I had a strange experience this past weekend…
My wife surprised me for my birthday with a trip to the Smokey Mountains and tickets to a theme park. We had a great time, but it wasn’t what I expected.
In this episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast, I share a realization I had, and how we can use it to grow our eCommerce businesses together.
As always, if you have any questions and suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Don’t forget to share this with someone who needs to hear it.
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What's up everybody, Anton Kraly here and welcome back to the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast. In today's episode, I just want to share a quick story and a realization I had this past weekend. Before I do that though, I just want to say thank you. If you've been listening to the podcast, you know that last Thursday at the time I'm recording this, last Thursday was my birthday. And in the podcast episode I published, I said, "All I want for my birthday is for you to go to Apple podcasts and leave a review." And a bunch of you did that. We have a lot more reviews now, and a bunch of you had really nice things to say in the actual review text. So thank you for everybody that did that. It really does mean a lot. And I really do appreciate that.
But for my birthday, my wife surprised me with a gift, with a vacation. So typically, over the past 13 years, the way I've built my businesses is to have them as lifestyle businesses, so we can travel and go where we want. Obviously this year, things are very different. We're still not really comfortable getting on planes, mainly because I have a three-year-old son and it's just hard enough to travel as it is with him. And then mix that with having him having to wear a mask. I don't think it's going to work.
So anyway, we haven't taken any distance vacations this year. Did a couple of trips to the beach this summer. But for this trip that my wife booked, we went to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, which was awesome, because for us it's a road trip and it's place I had never been before. Always like seeing new areas. So yeah, it was awesome.
But the thing that was interesting and the reason I wanted to talk about this is because she had booked a whole bunch of different activities throughout the four days we were there. And for two of the days, we went to a park called Dollywood. Now, I did not know about Dollywood until my wife gave me this really cool itinerary of all the things we were doing. And it said, "We're going to the Dollywood Park for two days." So I was like, "Okay, what's this?" And she said, "It is a Dolly Parton theme park in Tennessee in Pigeon Forge." That's the name of the town it's in. And I was like, "Okay. Again, I'm up for anything. So I'll check it out." But all I know about Dolly Parton is that she is a super famous, top of her game, or at least was for country music. And I know she has blonde hair and I know she has a huge chest. Sorry, ladies listening, but I think pretty much everybody, that's what comes to their head when they think of Dolly Parton. Famous for music, huge chest.
But I was like, okay, what can a theme park about Dolly Parton possibly be about? And I didn't look it up, just going with it. I figured maybe there would be live performances of people playing her music. Maybe there would be, I don't know, almost like a museum with different things she had done and showing off people she had performed with. Again, really no idea. I thought maybe if there were attractions, they would be themed around Dolly Parton being that the theme park is literally named after her.
But what I realized as soon as we walked in through the gates is there was almost no mention of her anywhere besides the signs everywhere that say Dollywood. For anybody that is from... I'm not sure where the parks all are, but if you're from the northeast, you're probably familiar with Six flags. I always used to go to the one in New Jersey. I grew up in New York. And basically Dollywood is Six flags. So you walk in, they have all your normal concessions. And they're selling fudge and coffee and the apples on a stick. What's it called? I don't even know. And they're selling all the normal stuff, kettle corn. They have barbecue, turkey legs. They have Mexican restaurants. They had people playing music. Wasn't Dolly Parton music. They had people taking photos they want to sell to you. They had roller coasters that by the way, were awesome. And really good rides, crafts for sale.
But again, awesome place. I was super happy to be there. But nothing there had to do with Dolly Parton. I think I saw like a few Dolly Parton shirts for sale in one of the merch stores when you first walk in. Also, the hotel we stayed at was called... What was it called? Dollywood Dreammore. So it's they're on-site hotel. A gorgeous hotel by the way, really nice place. But you go in, there's nothing about Dolly Parton. There's a Starbucks, there's an ice cream store. There was a guy playing Billy Joel songs on the piano, which was awesome. There's a lazy river outside. And then again, I think I saw a couple photos of Dolly Parton and then one of her guitars in a display case.
But my whole thing going into it was everything is going to be revolving around Dolly Parton. Which again, you know, I don't know much about her. So for me it wasn't like, "Oh no, what happened?" But the first thing I was thinking as we were going through this experience was wow, this almost seems like a bait and switch. They're promoting this place and she has ownership in it, but they're promoting it as Dolly Parton's theme park. And really, if nobody told me it was Dolly Parton's theme park, I would have no idea. I would think it was just another awesome amusement park and a really nice hotel.
So after a while, right, I'm thinking this, I wonder if people here feel like if they went there because they're huge fans or something, and then feel like what is this? But then I looked around and literally everybody we saw at the hotel, in the park, on the rides, everybody was having an amazing time. Right? Everybody was just having a great time.
So I was thinking, okay, this really isn't a bait and switch. This is more just really good marketing because what they did, and I researched. This is what I do. I love business. So I was researching this park's history. It wasn't Dollywood originally. It was a different theme park. Then it had a different name. Then it had a different name. Then a Dolly Parton bought equity in it and it was rebranded as Dollywood.
And what they're doing is just having really good marketing because they have her name attached to it. They have, obviously all of her fan base that is aware of it. They can use her branding and her imagery everywhere. I'm doing a podcast talking about it. And I think it really is just like this conversation starter or this thing that brings people into the park. Because again, it was in this place called Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. So if it was just called Pigeon Forge Park, would my wife have found it? Would I start thinking about what it would be like to be there? Would it have this, I guess, conversation around it that could bring people in? And the answer is most likely, no. That's probably why it changed names three or four times before she bought equity. And it became this big thing that continues to grow.
So I just thought that was really interesting. And then I was thinking about how that relates to eCommerce and how it relates to our stores, and what we're already doing that's similar to this and what you can do as well.
So let me just first, I guess, clarify what bait and switch is. That's when you bring people in assuming that they're going to get one thing and you give them another. So again, I didn't do my research on this park, but if I went to the Dollywood website before we showed up and it said you're going to go in and there's going to be a Dolly Parton museum and people are going to be playing Dolly Parton songs, and the rides are themed on Dolly Parton and they weren't, that would be bait and switch
For eCommerce, if we have an ad and it says, "Click here and save 50% off", and they click it. And then they go to a page and it says, "Offer expired, save 10%" or whatever, that's bait and switch. If you see a ad in the Sunday paper for a car lease, and it says $200, and you go into the dealership and they tell you, "Oh, if you actually want floor mats and you want a radio, it's $300 a month." You know, that's bait and switch.
But what they're doing is just good marketing. They're associating themselves with a popular figure, and that allows them to get their message to more people, bring more people into their parks, make more money. Again, people might talk about it and go for the name, but they stay in that case, for the rides, for the food, for the hotel, which again, those things were all amazing.
So how do we do this with eCommerce stores? I wrote down a few examples, just so you can think about this in a few different ways. But what we always try to do, once our brands are a little bit more established, is partner with different authority websites, and anyone that really has credibility in the niches that we want to be in, or that we are in. Now, I'll say we've never worked with anybody even close to the level of a Dolly Parton, that is probably a worldwide name, but we've worked with plenty of huge authority figures within our niches that have led to a lot of extra sales.
Now these can be blogs, these can be email newsletters, these can be you tubers, pod-casters. These can be traditional print magazines. These can be TV shows, so sponsoring products or doing endorsements. These can be communities whether online or offline. These can be trade associations or any type of association related to our niche.
And what we try to do is form partnerships with these companies. And when these companies partner with us, obviously they're doing it because they like what we're doing. And what they will do is basically say things that are good about us, whether that be in a TV show or in a magazine or on a blog or in an email. And when they do that, they will link to our stores. But when they link to our stores, we don't just link to our homepage. What we do is link to custom pages that we build that are related to whatever that authority is.
So example, going back years now, but sponsored a TV show on TLC and sent them a ton of products. And what happened is our products were featured in the show. They showed people shopping on our website, in the show. And at the end, it said thanks to our company for the products.
Now, when they did this, we had a special link that when people visited, would go to a page, again on our store, that would show our logo, our normal website. But then it would show that company, in that case, the TLC logo, why we partnered with them, what we like about them, what we did with them. And then it'll just have products for sale.
And it would be the same thing if it was a blog or community. They're not just linking people to our homepage. We're sending them to a custom page that is showing off this relationship and building it further.
So what happens here just like with Dollywood, is people are coming to our eCommerce stores, and they should be going to yours too, for the names of the companies you're partnering with and associating with. But they're staying for the products. They're staying for the offers. They're staying for the value that you provide when they get there. And just like with Dollywood, everybody there had a smile on their face, was having a great time. When people come to our stores, we want them to have that same experience.
Now, what I love about this with eCommerce is even though, again, we haven't partnered with anybody with nearly the credibility or authority of Dolly Parton, we don't have to limit ourselves to one company. We've partnered with dozens and dozens and dozens of companies in the past. And we can have all these different relationships that are then sending their people, spreading our message, and increasing our marketing efforts by getting people to our stores.
Now, last thing I'll say about this is if you're going to do this and you're like, "Okay, well, what does a partnership even mean? Am I giving, in that case, let's say TLC, equity in my company or anything?" No. In that case, you'd be giving them either products at cost, maybe even products below cost. If you're working with a blog, maybe you are paying them for a sponsored article. Or maybe it's an affiliate relationship where everybody that comes to your store and buys through their link, earns a commission. So there's different ways to structure it, but they're all designed around the same thing. We're trying to build our marketing by really tying ourselves to other brands and by leveraging other people's credibility.
I think it was an awesome decision that Dollywood did that. Forgot the previous name of the park, but whenever Dolly Parton bought in and they established that relationship, it's definitely been an amazing thing for their business to grow. And again, I've seen this work for us too, in different ways, I would say on a smaller scale, but also broader because of how many relationships we've built.
So I would highly encourage you to build these relationships for yourself as well, if you haven't already. I actually teach this by the way. If you're a member of my coaching program, Drop Ship Lifestyle, in module six, I have an entire lesson called a Transferred Influence. It's an hour long training where I show you step-by-step how to do this. So I'll link to that in the podcast description. If you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, click that, watch that again, get this set up. I show you again, step-by-step how I do it.
If you're not a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle yet, check out a free training I have. It's available at dropshipwebinar.com. I'm going to link that up in the description as well. So you can check that out. It's a free training plus a list of 237 profitable products to sell. Plus, you get a special offer if you want to enroll in Drop Ship Lifestyle.
Also finally, the last thing I'll say is if you ever want to go visit that place, I would definitely recommend it. It was an awesome time. And don't just go to Dollywood. If you do go there though, check out the rollercoaster called Wild Eagle. It was so much fun. Got to go on Wild Eagle. And also check out a town that's like 20 minutes away called Gatlinsburg or Gatlinburg in Tennessee. It was like a mile long strip of arcade, mini-golf, Skylift, restaurant, and then repeat, just a fun place for adults to just have fun. I don't know. It was a really good time. So thank you to my wife for booking that. Thank you for everybody that's listening. Thank you for everybody that left a review after the last podcast. I appreciate you all. And I will talk to you in the next episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast. See ya, everybody.