Meet Brad Fallon from Free IQ. Brad is well known in the info-marketing community for his StomperNet launches. He sold around $12M of his continuity program in a day, so he knows a few tricks. FreeIQ is Brad’s latest venture; a YouTube-type online video site that hosts different types of digital media products focusing on business expertise on a variety of topics. One of the interesting aspects of this interview is Brad’s insight into the process of importing products from China to use for wholesale and retail sales. While the import process may appear complicated at first, Brad’s explanation makes it "not as hard as you might think."
Full Interview Audio and Transcript
Hobbies and Interests: Golf, Flying.
Favourite Sports Teams: University of Florida.
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil.
Personal Blog: http://www.bradfallon.com
Company Website: http://www.freeiq.com
Adrian Bye: Today, I’m talking with Brad Fallon of Free IQ, an online video site for businesses. Brad, tell us about your companies, your product launches, and what you’re working on now.
Brad Fallon: StomperNet, which is our current company, is the largest Internet Marketing training program in the world. We coach and teach Internet Marketing strategies including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click. We teach business owners how to make more money online, how to increase traffic to their Web sites, and how to improve conversion rates.
This distance-learning program costs $800 a month. It includes ongoing webinars, teleseminars, and live events. When we launched on October 3, 2006, we sold 1,450 programs in the first 12 hours of the day with $12.1 million in gross sales and commitments. We actually set the record for the online sales of information products. A couple of weeks later we opened the shopping cart for another 12 hours and sold another 400 memberships.
Prior to that, I was in e-commerce sales. My wife, who was in corporate sales and traveled a lot, wanted to have a business from home. I thought there was something about selling products from the Internet. We started a Yahoo! Store in January 2004. It was just a little $50 a month Yahoo! Store with a 30-day free trial. The Web site is: MyWeddingFavors.com.
She sold products she bought from wholesale markets in Atlanta, which is where we live. The first month, she sold $11,000 in products. About half-way through the year, we decided to go in the wholesale business as well, and we started supplying our competitors. Then we started manufacturing 10 of our own products in China under the brand Kate Aspen. Now we import three containers a week. The first year’s sales were $1.2 million. Last year we did $18 million.
We now sell wedding favors, bridal shower favors, and baby shower favors. CornerStorkBabyGifts.com is our retail Web site where we also sell baby gifts under the brand Baby Aspen.
Adrian Bye: What has been your stick rate for StomperNet?
Brad Fallon: Over a year later, our stick rate has been about twice the industry average or the drop out rate has been about less than half. We have also added other things as well.
We’ve assembled eight or nine full-time faculty members that continue to provide ongoing content. We have subject matter experts on all of the different aspects of Internet Marketing including SEO, Pay-Per-Click, Affiliate Marketing, e-mail marketing, and conversion.
Recently, we launched a program called Stomper Smarts. Smarts is an acronym for social marketing traffic strategies. It’s the idea of how you actually use FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube to help build lists and collect customers.
It is a $1,500 course for a 10-week training program. We had that shopping cart open for about a week, and we sold 2,000 courses.
Adrian Bye: For product launches, a certain amount of scarcity exists where people feel that they have to buy right away. It’s a technique that drives huge numbers of sales in a day, but it seems to somewhat pressure people into a sale.
Brad Fallon: Different persuasion methods definitely are involved. When you’re selling something on a Web site, it’s not like a salesman is in your house or you’re in a car dealership. You don’t really have the opportunity to really take “no” as an answer 27 times. It only takes one “yes.”
People are on the Web page, and they can click away as fast as they want. You try to do different things to create excitement. One example is scarcity. For example, when you’re selling a coaching program, the cart is only going to be open for a limited period of time.
When we launched StomperNet, we had a brand new Web site and a brand new domain name no one had ever heard of before. We used the strategy of giving away free content. People didn’t even have to opt in. We just put out at a series of three free videos called, “Going Natural Series.” In a matter of a month, we had over 420,000 people download or watch these videos. From that, we built an opt-in list of around 57,000. When we opened, we had a very public blog going on at the same time. Over 1,300 people wrote comments on the blog. We also had over 10,000 people submit questions to the question-collector software.
Adrian Bye: Did you use e-mail to drive all that traffic?
Brad Fallon: Most of that traffic wasn’t driven by us. Instead, most of it was driven by the affiliates. Other people had mailing lists of people that were interested in learning about Internet Marketing. They sent the traffic to the site for an affiliate commission. Since we were giving the videos away for free, it was really easy for the affiliates to promote. They could say, “Go watch these great training videos. There’s some really excellent information here. I’ve learned a lot. They’re free. I don’t know how long these videos are going to be available, but they’re out there now. You don’t even have to opt in.”
For 2008, we’re working on a strategy to go after the FTBO and the SMB market in trying to get their Internet business started. The first-time business owner is often our market where people have a job or a little Web site, but they don’t really have a company or even employees. We try to help them grow their business. We’re also trying to go after a more corporate market of people who already have 20 to 400 employees. In those instances, the CEO isn’t the one setting up the AdWords campaigns but is using our training materials to improve the company’s Web results.
Adrian Bye: How much of training are you delivering now?
Brad Fallon: Last year, we did four live conferences. I’m very visible at the actual events and usually give one of the presentations. At some of our events, we have 30 speakers.
Our distance coaching program has a lot of personal touch. For example, each week, all of our faculty members host office hours for an hour. During that time, people can call in on the bridge line and ask any individual a one-on-one question. This happens every Monday through Friday. I also host office hours every couple of weeks as well as release content and videos.
We also started a personal coaching component for paid members who have been in the program for a year. The component includes trained coaches that are not necessarily experts on Internet Marketing but well-trained in coaching. The members receive two 30-minute calls per month from the coaches. During these calls, the coaches work with the members on different coaching activities, such as making sure they have and use a plan.
Adrian Bye: What kind of SEO are you doing on MyWeddingFavors.com? What is your overall SEO philosophy?
Brad Fallon: When it comes to SEO for e-commerce sites, there’s a concept of offensive and defensive SEO. If you have a brand new site and you’re trying to rank for something competitive, you have to be a little bit aggressive. The problem is that what is acceptable for aggressiveness changes. If you have a site that’s making money and is already ranking, you want to be a bit more defensive. For example, you want to improve your link popularity and page rank by continuing to add to your in-bound links and distribute content around the Internet with links back to your site. Our philosophy is to aggressively do the things that would not be disfavored by Google.
Additionally, I counsel information marketers to determine a way to sell wholesale. If you have a product you can provide to other Web sites to sell, you really don’t care about being on Google yourself nearly as much. When we started Wedding Favors, the only 10 prospects we had were the other nine people on the first page of Google.
It’s fairly easy in e-commerce. If somebody’s an e-commerce merchant and you have a product that you’ll drop ship, they don’t have to buy it until they’ve already sold it. You provide them with the picture and product description. All they have to do is add it to their site, which costs them nothing. Most of the people on the online catalog space want to have as many products as they possibly can. The sales process is very easy. You only have 10 people to call to add your products to their site. The wholesale process is pretty simple.
Some people perceive that they are our competition and don’t want to buy it from us, but we have become so dominant in the wholesale manufacturing of wedding favors that people really need to carry our products to do as well as they can. The Knot, for example, is a very large public company that spent a year not selling our products. They now sell our products. Of course in our business, we have done it backwards. We started with the Web site and then went into bricks and mortars such as: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Babies R’ Us, Sears.com, and Stein Mart.
Adrian Bye: How does importing work?
Brad Fallon: The way we started was through one of my programmers, who is Chinese. He and his wife live here in Atlanta. They saw what we were doing with our Yahoo! Stores on Wedding Favors. He said he could get the products cheaper from China, so they brought in a couple of containers. We then formed the company Kate Aspen together.
People can import through a lot of different ways. One way is the Web site Alibaba.com. You can connect with a manufacturer. You can use a trading company. You can go to trade shows to meet representatives from factories and trading companies.
We deal directly with factories all over China. We have about three full-time sourcing people in China that spend all day looking for products, looking at factories that we already have, and looking for new factories. We have about six people in our office in Atlanta that speak native Mandarin. They work on sourcing, sending and receiving samples, communicating, making changes to products, and lining up the production.
Overall, it’s a matter of having an employee or an agent in China to deal with the actual factories. Then it’s a matter of having people here to communicate with them on what you actually want to buy. It’s not as hard as you might think.
It used to be that only large multi-national corporations would really import. Now, anybody can go the trade show with thousands of booths representing thousands of factories. You can place orders and have your items show up in your town in America.
A year ago, we had a seminar called ChinaImportSeminar.com. We charged $15,000 for the week, and we took a group of 20 people to China. We had a week-long seminar on Internet Marketing and how to import from China. We had speakers from China and went on factory tours. We also had trade show passes and provided interpreters and hotels. We recorded all that on DVD, and we’re thinking about doing that trip again. The Canton fair is a great trade show. It’s every October and every April in Guangzhou, China.
Adrian Bye: How do you run all your different companies?
Brad Fallon: The short answer is I don’t run three companies. About four months ago, my wife officially took over as the CEO of Smart Marketing, and I’m the chairman. At StomperNet, I’m the president and more of the strategy person. My partner, Andy Jenkins, runs the day-to-day as the CEO. We have another COO to support him as well.
I’m the CEO of Free IQ, which is in the technology start-up phase right now. We’re in the middle of re-building the platform to be totally scalable with a much more solid infrastructure. We’ll be taking that to market in about three or four months.
Adrian Bye: What is Free IQ?
Brad Fallon: Free IQ is like YouTube where we host and stream videos for people for free. We also have audios, e-books, PowerPoint presentations, ringtones, and any kind of digital media product. The idea is that rather than just hosting and streaming the videos for free, people can actually sell their content.
In the coming years, we’re going to see an explosion of digital information products. Many people over the age of 50 have expertise in their career areas. Previously, they didn’t know about teleseminars. They didn’t know how to do a webinar. It used to be expensive just to do a conference call. Now, it’s getting easier to create digital media products.
Free IQ is a platform where people can give away as much content as they want for free to showcase their expertise or drive traffic to their consulting business. They can also monetize their expertise by selling any kind of digital media product. Free IQ also includes a private affiliate network to help support and drive traffic for these experts.
Based on our previous experience with selling information products online, we’re optimistic of the idea of people being able to sell not just funny videos but seminars on how to hire good people, how to do strategic planning, or how to learn QuickBooks Pro.