Aaron Conant is the Co-founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a leading platform for executive strategy and networking sessions. He is also an e-commerce expert with over a decade of experience in digital commerce, providing advisory services to brands on Amazon sales strategies, retail media, direct consumer platform selection, and SEO. BWG Connect, in conjunction with BWG Strategy, has built an exclusive network of over 125,000 senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events annually.
Before starting BWG Connect, Aaron was the Head of eCommerce Sales and Business Development at Perrigo and a Research Scientist at Pfizer. He is also the host of the Digital Deep Dive Podcast.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Aaron Conant, the Co-founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, about knowledge-sharing and networking strategies for e-commerce sellers. Aaron shares tips for evaluating event speakers, how to balance family with building a business, and strategies for organizing a business dinner.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- [02:03] Aaron Conant’s entrepreneurial background and his entry into the e-commerce world
- [11:15] The inspiration to start BWG Connect
- [17:43] Effects of the pandemic on BWG Connect
- [20:08] Aaron’s tips for evaluating event speakers and running numerous webinars
- [24:02] The challenge with publishing digital content
- [28:08] How Aaron balances family with building a travel-related business
- [30:31] Best practices for organizing a business dinner
- [34:40] The peers Aaron acknowledges for their support
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- BWG Connect
- Aaron Conant on LinkedIn
- The Digital Deep Dive Podcast
- BWG Strategy
- Bill Williams on LinkedIn
- Tim (“TA”) Armstrong on LinkedIn
- George Wescott on LinkedIn
- Dries Buytaert on LinkedIn
- Kelly Goetsch on LinkedIn
- Anthony Hogan on LinkedIn
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John Corcoran 0:00
Today, you’ve heard the phrase, your network is your net worth. It’s totally true. And today we’re talking to someone who has built a business around knowledge sharing and networking to the point where they’re doing hundreds of free webinars a year. That’s right free, and 100 plus in-person events all around, delivering open knowledge sharing and connections. His name is Aaron Conant. I’ll tell you more about him in a second. So stay tuned.
Welcome to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we feature top entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders and ask them how they built the relationships to get where they are today. Now, let’s get started with the show.
John Corcoran 0:45
Alright, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And you know, each week I feel it’s such a privilege to be able to talk to smart CEOs, founders, co-founders, entrepreneurs for all kinds of companies. We’ve had Netflix and Kinkos, YPO, EO, GrubHub, and Redfin, go check out the archives lots of great episodes in there. And of course, is brought to you by Rise25, my company, where we help B2B businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And go to Rise25.com or email us at [email protected] if you have any questions. My guest today is Aaron Conant. He’s a Co-founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect. It’s a platform known for its executive strategy and networking sessions. He and I are big woo’s who. We love talking to people. And fortunately, we both been able to build businesses that enabled us to indulge in that pleasure is over a decade of experience in digital commerce and providing advisory services to I don’t know at this point 1000s of different brands on various aspects related to digital strategies, including Amazon strategies, retail media, direct consumer platform selection, SEO, you name it, and fun fact. He also was a research scientist at Pfizer, we’ll get to that. But first Aaron, such a pleasure to have you here today. And I want to start with I love to ask people about how they were as a kid. And I think it says a lot about us you were doing door-to-door sales from a catalogue for a Olympic sales club. Right getting prizes and and commissions as a kid during the summertime. Tell us about it.
Aaron Conant 2:22
Yeah, well, first Yeah, John, thanks so much for having me on today. I really love Rise25. Essential, and me getting my podcast up and going. And so quick. Thank you on that side. But then, yeah, I mean, we can jump into it a little bit. You know, as a kid, I’ve always kind of been an entrepreneur. And there’s this, there’s this crazy thing back in the 80s called Olympic sales club. And you could go door to door with a catalogue. And, you know, it was bunch of random stuff in it, that people would buy, I don’t know, if it’s, you know, candles, candle holders, doilies, it doesn’t matter what it is, you know, little notepads and pens, and you can go down it or anything you could trade basically credits in for everything that you sold. And you could you could trade it in for toys, and prizes, or you could trade it in for cash.
John Corcoran 3:17
And so how old are you when you’re doing this? 1010 Okay. And neighbourhood I assume well, yeah, going around.
Aaron Conant 3:24
But yeah, around door to door knocking on you know, knocking on doors
John Corcoran 3:28
Just, you know, engage this massive Sears catalogue of items for you.
Aaron Conant 3:33
Yeah. But you know, you mentioned that I’m a woman, I’m 100% of everybody’s a friend. And so that was kind of like the precipice for just being comfortable walking up to people. And just want to know a little bit more about them understand what their needs are. And then, you know, connecting them with something that may they may or may not want, at the end. But that it was knee and there’s a couple of things that I learned from it. And one was in on the price side is, you know, I’m looking at this and I get so hyped about a toy that I wanted that was in there, but I didn’t read the fine detail on I actually look at it and so I sent it out. I sent away for it and it showed up. And it totally was like a total knockoff right. It was not an actual transformer. If you remember transformers from back in the day, right? Yeah, yeah, that actual like Megatron transformer.
John Corcoran 4:27
It was like a knockoff Megatron that’s whole totally barren.
Aaron Conant 4:30
But it was that it was a it was like an instant life lesson and attention to detail, and how important it is to be successful and you know, get what you want. And I had that at 10 You know, maybe 11 At that point in time, but a good lesson.
John Corcoran 4:45
Another interesting thing that I find, you know, I consider myself an extrovert in that in the sense that I get energy from talking to other people, it sounds like you are as well. On the other hand, there’s this kinda like analytical side to me I went to law school you become eventually become you studied biochemistry at University of Michigan not an easy thing to study requiring, I’m sure, many hours in a library with your nose in a book, which is like the opposite of what most extroverts want to do. So it seems like in both of us, I go to law school, you study biochemistry become a research scientist at Pfizer, there’s an element to our personality that allows us to, you know, spend long periods of time studying a deep topic, does this resonate with you? Do you feel like there’s a kind of dual sides of your personality?
Aaron Conant 5:36
Oh, 100%. I mean, and, you know, I love the I love the analytical side. Like I said, that was something that I learned early on. But that there’s also the side of it that I love the challenge. And the challenge that comes with studying something that’s hard. And, yeah, I mean, I ended up at at Pfizer doing research chemistry, and then I was at the back of the lab, and there’s not too many people to talk to there’s like, you know, beakers and chemicals to talk to. And so it was one of those things where I love chemistry, I do, you know, I think it relates a lot to, you know, the scientific process to winning an E commerce, which is what we host most of our events on and kind of where I sit as a digital strategist was, you know, it’s not, it’s just an interesting thing to think about, you know, when you look at a reaction that you’re going to do, you have the hypothesis, and you’ve got the variables, and you have the constants that you hold in place. And then you’re trying something you’re trying to make something that nobody else has made before. And there’s no like perfect answer. There’s just an answer at the end. And the more experiments you do, the more you learn, and the closer you can get to being better and being the best. And you repeat it over and over and over again, and you kind of set any failure aside, it’s not really a failure. It’s an event. It’s not a it’s not a person, it’s just that singular event that you can still learn from. And, you know, I get asked a lot like, what how did you go from chemistry into this, you know, into a digital world and an Amazon business and building which was
John Corcoran 7:15
a perfect segue into what was going to be my next question.
Aaron Conant 7:20
And so I left Perego or I left Pfizer, I jumped over to a company called Perego. It became a project manager and I got a crazy project to launch a direct consumer site, Amazon business. And what I quickly found was, it’s digital commerce right now, whether it’s Amazon or direct consumer digital marketing, it’s so new. All this stuff nobody’s really done before. And so you’re is the exact same situation that I had in chemistry, but you get interaction with people and trying stuff new on a daily basis, you’re going to fail, fail fast and fail a lot. And you’re going to get to the right answer quicker than other people are. If you can do more experiments will say
John Corcoran 8:05
right, did you know that going into it? Like when you when you went from Pfizer to Perego, did you see that on Horizon? Or do you are you saying that in retrospect, now I realised why this why this works for my personality? Yeah,
Aaron Conant 8:18
no, it was after like, the middle, we had nine number-one best-sellers on Amazon. So I went from nothing to startup cold calling Amazon. But then a couple of years getting nine number-one bestsellers in the OTC pharma category. And that’s where somebody was like, What is going on? Right? Like, how did you do this? And that was kind of an introspective moment, like, yeah, how is this working? When you talk to other people? Like I’m a networker, like, what are you doing? I quickly found out that people would just try one thing and try it over and over and over again. And oh, though, you know, this wasn’t the right time of year, or hey, in might have been just the wrong product. And I was quickly cycling through, okay, I’m gonna change up content, I’m gonna change up wording, I’m going to change up imagery, I’m going to shift it to other things. And so it’s that whole, you can’t just throw anything up against the wall, and hope something sticks you are, you’ve got to pick what you’re good at, while you’re gonna throw it up against what you’re gonna throw up against the wall, and how hard you’re gonna throw it. And then you take a step back, and then you can read data. And with that data, you can make the next best choice.