Episode 130

eCommerce Branding and Storytelling with a Hollywood Script Writer & eComm Merchant

Michael Jamin - Twirly Girl
August 5, 2020
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Michael Jamin knows a thing or two about telling a good story.  He’s written for popular sitcoms like King of the Hill, Rules of Engagement, Tacoma FD and Beavis & Butthead to name a few.  More importantly, for our purposes, he’s also the Co-Founder of Twirly Girl - an eComm brand that features some truly magical storytelling ads.  I wanted to have Michael on the show so we could learn some of his secrets….and because I knew it would be a ton of FUN.  He delivered.  Here’s a quick look at what we cover:

  • Using setup and punchline to deliver features and benefits in a truly fun, funny and memorable way
  • If customers focus on price, it’s your fault and how to fix it
  • How some powerful tweak in FB ads dropped their cost per share from $178 to just $1.16
  • When Michael combined what he knew about TV script writing and eComm Twirly Girl grew 30.6%
  • Why people aren’t really buying stuff, but rather relationships and magic
  • A few powerful “story makeovers”
  • Plus more

Mentioned in this episode:

Seth Godin

Cardboard Rocketships Course

“Million Dollar Secret Kept in a Pickle Jar” Video - TwirlyGirl Facebook

“Cardboard Rocketship Returns from Jupiter” Video - TwirlyGirl Facebook

“Building a StoryBrand” Book by Donald Miller

eCommerceFuel Live

The eCommerce Fuel Podcast

Paper Anniversary

Island Jay

Connect with the guest:

Michael Jamin -  Co-Founder at Cardboard Rocketships

Via LinkedIn

Via IMDb

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Cardboard Rocketships

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via YouTube


TwirlyGirl

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube

Episode Transcript

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and I am so excited about today's show. This is going to be fun. This may be the most fun show that we've ever done. Now, I'll leave you to be the judge of that, but this is going to be a great topic. It's also going to be very informative. You will be able to make better ads, better emails, better videos after this show. And so, I was just talking to my guest before we hit record. I'm shocked that I did not know my guest prior to this because of the nature of his business and because of my family, which we'll talk about in a minute.

Brett:

My guest today is Michael Jamin, and Michael is the Chief Blast Off guy, coolest title ever. He is also the cofounder of CardboardRocketships.com, where they can help you tell a better brand story, create better ads, better videos, and then, he and his wife run Twirly Girl Shop, which is a site built around the most twirly dresses for girls and tons of fun. We're going to dive into a lot of the ads they've created for Twirly Girl. And that's why I say how did I not know about Michael because I have six, count them, six daughters. I should've been, could've been Michael's best customer ever. We're meeting now. So, we can hopefully fix that. But also, quick other note, Michael was a writer and a showrunner, and he wrote for shows like King of the Hill, Just Shoot Me, Wilfred, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD, and my personal favorite because I have a little bit of a story here, Beavis and Butt-Head, totally hilarious that he did that. So, with that intro, Michael, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on, really excited to chat today.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, thank you. What a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Brett:

Yeah, man, absolutely. So, I got to know about ... I want to hear maybe a quick story or two about your writing for TV shows, and I want to tell just a very, very brief Beavis and Butt-Head story. So, Beavis and Butt-Head comes out when I'm like 13, 14, somewhere in there, maybe 12, and I think it's hilarious. I just think it's absolutely hysterical. I'm quoting it. Beavis and Butt-Head were becoming my new role models, and my dad, my dad is a really easygoing guy, hardworking guy but easygoing. He's like, "No. You're not watching Beavis and Butt-Head. I ban Beavis and Butt-Head from this house." I think he thought it was going to melt my brain or make me not want to work, but that just made me want to watch it all the more. So, I was quoting it. Anyway.

Michael Jamin:

How funny. Yeah, that shows exactly what you would expect. It was Mike Judge, the night before, he would send us a bunch of old videos and say, "We're going to make fun of these videos." And I'd write some notes, and they'd go to the booth the next day, and we'd watch them again. And we'd pitch some jokes Beavis would say, and then, he'd go into the booth and do it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love the Beavis and Butt-Head when they made fake beards. That was one of my favorite episodes. I did get around it. Sorry, Dad. I snuck, and I watched Beavis and Butt-Head.

Michael Jamin:

Good for you.

Brett:

Anyway, so, any other interesting stories that came from being a writer. I'm sure there are millions, but lessons learned or funny stories as a writer or a showrunner?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, I mean, and I still do it. Although, now, with the pandemic, we're all kind of on indefinite hiatus, except for animation . We're all trying to sell animated shows now. But yeah, it's what I've always wanted to do since high school, and I moved out right after college and went to California to become a TV writer, see if I could get it. And it took a couple years to break in, and all I ever wanted to do is just be a TV writer. So, here I am.

Brett:

Yeah. Well, congrats to you, man. What an accomplishment. I think most people that try to break into the biz are unsuccessful. It's tough. It's tough to do. So, hats off to you for doing it. So, success TV writer, you got this career. You could just be doing that with all of your time. So, talk about Twirly Girl Shop. Why did you guys do that? What was the kind of origin story of Twirly Girl? And then, we'll get into some of the details.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. So, my wife started it back in 2007. We have two daughters, and so, she wanted to make them a special dress. So, she took some classes. She didn't know anything about sewing, and she made beautiful reversible dresses, super twirly. It was a gift. So, no expense was spared, the best construction techniques. It was all about quality, the best fabrics, whatever. And then, the girls wore it to school, and then, suddenly, all of the other kids wanted them, and my wife said, "Listen, I'll make them for you, but it's not going to be cheap because that's just not what I want to do. It's going to be ... " And they're like, "No, no, no. We see why it's expensive. We get why it has to be good." And so, that was in the beginning. And then, she would make them, and then, a local boutique discovered them, and they placed an order. And the next thing you know, my wife was sewing like 100 dresses on the dining room table. And then-

Brett:

Wow.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, it was crazy. It was too much. And then, she found some local sewers. We live in LA. So, it was close to the fashion district. So, we found local sewers, outsource our selling. Then, we put up a website, and then, we were in Nordstrom. And suddenly, it was just kind of like this big business was growing, and I wanted to help her with that. It was just an idea. It was never intentioned to make money making dresses.

Brett:

Yeah. It was just a gift, just to do something cool for the daughters. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And so, that was how it was kind of born, and I wanted to help her grow the business, but I knew absolutely nothing about eCommerce or retail or sales or fashion or marketing. I was like the worst person in the world to help her, except the fact that I was willing to do it for free. And so, I remember I bought a book on business, and I started reading it. And I was a couple pages into it. I was like, "This book is too hard for me. I don't understand it." And the book was Small Business for Dummies. That's how stupid I am. But I didn't want to give up. I wanted to help grow, and then, I just started reading more about marketing.

Michael Jamin:

And then, I realized I already knew most of this. The stuff that I know from being a TV writer was directly applicable to marketing. I didn't even know what marketing was until I read it. And so, it was just all about, "Well, how can we tell our story? How can we make everything a story, and how can we basically ... " It's more like I get a lot of comments on our videos and our website, "Oh, you guys are experts at marketing." And it's like not really. I'm just an expert at storytelling, and I apply it to marketing, and it seems so fresh because I'm not trained. It all seems like it's out-of-the-box thinking because I've never been in the box. So, I don't know.

Brett:

Right, yeah, yeah. Your frame of reference is stilling engaging stories and keeping people engaged in a 30-minute sitcom. Your frame of reference is not writing a newspaper ad or something like that. So, it's a fresh perspective.

Michael Jamin:

Right. So, it's never even been about ... My lining of thinking has never been about, "Well, how can I sell? How can I get you to buy from me?" It's the opposite. It's, "How can I give you something first? How can I give you a laugh or an emotion or a feeling?" And then, this is the example I use. If I were to show up at your house right before Christmas with a gift for you, what would you think in your head?

Brett:

Yeah. I'd be like, "Dude, thank you. It's awesome to see. I'm delighted to get this gift." Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I'm a little ... See, this is how I would feel. If you showed up to my house with a gift, I would be like, for me, "Oh, fuck." Bleep that out.

Brett:

I've got to get you a gift, reciprocity. Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I would think, "Oh, man. I didn't get you anything. I've got to get you something." And then, I'd spend the next week finding something. And so, to me, that's what it's about. If I give somebody something first, they're going to want to give me something in exchange, and that is their business, or if they're not going to give me their business, they'll give me a referral, or they'll share it with their friends. They'll do something in exchange.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Very cool. So, let's talk about ... I want to get into some of your ads, and I literally had a couple of chuckle-out-loud moments as I was reviewing some of your video ads. It wasn't just a smile. It was a laugh out loud, which is awesome. So, I want to dig into some of those and the way you wrote those and concepts and stuff. But before we do that, what were some of the challenges that you ran into? So, we all faced challenges as entrepreneurs. Whether you're building agency, like we did at OMG, you're building a physical product business, there's challenges. So, what were some of the ones that you ran into?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And I was convinced our challenges were going to kill the business. I was like, "Well, we can't overcome." And I think everyone feels the same, "My challenges are way worse than yours." And so, for us, there was a number of things. First, our customer is not our end user. So, we sell little girls' dressed, but little girls don't have credit cards. So, you have to sell it to moms and grandmothers. And so, that right there, now, it's not an impulse buy. Now, it's not for themselves. And secondly, the dresses are ... They're made in America. So, the prices are higher. They're reversible. So, it's literally twice the work, twice the fabric. And so, people are unaccustomed to seeing a dress this expensive. They think ... because most dressed are made in overseas sweatshops, and they're disposable.

Brett:

Yeah, they are, without a doubt. Absolutely, yeah.

Michael Jamin:

So, it was getting over that. How do you convince people on the internet without letting them touch the fabric and see the seam? How do you convince them that it's worth it? So, there was those. Those are like giant obstacles in the beginning. And so, that's really where it became about telling our story.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. I love it. And you mentioned a quote as we were kind of prepping. Seth Godin talks about if it seems that your customers only care about price, it's because you haven't given them something else to care about, right?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I have a number of quotes from him I think are just brilliant. He always talks about talking your brand story. I've read a number of his books, and he's absolutely right, but what he doesn't teach you is how to tell your story. I mean, when is he going to get to that part? I get you're supposed to tell it, but are you going to tell us how? And I know because I'm a TV writer. I know how to tell stories, but they don't because that's not their line of work.

Brett:

Right, right, right. So, how did you, then ... I'm curious about the name Twirly Girl. Was that the name from the beginning, or did that come later?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, that came ... My wife, she called our girls, "You're our twirly girls." And it was actually a really good name, I think. It sounds good.

Brett:

Yeah. It's a great name. Yeah, it's very memorable. You think dress immediately. You think fun and whimsical, and every girl wants to twirl, instinctively. They put on a dress. They twirl. So, it's really cool. So, then, how did you land on your brand story? You have a distinct advantage as a writer, of course, but some people can say, "Okay. Made in USA, it's quality fabric." You could get really technical and really boring if you weren't well-trained. This could be a really boring differentiator if you're not careful. So, how did you come up with your brand story?

Michael Jamin:

So, to be clear, that's exactly how I tried to market it in the beginning. It was a giant failure. I was like, "We're made in American. We're high quality." No one cares about that because that doesn't forge an emotional connection. No one's going to connect to that emotionally. So, how to tell the story was I just basically told the story of why my wife got into the business, and I told other stories about how I started to help her. I told the story about me buying that Business for Dummies. In the beginning, it was about-

Brett:

This makes you feel very relatable, right? I mean, it just makes you seem like a real guy. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. In the beginning, I was all about ... I was insecure about know nothing about business. I was like, "Well, no one's going to buy our dresses if they think you're selling them, making them on your dining room table." I was insecure about how small we were. And so, I tried to make ourselves look better and impersonal, which is the exact opposite thing. I think a lot of people have an insecurity, but when you look at the big brands, when you look at ... The big brands try to make themselves look smaller. That's why they hire spokespeople. So, I wasn't trying to reinvent the wheel. I should've just been ... That's what I did. I started doing what the big guys did. I dove into the fact that we're small, and I just made it personal. And people want to buy from other people. They want to root for other people. Even if I said, "Hey, my car broke down," you'd say, "Oh, I got a guy. I got a guy for you." Right? You don't say, "I've got a company. I've got a guy."

Brett:

Right. I've got a guy. Yeah. I love it. That's my favorite phrase to hear someone say. So, yeah, and your wife does an amazing job the way she connects with people. So, she loves what she does, and that comes through on the videos. And so, and don't hide that, and done hide the fact that it was created on the kitchen table, and the first dresses were made that way. That's a really interesting story. So, yeah, let that come out. Any thoughts on how you identify ... Because I mean, there are some things you don't share about your story, right? There's maybe a potential of oversharing, although I think that's probably limited. How do you determine what you share, what you put in your story, and what you don't put in your story?

Michael Jamin:

Well, that's something I built ... After speaking at a bunch of conferences, people came up to me and said, "Do you have a course? You should make a course." I'm like, "Yeah. Okay." I came up with a course. It took two years to do it, but I came up with a course where I kind of deep dive into how to do this. But basically, you're just sharing ... yeah, you're just sharing how your personal journey, and if it's oversharing, you don't want to make people uncomfortable, but for the most part, people want to know. They want to know about you.

Brett:

They do. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

And they want to know your weaknesses. They don't want to know your strengths. That's called bragging. They want to know how difficult it was.

Brett:

Yes, yes. Yeah. Very good. So, let's talk a little bit about where and how you share your story, right? So, you talked about telling the story of your wife making the first dresses, and you reading the business book for dummies. That's kind of the origin story. Do you try to repeat that and tell that often? Or are you always looking for kind of fresh, new things to share?

Michael Jamin:

Well, in an email, we have automatic email campaigns. So, I'll tell one story about my wife, one story about me, one story about the day she went out of town on a trade show, and the staff went with her. And then, I was in charge of the office, and that was like, "Oh, God." I tell that story because it was so ... What a mess. And people write back to me. These are my email campaigns, and they're supposed to go into your junk folder, and people write back to me, and they go, "Oh, my God. It's a great story," or they share it with their friends because you're just sharing. And so, there's a way to tell those stories that I..

Brett:

How often do you share the automated email you get from your supplement company or something like that that you ?

Michael Jamin:

Right because you don't because they're usually like, "Save 25%." But if you don't go that route, and you just say, "I'm going to give you something. I'm going to give you a laugh, an emotion, and then, maybe you'll buy from me." That's how I'd do it.

Brett:

Yeah. Very cool. So, automated emails, do you create sequences? Do you have a typical Abandoned Cart sequence? My buddy, Austin Brawner, takes about an ... I think he still calls it this, maybe not, but an indoctrination sequence where when someone first signs up, you're kind of telling them the story, sending them a few emails. What does your email system look like?

Michael Jamin:

It's basically what you just described. So, most people sign up for a discount and get 10%. Then, the first one is just basically, "Here's your coupon." But then, after that, I send, every two days, at least a dozen emails which is telling you different aspects. Some of them are commercials, "Here's video." Some of them are just about my story, my wife's story, whatever, and they just go down ... It's just as simple as that. Also, of course, Abandoned Cart email is the same thing. I always try to make it fun and engaging, and I try to get them to write back to me, basically, and they do.

Brett:

So, you put something in the email to encourage them to reply back?

Michael Jamin:

I don't even ... I got an email the other day. A woman wrote back, "Oh, my God. I'm in tears now," because I just wrote a story about how little girls grow up, and this point in their childhood is over in a blink of an eye.

Brett:

It is. It is, man.

Michael Jamin:

You can say this is expensive, and they're going to say, "They're just going to outgrow it." And you're like, "Well, of course, they're going to outgrow it. They're going to outgrow everything. They're going to outgrow . They're going to outgrow magic, all of that. That's not a reason not to do it. This is the time you have to do it."

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they're going to outgrow Santa Claus. Let's cancel Christmas this year. It's just not worth it. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. That's exactly right. So, she wrote back, "Oh, my God. I'm sobbing." And I'm like, "Yeah, all right."

Brett:

Good, good. Emotion evoked. Yeah. So, really powerful. Any little tips? I want to get into some video stuff in a minute, but any little tips for email marketing? And we'll talk about your course a little bit because that's definitely a route a lot of people should go. Any tips, though? Do you focus more on the subject line? Do you focus more on the story? Any tips or suggestion for email?

Michael Jamin:

I'm not the guy to talk about it. So, I test a lot of those things. I can't tell you what works. I try to make it engaging, the subject line. For example, one subject line is How I Created a Million Dollar Empire, and essentially, we tell my wife's story. So, it's kind of interesting.

Brett:

Yeah, the curiosity factor, a little bit of intrigue. That's not an easy feat. Someone wants to know the solution there, the answers there. Yeah. Very cool. So, let's talk about some of the videos. And I'll link to some of those. So, two of my favorite, Million Dollar Secret Kept in a Pickle Jar, so, I don't know if you want to kind of explain that. And the next one, Cardboard Rocketship Returns from Jupiter, I'll link to these in the show notes so people can watch it. But maybe walk us through the concepts a little bit, and then, I'd love to understand how did you go through the process of creating these and kind of rules of thumb because we do a ton of videos. That's what we do at OMG Commerce. Our big focus is YouTube ads, but we're not a creative shop. So, most of the time, we don't do the creative. We're just running the campaigns. So, anyway, walk us through either on of both of those videos and your process behind it.

Michael Jamin:

So, the first one, the pickle jar one, I wanted to make a commercial, and I didn't have much money. I didn't want to spend much money . And so, my daughter at the time, she went to a public arts school, public high school for the arts. She was studying visual arts, but they also had a film department there. And I know how to obviously produce TV shows, but I didn't want to hire a crew. I didn't want to spend money on all that. So, I went to the high school. I said, "Listen, I've got an idea for a commercial. I want to hire your best director and have them together, him or her, put together a crew." And so, the head of the film department says, "Great." head of class, his 16-year-old kid. He knows how to work a camera. He knows how to point a camera, basically. And I tell him what I want to do, and he goes, "I'm on board. That's it." I go, "Done." Put together a crew, and he puts together like a ninth grader in charge of special effects. It's always a ninth grader.

Brett:

.. love this, and it totally fits your brand, too. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. It's about kids. So, the commercial and stuff probably cost like $1400 to make, and we shot it in our office, and $40 of that was the cake because my wife bought a $40 cake as a prop. I was like, "$40? ."

Brett:

Probably all you needed to do. They would've worked for the cake.

Michael Jamin:

And they were thrilled. They all would've worked for free, but I gave them a little bit of money because I didn't want them to work for free. And so, the genesis for the idea was really for me to figure out what were Twirly Girl sales. And so, we're not selling little girls' dresses. We're selling something bigger than that, and we sell happy childhood memories, and that just took a long time to figure out what we were selling, but it's happy childhood memories because the dress, these are dresses that they'll remember forever. And our customers kind of told us that. We kind of already knew it, but once we crystallized what we're really selling, which is memories, then I was able to go back and write a script about, "Okay. So, if I want to make Twirly Girl happy childhood memories, I have to associate it with other happy childhood memories." So, I just made a list on a piece of paper. Okay. You've got fairies. You've got magic, birthday cake, parties, surprise parties, all these things, cardboard rocketship. I just made a list of just memories that kids would like, and I just threw it into the ad.

Michael Jamin:

And so, the structure was basically like writing a sitcom. It was like, "Setup, punchline." So, the setup is a fact, and the punchline is a joke of the fact. So, for example, one line was: All our dresses are made in America. That's the setup line. Do you know how rare that is? Even this flag wasn't made in America. That's the joke, just holding an American flag. So, every time I did that, I give one fact about the company and then one joke about it. And that's the recipe I've gone to for ... We've done five of these commercials. I've got plans for ... I got scripts for two more, and that's how we do it.

Brett:

That's amazing. I love it, and it makes it so palatable. And you hear the ... This is a great contrast to maybe the way you did it in the beginning. You talked about where it was just fact-driven, too boring, high quality materials, value, all that stuff, which is fine, but it does not create that emotional connection. And so, I love that. Setup, punchline. And also, you alluded to this a little bit before, but you're kind of selling memories, right? That's the thing because if you can unlock that and get someone thinking about, "Okay. I'm never going to have this moment with my child again. I want this to be memorable. I want them to have great memories. I want to have great pictures of these memories." You unlock that side of the brain, price is not an issue, right? You start talking about quality and guarantees and value and stuff like that. That's kind of the logical side of the brain, and that can, then, maybe potentially create .

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. And also, these commercials, I don't know if the first was like two minutes, but I was worried that it was going to be too long. I was like, "No one's going to watch a two-minute commercial." But what I found was they loved it so much, I just made it longer. So, now, I shoot three-minute commercials.

Brett:

Yeah. We're seeing that, too. So, we run a lot of YouTube ads, and if the ad is engaging, if it's speaking to the audience, then it's usually better to run a little bit longer. We've done several tests, and I know social media is a little bit different. Facebook and Instagram are different than YouTube, and sometimes, 15-second videos, 30-second videos can work, but for YouTube, as an example, that 45 seconds to three minutes, that's a sweet spot for us. We've even tested one particular commercials for a deodorant company. It was really funny and engaging, but there was a 30-second version, and it was literally the same actor, same crew, all that. It was just a shortened version. And then, a minute, 10 version, and the minute, 10 version did 10X the.

Michael Jamin:

Really? Really?

Brett:

Yep, yep. I think that video was just ... It kept people longer, and they were more emotionally engaged at the end, and they were like, "Yeah." It gave the more time to say, "Maybe. Maybe I'll check it out more." Whereas in 30 seconds, it's over so quick. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

They wanted to be part of it. Yeah, right.

Brett:

Yeah. So, love that. So, what about the Cardboard Rocketship Returns from Jupiter. And I'm curious. Did that video come first, and you named your other company Cardboard Rocketships? Or which?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. The video came first because that video ... And I'm still running that one. That one went crazy successful. So, I was like ... And that one kind of spawned ... The theme with that one was: Okay, my wife just got out of a rocketship, having returned from Jupiter where we get the fabrics. And so, then, all the jokes, everything in that video, a lot of it, was based on the premise of her returning from outer space. And then, later, I did one where she gets out of a time machine, and then, another one where she got out of a cryogenic chamber, and then, another one where she had a rejuvenation helmet that made grandma young. And so, it's always about playing with time and memories. And so, yeah, because that one was successful, I named the company after it. Yeah.

Brett:

It's great, and I love how you interject these little jokes that are totally on point and totally relevant and real. There's one in the Cardboard Rocketship video where your wife walks by the grandma. I'm not sure if it's really the grandma or an actress or whatever, but the grandma was like, "It's the only time they send me pictures," or something funny like that. But that's like something a grandma would say, right? I send them a dress because then, they send me pictures.

Michael Jamin:

That grandma was actually the grandmother of the kid who I hired from high school to direct. I needed a grandma. He goes, "Well, my grandma would do it."

Brett:

That's hilarious. That's so good. And there's actually a part in the video where you show the film crew, and then, there's another line where the kid's like, "Hey, we're just high school students. Wait a minute. Is this going to be on the final," or something like that. Just really funny.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. I wanted to own it because you could see ... It's not slickly made. There are times where the focus gets a little soft, and it's not perfectly, but I wanted to own it. That was the reveal on the very first one. I said, "Oh, by the way, this entire commercial was made by high school kids." And people loved that. They loved that kids could do that.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. So, where and how have you used these ads? And talk about the results a little bit compared to maybe your previous approach to videos?

Michael Jamin:

Oh, sure. Yeah, I should've wrote them down, actually. So, before then, I do a mix. So, sometimes, I'll run just a static photograph of a dress, and they say, "This is how much it costs." Because some people just respond to price. That's all they care about. They see a picture, and they want to buy it, but other people need a little more to get onboard. So, it's always a mix. Sometimes, I'll use this regular static ad, and then, I'll use my videos as a retargeting ad to show to those people, or sometimes, it's vice versa. I just do the videos, and then, I retarget them with the static ad. You just don't know what people are going to respond to. But in terms of the results, the results have been crazy on Facebook in terms of the difference. So, in going from just a ... I'm going to make comparisons ... from just a static image versus one of my videos, the storytelling videos. The cost per comment went from $284 per comment to about 88 cents per comment.

Michael Jamin:

It's crazy, and every time someone sees a comment, many of their friends, not all of their friends, but many of their friends, many of them will see a comment. So, that's like free exposure for us.

Brett:

Yep, and Facebook loves it, too. It's good to ... further fuels that post and makes it more authentic and shows more.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, brings down the CPM, exactly. And then, the cost per share went from $178 per share to a $1.16 per share, and then, you've got to figure at least 100 people are seeing for a share. If someone has 300 friends, at least 100.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. It's insane. Those numbers do not happen often. That's for sure.

Michael Jamin:

And then, the CPC, the cost per click, to my website went from $1.83 to 44 cents, and that just gets you on their email list, and then, you just start ... That's how it all begins. So, it's night and day, and on social media, at least for us, people aren't going on to shop. They're going on to see pictures of their friends and cat memes or whatever. So, it's about giving them something social. It's about giving them some entertainment.

Brett:

Absolutely. You made a comment in kind of preparation that I really like, and I want you to elaborate on it a little bit. You said if you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one, and I 100% agree to that or agree with that. So, explain that a little bit.

Michael Jamin:

After this, I'm going to have to take my wife ... She drives a Mini Cooper. We have to take it to get serviced, and we have a guy down the street, which is like five minutes away, or she wants to take it to this guy who does only Mini Coopers. He only services ... And he's a half hour away, but she wants to take it to this guy because he's a specialist. And so, he only does Mini Coopers. And so, when he advertises, or I don't know if he does advertise, but he only speaks to a small segment of the market. I'm sure he can fix BMWs. I'm sure of it.

Brett:

Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:

But by saying he does Mini Coopers, now, he's a specialist. He's the guy to go to. And so, it's the same kind of thing. He only speaks to Mini Cooper owners, and because of that, he must be a specialist, and he's the guy you want to see. And so, he's obviously advertising to a smaller segment and not all car owners, just Mini Cooper owners, but he's probably getting a larger share. So, it's the same thing for your marketing. You don't have to speak to everyone in the world. You have to just speak to your potential customer.

Brett:

Right, and the more, the more focused you can get, if your brand lends itself to that, which I think most do. The more specific, the more focused you can get, the better. I remember reading this line by a copywriter, and I'll maybe think of his name in a minute, but he mentioned that the most powerful word in advertising is no longer free. It's for, F-O-R, and what he meant by that was you want someone to watch your ad or read your piece and say, "That is for me." It's like, "You made that for me, designed it with me in mind, built it for my family or my situation or whatever. It's for me." And I think that's exactly what this is speaking to, like, "Hey, I only help Mini Cooper owners, and so, you're going to get a better service, better experience. You're going to feel more confident about it," things like that.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, yeah. It's great.

Brett:

Very powerful. So, tell me about what is your definition of story. How would you describe it, define it, and stuff like that?

Michael Jamin:

There's a lot that goes into it, but as a TV writer, I find a lot of people don't even know what a story ... A lot of writers that I work with don't really quite understand what a story is. In their gut, they know, and I learned this a long time ago from when I started studying TV writing or just writing in general. And so, most people, even writers, don't understand what a story is, and you're not going to be able to do one on a consistent basis unless you truly know what a story is. So, I can ask you if I want to put you on the spot. In one sentence, can you define what a story is? Do you think you can?

Brett:

Well, so, I mean, I've read Don Miller's Creating a Story Brand and stuff like that. So, I would be referencing that, but I think it's a character that wants to accomplish something, and you're telling kind of the buildup and the climax and the resolution, just showing that, the hero's journey to get what they want or to not get what they want. That was pretty much more than a sentence, though.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. It's hard to make it concise.

Brett:

It's a little bit convoluted. It is.

Michael Jamin:

You came close. I feel you came very close. You said a hero and his journey, and then, you said getting what he wants. You left out something critical, which is ... So, this is how I define what a story is. A story recounts the struggle of a hero trying to achieve a goal. I'm sorry. Recounts the struggle of a hero fighting an obstacle to achieve a goal. So, you left the obstacle part out there. You probably knew.

Brett:

Love it. Love it, which is really what makes the story, right? It's the struggle. It's the obstacle. That's the story. Once that's gone ...

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, right. So, it's hero, obstacle, and goal, and you need all three to tell a story, and until your audience can recognize all three, at least consciously or subconsciously, you're waiting for them to tune out. They're being bored. So, it's only their good will that's keeping them interested.

Brett:

Got it. So, then, talk us through ... So, I think this is where people get stuck, right? And I know to fully get it like you need, of course, you need to probably read books, and it takes a little bit of work, right? So, how does someone say, "Okay, it's hero, obstacle, goal"? How does that fit for the Pickle Jar video as an example? Who is who in that?

Michael Jamin:

Oh, the hero was my wife, Cynthia. She wanted to create the world's best twirly dresses. That's the goal, and then, here are the obstacles I face. She goes, as she opens the pickle jar, "Now, I'm going to share the secret with you. Fairies sew them in the middle of the night." And then, we go through step-by-step of all the obstacles she faces in order to make the world's best dresses.

Brett:

Yep, very good. Very good. I love it. So, one thing I think would be really helpful is: what are some pitfalls, some common mistakes for the newbie, right? So, someone who's like, "Hey, I watch a lot of TV shows. I watched a lot of Beavis and Butt-Head growing up. I can be Michael Jamin," right? Or, "Now, I kind of get those three elements. So, I'm going to start writing a story." What are some of the common mistakes, pitfalls, issues that people run into?

Michael Jamin:

Oh, boy. It's a lot. I go into all this detail, but one would be ... First of all, a lot of people don't think they have a story. They go, "Well, everyone else has a story, but I don't." I give a talk at ECF, eCommerceFuel Live. This was right before the pandemic hit.

Brett:

Yeah, Andrew Youderian, a good friend of mine, awesome, if you're not listening to his podcast, you should check it out, eCommerceFuel. So, anyways, you get to speak at that. I know think it was in January?

Michael Jamin:

I think so. Yeah. So, I gave a talk, and then, afterwards, I said, "Okay. Who needs help with their story?" And most people that I found in the audience were like, "Oh, I don't really have a story." And I'm like, "Okay. You're the one I want to talk to." So, I pulled this woman up who didn't think she had a story, just to prove to her that she's not the exception to the rule. And so, her name was Anna, and she runs a company called Paper Anniversary, and she makes basically anniversary presents for whatever occasion. And she was a little nervous, and she didn't think she had anything to share. She didn't know if she wanted to share her story. And so, honestly, it was almost like doing a magic trick. I asked her a few questions in front of everybody, and the questions were like, "Okay. What do you sell? Why do you sell it?" I said, "Are you married?" She said, "No, I'm not married." I said, "Well, my next questions are, okay, your parents. Tell me about your parents' relationship."

Michael Jamin:

"Well, they were married but not happily married." Okay, good. Done. We already got your story. That's all it took. I was like, "Okay. So, you sell a product that celebrates the importance of happy relationships. Every time you have a milestone, you celebrate it with an anniversary gift because you knew, growing up, you saw how rare it was and how special it is, and it deserves to be commemorated." And I was saying that, she's standing right next to me, I could almost hear her start to cry because it just hit a chord. And then, I asked the audience, I said, "Okay. Do you think Anna just overshared her story? Do you think it's like she got way too personal?" And everyone was like, "No, no." I go, "Well, do you like Anna more or less after having told her story?" "We love her." I mean, they were cheering for her. I go, "Do you want to buy from this woman, or are you turned off?" "No, we want to support her." And then, you could just see her face. She's like, "Oh, my. That's it." And so, she ran ... It's so funny. She-

Brett:

So, you say that's better than talking about the weight of..

Michael Jamin:

Who cares? Who cares about the weight of the thing? Exactly. Let's talk about her and why celebrating relationships are important and to her personally, her personal story. And then, she went up, and she bought my course, and every few months, she sends me an email thanking me again, saying, "Okay. I just used the lesson you taught for this campaign or this marketing thing," whatever. And she shares the results that she got from it, like customers are writing back to her and all that stuff. And what I like about her so much is that it's a lot of work to do this work to tell your story. It's not easy. It's hard emotionally but also physically. You have to start changing your campaigns. You've got to start typing up emails. It's a lot of But it's supposed to be because that's your competitive advantage. Your competitor's not going to do it. It's too much work.

Brett:

Right, right. They're not going to do it.

Michael Jamin:

If you do it, you've got a huge advantage, and it's not a giant investment. So, most people come up with excuses not to do the work, "It's just easier if I throw more money at this that hasn't been working in five years. I'll just throw more money at that."

Brett:

And the way I look at it with things like this is it's either going to be a little bit of a challenge now, a little bit difficult now, or it's going to be difficult later, right? Business is going to be difficult. It's no way around that. So, put in a little extra work now. You get your brand's story nailed down. You create great videos, great emails. It's going to be easier. Your business is going to be more fun. Your campaigns are going to be more successful. Your money's going to go further as you invest in these things, or you can save some time and heartache now, but you're going to pay for it in the long run. So, yeah, yeah, just a matter of kind of reframing that just a little bit. So, I love it. Man, this has been a ton of fun, and I also want to mention, too, because I know there are probably some people out there that are like, "Hey, actually, I want to know the weight of the paper, or I need to know these technical specs, or what if I'm buying a part for my car? I need to know these things."

Brett:

And so, my thought there is, of course, throw those things in there, just does make those the star of the email or the video. Make the story and the product, make the hero come to life and all that. And then, of course, throw in the details that people need to know. Any other kind of final tips, thoughts. I think you mentioned something about Island Jay case study.

Michael Jamin:

The same thing, oh, he's another guy from ECF, and he kind of wanted to change all of his branding, and he wanted to make himself the star of his brand. We talked about it. So, we made him the start of the branding, and he was like, "I don't know." He kind of hired me to consult for him, and we came up with this character. I said, "If you could hire anybody to be the spokesperson for your company, who would it be? Fictional, living, dead, whatever." And we talked about it for a long time, and he goes, "I kind of want it to be James Bond on the beach." And I was like, "Well, James Bond on the beach, that's not really ... He's not really on the beach. He's in a casino, Monte Carlo."

Brett:

Yeah. He's killing people and getting the girl.

Michael Jamin:

But that got me to thinking about the show back in the '80s, I think it's the early '80s, called The Fantasy Island. So, it was Ricardo Montalban. It was basically James Bond on the beach. He had a white suit. He smiles at everyone. He's very debonair and dapper, but then, also a little magical. And so, we created that character for Island Jay to be kind of this jackass who welcomes you to his store. And it's funny, and God bless, Jason just threw himself into it. And he sends me-

Brett:

So, he became Island Jay?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, he created this character for him.

Brett:

I love it. Yeah. That's great. That's fantastic.

Michael Jamin:

Island Jay, welcome to ... Island Jay is just a small island off the cost of America. It's unincorporated. It's fully autonomous and pays taxes.

Brett:

And what's the name of his business if we want to go check it out?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. You should go check it/ it's Island Jay. It's called Island Jay. He sells kind of beachwear.

Brett:

Okay. Got it.

Michael Jamin:

And so, he even sent me an email the other day. He has an Abandoned Cart email where he gets a little teary, "It's been so long since you've been on my website. What? Did I say something wrong? I miss you. I think about you all the time. Why won't you come back?" And I don't know. I wrote this, and he sent it out, and now, people, instead of throwing that email away, one woman wrote a long email back to him in the same voice about why she will come back, and he was just loving it. I mean, it's amazing to get ... It's junk mail. It's supposed to be junk mail, but instead, your audience is writing back to you because they're buying into it.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love it, and I remember an example, and I'll have to think about the actual company, but I think it was the SaaS platform where if you unsubscribe, they would send you this email with a video. And it was like a breakup video, but they were getting emotional, and they were talking like they were going to ... I don't know. It was really funny and well-executed, but it almost made it seem like an upset boyfriend because you broke up with him. It's fun, and you watch it. So, what would have happened, this was probably four or five years ago, people would start sharing it. They would get this video after they unsubscribed, and they were like, "Dude," sharing with all their friends. It actually ended up being a net win for them.

Michael Jamin:

Sure, and that's just a small investment because you're going to send those emails out anyway. You might as well send them out right.

Brett:

You're going to send it anyway. Have fun with a little video and send it out, and see what happens, right?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah.

Brett:

Very cool. So, let's talk about ... So, people that are listening and saying, "Okay. I'm inspired. I want to be Island Jay, or I want to tell a story like Paper Anniversary and not bore people to tears like I potentially am now with my marketing. So, I want to up my game here," talk about Cardboard Rocketships, and I believe you have a free brand mini course and maybe kind of get someone started, get their toes in the water. Let's talk about that a little bit, and then, your free course.

Michael Jamin:

Right. If you just go to CardboardRocketship.com, you'll see a prompt to sign up to get my free mini course on branding, and it kind of just goes into the thoughts that you go behind creating your own brand for your company. And I don't know, I think a half-hour long, but I think it'll be very helpful. It's free. Watch it. Then, if you want to dive deeper in, then yeah. Then, I offer a course in terms of how literally to tell your story. It's not fairies, none of this. This is how, as a TV writer, I go about telling a story, and there's a structure that you use to make it super engaging so that people buy into it. And so, that's a much longer course, and it requires work. And if you have a creative bone in your body, that's something for you. That's if you really want to get into creating, giving your customers magic first, this is what it's for.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome. I love it. Go check it out. At a minimum, do that, that free mini course. I would also recommend go to TwirlyGirlShop.com and just click around. Look at how Michael and his wife and the team, how they've done the product detail pages and look at the videos. Watch the videos, and I would say subscribe to his email list, right? That's one of the best ways we learn as marketers and business owners is to follow other great marketers. And something to the cart. Get that Abandoned Cart email. Just check it out. Shop the store. So, any other bits of advice, things people should go check out, other videos of you talking onstage, anything like that you'd recommend, or can people follow you on social media?

Michael Jamin:

Yeah. By the way, if you want to see any of those commercials that I wrote, you can see them all at CardboardRockships.com. You could also see them on the homepage of TwirlyGirlShop.com. I've also ... It's so funny. Now, that I've had time because of the pandemic, my friend's like, "You've got to make a screenwriting course." Okay, great. So, I have my own website called MichaelJamin.com where I write ... You can sign up for my ... That screenwriting course is going to be ready very ... probably next week if that interests you. That's a real deep dive, but also, I have my own personal projects that I'm working on, a collection of short stories. And if you go to MichaelJamin.com, those you get for free. You can sign up on email. I send you one for every month, and then, I'm hoping ... I'll probably approach a publisher, probably by the end of 2020. So, my goal is I'm going to give away half the stories for free, and then, if you want the other half, you've got to buy the book.

Brett:

Dude, that's really smart. That's really smart. That's great value all the way around. It gets people hooked. So, that's at MichaelJamin.com. I'll link to that in the show notes.

Michael Jamin:

Yeah, if you want to follow me, on Facebook, I'm Michael Jamin Writer. That's my official page. So, follow me there.

Brett:

Awesome. Michael Jamin Writer, fantastic. Michael, this has been ... and I called the shot in the beginning of the show, like, "This is going to be one of those fun shows we've done."

Michael Jamin:

I hope so. Thank you.

Brett:

And this is has been a blast. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. So, check out all of Michael's websites. I'll link to them in the show notes, but check it out and up your game in terms of storytelling. And I think you have a lot more fun in the process. So, Michael, this has been great. Thank you so much for taking the time..

Michael Jamin:

A pleasure. Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. So, as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear your feedback. We'd love that review on iTunes if you feel so inclined. That does help other people discover the show. We love to hear tips and suggestions, like what should we talk about on the show. We would love your input and your advice, so we can make this show more about you. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Brett:

All right. That's a wrap.

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