nathania-stambouli-interview_0

How Via Trading is Using Online Marketing for Lead Generation

inbound marketing

Nathania Stambouli is the Director of Marketing for Via Trading. Via Trading is a wholesale liquidation company based in Los Angeles, California, that helps department stores and manufacturers liquidate their unwanted inventory. Via Trading takes over unwanted inventory in large truckloads, warehouses it and then sells it in lots to smaller merchants.

Nathania handles all aspects of online and offline marketing. She has been with Via Trading for 10 years and has been pivotal in the growth of the organization from a marketing perspective.

We will talk about all of the things that Nathania has done in the past. What worked in the past? What bombed? What is working right now?

There are some real golden nuggets, especially if you are relatively new to online marketing.

Listen now and you’ll hear Nathania and I talk about:

  • (02:00)  Introduction
  • (04:25)  What marketing activity has worked well over the last year?
  • (05:35)  How do you find the blogs ended up being partners?
  • (06:30)  How did you create emails that converted so well?
  • (08:32)  What are some of the key lessons your learned from blogging?
  • (10:20)  How did you determine what to blog about?
  • (12:17)  What advice would you give to people who haven’t yet done video?
  • (14:00)  Please describe how you are widening your reach.
  • (17:45)  How are webinars helping you to drive qualified leads?

More About This EpisodeGroove Digital Marketing Podcast

The Groove Digital Marketing podcast is the podcast for entrepreneurs  who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help entrepreneurs discover which proven tactics and strategies  are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

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Transcript

Trent:
Welcome to episode number eight of the Groove Digital Marketing podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast where we help entrepreneurs to discover ways to use digital marketing and marketing automation to dramatically increase the growth of their business.

If you are an entrepreneur looking for proven tactics to help you increase traffic to your site, to capture more leads, to attract more clients and ultimately to increase your profits; this is the podcast that you want to listen to.

And the way that we do that is I find proven experts and I get them to come on the show here with me. And then I grill them. I grill them to get all of the golden nuggets, as I like to call them, but all the specifics of the things that they did, to achieve the results that they got.

And in this episode I am joined by the director of marketing for a company called Via Trading and her name is Nathania Stambouli. She’s been with the company for about ten years, so really has been pivotal in the growth of the organization from a marketing perspective. And in this interview we are going to talk about all of the things that she has done in the past, some that worked and some that didn’t work, as well as what they are working on right now for their marketing plans for today and beyond.

So you are really going to find out some wonderful gold nuggets if you are relatively new to online marketing, in particular you will find this episode helpful. If you have been around it for quite a while and you are fairly versed, this interview might be a bit basic for you. But listen to the first few minutes and just see what you think.

Alright, so with that said please join me in welcoming Nathania to the show.
Hey Nathania welcome to the show.

Nathania:
Hi Trent, thanks for having me.

Trent:
Yeah, no problem at all, it is a pleasure to have you on the show with me. So before we get into all the nitty-gritty of what you have been up to with marketing and the results that you’ve been achieving with your company, Via Trading, let’s first introduce you so that the audience knows who they are listening to and then we’ll talk a little bit about the company so that they can get some context for the interview. But who are you and what do you do?

Nathania:
Alright, I am Nathania Stambouli and I am the marketing director of a wholesale liquidation company called Via Trading. We are based in Los Angeles, California. And I know we are going to talk about what the company does later so I’ll stop there. And I handle all aspects of our online and offline marketing; anything from trade shows to content development to website management etc.

Trent:
Okay and you have been doing that, you told me for nine years now?

Nathania:
Yes, going on ten.

Trent:
Okay so what does the company do?

Nathania:
Well the company helps department stores and manufacturers liquidate their unwanted inventory. Say you walk into a big department store and you buy a sweater and you take it home and the buttons pop off and you return it; they can’t resell that merchandise so they liquidate it to companies like ourselves.

And we take it over in large truck loads; we warehouse it and then resell it in small affordable wholesale lots to people who sell on eBay, at flea markets, people who own small discount stores, people who do yard sales; so it is essentially giving that inventory a second life instead of it going to the dumpster.

Trent:
Okay, and so the very nature of that business model then is that you need to attract a large number of these small merchants who are going to sell on eBay and flea markets and all sorts of places like that, correct?

Nathania:
Correct, I am reaching out to small merchants who are already merchants and I’m also converting the C to the B. I am trying to reach regular consumers and inform them of the opportunity that is available to them to start their own business with very little money down and then educating them in how they can do that.

Trent:
Okay so let’s go back a little bit in terms of marketing. Describe an activity that worked really well over the last year.

Nathania:
What has worked really well over the last year is identifying websites with a lot of relevant content and finding a way to partner with those websites.

Either in the form of doing an article exchange whereby we’ll write an article of interest to their readers and vice versa and we’ll share traffic essentially from one site to the other; or partnering in terms of doing email blasts to each other’s mailing lists.

So if we find opportunities for synergy we will see how we can position each other in a way to interest our respective databases and then exchange an email campaign. Those two things have worked really well in the form of joint venture partnerships if you will and content development.

Trent:
Okay so in other words find someone who has the audience of the people that you want to be able to speak to and then publish some helpful content on their platform so that you get rocket boosters on your result, so to speak, because the audience is already there in place?

Nathania:
Yep.

Trent:
So to do that you have got to go and find all these blogs, is that a laborious process? Have you figured out ways to streamline that? How do you make that happen?

Nathania:
It is pretty laborious but one thing always leads to another so I found at the beginning when I was just literally fishing through hundreds of websites looking for relevant content I would email ten people and nobody would get back to me. But as soon as I got the first one or two partners, from there other people would here about us and now

I am getting contacted on a fairly regular basis by people wanting to partner with us because they’re seeing the value of what we offer their potential customers.
So yes it was laborious at the beginning but once the ball gets rolling and people start getting the word out the dots seem to connect a little bit better, for sure.

Trent:
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Alright so with respects to the email blasts that you did, was there anything that you discovered from doing those that either worked well or really bombed?

Nathania:
Yeah anything that is to self serving tends to really bomb so my first ventures into this I was really much like, “hey this is Via Trading and this is what we can do for you, click here for more information.” Nope, that didn’t work.

As soon as I changed it to make it extremely not self serving, and really my company name was the last thing that told people. Then I was like, “hey here is some free information that is going to make a big difference in your business today, I want nothing from you, I just want to give you this information.”

And as soon as we approached it from that perspective, to legitimately, genuinely helping people, the response rate was much better. People trusted more and they were more likely to interact with the content and then they actually took an interest in who is giving them this content. So we really had to switch from self serving to non self serving.

Trent:
In other words from outbound marketing to inbound marketing?

Nathania:
Yep.

Trent:
So, when you did those email blasts, was the content of the email geared such that there was a free report for them to come and get somewhere; was that the idea?

Nathania:
Yeah, so the idea was, in our case we weren’t giving a report, we were giving hints and tips and useful titbits to increase your sales on Amazon let’s say. And so people were getting the top five most important hints but if they wanted the remaining fifteen they would have to give us their email address to access the remainder of the information which put them in our database and allowed us to them at a later time. So we gave them some stuff upfront with no email address needed but then of course to unlock the rest of the goodies they had to sign up.

Trent:
Okay I know in the pre interview we talked about how content marketing is becoming even more of a focus and I think you mentioned that you are blogging on a regular basis but the blog is currently separate from the site. So how long ago did you start blogging?

Nathania:
I started blogging about in 2009 I would say. We were already behind the curve. But we set up a blog and we had decided to keep it separate from our main website in order to create some inbound traffic which we realised pretty quickly was not the strategy.

The strategy we realised was putting the blog on our same server to increase the amount of content on our website and make it richer in the eyes of search engines. So that is what we have moved towards.

Trent:
Blogging is something that a lot of people, well almost everyone, has heard of. Some have tried it and some have not. And of the people that have tried it, even a fewer portion of them have success because they do it wrong. What were some of the key lessons that you learned to make your blogging successful?

Nathania:
It has to be very frequent. At least two times a week. It can be short; I have a problem of writing too much. And we know in this day and age that people’s attention span are very short and apparently so is Google’s. Because it will only crawl X amount of characters before it moves on to the next page.

So I found that keeping entries frequent and short had a much better impact than making them less frequent and much longer and more detailed. People just don’t even take the time to go through an entire big long article. And so that was really the best practice that stood out. And of course making sure that you have appropriate tags and appropriate links where needed to really maximise the impact of the blog.

Trent:
How did you figure out what to blog about?

Nathania:
Well that was more challenging because again you don’t want to be the self serving, “hey this is what new merchandise arrived today, check out our website!” It has to be much more content based and so we ended up writing extensive resources sections and articles and I would I would just segment those articles into small, bloggable tidbits.

So anything that appears as a thousand word article in a publication somewhere is appearing on my blog in short few sentence paragraphs over the period of two weeks to receive the whole article for instance.

Trent:
Oh okay so you just would take existing content and repurpose it by chopping it up into smaller pieces of content and putting it on the blog and saying, “hey, part one of a five part series on how to do X”?

Nathania:
Yep. Exactly, that way you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you can reuse content without it being exactly duplicated.

Trent:
Yeah, absolutely, now have you used any other forms of content other than text content? Have you experimented with videos or audio or infographics or anything like that?

Nathania:
Not audio so much. We definitely have video, we have a YouTube channel that brings us actually a significant amount of traffic every month that we don’t even pay for so that is quite nice. Most of our interactivity with our brand is on YouTube actually.

So yes, videos have been huge in driving traffic and solidifying our credibility because people can see that we are here and we are real and we are not another imaginary company as there are so many on the internet these days.

And audio and infographics not so much but that is definitely of interest to me, especially the infographic side; and I am looking into what we can do with that. But putting all our images and making sure all our images on our site are always very well tagged was something not quite infographic but it was making sure the search engines were picking up images as well as our text content.

Trent:
What advice would you give to someone regarding video who hasn’t done it yet but is thinking of getting started?

Nathania:
Oh my gosh I would say that today you have to have video. People love to watch things and to do things on their mobile devices. And reading is out, video is in. People love brainless entertainment and a thirty second video can do so much more for your business than a twenty page how to article, for instance.

And it is really the face of your company and it instils a media trust in whoever is watching it. As soon as they can see you and hear you it crosses over into another level of reality for people and I think they are much more willing to work with you and pull out their credit card if they feel that there is a real human being who is ready to help them behind it; as opposed to just an imaginary thing behind the computer.

Trent:
So, again for people, who are inexperienced and have never made a video, is it expensive to make videos? Is it a complicated affair? How do you make yours?

Nathania:
Our videos, we started out doing them in house so we got a little camcorder and we set them to what we wanted and then we took it into the most basic video editing software that comes standard on every computer.

Then we slowly started to improve them until we finally hired a professional corporate shorts video company who came in, did a full day of shooting and then produced real videos. We went from spending zero dollars on our videos to spending almost a $1000 each. But that *inaudible* as we started to see real dollar value coming out of what we were posting on YouTube which would justify spending money to make a video.

I would say to those who don’t have one; you could do something small and something basic without spending a lot of money but just get yourself out there. And once you start seeing some traffic coming in you might be more inclined to spend some money and get them done professionally but definitely get something up there.

Trent:
There is an expression that I think is appropriate here, it is called version one is better than version none.

Nathania:
Exactly.

Trent:
And having made a lot of videos myself and I look back on some of my early ones and kind of go yuck. But you know what if I wouldn’t have got started I never would have had some of the good ones.

Nathania:
Exactly, yeah.

Trent: What are some other online marketing activities that have been working for you that we either haven’t talked about yet or you are in the process of rolling out?

Nathania:
What has worked pretty well is affiliate programs. So we realised over time that a lot of our customers were coming to us and saying, “Hey, I have my cousin and my grandma’s friend and if I bring you people will you give me commission?”
And we weren’t really set up for that but we said, “hey why not, affiliate marketing is something that exists out there in world, why don’t we appropriate it for our business model?”

So we developed a little module on our website that allows us to give a link to anybody that wants one that has a unique tracking code so we know who that link belongs to and people then go and blog about our website and tell people where they can go buy merchandise to resell on eBay and when people click our link on theses affiliate’s websites or Facebook pages or wherever they post them and they place an order, that person gets an automatic commission, we send a cheque every month.

And it really motivates our own customers as well as just random people who find us on the internet to help people interact with our brand and bring us customers. And then we reward them according to how many people they bring.
That has been really great because there is no money up front. For us, all it costs us is a link which is nothing.

And then we only pay once we make a sale so there is really no downside. The only downside I have seen is people posting incorrect information about the company with a link back but that is easy to as long as you keep track of who your affiliates are you can contact them and correct any incorrect information. And from there it is really just inbound traffic that you are not paying for and it is great.

Trent:
Absolutely, now did you guys build your own affiliate software or did you take an off the shelf product?

Nathania:
No we actually built our own. Our content management system is developed by us and another company that we work closely with. So we like to develop our own even though some great systems already exist out there. But from my understanding there are a lot of great and easy to use affiliate program software that are available to anybody that wants to get started so that shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Trent:
Yeah, there are armies of companies devoted to making turnkey affiliate programs for people if you are listening and you think, “gosh I would like to have an affiliate program”, CjCommissionJunction.com is the one company that is a huge player in the market place that would be one you could go to.

Or you can run your own affiliate program on something like Infusionsoft which is software that you can inexpensively purchase and there are a variety of other ways to do it, just do a little Googling around and you will find all sorts of resources.

So Nathania what haven’t we talked about that has produced really positive results for your organisation before we rap up here?

Nathania:
Well the last thing that I would like to address is offering content in a non-text format. We sell to a lot of flea marketers.

So if you are a flea marketer and you want to buy merchandise, Via Trading would be a place that you could go.
And so with that in mind we decided to focus on helping flea marketers grow their businesses and we can do this with anyone of our customer segments. So what we did is we created an actual course, an actual face to face class that people can enrol in.

First we started inviting people to our facility to actually sit in on the class and then people started to hear about it from other places and saying, “well I live across the country and I can’t come to your class.”

So we started introducing it as a webinar and making it available to anybody who wanted to participate simply by clicking on a link and filling in a short form with their email addresses and their basic information and then being able to enrol in a free webinar that was going to give them an hour and an half of information and content on how to grow their business at no cost to them.

And that has been a really good way also that we have been able to grow our databases by offering these no cost virtual classrooms essentially and so now the idea is we did it for flea markets and we are going to roll it out across: how to sell online; how to open your own discount store and keep taking it down the line of all our customer groups.

Trent:
I think that will work remarkably well for you. Are you using live or pre-recorded webinars for this?

Nathania:
I did live the first time because I wanted to give the option of a Q and A at the end but it did get a little bit overwhelming. This was my first time so we are learning the ropes and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

So I think the next round that I do might be pre-recorded and then open up a little forum afterwards for Q and A or make myself available in another way for Q and A; and also letting people join and watch whenever they want without having to be present at a specific time.

Trent:
There is software that can really help make that work very well for you. One that I use is called Evergreen Business Systems and I’ll send you a link after we have done the interview.

And essentially you can have it appear to be live. And it might not be so in your case because your target market might not already be drowning in webinars. But in a lot of marketing related businesses people are inundated with offers for webinars.

Anyway, Evergreen Business Systems has a piece of software that allows you to have the webinar run on auto pilot and you can offer it as multiple times a day if you want to. And they give all the code you need for the signup forms on your website and it can integrate with your auto responder. It is pretty slick how it works.

Nathania:
Oh great I’ll check that out. Thank you.

Trent:
Alright Nathania, well thank you very much for making some time to be on the show and do this interview with me. For anyone that is listening that might want to get in touch with you to be a customer of Via Trading, what is the easiest way for them to do that?

Nathania:
If you go to ViaTrading.com and just fill out a contact form and we will be right with you.

Trent:
Okay terrific. Thanks so much Nathania.

Nathania:
Thank you so much Trent it was a pleasure.

Trent:
To get to the show notes for this episode go to GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/8. And if you enjoyed this episode and want to help me spread the word about it there is a pre-populated tweet awaiting the click of your mouse at GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/love. That is it for this episode. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Thank you so very much for tuning in. I’m looking forward to having you back for another episode soon, take care. Bye-bye.

About Nathania Stambouli

nathania-stambouli_0Nathania Stambouli is the Marketing Director at Via Trading Corp, a wholesale liquidations company specialized in supplying small businesses with cost-effective merchandise to resell for profit online, at flea markets, discount stores and other resale channels. The company also provides extensive resources for individuals starting a resale business and business advice for existing resale business owners. Via Trading is a leader in its industry and committed to ensuring secondary retailers are as informed as possible so as to maximize their profits selling liquidation merchandise.

 

 

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