Building and Scaling E-Commerce Brands with Emmanuel Eleyae

Melissa Crawford: Welcome everybody to the Eleyae Systems podcast. Today we're gonna be interviewing Emmanuel Eleyae, the founder and CEO of Eleyae Systems. I'm Melissa Crawford, the COO of Eleyae Systems, and, uh, we're gonna get right into it. So, hi Emmanuel, how are you doing today?

Emmanuel Eleyae: I'm doing great. How are you Melissa? 

Melissa: Oh, great. Thanks for asking. 

Emmanuel: You're welcome. 

Melissa: So for any listeners who may not know you or your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Emmanuel Eleyae: Yeah, sure. So I'm Emmanuel Eleyae, as you mentioned, CEO of Eleyae Systems, where we build systems that build brands online. And, uh, I love what I do and I love the people I get to work with. It's a phenomenal job. The clients we have are amazing, and it's what we're familiar with and what we're good at because we take a systems and operations approach to growing and scaling e-commerce brands, which is near and dear to my heart. I was in the military before, finished at West Point, was an armor officer for a while, got my MBA in international business and then was an operations manager at Amazon running fulfillment centers for them. So I very much enjoy the ops side of things and uh, have applied that to e-commerce. We launched a business, that scaled pretty quickly and we learned a lot there and now here we are. So that's my background. 

Marketing vs. Operations 

Melissa: Great. And for um, people who may not be as familiar with operations, can you tell us some of the differences between marketing and operations?

Emmanuel: Yeah, so big difference. I used to think, honestly that operations was somehow secondary to the marketing function. Uh, but honestly, marketing is a lot of ops. They're, they're very similar. It's just the output is different. So in the ops world, everything you do, it has to be effective, repeatable, and scalable. For example, when we're at Amazon shipping a million packages a week, there was no, hey, 2% of them got there, right? Every package has to get there, right? It has to be effective. Whereas in the marketing world, it's kind of, Hey, we got 2% of people to convert. It's okay. Right, but the systems involved, the processes in marketing is what are similar, right? The creation of content, the creation of marketing assets, the create, there are systems involved that are very similar to an assembly line, like within ops. Where I think the differences between marketing and operations is simply where, what the output is. So if the marketers do their job right, obviously more revenue and sales come into the company, and then if the operation folks do their job right, more profit drops to the bottom line. So we, we keep more money on the ops side of things, whereas with the marketing side of things, we make more money because you can have an operation where, It's very costly and wasteful, and so the marketers keep making more and more money, but the operation keeps growing equally as big and there's zero profit. So the ops of things, they're focused on the bottom line and, and sticking to budgets and coming under budget while the marketers are focused on forecasting and driving revenue up. 

Melissa: Do you think it’s um just as important for a business to have a good operational foundation as it is, uh, and really before they start marketing their business? 

Emmanuel: Yeah. And before they start marketing the business and as they grow, honestly, this to me is the saddest thing that we see with some businesses is where they start to grow too soon. Uh, we've seen it countless times where the founder has a good product, they get some early sales, some early traction. They're like immediately crank up the, the marketing. And these are the folks you see grow themselves into bankruptcy. They grow too fast and their operations don't keep up and the wheels fall off. And there's very clear thing. The sad part is if they just knew what systems break in advance and prepared themselves, they could avoid the stress and the headache and just get those right. You know, you don't have to be an operational whizz, you just have to know what's going to break. And so it's very clear, especially in the e-comm world, uh, you, as soon as you start to scale, the first thing that happens is you get a lot more orders. Meaning you're gonna run outta inventory faster, so people start to run outta inventory. The second thing, actually, even before that, they, they get more orders. They can't ship it out. So you start to see delays, right? Or you start to see them not getting it out as fast. Then as they're shipping more and more and more and more, even if they can keep up, inventory starts to run out and you start to see now we can't get the manufacturing in time, uh, or the manufacturer is too slow. That's the other thing that happens. And then when those three dominoes fall, now you start to see people getting pissed. So now guess what? Customer service starts to back up. So you start seeing, where's my stuff? Where's my order, where's my stuff? And then it becomes a domino effect because the angrier people get as time goes by, then they start to go back to your ads and the marketing channels, which are bringing in the orders. And saying bad things on the marketing. So now they're posting on your social media, they're posting your channels. Customer service is not answering. I didn't get my product. This is a scam. So now your ads stop performing, and then you begin this spiral down to where you can't dig back out. So now you get your inventory in, you ship it out to people, but your ads have been tarnished. And so they're not working. See, even though now you have the inventory, you can't scale. It's the scariest thing. Uh, so ops to me is not necessarily will scale the business and get it going fast, but it is what will keep it going as you start to scale. The other scary thing is when people grow too fast with paid advertising, right? Because, excuse me, if they don't have backend sales, like word of mouth, organic email marketing, they just have ads. You see people who have the scariest type of business where let's say you're doing a million dollar a year business or 10 million a year business, but 90% of your revenues coming from Facebook ads. Or we won't say 90% cuz you know 10%. You need the inventory. So let's call it 60% of revenues coming from Facebook ads. And you don't have good organic, you don't have direct traffic, you don't have email revenue. You've been growing primarily through ads. Well, guess what? One algorithm change, your whole business is shut down. And the problem with that is your cost structure is probably higher than you can afford if all of your sales dried up. You can't keep running at zero sales for the next three months. You're, you're basically in bankrupt. You gotta pay for inventory, employees, shipping, fulfillment. That's a scary business to run. So I say I, I, I love how people are like in the guru space, in the e-com world and the marketing space. They focus so much on marketing, but uh, you know, it's just sad that they don’t really put as much attention on the operations side of things. The marketing stuff will get you going and that's great and it's easy to talk about. It's making money, gets people talking about making money, but it's not what'll keep you going. Ops will. 

Melissa: Yeah. So it's, it's really important to have your inventory dialed in, to have your organic social media, your website, like have everything optimized. Um, and, and really set up to be able to scale with marketing. Um, so all those things need to happen before, um, before you go spending money on Facebook ads, et cetera. So you, you talked about systems there. Um, for the people who aren't familiar, can you walk us through, uh, a little bit about what we do here at Eleyae Systems and what those systems are?

Emmanuel: Sure. I'd love to. Uh, so the, the systems are straightforward. There's a couple of them. They're systems that we use to scale revenue, bring in customers, and then there's the systems to serve customers. This is the difference you've been asking me about marketing versus operations. So the systems to get customers are threefold. You have the awareness, so people need to hear about you. That's your paid advertising, your social media advertising, right? Things that reach out to people where they are and bring them to your brand. Then when they come to your brand, you need a way to convert them into a customer. That's like a Shopify store, WooCommerce store, big commerce store, Kajabi, any of these places where you can conduct a transaction hosting your products. And then the third phase is how you get people to buy again. That's your email marketing. Those three things, uh, those three systems are the crux of how you get more customers. And to support them, we also have the ancillary systems, which are inventory forecasting and plannings to make sure you have inventory to put on your website and then content. Ads, website, and email only content. So those five systems help you bring in customers. And then on the flip side, you need to have systems that are help you operate. So serve those customers so when people order, they need to be able to get their order. So order management systems, customer service systems, manufacturing, inventory planning and forecasting, and then admin, things like your QuickBooks and uh, your POs and administrative type of stuff. So those are the core systems that we teach and preach here at Eleyae Systems and help clients execute. 

Passion for business 

Melissa: You have a lot of followers on social media. A lot of people listen to the podcast, um, follow you on TikTok, LinkedIn, et cetera. And, uh, like what I hear from, uh, clients and prospective clients a lot is that they follow you. They've listened to everything that you've put out. Um, you're very knowledgeable about a lot of different areas. Can you tell us a little bit about what your passion is and kind of how you got interested and started with um, marketing, operations, just business in general, E-commerce. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. I actually got interested in, as a kid, like my first foray into business was a little web design agency back in 1997. Seems so long ago now, but, uh, it was in high school and, and the internet was becoming a thing and we learned Photoshop and I think it was Front Page and Dream Weaver was the fancy, you know, website builder thing at the time, I don't know how to do Dream Weaver. And uh, I was like, man, I want to do that. I want to learn how to make money, uh, and have a business. Because what I saw was, you know, my parents, they're immigrants, right? And the, the thing about immigrants, they come here, “we're America now. We must do business. Young man. Come, come business. You must do business in America.” And so it's very much like the immigrant mentality. Like, hey, capitalism, business like, and they would all start businesses and they would all have businesses. You know, it was always like, but why aren't they quite taking off? There must be something to this thing. You know, like, um, you know, you'd see the ones that we were working on that wer’e trying to get off the ground, but then you'd see another one just take off and you're like, why? Why did that one succeed and become a billion dollar company and ours isn't? I mean, they were all successful. They were very well educated. They were, uh, they made money, dual income households, doctors, lawyers, academics. So we had money to invest in them. But this business thing was just a very tough thing to crack. So that was what inspired me. You know, if I could crack this business thing and be able to help people, like my parents, my uncles, my aunts, all of whom have all kinds of, you know, home health businesses and restaurants and, you know, they would sell things at the swap meet or have fragrance lines or different things. I, I could really help contribute to my community and it would be fun to learn the business and the language of money. So that's kind of what inspired me. I ended up in the military, so I took a detour. But, to me, it was like I'd get to learn leadership skills. It would help me if I, if I were to grow a big business. Uh, and then once I got out, I would be able to get an MBA, which I ended up doing to learn the language of business at a high level. I could work at a company that was a startup like Amazon, uh, which got really, really big. Uh, but that was kind of what sparked it and how I continued it. And then when I finally got the opportunity back in 2013 to, to start, we went hard at it, you know? And, and that's really kind of my story on, on business. And now I feel finally, like we've come full circle 20 years later. That 17 year old kid, you know, it's, knows how to be able to look at a business and scale that business. So uncles, aunts, if you guys have businesses, I, I got you now, I know what to do now. You know, things have changed. I wasn't, I wasn't as smart on it back then, but I feel much more comfortable scaling and growing a business now cause we've done it a lot. You know, and it's, we've kind of learned the language and we've figured things out. 

Melissa: Yeah, we, we've done it a lot. We've done it for, I've lost count of how many clients we've helped scale. It's, I don't know, somewhere around 50, 60. I don't remember the exact number. 

Emmanuel: Yeah, we, we've had 50 or 60 that have hired us, but we've actually coached and consulted with over a hundred at this point.. And the amount of sales calls and just, uh, consultations that we've done is even higher than that. So, yeah, we've worked with a lot at this point, so we've seen a lot. 

Melissa: So this is, um, business in general is a lifelong passion of yours. Like is there like, if you could do your dream job, would this be it? Or is there something else you would do? 

Emmanuel: It is, it is my, I and I, I feel awkward saying that because I feel very fortunate, uh, because I mean, there's a lot of people that go to work for a living, right? You have to work. And that's kind of how I was raised, right? Like you, you go to work, it's a job, and then you have fun when you're off of work, you know, you, you don't have time for passion. You gotta provide, you know, especially as a man, you gotta be a provider. That's our role. And so I fought hard in my career to get to an environment where, you know, I may not be doing the thing I want to do in life, but one day I will. And I feel like I'm there now, right? Like every day I come into work, I'm constantly challenged. Like we have multiple clients, so I never have to focus on the same thing. Like I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Like for me, the ideal, uh, analogy is like the person who is the architect or the builder of the house versus the person who's a property manager of, of the house, right? The property manager is day to day managing. That to me is, I could never do that. And when I was working at corporate, I was working in the military, it felt like Groundhog's Day a lot of time. And it was, it was stifling. Whereas to me, I need new projects, new exciting things to do. And so being able to work with different clients keeps things fresh, keeps things exciting. And I'm very much a fact finder on the Kolbe A test, K o l b e A, uh, cognitive personality test where I love consuming information. That's where, when I'm at my best, I'm, when I'm in the zone, I'm not starting something new. I'm not making anything with my hands. I'm not creating, you know, spreadsheet, not necessarily spreadsheets, but like checklists and follow through. I'm researching. I love to research, so every brand that comes through, I get to sit there and dig into the brand and figure out, hey, what, what is your brand all about? And then, what's going to work? I go into my bag of tricks. What are all the marketing tactics, the ops tactics, and maybe even if, if it's exciting, it's a new one. So I get to find new tricks to use with this brand, and that's what I get to do all day. And then, the team that we've built are all people who are very similar to that or have a passion for business. So every day I'm working with people who are equally as excited and passionate about the things that I'm passionate and excited about. So yeah, I've found what my passion is and yeah, that's what I'm gonna do the rest of my life. 

Melissa: And the, the reason that I'm asking these questions is, um, just so people can understand that this is your passion and this is what you really care about. And so like an example I would give is if I had to have brain surgery and I needed to go find my own doctor, then I would want a doctor who, from the time when they were a kid, or you know, very early on, was like, wow, I wanna be a brain surgeon someday. And they spent their whole life like learning about that and, educating themselves and reaching that goal and staying up to date on the new technologies and brain surgery, et cetera. That's the person who I would want doing my surgery. Not somebody who was like, yeah, that job pays pretty good, I, I think I'll go do that. And, um, so that's, that's what you are and it's, uh, I think it's very comforting for our clients who get to know you really well because there's, I, uh, I'm not exaggerating, there's not ever been a question that I've heard them ask that you don't know the answer to because you're passionate about it, you're knowledgeable and you stay on top of everything that's trending. So like as an example, when iOS 14 happened, like you already knew in advance, like what, what was going down, what the implications of that were gonna be. Um, and that was a really big deal. It still is a big deal, and there's, there's a lot of things going on in the world, like with the TikTok ban, et cetera, or proposed ban. So, you know, that's, it's not just your job to stay on top of those kinds of things. Like that's actually what you love to do. I remember when we first met, uh, many, many years ago. Like, you had a book, Ruby On Rails that you were reading, like just, you know, just a book for fun, you know, like just laying around. So, um, you're very, very knowledgeable and very passionate about the things that you do, so I just wanted to highlight that for, for listeners who may not know that.

Emmanuel: Thank you. Yeah. It's, it's good and bad, like you're, it’s great like if a client wants to hire me to help them. Terrible if I'm at a party with someone, cuz all I want to talk about is Ruby on Rails or you know, iOS 14. The impact on attribution and whether tools like Triple Whale or North Beam are going to help affect, you know, better ad performance and nobody wants to hear that at, at a party. We talk about that, but that's what I love talking about. I love geeking about geeking out about that stuff.. 

Melissa Crawford: Yeah. And then, um, so, uh, also for people who might be listening, I'll just give a little detail about what we do here at Eleyae Systems. We, um, are a digital marketing, marketing agency. We do email, um, we do creative for people, creative that you can use in organic, you can use it for ads. We run ads for people, Facebook ads, Google ads, um, and we have a, a variety of different packages that we kind of tailor to suit people's needs. And as Emmanuel said, we have a lot of like really talented people on our team, uh, creative people. Uh, we also do inventory planning, help with inventory planning, um, and analysis. Um, and a team of media buyers and just a whole host of people that are really also very passionate about what they do. And um, I would say 97% or 95% of our team is, uh, the same score on the Kolbe, the fact finder. So that means everyone really loves to learn all the facts. They need all the facts, and they'll, um, get all the facts before they, um, proceed. So it is a really, a great team of people that we have. 

The hardest part about running your own business 

Melissa: The next question that I have for you is, is now that you've, you have said that like you're really basically living your dream. You're in the job that you always like hoped for and envisioned you'd have, you're really passionate about it. So what's the hardest part for you about, uh, owning your own business, running your own business?

Emmanuel Eleyae: Yeah, I'll tell you, it's a people business. I'm very much an introvert, and so I somehow have landed in a job where all day long I'm interacting with people, whether that's client clients or that's team, or that's my own coaches that are feeding into me and teaching me what's coming up or sales calls, because I, I constantly am on calls to evaluate if there's better and newer solutions for our clients to, to benefit from. So I'd say that's probably the hardest thing. I didn't expect that. I mean, you think about it, you leave business, some people, you know, especially like myself, leave the corporate world cause like, I don't want to have a boss. You know, I've had a boss and I just wanna work for myself. Well, when you get into business, you actually have, everyone's your boss, right? Because you're constantly negotiating, uh, relationships and you're constantly having to, uh, make sure that the relationship is working and you're reporting basically to everyone, whether that's your employees, cuz you want to keep them. Cuz literally, if they're good, like the people that we've been fortunate enough to have work for us, they're constantly getting offers from other places. Or even sometimes clients will try and poach 'em, right, and take 'em with them. Or you have clients who you're reporting in to cuz you wanna prove that you're doing the work right. Or you're trying to justify, you know, to sales reps or coaches or all these people that you know, they should, they should work with you or that this is a good relationship to have or, or a partner program. So I'd say that's probably, you know as an introvert, that was really difficult. Um, but equal to in difficulty to that is keeping up. I was not prepared for how fast marketing moves. You mentioned iOS 14, iOS 14.5, iOS 15. All these things all happened in one year. Each and every one of them was a massive shift. Let's not even get started on how Google and SEO changes are almost every year. Panda and Penguin and all these things just, I mean, literally overnight, entire businesses get wiped out, like disappear. Facebook Messenger ad agencies literally were, what, they started and were wiped out almost overnight. The um, the chatGPT world, right? Like the whole copywriting industry is running scared right now, but at the same time, you've got all these shops now that are opening up to help people with prompt engineering, right? It just moves so quick compared to a warehouse. Warehousing hasn't really changed in decades, right? You get good at warehousing, you can run your entire career from start to finish, 20, 30 year career doing the same thing. Military, right? There's not much that changes being in the military, right? So these are not fast moving, fast based industries where every six months you have a new, completely new, uh, market and business model and, and client. So it's extremely fast paced being in marketing and that, that can be tough. Very, very difficult. 

Marketing advice 

Melissa: If you could give someone business advice or, um, what is the best advice that you've gotten? 

Emmanuel: Ooh, I love this question because, uh, I think I, we have a counterintuitive answer to this. Uh, it's almost like the, the opposite of what most marketing advice is. Most marketing advice is about scale and revenue and marketing. Mine, there's only- it's to simplify, right? Just find one thing that works, and double down on that, right? When we were first starting, I was trying all the things. Uh, we were, we were just starting our e-commerce business and I was trying the Etsy ads and the Facebook ads and the Amazon ads and the Google ads, and I remember our goal was to just get three sales a week. We can just get consistently three sales a week, we'll be doing good. And then our goals after that will be to get one sale a day. And we're spending all this money on ads, and I'm going in all the chat rooms and Facebook groups and say, “Hey, we have this product.” Just working myself to death, trying all the things. And then we had an influencer show up one day and just, we didn't even ask her to do it and she didn't even let us know she was doing it and we sold 500 units out of nowhere. And then she posted another video two weeks later and we sold the other 500 units, which we had had at the time sold us completely out. A month later I'm still doing all the things we replenished and I'm trying to figure it out. I'm talking to a coach like “hey, um, you know, I'm just trying to figure out how do we get that consistent cuz that influencer thing was nice. It was a nice spike. But it's inconsistent. It's lumpy growth. How do we make it consistent?” I'm rattling off all the things. “I'm trying, I'm doing Twitter ads and Etsy ads and Facebook ads. I'm doing all the ads. Yeah, we had this influencer thing, but it's not-” “So wait, stop. Go back. The influencer thing sold, oh, sold you completely out. Why don't you just do more of that?” And it was like a light bulb went off like, yeah, we should, we should just do that. And we just focused on that and all the other stuff stopped and I focused on let's just focus on getting as many influencers to work for us. And over the next six months we had like a hundred influencers that we hired. We built a whole system around it. We built tracking spreadsheets, scripts for them, and we built the process and just focused on that. And that's how we went from around 10-20K a month to over 84K a month in revenue, consistently, using just the influencers, which I thought was too lumpy. No, we systematized it. And so to me, that's the greatest advice that I got in business. If I can do a second one. Am I allowed to do two? Okay. I can do a second one is, marketing is not as hard as we think. People, when they talk about marketing, they're actually talking about tactics, like marketing hacks, marketing tips. But at the end of the day, marketing has been figured out for decades. There's only three ways to make more money in business. You either make more from existing customers who are, who pay you, get more customers, or get customers to buy more often. That's it. And that's literally how we built our Eleyae Systems is, is along those, those three areas. Right? So to get more customers, that's awareness. That's your Facebook ads, Google ads, and social media. That gets you more people in the door. But we do that last. The second way is to make more per customer. So when we're at Shopify, uh, or that's usually the website we work on, we want to improve the conversion rate and the average order value at the time of sale, so we make more per purchase when they purchase. That's the second thing we do, and the main thing that we focus on when we're doing an implementation is the backend sales, get people to buy more often. So if one person has bought, if each person that comes in buys once for $50, well, if you just get one to buy again, you've literally just doubled your revenue, right? So, and it's easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a new customer. But those three ways, if as long as you focus on those three things, marketing is super easy. And then just do things every day that help you in one of those three areas. And if you keep that as the focus, you can, A, simplify marketing and B, avoid all the shiny object syndrome and the the rabbit holes that, you can't tie back what some agency or some guru or some new tactic or blog post you read if you can't tie it back to one of those three areas and how would it improve one of those areas, don't bother with it, it's not gonna help you. And that simplification made things so much easier in terms of what systems should we implement in our business and what should we focus on and allow me to get, you know, me and all the folks that we coach to focus on what matters and not get completely bogged down and busy all the time.

Melissa: So that, that brings up another question for me. We get a lot of questions about, um, should people run Facebook ads for their business? What would your, and you know, I know there's, um, that's a complicated answer. But if you could do your best. 

Emmanuel: Yeah. People, so the, the short answer to the question, if they're asking, should I, uh, run Facebook ads, the answer is no. Right. Uh, here's when you should run Facebook ads: You should run Facebook ads when you no longer need it, need to run Facebook ads, right? Because all the other stuff is working. Your backend sales, your organic, your content. You have a community of people. Those are the, you have proof, people, your stuff is flying off the shelf, you keep running out. Word of mouth, people are sharing your product and maybe you're not doing a lot of revenue. You don't have to be doing a hundred thousand a month in revenue. Maybe you're doing 10-20K, but those are the indicators that you can run ads because why? You have proven that there is demand for your product. Those are the people that are ready for Facebook ads. The opposite is where people get into scary scenarios, right? Where, yeah, I went and bought a hundred thousand dollars and the inventory is sitting in my warehouse. Uh, I don't have an email list. I'm not sending emails. Yeah, we're gonna go ahead and get our social media stuff set up, but we've been spending $30,000 a month on ads. How much are you making on those ads? $35,000 a month. But we need you to come get us to 3 ROIs like, whoa, whoa. There's no proof of demand. There's no community, there's no organic anything here. This is literally, you're giving Facebook all the money to bring you people to buy your product, and you're barely breaking even. That's what most people who are asking the question, you know, should I, well, they're not asking me, should I? That's most of the people who get into a dangerous scenario. And should not run ads. If you're wanting to run ads, don't get in that scenario, uh, by first focusing on what are the organic indicators that I'm ready for Facebook ads. Yeah, that's what they should be asking. 

Advice for new entrepreneurs 

Melissa: And then what would you say is, um, I don't wanna say a mistake, but maybe an opportunity that you see for people who are starting out in business. Um, if, if people go back and listen to some of the previous podcast episodes, I think there's a lot of great learnings from people that you've interviewed this season. Um, what would you say is like a common, uh, mistake or opportunity that people have when they're just starting out? 

Emmanuel: What, starting out in business overall? 

Melissa: Yeah. 

Emmanuel: Oh, okay. Uh, and I'll, I'll stick to the type of folks that, uh, we help, right? The bootstrapped e-commerce entrepreneur, the people who are, as opposed to people who are like VC funded or private equity funded or are, um, Amazon or dropshippers or whatnot. These are folks who have an idea and they make it, and they're creators. They pri- maybe even beyond private labeling. They actually go get a mold made and they manufacture or they work with a designer or they make it in their kitchen. You know, they're making hair care product or something. Those folks, the thing I, I, I love telling them is to stick with what got you, what worked. If you made your product, make sure that people want it before you go too far with it, right? Because you end up getting stuck with your business. Cuz people don't realize you can give up on your business, but they don't realize that, so they stick with it way too long. When in reality the market's telling them this business isn't working. Nobody wants what you have. Like remove the ego from it. We had a phenomenal interview we did with Kristoffer where it's like, let the business go. Right. Uh, and then you can always start again. The key is to do, to make sure you still have enough resources to start again. If you put everything in it and you just keep going, keep going, you're just, and, and make it, you know, the business didn't fail, I failed, then you can't bounce back. So I, I tell people, don't, don't let that happen. So in order to do that validating demand is the sole job of the CEO founder at the beginning. Just, and, and I would argue throughout because any job you do outside of validating demand, which is talking to customers to see if your product solves their pain point and finding out what are other pain points they have and coming up with solutions to those pain points. Any job other than that, you are hurting your business. You're getting in the way of your business. You're taking time away from things that will help you grow your business. Cuz remember what we talked about is the Whole point of before you go running ads is you need to validate that you're getting organic sales, you're getting word of mouth sales, you're getting revenue from email, you're getting repeat purchases. Those are the things you're wanting you need to do. Take your time to do that rather than, ‘Hey, we're three months in. We're only making $10,000 a month. We need to turn on the ads.’ You're not ready. Take your time, make sure you're getting those organic metrics. And then what'll happen is naturally you'll have all that raw material, all that organic sales, all that audience that you've built up slowly, and then when you turn on the ads, then you can really take off. You know, that's, that's my advice to folks just starting out is focus on the demand and confirming the demand. 

Melissa: And I think sometimes people, when they're starting out, they, they think, um, if they're, they're not seeing initial successes they think, ‘oh, well I just need to work harder.’ Or ‘I need to find, you know, an expert, um, or I need to drop a bunch of money in Facebook ads and that's gonna solve it’, but that's not necessarily true. 

Emmanuel: Nope. And we went into this deep, in the first couple episodes in season one of this podcast, I think it was episode two or three, we were talking about how to measure that. So anyone listening, go listen to that. We went in deep. I mean, one of the tactics is just talk to 30 people about your product and then ask them this key question, which is, ‘how much would you pay for this thing?’ And if they say a nu-, without telling them what you're pricing, thinking of pricing it, if they say a number that's higher than what you were thinking of pricing it, that'll give you a profit then you know that this product is more valuable to them than you were thinking of pricing of that, and that's a good product to have. Oh, here's another piece of advice that I, I feel like if you're not in the e-commerce space, this is more applicable to everyone too whether you're coach, creator or whatever. It's opposite of marketing advice, which is: charge less than what you think you're worth. Like so many people are preaching this idea that, hey, you know, charge what you're worth. Like you, you may you, if you're not sure what to price, come up with a number and then double it, triple it, right? Go after what you're aspirationally what you want to charge. I think that's the worst advice, especially if this is your first time in business, because when you try to charge that, when you talk to someone, that energy will come through. You're gonna be nervous, you're gonna know deep down, this is way more than you think it's worth. That is disaster when you're starting to sell and people can feel it, you know, it's, it's, it's an awkward, kind of thirsty kind of energy, or it is just a weird feeling that you get when someone is kinda like, well, you know, if, if, if, if you can't afford it, that's fine. Or if you don't know the price, or if you have those harsh tactics, I think you should do the opposite. Instead of trying to charge more than you're worth, charge half of what you're worth, what you think you're worth. Why? Because you come with a completely different energy. You come with that cool energy of someone that's just like, “are you kidding me? This is, I'm, I'm literally giving this away.” And now your energy is much more relaxed, shoulders are back, you’re leaned back and when they start creating objections, ‘well I think that's too expensive.’ Instead of, you know, getting riled up or maybe even folding or whatever that nervousness would create. Instead of that, you feel calm and you, you can justify it more easily and be like, “okay, well then, don't take it because if you don't think it's worth this, I mean, I honestly believe it's worth twice that at a minimum, but I've chosen to just get started at half.” You have a whole different energy and honestly you're not as thirsty, you're not as anxious, and people will feel that confidence and they'll fall into that, right? If you think it's worth 50 bucks, charge $25. Cuz to you, you're just like, ‘why isn't anyone taking it? Like why wouldn't you-’ excuse me, not, ‘why isn't anyone taking it?’, “Why wouldn't you take it? It's so affordable. This is so easy.” And then what do you have? Now you have people taking it. Even if you're making less, you get the real gold. Cuz the gold at the beginning is not sales. The gold at the beginning is testimonials, people demonstrating transformation. ‘This worked for me this well,’ and the more of that you have in the long term, that is what's really gonna lead you to being able to not just charge what you think you're worth, but doubling what you're worth later on. And that to me is, is the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone starting out. Charge half of what you're worth so that you can get testimonials so that you could then later use those testimonials to do the justification of your expensive price so that people wouldn't even argue. They're like, ‘wow, look at these 20 different people who succeeded from your service. I don't care what it costs. Give it to me.’ Yeah, that'd be my advice. 

Thoughts on AI, ChatGPT, and proposed Tiktok ban 

Melissa: Good. That's good advice. And then let's switch gears a little bit and talk about just e-commerce in general. There's a lot of new technology, there's a lot of things going on, um, that we have the introduction of AI, ChatGPT, there's hundreds of AI programs, softwares, et cetera. Um, and then also the proposed TikTok ban. So I wanted to get your thoughts on, uh, all that stuff in, in general.

Emmanuel: Yeah. I think it's an exciting time. That was, that quote “It’s the best of times, it's the worst of times,” right? If you're a digital marketer or someone who has relied on, uh, basically the, the effort, the workload, right? So folks who, um, do a lot of blog post writing, especially those content spinners or content forms, right? Or graphic designers or copywriters who are doing a lot of ‘me too’ type of stuff, right? Where it's like, ‘Hey, you need 3000 blog posts for your new site.’ You know, those kind of folks. That's gonna be tough because literally that is what this chatGPT is, is built for. I do think though, it is not as scary as some people are making it out to be where chatGPT is gonna take over because the thing it can't do is it, they can't come up with the ideas. That's where we still have human ingenuity, right? Where it's like, hey, if we have a new client and we're trying to figure out a new angle, we can use the chatGPT as a research assistant to help us. But when it comes time to actually launch it into the WOW to generate results, we can't ever go back and back ‘well chatGPT said this was gonna work.’ You know? Like we are the ones that are coming up with the ideas and it's helping us. So the people who are scared of, uh, chatGPT and things like Jasper and all this AI are looking at it differently. The, the way that it should look at, we should look at it, is it's a good assistant to help us with ideation, right? Like a research assistant, uh, writer's rooms and like, uh, uh, TV show, or, you know, the comedy writers, right? Like, it's not gonna be the final say and come up with the best joke, but it will help you get there faster. And then once you've, and chosen. So now you can move into instead of, ‘Hey, I'm gonna sit here and come up with 20 jokes,’ or ‘I'm gonna sit here and come up with 20 headlines.’ You can simply say, ‘gimme 20 headlines about this’ and then based on that, you can start to refine. So it'll help you as an assistant, and then you move into the role of more of an editor and polisher than someone who has to write, uh, come up with all those ideas. And that's on the ideation part. On the flip side of that, once you have the ideas, what normally would happen is you have the outline for the, you finish your outline, you finish your headline, you've come up with your idea. Then you've gotta sit here and write out a 10 page, you know, paper or a 3000 word blog post. Well, you can ask it to do that for you. And then it does the hard work of typing it out and then you're now back in the editing mode versus the plugin and chuggin and just the boring, tedious, the tedious part is what things like AI are gonna help us with, not the creative intellectual part. So that to me is like, I'm not scared of it. I'm, I'm excited about it because for especially the brands we work with that are not selling ‘me too’ products they’re selling innovative products, this is a game changer. Right, because if you're selling toasters, I mean there's so much content about toasters out there. You can just copy, paste, swipe from someone else. A lot of the Facebook advertising strategy and gurus usually are helping brands like that. So copywriting has been a lot of ‘look at what your competitors are doing and swipe’, right, you know, great artists, uh, good artists copy, great artists steal. That idea right, is like you see a lot of people just taking from their competitors. But the clients that we work with, they're making stuff that's never been brought to market before. Cuz this is their invention. So they need the, to constantly be coming up with different angles, different ideas, and they may just be limited. So in this sense, things like chatGPT are super helpful in being able to, um, come up with those ideas for them and, and be a research systems sounding board. Now, as far as the TikTok ban, oh man. How much time you got? Like, I love this debate and I think it's hilarious to me. 

Melissa: And I feel like by the time this podcast is released, like it, it'll be so like different than, but yeah. 

Emmanuel: Who knows? I I that, and it's, honestly, it's a toss up 50/50 what's gonna happen there. You know what's, but what's so funny to me, I, I can shorten it up. I don't need to go on a long rant about it. But the thing that's the funniest to me about it is how much the conversation has been, um, pushed onto TikTok as the villain here, but Facebook's doing all the same stuff. Google has more data than both of them combined. So that's my short answer to that. I think it's, it's more so just that it's a external company, but I mean, the amount of privacy that we have given up as a society is actually a, the bigger conversation, not TikTok is the problem, you know? So I feel like it's just a, a misguided conversation, you know? I mean, to think about it, iOS apple is the only one that has really pushed this privacy issue really to the forefront with iOS 14, 14.5, 15, uh, because it showed us like as soon as that happened, like ads stopped working, but I feel like the ads shouldn't have worked that well. They were cheating. Like it makes no sense. There's, there's an ad format that worked really well for a while called DABA: Dynamic Ads Broad Audience where basically you would just take your catalog from face, from your Shopify store, which is literally just products on white, like on a white background. And imagine a toaster product, right? So you would take, take your toaster product, product listing, import that into Facebook. Facebook would take that image and go to a broad audience, which means that there's zero targeting and it would run those ads and be able to send you people who are ready to buy right now. So that means they had, how much did they have to know about you to know that you are in the market to buy a toaster right now? I mean to, I mean, how would you even do that? Like this person likes toasters. They like this kind of toaster. They've been researching these other things. They've been talking about this, they've been googling these ideas. They've, they know, had so many data points that they could know just off of one picture in your Instagram feed, you would click and go buy today. That's scary levels of, of data mining and they're not the only ones. You know, Google, the credit card companies, a lot of that information's out there. So that's the biggest thing. The second thing though, about the TikTok that I think is, is a little bit sad. We're picking on them. But you know who wins in this TikTok debate is YouTube shorts. Right? Because I, they literally, what TikTok has done is they gave us what we've been needing for a while. Social media platforms got comfortable with the social graph, right? So now you could have, you know, when you logged on social, you would see what your friends have posted. And that worked for a long time. But we kind of got bored with that because not all of our friends are posting the best content. We wanted to discover new stuff and TikTok went ham with that, right? Like that's their whole thing. They pioneered, not pioneered. I think Vine actually kind of started this a little bit more, but instead of you seeing stuff from people you follow, you see stuff that they think you're interested in. And that is a huge game changer because now that's how you see people, you know, go down this rabbit hole and spend four hours and you're like, wow. Cuz it knows me and it has figured me out. Right? It's an interest graph. That was an innovation that needed to happen. You see IG reels, Pinterest idea pins, YouTube shorts, following suit because they've seen, wow, that really works because it keeps people on the platform longer, which means we can feed them more ads. Right? Um, and neither here nor nor there, they're getting better at monetizing it. They're not as good. But that was the innovation and that's what we were screaming for. We want more content out of all of this. YouTube is really gonna be the one with YouTube shorts. I think they're the ones that's gonna win out cuz they're the silent sleeper. Because when you go to YouTube, you have a level of uh, brand history and respect for YouTube, and I think the content on YouTube shorts over there is actually better than the content on, on TikTok and IG reels and even IG reels. They're, they're such a mess over there on Instagram. They're having such a crisis that I don't think people really, it's not like TikTok versus IG reels, I don't think, you know, that's the competitor. I think it's like, if you're comparing short form video, um, uh, providers, it's probably gonna be, it's TikTok and that's it. But then the, the next one in order is YouTube shorts, right? Even Facebook reels, nobody listens to those things. I, I hate those 10 minute things that, you know, they just try and hook you to the end. Like, look at this police officer with this woman in a wetsuit, what's going to happen? And they just drag it out for 10 minutes and it's clear, it's not authentic. It's staged. Anyway, this lemme not rant about that, but yeah, I think the, the format of TikTok is what is exciting that TikTok did for us, the interest graph versus the social graph. And I do think what people need to watch for is that YouTube shorts is probably gonna be the winner in all of this. 

Melissa: Yeah. And um, I don't know if, if you were able to watch much of the hearings, but they're supposed to be putting, um, or they might have already done it cuz even, I'm not as up to date, but, um, putting the servers in Texas so they'll be in the United States behind a firewall so everyone feels, you know, like everything's protected. Um, you know, which is great and that should happen, but what about all of the other social media platforms like Facebook, uh, Instagram, you know, all, all of the rest of them. So, I think that people maybe have an unrealistic, or, you know, or they just don't have the information about how many companies and how many apps that we use every day that are not located here in the United States and nobody's data is actually safe.

Emmanuel Eleyae: And, and that's, to me, the actual conversation that needs to take place is that privacy is a thing of the past, right? There's so many, I mean, your phone knows so much about you, and I almost feel like even with the iOS 14 and iOS 15 stuff that Apple did, they were just playing. You know, they're playing, pretending that they're really focused on our privacy, when in reality they just want all the data for themselves. You know, we all have our phones with us at all times. We're not always on Facebook. And look at Google- Google knows everything about us. They know what restaurant we went to, they know where we're driving to, where we're going. We're passing, like, you'll start to see targeted ads based on what location you just drove by. Right? Because they're there watching you. They know what you're Googling. They've got every website you've been to, more than likely if you're, especially if you're using the Chrome browser, if you're on Android phone, they know everything about you. Right. And we're worried about one app. Yeah. It it, it's just kinda, it's, it's funny.

Melissa: It's really the least of our concerns.

Emmanuel: Yeah. Honestly, we picked this company. All right. 

What’s next for Eleyae Systems 

Melissa: Yep. So what do you think is, is next for Eleyae Systems? So we've talked a lot about, you know, uh, what we do and what your passion is and sort of the changing landscape of, you know, AI, TikTok, et cetera. Um, what do you think is next for Eleyae Systems? 

Emmanuel: Yeah, this is huge. I think what's next for Eleyae Systems dovetails with what's next in the e-commerce industry in general, especially for bootstrap e-commerce entrepreneurs. I think what we're moving towards is because of things like what we've just been talking about, like privacy concerns and Facebook ads don't work as well. We're going back to basics, right, which is back in the day when the advertisers, the, the Madison Avenue, you know, style folks who are doing billboard advertising. They didn't have attribution windows that were seven days or one day and could say, oh my ROIs is this the same day? Right? Like, run an ad and get 2x return and attribute it down to the ad level, not even to the channel level, like Facebook versus Google, not even to digital versus non-digital. They basically had to, you know, let's run, uh, a couple billboards in Idaho and then a couple over here in California and see which ones do better and it'll take three to six months. We're moving back to that environment and what worked in those days was content. Right. Having really good copy, having really good content, having really good creative that really spoke to someone and got them ready to buy in a way that didn't require a huge sales team, a huge sales presence, a huge explanation, right? And so, that to me or, or I should say, not a huge sales team, huge sales president didn't need a whole lot of data, a whole lot of targeting and interest groups, and it's what the platforms are looking for too. They don't want us doing a lot of media buying. Facebook just got rid of all kinds of interest groups. Google is pushing, Google Ads is pushing performance max campaigns. Good Lord. And Facebook's now pushing Advantage plus campaigns where you can't even put in audiences, right? They really don't want us targeting that way, which means that they want creative to do the talking. They want us to do the thing that their machine learning algorithms can't do currently, which is make the content that is gonna be interesting for the viewers on their platform. So I think that's how we need to move, is move towards how do we make more content that does the connection and the selling and the targeting in the creative. Best example I can give is in the first five seconds call out the audience. If you're a man over the age of 40 and you have this problem, here's a solution that's fast, easy, cheap to fix it. Bang, 10 seconds you the viewer knows what it is and you either agree with it or you, the viewer knows what it is and you disagree with it and you swipe by. But now the algorithm sees who is resonating with that and is super clear based on that ad versus another one that was for women under the age of 40. Right? There's gonna be two completely different groups of people who are liking, sharing, commenting on that post and that is doing your targeting for you. And if you do that, you don't need to do any targeting in the platform. You can run broad and you can even run non-conversion objective campaigns, meaning you can get cheaper inventory than just the small pool of people who are ready to buy right now, because it's gonna target those people who are very interested and they will be the ones that click to your website who are much more qualified to buy. So that to me is the exciting part. The second piece besides just focusing on content and creative is community, right? So especially brands like ours that do a lot of um, uh, e-com or, or proprietary products versus ‘me too’ products or Amazon brands, uh, or drop shippers, is you've gotta be able to speak to a community and build a community around your brand and potentially even sell digital products, right? If you're an e-commerce brand selling $25 items, right? You have cost of good sold, you have shipping, you have customer service, you have manufacturing that you have to do for that. Well, uh, course doesn't have any of that, so we're moving into courses for our e-comm providers, but at the same time, a $25 course is considered cheap. That's very affordable. Uh, and so now you have the benefits of that $25 average order value or price point without all the costs associated with. So I think a lot of e-commerce people are gonna move that direction, and that's one of the areas that we're beginning to invest in hiring copywriters, course creators and people like that. And also, I think we had a phenomenal conversation with Angelic because this is some of the ideas on our mind, and she dropped all kinds of knowledge bombs on us, the course creator can benefit who are, especially if you're charging high ticket service providers who are in the B2B space, they could benefit from what the e-comm folks know, which is low ticket sales. These e-comm folks are making profits, even though their average order value is $25 to $40, that's super low, but yet somehow they're making their businesses work by having a large volume of transactions. So instead of having, you know, a hundred people pay you 297 or 997, over the course of however long, you have 10,000 people pay you $24.99. That's what the econ people know. So I think there's gonna be this merging of content, community, and commerce where you see coaches and consultants picking up some of the skills from e-commerce people and e-commerce people picking up some of the skills from coaches and consultants, and that's how we're positioning Eleyae Systems to be right at the center of making that easy for both sets of groups to be able to do that in a streamlined done for you way.

Closing remarks 

Melissa: Awesome. And, uh, for anybody who's listening, you can, uh, learn more and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, uh, the podcast, of course, uh, YouTube. And we'll put some of those links, um, on the screen or some, somewhere. We'll put some links somewhere so people can find us. But, uh, the last question I have is if you had one final thought that you would wanna leave the listers with, uh, what would it be?

Emmanuel: Hmm. Keep trying, keep trying. I, I think that, uh, business, we don't recognize how hard it is. I know people say business is hard all the time. It's, it's harder than that. It's, it's the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, especially if you're successful in any other field of endeavor, whether you've raised family which is hard and very difficult, or you've held a really high level job, or you succeeded in sports or in any other endeavor, you come into business thinking, I'm gonna succeed here too. The skills that made me successful there are gonna make me successful here. And those are the folks that get shellacked. You know, the people who you just naturally do well, like high school kids who have nothing to lose and don't know failure much, or don't really have, uh, a lot of lofty, you know, the young folks. And that's why the VC world really pushes on them because there's less, like, I need X/Y level of success to feel good about myself. Any success is okay. So I'd say, and, and also if you look at it in any other field of endeavor, you have training, you have socialization, you have school that taught you, you have peers that are doing the same thing. You have, uh, other people ahead of you who are doing it, a previous boss that did your job or peers that are currently doing your job. As an entrepreneur, if you're doing it right, you're innovating and you have no one else doing what you're doing. You're the person that came up with this product. You're the one that have to sell it, and there's no playbook for that. So you're going to learn from one school and one school only, and that's a school of hard knocks. Meaning you're gonna mess up a lot. And that's the expectation. That's if you're doing it right. And so if you're not comfortable with that amount of failure, where every single you, every single thing you do, you're learning from scratch, reinventing the wheel, and failing miserably, it's gonna be a huge ego, ego hit, and you're gonna be miserable the whole time and you'll just be unprepared. So I'd say, uh, the, the, I hate the idea of like, you just make it feel okay, it's gonna be better. Like, don't, don't get down on yourself. You're gonna get down on yourself. The thing I that kept me going was just this idea of just keep going. Yeah. It sucks. Yeah. That's, yeah. That means you're doing it right. It's miserable. Uh, and if you don't, and also as a warning, if you don't want that level of misery, please take my advice and don't do it. There's a great book. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, he, this guy took three or four companies public and he talks about how miserable it was through each one. How stressful, how painful. And if you don't do it, that's fine. Go be the president, go be an astronaut, which are jobs that are really hard in and of themselves, but he's saying, this job is even harder. And I think he's right. You know, it's tough. So instead of trying to make it seem like it's gonna be okay, and it's gonna be fun, no, accept that it's gonna be brutally difficult and you should only do it unless you can't do anything else. I can't, I'm no longer a good employee. I can't get a job. I have to be in business. This is something I have to do. And so the way I, I, I just recognize that and no matter how bad it gets, I just keep going. 

Melissa: Awesome. Well, thank you Emmanuel. 

Emmanuel: Thank you. 

Melissa: I appreciate, um, you being a guest on your own podcast, allowing me to host.


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