0:00 - Intro
2:41 - Introduction to Sayan Sarkar and His Health and Supplements Business
6:03 - How to Stick to Your Lane
9:37 - Amazon in the E-commerce Industry
12:01 - Sayan's Preferred Platform for Hosting Business
15:51 - Done for You Platforms vs. Custom Coded Sites
15:33 - Sayan's Current Favorite Marketing Channel
16:50 - Details of Sayan's Recommended Marketing Channels
19:07 - Where to Get Affiliates
26:54 - How and Where you should start in E-commerce
35:57 - Learning more about Sayan's Programs
39:41 - Closing Remarks
Charley: Well, hello there agency owners! It's Charley here once again, the host of the Agency Valley podcast and I just finished recording an episode of this podcast with Sayan Sarkar. Now, what is fascinating about Sayan is he's gone super deep in the space of E-commerce and health or supplements. Now, when I say super deep he's responsible for a few seven and eight figure brands in this space, but what makes him so unique and so interesting is he's doing the opposite to what most people are doing in this space. Now, I don't want to give away too much into the episode, but I really think if you're at all playing in E-commerce that you should be paying attention to what's Sayan says you should be paying attention to particularly with offline focuses and affiliate focuses over things like Facebook ads, which he seems to believe are incredibly difficult especially in the health space with things like approvals and so on. So, I really want you to come and dig into this episode. He offers a lot of different views that I think you just won't find by most people. Of course, if you do like the show please make sure to like and subscribe and share with the other agency owners that are out there. All right. Well that's enough for me. Let's get into this episode and I'm sure you're really going to enjoy this one over to Sayan.
Charley: Hello, Agency owners it's Charley here, the host of the Agency Valley podcast and today, I'm bringing you guys something a little bit different. Something I think you'll all get a lot of value from. I'm joined by Sayan Sarkar who has some amazing experience in E-commerce and health related E-commerce specifically. How are you doing, Sayan?
Sayan: Hey, Charley, how are you? I'm doing pretty well.
Charley: Yeah, I'm a bit excited, you may have guessed, because one of the things I love the most about podcasting is I get to meet people who have put a lot of focus and a lot of attention to a certain area that I would say I'm not that skilled at and you are definitely one of those people.
Sayan: Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah, of course we'll talk more about this but just the focus that we were able to do in our agency to really hone in on our ideal customer has been huge, and not everyone is doing that, so we're here to talk more about how that's helpful for me and how it might help a lot of you guys and your listeners.
Charley: Yes, definitely. So, you were actually introduced to me by someone who I consider a very, very smart person. Esther Kiss of 'Born to Influence', shout out to Esther. Now, put it this way, I think you're actually one of the most competitive spaces on the Internet--health supplements, it's crazy. In all honesty, this is an area, if something came across my desk here, I would avoid. I would not not touch it, because I see the competition and I see how this has really evolved over the years of the Internet and what I really want to do is: Number 1, I want to ask how did you end up in this space and what drew you to it? We'll start from there and tell us a little bit about what you're doing in this space.
Sayan: Yeah, so just like kind of my background briefly how I got into it is, I've been in the industry for about eight years now. I first got in because I used to be very overweight, I mean, basically obese and I lost a lot of weight because I spent a massive amount of time learning everything I could about diet, exercise and supplements. During that process of losing weight, I obviously dieted and worked out. But, I also tried like 50 different products between herbs and full formulas and so on and so forth and I had to learn so much about it. So then shortly after that, I did lose weight. I got in really great shape and I decided I wanted to do my own business and I realized like if there's one thing I know a ton about, it's health and health supplements; so that's why I chose to really go going.
Charley: On yeah, that's great. I really love. I call it 'proof in the pudding' stories. It's like I think the best businesses come from a challenge we've had, because we understand the challenge so much better than someone who hasn't. I think that really shows a lot of businesses, and I Actually looked on the Invigorate NOW website and you've got a beautiful story written up on the story page conveniently named for this podcast. The story and copy you've put into that page is fantastic. It was very well written. Yeah, I mean that's definitely one of the bigger secrets to my success for myself and our clients, it's a lot about copy and being able to properly communicate the message in a way that makes the reader or listener understand that this is a fit for them and they should take action and move forward. So, yeah there's definitely parts of that in that story. So, yes it is a story ,but I won't lie and say that it has been crafted in a way that's meant to really make you connect, because if you can't do that, you can't really be successful in reaching your customers and scaling your business and helping them and so on.
Charley: Yeah, definitely. So what are you doing in the space now?
Sayan: I'm actually, which is probably crazy, I am a busy owner/overseer for businesses. Two that I own outright and two that I'm partnered in and then that's what we have as the businesses themselves. Then I have this program where it's kind of the ANC, kind of a consultancy where you work with other health E-com companies and basically, I show them the process of what to do in a business, how to scale from zero to six figures and beyond. Also I'm going into business in the sense of helping them with their copy, helping them with the messaging; all that stuff to really make sure that they can follow the process that we have really fine tuned and we know works. So, basically it's kind of twofold: my own stuff and also helping clients implement that into their business.
Charley: I think that's fantastic and I really think a lot of agency owners could learn from what you just said. One of the things I think you've now particularly well is that you know how to stick to your lane. You've identified where you're strong, you've got a great niche and experience and then you're just looking to repeat that essentially. It's not like going, "Hey I'm going to start a coffee shop and there's gonna be one next day."
Sayan: Exactly. This actually came to mind the other day, because I had to realize this until recently, but I learned this from Jay Abraham a while ago. I was reading on his books and for those of you listening, but not read Jay Abraham, you definitely should. He's one of the smartest marketing minds alive. He told a story about how-- I forgot what kind of company it was,but one of his clients--they're doing maybe a 100,000 a month. I want to say it was like tree removal or something to do with a forest. This is some kind of company where they perform a service--like a manual labor service. But then, he advised this company to take their process of getting clients for that business and servicing those client and so on and turned that into a separate kind of licensing program--and licensing that program to other forest or tree cutting providers. That idea helped this client add 200,000 a month to his business. That's not what was in my mind when I started my consulting stuff, but it came to mind that's what I was doing. I was taking the expertise I already had in one place I was doing well there. And I added a whole new layer by taking that advice wrapping it up into this kind of you know program slash coaching and then selling that to other companies who are trying to do what I've done. I'm not sure if I got kind of deep, but it's kind of building a layer of an extra service on top of what you already know.
Charley: Yeah, definitely and I love the leverage. It's all about leverage. It's the game. I reckon this was the biggest mistake I made in my first agency. We were just trying to do too many different things. This applies in many levels. I think about it and go: if we do just stuck to one niche if we did stop to at the time we were doing a lot of let's say funnels for services businesses--like chiropractors and physios. If you would've just stuck to that. We probably would have grown so much more quickly. It was us trying to service anyone and everyone that prevented us from developing those leverage able systems or being able to say "Hey, we're really good at--in your example--the tree business. Let's license what we're great at and I'm a big fan of Jay as well.
Sayan: Yeah, exactly.
Charley: All right. I got some specific questions here. I'm dying to know your views on--as an outsider of this industry of health and Ecom--I'll start with the one that is probably the most (I think you probably get this one a lot), but how do you feel about Amazon in the E-commerce industry?
Sayan: I think people make a mistake in that they believe that Amazon can be the key to their success. I mean yes, there are people doing well on Amazon, but Amazon is not a long term solution, because you don't really on the business. Yes, you do in a sense, but I've got personal friends who have been doing six to seven figures a month on Amazon and supplements and then shut down overnight. That's what happens when you have a platform or when you have a business on someone else's platform. Yes, it's good for customers, because they trust and they want to be there. For You, as a business owner, I don't see it as a good long term solution.
Charley: It's funny you said that I actually know someone who's had the same experience. It was like an overnight hero to zero. It's like the reverse stories. They were killing it. I can't remember what exactly happened in their case, but they basically got shut down and the business was over overnight.
Sayan: Yeah, exactly. The worst thing I saw it looked and it might been seized and anyone else would I go on their own platform. Even if something like this happens, say you're running ads on my Facebook or whatever and you get shut down. You still have the list of customers and you could email them, you can direct mail a lot and you can still reach out to them and make more sales. You can't do that on Amazon, because you have no actual access to the customer data, but if you have some information that's mostly handled and owned through Amazon. So if you were shut down there, you are done.
Charley: Yeah, we've reached a point now. It doesn't happen rarely these days, but if a Facebook account got shut down or an ads account. I've got the attitude, "Right, we'll just do Google, we just go Adwords and YouTube. No biggie. With Amazon, exactly you stated you're under. Okay. Well, I think that's an important perspective for anyone in E-commerce. I suppose the danger of Amazon. I'm sure it could be amazing and I know a lot of people doing well there, but I certainly wouldn't like that huge amount of risk in only doing it.
Sayan: Yes, exactly.
Charley: So the next part of it is, being that the case, what platform do you say, because obviously this is going to be an opinion, so I'll state that here. But what what platform do you like for hosting yourself then? So are you a Shopify guy? Do you prefer WordPress? Or Magento or any of those?
Sayan: So, we actually are mixed and that half of our sites are custom coded and the other half are on quick host. What we show our clients actually is these click files. Click Files is way easier. I mean it's similar to Shopify and WordPress, it's much easier to get a site up and running using a platform like that versus what we have done over time. Just we have had our dev guy custom code the site from the scratch. So, if you're kind of new or even if you're doing you know below six figures out at least look towards click funnels, that's what I recommend. But I know other guys who are using Shopify and other platforms and still doing well.
Charley: How interesting. I didn't expect that answer at all. Fascinating. I'm a big fan of click funnels, but I don't particularly use it for E-commerce and I'm a big fan of Russ as well. I think that he's done some amazing things there, but it's a brilliant tool and I think what you just highlighted in the idea about the convenience, how quick it is to move.
Sayan: Yeah, it makes it so easy. I guess I'm having exact time frame, but I'm pretty sure that if it was just me, myself, going into the click funnel, if I really focused on it and just like got it done, it could be done in less than six hours. I mean that's not including the copy-- the copy is different, but the funnel itself, building an entire funnel with all the steps including two upsells, two downsells, that has all those things involved, basically in less than a day and that can't be said about most other website platforms as far as I know.
Charley: Yeah, I would agree. Even the best Shopify devs putting sites up in that time frame, I think there's a bit more work in it. I do believe it's completely feasible with click funnels so I can understand that point of view. All right, so we've got the platform covered here and I think that's really interesting, because if you're an agency and you think that I suppose we've got to build a whole site out before we can start working with someone and start selling something and you just open that out there and go "We're actually started on click funnels." That's going to be a huge, speedy improvement to delivery times. So that's a huge win.
Sayan: Oh yeah. And by far. Yeah. And people also think for some reason that these kind of ''done for you platforms like click funnels or Shopify or whatever, that they're not as good as kind of going the hard round and having something custom coded. As mentioned we have some custom coded and some not and there's no difference in how well they work. It comes down to all the things like copy in your product versus how well the web design is done, at least in my experience.
Charley: Well, the only red flag I can think of is CEO. That's the only thing that comes up that if your marketing channel is this year, you may want to go to the website round, but being that, you probably already been in it for a while or have something in place for that. But that actually segues perfectly into my next question is what's your favorite marketing channel? Where do you like to look these days?
Sayan: So, we have a few right? We actually do a lot of stuff offline. Offline is part of it --offline being newspapers and radio and online primarily affiliates and email buys. We do some stuff on Facebook for our health in terms of retargeting or not really doing a lot of front end advertising. What we found-- at least in the markets we are in, in supplements--it's hard to get approved and scale on Facebook, because Facebook is not really a fan of most types of supplements. So yeah, we tend to go towards affiliates and email as our main channels always on the online side.
Charley: How interesting. Another answer that I just did not expect. This is great. This is interesting because this is why I love to bring people on the show, like you, is that for most people right, for most, if I brought 99 other people in these shows and we had a hundred in total, I would expect that over 80 percent went to said Shopify and Facebook ads. And you've said the complete opposite, it couldn't get more opposite. Can you dive a little bit deeper into how you decided to go after these channels and then if there's any specifics or things you would kind of recommend or or look at between them?
Sayan: Yeah, in terms of deciding I think it's kind of experience of where we learned over time, the work and stress involved in trying to get ads approved on Facebook for health supplements is not worth it compared to making a really good offer and pushing it to email affiliates who have a ton of volumes of guys who can send you multiple thousands of clicks and dollars in one email on one day. That kind of traffic is hard to find. Then, when you find it and when you know really how to work in that type of marketing, it's very, very scalable and it's much easier because you don't have Facebook breathing down your neck on every last thing you say. For example, I had a friend who advertise on Facebook, you can't really say the word YOU in your Facebook ads. The FTC wouldn't care about that, because there's nothing wrong with saying the word you in an ad, but Facebook does. That concept is ridiculous. It what makes life so hard. So it's realizing why spend so much energy there, if you can have the same results with much less stress and work through another method?
Charley: That is a very interesting observation. I tend to agree. I am actually a PPC guy. I've done a lot in Facebook ads and Google ads over the years and I actually think the Facebook thing's gotten out of control. I understand their point of view and reasoning, so don't get me wrong. But as you just stated the idea that you can't use the word YOU or you can't use a before and after image, it's gone to this whole level of extreme. Even on websites and stuff, they're getting very clever where even if you have before and after pictures on your Web site is that they're kind of getting crazier and crazier and what they will anymore allow. So do you use a marketplace for affiliates? Are you reaching out to find affiliates online or how are you discerning where to get your affiliates or what newspapers you want to go after--or magazines?
Sayan: On the affiliate side, there are two steps. One step is basically people that I have met over the years whether it's through mutual friends or primarily through different events. So teaming with traffic and aversion, as well as summit east and the west. These kinds of events where you have these big affiliates who have built large e-mail lists over time. I've met them in person. I've been introduced to them and I'm not gonna lie. Unless you have a way in, in terms of, a mutual friend, it's not an easy process and definitely doable, but it takes some time. The one thing I'll say to make it easier is that we found that a lot of our best affiliates are guys who already have offers of their own that are working well on a marketplace like click bank. For example, maybe somebody has a weight loss e-book or like a diabetes e-book or whatever it is. They have their own book offer, their selling on click banks so you can see who they are, what their product is, how well they're doing. What happens is that they have customers who buy their books and over time, because of those buyers, the email list grows substantially. So you guys have a very big e-mail lists who are then promoting other relevant offers to their list either every day or a few times a week. So kind of go into that marketplace, figure out who is a good fit for your type of product. And then find a way to connect with them, reach out to them, maybe help them first and so on until they agreed to know your product. That's at once, step two, which is actually easier, but a lot people don't want to do it because they see a bit of an upfront spend is finding affiliate networks so there are some big email affiliate networks and also affiliate networks in general where they have access to all these affiliates who kind of look for offers that are put on their network. If you can get on the network, then their affiliates can promote you, but in most case I'd had to put up some kind of prepay. You might prepay you know 2000 or 500 dollars or three thousand dollars. The network--they want to use that money as, not to say an escrow account, but as like a source for the first bit of commissions on each sale and after that's kind of gone then the affiliates will just get paid on commission only, so you'll be invoiced every two days or once a week for the money and sales that affiliate has sent to you.
Charley: I'm kind of like that. Why I like that they put that upfront in is because I think it wins out the scams. Well yeah. So, I'm thrilled to hear that same place I've been online a while now, a very long while. What the affiliate marketing was like when I first got online was crazy. It was the Wild, Wild West and there was like there was a lot of scams and things floating. So it kind of makes me happy that the Internet has leveled up to that point where it's like: right we've got to do something to win out these people. Then back to your first point-- about working your way in today's networks. I tend to think the same is true. I used to do quite a lot of launches that was something my agency did was help people with launches once it's on and when we did that, what was fascinating is we'd be writing ads and you'd be seeing guys on the UTM or on the affiliate leaderboards. I was 'Oh wow there are some hitters out there that you just can't get'. There are some people out there that no one knows about-- it's this insiders club of internet bullies.
Sayan: Yeah, exactly. I think it's massive traffic. Not for long, you'll realize the opportunity that's there.
Charley: I completely agree. I think you just gave away the secret--how I worked my way into those networks was events.
Sayan: Exactly. Yeah. Meeting them in person and realizing that you're both real people. Right? I think people hide behind a computer and they just don't realize people like working on people that they know, that they met, that they've hung out with or connect their friends with. It's much easier for somebody to work with you and for you to work with them if you've met them versus you just kind of calling, emailing them five times.
Charley: Oh, definitely. Well, funnily enough this podcast is happening because of an event. I would never have met Esther if I didn't go to some events and be a part of a mastermind group in Australia. That's how it eventuated.
Sayan: That's actually quite the same for me. I met Esther at an event.
Charley: So all you agency owners out there out there hiding behind the screen you know who you are. It's time for you to lift your game and get to some events.
Charley: Well, look that's a really interesting insight and I think you've just given away two even how to's and I look at this from an agency perspective and you've mentioned two and a half grand here, but it's if you're an agency owner and you're working with some big E-commerce sites, I dare say that's like a days ad spend, a couple of days ad spend, that's been a huge barrier for some of these big sites or months ad spend.
Sayan: Yeah. So definitely, if you're more established there's no reason you shouldn't do it, because it's so low barrier, right? But, there are a lot of people in the industry who are either brand new or are they are just getting started are also I think when you are new to a business or even on your first few years is that trust factor where they don't want to spend money on ads or they just assume that sales should come because they have a great product or like whatever other reason. Whereas I found in basically every business I've been in, paid ads are often the quickest way to success. So, whether you're paying for everything in the case of say newspaper ads or even Facebook or whatever it is or if you're paying upfront for these networks just for a little bit of early ad spend there's nothing wrong with doing that right. A lot of people who are not that established don't understand that. You know you're in a business you have to pay for things. There are expenses and you gotta try things and you might have to try them and they might even fail. But that's part of the process and the quicker you understand that, the quicker it is to success.
Charley: Yeah, I love that point. I definitely agree with it. There's a mindset shift at some point though for most agencies I would believe. Almost the E-com stores even is they go from this 'Oh, I don't want to spend' to once they understand they're like 'What can may acquire customer for profitably?' It's 'Brian, how much can we spend?' There's a switch at some point. Okay, so I got a couple of questions here that I'm very keen to know and whatever I expected you were going to say is probably gonna be the complete opposite. Based on this conversation, so we'll start with this one, if you're an agency owner and you're going to start working with an e-commerce spread, where should they start? What's the low hanging for all things you want to first look at?
Sayan: I think it depends what exactly your offer is going to be right. So like I think it's important to be kind of finite in your in your program or whatever it is to like. I mean yes, "if you do what I've done for you" thing it will take more time. But, like even that's so. So, we have our 'done with you' stuff. We're working with them in these group coaching settings and we have these vigil video modules and trainings that they follow along. And we also have the 'done for you', but both are basic ten week program. What we've found is when you have a finite program time period and a finite program outcome, it makes it much easier to assess yourself, right? because like if you just say, "Oh, we can help you do this and that" and "Oh, it's like x thousand dollars" or whatever it is; there's no finite goal for the user, and there's also no finite time period. So, they worry: A.) What am I going to get out of this? and B.) Will this go on for nine months? How long do I pay this guy? Yes, of course, you want long term clients, but at the same time, it's much easier to bring someone in on saying an 8 or 10 week program than it is you're going to pay me Three thousand a month for the rest of your life, which isn't the case, but that's the fear that customers have. So, kind of bring that back together, it's having having great outcome, A.) a very Reachable outcome, the one that speaks to the actual end user to make sure they understand that this is the program that will get them from where they are to where you want to be and B.) Putting a time period around that so it has an actual structure that that feels OK and makes sense for them to buy into.
Charley: Interesting. Again, very different rule than I expected. I suppose I'll even ask a deeper question there. From my perspective, I suppose I'll recap it and confirm what we got from there is your almost saying 'try not to be opportunistic. Don't look at where the opportunity. Bring your strength to what you know how to deliver well in a duration of time and kind of stick to that. So, take them through your process and make sure you're working with clients that you know how to win for, rather than go "Alright, well I can see you're not doing Facebook ads, we should do Facebook ads" and creating that into a retainer.
Sayan: Oh yeah, that's a better point. Actually, you explain better than than I could. But yeah, having an actual process right. We have guys come to us who say "Oh, I'm doing what I'm doing."
His journey and other works, including his book ‘247 Proven “LEANgevity” Secrets’ have been featured in The Huffington Post and Alternative Medicine Magazine. Described as the ‘fat guy turned fit pro’, Sayan is dedicated to promoting health and lifestyle while catering to social needs. His company donates money to charities that perform surgery to save the eyesight of those in need.