Episode 119

How eCommerce Legend Ezra Firestone and His Team are Surviving and THRIVING Right Now

Ezra Firestone - Smart Marketer
May 7, 2020
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Strengthening customer relationships. Building valuable assets. Improving and documenting SOPs. Growing email and remarketing lists. Watching every episode of the Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls Documentary - The Last Dance. That’s just a few of the ways Ezra and Co are surviving and THRIVING in the current climate. Ezra is often the first person eCommerce entrepreneurs turn to when they need advice. This episode delivers some true and timely gems and words of wisdom. eCommerce will likely come out of this crisis stronger than ever. Will your company be ready to thrive in the new normal?

Mentioned in this episode:

Michael Jordan Documentary - “The Last Dance

Zipify Apps by Smart Marketer

Ezra Firestone - Founder at Smart Marketer and Zipify Apps and Zipify Pages and CEO at BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Via Blog

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Smart Marketer - eCommerce Courses by Ezra Firestone

Blue Ribbon Mastermind


Episode Transcript

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And man, I have been looking forward to today's episode forever. And I will say, I've been trying to get this guest on this podcast for a long time. He is hard to track down. And it's hard to get on a schedule.

Brett:

This name really needs no introduction. My good friend Ezra Firestone is joining me today. If you don't know Ezra, if you've been living under a rock for the last five, six, seven years. Ezra is the co-founder and CEO of BOOM by Cindy Joseph, one of the premier online skincare brands. He's also the founder of Smart Marketer and the Blue Ribbon Mastermind, which by the way is I think, the premier mastermind or eCommerce companies. I say that all the time. I do not get paid to say that. And so-

Ezra:

They keep paying me to say that.

Brett:

Yeah. Thanks dude. Thanks for coming on, over the show.

Ezra:

Yeah. Happy to be here man. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk e-commerce with other e-comm nerds. And yeah, I'm not doing as many shows these days because my head is down running my companies. But I relish the opportunity and for all you listeners, you are my people. It's really fun to come together and look at how can we collectively support one another in doing a better job, running our business as being better people. Looking how we can cultivate excellence. I've been watching this Michael Jordan documentary.

Brett:

Dude. Oh, I didn't know you're a basketball guy.

Ezra:

Oh, I mean, listen, I grew up as a basketball player. I love basketball. You couldn't help but love being a kid in the early nineties.

Brett:

Absolutely.

Ezra:

And not love Michael Jordan

Brett:

Transform the game and transform sports in a lot of way.

Ezra:

Wasn't my team but just watching that guy, his strive for excellence is, I just, I was too young to appreciate what that was at that time. So, getting to revisit those memories now, has been really fun.

Brett:

That documentary is amazing. So, after watching the first two episodes on this past Sunday night, when it aired, I was like, "Man, I could watch another two or three episodes right now."

Ezra:

I know, right now. Yeah, I know. Well, they did it smart. Right? Two episodes a week for five weeks is really smart, because I'm going to be... I also binge watch both episodes all at once.

Brett:

Yeah. But there's something about it. And I appreciated Michael Jordan, his final season. That Last Dance season was my senior year in high school. So, I appreciated it but probably, not at the level that I do now. And it's six titles in eight years, that's just unheard of it. Anyway, he's the great man.

Ezra:

Listen, you didn't want to talk LeBron, you want to talk Kobe. He was like a cultural phenomenon in a way. And by the way, I'm never sure, if it's a cultural phenomenon or a cultural phenomena. One of those two. I don't know, the proper usage.

Brett:

Phenomenon would be singular. Right? I think that's phenomenon.

Ezra:

Cultural phenomenon in a way that these other athletes just weren't.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Good stuff man. So, what I want to do because we only have a short time together, and I want to make sure we maximize his time. I want to talk through, how you and your team are approaching the current economic climate. Which at the time of this recording and just to make this official, it is April 22nd, so we are still in the midst of lockdown across the US, and things are interesting. Things are very interesting in the eCommerce world. Some of us are way up. Some people are flat. Some people are down. So, it's a mixed bag but mostly up.

Brett:

So, I want to get an idea how you guys are handling the current situation. And also, how you're thinking about what the new normal of e-commerce is going to look like. And then, because you are the world famous Ezra Firestone, and I always learn a lot as we hang out and just chat. I won't even say, how you're doing, but what you're thinking about this time personally. And how you're deciding to thrive and things like that. But we'll start with the team aspect first. So, how are you and your team thinking about the current climate? How are you preparing for the new normal? And then, go into any detail there that seems interesting to you.

Ezra:

Well, it's evolved. I mean, the first thing that happened, was everybody freaked out, man, we are a month in. I'm a month in the quarantine. Maybe, a month and five days or something into self isolation, social distance, shelter in place. I'm in that. And my team is in that. You are probably in that now, at least a month, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Ezra:

When it first started, everybody was scared. Nobody knew how long it was going to last. Didn't seem like it was going to be quite this long at the first start of it. And so, the first thing I had to do was reassure everybody, "Hey listen, you're not going to lose your job. We're going to keep moving forward. Luckily, we're in a situation where we can continue to operate. We were a virtual company, anyways. Let's quick improve our cash position by running a sale." We waited a week or so. We didn't mention Corona virus. We operated as per normal.

Ezra:

But we weren't sure at that time, if fulfillment centers were going to be considered essential business. So, we had a quick ran of sale that performed extremely well, improved our cash position a little bit. And then things started, even now, it was like, basically things started to hit the fan March 13th, for real, for real, from a business context. Then we were doing like a hundred grand a day from January 1st to March 13th. March 13th to March 25th that dropped $40,000 a day. Everything seized up and was tight. And then, all of a sudden it started to expand the opposite direction.

Ezra:

And I can give you a statistic here. I own and operate a company called Zipify Apps. And we have a checkout replacement for Shopify that operates across 4,000 stores. Let me give you this data. March 1st through 13th, the average amount of revenue that we processed through our application every day was 1.7 million. And we processed about 30,000 active orders a day.

Brett:

And across how many stores is that Ezra?

Ezra:

About 4,000 stores.

Brett:

4000 stores.

Ezra:

I got a good sample size, a bunch of different markets today. Yesterday we processed 3.6 million.

Brett:

Dude.

Ezra:

2 million more than our average. And it's just been going straight up like this. So, e-commerce is spiking. We saw that same thing with BOOM. Problem we ran into with BOOM was, we manufacturer in New York. I'm going to get to the team thing. Let me tell you a little about the history of what's happening with me and my business.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Right.

Ezra:

We manufacture in New York. New York is not a good place to be. I mean, hey, everywhere is struggling, but New York is really struggling with this.

Brett:

Absolutely, epicenter.

Ezra:

And it's also not a good place to manufacture, at this particular moment in time. And so, my manufacturers shut down. My core product that everybody comes to me for, I can't get any more of it. So, I had to quick dial down the scale on ads. I went from spending $20,000 a day on awareness level advertising, down to $2000. But things are working so well. And things are converting so well, that my revenue was not dialed down enough. As of tomorrow, no acquisition spend on Facebook at all. And I'm just going to, instead of acquiring new customers, I'm just going to use the inventory I have to support past customers, who know me, like me, trust me.

Ezra:

My email schedule, I use email three times a week. Content, keeping people engaged. I'm going to bring that down to one, because every email is making too much money. So, I have this problem where, for the first time ever in the history of my companies, that particular company, I need to sell less because I can't bet, I've two and a half months worth of inventory. To now, it's been a half a month. I can't bet that I'm going to be back online in two months. I mean, maybe we will, but if we're not, I'll be shut down. I have to furlough my employees. So, I'm dialing down to break even. So, I just operate at break even. I'm trying to. I'm not succeeding at that so far. So, that's happening with that business.

Ezra:

With the Zipify apps interestingly, which is a software as a service application for Shopify stores, up 20%. Because all these businesses are coming on to Shopify right now. And I am fortunate enough to have been working as an ambassador influencer, creating content, cultivating my presence in the Shopify space for the last decade. So now, when a bunch of people come in the door, they find me. So, I'm seeing a nice little spike there. Not to mention, the more money that comes through my checkout, the more money I make. Right? So, that's doing quite well. Interestingly, I'm at a 20% up and that company is very stable.

Ezra:

Smart Marketer is also very stable. Because Smart Marketer is an information publishing company, where we sell information on how to be an online business and succeed at an online business, and run ads, and do sales funnel optimization, all that kind of stuff. I'm not so much in the day to day of that. Molly Pittman is the CEO there, but that company is also doing well. So, I have two companies doing well out of this, always been all virtual. And one company that's in some serious trouble, which is my biggest company that me most of the money that I make, comes from that big company. The other ones do well and make a couple millions bucks a year. But in terms of what I actually live on, I usually parlay the money in those other companies right back in.

Brett:

Got it. Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra:

And so, that's like a picture of where I am.

Brett:

And I want to riff on that just a little bit, because we've seen some of the same things. Has been very interesting. Those first couple of weeks of quarantine, it was like everybody put on the brakes, consumers included. We did see some e-commerce was up at that time, because people weren't going to physical stores and they had to buy online. But then, was like something opened up in April. And then we saw another spike, and I'm not sure, if you saw this in your Zipify data, but last week, since last week, things have up. And I think, that's stimulus money, is our estimation. So, our Amazon clients and Google clients are all, of our clients are up right now.

Ezra:

4/16 was definitely the stimulus hit, the average in OneClickUpsell, sky rocketed by half a million. It has to be stimulus money.

Brett:

Has to be it.

Ezra:

But let me point out also, one of the big things is that Generation Y and the boomers... You're Gen X and Millennial, you're Gen X, right?

Brett:

I'm right on, so I'm born in '80. Most of the studies I see, say Gen X, I have seen a couple say, generally they are born.

Ezra:

Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, claim Gen X. It's more culturally popular than being a millennial.

Brett:

Exactly. We will go Gen X, thank you. Yeah.

Ezra:

Okay. So, Gen Y and the boomers, there's a huge swath of them that never shopped online, that are being forced to adopt this technology now. And that's one of the reasons why we're seeing e-commerce grow so rapidly, is because a huge percentage of the population that has money and spends money was not using e-commerce and now they are. That's clear.

Brett:

And I think, that baby is going to continue, right? So, they're forced adoption right now, because they can't get out. A lot of that behavior is going to continue, if they have a good experience.

Ezra:

Yes it will. And this will fast forward e-commerce growth in America, from 15% year over year to, it'll be 60% this year or something crazy. And then, it's just going to keep going. So, it's pretty cool. To talk about where I'm at with my team. First thing I did was like say, "Listen guys, we're fiscally responsible." We always have a year's worth of liquidity.

Brett:

Which is amazing, by the way.

Ezra:

"No matter what, I'm keeping you." So, I reassured them because they were all freaking out. Now look, if BOOM goes under and it can't sell product, there's a point at which I will not be able to cure pain for people. Right? I applied for the payroll loan, I didn't get it. The payroll loan thing dried up. Apparently now, it's been refilled as of today.

Brett:

I think you'll be good eventually. Yeah.

Ezra:

You got it. I didn't get it.

Brett:

Exactly.

Ezra:

Which is fine. Good for you. So, the next thing I did was say, "Hey, in this time of less promotion and more space in general. And we're not promoting. We're not launching products. We're not running ads as much. What can we do? There's a couple things we can do. We can create assets, right?" So, we started going heavy into, what can we create? We invested very heavily, even more heavily into our ambassador program to get more digital assets, so that when we are ready to promote, we have more tests

Brett:

Can you talk a little bit about your ambassador program. What is that? Because, you just doing an amazing job with it. And we benefit, running your YouTube ads. We've benefited from this ambassador program. But explain what is it?

Ezra:

So, a lot of people think of influencer marketing. I think influencer marketing is dumb. I mean, okay, dumb, that's an aggressive statement. But I think influencer marketing is a misguided approach in today's economy, because today's e-commerce economy is all about creative. It's about putting a message in front of someone that really resonates with them. Yeah, you got to do everything else right. Sales page optimization, upsell, average order value, all that content marketing. But the first thing you got to do is get an asset, a digital asset that is in front of a prospect that really resonates with them.

Ezra:

Well, influencer marketing, what you're doing is you're counting on a very small number of individuals, who have a following and you're trying to take advantage of their following. What we've done is, actually create influencers out of our customers. So, we have a brand ambassador program. I won't get too much into the actual technical specifics of how we operate it. But essentially, we incentivize our customers through giving them swag and we do one-to-one communication with them. We teach them how to do videos for us. We send them a selfie stick and a light. We send them a video. We send them all of our products. We give them examples of what we want. They do videos for us, talking about why they love our products, the benefit of owning our products, why they love our brand. And now we have-

Brett:

By the way, these videos are so good. As you watch them, the authenticity comes through. You can tell it's a real customer. Someone's not reading a script. It just, it resonates. And so, these make for great ads.

Ezra:

They speak to different segments of the population. Beth from Georgia, if Facebook knows to pump her in the Midwest. Kim from new York, is a little more hard edge, Facebook pumps around the East coast. So, you get all these different avatars. So, we are basically having our customers be our brand ambassadors. Incentivizing them and working with them one to one, to create videos that we then use images, all kinds of stuff, poems, articles, not just ads digital assets. So, we're investing a lot in that because we have some downtime. We're writing a lot of articles. We're going into optimizing all of our email flows. We're creating new parts of our blog. We're coming up with new ideas. From the creative standpoint, we're using this time to create more. That's one thing.

Ezra:

The other thing that we're doing, is we're using this time to assess all of our operations, do some spring cleaning, reorganize our Google drives, recreate our standard operating procedures, check all of our customer service macros. We call it spring cleaning. We're supposed to do it every year. We don't do it every year. But now, we're getting a kick in the butt to do that. And we are investing heavily in supply chain redundancy. I've got $40,000 in bets right now, out with five different labs trying to recreate the products that I have. Get a hand sanitizer because that will sell. We have a community of women who love us. If we had a natural organic sanitizer that would sell right now.

Ezra:

So, take a little bit of advantage of what people are wanting at this particular moment. It's harder to make a really wonderful hand sanitizer, than it is a face mask that will be a unique offering in the marketplace. For sure, you can get a lot of sanitizers, but it will sell. So, we've got a lot of bets placed on product creation and supply chain redundancy, which is something that is showed up as a whole in our strategy. It's like, "Dude, you sell $25 million a year, but you only got one person who makes your stuff, that wasn't so smart."

Brett:

You're counting on a pandemic, but anything can happen when you do have an answer.

Ezra:

Yeah. So, investing heavily in the creation of all variety of assets and optimization of the assets we have, mainly being our email flows. But creation of new assets, articles, blog posts, presale articles, ambassador videos, the whole nine.

Brett:

I love that. Again, I want to highlight that just really quickly, this idea of building assets, because we've done something very similar at OMG Commerce and it's already paying off. And I'm like, I don't know why it took a pandemic for us to do this, but make good use of this time. So, I was going to speak at five events, I know you were too, between now and the end of may. Those all got postponed, canceled, made virtual something. So, we've been doubling down on our content marketing, writing blog posts. I've been shooting videos. I recorded several videos. We've been doing our own advertisements. We never do our own advertising because we have tons of leads coming in. And so, looking at what kind of assets can you create as a team, that is so, so smart. Just wanted to.

Ezra:

Internet consumption is up 40%, so there's more people wanting more entertainment. So, if you can entertain your community, you can even... One of the things we do a lot is we curate from the internet. We pull funny videos, memes, articles, and we send out a newsletter saying, "Hey, here's all the best stuff from the internet this week." People love that kind of thing.

Brett:

That's great. I actually saw, I think, the internet usage is up 35, 40%. But I have some friends that run organic YouTube channels, and some of them their views are up 150% to 200%.

Ezra:

Wow.

Brett:

Just the thing.

Ezra:

Yeah. So, basically, operating as per normal with my team, securing them and having them all look at, "Hey, from your position, what do you think we could do better to serve our customers, create better products, do better marketing." So, really investing in creation. That's the strategy with the team. Whereas on the Zipify side, we're busier than ever in support. We don't have the same luxury. It's a whole different thing. It's just a whole different experience with Zipify, than it is with BOOM, because boom has space in a new way, and Zipify is crammed in a new way. So, it's an interesting balance.

Brett:

It's crazy. It's like sometimes, because e-commerce is good and it almost creates issues because it's so good. Like with supply chain-

Ezra:

Think about fulfillment, right? My fulfillment center is, they're like, "We just never expected this particular surge. And so, we got to shut down on Sundays to give our team a break." And they also have to, fulfillment centers, think about it, they're operating their essential business, but they have a new way of operating with social distancing rules.

Brett:

Right. Right. Cost of fulfillment is higher. Cost of sanitation is higher. All these things.

Ezra:

And they're like, "Hey, we're charging you an extra 50 bucks a week because we got to sanitize everything." So, they're a little slower. So, it's a wild time, man.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. But what's so interesting, I think that the perspective that you guys have and we have the same perspective is, we don't know what the new normal is going to look like. We don't know exactly. It seems at the time of this recording, some of the lockdowns will ease in the next two weeks to a month, whatever. Some things may get back to normal. I think, if you're focused on assets, taking care of customers, improving your processes, all that, you'll be able to make benefit when things turn or when you get more inventory. So, really positioning yourself to take advantage of.

Ezra:

And if you don't have inventory, build audiences, right? I'm going to ham don data on generating email.

Brett:

What was that again? Ham don...

Ezra:

Ham don data, man, I'm going hard in the paint, another way to say that.

Brett:

I love it.

Ezra:

I'm placing heavy bets on audience building, because traffic is cheaper than I've ever seen it.

Brett:

It is.

Ezra:

I am seeing $19 sales in the awareness pillar on Facebook for an $85 average order value. Have not seen that since 2015. We are seeing $29 sales on YouTube.

Brett:

On YouTube, yeah.

Ezra:

I have not seen that ever, for me in my accounts.

Brett:

It's always been $50 to $60. Sometimes $70. So, $29, blow your mind right now. I really wish we had more inventory right now.

Ezra:

I know, me too, man. I'm sorry. But you can build your audiences. You can put out content. Build audience of the people who view your videos. I put out two coronavirus videos. I spent 300 bucks on them or maybe a little bit more, but not much. 150,000 views a piece.

Brett:

Saw that. Yeah, those are great videos by the way.

Ezra:

It's like there's so much more visibility. So, I'm generating email leads and building audiences as well, very heavily. And you should be doing the same no matter what brand you're in.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Totally agree. That's awesome. So, just looking at the personal side of things, because to be successful entrepreneurs and successful marketers, we can't totally separate the personal from the business, right?

Ezra:

Yeah.

Brett:

Any insights or thoughts on what you're doing to stay as positive as possible? And then, to try to have a healthy outlook both now, and then into the near term future.

Ezra:

I have a mantra that I have had since I was a little kid and it goes like this, face the inevitable with joy. Hey, this is inevitable. This is happening.

Brett:

You can't slow it down. You can't change it.

Ezra:

Yeah. But so, I might as well, face it with joy. I might as well, show up and do what I can do. And humans do not like surprise. We don't like change. Surprise is bad. Surprise is different than what we expected. And so, we go down and we're worried. Surprise is not a good thing. And this is a big surprise and it's freaking people out. And if you have any baseline fear, anxiety, this will bring it to the surface. Anything that's going on, any fear and anxiety that you might have in your body and mind about other things in life. Well, this is a big thing to be afraid of. A big uncertainty. A thing that's going to produce anxiety. What does the future look like? And so, there's temptation to operate from that heightened perspective. And I've been using this opportunity to take more joy from... I take for granted my daily life, man, my super nice, beautiful space in Upstate New York.

Brett:

Is amazing by the way.

Ezra:

Wonderful kitchen. All the fun little toys I have like skateboards. There's more joy and pleasure and gratitude to be taken and had from what I already have. It's a greater skill to have the ability to enjoy what you have than to have the ability to get what you want. So, I've been practicing gratitude. I've been practicing, feeling the feelings of fear and anxiety and worry when they come up. But not trying to stuff them down because that doesn't work. But feeling them and then, letting them go and trying to just...

Ezra:

And I've been using this as an opportunity to develop habits that I want to have when this is over. So, I've been going to sleep earlier, not being on my phone after 8:00 PM. Being asleep by 10:30, 11:00. Waking up at 7:00 AM. I'm always had a pretty good sleep wake cycle, but really being diligent about it. Meditating. Moving my body regularly. Doing a liver cleanse. It's basically, we don't have any fried food, no oils, no salts, no proteins for a week. Doing a little cleanse. Taking care of myself. And using this as an opportunity to develop some habits that I want to have when this is over, because I got time sitting at home. I got way more time than I normally... I'm not on the road. I'm not speaking at events. I just have space to cultivate some healthy habits that I want to have.

Ezra:

Some areas of my life that I normally ignore, I'm confronting and spending more time. Carrie and I spent a lot of time together. We're spending even more time together and looking at what we want to have happened in our life. And using this as a chance to reassess, "Are we ready to have kids?" It's reassessing our worldview. So, that's been cool. On the other side of it, I'm getting kicked out of my rental. I'm in a rental house. I'm building a house that's not ready. I got to move all my stuff. Well, that is very intense.

Brett:

When you had been kicked out of your house during a lockdown is not the easiest thing in the world, I'm sure.

Ezra:

And it's also like, okay, I have a lot of stuff.

Brett:

Yeah, dude. That house you're in right now, is not small. It's not a one person job to move that.

Ezra:

Yeah. So, that's a whole thing. And then, you can't really hire movers, so I'm dealing with that. But on the personal side of it, it's like, this is a very intense experience for worldwide, for everyone. And it's going to do me no good to be in a constant state of freak out. The first week I was glued to this. I was on TV every minute trying to find out what was going. I was just over consuming the pandemic content. I was able to, it was too much

Brett:

Nothing but anxiety. We do that.

Ezra:

Yeah. And it was like, "Okay. Well, this is not making me feel any better. And hey, what do I need to know?" Well, maybe once every day or two I need to know where are we with this thing. What are the doctors saying? What's going on in the world? I like Twitter for that. It's fun. It's nice to know where things are. And have a sense of, "Hey, is the curve flattening? What do people think is happening?"

Brett:

Right.

Ezra:

I'm doing that, but I'm no longer... By the way, I was eating a bag of chips every day when this first started. When this first started, all these things I'm telling you that I'm doing now, I was not doing.

Brett:

You were not doing. Yeah. Yeah. I think everybody had that. And I wanted just to underscore a couple of things, then I want to pivot back to specific business stuff. Maybe get into some Facebook ad tactics and strategies you're using right now, which should be fun. But I love this idea of getting into routine, taking care of your body, doing some things now that you didn't think you had the time to do before. We were just talking about the Last Dance documentary. And watching a little bit of Netflix.

Brett:

But we also, my wife and I decided, a couple of weeks we were, "Man, in the evenings we're watching maybe a little too much Netflix. Let's read. Let's talk." Rather than just, binge watching Netflix, which there's nothing wrong with that on occasion, but yet, do things, build habits, do things that you'll be proud of. And I think for some of us, we'll be able to look back at this time with at least some fondness, saying, "Hey, there was a crazy time, intense time, a hard time, but some really good things came out of it."

Ezra:

Yeah. Yeah. It takes a daily vigilance, right?

Brett:

It does.

Ezra:

You don't just do it one day and then it's over. Well, tomorrow you got to make the decision not to eat the whole bag of corn chips that you went ahead and bought 20 bags of, so they're all in your closet. I'm not saying I did that. But I got it. So, I close my closet. My brother came, I gave you six bags of chips.

Brett:

Great guest, and that cuts down on the chance that you'll dig into all of those. Yeah. Very good. Well, so let's talk a little bit about, what are you doing specifically, with Facebook. I know you're about to cut down topline cold traffic spend. But any specific new things you're doing right now, or things you recommend people do, other than build audiences and some of things we just talked about?

Ezra:

Yeah. I mean, I'm doing my best to spend as little as I possibly can. But there's always fun stuff you can be doing, right? You can go to Klaviyo, and you can create an audience of someone who bought once. And then, had one visit to the site and also a purchase. And then, you can do a look alike based on that. That's an impulse buyer. That's someone who came to the site one time, bought. That's a little segment of the population. Who you can then say, "Hey, Facebook, find more people who look like that." You can be doing fun stuff with audiences. My experience has been that, the name of the game on Facebook right now, and Instagram is creative. And in particular, video creative. And in particular multiple, like a longer form one, maybe a three to four to five minute one. A 15 second one for stories.

Ezra:

But iteration and diversity of creative is what is winning in the Facebook, Instagram marketplace because they're pretty good at figuring out who's going to buy, following the scent. And if you supply the algorithm with a bunch of different pieces of creative that it can try to put out there, you have a much better shot. And so, this ambassador program is the first time we've had an evergreen source of creative, because we'd always have to go do photo shoots or video shoots or interviews. And we never just had this evergreen consistent video coming in. Every week, three more people, "Oh my goodness." There's three minutes, that's a gold in that one.

Ezra:

So, this has been a real gift to us this year to have this supply of evergreen creative and not just continually be cutting up. You see our videos, you know we've been using those same set of assets, because they work. We cut them in different ways. But now, we have a new fresh supply. Unfortunately, we can't use it. So, I'm not doing anything super special other than what I always talk to you about, other than this fresh supply of creative and at the particular moment, I got it all dialed back.

Brett:

Yeah. Got it. So, one thing I will mention and this just came out, I'm not even sure, if you've seen this yet or not, Ezra, but Google made an announcement that they're going to make Google Shopping free for some people.

Ezra:

Okay. So, quick note for those who are listening at, and I'm going to say... Where is it at here? Eight hours ago, exactly, inside Blue Ribbon Mastermind, not responded to, by the way podcast listeners, not responded to. I say, "Hey, Brett Curry, does this mean that all product listings are now going to be free or that-"

Brett:

Oh, no. I didn't get a notification. I didn't see that email.

Ezra:

"... other non-paid merchants can list. But you can still buy product listing ads like we do, but get prominent placement. So, which is it?" You got to go in and respond to that.

Brett:

I'm going to respond it.

Ezra:

Does that mean that nobody pays? Or does that mean, we still get prominent by paying, but then other people are in there for free, how is that?

Brett:

Yeah. That's a great question. So, I will say now, you mentioned this before, using Facebook less. We were starting a contest with my wife and with my three big kids, that whoever picks up their phone the most or uses the most screen time has to buy a meal for everybody else. And so I looked, I was like, "Facebook is the thing I'm on the most." So, I haven't been on Facebook hardly at all today. And so, that's why. But I will respond to that. So, here's the scoop on Google Shopping. So, when you go to the main Google page and you search for skin cream, the main results on the Google search engine results page, those are still paid. So, when you see those Google Shopping ads on google.com, those are paid. If you click through to the Google Shopping tab, the top results there, also paid.

Brett:

But as you scroll down, some of those listings below that, could be free. So, if you advertise already on Google Shopping, like BOOM does, like all of our clients do, and you have a merchant center product feed, you'll qualify for those free clicks. So, your products are now eligible to be in those free placements, those free listings. So, really you don't need to do anything. We're just talking to our rep today. Early estimates are, if you're a current advertiser, you'll get 3% to 5% more clicks, free clicks. So, it's not going to be a game changer for anybody that's already on the platform. But it'll be nice. It'll be a nice free addition. You'll be able to see in merchant center free clicks versus paid clicks and how they perform. So, we haven't seen any of that data yet. We'll see it soon. I'll update people. Update Blue Ribbon with what that looks like.

Brett:

Now, if you're on Google Shopping, you can go through the same process just like you would, if you were going to pay for ads. So, you build a product feed, get a merchant center account, upload that feed. But then your products are eligible to show in those free placements. Also, you're looking Google Shopping on your phone, same thing. Some of the lower placements will be free. So yeah, advertisers, you still have a big advantage. Not everything is free. You can't just go free and hope to maintain a similar volume.

Ezra:

Still pretty sweet though.

Brett:

Still pretty sweet. Yeah. Yeah. So, take advantage of it. This is a great time to make sure, we're just reviewing all feeds, yours included. Looking at, "Hey, do we have the best, you were at optimized titles, should we test some new titles? Let's look at our descriptions. Let's look at our product type. Let's make sure that we're keyword rich, not keyword stuffing, but keyword rich." And that's going to impact those free listings as well. I know it's super powerful. Yeah, man. So, any other thoughts? And you have the distinct privilege of hanging out with really some of the best, brightest eCommerce store owners. Some of the coolest as well. You've done a great job of pulling together as a community of really cool people that are fun to hang out with and really smart. Any thoughts on what e-commerce looks like, this summer, or this fall, or anything on that?

Ezra:

So, it's a great, great time to be in the eCommerce sector. And, hey, this is a darkness but there will be a dawn. There's a light at the end of this tunnel. And that even, if you're out of product, or even if your supplier shut down, or even if you're having manufacturing issues, do whatever you can to stay steady. Because the skillset that you have of understanding how to be an eCommerce merchant is so valuable. A lot of people want to know, what you know. All the bricks and mortar businesses, we're currently out of the ads auctions. All the local businesses, they all want to know how to do this. And so, the eCommerce is going to be the new normal.

Ezra:

We're not going back to a bricks and mortar society. I mean, first of all the malls were dying anyways. All the big retailers, many of them were going bankrupt. It was happening slowly. It was a generation away. This just hyper speeded it.

Brett:

And even when some things open up, there will still be a lot of people that are going to say, "Man, I'm not going to chance it. Well, if there's anything I can buy online, I'll do it."

Ezra:

For sure. And they're all going to open up probably with social distancing rules. And who really knows, I mean, who knows? Maybe it'll just go away in the summer and not come back. That'd be cool. I'd love that. Maybe they'll keep, at some point you got to start the economy back up. Okay. So-

Brett:

We have to. Yeah. What's the alternative?

Ezra:

Yeah. But I think that, stay the course, create assets, expand your audience, do your best to create liquidity for yourself. Improve your cash position in whatever way you can. Run a sale right now, while you can sell stuff. Make some money. Have a little money on hand, so that you can weather any kind of storm that might come up a couple of months worth of payroll, maybe a couple of months, six months or 12 months worth of your living expenses. Look to increase your financial liquidity, if that's available to you, in some kind of way. And now, is a great time to spend. A lot of big businesses were built out of recessions, FedEx, Domino's pizza, et cetera, the list goes on.

Brett:

Kellogg's, great depression, they surpass the post who's always the leader, they gained a ton of market share.

Ezra:

And it's the companies that market during the recession, those are the companies that expand. And so, it's not a time to contract. It's a time to look at how to expand. Hey, what are people buying? Hand sanitizer. I'm going to figure out how to make that organic and natural and I'm going to bring that out. It's a time to look for where can you curate to an offer what people are wanting at this particular moment. The Uber guy, he sold all of this ride share stuff and invested it all in food delivery stuff six months ago. He's a royal asshole according to... Pardon my language... everything. I don't know, what do I know? But I read about how horrible he was to his employees and this and that, the guy who was the CEO of Uber.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Travis-

Ezra:

That guy had some foresight because he got out of ride sharing and into food delivery. So, that was smart .

Brett:

Because everybody predicted this, but food delivery was on the uptake anyway, and this was accelerated in five years.

Ezra:

So, what are you noticing people want? One of the things I've noticed, is anybody with kids... Carrie would be very curious to your opinion on this... they're all struggles city right now. I'm the godfather of a really good friend of mine's kid, and he's a stay at home dad.

Brett:

He's also named Ezra too, right? As in, the kid named Ezra.

Ezra:

No, no, no. That's Shaquille's kid.

Brett:

Okay. Okay.

Ezra:

I'm not his godfather, but I love that little kid. This is Boris' kid, Judah, right?

Brett:

Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra:

He was my CMO, I grew up with him. Well, he's like, "Man, this is a whole new world. He doesn't have any friends he can go play with. He wants us to play with him all day. We can't do that. We're overwhelmed. We got to work." Parents are struggling. I'm looking at it, what could I do to support parents? How could I create an offer, some kind of entertainment, some kind of product that seems like a market that is going to buy and could really use a value add. And I'm sure there's a million people trying to solve this problem. But I'm just saying, look for problems that you notice with your particular lens in your life experience. What do you notice out there and can you solve that?

Brett:

Yeah. What problem do you see? What opportunities do you see that lines up with your brand and your core message, that is now relevant and fresh and new because of the environment we're in. And yeah, so to talk about kids now, we have eight kids.

Ezra:

Lather your kids in skincare, they will have a great time.

Brett:

Lots of BOOM, Boomsilk, Boom Glo, scrub. All of it. Just you need all the whole BOOM line. That's what you need. What's interesting, is we have eight kids, we homeschool. They do a one day a week school. And they're involved in sports, all kinds of activities and they do get out and there are socially adjusted and all that. So, we've actually handled, I think, this situation better than a lot of people because it's not as different as it is for some. And we have eight, so they can entertain themselves, which is nice.

Brett:

And then we've always been committed like, "Hey, we're not just going to shove the kids in front of the screen. They're not just going to watch TV all day long." So, we've been looking for what kind of activities, what kind of crafts. We're buying things. We just bought a masterclass, which probably skews more to our older kids, but learn how to write movie scripts. And learn how to do photography and cooking. And looking for things like that. So, there is a huge opportunity. I think it's going to continue into the summer. We have a couple of clients that sell like Stay at Home or Crafts and Activities for Kids at Home. They're blowing up. They're exploding. We're looking for angles. I mentioned this on the podcast a couple of times.

Brett:

But one of our clients, Big Blanket, they sell these massive blankets. They went for an angle and we helped them with, "Hey, look, build an epic blanket fold at home." Here's a creative use of our product, used home with kids. So, be thinking about those things.

Ezra:

Smart. Yeah. You should teach people how to homeschool dude.

Brett:

Yeah. I don't know, maybe my wife man. She's the one that knows how to do that. But really, I mean, everybody, we're all forced homeschoolers right now. Right?

Ezra:

How do you homeschool a kid? I mean that's got to be an info product that would sell on Facebook.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra:

I mean, Brittany's charming. Get her out there man. I mean-

Brett:

That's a good idea. She would do well on video. All right. All right. Well, I got to respond to the post of Blue Ribbon, build a business for Brittany and we're good to go. Hey, so what I want to wrap up with, because I know you got to go, is I'm a huge fan of Blue Ribbon. And I'm not just saying that, because you're on the podcast. I believe, so I'm part of two masterminds, Blue Ribbon, Warren. I believe right now, masterminds are more important than ever. I think, when times are good, you're a mastermind, so you can take advantage of the upside and all the opportunities that are coming. But right now, you need a good community, a good support system to help get your head right, to bounce ideas off of, to find out what's working. To hear about things before you'd hear about them or the otherwise-

Ezra:

It's never been more active Ribbon.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Super tight right now. So, any quick plugs for Blue Ribbon. And what advice would you give to people who are thinking about a mastermind?

Ezra:

I feel that there's power in groups, that you don't know it all. And we are all ever the student. And it really helps to have a group of folks who are doing the same thing you're doing at a high level, who have different areas of expertise, the Google guy. I'm the Facebook sales funnel supply chain guy. Kevin Bombino is the software brilliant financial guy.

Brett:

to survive. Yeah.

Ezra:

So, we got 100, seven, eight and nine figure e-commerce business owners, all CEOs, founders and CMOs in there, who are transparent, who have integrity, who all doing good things in the world, who all want to help each other. And whether you join my mastermind, you can go to smartmarketer.com/mastermind and click to apply. And then, if you are approved, then you'll come to have a phone call with me. I just don't let anybody in. I talk to every person. First of all, you got to get through the approval process, which you just fill out the application, easy to do. I'll take a look at it. I'll either say, yes or no. If I say yes, I'll email you, to set up a call. And we'll talk and see if it's a good fit for you. It's not a good fit if you're under a million dollars a year in revenue, not going to be a fit for you. This is really a fit for brands that are established. That are looking to scale. And looking to have access to a network in community.

Ezra:

And really, what Blue Ribbon is, in addition to that network and that community, and that support, and those events and all that, it is ongoing continuing education for everyone on your team, your project manager, your copywriter, social media marketer, your email marketer, your advertiser. You will not need any other courses or training for anyone on your team who's in a pivotal key role, ever again. This will handle it up to the minute. Every day we're doing stuff, we're sharing it, we're documenting it, my email marketer, my social media person, other people in the group. So, you really have that, I look at it as continuing education for CML founders and CEOs, who have teams who want them educated, but then also want to group for themselves where they can network and collaborate and meet people and all that stuff. That's kind of like that.

Brett:

There's really nothing like this group, the community is amazing. I highly recommend it. The courses are fantastic. I really liked that Google course that you guys have. That the guy that did that Google course was really brilliant.

Ezra:

That's a heck of a course there. It's good course.

Brett:

So, here's my recommendation. If you qualify it, definitely check out the mastermind, we're going to hang out. You can hang out with Ezra. If you don't, if you're not ready for that, that's cool. Go to Smart Marketer, check out the free resources, Ezra puts a ton of good content on Facebook and YouTube and all over the place, that you can really benefit from. So, check that out as well. Check out, BOOM. I recommend you go to BOOM. Get on the email list and see what Ezra is doing, and get educated from that.

Ezra:

Here's the thing though, if you get on my email list, you have to open the emails because if I'm delivering emails that don't get open, that hurts my deliverability. So, I don't mind you spying on my marketing, but if you don't actually look at my emails, you're not doing me any favor. I'm boot you out of there anyways.

Brett:

Exactly. But that's one of my favorite tactics. And I don't do this a lot, just with a few people. Watch what smart people do with their email marketing. You'll learn a lot. It'll influence, add copy to the place. So, All right, man. Hey, really appreciate your time. I know, you've got a jet, Ezra. Thanks for the time.

Ezra:

Brett the fury.

Brett:

That's nice. Brett the fury. Yeah, you gave me that nickname. It has stuck. I have a lot of people that call me, the fury. I need to change my slack handle and some other things to fury.

Ezra:

And you bring the heat, you bring the noise, man, you're really good at what you do. So, thank you for being out there doing it and appreciate you having me on.

Brett:

Thanks brother. All right. Ezra Firestone, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks brother. All right. So, as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love your feedback. Let us know what you'd like to hear more, less of. If you feel so inclined, leave that review on iTunes that helps other people find the show. And with that, until next time, thank you. God bless you.


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