James Schramko and Jake Hower (Jake is from flypat.com) provide insights on how the OTR or Own The Racecourse strategy has made it easier to transition traditional marketing efforts online.
In this episode:
- How the Own The Racecourse strategy can help you transition your business to an online-based marketing platform
- How to simplify your emails
- Gathering relevant information for your video updates
- The importance of understanding who your customers are
- Benefits of implementing a video marketing approach
- Increasing your business stats through the OTR method
- Executing an effective CRM technique and cutting down service time
- Getting the core idea and creating innovations that work for everyone
- Things that Jake found surprising after implementing this video marketing strategy
- How much leverage videos have to offer
- Expanding to other media elements and services
- Having more free time to invest efforts on other important things
- Jake Hower’s The Multi-media Marketing Show podcast
- The real beauty of OTR and tapping into the different marketing mediums available today
- How to overcome initial video production issues
- Zero negative responses and massive business leverage from OTR
- What would he do differently if he would start off with a whole new different business
- Which path did he take to find his way to discovering OTR
- You can draw in more reliable traffic through podcasts
- What to expect for 2013
- Some parting advice regarding the OTR strategy
James Schramko here, and today, we are hearing from Jake Hower, who runs a successful travel business using OwnTheRacecourse. So we’re going to find out how he implements it and also, how you can take the lessons he’s learned to implement OTR for yourself.
From traditional to OTR
Jake, tell me about your business because it’s not in the traditional Internet marketing space. Well certainly it wasn’t recently but it’s looking like it’s going that way. I’m really intrigued as to what’s going on there.
Jake: Absolutely James. That’s very true. I run a traditional bricks-and-mortar business here in Melbourne. It’s a travel agency. I bought a share, a 50% share of this business back in 2009. Now, the agency has been running since the late 1950. So I essentially bought a business which was running well and had an existing database of clients. And of course staff and everything that goes along with that.
Now what I wanted to do is that I wanted to, I guess, form a relationship with these people because I’d never spoken to them before and they didn’t know anything about me. The other thing is that they’ve never really been marketed to. When I come in in 2009, I extracted all of their data, emails, etc. etc., and then started to send them a monthly newsletter or something like that via email. We were getting really low open rates. I just wasn’t getting any user engagement.
Back in March, I think was when you may have started your videos weekly or every couple of day videos, and that really resonated with me so I went out to try and replicate that. Back in May, I started, which has become known now as the OTR strategy.
James: Yes. I think the original version, Authority Leverage product, which is me just sort of answering someone’s question. One of my students actually in SilverCircle asked, “How do I get so much content out?” And I went and recorded a little answer to that, just a short video and I published that. I think you got under that pretty quickly.
Jake: Yeah definitely. Exactly right. That’s the one that I did really base my experiment or my own implementation of it was Authority Leverage. And to this day, I actually still prefer referring to it as Authority Leverage rather than OwnTheRacecourse.
James: Yeah. Well that was the original. OwnTheRacecourse was the more formal, documented version, and that’s become really, really popular and I think because it does work in different industries. Were you sending out those HTML-style emails originally?
What email styles were used?
Jake: Yeah. Obviously, I’m big on testing and stats and all of that sort of stuff. So yes, it’s been really interesting. Since starting it in 2009, I’ve probably gone through 10-plus iterations of email styles, and I did started out with those jam-packed full HTML image-based emails. And then we went through a few different things to really where we are now, emails are essentially, “Hey, we’ve got some new news for you. Here’s a link. Go check it out on the site.”
James: Right. So I imagine a lot of normal businesses would still be using that HTML fancy email template. What advice would you have for that sort of business based on what you now know from testing and trying different strategies?
Jake: Well, certainly now, in my case, the email serves one purpose, and that purpose is essentially to get people to a page where they can watch my video. I found from my own testing that the best way to do that is to focus on getting people to click, to just click the link and email to the page. So I’ve stripped out absolutely everything else. The emails now have probably one or two paragraphs; just giving them a bit of an introduction to what will be included in the video and then of course asking them to click through. I think what’s very important is to focus on one message in your email.
James: Right. So have the most wanted action, I would call that. I watched your videos and a listener might think, “What could you possibly talk about in the travel industry for a weekly news update?” And I found your topics fascinating, ranging from the best seat in the plane to which airlines are flying, which routes, why you should wear the travel socks when you do a long haul flight, and all sorts of interesting things. Where do you get the ideas from?
Getting content ideas
Jake: That’s a very good point. A lot of it comes from my knowledge. Travel is knowledge. I know you’ve given me a number of tips, which I’ve utilized in the weekly videos.
So it’s a combination of our own experience, what our travelers are getting themselves or submitting themselves to me, and also, probably the most important thing is essentially collating the news from the week, and then I’m taking out the different stories or the most popular stories over the course of the week to put into the news.
Certainly for me, it was a very, very hard thing to do initially because I had no idea how I was going to be able to generate the news myself because as you and most listeners out there probably know in your own industries, you’re seeing so many emails and so much news that it’s hard to decipher what’s relevant to your customers. That was very hard initially for me as well.
James: I guess you must have a pretty clear idea of who your perfect customer is. I mean a good case in point is I was watching your videos each week and I do travel at least once a quarter and I actually switched across to your service after seeing the videos over and over again because I had a strong sense that you are on the game and you knew exactly your way around the travel market. And I’ve got to say as a customer, and I’ve now done several trips, it’s been a really good experience for me as a customer. Do you have other people like me and has this video marketing news weekly approach change the way the business is attracting customers?
Jake: Yes and yes. That first point, I would definitely say you are the ideal customer in one of our markets and that’s business travel. In most cases, what we’re looking for is somebody who is potentially time-poor but understands the benefits of service. So in that respect, they’re willing to potentially pay a little bit more than what they could do if they were to get it themselves but they know that their time savings that they will actually garner from using us will fire out way any potential savings that make bargain doing it themselves. So our ideal customer is essentially you. Sorry (laughs).
James: Well, that’s interesting you say, the thing that appeals to even though I value my time, I’ve got a fair bit of time elasticity but there’s little things like when I get on a plane and I’m the only person in the whole cabin with no seat in front of me, and everyone’s looking at me like, “Oh, you were lucky.” I’m thinking, no I’m not. I just have a travel agent, and you’re probably booking your fares online trying to save 20 bucks. And I’m the guy who can stretch my legs right out with no seat in front of me for the next 12 hours straight. So it really does pay to get specialist advice when you can, especially in such a minefield of an industry, there’s so much information. You’re right. If someone can make it easy for you, that’s good.
Can you give us some sort of stats, like in terms of viewership or audience retention, or changes in your subscription base? What sort of things have you noticed since deploying your videos each week?
Stats since using the OTR method
Jake: Yeah, sure, sure. Just to frame that, so essentially, the majority of our customers are existing or referral-based traditionally. Or they’re calling in from the phone. We haven’t traditionally got a lot of business from our website. Since starting the OTR method, we’ve increased visitors to the sites by 120%. We’ve increased sign-ups to our newsletter by 430%.
Now these are relatively low numbers, but to me they’re very relevant because even though they’re quite low numbers in comparison to other niches, we’ve got a very high lifetime value for a customer. We’re getting say a thousand visitors a month. And from that, if we get just one customer, that’s worth to us, it’s worth over $1500 over the course of the lifetime of that client.
That is very, very important for us. The other thing I really noticed, particularly with our existing customers is that these videos have been really engaging, they have to really engage with the customers, I now get probably each week between five and 10 people who just respond to an email I’ve sent. They more make comments about what was it in the video or they may just even hit respond and just say, “Hey, how are you doing? How are things going?” That to me has been the real power of it because I’m actually getting to know my customers, and I think that’s priceless.
James: Yeah. I think it’s got to be one of the best CRM, customer relationship techniques that you could do is to stay in regular contact with your customers and give them information that’s useful. And also, it cuts down your service time. I imagine that you were able to leverage your answers when someone asks you a question and you put the answer in the next news, then everyone gets the answer, then you don’t have as many customer inquiries for the same question.