Another day, another interview. Today I'm talking with Marc Barros, who is a entrepreneur. Marc founded a company named Moment, they came to the scene by making iPhone lenses, you've all seen the Moment lenses, they have wide angles and telephotos for the iPhone. They had a lot of Kickstarters that were really successful, raising a few million dollars on them. And now Marc has been focusing on expanding the reach of Moment as a content company, and also as a retailer, by adding just a bunch of new brands to the catalog, to not only rely on building hardware, but also just by making good content to sell product, right? So Marc runs a team of 40 people, and he's always been one of my mentors, he's always been happy to help me with the problems I've faced as (laughs) just a person in life, as a creative, and as somebody who is in the world of photography and business. So, Marc has always been super generous and I am sure he's gonna be sharing a lot of good nuggets in this call. So let's j...
ust- (Interviewer clapping) go jump in. (phone ringing) Marc Barros.
Hey, what's going on?
Yo, right on time, I dunno how you do it. Marc Barros, founder and CEO of Moment. How are you guys at Moment approaching the situation at hand? I'm assuming you guys had a plan, right? At the beginning of 2020 you had a plan, and that plan got screwed. Maybe thrown away.
Thrown out the window?
Yeah, I mean, yeah. So how are you guys approaching all this?
So this one's, I guess, my second time I've been through this, so my first time as an entrepreneur was 2008, it's a little bit different, but it was a similar thing where like, the world stopped. And so this time around, the world in a sense stopped. And so, you basically have to throw everything away. So it's like, all right, what do we know today? And then what are we gonna do based on what we know today, right? So for Moment, it was like, in a business it's always, you need cash coming in. Right? So you have to be selling stuff, And then you have costs, right? So you have to look at, "All right, is our cash coming in way lower now?" People see this on their personal income level, like, shoot, I did lose a bunch of projects. Right? So on personal level, it's easy people to do that math. Right? "What was my income?" "How many projects did I lose?" "What's my expenses?" And "Am I okay?" Right? So when you do that with 40 people, it's just a much harder problem, (Interviewer laughs) and you have way more unknowns, right? So for example, like Amazon started shipping all commodities. So if you sold on Amazon, they weren't shipping the order. So for example, we give Amazon a bunch of stock and then you go to Amazon to buy our products or brands we sell. And Amazon has shipping in six weeks. So guess what? People don't buy,
or they buy from Amazon, but Amazon doesn't ship the orders, So all of a sudden everyone's Amazon business went to basically zero, like in a week. Right? And so...
And that was big for you guys?
It's big for everybody, right? So a brand that's making money on Amazon, all of a sudden your revenue goes to zero. It's like all of your personal jobs being gone, you just don't know like, why did it go to zero? (laughs) What happened? What had I done? So yeah, you first try to take inventory. Like, what are sales gonna be tomorrow? Cause you just have no idea. And so I think what everybody saw was just kind of this, in the first few weeks, everything just like tanked.
Mm. And then everyone takes a few weeks to figure out what's going on. And so the best entrepreneurs try to take some data of like, what's going on, are people buying, not buying, talking to other brands. What are you seeing? So we spent the first few weeks just talking to everybody. Every brand we sell, what are you seeing? Are you seeing down, up? And what we were kind of seeing is, yeah, a little bit on price point. So things more expensive. All of a sudden we're stopping very quickly. Things were kind of, home products are still selling, but yeah, the first thing you do, just like your own personal creative business, is like, "Where's the income coming in?" Cause without the income, you can't afford anything else.
You can't say forever.
Once you figured out what the income was, it's like, "All right, can we afford the current team?" "Do we have to lay people off?" "What are the options?" So then you start going through a bunch of different scenarios. What sucks is you basically spend a lot of energy when things go wrong. When things are going right, you can spend the same energy and you have all this optimism like, oh my gosh, the same energy I put into it, all of a sudden is doing really well.
You would've gotten way more exponentially. Yeah.
Yeah. So when all of a sudden an economy tanks, or like you lose a bunch of jobs, you spend all this extra energy and stress when that happens. So I always find those words the worst, like when stuff's going wrong is the worst. Cause not only does it take energy to figure out why it's going wrong, but you're more stressed out. And so you combine the more stressed out with the stuff's going wrong. It's just a way harder problem to solve.
And a good recipe. So what's been the new plan? I mean, I know it's a day-to-day thing, right? So in a week we could talk and it'd be completely different, but what's the new plan? So what we found is the about 18 months ago, we kind of moved Moment from a product company to a retailer. The best example would be like, you know, REI is a retailer. REI makes a bunch of REI products. People buy over time. So most people have been a retailer and made products. We're unique. And we said, "Hey, we're good at making products." But 18 months ago, people were asking us, "What other products do you recommend?" And so we started recommending products, and then we started buying 'em and stocking them. So we got a little bit, basically, lucky at 18 months ago we started to become a retailer.
It's helped us a lot. Cuz we sell about 50 brands. So if one brand's up and another brand's down, we're able to offset that, right? But a lot of the single product companies that are direct to the brand, maybe they have five to 20 products. Right?
And all of a sudden, if your five to 20 products aren't hot or aren't in, or aren't needed right now in an epidemic, you're in a lot of trouble.
And so by being the retailer, we kind of got lucky. So you do need luck. And that part, you never would've known that a pandemic was coming, but the fact that we're a retailer with more brands has helped us a lot. So we've been able to actually weather this thing fairly well. And so some of the products are down, some of the products are up, but that has helped us a lot. And the other thing that's saved us was those online video lessons. So, similar thing, we tried new things. So six months ago we started trying online video lessons. Those were doing well, but now people are home. So they're actually buying them more. So we've been fortunate that we've been able to have a mix of products to sell and having online video lessons. The best thing of those is they don't take cash. Right? So when you have a physical product, you have to pay the supplier to get the product.
So if you get a dollar in from customer and you had to pay 50 cents for it, it still costs you 50 cents to go get it. The nice thing with the online content is you can sell it, it doesn't cost us 50 cents to go sell another one. And so that's a huge value for us.
So you, so in a way, if you can apply this to a photographers career, you've developed several revenue streams, because you're interested in that.
And then now they're coming in handy. It's kinda hard to do that now, though, if you were starting right now.
There're different- Yeah, there's different- What you find is your philosophy of how you build something changes over time, or evolves over time, or matures over time, right? So maybe when you start, you're like, I'm really good at one craft, man. I'm really good at building a YouTube audience. Or I'm really good at this kind of photography and I get these kind of clients, right? And so what I find is that sometimes if you kind of scale everything on, "We're just good at one thing," you can really struggle to make new things. So at Moment we try to teach how to make new things. Cuz you find, you have to build that at the DNA. So for example, okay, make a first app. What would a second app be? So to make a second app, you have to figure out what's in the market. What do people need? How do I make one? Let's get it to market. So we've taught the team how to make new things. We spent the last three years doing that. And so now we're just, we've built into our process. So we're able to make a new app or things like lessons, and bring those to market, right?
Yeah. Or get to a marketplace. So I've always believed just teaching that. So if I was an individual, it's not necessarily just revenue streams, it's learning how to make the revenue streams, that's the biggest, important value you could learn, right? Because like, even your business, I've seen, like you came- I went from being a photographer. Now I've got these different workshops. Now I'm potentially making products. Like you're finding ways to reinvent, how to make something new. You'll end up finding it. It's a very similar process you used originally as a creative. And so I think as the biggest lesson you can learn as a creative's like, how do I make new things? Whether it's a new kind of offering, or a new type of content I'm doing, or now I'm doing, you know, vlog based content instead. So I'm teaching myself how to do that. But the process of going from an idea to actually shipping something new, I just believe in, like, learning that, and I've probably spent 15 years learning that. And so we've just to teach that at Moment.
Learning how to be innovating, pretty much, and learning to create from the ground up.
Yeah, cause it's a process, right?
So a lot of times people start something new, cool idea. It happens to work, right? So they spend the rest of their time or years learning how to mass produce the thing, right? And they forgot how to make a new thing. And so we really practice like how to make new things. Not every new thing works. Some new things are gonna fail. But that process of like a cool idea to actually shipping it. It just takes practice.
And so the more you practice that, a creative, you called it like revenue streams, it might turn into revenue streams if you're, if we're successful about it.
Yeah. Well I'm just drawing from talking to Christopher Card a few days ago and he calls it, he called it revenue streams and it's fun to see the same, you know, sort of connections between you two guys' points that, you know, he just built revenue streams earlier on like print shops, exhibitions, online workshops, books.
Yeah. And now he's like, now they're coming handy. And it's just exactly what you're saying now.
Yeah. But he had learn how to do the new ones, I bet. Right? Like doing a book was slightly different than doing the other exhibitions he's doing. But yeah, I bet he's really good at making the next new thing. Cause he is made seven or eight new things right?
Yeah, and the more you do them, yeah. And that's what- it's hard for a lot of people cuz they're trying to create new things right now. Like "I'm gonna open the print shop tomorrow." It's like-
The, you know, like do you have a newsletter to talk to these people, right? Like if you have spent five years building your newsletter, just giving them tips or whatever you wanted.
Then you have thousands of people that are waiting for you to say, "Hey, I got prints of that, cool. "I'm gonna, I owe you in a way," but if you've never built your own platform and that's yeah, that's a big one is like building platforms, you know, back in 2014, 15, when Instagram was coming out, I was going to a lot of travel conferences and there was travel bloggers there, and they were like two different worlds. There's like the Instagram kids and then the travel blogger. And they were like, yeah, they were like, "Dude, what are you doing? "Like you should have your own platform. "What if Instagram goes away tomorrow?" And they're like- (Interviewer blowing air) "what, you know, it's not gonna go away." But in a way I've learned that they were right, because they had their own platforms, their own distributions. And when Instagram decides to cut the reach in half for some algorithms, well, these guys still have their own databases. So luckily I met people like that who inspired me to build, you know, my own database.
But you're also curious, I think that's a big value is just being curious. So that can be hard, when you start being successful, is like, losing that curiosity. But I always find, you're curious in like trying to learn that new thing. So your travel blog, examples like, "Hey, what are they really trying to tell me? "Like what can I learn from this?" I think that approach really, really worked. Whether you're a creative or building a company is constantly being curious and trying little new things, and the curiosity is gonna build your repertoire of skill sets.
Yeah. There's an issue with curiosity, that if it's paired with a, I mean, that's just more personal problems, (laughs) but it's curiosity. Curiosity is paired with too much ambition, I'd say, or we could call it ego. You know, we talk about often, totally. Then you end up chasing too many different things. Right? Because you're just too curious like, "Well how about this and that?"
You know, but if, so it's a double edged word. So, people like you have seem to have mastered that curiosity, balance and production. I'm still working on that. (both laughing) Going back to going back to marketing, has the content or the marketing changed for you guys, since this thing?
Yeah. You like, my philosophy is, I don't really believe in marketing. (laughs)
Yeah I saw you like marketing? (both laughing) Excellent, yeah, go on and-
Trying to figure out is how to get a customer. So everything you do is in a sense how to get a customer, whether you're building a deck to get a brand, who's your customer, right? Or an individual who's gonna buy something you're selling, or your print shop example, or a lesson. Right? The hardest part is actually figuring out how to get a customer. And so I think that's what you try to, you spend all your time trying to figure out, what you're trying to do is create a little playbook to like, what works to get one. So in Moments' early years, you could just try everything. We tried, we said, "Oh, our products kind of, you gotta touch and feel. "Let's do sampling." "Okay. Who does sampling?" "Oh, beverage companies." "Let's do little events and sampling," right? And so we tried a bunch of things. What ended up working was more of the content, whether it was reviews or tips or tutorials, that stuff started to stick. And so when you find stuff sticks, you just do more of the stuff that sticks and the stuff that you feels like you're running uphill, we cut that or do less of it. So I think we found over time, what's worked for Moments. And again, you gotta get a little bit lucky. Like the vlog style kind of content has really hit. Couldn't have predicted that, but we've been lucky in that what's worked is yet content. And so that content can be a variety of reviews or tutorials or tips all the way through to kinda paid professional lessons, is that people come to us cuz we do a good job of just explaining things, something that's usually very technical. The team's been good about explaining it in a simple way, but the idea of the content has really worked to help drive the store. Right? So most of the online stores are terrible at making interesting content or driving an audience. (Interviewer laughing) But as a product company, you have to be great at it to survive. Right? And so the best product brands are usually very good at it. So we were able to develop that muscle and it's actually translated to being a retailer. So our version of quote "marketing" to get more customers is "Content is number one." And so what works there is by being able to make YouTube-based content, i.e., video content, It's the hardest, cause you have to be entertaining, but by making it you can cut it up, and do lots of things with it. So great YouTube content lets you make good Instagram content, lets you make good Instagram and Facebook-
You start with that.
That lets you make good emails. Yeah. The hardest bar is entertaining video. And if you're good at that, it's actually easy to be good at the other things, cuz you can cut it up.
Mm sounds like the GaryVee content pyramid. (laughs)
Kind of. I mean this thing's kind of right, but that's why you see YouTubers- even YouTubers that do well on Instagram and other platforms. They have large followings cuz their stuff is entertaining.
I agree. Yeah. And has the way that you guys do content changed right now?
Oh totally. Not right now. I mean, we just got better at it. So I think the biggest value that's helped now is by having a retail store with a bunch of brands where I've actually helped those brands launch things. So the biggest difference now is the content can be more interesting than just Moment stuff. Right? Cause when you started a product company, you're basically talking about yourself all the time, right? A new product, a new thing now by having a store, like DGI dropped a new mavic air drone-
You were there.
Right. We can be- We're there. We can get the product early-
Be part of the conversation.
Accessories for- Yeah, we can make great content for it. Help our audience, which is usually kind of a younger up-and-coming audience. Like, should you buy this? Should you not buy it? What do you care about? So that content thing that we built over four years works really well right now as a retailer.
So now switching gears into creators. So I know just by being close to some of the people that work with you, so you have your content YouTube team on staff. In what instances do you collaborate, or do you hire, if any, creators, like outside creators?
Yeah. One of the ethos for Moment is really trying to empower creatives. So a lot of the team are creatives, and then everything we do is around creatives. So like, the online lessons are really revenue streams for creatives, right? We're the production company. We'll do all the sales and marketing, there's zero cost to them front. We're taking all the financial risks, but like let's get you some lessons to get going. We may make the first lesson for them, they make the second on their own, and we can help sell and market it. But like everything we do is actually try to get revenue for creatives. So the lessons example, we've rebuilt the affiliate programs, all these people linked to different products. We found creators were getting underpaid, so we rebuilt the program, better margins, better click windows, for free, helping creators improve all their links and teaching them affiliate marketing. That's another example. We also, now we're getting opportunities with brands who have budget and taking them as creators and like, "Hey, here's some projects that are available "from these brands," and sometimes-
Oh, like an agency.
-product. Yeah. Sometimes the brands will give us product and we'll pay the creators. So we're always bringing the creators work as much as we can, whether those are like-
So, you mean that there's a future where Moment would be some sort of agency, where a brand has a need and Moment can be the agency in a way? And the content get created?
We've already been doing that stuff. So a brand will come to us and say, "Hey, let's make a little video series "of like three little videos." We will help them come up with what we think is cool. And then we'll bring that to different creatives that we work with and say, "Hey, here's a project. Here's the money." And then we help with like, maybe the brand can't pay cash. So the brand will give us product we could sell, and then we'll actually pay the creator in cash. And so we've been doing things like that, again, to help the creator, cuz the creator, you know, can't just eat free product. Right? The creator actually needs to make some revenue.
And so, we've been facilitating that too. You know, our budget sizes are so small, but we're able to help a lot of, kind of the mid-tier, up-and-coming creatives, right? And help the brands. And so that's been interesting in the last month, we've been doing way more of that, so.
Okay. You've been doing more of that. What's the best way for creators to work with you, (both talking simultaneously) to be noticed by you guys?
Yeah, yeah. I think any brand it's, you just gotta be aggressive on reaching out, right? And putting content out. And the best creators we see are, they're do more than just, "Hey, I can make some content," right? They write tight emails. Right? They're organized. They have a very clear pitch. They're open-minded. All of the things they put out, if they're putting out gear reviews, are tight on their links. Right? Cause they know that's additional pennies on the dollar they're missing. Right? So we find the best ones are just detailed. And they're detailed and very professional. And so I think even if you don't have a lot of experience, if you brought that to the table, and hustled and put some content out and say, "Hey, let me do a few projects for free. "Gimme the product first," right? Okay, now my budget's 500 bucks. Now my budget's a thousand bucks, right? So if I were the creators, I'd be going to brands that I think I can build on top of, and trying to build with them. And I might have to work for cheaper to start, and over time build myself. But if a creator came to us like that, you definitely work with them. Cause they're more organized and they have a plan, and they may not know everything, but they're admitting that, right? The harder ones are like, "Yeah, maybe I'll do it. "It's kind of too high. Talk to my agent." Like those are just way harder.
Yeah. No, I mean it's a different type of animal. So it seems like the ideal creator for, to work with Moment or smaller brands in your view is somebody who, you know, the creative part is maybe the creation part is maybe 30% and 70% is organized, tight. Good copy, has a concept. Is that right?
I mean, a lot of the creatives are like, sometimes are like 90% creative, 10% the rest, even if you were two thirds creative, 30% the rest, is a big deal.
Yeah. It's really cool hearing... I think these people are gonna like that, hearing what the needs are on the other side. Cause yeah. They rarely get to talk. And just hearing you saying organize, I've heard that before, (laughs) organize and flex, I mean I've heard also flexibility, you know, like people can also do things quick, you know, the need is, you know, my next-
More flexible and the other thread too, is you just ask like what, what are your marketing goals? How can I help? What are you trying to do? Like even if you're gonna ask 20 brands, like, "Hey, I love your brand. I think I can help." "I'm not totally sure, would love to connect for 15 minutes "and just learn what you're trying to do "from a marketing point of view. Right?" Cause they're, all of them are trying to figure out a new marketing playbook.
Yeah. A lot of them are kinda busy.
-market playbook. They have to throw out their marketing playbook, right? So they basically all need to move to online. So if you're any good at making content, we think that's the future of everything. And so if you have that skillset, I'd be pitching the 20 brands you really like, if you're okay, "How can I help?" Like "What do you guys need? "What kinda content you trying to produce? "How you trying to convert customers," something more sophisticated, right? A big brand. You need like a deck and everything, a smaller brand, some emails, but that's a skillset you gotta develop.
So if you don't know them, what do you think is the best way to reach out to these brands? Because emails-
We see people- as long as people are consistent, don't just send like the one DM that already has like, "Here's this thing I'm trying to do. Will you sponsor it?" Cause it's already about you. Right? The better play is like messaging them positively. Like "I love what you guys do." Right. "How can I help," like that kind of thing? You may have some ideas in your head already, but the best ones usually come in without presenting those ideas, and they try to get to somebody or get them on the phone, or chat about or learn from, and then they pitch them ideas. That's been a better combo than "I've got these ideas, will you sponsor it." Right?
Yeah. Yeah. That's just bit more, a bit harder to sell because you're trying to fit it into somebody's plan.
So is there any major projects you guys are building for? I mean, I'm sure you have. (laughs) Is there many projects you're building for the rest of the year that have come up from this like COVID situation?
There's the- we've been fortunate.
-Keep all the people, right? So the 40 people, that's a big deal, right? We weren't sure, could we keep everybody, not keep everybody, were we all gonna have to go on vacation for three months? Like we feel very fortunate now. It's like, all right, there's a baseline to the business that we can at least count on a bit here. Being able to keep the 40 people's a big deal to us. Now we're just trying to do a bunch of things to drive more creative revenue, honestly. So like the other thing we're working on is like a creator fund right now, we're trying to put together. So basically in a sense, every product sold, money will go towards this creator fund. And then with that creator fund, provide grants. So those grants might be, you know, sub 600 bucks. It's, in a sense you don't have tax issues over 600 bucks, you have to file et cetera. So we're still trying to figure out the amounts and how we're gonna do it, but that's not working on right now to see if, while, even though we need to launch new products, there's a way to launch those and also get some funds towards creators. But that's the biggest space we can help, is creator income. It's hard for a small company to really make a Covid impact, right? Or to really, like, make a difference on making masks. It's very difficult. I mean, in Apple, the world put 10 million masks out. It's very hard. Okay. You put a thousand masks out. We'd rather put money in creators' pockets and keep them going.
Yeah yeah, definitely yeah. You pick your battles. Has the virus changed the way you guys wanna tell stories?
It's made it, it has changed the content style. It's been interesting. It's been much more raw, and that's been okay.
Yeah, we've been seeing a lot of people just doing interviews just like this, you know, quality doesn't matter. Production value doesn't matter. (laughing)
Yeah. The vlogs have become like a combination, right? So the team would get together to make a vlog. Now they're each doing a piece of it and cutting those together and it's becoming one. But that style is interesting, and it's working, and I think that's really, I think that's actually better for creatives, cause it actually lowers the bar of need to overthink it. It gets back towards the documentation style of putting content out.
You don't have to like over-produce it now. I think it's actually easier. And they can also work on their own schedule versus all getting together at the same time, you know, in a day they might not feel like it. You know. You know, creatives. (laughs) Have you guys, since we can't really, you know, you guys make a lot of content. Since we can't go outside as much, have you guys been using the studio more to shoot product photos or just shoot films? Is that gonna be a- (speaking simultaneously)
-in their house. People are doing like their own house studios. (laughs) And that's been more, they've been doing more of that than ever. Cause even coming to Seattle studio, we have this team of 40, but maybe half live around Seattle. Half don't. So they've instead the have to find somewhere (speaking simultaneously) to shoot these productions. Yeah. They're basically doing it on their own. And there's a bit of a raw style, and it seems to be okay right now.
Now just switching gears onto the creators, you've touched on how they can be of more use to brands like you. In terms of presentation, what can they do to be more attractive to you guys or to brands? Like what would you do to be more attractive to brands? Cause everybody's like redoing their portfolios and things like that.
Seems like kind of one point, oh, what do you think is the next level on that for people?
The number one thing you look for is responsiveness, hands down. So if you email somebody and they email back, email back immediately, right? If someone texts you a project, text back immediately, even if you're like, "Look, "I'm too busy to take the project," message back immediately, or "Hey, I got that. "I'll hit you up in two days." That is number- Like if you just practice that skill stack, and find a way to compartmentalize that, you will stand out from a huge majority of the creatives, just responsiveness, right? And I think that's a number one trait.
To work on your tightness.
Yeah. Second would be like tighter communication. Right? So short sentences, short pitches, right? Short outlines and emails. Right? Bullet points. If you write it so people are gonna skim. That's what most people do, they skim. So if you put your content together, seeing people skim, then you're better off. People do it when they make YouTube videos, they focus on the title. Right? What's the thumbnail, that's the version of skimming, right? People are skimming through social. And so you're actually, most creatives actually pretty good at creating content that catches people while skimming, if it's not words, they get to words and it's just like, oh my gosh.
Oh, oh, here's my long pitch. Yeah.
Yeah. I'd say that's one of the skills I have to learn. Yeah. Is the short emails.
Just be succinct.
It's hard. Sometimes it can just be too dumb too. You know? Like there's a balance. I think with the short emails, because I feel like the internet has made us think in like very short points, you know, like this long of a sentence this time, because that's the way Instagram works. Like one piece of content is one world and the next world. So I have to correct myself and add commas. Cause I feel like I always do is do three words, dot, three words, dot. And I feel like, I mean, it's a different conversation, but I feel like that's just driving down human culture, I guess in a way. (laughing) Cause we're just dumbed down in communications, but I really respect short emails, you know?
Yeah, it's short. And then right now people are willing to talk. So like zoom calls, things like that to build a relationship. There's more of that going on. But the third skillset, just be consistent. It's like, "Look, I messaged you last month. "Here's some new projects I'm working on. "I just posted this stuff. "If you got some work, let me know." Two months later, "Hey, checking in." If you got like just consistency of checking in makes a big difference. So like Mo- example is we've built good relationships with press editors. Right? And it's taken years, but basically it's like, "Hey, here's something new we're working on. "What do you think?" They may not even reply. Right? Cause editors are busy, but if you keep coming back like next product, oh something next thing we're working or Hey, I saw this article you wrote, I really liked it.
Don't lose hope.
Yeah. Just be consistent, right? It might take eight emails until that one finally responds. But at least, you know, they're looking at it, right? So that would be the same as... the third skill set is just be consistent. Doesn't have to be over the top bearing, but just consistent. "Hey, we're here checking in. "Here's something cool I shipped." Right? "Is there anything I can help with?"
Yeah. And I think that it will stop recording there. ESR has a 29 minute limit. I dunno why. (laughing) DR8 will change everything. But yeah, I agree with that. I think that things I've learned from like the old school salesman that I've met in the past, like the 50 year old, like the dads, you know, who I get to meet, they just like,
Yeah. I met this guy who had like this little notepad and still had like client names and follow up dates, like a whole like, you know, like follow up, follow up. I was like, what are you doing with that? It's like, "Oh just is this my clients, this my leads. "And I just follow up with them every, you know, "I got that's all I do every morning."
There's a really good tool. There's a really good tool we use on top of your Gmail. It's a program called streaks, S T R E A K S. It works with your Gmail. So if you have Gmail, it's very efficient, but lets you build a little pipeline, have notes for each person, cuz you're always working your email. And so it creates this little grid, but-
Little panel, yeah.
It's a very simple way to have a pipeline. Right? Cause part of, I say that 30% you gotta work on your business side, being good at a sales pipeline, and a pipeline is really important. It doesn't- and that pipeline might be brands you're pitching, or might be partnerships you're working on. Right? That pipeline's gonna matter. And so I think that is the thing you're gonna develop is how to have one, how to keep notes and keep it organized. And what's the last time I emailed Jerry. And what did Jerry say? So we use this tool called Streaks.
And that's what most creatives don't do is exactly that, because it's pretty annoying to keep track of, you know, like you just wanna think live in this world where people come to see you for your work. And it's not the reality. Right? Unless you're like, you know, top echelon...
It can be, but yeah, you have to be a superstar, something has to have broken for you. Right? And just got keep it-
Supercenter. Yeah. Yeah. Supercenter. I really like your pipeline idea. I just keep it on Evernote. It's not great. But I like your integration in Gmail, seems like much more efficient.
Streaks, it's a great tool. It's like 50 bucks a month. So it's cheap. Right? And it keeps it organized. But I think the fourth thing, let me go back to the fourth thing on there.
Those pitches we use, we teach this a lot. We use a brief, we use a very simple creative brief simple. What, why, who, where, you can Google creative brief. But if a creative ever sent instead of a pitch deck, basically a little brief like that, they would, you would unlock so many doors. Cause it's so tightly organized. Like what is this campaign about? Why are we making it, right? What kind of metrics would happen.
It's hard for them. Yeah. It's hard on a cold lead, right? You can't just do that on a cold call. Cause you're like so much work to build a brief. (speaking simultaneously) So what do you think is the best contact?
Like if you had to look at the funnel, you know, from the first contact to that brief sending, what happens in between?
Usually there's a first pitch like, "Hey," if I'm just reaching out to a brand like, "Hey Melissa, it's," oh give me a brand name, "Hey Melissa, Grovemade," right. "Love your products." "If you're working on any content or need some marketing, "we'd love to chat and share what I'm working on." Right? That might be email one, but there might be a few of those emails to get them on the phone or to get some marketing, figure out what their plan is. As soon as you know info about them, you can start pitching ideas, usually-
Gather information first.
Gather information. Right. "Hey," and it also helps. Like I don't wanna waste your time. Right? Like, "Hey, we'd love to connect, love the brand. "I think I could do some work for you guys. "We'd love to chat a few minutes to learn what you're trying to do marketing wise." So when I pitch you ideas, they not a waste of time. And people resonate with that. It's like, yeah, it's great. This person will waste my time. You learn a little bit. Right? So you're trying to gain information so that when you pitch people, your pitch is dialed. Cause usually the ideas creators have can be really good. They're just pitching an idea that the brand doesn't care about. Cause they didn't ask the brand. "What do you care about?" first. Right? So yeah. First step is gathering as much as you can information, keep that somewhere of Streaks or Notes or Evernote, whatever. And then two, you just start pitching ideas, and you just get good at pitching ideas. Very simple email pitches to see if there's interests. So yeah. "Cool. I'm interested." "Cool. Let me get you a deck." Right? So rather to your point, don't waste your time on the deck if no one's interested, but really tight, simple email pitches. "I'm working on this video. "It's gonna have these kind of pieces of content. "My budget's about a thousand bucks," or whatever. Its like just get good at the tight pitches.
And that's your sort of third email is like "This is what I'm working on."?
Yeah. That's usually like email one is, "Are you interested? Let's chat." "Oh yeah. I'm interested." Or maybe, "I can't talk." They reply in the email. "Cool. I'm thinking of this idea." That's email two. "Cool. Yeah. I'm interested." "All right. Good." Email three is like, "Here's a plan. Let's talk."
Bam. Go for the timeline and everything. Yeah. Beautiful.
Yeah. Over time you build relationships. My theory is, if you're gonna do this for a long time, you're gonna need those relationships. You never know where people move in the brand. So if they, you find someone you like, you have a good relationship in Brand A, guess what? They might be with Brand B next month.
Yeah. I agree. (speaking simultaneously) The contact with the person is more important. Yeah.
Absolutely. That's like at Moment we actually don't have, we don't have company emails cause I know (speaking simultaneously) relationships are yours anyways. Yeah. I mean, if you leave you're Danny at Moment. So just Danny's got our relationships. You can reach Danny. You don't have to like feel like where is Danny at Moment? Where did Danny go? Can I get Danny's emails? Just like you have a relationship with Danny. Cool.
Ask Danny. Yeah. I love it. Last question. What's gonna be your biggest takeaway personally, and as a leader from the COVID? (Marc laughing) You love it?
I got my ass kicked in the last time around. So I think that's where I actually took most of the learnings. I think this time I'm just applying it. So the first time, like I said, 2018, how old was I?
27? 2008. 27 company of 12 had to cut it- A company of 19 had to cut it to 12, couldn't afford payroll totally. You know, owed the IRS money. Like it was gnarly to get from 19 to 12 and survive that. Lost my mom in the same year.
So like for me, that was the hardest. So this time around, I think second time around, it's just less emotional to- hopefully this works, right? If it doesn't we'll start something else or get a job. So I think over time you get more confidence that you can start again, once you start a few of these same thing, like you've created a bunch of revenue streams for yourself, you're more confident that you can make another set. Right? Think if it's your first time around, or first revenue stream, you're just more fearful. So I think this time around is just
Repetition. I'm applying what I learned in the last time, but the same stuff applies. Right? Focus- Number one is the people, making sure we can keep people employed, trying to keep income going to creators. That's always the most important thing. So even if it fails, you at least have those relationships.
That lesson's been true in that one. And it's true in this one. (Marc laughing) (Interviewer laughing)
Beautiful. Good man. I think it's gonna be really valuable. I don't know. You know, it's true. You have other things to do. Is there anything else you wanna add for these guys? I think the big thing, I'm just an optimist. Like I just believe in people and you can start things, and I wish more people would start more things. So if you're a creative, like now is the best time than ever, because a bunch of brands need to learn how to do new marketing, and it's a chance to figure out, okay, how you gonna market in a world that people are at home more, they're probably gonna travel less, right? All the brands that are doing physical and travel events, that money's gone. They have to figure out to do online and content engagement. So I think right now is an awesome time. Whether you're an individual creator or a little team of three or four, like you might say, "Hey, let's partner with my other favorite creators. "Can we make a little team of three or four, "and do little bit larger projects?" Right? Like, so I'd be looking at any way to create work right now. And revenue streams, and it's right now a huge opportunity.
There's gonna be a huge need for it. And I think that what you guys have built with Moment, the content team, the YouTube content team.
I don't know how, you know, the RevZillas of the world, all these guys. I don't know why they don't have that. Huckberry it's like, (Marc laughing) why don't they have their own like content team, right? Right now is maybe a tricky time for them to hire them. But you know, a year ago I was like, what? Cause now it could be very beneficial to them, having that already. Like you said, you know, revenue streams, but I'm really blown away by that, that should be more of a pitch that people should have. Like I'll make you all your in-house videos, (laughs) because-
Yeah, our whole theory we think is that if you just look, you know, hundreds of years coming from like manual labor to knowledge work, a lot of the work recently was knowledge work, sales, spreadsheets, analytics. We think the feature's actually creative work, and that's actually the skill set that's worth the most. And so if you said what's more valuable, the most valuable creative is actually a filmmaker right now. It's probably the most valuable creative because they can shoot, right? And create content. A filmmaker that's a great photographer, That's worth even more. Right? So if you're a great photographer, learning to be a filmmaker increases your value exponentially. If you're a filmmaker, also learning to be a decent photographer makes you worth more. So I think the concept of the visual content is worth more than ever. And so I'd be getting good at that. Cause people don't read anymore. You ask people, what's the first thing you do in the day, nobody raised their hands says, "I read a bunch of newspapers," right?
Yeah. That's like old school something. (laughs)
Yeah. So I think as a creative, that's the upside right now, is get really good at visual creative. The rest of this is just how to sell yourself, but really good at video and photo? It's worth so much.
Beautiful. This is gonna resonate. Thanks Marc. Cool man.
Perfect Timing They say things come at the right time and this workshop definitely did. Being a photographer is the greatest gift I could thank for, showing though my eye how I see existence is a blessing; but being successful from it is very tough! It has been a ride for me, and this workshop clarified so many things. The tools that are being shared are worth it all. Listening to these interviews made me feel not alone, hearing them speak about reinventing ourselves and trusting our creativity was inspirational. Specially the similarity of all about not giving up and staying authentic.
Thank you Alex, you created a master piece of knowledge.
What a wonderful resource! I really wanted to give Alex a HUGE thank you! This has been such a great resource as an aspiring Photographer. I feel way more confident and knowledgable about reaching out to clients. I still have some of my own homework to do but I feel like I am well equipped to tackle these challenges and to keep moving forward. Such a generous and honest resource. Can't thank you enough! And thanks to all who interviewed and shared their experiences.
Timely Generosity Many thanks to Alex and friends who made this workshop happen!
Very helpful, timely insights and reminders that building respectful relationships, trust, and community are values upon which to build personal, professional and cultural fulfillment and success.
The conversational details within the interviews are fantastic. And the common threads throughout make me hopeful. Thanks again to all!