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In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about how to use social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Gemkow.

Matt Gemkow

Matt Gemkow is the owner of a growing ecommerce fitness company named Select Fitness USA. With his experience in digital marketing and ecommerce, he plans to grow this gym equipment business to heights of eight figures and above.

Social media is just one way he has been able to start and grow his company, and he plans on using it even more in the foreseeable future.


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The career path I have immersed myself in has been quite a journey. I did one year of college at the local school near me in a suburb of Chicago and found all my classes miserable except for one. That class was social media marketing. While deterring me from furthering my education at any college, this class launched me into the busy digital marketing, ecommerce, and online business industry. 

Since then, I've been pursuing mentorship, education, and information about digital marketing and ecommerce, and I started my first entrepreneurial projects. After a few hard sessions of trial and error, I wound up following my other passion for fitness and bodybuilding into a retail fitness equipment business. I run this current business and plan on growing it for the foreseeable future.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

The most exciting story I have had in this business, Select Fitness USA, has to be the first large order we ever received for the fitness equipment we sell. 

I was at the gym, working out as usual, when I got a notification from an online chat app, saying something along the lines of “Hello, I would like to purchase all this equipment and would like your help finding a few things.” 

After some more chats and a nice phone call, I had wrapped up my first sizable deal for about $11,300 worth of fitness equipment that would be shipped to a fire department in Iowa. This monumental shift of momentum gave me some much-needed capital to further invest in the company. What a thrill and an honor to serve such a noble establishment. 

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn?

The best mistake I can share with you has to be my first attempt at business. I told myself, “I'm not going to pursue this business fully; I just want to start something and try to get some skills.” 

This was my first mistake in business. Not believing and not putting the full effort into the idea is sure to doom any business idea or concept. From the start of this venture, I believed it would make no money, and it did just that. 

While I did get out of it what I wanted, which was some experience building websites, advertising, marketing, writing copy, search engine optimization, and other things, the business was destined to fail from the start due to my mindset. 

The best thing I can say to learn from this mistake I made is to take your time choosing a business to start, and then go all in mentally and act on everything you possibly can to make it work. 

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The thing we are most focused on now is counterintuitive to what some might think but is mandatory for most businesses today. That is niching down one customer avatar and serving them to the best of your ability. 

Often today, entrepreneurs try to serve anyone and everyone because that's what companies like Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, and other large companies succeed with. 

This is largely a misconception, however. It is a different game aiming for a trillion-dollar company. You succeed in the business by choosing one customer avatar and serving them better than any other business you compete with. 

What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success?

  1. I get up and work on the things that need to be done before anything else. Instead of adding things into the equation to try and get more done, I remove everything but work from my mornings so that the important task for moving my business forwards is completed with my full attention.
  2. I think long-term. Each year, I start by setting or revisiting my 10-year vision for the business, 3-year goals, 1-year goals, and 90-day goals. This way, I will keep the goal at the end of 10 years at the top of my mind and do things worth it ten years from now. The 3-year and 1-year goals act as checkpoints for my progress along the way, and the 90-day goals are action tasks that I must complete to stay on track. 
  3. I will never give up. If I am testing things out or starting a business, I dedicate myself to making them work or proving that they don’t work with hard data before moving on. What I learned from my mistake above is that it pays off to choose a business, but once you do, you cannot stop if you want to succeed. 

What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

My business serves people across America with the information they need to make an educated decision on the fitness equipment they need for their facility or home gym, with a wide selection of equipment from many US brands to choose from. 

The idea was to sell fitness equipment initially. Although, it has become a content, customer service, and convenient purchasing resource for facilities across America looking for gym or fitness equipment. 

How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?

Social media has played a few roles for us at Select Fitness USA. We use social media to drive cold organic traffic to our website and focus on people who have already visited our site from other channels and gain touch points with them to build trust and brand awareness and add value to that platform. 

Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically?

We use primarily Facebook and Instagram since that’s where a large majority of people are active, as well as YouTube. Keep in mind, though, that omnipresence is very important for a social media practice so that wherever your audience is, you can show your company and gain more there too.

What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?

Short-form videos, short-form comment-style posts, and social sharing with giveaways, promotions, and other new content are great ways to use social media to drive traffic and, ultimately, revenue for our company and probably most others. 

What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes?

The number of companies that focus on paid social media is ridiculous. In most cases, this will eventually run your bank account dry. 

Social media is powerful for gaining traction for free, organically, with content, promotions, social networking, etc.

Getting started, some paid social traffic may not hurt, but if your business relies heavily on paid social media traffic, I wish you good luck in the long-term game. 

Based on your experience and success, what are your top five ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business?

1. Organic content to drive cold traffic onto your pages and website and even drive revenue. Most importantly, though, to build up an audience of pixeled people you know are interested in what you serve. 

2. Social networking and manual outreach. Want an easy way to get started promoting your stuff on social media? Follow 1,000 people and ask them to follow you back, join your community, or even buy your product. 

3. Promoting long-form content featured on your website or other social channels. Make a high-quality blog post, YouTube video, or long-form Instagram video and promote it organically or even with paid traffic. This can be pretty cheap and easy to promote on social media and get people flooding onto that content which serves another purpose. 

4. Giveaways. We run occasional giveaway promotions where we choose someone at random that follows us on social media, is on our email list, or has bought something in the past. People love free stuff. Use that to drive relevant people to follow you, join your email list, or even purchase something to enter to win. 

5. The number one way we use social media to grow our ecommerce business is retargeting! Social media companies like Meta with Facebook and Instagram tags give us a way to track everyone who has been to our website and left with or without buying something so we can target them again later, and much cheaper. Keyword there is MUCH CHEAPER. The returns we get from campaigns targeting only people that have been to our website already are crazy, and I highly recommend it to everyone with an ecommerce business.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?

I would like to start the movement of long-term thinking. Too many people want to get rich in 90 days with their business, and not enough people want to make a business good enough that it sticks around for 10 years. 

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You check out our website at SelectFitnessUSA.com, where all our stuff is housed, and feel free to shop for gym equipment for yourself. Contact us there as well.


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By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is The Ecomm Manager's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School. He also hosts The Ecomm Manager Podcast, discussing ecommerce best practices, customer experience, branding, inventory management, shipping and delivery, and analytics with expert guests.