Marketing Rant #1 – What I Didn’t Learn In School

What I didn’t learn in School

I may have mentioned in my previous blogs, or I may have not. I am not a strong supporter of school. Most of what I’ve learned today that are effective in interviews are skills that I picked up from the streets (gee. does that ever sound ghetto) or by reading. Today, I started playing around with Quora and discovered that it is a really awesome site to get your questions answered and to find out little facts about what you may want to know.

Melanie’s Blog and Selling?

On Quora, I came across a blog by Melanie Haselmayr. I have been having a tough time doing sales calls and I’m learning that I might not be the best salesman. Complete respect for salespeople, it’s a tough gig. “20 Sales Calls A Day” by Melanie really did give me some much needed inspiration. I quote:

“Experts say you get 1 lead for every 25 contacts you make. Let’s say you contact 300 potential clients; you’ll have 12 leads.

50% of those leads will be qualified = 6
50% of those qualified will be interested = 3
50% of those interested will actually buy = 1.5
80% of those willing to buy will actually close = 1″

I’ve also heard statistics somewhere that out of 100 women that a guy goes after, there is 1 that will be serious relationship material. I feel like George Costanza saying that, but it puts into perspective that, statistically, getting a sale is more difficult than getting a girlfriend. 

** Aside: I do not know how to feel about these statistics.


Content Marketing for Groove?

Today, I also found a blog by Alex Turnbull. Well, not today, I actually subscribed to them a few days back, but I didn’t pay much attention to the originator until today to notice it’s the same guy. So, Alex’s writing was so effective, that it managed to get me to subscribe the first time I read it and grab my attention the second time to share it. You can find it here:

From 0 to $100k/month in 2 years is out of this world. Here’s a summary of the lessons I’ve learned for my reference and yours:

  1. NOTHING more important than knowing your customers
    • Talk to customers to avoid making mistakes (like spending $50k building a site/app they don’t want)
  2. “You’re In” Email
    • Sending an email to ask them why they signed up
      • Personally, this makes sense. I never thought of it until now. People like attention and here you’re giving it, what better way to create brand advocates than showing that you genuinely care?
  3. Customer Service
    • Alex spends half of his time doing customer support
      • Support is good and it will show your employees that you are actually getting data and doing enough analysis to lead the team.
      • I’ve been part of teams that was not like this. Part of teams where the leader is out-of-the-office a lot of the time with no factual feedback from clients. That’s a red flag.
  4. Power of Messaging, Positioning, and Copy
    • Designing a site that comes from the customers’ mouths.
  5. Content Marketing is Ridiculously Effective (If you do it right)
    • Quality content, blogs, guest blogs, customer service blogs
      • I’m trying and testing this now, this would be my 4th post, but I do foresee value in creating a genuine connection with my audience. There’s no subterfuge.
  6. Take Time to Create Good Content
    • I am spending my day scouring for good reads that I’d like to share and writing blog posts about them, so I am spending hours creating one post. But it is actually very therapeutic and maybe it’ll pay off one day ;)?
  7. Promote the Absolute Hell Out Of It
    • “First, if your content is truly valuable, then you owe it to people to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. And second, influencers are influencers because they add value to their audience. If your content adds value to their audience, they’re happy to share it.”

I am still learning about how to promote blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts and pages. I will definitely document what I learn here, so definitely follow me if you want to learn with me.


Don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts and opinions with readers and myself. In today’s world, we definitely have to keep on learning to stay relevant and not be out of a job.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Look forward to the next one!

Best wishes,



A Phoenix Never Dies, it is only reborn and in waking, will rise from the ashes

Hey there,

Last post I gave a list of articles for a read, I’m going to reiterate them here:

Last post I mentioned that I will be talking about KickStarter and Customer Validation. So, let’s get to it.

As I mentioned, I live in Vancouver, Canada. Great place to live, mountains, oceans, cafés, and hipsters. Only problem I find: It is small. However, when you look at Canada, it’s entire population is 35 million. In the USA, it’s 319 million. So, I always thought that when doing Customer Validation, wouldn’t it be better to do it where there’s more people?

My time at Spring – great mentors, great advice – was wonderful, but I was given advice to go down to Seattle (right below Vancouver) to do Customer Validation. Different places have different cultures, makes sense. For MealShelf, that only provides value when we have interaction between customer and business, it does make logical sense to drive down. You have local customers and local grocers that will typically stay in the same place for a long time.

My new idea will operate as a mobile application that allows the public to find the location of people running temporary popup stands. It’s a play on restaurant day, a popular event in Helsinki, Finland where students, families, moms open one-day stores in their homes, neighbourhood sidewalk, apartment terraces, etc. I lived in Helsinki, Finland for 5 months as an exchange student. Wicked, eh?


Greatest Inventions: Fatboy BeanBag chairs & Restaurant day

The application would be C2C. However, the customer validation game changes in my mind right here. These type of people that would open popup stands are not obvious. I can’t go knocking on every door to find them (that would be creepy, I will probably get arrested). I can go to the harbour to talk to local fishermen (it happens in Vancouver, where some fishermen sells salmon out of their trucks. Legal? I have no idea, but great source of cheap fish) or I can go talk to some local hunters (I don’t know whether it’s legal to sell game either. It’s illegal in the States apparently). The application’s uses go above hunters and fishers. It can also be used to help your little girl’s lemonade stand. The neighbours all find out about Lucy’s lemonade stand and buys lemonade from her for $3/cup. You are doing 2 things here:

  1. Lucy will be ecstatic playing shop owner.
  2. You are teaching your daughter the essences of entrepreneurship.

That cup is more valuable than a tall coffee at Starbucks. Will cuteness sell? This’ll tell you how cute your neighbours think your daughter(s) is(are).

So, what does KickStarter have anything to do with it? Well, I’ve been thinking of Kickstarter for Customer Validation:

Here’s my hypothesis:

People do run temporary businesses, but they have primitive ways to let people on-the-go know about it. They want others to know what they’re doing other than a Facebook post or a Tweet, which doesn’t stay on your feed for long.

All the articles above have one thing in common: Pre-selling before building. From another standpoint, it is logical to agree with them that pitching your idea and trying to get funded on Kickstarter is the biggest validation out there for a C2C business. Second article by FightForSmall had a great quote: “I like this idea, so I’m going to vote with my wallet.” These guys are not only your investors, they are your customers. The concept of pop-up shops is validated. I saw it work in Helsinki, Finland. Apparently, it’s a thing in Montréal too. I’m just validating “if people will use an application to find popup shops.” I can see it working on restaurant day, for sure, or at night/farmers markets.

I am going to try to plan out a viral marketing scheme to get some leads and follows, then hit up Kickstarter to try and get some pre-sells (funding), if it goes well and fundraising was successful I’ll develop the application and push it out in 2 months? I’ll document the whole process for a case-study along the way.

Wish me luck,


Blog title from:

By the way, here is a product you should buy that originated from Finland: Fatboy Bean Bag Chairs

Kickstarter for Customer Validation – My 2.0

Welcome back,

Today has been quite a day of reads for me. Here is a list of reads regarding Kickstarter and Customer Validation (the last one is creating a million dollar business):

Right now, I have two major projects going on and this blog. I cannot say that everything is going super well. Actually, there has been a lot of thinking because MealShelf is not gaining traction the way I want. In the first article from segment, a lot of lean methodologies are mentioned. Specifically, I want to point out stretch goals. MealShelf is a B2C business with us being the middleman of aggregating information from businesses for consumers. Now, I did validation for it as a platform for grocers to just list their products. They were interested in that. I also did some validation for a pre-order system that I prototyped, they were interested in that too.

That’s great, then “What’s the problem Donald?” you may ask. My problem right now is that I did not ask them to buy it during my customer validation, or simply put, I didn’t put a dollar value on the pre-order system. Now, looking into it, I don’t know the statistics for how many people actually preorder niche, exotic food from their local butchers on a frequent basis enough for that idea to be profitable (i’m expecting it to be small). So, i’m on the verge of pivoting and not positioning MealShelf as a preorder system.

I still see some value in it being an aggregation of available products for the consumers (wouldn’t you like it if you found out that your local butcher sold ostrich?). I called some local stores, there was interest. Though, they don’t see value in paying for it. The revenue plan right now is shaky, as my only revenue model is through ads (Google Adsense, anyone?). However, for that to pay off well, I have to generate a lot of page visits, which means Mealshelf must have a presence beyond where I live in Vancouver, Canada, which is a pretty small city. The Adsense idea came from PlentyOfFish, I had forgotten that a website with large page visits can generate a lot of revenue. However, it’s still very unsettling to know that is likely your main source of revenue. In essence, this would work if revenues from ads > cost of hosting and servers. I’m betting that it would with large interest. At the same time, it took Yelp 5 years for it to actually get started and go global. At this point, a fog has cropped up and I don’t know where to go. I still see potential in its grassroots as an aggregation of available products, if it starts gaining speed, I would see money rolling in. However, I know that it would take a lot of effort to which I can’t foresee whether the result I aim for will ever materialize.

Though, the work and experience in this project did bring about other ideas, to which I will discuss in my next post.

On a side note, back to the story in my first post about the girl who told me to go away after I walked up to her because I thought she was stunning. I told her that I interrupted her because I thought she was beautiful. She was. Suddenly, she became the friendliest and most talkative girl that day. Sadly enough, I had 6 hours until my flight, so I couldn’t ask her out on a date later. Fortunately, I might have dodged a bullet if her attitude flipped in 2 seconds.

At any rate, the lesson learned there is compliments does wonders. Honesty and transparency forges the path for some very spontaneous and organic connections.

Next post, I’ll talk more about Kickstarter and Customer Validation. I kind of went off on a tangent here, but it was a good organization of thoughts.