When I was a kid I was always that nerd reading books and tinkering with computers while the other boys my age were playing sports. At 17 years old I stumbled across a company that was piloting a “new” concept, selling advertisements on the back of drug store receipts; To this day I can’t remember why I ever thought this was a good idea, because let me tell you, nobody wants to buy advertising on the back of a drug store receipt. But whatever it was something hooked me and out I went knocking on doors, sticking to the script and striking out every day my first week.
I still remember that first sale like it was yesterday. I’m standing in a pizza shop, and the owner had just given me the same answer I had been hearing all week, “Nobody reads those things”. How could I argue with him? This was a relatively new concept, there was no track record, no great success stories of local businesses on the brink of bankruptcy suddenly making millions thanks to advertising on the back of drug store receipts.
As I headed for the door, dejected and ready to give up, an idea hit me I said “I’ll tell you what, I’ll run an ad for you for free if you let me write it”. Dismissively, without even looking up from the pizza he was making, I hear “Sure kid, whatever you want.” So I sat down, making a dramatic presentation of opening my briefcase and taking out the new client paperwork, and read out loud as I write “BUY ONE PIZZA, GET TEN FREE” and the next thing I know the owner is standing next to me like he’s about to physically pick me up and throw me out of his shop. “What are you doing, kid?” he yells, “You’ll put me out of business with that s***!”.
And I say “Nah, nobody reads these things.”
I got my first sale that day, and used a similar pitch successfully several times after that. It was my first experience with psychological triggers, and I studied the subject with fascination later, intent on learning how to observe behavior and using what I pick up to steer someone toward a sale. That was 1996, and as Internet businesses emerged over the coming years I applied the same “sales psychology” techniques I had picked up to the web, focusing on eCommerce and online conversion strategies. Since then I’ve worked directly with IBM, UPS, Palm/HP, Banctec, Infusion Brands, and have been quoted in Forbes, CIO, Entrepreneur, Website Magazine, eCommerce Times, and been on a handful of cable business new networks as an eCommerce subject matter expert.
In 2011, the role of the digital marketer shifted back toward the technology side as data-driven marketing decisions started consistently out-performing human ones. I was the VP of eCommerce with Infusion Brands at the time, and became the Chief Technology Officer when the company merged with As Seen On TV in 2014. Later that year, changes in the tides resulted in the web being spun off as a separate entity, and the opportunity to start fresh as CEO of brand new company followed.
Today, the “grand eCommerce experiment” continues as we push the big data envelope forward, developing new technologies to match consumers with products and simplify the online sales process. While I don’t update this blog as often as I used to, I do check all of my messages, so feel free to post a comment or contact me directly.