Being a great wordsmith and being able to say the right things that are marketing-oriented but don’t cross the line of what’s not being allowed as per Federal Trade Commission or whatever agency you’re involved with is a fine art. Amanda Dobson of Rival Brands got the best of both worlds, being in the digital marketing side coming out of law. She’s helped some brands go from zero to top of their industries in very short periods of time. Amanda shares some of the ways that she’s crafting irresistible offers and amazing brands has been through knowing the audience and recognizing what’s working in one industry and applying the same tactics. Being consistent across all of those and not forgetting the basics has also been big for her company. Amanda says doing something that works well and staying consistent with it is the key.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Key To Successful Digital Marketing with Amanda Dobson
Kevin, thanks much for being here.
Seth, it’s always a pleasure hanging out and talking to some cool people. I’m looking forward to this episode.
We’ve got a cool person. We have Amanda Dobson joining us. She is the Director of Marketing for Rival Brands. It was started by none other than our friends Roland, Perry and Ryan Deiss over at Digital Marketer. Amanda creates amazingly irresistible offers, incredible funnels and amazing advertising that generates millions of dollars every single month. Amanda, thanks for joining us.
I’m happy to be here. I love listening to you.
Amanda, how did you get started in the wonderful world of digital marketing?
I fell into it. I studied law before I got into marketing. I was naturally inclined to putting together arguments, understanding the human brain and how people make decisions. I was working at one of the top law firms in Toronto and decided that it wasn’t for me. I moved home. I took a low-level, basic customer service job working for a supplement business and then started to get interested into what they were doing online. I’d never seen this world of online marketing before. Their director of marketing asked me to edit a piece of sales copy for him. I edited it for him, he looks at me, laughs and he goes, “You edited this like a term paper. What is this?” Over time, he showed me a few tips and tricks. Finally, I said, “Show me what a sales funnel is.” They taught me what a sales funnel was. At my first boardroom meeting a couple of weeks later, I met Ryan, Roland and Perry. I stayed close with those guys and I worked with them and they showed me pretty much everything and that’s where I am now.
Marketing and law definitely meet at a certain point because you have to know what you can and can’t say. Having a good lawyer, that’s a great wordsmith of being able to say the right things that are marketing-oriented but don’t cross the line of not being allowed per the FTC or whatever agency you’re involved with, there’s a fine art to that. It sounds like you’ve got the best of both worlds being in the marketing side coming out of law. Congratulations.
Coming from the health space and I work a lot with weapons, gun accessories, politics. Compliance has been huge for me throughout my entire marketing career. I don’t even know what it would be like to work in an industry that didn’t have strict restrictions. I’ve got that going for me.
You’ve worked on some brands that have gone from zero to top of their industries in a very short period of time. What are you finding are some of the ways that you’re crafting such irresistible offers and amazing brands?
I found knowing your people and knowing your audience, where your people hide and staying connected with the people. I’m surrounded by a lot of marketing geniuses and keeping close with those people and finding things that are working in other verticals, especially for us, I work in markets all the way from home and design, beauty and fashion all the way to tactical gear, survival, guns. Recognizing what’s working in one industry just because it’s a different vertical or a different niche, the same tactic applies. Being consistent across all of those and not forgetting the basics, that’s been big for us. We do something that works well and staying consistent with this. That’s been the key.
One of the beautiful parts of the survival business and I know that Ryan, Perry, and Roland have been in that business for quite a while. That business is so powerful because it’s such a loyal following that you have the ability to keep coming up with new offers and it’s unlike probably many other businesses that it has such a fervent base of followers. Have you got any stories about things that have taken off inside that market that you wouldn’t have had the time of day in other industries?
It’s unfortunate for a lot of reasons, but at the same time natural disasters and things like that, the timeliness of our offers is extremely crucial, especially in survival. We know that hurricane season is coming up, so we’re preparing our people, making sure that they’ve got all the supplies they need like, “We know this is coming. This is going to be the worst hurricane season on record. Let’s make sure that we get you supplied now. When the time comes, you’re not running to the grocery store to buy the last three-week old bag of bread.” We’ve got that going for us in the survival brand and you’re exactly right, those are people who are dedicated gun owners. They’re dedicated to the cause. It’s a natural and loyal following. Though not only are they loyal to our brand, but they’re loyal to the cause and each other in general.
I was interviewed on NBC twice over the Facebook privacy scandal. You’ve got such a fervent, probably skewing right wing conservative list, for Survival Life and you talked about politics, any thoughts about retargeting or perhaps running? You could probably get almost a significant number of state senators or congressmen elected simply by marketing your list.
We’ve looked at the political agenda. We’ve decided to stay out of the political arena, with all of our survival people. It’d be a hot topic for us, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet. They’re very politically aware, especially in our private groups. There are a lot of heated conversations about the subject. As a Canadian, for me it’s hard to capitalize on all the American political processes. There are definitely opportunities there that we’ve been looking into.
Amanda, your business though, you’re multifunctional and that survival is one of your categories, but you do ingestibles and supplements. What is the umbrella of the different kinds of things that you’re involved with day-to-day?
Day-to-day, I’m doing anything from writing offer copy, compliance checks, and managing all of our email lists. We’ve got some private clients that I work with directly. For the most part, my big focus has been trying different ways of doing things. I’m looking at new sales channels; I’m researching new tools. I’ve got a couple of tools that I’ve been able to test out lately and different strategies. We’ve gotten good at dialing in the basics, but I want to get the most out of every sales channel possible. I talked a little bit at some events recently. Trying to optimize every part of the sales process from when your customer first sees your ads all the way through to the thank you page and the follow-up, making sure that all of that real estate is used properly. A vast majority of my time is optimizing our processes from beginning to end for that purpose.
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
The offer side of things is where my heart and soul is. I was put on this Earth to put together offers and write copy and compelling sales letters and understanding how the mind of our consumer works. If you walk into my house, I’ve shot a gun once in my life but I have every possible handgun, long gun. My house is covered in those things. That’s where I live. I live in that messaging part of the business.
You’ve achieved so much success with many different verticals and many different brands, what’s your biggest challenge now?
Scale is definitely always going to be a challenge for us, especially with all of the algorithm changes with Facebook. We’re taking on the challenge and we’re finding new and creative ways to optimize all of our advertising. That’s our biggest challenge is we’re creating offers that we want to get them out there and find different ways to get eyeballs on them. That’s always going to be the challenge. It’s a good challenge to have. We’ve got offers that convert. We’ve got to optimize the advertising process.
Amanda, I come out of the TV business for 30 some years. TV viewership has declined by 50%. Five years ago, I started looking to digital, Facebook, and some of the other channels where the eyeballs were shifting. Obviously, Seth talked about Facebook having some issues and they’re changing their algorithms. Do you have a go-to place for a test that you do? If somebody comes to you, they got a product and you’re going to do a test, how do you go about testing it and where do you take them?
It depends on the product. Sometimes they’ll go directly to our email list if it’s something where we want to get a super-controlled test of a specific audience. I’ve got lists in pretty much every niche out there so I can get some pretty good data from our list. We strictly tried and true with Facebook for the most part. We’re not doing as much Google as we should be but we’re scaling up in Google as well but those are pretty much our primary channels for testing new offers.
Are you doing anything on YouTube?
YouTube, no. I know that’s a shock. YouTube, we did a lot for a long time. YouTube was huge for us and when I came on board, it was something that no one had been paying attention to for a while and I’m like, “YouTube is the thing.” I was working on some YouTube stuff, some super cool new YouTube strategies coming in the next little while so keep your eyes out.
The conference we were talking about, we were out in Los Angeles. I tried to get to that segment. There was a YouTube presentation on how to make money on YouTube. I do know one of the challenges you run into is sometimes you’re paying for what they call a view. The question is how long have they viewed something before you have to pay? I don’t know what that is, but somebody was saying, “They may have only seen something for one, two, or three seconds. That constitutes a view.” Do you deal with these issues in negotiating your deals when you’re dealing with the YouTubers of the world?
YouTube specifically is good because in the past we’ve seen instances where they’ve counted views when they shouldn’t have and we’ve paid for them. YouTube’s good about staying on top of those and compensating for when that stuff happens. Perry’s daughter, Victoria, who runs most of our media for us, she’s so numbers-driven and she is watching those things like a hawk. If you’re doing any scale on media, it’s important to know those numbers because every penny counts. The platform is dinging you for a view that didn’t happen, you’ve got to have someone who’s there and dedicated and watching the metrics and making sure it’s all making sense for you. Otherwise, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
In my world, if we spend X amount of dollars, we’ve got to see X amount of dollars back, double, triple, quadruple in credit card orders. That’s one of the beauties of the old TV business is you’re getting mass distribution that go on a cable network. That model still does have possibilities of working, it just has become tougher and tougher because there are fewer people watching TV. In a 30-minute infomercial, if they’re watching that infomercial, they’re seeing long periods of that, two minutes, five minutes, as many as 30 minutes. That’s why they’re picking up the phone and ordering because we hook them, pitch them, and we’ve got three ten-minute pods and it keeps repeating. It’s a little bit different model but if you can take what we’ve learned from TV, utilize it on YouTube, that’s the best of all worlds. That’s where the future lies.
For myself personally, advertising education 101, I’ve been lucky to spend time with Richard Viguerie. He’s been helping me with advertising. He’s the King of Direct Mail. I’ve been going back and reading the classics like Claude Hopkins and understanding the return on investment and how that needs to work for advertising. It has uncanny parallels to what we’re doing in the digital age. Many times, those concepts that were pioneered decades ago have been long forgotten but are still relevant. I always suggest people go back and read the classics, understand advertising from its origins and then move on from there. It’s going to tell you what you need to be watching and how you’re going to be calculating success on your ads even now.
Amanda, we know your time is incredibly valuable. We appreciate it. You’ve obviously built and worked with some amazing brands. For folks who are reading and say, “I’d love the opportunity to even learn more about what you’re doing at Rival Brands and Native Commerce. Where’s the best place for us to send them?
You can send them directly to my email if you want, Amanda@RivalBrands.com with any questions. We’re launching a new product that’s going to be cool. I’m excited about with Perry and Roland. That will be going behind the curtains of what it is that we do. We’ll be coaching you and giving away a lot of free information on what we’re doing well. I’m excited for that to be launching in the next little while. You can follow any of our brands. Survival Life is where we’re doing the most. Go head on over to Survival Life and opt in and do what everyone else does. Whatever questions, I’m always happy to help.
Thank you, Amanda. See you at the next show. Good luck. Take care. Thanks, everybody.
- Amanda Dobson
- Rival Brands
- Digital Marketer
- Survival Life
- Richard Viguerie
- Native Commerce