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Discussion in 'Forum Introductions (Who are you!?)' started by Carol Jones, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. pkom79
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    pkom79 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    @Carol Jones
    Most of the e-commerce business owners I know (myself included) wouldn't have the guts to ask a question like this in fear that customers would start massively returning their orders just to take advantage of the opportunity. You just have a different mindset.

    Have you ever tried any online advertising? Or all sales are organic?
     
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  2. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Everyman from Oz,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

    My family was living 10,000 miles away in the USA. And I'm not sure they really understood our situation. Because I told them very little. So there was no interference from them.

    With Victor's father and mother. We made an agreement with each other that we would never be rude to them. Or insult them. Or be short. Or discourteous. Because they meant well. So we solved the problem by just standing firm and explaining to them that this was our life. And it was our choice to live it as we saw fit. And answered most of their questions with a NO. That doesn't suit us.

    They were disappointed. But we were such a formidable, united front. Never wavering. Although they never gave up. I know they had a grudging admiration for what we were trying to achieve.

    Their greatest disappointment was that their son, the architect, was now a purveyor of ironing board covers. What a comedown! And how embarrassing was that to tell their friends!!

    They didn't truly understand the ramifications of the crash of the building industry in Australia's 'recession we had to have'. It didn't affect them. And it took 2-3 years for the rest of Australia to come crashing down for them to fully appreciate the enormity of the job losses in the building industry. And the rest of the country.


    Thank you @Everyman. Your best wishes are very much appreciated. ~Carol❤
     
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  3. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Paul David from Oz,

    We would have to do everything different today, Paul. In 1994, there was no internet. Everything was done via direct mail.

    Markets. Home shows. Large agricultural shows were also thriving. It was easy to set up a display and spruik the virtues of your product. Crowds were thick. And hungry to buy. We did so well. That at some events, I didn't have a box big enough for all the money. At one event, an exhibitor came to help me pick up the money that fell on the floor!

    Those live events have fallen out of favour. People don't make time for them on a weekend any more.

    People were also more responsive to direct mail. We posted a brochure to our customers every November. We would receive orders within 24 hours of posting. By telephone. Within 3 days of posting. Our post office box was jam packed full of orders. This would continue for weeks.

    Printing costs and postage rates make direct mail no longer viable.

    We also were engaged with customers and prospects by telephone. We had so many opportunities to explain what we did. Voice to voice. I rarely lost a prospect on the telephone.

    The anonymity of the internet is problematic to someone like me who likes to engage personally with people. People come to your site. And you can't talk to them. Yes. There are chatbots. But the visitor has to make the first move. And can disengage at any point. People rarely cut you off on the telephone.

    Because of the internet, consumers today are more savvy. Better educated. And approach you knowing far more about competitors in your market. And are less likely to want to engage on a more personal basis.

    And. Because we went online in 2001. When the internet reached our rural village. I was able to establish myself on Google with very little competition. It didn't take long for me to be on page one for my best search term. And that remains so today. Without spending a penny on advertising. But I doubt that if I was starting out now, that would ever be a possibility.

    So yes, Paul. We would have to do everything different today. New circumstances. New rules. I'm saved by the fact that I have very loyal customers on my database. Some who have been buying from me since 1994. I engage often with them. They send me referrals. And also reorder when appropriate.

    But the playing field is totally different. And it's a much tougher playing field. Loads of competition. And much noise!

    I hope this answers your question. Thank you for asking. And it's a pleasure to meet you. ~Carol❤
     
  4. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @pkom79,

    That's not true. You underestimate the integrity of your customer. If they like your product. And you've treated them with respect. They don't take advantage of you.

    If. On the other hand, you do nothing more than bombard them with 'buy more' emails! They'll treat you with the disdain you deserve.

    Every month I send an email to customers who have purchased the month before. To say thank you. We love you. And we hope you're happy with your purchase. And your buying experience. There's never a request to buy. But I do remind them that with their order, they received a Gift Certificate for a saving on any product they choose. And it expires with their Twelve Month Wear And Tear Guarantee.

    Three months into their Twelve Month Wear and Tear Guarantee, I send them an email to say they have 9 months left. And I hope all is well. There is no request to make another purchase. Just a reminder that their Gift Certificate expires with their guarantee.

    Six months into their Twelve Month Wear and Tear Guarantee, I send them an email to say they have 6 months left. If there are any problems, please let me know. There is no request to make another purchase. Just a reminder that their Gift Certificate expires with their guarantee.

    Nine months into their Twelve Month Wear and Tear Guarantee, I send them an email to say they have 3 months left. I hope they are still problem free. But in case they're not, please let me know. There is no request to make another purchase. I also tell them I'll be contacting them again in 2 months to let them know their Twelve Month Wear and Tear Guarantee will expire in 4 weeks. And their Gift Certificate for a saving on any product expires with that guarantee.

    At the bottom of each email is a film strip of all my products. With a link to my website. With no direct request to make a purchase.

    Do they buy a different product? Of course they do. They see what I have to offer every quarter. And it motivates them to buy. Especially as I remind them that the Gift Certificate that came with their product 12 months ago. Expires with their guarantee. We get a good conversion rate on that last email.

    And. With every new purchase. They get another Gift Certificate for a saving that's good for another twelve months.

    Never underestimate the integrity of a customer who is told they're appreciated. Loved. And respected. 5 times in twelve months. It's a callous person who will take advantage of that merchant. And believe me, they don't buy my ironing board covers!

    Regarding your questions.

    I've never spent a penny on online advertising. I'm on page one of Google for my best search term. And have been there since 2001. I spend a great deal of time making sure my position is never challenged.

    The bulk of my orders are referrals. Re-orders. Gifts. Joint ventures. Google represents the smallest piece of the pie.

    Thank you for being interested @pkom79. Treat your customers well. And they'll shower you with their love in return. ~Carol❤
     
  5. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day again @Varun,

    It's only in hindsight that you realise how much you've learned over time. When you're at the coalface, struggling with what to do next, you don't get many opportunities to reflect.

    Celebrate small victories. You build on those to get to the bigger picture.

    Very few bank accounts start with $1Million. Most start with a few dollars. But with self-discipline, more is put in. Until one day you realise how much money you have. That's how businesses are built. And it's how our expertise develops. One increment at a time.

    Best wishes. Tap on shoulders here in the forum. Most people are very, very helpful. And vicariously celebrate your successes with you. ~Carol❤
     
  6. amp0193
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    amp0193 Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Thanks @Carol Jones for the advice on 12 month guarantees and regular follow ups with customers.

    This is something I need to implement. I've done some, but it's been inconsistent. What I have done has been very helpful in uncovering product issues, and has built good will with customers.

    I had a good laugh imagining these scenarios. What a good problem to have!
     
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  7. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @amp0193,

    Thank you for your story.

    Consistency in business is everything. As is self-discipline. Sometimes what we have to do is so monotonous as to be boring. But it means everything to a customer. And a follower of your blog. Or Instagram or Facebook account. To post on a regular basis.

    I have an A4 (Australian size) monthly planner that sits on my desk. In addition to my daily diary. It's 30/31 days in squares. To two A4 pages. And every day it tells me the repetitive communications I need to make regarding emails to be sent. Social media posts to be made.

    A few years ago I befriended a business coach. Not to help me. Just someone I met on LinkedIn. One of her posts was about the nitty-gritty that we have to do every day to keep customers and prospects engaged. And how much of what we do is repetitive. And not glamourous.

    I'm a fan of Amy Porterfield. I love her podcasts. And she is always talking about the importance of being consistent.

    As I am of Dan Kennedy. Who is one of the greatest direct marketers of all time. I've studied all of his books. And I've immortalised on my desk one of his sayings. "Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you unstoppable".

    I have a small teddy bear. Sent to me by my sister 20 years ago. It sits on the top of a bookshelf in my office. Just above my computer. Its black button eyes peering down at me. Whenever I don't feel like doing something, I look up at that teddy bear's eyes rivetting into me. And look at Dan Kennedy's words about self-discipline. And I do what I know I have to do. To take that one step today. That gets me further along the Yellow Brick Road to the bigger picture.

    Like you. I've never had a bad experience asking customers if they're happy with their product. Constructive criticism is so helpful. If you listen to it, it makes your business not only so much better. But much more successful than your competitors.

    Get a monthly planner. And diarise every month the day you want to get in contact with your customers. And what questions you want to ask them. You know you will never regret it.

    Thank you @amp0193 for sharing your story with me. I love knowing how other people do things. Keep me in the loop. ~Carol❤
     
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  8. pkom79
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    pkom79 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Have you ever considered running ads? I'm curious if it's a matter of principal or some other reason.
    Rolls Royce runs FB ads in some markets :rofl:
     
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  9. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day again @pkom79

    No. I've never considered advertising online.

    We started our business 7 years before the internet came to our rural village in Australia in 2001. And it was another 7 years before the rest of Australia embraced online shopping. So we've had 14 years of developing our business offline. Before online shopping became an accepted form of shopping.

    During that time we nurtured our database. With a yearly mailout of brochures. Monthly emails as described previously. And a monthly newsletter.

    These are more productive to us than advertising online. Your best customers are your current customers. Who also become ambassadors. Singing your praises to their friends and family.

    Regarding social media. The operative word is social.

    Brands doing well on social media are selling hope. Cosmetics. Weight loss. Get rich quick schemes. Real estate. Luxury cars.

    Rolls Royce may do well on Facebook. But given they are a luxury product. They are in a different class to us.

    Our product is 'work'. It's a chore. People can't decide what they hate most. Ironing their clothes. Or cleaning their toilets. They can buy clothes they don't need to iron. But it's hard to not clean your toilet.

    We discovered early on when exhibiting that it was the death knell for us to be placed near fun items like jewellery. Travel. Wine. Food.

    More than once, visitors to our exhibit were about to buy ironing board covers. But were distracted by the bright shiny objects on sale right next door. We were suddenly told they couldn't afford us. Only to go next door and make a more expensive purchase.

    Once we learned this, we always opted for our own exhibition pagodas away from the more alluring items that people prefer to focus on. This transformed our financial results in a positive way when exhibiting. Customers could focus only on us. And our products. And not all the bright shiny objects around us.

    So many customers tell me they tell all their friends on Facebook how great our products are. I can't remember ever being told someone found us as a result of a comment on Facebook. And I ask. Every time.

    The daughter-in-law of my oldest friend in Australia uses our ironing board covers. She's 42. And has a substantial number of loyal friends who follow her on Facebook. Many of them iron because their children go to schools where they wear uniforms and have a dress code. She loves her cover. And asked if she could be an affiliate. Of course she could. She also was an affiliate marketer for very expensive scented candles.

    Her friends preferred to spend $75 on a scented candle that would last a few weeks at most. Than $44.95 on an ironing board cover that solved all the problems they hate about ironing. And that would last for several years. She never did sell a cover to any of her friends.

    Friends ask each other on Facebook for the names of local plumbers. Electricians. House painters. But people don't look for solutions to their own daily chores on social media.

    They look for them on Google.

    And I'm so established offline with my communications with my customers, that I don't want to advertise with Google. Personally, I hate being stalked by ads. 3 years ago we were looking for dining room chairs online. Every site we visited after that, we were bombarded with ads from the sites we visited. That's when I put Adblocker on all my computers. And I refused to buy from any company that stalked me. We found the chairs we wanted offline.

    My customers are of a mature age. They're not millennials. They have a different worldview of how they want to be treated online. And they don't want to be pestered. Or stalked.

    Does this answer your questions, @pkom79? ~Carol❤
     
  10. pkom79
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    pkom79 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    The good thing about online advertising is, that you can remind your visitors about your offer if they left your website.

    I understand where you're coming from however it's not only millenials that buy online.
    I run a lot of Facebook ads for my clients and we frequently see 65+ age group as the most active one.
    [​IMG]
    You can sell ANYTHING on Facebook. You just have to know to do it right. Different products need different approach.
    I am currently running a campaign for a big pest control company. It's not glamorous, nobody is looking for a pest control solution on Facebook, yet we get leads.

    Adblocker will block certain popups on websites but won't disable tracking. If you are logged in to any of Google services (search, Gmail, YouTube etc) or Facebook you are tracked. That's the reality.
    I actually watched a video today about how to be untrackable online. It's very complicated and inconvenient.

    If you ever want to chat about online ads let me know. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. Even if you don't want to use this form of advertising, it's good to know what's out there.

    I'm not trying to sell my services, just offering free info :)
     
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  11. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day again @pkom79

    I really appreciate all your information about online advertising. You've gone to a great deal of trouble to put together facts to support your belief in its value.

    But you and I will have to agree to disagree on its value for my products.

    I don't make that decision lightly. I am very erudite regarding digital marketing. I've been immersed in it for many years. And spend my hard earned $$$$ to keep learning about it. More than 99.99% of other people.

    I also frequently attend webinars about the virtues of online advertising. Including Facebook advertising. Wanting to be convinced. I've not yet had one convince me it was worth spending my money on.

    Perhaps it's because I strongly believe that personal communication is more powerful than online anonymity. I'm a big user of the telephone. All my joint ventures have been put together over the phone. I ring customers regularly just to say G'day. And learn about them. Which helps my marketing.

    The biggest waste of time is to constantly seek new customers. The best use of time is to cultivate my existing customers. So I can discover how I can create new customers. From my existing customers.

    I look for opportunities to move from online. To offline. That's where I excel. And I knock the socks off people who only depend on online conversions.

    I'm sure there are many people on this forum who would leap at the opportunity to get help from you. And I appreciate your offer to me. If I change my mind, I'll let you know. ~Carol❤
     
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  12. pkom79
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    pkom79 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I am considering creating a Facebook Ads thread that would address the myths and misconceptions about this form of advertising.
     
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  13. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @pkom79,

    I think that's an excellent idea. I would follow that thread. ~Carol❤
     
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  14. Romans Ivanovs
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    That’s a great story! Thanks for sharing1
     
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  15. Shinebabe
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    Shinebabe Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thanks for sharing your story, amazing vibes, love for your customers and loads of business advice one can't find in business books these days.
    You are a beautiful soul
    Lots of love to Victor too, you both are a blessing.
     
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    Hi Carol

    You've started an enlightening thread here, I'm learning so much.

    I need to do more of this. The more I focus on my current customers, the more I will improve my products, and the more new customers I will attract.

    I'm currently only dependent on online conversions, but I'm understanding more and more, the power of telephone and face-to-face communication to create raving fans who purchase from you over and over again and refer you to others.

    One part of your message that really resonates with me is your struggle with family.

    I too left a prestigious job to become an entrepreneur. My family still don't get why I would want to work from home on my computer, when I could be doing what seems to them, this glamorous job, which in my eyes, is disgusting.

    I feel the only way they'll ever understand is when I am making MILLIONS as an entrepreneur, and earning boatloads more than anyone in my previous prestigious profession.
     
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  17. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Romans Ivanovs from Oz,

    It's a pleasure to share this story with you. There are so many fabulous stories to learn from on this forum. I wish you well on your journey to wherever you want to go. ~Carol❤
     
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  18. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Robert Hull from Oz,

    Welcome to The Fastlane Forum!

    And thank you so much. Yours are very kind words.

    Nothing beats face to face or voice to voice in consolidating relationships. It's becoming harder to accomplish. But I make sure I ring customers every day. Just to say thank you. Some are suspicious. Thinking I want to sell them more. And when they find out I'm genuine in simply wanting to establish a long-term relationship, they're beside themselves with joy. And astonishment!

    Those conversations also lead to marketplace knowledge. Who is doing what. Their experiences with other companies. Things you won't find out otherwise.

    The truth is this, Robert. They WILL NEVER understand why you threw away a good job to follow your dream. No matter how much money you make.

    Proving them wrong is a hollow victory. Based on negative vibes. You actually achieve this based on someone else's expectations of what you should be doing.

    Proving yourself right is the greatest reward. And is full of joy. Because its foundation is based on what you want to do. What path you want to follow. Regardless of whether or not it meets the expectations of your family.

    I hope you understand the difference between those two paths. And how different the outcomes are.

    Don't be tied to your family's expectations.

    Follow your true blue goals. Satisfy yourself. And no one else.

    I hope this helps you, Robert. It's a pleasure to meet you. And I hope we stay in touch. You will learn a great deal by actively participating in as many threads as possible on the forum. ~Carol❤
     
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  19. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Shinebabe from Oz,

    Thank you so much for those lovely words!

    And welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You will learn so much here that is never found in business books.

    I'll pass your love on to Victor. He'll be delighted!

    I hope we stay in touch. If I can ever help you, please let me know. And best wishes on your journey to wherever you want to be. ~Carol❤
     
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  20. Shinebabe
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    Shinebabe Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thanks
     
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    Carol

    Thats pretty crazy. I myself work with textile products, cheap and effective! I assume that you guys didn't stay in the "ironing board niche" so I wanted to ask: What kind of niche are you guys currently in? Do you stick with just textile products? Also do you invent your own products, or do you make already existing products better?

    Your time in awnsering these questions would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to reach out if you need help with manufacturing, I built a pretty good relationship with a manufacturer!

    -SamUSA
     
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  22. Star Dust
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    Star Dust New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Dear Carol, thank you ever so much for all your hard work and for sharing your experience with us. You are a luminous candle in the dark. Thank you for being you.
     
  23. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @SamUSA from rural Australia,

    My apologies for taking so long to answer you.

    In December, my partner and I sold our beautiful rural property in NSW. And relocated to the alpine region of the state of Victoria. Still in Australia. We are in the rural foothills of Mt Hotham. Victoria's premier ski resort. We've purchased another rural property, 42 hectares (105 acres). My partner, Victor Pleshev, is an architect. And he's designing a house for us to build on this property.

    The property is very steep. And we will build our house on the top of a hill. Which has 360 degree panoramic views of a valley below of farmland. And the stunning surrounding hills that form a part of Mt Hotham. So we'll be able to see the snow caps in winter. We also have a seasonal creek at the base of the property which flows freely during winter. When rain is plentiful.

    To your question. What niche do we currently occupy? Ironing board covers! We've created an enviable reputation for our product living up to its name - Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover. We also have almost 500,000 customers. in 30 countries. It would be foolish to abandon this market segment. Especially as fewer people are ironing every year. So makers of ironing board covers are dropping out of the market. Which means their exit. Is my gain. There will be fewer and fewer choices for people who want a quality ironing board cover.

    No. We don't invent our own products. We choose existing products that don't work. And redesign them so they do work. When others don't work. We've done this with 6 products.

    Our products are textile products. With the exception of my jigsaw puzzles. Which are created from my photographs taken in rural Australia. Photography is my hobby.

    We don't make cheap products. And don't look for cheap options. The cheap category is full to the brim with competition. We choose quality over cheap. And price our products accordingly. There's less competition at the quality end.

    People buy our products as a last resort. When they've burned through the cheap products and finally convince themselves that quality is worth it. They buy from us. We're very patient.

    All our products are made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability. So we don't look for manufacturing alternatives. Comments from customers confirm that many of them buy from us because we give challenged people an opportunity to participate in the workforce. Which enhances their self-esteem.

    I hope this answers your questions, Sam.

    And welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You'll meet so many talented people on this forum. Who give. And who are very helpful.

    If I can help you in any way, please let me know. And I hope we stay in touch. ~Carol❤
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  24. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @Star Dust from rural Australia,

    I love your comment! Thank you so much!! You've done more than your share in illuminating my day. And making it so much brighter!!!

    Welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You'll love it here. There are so many stories. And so many people willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

    If I can ever help you, please let me know. ~Carol❤
     
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  25. NMdad
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    NMdad Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hey, Carol, really appreciate your sharing your experience.

    A few things stand out:
    • Focus on quality: Going upmarket means less competition & fewer high-maintenance customers.
    • Long-term focus: You mentioned "We're very patient"--basically that when the time is right & pain crossed a threshold, people become your customers, and then stick with you, refer you, etc.
    • Helping others: Not just here on the forum, but with your products & your choice for who manufactures them. Brilliant way to create value from end to end.
    • Non-obvious niche: Ironing board covers--who'd a thought? While everyone else is chasing fads, you're off the radar, plugging along, executing, and succeeding. Reminds me of a recent podcast episode about a quilting business that became the economic engine of a formerly-dying rural town: Lesson 1: Stitching It All Together Business Schooled podcast
     
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