In 2000, Baltimore, Maryland-based angler Ian Godwin turned his passion for sport fishing into SFVU, a wholesale fishing tackle distributor. Over the years, SFVU expanded to include a manufacturers’ rep group, a retail dealer consulting division, a fishing guide support division, a TV show, and a charitable foundation. But when it came to email marketing, Ian was out of his depth. He had collected over 100,000 customer email addresses, which were sitting virtually untouched in an Excel file.
That’s where Mailchimp partner Robbie Kohli came in. Founder of Deep Focus—a digital marketing firm based in New Delhi, India—Robbie had the expertise and experience needed to tackle SFVU’s marketing problem. Learn how Robbie moved Ian to Mailchimp and helped make SFVU one of the most technologically advanced businesses in its industry.
Prior to hiring Robbie, what was your marketing strategy?
Ian: Let me put it this way: I’m a tech neophyte that always prefers to close a deal with a handshake. So, before Robbie, all our marketing was old school. However, even though our email marketing strategy was nonexistent, I did have a massive contact list of 100,000-plus emails.
Wow! If you weren’t doing any email marketing, how did you end up with such a massive contact list?
Ian: I knew emails were important, but I wasn’t sure how to leverage them. From Day 1, back in 2000, we had been collecting contacts—each one of those emails was from a verified client who had bought something from SFVU. So, it was a clean list, but it was dated. After Robbie finished scrubbing it, we were left with about 34,000 contacts.
Why did you decide to hire Robbie?
Ian: I was taught early on by a successful friend of mine: Do what you know. And I don’t know email marketing, Robbie does. But the real reason I hired him? It’s because I look at people first. If the people are the right people, then I can find a way to make the talent work. And although Robbie didn’t know a thing about fishing, our philosophies meshed.