Category Archives: business development

mDimitry: Branding Yourself by Doing

I recently spent some time on the phone with my friend Alex from That One Adventure Couple.  We spent about 40 minutes talking about branding and marketing. The focus of our conversation came down to this next idea. You need to develop your brand by doing the things for which you want to be known.

mDimitry’s Branding Strategy in 5 steps.

1. Know Thyself:

The first step in trying to get yourself to be known is to know yourself. You can’t expect others to recognize you if you don’t know what your goals and dreams are in life. So some soul searching is a must. What is it you are trying to do?

First of all, it’s ok if you aren’t sure exactly what you are about- as long as you are doing some deep searching and exploration. I recently talked about the direction I want to go with my blog (see mDimitry: Yourself as a Business.) A lot of that is me saying I’m planning on learning by shifting my view of myself from a person to business.

Therefore, I’ve pulled examples from the past where I was successful and trying to bring those lessons to my world today.  It’s fumbling- or also known as experimenting with an eye on the past.

My facebook page Dimitry Sells Cars is a bit better. The title says a lot. The main job I have is selling cars- therefore it’s a page for me being a car salesman. Trying to stick to a pretty narrow set of things I put out keeps me from getting distracted and on point. I talk about personal accomplishments as a car salesman. Recently I started doing car walk around videos. I show happy customer photos. It’s a pretty 2-dimensional page- and seem to be working.

In conclusion- You have to try and figure yourself out. On that note, to know yourself is to watch yourself grow. I recommend having a blog, or even a private journal, to keep track of who you are. As you write, learn, you’ll better understand what it is to be your brand.

2. Know your Audience:

Since you’ve figured yourself out (I’m kidding, you’ll never actually have yourself figured totally out, step one is an ongoing process)- you need to understand your target audience.

This is pretty tough if you haven’t figured out who you are- but it is still doable. I’ve managed to do two things that have helped me understand a bit better what is my audience. First- I have been attentive to my analytics programs. People who look at your stuff are your audience. This works only if you are generating traffic. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and other things along those lines have been very helpful. Seeing the numbers roll in from one thing vs another is one way can tell you a lot.

Seeing the numbers roll in from one thing vs. another is one way can give you a lot of information. Interests, what they engage with, and where they spend their time. How they move through your site. It’s pretty impressive.

The second one is to pursue a particular group of people. For example, on my Dimitry Sells Cars page, my major target audience are former clients of mine. It doesn’t matter if they don’t follow me- I still want to cater to them. I try and post their pictures. I try to find their accomplishments and celebrate them. If they run a business- I try to promote them. The goal of the page is client retention- so I try to do stuff geared at them.

To wrap it up- you have people looking at your stuff, and then you have the people you want to look at it. Try and figure out a way to make both those groups happy.

3. Put the Two Together

To wrap it all up, you have to figure out a way to position yourself in a way that fulfills the needs of your people. To do the positioning- you have to know who you are and what you have on offer. You have to know how that relates to your audience. And then you have to figure out how to do it.

For example- I know that one of the reasons my clients at Dick Hannah came to our dealership is because we have a “Belive in Nice” policy.  We’re supposed to treat everyone like they are a much-loved family member.  Therefore I try and be nice. Being nice happens to also one of those things I believe in personally as well. In the past, I’ve been known to volunteer at various organizations. One of my favorite organizations is Share Vancouver. 

Consequently- when they were looking to promote the belief in nice policy-I had the opportunity to participate. Check it out:

I’ve taken this- and posted it on Dimitry Sells Cars page, and now I’ve talked about it here. I’ve used it for my Instagram, and LinkedIn as well. It’s all over the place.

So- what do you guys think? Probably, you have your thoughts? Any extra advice you’d give my readers? How has this helped you?

mDimitry: Branding Like a Boss

Have you ever given someone some advice- but really meant it to be pointed at yourself. I recently talked to one of my friends, Michael Lindberg, at the rock climbing gym about branding- and told him to “Just do it” in reference to putting himself out there more often. He did that next day. Check out his Instagram.

If you follow me Dimitry Sells Cars you’ll see that I have been growing. I’ve been posting a ton, but this month I pulled back a bit of my budget. I have been trying to do things a little bit more organically. More posts- adding money only if they appear to be getting traction. I did also have a long-term ad campaign with the walk around videos that Dick Hannah Volkswagen did for 4 VW models. If you haven’t- watch these videos below: 2017 VW Golf Alltrack with Dimitry Makhanov

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan with Dimitry Makhanov

2017 Volkswagen Passat with Dimitry Makhanov 

2017 Volkswagen Jetta with Dimitry Makhanov

I’ve had some mixed results. Overall my page is growing. I think it’s easy to really get super excited about how much. I mean- take a look at all the green numbers!

Stats for Dimitry Sells Cars from Mar 31, 2017 – Apr 27, 2017.

But I’m not satisfied. The numbers look great- but I’ve only had had 2 concrete appointments from this effort this month. 5 Prospects- but only two people showed up. Who knows how many other people see this effort and are thinking to themselves – maybe soon I’ll need a car and I’ll reach out to this guy. I know I need to build better sales funnels- In fact, I’ve worked a little bit with Steven Howsley of Begin a Brand.  He’s been helping me develop audience groups for my videos.

So- what’s the point of all this struggle. Why the Title- Branding like a Boss. How does this help me as a reader? I see you are working on… something? The idea behind branding is to associate yourself with some task or product. I happen to sell cars. I want people to know that I sell cars- so that I can sell more of them. The goal is to build Brand Awareness, which then leads to… Leads. I turn those Leads into sales- which then turn into loyal repeat customers.

Building Brand Awareness to build Leads, Sales, and Loyalty

In this effort- what seems to be working for me.

  1. Consistency. I am posting on my facebook page 1-3 times a day.2

  2. Persistence. I don’t stop. It sounds like consistency- but it’s not. If something doesn’t work- it doesn’t mean you should stop doing it all together. Just try and learn what you need to from it.

  3. Humility. Don’t worry about what it will look like if you don’t get it right the first time- or someone gives you a negative response. You are learning- and have a long way to go. In fact- if you get a negative response- ask for advice for next time. Ask for help.

  4. Having fun. I am trying to gamify this whole process for myself. Yes- it is how I’m trying to grow my business, but it’s fun to try and out do yourself. I got 50 new followers in my last 28 days. The time before that I only got 16. That’s huge. Now I have to get 100 this time around? Setting

  5. Set goals. I got 50 new followers in my last 28 days. The time before that I only got 16. That’s huge. Now I have to get 100 this time around? Why not 150?

  6. Don’t forget the point- branding is to help you build leads- not make sales. Actually forgetting to do the sales part is something you can fall into. I have actual leads and existing business I can lose track of if I spend too much time playing around with this ‘branding campaign.’ Never lose track of your existing business.

  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People love helping people. I’ve been working a bit with Steven– If you need help branding- try him. Or ask me. I have lots of cool connections.

  8. Build out new stuff- especially if you found it worked out in the past in other endeavors. I’m about to start a new Instagram and follow my old guide on How to Build an Instagram Following. On that note- Please Follow my new Instagram.

 

mDimitry: Yourself as a Business.

Years ago- I read something about Bill Gates. It is said he was making so much money that it wasn’t worth the effort for him to bend over and pick up a $100 bill off the ground should he accidentally drop one. This situation is defined by the concept of opportunity cost, the thought that doing one thing limits the opportunity to do another. The notion of opportunity costs haunts me to this day.

What does it cost to do what I am doing at the moment? I’m sitting down at a Starbucks working on my blog. Does an activity benefit me or hurt me? Could I be doing something else? Should I be doing something else- or if I continue- will I somehow receive my big break here? What would a big break look like, and how would I know it? What about doing my job selling cars? Should I work on my day off- or should I blog- or should I take a nap. How do you make that sort of trade off?

Selling cars, I make money on commissions, yet most of my life my employment was hourly. I make more money now, but when it is slow- it is hard not think about how much money I would have had if I was working hourly. I still find it good to break down my income monthly and give myself a baseline income to judge what I take on to see if it is worth it or not.

So far so good. But for how long? And what’s next? Am I worth more- and how do I reach my potential. Every self-help book I’ve managed to power through has a similar refrain- find something you are passionate about and do that, hard. Follow your dreams.

But what are my passions, what are my dreams? How do I find them? Recently I read “You’re a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero- who suggested I think back on when I was in my ‘element.’ Think about the time that you were obsessed with something and got good. Really good at something. Think about what that felt like- and what I was doing at the time. For me, two things stand out, and I could be slightly embarrassed about them- but I think the world is a bit more accepting. Both were video games I had played.

The first one was a game called Monarchy. Think Clash of Clans but text based. At first- this game was a bit dense, but one of my high school buddies was into it- and MMO’s weren’t much of a thing just yet so there was a bit of an appeal. I wanted to do all things online as my family just got its first computer and our dial-up connection was very slow. This game turned out to work perfectly with a slow dial-up connection.

It started innocently enough- log in- build and attack and log off. Then I got attacked- and realized people were playing on teams (guilds), and if you weren’t on a team, you were easy prey. I joined a guild- and that’s when things got interesting. Turned out- I was chatting with people all over the world, and many of them were very smart. Programmers, writers, businessmen from all over.

And they were all interested in winning. And since it was a numbers based game- you had to understand the way the numbers worked in the game. The guys reversed engineered the game- and had a pretty solid database. We’d look for patterns in the database- make plans- negotiate alliances and non-aggression pacts. We’d spy- we’d coerce- we’d sabotage alliances. I was spending 3-5 hours a day planning, writing, thinking, analyzing and negotiating the next move. This game taught me to write, think, strategize. I loved it. I ended up quitting when I realized I wouldn’t graduate high school.

The other game was Parallel Kingdom. A cell phone game that used Google maps and GPS to create an alternate- parallel- world that was full of monsters to kill and land to conquer. I downloaded it- and it didn’t work. I checked on it a few months later- and they had updated it, and it worked alright- but people had already taken over all the land around me.

I struggled at first getting around, finding a place to build, and then collecting resources. Met the locals, and one of them traded something with a stranger in front of me. I thought it was weird, and asked them about it. They told me to be careful of scammers. People who stole from other players. My friend told me what sort of ‘resources’ to collect and for how much to sell them. I gathered the resources- went on the game’s world chat and summoned a trader.

His name was CashMoney. I told me to drop the resources- he’d collect- and I would get the money. I wasn’t dumb. I thought that was crazy. He didn’t care. He told me he never went first since he was a legit and I was a ‘noob.’ This was a dilemma. I asked on the chat about him- and it seemed like it was safe to trade with him.

I made the trade- and then we talked. It turned out- CashMoney was incredibly wealthy in the game. I didn’t realize that wealth within the game was compared. He also told me he typically doesn’t bother convincing new players into trading with him. But since he’d never seen me- he’d give me a lesson and leniency. He explained a few things about trading- told me to keep my nose clean. After that- I was hooked.

I was the Bill Gates of that game. It got to the point where I was affecting the markets with decisions to buy- or sell specific things.

Both of these games capitalized on my desire to see patterns, watch trends, engage other people while keeping track of the score. There were clear metrics for winning in my mind. In Monarchy- it was all about getting our guild to win- and in Parallel Kingdom it was about getting more ‘gold.’

Now I look at what work I am doing. I am selling cars. I know I like games- I love figuring stuff out and making it work for me. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make this feel like one of the games I was playing.

I’ve been wracking my brains and come up with something. I want to gamify my efforts as I grow as a business person. Weird word- gamify- but I think it’s something to help me keep motivated as I try to expand my abilities.

The first thing I want to start with is this blog. I haven’t been working on it much- and traffic on it has died off a bit. I’ve been too busy to spend much time here. And I didn’t have a clear objective that would help me sell cars- or get better as a business person. I knew I wanted to do a blog… and have it help… but didn’t know how or to what end.

So- starting today- mDimitry.biz is the overall focus of my day today thought process (as it relates to making money.) I am going to think of myself- the business person- a consultant/independent contractor who is hired out from mDimitry.biz to various places- like Dick Hannah. I know it’s not official yet- but eventually, I might make it so. That means I’m working on an assignment for this blog as a car salesman and want to explore what a good one is- to report back to this blog. I’ll take on various projects that will hopefully help me.

For example, I have some experience with social media- and that’s one of the first projects I’m going to start to push. I have a Facebook page called “Dimitry Sells Cars.” I currently have 255 followers. I want to grow that number to… I don’t know… 5,000? Have regular engagement and work out a system that would allow me to get car deals when I invest time. Starting now- I’ll record how much time I look at the Facebook page- and keep track. I’ll attribute a dollar amount to the time spent- as well as actual money spent on Advertising through Facebook. I’ll work on making the whole exchange profitable.

That’s the second part- I want my projects to work together- but all the knowledge I pick up will be funneled back here and dissected and explored. Hopefully you- as the reader- find that interesting and will read up here. Maybe comment.

The final part- I want to review different books/blogs/and resources through which I am working. I will interview others who I see as real business people and report on those interviews. Hopefully, this will provide bigger better ideas for how to more forward with my business.

All in all- I really look forward to working on this little project more. Stay tuned- I’m going to try to post at least once a week- maybe twice. So subscribe.

Tools I use for Blogging

I had an English teacher turn me onto writing at a relatively early age. I believe I was 13 years old; I had an English teacher, Mr. Carter. I remember him standing on his desk quoting Walt Whitman. His slightly crazy eyes were looking over our class as he, with his best orators voice, yelled, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” It was the start of the year, and I remember him getting me so pumped on these old writers.

He had a creative writing assignment where we were to write a short story. We talked about writing novels. We were asked to keep a journal. A journal is this weird thing that happens with a notebook; you know like blank paper bound together, within which one writes. If you date it, you have a pretty good record of your life. Writing helps keep track of your thoughts and progressions in life.

At some point I realized my penmanship was atrocious, and if I typed out my entries I could read them again later.  I began keeping it on online platforms. Then it began to be popular to have blogs. I think my first real blog was on Xanga. I tried MySpace and Facebook’s solutions as well. I went blogger, and now I’m on WordPress.

There are some tools that I use to do my blogging.

  1. Site Location/Design:

I have purchased a bunch of different domains on various websites. I mostly use GoDaddy. I have added HostGator to this for my web hosting. They make it easy to setup a WordPress site from the control panel.

I currently favor using WordPress for an actual framework for the site. It seems to make it pretty easy to integrate it with a few other programs.

  1. Monitoring:

Once you get the site up and going, I recommend you set up Google Analytics. Also, make sure you head over to Google Webmaster Tools and Adsense.

Google Analytics lets you monitor how your site is doing, where you are getting your traffic, and how much time people spend looking at your site.

Google Webmaster Tools give you a pretty good understanding how you are doing on Google rankings, as well as if there are major problems with your website.

Adsense allows you to make money on your blog. Having Adsense ads on your site is a double-edged sword. They clutter your site,  but they might have the potential to make your money. If you have lots of traffic, they could help pay for your efforts, but they could also frustrate your viewers.

  1. Content:

I don’t use anything but my brain to develop content. I use my personal experiences to find things about which to write. I do have problems editing my work. Making sure your content is relevant is important. But also making sure it’s legible is pretty significant as well. I’ve been using Grammarly since an embarrassing mistake I made while working for PICR. I thought I had proofread my writing, and I also showed someone else as well. I know that Grammarly would have fixed a bunch of what was wrong with the writing as well.

  1. Promotion:

I like it when I get feedback on my work. The idea that someone will read my work makes me strive to make it worth reading. I could write an awesome guide to buying a car, or growth hacking your Instagram, but what’s the point if no one reads it?

I’ve been getting lots of success using Social Media. Facebook, in particular, has a way of allowing things to go viral. I hear you can have the same thing happen with Twitter, still trying to figure that out. Instagram and LinkedIn have been pretty good to me as well.

SEO is an important part of traffic. It relies on good content. But there is also a little know thought about the internet; it rewards interest. Finding out what words looked for online, you can build your blog around those topics.

The final thing is making sure you get people to link to your website. If you get people to share your articles on their websites, it helps with how search engines few your site! So- please link back to this! 😀

(I plan on working on this as I change things up, or learn more.)

How to Kill Ideas and Still End up Ahead: the Art of Stepping Away

I’ve been working for a guy named Vitaliy Rizhkov. He has been the founder Finic, which has been like an incubator for the companies I’ve worked for in the last 7 months. Not sure if you’ve been keeping track, but last week I went from Hipture to PICR. Crazy exciting move. The story I see unfolding with Vitaliy reminds me of the book I’m currently reading.

If you haven’t read the book by Tony Hsieh- you probably should. The book, Delivering Happiness: a path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is about the story Tony tells about himself moving from being a kid into adulthood. It is his life laid out, his strengths his weaknesses, and the development of the mindsets that have lead to the creation of huge companies. A casual read that really gets into his story; I feel like I’ve had a long coffee break with the guy. Tony is very inspirational. And very much akin to the story I’ve recently experienced a crazy move by my boss.

Last Monday- the Hipture project was shut down. Our Kickstart was 120% funded, and Vitaliy yanked the cord. So many people were left adrift. I can’t describe how disorienting the whole thing felt.

We had an all hands meeting on Thursday where Vitaliy explained the situation. It really reminded me of the way Tony Hsieh describes the game of poker. Tony goes into some detail about his belief that poker is akin to starting a business. He lists of ways that Poker is similar to creating a business. I’ll just list a few bullet points:

-Table Selection is the most important decision you can make.

-It’s okay to switch tables if you discover it’s too hard to win at your table.

-You need to adjust your style of play through the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.

He describes that building a business is very similar to sitting down to a poker table. The dynamics between your skill level vs your competition’s dictate your potential for winning. Not all tables are created equal, and strategically moving from a table you can’t win at is appropriate. It’s not that you can’t win individual hands, but being able to win in the long term. It’s easy to get caught up in the hand, and sometimes you just have to accept that it’s time to stand up and move to a different table.

In my mind, it was like Vitaliy was playing at two tables at the same time. Somehow this game allowed you to play both tables with the same bankroll. On the Hipture table, he had a decent hand. We payed the blind to see the flop. The hand was ok. Our Kickstarted got funded, but it was lackluster. On the PICR table, he gets a REALLY good hand. Instead of waiting to see how things played out on the Hipture table, he folded and pulled his money out to go all in on PICR. It’s good to be flexible and embrace the changes. Especially when they are they right move. (Sorry if you don’t play poker and completely miss the analogy. You should try it out, very interesting game.)

Vitaliy believes in the work fast, fail fast system. It’s akin the Jordan’s “you can’t make the baskets you didn’t shoot” but with the business focus. Not dawdling over a decision, but moving forward with confidence. So, you’ll see me working hard and fast with PICR. I’m still involved in working with influencers. I’ll still be on Instagram quite a bit. No dawdling with indecision. I really look forward to what this week entails!

If you are a photographer, you HAVE to sign up. You really don’t have a choice. Like… at all. PICR is a game changer. Get in early, and get in while the getting is good. For all of those people I worked with on Hipture, let’s keep things going. I think there’s still plenty of crossovers.

I’m curious if this is a common thing that people experience? Have you ever worked at a startup? Tell me about your craziest pivot? How did it turn out? Let me know! I’m super curious!

First Day, Carlsbad

 Today wasn’t my first day at Yosto, but it was my first day as fully dedicated to it. Vlad and I are in Carlsbad California at the CFSA (Community Financial Services Association) conference. What a beautiful little city, and what a beautiful day. It is always fun to jump into a new project. I love learning about how my industry’s business flows day to day, its practices and common procedures.

 Since starting with the company I’ve spent the last two weeks doing nothing but gearing up for this conference. On the CFSA’s website, it describes itself and its mission as “a national organization dedicated to advancing financial empowerment for consumers through small dollar, short-term loans. It was established to promote laws and regulations that protect consumers, while preserving their access to credit options, and to support and encourage responsible payday advance industry practices.” The industry is highly controversial, and yet it is a creation of economic pressures. Something like 12 million people used payday loans in 2010, according to the Pew Charitable Trust’s paper on payday lending. (Payday Lending in America, Who Borrows, Where They Borrow, and Why.) 

I found the following video quite interesting. Dennis Shaul, CEO of the CFSA on C-SPAN talking about CFPB’s efforts to regulate Payday Lending.

 The CFSA is doing good work. There is a large population of Americans that suffers from a lack of access to credit, and payday loans are one of the very few options available. Our current  banking models do not fill the need, and self regulation of this young industry is incredibly clever. I love seeing an industry that is as… controversial as this one having a introspective direction. Understanding that the consumer’s welfare ultimately makes them more profitable.
 A strange experience.
 I met some great people. Had some fun conversations. Ate some good food. Ran around. It’s been a good day. Here’s a photo to make you jealous. Sorry, not sorry.