Incentivizing Social Media Followers and the Perfect Marketing Budget with Ryan Heisler (Podcast) | Ep. #039

Michael Kelly, Elizabeth Larkin, and Eric Dollinger

Should your small business pay to increase the number of people following you on social media? And what’s the perfect marketing budget for a small business with limited resources? This week on the Small Biz Ahead podcast, hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks are joined by social media expert Ryan Heisler to answer these questions from small business owners.

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Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. Gene, how are you doing?

Gene: I am doing fine, Elizabeth. How are you doing?

Elizabeth: I’m good. I wanted to make a podcast recommendation, because a couple episodes ago you recommended a podcast you were listening to on BBC.

Gene: Yeah, BBC Radio Four, “In Our Time.”

Elizabeth: “In Our Time.”

Gene: It’s a history. Yeah, it’s awesome.

Elizabeth: Okay. The one I want to recommend, a little different. It’s about a murder, and it’s called “In the Dark.” It’s like a “Serial” podcast. Did you listen to “Serial”?

Gene: Yes. Loved it.

Elizabeth: Now you’re missing “Serial” probably, because every week I would be like, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait until `Serial’ comes out,” and now it hasn’t been on.

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: It’s about a case, like a kidnapping and murder in Minneapolis, so if you’re into that.

Gene: Real life?

Elizabeth: Real life. It’s true, it actually happened, and the reporters go back and look over what the police did right, what they did wrong, and they look into why did it take so long to solve this case. So that’s my recommendation for this week.

We’ll be right back with question number one, which is about incentivizing your social media followers.

QUESTION #1: Incentivisizing Social Media Followers

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back with question number one, and we have a special guest here, Ryan Heisler from The Hartford, who does our social media. Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan: Hi, Elizabeth. Hi, Gene. How are you doing?

Gene: Hey, Ryan. This is exciting, Elizabeth, because we’ve got a guy here who’s … what’s your actual title here at The Hartford?

Ryan: I am a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, but I focus 90 percent of my time exclusively on social media.

Gene: Right, so for like any small business owner … and I’m one of them … who wants to get ahead on social media and build followers and likes and fans and all that, sell our products on social media, you are … and you might not think this of yourself … you are a god. You are a rock star. You’re a social media expert working at a Fortune 500 company. I mean, you know a lot more than us, and I’m really excited that you’re here.

Ryan: You know, my past experience, and outside of the walls of The Hartford, I am a small business owner, and I really focus in on this sort of thing. My experience is with businesses whose marketing budgets were as small as $500 a month all the way up to, you know, we’re a Fortune 500 company. We have, you know, really extensive budgets. It’s really about right-sizing whatever it is that you can do to deliver the results that you’re looking for.

Gene: Okay.

Elizabeth: Okay. We’re going to start with question number one. This is from Coral in Colorado, and Coral writes that she’s 34 years old, and she’s been running a juice and smoothie bar for the last two years.

“What are some of the best incentive programs I can offer to grow my social media presence with customers? How can I get my customers to follow me and then share my posts?”

Ryan, we’re going to start with you on this one.

Ryan: I think you’re actually asking two different questions. Really the first thing I want to focus in on is really about your incentive programs, because rewards programs and looking to build loyalty out of your consumer base is the number one thing that you can really do as a small business owner, because you’re looking for people to be champions of your brand and believe in whatever promise that you’re putting out there. I would guess, if you’ve been in business for at least two years, that you have at least a small but loyal following of customers who really enjoy your product, and so I would first look to really identify people who are really that repeat customer, and look for a way to give them a value-add.

One of the things that I’ve seen work really well is a frequent buyer program of some type. I ran one at a retail store that I worked at where, for every $250 that somebody spent with us, they would get a $25-off coupon. Obviously your scale is a little bit different, but there are ways that you can incentivize people who are really that repeat customer, who are truly loyal to you, and just keep them coming back.

I don’t know where you are specifically in Colorado, but I mean, there’s going to be a lot of options for juice and smoothie bars. It’s a business that’s really kind of taken off over the last five years, and I would kind of want to position you in a way that you’re going to be able to keep that loyal following and not visit the guy across the street who starts up.

Gene: How does that turn into likes or followers on social media? Say we’ve got the juice and smoothie person, this is Coral, right, so she’s offering the incentive programs that you were saying. How do you convert that into followers?

Ryan: One of the things that you can really do is, in order to be a part of this program, you request that they re-share content from you either once a week or to follow your social accounts, and build just an overall audience to really work off of. You want to tap into their personal network.

The way that Facebook has really moved in a general direction, it’s a pay-to-play universe at this point. If you’re a brand, you’re going to get at maximum 3 percent of your total followers to actually see your content out there. Let’s look at Small Biz Ahead, which for our Facebook page we have 200-something thousand people who follow us. At any one point in time, we’re getting … let’s see, do quick back-of-the-napkin math … we might get 5,000 impressions on a particular post if we don’t pay to promote it.

Gene: Right. Let me ask you a question. You’ve got 200,000 followers on Small Biz Ahead. Say it’s good for your brand that you’d like to have … at the end of the 2017, you’d like to double it. You would like to tell the world that, “We have half a million followers on Small Biz Ahead,” which by the way, then that not only helps with your brand and image and credibility, but then also there’s more potential people that could be reading the content. Say I was your boss and I said to you, Ryan, “All right, we have 200,000 followers now, and we want it to be doubled by the end of the year.” What would you do?

Ryan: Well, first I would probably ask for about $100,000 worth of budget in order to be able to buy that.

Gene: That is a great answer, right, because it’s not like it just happens. You’ve got to buy this stuff, don’t you? You’re not buying, like as in fake followers, but …

Ryan: No, but buying and promoting your content, in order to be able to put it in front of the audience that you think is most likely to actually engage with it. The other thing that you have to do is identify people who you think are going to influence others, who are going to be likely to want to follow your content. Going back to Coral’s base question, you have those key customers who are going to be likely to do whatever it is that you ask of them.

If you’re able to, find a way to reward them for re-sharing your content and sharing it on their personal networks, because people’s personal networks, whereas when you’re a page, you get 3 percent of your potential audience to actually see something. When somebody on a personal level shares that content, just about 90 percent of their audience is going to wind up seeing it, and so that’s a way to still work within the earned media side of social, rather than the pay-to-play model that almost all businesses are really focused on.

Gene: Do you think she should be giving stuff away on Facebook, for example, like running contests or, you know, “Hey, follow me and we’ll put you into a lottery to win a free smoothie”?

Ryan: Well, definitely don’t do a lottery.

Gene: No? Why not?

Ryan: Lotteries, for the most part, are the auspice of the individual state, so and example. If you live in Florida, it’s illegal as a for-profit business to run a lottery, ever.

Gene: Great advice.

Ryan: It’s why like with McDonald’s, the Monopoly game, which it sounds and smells like a lottery. They make it very clear, no-purchase-necessary contest, because otherwise they run afoul of the state law. If you run afoul of the state law, then federal law gets involved.

Going full circle on that, what you want to do is sure, you can have a giveaway of some type, but really one of the things that I might look at might be some type of offer that you have that’s exclusive to your social following. It’s similar to a Groupon model, but you can run that offer on Facebook instead. Because you’re staying within the social media ecosystem, it’s going to be more likely to get served to whatever potential audience you’re looking for.

Gene: As the smoothie shop, what kind of an offer would you use, as an example?

Ryan: You know, you might do buy one get one free, or you could do pay for X size and get upgraded to the next one. It really doesn’t take a lot in order to get people interested, especially when you have that real small, core set of people who will champion you no matter what.

Gene: Are you saying that you would buy promoted ads on Facebook saying, “Hey, we have a buy one get one free offer going on at our store,” or whatever?

Ryan: Yep.

Gene: Do you feel that without really reaching out and asking them, “Like our page, like our page,” people will organically do that because they’re interested?

Ryan: Right. You know, make your offer compelling, and make the content that goes alongside of it relatively compelling. A really good image of the product that you’re selling will go a long way in social.

Gene: Got it. How do you feel about business owners asking people to like their page? It’s almost like, “Listen, I’ll like your page if I like you. You don’t have to tell me,” right?

Ryan: Right. I think it’s a little much to say. I see it all the time, you know, “Please like,” in all caps on a page. What it comes down to is that if you’re telling your story well of what your brand stands for and what it is that you’re offering, people will find you out, especially if you have that core group as it already exists within the store. They’re likely to already follow you. They’re going to be likely to give you an audience that they’ll reach.

Gene: Yeah. I feel like I’ve often … we do Facebook promotions and we’ll be like, “Hey, like my page,” and I take a step back and I’m like, “You know, I kind of sound a little desperate here, by asking people to like my page.” You know, if you like what the content is, you’re going to like the page.

Now, are there any other tools that you use? We’ve run contests, so we’ve used … Woobox was one tool, if you’ve heard of that.

Ryan: Sure.

Gene: Are there any tools that you can recommend for business owners who are trying to get more followers?

Ryan: If you’re going to be running some type of content where you’re giving away something, one of the better ones that I use personally is Rafflecopter. You can use it as a free tool or you can wind up paying for different levels of it. It’s as inexpensive as $9 a month for the subscription service. The reason I say that is it gives you some decent guidelines as to how to not run afoul of say the lottery law stuff we touched upon, but also it’s an easy way to be able to capture data that you can then analyze after the fact.

You can assign different weight to different actions that people take. You get one free entry because you came to the page. You get X number of entries if you take this action, all the way up to whatever it is that you want. Then afterwards, you can say, “Okay, I want to export all of the entries,” and say one of the things that you did for your free entry is you asked them for their email address. Well, now you have a contact strategy that you can develop for a secondary marketing program.

Gene: Got it.

Great advice, and hopefully that helps Coral as well. If you’re trying to increase your followers for your store, no matter what you do, selling smoothies, it’s good. My biggest takeaway, like you had said when we were trying to increase followers at The Hartford, is it is a pay-to-play world, so you’re going to have to budget for it like anything else in the world of marketing, right?

Ryan: Right. The big thing to look at … and we’ll touch upon this in our second question here on the podcast … is really what budget is needed in order to be able to have a real measurable impact on your business.

Elizabeth: Ryan, one question I had going back to the original, how do I get people to follow me and grow my presence, is do you suggest that people be on every social media channel, or do you think it’s better to choose one and really focus on that? How do you figure out … maybe this is several questions … how do you figure out which is the right channel for you? For some people it might be Twitter or LinkedIn. I know we always think of Facebook first, but maybe that’s not the right place to be for a juice bar.

Ryan: The question with regard to how many social networks to really be on is however many that you can effectively manage on a day-to-day basis. If you really only have time to update one, then just choose one, because each one of them really acts independently of one another. They really need different approaches in order to be able to best utilize them.

A lot of people focus on Facebook. It’s the largest one, but in the case of Facebook, as we’ve talked about, they’re going to look at your business page and treat your content very differently than they do a personal page. That kind of algorithmic approach is going to go to Instagram because Instagram’s owned by Facebook, and well, that’s just another advertising and revenue platform to roll through.

Twitter is not algorithmic, but the problem with Twitter is that you have to be posting really frequently on that channel. To give you an idea, half of your total impressions on any given tweet that you’re going to put out into the market, you’re going to get in the first nine minutes that you published it. Think about the way that you consume Twitter. You open the app and you scroll through the timeline, and if you happen to stop on something that was really engaging, you’ll get there. Which means that you can post your content to Twitter a little bit more frequently and say the same kinds of things, so scheduling them is really kind of important.

The way that I would approach it is looking at what type of person you’re trying to reach, because that will define which of the social channels you should really focus on. If you’re a B2B business, you need to be on LinkedIn and you need to be posting relatively frequently. If you’re really more consumer-focused and you have a product that lends itself well to being captured in an image, be on Instagram. If you’re looking to distribute content pretty frequently and have really short conversations with your customers, Twitter is great for that. At the very least, be on Facebook, and then from there pick one of the secondary channels to really be on.

Gene: Right. Do you think this is something that most business owners have the ability to do themselves, or do they need guys like you?

Ryan: I mean, it really kind of depends on how dedicated you can really be, and what level of result you’re really looking for. More often than not, you’re going to be best off hiring some type of professional for it, to manage your presence and really represent and understand the kinds of things that you’re looking to deliver upon. If you have somebody within your business who might be really passionate, that’s how I got my start, was I was just given the opportunity one day at a store. I said, “I want to do more,” and it’s like, “Well, we have these pages, can you help us out?” You might have that next person on your staff who has a marketing talent that you weren’t aware of.

Gene: Right, that you can make a star.

Ryan: Exactly.

Gene: You hope that person takes advantage of it and has at least their own ability to self-start in this, to do something like what you did, and then look at you now. You’re now an executive vice president in charge of all the marketing here at The Hartford. Someday. Someday. Keep working.

Elizabeth: Alright, we’re going to be right back with Ryan and question number two, and that’s about your social media marketing budget.

QUESTION #2: Perfect Marketing Budget

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back with question number two. This is from Jen in Burlington, and this is actually about your overall marketing budget. Jen writes:

“In a previous podcast you said that a thousand-dollar-a-month marketing budget is huge. What’s the smallest budget you can have to see an impact?”

She runs a B2B paper goods company. Gene, I don’t know if you remember this, but one of our first podcasts, someone wrote in and said, “I have $500 to spend on marketing, what should I do?” Or maybe they said they had $1,000 to spend on marketing.

Gene: A month.

Elizabeth: You said, “Go to Atlantic City and gamble the money away.” We did say in that episode that if you had $1,000 a month, that would be a huge amount of money, so she just wants to know what’s a small amount. Maybe we could start with Ryan on this one, because for traditional marketing, you really do need more than $1,000 a month.

Gene: Well, that’s what Ryan’s budget is anyway, $1,000 a month.

Ryan: Right. You know, really the smallest budget that you can have see an impact is the smallest budget where you can measure the impact that you’re really going to tie into. This gets into there’s a tie between your marketing and your sales analytics departments, because you need to be able to show whether or not whatever it is that you’re doing on the marketing side is really providing any type of measurable lift on the sales and analytics side.

Gene: Right. In the end it’s all about leads, isn’t it?

Ryan: Right.

Gene: I mean, even here at The Hartford, I know senior management are big believers that all of the activities that they’ve done marketing, it’s got to, in the end, result in business.

Ryan: Exactly.

Gene: There has to be some metrics that speak to that.

Ryan: Right, and the number one thing is you have to start establishing whatever those performance indicators are going to be, because if you don’t have those, you’re just shouting your $1,000 into the wind, or $500 or whatever it is. You just need to know what you’re trying to really do.

Gene: I remember this. Not to cut you off, but I remember when we were talking about this, the $1,000 a month.

Elizabeth: I think it was a dentist.

Gene: Yeah, but we were talking about you want to spend your money where you think you’re going to get the biggest return on investment. That’s what it is. You don’t just spend it on Facebook ads if none of your customers are on Facebook. This person, their example, they’re a B2B paper goods company, so I don’t even know if any of their customers are even going to be on Facebook, you know?

Ryan: Right. What you would potentially look at is what’s the cost to maybe acquire contacts from a third-party data source and be able to email them. You know, just finding out whatever strategy really is going to work well for your company. In this particular case, it would be number one, we know that there’s some type of sales involvement, so your $200 a month, $500 a month, $1,000 a month … or if you’re a company this size, hundreds of thousands of dollars a month … it really ties into what our indicators are. What do we need in order to be able to deliver bottom-line business that comes in? Because if you’re not resulting in any sort of increases, if you’re not getting leads, then you’re better off taking that money and …

Gene: Going to Atlantic City?

Ryan: Or just doing something else with it, that creates better return for your business.

Gene: How do you feel when people are looking for … they think there might be customers for them on Facebook, we’ll use as an example, and they’re asking like, “What’s the least amount of money I can spend?” Do you guys do a lot of testing?

Ryan: There’s always testing going on. The first thing that you would want to do if you’re trying to figure out if a social media platform is really going to be the best thing for you is, number one, profile your existing customers. You know, take a look at what customer file you have, what contact information you have, and be able to see. Okay, are these people in this potential audience? Are they where we’re trying to go?

Elizabeth: How would you do that?

Ryan: The first thing would just be do a quick analysis of who’s in the file, and then secondarily, with most of the social media accounts, you’re able to upload an email file or an additional customer file and have it match against known social accounts. Say you have a list of 20,000 people. You could upload that file, and say that you get a return that only 4,000 of them are actually on social media.

Gene: Where do you get that data from? Say you’ve got a customer database in your QuickBooks and you’ve got names and addresses and their email addresses. How do you find out if they’re on social?

Ryan: You can export a .CSV file of that and upload it to either Facebook, Twitter. LinkedIn just announced that they’re supporting that as well, and it will match that customer profile information against known social media profiles.

Gene: Is there a name of those programs? Say I wanted to do that for Facebook.

Ryan: It’s actually right within Facebook. It’s within their advertising platform. You just go to their Audience filter, and you would upload the file there. It’s really simple. It’s just a drag-and-drop functionality, and then it will match. Then for data safety purposes, it actually deletes that file after it’s done, so that way you’re not keeping that in Facebook and you have to worry about, well, if Facebook gets hacked, is my customer file no longer safe. That doesn’t happen.

Gene: Now, some of the drawbacks, I would imagine, is that on Facebook a lot of times people use personal emails versus maybe a corporate email, so you have customers that …

Ryan: What we’ve actually been finding is that more frequently than not, people are using their personal email address in a lot of business contexts, and they’re using their business email in a lot of personal contexts. The reason for that comes down to situations like this, where people are trying to advertise on social media and they want to have that email address on file for invoicing purposes and everything else.

Gene: Let’s get back to this question, using your example. Jen is saying, “What’s the least I can spend on marketing?” She’s a B2B paper company, so what you’re saying is, “Listen, you can go to Facebook,” and you said LinkedIn also introduced this, “for nothing”?

Ryan: Right.

Gene: You can upload your entire database from QuickBooks, as long as you’ve exported it, and see how many of your customers are actually on Facebook. You might be like, “None of my customers are on Facebook. Clearly this is not a good idea, for me to be spending my time,” right?

Ryan: Exactly, so then you can start to identify different channels that might really serve you well. I would argue this is all secondary to, number one, figure out what it is that you’re trying to do with your marketing budget, and be able to say, “Okay, I want to increase the number of people who see my content,” or, “I need to reach this many leads this month,” or, “I need to have this amount of additional revenue come in for X amount of investment.” Then sort of work through what are the channels that I might try to utilize to reach those goals, because if I can’t reach those goals on any of these channels that I’m looking at …

Gene: You’re wasting your time?

Ryan: Yeah, you’re wasting your money.

Gene: Right. You’re a social media guy. You’re a digital marketing guy. Do you think that social media and digital marketing is for everybody, that every business should be doing this, or do you think it’s not? Again, Jen from Burlington with the B2B paper company. Should she be doing it?

Elizabeth: That’s a tough … that’s a good example.

Ryan: Well, I mean, what it comes down to is can you identify your existing customer base in whatever advertising channel you’re looking at, whether that’s digital, traditional, and can you have the measurement tactic to be able to say, “I got this many new people onto our website, I got this many new followers, I got this many sales associated with this.” Social is important, don’t get me wrong. Every consumer-facing business really should be there, because it’s an easy way to really manage your own story and reputation.

B2B gets tougher. I think that there’s still digital opportunities that are really worth it. Email continues to show that it’s like direct mail. It’s still works, just asking people to respond to whatever question you’re putting out into the marketplace. Social just gets a little bit trickier, but I will say I’ve managed clients at my previous job, B2B companies at $400 a month is all they had available to do it, and we did social. That was the number one thing that they could do for new business. It just so happened that through that analysis we were able to say, “There is a pocket of people that are right within your appetite that you’re not reaching right now, and we think this is the way to do so.”

Elizabeth: Gene, you’re B2B, and you’re on Facebook.

Gene: Yeah, I am, and I’m into increasing our following all the time, so I asked this question for just personal reasons. In my own business, we want to increase our Facebook reach because it turns into leads for the systems and stuff that we sell, and I’m always looking for ways, how do I increase our following. I’m learning that, like we were talking about, it’s a pay-to-play world. The more budget I throw at it, the more reach I can get.

Ryan: Right. Then by growing your following, your following winds up becoming your advocate for you, so that way you’re less reliant on necessarily you telling people to do something. You’re having people do it for you.

Gene: Right, and that takes time, but you’re right, once you build up that community. In my own business, once we have our community of customers, we got a lot of added work off of them and referrals from them. It’s the same thing on social media, but it takes money.

Ryan: Right.

Gene: It takes money, and it takes a person. I wish I had you. I could not afford you, but I have a social media person that works in my company, so I have to pay for her to be doing a lot of this stuff, because it’s not only … it’s the metrics and tracking, what’s working, and engaging, making sure we’ve got a lot of content. It takes work. It takes work. It’s not free.

Elizabeth: Could you tell everyone, Gene, how you found your social media person? That would probably be helpful.

Gene: I’ve had amazing success finding social media people and marketing people on Craigslist.

Elizabeth: Really?

Gene: Yeah. Now, they’re all homicidal maniacs as well. This is one of the side things about it, but … I’m just kidding. A lot of people use Guru, a lot of people use Upwork, a lot of people use LinkedIn. They’re all really, really good sources. On Craigslist, it costs me 25 to 35 bucks to post an ad. I can craft a pretty good … I’ve gotten pretty … that’s a whole other topic, about crafting a good …

Elizabeth: We’ll link to your article on that.

Gene: Yeah, a good job ad and what should be in it or whatever, and I get … I mean, I get dozens if not 50, 60, 70 responses to an ad, and some of it is scary. I don’t know if it’s indicative of the economy now, but I get people that are graduates of like incredible colleges. You know, young people, and they want to get … I offer to pay anywhere from 25 to 50 bucks an hour as a contracted type of thing, so people respond to that. You also get what you pay for when you’re looking for people. Then it’s sort of you’re taking a gamble as to whether or not the person’s going to be good or not, so I think you have to be strong to cut somebody loose if it’s just not working out.

Elizabeth: You have to listen to the podcast, because Ryan’s here to give this help, and if your person is not as knowledgeable as him, you should maybe cut them loose.

Gene: I completely agree. I think we should have Ryan on more, because I have more questions to ask, more detailed, deep-dive questions on what you’re doing here at The Hartford to increase your reach and your readership.

Elizabeth: No, we don’t want to share that.

Gene: Yeah, right. It’ll get all deleted out by legal anyway. Again, I think having somebody like Ryan on a podcast like this is fascinating for listeners who are small business owners and don’t have a resource of you on staff, so it’s interesting stuff.

Elizabeth: That’s great. Thanks, Ryan.

Gene: Thank you.

Ryan: Anytime. Thanks, guys.

Elizabeth: Okay. We will be back next with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.


Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back with our Word of Brilliance from Gene.

Gene: Elizabeth, I have two words of brilliance, but they all relate to the same thing. This Word of Brilliance today is called Manhattan Milk.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Manhattan Milk. Manhattan Milk is a little company that has actually been around for about 10 years. I wrote about them recently. I want to give a shout-out to the two entrepreneurs, Frank Acosta and Matt Malone, are the two partners that started up Manhattan Milk. Manhattan Milk is a milkman delivery service, Elizabeth.

What they do is, every day, they have their own organic milk that they’ve subcontracted out to a farm in upstate New York. You can place orders by text, by phone, by email, on their website, and, for the most part, they deliver same day. They have a lot of repeat, commercial, and residential customers, and they do all of the boroughs in Manhattan. They have eight trucks that do the delivery.

Elizabeth: Wait, they do all the five boroughs in New York.

Gene: All of the five boroughs in New York, and they’ve got about eight trucks that do it. Again, they’ve been in operation for about 10 years. They’re not alone. They have a couple of competitors in …

Elizabeth: Ten years?

Gene: Ten years, they have been doing this. How about that?

Elizabeth: Wow.

Gene: What I find … The reason why I bring up Manhattan Milk and companies like them, is you think about the milkman was way before my time growing up, but for centuries though, milk and eggs being freshly delivered, and by the way, these guys deliver other dairy products, and vegetables, and whatever, but the home delivery of that kind of stuff, milk, just seems like such a thing of the past.

You know what? You can pick any business you want to do, Elizabeth, and as long as you do it really well, there will be a niche for you, right?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: You have a metropolitan area like New York. I’m not saying that Manhattan Milk is going to be a billion dollar business, but these two guys have carved out a nice little business for themselves.

Elizabeth: There are a lot of parents who only want to serve their kids organic milk.

Gene: That’s right, and they’re too busy to go out and get it on their own, or they … These guys, their prices are comparable, they say, to Whole Foods, so they can be competitive. I always thought to myself, I say, “You know what? If you want to be a blacksmith in 2017, okay …”

Elizabeth: You can find your people.

Gene: It’s not like it’s a huge industry like it was maybe in 1717, but now, if you want to be a blacksmith, and you’re very good at it, you can create a niche doing that and there is a big country and a big road where you can do that. Look for the markets. You don’t have to be that innovative, you just have to be really good at what you do.

Elizabeth: How do you feel about, someone had a business back in the day, and then you are like, “You know what? I want to start a business like that, but just update it for modern times.”

Gene: Absolutely, and the milkman is a perfect example.

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s a good example.

Gene: For modern times now, they’re a mobile … They take mobile deliveries from your mobile phone, and all of that, so it’s the same concept as back in the old country, but now you’re placing your orders by text message and online, so good for them.

Elizabeth: It’s so cool. Yeah, it has a modern edge to it, but it is old school.

Gene: Yep.

Elizabeth: I will say that back in the 80’s, when I was growing up in West Hartford, Connecticut, we did actually get milk delivery.

Gene: Did you really?

Elizabeth: Now, it wasn’t in the glass bottles with the cream on top. It wasn’t like that at all.

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: We got a gallon of milk delivered. Everyone in the neighborhood did it.

Gene: What’s also interesting about this concept is that big box retailers are … Amazon is delivering stuff onsite. A lot of the stores, themselves, are having home delivery services. We are all aware of that.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: If you do something really well, and you carve out a little niche for yourself, and you’ve got a good product … Those people getting the milk delivered from these guys, from Manhattan Milk, I’m sure most of their customers have no desire to get it from Amazon or Peapod, or whatever. They’ve got a good service going.

Elizabeth: Cool. All right, great word of brilliance, Manhattan Milk, two words.

Gene: Manhattan Milk.

Elizabeth: Alright. Thanks, Gene, and we’ll talk to everyone next week.

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