d only take the big frames, not the $24.95.
Pete: Yeah, and the economics for those people — I struggle with that as well, going to some of the memorabilia shops. Some of the bigger ones, I was trying to go to the chains and people who do the TV. If you’re in Australia during the cricket, during the summer, they’d pump a lot of memorabilia around and available. I was trying to get in with them because it’s a perfect fit with cricket. But I soon learned that the economics for these guys is ridiculous.
They’d sell a ‘limited edition’ poster signed by Shane Warne, who’s like the Michael Jordan of cricket, for like $1,000. But the whole thing would cost them less than 50 bucks to produce because the poster was just printed. They just did a print run of a hundred, that’s how they manufacture this limited edition. Shane signed a whole bunch of them with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, and they pumped them out. I’m trying to turn around and say, I want to sell these frames for 700 bucks because I’m not trying to rip people off. I want to have it at a price point that everyone can own a piece of the ‘G.
Dave: And it’s genuine memorabilia.
Pete: Exactly. I was wanting to go 50-50 on the price point with them, the economics didn’t work for these guys. I found that really hard myself.
Dave: Yeah, I just tried a lot — and I’ve still got a lot of the wood. After all that said and done, at Mum’s I’ve got a big pile. I know you had your 10-year anniversary?
Pete: Yeah, our anniversary launch a couple of years ago, which went pretty well.
Dave: I think from here, I’ll keep it. We now use it for ways to be quite memorable to either leads, or existing clients as thank-you’s and things like that, because it’s got a little bit of a story behind it.
Pete: And it’s your story as well. There’s probably three things. Giving thanks and corporate gifts and bribes (or whatever term it is), it’s smart marketing, but it’s a unique story and a very unique piece of bribery. In terms of the gift, the MCG, it’s got your story, so it reinforces you as a cutting-edge entrepreneur doing smart stuff. It just helps tie that back in as well, which is really important and very smart.
Dave: Yeah. I’ll probably turn it into a seat or a bench one day for some of the remaining bits and pieces.
Pete: I’d love to see the new pad.
Dave: Yeah, that’s right. I might build a separate room or something like that made out of MCG wood.
Pete: Do you have any of the carpet left?
Dave: I’ve got a small bit. Mainly because I’m thinking for myself, I’ll do something with it.
Pete: Your pool room, carpet your pool room.
Dave: Yeah, there we go, there we go. I’ll have a section, I’ll have like a meter squared in the corner.
Pete: My uncle had a good one. He thought I should have carpeted the toilet and call it the Members’ Room.
Dave: Nice, nice.
Pete: That was his joke, which I thought was quite funny at the time.
Dave: You can put the candle after, and then joke comes…
Pete: Yeah, there you go. Talking about some of the things that didn’t work, one of the things we thought would have gone gangbusters, we actually paid for some quarter-page ads in the Grand Final Footy Record. The Footy Record is like, obviously the program that is sold during the Grand Final. In Australia, AFL Grand Final has 95,000 to 105,000 people every year, so it’s a huge crowd. And then the actual record or the program that’s sold on the ground is also sold in news agents all around the country the week leading up. Because everyone wants to see the home, for whatever weird reason, watching the telecast with their program on their lap. I don’t know why that is, but that’s what they do.
We thought we were going to reach all across Australia, doing really well. And that cost us, not a lot, but a few thousand dollars for that ad, being such a big magazine or a big program. We think we got maybe two sales, maybe three out of it as well. Just that wasn’t positive cash flow at all. The ROI on that was pretty poor, which is very disappointing. Looking back on the ad, it was pretty crappy. I think we could have had a lot better calls to action, direct-response kind of stuff in there. It was a more of a bit branding kind of ad saying, “Here, own a piece of the MCG. Here’s the price. Call us now.” There wasn’t any sort of story or emotion put in there. I guess it’s a learning curve thing. But yeah, there were a couple of projects we did that didn’t quite work out either in terms of the promotion of it.
Dave: I think the testing is another lesson to come out of it as well — trying multiple different markets, finding what worked, and then trying to push harder on that. I kept on going back to Wishlist saying can we do something else, this was good for you, it was good for us, so let’s just keep doing it. It petered out, but they did have it on the front page for the longest time. Then it just kept on churning over tickets. But then other things we only went and did that thing at the MCG once, handing stuff out. Just testing lots of different channels, and then doubling down on what’s working.
Pete: Yeah, speaking of the Wishlist thing, when we did that relaunch a couple of years ago, I actually approached — I can’t remember who it was at the time, but it was Scoopon or Groupon, one of those ‘deal a day’ people, to do an offer through that and exclusively offer just for Scoopon, 24 hours. I think we sold one out of the whole thing again, and I had a huge audience, huge reach at the time. It was when it was at the real peak. It was the big buzz thing, these ‘deal of the day; sites. Now they have petered out themselves a little bit. Unfortunately, Wishlist has, but that’s the kind of thing we tried too recently that didn’t work either.
It’s just that message to market-match and trying to find it. In hindsight, these ‘deal of the day’ people, they’re impulse buyers. They’re people who want to get $100 steak for 40 bucks. They want to get an $80 massage for $20. They want to get a facial, they want to get that kind of stuff.
Dave: A $25 piece of them MCG. Whereas, you were probably selling the frames.
Pete: The frames, exactly. We were selling the frames for $1000 retail, you get it for 500 bucks. It’s still a good saving, which fits the Scoopon and Groupon model, but the issue was, there was no impulse around that. It’s not something you would buy impulsively at that price point. Maybe if it was around Christmas and Father’s Day, and you were already looking for a gift, that ties in really well. Timing didn’t really fit that.
There wasn’t a story behind it. People aren’t going to relate and do an impulse buy. And the thing is too, one of the big business models (whether it’s right or wrong, we could have a whole conversation about this with the Groupon and Scoopon thing) is that a lot of people were doing those initial product sales ridiculously cheap or at a loss.
So, unlike your Wishlist or advert to mX which were positive cash flow from Day One, a lot of people are doing those Scoopon deals as leads to get something in the door at a loss, to then try to get them to buy from you again and again and again. For a lot of people, that never happened because they didn’t have that back-end transactions per client-type, 7 Lever element happening in their business. So, the Scoopon stuff didn’t work for them because they are making losses on the front end with no system.
Dave: And then it just magnified losses because they’ve got hundreds of clients getting through.
Pete: They had no system in the back-end. If I did a certificate-type thing, 25-buck certificates for $12, that could have fit the impulse-buyer scenario and then upsell them pretty hard to the frames, in hindsight that probably would have been a much better way to go about it. That was an interesting lesson to learn.
Dave: And the other thing is, I suppose, the way that you leveraged off of it, moving beyond well after the event, the writing of the book that was really well. I mean for me, I interwove into a lot of presentations that I did, recording of separate videos and having them strategically on the site, all for positioning and building up the story of how you’re working with someone who’s got great ideas and acts on them, and implements. But I think you leveraged off of it even more with the book and things like that.
Pete: Yeah, that was really beneficial for me. The book deal was huge. To actually get that third-party endorsement and credibility was cool, and then to be able to use that as a much stronger platform to go on and tell other stories, and do other things.
Dave: Spotting those ideas, I think they’re really keen now for telling the story. The other one that I’ve had just recently was the life-sized Lego car powered by air.
Pete: Tell this story because I love this. It has nothing to do with MCG but it’s a really cool story.
Dave: Yeah, I look across the career, I’ve probably had the MCG story and this Lego story that fit into that same sort of bracket. And I love the idea of being a part of these types of projects because they’re the stories that get spread.
There’s a kid in Romania who was trying to get in touch with a venture capitalist to help fund him build a spaceship. So, he started reaching out to hundreds of people to try and get on their radar, and no one was responding. But he happened to reach out to a guy based here in Melbourne, Steve Sammartino, and basically sent him a Skype message just saying, “Hi, I’m a Romanian, I’m looking to build a spaceship.” That was his message. Steve, accepts it.
Pete: That was so spammy. So, so spammy.
Dave: I know. A kid from Romania. Right.
Pete: He wants to build a spaceship. “So, please send $2000 to my random bank account and I’ll send you photos from the moon.”
Dave: That’s right. Steve did effectively. He accepted him. Then they thought, let’s start with something smaller first. They built a little Lego spaceship and strapped some helium balloons to a GoPro, sent up into space, recovered the footage when it came down, and now there’s a video on YouTube of this little Lego spaceship. You can see the curvature of the Earth. So, that was Step One.
Pete: That’s kind of cool in its own right.
Dave: Yeah, got a good attention for Lego, added up over all the videos that are posted on YouTube, well over a million views. Only cost a couple of thousand dollars. It’s doing these crazy marketing ideas. Now, they didn’t tie it back to anything commercial. This kid is under 20, he’s got a pilot’s license because over in Romania you can get free flying lessons up until your20.
Pete: Oh, wow.
Dave: Yeah. He’s got his pilot’s license. He’s an engineer. To build a jet engine is very expensive. So, he built his own and then strapped it to the top of a bike. There’s a video on YouTube of a jet engine-powered push bike that he drives around on. It’s pretty funny. Then his latest one was — again, he’s been keeping contact with Steve because the whole idea is this Romanian, Raul [Oaida], wants to raise enough cash to build this spaceship.
Pete: It’s a spaceship out of Lego, or just a spaceship?
Dave: He wants to build a spaceship. He’s designed all of it, not out of Lego. He’s designed all of the materials that are required, and everything like that.
Pete: Just because he wants to build a spaceship or is it some sort of…
Dave: So he can go into space. Of course.
Pete: Okay. Fair enough.
Dave: He’s designed, specked it all out, and thinks he’s got as much plans as he needs to actually get moving on it. But to build a spaceship is very expensive. He was having trouble raising the money just reaching out to these venture capitalists, got in touch with Steve, and they were like, let’s level up. Let’s just imagine if that’s the end game plan, let’s do two or three deals in between to get you on the radar of some people who can make this happen.
Pete: To show that you can actually execute stuff and you can perform, and have some runs on the board.
Dave: Yeah. So, the next one that they decided was to build a life-sized Lego car that was powered by compressed air. It was built completely of Lego, except for the main weight-bearing struts (I think they call it) and the wheels. But other than that, everything else was made of Lego. The engine was fully made of Lego.
Pete: I get the frame of the car being made of Lego, I think people can picture that. And I’m far from an engineer, but the actual engine being of Lego just sounds completely bizarre to me in terms of like, how does the drive shaft and the compressor…
Dave: Two hundred and seventy pistons. Lego, for some of their advanced Lego pieces, have these little tubes. So, the compressed air gets pushed through all of these little tubes, and then these little tiny pistons go up and down on little pieces of Lego. It’s impressive to watch. They worked on it for 18 months. They needed to fund it. Steve had this idea that he wants to show that in a connected world, we can help fund a kid in Romania. When all of these car companies are going bankrupt, we can fund a kid in Romania to build a Lego car powered by air.
So, he ended up posting something on Twitter. He had this little prospectus that he sent out and it said, ‘For advanced humans only.’ He sent it out, he wanted 40 people to throw in 500 bucks each to raise some money to help fund this little expedition. The thing that he tweeted out was effectively saying, “Give me 500 bucks, I can only tell you a little bit about what I have planned. But chances are you’ll never see your money again, and it’ll probably fail.”
Pete: So just as spammy as a Skype message originally from a kid in Romania.
Pete: Okay, cool.
Dave: So I sent him $500, and watched over the course of 12 months — they had already been doing it all upwards about 24 months or 18 months or thereabouts. But I joined in for that 12-month period as we were sending things over to him, and he was sending little updates as he was traveling and sending photos. It was getting quite exciting near the end because we shipped him over from Romania, this full-size Lego car.
Pete: So he built the car in Romania, and then shipped it over here by boat or by plane?
Dave: By boat. So they got a big container, popped in there, tried to make it all safe, but on the transit, it actually got pretty banged up. So when he got here, they had to rebuild quite a lot of it. The Romanian, Raul, said, ” I’ve built it once before, I can build it again,” which was cool. Out in Werribee of all places, in someone’s shed (you wouldn’t be able to tell it from the shed next door), he spent three weeks rebuilding this thing. I actually built all of the side fenders because they got broken in the ship. I went there and rebuilt that.
Pete: So you can say you helped make this Lego car?
Pete: Not just funded it, but actually help make it.
Dave: I officially helped build it.
Pete: Awesome. Was the Lego stuck together with glue, or was it just normal Lego?
Dave: Parts of it were. Around the engine and things where there’s a lot of movement, but then the doors and things like that.
Pete: Just normal blocks stuck together.
Dave: Yeah, just stuck together.
Dave: Then we got the car all finished. Unfortunately, the cash was starting to run out. The costs blew out significantly for Steve, and he had to start putting his own cash in. There was debates as to whether or not we kind of sell out and get a corporate sponsor or something like that. The final Lego bill, I don’t even know if we’re supposed to say or not, the final Lego bill was significant because Lego towards the end started sending it out with 30-day invoice. At the start, they wanted payment up front. But then a bit of trust was built up, and then they started sending it.
Pete: I’m surprised Lego didn’t at least — not corporate-sponsor it, but say, ‘here’s a Lego piece.’ It’s a good story for Lego. Not necessarily fund it from a corporate perspective, like ‘brought to you by Lego.’ But at least go, ‘here’s the pieces of plastic.’
Dave: Well, they basically have company policy that if they do that, they’ll open the floodgates. So, they’ve decided not to publicly do it. But I think I can say it (I don’t even know if I can), but towards the end, they wrote off a significant amount to make it happen. But the timing was great from them. We launched it just before Christmas 2013, that Christmas. It was within a week and a half from Christmas, and it just blew up. Within the first three days, it was well over a couple of million views.
Pete: You guys did a video through your Melbourne Video Productions website and business?
Dave: Yep. We got up early, when out to Werribee. Obviously, you’re not supposed to drive it on the road, but we took it out onto a little side street. And Melbourne Video Production, Adrian (who’s a Tropfest finalist), came along and actually did a lot of the footage for it.
We filmed it actually driving. Under stress testing and things like that, it’s tested to go up to about 20 kilometers per hour. It was a bit slower than that on the day. But I think really what the amazing thing is not how fast it traveled, but rather the car actually moved and traveled powered by compressed air and it was full size. That’s just an engineering feat. There were a group of us, all of the people who put in, a good number of them arrived on the day and we recorded it, turned it into a video and posted it on YouTube, and the media attention went absolutely crazy. More than the MCG story, it got picked up by over 150 media outlets…
Pete: Across the globe.
Dave: Across the globe. It was on CNN, Fox — all in the States. Big news channels picked it all up and published it. Mashable, WIRED — all of them picked it up and started posting their little stories and versions. The whole idea behind it, why he’s doing this obviously, is to get enough attention. I think in less than 30 days, it was over four million views. It was just a global phenomenon. It was great to be a part of, it was great to look at the analytics behind, it was great to watch the whole orchestration of the way that we did it. That might be a podcast in itself.
We strategically picked people who we were going to see the video with first to help them share it out. We had a few different ideas on people, whoever threw in, if we had connections, we were tapping them on the shoulders with prerecorded podcasts, all these things to get the message in the right places so it could be shared, with no real commercial intent, really.
The whole purpose behind this was to get some attention about Raul and what he can do. His next project that he’s worked on, he’s already got it all specked up, and he wants to some crowdfunding to create a new type of 3D printing technology. He believes that 3D printing at the moment is using antiquated methods, melting plastic and dripping it out. He believes it can be done with breaking apart elements.
He told me one day, I took him out, we actually went to go see Gravity 3D because he’s a bit of a space nut. So I took him to IMAX, and he was telling me about this thing afterwards. It was well over my head, but he wants to do that to raise enough capital. Now that he’s got some attention from this, he’ll move into raising some capital to do the 3D printing venture which he believes will fund the spaceship because he believes that it’s the next billion-dollar industry just waiting to happen. The technology that he’s got he feels is groundbreaking enough that it’ll have a significant impact. Then license or sell it, and then get his money, build a spacecraft, and then go into space.
Pete: That’s awesome.
Dave: It’s pretty amazing, the whole story behind it. But being involved in those types of projects now, it’s got me hungry again to spot those things. The next time a crazy Romanian sends me a Skype message and says, “Send me $2000, drop into my PayPal account,” I might actually say yes.
Pete: Nice. What’s your Skype address to let everyone on the podcast start spamming you with some crazy offers?
Awesome, man. That is really cool — the MCG story and how that relates to us is interesting. But I think that whole Lego stuff — I got a message from Steve as well saying, “Do you want to jump on board?” At that time I was like, I didn’t see the vision and passed on it, in hindsight with regret. Like all of us, we’ve all got regrets and stuff we’ve missed. But it was very smart of you to jump on board with that because it’s a very cool story.
I think we need to work out a way to get the marketing story told a lot more. Because the story about the concept and what was achieved from an engineering perspective has already been told through CNN and all the media you guys got. But I would love to work out a way that we can tell the story a lot more of how you marketed it in terms of how it was strategically positioned to get that sort of exposure and put together, and how the video was done. I’ll have to chat to a few people and see how I can make that happen.
Dave: We talked about it. This can just spawn the idea, we were going to look at running a marketing workshop at some point. We can break down and tell exactly what we did to market the MCG and the Lego, things like that.
Pete: And the Lego story.
Dave: Perhaps we can do a one-day event or something like that.
Pete: Awesome, man. Thank you for your time. Good to finally have you on the show. We’ve done so many products together that I’m sure longtime listeners have heard us talk about it with the outsourcing program and workshops we have done. So it’s good to get you on the show and share the MCG story of how two mortal enemies, two hard competitors, came together and became good friends and started doing JVs together. So, thank you very much, buddy.
Dave: No, my pleasure. Thanks for having us.
[Pete’s conversation with Dave ends]
Dom: That was a complete surprise to me where Dave just went off talking about that guy with the spaceship and all the rest of the stuff. I had no idea that he’d been involved in that Lego car project. It was something that popped up on my radar, completely independent of everything that we do, all the people that we know. It just popped up on one of my major international news site feeds.
And I thought, that’s a really cool project. I didn’t watch all the way to the end of the video, and I didn’t see Dave’s name in the title which is there. And when I watched it again, after listening to the interview, you can see him in the background in the video quite clearly. There’s Dave. I was just like, wow, this guy’s everywhere.
Pete: The smiling assassin. He gets handed some really cool pies, which is awesome.
Dom: He literally underlined it, and you can’t overemphasize what an excellent example of the power of taking action that was. I can just imagine — I know Dave a little bit, but I can just imagine his face after he’d had the fantastic idea, taking the action to get the stuff, only to find that you’d got there and done the same thing but done your press release ahead of him, and got your adverts out. He must have been absolutely devastated.
Pete: Well, I still remember that when I was at the warehouse looking at all the carpet — we might even throw some photos up on the blog that I found earlier today from the warehouse. I took photos of the warehouse, and we found a couple. We might throw them up on the blog post as well at PreneurMarketing.com. But I remember the actual guy at the wrecking company saying to me that someone else had recently bought some of the carpet, and was going to do some pieces of memorabilia with them. And instantly right there, I went, “I’ll buy all the carpet,” just because I knew that someone else had bought some of it, they’d come back later and get the rest. So, I bought everything that was available right then and there without question. Yeah, I kind of knew about Dave before I even knew Dave, which was really interesting.
Dom: It’s also interesting though, as something that we talked about before and all the people talk about it, you started out and you were quite literally archenemies. You were trying to achieve the same thing, in the same space, with the same product. You were both going in exactly the same direction. I know the way you presented it and you actioned it, was as he said, a step up from what Dave was doing, but you were out and out competitors.
And now, you’re best buds, you work on stuff together, he’s working in your office. It just shows you that whatever you perceive right now, doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s always got to be. There’s always an opportunity to work with people who you might currently see as a competitor.
Pete: Absolutely. Our respective wives think they’ve both married the same person because it’s quite funny we are so alike in so many ways, but it’s very cool. Dave is awesome.
Dom: He definitely shaves more than you though.
Pete: That is true. That is very true.
So, moving on from the episode and the conversation with Dave, we have our regular contest here for the Preneur Community, whether you are a reader of the blog or a listener to the podcast. Our contest for this week (and we’re going to start making a weekly contest), it’s going to primarily be (unless something else pops up and we change it on a weekly basis), but every week we’re going to start giving away a personally signed book from me to the community member who leaves the best comment on the blog.
Whether it’s a comment about this particular episode on the show notes at PreneurMarketing.com, or it’s a feedback on a guarantee template that you’ve used that’s worked really well, or any other previous essay. It doesn’t have to be an essay published this week, it can be any post at any time as long as you comment within the next seven days. We’ll pick the comment of the week, and send a personally signed copy of How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality, which was my first book, to you no matter where you are in the world, completely free.
Engage with us, and come back and head over to the site, leave a comment, tell us what you like about the show, what you don’t like about the show, what you like about the post, how you implemented something we’ve spoken about, whatever it might be. Leave a comment and you’ll have a fairly good chance of winning a personally signed book.
Dom: Excellent. It is a great book. It gives a bit of a background story to the MCG in there as well.
Pete: Absolutely. The primer of the book deal was actually my MCG project. So it all ties nicely together.
Dom: It’s all tied in nicely with a little bow, as you like to do with this episode.
Pete: Very true. And speaking of books, we didn’t mention before the cut to the conversation with Dave, but if you are interested in checking Hooked, the book I mentioned at the start of the show, or any other great business book, AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you can go there and sign up to Audible as a trial. They will give you, in exchange of being a listener to PreneurCast, one free audiobook download. It can be Hooked, as I said, it can be any number of books we mentioned on the show here. But if you haven’t tried that service out, I really highly recommend you head over to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, and download a free audiobook on us and Audible.
Dom: Indeed. And with that, I think we can wrap up the show. What are we doing next time, Pete?
Pete: The next episode, we’re going to back into the 7 Levers and we’re going to look at some high-level points about increasing your items per sale. As we talk about quite regularly in the show and on the blog, the 7 Levers of Business framework is a fantastic framework to keep you focused and help you regularly double the profit of your business. And one of the ways to do that is by increasing the items per sale that you sell. As you go through and cycle through the 7 Levers, all you’re trying to do is increase each lever by just 10%. Next episode, we’re going to talk about a number of different ways you can consider increasing your items per sale by 10% and achieving that 7 Levers goal.
Dom: Excellent. Well, folks, see you all next time.
http://www.superawesomemicroproject.com – The Lego Car Project Dave mentioned
http://conversionxl.com – Top tips on conversions
http://www.nutshell.com – Customer/Sales Lead Management Tool
Preneur Marketing Articles:
Hooked – Nir Eyal
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