A-list copywriter Kim Schwalm draws on decades of experience in copy, consulting, marketing and leadership.
It was her work with Philips Publishing that gave her insight into an often-ignored side of business - the back end.
In this SuperFastBusiness episode, she and James discuss the huge importance of nurturing relationships with existing and past customers, and how this can result in repeat and ongoing business.
02:26 – Do you pay enough attention to existing customers?
05:00 – Starting a relationship off on the right foot
06:25 – Release rather than launch
07:20 – Upgrading the copy early
10:10 – Strategy, products, marketing
11:47 – How will you get them to buy again?
13:33 – The right message for the right market
15:47 – Using the technology available
18:23 – How to tune for repeat business
22:09 – Some reactivation tips
24:31 – The power of the human gesture
28:28 – Keeping your finger on the pulse
32:18 – Case studies and testimonials
34:35 – Getting them hooked on your product
41:56 – An absolute must for your backend marketing
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 751. And today we’re going to be talking about your back end. And by that I mean we’re going to be talking about strategies to improve the back end of your business in marketing terms.
And I’ve brought along an expert in this with significant background. Today we’re going to be hearing from Kim Krause Schwalm, and you’re going to get some magnificence on the front of copywriting, copy mentoring, business.
Kim is an A-list copywriter, and she’s got decades of experience in freelance copy and consulting, but a lot of experience in marketing and especially leadership positions. She was the first female copywriter to ever get a Boardroom control. She’s written for Boardroom, but also other companies in health markets, National Geographic, Agora Financial and many other top response companies.
But also she worked as a former marketing director for powerhouse Phillips Publishing. And I think this is where the experience is going to come into play today. So why don’t we have a chat with you, Kim, about the back end, and also why this is such an important topic that most people are missing?
Kim: Well, you know, it’s interesting, because for the last 22 years as I built my copywriting career, I became that go-to person or I guess you could say that unicorn copywriter that could write those really challenging acquisition promotions and bring in new customers.
Do you pay enough attention to existing customers?
And I just found that so many clients and companies that I work with, big and small, tend to be very fixated on constantly bringing in new customers. But what so many businesses don’t do enough of is pay attention to the people that have bought from them. And it comes from everything from, you know, onboarding them and nurturing them to immediately, what else can I sell them, you know, as a service.
And so I bring a lot of experience with this from, you know, believe it or not, people might think it’s like, the pre-online days or like, the prehistoric Dark Ages, but there’s so much that’s so applicable now. And the other part of this is, you risk so much less of your marketing dollar when you’re spending it on people who’ve already bought from you. It’s a much more sure thing that you can sell them more, right, versus trying to chase down a possible customer.
And so if you are concerned about the economy, if you’re concerned about people’s heads being elsewhere, and you’re finding other challenges, like in today’s economy, or whatever happens, you know, I think you can get a much better, sure ROI on your marketing dollar if you invest it more in your back end. And I can give some more specific examples of that, but that’s why I think it’s a really important topic right now.
James: Yeah, I want to back you up on that. I think a lot of things that I learned in my days as a general manager and in automotive industry apply to now. And when I think about how we would market to our clients, we were sending out direct response letters at certain intervals after purchase, we had point of sale materials in the service areas, we had finance contracts that would be up for renewal, which we’d telephone call.
So these are people who’ve already purchased from us, and then had other opportunities to repurchase. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my current business is robustly built around the concept of recurring income, and I spend the bulk of my focus on existing customers.
But I think this conversation is really timely, because whilst everyone has been dazzled with Facebook ads and funnels – these are like the buzzwords of online marketing – you can definitely have a great business without either of those things being the focus. I’ve seen so many tragic cases of churn and burn that has come along, blow their dough on an ad, run it to some funnel, make a sale, maybe, destroy their reputation and then they’re off on to the next hyped-up thing, whether it’s a crypto thing or a high-ticket thing or whatever thing is popular.
Kim: Right. It’s not building a real business. It’s building a business maybe around having a successful promo, which again, no matter how good the promotion is, they almost always fatigue or die out.
Starting a relationship off on the right foot
And, you know, the other thing, which is a big trend you mentioned, is funnels. And funnels sometimes trade off long-term customer value for short-term gain, right? Because it’s like, oh, you just said you’re going to buy this. I’ve got three other things I’m going to make you sit through and make you buy. And by the time you’ve done it, like, you kind of feel like, Oh my gosh, did I just make some horrible mistake by even clicking on this link?
“Funnels sometimes trade off long-term customer value for short-term gain.”
And that’s not how you want to start a relationship with a customer. You don’t want to feel regret or pressure. Yeah, you can upsell things that are, how do we enhance the service or this product for you? I’m not against that. But I think we’ve got this mentality of take as much as you can up front, as if that’s all you’re ever going to get from that person.
And if you start incorporating real solid back end marketing strategies, and incorporating those, you don’t need to worry about getting so much right up front. And you’re going to actually, over the long term, you’re going to keep that person longer and be able to sell more things to them.
James: Oh, you’re speaking my language.
“If you attack the customer too hard on the front end, they’re going to just turn you off.”
James: I just watched through someone’s webinar the other day. I don’t watch webinars as a consumer. I do it as a coach. And one thing I mentioned to them is I didn’t like the lack of player controls. And it felt forceful, it felt pressured and a bit dirty. And I think that it’s really denying the customer to have their say in it. And I think if you attack the customer too hard on the front end, they’re going to just turn you off. They’re going to switch you off, and you’re very unlikely to have another chance at that one.
Release rather than launch
And I’m all for the long term. Play the long game. And so long, in fact, I’ve done something this year that I haven’t done for a long time, probably at least for 10 years. And that is, I’ve placed a front end in front of my current front end, effectively turning my front end into a back end. And I’ve got a nice little additional bump to my business by creating more of a product suite. But when I went through that process, a few things happened that are different than the way I might have done it before.
The thing I always do is I just start – I open it up, I start, I make sales, I’m happy to release it rather than launch it. Because a lot of businesses build their whole philosophy around being a promotional company. And they’re definitely the ones that collapse, all that effort and strain. I like to start the baseline as a release, and then add promotions later, once I learn about my customer and the data and the conversions and which things are interesting to them, and how I can improve it.
Upgrading the copy early
But the thing that I did do differently is I’m now upgrading the design. And I’m upgrading the copywriting, using external providers very early on in the process. In the past, I have taken years to get to the point where I want to redo the design and pay for professional copy. I did a whole episode actually, number 687, on writing your own copy versus having someone write your copy. But I’m now having someone else tune the copy and tune the design.
Now that I’ve validated my product, I’m getting into that early because I know how much of a difference that makes. And I’m also, as part of that, and this is the really interesting thing I’ve observed about my change, is I’m getting professional copy help on the follow up sequences. Because I know the big job for me is to move people into the next solution, which turns into a really great, you know, recurring solution. That’s been the cornerstone of my business for so long.
So that’s how I’ve changed my approach. And I think a lot of people listening to this podcast would still be at the stage in business where they’re trying to do this themselves. And I want you to tell me, what’s your experience coming from professional publishing houses in terms of how important the copy is? Not just that front funnel, sales page, lead magnet, slam bam, Thank you man, upsell, downsell, upsell, downsell. But beyond that, where is the gold?
Kim: Well, you know, back to what you were saying about copy and people investing so much in that front end sale. You know, I know how hard it is to get that person in the first place, right? I mean, both from a marketing standpoint, to acquire a brand new customer, and also the blood, sweat and tears that I put into writing like a 30 or 40-page long-form promo, which is often used with the clients that I work with. I know how much effort goes in.
So it would just kill me, especially seeing some of these companies that were just churning through and mailing my promos to lots of names and paying me lots of royalties, and then doing nothing to keep these people and just constantly end up thinking, this is your goldmine.
And so, I’m hoping this is answering your question, but yeah, the copy is important, especially on the front end, I think. Because you are competing against so many marketing messages. But quite honestly, on the back end, I don’t think you have to make as much of an investment in the copy. It’s more important to have the right strategy, and to set up that you are coming from a place of leadership to your customers.
So, James, like you were saying, with your customers, it’s kind of like you’re looking more, what do these people need, as you get to know them. It’s almost like the ASK method that Ryan Levesque talks about, but it’s kind of doing it after they buy and finding out, I know Sebastian Knight talks about having multiple paths that he has people go on, like as part of the onboarding or welcome process to his list.
Strategy, products, marketing
So, figuring out where those people want to go, how you can best serve them, is not as much emphasis on the razzle dazzle or having the right hook or headline or that, but you know, having the right strategy and then having the products and the marketing in place to do that.
And just to show you just how kind of simple it can be, I mean, back before we had any of the advantages of all this online marketing, I was working at Philips Publishing and I’d been there for about six months. It was right after they had launched a highly successful alternative health newsletter. They’re one of the first in the marketplace. This is like going back to the 90s, early 90s. And what we found, because I was marketing different products, I was brought in like, we got 300,000 people who just bought Dr. Whitaker’s newsletter find out what else we can sell them.
So I was testing all sorts of different things and throwing out inserts that we’d write along with the newsletter in the mail. And what we kept finding out is what people are asking for was like, we want to take his supplements. And nobody else was doing a doctor-formulated line of supplements, and it was the perfect fit. It was like, No, I want to take Dr. Whitaker’s vitamins.
And so I was asked to help launch a supplement business, which at the time seemed crazy. Like, we’re a big publishing company. Why are we getting in the supplement business? And I actually helped launch it within, like, three months. And we grew it just only going to this backend list. Within three years, it was like, 23 million in sales, which is like 38 million in today’s dollars. And I was just going to the list.
And the simple, I’m going to say simple – I want to give us a little credit, but it was basically everything was very in sync with what the doctor was recommending. It was, like, he had a path he wanted people to take. And some of it was supplements, some what was this. But like, we’re here to help you follow his path, follow the advice, here’s what you need.
How will you get them to buy again?
And we would, once we got somebody to buy the supplements, we had it all mapped out exactly what they would do next. And coming from a publishing business, like, when I was putting together the strategies. I mean, you know, the president of the company is saying, Well, how are you going to get them to buy again? That was the first question. It wasn’t, oh, well, you know, what other flashy marketing campaigns you’re going to do? No, it was like, Okay, once you get that first order, how are you going to get them to order again?
So we were, right from the beginning, thinking, this is a consumable product. This is like a subscription. How do we get those renewals coming in? And it was like, have something in the box and have a coupon there. And, you know, within eight days, mail them a catalogue. I mean, you can do obviously all this email now, but we found we were getting eight to 10 percent responses just out of the box.
And we were selling, like, at least 10 percent of people another product within the first week when they were hotline buyers. You know, again, a lot of people kind of ignore that. And we would do things like stock-up sales. We would have dash for cash if we were like trying to make a certain budget, and we would literally just be able to find so many things we could do, just to go back to our current customers or past buyers and get them to buy more of something they had bought before.
And so there’s a lot of things that have definitely translated to the internet age. But when someone is first having that first date experience with you and buying that first time, they may not want to buy six bottles of something. But make sure you go back and ask them again. You know what I mean? Like maybe in another month or two. And again, I think that’s where everybody is just falling short. They’re not taking advantage of those opportunities to better serve people on the back end. They’re trying to just get too much up front.
James: Yeah, I think things like community have helped us be able to listen to our customer better, where they’re, you know, talking. I know when I go to local meetups or I meet my people at live events, and when I’m coaching, I’m having so many conversations, it’s easy to stay in tune with them. Some marketers just sort of make the sale and then they’re focused on the next thing. And it makes it difficult.
The right message for the right market
And I think the back end eliminates one of the big problems that you have when you’re trying to put together a new offer. And that is, when people talk about that message-to-marketing match. You’ve already got the market. They’ve already purchased from you. So it’s really just that strategy around the messenger.
I love what you said there. If you can help people logically, and I do also, as per your recommendation, we segment the type of onboarding people have. And with the use of tags and sequences these days, you can easily exclude people from the wrong communication and add them to the right one based on their data scoring, their buying behavior, their points can trigger things.
And I know Ezra Firestone does this well, he knows exactly when someone’s about to drop off and reactivates them just prior. Because we have the technology to do it. And we can go a little bit deeper and still use things like video audiences, and remarketing, to assist that. These are just powerful tools in the toolkit.
I guess the big point here is, if you’re constantly on the hamster wheel of finding new customers, and you’ve got that really difficult part of the sales copy, and you’re not tapping into the easy part, which is the back end of someone who’s already purchased from you, there’s a huge opportunity for you.
Kim: Absolutely. People that we’ve all heard of and respect, like Jay Abraham, Perry Marshall, you know, they all talk about this concept. You know, I think Perry Marshall may call it the 80/20 rule. And we’ve all heard about that too.
But yeah, you’ve got these core customers who are probably going to buy the most from you. You can turn more of those people that buy from you the first time into those kind of raving fans and have that kind of loyalty that you want to focus on building, and not abuse early on, you know, not be too transactional. Think about, you know, what is that relationship?
And coming from that very unique background that I had at Philips, because what we ultimately were selling when we sold a newsletter subscription in the first place was a relationship. It was selling a relationship with Dr. Julian Whitaker as a doctor you wanted to follow. And so it was really the perfect fit. It was like, as it so happens, we have his vitamins here. And, Oh, he just recommended this in a newsletter.
And we had to be very kind of arms like, we never drove the show. He did it very independently. But it was like, we found that so many people would read about something, and when they were calling five other vitamin companies, like, why don’t we offer it? You know, we have it right here. Here you go. And it kind of evolved from there.
Using the technology available
But there’s so many ways you could apply that to your business. You can use the technology, you could use low-tech. I mean, if you’ve got people in a high-dollar subscription or membership thing, and you find some people aren’t as active, it’s probably worth calling them. You know, there’s a lot of different things you can do to kind of find those critical touch points to retain a customer.
“There’s a lot of different things you can do to find those critical touch points to retain a customer.”
Because you work so hard, and you spend so much money just to get them in the first place. You know, it really is a pity not to really nurture those relationships and monetize them in ways that are mutually satisfying. It sounds a little weird, but you know, because they came to you in the first place, they got something and hopefully they’re satisfied. And so they would want to buy from somebody that they’re satisfied with and not have to go somewhere else.
James: Yeah, and you can use technology these days to detect when someone’s inactive and send them a little nudge.
James: Which is good. You can use things like push notifications, you can make it easier for your existing customers using tools like apps. So There’s a lot of things you can do to make the experience better, or to out-experience your customer compared to the competitors. Whilst I’m in a market where everyone gets beaten over the head. I call this, like, a fur seal clubbing, you know, like they’re just getting smashed by marketers all the time. And the easy way to stand out is to be patient and have a long-term focus and not be grabby. That’s worked well.
I mean, these podcasts, lots and lots and lots of podcasts are a great example of nurturing. Because what I do find is a lot of my existing customers love these podcasts, and we put them inside our paid membership for discussion. So people can go deeper on the topics that are discussed.
And that’s always been interesting to me, how your current clients can shape and inform the sort of things, the activities that you might want to do that help them and help the business on both the front end and the back end. And by navigating people to the right content using technology, you can definitely leverage that.
I have this rule-of-thumb metric that 10 percent of your customers would happily pay 10 times more. And that has proven through for me with my product range, I literally sell products from $10 to $5,000 per month. So that’s a big range. And even though I’m the same person, and the information is covering similar areas, there’s just different ways of delivering it and different ways of speaking to the audience. And of course, people bring on different-sized problems as well.
So it fascinates me, this thing. But almost everything I do is recurring-focused, because I want to just spend my time serving people and growing with them, rather than having to burn that energy to look for new ones.
How to tune for repeat business
So if you were listening to this, and you’re a typical business owner and you’ve got a landing page, you may be running a Facebook ad, you’ve probably got a couple of autoresponders built into people who opt in, and maybe some onboarding for people who buy, and possibly an upsell in your shopping car, and that’s about it, what would you suggest? Like what would you rub your hands together, and then go Oh, goody. Okay, we can tune this up. Where do you go?
Kim: Well, I mean, there’s multiple things. One example could be, if you’ve got something that’s maybe a step up from what they’re in now, or maybe like a cross sell, like you could say, you know, because you bought blah, blah, blah, or, you’re a valued customer, I’d like to offer you a 60-day free trial in this, whatever. You know? So you could offer them some kind of exclusive offers.
You could take an acquisition promotion that’s selling another product that’s working really well for acquiring new customers, and you could just tweak it to go to your past customers, say, Hey, because you got this joint support, did you know that if you take this other thing that also combats inflammation, you’re going to get even better results? Or whatever, you know. And then kind of be like, here’s why we wanted to bring this to your attention.
So, I mean, that’s just a few things that come to mind. But you can have it feel like it’s a service, you know? Rather than an opportunistic kind of thing. Or you can have things like, again, I mentioned these stock-up sales. Because it’s funny, even just talking with some of my clients and some smaller companies where they’re literally, they really can barely afford to hire a copywriter.
I told this one guy who has a company with supplements and some publishing products, and he just did, like, a little stock-up mailing. And it was unbelievable. And he even just sent me some money. Like, I don’t need any money. I just told you about this idea. But he was like, so thrilled. It was such a simple thing to do, to just write a simple two-page letter and say, you know, or you could even have something like, you know, We have an overstock, we want you to take advantage because you’re one of our valued customers.
I mean, I have a big client who actually does that almost every year. They have, Oh, we have an inventory issue. You know? We want to clear this out. So there’s a number of things where it can seem like you’re coming from a place of service. And it’s either maybe stepping them up to that next level product with a free trial, taking a winning promotion to cross sell them something else. Or having these other types of opportunities that seem exclusive, you know, that they’re special and they’re getting access to something that other people aren’t.
People love that velvet rope thing, too. You know, there’s a lot of ways you can make your buyers feel special and use that to offer them other things that can solve their other problems. Because chances are they have more problems than the one they originally bought to solve. So you probably have other ways that you can serve them.
James: Well, that was my experience when I struggled to build a website and built an audience of people who also struggled to build a website. I found the solution which I shared with them. And then of course, once you’ve got a website, you’ve got all these other challenges, like, what are you going to put on it? What are you going to sell? How are you going to get people to find out about it?
And it opened up this range for me to go more general. And I’m still with that audience. But we’ve all grown up together, they’ve just all gotten a little bit more successful and have more advanced challenges. And it’s really fascinating to see that. But I do remember people sending out water damage stock sales, and basically coming up with an excuse or reason why it’s relevant.
And one thing I’ve noticed is to pay attention to the trends. Lately, I’ve had a lot of past members coming back, which is really interesting. Like, we’re in a market where you would expect drop off, but I’m actually experiencing an increase. And it’s people coming back because their problem is bigger than what it was before. And they go to a more trusted and established, mature source than a flighty startup or an unknown, risky sort of venture. So I think those things are coming into my favor. I imagine it would be worth me sending an offer to everyone who used to be a customer.
James: And leveraging what’s naturally happening.
Some reactivation tips
Kim: Now I’m so glad you brought that up. Because when we first started talking about this, you know, the whole idea of reactivation was something I also wanted to make sure we talked about. And that’s yet another often ignored goldmine for many companies, is, you know, those people that maybe you didn’t churn through in the past or for whatever reason, they stopped buying. You know, you can often get them back with much greater success than going after new people who’ve never bought from you or even heard of you.
“Reactivation is an often ignored goldmine for many companies.”
And you’re right, there might be different times where they need you more now. Or maybe they say, I never should have left, you know, I’m glad you got back in touch. You know what I mean? It’s almost like that was the conversation you were actually having.
And they often say the longer since they left, the harder is to get them back. But again, you can test. You know, hopefully you’ve got your list, you can go back and you can segment and you can say, Okay, what happens if I promote to people who it’s been three to six months since they left and then, what is it, like, six months to one year? And you can kind of look at how far back you can go. You might be surprised depending on what it is, you might be able to go back further than a year.
James: I’m seeing people from a long time back.
Kim: Really, that’s interesting. But that’s why you test and you segment and you track.
James: It’s also the nature of my business model where, like, the longer someone’s not been there, the more trainings we’ve added, the more our business has evolved and changed. So they’ve changed for sure. We’ve changed, definitely. I’m very innovative, and the product’s always being upgraded and enhanced and more value added.
And then the market has changed. So that’s the other ingredient that causes something like this, and being responsive to it. You know, one of the big responses I had was to go to the market at more of an entry level than what I allowed before. And it’s been good. In fact, I really enjoy working with those people. They’re enthusiastic and vibrant and hungry. And I like to see that again. Some of the other people at the top end of town, it’s fascinating, when they get super successful they start to go a bit distant and a bit special and self-absorbed or whatever.
Kim: And that’s when they get knocked off their pedestal.
James: And they get smashed, absolutely belted.
Kim: They do.
James: Every single time, I’ve seen them humbled and brought to their knees, like, without question. Karma has a way of doing this.
Kim: You think you’re too hot.
James: Oh, yeah.
Kim: You know, you’re human again.
James: You know, I’m surfing in two-to-three-foot waves and I’m feeling like Kelly Slater, and then a six-to-eight-foot swell comes and just humbles me.
Kim: That is good.
The power of the human gesture
And one other thing I just wanted to mention, too, is just that human touch goes a long way, and showing appreciation to your customers. Just from the standpoint of Hey, thank you, and not trying to sell anything.
One thing I did, like, this past December – and not that I have a huge list or gigantic number of people who’ve bought, but it’s it’s definitely you know, it was a good number of people – everybody who bought, I think, a product that was more than $40 from me in the past year, I had these little holiday thank you notes with my picture on them and like a little note, and then I signed them, like wrote their name by hand, and I personally addressed every envelope. I thought my hand was going to fall off. I probably sent like half of them, like, all around the world. I mean, they went to Malaysia, Venezuela. It was so cool.
And I just sent all these little personal thank you notes and people were just, I got such a great response. They were like, Oh my gosh, I got your note. Some people were taking pictures of them and sending, you know, oh my gosh, I got this. Sometimes they didn’t get there for like at least a month but it was just that gesture of just, Hey, thank you, I really appreciate you getting one of my programs this year, and I’m wishing you all the great success in 2020. Of course, we didn’t know 2020 was going to end up being like how it is now. It was just a good gesture.
James: Well, it’s still going to be, 2020 will be a huge success for many people. And this is an important message.
Kim: I was just making a little joke.
James: Oh, yeah. You’re very funny.
Kim: No, I was wishing the best, all the best, for everybody.
James: I used to send handwritten notes when I sold cars. And then I made the owner of the business send a handwritten note to everyone who purchased a car. And he was groaning at me. I’m like, come on. It’s like, 70 people a month. Like, two a day. You can manage it. They just spent $85,000 with you.
James: You can sign a note. Right?
James: I send out a book to everyone who joins SuperFastBusiness. I think I’m keeping Australia Post in business right now. Because, you know, physical post is rarer and more special, because we don’t even get our bills in the post anymore.
James: I get almost nothing in the post.
Kim: Yeah. I think if you can have something physical in front of a customer, I mean, not as many people are fans of physical products, you know, or informational products, although there are some that still do love them. But even just having that little thank you note from me with my little face on it, you know, on their desk or whatever it is, that physical thing.
James: It’s awesome.
Kim: It’s like you are now here with me, you know? It’s a more intimate experience than all the technology that we’re all just like, I think kind of sick of. I mean, we spend so much time in front of screens.
Kim: You know, to have something that’s physical or a human connection, it’s really valuable?
James: Well, you know, I sign the book and I do the envelope myself. It’s a little habit. Every time I visit my boys where I keep my stock, in my other place, I pull out the envelopes and address them and sign the books. And my kids see me do this. I’m giving them a good behavior. They know I send a lot of stuff, but they know that’s associated, like I just got paid, if that’s happening.
And I think, you know, people will have it on their desk or on their bookshelf. It’s a physical anchor, but it’s also an important message. And I recently received, for my birthday, which was just last month, a card from a marketer. It looked handwritten, but I could tell it was one of those loaded-up fonts that was designed to look handwritten and it was like a handwritten card that was computer generated and obviously Mail Merged and spat out. And actually for me, it was more of a negative than even a neutral.
Kim: Almost insulting.
James: I’m like, why bother?
James: It’s like I’m being processed here. It’s like a cheap shot. Like, obviously there’s some expense and some effort gone into it, but just no. Don’t do that. Handwritten or not at all, I reckon. I don’t know what your thoughts on that are.
Kim: Yeah, I mean, I think, like I said, I personally addressed all the envelopes and I wrote Dear, and their name. And then everything else was sort of an obvious sort of handwritten font, you know, that was printed.
Keeping your finger on the pulse
But another thing I wanted to mention, and this is going a little bit different direction, but if you really want to get to know your customers, too, you know, if you have any kind of inbound customer service or call center, listening to those calls is so valuable. And I don’t know how many business owners really do that.
Again, it’s been a while since I worked in-house as a marketer, but we’d use a call center that was about an hour away. And, you know, at least once a month, myself and some of my marketing staff, we would head out there, we’d be listening to the calls, we’d be talking to the reps. What are you hearing? What are people asking about? What are their concerns, complaints, whatever? And it’s all just like really staying in touch with your customer.
And even when I used to work before this, in a previous life at Blue Cross Blue Shield, that’s what we did, so much of that. And we would even bring our customers and subscribers in, invite them in just for like a roundtable where we’d all sit around the table and we’d ask our questions, get the reactions to things.
And I’ll tell you, even to this day as a copywriter, I love it when a client is willing to let me call their customers directly. Like, I will call some of their repeat buyers of a product and I will interview them. I’ll say Hi, I’m Kim Schwalm, I’m calling on behalf of such and such a company. I’m not selling anything. I just have a few questions about the bone support formula that you purchased from blah blah blah company.
And nine times out of 10, If I actually reach a person, they’re like, more than willing to talk. And then I get this picture of, Okay, here’s who this person is. And here’s the way they talk. And here’s the language they use. And yeah, you can get some of that from forums and all this, but it’s not the same as actually talking to somebody.
Sometimes you get, like, these amazing testimonials that you want to use in your promotion. So I always say just don’t be afraid to talk to your customers. Listen to what they’re saying. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll know how to take advantage of these backend opportunities and really, you know, build that long-term customer loyalty.
James: Yeah, so some practical things here. We feed our helpdesk into Slack, so I can see every ticket, and I can help my team understand what the customer is asking or what they need based on my experience, if my team don’t know what to do. That’s good.
I definitely encourage local meetups and face-to-face gatherings of your clients. The conversations we have are just phenomenal. At the moment, my community members have been running virtual meetups, and I try and get to those so I can listen to the conversations. That always results in good stuff.
Doing live trainings – also helpful. The questions they asked on those are gold for me. Because as much as I can prepare an information product in silence, when I deliver it and it’s prompting questions, and they ask me in real time, that’s really good for me to be able to flexibly answer that on the spot, but also build it into my next iteration of it.
And, yeah, I think what we’re talking about here is not just push marketing, but being in a two-way street and having a relationship.
Kim: Yep. One-to-one customer relationships, almost. You know, it’s not just the big void out there. You know, we’re all selling to other humans.
James: Well, this is people. They’re not numbers. And I detest when a lot of marketers, they call their clients buying units. Or in the car dealership, they call them heads.
Kim: Ugh, how impersonal.
James: Just these awful names for customers. And I’ve seen in some industries, like the events industry or whatever, they’re really big on talking about their metrics and stuff, but it does depersonalize. I really think they actually think that way, and it’s just, it’s all about greed and money. We’re in a human age now more than ever.
Kim: But, you know, again, it is very much more that numbers game when you’re trying to acquire that new customer. I mean, sometimes it is.
James: Of course.
Kim: But once you got them – and this is kind of, you know, back to what we were talking about at the beginning – like, don’t ignore that. That is such a humongous asset to your company and to your business, that person who actually bought from you. And and again, this is where I find people just don’t focus on that anywhere near as much as they should, when you think about how hard it is to get them. Treat them right.
Case studies and testimonials
James: Case studies have been a strong marketing device for us. We have a lot of guests on the podcast who are members of my community and happy to speak about the results they got. That does tremendous good for us, helping other people see that if they have a similar problem, and they’re struggling with it, that I might be the person who could help them solve it. So it’s very instructive.
I know our professional copywriter went out and interviewed my customers, and he turned some of those into case studies which have been really helpful for us to use in our marketing material. So your customers are such strong proof and their demonstration of results.
Kim: Yeah, no, you definitely need to collect those kinds of testimonials as demonstration, like you said, of your service or product works. And yeah, if you have a community like yours, if the SuperFastBusiness, people can see that in action.
And it kind of reminds me of my friend Kevin Rogers in Copy Chief. And people in that community can see that, hey, people get better here at what they’re doing, and they get support and there’s things here that are going to benefit me.
But even if you don’t have a community-type thing in your business, you constantly want to be soliciting and collecting those case studies and those testimonials, because people like to hear about that kind of proof. From buying the first time, and then also when you want to sell something else to that person.
You know, a lot of our customers write and say they’ve had really good results when they’ve added this probiotic to their daily health regimen, and we thought you might be interested as well. You can use it for the same on the back end as well.
James: And simple wins that are put together, things like a recommended resources page, to put pairings like a chart. Like wine companies do with, you know, oh, if you have chicken, have this wine; if you’re going to have red meat, have this wine.
Like, show people how to use your products and to use more of your products or which ones that they’re not actually aware of that they could also get. Because, like you said, they’ve got one product – there’s a very good chance someone who’s buying supplements, for example, is taking more than one supplement, right? You go and open anyone’s pill cupboard, I bet you there’s a gazillion supplements in there.
Kim: I’m one of those people.
James: Every time you mentioned Whitaker’s, I’m thinking of the Whitaker’s chocolate. I’m thinking I’ve definitely taken Whitaker’s before, but…
Kim: It’s not the chocolate.
James: Wrong type.
Getting them hooked on your product
Kim: It’s almost like, you can almost make your customers addicted to buying from you. I mean, obviously that’s the ultimate, you know, but it reminds me of this, when you mentioned wine. There’s a company called WTSO – Wines ‘Til Sold Out. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them, but they have an amazing business model where you get these alerts, you know, text or emails, whatever, and they’ll get like, just a very limited batch of really great wine.
But, you know, it’s like half price or more, but it’s only a limited number. So there’s built-in urgency. And then the copy is amazing. Like, you get these alerts and it’s like, Rabbit Parker gives us a ‘92 and the silkiness of the blah, blah, blah goes perfect with steak.
So the first month my husband discovered this, he spent over $1,000 on wine. And he was still working at his IT job, and I’m working from home and I’m like, every freaking day, I’m like, gotta go answer the door and sign for more wine. We’re like, what did we get to get 10 boxes of wine for? And it was wonderful because the wines were great.
But finally, after a few months of this, I’m like, You know, honey, we really don’t need to be spending this much money on wine, right? So I kind of gave him the whole lecture.
So we were on a train going somewhere. This is right after the lecture. And he gets this text and he’s like, oh, wait, we need this. And he starts reading out loud, it was one of these darn WTSO things. And he got like halfway through it, I’m like, Well, hurry up, get four bottles! Like, I found myself completely sucked in. I’m like, oh my god, now I know why we’re spending so much money on wine.
But anyway, he still buys from them, not as much. But it’s a great business model when you have the combination of the copy and the urgency and the scarcity and you always have the good quality that you’re delivering. And, you know, I don’t know, there’s probably a lot of ways you could apply that to pretty much any business, but they literally got my husband addicted from buying from them until I finally was just like, we’ve got enough wine for the next four years. Like, I think we’re good.
James: I think a company who does fantastic back-end marketing is Vollebak. It’s a clothing company. They just do the best copy. They have massive scarcity – they always sell out like within a day or an hour. They’re always having to send apologies because they’d sold out. They make hoodies and pants.
My funny story is, like, I’ve always been a fan of the hoodie. It was my alter ego, if you like. When I had a job, I’d come home, I’d play with the kids, have dinner, have a shower and then hop into, like, a hoodie and some tracksuit pants and then work through till three in the morning. Because it gets really cold at three in the morning so I’d put on the little hood, and I just be in my little zone. They make this thing called a hundred-year hoodie. It’s like, a waterproof, fireproof, windproof hoodie. And it’s just amazing. The one that I got was made out of Kevlar, like a bulletproof jacket.
Kim: So it’s never going to destruct. I mean, how many of those do you need?
James: Well, that’s the funny thing. I bought more than one 100-year hoodie.
Kim: You’re going to live, like, 500 years, James?
James: They did another version of it and upgraded it and made it amazing and I just like, I want another one of these. These things aren’t cheap, either.
James: They’re like, outrageously expensive hoodies. But it’s the one hoodie that I just absolutely love. I’ve got one now at each place, so that’s my justification.
Kim: Right. Okay. So you’re going to buy more houses so you can keep hoodies there.
James: That’s right. They’re like, $495 for a hoodie.
James: Someone sent it to me, saying, Oh, you know, this is an example of a premium product. Like, of course I instantly bought it.
Kim: They could use, like, the survivalists’ angle.
James: They are. They absolutely do. They have, like, bio-disposable T-shirts, they’ve got ceramic hoodies.
Kim: There you go. Protect you from the virus.
James: They do. They have relaxation hoodies and stuff that are fully enclosed that have an air filter, and to self isolation. It’s called a blackout edition.
Kim: My goodness.
James: Just don’t go to the website, whatever you do. Definitely don’t send your husband there.
Kim: Yes, it sounds a little creepy to me. I don’t think I want to do a total blackout.
James: Well, they’ve got glow in the dark hoodies that regenerate with solar energy. And they make things out of exotic materials that would never be used. They have, like, the lightest clothing or the longest-lasting clothing. Like, they’re very good marketers.
Kim: I mean, I buy a lot of my clothes from a clothing that is sold by women in their homes, like with groups of friends. And I’ve been buying these clothes for like 10 years, and it’s probably 80 percent of my wardrobe. And I’m not the only one. Like, I know so many women who are literally addicted to this line. And like, so every season, it’s like, Oh my god, like what do they have now? And it’s crazy.
But yeah, I think a lot of businesses can think about what are some ways that we can create these rabid fans and literally get people almost addicted to buying our product. And yeah, it’s kind of going way beyond just some of the basics we talked about at the beginning of this interview. You should definitely be doing all those things. But yeah, you may be able to really kind of go beyond that where people just are compelled to just buy from you again and again, even if they don’t need another indestructible hoodie.
James: Yeah, in fact, I mean, I found my clothing brand that I like, and I buy shorts and T-shirts and pants and socks and all sorts of things from this particular brand. And I just keep topping up and then just bumping the stuff off the back. Like, I’m going to keep buying from them because they just make great stuff. It’s like, you know, if you’re lucky enough to have a brand like a coffee brand, where you get on a coffee subscription, like that is literally an addiction that needs topping up. It runs out.
Kim: Yeah. And you don’t want to run out, that’s for sure. Especially right now.
James: You definitely want to put the effort into acquiring that customer, because they’re going to stay for a long time. It’s hard to stop a subscription like that.
Kim: Yeah, so that’s like a nice subscription-based business too.
James: A great subscription. And I’ve got a client who does that, he roasts coffee and has subscriptions. But I mean, big companies like Nescafe do this.
Kim: Well, do you remember Gevalia? They were around like 20 years ago. Big direct marketer, they’d send these slick little six-by-nine direct mail packages promoting, you know. And we’ll send you a free coffeemaker when you start, right? You had to buy, like, maybe two months’ worth of coffee. My husband, he was so funny. He would game that thing constantly. Like he would sign up, get the coffeemaker, quit after the two minimum or the four minimum, and he’d wait for another one to come along. And I think we still have some of these coffee makers up in the attic, like still in the box.
James: Nespresso teach you how to game it. When you go in to buy Nespresso capsules, they ask if you’ve got an account, because you get a free whatever. And then they say you can open as many as you want, if you want another one. Do you want a different email address or whatever? And they try to get you to game it.
Kim: Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense.
James: If I owned that place, I wouldn’t be happy with the sales staff, because they’re just creating puffed out marketing numbers. But yeah, it’s interesting human behavior where they will make a decision based on the thing.
So all of these things, so we’re all talking about back end marketing. If you want to look for a common theme, it’s having amazing products that people just want to buy, and then continually letting them know about them in a tasteful way with your messaging. Like, the right recommendation at the right time.
If you’re not doing that part of the marketing, if all your effort’s upfront, this is going to be a great episode, 751, for you. And I’d be interested to know, what have you changed, after listening to this episode, in your marketing? Report back to us. We take comments.
An absolute must for your backend marketing
I’d be really interested to know, Kim, what sort of rounding-up advice would you have as we close out? What’s an absolute necessity when it comes to backend marketing strategies?
Kim: I think it’s those first 30 days are so crucial after somebody buys your product. And you know, setting things off on the right path or putting them on the right path based on who they are, you know, you can have multiple paths that they go on right from the beginning. But I think that first 30 days are so important, and making sure you resell them on the reasons that they bought initially.
We didn’t really even get into that. Like, kind of the things you would put in your copy and in your messaging. If it’s a physical product that’s getting shipped, in that box should be, like, some kind of reaffirmation of, here’s exactly why you bought and what you can expect. So carry that same initial sales message through those first 30 days that they’re customers, and get them excited to use the product and to start experiencing the benefits and set them up on that kind of, that’s the beginning of their customer journey with you. And I think those are probably the most important things to do.
James: Fantastic. Do you think your background in science and mathematics and statistics helped you with copywriting?
Kim: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Yeah, I think it’s made me, you know, obviously, I’m very comfortable with the number side, and direct response marketing is all numbers in terms of, you know, analysis of results. But I think it’s made me more analytical and I like to think things through.
And, you know, as human beings, like, we are very emotion-based and we obviously need to be in touch with that. But we also, you know, there’s a lot of the analysis side that goes on the head to, like, people have to rationalize sometimes why they’re going to make that purchase decision. So I think I’m in touch with both sides pretty well, whereas some people tend to be more one or the other.
And it’s made me, you know, especially working with a lot of supplements and health – and I don’t have really a science background, per se. You know, I pretend to be a doctor on TV. But I’ve learned a lot about it over the last 20, 30 years. But I’m not afraid to dig into these really in-depth studies and look at what do these numbers mean, and then translate it and then say, oh, that means actually, you know, there was a 300 percent improvement.
But if you don’t know how to read the numbers, you can’t interpret it and then make the big claims and say, Hey, you’re going to be able to bend and move three times better than you are now in seven days, or, you know, those kinds of things where I can analyze it and pull out things that maybe other people might miss. You know, because of my background.
James: What a great skill. Now, if we want to get you into our life, where do we find you?
Kim: You can go to KimSchwalm.com. It almost sounds like a meditation. You’ll find out about me, my background. I have some copywriting training programs I put together, I mentor copywriters. I actually don’t write as much copy these days except for myself, but I also have a great crop of experienced and up and coming copywriters that I can link you up with. So feel free to reach out.
I also have an email list, I put out some really great content for free. So if you’re interested in copywriting or just direct response marketing in general, I think you can find some things of interest at my website.
James: I feel like I could chat to you for hours. We’ve got so many interesting things to talk about. Kim, I really appreciate you coming and sharing your considerable experience.
And this is a moneymaker episode. This is one, if you implement just a couple of ideas, if you send off a couple of handwritten notes, if you were to add an extra few emails or product page or to do a stock-up sale, you’re going to generate something from listening to this episode. So I really appreciate you sharing so generously.
Kim: Thank you so much. It was a great conversation. Really enjoyed it too.
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