Having been fortunate enough to have an early introduction in 1974 into what would later become the internet, Greg Jameson is a computer pioneer, entrepreneur, author, speaker and e-commerce consultant. His projects have been recognized on the Inc 500 list, and he’s won multiple business of the year awards, and joins us today to help you learn how to grow a business online. Please welcome Greg Jameson.
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Joining us today from Denver, Colorado, Greg Jameson. He helps businesses sell more online through eCommerce websites, digital advertising, and online courses. So this is a space I’m very familiar with looking forward to talking to another partner in this space. Greg, thanks for joining us. I am happy to be here.
Daniel, looking forward to this as well. Yeah. So as we were chatting offline, uh, you know, you’ve been in this for a long time, 1995. So why don’t you give us, uh, our listeners, the, the abbreviated version of what you do, and then we’ll go back in time and work our way forward. Okay, well, as you said, I help people sell more online and I’ve really been in that space since 1995, kind of the beginning of the internet, as you said, I’ve been, uh, in the computer space since 1985.
So I’ve been around a while and I’ve seen a lot of changes and the real purpose of. Um, my existence, I guess, is to help people become more successful and sell more of their products and services online. So what, what type of people do you help? Is it people that have existing online presences and they want to grow that or they want to get their foot in the door.
You know, it’s been some of both, uh, it started out actually kind of working back in time. I guess when the internet was first coming out, there was a few people that were selling things online, but hardly anybody was doing business to business interactions, uh, specifically wholesalers selling to retailers.
And that’s kind of where I started out. I. Actually developed my own shopping cart software too, help wholesaler be able to sell to a bunch of small retail shops. And the, that type of business model is completely different than what we typically think of with shopping cart software, where someone goes on a shopping cart and picks out an item or two throws in their credit card and pays for it and leaves with.
A wholesale transaction. People frequently want to just go down a list and say, yeah, I need 10 of these 20 of these, 15 of these and not charge me net 30. Uh, for example, I was actually working with a concrete pumping company that were selling the quarter of a million dollar concrete pumps. Well, that’s not something that somebody throws out their credit card and buys online typically.
Yeah. So that’s kind of where I got started and, uh, things have evolved where I have been helping people. Now, whether they be selling things still at a wholesale level, selling things at a retail level, the way that you traditionally think of a shopping cart software, or even people selling, uh, services, uh, maybe people selling, uh, Rental units, you know, they’re trying to rent their vacation house.
Other people that are selling their time or selling their knowledge, you can sell just about anything online now. Yeah. Yeah, I know. And I want to get to, uh, I want to go back in time, like I said, and, and walk through the evolution of your career because you know, you have some, some good highlights in 500 Colorado, small business of the year international developer of the year.
So, so where did this career start? I mean, you, you talked about how you, you were in computers and then you worked on this wholesale software, you know, where did, I guess I’d say where’s your, where’s your big break? Come along or where did you know, this is the space that you’re going to commit your career to?
You know, it’s kind of funny because I was actually given a really special opportunity when I was a kid that most people didn’t have. And that is that my dad worked at Colorado state university and. He had a research project where he brought home a portable teletype machine. And this was like a decade before there was any personal computers.
So we had this teletype machine in our house and I had an account up to the County mainframe computer. And I started writing code when I was in high school. Like I said, that was about a decade before PCs were even out. So that was kind of fun. And, uh, time, you know, when I, I went to school in landscape architecture and you wouldn’t think that that was anything related to computers, but I actually worked on a couple of different GIS or geographic information system programs where we were coding things up at that time in Fortran and.
Then when I went to graduate school, I got involved in CAD programs. Computerated design started writing applications on top of AutoCAD. And you know, I’ve always had this propeller on top of my head here, kind of a gear head or a nerd. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s funny, a lot of what you say I can relate to in some of this will be redundant for some of our listeners.
You know, I got my, my start in the world of internet marketing and web design, and also in high school, I didn’t have the opportunity. Do you have any computers at home? And so I really embraced being able to take advantage of them at school. And I remember. Um, even before, uh, high school in junior high, we used gopher.
You might be familiar with gopher, the text based browser. And so, I mean, it was a really exciting thing to be introduced to things that early. And then when I got into HTML, they didn’t have any commercial development programs available. So you had to learn everything by hand. And, um, you know, for me that was a valuable learning lessons because nowadays there’s such great applications, but they don’t know what it looks ugly.
They just do what you tell them to do. So it’s really nice to be able to go in there and man manually tinker with, uh, you know, HTML or whatever code you need to. So it’s, it’s been cool. They have to share that similar experience with you where you have kind of before the thing snowballed into, um, you know, larger scale w with the masses with, with this type of world.
And I think that. You know, that kind of background where you can actually understand what’s going on behind the scenes is really pretty valuable. It’s okay. Well, all of these great editors out there and stuff like you talked about where anybody can kind of go out there and create a, a website today and not really have to know anything.
That’s nice. But if you know, what’s going on behind the scenes and you can kind of understand, okay, I get why I need to do this. And it, that that perspective really helps you, I think, be able to get out there and help the people that. Are just using the site building programs. Yeah. And it ties into other avenues too.
You know, you have experience in, um, building up businesses and, and marketing, and there’s a, you know, with SEO and particularly with my background, you have to know how to get in there and manually. Adjust things and it gets beyond just the visual representation of a website and it looking pretty, you actually have to have, you know, it built clean and nice and, and load quickly and be mobile friendly.
And, you know, it’s interesting, like you said, there’s lots of great developing tools nowadays and newer generations. They may use, you know, their iPhone and these tablets and devices more frequently than other generations, but they don’t really know. How to use them beyond, you know, their, their internet devices.
They’re not computer devices and they don’t know how to use them. So. Interesting. It’s funny that you say that I was talking to somebody. I don’t even remember when it was now, probably a year or two ago about how the younger generations are so technically savvy and so forth compared to the older generations.
And I’m like, wait a minute, but you don’t understand is. It’s my generation to build this thing in the first floor. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like a what’s what’s the VCR analogy like you CA you might, you might need your kids to help you, like the joke used to be kids that have to help turn on the VCR, but, you know, The older generations were the one that built the VCR.
Yeah. Yeah. So why don’t you tell us about, um, you know, you, you put a lot of time, you’ve been in this space for a long time and his, we were talking offline, you mentioned that you still actively participate in conferences and seminars and online courses. Um, you know, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about the value in that continuing education and, and being part of that ecosystem as an ongoing basis.
Okay. So I consider myself a lifelong learner. And one of the things that is necessary as part of that is obviously to keep up with all of the changes that do happen and clearly one of the best ways that you can. Learn things is to teach things. So I try to teach things myself through online seminars, uh, teaching online courses and so forth.
But I also. Uh, you know, sign up for every webinar that comes my way. And every course that comes my way and just try to be a sponge for knowledge. Uh, I take that information. I kind of combine it with the experiences that I’ve had with my clients over the last couple of decades and, you know, put my own, spin on it and put it back out there for other people to consume as well.
Do you ever find yourself running into, um, The the, the Mark Cuban Fe phrase that I, I often, uh, repeat is drowning and opportunity. There’s so much information out there nowadays. Do you ever catch yourself sometimes go on. I need to just maybe not absorb as much information for a little bit, cause I’m diluting my, my processes.
Yeah, actually frequently. There’s no question that, you know, every day that you turn your computer on, it’s kind of like trying to drink from a fire hose. And it is really helpful, I think, to be able to just step back and completely disconnect, uh, you and I were talking offline here before we started about the weather and.
Whatnot. And that was how I needed to go skiing this weekend. What would I go when I go skiing for a jam? Well, I see a lot of people, people up there with their cell phones and their earbuds plugged in, and they’re still taking phone calls and listening to music or podcasts or whatever well or skiing.
It’s like, yeah, no, when I, when I get away, I. I try to turn everything off because it is really helpful. I think to turn off and frequently when you’re doing that is when the best ideas come to you because your mind is away from the constant barrage of information coming in and. It has a chance to resettle it.
We’ll reset and actually kind of sort some of this stuff out that you have been consuming and you end up with some really good ideas just by taking some time to yourself. It seems like that’s a recurring theme with a lot of people that we talked to, um, that entrepreneurs had kind of their greater moments of, of innovations when they were.
Stepping outside of the intentional efforts to innovate and it just kind of came to them in other scenarios. And. You know what I think it’s actually a scientific fact that that’s why like sometimes when you’re sleeping or whatever, you may have your best ideas were in the shower or whatever. Yeah. Yeah.
The shower was exactly what I was thinking. Everyone has ideas in the shower. So you do some speaking and when you go do these engagements, what type of content do you cover with your audience? You know, the biggest thing that I have been on a kick with lately, I guess that I really try to drill into people is that.
You can’t just put a website up and think that you’re done and you know, my website’s good for the next year or two type thing. And, uh, and if you build it, they will come type attitude. I always. Ask people a question, you know, if you just Facebook today and you saw a series of posts and then you went back tomorrow and you saw the same series of posts, and then you’d go back a week from now and you see the same information and a month from now, you see the same information.
How often would you go back to that website? Well, never. Right. Because it’s just the same thing, nothing ever changes. And then I asked him the question. What makes you think your website’s any different? Yeah. This light bulb kind of comes on frequently and people like, Oh, I guess, you know, I need to put something new up there.
Give people a reason to come back to my website. Yeah. I think that building a website, actual the actual structuring and developing of a website is the smallest part. Of launching a successful website. It’s, you know, that’s, that’s just the bare necessities. And then there’s so much more after that in getting the word out and building brand awareness around that website.
It really is. And it’s, you know, I read these articles that say, Hey, uh, you know, leave your website, uh, maintenance to a professional or whatever. And it’s like, you know, maybe the technical aspects of it. Yes. But the fact is, is that. If you aren’t creating really good consumable content on a regular basis, there is no reason for anybody to keep coming back to your website.
You have to take charge of your website yourself and the putting out. Stuff. Why people want to come back to your website in the first place and it doesn’t make any difference if your website is selling something or not to, you know, it’s, you’re selling. Kitchen gadgets. The fact is you probably should have a blog or a podcast or something talking about the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets so that people will start to follow your information.
So, do you think it’s more important for, I mean, there’s a lot of opportunities to distribute content. So there’s the website itself, like you mentioned, there’s podcasts, there’s social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram linked in. So where do you recommend that? Small business owners and new website owners start?
Do they start. On their website themselves and then drive con you know, external and readership to it, or do they build brand awareness on platforms that already exist, like social media, and then try to redirect it from there. A great question. And I think that the answer is that it depends upon the business and what it is that you’re actually trying to accomplish.
Every business actually needs to have their own website. That is a property that you own, and you can control yourself, but the. The fact is, is that your website probably doesn’t have nearly as much traffic as social media does. And so what I recommend that people do is that they. They created a website and whatever their preferred method of getting there, the message out there, it’s going to be videos, podcasts, blogs, whatever it might be means that they post that on their website and they utilize automation software to drive those posts out to social media simultaneously.
But they’re publishing everywhere and they automate that whole process. Yeah. And I think it’s important that you said it depends because, um, you know, for example, I do a lot of social influencing and social proof and I get wildly more engagement and exposure on LinkedIn and Facebook. Um, but other people have the total opposite, um, experiences.
They get way more exposure and engagement on Facebook then. Then LinkedIn. And I really think it depends on the industry. And one of the great examples is always Instagram because Instagram is a very visual platform. And so that’s, um, you know, a great platform, more for, um, certain types of products where you want to see and touch in and know what it is versus, you know, for me, Instagram doesn’t work very well because it’s, you know, SEO is a very abstract industry.
Um, so I, uh, I agree wholeheartedly that, um, not to get stuck in feeling like you have to be on every platform and instead focus on, you know, which one works particularly well for you. Yeah. And you know, I personally don’t do that well on Instagram either. And. Uh, I mean, I’ve got a few thousand followers on Instagram and I post there, but I, I usually don’t post there so much.
Well, on a lot of them, whether it be Instagram or Pinterest or some of these other ones out there, I don’t necessarily post there natively, but like I said, I. I use automation tools from that, the platforms that I am particularly interested in, including LinkedIn and Facebook, that. I will make sure that I post there and then I might use something like, uh, I have TTT if this, then that, to disperse my content automatically out to some of the other platforms, just because you’re, it’s best to be everywhere that you possibly can be.
Uh, you just don’t want to be spending all your time doing it. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s interesting, the type of engagement, frequency that works better on different platforms. For example, I’m LinkedIn, you know, a strong post can get good exposure for 24 hours and, and you can get a lot of value out of posting just once a day.
Uh, Facebook posts last, I think the average was four hours before it gets buried. And so you got to post a lot more frequently and Instagram, um, The, the latest case study I was reading was saying, you’ve got to post five times a day. I don’t have the time to post five times a day. Twitter is kind of the same way.
Although I actually did a blog post yesterday. And using my automation tools that posts out for me automatically to Twitter, right. My seldom go out and does create an individual tweet, but I use these automation tools to post about the blog that I had just written. And it was interesting. It got a fair amount of engagement and I was like, I never get engaged on Twitter.
So it’s kind of, yeah. Twitter is a dead zone for me. Twitter is funny. Like, um, so I get the value in Twitter for. Certain businesses and audiences for me, it’s, it’s a black hole, but when I talked to other people, it’s funny, like one in, you know, one in five, one in 10 people, it’s their thing. Like Twitter is a home run for them every time.
And it’s interesting to see who can tap into, you know, getting certain platforms to work for them. So, you know, as it goes back to what we were saying about it depends the, the truth is, is that when an entrepreneur gets started, And they’re trying to say. Where should I be? They probably don’t know. And the best thing to do is to go out and experiment with all of these.
And whichever one starts to resonate with the audience that you’re trying to attract. Then put your efforts there. Totally. Yeah. Um, I’ll give my, my experience with LinkedIn. Um, you know, I’ve been on LinkedIn forever, but I didn’t actively use it. And for the longest time, I think everybody agreed that LinkedIn was just this giant resume and now it’s become more of a social platform.
And I’d say in the last I probably be actively been using it, um, on a semi regular basis for at least a year. Um, and then probably the last. Six seven months. I’ve been on a daily and I’d say ever since I kind of figured out where my stride is and my voice on LinkedIn, um, you know, it’s easily contributed and other 150 grand to, um, you know, the company and just through engagement and referrals through native content.
These other platforms, I just. You know, if total opposite waste time, every time I get on them, it’s fun. You meet good people. Um, but yeah, you gotta spend your time. Exactly. Like we said, you got to experiment because the longest time I avoided LinkedIn and now it’s now it’s a goldmine. Yeah, I think it definitely can be with any one of these platforms.
And if you are doing things like you’re doing this podcast here, that is another great way for people to find out about what you’re doing and to start to engage with your company. So again, you know, no matter what you’re selling online, You need to be out there is the big thing and make sure that people can find you.
Yeah. So as you’ve gone through your career and you’ve had, um, you know, opportunities to grow and opportunities to learn from, um, you had mentioned that I had asked what, what is one of the more interesting, or, or I guess you’d say low times where you learn something from, and you said having to let go of a customer who is a good paying customer.
Um, it was a good source of revenue, but, um, you had to let them go. So, you know, what’s the reasoning behind that? Well, quite honestly, it was a time drain. What, why that happened? Uh, I don’t want to mention who the customer was or anything, but. Yeah. I was, uh, pulling in from this one customer about a $70,000 a year, which in my world was a big customer and yeah, uh, it just became such a brain drain and a time drain that it was like, it’s not worth it.
You know, I. The the money’s nice, but, uh, I could be taking that same amount of time, have a whole lot less stress and be going after customers that, uh, we’re going to be sucking me that dry. Yeah. It’s I think it’s important for especially newer entrepreneurs, um, to understand that that it’s two way street, you know, clients can obviously.
Fire you, but you have the same opportunity to let go of clients, too. If, if they’re draining, you are just not worth the time. And I think that’s important, especially when you’re a new entrepreneur, it’s all about the money. You got to get the cashflow going, but you’re going to create your own hurdles if that’s the only thing you’re focused on.
So I think it’s admirable that, um, you know, you knew that there was more value in letting that relationship go, okay. Cash is King. There’s no question, especially when you’re first getting started, but you also have to look at opportunity costs, I think. And that’s something that it’s not just new entrepreneurs.
I think that everybody kind of has to step back now and say, Hey, if I wasn’t doing that, could I be doing something else here that would be more beneficial to my company? Yeah. I think that’s a valid point with the seasoned entrepreneurs as you kind of get stuck in a groove. And you miss opportunities because you get a little bit of tunnel vision.
Um, so you had also said that I had asked offline, is there anything you’d tell your younger self or maybe, uh, suggest to newer entrepreneurs and you had said save money because nothing lasts forever. Um, you know, is it, is what made that comment come to mind? The, uh, very first company that I had was. In software, of course it was related to a computerated design.
And I was absolutely rocking that company. We ended up selling our product in 20 different countries around the world. I was spending about half of my time actually traveling the globe and we were doing really well. Uh, we were bringing in lots of money, but the reality is, is that we were also spending a lot of money and.
Most of it. We were delving back into the company. It’s not like I was going out and buy him fancy cars and whatnot. I was turned around on reinvesting the money into the company, typically marketing in a lot of things, marketing and R and D. But. Everything goes in cycles. And the fact is, is that at some point, whatever it is that you’re selling is not going to be selling as well.
You know, five years from now, 10 years from now, as it is today, maybe it will be selling better, but if you go. Hey, let’s take some of that money that we’re bringing in, instead of just dumping everything back into the company, let’s put it aside so that we can actually change directions and keep going in the future.
I think it is. Really helps one, something that probably a lot of entrepreneurs don’t really take a look at it. Yeah. And your business will change. I mean, take a look at IBM. You know, it’s a whole lot different animal today than it was when it started out. Yeah, the, um, the, the, the company there’s a mind as you were sharing, that was, um, Pixar when Steve jobs was working on that and Pixar, um, you know, got, was purchased by Disney for a ton of money.
But, um, before that Steve jobs made it a total shift and, and I’m probably gonna slaughter it, but you know, there. Animation was not their core product when, when it was in its infancy. And Steve jobs said, Hey, we need to focus and sold off the assets and the products of that core. Uh, of what at the time was their core business and took a risk for the longterm viability of the business.
And then, you know, the rest is history and Pixar was worth a ton of money and got purchased out. So yeah, I think it’s, it’s a huge opportunity to be forward thinking, um, to maintain the longevity of a business. Yep. And. Even in somebody’s personal life. I think that it’s kind of a theme that you hear frequently is, Oh, when I was younger, I wished I had saved more money and it’s prob so it’s definitely true of businesses as well as that.
There’s no reason why a business has to operate just on. Their current cash flow. They, they, you can run a business like you do your personal life. Save some money, be able to expand into other areas because you have saved some money. I think, you know, one of the things that Google has done forever, and I think they still do this is they actually require their employees to take 20% of their time and work on something that they’re not getting paid for.
Uh, they can do that cause they have the cash resources to pull that off. Yeah. Something like that would be helpful to any company. Yeah, I think you’re right. I think, I think that’s still a requirement. So you had mentioned that one of the things that you feel has contributed to your longterm successful career is listening to your customers.
Is, is there any particular instance or story you can share where when you listened to a customer, it provided an opportunity.
Uh, trying to think of a specific one, but. Frequently. I think that that happens. It’s, it’s certainly something where with the online portions that I’m doing now, that that is something that kind of came out because I was doing so much tech support for customers. You know, I told you that people need to be able to take charge of their own website and.
I would be sitting there spending a long time with customers going through, showing them how to, you know, update a blog posts themselves or whatever. Here’s, you know, log into the back end of your website. Here’s how you change some content or whatever. And. Customers would ask a lot of the same questions over and over again, to the point where it was like, duh, you know, maybe what I ought to be doing here is putting this in a format where everybody can have access to it.
Yeah. And that that’s a win win, because it frees up your time and then, and then helps your customers too, which then again, reinforces, uh, you know, your credibility as a service provider. Yeah. Well, as, as we kind of get closer to wrapping up, um, we had, we had talked about, you know, winter and skiing. So in your, in your downtime, what else are you into?
I like doing anything outdoors. Uh, I was actually a scout master for 25 years when my sons grown up and. Spent a lot of time hiking and camping with them. I like going out biking when people say biking, mountain biking, road biking, and the answer is yes, skiing. Obviously couple of years ago for my birthday, my son gave me a skydiving trip for my birthday present.
So anything outdoors, it’s adventurous. It’s fun. Sorry. Are you a master of tying knots then from your boy scout? I can tie a lot of knots. Yeah. Well, um, yeah, no, Greg, I appreciate your time. And I want to give you the opportunity to mention your website or any other contact information you want to put out there for our listeners.
Okay. Well, I think, you know, what I would like to do is actually give everybody a gift and just go to my website, which is webstoresltd.com forward slash free class. And you can sign up and actually get a free, a very many short course there. That includes an ebook and an outline on some other tools that I think would be helpful for your listeners.
And what type of information is in there. I’m obviously web-related, it is, it’s actually all about creating a perfect product listing and that product listing might be a service. It might be a physical product that you’re trying to sell, but it goes through and talks about what kinds of images you should include, what kind of description you should have.
And it’s not a what kind of title you should have on your product page to really attract in your ideal customer. Very cool. I appreciate you offering that. Um, so the last thing we do is we surprise our guests with a random question generator, and I think yours is, is very appropriate where you talked about skydiving.
So your random question is what is one of the top things on your bucket list? You know, I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to have done most of the things on my bucket list already. I’ve traveled the world. I have done lots of adventure of things. Uh, I’ve actually spent because my wife was an exchange student years ago.
I have spent some time in Ecuador. Uh, with her host family, but one of the things that I have not done yet when we’ve gone to Ecuador and it’s on my list for the next time we go there is to go into the jungles and take a canoe down the river of the jungles of Ecuador. Yeah, that sounds cool. You know, um, I’ll, I’ll share a story from a friend of mine, um, about doing something similar.
Um, her and her husband, well, we’ll buy one way tickets to exotic locations and they’ll just go tent it for a couple of weeks. And she was telling me that they were on a, you know, some sort of canoe or graft with a local guide. And, um, he was. Taking his machete and chopping up some chicken and said, and offered it to them and said here, do you want some chicken?
And she goes, uh, no, that’s not cooked. I don’t want to get, um, what is it? Eco lie, or, you know, whatever. She didn’t want to get whatever. And the guy was like, no, no, no, we don’t have that here. And she’s like, no, I’m pretty sure you do
raw food is not my thing either. But you know, Yeah. Yeah. That’s funny. Well, good luck. I hope you get the opportunity to do that. And you know, maybe we can connect again in the future, um, after you’ve had that experience. Sounds good. I appreciate being here, Damon. Thank you, Greg. Thanks for your time. You bet.