Be a Group Breaker | Step #4 – Your Technology

Step #4  – Technology: From website to camera.

I know, I know. You are ready to start opening packs/boxes/cases of cards, I get it. But you have a lot of work to do…and most of your success is going to be come from you ability to execute Steps 4-6. It’s not good enough to just meet the current standard, you have to find ways to differentiate. That starts with Step #4 – your technology.
I’m going to cover 3 key elements of your technology; Your website. Your Live Stream. Your Customer Experience.
Each of these has nuances you keep in mind, and all of them require time/effort/money. But…this is where you begin to carve out your space in the breaker’s marketplace.

Your Website

Don’t let anyone tell you that the website is not important. This is your landmark. The stake you drive into the market. The point of reference that trumps all others. This is your home, treat it like you’d expect people to visit…and want to come back.
If you read our recent BreakerCulture Awards for the Top Websites, you’ll notice how much variance there is to the top websites. Some have great e-commerce solutions. Some have great educational components. Some have great interactive pieces. There isn’t a one-size fits all solution…the key is focusing on your strengths…and making sure this comes through on your site.
Thankfully for all of the tech-deficient users there are some great options for your website. You don’t have to know how to write HTML code and/or be a tech guru. With a little bit of time, creativity, and patience you can craft a nice site with limited resources/budget. Here are some sites that I’d recommend you check out.
  1. Shopify (Try it Here)- This platform has a TON of flexibility on the e-commerce side. A growing and diverse set of templates, and great support. My recommendation for those looking to start quickly. Use our links to get a 2-week free trial and test out if it’s a good spot for you. Reach out to us up for any questions/help.
  2. SquareSpace (Try it here) – Definitely the most elegant platform with a wide variety of trendy design templates. Not as much flexibility on the e-commerce, which might hinder you if you grow. But some slick sites with very easy to use features.
  3. Wix (Try Here) – Possibly the most comprehensive of all of them, but also the more difficult to use. If you can hunker down and learn the platform it could be the best suited for a growing breaker.

 

All of the above solutions provide an all-in-one suite for you set-up your site (w/hosting, domain, etc… included!). Most of them will also provide a decent e-commerce platform that can be tailored for a breaker. Some of the top breakers use the above sites and do a great job. Dig into them and find the one that suits you.
Regardless if you decide to use one of these platforms or run it on your own (Developer/Wordpress/etc…), here are some elements that you SHOULD consider non-negotiable:
About Us – What are you all about? Why are you breaking? What is your preferred style?
Pricing Clarity – Make sure your pricing is clear. Don’t try to hide costs. Be transparent at all turns.
Scheduling – Use internal tools (above sites) or add a good calendar widget. Make sure folks know when you are breaking.
Streaming – Having your live stream on your site is a huge value-add. It keeps folks ON YOUR PAGE.
Terms & Conditions – What are your unique rules? Make sure you document these now…and point folks there.
The other pieces like social integration, rewards programs, etc… can be added as you go. But don’t get things really moving until you have the foundation ready to go.

Your LIVE Stream

Now, you’ve got the website figured out…and you are starting down the path. It’s time to figure out how you are going to set-up and run your stream. You need hardware (cameras, stands, etc…), software (for video stream), and a streaming partner. Let’s break it down.
First, whether you are just starting out….or are starting your 500th live break…you can’t neglect good video quality. This has evolved into an absolute core piece of the business and those with sub-par video streams WILL NOT last.

Equipment:

Thankfully technology costs continue to become more competitive and hardware can be picked up from sites like Amazon on the cheap. Here are the recommendations for camera’s based on my experience and conversations with other breakers.
Entry-to-Mid Level Camera’s:
Here are a couple of camera’s that work great and provide HD quality.


You need to consider reliability and the need for multiple camera views – so purchasing 2-3 camera’s will be necessary.
Camera Stand’s for your Web Camera’s.


It’s important to get a few flexible stands to give you some options when setting up your stream.
The built-in microphones from the web camera’s should be good enough for the early stages. Just make sure to talk into the camera…and realize that you aren’t going to get ‘radio’ quality voice recordings from the camera’s. But…in an effort to keep it simple, I’d recommend sticking with the built-in microphones early on.
But, if you do decide to upgrade and add HD audio, I can’t recommend this YETI microphone enough… it’s an amazing microphone.


 Software & Streaming Partner

 

You’ve got the equipment, now you are going to need some software to run the break. There are a few options when it comes to video recording software. But your decision will depend on the streaming service you decide to use. Let me explain.
If you default to Breakers.TV – you’ll be regulated to very few integrated features. They don’t provide extensive recording/editing/sharing functions. You basically turn on the camera and broadcast your channel. It’s mean to be easy (and it is!) but it isn’t designed for the slick producer. If you stick with Breakers.TV you need to make sure you have some good streaming software. Here are a few I’d recommend (I’m only listing reasonably priced or open-source solutions):
OBS Studio – I used this for many years. It’s open-source and provides lots of necessary functionality.
xSplit – Focused more on “gamers” – but lots of functionality for breakers.
The key to these programs is being able to record your stream, because you’ll want a backup of all your recordings. In addition you want the flexibility to add different camera angels, text on the screen, quick integration with youtube, etc..  Those programs provide that.
Once these are set-up, you’ll run the recording/stream through the program…and then push the stream to Breakers.TV…. they have full integration instructions on their site.
Now, if you really want to make a splash…and also reduce some of the required programs…you could use one of the more comprehensive streaming providers. Most of these providers provide software that integrates with their platform AND provides most of the necessary functionality you’d find in the above platforms. Here are the popular platforms:
uStream – Most Comprehensive
Twitch – Fun, easy, gaming oriented
LiveStream – Growing, no ads.
You’ll also need to consider YouTube Streaming & Facebook Live.  Both of these will continue to be viable options and will likely be more commonplace the next few months. We are going to provide a follow-up post around using streaming services… but don’t take Facebook Live / YouTube Streaming lightly.
When it’s all said and done, you need to make sure you have the following for your streams:
  • Backup copy of your stream. (WHEN you have a technical issue, you want to make sure you can refer to the actual version of the stream).
  • Integration with YouTube.
  • At least 2 camera angels (Preferably one HD angle ON THE CARDS and one camera on you)
  • A great internet connection to preserve bandwidth/latency. (Fiber / T1 would be ideal)
  • Good knowledge of your platform. (To navigate around, show random.org, show an advertisement, etc…)

 

Customer Experience

 

Here is what will happen after the break wraps up. You are going to be extremely tired, focused on social media posts, long list of follow-ups, and an overall feeling of being overwhelmed. This is normal. But, it’s also what can cause you to absolutely despise your decision to be a breaker. If you don’t have a good system in place to manage client communications, you will be frustrated.

 

Here are some ideas to consider to help you with the management of your client communication and overall client experience.

 

#1 – Email Campaigns

You need to have a go-to spot to manage how you communicate with your buyers. There are obviously the one-off opportunities to communicate with your buyers, but in mass fashion you need a platform to help you manage this. There is one platform that I’ll never stop using…and that is MailChimp. You need to leverage MailChimp for all things around your email list. It’s too easy and too powerful. Take full advantage of it.

 

  • Add all of your buyers to your lists.
    • Through Integration with your WooCommerce or eCommerce piece on your website.
    • Through a sign-up form on your website. (integration is available through MailChimp)
    • Through Social campaigns.
  • Communicate with your buyers often.
    • Create a template for AFTER breaks. Send out daily.
    • Create a weekly promotional template. Send out weekly.
    • Create a monthly summary template. Send out monthly.
    • Be consistent. Be present.
  • Don’t worry about over-communication.
    • Buyers would much rather be informed than left-out. If they don’t want to read it, they won’t.

 

#2 – Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)

 

Within any larger scale enterprise they will have a CRM tool that manages their customer information. The big names are Salesforce.com, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, etc… In your smaller world of breaking you can’t neglect the opportunity to properly manage your customers. So I highly recommend setting up some sort of process to managing your clients information. Here are a couple of recommendations, from simplest to more advanced.

 

  • Microsoft Excel
    • Create a Spreadsheet with Customer Names/Email/Phone/Location/Preferences / Personal Notes / etc…
    • Keep it freshly updated every few days.
    • Coordinate the email addresses with the MailChimp email list.
  • Insightly
    • A intuitive CRM tool set-up for small businesses. Plans around $15 a month that provide all of the bells and whistles you need to properly manage your clients.
  • Soho.com
    • Another popular tool that will run you between $15-$20 a month and will help you manage all of the key pieces around your client.

 

There are some built-in features to some of the web platforms mentioned above… those will suffice for awhile. In addition there are tools/plugins available in WordPress that you can use as a bridge toward a more tailored solution. Regardless, don’t neglect the importance of documenting the information around your clients. It’s not just important for the growth of your business, it’s important as you try to meet a growing lists of clients’…and their preferences.

 

#3 – Social Media

 

This subtopic won’t get the attention it deserves (in this post), but you MUST be involved in social media. If you talk with any of the bigger breakers they will all tell you how Social Media helped them grow their business X much faster. You will not be successful without a well executed Social Media plan. So let me quickly summarize how the different platforms could/should be used:

 

  • Facebook
    • This should be considered your “community” portal. Facebook is integrated into everyone’s life and the impact to the breaker is gigantic. Make sure you have a page that AT THE VERY LEAST is integrated with your Twitter/Instagram.
  • Twitter
    • This is your feed. Your thoughts, news, updates, break status, etc… all of this can come from your Twitter feed. During the early stages of your Twitter growth you should try to post 4-5x a day, even if it’s a quick thought. Just let it be an extension of the creative side of your brain. 😉
  • Instagram
    • This is where you get people REALLY excited about your results. Show hits and break results. Add a quick Instagram video (15sec or less). Just keep pictures coming on this platform, people want to see the results.

 

The beauty with all of these is that each provides unique integration into the other. So if you set it up correctly you can make a post on ONE and have it populate the other TWO. This shouldn’t be the primary way of using each platform…because you need to be sensitive to types of users on each site. But you should absolutely use the integrations!

 

#4 – Feedback.

 

This is the most underrated (and underutilized) part of the customer experience. It’s easy to think that you are getting enough feedback within your chat rooms or discussion boards, but the reality is YOU AREN’T! Your customers want to be heard and you need their feedback. Here are two tools I’d highly recommend using to help gather feedback from your clients.

 

  • TypeForm
    • This is my favorite tool for gathering feedback. So much flexibility on the surveys. Plenty of integrations. Most features are available in the free plan!
  • SurveyMonkey
    • The gold-standard of internet surveys. Easy to use. Can become costly if you need all of the bells + whistles. But it works.

 

The idea behind gathering feedback shouldn’t be to overwhelm clients with surveys…because customers will just stop filling them out. But if you are strategic and send out a monthly survey with well thought-out questions, clients will respond. Ask them tough questions, fun questions, and relevant questions. Compile the results and improve your business. Ultimately if you are listening to your customers you will do three important things:

 

  • Drive loyalty – because clients know you are listening to them.
  • Improve your Business – because you are focusing on what CUSTOMERS want.
  • Enjoy it more – because satisfying clients is a rewarding experience.

 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to listen to your clients!


That wraps up Step #4. There was a LOT in this post, thanks for hanging in there. We hope you found a few nuggets of helpful information. If you have any thoughts or considerations, make a comment below!

Step #5 is coming…. all about “THE BREAK”

Take care!

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