Transcript: Building An Ecommerce Brand From Zero to 7 Figures

Catherine Langman:

Well, hello there and welcome back to anther episode of the Productpreneur Success Podcast. Catherine Langman, your host here, and today I’m really excited to bring a guest onto the show. We have Vicky Simpson from Bubble Bubs, and today’s topic is going to be all about building an e-commerce brand from zero to seven figures. Vicky, welcome to the show.

Vicky Simpson:

Thanks, Catherine. Thanks for having me. I feel a bit honored to be on here, actually, I must admit.

Catherine Langman:

Super, super exciting. Tell everyone a little bit about your business and what you sell and what you’re all about.

Vicky Simpson:

My brand, I started, yeah, basically it went to the table about 15 years ago. I sell muslin cloth nappies. Back 15 years ago, it wasn’t really a thing. It certainly is now.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

I’ve actually been quite lucky along the way, I guess, because I stared before the wave of other brands did, if you like.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

So, in that time, I’ve managed to perfect my production and the quality of my products and stuff like that. We’re well known for having really high quality products now, and also education. They’re the two things that my brand is known for, so, yeah, that’s pretty much what we do. We make all sorts of different nappies.

Catherine Langman:

Cloth nappy products. So, your business is basically a teenager now.

Vicky Simpson:

It is. Yes. I don’t know which is easier to handle, my actual teenager or the business. Same, same. Both have similar issues at the moment.

Catherine Langman:

So funny. We properly met probably about… what would you say? Four or five years ago? It’s gone a bit quickly.

Vicky Simpson:

No, no, because I remember I had just had Gabe.

Catherine Langman:

How old is he now? He’s probably much older.

Vicky Simpson:

He is eight now.

Catherine Langman:

No way.

Vicky Simpson:

I remember because he was like four months old. I met you at a B2B show down in Melbourne.

Catherine Langman:

Of course.

Vicky Simpson:

When the A&A was starting up.

Catherine Langman:

Yes, that’s right.

Vicky Simpson:

That’s when I think we physically actually met. I knew who you were before then.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. We were in the same industry, and so we knew who each other were for awhile and then we met down there. I remember now. No, that makes me feel a little bit older because I thought for sure it was only four or five years ago. How funny is that?

Vicky Simpson:

No, no. It’s surprising just how many people have been around in this industry and moved on, but some that are still around and some that have moved on. And I think I even mentioned it to you for the first time, because I know I said it quite a few times, “Where’s my Catherine?” You know? With the brand that you had, I can say this now, I always knew that I had a better product, and I was like, “But why? But why?”

Catherine Langman:

You needed the marketer.

Vicky Simpson:

I did. Why are you doing so much better than us? And I kept saying, “Where’s my Catherine?” Because that’s what I needed. That’s what I was missing.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And so really trying to get your head around the marketing side of things is so important. I actually heard this saying recently, I can’t remember. I was reading a book and it was something along the lines of, “Who here thinks that McDonald’s makes the best tasting burger in the world?” And of course, no one put their hand up.

Vicky Simpson:

No.

Catherine Langman:

Yet they’re the best selling burger in the whole wide world. I guess at the end of the day, you actually don’t need to have the best product to be the biggest business or the best selling product.

Vicky Simpson:

Exactly. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

I think it might have been a Robert Kiyosaki in the Rich Dad, Poor Dad, because he talks about being the best selling author, but he’s not the best writing author.

Vicky Simpson:

Wow. There you go. I haven’t actually read any of his stuff. I’m going to do that now.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Oh well, you’ve got time now that we’re all stuck at home, right?

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Well, look, I’m one of those lucky essential workers, because essential being someone who still has a job.

Catherine Langman:

That’s right, selling nappies.

Vicky Simpson:

And my husband and I are, because we work together, we’re swapping it around.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

He works from home one day, I work from home the next day, then we swap around and come into the warehouse.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, so at least I’m getting out.

Catherine Langman:

Good.

Vicky Simpson:

I’m feeling sorry for those that are literally stuck at home.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, completely housebound. It’s pretty tough.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Catherine Langman:

Now, I know that a lot of brands at the moment are needing, especially brands who are busy wholesale brands, I would say probably most brands these days do also sell e-commerce. I don’t really see many anymore, unless they’re real fast moving consumer goods, but most brands at the moment are really needing to find their feet with the e-commerce side of things, and of course you and I, we both really started e-commerce first and then sort of moved into wholesaling. So, there’s a lot of people out there right now who are really needing to learn this kind of e-commerce sales and marketing game, so I thought maybe if you wouldn’t mind, I think probably it was about five years ago when we actually started working together that you really decided you were going to go hard and really grow your Bubble Bubs brand and master that whole e-commerce game, and then obviously you’ve gone onto wholesale and do all sorts of other things as well. Before we kind of talk about what’s working really well now, do you want to sort of describe what your business was like back then? I mean, I know you’d had your third kid and that always kind of puts a bit of a spanner in the works.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Anybody listening out there, you have two hands and two parents and three kids, do the math.

Catherine Langman:

It certainly throws things out a bit for awhile.

Vicky Simpson:

It does. It’s surprising just how much time… the challenges are completely different when you’ve got kids at home versus when you’ve got them at school. As soon as Gabe went to kindy, that’s when we started working together.

Catherine Langman:

That’s right.

Vicky Simpson:

And this was the end of that year. So, what I had, I had literally been limping along doing all that I could. How we managed to, and I suppose it’s quite relevant to now, how we managed to get through the GFC without any help-

Catherine Langman:

Government help like we’re getting now.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. I had literally just had Bella, so I kid you not, two weeks before the GFC hit Australia, I had just had a baby.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And how I managed to hold on, I do not know. But, yeah, it wasn’t until-

Catherine Langman:

It is really relevant now because the whole business landscape at that point, a lot of things really ground to a halt. Obviously this is a bit more widespread with consumers also losing their jobs or being housebound and whatever, but in terms of business, back then, banks weren’t lending, it was really, really, really hard to keep things moving.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. And, look, I couldn’t actually answer you as to how I managed to do that. I think I was just lucky that the space was still really quite unique.

Catherine Langman:

Not as many competitors, probably.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah, and I had built enough of a reputation to kind of literally just keep limping along, and really we kept limping along until we teamed up, and I learnt. Do you know, the thing is probably a lot of the stuff that you taught me I already knew, but I just didn’t know what to do with it.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

You know? I think we’ve had this conversation before about Google analytics. You collect the data even if you don’t know what to do with it. You still just collect the data. I think that’s what I had been doing all along, because I’d been learning all of these things from experience, but didn’t know what to do with them.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And then, of course, once we started working together, it was like, “Oh, I actually know the answers to…” you know, you send me this big marketing plan and business plan. It’s like, “Oh, I can actually fill this out and know the answers to these things,” I just didn’t know the questions to ask myself.”

Catherine Langman:

Yes, yeah, yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And that’s what was lacking.

Catherine Langman:

Yep, and so things did sort of fall into place. I seem to recall that one of the first things that we did was really work on how to differentiate your brand, because there were a whole lot of brands that had come onto the marketplace, which definitely can confuse… you know, when there’s not really much competition, you are what you are, but when there is a lot more competition, then how do your customers distinguish between them? You know?

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So that was the first thing.

Vicky Simpson:

And one thing you taught me was to narrow my focus.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

To narrow my funnel.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Which is, I suppose, counterintuitive. It’s like, “Well, no, everybody’s my customer,” and one of the things that I learnt is, no, everybody isn’t my customer.

Catherine Langman:

That’s right.

Vicky Simpson:

And actually, defining who my customer is, who I’ve only just recently names her, and her name is Jessica.

Catherine Langman:

I love that.

Vicky Simpson:

Because, well, I mean, just based on her age I think absolutely everybody.

Catherine Langman:

Yes. That was the most popular name that year.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, within that five year period was named Jessica.

Catherine Langman:

I have a new little niece called Jessica. Well, she’s not new. She’s 18 months now. But she’s been in your nappies.

Vicky Simpson:

Oh, wow. So cute. I can’t remember. My goodness. That was a long time ago, because you were at her birth, weren’t you?

Catherine Langman:

Oh, no, that was the elder one. She’s four now. They’ve both been wearing your nappies.

Vicky Simpson:

Oh my goodness.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Well, there you go. The time really does just [inaudible 00:10:48].

Catherine Langman:

Yep. Then I’m about to become a great aunt, which I feel far too young for, but that baby is going to wear them too, so there you go.

Vicky Simpson:

And I actually like that, and I think that that’s kind of what sets us apart, is I’m… and probably not the best business decision, but making a quality product that lasts through multiple children is actually not a negative. It’s actually become a positive. We’ve become… it’s, again, being known for the quality. We’re getting repeat customers, but not the direct repeat customers. It’s all their friends that’s like, “Invest in me.”

Catherine Langman:

Yes, and they last the distance.

Vicky Simpson:

And they’ll last, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Get a couple of kids out of them.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, exactly.

Catherine Langman:

I think, given that one of your main messages, of course, is around the eco friendly nature of the products, and there’s been such a pleasing upswing in the consumer market recently.

Vicky Simpson:

Frightening upswing in the last month or two.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So, that’s an important message there for sure as well. I guess along the way, in the last sort of four years, you’ve really gone completely nuts in terms of your growth, and there’s probably been some good things as well as pros and cons of having such fast growth.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. The banks do not like you when you have fast growth, that much I can tell you. Anything over a 20% sales gain, they are scared.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Because it’s such a pointy thing. I suppose it’s a bit like what we’re going through now, it’s like they like a flat curve.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

They don’t like a spike. But at the same time, I’ve always taken lots of risks. If you don’t jump in, feet and all, you’ve kind of got no one to blame but yourself. And you see it all the time. If you don’t… my husband actually taught me this, if you don’t take an opportunity, somebody else will. So, if you don’t get in front of a camera and create a video, someone else will.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

If you don’t get in front of a camera and do that live, someone else will. So, you can’t sit behind your desk and go, “Why is someone more successful than me?” If you’re not prepared to do the work. And I think that’s the key.

Catherine Langman:

You had to challenge yourself with that stuff, didn’t you? Because you didn’t really want to get in front of the camera.;

Vicky Simpson:

Nobody does, nobody does. But I’ll tell you what-

Catherine Langman:

Well, some people do love it. They’re the minority, I’m pretty sure.

Vicky Simpson:

Yep. No, look, it’s so easy now. Once I got over those whole nerves and realized that, “You know what? When people are watching my videos, they’re not looking at…” [inaudible 00:13:38] or how my hair is not sitting properly. All those things that we pick on for ourself, they’re actually just watching the content of the video.

Catherine Langman:

That’s right.

Vicky Simpson:

They’re not interested in me.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Vicky Simpson:

You know?

Catherine Langman:

It’s not about you at all, really.

Vicky Simpson:

They’re not picking me to pick the…

Catherine Langman:

That’s it.

Vicky Simpson:

No, exactly. Then videos became really easy after that.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, yeah. That’s so cool. Some of the changes that you made over the last five years, I mean, can you sort of pinpoint a few of the strategies that you implemented maybe… I don’t know whether you were like me where you might do one or two big new things a year, but can you pinpoint a few things that you implemented that really did trigger some growth for you?

Vicky Simpson:

Actually, one of the things that’s going to sound really odd is actually staff or outsourcing to people who do things better than me, so understanding that I am not everything and I can’t do everything was really hard, especially because I grew this business from just me.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And letting stuff go was really hard.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. It feels risky, doesn’t it?

Vicky Simpson:

It does, it does. I’m an ideas girl.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

And what I did was I started to surround myself with organized people, because I am not organized one little bit.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

And so literally now I talk into my watch and send a message to, well, Jenna’s now on mat leave, but I’ll send a message to my husband with an idea. So, let’s say the podcast idea or whatever the idea is, he will write it down and make it happen.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

And that has been fundamental to our growth.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Also, learning about [inaudible 00:15:38] and learning how to get people into the funnel and then how to nurture them. It’s all well and good to spend $10 a click on Ad Words of Facebook Ads or something like that, but you’ve got to own the customer.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, 100%.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Once you own them, you can then get them to know who you are.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

You’re not just this website, you’re actually a person. My brand is built on me being very personal with my customers.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. You’re very conversational in your brand voice, aren’t you?

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah, yep, and keeping that consistency and also learning that branding is more than just colors and a font.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

A brand is what somebody says about you to somebody else, whether that be about your products, about your customer service. You know, it’s about everything that encompasses you as a brand. They were kind of a big thing that understanding and then encompassing those really took us to the next level.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. So, when you’re talking about funnels and owning the customer, I know what that means, but how could you explain to someone who’s coming up through the ranks what that looks like? Are you using some technology, or what kind of marketing tactics are you using within that to really capture that person and take them through that purchase decision making journey?

Vicky Simpson:

Okay. The first thing, essentially, I suppose, let’s say if we start from an ad, you’re either advertising to sell something quickly, and I see that through Facebook all the time. “Ooh, I want this pimple stopper thing,” and someone will just come along and buy the pimple stopper.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

With cloth nappies, it tends to be a lot more education. Where you’re actually sending your customers is really important, the landing pages. If you’re actually targeting cold leads or even warm leads, and what that means is somebody who has never heard of you before or somebody who doesn’t even know what cloth nappies are would be a cold or a warm lead, and they’re clicking through. What you want to do is you want to encourage them to then get more information. You give them a carrot or some sort, whether that be an e-book or one of our promotions was five steps to cloth nappy success I think we called it or something along those lines.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, like a short course.

Vicky Simpson:

And we just sent out… yeah, yeah, because the most important thing is you need to have… actually, it used to be seven connections with the customer before they purchase. It’s now over 20.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

So, yeah, when you’re bringing them into what we call a sequence of emails, so they’re just automated emails, they’ve had the one contact with you through the ad, then they’ve had another contact through your website, then they’ve got another five times that they’re getting to know who you are through your email.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And once you have their email address and you start asking them questions in your email sequence, so you don’t just give out the information, you’re actually asking for feedback and trying to engage them.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, interaction.

Vicky Simpson:

You’ll get more information from them, and then once you’ve got that information, like for us it’s a due date, that’s kind of the Nirvana for us. Once we know your due date, we know-

Catherine Langman:

When to hit you up with the marketing.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. That’s right. There’s no point sending newborn nappy emails to somebody who’s about to toilet train.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, exactly.

Vicky Simpson:

You know? Same with night nappies when somebody is still pregnant.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

There’s a timing of email automation, but when I say owning a customer, it’s getting them onto your email list, because once you own them, you don’t have to pay for them again. You don’t have to… that $10 that you paid for that click, you don’t want it to go to waste. You want to know that it was worthwhile.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, absolutely. Then you’re also at a lot less risk of when other platforms change the rules. Back when Facebook was brand new, it was really easy to get a lot of free traffic and sales from your business page, and of course that changed a little while ago. And year on year-

Vicky Simpson:

And it keeps changing too with less and less and less.

Catherine Langman:

It does.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And at the end of the day, we do not own our followers on social media. Facebook does. Mark Zuckerberg does. So, we have to find a way to capture that person’s contact details into our own ecosystem. So, yeah, that email platform is the golden way to do that, for sure. I believe you’re using Klaviyo, my favorite email marketing platform.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Someone did get me onto Infusion Soft, looking at it now, it definitely deserves its name of Confusion Soft. I still haven’t completely mastered Klaviyo, but the information that you can actually get out of that platform is just mind-blowing.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

You know? It’s a little bit scary from if you’re looking at it from a consumer perspective, as a business, what somebody knows about you as soon as you come to their website is a little bit frightening, but then this is the age of technology. You want to know why you’re getting very specific ads on Facebook and Instagram? Yeah, because they’re tracking everything that you’re doing.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I guess we…

Vicky Simpson:

It works both ways.

Catherine Langman:

As consumers, we kind of gave up a lot of that privacy when we wanted to enjoy platforms like that for free and we didn’t want to pay for it.

Vicky Simpson:

Yep. Well, when you do… how does that old marketing thing? When you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.

Catherine Langman:

Yes, exactly. Yeah, I love that.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So, along the way, you’ve had some challenges, you’ve had some amazing growth, and you’ve grown from… I don’t even know what you were doing before, but now you’re a seven figure, if not multi seven figure brand. But the challenges of that fast growth, have you got a story or two that you could share about those times along the way?

Vicky Simpson:

Of our bad days? Yeah. The growth has always been hard, and it always comes down to cashflow, and I think that is at the base of nearly every single businesses underlying structure. Unless you have got a stack of cash somewhere, you’re always going to have cashflow issues.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And even now, the size that we are, we’re still robbing Peter to pay Paul some days. You know? That is just how it is.

Catherine Langman:

Especially when you’re paying for big production bills, which probably just get bigger every time you run, right?

Vicky Simpson:

Oh, that’s right. I’ve got an 80 grand bill to pay, and I’m just looking at the Australia dollar going, “What am I going to do?”

Catherine Langman:

I know.

Vicky Simpson:

Because that fluctuation, that’s actually really hard to manage. It’s things like that.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

As you get bigger, the zeros just seem to get bigger. But with Bam Gate, what actually happened was we had I think… and back then, this was a substantial amount of money and stock for us, but we had, I think it was 1,500 bam bams, which are our newborn fitted nappies, so one of our most popular nappies, and about 1,000 bamboo prefolds, and about 300 bamboo delights, and then all came in faulty. The bamboo delights, the fabric fell apart. The polymer was coming off the fabric. The prefolds were not even. A prefold is meant to be in three pieces, three even pieces, and they just weren’t.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

It was ridiculous. I don’t look at the old photos.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And the bam bams, again, we had issues with the fabric as well. But on top of that, we had actually… Nest Nappies were our biggest retailer at the time.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

And they were having their labels put on some of the stock, and the prefolds and the bam bams were their biggest sellers. I’d given them good pricing because they were paying up front, which helped with my production, helped with my cashflow. It had been working really well. So then when this came in, this is when my migraines started, I can tell you.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

I used to get weekly migraines. It was a Saturday migraine. So, yeah, we had all of this stock that was faulty that even if I was compensated through my manufacturers, it was ridiculous anyway. You know?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

By the time you land stock and all of that sort of stuff, the costs go through the roof.

Catherine Langman:

And the lost sales as well.

Vicky Simpson:

The actual price that you’re paying… exactly. Exactly. Managing that was really quite difficult. The bam bams, we just had issues with sewing on those. What we ended up having to do was sell everything off as second.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

But the underlying problem of that was we didn’t have the cash to generate another production, so I had to work really hard with my factory and say, “Look, you know what? You’re going to have to trust me here otherwise we’re going to have to send all this back. That benefits nobody.”

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

But I can recoup my costs if you trust me and redo the production.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, and I’ll pay for it later, right?

Vicky Simpson:

Pardon?

Catherine Langman:

And you’ll pay for it later sort of thing?

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. No, I didn’t have the money for deposits and stuff like that.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And this is manufacturing in China, so anyone who’s gone down the road of manufacturing in China knows they never send anything without being paid in full.

Vicky Simpson:

No, no.

Catherine Langman:

So this is highly unusual.

Vicky Simpson:

There’s no held fees or anything like that for small business. It’s all high risk for a small business.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. So, it really came down to that relationship that you worked so hard on with the factory. Right.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. That’s pretty much what saved us. But the thing is I couldn’t through all of this second quality stuff on the market.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Vicky Simpson:

Because it would have then stifled our funnel.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

I would just be really careful with it. I sent some over to New Zealand actually where we weren’t selling a lot of bam bams and prefolds over there, and managed to… it essentially, because the products functionally were fine except for the delights. They had a lot of issues. But, yeah, the ability to have a distributor over there, it actually got the Bubble Bubs name out in New Zealand.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, okay.

Vicky Simpson:

So, we actually used it as a positive, and people that were able to wait waited for the first quality stuff. But we kept doing it in stages, just enough to recoup enough cash to pay to get some more products.

Catherine Langman:

The first quality stuff, yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. Then we just found some more second quality stuff and then dumped that on the market. It was very much a staged thing.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

But, yeah, it wasn’t without stress, that’s for sure.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, yeah, super tough situation, but you’ve managed to come through it and salvage not just the sales and the cashflow but also keep that growth going and maintain a really strong relationship with your factory.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. I think, if anything, it probably was a positive in the end, learning how to mitigate risk, and the relationships got stronger.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

It also gave people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford our product, the first quality stuff, it gave people an opportunity to try our stuff cheaper.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, that’s right, get people giving them a go.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, cool. That’s so good.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And so now, of course, you’re through all that difficulty. You’ve continued to grow over the years, and now we’ve been hit with… well, actually, before we talk about what’s happening now and what’s working now given our current market conditions, but I know that what has been working really well for you is really nailing your expo and trade show strategy, which you’ve been doing those really well for a couple of years, and there’s so many now.

Vicky Simpson:

We do every one. There’s 14 a year. There’s 14. Well, there was 14 a year.

Catherine Langman:

Yes, but not now.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, we’ve actually really nailed it. Yeah. We realized that it took us a little while to really nail that because we… I mean, we were losing money hand over fist until we kind of worked out that you need some loss leaders and some fast selling stuff that aren’t necessarily cloth related, and it allowed us to concentrate, and all the staff are on board to educate. We have some of those high turnover things, like wet bags and change mats that anybody will want to actually pay for the stand. We didn’t worry about having to sell product.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

We can concentrate on what we do best, which is educate.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Which then turns into sales later.

Catherine Langman:

Well, that’s right.

Vicky Simpson:

It’s not necessarily an on the day thing.

Catherine Langman:

So you’re educating, you’re generating leads, so you’re growing your email list and you’re growing the size of your audience. I think when people can look at it like that, it’s almost like having your Google Ads on steroids, almost. You know? It’s like driving traffic to your website but in a different way.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

So, of course, that’s been taken away from you for the moment.

Vicky Simpson:

It has.

Catherine Langman:

With coronavirus.

Vicky Simpson:

Yep.

Catherine Langman:

No events, of course, totally understand that no pregnant mumma is going to want to go into an expo hall.

Vicky Simpson:

And I was predicting this well before they actually were canceling them, and there’s still talk of July and August shows. Oh, sorry, June and August shows. I thought, “They’re not going to go ahead. Not a chance.”

Catherine Langman:

I’d be pretty surprised if they did.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. Exactly. You’d just be living in fantasy land if that’s what you think.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

So, yeah. This was something else that I learnt from you, is never have anything… I think I mentioned to you at one stage, wholesale had become 20% of my revenue, and you said that’s a dangerous number. Don’t ever let anything become more than 20% to one income stream.

Catherine Langman:

One income stream, yeah, one stock, one [crosstalk 00:31:51], one channel.

Vicky Simpson:

One retailer, yeah, whether that be e-commerce, your Ad Words, organic. Never let it go over 20%. I think from the top of my head about seven or eight funnels now.

Catherine Langman:

That’s awesome. We’ve lost a big one though with these expos.

Vicky Simpson:

Well, we have. We’ve now lost 20% of our revenue or 10, 15% of our revenue, because that was our expo funnel. But having said that, that’s not going to damage us terribly because it is only 10 to 15%. We’ve mitigated the risk by making sure that we do have other funnels.

Catherine Langman:

Other sources as well.

Vicky Simpson:

The first thing that we did was pivot.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I saw that.

Vicky Simpson:

And so many people have been saying that.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. So give people an idea, if you’re normally doing expos all year round, how do you pivot to delivering something like that in another way?

Vicky Simpson:

Online, so live.

Catherine Langman:

Live.

Vicky Simpson:

Which is what we ended up doing. Over that expo weekend, we were supposed to have two expos, and they were suddenly closed or stopped, which we scheduled lives, and we did three a day. We just went through exactly what we would do at an expo.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, so really demonstrating the products and taking people through the sales spiel.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

And answering questions on the fly. I’ve got an amazing customer service girl who was literally posting links as were talking about it.

Catherine Langman:

Great.

Vicky Simpson:

Actually probably a little bit easier, to be honest, than a regular expo, because you’re not having to do the same talk over and over.

Catherine Langman:

Yes, lose your voice by the end of the day.

Vicky Simpson:

You do, and you’re answering the same questions. You can kind of just do it once and take your time.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

And we’ve pinpoint things from that as well, marketing that more times, and marketing that a little bit better.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

We had run some ads for it, and we actually had the PBC, my rep, she must have caught one of them, and she said, “when you’re doing another one, can you let us know? We’ll market it for you.”

Catherine Langman:

Geez.

Vicky Simpson:

And all of that sort of stuff, and Baby & Toddler got wind of us doing this and literally in three days, we had been advertising it for about a week, and, yeah, about three days out from the weekend, they decided to run, and of course we never caught it, so I don’t know what they were doing. But all of those demos that they would normally do with Pinky McKay and what have you, they ended up doing them live, so it inspired them as well to pivot and offer something virtually. But we’re now going to be doing this on a weekly basis, so it’s actually inspired something else that we’ll be doing live once a week demonstrating products, getting people to ask questions.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

We’re only going to do it with products that we’ve got in stock though.

Catherine Langman:

Of course, of course.

Vicky Simpson:

Our stock is an issue at the moment. But, yeah, yeah. It was so well received.

Catherine Langman:

And it drive some sales, presumably, and maybe some email subscribers as well, yeah?

Vicky Simpson:

Oh my gosh, yeah, yep. It’s been two weeks since we did them, and today is the first day that I have actually been able to catch my breath.

Catherine Langman:

That’s amazing.

Vicky Simpson:

That is just how much reach it has actually had.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And I’m not going to take total credit for that because there’s been this perception that there’s a… or maybe there is, there isn’t any disposable nappies in the market.

Catherine Langman:

I had no idea.

Vicky Simpson:

It’s a bit like toilet paper. I had no idea either. But there’s certainly a big surge towards reusable nappies.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

And we have stock. We just ran out of our newborn stuff, which is on order, but we have got so much stock it’s not funny.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Vicky Simpson:

Of our one size, yeah, because in China, when I went overseas last year, picked up a Dubai distributor.

Catherine Langman:

Okay.

Vicky Simpson:

But of course, they… and I ordered their stock.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

And of course they’ve had to put off their baby shop opening.

Catherine Langman:

Of course.

Vicky Simpson:

I wonder why.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, they can’t open. Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah. Hence why I’ve got such a nice big bill waiting for me, but, you know.

Catherine Langman:

Well, this sounds like this strategy of doing weekly live demos might actually be a good chance of selling through it all much, much quicker.

Vicky Simpson:

Oh, absolutely. And the other thing we have on the horizon as well, we’re not 100% up for it yet, but my second idea was to take advantage of the really terrible Australian dollar and marketing to America just B2C. I’m really, really careful of the American market because it is so big.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

But we were just going to run some basic promos directed at… we were going to start with California because it’s about the size of Australia, and have a flat rate shipping of a particular pack, five nappies and a wet bag or something, and get ourselves into America, taking advantage of how cheap it is.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

That’s cool.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Super. Just wanted to, for the listeners out there thinking about taking some of these ideas and figuring out why or how it might work for yourselves, a couple of things that I just wanted to make a note of, which I think is really cool. First of all, Facebook and Instagram, they really love it when you can create content for the platform where the engagement stays on the platform, and especially when you can do it in a away that is not clickbaity, so you’re not sort of, “Comment below to tell me which option of this you like the best.” I mean, they don’t go for that sort of content, but the sort of content you’re talking about, where you’re demonstrating and people are posting questions and you’re answering them live and all of that sort of stuff, that is absolutely golden.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

You’re going to get really good reach not only because you’re creating content that stays on the platform and you’re not asking people to click away, but secondly, any time you’re doing video content, especially live video content on the social platforms, you get so much more reach. So, right now, at the moment, consumers, the population, we’re all spending time at home, and the volume of time that we’re all spending online, especially on social media, has skyrocketed. If you can take advantage of that opportunity by creating content exactly like what Vicky’s talking about, then you will absolutely see the size of your audience will grow, not just the size of your audience that follows you on social media, but subscribing to your list and then also clicking through to buy.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And the other thing or the other sort of side benefit of focusing on content like that is that it actually helps not bring your ad costs down too. So, you get really nicely rewards.

Vicky Simpson:

Oh, I did not know that.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Well, ad costs are actually coming down anyway because there’s definitely been a lot of businesses who have stopped advertising. I mean, there’s certainly been some industries around the world that have been really negatively impacted by coronavirus, as we all know, tourism and events and stuff like that. There’s a whole lot fewer advertisers on the social media platforms, so if you’re [inaudible 00:39:44] and now’s the time to be advertising and really focusing on coming up with this sort of marketing that’s actually going to work.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And you’ll get cheaper prices.

Vicky Simpson:

Activity, too. I’m actually going to talk to my nail tech, to be honest, and see whether she’s prepared to pivot, because mobile nail techs are still working.

Catherine Langman:

True, yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

That’s an example.

Catherine Langman:

Hairdressers and PTs.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, 100%. She’s got all of our data. You know? I would be reaching out and saying, “Would you like me to come to your place and do your nails?” Because that is still completely within… yeah, even in the UK, they’re doing them through the mail box slots. You know?

Catherine Langman:

Oh, wow.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Genius idea.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. Something like this can be an opportunity, not a death sentence, and I think it’s the way that you look at it.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. There’s no way, I’m not going to lose my business over this. I’m not going to lose my staff over this.

Catherine Langman:

No.

Vicky Simpson:

And so whilst at the moment we’re still in a really nice high curve, I also am planning both ways. Either we’re going to go through the stratosphere, or we’re going to really struggle for a little while until things do pick up. Something else that people need to be very wary of is after a big event like this, so once we’re actually through this coronavirus and we’re all back to work and things are back to normal, people will change their shopping habits, and you need to be aware of that. You need to watch out for that. So, I don’t know how it will change, but it changed after the GFC. People changed how they bought, when they bought, what they bought.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

So that’s something that’s hugely important to watch out for too.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, 100%. So, before we finish up, Vicky, it’s been amazing having you here. But share your web address and your social media handles so if anyone wants to find out a little bit more about you or about Bubble Bubs and what you sell, where can they find you?

Vicky Simpson:

They can find us at bubblebubs.com.au at B-U-B-B-L-E-B-U-B-S. On Facebook we’re Facebook.com/bubblebubs, and same with Instagram, /bubblebubs or @bubblebubs. The one thing that we do genuinely love is bums in cloths. So, if you are using cloths and it’s not ours and you’re running into problems, you can actively reach out to us and we’ll help solve your problems. That is, I suppose, a marketing strategy in a genuine-

Catherine Langman:

You are super passionate about it.

Vicky Simpson:

… will from me.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, absolutely.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I love it when people use my products, but I prefer that they’re using any product.

Catherine Langman:

Any kind of cloth nappies.

Vicky Simpson:

Any reusable, yeah, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

And what about your podcast? Because you do a podcast as well, don’t you?

Vicky Simpson:

I do.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

It’s called Nappy Leaks, which is my dad joke.

Catherine Langman:

Nappy Leaks? Great.

Vicky Simpson:

Nappy Leaks. It’s an unbranded cloth nappy podcast. We talk about… that’s done with Vashti from Nest Nappies. She’s one of my retailers who I spoke about in bam gate.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

And, yeah, we just talk cloth. I’m lucky, Mark thankfully edits the podcast, so I don’t accidentally drop… I have to be very careful with my language.

Catherine Langman:

No F bombs today.

Vicky Simpson:

No F bombs today. He’ll often edit out 10 minutes of laughing at ridiculous jokes, but it’s a fun podcast.

Catherine Langman:

That’s awesome.

Vicky Simpson:

But aims to be educational.

Catherine Langman:

We’ll get all of those… yeah, no, I love it. We’ll get all of those links to all of those different pages and platforms on the show notes for this episode, so you can easily just click through. The other thing that I wanted to mention is that I will share the link in the show notes for this episode for a free guide download to help those of you wanting to automate that email sign up and sales system. So, Vicky was talking about using Klaviyo, which is our preferred platform as well for collecting emails and emailing your list and really driving sales in your online store through email marketing, you can definitely automate that and do really well to grow your list and drive sales to new customers using email automation, and that’s one of my biggest passions in my marketing toolkit.

Vicky Simpson:

Yep, because it works.

Catherine Langman:

It really does work.

Vicky Simpson:

There’s nothing better than email ever, ever.

Catherine Langman:

No. It’s the highest return on investment of any kind of marketing channel, and that’s even still. It may not convert as well as it did 10 years ago, but it still converts a ton higher than any other channel.

Vicky Simpson:

You know what? Something else you taught me is to when you’re sending a newsletter apart from sending information not just sell, sell, sell, it’s not just about that, send a second one. Send the reminder one.

Catherine Langman:

Yep.

Vicky Simpson:

My reminder one converts better usually twice as much as my first one.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. That’s such a good tip. If you are sending an email newsletter, which I highly advocate that you do once a week at a bare minimum, always send it later to those who didn’t open the first one.

Vicky Simpson:

Absolutely.

Catherine Langman:

It’s a really, really incredible… it’s just incredibly effective, and it really doesn’t take you very long to do, so highly recommend it.

Vicky Simpson:

[inaudible 00:45:42].

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, that’s right. So, go ahead and grab that free guide download over on the show notes, and the other thing I’m just going to give an extra shout out to is my free Rockstar Productpreneur Facebook group, which Vicky is also a member of as well, and there’s a ton of really smart e-commerce business owners and e-commerce marketers in this Rockstar Productpreneur Facebook group. I’m starting to run some live Q&A sessions in there and getting some other experts on live as well just to run some extra support sessions for you guys at the moment. I know it’s a pretty stressful time to be in business, so get your bums into that group and participate and take advantage of the help and the support that is highly relevant and related to e-commerce.

Vicky Simpson:

And, look, I’ll give you a shout out, actually, because you don’t even know. This is my podcast, this is what I do. I’ve actually got a girlfriend who sells candles, so at this time, you would think that that sort of a business would not be… you know who I’m talking about, don’t you?

Catherine Langman:

I do.

Vicky Simpson:

Jodie?

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah. She is absolutely smashing it at the moment. In this climate, she is still managing to smash it, which I would have thought that any kind of non essential product would literally take a nosedive. No. And it’s because she… because she mentioned it to me the other day. She said, “I can’t thank you enough for recommending Catherine.”

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Vicky Simpson:

So there’s a shout out to you from Jodie.

Catherine Langman:

Thank you.

Vicky Simpson:

That I had to [inaudible 00:47:18] about.

Catherine Langman:

Yes. She just actually emailed me this morning and said that she has beaten her best ever week before now, which was Black Friday week last year, so she’s just beaten that.

Vicky Simpson:

Wow.

Catherine Langman:

So, there you go.

Vicky Simpson:

Wow, yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Now is not the time to shut up shop or stop marketing or panic about anything. If you’re in e-commerce, this is your time to shine.

Vicky Simpson:

100%.

Catherine Langman:

We’re cheering you all along.

Vicky Simpson:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Vicky. It’s been an absolute pleasure having a conversation with you about your journey and getting some amazing ideas about what’s working for you at the moment.

Vicky Simpson:

No, no worries at all. I love it and always happy. You’ve just to tag me. I’m always happy to share knowledge and contacts and all of that thing, people, women in particular, successful in business is… I don’t know, kind of gives you the goosebumpy kind of feel, doesn’t it?

Catherine Langman:

It sure does, yep.

Vicky Simpson:

You know? Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Awesome. Well, I’m sure we’ll continue the conversation offline, but thanks to all the listeners as well. You can hit us up in the Rockstar Productpreneur group, and I know Vicky and I will both be very happy to help you out with questions.

Vicky Simpson:

Thanks, Catherine.

Catherine Langman:

All right, guys. Catch you in next week’s episode. Bye for now.