Brett Ridgway – Fulfiller of Physical Products

Podcast Feat. Interview with Brett Ridgway Inside [page 16]

Transcript of Podcast:

Martyn Brown:         This time, we're chatting with someone who is not just a marketer in his own right but someone who offers a truly valuable service to marketers big and small. When it comes to the world of physical products and fulfilment of those products, Bret Ridgeway is the go-to guy. Now, if you've never thought of making a physical product available, then you could be missing out on a huge opportunity and that's why I'm so excited this time to welcome Bret. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

Bret Ridgway:            Well, it is such a pleasure to be with you folks today and I look forward to our chat.

Martyn Brown:         Great. Well, we need to talk about your business, I guess, don't we Bret, and how you set that up and what the company does.

Bret Ridgway:            Well, it's actually a very interesting story. Way back in the mid-1990s, and I'm going back a while obviously, I actually put up the first portal website in the plant engineering and maintenance industry. It was called and back in those days, we were selling VHS tapes and books and manuals aimed at that particular niche: maintenance guys, mechanics, electricians, et cetera.

                                    And so, we were selling quite a bit of product online via that site and about the same time, I met a guy at an event, and it was back in like 1992 or 1993, a guy named Carl Galletti at a conference down in Florida and that led to a joint venture with Carl a few years later. Then he decided to put on his first internet marketing super conference in 1999 in Las Vegas.

                                    So he actually called me up and asked me if I would come out and handle the back sales table for him. Well, I didn't even know what back room sales was honestly but I hadn't been to Las Vegas before so it sounded good to me. So I went out there and handled the sales table for Carl and that's where I started to meet some of these guys who were involved in the internet and information marketing spaces and a lot of speakers were obviously promoters in their own right.

                                    And so, we started doing the back of the room where we would provide the crew and the big merchant account that could handle a lot of volume in a short period of time to various info and internet marketing events. And at one of those events a couple years after that initial conference, one of the speakers, Jim Edwards, cornered me and said hey, I know you're doing product fulfilment for your own sites. Will you take over some fulfilment for me? And it was kind of a natural outgrowth of all the contacts I had made in the industry.

                                    So in, I think it's 2002 or 2003, we formally put Speaker Fulfilment Services together and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, we're in the middle of a rebranding because most of our clients initially were speakers, we chose the name Speaker Fulfilment Services. We're now in the process of rebranding that as because we work with a lot more than speakers.

Martyn Brown:         I see what you've done there as well with the name. Get Ship Done. Great. And where can we find that? Is that online? Do you have a website for that now?

Bret Ridgway:            Yeah. Get Ship Done is online now and that's just kind of the overriding brand. We have various sub-brands aimed at particular niches so we have sites such as or or, because we work in markets outside of the information marketing industry. But all of those are kind of sub-brands to the Get Ship Done overall brand now.

Martyn Brown:         Excellent. And for anybody that's never really thought about fulfilment before, I imagine maybe we could explain what fulfilment is.

Bret Ridgway:            Sure. So if you're selling a product online, you have to have some way to get that product into hand of your customers and many people decided to do it themselves, which is fine. But if you've been marketing for very long, you realise your time is most valuably spent doing the sales and the marketing and the product creation and those things that only you can do.

                                    So it becomes apparent to most, fairly soon, that fulfilment is a process they should outsource. So when you outsource your fulfilment, you basically connect with a company such as Get Ship Done and you develop an integration between whatever Ecommerce platform you're using that then talks with our system. And so when you get an order for a book or a supplement or a home study course or whatever it may be, then that order automatically pops over to our system and then we ship it out from there on your behalf.

Martyn Brown:         Excellent and you've become an expert in this area of taking those fulfilment headaches away from people. So you've mentioned already books and discs and so on. Are you seeing a resurgence now in the physical products world?

Bret Ridgway:            We are starting to see it turnaround some. Obviously, there's been big changes in the industry over the last couple of decades. When we first began the process, it was all about the big box package. So they talked about [thump?] value and when somebody spent a $1,000 or $2,000 on a product, they expected to receive a big box of stuff, so 16 CDs or DVDs, two big manuals, et cetera. And to be honest, the day of the big box package is primarily come and gone.

                                    You don't see very much of those anymore because obviously, the world switched over to primarily digital delivery and while that's great in some aspects, it's also fraught with other problems that people need to think about if they're considering doing digital-only delivery of their products. But in fact, the turnaround is starting to come because people are recognising that some people still want touch and feel. They want something in their hands. I mean how many of us have bought a product online, downloaded it, and then forgot where it was sitting on a computer and never looked at it where if you have a physical product that's sitting on the shelf, it's kind of a reminder that I need to read this or watch this video or whatever it may be. And in fact, the book industry had the almost biggest year ever last year and lead time on getting books printed with most book printers these days is running four to five months. They are so busy.

Martyn Brown:         Yeah. Yeah. I think it's the same with things like vinyl as well isn't it? Vinyl has made such a comeback in the last kind of handful of years and now, the record pressing plants around the world, they are flat out. They can't keep up with the demand so it does seem to be that there is another focus now on physical products.

                                    I think that digital certainly has its place and for a lot of people, it's still a great way to consume content. However, there are those people that do want that physical product. I also say that when you have something like a book sitting on a shelf, it is that constant reminder. Isn't it Bret? As you say, somebody needs to read that book. It's sitting on the shelf. Somebody needs to take it off the shelf and read it whereas a lot of marketers these days spend an absolute fortune on things like remarketing and Facebook advertising to remind people to bring them back. But if you've got a book there sitting on your shelf, it's a constant reminder. It's real estate in people's homes.

                                    So I think there's a definite movement towards physical products making a comeback. In terms of your business itself, you fulfil for many of the biggest names in information marketing. Maybe you could just talk about some of the people that you've worked with and what that experience has been like.

Bret Ridgway:            Well, we were very blessed early on because we were doing the back of the room sales table at the conferences that we got to know some of the biggest names in the industry fairly quickly. In fact, I met Alex Mandossian and at that first internet marketing super conference back in 1999 so we're coming on over 20 years that I've known Alex.

                                    But we were blessed to work early on with people like Armand Morin and Mike [Hussein?] and Ryan dice and Russell Brunson. And so, having those superstars in your corner is certainly great for any business. So our business was primarily built on word-of-mouth advertising and we didn't do a lot of proactive advertising because they were coming to us and it was as much as we could handle.

Martyn Brown:         Wow. So you do things like books. You do discs. You do the courses and so on. Do you have like minimums that people need to order because I guess that a lot of people fall into that trap of if they want to create a physical product, they go and have hundreds of books printed and then they sit on a shelf at home or in their office and they are then duty bound when those orders come to fulfil those orders themselves. You make it easy for people. I guess you take care of all of that. But do you have any minimums?

Bret Ridgway:            It depends on the product obviously. Because of the changes in the industry over the last 15 years or so, we have gone to offering more print on-demand services so we do CDs and DVDs because their need for those isn't as great as it was. So we offer that as a print on-demand. We can do booklets as a print-on demand.

                                    Most products, if it's a home study course that has multiple components, our minimum run is just a dozen units. So you don't have to do hundreds or thousands to work with us but it just doesn't make sense to do some of these things as one at a time-type things. What you don't want to do is I had a client a few years ago that printed a beautiful full-colour cookbook and shipped us 15 pallets worth of books.

Martyn Brown:         Wow.

Bret Ridgway:            Well five and a half or seven and a half years later, there was still 14 and a half pallets of books sitting on a rack. So I mean people get into the trap where they think oh, if I print more, I'll get a lower per unit cost and then they can't sell them and you're far better off paying a little bit more per unit until you have your marketing channels working so fluidly that you know you can move the product and then you can do a higher run.

                                    But it just kills me to see people order massive quantities of a product and then frankly, don't have a clue about how to really sell it and then it just sits and sits and sits. I'd rather help people by fulfilling orders for them than storing their stuff.

Martyn Brown:         You're right. I mean I think a lot of people do get rather over ambitious thinking well, if I print this many copies, then I will sell this many copies but it doesn't always work out that way.

                                    In terms of your own background Bret, what were you doing before you got into this? Do you have like a normal nine to five job or is this something, a world you've always been in?

Bret Ridgway:            Right out of college, which was back in the early '80s, I went to work for a guy for a company that did industrial training. So my first gig, so to speak, was selling military bases and large manufacturing facilities, hands-on training workshops where we would send an instructor in to teach them about electronic troubleshooting.

                                    So it was an on-the-phone, cold calling-type environment, one of the harsher realities of our world. But in fact, what I perceived is my lack of sales skills, we actually did grow the company quite a bit and that led to where we got into the online, putting up the website that I mentioned earlier, Maintenance Resources, and selling other products to that particular niche.

Martyn Brown:         Got you. Got you. And I guess that when you look at order fulfillments, is this a family business now. Do you have your family members involved in this?

Bret Ridgway:            No. I do not have any family members involved. I had a business partner for a number of years who decided to exit the business last year and he was actually the son of the company I went to work for back in the early '80s.

Martyn Brown:         Oh wow.

Bret Ridgway:            But he's on to philanthropic opportunities and so our company is going through somewhat of a transition and reworking our sites and the rebranding and all that but it's a great ride and I continue to do it for quite a while.

Martyn Brown:         But anybody that's thinking of using your services, what are the benefits of using a fulfilment house such as yours, Bret?

Bret Ridgway:            Well, the biggest thing that people need to consider is what is their time worth and that's a hard question for a lot of people to answer. I mean if you're spending your time doing $5 or $10 an hour tasks such as fulfilling orders, running down to the post office every day, then you're not spending time on things like sales, marketing, product creation and again, those things that really only you could do or you should do.

                                    And so, if order fulfilment is a distraction to your day and more of an impediment to growing your business, then it's something that you should look at getting off your plate and into the hands of somebody that specialises in that particular activity such as Get Ship Done.

Martyn Brown:         And do you cover the world or is it primarily the U.S. that you tend to work in?

Bret Ridgway:            I mean we do ship internationally certainly but the majority of the shipments will be U.S. shipments Yeah. I mean every day something's going out somewhere around the world. So I mean obviously from the U.S., the biggest ship-to companies are U.K., Australia and Canada. I mean those are the big three and just a smattering of other things around the world.

Martyn Brown:         Got you. And with your experience in this field, I guess over the years you've worked out that there must be some kind of formula to how much to charge when it's a physical product as opposed to a digital product because I think some people are put off because they believe that digital products are delivered for free whereas physical products ... How do you price something like that? Any tips for people listening or reading?

Bret Ridgway:            Sure. The standard rule in the information marketing world is that you should be looking at a 10 to one markup, basically, which means whatever the hard costs are of getting your product into the hands of your customers, you need to be charging 10 times that as your product price.

                                    So if you have something you want to put together and it's costing you $15, that means it needs to be about $150 product or more to make it work long-term. You've got to look at that from the flip side too. If you're in a market, there's hard topics and soft topics in the market. Hard topics are things like how to make money in real estate or 4X or whatever where soft topics are relationships and things like that and typically, a hard topic will command a higher price point than a soft topic. But if you're in a market such as you have a soft topic and the market, from experience, is just not willing to pay more than $97 for a product in that particular niche, then you need to figure out what you can package together for no more than about $10 bucks to make the numbers work for you long-term so that you have money for marketing and all the other expenses associated with building your platform.

                                    So it's kind of a balancing act. I mean one of the things that people need to think about is if my product, as it stands now, is only worth $97 in the minds in the marketplace, what can I do to increase the perceived value of that product? Because it's all about perceived value and maybe that's some individual coaching or some webinars or some other things that you can package with that physical product so that the perceived value is higher and then you can charge the $197 or $397 or $597 or whatever.

Martyn Brown:         I've noticed, even in terms of physical products like vinyl, if you're buying a vinyl record these days or perhaps even a CD that there will sometimes be a download code that comes with that package as well, which again, can increase the overall perceived value that not only do you get the physical product but of course you also get the digital product as well.

                                    I guess one of the things that springs to my mind is that these days everybody wants everything immediately. Do you ever have clients, Bret, where they will offer like expedited overnight delivery so that you can get your products into the hands of the consumer a little bit quicker? Is that something you're noticing?

Bret Ridgway:            Don't have a lot of people do that. Most people tend to ... because a book is such a low price product, they tend to want to ship that media mail because it's the least costly option out there and so the delivery time is not a rush in that situation. Media mail is one of those things in the U.S. where the post office kind of gets to it when they get to it, so to speak. They process all the other mail first and so media mail can run anywhere from two to nine days delivery time as stated by the postal service. So you can do priority mail and all that but you got to be very careful when you're setting up your shipping cost online that you're appropriately charging for that if you don't want to lose money on that particular transaction.

Martyn Brown:         Sure.

Bret Ridgway:            I mean it is a tough choice. Expedited delivery's available but most people don't use it because the product price is so low.

Martyn Brown:         Sure. Sure. In terms of your lifestyle based around this brand, a lot of people, I guess, are put off, as I say, holding their own physical products because, as you mentioned, they have to the package it up themselves. They have to take them to the post office, get the right amount of postage stuck to the envelope or the package. What does a typical day look like for you Bret Ridgeway? What does it look like for you?

Bret Ridgway:            Well, as one of the founders of the company, I have a certain amount of flexibility. So I mean I kind of roll into the office when I am ready to get going so that could be anywhere between 7:30 in the morning to 9:00 in the morning. I mean I don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time. I'm also involved in a lot of charity-type work so that I am free during the day to go do what I need to do in terms of that type of thing.

                                    But I mean, we have people that run the day-to-day operations of the company and they like to say I'm just a pretty figurehead or whatever and then they do all the real work. To some extent, that's probably true but I try to focus every day on what am I going to do today marketingwise to grow our company and that might just be a 10-minute activity but something proactive every day whether it's going on LinkedIn or reaching out to book coaches to say hey, we're out here. Be aware of our services or whether it's contacting a previous client to just catch up and see what's going on or whatever.

                                    My good friend Armin Moore calls it five-minute marketing and that's something that every information marketer needs to think about. Even if it's only five minutes a day you have to give to the task, what can you do on that given day to proactively grow your business? Not just work in your business but work on your business.

Martyn Brown:         And for anybody that's thinking of perhaps using a service like yours, Get Ship Done, what is the process, for example, for somebody who wants to get a book printed and handled by your company Bret? What do they need to do?

Bret Ridgway:            Sure. So one of the things that people need to decide first is ... With book printing, I'll be up front, perfect bound books, we do not print internally. I have various printing partners that we work with and so, there's a lead time that they need to factor into the whole process. Some of our clients are fulfilment-only clients. We do nothing but fulfil their orders for them. We're not printing anything for them, producing any type of product for them. We're just doing the fulfilment side of things.

                                    Other clients, we actually do the printing and the assembly of their products. So they're a duplication and fulfilment client and it's a matter of what particular service the client needs that would determine how they come on board or whatever. But we've done a massive overhaul in our whole business model over the last couple years and honestly, because of that, in essence we fired a couple hundred clients because it didn't make sense for them to maintain an account when they weren't moving product with us.

Martyn Brown:         Sure.

Bret Ridgway:            In some cases, the books or whatever product was returned to the client. In some places, it was recycled, in some places it was donated. But when somebody comes on board with us, the first thing is they sign-up for an account online at whether it's Get Ship Done or Ship Your Books or whatever particular services of ours they wish to use. There's an initial account set-up fee, which is currently $149 and then they need to decide whether they want to be a tier one or a tier two client of ours and that has all to do with how much backend access they want to this system.

                                    Some low volume clients, they don't care about being able to look up the tracking numbers of particular inventory identity time. So they're a tier one client and they're just kind of in a general pool of clients and they pay $997 per month to maintain an account with us. Tier two clients are the heavier shippers to want that 24/7 backend access to look up a tracking number, check an inventory level, notifies of a new shipment, manually enter and order themselves, whatever, and they pay $2497 a month for the tier two access.

                                    And then it's a matter of are we going to produce a product for them? Are they going to have it printed somewhere else and ship them to us to them just handle the fulfilment? So the whole process, we can get started with somebody in as soon as five days once we have product in-hand and it's set-up. It's just a matter of getting an integration in place and getting the product inventory to start then fulfil orders for them.

Martyn Brown:         Excellent. I mean for anybody who's sitting on the fence, they've maybe got a few products already or few digital products already and they like the idea of having a physical product, what would you say to them to encourage them to come on board Bret?

Bret Ridgway:            Well, I think the ideal world these days is a hybrid model, honestly, and people do appreciate the immediate delivery. So when somebody orders something from you, you should be able to deliver something digitally right away so that they wish to start consuming your knowledge. They can do so immediately while they're waiting for that physical product to arrive.

                                    But the smartest markers, in my opinion, do marry the two together. And I don't know if you're familiar with a gentleman named Armin Moore or not but he has one of the longest running internet coaching programmes in the industry. It's been around almost 20 years, has several hundred clients involved in it, and you'd think because it's a membership site and internet coaching would be all digital but it's not because Armen recognises the value of putting something physical in front of them every month so he does a monthly magazine where he sends them articles related to internet marketing and all that so that he gets that reinforcement. Hey, I'm here. Here's the value I'm providing you, et cetera.

                                    It's so easy to get out of sight, out of mind if you do digital-only and so, I think the hybrid model is honestly the way to go. You got to decide what is best for you in terms of deliverables and all that. But in most cases, you can put together something fairly inexpensively that will give you that physical presence with your clients that will set you apart from a lot of the marketers out there.

                                    I mean, several years ago, a lot of the marketers when the internet first came about, they made a mad rush. Oh. I can do digital-only and it's free delivery and all that. I'll save so much money. And I had one client who had a newsletter that they decided to convert to a digital-only newsletter and they lost 80 to 90% of their subscribers because people had been trained hey, my deliverable is a physical newsletter and they weren't ready for digital or whatever.

                                    I mean it's all about managing expectations with your clients. Another well known marketer, it was Allie Brown, I think, several years ago. She had a physical product that she sold for like $497 and she decided to convert it to a digital product where they could get immediate delivery of the product but she was smart. She offered an upsell where they could still get the physical version for $200 more and like 90% of the people took the physical version. They still wanted something in their hands so they were willing to pay $200 more to get the physical version even though they could get the digital version for $200 less.

Martyn Brown:         I think there's something special about actually having something to hold. I mean I keep mentioning vinyl but that experience of opening the vinyl, if it's a gate fold sleeve and taking the vinyl out and the liner notes and the artwork, there's something special about that. Same with books as well.

                                    I don't know if you are the same as me Bret but I've never thrown a book away in my life. They just go onto the shelf because that gives you an insight into the person. What have they read? What are they interested in? So I love the idea that you're helping keep that side of things going, the whole physical products thing. If anybody is interested in working with you Bret, where should they head to? Where's the best place to find out more about you?

Bret Ridgway:            If they get an overview, the best thing to do is go to or if they just need book fulfilment, But also on our Get Ship Done site and our Ship Your Book site, there's a calendar link there. So if they just want to schedule a chat with me to talk about their particular needs, I'm happy to do that. So you can find that online or you can just pick up the phone and give us a call and we'll chat.

Martyn Brown:         Excellent. Well, thanks again for your time today. It's been an absolute pleasure to chat with you to find out more about what are these you do and also the great work that you are doing. So Bret, thanks once again.

Bret Ridgway:            My pleasure.

Brett Ridgway - Martyn Brown's Marketing Bugle Podcast Ep. 62


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