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Accelerate your eCommerce Growth

An eCommerce Podcast Hosted by Brett Curry

Welcome to the Spicy Curry podcast where we explore hot takes in eCommerce and Digital Marketing. We feature some of the brightest guests with the spiciest perspectives on how to grow your business online.
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Ezra Firestone’s Top 7 eCommerce Growth Strategies for 2022
Episode 1
:
Ezra Firestone

Ezra Firestone’s Top 7 eCommerce Growth Strategies for 2022

No one knows more about eCommerce growth than my friend Ezra Firestone. Arguably, no one is a more interesting interview than Ezra either. This episode does NOT disappoint. Ezra bootstrapped growth for Boom from $0 to $40mill + per year. He also recently bought another high-profile eComm brand (more on that in the show).This episode is straight fire. Here’s a look at what we dive into:

  • How Ezra is approaching email marketing and email list growth in 2022. I’m guessing you’re missing his email strategy - even if you consider yourself an email marketing pro.
  • How BOOM is approaching front-end offers.
  • Why you should consider inventing a holiday and how BOOM has done that.
  • Growing your SMS list.
  • Plus MUCH, much more!

Mentioned in this Episode:

Ezra Firestone

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram

   - Twitter

   - Facebook


BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

oVertone

Zipify Pages

Smart Marketer

Blue Ribbon Mastermind

Klaviyo

Postscript

Attentive

Dan Kennedy

Jay Abraham

Native Deodorant

Northbeam

John Grimshaw

Molly Pittman

Train My Traffic Person

Transcript:

Brett Curry:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry Podcast, where we explore hot takes in e-commerce and digital marketing. We feature some of the brightest guests with the spiciest perspectives on what it takes to grow your business online. Season one is built on the old business adage that it really takes three things to succeed. One, have something good to say. Two, say it well. And three, say it often.

Brett Curry:

Today, my guest is none other than the e-commerce legend himself, Ezra Firestone. If you're serious about growing your e-commerce business, then you have to pay attention to Ezra. And arguably, there's not a more interesting interview than Ezra Firestone. He bootstrapped Boom by Cindy Joseph from zero to now, $40 million a year in growth. He now owns and operates Overtone, a $25 million a year e-commerce brand. He also co-founded Zipify Pages, Smart Marketer, and he's the mastermind behind my favorite e-commerce mastermind, Blue Ribbon.

Brett Curry:

This is a wide ranging discussion. We talk about things like cold plunges and samurai swords. But yes of course, we spend most of our time talking about e-commerce growth strategies. We look at Ezra's really unique approach to email marketing, and how much of his ad budget he's dedicating to growing his email list. We also look at SMS marketing. And we look at how to invent a holiday, and what that looks like. And then we're also looking at how Boom is crafting and creating front end offers. You won't want to miss a minute of this show. I hope you enjoy my interview with Ezra Firestone.

Brett Curry:

The Spicy Curry Podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify Pages, and Payability. All right, I am absolutely stoked out of my mind for this next guest, and personal friend of mine. We do some work together. I always count it a joy when I get to talk to this guest. And so, to have this uninterrupted time to dive in deep on strategies, it's going to be amazing, and I'm glad you get to listen in. And so if I look at, man, if you need tactics, if you need strategies, if you need help for how to take your e-commerce business to the next level, and if you need to get a little bit spicy, you need Ezra Firestone.

Brett Curry:

And so today I've got the man, the myth, the legend. He's flexing if you're watching the video. Got Ezra Firestone on the call. We're talking about eight top strategies to just blow up your business this year in a good way. We may not get to all eight, we'll see how it goes. But with that intro, Ezra, what's up, man? How you doing? And welcome to the show.

Ezra Firestone:

Brett, the Fury Curry, I'm fresh out of the cold plunge, dog. One minute, 30 seconds, 32 degrees. My whole body is red, I'm shivering, I'm shaking, we're podcasting. Happy to be here man, thanks.

Brett Curry:

It's hilarious. You hopped on the call and I was like, "Oh no, something's wrong with Ezra. He just doesn't look right." It's like, well, you just got out of a 32 degree bathtub. Of course, your body's in shock. But I appreciate taking the time to do this. And man, it's just always, always fun to chat.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, man. And just watching your journey, I seen you come up in the game from back in the day, when you had an SEO agency. You know?

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

From way back. I don't even know if it was 2008, 2009, it was a long time ago. 2010, whatever it was. And then to watch you rise to be one of the most prominent voices in the e-commerce world, and also to have a top 2% advertising agency, maybe you guys are top 1% at this point, I mean, you run all of our stuff. So it's been fun to watch your journey and just happy to be on the podcast.

Brett Curry:

Dude, thanks. It's been so fun to grow. I credit you and your community with a lot of that growth. And your approach to having fun, and doing what's right, and being extremely successful, and that blend, is awesome. Your motto, for those that don't know, is "Serve the world unselfishly and profit." And actually before we get into tactics and strategies for this year, and there's some amazing ones, can you talk a little bit about that for those that are new to the world of Ezra Firestone?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, I mean, I think that's a description-

Brett Curry:

... Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

I think it's a description, not a statement. It's how I have seen things work. That when you are in a role of service, unselfishly with the goal of serving, you do profit by the very nature of serving. And it may not be monetarily. Maybe it's spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, energetically. But my goal is to serve. And I find joy in the act of service. I think there's a lot of value, and fun, and enjoyment, and good. And also in business, if you can truly serve a community, you will be profitable. And so I think that's just a description of how it goes. And also it's what I'm looking to do. I'm looking to serve the world unselfishly and also profit. I want to take care of my family. I want to take care of my community. I want to put resource towards causes in the world that I find noble. And I need fucking money to do that. Right?

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

And the way going to get that money is by helping a group of people out with solutions to problems they have.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, I love that. If you look at, what is leadership, what does it mean to lead a company or to be a CEO, it's really serving. Serving your team more than commanding and dictating.

Ezra Firestone:

100%.

Brett Curry:

And how do build a brand, how do you build a business? It's serving a community. It's serving the needs and meeting the needs of buyers. And so, yeah. I love it. So it's really, really just-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. And then just because you're serving a group, doesn't mean you can't sell them stuff.

Brett Curry:

Exactly.

Ezra Firestone:

Selling them stuff is also serving them.

Brett Curry:

Because people want to buy stuff, right?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

They want to have those needs met. And retail therapy is a thing too. So one of the greatest acts of service you can do, is sell a good product to the right person.

Ezra Firestone:

I'll tell you what dude. You and I both know that this last six months have been the most intense and stressful on the personal side of my life, with some health problems of some family members. And I done fucking discovered stress shopping, bro. I had never done that. I'm not a guy who buys shit that I just don't need or want. I'm willing to buy things. I have a lot of money, and I didn't come from money. I now have more money than basically everyone that I know, and I'm not against purchasing things. But I usually purchase things that I really like. I'll buy a nice espresso machine, or I'll buy a nice skateboard.

Brett Curry:

Which I've had espresso from that espresso machine. And you pull a mean shot of espresso, my friend.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. I will spend money happily on things that are enjoyable and that I will use, but I don't just buy frivolously, until now, dude. I bought six pairs of the same Chelsea boot. When I turned around, I was like, "What? I have lost my mind, dude." This is stress shopping.

Brett Curry:

Why did I buy this?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

I think one time I was on a call with you and you just recently bought like a samurai sword or something. I don't think it was actually a samurai sword, but it was some kind of sword.

Ezra Firestone:

A katana. Yeah, it was a Japanese katana. I use it to chop wood for my sweat lodge. So that was actually a useful tool. It's good for chopping kindling.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. That's awesome, man. Super fun. So people are buying right now. The economy's pretty hot, and certainly there are some issues too. But people are buying stuff. So let's dive in. You recently wrote a blog post, which I'm going to link to, so you can see this in the show notes, talking about eight top growth strategies. And first of all, for those that don't know the journey, talk about Boom by Cindy Joseph and how it's grown.

Ezra Firestone:

(singing)

Brett Curry:

Because you guys are set to do about 40 million this year, right?

Ezra Firestone:

So I started this brand in 2010. Took me to 2014 to make my first million dollar a year in total revenue. By 2016, I was doing 17 million. This last year, I did 42. This year I think I'll do 47. Top line revenue at about a 25% EBIDA margin, so maybe making six or 7 million a year in profit on that.

Brett Curry:

Which is amazing. Amazing.

Ezra Firestone:

I got about 30 employees at that company. I also own Zipify Apps, about a $10 million a year software company. Also a couple million bucks in profit on that, maybe about 60 employees there. And I just bought a company called Overtone Color, which has about 20 team members. It'll do about 25, 30 million this year. And I got Smart Marketer too. And I'm just a guy. I didn't go to college, I have no special skills, other than that I'm a good communicator and I'm willing to put my foot down and do the work, and ask for help when I need it. And I think my story shows that if... I'm a complete failure in the eyes of the school system. They labeled me a dumb kid, and someone who was not going to be successful. And I think for anybody who doesn't fit into the mold, who maybe is dyslexic, or maybe has some reason why the general society is telling them that they can't be successful, the internet opens up an opportunity for us.

Ezra Firestone:

And there's skills that we can develop. Advertising, direct response marketing, landing page optimization, copywriting, product development, podcasting, social media, that can support us in taking care of our families. And I didn't come from resource, and so I wanted to create that. And I've been able to, and I've been doing it now for 17 years. I got pretty fucking good at it. I made every mistake you could make. I didn't pay my taxes, I did all the stupid you can do. But I did it when I was younger, and earlier in my... And I didn't have podcasts like yours to learn from. I had a bunch of creepy dudes on an internet forum who were shilling fucking gambling and porn. That was when I got into the game.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Online marketing was a bit of a dark place back in those early days.

Ezra Firestone:

You didn't want to say you were an internet marketer. It wasn't good.

Brett Curry:

No, no, that was not prestigious. No one looked at that highly. For sure.

Ezra Firestone:

So yeah. So I've been doing it a long time now, I'm really good at it. And I've been talking about it since about 2011. I was one of the first people to start blogging about e-commerce. And by the very nature of being one of the first, I became popular. Not that I was anything special than anyone else, but I was the first to do it, and so I got real popular. And I've stayed in that space of documenting my journey. And I got a bunch of people who think it's cool, and follow what I do. And I'm pretty good at it, you know?

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

And I've been able to successfully train and educate, and bring up in the game, thousands and thousands of internet entrepreneurs over the years. You being one of them who I've impacted.

Brett Curry:

Big time.

Ezra Firestone:

Not that I did anything for you, other than show you what I was doing. So yeah, so I like talking about this stuff.

Brett Curry:

It's been so amazing to watch that progression as well, and getting to see behind the scenes, seeing you operate with your team. So I've been to your house and I've hung out with the inner circle of Smart Marketer and Boom. And of course we were on calls, and our agency serves you and stuff. So I've seen you in a lot of different capacities. And man, you're the same leader behind the scenes as you are on stage. You care about people on stage or one on one. You're extremely smart and strategic, and you get marketing, and you understand human in nature, and you take massive action. All kinds of stuff we can break down. So it's been really fun to observe that and get the front row seat of that as well.

Ezra Firestone:

I can also do a cool poker chip trick. Look at this.

Brett Curry:

Is that right? Oh, look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

Wait.

Brett Curry:

Look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

Hold on. Damn, that was not cool. I dropped it. Hold on.

Brett Curry:

We're going to try this again. So if you're listening, just take my word for it. He's a great poker chip-

Ezra Firestone:

My hands are frozen. My hands are frozen. We should probably get into tactics.

Brett Curry:

Do not attempt a poker chip trick out of a cold plunge.

Ezra Firestone:

People are going to be like, "Enough of this bullshit, dude. You should talk about some tactics." We should talk about some strategies.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. So here we go. So let's dive in. One thing that we've seen you guys operate on, we're running this on YouTube for you, but you're buying more email leads. So talk about that. So this is top strategy number one, buying more email leads. What does that look like, and why?

Ezra Firestone:

Dude, nobody's talking about email. Everybody's like "SMS, video ads." This and that. Well guess what has always been since I've been in the game, about 25 to 40% of my business? Literally since '05, dude. Emails.

Brett Curry:

Email. Email.

Ezra Firestone:

I've been sending motherfucking emails since 2005. And it is to this day, it'll be 36% of Boom's total revenue this year.

Brett Curry:

It's crazy.

Ezra Firestone:

And nobody-

Brett Curry:

Email touches 36% of all purchases through Boom.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, it's last click, dude. It's last click for 36% of my purchases.

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

So why would I not be putting so much energy in growing that list? Nobody does it. Everybody just runs top of funnel video ads, conversion ads, and they hope that when somebody comes to their website, their onsite popup, or their card abandonment, or their exit intent, are going to capture the email lead for them. Great, do that. But also, you know what I'm doing? Gated content. I'm doing giveaways. I'm doing all kinds of different straight up lead generation campaigns. One of my best ones, is we use these things called pre-sell articles, which are basically articles that are story-based, like, "Five makeup tips for older women." Or "Seven makeup tips for women who wear glasses." Or "How to overcome perfectionism in your fifties." Or whatever kind of content that our community is interested in, that leads back to our products.

Ezra Firestone:

And we use those in our email auto responders, we run ads to them, we mail them to our email list. We use them everywhere. At every stage of the sales process. What we also do, is we gate them. So we put an opt-in front of it, and it says, "Hey, enter email address here to get our five makeup tips for women over 50." We run ads to that with a conversion objective for the lead event, the lead event fires on the thank you page. They enter their email address, guess where they get dropped? On the same pre-sell that I'm running at the top of the funnel.

Ezra Firestone:

But now we have their email lead, and we put them on a automation sequence, to warm them up and try to sell them. And if they don't buy, we put them on our bucket list. I also run giveaways every six weeks. And basically those are my two main top of funnel lead gen strategies, is gated content and giveaways. But I'll do Facebook lives, and I'll do other things as well. But if you just do gated content and giveaways, you should spend about five to 10% of your total marketing budget on email lead generation. Because some people take a little longer to warm up than others. So if you're only running conversion ads, you're going to miss out on growing your audience in a way that could be beneficial for you.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. I love this so much, and it's something that we've observed you doing, and something we're talking about now with other clients. That, if you can grow that email list, and if you're properly running email marketing, you're going to be able to convert that at a really high rate. And so gated content, so information people want, and/or giveaways, great ways to drive that list. And I was looking through some of your notes here. Looks like over the last 12 months you spent about 200,000 buying email leads that have then generated 750,000 in sales. So about a 375% return on add spend. That's not bad. But that's not like-

Ezra Firestone:

And that's with excluding anybody who was already on the list, dude.

Brett Curry:

What's that?

Ezra Firestone:

That's with excluding anyone who was already on the list. So those are new leads.

Brett Curry:

Just strictly new leads. So that really changes the game, because you could be looking at those campaigns and thinking, "Well, I just drove an email sign up. I didn't make a sale there, so it's not really worth a whole lot." But then you've got to look at that whole picture. What did those email subscribers do for you over the next six to 12 months? And in your case, it's a 3.75 X ROAS, which is amazing.

Ezra Firestone:

Pretty sweet. I mean, not that everyone's going to have that result, but it's worth doing, still, nonetheless.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. So, all right, awesome. So strategy number one, buy more email leads. I'm sold on that idea. Idea number two, launch new products. So talk about how Boom is approaching launching new products.

Ezra Firestone:

So to have a successful e-commerce business, you have to get your repeat customer rate up. Ideally over 30% of total revenue comes from repeat customers, people who bought from you once before. The best way to do that is to sell them more of what they already bought, if it's consumable. Or to introduce new items that they might want from you. And by the way, if somebody knows you, likes you, trust you, you're putting out content, you're engaging them, you've delivered a good product, they're going to probably want to buy whatever else you have to offer if it's tangentially related to what they bought in the first place.

Ezra Firestone:

So what we do is we send a customer survey every six months to our two X buyers, and we give them a bunch of stuff, like "If we were going to add more colors, what colors do you want? If you could wave a magic wand, what products would you have us create?" We have a 20 question survey. We say, "Hey, five people who take this survey are going to win $100 gift certificate to the store". We get a couple thousand responses. Based on that, we figure out what products to make next, based on the desire of our community.

Brett Curry:

That creates your product roadmap.

Ezra Firestone:

As an example, 50% of people wanted a mascara, 46% of people wanted a lip gloss, and 53% of people wanted an additional color of Boomstick. We released all three of those products last year, based on that information. They were our three best product launches ever. We just released the Boomstick color last week, we sold 15,000 units in 18 hours. 650 grand in revenue in 18 hours.

Brett Curry:

Whoa. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Say that again. You sold what?

Ezra Firestone:

We sold 15,000 units in 18 hours, dude. We sold out. 650 grand in 18 hours. Now of course I've got a mature company, but the point is that this process gets better over time. So when you're developing a new product, you're doing it in desire to your past customers, in relationship to their desire. And for us, you have componentry, formulation, and secondary packaging. So componentry is like, what is the component that it's going to go in? Well, the Boomstick, we already have that. That's great, we'll reuse the component we already have. The formula is, what is it going to be, why is it going to be that way, what are the benchmarks other brands are doing that we want to meet? We go through a bunch of iterations, we send it out to our best customers to test. It takes us about six months to a year to develop a formula.

Ezra Firestone:

And then our secondary packaging, is what is the box, what's the write alongs, what are the inserts? We get all that together, we run a photo shoot for it. And then we do an early bird. "Hey, we're going to launch this new product. This is what it is. Get excited, sign up for it to hear about it first." And then what happens is, as they're signing up, and as they're posting on social about it on the thread, we're finding out what they want to know. They're asking, "Is it hypoallergenic?" And we're like, "Oh shit, we don't have hypoallergenic on the sales page. It is hypo allergenic." So we add that to the sales page. The questions they ask, they become the FAQs that we put on the... So we use the pre-launch as a way to build out the marketing material. Build out the FAQ, build out the sales page.

Ezra Firestone:

And then we launch it, run ads to it, do emails to it. And then it becomes part of our ongoing marketing. Put it in bundles. And you can do this too with products you already have. So you can reformulate them to make them better than they already are. Based on feedback, you can change the componentry or packaging, make it more sustainable. You can bundle it with other items to make a kit. So you can renew and make better products you already have, and relaunch them, as well as introducing new items. But for us, we are aiming to introduce four new items a year, which is once a quarter, which is hard to do.

Brett Curry:

That's aggressive. That's one a quarter.

Ezra Firestone:

It's hard to do when you're making them all from scratch.

Brett Curry:

It's hard to do, yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

But it's a huge, huge part of the business. So yeah, it's really important to continually making the products better.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And it's interesting that it's also fairly risky, too, to launch a new product. Will it go well, will it not go well? But the approach you're taking, it really eliminates a lot of the risk. You know that if you deliver a good product, which you guys do, you know how to do that, you're delivering exactly what someone is requesting, and exactly what someone wants.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, and they also then can become a new top of funnel sales processes. So we can run top of funnel ads now. So for our mascara, I mean, that's our second best seller of all time, and we can run it at the top of the funnel because everybody's interested in mascara. And we didn't have one before. So we couldn't run ads for it at the top of the funnel. So we were missing a customer acquisition funnel there that we were able to add to the business.

Brett Curry:

Love it. And so then this actually directly ties into it. So this is strategy number three. Create more front end offers. So talk about that and how that's evolved for Boom, more front end offers.

Ezra Firestone:

I think that's mature business strategy. For Boom, we did 10 years where we had one front end offer, which was our Boomstick trio.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Boomstick.

Ezra Firestone:

And all of our social proof, all of our sales funnel optimization, all of our pre-sales, all of our video ads, all of our email sequences, everything was about that front end offer. Just make that as deep as possible. Have marketing assets for it, loyalty assets for it. Just really work on that and scale that. And that's a lot easier to go deep rather than wide. And a lot of people have a thousand skews, and they can't do that. Like with this product, this brand, I bought, Overtone, I got a hundred skews. So it's hard for me to have one front end funnel.

Ezra Firestone:

But for low skew e-commerce, it's easy. You just pick whatever your widest and best seller, and most relevant seller is, and just focus on that. But once you scale that, now you got to start introducing new front end offers. There's only so many people who are interested in a multipurpose blush stick. Some people aren't interested in blush, but they're interested in mascara, or lip gloss, or brow gel, or whatever. So we've now introduced a bunch more products to the... You're right, my voice is kind of frozen. It's funny, I sound like a frog.

Brett Curry:

You're good, dude. Hey, you're so you're bringing the fire, even though I'm feeling cold for you.

Ezra Firestone:

I usually have such a rich, deep voice, man. Anyways, it gives us the ability to have more fish hooks in the sea.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Love it. Love it. Let's go on to the next one, and this is related to number one, but this is now strategy number four.

Ezra Firestone:

By the way, another front end funnel is one of those lead gen funnels, too. Even if it's leading to the same product.

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Ezra Firestone:

It's a new top of funnel way of getting people in the mix. That's a new funnel. It doesn't have to be a new product.

Brett Curry:

Totally. And so looking at that, and what we've observed, working with Boom, working with other successful brands, is that a lot of them have one to three really successful top end funnels that they just push hard on, almost forever. And then with some tweaking and changing, and then you've got all your backend stuff as well. So, yeah. Really, really good. So let's talk then about strategy number four, growing your SMS subscribers. So diving into text based marketing. So, tips or suggestions you would give there for growing that list and utilizing SMS?

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, the 80/20 of SMS is this. Have the collection at checkout, where you're collecting people who check out from you, who click the little box to be collected. And have a two step opt in. First, get the email, second, incentivize for the SMS. So they come to your site, you say, "Hey, get 10% off, entering your email address". They enter it. "Hey, by the way, do you want an extra 5%? Give us your SMS". Klaviyo lets you do this, Postscript lets you do this, Attentive lets you do this, et cetera. Those are your two main ways to collect. And that's 85, 90% of the value. You can do other shit to collect, but it's not worth it. Just do that. And then when you send an abandoned card email and they don't open after 18 hours, slide a text in there, via Klaviyo. So connect it to your email logic, and do your-

Brett Curry:

Is that usually the way you do it, where you'll email first? And then if there's no response there, then you text?

Ezra Firestone:

Always. Yeah, because SMS is more expensive. So we'll use it as a... And you can only do this if you're using Klaviyo, because it talks to it. You can't have Attentive in Klaviyo, because they don't talk to each other. So if you're using Klaviyo, Klaviyo's a little more expensive for SMS, but if you're doing it the way I do, it doesn't matter, because you're only using it as a... You know? You're using it as a way to capture the people who aren't responding to email. Instead of just blasting them with both, and spending the money for that. So, if they don't respond to the card email, we'll slide an SMS. If we go purchase email, they don't cross-sell, we'll slide an SMS. And then once a week, you broadcast your bucket list with a piece of content or a sale. That's it. That's all you need to do. Have an opt in pre purchase, have an opt in at checkout, use it in your automation sequences, do one broadcast a week, your solid potato salad, you have 85% of the value you can get from SMS.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. You really go beyond that, it's just going to be tiny little gains. And potentially a difference-

Ezra Firestone:

It's not worth it. It's not worth it.

Brett Curry:

Not worth it. Not worth the effort.

Ezra Firestone:

Just spend your energy acquiring more customers.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, totally. And so those weekly broadcast on SMS, are you doing a mix of promotions and content?

Ezra Firestone:

So those will be content. The best piece of content from the week will drop via the SMS. And then if we're running a sale, that week, we won't send content, we'll send about the sale.

Brett Curry:

And your best piece of content pulling from the way Boom is doing it, it's based on blog, is that right? So you're writing blogs weekly or something?

Ezra Firestone:

We send three pieces of content to our list every week. Maybe it's a long form article, maybe it's a user generated content video, maybe it's a recap from a Facebook live we did. Whatever. We're sending content every week, at least three pieces, long form written articles, videos, user generated content. We've got a whole social media content engagement system. And so whatever worked the best that week, we'll drop to the SMS list. And then every six-

Brett Curry:

Nice. So you're emailing that content initially. So you're emailing-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, we're emailing that, we're posting it to the blog, we're posting out to social, we're amplifying it. We're doing the whole system. And then the best shit, we drop to the list, which links over to the blog. And we drop to the SMS list. And then every six weeks we're running a product launch or a sale. So that sixth week will be a promotion via SMS.

Brett Curry:

Got it. And anything you can say about response rates, metrics? How is SMS working in comparison to email? I know it's just designed to be a compliment to email, but anything you can say about stats, performance?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, I mean, SMS gets better response rates, but you have smaller lists. And you get way more unsubscribes. So it's-

Brett Curry:

And you got to be really careful about spam related stuff.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

People get pretty hot on-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot you got to worry about with that. But basically it works really well, and you should use it as a compliment, and not instead of... And you should do what I'm talking about, which is basically 80/20 it.

Brett Curry:

Not really standalone. You're not going to just be like, "Hey, SMS is my one strategy."

Ezra Firestone:

Some brands do. Some brands do. But I think if you ignore email, what are we doing?

Brett Curry:

Right. For most people, it's just a beautiful compliment, and a way to really increase the effectiveness of email. But it is a compliment. Awesome. So now we're going to move into strategy number five. I actually love this one. I love all of them, this is all gold. But this is something that was kind of an aha moment for me. I first heard about a strategy like this, it was made be Dan Kennedy back in the day, maybe Jay Abraham. I go way back, man, looking at marketing stuff. But you're talking about inventing a holiday. So there's this idea that people need a reason why. They need a reason why I should buy now, they need a reason why your product is better. And sometimes an invented holiday is a great reason why you should buy now. So, talk about invented holidays, and talk about what you're doing at Boom.

Ezra Firestone:

So excuses to communicate are important. And we take everyone we can. We communicate on Earth Day, we communicate on Animal Friendly Day, we communicate on National Dog Day. Because people like that kind of shit.

Brett Curry:

They do. People like it.

Ezra Firestone:

And everybody has a dog, and everybody likes the earth, and so on and so forth. And we do too. And so we are always doing emails like that. Like, "Hey, it's Earth Day. And you know what? We care a lot about sustainability. And these are our most sustainable products, for these reasons." And whatever. And so we're constantly mailing on using the fake or created holidays as a reason to communicate on social and on email. And so we made up our own. We made Pro-Age Month. We are the first people to say pro-age. Now it's a commonly known thing. Now you've got a million knock brands, but we spent 40 million over six years, popularizing the concept of pro-age, back in 2010. And now Allure is stealing it, and it's like we have penetrated the mainstream with this.

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

We've entered the zeitgeist with this concept. And so now it's a thing. And so we want to claim ownership of that, because we do own it. You don't never own an idea, but we created that movement. And so we created Pro-Age Month. And the month of August is Pro-Age Month. And we tell pro-age stories, and we've got a logo for it. And we are claiming our rights to the pro-age movement. The pro-age revolution that we started in 2010. And a good way to do that, was to create a holiday around it.

Brett Curry:

Create a holiday, create a month, and people love that. And it's such a great conversation starter and connection point. And if you think about one of the big components of building a brand, is just building that connection and that community. And sometimes odd or unusual holidays do that. And inventing your own holiday, I think it's brilliant. I think more people should look at it. And I think a lot of brands lend themselves well. Maybe it's not pro-age for you, and Ezra owns that anyway, so back off, really. Seriously.

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, whatever. You could say pro-age if you believe in that. What I find, is most people say pro-age and they don't actually know what it means. Which is hilarious. They'll be like, "Pro-age..." this or that. And then they'll have anti-aging skin drops.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. "But cover your gray, and no more wrinkles." Yeah, yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

You've missed the point here.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah. But inventing a holiday, pure gold, I love it. Anybody can do it. And so highly recommend that as well. So we're getting tied on time, so we're going to have to maybe move rapid fire through some of these or just save some of them for the blog. But number six is, list products on Amazon.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

What are you guys doing there for your brands? Talk about that a little bit.

Ezra Firestone:

Amazon will make up 20 to 30% of a good brand's sales. And you're going to miss those customers if you're not over there. And our-

Brett Curry:

Because some people only buy on Amazon. That's just it.

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, yeah. And we waited 10 years to put our products on Amazon, because we could fill the demand that we had with... Our supply chain could barely fill the demand we had from direct to consumer. But once we beefed up our supply chain, and we realized that adding to Amazon wasn't going to cannibalize our direct to consumer platform, we added our main product on there, and it just crushed. It just added 10 to 15% of incremental sales.

Brett Curry:

Immediately. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

So now we're adding every one of our products, once every two months, onto Amazon. You guys are running all of our ads over there, doing all of our A plus lists. All we do is do the customer support, and create the assets for the page. You guys literally do everything else. You run all the ads, you optimize all the pages, you handle all the seller support. You do fucking everything for us. So it's great for us, because it's a channel that really works, that we don't really have the expertise for, that you just do for us. I mean, we pay you for it, but probably not what you should get paid. Because I think you give us a deal. But-

Brett Curry:

We do. We do. But, gladly. We gladly give you that deal, for sure.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. So it's been really good for us.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, it's been amazing, it's been fun to execute on our end for sure. And one thing we noticed with you, we noticed this with native ... as well, client, friends. And we don't run their Amazon, but we observe. We run their Google and YouTube. Is that there's some expectation that when you launch on Amazon, there's going to be some cannibalization of your store's sales. And certainly that happens some, but this has been mostly incremental growth for you guys, right?

Ezra Firestone:

100% incremental. There's been no cannibalization whatsoever. Which is crazy, because I was sure there was going to be. We sell it at the same price, and some people just like to buy over there. And I think what was happening was a lot of people were seeing our ads on Facebook, going to buy on Amazon, not finding it, and then buying knockoff brands. Because they only buy on Amazon.

Brett Curry:

Buying something else. Buy knockoff. Yeah, we experienced that. That'd be a topic for another podcast. The copycats and the people that were...

Ezra Firestone:

...

Brett Curry:

... really leeching off of your brand name on Amazon.

Ezra Firestone:

Nightmare.

Brett Curry:

But yeah, nightmare for sure. For sure. But we're getting there. So yeah, big believer in Amazon. And what's interesting to me, and this is where Boom and Overtone are set up perfectly for Amazon, is that success on Amazon in the long term, and I think even right now, is based on building a brand. So taking the community building aspect, the brand building aspect that you're doing off Amazon, and do that on Amazon, that's where you see long term success. It's not just hacking the titles and the keywords, and the bullet points, to try to inflate your ranking, or using super URLs, or some other strategy to hack your ranking, but building a real brand.

Brett Curry:

And that's what you guys are good at, and that's what we're helping you with. And it's working. It's working on Amazon right now. So let's talk, and this will probably be our final concept for the podcast, and I'll push the final one, people to go check out on the blog post. But the seventh strategy for growth, is advertising on television. TV? What? Come on now. So what are your thoughts on TV? And this has been fun to watch too, but what are your thoughts on advertising on television?

Ezra Firestone:

I think it's really only for very, very, very mature brands. Because the minimum that you need to do it is 350 grand. Minimum. Just to test. And that's a two month test. And you also have to produce television quality ads. Now we were able to use user generated content. We spent 50 grand on a TV commercial produced by a fancy agency, and at flopped all crazy. And then we made our own ad, based on UGC that we had. And we crushed. So we're much better direct response advertisers than these TV agencies, it turns out. Which we should've known, because we've been fucking running direct response ads for 15 years. Makes sense we would know what would work, versus what they produced. Even though what they produced, it was a whole... We could talk about that another time. It wasn't very good.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

But it's hard to tell how successful TV has been for us. We've spent about half a million dollars over the course of six months, and I think incrementally, it has been successful. But we're having Northbeam, which is a company you hooked us up with.

Brett Curry:

Shout out to Northbeam, Austin, and the folks there.

Ezra Firestone:

We just turned it off, and looks like sales are down 15K a day since we turned off TV. We'll see. I think TV is great for omnichannel presence. If you're spending three, four, 500K a month on social media ads, you should add in TV at 10, 15% of your budget, to reach more people, and reach the people that you're reaching on social in a different area. And for us, we just turned it off to see how it's going to impact whether we run it or not. And so we're still trying to figure out the attribution on it, and how well it's working. But our sense is that it worked pretty well.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And that's a great way to test it. Turn it off, see what the impact is there. And it also helps tremendously to have a tool like Northbeam, third party attribution. Brilliant stuff, check it out. And we're seeing some similar things. So first of all, I got my start in TV, radio, print. So I still really like TV. I'm still involved in local TV just a little bit with a friend of mine. But I love this strategy. I think it is for bigger brands. But yeah, if you're spending multi six figures on Facebook ads, YouTube ads, then TV may be something that you check out. But along a similar vein, we're testing now, we tested it with Boom and with a few other clients. Creating some awareness, we call it awareness layer YouTube campaigns.

Brett Curry:

And again, you kind of need something like Northbeam in place, to really see the impact of this. But the idea there, is as well we're just going for low cost engagement, low cost views. We're seeing CPMs for some of these awareness level YouTube campaigns at six bucks, five bucks, which is crazy low. But there's something to be said, and this is marketing 101, old school stuff. If you talk to the right people enough times, with a right message, so right message, right market, right media, you're going to get results. And so obviously you got to be ready for it with budget, and you have to have the tracking in place to really make good use of it. But I love that you guys are testing TV. And I also love the fact that it wasn't the super duper polished stuff that worked. It was what we do. The UGC stuff that did well on TV, too.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. It was UGC. And we started doing video view advertising on Facebook, when iOS 14.5 happened, because Facebook lost all its data. So we started running video view campaigns to all the audiences that we used to run conversion campaigns to, to let Facebook build up some data of the people who watched most of our videos. And then we would follow up with those people and run conversion ads to them. And now we're doing that with YouTube as well. And I think that strategy post iOS 14.5 on both networks, where you spend a thousand bucks a day at our scale, running video views, or maybe 10% of your overall spend, is a great strategy. We're doing it at Overtone too.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, that's awesome. Well, this has been amazing, Ezra. So that's seven of the eight tips. Hey, to get that eighth tip, check out the show notes, go check out Ezra's blog, smartmarketer.com, and get that final one. But Ezra, as people are listening, I know we got some super fans-

Ezra Firestone:

I'm cold, man. I'm cold. That's what's going on.

Brett Curry:

You're cold. Then yeah, you need to go warm up, dude.

Ezra Firestone:

I do. I need ...

Brett Curry:

Get your robe, get your blanket, go sit by the fire, or something like that. But for those that are listening and thinking, "I need more Ezra Firestone in my life." How can they connect with you, where should they learn more about you? Where should they do that?

Ezra Firestone:

I'm on Instagram @ezrafirestone, I'm on Twitter @ezrafirestone, I'm on Facebook, Facebook.com/MeetEzra. I'm on smartmarketer.com, which is a blog that I have, I'm on zipify.com, which are my apps for Shopify. But you can find me on social media. I'm on YouTube, all the social media networks. Whatever ones you use, I'm there. You can Google me on there or search me on there. And yeah. Thanks for hanging out, hope it's been some kind of helpful. Appreciate you, Brett. I love that you're between two ferns over there.

Brett Curry:

That's a hilarious show. And you're not the first person to say that. They're like, "Dude, are you between two ferns here? Are you Zach Galifianakis or what? What are you doing?" I'm a little more courteous to my guests and a little more on topic, but that show is hilarious.

Ezra Firestone:

It's awesome, dude.

Brett Curry:

But another plug that I'll make here as I'm sitting between two ferns, is, do check out Smart Marketer. Molly Pittman, John Grimshaw, running that with Ezra's leadership, Ezra started it. But some amazing resources there. Train My Traffic Person. So if you got in-house media buyers, you need to send them through Train My Traffic Person. You get to learn from me too, I'm a faculty member there teaching YouTube and teaching Google. But check that out, smartmarketer.com. Highly, Highly recommend it.

Ezra Firestone:

Thank y'all.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Ezra, appreciate it, brother. This has been amazing, thank you so much. And see you next time.

Ezra Firestone:

Talk soon.




Disruptive Innovation in Marketing with Miki Agrawal
2
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Miki Agrawal

Disruptive Innovation in Marketing with Miki Agrawal

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.

She’s incredibly creative. No really. She once hosted a “funeral for a tree” at an old cathedral in NYC hosted by comedians and actors. It drew a crowd of thousands, generated millions in free press and helped shed light on the toilet paper waste that her company TUSHY can help solve. 

She understands trends in marketing. She knows how to grab attention. So much so that she was banned by the NY   transit authority from running subway ads. Which led to a PR fight that she won…and in the end, got more press and attention than if they hadn’t been banned. 

She’s also warm and kind and FUN. 

She’s created multiple 9-Figure businesses and has garnered some pretty incredible recognition. She was named "Fast Company's Most Creative People", “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum and INC's “Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs”.

She’s also the author of #1 best selling books Do Cool SH*T and Disrupt-HER.

In this episode we unpack Miki’s wacky, impossible-to-forget and wildly successful marketing strategies and tactics.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How Miki was banned from advertising on the NYC subway and turned that into a huge PR win for her brand THINX
  • How to use Accessible + Relatable language 
  • How to create ads that are both effective and “fridge worthy”
  • How iteration is perfection
  • How to start with play to create great ideas

Mentioned in This Episode:

Miki Agrawal

   - Website

   - Instagram

   - Link Tree to Resources


TUSHY

   - Website

   - Instagram


Thinx

   - Website

   - Instagram


Wild

   - Website

   - Instagram


“Do Cool Sh*t” by Miki Agrawal


“Disrupt-Her” by Miki Agrawal


“Zero To $100 Million” on Mindvalley

Cap Con 5
Ryan Daniel Moran

Toto

“Funeral for a Tree” by TUSHY video on YouTube

Butt Con by TUSHY




Transcript:

Brett:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry Podcast. We explore hot topics on eCommerce and digital marketing. We feel feature some of the brightest minds, with some of the SPT perspectives on what it takes to grow your business. Season one of this podcast is built on the old business adage that, what it really takes to succeed is three things. One: have something good to say. Two: say it well. And three: say it often.

Brett:

My guest in this episode is Miki Agrawal. She's the founder of TUSHY, but she's also the entrepreneur behind several other wildly successful companies. I don't know anyone better than Miki at the, have something good to say and say it well, aspects of growth. And so just a couple of accolades. Miki was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People. She was also named by Inc Magazine as one of the Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs. She was also my favorite speaker, and she's also one of the favorite speakers that most of the events that she attends.

Brett:

We're going to dive into some crazy wild stories from her entrepreneur journeys. We're going to learn why she was banned by the New York subway from running ads there, and how she actually overcame that and then ran some pretty powerful ads on the New York subway system. We're going to talk about how she creates events that are just, blow your mind. Like, they had a funeral for a tree, and there's a reason why they did that and got millions of dollars in free press. And she talks about how to craft things that are both artful and fridge worthy, but also effective. And so, I think you're going to absolutely love this interview. And so, lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Miki Agrawal.

Brett:

Over 81% of consumers are opted into text message messages from their favorite brands, and that's where Attentive comes in. Meet Attentive, the company helping thousands of innovative brands connect with their customers through personalized text messaging. Attentive's text marketing platform lets you grow your subscriber list, interact with customers in real time through two-way conversations and drive the war revenue. Brands who use Attentive see $55 in sales for every $1 they spend. See what Attentive can do for you, at attentivemobile.com/omgcommerce. Attentive: drive sales with text message marketing.

Brett:

All right, well today I am abs absolutely thrilled that my guest is Miki Agrawal. Now, I was recently at an event, CapCon 5 in Austin, Texas. My good friend, Ryan Daniel Moran was the host. And there was a star-studded lineup of speakers. Amazing, blow your mind speakers. And I got to say, Miki was probably my favorite. And I hope that some of my other friends that were speaking don't hear this, because I don't want to hurt their feelings. It's just that Miki was amazing. And so, Miki is the founder of a number of really transformative businesses. Most recently, TUSHY. Also, THINX and WILD. She's also author of some amazing best-selling books. Do Cool Sh*t. Disrupt-Her, which I'm actually in the process, I've gone about halfway through it right now. And even though it has "her" in the title, Disrupt-Her, instead of disruptor, it's for dudes too. Right, Miki? And so, I'm actually getting a lot of value out of it. And so, we're going to talk about growth and having an amazing marketing message, and thinking differently and all kinds of great stuff. So Miki, welcome to the show, and how's it going?

Miki:

Yes. I'm so happy to be here with you. And just, the thing that I just can't, I'm just so like, I love is that you have eight children, and you're sitting at the table with 10 people every night for dinner. That just blows my mind.

Brett:

Yeah. The level of noise at the dinner table is sometimes crazy. And we do this thing called highs and lows, where everybody goes around and tells their high of the day. You have to have a high of the day, you don't have to have a low of the day if you don't want to, but it is required to have a high. And the noise level is crazy, but it's also super fun.

Miki:

I love that you do that. That's beautiful, that's amazing.

Brett:

Yeah. So, part of what attracted me to you, Miki, and why I was so thrilled to chat with you afterwards. Is one, you're a master marketer. And the way you craft messages and the way you get attention, it's mind blowing, which is awesome. But you're also like, you believe in strong women, right? And I've got six daughters and I just, I want them to conquer the world. That's probably a weird thing to say, but I want them to just do whatever they feel led and whatever they feel passionate about doing. And so, love the energy you bring and the inspiration you're bringing to young women as well.

Miki:

Six daughters. I mean, it's just, yeah. Like, I think about the food bill just for that dinner, just for those meals, just now. It's just [crosstalk 00:05:10].

Brett:

The food bill is crazy. So I'm happy to talk about that with anyone offline. Yeah. So, when you include groceries and eating out, it's a median household income. It's a lot of money, yeah. But grateful to be able to do it. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is completely [crosstalk 00:05:28].

Miki:

I love it.

Brett:

So yeah, it's awesome. Well, let's talk about a few things. So if you would Miki, give people kind of just the quick background on you. Because we're going to dig into some of the specific messages that you use at TUSHY and things like that. But give people the background. Like, how did you become this, because not only were you my favorite speaker at CapCon, but I've seen, you were voted best speaker at Inc and Fast Company, and some of these other big events. Everybody loves what you have to say. So really, how did you get here?

Miki:

Well, I'm one of three children, and the interesting fun fact about the three of us is that we are all born within one year. So I have an identical twin sister. The third sister, who's 11 months older. So we're actually, we're Irish twins.

Brett:

Yeah, Irish twins and identical twins [crosstalk 00:06:18].

Miki:

Irish triplets.

Brett:

Okay.

Miki:

So we're twins, plus Irish triplets, yeah.

Brett:

It's insane.

Miki:

Yeah. And then we grew up to a Japanese mother and Indian father. So my mother's from Japan, speaks with a thick Japanese accent. My dad is from India, speaks with a very thick Indian accent.

Brett:

I'm doing the audio book of Disrupt-Her. And you do the Indian accent for your dad, an it's just amazing. You do such a good job, yeah.

Miki:

But yeah, his most, the thing they always say is, he says, when he meets somebody, he goes, "Very good vibes". Or, "Very bad vibes." And immediately, because yeah, he can sniff people out just by "their vibes".

Brett:

By "their vibes", okay, I love that.

Miki:

By "their vibes".

Brett:

That's awesome.

Miki:

Yeah. And I grew up in Montreal, Canada. In French Montreal, in the south shore of Montreal. In a town called [foreign language 00:07:12]. And it's like, I grew up in French, like literally, we were the token Asians in the most French neighborhood ever. And so, it was really beautiful to grow up in this true mosaic of cultures. Japan, India, French, American. And then of course, Canada attracts so many, I mean, every culture, every religion, and they're all celebrated. And so of course, growing up in a household of just diversity and then going to school with just all diverse kids, I think we just learned to question everything. And to look at things from different angles. To be like, oh, this is how the Indians look at it, this is how the Japanese look it, how the French look at it, and the Americans look at it, this is how the Canadians look at it.

Brett:

It forces a fresh perspective, rather than just everybody being the same.

Miki:

Totally. So it's a mosaic versus melting pot thinking. And I think that that mosaic thinking creates beautiful picture. When you think about a mosaic image, and it's just this, all these colors and all these textures, and all of the different historical context of things, creates a different frame than just a single pain. So I think I was very blessed in just being born where I was born, to be given the various perspectives. To not just be like, okay, this is the way it is. It's like, wait, is this, or should I question it? And is there a better way, or is there more thoughtful way? Or that kind of thing.

Brett:

When did you realize that, hey, I might be an entrepreneur? Or have you ever? Like, is that really a conscious thought? Like, when did you think, hey, I'm going to build companies? And not just companies, but wildly successful and disruptive companies.

Miki:

Yeah. I mean, I think I'm just genuinely unemployable. I think I'm just like, you're not my Indian father. That kind of vibes. Where like, anytime someone told me what to do, blood would rush to my head and I would just get really frustrated. I would, I don't know, get triggered or something. But no, I think I just always beat to my own drum. And I think because of this questioning, because of this philosophy of looking at things from different perspectives, I think I just always had different ideas that I wanted to put out in the world. That entrepreneurship, when it was introduced to me, I remember, I'll never forget. I met my very first entrepreneur, standing in line in New York City when I was 22 years old, at this Armani party.

Miki:

I was invited to my very first VIP door, or whatever. [crosstalk 00:09:47] And I was like, oh my God, I'm so cool. It was like, Armani. You know, whatever. Back when it was really cool to go to those things. And I remember standing in line, and in front of me was this gentleman who I'd met. And his name was Graham, and he's now since become one of my dearest friends. But I met him randomly, standing in line in front of me then. I was 22, and he was in his mid-thirties when I met him. And I was like, "oh". Like, "What are you up to?"

Miki:

And he's like, "I'm an entrepreneur."

Miki:

And I was like, "What do you mean?"

Miki:

And he is like, "I have my own business." And this is, by the way, in 2001, when entrepreneurship wasn't a school thing. Nobody was getting invested in, it wasn't a thing. I mean, Facebook wasn't even there until 2006.

Brett:

Now it's super trendy. Everybody wants to say entrepreneur, stamped that on their [crosstalk 00:10:33].

Miki:

Now, everyone. But back then, nobody. It was doctor, lawyer, investment banker, management consultant. Going to work for a company. Becoming a whatever at a company. Becoming a person who starts a business was just not even in the lexicon, in the zeitgeist of culture back then.

Miki:

And he was like, "I'm not in firm."

Miki:

I'm like, "What do you mean?"

Miki:

He's like, "I have my own company."

Miki:

I'm like, "Well, what do you do?"

Miki:

And he's like, "Well, I started a company called treehugger.com."

Miki:

And I was like, "Oh, that's cool."

Miki:

And he's like, "And I sold it." I think he sold it to Discovery Channel, whatever.

Miki:

And I was like, "Wow!" And then he, the next day, invited me to this brunch with a bunch of other entrepreneurs. And that's when it was my big ding, ding, ding moment. I can start my own company, I'm going to do that. And I think in life, we just get given these gifts of chance meetings. And either we kind of get opened by it or we close to it. And I was sort of just blasted open by the possibilities of that. And I think that's what really put me on the course of this new way of thinking and being, and then carrying forward.

Brett:

That's amazing. And I do want to, let's give kind of a brief overview of some of the companies. Just to give people some texture and some more context. So your mind was blown, and you're thinking, I could do my own thing. And then you have, and you've been wildly successful. Really at, essentially, everything. But can you give a quick rundown of the companies, and what they've done?

Miki:

Yeah. Well, I will first start by saying, one of the biggest stories that changed the course my life was when I was 22. After that time, 9/11 happened, and that was a huge turning point in my life.

Brett:

Yeah, because you were an investment banker, working down on Wall Street, right?

Miki:

Yes. The World Trade center was my subway stop every single morning. And it I was working at Deutsche Bank, in investment banking. I call it douche bank.

Brett:

Wow. Someone was asking for that, honestly, right? Deutche Bank, it's so close to douche, you're going to make the jokes, yeah.

Miki:

Know what I mean? Yeah. So yeah, when I was there, yeah, 9/11 happened. I was supposed to be there, and 2 World Trade Center was my subway stop every single morning. And I would walk upstairs to 2 World Trade Center, at the cafe there. And I would get tea with my girlfriend, who worked on the 100th floor. And then I would walk across the street to my office, directly across 2 World Trade Center. And then 9/11 happened, and it was the first day of my life, the only day of my life that I slept through my alarm clock.

Brett:

That is crazy and amazing.

Miki:

Yeah. And 700 people in my girlfriend's office died on that day. Two people in my office died. It was one of those, just like, you can't make this shit up. Like, this is not a real movie, that kind of level of unfathomableness.

Brett:

Unfathomable, yeah.

Miki:

Yeah. And so that single experience, again, it's those moments that I kind of really recognize as these turning points in my life. And that was a big turning point in my life. Where I was like, wow, I could die tomorrow. And when you're 22, you don't think about death. I feel like we start thinking about death after we have children, in a lot of ways. And I'm just always making sure I'm not going to die. Do you know? And I'm sure, with your eight children, I don't even know how [inaudible 00:13:50]. You know?

Brett:

Yeah.

Miki:

But death, it's just not a thing, when you're a kid, when you're 22, you're just sort of like, whatever.

Brett:

You're usually not thinking about it at all, yeah.

Miki:

Just not thinking at all. But then, because I had this near potential death experience, and people around me died, and I was just sort of like, wow, this is a real thing. And I really felt my mortality in that moment. And it was like, wow, I got to make every single day count.

Brett:

Got to do something, yeah. We're going to blink and we're going to be 70, right? And so, what are you going to fill your time with now? Yeah.

Miki:

That's right. And so yeah, for me, it was, I wrote down three things. The first was to play soccer professionally, the second was to make movies, and the third was to start a business. And that sort of set me on sort of a total path after 9/11,.I played soccer for the New York Magic, I worked in the film industry for a couple of years, and then I started my first business, which was in the restaurant space. And so, my first business was born out of a stomach ache. We know that famous thing, necessity is the mother of invention.

Brett:

Yes, so true.

Miki:

Yeah. So the first business was born out of a stomach ache, and I couldn't eat pizza anymore. It was my favorite comfort food, but I just couldn't eat anymore because it made me bloated and gassy, and just so gross feeling after I ate it. And it was full of bleached flour, processed cheese, sugar-filled sauces, processed toppings, it was all that. And so yeah, I basically started New York City's very first gluten free alternative pizza concept. And 17 and a half years later, we're still in business. Almost 18 years this year. In November, 18 years.

Brett:

Amazing. And it's called WILD, correct?

Miki:

Called WILD. Just go to @eatdrinkwild on Instagram. We have a couple locations in New York City, and one in Guatemala.

Brett:

And [crosstalk 00:15:42] for surviving the pandemic. I couldn't imagine owning a restaurant during the pandemic in New York City. That had to been just absolutely brutal. So grateful, yeah.

Miki:

It was nuts. My partner Walid is incredible, and he's such an ingenious person. He has lots of [inaudible 00:15:57]. Where actually what we did was, we opened up, on Seamless Web, three restaurants, out of our restaurants. So during the pandemic, not only did we have our regular standard fair, but we opened up two different restaurants, working out of our kitchen. So basically, we made tacos and we did burgers, or whatever, so that people could order from us multiple times a week.

Brett:

Oh, super smart, super [crosstalk 00:16:24].

Miki:

So, take away. And not just have our gluten-free pizza stuff every week, but they would have tacos one night, and different stuff. And so we just opened three different restaurants under the same roof during the pandemic. And then we got the outdoor cafe seating. And that, our business all came back. And it was actually incredible, because it felt like a bit of Europe being in New York, with all the outdoor cafes everywhere, and people walking around with the menu. It was just, it was very romantic, very beautiful. So the rest restaurants was the very first business I learned. I think I learned so much of the thesis around people and psychology in my restaurants, that then led to building Thinks and led to building TUSHY. Both now valued over nine figures, well over nine. And so I, what I learned at WILD was, when I stood outside my restaurant for almost seven years, handing out little pieces of pizza, just handing them out.

Brett:

That's how you grew the business, was samples, yeah.

Miki:

Exactly, yeah. And getting people to try. And I would also test. Like, if I said healthy pizza, people wouldn't come. But if I said, farmed fresh, healthy farm to table pizza, people would be like, oh, what does that mean?

Brett:

Yeah. Nobody wants healthy pizza. That sounds cardboard.

Miki:

Exactly.

Brett:

But farm to table pizza, interesting. And so, you were testing out those messages as people were walking by?

Miki:

AB testing, literally like email, subject heading.

Brett:

I love that.

Miki:

You know? And it was such, seven years of, it was genuinely like double PhD in human psychology and what led people to come closer to attract them, or to kind of move them back. And it was a really interesting thing. Just by standing, literally person by person, like hand to hand combat, just really getting to know people.

Brett:

Fascinating.

Miki:

And that experience led to this thesis, understanding, that again, built THINX and TUSHY. Which was having a best in class product. Like, if someone bit into it and they're like, Ugh.

Brett:

It doesn't matter, yeah.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:18:30] my underwear. Like tight now, I'm wearing my period-proof underwear. It was so amazing because, I started my period today, I went to my bathroom. You're like, I have six daughters, don't worry about it.

Brett:

So, it does not bother me in the least. Like, yeah, this is a common conversation around my house, yeah.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

Think of the podcast first, though. First to confess on the podcast, which I embrace this, I welcome, this is awesome.

Miki:

First of all, every single human being is here because of a women's period. So, you're welcome. You know?

Brett:

Yes.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:18:59] Be more uncomfortable. Yeah. So today, this morning, I went to the bathroom and I was kind of like, there's a little bit of blood everywhere. And so I basically sat on my toilet, used my TUSHY bidet, washed myself clean, And then put my THINX underwear on. And I was just like, ah.

Brett:

You're like, this is amazing.

Miki:

I solved my own problem twice. Just now, in this moment. And that's when I was like, yeah, this is why these businesses are doing well. Because genuinely, they truly, truly, truly solve problems that we face every single day.

Brett:

Authentically solving the problem, not just identifying a problem and kind of addressing it just for a cash grab, but you authentically solve the problem.

Miki:

Needed it, yeah. Which is why in my book, Do Cool Sh*t, I talk about the three questions I always ask myself before starting any business. The first question is, what sucks in my world? That's to start with me, a problem in my world that sucks. And then question number two is, but does it suck for a lot of people? Because if it just sucks for me, then I'm kind of a diva or whatever, and who cares. [crosstalk 00:20:04].

Miki:

And then the third question, which I think is the most important. Which is, can I be passionate about this issue, cause, or community, for a really long time. We know the saying, it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. People don't want to sit in that discomfort for a really, really long time, and then they quit or decide to leave early, and they don't kind of get through it. I think about the entrepreneurs, I think about the musicians, I think about the actors, I think about all the people in my life who've made it. And they've made it because they've kind of grinded for a really long time. And they made through it, and they just stuck with their passion, they stuck with the thing they truly believed in. And so I think, yeah, what sucks in my world, has sucked for a lot of people. Can I be passionate about this issue? I think the passion piece is the most important. [crosstalk 00:20:49]

Brett:

It's super important. And this is something I think you may have shared at CapCon already with somebody else. But, tactics without the underlying passion are worthless or it's going to be short lived. Tactics only work for so long. Like, you've got to have that passion and that drive to push through all the messy and confusing and heartache and suffering that you have to go through as a business owner. And so yeah, the passion is super, super important.

Brett:

Now, why do you think you're so attracted to difficult things to sell? So we'll start with pizza first. So, selling healthy, gluten free pizza. When you started the business, gluten free wasn't trendy. Like, gluten free wasn't a selling point. It's not something you want to stick on all your labels. Because people were like, what are you even talking about?

Miki:

Yeah. And no one was talking about farm to table, no one was talking about [crosstalk 00:21:36], no one was talking about seasonal.

Brett:

None of that.

Miki:

This is in 2003-2004. I mean, it was still super nascent, all of those conversations, it was extremely different.

Brett:

Yeah. And when you started THINX, which is period-proof underwear, no one was really talking about periods. Or, not wanting to talk about it. And maybe some people don't want to talk about now. [crosstalk 00:21:50] But yeah, you just got to get over it. But then also TUSHY, a bidet. I still remember so many conversations just as stuff started to get in the news. People were like, "Oh, bidets are nasty."

Brett:

And I'm like, "How is it nasty to use water to clean yourself versus dry paper?" But anyway, you're choosing these categories that are difficult. Like, it's new to people or taboo to people. Why do you think [crosstalk 00:22:13]?

Miki:

Well, it's a culture shift that I'm interested in. I think from a creative perspective and as a creative challenge. Like, how do you change people's behavior, is the hardest change to make. And then how, how do you utilize innovation and creativity to do that? And so I think from a creative kind of person's perspective, it's like, wow, this is a really fun challenge to tackle. How do you get someone to change their behavior when it comes to food? When it comes to habits? Daily habits that they've been doing their whole lives, not even their whole lives, but for generations. To get them to try something new, and not only try it, but adopt it fully. I mean, that is why Toto hasn't made it to America yet. That is why the tampons and pads, which were invented by men, which is fine. But not that fine, cause they're made for women. So it's just, it's like, those are the most pervasive products in the world, because it's taboo. And so, how do we enter these conversations in a way that's artful? In a way that's accessible, and we're using the best in class product?

Miki:

And I think those, my thesis that I learned from the pizza, from the restaurants was that was that, was the three prong. Prong number one is best in class product. It has to be a best in class product. It has to be a big day that, when I clip to my toilet, it actually feels good, it looks good.

Brett:

It adds to the appearance of your bathroom. Like, it makes your bathroom feel better, cleaner.

Miki:

It makes it more upscale and cool. It makes people want to bring you to their bathroom when you're having a dinner party. You know like that? Or when you're wearing THINX, like when I'm wearing my underwear right now, I feel really sexy in them. I feel really taken care of in them. I know that I'm protect, I know that this product works. So, best in class product. The pizza, when I eat it, it tastes the most delicious pizza. It doesn't even taste gluten and free, it tastes the most delicious pizza you've ever tasted. So, best in class product, no question, that is baseline. Second prong, to really shift culture, is art. Using art to really challenge conversations.

Miki:

And I talked a little bit about this at CapCon. When I remember putting our first TUSHY ads up, or our first period ads up, out in the world, whether online or offline. People's first reaction were like, wow, that's so beautiful. And then their second reaction's, oh my God, they're talking about poop, they're talking about periods. Like, oh my [crosstalk 00:24:49]. But their very first reaction was leaning into the art and the beauty of that. And I think that, that opens up people's hearts and minds. Art just does that, and for everyone at every level, does that. It opens, art just gives people something to lean into. And I think when they're leaning into something, it makes them be curious. And so the first thing is, can we design from a lens of art? So, we hired all artists, we hired all creatives. I think art is such a beautiful lens to shift people's perspective. I mean, that's why people go to museums, people look at magazines, people look at nature as art. And a place to go and really open up our souls, open up our perspectives, change the way we look and see things.

Miki:

And I think that really lends itself to giving people the space to question their existing thinking. And I think that's all we need to do, is give them that space to question, and they can make the decision for themselves. And so then, that's the artfulness, the best in class innovation.

Miki:

And then the third part is the accessible, relatable language. I think we so often want to be so heady, and so clinical, and so technical, and so medical, and so academic, and sound really smart. And make everyone feel we've been and doing all this patent pending work and whatever. And it's just like, people don't care. They want to know, does it work? Does it make me feel good? Does it support me and does it support my life? Like, what's the point of this? Like, I don't care about your terminology.

Brett:

Patent pending.

Miki:

And like, I don't care about high sounding or smart. Like, whatever. And then, I tested all of that. That was all tested. I learned that, the more we speak from our space of truth, the more we speak from our place of that lit fire inside. We talked about that at CapCon as well. The more we speak from that real, true, authentic place, people respond. Because it's real, it's true. It's not coming from like, I wonder what they want me to say? And I'm just going to say it that way. That doesn't feel good, to receive that kind of inauthentic message. Like, imagine if you're receiving a text message from a best friend. And you can tell when they're being inauthentic or they're authentic. You can tell when your sister or brother is being authentic, you can tell when your wife or husband is being inauthentic or authentic.

Miki:

And so it's just that, can we write copy, can we text, can we write our messaging in the same way as we're texting our best friend? And I think that is such an important way to think about messaging to people. Because we're just being bombarded with advertisements, with so much people shouting at us. And we don't want that. We want authentic truth, we just want that juicy truth. And I think that truth is really what, that truth, coupled with art, coupled with the right beautiful aesthetic, the right innovation that you would want to use where, on a daily basis. That together, creates change, creates culture shift. And I've seen that time and time again. Across Wild, across THINX and across TUSHY. All three of them share the same philosophy of best in class product, artful aesthetic design across every touchpoint of our brand, and accessible, relatable language across every touchpoint of the brand.

Brett:

I love it so much. And really, when you combine all of that, plus you go back to the starting point from your first book, Do Cool Sh*t, it has to be addressing something that sucks for you and sucks for a lot of people. Right? So it's got to be that. And so then, when it's addressing a real issue, and then you've got the artful design and best in class, and it works. And you got the accessible, relatable language. All that comes together and it just works.

Brett:

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Brett:

What's so interesting and what was so powerful for me. And I remember talking to the guy that was sitting next to me at CapCon, and I made a couple comments about this. I've been in the ad world for a long time. So there's the brand building space of advertising, which is interesting. There's direct response, which I followed and studied for a long time. And I've worked in the infomercial space and stuff. But you have this ability to create stuff that looks beautiful. Like, you just want to look at it. It's an ad for a bidet, but you want to look at it. But, it also kind of makes you say, I'd like to try that. Like, I would like a clean butt too. I would to do...

Brett:

Because I think sometimes people, they go too far into the art. And it's abstract, and like, I don't even know what you're trying to say to me. Or I'm talking about patent pending, and all aloof, and who cares. So, how do you strike that balance and how do you create something that's fridge-worthy? As you'd say, artful and fridge worthy. But also, that connects and makes you say, I want to buy that underwear. Or, I want to buy that bidet. How do you do that?

Miki:

Yeah. Well so first, just to quickly unpack the word fridge-worthy, for those who don't know what that term means. Fridge-worthy simply means the idea that, you know when you walk into your home, and you go to your kitchen and you see your fridge? You go out, before, you go to grab a beer or whatever from your fridge. You see your fridge, and on your fridge are emblems of your life. You see pictures of your family members, of your eight children in your 10 person family.

Brett:

They take up the whole fridge, exactly.

Miki:

Yeah [inaudible 00:31:16] all over. You have invitations to weddings, you have little postcards from family members, you have little pictures of nieces and nephews. Or whatever it is, right?

Miki:

Hi, Stan.

Miki:

And my challenge to my team has always been, can you create something so beautiful, so artful and so personal, that it can make the small real estate on your fridge? That it can really make that small personal space on your fridge, that it can take up that space. That you can make something for TUSHY or THINX so beautiful, something so cool, that it can live in your home in some way. And so we design from that lens. And from that lens that, again, hits you personally and makes you feel something.

Brett:

It does cause you to shift and think differently. Now it's not just about, well, I'm going to choose blue. Like, you're thinking about everything differently.

Miki:

Yeah. Like, what is it that's going to make, how does it make me feel? And that's a different lens to creating.

Brett:

For sure.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

So then, how do you blend fridge-worthy then with some true sales power, or some power to make people say, I want to buy this.

Miki:

So I always say to my team, in the art of it, I still need to know. I mean, it depends. Like you said, there's top of funnel stuff, where you want to create intrigue and mystery. And that kind of stuff is like, if you look at our TUSHY Bellagio spot that we just shot. I just shot this ad, where I finally figured out, where my friend is this genius rigging person. And he rigged 10 toilets with bidets on them, with our TUSHY Ace bidets on them. That we can play them like a piano.

Brett:

Like the Bellagio fountains?

Miki:

Bellagio fountain.

Brett:

I got to see that, then.

Miki:

I'll share, I'll text with you right after this. It's crazy. And so basically, it plays. So we made this like, (Beethoven's 5th). And just this wildly weird thing. And we don't show you very much about it, but it just says at the tagline at the end. Which makes you mysterious and makes you want to click and see what the hell this is. So there's that mystery and intrigue, which hooks you into wanting to know more.

Brett:

It's a curiosity play, yeah.

Miki:

Pure curiosity play, pure top funnel. Just stuffing people in. And then we spend the rest of the time, really converting them to the bottom, bringing them down the funnel. Educating them on the product, the value propositions and all of that. So that's the one strategy.

Miki:

The other strategy for top of funnel. I always think about prospecting. I always think about, how do you get people to both fall in love with our brand, with our ethos, with our playfulness, with our just [foreign language 00:33:56], with our love of life? They can feel it in this thing, but they're also understanding, what is the product? How does it work? Why do I need it? So it really answers those questions. And maybe like, why do I need it?

Miki:

Like, we just shot another commercial with the singing toilets, with the kind of the playing toilets. Where, it's this very Wes Anderson, weird thing. Where it's like, five people laying, they stick their heads in the toilets at once. And they're laying on these, which kind of represents the heated seat. And then all of a sudden, we start spraying. Like, I start kind of smushing ice cream on this guy's face. And then, this one woman takes a chocolate cake and squishes it in her white glove. And then she smacks it on the ass of white pants on this guy. So it kind of represents all taking a shit, basically, the chocolate looks like shit. And then the sprays go off, and then we get clean. And it's this debaucherous clean thing. And then we press the blow dryer, and then we're getting blow dried. So you're seeing the value, of how it works. Like, you're seeing, we press the remote, and then the nozzles go off and it starts spraying. It's clean. And then you press the dry, then it just blow dries it. So you see slow-mo, the hair blow dried. We walk out frame. So you're kind of, you're getting the idea of what this thing is. But you're still intrigued, tickled. You feel good vibes, you feel "very good vibes". You know?

Brett:

You're probably laughing. You're probably like, I can't believe I'm watching this. But it's also product demonstration in a really fun and creative and crazy way, which is super cool.

Miki:

Yes. And so, it's a lot of things. And I always look at, what are our best performing ads? Our best performing ads are the edutaining ones. Ones that are hilarious, and the ones that educate. Tells you, why you need it, how it works and how to use it.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense.

Miki:

You know? But in a really simple, easy way. And so, yeah, it is an art and science, and they have to go hand in hand. And, creative and marketing always do sometimes have this natural tension, but I think it's a good tension if you have the right leadership.

Brett:

It's a healthy tension.

Miki:

A healthy tension, yeah.

Brett:

Love it. So one thing you talk about a lot, and I remember you showing these examples. That, you'll use actual statements from real customers. And you also talk about campfire stories, sharing campfires stories as a team or whatever, to kind of stir up creativity. So, can you talk about that a little bit? Like, how do you use customer statements in your ads? And then, what about campfire stories?

Miki:

Yeah. So, I always think like, our best advocates are our customers, our users, who love our products. It just, it makes so much sense. And so many times, companies are scared to, they don't want to bother their customers. But if customers love it, and you're asking them, hey, just fill in the blank. THINX is blank. Or, TUSHY.

Brett:

This is my favorite, yeah. Just fill in the blank. TUSHY is, fill in the blank.

Miki:

Fill in the blank. TUSHY is, blank. Just fill in the blank. And within 24 hours, we got 1000 responses. For things specifically, it was, THINX is Mary Poppins in my pants. THINX is strength, freedom and dignity for all women. TUSHY is...

Brett:

One of them was, eye candy butt bliss. I wrote it down. I got the thing.

Miki:

Yeah, eye candy butt bliss. It's like, TUSHY: you could eat off my butt hole. You know? And just like, my rusty starfish has never been so clean. Stuff like that, where it's crazy, hilarious, random.

Brett:

Especially when you know that it was a real customer that said it. It's like, okay, that's super fun. And I'm now totally entertained by reading this.

Miki:

Yeah, by real. And we always say, name of the customer, from a real pooping human. And so, we now use these campaigns, as actual campaigns and taglines for our company. Because our customers know what's best. And we don't have to oftentimes scratch our heads to ask ourselves, what creativity can we use? We can literally just reach out to our customer base, and they'll give us, and they're delighted in giving it to us. And if they see it in the world, they'll be like, oh my God, that's my line. And they now feel even more connected.

Brett:

And then they totally will put that on the fridge. They will totally put that piece, and share with everyone they know.

Miki:

And they'll share it with all their friends, tell everyone they know. And it engages people, attracts them. The same thing with PR. I talk about that a lot. Like, we do a ton of inbound marketing, inbound PR. And we've gone viral so many different times. And it's because, again, studying the psychology of people. Like, how do you create intrigue? How do you create mystery? Where, they want to complete the storyline. So often, people are like, send press releases, and hope that the press will write about them. But it just never works. It piles up on people's desks. Versus, you send these mysterious boxes where you have to assemble this thing. Or like, unscramble a riddle. So recently, we just launched our TUSHY Ace, part of our electric bidet seat with the most beautiful remote in the world.

Brett:

It's the heated seat, right? Which by the way, if you've never experienced a heated toilet seat, it is pretty magical, it really is.

Miki:

Heated seat, warm water, blow dries your butt. Best blow dryer on the market. It's not like where you have to still use toilet paper, because this is a nice strong blow dryer. And it looks an Apple product. It's the most gorgeous remote. Our design, it's just, it's the most beautiful product. And so, we were launching this. And our team, we were like, okay, we are going to create mystery around this product. And so, we put together these deck of cards. And these deck of cards that we made, we made actual TUSHY deck of cards, designed by hand, by my designers. And we had this instruction sheet for the press. And we said, pull out all the royal flushes.

Brett:

Nice. Royal flushes.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:40:03] And so, they'd pull out the royal flushes. And they had to unscramble the royal flushes, based on the riddles that they were given. Like, for the diamond royal flushes, this is the riddle. And you had to unscramble it based on the different words. The letters that appeared on the 10, jack, queen, king, ace. There was a letter hidden, that then unscrambled based on the riddle. So then, it made the press have to work hard to actually unscramble and send the responses. And then once they get the TUSHY Ace product and install it, they're going to feel they've accomplished something. Like, they actually, they feel so much better.

Brett:

And they're so engaged, and you've delighted them.

Miki:

They're so engaged.

Brett:

You've just made their day in so many ways.

Miki:

Instead of just sending them a product, review it. You're almost like, dance monkey, dance. Versus like, let me bring you into this fun, mysterious story with us. And we're going to be surprised and delighted together. And we're going this extra mile for you, to make you just regale in the delight. And I think that, that is what people want in life. They want to be just surprised and delighted. They want to be regaled. And like, "Oh!". And giggle. They want their heart to flutter.

Brett:

They want magic, they want mystery, they want excitement, they want to be kind of caught up in something. Right? Not just reading.

Miki:

Who doesn't want to be caught up in this ,"oh', moment. And it feels so good and it just enlivens our being.

Brett:

So, how did that work out? How was the press' reaction to that?

Miki:

Well I mean, this one, we just sent them out actually last week, so we're still underway. But guess what? The fact that we had almost, I think it was like 20 press asked for these cards. Because first, we were like, we're going to send you a mysterious package. Are you willing to take it? We need your home address, because we're COVID times. And so we had, almost 20 press gave us their home addresses, to send them the mystery packages. And so that already means that they're hooked. And we did this before, for THINX. Where we had people go and smash bricks, and they had to open the bricks and look for these invitations. And 80 people showed up to our event, after they smashed the THINX. 80 press RSVPed. We had another event, where we poked a hold in eggs, and put these mystery scrolls in them. And then all 20 press showed up to our event, because they wanted to crack open the egg and look at the scroll. And we said, you can't open them until you come to the event.

Miki:

So it's just, creating the mystery, creating the intrigue. It's human nature that, when they start something, they want to finish it. They don't like incomplete story lines, they like to complete story lines. And when there's an incompletion, there's still this intrigue, this mystery that keeps you wanting more. And so, we're in that storyline right now, with the TUSHY Ace, and I'll let you know how it goes, but I feel very confident.

Brett:

Yeah. That idea of opening and closing loops. Once a loop is open, people want to close and they want to figure out. They want to solve the mystery. That's why cliffhangers work, and all of those things.

Miki:

And in relationship and romance. When you're romancing, you're seducing. It's the same kind of storyline. It's so much fun, that game.

Brett:

Yeah. And I know you've got to go, so I've got two quick things. But I also want to mention, just briefly. You talked about two stories, two events. Because you're the master of doing these just crazy, off the wall events, that also work. So, one was ButtCon, and one was the Funeral for a Tree, for TUSHY. Are those outlined in one of your books? Because even if nothing else...

Miki:

Not yet.

Brett:

They're not? Oh, dang it. Okay.

Miki:

Not yet, but my next, maybe. I might have a Do Cool Sh*t sequel, and talk about TUSHY in that.

Brett:

We'll highlight that, or I'll find the story, that I can put. Anyway, I'll let the audience [crosstalk 00:43:41].

Miki:

I'm happy to share them really quick. I can share them over the next couple minutes, no problem.

Brett:

Okay, just do it quickly over the next two minutes, yeah.

Miki:

Sure, yeah. So again, it's all about creating unorthodox events, unorthodox gatherings. That make people go, "Huh? What are you talking about? What is this?" So we held two kind of events before COVID happened. And we're going to now resume them once COVID's now finally, hopefully at bay. But one of them was called A Funeral for a Tree. And the other one was called ButtCon. The Funeral for a Tree is, we actually held a real funeral for a dead tree at the Judson Memorial Church, which is the biggest memorial church in all of New York City. In Washington square park. We had a 400 seat capacity, and we sold out. And we had a 25 part choir. We had Matthew Morrison, the actor, is one of our dear friends, playing the reverend. We had his wife, Renee, who is one of my best friends as well, who played Maple, the wife of the dead tree. It was just the most wild experience. And the people who came...

Brett:

People were reading eulogies. Which, I got to hear one. It was hilarious. Just super funny and well done.

Miki:

I mean, it was just comedy. It was sad, it was beautiful, it was inspiring. It was all of the above, and people left so inspired to save trees. [crosstalk 00:45:14] And to do it by buying TUSHY, by doing all kinds. You know? But it wasn't a marketing...

Brett:

It didn't feel like a sales pitch. It didn't feel a, "Hey, here's your coupon for TUSHY." As you walk out the doors.

Miki:

For one second. It didn't feel like. It just felt TUSHY opened my eyes to these important things. [crosstalk 00:45:31].

Brett:

We are killing a lot of trees because of toilet paper, and here's how we can help solve that.

Miki:

That's right. 50 million trees are cut down every single year because of toilet paper consumption. 30 million cases of urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids. All these health hygiene issues, not to mention planetary issues. All these things could be alleviated by just using a bidet, using TUSHY, under $100 product. You know? But we didn't even say any of that stuff at our Funeral for a Tree event. That was, we just put on this amazing event, brought to you by TUSHY. And people just were like, this was the most inspiring theatrical event I've ever been to.

Brett:

You get an insane press on it.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:46:07] Amazing press. And same thing with ButtCon. We held this event called ButtCon, which was all things butt-related. We had butt lift surgeons, we had anal reconstructive surgeons, we had anal porn stars, we had cake sitters who makes money on sitting on cakes as a living. We did a class on making money on your ass. I mean, just crazy things. Like, we had Kim Kardashian's physical butt trainer, came and showed us how to do butt exercise. We had twerking champions doing the twerk, teaching people how to twerk. Just name. We had gut doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, who is one of my dearest friends. And he did a whole gut and butt session on how poo the right poops, and what the right poops look like. We had, again, every walk of life in the realm that touched the butt, or gut, or the poop space was there. And we had 49 press, of the top, top, top, top, top press came to the event. Because they were like, what the hell is ButtCon? We had to see for ourselves.

Brett:

They said, "What are you doing?"

Miki:

What are you doing here?

Brett:

And the press you got from both those events, to pay for that kind of exposure would be almost impossible. But you got it because you did some crazy stuff.

Miki:

Yeah. It was truly, again, another reminder that just, what you put in. When you put in, like, if you build it, they will come. And you have to build spectacles. Again, things that surprise and delight. Things that make people go, I need to go and see what this is about. And that's the most important thing.

Brett:

I love that, I love it. So I know, you've got to go. So just kind of in closing. If people are listening to this and they're like, I need more Miki Agrawal in my life. And so, where can they, one, go to find your books? But also, just experience your marketing. Because hopefully, this has opened your eyes a little bit. Like, you need to pay attention to what Miki is doing from a marketing standpoint, you're going to learn a lot. So, how can people get more Miki in their life?

Miki:

Yes. Well first, you can also always come check me out on Instagram where I answer most people's questions pretty directly. Like, people have questions, I'm pretty good about responding. So Instagram, just @mikiagrawal. You can also go to mikiagrawal.com. If you subscribe to my mikiagrawal.com page, you'll actually get one disruptive move every week to do for yourself and for your business. So it's 52 disruptive moves. So that's just on mikiagrawal.com. And of course go to helloTUSHY.com. Check it out, get a TUSHY bidet. It's the best gift of all time. Holidays, it's the gift. It's just the best gift you can do for yourself. I mean, period, end of story. From a health high hygiene, confidence, feeling sexy, feeling good perspective. And then you can also, oh, if you want to learn about the strategies. I mean, definitely, Do Cool Sh*t, Disrupt-Her, check out my books. But then, if you want to actually learn about all of my tactics, of all of my strategy and building my companies from zero to $100 million plus, I built an actual course called Zero to a $100 million on Mindvalley.

Brett:

Mindvalley, I'll link to that in the show notes.

Miki:

If you go to my link in bio on my Instagram, I link to a free masterclass, a one hour masterclass which goes into a lot of these campaigns. But then, it also links to the quest, the Mindvalley quest, Zero to a $100 million. So, definitely check it.

Brett:

Beautiful. Got to check it out. I got to check that out. I got to watch that. And I'm going through Disrupt-Her right now. I absolutely love it, I highly recommend it. I like the audio version. I'm an auditory learner. And you narrate the books, so I get to listen to more Miki as I'm driving around. So that's been awesome as well. So Miki, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for doing this. I've been inspired, and got some new ideas cooking around in my head. I know other people have too. So, really, really appreciate it.

Miki:

Yay. I was happy to be here.

Brett:

Awesome, thank you so much. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What do you think about the show? What do you want to hear more of? Less of? Let us know. And until next time, thank you for listening.

Brett:

Are you a D2C brand spending over six figures a month on paid media? If so, then listen up. My agency, OMG Commerce, and I have worked with some of the top eCommerce brands over the years. Including Boom, Native, Groove, Monan, Organifi and dozens more. And every year, we audit hundreds of Google, YouTube and Amazon ad accounts. And we always find either significant opportunities for growth, or wasted ad spend to cut, or both. For example, are you missing YouTube ads? Whatever you're spending on top of funnel Facebook, you should be able to spend 30 to 50% of that or more on YouTube, with similar returns. So if you're spending 300,000 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a 100,000 to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit omgcommerce.com to request a free strategy session, or visit our resource page and get some of our free guides loaded with some of best strategies for YouTube Ads, Google Shopping, Amazon DSP and more. Check it all out at omgcommerce.com.

The Creative Process to Supercharge Your Facebook & IG Ads with Nick Shackleford
:
Nick Shackleford

The Creative Process to Supercharge Your Facebook & IG Ads with Nick Shackleford

Nick Shackelford was a pro soccer player for the LA Galaxy turned online marketing super star. You’ve probably seen him featured in FOUNDR magazine or speaking on stage of the wildly successful event he co-founded - Geek Out. 

I first met him when we both spoke at Ezra Firestone’s event in Denver several years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. Nick is a master of media buying. He knows how to build agencies. And he has a really fresh take on creatives. We go deep into his creative process in this episode. Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How a lack of diversity in your ads could be killing your results.
  • Nick’s agency’s creative process. This is pure GOLD.
  • How to use Amazon reviews to jump start your creative process - This strategy is so simple, so effective, you’ll kick yourself for not having used it.
  • How a tool called Monkey Learn can help you key in on the right words and hooks to use with your audience.
  • Why audience targeting is nearly dead and creative is KING.
  • How Nick uses Creative Strategist and why you should consider one too.
  • How to work with the algorithm rather than against it.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Nick Shackelford

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

Geek Out
   - Website

   - Events


Konstant Kreative

Structured Agency

Design Pickle

No Limit Creatives

Penji

Video Husky

Chubbies

Facebook Dynamic Creative

Josh Durham

Groove Life

Aligned Growth Management

Necklet

Monkey Learn Word Cloud

Luca + Danni

Northbeam

Triple Whale

James Van Elswyk



Transcript:

Brett:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry Podcast, where we explore hot takes in e-commerce and digital marketing. We feature some of the brightest guests with the spiciest perspectives on how to grow your business online.

Brett:

In this episode, we talk about the creative process that will supercharge your Facebook and Instagram ads. My guest is Nick Shackelford. You've probably seen Nick on stage at one of your favorite e-commerce events, or you've seen him featured in Foundr Magazine or in a host of other places online. More about Nick in just a minute. In this episode, we talk about the fact that audience marketing is nearly dead and why creative is almost all that matters. We talk about how Nick uses creative strategists and how you should consider using one too. We talk about how Nick use Amazon reviews to kickstart the creative process. This approach is so simple, so effective, so powerful, you'll kick yourself for not having used it before. We'll also talk about a tool that you can use to choose the right words and the right hooks for your ads. Plus, we'll unpack Nick's entire creative strategy. So lean in, buckle up, and please enjoy this interview with Nick Shackelford.

Brett:

The Spicy Curry Podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, attentive, One Click Upsell, Zipify Pages, and Payability.

Brett:

Well, I am absolutely geeking out about this episode and this guest. That was a little bit of a pun, you'll find out more about that in a minute. But, longtime friend of mine, absolute rockstar in the space. If you're paying attention to digital marketing at all, you've probably heard of this guy or seen this guy or you've heard the name. And so, today I'm absolutely thrilled to have Nick Shackelford, aka The Shack, on the podcast. And we're going to dive deep into really several things related to marketing. And if you've been listening to this season one of the Spicy Curry Podcast, we're really talking about three things, right? Have something good to say, say it well, say it often. Regardless of what changes in the online world, you've got to do those things. And so we're going to talk about what's working now, what's not working now, how to crush it like Shack does.

Brett:

And so a couple of interesting things about Shack for those that may not know, he was a professional soccer player for the LA Galaxy, and then decided, "You know what? I want my field to be online marketing rather than running around the soccer field." And so we actually met. We met at Ezra Firestones event, right, Shack? We both spoke at Ezra Firestone's event. I don't remember where that was or when that was. Was it maybe Denver, I don't know, three or four years ago?

Nick:

It was. It was Colorado.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. And I just remembered two things about you. One, you had an amazing strategy for influencer marketing on Facebook, two, you were rocking a killer hoodie, and three, you just had this swagger about you. And then as I've known you over the years, you always have a killer hoodie on. So what is the secret to getting great hoodies?

Nick:

Oh man, I actually am wearing one of them right now. This is an appropriate hoodie when you're just working at home 24/7. So this is [inaudible 00:03:41], which is another e-commerce brand that if you guys are in the space, they definitely do some interesting things. You should definitely talk to Davies. He's a smart, smart guy as well.

Brett:

Would love that intro, let's talk to him. You look like you're ready for a mountain expedition and/or you're ready just to chill at home and be super cozy.

Nick:

I like options, so the fact that I'm able to do both at a will is what I want to play with. But no, what you do, it's been fun to watch the growth of this, especially with the people that are doing it for a long time, because sticking with your theme of say it often, those that are usually saying it often are able to continue to be around because they've been preaching the same thing consistently. It might change a little bit, which trust me, I think 2022 so far, I mean, we're only 19 days into it. But yeah, there are a lot of things that have changed over the times, but we haven't stopped saying the same things, right?

Nick:

We talked about this at GeekOut. You came and you were like, "Hey, this is the consistent stuff that you have to do." And it's shocking... Maybe it isn't shocking, maybe it isn't. People forget what they have to continually do, and so reminding them over and over and over, they just might not be ready to hear it. So I always say, you always start with the basis so everybody's at the same page, but then you can get really to the nitty-gritty stuff, which you do so well, so I see you, brother, on this.

Brett:

Love it, man. Love it. So let's do this, we're going to dive into all the stuff you're doing right now on Facebook and Instagram and other platforms and what your creative genius is. And got an episode in season one here with Justin Brooke, my man, talking GDN, but I know I've seen him publicly say, "If you're not paying attention to Nick Shackelford, you're missing out, because Nick or The Shack knows what he's talking about." So tell me about GeekOut, or tell the audience. I know about GeekOut. I spoke at the last one in LA, and it was fantastic. I had so much fun, so much fun connecting with your group, with your audience. I could really nerd out or geek out. But tell me about that event and kind of what's ahead for this year.

Nick:

I absolutely will. Yeah, I was very fortunate you made it out there. GeekOut started five years ago now, and it started with the fact that I couldn't go to my partner and tell her, "Oh, babe, look at these campaigns. Oh my gosh, isn't this great?" Roll her eyes, she just didn't really care as much. And then [inaudible 00:06:04] James, he felt the same way. So we were geeking and nerding on all these things. We have a different vibe about ourselves, and what I mean... I literally have to explain this. We have the ability to deliver content and aggregate a room of people that want to learn, make money, and continue to build their business, but still feel open to talk about, "Hey, my employee just sued me," or "I'm going through this issue with my partner," or "I'm going...." these really intimate things that you don't feel comfortable expressing unless you're in a room that's safe and comfortable.

Nick:

And it just started happening organically, because I'm that way, right? I'm okay with things being very public. There's a couple things that I don't want to have super public, but I'm pretty much 99% out there on every channel because I do believe building in public builds relation, and there was no better way for us to do this except doing it in person. So this started, again, five years ago, and I remember we did it in Las Vegas literally on a couch. We thought we were renting a mansion, of course. Like all things in Vegas, you thought it was, and we figured what it really was. We got there, and I remember there was a putt-putt. One of the selling propositions on Airbnb was, "Oh, use our little putting green, and it was amazing." It was two holes, and I'm like, "Oh my God, what are we're going to do?"

Nick:

So we had a good run, but the thing that we never lacked was the quality of content. And so we've ran it back. We've done Tel Aviv. We've done Barcelona. We've done LA, Miami, New York, and we're gearing up for this year. We will be the only event that will do, I think, double digits of events this year. We're planning for 10. I think we'll probably, knock on wood because of where the world is currently at, get about six. And the first one starts in Dubai right before Affiliate World, and then we'll bring it back in for San Diego and Miami. Brett, I think I told you this before, it's the one business that I have that makes me the least amount of money but brings me the most amount of happiness, because you truly get a seed connection, and it's something that we've really, really gotten away from in the world for the various reasons that all of us are experiencing together, but it's just become way more important to me.

Brett:

Yeah, it was just phenomenal. I can't wait. I've been talking to my team about it. I've been bugging you for dates, because I'm blocking these out. I'm coming to speak at as many of these as I can or attend those that I can't speak at. It was just an amazing place to be, other like-minded, super smart marketers. I know you've had this experience. You were talking about talking to your partner. You can't really talk about ROAS. She doesn't care, right? I can't talk about ROAS to my wife. She glazes over. But you become acutely aware of how many acronyms we use in this space, right? ROAS, LTV, AOV, CLV. It's never ending, but this is your people. You can geek out about any of those things, but you can also talk about deeper stuff, people stuff, preparing for exits, buying companies. It's an awesome group, testament to you and to James, but just high level people, man. I would put it on the short list. If you could only attend a couple events this year, make sure one of them-

Nick:

[inaudible 00:09:22].

Brett:

... is GeekOut. I can edit this out later if I need to. Is there a rebrand coming too? Is it going to be GeekOut, is going to be something else? Or should we talk about that?

Nick:

Yeah, absolutely, we should. It's going to be called a GeekUp for two reasons. One, we have to level up, and so adding in that geek element is something that we still want to keep. And two, there was already a trademark called GeekOut Events. So as much of the branding I want you guys to be like, "Oh wow, that's so clever," I'm like, "Well, we kind of got into a situation."

Brett:

We're geeking out and leveling up. We're geeking up. This is amazing. Yeah, that's [inaudible 00:09:58]. Well, its going to be... I don't care what you call it, but GeekUp is super cool too. So if you attend only a few events, make sure one of them is GeekUp. And so I'll link to everything in the show notes. You can google it and check it out and stuff like that too. So fantastic, man. Any other notes on the event itself?

Nick:

Well, okay, so the segue into what I'm focused on a lot right now outside of the three businesses is we started GeekUp because it was about sharing and learning and getting that feedback of what's happening, and that led me to Konstant Kreative. We have almost our first year under our belts, and it's purely content because... Dude, you're a YouTube guy. You do good YouTubes. We don't do YouTubes, but we do a lot of Facebook, and we do a lot of Instagram, and we do a lot of TikTok, and we do a lot of Snapchat. And I used to be such a big teacher and proponent of strategies and hacks and tactics. I'll raise my hand here, I was one of the biggest people talking about various hacks and strategies 2017, '18, '19. 2020, I got a little quieter. 2020, I got real quiet. In 2022, I'm on that same quiet band because it just isn't as sustainable as it once was. I don't want to say we did this on purpose, but I like to think I did or had a feeling, my spider senses, for the new Marvel movie, which is fantastic, is tingling, and I was like, "Dude-

Brett:

That is a good movie. And actually, quick side note, the new, or new-ish, depending on when you're listening to this, Spiderman movie got us into the whole Marvel series. We watched Spiderman No Way Home, and then now we're going back to the beginning. We're, I think, three movies into the... It's like 30 movies. If you do chronologically through the Marvel series, it's nuts, but my family and I, we're going through it all, so it's super fun.

Nick:

Oh my God, I am not a movie person, but I will watch though. It's culture. It's so culture. Okay. What put us into this position was understanding that content was never going to leave us, and so we put so much time and effort into building. We weren't first to do it. There's Design Pickle. There's No Limit Creatives. There's Penjee! There's Video Husky. There's so many other people that do this content on demand thing, but we had to do it ourselves, because arguably, I've never gone through a pandemic. I'm 31 years old. I didn't know what would happen if I couldn't understand how much revenue was being driven by each one of our employees across our entire company because I didn't know what I needed to go potentially [inaudible 00:12:26] so I didn't know what loans I needed to go get.

Nick:

I needed to know that I could do a dollar earned or average per each one of our employees contributing to the bottom line. Sometimes in just an agency space or sometimes in business space, you have admins or project managers that might not directly tie to bottom line. We know they impact it, but we don't really know what they drive. Designers are another one. Editors are another one. Copywriters are another one. Unless you're in this performance tower, you know each email or each thing you write, you get dollars back on. If you aren't structured that way, you're like, "Dude, I don't really know how much money's coming in from these people." So we actually built this service and fed it to ourselves. And I think the term is dog feeding ourselves.

Brett:

Yeah, so this is a Google term. So it's called eating your own dog food. They borrowed it from Purina or Puppy Chow or something like that, where literally that company, they would eat their own dog food. It's a metaphor for using your own stuff, right?

Nick:

Okay.

Brett:

You believe in your product so much, you use it. Yeah.

Nick:

Oh, so thank you. I actually didn't know where that was coming from, and I'm glad you [inaudible 00:13:29]. We built it for ourselves because content... If you're like, "Nick, what are you about right now?" it's content, and it's volume of content at a cost effective rate. Listen, before the pandemic hit, a lot of people didn't really open up their mind to the quality of support, quality of company building that you can do offshore. I'm not saying outsource. This is a complete different thing. Outsource to offshore is completely different. Offshore are full-time your employees, your people, your values, your systems, your processes. Outsource is white labeling. You don't know what's going on. They're delivering you something, you're going to wrap in a bow, you're going to deliver. So I'm going to be very clear on that.

Nick:

This was something that when we started to understand quality of talent allowed us on the agency side to operate at 35, 40, 55% margin at times on various months, you can do the same exact thing on a content iteration, say. The only issue that a lot of people don't get right when they're like, "Hey, I need a performance editor," or "I need a performance creative person," it's because they themselves don't know what they want. Here's why. There's a subjectivity in this that everybody can't get away from in the romanticism toward a brand they own or towards the content that's being shot. I'm sure you experience this, or do you?

Brett:

Absolutely. Totally. Yeah, yeah. Sometimes we are our own biggest enemy, or often the brand owner is their biggest enemy in terms of getting creatives that work, creatives that actually connect and compel and move people to take action. Yeah, sometimes we're romantic about what we think that structure should be or what we think that message should be rather than focusing on... Let's not do something that's completely off brand, of course, but let's do what works. And sometimes you have the brand, or sometimes the agency gets in the way of that.

Nick:

It's so true because we're hired to do two things. Now, if you're hiring a branding agency or hiring a shop that needs to be really up here and be oh, really meta on things, God bless. I'm not in the space to where I can afford to create something that doesn't drive revenue. You're in the same boat. We have to validate the costs that we have for a lot of our partners. And so when you have this subjective idea of what happens, and I'll get into what testing, what we're doing now, what 2022, at least the bets that I'm making in this first quarter on how we're building out our testing and how we're building out our, at least our internal content structure. And actually, I'll fucking go into all the things, because I think the more that this information gets out there, it might actually spark some interest on your side, and you might have some interesting feedback for me too, so-

Brett:

Totally, totally. We're going to talk about one thing really quickly, and then I want to dive into the specifics.

Nick:

Okay.

Brett:

Actually, two things really quickly. What'd you say the name of the company was, the content company?

Nick:

Oh, Konstant Kreatives. Sorry.

Brett:

Konstant Kreatives. Awesome. We'll link to that in the show notes as well. But I could not agree with you more, right? I think in fact, back when we first met in Denver at Ezra's event, a lot of people were talking about hacks and here's little tricks and tips and things you can do to make Facebook and YouTube and all that work. And certainly, there's always going to be some hacks, but success is way more, way more about having great creatives, sticking to the fundamentals, and just being relentless, relentless on testing, relentless on looking for new angles, and then really just being consistent in what you're doing and doubling down on what's working. And so love that you're doing that. I got to learn more about your company there too so I can refer some people to you. But yeah, so let's dive in there. What is your process then for finding the right angle and getting that... Because you talk about volume of creatives too, right? You got to be testing pretty frequently, especially on Facebook. Not as much on YouTube, but especially on Facebook and Instagram. What's your process like?

Nick:

This is something that we think is an ongoing debate, kind of ongoing analysis. Let's think of it this way, you used to go to optimize campaigns at an ad level or an ad set level or even the structure of the campaign level, and we're having to do a lot of this before we even get to the campaign launch. What I mean by this is, before the conversation of cancel culture or before the conversation of inclusion really was being had, a lot of the ads that we saw were generally white males, white females across every brand, across every company, thin, thinnish, and you didn't really think about, "What if [crosstalk 00:17:49]

Brett:

Which is really just silly. But you're right, that's just the way it was. Yes, it was crazy.

Nick:

Yeah, it was silly. Listen, I'm not ignorant to who I am and what I am, but when you look at brands that are buying this, brands don't have this data. You can't run a quiz to be like, "Hey, what do you... " I guess you could, technically, but I don't know how it would come across us. "Who do you identify with? Or what do you identify as? Or what race are you?" You can't necessarily ask that, but that's the type of [inaudible 00:18:17] that you have to get done. Say, when we give a shoot or when we give content for others to see, "Hey, what do we need?" We usually recommend, "Hey, we need two different races and two different genders, and we need sizes of those genders to be appropriate to what we actually think is our customers buying."

Nick:

It's a great example, the Team Chubbies. Chubbies makes unbelievable male board shorts. I think they get an underwear too now, but makes male board shorts. And if you watch the progression over time of who was used in their content, fit male, white or black, fit male, white or black, little thicker, white or black, little dad bod, white or black, little larger, white or black. Do you know why? Because they're looking at all the-

Brett:

That's their audience, right? How many fit dudes are out there? Right? Most of us have dad bods. Not you, you're a former soccer player, but yeah, dad bods are everywhere.

Nick:

These are the frat guys that are buying it. And they literally... I've listened and watched the progression of this, and they're like... I'm sure that some people want to aspire to look great, but there's a point where you can get turned off by this, and you're like, "That's not really who I am." So it's this progression, this conversation of the testing begins at the inclusion of what's in the content. That's just a side note. I went on a tangent. I apologize there.

Brett:

Yeah, but I love it. I'll just, I'll key in on that. And so it's a side note, but it's important. A buddy of mine runs an athleisure business and they sell a lot of leggings. And so their models are very diverse, Latinos, African Americans, whites, every race, but also normal looking people, right? These are not all 98 pound supermodel. It looks like normal people, but they're joyful and they're smiling. And they are killing it because people look at it and say, "Well, that's me. That's my body type. That's my style." And it's so needed right now, so I'm really glad you brought that up.

Nick:

It's so true. And it kind of goes down to the typical structures that we run if I were to get a little technical in this. We still launch with dynamic creative. We still launch with... Dynamic creative is probably the first step. If we don't have a full hard belief, and this is the campaign structure, if we don't have a full hard belief in any one direction, whether it's like, we know this is worked in the past, but we're just trying to iterate on the value prop, or we're just trying to iterate on the USB, the box opening, we're just trying to iterate on a specific thing, we will still let Facebook choose or dictate the direction we need to go into up into-

Brett:

So by dynamic creatives, you just mean you're... Explain that for people that don't know the Facebook platform well.

Nick:

Thank you very much. So when launching a campaign, there's DCT, dynamic creative testing, which is a tool that you let Facebook choose. Essentially, you're going, "Hey, we don't want to impose any campaign restrictions to force spend," let's say on an automatic budget campaign, an ABO. You go, "I just need you to spend all my budget on these specific creatives that I, the media buyer, have told you I want you to spend on." And CBO can do that too with a little bit of limitations, but that's easiest communication I can give you on that. The dynamic creative testing [crosstalk 00:21:11]

Brett:

You're basically saying, "Hey, here's our creatives, and Facebook, you go wild and you find the winner."

Nick:

Exactly. We are not imposing a restriction on where money can be spent. We're letting the campaign dictate that. And that is... It's basically taking away the bias that we have of letting Facebook say, "Hey, we have this algorithm, we have this info, we have these consumers, and we're going to run this type of campaign on it."

Brett:

Yeah.

Nick:

Now I will have some of my media buyers look at me and go, "Chef, I won't always run this route," but that's the baseline that we start with, because if somebody has pushback on me, say, let's say David or Scott have a conversation, they're like, "Nick, I actually believe that's not the best use of this campaign, because we're only trying to compare two main concepts." And we'll say, Bernie says, "We'll use the athleisure brand here." We want to understand which color way of these leggings are going to be the one that hits or which price point of these leggings are going to hit. That doesn't need to be dynamic creative tested. That needs to be controlled and tested equally across the board. So that to me has probably been the biggest change. Before, I would launch all with minimum campaign budgets or some sort of structure where we're going audience testing, kind of put that after the fact, because it's not as impactful unless it's going to be purely based on the content or creative and the structure when you go live with it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. And so really, I mean, if you look at what is our job as advertisers, whether we're agencies or in house or solopreneur, whatever the case may be, our job is to make great creatives, but to feed the algorithm, to let the algorithm, whether that's Facebook, YouTube, or Google, let... The algorithm's smart. And in the long run, the algorithm's going to do a better job than you are in a lot of ways, so how can you feed it and give it enough creative so that it finds the winners? Or how can you do a very specific test? Like you were talking about, right? I'm testing two creatives, because I'm trying to find is it black or is it pink on the leggings that are going to hit, or is it this price or that price? That type of thing, a controlled test, but either way you're trying to say, "I don't know the answer here on what creative's really going to work, but we're going to find out." And then once we find out, then we're going to go all in on that, so-

Nick:

Because you and I both have these conversations with brands that talk about, "Hey, what's your brand book? What's your stance? What do you stand for? And they have the idea of who they want their customer to be, but it's not always what Facebook will agree to be or Google will agree for it to be. You have to let the replies come in. You have to let the data speak for itself. And I'm shocked. And I don't know if this is in your portfolio, we have about 116 brands right now, 117, I believe. The amount of post-purchase surveys on where you've heard from me or what information they're gathering is probably less than 15%.

Brett:

Totally, a very few of our clients are doing them. I think you've got to do it though, because you're going to be surprised by the answers you find out.

Nick:

Exactly, especially understanding touch points now the attribution is dropping a little bit, touch points and understanding where these people are coming from or how much I should be allocating per channel. We had a very, very intelligent brand, I'll say maybe 2020s, called Rove Concepts, which are a large... It's a larger retailer. It's a furniture, so purchase path takes a lot of time. You got to include your partner. A lot of it is generated interest on Facebook, but a lot of it is actualized on Google, XYZ. And these guys were making... This is the first company or brand that came to Jake myself and goes, "You know what? I understand that we gave you these [inaudible 00:24:37] a platform. I don't know if you guys are actually impacting the bottom line because it shows Google having way more conversions than you guys." I'm like, "Heck is going on?" I'm like, "Well, okay, I get it. I'm sure there's... It's an expensive piece. There's thousands of dollars. Can we just put surveys on the back of this? Or do you have this already live, or can you share this information?"

Nick:

A lot of what we started to see was, although that might not have popped up in the platform, a lot of it was saying I heard first about you on Facebook or Instagram, yet the conversion value, all the revenue was coming from Google. And I'm going, "You can't tell me to stop or that's going to be lowered." So we did a hard test turning off paid social, top of funnel. What do you know? Numbers dropped. Yeah, we wouldn't have been able to cover [crosstalk 00:25:22]

Brett:

Yeah, it's so true. I was just talking to a buddy of mine, Josh Durham, who used to be the head of growth at Groove Life and at an agency, and he talked about the same thing, doing those post purchase surveys and realizing that, man, 70, 80% of customers are going to say, "Hey, I first heard you on social, I first heard you on YouTube," or something like that. And I love Google, right? I'm a Google guy, but search and shopping sometimes takes the credit, especially branded search. You need to run it, but branded search often takes credit for a sale that, really, Facebook or YouTube generated, right?

Nick:

Sure. Preach to the choir [inaudible 00:25:59]

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. So, hey, I want to circle back to creative really quickly, and then we can talk attribution again in a minute, because there's some important notes there. As far as creatives go, what is your process? How are you guys coming up with hooks for the actual creatives, and what types of creatives are you launching with? I just want to give people ideas on what should they be testing next or how should they go about their creative process, or how should they talk to their agency to get them to do things more like you guys? Can you talk about your creative process a little bit?

Nick:

I can, yeah. We have one baseline process that we run with or usually use outside of if someone already gives us [inaudible 00:26:39]. Say a brand was coming to us and they already really had, "Hey, we know who our girl or guy is. Here's what we've learned outside of optimizing and looking at the current campaigns," we start with this process where we begin on Amazon, we begin with Reddit, and we begin with competitors. We don't go to the own brand stuff just yet, because we don't want any biases coming in from marketing messages that consumers might be regurgitating back. If you look at Amazon, there's very honest reviews at one star, two star, and even the three star, very honest reviews that use layman's terms that are common, that they're looking for solutions or points. And a lot of it on Amazon, actually, they don't really care about the brand itself. From the experience, from the information I have, they're not necessarily going to Amazon to find Lulu Lemon, they're going to Amazon to price shop. They're going to Amazon for the efficiency and the effectiveness of getting that product as quick as possible.

Nick:

You're not going there looking for a specific brand. You're usually typing in the product in which you need. Hydration packets, coats, clothing, that's the things that you're really searching for, so you usually get people that don't really about crap about who the brand is or what, and they're not going to hold back from you, because it's pretty anonymous at that point, or what have you. So what we started to find out is, before a brand would come to us and before they're like, "I don't know what talking points or hooks or explanations that need to be in this piece of creative," we go to the Amazon reviews. We probably export between 50 to a hundred. We drop it into a word cloud.

Brett:

So you're looking at the actual reviews from those customers or from competitors and from that category as a whole?

Nick:

Correct. Thank you very much to the clarification. We do not go to the brand own yet. We go from the competitors of the same exact product. So if I'm selling leggings, I'm going to the number one competitor with the most amount of reviews, similar in the legging side. I want to know why this product is winning. I want those five stars and four stars, isolate those by themselves. And I want those one stars and two stars, isolate them by themselves. I use three as a lever if I don't have clear messages of things to say or not say based on the four and fives, and the ones and twos.

Brett:

Got it.

Nick:

Four and five might be skewed.

Brett:

Right.

Nick:

One to twos might be skewed, but the threes might you my answer if I don't find it in the two buckets tracking with me.

Brett:

Totally. And this is brilliant by the way. I absolutely love it, yeah, because you're looking for real pain points, real motivators, real things that customers care about, and you're looking for their language, which just makes all the difference in the world.

Nick:

Because we are going to do market stuff. We're going to try and be cool and cute and playful. We'll do our best to not, but we sometimes fall into these categories. And I'll use one brand for this called Necklet. Necklet created a latch system that's magnetic that allows for stacks of jewelry to not get tangled. Brilliant. For women, or men, mainly for women that are wearing necklaces that don't want it to be tangled because they want to wear multiple, it's absolutely brilliant. It's genius. And the mechanism is a magnet on the back. What is it solving? Is a magnet strong enough? Is it latching? Does it pull your hair? These things are questions that the brand might not necessarily know. But guess who's going to know? The people that are buying it and the people that are leaving those reviews on Amazon. They [inaudible 00:29:51] will tell you exactly how feeling, whether this is a dumb concept or not.

Nick:

So we found out a lot of this. No matter how beautiful it might look, no matter how the feeling of joy might be portrayed, the mechanism is still the most unique value proposition for them, so we better go speak specifically towards. That, to me, was after we got from a competitors, put it into a word cloud. I think the easiest one you guys could use is probably Monkey Learn. It's called monkeylearn/wordcloud. I think you have to potentially set up an account. It's free, but if anybody else has a word cloud generator that is better than that, please hit me up. I'm always looking for more tools.

Brett:

Monkey Learn, and you're looking for... And this is like a word cloud builder?

Nick:

Yeah. So it's called Monkey Learn, and then it's a forward slash word-cloud or wordcloud. I'm not sure exactly on [inaudible 00:30:36], but I can pull it for you right after this. And that way, I'm able to aggregate all my star reviews. I would say it's easier if you... The more, the better. The more, the more accurate. Drop it into this word cloud, and it's going to generate and pull up the most commonly used words and tones. And that way, now here's your messages. Here's your information. Here's the things that you need to use. This, Brett, I'm telling you, this thing has allowed processes. Because if you don't know where to begin, that's where you go right away.

Brett:

Yeah, because if you don't have something like this, you're just going to begin with that discussion around the boardroom. It's going to be virtual, right? But you're talking to the client, you're talking to the brand owner, you're talking to the marketing director, and you're like, "Well, hey, our customer is this, and they believe this and they want that." And that's valuable, but this is amazing, where you're saying, "Okay, let's see what the people, the real customers are actually saying, and let's aggregate that. And let's look for tone and let's look for actual words." Yeah, just absolutely brilliant. I love it.

Nick:

The next step that we take from is... Say we already have this, say somebody already has this understanding, the next step that we have here is, where are you lacking? Where do you think your brand or your audience has not been addressed? This is usually right where we get in the conversation of inclusion, usually where we get in the conversation of, it seems like we're over indexed on a certain demographic, a certain gender, certain size. That, to me, is something that we really, really spend a great amount of time. We're very fortunate. We're in LA, so we have a melting pot of people to pull from, and that's something that we know, as a unique advantage, we have to leverage. So that generally is our second conversation that we have, of like, where can we do some tests to where we're not doing something that's not on brand, we're not doing something that we have fear of isolating a consumer, but we have the ability to actually get real learnings in a direction that we never ran before. Here's an example, Luca Danni, which is [inaudible 00:32:29]. It's a bangle and accessory company, bracelet.

Brett:

It's called Luke and Danni? Did I hear that right?

Nick:

Yeah. It technically reads Luca Danni, but Luke and Danni is what it is, and they sell bangles, they sell bracelets. Well, in this test, they usually always show the wrist, and it's the wrist of the woman buying it and the various women buying it. And they actually started seeing a little bit of a performance increase on the thicker in which the wrist began to [crosstalk 00:32:59]

Brett:

Interesting.

Nick:

And I'm like, why is this? Then you look at the export of the purchasing behavior of the people buying it. You have the strong representation of the Bible bell, strong representation of the south, strong representation of a little bit of the east coast. But you're like, "Wow, okay. I think some of our demographics are not the assumed thinner audience that we once believe there to be, so how do we mix this up?" So now we have wrists of all shapes and sizes. You hear me?

Brett:

Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're there. I thought I lost you for a minute. Yeah, so wrists of all shapes. This is so important. What's really interesting, I going to key in on something that Ezra Firestone mentioned to me a couple years ago, where they notice, BOOM!, their brand BOOM! and Cindy Joseph, it's really women over the age of 50, skin care, makeup, and really good stuff, but they found... They thought, "Well, what if we went a little bit younger with our models, or a little bit younger with our ambassadors that we have in the videos." And they started getting complaints. People were reaching out saying, "That's not me. This person is younger than me." Right? We sometimes forget that people really are looking for, "Can I see myself in this video? Can I see myself in this product. And is this for me?" And if it's not, then they're likely not going to buy, right? And so fascinating test, that, hey, thicker wrists, bigger wrists lead to better results. Diversifying your models leads to better results. You got to explore and got to test. That totally makes sense.

Nick:

Anybody can do this too. That's probably the biggest thing that I want to drive home, is those testing of using Amazon first and Reddit first because the natural communication, community already being built there within your competitors. It's not rocket... The way you present that information, the way you speak to it really will pull in on the expertise that you have, but this isn't rocket science, man. We have anywhere between 100 to 150 brands at any time. And if anybody's looking for analysis of their creative or performance or angles or whatever they're taking, they go this direction, because they know they can get it, they can get it quick, and they don't need to wait on other people to do it. So it's something I would definitely like to pass that forward.

Brett:

Yeah. Love it. What else? What do you see working on Facebook right now? And I know that this stuff has a tendency to be short lived, but in terms of length of videos, what are you finding that's working, or maybe, maybe there's different links, different angles for cold traffic versus remarketing? What are some of the kind of tips and ideas you're seeing there?

Nick:

Well, I'm going to caveat this [inaudible 00:35:25]. We are using two tools. So we're using North Beam and we're using Triple Whale, because we are making-

Brett:

Both fantastic tools.

Nick:

I completely agree. We have to make sure that we're looking at the correct amount of information or data and it's purely based upon a third party tool that's giving me the direction of, okay, this campaign, this ad set, this purchase path is making the most sense for us, so-

Brett:

Yeah. And just a quick note here, because I know the guys at North Beam and at Triple Whale, great platforms, but I'll talk North Beam for just a second. The way it works, it's basically first party data. So they put a first party pixel on your site, they put DNS record there where now they can have an infinity timeframe-

Nick:

Yes.

Brett:

... click attribution, right? So instead of attribution being only seven days, right? So after click happens, and after seven days, Facebook can no longer track it. With something like North Beam or Triple Whale, you track it forever, right? And you can go back and say, "Hey, this one YouTube click or this one Facebook click led to a customer who bought 20 times." Right? You can see all that data, because then these tools integrate with Facebook, Google-

Nick:

Yes.

Brett:

... Shopify, your email platform. They pull all that stuff together. So anyway, this isn't a commercial for those tools. We don't make anything from those tools, but you need that data to know what's really working and what's not.

Nick:

Well, we never used to have... We always needed this.

Brett:

We both needed it, yeah. And [crosstalk 00:36:42]

Nick:

We can get close without it. And now we can't. So now when I'm looking at campaigns, so I'm looking at what's working. Right now, let's go January 19th, 11:50 AM, Wednesday, 2022. What's working right now is images. I'm now getting images with plain background colors, bold colors. I'm saying yellow blues, pinks and purples, and big bold text. Call outs of the pain points of the consumer. And if I were to be more specific, this is primarily top of funnel, and we're having very minimal branded elements here, because all I'm trying to do is build engagement, build a little bit of direction that I'm trying to go in this place, it's just the right path for me to go down towards, and it is the quickest thing that can be launched. It is the easiest thing that can be made.

Brett:

Yeah.

Nick:

Pain points, value propositions, big, bold colored text, and maybe, if you really want to include it, what does the product look like? Is can just be a product on a white image or somewhere the left or right side of things. We're using this top of funnel aggressively for two reasons. One, if we can get the engagement, and if we can get some sort of understanding of people agreeing with it, or maybe it say other way, not agreeing with it, but that you're usually just seeing the comments, the shares or the engagement overall, I know I'm on the right path. I need to make an image or a more detailed image, shorter video or longer form video to run top of funnel. This is Facebook specifically. So our launching period right now is major callouts with the value propositions or with pain points that we believe for each brand with that color text to kind of pop off page. Second, if that is already being done or something that's already going down that path, we are going with 30 to 45 second videos.

Nick:

I was a huge proponent of sub 30, generally around 15 seconds, but I need this bigger audience for people to pull from, because things on platform, the pools of remarketing are not as quality as they once were because of the drop in reporting. So the more that we can have people engaging or watching the videos longer, I'm running all of our remarketing, or at least our reengagement middle of funnel, off of these audience and pools of creative that we're actually spending more time, that these consumers are spending more time on.

Brett:

Got it. So you're running... So yeah, I remember, and I'm not a Facebook guy, but I remember people talking about, "Hey, shorter creatives are working 15 seconds and things like that," which I'm sure is still the case to a certain degree. But what you're saying, and this totally makes a lot of sense, is 45 seconds, 30 seconds to 45 seconds to your cold traffic audiences, because then you can remarket to people that have watched half of that or all that or whatever the case may be, and now that's a much better audience than maybe the remarketing audiences you would get from someone who engages with a 15 second video. Did I understand that correctly?

Nick:

You did, because we need the... Well, for just a stronger audience. And I don't know what happened. I think the biggest thing that we've seen, if we're talking remarketing, the content, I'm not too sure. I wouldn't feel comfortable speaking about what's working across the board for our brands because it's very [inaudible 00:39:44] and very particular.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Nick:

But one thing that is been a constant is, we need more periods of time. We used to be able to be very segmented, and like, "Cool. One to seven day, you're going to get this message. 8 to 14, you're going to get this message. 15 and on, you're going to get this. It's not working for us. We can't get... I hope it is for others because it was so incredible to push them down a purchase path, but we're going 30 days, 45 days, the largest pull in which we can get from, I think the largest pull is probably around 90, but the biggest pull that we can pull from, I want that to be my remarketing pull, and it's just a mixture of various engagement testimonials of videos of them reinforcing the product or the brand. That's the only thing that I know I can get some consistent benchmarks on, because other than this, there's just no consistency.

Brett:

Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. And as platforms are being more restricted on audiences they can build and how they track and how they report, I think in a lot of cases, we're just going to have to simplify, right? Some of the hyper segmentation of this seven day audience, 14 day audience, 30 day audience, some of that is going away. We're seeing that on Google too, actually, so I think that's probably pretty widespread at this point. Going simpler, going broader makes sense. How are you coming... Because I know, especially on Facebook, Facebook is hungry for new creatives, new concepts. How do you go about refreshing content so regularly and finding winning angles? Any insights there on process that you can share?

Nick:

So I don't have a... Ah, I got some stuff. So I don't have a firm one on this because it really is going to depend on budget. So I'll put a caveat there. The more money you have, the general amount of testing that you can do at higher volume. The only difference between a big budget and a little budget is that a big budget learns quicker, so it's no difference. The process is [crosstalk 00:41:37]

Brett:

You're doing the same things. It's just the speed at which you're doing them is what the budget really dictates.

Nick:

Exactly. Exactly. So I want to put, "Oh that's my brand is not spending 25,000, 50,000, whatever it is." I can't do that. You can, you just can't do as much or as quick. We did start the Konstant Kreative, why we built this is because we believe that there's an internal revision of content. There's an internal revision in planning of strategy for content. And then there's a marketing message. Generally, if it's evergreen, without talking about mother's day, father's day one-off moments, if the general process is happening, we are iterating on a seven day and a ten day window. Let me explain. Our current organization structure is, we operate in a pod system. So we have our copywriter, our senior media buyer, junior media buyer account manager, and channel specific buyers that we need to plug in.

Nick:

But the general makeup is admin, media buyers, strategist. We then started to build a new department, which is our creative strategist. Their core role is to analyze campaign performance on creative specifically. They don't care about the audience. They don't care about interests. Just the performance of the creative. Give that feedback into the client. Give that feedback into our creative director to shoot more content. And their job is to come up with the concepts of, "Here's why here's where I think the angles are going to be going towards." Now, it's various and different for all because the budget's going to be different for all, but it's usually out of two things. The increase of quality of life, that's one core concept, core understanding. Why is this product going to increase the value of my life or make my life better? Then, in the same flip side is, if I don't have this, how terrible or how poor or how unfortunate or how much struggle will my life have?

Nick:

So with those two deciding factors of how much I'm going to increase or how much I'm going to decrease, then we come into the concepts of positioning for each one of these products. So with that frame of mind, we have a seven day sprint to a ten day sprint of analysis, seven days to get the campaign running and live. First two, generally speaking, are not spending a tremendous amount of money, unless something works or unless we have... This is a commitment that the brand or us have [inaudible 00:43:48]. We are spending this money. We got to learn. I say 10 days because there's a little bit of updates attribution. You know, if you're running Facebook, data comes in very sporadically, so we want a little bit more time to run this. It's unfortunate because, at least for our team right now, gone are the days of launch a campaign on one day, slam budget on the second day, turn the campaign off on things that didn't work by the third day. That's more drawn out to a five day, seven day [crosstalk 00:44:14].

Brett:

Yeah. Totally.

Nick:

So if I sat there and go, the analysis that the creative strategy team needs to be doing is on that three day, five day, seven day, ten day window, because that's going to include a full week plus weekends and give you back on that Monday, because you're usually not going to get that launch data on that early, early day. To me, this is an ongoing iteration, it's an ongoing sequence of conversation with the brands, and I'm actually doing a pretty decent case study on what's happening on this. I'm going to unveil it live at Affiliate World, because we're working with Motion app-

Brett:

Nice.

Nick:

... which has some really good data on what's happening, where it's happening, and what insights that are having on their campaign, elements needed in creative. And then we have a large volume of assets on the constant side. So I'm trying to pull all the assets that we've seen perform before and all the assets that we've seen being requested, trying to pull a correlation between the two. And it should be some interesting stuff that we're going to find out, because a lot of this that people don't have, and I hate to hate to call it out, but they don't have a process of feedback loop. They don't have the understanding of when they need to go back and analyze and launch it. They can come up with great ideas, but how long does it take for them to make that test, or how long does it take for them to get information back to the people to create more?

Brett:

Just absolutely fantastic. So unfortunately, we're kind of running out of time, which is a bummer because I would like to continue to geek out or geek up here with you, but I want to kind of go high level for just a minute and just a few questions that I think will help anybody. And I think as people have been listening, hey, we got really technical, we got into some details, so pass this on to your media buyer. If you are a media buyer, I'm sure you're just salivating and loving every second of this. Let's talk high level, Nick. What should people be focusing more on in the coming year? And what should they be focusing less on? Meaning, kind of how are things shifting? What do we need to be really keying in on to get results? And maybe, what are some things that used to be important to pay attention to that now aren't?

Nick:

Great question. Fantastic questions. If you're media buyers or your agencies or your team is coming to you with audience insights or campaign structure insights, I would encourage them to let that go and encourage them to stop spending the time in finding structures and more spending the time on the research of what are these campaigns doing? What are the messages being said in the creative or content? And it has always been content first.

Brett:

All right, Spicy Curry listeners, here's the deal. Nick's audio cut out towards the end. Now, the good news is you heard 99% plus of what Nick had to say, but what you missed is kind of important. You missed how to get a hold of Nick. How can you follow him? How can you learn more about him? How can you get in touch with his agency? And so I'm going to tell you right now. The first thing is you have to follow Nick on Twitter. His Twitter game is an A plus. If you're in the DOC space, e-comm space at all, you got to follow him. And his handle is @iamshackelford. So letter I A-M Shackelford, so check that out. His agency is Structured. So structured.agency, check it out. They cut their teeth on paid social, but they also, Nick and Chase Dimond run an email marketing agency, so check out structured as well.

Brett:

And then one of my favorite events now. I think you should check it out. The events do get a little bit technical and nerdy, but GeekOut that Nick runs with James Van Elswyk, great event. So that's geekoutedu.com. So, check that out. You will not be disappointed. And as always, we want to hear from you. If you found this episode to be helpful, please share it with friends. Also, this is a brand new podcast, so go give it a rating on Apple iTunes, if you don't mind. It will make my day. It will allow other people to find the show. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.




Crafting Irresistible Offers & Building Acquisition Funnels with Molly Pittman
4
:
Molly Pittman

Crafting Irresistible Offers & Building Acquisition Funnels with Molly Pittman

Few people understand Facebook Advertising and Direct Response Marketing like Molly Pittman. You’ve probably seen Molly on stage at events like Traffic & Conversion Summit or Social Media Marketing World or you’ve seen her and Ezra Firestone create amazing content through Smart Marketer. In this episode we dive into a subject that is often glossed over - creating great offers and building acquisition funnels. Without a great offer, your ad efforts will fall short. And great offers aren’t just about discounting. 

It’s the perfect subject to help you win in a privacy-first online world. 

Here's what we cover:

  • How Smart Marketer and BOOM are building and launching new acquisition funnels every month.
  • How to test offers via email before investing in ad dollars.
  • What metrics we should pay attention to in a post iOS 14 world.
  • 3 ways to get more testimonials.
  • What is likely to change in the future and what most likely won’t. 


Mentioned in This Episode:

Molly Pittman

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram


Smart Marketer

Smart Marketer Podcast

Ezra Firestone

Traffic & Conversion Summit

John Grimshaw

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

“5 Makeup Tips For Older Women”

“The State Of Paid Ads In 2022”

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“Turning the Flywheel” by Jim Collins



Transcript:

Brett:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry podcast, where we explore hot takes in e-commerce and digital marketing. We feature some of the brightest minds, some of the spiciest perspectives on how to grow your business online.

Brett:

Season one of this podcast is built on the old business adage that all it takes is three things to grow. One, have something good to say. Two, say it well. And three, say it often. My guest today is Molly Pittman. She's the CEO of Smart Marketer in partnership with Ezra Firestone. We're talking about crafting irresistible offers and building acquisition funnels for e-commerce.

Brett:

So, lean in, buckle up, and enjoy this episode with Molly Pittman.

Brett:

The Spicy Curry podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify Pages, and Payability.

Brett:

My guest today really needs no introduction, but I'll give a quick introduction just in case. Today, we're talking about a variety of things. We're going to talk about getting the right offers, and we're going to talk about acquisition funnels. We're going to talk about getting the right mindset as a market, as a media buyer, and as an advertiser.

Brett:

I have the one, the only, Molly Pittman joining me on the show today. Really, if you haven't had the privilege of hearing Molly Pittman, well we're about to fix that, but you've missed out. Molly is a legend, debuted at Trafficking Conversion Summit. It's been years and years ago now, I don't even know how many years. But just blew up and everyone was like, "Man, Molly Pittman is the best," and she is.

Brett:

Now she's partnered with my buddy, Ezra Firestone. Molly is the CEO of Smart Marketer, and I get to observe what she's doing there, what the team is doing there, and they're cranking out amazing content, amazing training that I get to be a part of at some level, which is super fun for me. We're going to dive into what's working now and a variety of other things.

Brett:

Molly Pittman, welcome to the show, and thanks for taking the time.

Molly:

Hey, let's do it. What's up, Brett Curry?

Brett:

What's up? What's up?

Molly:

I'm so happy to be here. I'm so happy to be here. Hello to all of you listers. You're listening to an awesome podcast, huh? When Brett reached out to do this, I was like, "Hey, it's about time." I know you've had podcasts in the past, but excited to hear you more regularly. Yes, love working with you Brett, from the agency side of things, the faculty side of things at Smart Marketer. All of our students love everything you have to share. So, thank you for having me.

Brett:

We get to collaborate on some content. Any time I can go somewhere and hang out with you, John Grimshaw, and Ezra Firestone, I am saying yes to that. Anytime I can make it happen, I'm doing that, because you guys are awesome. [crosstalk 00:03:14].

Molly:

I don't know how much work we get done, but we have a lot of fun.

Brett:

A decent amount of work.

Molly:

I'm kidding.

Brett:

Totally. When we get together, like the last time we all met at Ezra's house, Ezra just cooked some really fancy, simple... He went into full-on chef mode for everybody, and it was pretty amazing.

Molly:

Hey, Ezra is the servant leader. I think we were there-

Brett:

He really is.

Molly:

... hosting a live workshop, and Ezra was like, "Hey, my job right now is to cook and make sure you all are fed." Good example of leadership right there.

Brett:

[crosstalk 00:03:49] make some lattes, or pour some espresso shots. He had this amazing espresso machine-

Molly:

"What do you need? I got it."

Brett:

Yeah. The funny thing is, I'm like, "So Ezra, are you going to drink some espresso?" He was like, "No, I gave that up." He quit. All right, so you're just making for everybody else.

Molly:

That is something that I love about what we're doing at Smart Marketer, is its different from any culture I've ever been a part of, even if it's a day of consulting inside of a business where we really do have fun first. We get our stuff done. We meet our goals. We serve the world. I think that that fun part is what a lot of people are missing out on. It is okay to have fun, and it actually makes the rest of it way more enjoyable and profitable.

Brett:

It's stress relief. It allows you get the right mindset, like fosters creativity when you're having fun and enjoying what you do, and enjoying who you're doing it with. Yeah, you guys do such a good job with that, and Ezra kind of drives that forward where it's like to serve to the world unselfishly and profit that mantra is true. It's not just something that sounds good, or sort of feels good, or looks good on a shirt. It's the way you guys live and the way you guys operate.

Brett:

I think it's part of the reason why we get along so well. We're huge advocates of culture, and putting people first, but also letting people shine and be themselves. You should enjoy working with one another. It makes a difference.

Molly:

Have more fun, y'all.

Brett:

And have more fun.

Molly:

It also allows a lot more longevity in this business. This year, I've been doing this 10 years, which isn't as long as a lot of you, Brett, or people like Ezra, but it's still a decade.

Brett:

Wait a minute. That sounded a veiled "old person" comment there.

Molly:

Well no, I just know your story.

Brett:

It's all good.

Molly:

You have seniority.

Brett:

A little bit. A little bit, yeah. In Internet years, a decade is forever. Yeah, I started like 2004, so I'm definitely the old dude when it comes to all that.

Molly:

Yeah, but you know a lot of my story where I had the opportunity to intern, and then become the VP of Marketing at Digital Marketer, and had an awesome time at that company. But man, I was grinding then. A lot of times, I felt like crap. To be in a situation where I still get to serve the market, still get to teach, still get to be in this business, but feel really good about it, the best part of it is I know I can do it for so much longer now.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Molly:

It's a long game. It's not a short game, y'all.

Brett:

I'm really glad we brought this up. It was not planned. That feel good, have fun, and it will bring out the best part of you when you work as well. You'll be able to produce better when you're doing those things.

Brett:

Let's dive in, Molly Pittman. We've got a lot of ground to cover. We're going to talk mindset. We're going to talk tactics. We're going to talk strategy. I also want to talk about your dog rescue. We'll get to that in a little bit. Let's talk about offers for a minute. Those that have been listening, and hopefully you're listening to every episode in season one of this podcast, we're talking about something good to say, saying it well, saying it often.

Brett:

One of the things you and I were chatting about, and I love this, is that you're really focusing on your offers right now, and what offers are working, and what offers are not working. It really digs into that saying things well, and also saying them often. Talk to me a little bit about... We have two angles we're going to look at. We've got Boom on the e-commerce side, Smart Marketer which is kind of on the info training side, but what offers are working right now?

Molly:

Yeah, great question. First, I want to talk about what an offer is. I realized during our Mastermind call last week that people use this word to describe a lot of different things. That causes confusion in itself. There are a few different ways to talk about an offer. Really, what I'm talking about today are acquisition offers. Essentially, what vehicles are we using to start a conversation with someone who's never heard of our brand before, and turn them into a buyer?

Molly:

A lot of times, that means a lead magnet, or a pre-sale article, or some sort of coupon. It definitely depends on the business and where you are currently. The more, especially post-iOS 14 with all the crazy stuff happening in paid media right now, the more that you can focus on your offers, the better that everything is going to go. I mean that in a few ways. Number one, putting more time into offer creation. I would say in both businesses, other than making sure our products, the things people are buying, are good. Other than that, I would say offer creation is where we spend most of our time, at least at the C level.

Molly:

When it comes to marketing strategy, offer creation is where we spend most of our time. Sometimes, we'll release an offer that John, Ezra and I have maybe spent 15 hours discussing. It looks like an opt-in page that took 30 minutes to write, but so much time and effort went into the psychology of what it is, and the delivery of what it is, and how it sets us up to sell. It's really, really spending time here. As the CEO, I'd be like this is one of my still most important duties every single day.

Molly:

The second part of it is thinking about the way you deliver it. People miss out on this part of offer creation because what we don't realize is that someone might be interested in solving a particular problem, or they might be interested in a particular topic. But they may not be interested in the way you're delivering it. Let's take Boom for example, a pre-sale article that Ezra has been using for over five years, that's the best acquisition offer ever created for that business is five makeup tips for older women. Simple pre-sale article, we optimize for purchases, there are different products on the page. It's an amazing, amazing pre-sale article.

Molly:

Well guess what? It also works really well as a lead magnet. A way we've been able to scale that business is to take that pre-sale article, turn it into a simple PDF, and put it behind an opt-in wall. There are some people that would rather give their email in exchange for an asset, and see that as higher value. There are some people that would rather read an article. So, this isn't just about the creation of new offers, but also the repackaging of assets that you already have to deliver them in a way that's going to reach more of the market that you're trying to reach based off of how they like to consume information.

Molly:

It's why videos and still images are equally as important on a paid traffic platform, because there are some people that like people. There are some people that react images. It's important to keep both of those in mind.

Brett:

I love that. So, what is the offer, and really crafting it and thinking about how do we make this offer irresistible, how do we craft this article so that someone says, "I have to have that. One, that designed just for me. Two, that's solving a real problem or it's meeting a real need. Three, I got to have it right now." [crosstalk 00:11:29] those things. Then also, how you actually deliver it.

Brett:

I want to break that down just a little bit. You had mentioned that sometimes you, John, and Ezra spend 15 hours crafting an offer where it looks like just a simple page, but you're really thinking about this. This goes way beyond the, "Oh, should we do a 10% discount? Or a 15% discount?" That's what I want to talk about here.

Molly:

Yes, but it's also different. What I would see, I would say, in 90% of students, is they spend those 15 hours on the ad, and "Oh, the offer, I'm just going to throw a page up there." It's like, no if you have to choose, it should actually be the other way around.

Brett:

The offer, yeah. Yeah, it totally makes sense. Walk us through a little bit. What is your process as you're thinking about crafting an offer? What questions are you asking? What are you thinking about? What do you want to have in front of you as you're building that irresistible offer?

Molly:

Of course. The first question is, what do we need? What need is there in the business that we are solving with this offer? So, the need might be "It's Q4 and we want to monetize, we need a sale, we need a promotion." Or the need might be, "Hey, we need more of an evergreen acquisition offer-"

Brett:

[crosstalk 00:12:48] need as business [crosstalk 00:12:49].

Molly:

As a business, exactly.

Brett:

Yep.

Molly:

So, is it more promotional? Monetization? Or do we need something more acquisition that's evergreen that's going to continue to bring new customers in? It always starts with what does the business need right now? We try to create one of these in each business once a month we're creating a new offer. A lot of times, we're using other offers that we've created in the past, but we try to create one new offer every single month. It first starts with "What do we need? What does the business need right now?"

Brett:

Awesome. Then what comes next? You understand "This is what we need. We need something evergreen. We need a quick hit in this area. This is what need as a business." What do you look at next?

Molly:

What are we going to sell? What is the true end goal of this offer? Maybe the end goal is for Smart Marketer, we're going to sell our Smart Paid Traffic course, and we want to do that on an evergreen basis. We always work backwards with offers. If you don't, you're going to end up with a funnel that doesn't really make a lot of sense, that might have a really attractive front end offer, but doesn't transition to the sale, which is the opposite of what we're looking for.

Brett:

Yeah, totally, totally makes sense.

Molly:

Then we pick-

Brett:

[crosstalk 00:14:10]. Yeah, please keep going.

Molly:

Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Then we pick the medium, so what medium do we feel is best suited for this particular scenario? That definitely comes down to business type. It comes down to what's already working in our business, what can we do more of, also what can we do that's different from what we've done in the past because maybe we have four or five evergreen acquisition offers running in our ad account. To add another, we either need to go after a different audience or we need to have a very different offer type that isn't going to compete with what we're currently doing.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, I love that. Let's look at some examples here related to Boom that I think will help people a lot. You guys are working on an acquisition funnel every month, and that acquisition funnel I would assume, starts with an offer. Is that where that begins?

Molly:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Brett:

What does that look like? Can you talk about any examples there for Boom?

Molly:

A great example of this is going back to "Five Makeup Tips for Older Women", the pre-sale article. We know that that works, so we know that this audience wants makeup tips, or they want to have discussions around makeup. What is something similar but different that we could do? Last year, we launched a lead magnet. We switched the delivery. It's not a pre-sale article. It's something you're opting in for. We're collecting the email address, and then going for the sale.

Molly:

So, using what we know works, but changing the conversation a little bit. Instead of five makeup tips, it was, or is, a 10 Minute Makeup Guide. So, still speaking to makeup, but now speaking to women who are less maybe concerned about the tips, but are more interested in the fact, "Holy crap, this only takes 10 minutes." That's an awesome speed and automation hook. That would be a good example of saying-

Brett:

[crosstalk 00:16:16] how to take care of your makeup, or how to do your morning makeup routine in 10 minutes or something like that, that's kind of the angle or the thought?

Molly:

Exactly. That came from a need of we have scaled the current evergreen acquisition offers as much as we can across our paid traffic sources. We need something new to talk about. We need to be able to walk into the party and have a similar, but different, discussion. Okay, let's change the topic and let's change the vehicle in how we deliver it.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. The five makeup tips, and yeah we've had the privilege of running that on YouTube for four years or five years or something, and it still works. The five makeup tips is great. It does appeal to the curiosity. People are like, "Okay, well I would like makeup tips. I'm over 50," and I should not, by the way we were talking old jokes, I'm not over 50, and I'm not a woman either, so you're thinking "I want to know what these tips are," so there's a little bit of curiosity and there's also some benefit there that you want to get, which is cool.

Brett:

But this 10 Minute Makeup Guide, that's speaking to someone who says... It really resonates well with that over 50 powerful women audience that Boom is after, is they're like, "I don't have time for makeup, and I don't want to take the time. 30 minutes getting ready for the day, no way." How did you guys land on that? Was that something that you heard consistent feedback from customers? Is there something you guys started to pick up on, because you know the customer? Where did that come from?

Molly:

In both businesses, these ideas usually come from the customer, or feedback to anything that we're doing from an organic standpoint. In our businesses, that's the benefit of social media. It's not that we're going for all this organic traffic, which is nice, but not always sustainable. We use social media as a way to test different conversations with the audience. Usually, this starts, for Smart Marketer, as a blog post, for example, and Boom, too.

Molly:

Last year, we've released a blog post about our "Love Demo Love Formula" which is a formula we teach to [crosstalk 00:18:23]-

Brett:

Formerly known as "The Testimonial Sandwich", so there was the artist formerly as "Testimonial Sandwich", that "Love Demo Love". Feels better.

Molly:

It's a formula, a template that we teach for ad creatives. We see that that does really well on the blog. The email has high open rates. People are spending a lot of time on that page. They're clicking on whatever call to action is within that blog post. Wow, this is something our audience is interested in. Can we turn this into some sort of acquisition offer? Sometimes, it also comes-

Brett:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:18:54] clarify, just so people understand because you may be lost like, "What are you talking about? Love Demo Love, and with Testimony? What the heck?" It's Ezra's tried and true ad formula of starting with a testimonial, a real user-generated content testimonial, or maybe a couple, like one to three, product demonstration in the middle, product video demonstration in the middle of the video, and then you close with more testimonials or more love. So, "Love Demo Love", and also what used to be called the "Testimonial Sandwich".

Brett:

So, anyway, I just wanted to clarify for those that are like, "What are you talking about?" All right, go ahead.

Molly:

A lot of times, it comes from conversations with the audience, a response from the audience. Then sometimes, it comes just random inspiration. For Smart Marketer, an offer we're working on right now that's going to happen soon is the "State of Paid Advertising in 2022", which is a free four hour workshop. It will show an analysis we did of over $60 million in ad spend. That just came from a random idea I had in the shower, what would this audience be interested in, how can I help set them up for 2022? It's not always coming from the customer. Sometimes it's just a random idea that comes in when you give it space.

Molly:

Usually, it is coming from something that already exists, or that we see from competition, or other people out in the market.

Brett:

Just an interesting side note, are you an idea in the shower person? Is that where your ideas come from? I'd just be curious to know where do your good ideas come from? What's the space where disproportionately you have good ideas coming from that space?

Molly:

It's really whenever I give it space. That's the key. It's usually, in today's world where things are so busy, forced space, time away from my phone, which is the shower, which is driving in the car, or hiking. If you guys are interested in this topic, read "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's one of my favorite books. I read it in 2015 or '16, but she basically explains how this works, like how does creativity actually work and how can you set yourself up to be more open to cool ideas? The cool ideas are out there. Most of us are just too shut off, too busy, too addicted to what we're doing to allow the ideas to actually come in. So yes, any time you give it-

Brett:

What was the name of that book again?

Molly:

"Big Magic".

Brett:

"Big Magic". Love that. I'm going to check that out. Just a quick note here, because I've always found this fascinating, I have zero good ideas in the shower. I really don't know that I've ever had one positive, useful, meaningful idea from the shower other than "Hey babe, we're out of shampoo." That's all I think about in the shower. However, for me, two places that I get disproportionately high amount of good ideas, one is if in the morning if I get up when it's still quiet, and I have eight kids so it needs to be early in the morning when it's quiet, but if I feel like I'm ahead of the game, if I feel like there's nothing that I have to do right that second and I can just kind of sit in the quiet, good ideas come from there.

Brett:

The other place, and this is an odd one, but on airplanes. I sit on an airplane. They shut that door. I never pay for WiFi, I just don't want to. Some of the ideas that have shaped OMG, that have shaped the agency, came from me sitting on an airplane. I don't know why. That's my shower time. I even said a few times, I'm like I should just go fly somewhere and then fly right back, and I'm going to get great ideas.

Molly:

A lot of people do that. I have a friend who took a flight to Hong Kong and back, and never even stepped into the city just to write a book. The reason for that Brett, those are different forms of meditation. It's the same thing. It's essentially cutting off stimulation that is-

Brett:

Right, there's nothing else.

Molly:

... keeping your brain busy so that your mind and your soul can be quiet, so that these ideas can really formulate. That's the key.

Brett:

I love that. I love the fact that I'm not the only one that loves... I don't even like sitting on airplanes, but I get the best ideas. Anyway, cool. That's awesome. Cool, so thank you for chasing down that rabbit trail. I think that's so useful. Where were we though?

Molly:

We were talking about offers that are working right now, and I was chatting about the 10 Minute Makeup Guide, the workshop we're doing for Smart Marketer, and just saying that lot of the ideas comes from what you guys say, what we see as a need out in the market. A lot of them are random, unique, creative ideas, which are fun too.

Brett:

So, really fostering both, so you kind of need a vehicle or a mechanism to collect that feedback from customers, and then you need to create space for yourself to have these good ideas, and then bring it together with your executive team to get the idea when you're relaxing or whatever, and then you bring it to the rest of the executive team and you hammer that out. It may be 15 hours, but at the end of that time you've got a killer offer that you can really use to grow the business.

Molly:

Yeah, Brett, and some other steps that I didn't mention there, just to sort of round out the actual tactical, how do we get it out the door. Once we have the idea and we feel good about the offer, we feel good about its ability to do what we need it to do in the business, then we go into action mode actually creating this thing. That usually looks like a brainstorm call with our copy team where we discuss what is this, and how is it going to be presented?

Molly:

We talk about the big hooks, what are the big selling points of this offer, what problems does this offer actually solve? Of course, how do we want this to be delivered? Is it a PDF? Is it a pre-sale article? Is it a simple opt-in page where we're giving a coupon, like you said? How will this be delivered. Then they're able to go and make it sound good, not only the page in which we're selling the thing, but also the delivery of the thing. Then of course, that's passed off to design, it's passed off to our ads team and everything starts to get into motion.

Brett:

It's so good to get copy involved early, because that's such an important part of everything else. You have to be able to really strike that cord and make people want it, and copy is such a huge part of that. I love that you do that fairly early on.

Molly:

Yeah, and it's not just writing the copy that is the offer. It's also the selling of the offer. Even if it's a free thing, you're still selling someone on the idea.

Brett:

Totally. Totally, yeah.

Molly:

Every new acquisition funnel is first tested through an email promotion to the list, because we don't want to go out and buy-

Brett:

Okay, so you build the product, you test the email, email to the list first.

Molly:

Yeah. Of course, it's always going to convert better to your list than it will to paid traffic. We want to test it to the list first before we start to buy ads, mainly because we want to see of course, what's the conversion rate on this thing if it's free, and does this actually generate sales? We can create offers all day, but if it's not meeting the need of the business, then it's not going to work. It's first tested to email. That also gets some good traction going on your pixel so that Facebook and Google can start to see what types of people are taking action on this page, get some momentum.

Molly:

Then we stop for a second. We look at heat maps. We look at conversion rate. We look at the performance from a data standpoint. We make any optimizations that we might need to make, and then it's ready to go to you and your team, and hand over to our media buyer for paid ads.

Brett:

I love that. I love that. So, you're testing to the email list first to understand does this convert. And hey, if it doesn't convert to your list, it's not going to convert to cold traffic.

Molly:

Exactly.

Brett:

So, does it convert, and at what level, and kind of understanding that a little bit. Then you're going to run some ads and start getting conversions, trying to pixel, finding out what's what. You pause that. You then look at heat maps, make some tweaks/optimizations to the funnel itself. Then you go ham on the advertising at that point.

Molly:

Then it's hopefully ready for scale. Probably half of these that we create don't work still to this day. That's okay. We say, "Let's put it on hold for a second." It's never that this just doesn't work, and we're not going to use it ever again. It's "Hey, let's put this to the side and try to figure out why it didn't work, and maybe we can use it later." There are a lot of times that we just can't get it to work, and that's okay.

Brett:

Right. Really, you guys are the best. You're the best in the world at some of this stuff. If you've got a 50% success rate, what's everybody else going to have? That's likely to be 50% or maybe less even. What's interesting, we just walked through that four step process you guys go through, most people it's like think for five minutes about an offer, maybe it's more than that, but think about an offer and then "All right cool, let's throw a bunch of media behind it to see how it does," where you guys are testing with your audience or email list, you're running some small tests and ads, you're getting data, you're optimizing and then you're going big. I love that so much.

Brett:

It kind of goes back to one of my favorite business principles that comes from Jim Collins, the author of "Good to Great", and a book called "Turning the Flywheel". He's an awesome... I'm sure everybody's heard of him. He talks about this concept of firing bullets and then cannonballs. He used kind of this old warship analogy. The idea is fire bullets to make sure you got something that works, and then fire a cannonball rather than a lot of people fire a cannonball and they use up all their gunpowder, and all they've got available, and they're like, "Well now I've got nothing."

Brett:

So, test small and then go big.

Molly:

Also, understanding that these offers are not channel-specific. A lot of people create an offer, which they don't spend a lot of time on. They set up a Facebook campaign. They run it for a few days, and then scrap it all. "Oh, this offer doesn't work, and Facebook ads don't work." It's like guys, no it's so much deeper than that.

Brett:

Totally. Totally. Your kind of creating these acquisition funnels then for Boom, and spoiler alert, Boom is going to be releasing new products this year, which is great. Your kind of creating one of these acquisition funnels for each product. That was another thing too with Boom, and Ezra talks about this a lot, that it was just the Boom stick trio, or just the boom stick, that's all that you really use for cold traffic. Now you're building these acquisition funnels for other products, which is huge, and which is going to be a game changer.

Molly:

Look, honestly acquisition funnels are way easier for e-commerce than info or services.

Brett:

They are. They are. No doubt.

Molly:

Info and services takes way more of relationship buildup before someone purchases. It's mainly lead generation through a workshop, or a webinar, or a lead magnet, or a challenge, or a mini series, or whatever the hell people are doing today to try to convert someone into a customer or client. It's a little bit of a different ballgame than e-commerce. A lot of the plays with e-comm can be easier. A lot of the offers that Boom runs are simple. It's direct to a product page for a lip gloss, direct to a product page for a mascara, direct to something that's a direct sale essentially. Where with info, we've got to dance around it a little bit more. The offer creation is even more intensive for that business type.

Brett:

Yeah, it is.

Molly:

Like me. Good lesson, what Ezra has been able to do with Boom I think after working with us at Smart Marketer, is realize that there is a huge hole in the e-commerce space for offer creation that isn't just a giveaway, that isn't just direct to product page, that isn't just a coupon. That is a big reason Boom is able to excel, because we do understand pre-sale articles. We do understand lead magnets.

Molly:

Boom is even doing webinars. They're called "Ladies Night". These principles work for both business types, and there's actually a much bigger opportunity in e-commerce to get more creative with your offers because other e-commerce businesses are simply lazy or don't know how to go about it.

Brett:

You nailed it a little bit ago when you said that in a lot of ways offers for e-commerce, it's simpler. It's more straightforward than it is to do info products. Info products, you really got to get to the core of what this thing, and what is it going to unlock, and what are all the emotions we're trying to tap into here, and uncover here.

Molly:

And give way more value first.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. How do you do that? So kind of blending some of those principles, it's super powerful and it's definitely helped Boom get to where it is today without a doubt. Cool. We've got a few additional things I want to talk about, and not a whole lot of time to do it-

Molly:

Brett, hold on. I want to add one more thing. This is one of the biggest reasons that you might be failing to scale as an e-commerce business. If you are only relying on the people that are clicking from a Facebook ad, and directly converting and buying a product, you're missing out on a huge part of your market that just isn't ready to buy in the moment. If you're able to generate the lead, if you're able to nurture them via email, if you're able to set up a funnel where they get some sort of discount, especially if you add some scarcity, your scalability will increase in a way that you never understood, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your advertising. It's just that you are having a conversation with a different part of the market. That's all it is.

Molly:

So, if you are struggling to scale, it's probably not the ad platform, and B, the e-comm company that is willing to go outside of the box.

Brett:

Yeah, totally agree. It's not just I need to bid differently, I need a slightly different campaign structure in my ads manager or inside of Google Ads. Those things may be true, but often it comes down to offer and having the right funnel. Are we actually getting people to give us their email address and get a direct conversion as well? Do we have a nurture sequence? Do we have a remarketing sequence built in? All of those things really unlock the ability to scale rather than just "How do I bid differently or change my campaign structure?"

Molly:

Brett, I would say that your most successful clients, and the ones that you like working with the most are probably strong in this area. As an agency, that's a dream.

Brett:

No doubt. No doubt.

Molly:

The issue you usually have an agency is that you're great at running ads. You only have a few places to run ads to. There's only so much you can do.

Brett:

Yeah, that's one reason we love working with Boom.

Molly:

Just emphasize.

Brett:

You guys get it, and we're just able to work together and crush it. That's fantastic. Cool. Any quick insights, and I kind of designed this podcast series to have a long shelf life, but let's talk about a few trends. What's working right now, or what are some trends inside of Facebook ads that you're seeing right now?

Molly:

Good news is, as we do each year, we're seeing a huge decrease in ad cost at the beginning of the year. Almost 50% cheaper in most of our ad accounts in the analysis. We did over $60 million in spend than what we were seeing Q4, which is a huge relief with the dumpster fire that Facebook was the last six months of 2021.

Brett:

No doubt.

Molly:

That's a huge sigh of relief. We're also starting to see more accurate reporting, or at least I think we're all getting better as marketers getting our stuff together from a tracking standpoint. So, things are looking up, and we are working on offers, working on creative and copy right now so we can really take advantage of the next few months of cheap traffic, and try to do everything we can to set us up for a big Q4 again this year.

Brett:

I love it. Just one thing to keep in mind, this is going to likely always be the trend. Advertisers panic in fourth quarter because costs are going through the roof. But the costs are going to come back down in Q1, so be planning, and be thinking about that, and what's your acquisition strategy going to be in Q1 and then as you lead into and get ramped up for Q4. So, that's awesome.

Brett:

Any other specific trends you want to talk about now? I also want to dig into a mindset just a little bit, which will be fun.

Molly:

Really quick, I wouldn't say this is necessarily a new trend for right now, but it's something we've been preaching for a few years that I just literally cannot emphasize enough. I was actually just on a training call with some of our students, and one of them sells physical products. He's in the snack and wellness space. His Facebook ad results that I was looking at were incredible, $0.04 clicks, 15% click through rate, $3.00 add to cart, numbers I have not seen in years.

Molly:

Guess what he's doing from an ad perspective? It's native advertising. It's user-generated content. It is simply telling stories about people in their own words the experience that they had not even specifically with your product. This was a weight loss product. So, his best performing ad was a picture of a beach with an arrow to a certain area of the beach. The copy was telling a story from the customer's standpoint of, "Last year I went to this beach and I couldn't even walk up the stairs without getting out of breath. I felt terrible, and my health wasn't great. This year, 12 months later, I've gone back to this beach. I've lost 90 pounds. I was able to run around, and I really enjoyed myself."

Molly:

Those weren't the exact words, but that's how simple it was. It wasn't an ad about the product. It wasn't an ad about how great this product was. Absolutely nothing about features. Really, not even a lot of benefits other than the benefits that were woven into the story. This isn't necessarily new, but it's what people are still missing out on when it comes to Facebook and Instagram. These are true social platforms. People are used to engaging with stories from family and friends. Use imagery and copy that is that. It's really that simple.

Brett:

I love it. I don't really ever see that changing. We spend a lot of on YouTube and running YouTube ads, and we're seeing similar things in that videos, and usually you need slightly longer videos on YouTube than you do on Facebook in most cases, but still that user-generated content, those testimonial videos that you could weave into your YouTube ad works there too. I think it's always going to work. As long as it's an authentic, genuine testimonial that really hits on "Here's how my life has changed. Here's why I love this product. Here's my story," people eat that up. I think people will always eat that up if it rings authentic.

Molly:

Because it's a testimonial, that's not what makes it work. We chat about this and then students submit a testimonial, and the first line is "I love this product so much." It's like, guys that's words of customer, but it sounds like an ad. We need to start with things like, "As a mom of two, I didn't think I would have time to do X, Y, and Z." How much more relatable is that? It doesn't feel like you are being sold to.

Brett:

Yeah, one time we had a prospect, and we ended up not working with him. He submits these videos and you could literally read the people that are supposed to be customers. You could watch their eyes reading from a teleprompter. I'm like, "Guys, this not going to work." You want people to be sharing real emotion and their real story.

Molly:

Yeah, well sharing a life story. It's not about why the product's great. It is sharing their story and how it fit into their lives. So, we ask three important questions to get really good testimonials. If you ask these questions, it will set people up to give you really good answers. What was life like before you bought this product? That has them describe that undesirable before state, starts to tell their story. What is life like afterwards? Now they're talking about the after state, the benefits, how much better they feel. Then if you were to re-commend this to a friend, what exactly would you say? When you say it like that, they take off their "I'm a salesperson for this company" hat, and they put on their "Oh, I'm writing a message, or speaking a message to a friend. I'm going to be real about how this product helped me."

Brett:

Love that so much. Actually, since I'm such a believer in testimonials, but getting authentic ones, I created "The Ultimate Guide", I don't remember what I called it, but how to get authentic customer testimonials. It's on the OMG Commerce website. Check it out. I'm not sure if I have those exact [crosstalk 00:40:34]-

Molly:

That's sounds like a good offer for your agency, Brett.

Brett:

It's a good offer. Yeah. We can do that as an offer too for Smart Marketer. It's so true. The difference between a really good testimonial and then an average testimonial is two different planets, two different universes. Getting a good testimonial is worth it's weight in gold. Having one that's average, is really going to do nothing for you, or one that's weak. Anyway, I love that.

Brett:

What was life like before? What was life like after? What would you say to a friend? I love that so much. It's also good, you want to give someone a little bit of help as they're creating a testimonial. Otherwise, it feels like they're staring at a screen and not knowing what to say, or looking at a blank page or whatever. So, giving them some help is key, for sure. I love that. Love that.

Brett:

Let's take just a couple of minutes, and we're going to be short-changing this topic for sure, but I wanted to take a couple of minutes because this will be fun and I think it's useful. It's been a difficult road the last couple of years for e-commerce, entrepreneurs, media buyers, online advertisers, not rough [crosstalk 00:41:47]. E-commerce has grown tremendously. That's been good. E-commerce has grown, so no complaints there.

Brett:

But it's challenging times. I know you train a lot of people, you train a lot of entrepreneurs and media buyers. What are you teaching people about mindset and how mindset impacts results?

Molly:

Mindset is everything in this game. I don't think any of us are maybe even better marketers than one another. It's your willingness to stay committed, and to continue forward. It's what we talked about earlier with us being okay with half of the work we do not actually being used. Or as a media buyer, it's not even about who can set up the best ads. It's about who can continue to troubleshoot and optimize to make each piece of the campaign better so that they can move forward.

Molly:

This is personal development, a concept that most of you have heard of before, but it's really the difference between having a scarcity mindset, or having an abundance mindset. For me, I choose to be grateful. I choose to not get upset with these paid traffic platforms. I choose to look at things with the glass half full. I think that if there was anything unique about our culture at Smart Marketer, that is it. We have all chosen this mindset.

Molly:

There is going to be trouble in anything you do. I think as a human, the last few years have been hard. It's easy to get down. Of course, I still get frustrated, angry, depressed. All of those things occur. But I try to choose to bring positivity to our business, try to bring it to our employees, to our offers, to the trainings that we provide. It really is a completely different experience when you choose to do that.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. I'm a really positive person. I'm naturally upbeat. I'm a glass half full kind of guy. But I have my moments. I have moments where I want to curse Tim Cook for the latest iOS update, and why are you killing a good thing, Tim Cook? Or whoever else is making the decisions at Apple. We can get in that mindset. It's okay to be frustrated and complain a little bit, but don't stay there.

Brett:

Get to a better place, because you're right, it's not just who's the smartest, it's not just who has the best campaign structure, but who can show up consistently and do the right thing, and who can be okay with "Okay, I got one, two, three campaigns that I wrote that didn't work, but then I had an offer that hit and then it scaled to the moon." Who could handle that?

Molly:

And who-

Brett:

Yeah, please add to that.

Molly:

[inaudible 00:44:31], and who actually cares? It's why I so believe-

Brett:

Exactly.

Molly:

... in the mission of our business that Ezra initially set out, serve the world unselfishly, and profit. If you truly care about the group of people that your business serves, and you care about the way that you're changing their lives, even if you're selling a toothbrush and you're helping their mouth to be cleaner, it doesn't matter. If you truly care about that, it changes the energy of the business.

Molly:

I can tell you, if you asked me "Molly, what is the difference between students that succeed or don't succeed, or friends that I know in the industry that have done great things, or people that are struggling," it really comes back to mindset, and it comes back to an authentic, genuine, caring for the group of people that you're serving. If you have that, and you stay consistent, there's no way that you can't make this work.

Brett:

Yeah, it's so true. If you can really be passionate about your customer, and I would even say about your team, then that's way more powerful than just being passionate about your product. I think both are important, but being passionate about your customer and about your team, that's really where's it at. One thing I discovered for me, and hey I've got lofty goals, I want my business to succeed and I want to it to grow, I think entrepreneurship, and businesses, and capitalism offer a lot to the world. If it's just about money, I burn out quickly. I get to a point where I'm like, "I don't really care anymore."

Brett:

But if I think about who I'm serving, and I think about that business owner that my agency is helping accelerate growth for, if I think about team members who were helping accelerate their individual growth, and I get to see someone step and lead a call, or mail a presentation, or come up with a strategy.

Molly:

Nothing better.

Brett:

I'm like "Whoa, I never thought of that." That is so fun for me, and so rewarding. Then when you key in on that, then guess what, the profits are better too, and then the business grows better too.

Molly:

Brett, aside from the money, I saw a study last year that rated digital marketing as the most stressful job or career path out there, even above brain surgeons, or people working in the medical field.

Brett:

That's crazy, yeah.

Molly:

I believe that. Think about it, we're basically day traders.

Brett:

[crosstalk 00:46:47] so much out of your control, and that's a scary thing. There's so much out of your control, it's scary. Yeah.

Molly:

Exactly. To be able to sustain that, and the changes, and the stress, and the fact that what we do never really turns off unless you choose for it to do so your mindset and who you are as a person, and how you treat yourself and the people around you, that is will what will sustain you moving forward more than anything else.

Brett:

Love that. So good. So good, Molly Pittman. All right, so people that are listening that are like, "Holy cow, I need more Molly Pittman in my life," where do you suggest people go? Obviously, there's lots of stuff people are going to enjoy at SmartMarketer.com, but where should someone get started, or what are some cool things, what are some offers you got going on right now?

Molly:

Yeah, check out SmartMarketer.com. There are some free resources there, depending on what we have going on at the time. I know this is coming out a bit later, Brett, so we do have that State of Paid Advertising in 2022 workshop coming up. We have lots of free resources on our website. If you want to follow me, I'm most active on Instagram @MollyPittmanDigital. I also read all of my DMs, so if you have questions, thoughts about this, I love hearing from you all and I would love to hear from you on Instagram.

Brett:

Instagram, check it out. What's your handle again?

Molly:

One more quick thing, Brett.

Brett:

What's your handle again on Instagram?

Molly:

@MollyPittmanDigital.

Brett:

@MollyPittmanDigital.

Molly:

Of course, if you like this format, you like podcasts, John, and Ezra, and I do have a podcast, The Smart Marketer Podcast. So, check that out.

Brett:

It is an intact podcast, where you get to be a guest for a couple of episodes. It was tremendously fun. Check out the Smart Marketer podcast. I'll link to all of this in the show notes as well so it's easy for you to access. With that, Molly Pittman, any final words? Any final words of wisdom, re-commendations, or asks of the audience?

Molly:

Keep doing it. Just keep at it. Take care of yourself. Maintain that balance in your life. Don't get sucked into this world so that you lose who you are. Or if you do, quickly bounce back from that. Just enjoy. We're living in a really cool time as humans, and there's a lot of crazy stuff going on. When have we ever had the opportunity to do what we're doing from a business standpoint?

Molly:

It's complicated, but also the world is truly at our fingertips. Find a group of people that you align with, that you're interested in, that you want to help, and figure out how you can serve them, and figure out what you can sell to them. I just always go back to being grateful that we are able to work in this way. It's really, really cool. Hopefully, you guys enjoy it too.

Brett:

I love it. It's a super challenging industry. It's always changing. It's very stressful. But man, it's fun. It can be fun, especially if you have the right community around you. If you can find that balance man, it's an awesome place to be. Check out Smart Marketer. Check out the community. Get to know Molly Pittman. Follow her on Instagram.

Brett:

With that, thank you so much for tuning in. This show would be nothing without you who tune in and listen faithfully. If you haven't rated the show, please do that. Leave a review. It helps other people find the show. If there's somebody that you're listening to this and you're like, "Whoa, this person needs to hear this episode," then share with them. That would mean the world to me, and I know it'd make a difference in somebody else's life as well.

Brett:

With that, until next time, stay spicy.



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Episode 200
:
Brandon Ham

3-Step Process for Writing Amazing Copy with Brandon Ham

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I’ve always believed that writing good copy is one of the most profitable skills you can have as a marketer. And even if you don’t want to write copy yourself, understanding the process that your team should go through to create great copy is super important.

Recently I spoke at Nick Shackelford’s Geek out in San Diego and I met Brandon Ham there. Brandon used to work for Agora Publishing, the multi-billion direct marketing behemoth that was built on great copy. 

Whether you want to write better email subject lines, create more engaging video ads, craft display ads that drive conversions, or improve your landing page conversion rates, this approach can really help.

Here’s what we cover:

  • Brandon’s 3-step research process for powerful copy.
  • How to spy on competitors and see what’s working and what’s not. 
  • The biggest mistakes to avoid when watching competitors.
  • How to “tell your story better”.
  • You sell with your ears, not with your mouth and what that means for copy.
  • How to speak your customer’s language.
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Brandon Ham

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

Zero to One

James Van Elswyk

Nick Shackelford

Geek Out

The Agora

Justin Brooke

Brett’s TikTok

David Ogilvy

John Caples

Claude Hopkins

“My Life in Advertising” & “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

Adbeat

Outbrand

Taboola

AdSpy

Meta (Facebook) Ad Library

VidTao

Anstrex

Semrush

BuzzSumo


Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry and I am so excited about today's topic. We're talking about how to write better copy. And what we're going to dive into today, I believe could transform, could impact the way you write email copy, the way you write your display ads and Facebook ads, the way you write your YouTube scripts. It applies to all of it. And I can't wait to dive in.

Brett:

So, my guest today is the co-founder of 021.inc. And those are all numbers, 021.inc, Brandon Ham. And Brandon is partners with James Van Elswyk and Nick Shackelford, two of my buddies and two people that I highly respect in the industry. And so I got to hear Brandon speak, he and I were both speaking at a recent Geek Out event in San Diego. And I took a ton of notes because everything Brandon was saying was like totally jiving with me. And really resonates with my background in direct response copy. As soon as he was done talking, I was like, "Man, I got to get Brandon on the show." And so with that quick intro, Brandon, welcome to the show and how you doing, man?

Brandon:

Great. Glad to catch back up, dude. It's been a bit. But great over here and excited to catch back up .

Brett:

Absolutely. So not only is Brandon wicked smart when it comes to marketing and all things copy and direct response, he's got a killer beard. So if you're not watching this video, I mean, it is a legendary beard. How long ... just for those that are interested, how long have you been growing that beard, Brandon?

Brandon:

Since lockdown. I used to rock a stash. I started with a beard, then there was a wedding, so I had to like trim up. My family wanted me to wear a goatee. I look very aggressive with the shaved head and a goatee. So did not feel good about that.

Brett:

Not everybody could do the goatee. Some people look friendly, most people just look angry with the goatee.

Brandon:

Yeah, no, I couldn't rock that anymore. I was like, I look too angry. So had to like change it up and I was like, "I'm not going back to like clean shaven." So I rocked the stash for a long time. And then lock down, it's like what?

Brett:

The stash can be friendly. The stash can also be creepy. Not everybody can do the stash either. I look super weird and untrustworthy, I think you could pull off the stash.

Brandon:

It's a decent stash. It's not as good as like some of the other guys, but it was decent. But then I was like, "Okay, lock down. Don't see anybody. It's time to grow it back." And then-

Brett:

Sweet.

Brandon:

Kind of just kept it going.

Brett:

We're looking at like two and a half years of growth to whatever. So it's awesome. All right, man. So give us your background really quickly because you've done some stuff for Agora and of course you've got amazing partners with James and Nick. But give us kind of the 90 second background and we're going to dive into your approach to writing effective copy.

Brandon:

Yep. So I am a media buyer by trade. I still love media buying, geek out about it all the time. So actually that was my job at Agora. I was a media buyer for one of the divisions. And while there, I actually worked-

Brett:

And for those who don't know, I think a lot of people listening do know and a lot of people listening are like, "Whoa, you work for Agora." There are other people that are like, "What's Agora?" So, give the 30 second pitch. It's impressive to me because I've been following Agora for years and years. But give us the low down.

Brandon:

Agora is a billion dollar publishing company, they publish financial newsletters, health newsletters. And everything they do is based on copy. They spend a ton of money on traffic, which is why I wanted to go there and like learn as much as I could. Which I did. And then, it's just very different than like eCommerce or whatever, but the learnings are very applicable-

Brett:

Very applicable.

Brandon:

To all businesses.

Brett:

Yeah, it's a legendary space for direct response marketing and copy and long form copy. Like my buddy, Justin Brook was there and Perry Belcher's got some ties there. And I took a copywriting course that Michael Masterson put together. Anyway, just Agora is an impressive place, for sure. Okay, awesome. So continue on the background.

Brandon:

So while there, got to work with a bunch of amazing people. One of the groups, people I worked with was James Van Elswyk. So while as a media buyer, I was like, "Who do I want to network with?" So I picked out like the big media buying gurus on the network site, like Native. I really wanted to... Native, so I hired James Van Elswyk to run as an agency for us. Me and him hit it off, he made a ton of money with us. Me and him worked very well.

Brandon:

So when it came time that I was like, "Hey, I've done my learning growing, I'm leaving Agora." I hit him up. And he was like, "Hey, why don't you come help build our copy team for the Native side? Like you helped bridge that gap between Agora's copywriters and us as a media buyers. Why don't you do something similar and just like home grow some copywriters?"

Brandon:

So then I took over the copy side for James's Native agency. Because on Native traffic, you have to write a lot of advertorials, it's very cold traffics. The copy needs to be great and you need out of system for that. So we built that. And then over the last year we were like, "Hey, what if we built a copy agency, specifically focused on advertorials? Because that's what we really have an expertise in." And that's where we've even systemized our process more, which will cover today, like our research and stuff.

Brett:

That's awesome. Love that background. And what's so interesting about what we'll talk about today, is most of the work when it comes to writing copy or a lot of the work, it comes in the research phase and comes in the prep stage. And so that's mainly what we're going to break down here is your approach to researching copy so that you can write amazing copy. And you're right, if you're running Native ads or you're creating advertorials, nothing is more copy intensive. And the margin of error is really slim there, you've got to be spot on. But these principles and these lessons can apply to e-com and anywhere really. So that's why I'm thrilled to dive in.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Sweet. So let's talk about this. So your approach is called, All You Need, emphasis on A-L-L, it's an acronym.

Brandon:

Yes.

Brett:

And so we're going to dive into these and easy to remember. Love acronyms. We all love acronyms. And so we're going to dive in. So the first one is ask. And one of the things you talked about and my buddy, Justin Brooke talks about this too, when you're looking at, "Okay, what's the angle we're going to take here?" So again, display ad, email copy, YouTube video, Facebook ad, whatever. Are we going to go pleasure or are we going to go pain? So are we going to be encouraging someone to pursue pleasure? Or are we going to be encouraging someone to avoid pain?

Brett:

You talked about it like, are we trying to get people to heaven or get them to avoid hell? That's kind of the way to frame it. So talk about that a little bit and how does that influence the ask part of your approach?

Brandon:

Yeah. So when we say ask, what we're trying to do is we're trying to get all the information out of the product owner. If you're an info based business, the guru. What we're trying to do is extract and ask all these important questions to get the information out. Specifically from the product side. So right now we're focused on the product.

Brandon:

So what we do is we'll ask, "How does this keep customers ... how does it get them towards their goal? How does it keep them from falling behind?" So, pleasure versus pain. Because it's better than just listing like, "Hey, what's great about your product?" Because usually what you'll get is a list of benefits, which people then just slap on their product page which does not-

Brett:

Or features, which are even less compelling often.

Brandon:

Yeah. A little less useful. So, what we do is we have a ton of different questions that we just run through with a product owner or with a guru to just extract all this. Pleasure versus pain, basically how they would describe how they can get people towards pleasure or away from pain. That gives us like two little things. There's other questions, so for example, we'll ask them about ... first, we'll get all the benefits and features. We'll just go through a list. So, okay, give us all of this. And like, we have a ton of questions that their sole goal is just get all of the information on one page. And after we've done this for like 30, 40 minutes with someone, you really start digging deep. And like to get something new, they really have to think. And that's where a lot of our other questions come into it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. So you gave an example, which I loved and again, I've got a marketing background, I've read a lot of the greats. Actually, I'm creating some TikTok videos now, so depending when this episode comes out, follow me on TikTok @TheBrettCurry, I'm just giving it a shot. We'll see what happens.

Brett:

But talking about some of the marketing greats, like David Ogilvy and John Caples. And then who we're going to talk about right now, Claude Hopkins. Claude Hopkins wrote my life in advertising and scientific advertising, really old books. And Jay Abraham, who some of you will know and many of you won't. He said he read, My Life In Advertising and Scientific Advertising like a dozen times. And he said each time he read it, he felt like it made him a million bucks. This is like super, super powerful book. It's old, but a lot of it still applies today.

Brett:

So tell the story about Claude Hopkins and Schlitz Beer. Because I think it underscores what can come out in this process.

Brandon:

Yeah. So Claude Hopkins was hired by Schlitz Beer to help them come up with the campaign to make more money. I think at the time there were like 12th on the list out of the beers. They weren't very popular, to say the least. So in the process, he's asking all these questions, going through his research and at one point he's like, "Hey, can I walk through your manufacturing plant and see what's going on there?" So he goes through, he sees they filter their beer so many times, they steam the bottles so many times. Like they have this whole huge complex purification and quality control process.

Brett:

There's like a 5,000 foot artisan wells that are dug to pull this water out of and just crazy.

Brandon:

Yeah, like it's insane. And he's like, "Hey, why don't you talk about this?" And so context real quick, at this time, all of the beer companies, like the thing people cared about was the purity, the quality. So everyone was saying, "Hey, my beer is the purest." "No, my beer's pure." "My better quality." Like that's what people cared about.

Brett:

Yeah. So now it's like, calories or just image, so beer is sold differently today. Then like purity and quality was a big deal. Because this was in the twenties, thirties, something like that.

Brandon:

Yeah. I want to say around there.

Brett:

Yeah, we'll call it that. Close enough.

Brandon:

Long time ago.

Brandon:

So everyone was saying, hey ... it was just a, mine's better, mine's bigger, mine's pure, whatever. That was the claims. And so when he went through this whole process, he like, "Why aren't you talking about your process here? This is amazing." And they're like because this is the same process every beer goes through, everyone does this. And he is like, "Yes, but no one's talking about it." So after that trip, he wrote up a campaign for them, which skyrocketed them up ... I don't know if they're first. But they're in the top, probably three. Like they were winning at that time because they talked about something which was common to every beer, but no one was talking about it. It wasn't common knowledge to the average person, so the average person was blown away.

Brett:

Yeah. So Claude Hopkins did two things. One, he understood what people wanted and he keyed in on that. So, that's the first thing. Two, he understood there's a story here and you are missing it, Schlitz Beer, because you're too in this, you're too close to the product to see it from an outside perspective.

Brett:

And here's what I believe about products. I believe most products are not crazy unique. There are a few ... take a purple mattress, as an example, where maybe they're the only mattress that passes the raw egg test, maybe they're not. But that's where in the ads, they drop the big sheet of glass onto the raw eggs that are on top of the mattress and the mattress cradles it. So like, that's a unique thing, nobody else maybe can say that and certainly no one else is saying that. But there's a lot more products where, okay, a lot of the processes are the same, then you just have to say it better. And if you're the first one to bring something to light and make it clear and compelling. Then it's pretty hard for your competitors to come back and say, "Oh, we do that, too." Then it loses it's power.

Brett:

And so yeah, digging into the product, asking questions, understanding what's important to the customer. How do we bring that to life? And also that pain versus pleasure is really important. Anything else you would dive into on the ask portion of your all process?

Brandon:

I would say, just go as deep as you can. Especially if you own a brand, like agencies can only go so deep because they have to do this for everybody. As a brand owner, you should have a folder that's just chalked full of everything about your product. Just a list of its features, its benefits, how it's manufactured, quality control. Because once you have all this information, as well as the stuff we will cover, you can basically pass it to your internal people when it comes time to write or create new assets. Or if you work with an agency, you can give this to an agency or a creative agency.

Brandon:

And with the amount of information, you can blow your competition out of the water. Because normally what happens is ... like you're saying, there's so many products that are unique. What's the difference between one pen and another pen? Now if all of a sudden you talk about, "Hey, in the manufacturing process, we pressurize the ink cartridge. So it results in a constant steady flow of whatever." Think about when you normally work with an agency and they're like, "Hey, send us over everything you can." Are you going to send them, "Oh yeah, our cartridges are pressure controlled, whatever." If it's obviously not something already on your webpage. You might not have picked up like, "Hey, this is big. We can use this." But if you just everything, compile on a folder paper, and that way you can pass to people, like it's huge.

Brett:

Yeah. And so, what we're trying to find here is stuff that you as a brand owner may think is boring or may think is just obvious or old hat. But it's going to be new and exciting to customers. What are some of the specific questions you ask? Because I know one that I took a note on was, what's something about your product that would surprise me? And that may take a little digging and thinking again, because most brand owners are too close to our product. But I love that question. What's something about your product that would surprise me? What other questions are you asking?

Brandon:

Yeah. So some of the other questions like ... hey, quick on note on that one, that one we usually ask at the end. Just because at the end they've been so primed, they've literally told us everything they can think of. And then it's like, "Okay, you've told me who knows how much for the last hour. What's something that's going to surprise me? What's something you haven't told me?" It really makes them dig deep or like refine what they've previously said.

Brandon:

But some other questions, like other things we try to collect is basically any rewards, information about the product owner. So is there a backstory to the company? People bond with like founder stories. So, is there anything about your company? Is it all woman company? Did it start from a garage? Like just little things like that.

Brandon:

Other things is like proof points. So do you have any video proof of, let's say it's a teeth widening, do you have a time lapse of the teeth getting whiter? Did you have a study done? There's all these different proof points that we just try to collect. Have you been featured in anything?

Brandon:

Like, even if ... this is something I thought about the other day, we don't ask this. But the best proof is, for example, like think of a product, let's say you have a ... let's just say a book or whatever. That's not the ideal one, but you have a book. And all of a sudden you see a celebrity doing like a podcast or they're streaming something. And in the background, you see your book on their shelf, like the book you wrote. Like that could be huge proof that if you don't keep that, record it and put in something, then it won't ever pop up later. So like just having a process for any proof point that your team you comes across of, even if like you didn't originate, like, "Hey look, this celebrity's wearing our shirt." You just need to put it in a folder for later because one day someone will find an amazing way to use it.

Brett:

I love that. I love that. Anything ... and really, as you train yourself, as you go through this process, start looking for stuff. Anything that you think you may be able to possibly use one day, save it, put it a folder and drive or whatever and keep that. So awesome. Okay. So, that's the A part of the All Process. So the next is look, so this mainly keys in on spying on competitors, which I'm a big fan of. I think there's a lot of misconceptions here, too, and a lot of mistakes that could be made as you're spying on competitors. We'll talk about that in a minute. But what is your advice? How do we spy on competitors? And what do you recommend? We'll dig into some tools in a minute.

Brandon:

Yeah. So spying should be a standard practice of your team. Generally it should be, A, at least do it monthly. Monthly, go into the spy tools, download everything that's applicable, A, to your brand, but also cross niche. Like some of the biggest takeaways can be taken from like you may see a financial offer and it may have one section which all of a sudden you can take over to your physical product and it can make a huge difference. So for example, on a financial avatar I was reading, it talked about, "Hey, here's proof that everything we're saying is true. Here's the guy's tax return. Here's his tax return that shows he actually made this much money." You're like, "Wow, this is amazing." Well, how can you do that for eCommerce? How can you bring that level of proof?

Brandon:

And when you see this in other niches, all of a sudden you can be like, "Okay, how can I do this for eCommerce?" So it's like, if it's a review story, maybe you put a picture in of the receipt or if it's a study, all of a sudden you bring a journal, it's been featured in ... it's one thing to say it's been featured in Times Magazine. It's another thing to actually take a picture of it on your phone and include that on the page. Like, how can you prove what you're saying? And so just looking in your niche for like trends and what the market is currently seeing, but across everything. If a direct response eCommerce like any offer is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, millions of dollars a month. If it's one of the top offers, I don't care what niche it is, I want to see it because there's something I can learn from it.

Brett:

Absolutely. Yep. If someone is spending hundreds of thousands dollars on it, you know it's creating a return. And so if it's creating a return, you want to know why. And you want to be able to break that down and really look at it. So let's talk about what are some of the ad spying tools that you like and that your team uses regularly?

Brandon:

Yeah. So my favorite personally is Adbeat. So Adbeat, it's best used for spying on like GDN traffic, so Google display network and like high tier Native. So like Outbrain and Taboola. It does feature smaller Native networks, that's not normally how I use it. I love that tool just the way it works. You can clearly see how well things are performing. When I get, I always do the mid tier or higher, I've had different tiers of it. But the mid tier gives you 90 days history, I think, or more. You at least want that much amount of history. So you can see how long something's ran.

Brett:

Yeah. So something is ran ... what's your cutoff? Are you looking for something that's run for at least 60 days, 90 days? What are you typically looking at?

Brandon:

60 to 90 is like a good ... like most people aren't going to lose for super ... over 90 is the ideal. Just because you look at what agencies pitch. And agencies, when they come to you they're like, "Hey, we're going to do a three month contract. We're going to work together for three months. Month one, we're going to test a lot of stuff. Month two, we're going to break even profit. Month three, scale, whatever. That's like the normal pitch.

Brandon:

So it's like during that three months, technically an ad that still could be losing could be like inching it's way along. Now if it's spent a ton of money, that's the other metric. If it has a ton of views, if it's a YouTube ad, if it has a ton of money spent behind it, according to the spy tools. You can get away with it being live less time. But if you're not sure on the actual performance of the ad, the longer is the better, because no one's going to leave an ad longer than three months, even two months is like, eh, that's like losing. It just doesn't happen.

Brett:

Right. Right. Makes sense. Yeah, Adbeat, what else are you looking at?

Brandon:

Adbeat for Facebook specific Adspy. Adspy is good. Then you can get actual-

Brett:

Are you using a combo of Adspy plus the Facebook ad library kind of using ...

Brandon:

So, I-

Brett:

Facebook ad library, that's a tool that a lot of people don't know about. You have to look at a specific advertiser, but it's free. And it's Facebook hosted, so you can dig in and see anyone's ads.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Do you use those two together?

Brandon:

I use them slightly differently. I used to not need Adspy or a Spy Tool because the Facebook ads library, if you right click to video, you could get a video URL, you could actually get the exact post ID. So then you could go read all the comments on it, that doesn't work anymore. So the downside of ads libraries, you cannot see the comments, you can't see the interaction, the likes, the proof, how many video views, like you don't see that anymore. So you're still guessing, unless you're looking at time. And then is it retargeting ad? It could just be like ...

Brett:

Right.

Brandon:

Where Adspy by it will link you to the actual post IDs. So you can see the comments, you can see how many millions of views are on it. So that's the one benefit over. Ads library can be good just to a quick refresh and a quick look, because Spy Tools can be a little more complicated, it takes a little more time. Or if you're not in the spot where you can spend money, A, I always think spending money on Spy Tools is worth it, always.

Brett:

Totally.

Brandon:

But if you can't justify it right now, ads library will get you 80% of the way. So those are the main two, there's obviously like Vidtao for YouTube, if you're doing YouTube.

Brett:

Yeah, we use Vidtao for YouTube, it's great. And again, it's going to-

Brandon:

And it's free.

Brett:

Show you top spenders on YouTube. Yeah.

Brandon:

Yeah, Vidtao is free, so it's a great tool if you're not already using it. And Anstrax, that's more of a lower tier Native. So this is really relevant for like affiliates, drop shippers. Like it's a lot more aggressive stuff. Not always the best learnings. I prefer Adbeat, but Anstrax does show stuff. You can get Anstrax for push notifications, if you're doing push traffic, stuff like that.

Brett:

Cool. Cool. We love Semrush, if you want to look at search ad copy and display and things like that, or Google shopping, some spying intelligence tools there. So Semrush is great for that.

Brandon:

Semrush also gives you some display ads. I haven't used it in the past three years, but it used to be my go to. Because I needed the keyword research as well as some display. And it does have some display. So if you already have Semrush, you can probably not need Adbeat for a while, you'll be close enough.

Brett:

That's great. That's great. So I love the idea and I heard about the swipe file idea from way back in the days when I took my first copywriting courses and stuff like that. So spying and seeing what competitors are doing and seeing what unrelated companies are doing and learning from that, super valuable. But there's some temptations here, there's some mistakes that could be made as you're spying on competitors. So what are the mistakes to avoid in this process?

Brandon:

The big mistakes are people copy or rip. Like, again, we're not looking to copy or rip people off, like we're not trying to recreate their ads. What we're looking for is trends and learnings. Which is why looking across niches can be super helpful, it gets rid of that temptation.

Brandon:

But inner niche, like let's say if you sell baby blankets or whatever. Let's say you spy on all your competitors and what you can do is look for trends. So trends in images. So maybe there's pictures of a baby holding a blanket. And so you collect all those images and that's like image type one, that's a trend. Then you see, "Oh, Hey, there's product only, but it's all nice and folded next to like a pacifier or baby bottle or whatever." So, that's like an type two image. Then there's type three where it's like, "Oh, Hey, the mom's out and about, or maybe there's a crying baby, maybe that's image type four." What you can do is look for trends and then recreate those.

Brandon:

Because after having so many different types and organizing them visually like visual aspects, you can then tell your team to be like, "Okay, there's a ton of people with working ads that show this type of image. Now let's go recreate that type of image ourselves." So like that is the easiest example. Like with copy, people get tempted, they're like, "Oh, let me take this part or whatever." But with images, obviously you can't advertise someone's product. So like that's the best example. Like you're looking for trends which then you can recreate and apply to your business.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. We're looking for inspiration, we're looking for ideas, we're looking for trends. We're not looking to plagiarize. That's not a way to find success.

Brandon:

Yes. So, that's mistake one. Mistake two, we kind of touched on earlier is like studying ads that don't work. So you need to look for ads that have been around a long time or you have proof that they're working. If you ever hear from like friends or you talk to people and they're like, "Oh yeah, we're spending this much money." And they're a believable friend or you've seen their ad account, add it to your swipe file. You know how well they're doing, why not study it? They're a different niche, it doesn't matter. You can learn something to benefit your business, to benefit your market.

Brett:

Yeah, you could look at a spy tool and be like, "Oh, look at that ad. I like that ad, let's copy that or let's be inspired by that." You don't know if it's a winning ad or not if you don't dig a little deeper and see how long it's been running and how many views it has, how many comments it has, things like that.

Brandon:

And that's a big mistake with people that just screenshot their Facebook ad, like going down their feed or the ad library, even occasionally. Is they all of a sudden are looking for inspirational ads that don't work. Where if you dig deep on the spy tools, you can get certain the ads work or if your friend tells you, "Hey, we're crushing on this or whatever."

Brandon:

The other mistake is not doing cross channel spying. Like if you only run YouTube, like YouTube ads are displayed in a certain way. YouTube ads generally appear differently than Facebook ads. But you can take learnings cross channel, but they will not be exact. So it's kind of a toss up on ... some things work very well on one channel, they don't work well on another channel. So it's not always a guarantee, but it's still important to see. Because like people interact in different ways and the core message or core angle still could be passed over to a different channel in a different way. So spy cross channel. Just because you only run Facebook ads or YouTube ads, don't think that's the only way to do it. There are other places to look, but that does not mean it will work when you take it from a different channel.

Brett:

Exactly. But I still love the learning process there. So as an agency, we run YouTube and Google traffic, we don't run Facebook traffic. But I love looking at Facebook ads. Because what we've found and when you really get to know your channel, you know what elements of other channels translate and what elements don't. So as an example, if we find an ad that's really crushing on Facebook, a video ad, often we can uncover some elements of, "Hey, that probably makes for a good hook." That opening of that Facebook video could be a good hook on YouTube. It's not going to be likely all we can see on YouTube, but it might be a great hook.

Brett:

Or another example is, you see something in Instagram, that's very product demo heavy. Or we see this sometimes on sponsor brand video on Amazon. Although most of those are bad, honestly. But we see like a really great product demo video. And we think, "Okay, that could be used in a YouTube ad for the product demo portion." Which is not usually at the very beginning of an ad. So, cross channel learning is great.

Brandon:

So real quick, I didn't even mention this when I originally talked about it, but something I've been thinking about more recently too, is just looking ... yes, looking at your competitor's ads, whatever. But also looking at what the market looks at. So again, like you brought up like Amazon, whatever. But there are things like documentaries, what do people just consume in that market that's relevant to your niche? If you sell vegan protein, go watch those vegan documentaries that went viral on Netflix. Like there is something you can learn because after those-

Brett:

Like there's clues there and what that market is interested in.

Brandon:

After those went viral, like everybody was like, "Hey, maybe I want to be vegan now." Or this or that. Documentaries are a great source, viral blog posts. Like there's always something that like ... or even just like organic Facebook videos. I use that a lot of times for image inspiration. Or even YouTube ads ... not YouTube ads, YouTube videos, just straight YouTube videos. The thumbnails, the intros, the hooks. Like studying just organic stuff. Like spying is easy because you can see the spy tools. There's other stuff for organic, is it BuzzSumo? There's other ones that like rank blog posts, rank whatever. But also if you know, Hey, this is a top documentary in my niche, this is this. You can learn something from it. Which then you can translate to your ads, as well.

Brett:

What's the language that they're using? What are the specific words they're using? What are the things they're really keying in on? Yeah, really great points. So much to learn from documentaries and blog posts and other things, rather than just spy tools. Yeah. Awesome.

Brett:

All right. So, we got ask, we got look, last L is, listen. And I love that you said this you believe is the most important, if I wrote that note down right anyway. And you also said, and I love this, you sell more with your ears than you do with your mouth. And I know we're talking about digital marketing and stuff, but anyway, I love that quote though. So, explain the listening portion of your process.

Brandon:

Yeah. So on ask, we looked at our product and our product owner. On listen, we're looking at the market, what our competitors are doing, like in a broad sense. The listen, we actually look for feedback from the market itself. So we're looking for what are customers objections? What are their feedbacks about us and our competitors? What are their personal experiences in the market and industry in general?

Brandon:

So basically we kind of divided out into a couple main channels. Like there's a lot of different ones you can look at. But for example, with Facebook, we'll look at Facebook comments to see people's questions, concerns, their objections. Like what are Facebook comments that are useful? Like looking at them. It's a complaint about, "Hey, this didn't work for me." Or whatever. Which if you can find those on your competitor's ads or your own, you can improve. But also it's questions like, "Does this work for this? Does this work for this?" And all of a sudden you were hearing from your market on what you can do to improve. And nobody look ... okay, very few people look at Facebook comments because media buyers, they have enough on their plate that they're not going to look at Facebook comments, they don't manage it. Normally what happens is you have a ... what are those? I'm drawing a huge blank.

Brett:

Like just the-

Brandon:

Customer service team. You have a customer service team or a social person manage it. That information almost never makes it back to copywriters or media buyers, or they blow it off. And like, "Hey, people don't like this ad." And you're like, "Well, yeah, but it's working. So we're going to keep doing it." That's the normal response. So if you dig into comments and look for trends again, where it's like, how many people are complaining about this issue? How many questions are popping up about this? And you just manually pull, have someone go through and just pull comments from your ads, as well as your competitors. You can see like, hey, in this market ... let's say you're doing a polish for a car. All of a sudden you see people asking like, "Hey, how long does the polish last?" All of a sudden, can I use it for examples-

Brett:

Can I use it on multiple surfaces? Can I use it on glass and on the paint? Can I use it on the tires?

Brandon:

Exactly.

Brett:

Things like that. Yes, so you're understanding, what are the questions? What are the hurdles? What are the objections? We're uncovering these because customers are telling you, so you're uncovering those and then you're able to address those in your ads.

Brandon:

So yeah, then you can address those in your ad, your pages, whatever. So that is one. Another source we look at is Amazon. So the product reviews of our products, our competitors' products. So you can go in and you kind of see the feedback and stories of success. Or kind of how it failed. Like, I personally don't like one star reviews, they're usually garbage.

Brett:

Usually those are people that...

Brandon:

Two star reviews-

Brett:

Usually those are just people that are angry with life.

Brandon:

Yeah, exactly. There's not much information. But two star reviews, you usually get like an actual thing. Like someone says, "Hey, this pain cream, it burnt me. It scarred me." All of a sudden you start seeing trends like that. Or it made my skin more sensitive. You can bring that up like, "Hey, our cream doesn't make your skin sensitive like other brands." Or this or we know your pain. Like that, as well as the success stories. So looking at five and four stars, you get an eye of what's like real. But you can start seeing trends and you can run these through like a word cloud. But run them through and like, what are people saying? How are they describing their success?

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And you talked about looking ... you gave one example about snow teeth whitening on Facebook. And one recurring comment was, "Can I drink wine? Can I drink coffee when I'm going through this process?"

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Maybe like, "Oh, well, like of course." I wouldn't even thought that we need to address that. But that's what everybody's wondering. So you need to address that.

Brandon:

Yeah. And they did, and it took off. I saw those ads everywhere, people were asking for a long time in the comments. And then when they addressed that, it went crazy.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. It's so interesting that sometimes being creative really just means spotting things. Not creating things from scratch, but spotting things. Spotting that, "Oh, this is what they want and this is the thing keeping them from buying now that I see that." Okay, now I'm going to bring that to the forefront and address it in ads and things like that.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, awesome. You also talk about the language that people use because that's important. You don't want to use the totally ... you don't want to use graduate level language when people are using slang that are your customers. Like you want to speak their language and in any examples there? And I think you also ... there was one women's product that you gave an example of.

Brandon:

Yeah, so while we do the spying, while we look for feedback from customers. What we're doing is we're pulling out their language. So like, how did they describe their problem? How did they describe their desired result? What did they describe as their desired action?

Brandon:

So for example, in ads for an anti wrinkle product, it was using like word saggy jowls, Turkey neck, stuff like that. The desired action was to like eliminate or erase or tighten, snap back. All of a sudden you can get all these different ways to describe it. And then like the desired result, like if you look through Reddit, there's a lot of forums on how these women want dewy skin. So it's like bright, plump. I haven't looked at that in a while. But dewy-

Brett:

Dewy, pretty interesting.

Brandon:

That is a key word for them. Yeah, so all of a sudden you can use that in ads, you're speaking their language, you're getting unique words that they resonate with, that then you can implement in your marketing. So all of a sudden, let's say you have a winning headline and it's like, "Hey, you erase your crows feet or whatever." You can change erase to what if it's tightened, disappear, lift? You can change crows feet, maybe there's other things. And all of a sudden you can play with the different language. Same thing for e-comm physical products. There's ways they describe the joy they felt, how it fixed the problem. There's no more like whatever, my kid doesn't cry all night. They might describe it some way else that you can then implement.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. Love that. And I think there's also some tips you gave or some suggestions where sometimes ... and like we were at Geek Out, dominated by dudes. I don't know why. But it's like dudes that are media buyers and stuff like that. And sometimes there's a lot of dude copywriters. But we're selling a product to women, like we need their input and what are the actual words they're using? And so, you want to bring in some diversity as you're doing your research and want to make sure you're getting feedback from the right people. And anything to speak to there?

Brandon:

Yeah. And that actually plays into like the final step of this research is like, when we use our research, when we write, we like to have three copywriters, at least. Three to four, maybe five in a room. All with different backgrounds, all with different experienced levels. Because when they brainstorm together, it's a different dynamic. They have like a hive mind where they're able to comb through everything, bounce ideas off each other and come to new conclusions. Which results in better promos.

Brandon:

So like for us, that was the core reason we wanted to build bigger copy teams, is we noticed the more copywriters we have on a project, the better it works. And that's where like, okay, as a brand owner, it may not make sense to have three copywriters all specialize in this one field. But let's say you have an email copywriter, as well as a ad and product page copywriter, they can interact. You throw in a third person, maybe you, the media buyer or the product owner or whatever. At least at a minimum, having three people within the company. Could even be customer service or something. But like three people discussing all of the research, going through it and bouncing new ideas off each other is where you'll come up with new breakthroughs.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And really, if we look at what drives success on ad platforms, whether it's Facebook or Native or GDN or YouTube or TikTok. It really comes down to the copy and the script first. Obviously then how those things are executed, if it's video, who your spokesperson is, who's actually delivering it if it's video or an image, that's important. But it all starts with a script.

Brett:

Just like your favorite movies, the best movies have great scripts. The best shows have great scripts. And so you got to have good copy. And really it all begins here. And this process is less about being creative and more about asking, looking, and listening. And then delivering exactly what your customers want in a fresh way based on trends. And so I love this process, man. It's super awesome. This has been very, very valuable. I can keep talking about this stuff because I geek out about it. But as people are listening and they think, "All right, I got to dig in more. I either got to learn more from Brandon or I got to connect with Brandon and James and Nick's company." How can they learn more from you? Do you have any resources, any guides, anything like that?

Brandon:

Right at the moment, no. But I'm always willing to chat. And if they just want to hit me up on Twitter, just search. IamBrandonHam on Twitter. That's my, whatever we call it.

Brett:

Twitter handle.

Brandon:

Handle, yeah.

Brett:

Exactly.

Brandon:

So hit me there. You can DM me. I don't really care. Always down to chat. You can check out our website, 012.inc, but I don't think you'll get as much value. Add me on Twitter and you can hit me up whenever.

Brett:

Awesome. Love that. And that's 021, all numeric .inc.

Brandon:

Yep.

Brett:

Brandon Ham, ladies and gentlemen. Brandon, this was awesome, man. Thank you so much.

Brandon:

All right. Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

All right. Awesome.

Brett:

Thanks again. We really appreciate you. And Hey, as a listener we want to hear from you, what would you like to hear more of on this show? Also, we got a new podcast, Spicy Curry, check that out, as well. We'd love your feedback. We'd love that review on iTunes. And until next time, thank you for listening.





Episode 199
:
Amber Norell and Trenton Bodenbach - OMG Commerce

Prime Day 2022 Recap - Surprises, Insights and Lessons for the Next Prime Day

Prime Day is now one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year for both shoppers and sellers.

It started in 2015 as a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amazon.  Mostly it was designed to help boost sales during one of the slowest times of the year (July). 

It has since grown dramatically and rivaled some of the largest shopping days of the year. 

In this episode, we break down what we saw this year including some surprises, key learnings, and take aways for upcoming big sales events like other Prime events and Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

OMG is large enough now that aggregate data from our clients is informative and meaningful.  In this episode we unpack global Amazon trends and data and data from our growing list of OMG clients. 

Amber, OMG’s Amazon Director, and Trenton, our Amazon PPC lead, join the podcast to break down what we saw from OMG clients and what we saw globally. 

Here’s a look at what we cover.

  • 300 million items were purchased on Prime Day 2022.
  • 60,000 items purchased per minute (wowza).
  • Most shopping was done from 8p-9p PT on Wednesday 7/13.
  • What happened to CPCs and conversion rates during Prime Day.
  • What offers and deals did well, vs. what didn’t do so hot.
  • What categories really shined and outperformed others (some pretty surprising results here).
  • Key learnings to apply for Prime Day Early Access and Cyber 5.

Mentioned in This Episode:

OMG Commerce Resource Guides

Trenton Bodenbach

- LinkedIn

Amber Norell

- LinkedIn

Amazon DSP Roadmap (Guide by OMG Commerce)


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 today, joining me are two of the best and brightest from OMG Commerce.

Brett:

And I do want to clarify something. I didn't say the best and brightest. Every time I say something like that, someone else on my team says, "Oh, so they're your favorite?"

Brett:

I do love these team members, they're absolute rock stars. You're going to see that for yourself in just a minute. But hey, today we're talking about what has become a lot of people in eCommerce's favorite summer holiday, Prime Day.

Brett:

So we're going to be unpacking what just transpired with Prime Day 2022. We're going to look at some of the global numbers and some of the surprising things that happened this Prime Day.

Brett:

We're going to take a look at our clients because now OMG Commerce is big enough that we have a lot of meaningful data from clients, so we can talk about some trends and some things we saw. What types of offers and deals and what kind of prep led to good results, and what didn't.

Brett:

So that you can be ready for it next year's Prime Day, but also a new flavor of Prime Day that's coming this Q4, which we'll talk about in a minute.

Brett:

So I want to introduce these rock stars to you right now. So first up, Mr. Trenton Bodenbach. And Trenton, this is your first podcast ever. Do I have that right?

Trenton:

Ever. First podcast ever.

Brett:

First podcast ever, but he does listen to a lot of podcasts. And Trenton's not shy. Trenton, we do an annual award show at OMG, we call the OMGs. And did you actually name those awards, Trenton? Did you come up with that name?

Trenton:

I did.

Brett:

Okay. Yeah. So he named it and he's very comfortable with a microphone, very comfortable in stage. Especially if you've got a microphone and a drink in your hand, you're super, super comfortable.

Trenton:

Coffee this morning, ...

Brett:

Got it, man. Got it. And so Trenton is our Amazon advertising lead, so this guy knows Amazon Ads inside and out. As we're analyzing new clients to take on or as we're working on new strategies, Trenton is heading that up and he's at the forefront. So really, really sharp. So Trenton, welcome to the show and congrats on your first podcast.

Trenton:

I'm excited.

Brett:

Apparently, we were supposed to have another podcast, but I bailed on you. And I don't remember this story, so you

Trenton:

and you canceled and I went by the wayside. You never ...

Brett:

Oh man, that's hilarious. Gave Trenton the cold shoulder, and then forgot about it. But you're back, and this is going to be awesome.

Trenton:

But I'm back. And I'm here for Prime Day, so it's going to be fun.

Brett:

Here for Prime Day. And we'll see how it goes, Trenton. We should probably do another podcast after this, depending on how it goes. We'll see. Just kidding. And then back again for, I think, the third time Amber Norell, who is our new Amazon director.

Brett:

And I will say, if I ever have an Amazon question, or if anyone says, "I wonder if this is possible on Amazon? I wonder how you do that on Amazon," my immediate reaction is, "I don't know, talk to Amber. Amber will know, Amber knows everything about Amazon."

Brett:

And that's maybe only a tiny exaggeration. But Amber's been working in Amazon now for about, what, eight years. Something like that, Amber? Eight-ish years.

Brett:

Managed some really big brands, helped launch some big brands, helped launch BOOM! By Cindy Joseph. She is just phenomenal when it comes to anything Amazon related. And so welcome to the show again, Amber, and really glad you could take the time.

Amber:

Thanks, Brett. Excited to be here.

Brett:

Yeah. All right. All right. So quick history lesson, and I know that's probably not the way you want to start a podcast. Some people are tuning out right now or falling asleep, but Prime Day started in 2015 on the 20 year anniversary of Amazon.

Brett:

And the whole idea was, can we do something to get more people to become Prime members? I think at this point, it's really hard for me to imagine life pre-Prime membership, right?

Brett:

But that was the tipping point, getting that Prime membership. That's when you go from, "I order from Amazon occasionally," to, "I order everything from Amazon because of Amazon Prime."

Brett:

So in the early days, it was all about how do we get more Prime members? Now it's just this huge freaking holiday in the middle of summer. Everybody shops for stuff.

Brett:

We even see a lift on sales from D2C stores, people that sell not on Amazon see an increase on Prime Day as well. And so this year was a bit of a monster.

Brett:

Some weird stuff over the last few years. You had the COVID year, where they had to shift Prime Day to Q4, then you have last year... Was it last year when Prime Day was in June instead of July? I think that was last year. Bad with years on occasion.

Brett:

But anyway, it's just been different. But this year, everything's right with the world, right in terms of Amazon Prime Day. It's back in July where it all began.

Brett:

And so as we look at some of the global numbers, this is just some of the stats that came out from Amazon and other places, what surprised you guys? What was interesting about this Prime Day year?

Amber:

For me, the weirdest thing that we saw was the impact on different categories. So in past years, we would always see luxury products or products that just people wouldn't typically indulge in just go through the moon on Prime Day: 3, 4, 5x in sales.

Amber:

Things like groceries, home essentials, things that you actually need. There was a little bit of an uptick, but nothing crazy. This year was totally different. Some of those were some of Amazon's biggest categories, and that was just totally unexpected to us.

Brett:

Yeah. Usually Prime Day's the day for buying expensive TVs or other cool things you don't really need, but you want, you've been holding out on. Yeah. Go ahead, Trenton.

Trenton:

I'm from the Midwest so I'll probably say every time I accidentally talk over somebody. No. I was going to say just from some of Amazon's data they put out, that one of the best selling items worldwide was Honest diapers and wipes.

Trenton:

We've seen that historically for all the accounts I ran when I was in the nitty gritty of running for clients. To see a jump in that kind of a market on a Prime Day, we're just showing that people are looking more at what they need from the day to day and not just the big ticket items. And so the increase on the smaller sellers was higher than we've seen historically.

Brett:

Yeah. It's a super interesting time economically, right? A lot of signs point to recession. And a lot of the pundits and experts are saying, "Hey, recession is on the horizon. It's not a matter of if, it's when."

Brett:

But everybody's got a job still, so there's still money flowing and moving around in the economy for sure. But we all know inflation is just a monster.

Brett:

It's a bear right now, which is contributing to this where it's like, "Yeah, maybe I'm not going to buy the TV, but I do need a deal on diapers," because those have gotten super expensive lately. Just like everything else has.

Brett:

So yeah, really interesting, the shift to like, "I'll just buy my groceries and some other stuff on Prime Day because I really want a deal there." So that's unique to this year. And maybe one of those things that won't happen again, if we had to predict. So what else was interesting in the global numbers?

Trenton:

I'll say for, again, a historical point is day one on Prime Day has always been really good for our clients. And then day two is usually pretty soft compared to... Always an increase in overall sales, compared to the weeks leading up or your average-

Brett:

Always better than a normal day, of course. Yeah.

Trenton:

Man, on day two for our clients, we saw not all across the board, but a majority of them almost hitting the same numbers as day one. So an increase that we haven't seen in the past.

Trenton:

And I think Amazon released that the US did the most shopping actually on day two from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM. So the day two was actually... We sold more units on that day than on day one, which is historically not the case from our experience.

Brett:

Yeah. So Prime Day is a two-day event. So this year was Tuesday, Wednesday, July 12th, July 13th. Yet typically, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of buzz. Day one, we just come out of the gate strong, people sell a ton of stuff.

Brett:

By day two, a lot of people have spent their budget on Prime Day, so we see a slow down. Not the case this year, both days were strong. And yeah, that 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Pacific time on Wednesday was when Amazon saw the most shoppers, which was pretty crazy. Any thoughts on reasons why there, Amber or Trenton?

Amber:

Yeah. I think people were more focused, again, on what they actually needed this year versus what they wanted. Of course, there were people that were indulging, but it was contingent on when were those Lightning Deals running on those products.

Amber:

So if they were running on day two, that's when they were buying. And I also think a lot of people have really adopted Prime Exclusive Discounts this year, which are running both days. So that dispersed it a little bit more than it has in previous years.

Trenton:

Yeah. I'll echo that obviously over the last couple years, we've seen an increase in sellers on Amazon. And so Prime Day, obviously there are going to be more deals throughout the day, and so I think that we saw...

Trenton:

The prime placement historically has been day one. Prime? The placement that all of our clients or anybody selling on Amazon was on day one.

Trenton:

But I think also for me, an example from my life, my wife didn't even know... I should've told her because I work on Amazon, I work on the platform, but she was like, "Oh, it's Prime Day. I had no idea."

Trenton:

So she didn't even realize till the afternoon of day one. And so then for us, we ended up buying a vacuum or a vacuum wet mop thing. And she waited and we found the lightning deal was on day two. And we kept looking.

Trenton:

And so those deals that normally were hitting on day one, some of the bigger players and the bigger clients, day two was really good for them. And so a lot of consumers were...

Trenton:

And this might just be the lack of paying attention or it's because Prime Day moved around so much and not historically the same weekend, and so people don't know it's coming. But they figured out Prime Day was happening, and they figured out why it was happening.

Brett:

Yeah. It's really interesting. So yeah, more Lightning Deals or more deals being spaced out throughout those two days, just because there are more deals.

Brett:

Which makes you wonder, will this eventually be a three day event? Will it become Prime week at some point? Like we have the Cyber Five globally for eCommerce. We shall see. It's hard to say, but super interesting.

Brett:

A couple other little tidbits that I thought were fun. 60,000 items purchased per minute, on average. So there you go. That gives a little context to what's shaking on Prime Day.

Brett:

Also thought it was interesting, there have been times in years past where I just heard... Everybody I knew was buying an Alexa device. And we've got Alexa devices in all of our rooms, so I'm sure people are listing in all the time.

Brett:

But I don't hear as much buzz around people buying Alexa devices now. But Amazon released, in their press release for this year, more Alexa devices were purchased during this Prime Day than any Prime Day in the past, which is pretty crazy.

Brett:

So that's another area that really is going to give Amazon an edge going forward. The more data they can get from these Alexa-enabled devices, is it going to allow people to shop...?

Brett:

Voice shopping, which will be more of a thing, I think. But also just the data is extremely powerful for Amazon. So any other global numbers, Amber, Trenton that you thought were interesting that we can dive into before we look at OMG specific numbers?

Trenton:

This isn't something that is groundbreaking. So the US best day was on Wednesday, but the global best day was on Tuesday.

Brett:

Interesting. Yeah.

Trenton:

So like-

Brett:

Which is more what we would expect, right?

Trenton:

Yeah. Just to be aware of that. And so I think for me, all of this data, I'm always thinking of it from a client perspective like, how do I use this in the next year or the next?

Trenton:

What we just alluded at, maybe a Prime Day two, which we're not supposed to call it that. Whatever they named the one coming up in the fall,...

Brett:

So there's an event coming up in the fall. We'll talk about it more later. We'll tease it now.

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

What's that called, Amber?

Amber:

What's that?

Brett:

The event coming up in the fall, the Prime whatever. Prime Early Access or something.

Amber:

We're calling it Prime Day two, but we don't think it's actually going to be Prime Day Two.

Brett:

Prime Day Two?

Amber:

Yeah.

Brett:

You heard it here first. That's our name for what Amazon calls it. It's surprisingly different.

Trenton:

It's Early Access or something like that.

Brett:

Early Access? There you go. There you go. Yeah.

Trenton:

There's not much information about it, but we'll get to that in a minute. So for me, I'm always thinking about, how can we use the data points that we have?

Trenton:

And so looking at worldwide, so for sellers that we have at OMG, if you're looking at the next Prime Day, knowing, okay, maybe Tuesday is going to be the day that we push heavily, shift a lot of that budget there.

Trenton:

If we don't use it, then we can shift it to Wednesday. Or knowing the US maybe historically this year, Wednesday was a bigger day. So thinking about how you use those data points in informing what your strategy is for the years to come.

Trenton:

Cyber Five coming up. We have a lot of big days coming, so these data points are always good. So just looking at the Amazon numbers for us, just saying, "Where's the money being spent? What categories? What days? What times?" And then that informs us on when and a strategy to talk to our clients about.

Brett:

Yeah, because one of the worst things would be to run out of budget. Run out of ad budget, midday, day one of Prime Day when you're just slaying it.

Brett:

Or you hit budget caps in your campaigns and you don't notice it, so you can't raise those and fully take advantage of Prime Day. And so yeah, understanding the trends both to prep for next Prime Day, but then also yeah, for Cyber Five and Early Access and other cool things like that. So good.

Brett:

Awesome. Any other global takeaways, Amber? If not, I want to get into some specifics that we saw with our clients who are high growth e-commerce brands.

Amber:

No I think just outside of the change in less exciting products, we saw even more increase in the exciting products that we expected to do well. So increases in clothing, beauty.

Amber:

According to Amazon, customers purchased more than 1.2 million pairs of sunglasses and one million swimsuits. So a lot of people out there buying a lot of different things this year.

Brett:

Getting to the beach baby, let's go back on vacation. It's happening. Yeah. Good signs that those categories are increasing. And it was interesting. Looking at again last year's Prime Day, it was not a huge increase year over year.

Brett:

Some of the early years... And this is typical, early years of Prime Day, you'd see a 40% lift year over year of Prime Day numbers. And we're talking about billions of dollars in sales. And so huge increases.

Brett:

Now Prime Day isn't quite as new and quite as novel, so year over year growth has slowed down. Last year was almost flat. It was just barely growing year over year.

Brett:

I think a lot of us, going into this Prime Day, we wondered how good of a Prime Day would it be? But would you say it's safe to say, Amber, that we've probably exceeded most expectations, like Prime Day was better than most people thought it would be this year?

Amber:

Yeah. Based on last year, we were expecting there could almost be a decrease on some accounts. And there was year over year growth, pretty much consistently across all of our clients, which was awesome to see.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. So let's dive into a couple of, "Hey, what were some interesting results versus expectations?" We already talked about categories.

Brett:

So we saw some of the home essentials and everyday goods that likely saw a bump because of inflation, but what were some other expectations that didn't line up with results?

Trenton:

So we have some consumable clients who are in the supplements, which have... Historically, we see a bump. Again, rising tide raises all ships. So when we have a client...

Trenton:

And we've broken some of our data into clients who ran ads, and then some of our clients don't want to run ads on Prime Day, because their products historically haven't been good products to run ...

Brett:

And ad costs go way up on Prime Day too. Right?

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

So it's like, "Why do I want to overpay if people aren't buying?" Yeah.

Trenton:

But we saw with a couple of our clients who, again, have a consumable product and within the supplement category, their growth was higher than we really expected, in the sense of what we've seen historically. So that was awesome. Slightly unexpected.

Trenton:

I remember being on the call, I think it was about three weeks ago and we were still deciding... Because we signed up for the Lightning Deals just in case we wanted them, we weren't for sure. Historically, they've never ran ads... They've turned off ads on Prime Days, so it's not worth it. We'll just ...

Brett:

"Our category doesn't explode on Prime Day, like others. So let's just not pay the increased CPCs."

Trenton:

We talked them into, "Let's test this year. Let's just do something different." So we ran ads and their growth was just phenomenal. So I think we saw about 4, 5x total sales that day or something like that.

Brett:

Over a normal day?

Trenton:

Over a normal day.

Brett:

Crazy.

Trenton:

We take the average of the first two weeks leading up to Prime, so we have a benchmark. And I would say we were right at 4 to 5x for that client, which is crazy.

Brett:

Crazy. And that's a category. Yeah. You don't look forward to... You're not probably sharing with your spouse like, "Hey, we can get this supplement cheaper." Not like you would have a TV or a new mixer, or something more fun like that.

Brett:

So yeah, that's interesting. But kudos to you, Trenton and team for saying, "Let's just try it. Let's just put something together and let's see how this goes." Cool. Amber, what about you? Where did results differ, exceed expectations for our clients?

Amber:

So I think what was a little bit unexpected to me is that over the past couple of years, we always knew there was going to be an increase on Prime Day.

Amber:

Even on consumables, home goods, those essential products, it would be very, very slight, but they would see some sort of increase from the week prior.

Amber:

And we weren't seeing as much of a difference if people were running deals versus not. We would have some clients not running any sort of deal and get a two to three increase on their sales.

Amber:

This year, it was very, very clear that people were shopping for deals and being very selective about what they were buying. We split everything up according to people who were running deals versus not running deals.

Amber:

And on day one, those that were running deals, on average, had seen a 352% increase. Those that were running no deals only saw 60% increase. And when we say deals, we're talking about Lightning Deals, Prime Exclusive Discounts, coupons. I mean anything really. Even a nominal 5% coupon saw a much bigger lift than if you just did nothing to prepare for Prime Day.

Brett:

That's crazy. So companies that did nothing day one of Prime Day, grew... Sales grew about 60%? Which is still nothing to sneeze at. That's still exciting.

Amber:

Right.

Brett:

But those that did any kind of deal, even a 5% deal, whatever, 352% lift, which is better, which is awesome. So can you unpack those deals just a little bit? So we got Lightning Deals, we got Prime Exclusive, we got...

Brett:

You can just do a coupon or whatever you want to do. What are the ranges there? Because for some deals, you've got to go minimum of 20% for some categories of deals. Can you talk through what that looks like, Amber?

Amber:

Yeah. So the Prime Exclusive deal, it's really close to a standard coupon, but it says Prime Exclusive deal on it. So there's a lot of urgency, they think they'll only get that coupon on that day.

Amber:

Like you mentioned, there is a 20% minimum, so it's not viable for a lot of people. But for those that it is, it's super effective during Prime Day, during Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Amber:

Standard coupons, that's a great alternative to that if you need to be at a lower percentage off. And then the Lightning Deals, Seven Day deals, those are... What we saw this year is, it was 50/50.

Amber:

So some of them did exceptionally well. They had what we would have considered great timing. And in the past year, that's how we would determine which deals we would keep.

Amber:

Versus this year, it could have had great timing but it didn't get any visibility, so it just did not do well. So we were super selective with what we were submitting for Lightning Deals.

Brett:

Interesting, and Lightning Deals... I heard you say Seven Day deals as well, but Lightning Deals are often... It's a shorter time window typically, right?

Amber:

Right. Usually around 12 hours.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Cool. Any other areas where you were like, "Wow, we were expecting this, and Prime Day far exceeded it"?

Trenton:

I will say historically for the clients who just ran coupons... So again, talking about... Amber just overviewed those. Again, we'd see a lift. But the lift we saw this year, even with just a coupon was significantly higher.

Trenton:

And so I think that's either buyer intent, like people are looking and they want those consumables or they want those smaller items, ticket items. Again, sometimes for clients I've run in the past, the bigger the item, the better they do on Prime Day. Or the more expensive the item, the better they do.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Trenton:

Whereas this year, our clients who have maybe a $30 to $50 product, their increase was bigger and way higher than historically. But also, we were just talking about the increase in overall sales. The conversion rate for me, I was looking at that, was interesting.

Trenton:

Historically, I went back and looked at past Prime Days. And the average across, I think, 2018, '17, '18, '19 was like 11%. Somewhere there. And then it jumped during COVID a little bit.

Trenton:

For our clients who ran deals, their conversion rate on average was just over 18%, which is awesome. And for those who didn't, they still saw a rise, but it was right at the average of the historical Prime Day, which is right at 11.

Trenton:

So just even if you have the ability to do those coupons right now or coming up thinking about that, if you can use... And again, I'm not saying... Always run your numbers in a range, from worst case scenario to best case scenario.

Trenton:

So maybe running from that 11% conversion rate to that 18% conversion rate, take your historical clicks, find out how many people you're landing.

Trenton:

And then you can then begin to write a narrative of like, "If I run that 20% and I hit the 11% conversion rate on what we saw last year," then you can have a model for next year or a range of thinking through what you might actually do.

Trenton:

So thinking through that conversion rate and your price points, and then choosing what discount you might want to do. "Do I want to do the 20% off? Do I want to do the Lightning Deal? The Lightning Deal's going to cost me X amount."

Trenton:

And I don't know what average they were for our clients this year to get into that Lightning Deal. But you can then begin to have a working model for your team to think through a strategy, or whoever's running your ads to think through a strategy for the upcoming years.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. I want to unpack that just a little bit. So you start a few numbers. Typically on Prime Day, the conversion rate's 11%. This year we saw it was like 18%.

Brett:

Just to put that in a context, standard eCommerce conversion rates, when you look at all e-commerce sites, it's 1% to 3%. So one to three out of 100 people that visit an e-commerce site purchase.

Brett:

Amazon's higher. Most people just go to Amazon to buy. They're researching or buying, so the conversion rates on Amazon are higher. But on Prime Day, if it got to 18% for some people, that's insane. That's an insane purchase conversion rate.

Brett:

So you got a couple things at work here. You got more people shopping on Prime Day, and then a much higher percentage of those people buying on Prime Day, which really has a nice compounding effect.

Brett:

So as we look at that, how would you run some of those models, Trenton? What are we seeing, in terms of increase in number of visitors? So you're looking at that maybe 11% to 18% conversion rate. What kind of lift are we seeing, in terms of visitors to our stores and our PDPs?

Trenton:

So I'd always use your historical models because we have a lot of people in different verticals. So I can give overall numbers, but those are going to be a little bit skewed in the sense of we have electronics, we have home goods, we have consumables.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Trenton:

So when I talk like overall here, please be aware that...

Brett:

Always check your numbers. Yeah.

Trenton:

Check your numbers. Please look at your vertical. Talk to your Amazon rep, if you have one. Find out what the average growth for impressions were on those days.

Trenton:

And then what I would do is I'd apply that to, let's say, the month leading up to next year's Prime Day. So let's say you're averaging 1,000 impressions a day. It's an easy number.

Trenton:

But we saw a growth of 20% of impressions last year. So you can then take that and say, "You know what? I'm going to have this amount of growth for impressions. If I run a deal, I can have maybe 11% to 18% conversion rate."

Trenton:

Again, look at your historical conversion rate. Because if you're at a 15% already, you're probably going to be at an 18%. If you're running at 11 historically...

Trenton:

So you always have to use your historical numbers, but then you begin to take the information that we've gleaned from this year, so a high number... I think our highest conversion rate, it was up there. It was something like in the 30%, which is super high.

Brett:

Crazy.

Trenton:

And then we had obviously lower, the 10s and people who were running lower than that. But what we were going to do is say average across the board is 18%.

Trenton:

So if I take those impressions, I know my click through rate, I can then see how many visitors I could have there. So an increase of X amount of visitors and increase of X amount of purchases.

Trenton:

You've got to remember you're giving 20% off. So then my profit margins are coming down. So then you can really begin to build a model, "If I have this many sales..."

Trenton:

And you can just tier it. "If conversion rate is this and my sales are this..." And then you can begin to go all the way down and find where you want to be. So again, I always look in brackets from worst case to best case.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Trenton:

But when you use those historical data markers, it does give you a context to work within to forecast what you can do.

Brett:

Love that. So this is very much related to what we just talked about. But ad costs... So conversion rates are up, more people are shopping, but that also means more advertisers are bidding on clicks.

Brett:

And so ad costs go up. How should we be planning our ad budgets for next Prime Day? And the new thing in Q4, what do we typically see there as far as ad cost and budgeting?

Trenton:

So historically, for most clients that I would run, I would say you're looking at usually at 2x for budget. That was higher this year. We saw spend increases, I want to say, on average between 3 and 4x for most clients, which is pretty high. There were a lot of people shopping this year.

Trenton:

For clients without a deal, that was down to about 2x. 1.5 to 2x on average for people who were not running. Again, strategy wise, you have to think through like, "Am I going to run a deal? Am I not?" And then you can then apply the model.

Trenton:

So I would suggest anywhere to be thinking through, and be okay with anywhere from 3 to 4x in your budget for those two days. Again, you will see an increase in the two weeks coming up.

Trenton:

So that's why we try to take the average for those two weeks because you do see an increased traffic because people start to run deals early, the week leading up.

Trenton:

People are running coupons and things like that. And so your traffic might be increasing then. And that's when we also start to pay attention to... We're always paying attention to CPCs, the cost per click.

Trenton:

But for this year we saw, again, wide range of different verticals. There's a lot higher and some lower. But for those not running a deal, I would say our cost per click was about the same, but that's based on strategy.

Trenton:

That's people who were like, "Hey, we don't want to spend more. We want to stay where we're at. We would rather just our profit margin go up so we're not spending more. We're going to see sales increase anyway."

Brett:

So that could be that, "Hey, we're just not going to bid more on clicks for Prime Day." So for those clients, the CPCs didn't go up?

Trenton:

So a different strategy. Usually that's, again, in the historical verticals that don't do really great on Prime Day. But now I would say... I'd probably come back with them with this data next year and say, "Do you know what? Hey, you need to rethink this strategy, because we saw a different Prime Day in 2022 compared to previous iterations."

Trenton:

But for our clients who were running deals, we saw an average of about a 50% increase in cost per click. Again, that ranges. There are a lot higher... Electronics were higher than that.

Trenton:

And then the consumables were, I think, right at 70%. Somewhere in there. But the average across all of them, 50%. So I would, again, probably plan on at least a 50% increase in your cost per click, and then a 4x in spend overall for budget for those two days.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. Got to be competitive. So there's a lot more people shopping. But hey, advertisers are like sharks in the water and they're trying to get those clicks. So got to be ready, got to be prepared, got to budget for it.

Brett:

It all works out if you've got the right strategy in place, but you've got to be ready. So awesome. Good stuff. So Amber, let's think about what are some tips?

Brett:

What are some takeaways? What are some key learnings that we can apply, knowing what deals worked better, what pricing strategy might work better? So just walk us through. What are some of the tips and learnings that we can apply to next Prime Day?

Amber:

Yeah. Definitely Prime Day, but even sooner Black Friday, Cyber Monday, you want to take a similar strategy. Again, Prime Exclusive Discounts. If you can swing it with your margin, they're amazing. They do really well. You get a lot more visibility, so I definitely recommend those.

Amber:

Lightning Deals, again, they can be 50/50. But I think if you have a best selling product and you're getting offered a really great time period, take it, test it, if you're comfortable with it. As long as the projections make sense.

Amber:

And then something that we did see work this year, which you do have to be careful with, is changing the listing price. So typically, we avoid making any changes to pricing 30 days when you got-

Brett:

Right. It can be dangerous, right? Amazon doesn't necessarily like it. And you don't really know how consumers are going to respond when you change the list price.

Amber:

Right. People have Chrome extensions on their browser. They can see that this was listed lower at whatever point or 60 days before. So that's definitely a red flag. It can cause ad suppressions, deals get canceled constantly. So those are things you all want to definitely keep an eye out on.

Amber:

But if you're really strategic about it, you're lifting the MSRP price, which is now called the list price... That's where we saw a little bit of success this year.

Amber:

And just doing that about 30 to 45 days in advance so that it's showing us strike through price on the page. We did have one client, they did extremely well with it, but they did get picked up as, I think, a featured deal or something like that. And it just blew up. It went viral all over a bunch of blog sites.

Amber:

So we think a lot of that came from that sort of lift there. But we did have a handful of other clients that were testing that, and they definitely saw a similar lift.

Brett:

Awesome. Good stuff. Anything you would add to that, Trenton? Just some key takeaways on, "Hey, let's do this next time." We were talking about budget and bids, so I know that was probably the core of it. But anything you would add to that?

Trenton:

So the only thing I would add on the actual advertising side of cost per click and looking at keywords is the 80/20 rule. We talk about this a lot here.

Brett:

Yeah.

Trenton:

It's a lot of you could put 100 keywords in a campaign and really 20 of them are going to... Usually, five of them were going to drive most of your traffic. It's just the weirdness of Amazon.

Trenton:

So paying attention, strategy wise, of maybe your budget. Thinking through best keywords and mainly getting down, and thinking through your customer's journey to your product.

Trenton:

And thinking and strategy like, "What do I want and where do I want to spend this money?" Our profit margin might be higher on some of these long tail keywords, but obviously there's not a lot of traffic to them.

Trenton:

So really putting that money towards those keywords that are driving most of your traffic to your product detail page, and then also utilizing DSP in the... Weeks.

Trenton:

Or sponsor display, if you don't have access to DSP. To then begin to remarket to those customers who, A, did purchase. And maybe thinking through, also in the coming weeks, to still maybe doing some type of coupon, and then pushing and remarketing to those people who didn't purchase your competitor's or your product.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that strategy, and that's something... We need to get Austin on a future podcast. He's the lead for Amazon DSP, which if you don't know what Amazon DSP is, it's basically a way to run, display video ads on and off Amazon to people based on their Amazon shopping behavior. So it's a way to run remarketing.

Brett:

So you can remarket people that visit your PDPs. You can remarket to them the next time they're surfing the web with their favorite news sites. They could see an Amazon DSP display ad there.

Brett:

And so yeah, this is the time to have your DSP strategy in order because you just 3 or 4x to your visitors to your site, and yes, you increase your conversion rate, but there's still a lot of people that didn't buy.

Brett:

And with Amazon DSP, you can build audiences of people that visited your site or your competitors that didn't buy, or your products and your competitor's price that didn't buy. You can build an audience there, and then you can target them. So it's next level strategies.

Brett:

That's something we look at doing for Prime Day, for Cyber Five, any really big sales event and ongoing too. But especially for these big events.

Brett:

Any other tips, takeaways? Because I want to transition to talk about this new October event here in just a minute. But any other tips or takeaways or learnings that you'd want to share, Amber or Trenton?

Amber:

Yeah. I would say if you want to see growth in your account, we're not at a point where you can simply just not plan for peaks at this point. So you hear horror stories about people that just take every deal that's accepted to them. They'll throw up a 40%, 50% off coupon, and then they're like, "Well, I had all these sales, but I made no money or I lost money."

Brett:

Right.

Amber:

You have to run deals, but you have to be strategic about it. Think about what Trenton was mentioning about the numbers and the increase in conversion rate, what that's going to do to your future sales, what that can do to your advertising.

Amber:

As you mentioned, DSP, following up the days after Prime Day and having some sort of small coupon on there. It's going to give you more visibility. It's going to improve conversion rate.

Amber:

It's just super important to partake and get that visibility at that point, especially knowing that consumables and things like that are on their rise, where you have the opportunity to really hold that customer as a long-term customer, get them into Subscribe and Save.

Amber:

So if you're seeing a slight decrease on your profit, if it strategically makes sense and it's going to drive that longer term customer value, that's what you need to be thinking about going into these peaks, for sure.

Brett:

I love that. Yeah, think strategically about your discounts. I'm not a huge fan of discounting, but I do know that when you do it the right way, it's great to bump sales and to get new customers.

Brett:

But yeah, if you do a 40% or 50% off deal, that's potentially, and probably, cutting your profits by like 90%. Well, now you've got to 10x your sales just to make what you would normally make.

Brett:

So that's where for some people... And Trenton and Amber, you guys both talked about this, for some people, you look at your numbers and you're like, "I can't even do a 20% discount. I'll just take my bump that I get from Amazon Prime Day. I'll maybe spend a little bit more on ads. But it doesn't make sense for me to discount that much because of the lift I'd have to have."

Brett:

So run the numbers, look at the math, think strategically, which goes without saying, but we need to say it. Anything you would add to that, Trenton, before we talk about the new October event?

Trenton:

Yeah. Two things, and they're pretty... Well, I'll piggyback on what Amber just put out there, because what she said is great. And you're also changing your mindset, in the sense of thinking of it as an investment in your brand.

Trenton:

It's hard sometimes to... Especially when profit margins are tight, but thinking through of, man, the more people... Especially if you have a quality product.

Trenton:

And if people are excited and you know what you have is a good product, getting that into consumer's hands, word of mouth is so powerful at times.

Trenton:

And so thinking through of just like this, "You know what? Our profit margin is going to go down, but we're going to get into more people..." Household, and whatever your product is. We're going to get this product into the hands of consumers more, and hopefully build the brand awareness along through word of mouth, through social media, through whatever avenues you can.

Trenton:

But along with that, and this is the most simple advice I can give because I've ran into this in the past and it's the worst, is think through your inventory before you push a product.

Trenton:

Because the worst thing that happens is you have this crazy awesome Prime Day, and then... Especially if you're in a crowded vertical market where you have a lot of competitors with similar items, and you do great, you knock it out of the park, and then a week later you completely run out of stock, and then you're scrambling.

Trenton:

Or a month later, whatever. If it's detrimental to your ability to push your product on Amazon, then that'll affect the strategy of which I would say to push your product.

Trenton:

Because man, stock outs on Amazon are not a joke, especially with... Again, like I said, if you're in a vertical that's crowded or you have a lot of similar products or competitors are selling, and then all of a sudden you're like, "I was Amazon's top choice. I was number one."

Trenton:

And you come back a month later and you're so far down on the list, and it's just a heavy climb to get back up there. And there are tips and tricks, and it's going to cost money.

Trenton:

But if you can avoid that, then thinking through the strategy long term of, "You know what? We're not going to push this heavily because our inventory doesn't justify this." But make sure you're thinking through all those avenues.

Brett:

Yeah. Such good advice. Really, really good advice from both of you. That's awesome. So we've only got about five minutes left. I want to talk about this new October event.

Brett:

So a couple years ago, Amazon had to shift Prime Day to October because of the pandemic bump and supply chain and things like that. And you know what happened.

Brett:

Prime Day, when it was in October, was pretty good. It pulled some of those holiday shopping numbers a little earlier in the shopping season. If you can be the first merchant to get holiday purchases going, then that's all the better.

Brett:

But just like we always see, even stuff like supplements and other things that aren't gift items typically, those see a lift too. So new October event called Early Access Prime something or another... Early Access Prime Sale in October.

Brett:

What are some key dates and things we need to know about that, Amber? And then, what should we do to prep? And I know we've already talked about prep a little bit, but any insights you can share there?

Amber:

So right now, the only date that's been released for that Prime event is the Lightning Deal submission cut off, which is today. So by the time you guys hear this, it's going to be ...

Brett:

Oops.

Amber:

We're keeping an eye out to see if Prime Exclusive Discounts are going to be something that pops up for that, because that would definitely be something we pursue.

Amber:

But keep in mind, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, they are doing very early deal submissions on that. And the timeline is coming up very quickly. I think that's-

Brett:

September 2nd. Is that what I heard you say?

Amber:

September 2nd, yeah. So if you're going to be applying a similar strategy that you did during Prime Day, during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, make sure you're getting those deals in before September 2nd.

Brett:

Awesome. Yeah. So any insights on... I guess we would pull from a couple years ago when there was an October Prime Day, but anything we should be thinking about as we look at that sale?

Brett:

And then not too far after that, we've got the Cyber Five. What are you doing to prepare, Trent or Amber? How are you thinking about that? How are we advising clients right now about those two events?

Trenton:

Not to reiterate too much, but talking to my specialist, the main thing I'm talking about is inventory levels. Preparing for Q4, because you're not just having Cyber Five anymore. We're going to have a Prime Day two, and then straight into Cyber Five, straight into November, straight into December. So that's going to...And that's another reason... If inventory levels are a little bit low, that's another reason to not discount too much, right?

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

Because you've only got limited items. So keep those margins healthy.

Trenton:

So forecasting there is really important, just of what your run rate was last year. And then maybe increasing that, knowing full well that you're going to have more discounts coming in this fall.

Trenton:

But also honestly, we asked our reps at Amazon or their contacts of, "Hey, can we get more information about this sales coming up?" And they were like, "We don't have any information."

Trenton:

So one of my biggest pieces of advice is just keep your ear to the ground, because we saw the Lightning Deals, we were like, "Whoa." And then we reached out to our clients very quickly like, "Hey, these are expiring this week. Let's sign up and we can always cancel it, or whatever."

Trenton:

But we reached out and we were like, "Hey, we saw these. What else is coming? Do we have any information?" And they were like, "There's deadlines coming and we don't even know about them yet."

Trenton:

So keep your ear to the ground because the information is sparse right now. At some point, someone was wondering if it's not going to be for all categories, if it's just certain categories. But for our clients, Amber, we're seeing most categories have Lightning Deals offered to them.

Amber:

Yeah.

Trenton:

So just be looking at your discounts that they're offering you, pay attention. Blogs. I hear stuff from blogs before Amazon does, and so just keeping that information...

Brett:

Blogs, forums, Facebook groups. Talk to your agency, hopefully they're keeping you in the know as well. So yeah, great advice. Awesome. Well, that is going to do it, as far as timing goes.

Brett:

I want to mention a couple things here before we wrap up. One, is if you maybe heard about this Amazon DSP thing, or maybe heard about it a long time ago and just wanted to go deeper on that, we do offer a free Amazon DSP roadmap.

Brett:

If you go to omgcommerce.com under resources and guides, you'll see the Amazon DSP roadmap. We'll link to the show notes as well. Check that out.

Brett:

We also have a couple other good Amazon guides, like how to run sponsored brand video, which is one of our favorite ad types. And you may be thinking, "Man, Amazon's going pretty good for me, but what would happen if I had Amber and Trenton helping me with Amazon?"

Brett:

And I can tell you one thing, it would get better. A whole lot better. And they do direct all things with our Amazon department, and so would love to chat with you if you are in growth mode and wanting to learn more about OMG's Amazon services.

Brett:

So shameless plug there, check it out. But as we leave, any parting words of wisdom, Amber or Trenton? This could be Amazon advice. This could be your favorite quote. This could be your favorite...

Brett:

I don't want you to tell your favorite joke. This could be any parting words of wisdom. Actually, if you have a good joke, that's fine too. But any parting words of wisdom, as we wrap up?

Amber:

Well, I know Trenton's got a joke ready. So I'm just going to say, be ready to pivot. Keep your ear to the ground, like Trenton mentioned. Maybe even treat it like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is coming early, and then just start implementing your strategy ahead of time, so that it has a nice override there.

Brett:

Love it.

Trenton:

I'll leave you with my kids' favorite knock-knock joke. We do this every night ... Okay. You ready?

Brett:

Ready.

Trenton:

Knock-knock.

Brett:

Who's there?

Trenton:

Boo.

Brett:

Boo who?

Trenton:

Why are you crying, Brett?

Brett:

I'm crying because his podcast is over and I wanted to keep going. That was beautiful, guys. Thank you so much. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insights. Prime Day was a lot of fun.

Brett:

Looking forward to Q4. Even in the midst of economic craziness, you can have a successful Q4. I firmly believe that. So thanks, Trenton and Amber. You guys crushed it.

Brett:

And as always, thank you for tuning in. And hey, let us know what you'd like to hear more of on this show. Give us that review on iTunes, if you haven't already. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.

Episode 198
:
Matt Slaymaker - OMG Commerce

How to Achieve Full Funnel Growth with Google Ads

The Google ads ecosystem offers opportunities to grow your brand that you really can’t find anywhere else.

Google is the world’s most popular search engine and the number 1 most visited site on the planet.YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (even though it’s really a video site) and the world’s 2nd most visited site.You can leverage both channels for both targeted growth and scale. But how?

We’ll show you in this episode. Matt Slaymaker is a Lead Google & YouTube Ads Specialist at OMG Commerce. Dubbed “Slaymaker the Playmaker” - Matt joins me to talk about top strategies and tactics to achieve Full Funnel Growth on Google Ads in 2022 and beyond.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • Where to start with Search and why this is still super important even though it’s the true Google OG.
  • What has changed with Google Shopping.
  • What channels we recommend for remarketing and how to structure your audiences.
  • What the best audiences are for YouTube Ads.
  • And more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Matt Slaymaker

   - LinkedIn

Ezra Firestone

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Google Shopping

eCommerce Evolution 184 Joseph Wilkins

eCommerce Evolution 70 Andrew Eckblad

FunnySalesVideos.com



Transcript:

Brett Curry:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the Ecommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today I have a treat for you, because you get to meet one of OMG's finest. And we get to talk about a topic that is one of my favorite all time topics when it comes to marketing, we're going to look at how to build full funnel growth using Google Ads. So using all that Google has to offer you, how do you create full funnel growth? We're going to get a little bit nerdy, but I also want to help make sure this is practical and applicable and easy to understand. So my guest today is a team member at team OMG that I actually get to work with almost on a daily basis, which I don't know if that's a privilege for this guy or if he dreads it. I really don't know. We'll find out right now on the podcast. I'll give more of an intro in just a minute. But welcome to the show, Matt Slaymaker. What's up, Matt? How are you doing?

Matt Slaymaker:

Absolutely. Thank you so much. I'm doing great.

Brett Curry:

Good. Well, thanks for coming on here. I know it's one of those things when your boss reaches out and says, "Hey, you want to be on the podcast?" Like, "Well, can I say no? Can I not say no?" You and I have done a few things together. We did a webinar, not too long ago with our Google reps. You did an amazing job. So, really excited to pick your brain and dive into this full funnel of growth topic for Google Ads. But before we do, all of you listening should know a couple things about Matt. Not only is Matt a rockstar and one of the best when it comes to Google Ads management. He also is the owner of quite the interesting nickname. Now, I call him Slaymaker a lot. But in football, growing up, I heard that Matt was called Slaymaker, the playmaker. Maybe we could even hear the quick story on that, Matt. How did you get dubbed the title Slaymaker, the playmaker.

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll tell you it did not come from making plays.

Brett Curry:

That's even better.

Matt Slaymaker:

I was by far the smallest member of the football team. So, I really didn't make any plays. But one of the moms just loved my last name. So anytime ...field, do anything, make one tackle throughout the whole game, I'd hear Slaymaker, the playmaker. That's how that started.

Brett Curry:

That makes that nickname way better. It's one of those things where it's like, yeah, thanks mom. Thanks for calling me the playmaker. Moms just have a way of making people feel good. So, that's awesome. Slaymaker, the playmaker, I remember that. But even if you weren't totally lighting up the football field, you were lighting up the Brazilian jujitsu mat. So tell people, Matt Slaymaker, what belt you achieved in Brazilian jujitsu. And if you don't know Brazilian jujitsu, this might not be as.. It'll be impressive regardless, but what belt did you achieve?

Matt Slaymaker:

Don't downplay Brazilian jujitsu, this is top level on martial arts.

Brett Curry:

This is top level.

Matt Slaymaker:

I eventually ended up at first degree black belt. If anyone doesn't know what Brazilian jujitsu is, it's like wrestling, but it has the submission component to it. So arm bars, chokes, all that kind of stuff.

Brett Curry:

I did not grow up doing martial arts. I played football, basketball, but I recently, my kids and I, took some BJJ classes. I know you know that, Matt, we talked about that. We had a couple friends that are amazing BJJ practitioners, Ezra Firestone is one of them. But I learned that it's the hardest martial art to get your black belt in. Not like it's easy to get a black belt in any other martial art, but takes the longest... It's the hardest to get your black belt.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah, it's that balance between the physical component, which is really hard. And I'm sure, as you've seen, it's a great workout.

Brett Curry:

It's an amazing workout.

Matt Slaymaker:

But then all that technique that you just have to memorize and download into your brain. Luckily, when I was younger going through it, it's easy to remember that kind of stuff. I can imagine, it's probably hard for you.

Brett Curry:

I don't know, was that an old joke, Matt? ... What are you trying to say? Yeah, it actually was hard, but I really enjoyed it. So, let's dive into this topic of Google Ads management. I want to preface this by saying... So Matt, is a Google specialist. Actually, do you want to tell people what you do, Matt? What does a Google specialist do? What's a day look like for you here at OMG?

Matt Slaymaker:

Google specialist at OMG and at any other agency really, we use Google Ads to do two things, really. Demand generation, so getting people interested in your brand, your products, what you do, building awareness and consideration for that kind of stuff. And then capturing demand that's already there. So people who are actively searching for that kind of stuff, people who are actively searching for you or have been to your website before. Getting those people to actually end up converting. So, our goal is to move people through what we call a funnel, starting at that awareness level, down to consideration, eventually get them to purchase. And then not just stop there. We want them to purchase again later on down the road, and we call that loyalty. Then a step below that's called advocacy, getting people to go share and tell their friends about that kind of stuff. So my goal is to use the tools available through Google Ads, which is Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube, Display, and Discover to move people through that funnel.

Brett Curry:

Love that. And great breakdown there. Just want to mention, and this is probably very obvious to everyone listening, but really Google touches essentially every online user. If you're going to search for something, you're looking for a product, you're researching for reviews, or you're actually looking to make a purchase, you're probably going to touch Google at some point in time. Maybe you buy on Amazon eventually, but you're probably going to touch Google along the way. If you are looking to learn or research or do or buy or something, and you want to look at video first, you're probably going to YouTube. So those are the two most trafficked websites on the planet. Google number one, YouTube number two. You have access to both of those through Google Ads.

Brett Curry:

And then through the Google Display Network, we were just talking about in a minute. You can access like 80 something percent of the web that way too. So whoever you're trying to target, you could reach through Google Ads. So, let's dive in a little bit, Matt Slaymaker, the playmaker. Let's talk about the foundation. So if we're looking at how to build a full funnel on YouTube, I like to really start more at the bottom, mid and bottom of funnel before we go higher than that. But let's break this down by channel a little bit. Let's talk search ads first. So eCommerce store, where should they start? What should they consider when it comes to search ads? And maybe talk a bit about what search ads are, just to make sure we're all really clear.

Matt Slaymaker:

It'll sound obvious once I explain it, but search ads are those ads that appear at the top of Google Search. So if you've got to do a search for ...

Brett Curry:

These are text ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. So we'll talk about shopping ads a little bit later, but these are those text ads that only have the text elements to it. Usually you'll get two or three up at the very top of Google, and then you'll see a few down at the bottom. So when it comes to Google Search ads, there's a couple key components there to what you've got to piece together for those campaigns. Where you typically are going to start, are going to be at your keywords. And with keywords, typically we break these down into three categories. You've got your branded keywords, which we'll talk about a little bit more in a minute. Non-branded keywords, so these are people doing that kind of hats online for sale search. And then competitor keywords. So any of your competitors out there who we want to bid on, we want to steal some traffic from, we can target those types of keywords.

Matt Slaymaker:

The other component of this are the ads themselves. In piecing together those ads, determining which keywords we want to show for, got to get an ad in front of them. And with those ads, can't just put up an ad and say who we are and expect people to click on it and convert. We've got to usually address three main things. Who we are, what are we selling and why should somebody buy from us? I think that third one, the why is really the most important part. Because when somebody does do that search, hats for sale, they're going to see three ads there, that why is really what gets them to click on us as opposed to those other ones there.

Brett Curry:

I love that. And it's also really important that you have to put the ad in the context of that keyword. This is what makes Google unique to really any other advertising type is that, it's intent-based. What we're talking about now is query-based, it's search-based. You know exactly what someone is searching for, Google knows that. Then you can tailor your ad to answer that question or that query that someone's typing in. And then address that, what we're offering, why you should click on our ad. You could address those things. It's just super powerful. And I want to talk about something you hit on in the beginning, Matt, which is really important to underscore. We classify eCommerce brands in two categories, and most brands straddle the two categories a little bit, but they lean more one way or the other.

Brett Curry:

And those two categories are demand capture or demand generation. Demand generation is more... These are products you're maybe not thinking about, maybe you've got a problem you're thinking about, but you're not thinking about a product. So we have to generate that demand. Think about some of the, as seen on TV products that you've seen, like the George Foreman grill back when that was introduced. No one's sitting around thinking, "Man, I wish I had a more convenient grill." I don't know. But if they saw it, they're like, "Well, that's pretty cool. I'd like to have that." And be like Michael Scott in the office and cook bedside with the George Foreman grill. But that's demand generation. Or there's demand capture where this is something you're maybe only going to look for when you have a specific need. One example I would use is auto parts. If I am shopping for new breaks for my truck... First of all, I could just go to the dealership.

Brett Curry:

But if I were doing it on my own, I'm not going to be persuaded by YouTube ad or a Facebook ad. "Hey, upgrade your breaks, because it's really great." No. But if I had a need, a specific need, I would go out and I would search for it on Google. That's more of a demand capture business. Most businesses straddle or lean one way or the other, but a little bit of both. To give another example, BOOM by Cindy Joseph, a friend of the show. Shout out to Ezra Firestone. They sell pro-age cosmetics. So cosmetics that are really good for you, but for women who want to embrace where they are in life. Maybe stop coloring their hair and let it stay gray and things like that. So they're more demand capture with a little bit of demand generation. So, as we look at that, search really falls into that demand capture space and it does it quite well. Let's talk about two things. Let's talk branded search first, because this is a hot topic. Why, Matt Slaymaker, would somebody bid on their own name? Why would you run branded search?

Matt Slaymaker:

This is one of the most common questions we get from clients all the time. They always ask, wouldn't it be easy... Aren't we going to get that traffic anyway? Aren't they just going to click on our organic listing there? So aren't we wasting money by bidding on branded traffic? And really there's three main reasons I say, "No, absolutely, you need to be bidding on your brand." One is simply competition. If you're not bidding on your brand name, your competitors likely are. And even if they are not, there might be vendors who are bidding on your brand name, whether that's Amazon, Ace hardware, Walmart. It's almost always...

Brett Curry:

Somebody else who's reselling your products, they maybe bidding on your name.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. And it's almost always going to be a lot more profitable to have the user click on your branded ad, buy through your website, then go through one of those vendors. But in addition to both the competition and the vendor, say none of them were there at all. What I've seen really strong impact from branded campaigns comes down to the improved clickthrough rates and the control over messaging that you can really have. So a lot of the research out there shows that, if you do have those branded ads active, you see a 10, 20% boost in your overall clickthroughs, combined organic and paid.

Matt Slaymaker:

A lot of people think if I just have organic there, I'll still get a 100% of those clickthroughs, but really you won't because there's all sorts of other options for somebody to choose from. In addition, you also have a lot of control over your messaging there. So, say, you have a promotion that's happening at the moment. If somebody did that branded search and saw your branded ad had that promotional messaging in it. Gives them all that more urgency to go ahead and click your ad and buy right then and there. So, all sorts of reasons. I think competition is probably the number one, make sure you're pushing those guys down the page and not losing any traffic to anyone who's out there.

Brett Curry:

I love that. I'm so glad you underscored the controlling the messaging aspect, because if you don't control that, then you're really leaving it all up to Google. Google picks what they display in the organic results. Yes, you may have a title tag and a meta description that Google could pull in. They could also pull in something else random, if they wanted to, if they felt like that was more relevant to the user. So when you run that ad, you control that message. Then in terms of the competition piece, I think this is really interesting. We have some clients, I'm thinking of one client in particular, where they just dominate the search results page if you search their brand name. They've got YouTube videos, they've got the infograph, it's just loaded with their stuff. And no one's bidding on their name.

Brett Curry:

So, they would be okay to slow down a little bit on branded search. But most of the clients we look at and most of the accounts we audit, you look at their brand name, they've got two, three, four competitors bidding on them. You've got other things popping up. I guarantee you there'll be some people that search for you by name, click on a competitor. And don't know that it's a competitor, if you're not there. So you've got to get there. Then I'll throw in one fourth reason, Matt, is tracking. As we're looking at... You've got search console, you got Google Analytics, but a lot of the keyword data has been stripped from Google analytics. So getting data to see how people are converting, and then as we do more top funnel stuff we'll talk about in a minute. Then being able to see those people convert through branded search, really powerful. Because most people, if they see them on YouTube or Facebook and they don't buy, the next step later is to search for it on Google. And we'll capture that.

Matt Slaymaker:

That's where I love branded ads in particular, is being able to see two things. One, as you really level up and up your scale in terms of those non-branded efforts, those top of funnel efforts, what happens to the branded searches? Do they go up? Do they stay stagnant? Great way to track that. But then in addition, you can layer audiences, whether they're remarketing audiences, viewed video audiences onto your branded campaigns and see exactly how are YouTube users who see that YouTube ad then going and searching for our name. So on top of those other things, competition, visibility, messaging, all that kind of stuff, the tracking that you just mentioned, all really cool stuff.

Brett Curry:

Watching the brand lift as you engage in top of funnel activities.

Matt Slaymaker:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

Really smart. And we'll touch on that a little bit more too, when we talk top of funnel. What are a few things, Matt, that have changed recently with Google Search ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll throw at you two things. One from a keyword perspective and then one from an ad perspective. Back in the day, really there were three match types that you could work with with Google. There was exact match, there was phrase match and there was broad match. A little later on, they introduced broad match modifier, which is somewhere in between phrase match and exact match. And for those who might not know what the difference between each of those are.

Matt Slaymaker:

Exact match, the idea behind it is, it's only going to show exactly for the keyword that you bid on or some close variant, misspelling, stuff like that. So if you bid on hats for sale, it really should only show for hats for sale, if somebody searches for that. Phrase match is a little bit broader. In the past, could take that hats for sale and then show for anything that came before or after that. If someone searched for cheap hats for sale or hats for sale online, then phrase match would capture that. Broad match would take one, maybe two of the keywords in that keyword. So if it was just hats for sale, maybe it's just going to show for when somebody searches for hats or ...

Brett Curry:

Or how to make a hat? Or ...

Matt Slaymaker:

How to make a hat, exactly.

Brett Curry:

... crazy stuff. Free hats, whatever ...

Matt Slaymaker:

So almost always, we tend to steer away from broad match, even to this day. Broad match modifier though was something where it was a little bit more in between phrase match and broad match. It was actually a good option for a lot of people, that however recently got deprecated. So that is no longer an option for targeting. Now we're back to the phrase match, exact match and broad match. Except now phrase match is a little bit broader than it used to be, so now it's going to capture a few more of those loosely related keywords there. Something to watch out for. And even exact match is a little bit more expansive than it used to be. Instead of just capturing misspellings or adding an S to the end-

Brett Curry:

Plurals.

Matt Slaymaker:

... hat instead of hats. It's now showing for a few other more loosely connected things. So, another thing to watch out for there.

Brett Curry:

Google's on this definite trend where they're like, "Hey, trust us a little bit. Let's ease this up a little bit, trust the algorithm, trust that we get your best interest at heart to grow your business." And I don't think that's untrue, they're definitely always trying to get users to trust them a little bit. And this match type discussion is important, because we're trying to line up our ad with shopper intent and searcher intent. A really interesting stuff that a lot of people don't know is that, every day 15% of searches conducted on Google, Google has never seen before.

Brett Curry:

That's shocking when you think about the millions and millions of searches conducted every day, 15% are brand new to Google. And that's just because as population we're searching more, we're searching for more things. We're using voice search, we're making up queries. It's not just the same thing as hat for sale, it's all kinds of random hats or random, whatever. So broadening the match type of, "Hey, we want people that are searching these types of keywords." That allows us to hopefully get in front of more people. Awesome. So keywords have changed a little bit or keyword targeting has changed a little bit. What else has changed in terms of Google Search ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

On the ads themselves, if anyone was in Google Ads a couple years ago, you might remember that they used to have what was called text ads. And these gave you two headlines and one description. They were very simple, and pretty short. There wasn't much to say or do there. You had your 30 character limit for headlines, 90 character limit for descriptions. None of that's changed.

Brett Curry:

That was it.

Matt Slaymaker:

Couple of years later, what they introduced was expanded text ads. So these now gave you three headlines to work with and then two descriptions. And not always with that...

Brett Curry:

Let me say, for Google Search nerd like us, like other agencies, it was like, "Are you kidding me? Expanded text ads, more real estate, 50% more real estate or whatever." We went nuts on expanded text ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

Just that extra headline, that extra description to give you something to put out there and say to try to pull that user in, huge difference. So that was a big change and a great change. But now, they're actually starting to get rid of expanded text ads as well. And now, what is the default ad type for Google Search are called responsive search ads. And these give you up to 15 different headlines that you could throw in there. Same character limits of 30 characters, and then four descriptions. And Google will rotate these out based on the user's search intent, the historical performance of those headlines and descriptions.

Matt Slaymaker:

So if it sees that, hey, description one does way better than description four, when a user searches for this, we're going to show one at a more often rate than we would show for. And then same with a lot of those headlines. That said, you can still have control over a lot of those things. So if you don't want your headline number 10, which says free shipping for US orders, to show as your headline one, you could still pin that to the position three or position two, wherever you want it to show in terms of that order of operations. But now there's a little bit more liberty on Google's end to swap that stuff out and optimize based on the user's behavior.

Brett Curry:

Again, Google is saying, "Hey, trust us." But in a lot of ways, it does make sense. In this case, Google is saying, "Hey, we're going to watch the data here. So you give us more headlines, give us more descriptions. We're going to mix and match. We're going to find the perfect combos, we're going to be able to line up this combination of headline and description with this type of keyword, this type of user. And over time, it really can work. You still have to put thought into writing those headlines and those descriptions. But over time between, if you're a smart marketer and you leverage Google's algorithm, you can see pretty magical results over time.

Matt Slaymaker:

Absolutely.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. One question we get a lot is, how should we budget for this? Right. How much of my budget should go to search? There's no exact answer here, but a good rule of thumb that we found is, for search anywhere... This is looking at your Google budget, not your total marketing budget. But the amount of money you're spending with Google for eCommerce stores, typically your search ads are going to be in the 15 to 30% range, sometimes a little bit more. So, that's what we typically look at. Any final thoughts on search, Matt, before we move on to the next channel?

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. Just on the, how much of your budget should go to search? It really just depends on what your goal is. If your goal is growth and you do have a more robust full funnel strategy, where top of funnel plays a really big part. Then that 15, 30% probably sounds about right. But if you're maybe more conservative and short-term, immediate term profitability is your goal and you really just want to launch with search, shopping and some remarketing. Then maybe search could end up being more like 30 to 50%, and then shopping 30 to 50% and display, remarketing, et cetera, another 20%. So it really just depends on what your goal is. There's no set rule of thumb there. But if you're doing a full funnel strategy, which we think you should, then that 15 to 30% is most likely where you'll fall.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Totally agree. Let's now move to Google shopping. And this is a topic that I've been speaking about forever. Love it. But Matt, for those at home that do not know what Google Shopping is, what is it and why is it so important to eCommerce brands?

Matt Slaymaker:

For the most part, Google Shopping's going to show in the same places as Google Search, with some additional placements like YouTube, Gmail, Discover, places like that. But the shopping ads are the ones up at the top of Google and then on the side of Google, right side you'll usually see it. Where you see the product itself, you see the price of the product, the number of reviews, all that good stuff. So in terms of behavior, it operates a lot the same way as search ads do, but you get a lot of qualifying information there, which is why I typically see that non-branded traffic. We'll go back to that hats for sale example. I actually see that almost always perform better on the shopping side of things than I do for search. And the reason I think that's the case is because-

Brett Curry:

What kind of hat are we shopping here for, Matt? This is an important side note. I just want to know. I've never actually seen you wear a hat. I don't wear hats much either. If you were to wear a hat, what would you go with? We're talking like a cowboy hat, we're talking about a baseball cap? We're talking about...

Matt Slaymaker:

I was thinking sombrero, specifically.

Brett Curry:

Sombrero.

Matt Slaymaker:

Brett, you don't see me wear hats often, but when I do, that's what you'll catch me.

Brett Curry:

I'd love that, man.

Matt Slaymaker:

Or fedora. Fedora as well.

Brett Curry:

The fedora. Can't go wrong with the fedora or the sombrero. Okay, good. I'm glad we got... So now, every time Matt mentions hat, you picture sombrero.

Matt Slaymaker:

...

Brett Curry:

Good. Sorry, I derailed you. So back to shopping ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

The reason I think that those sombrero for sale searches are going to do better on Shopping than they typically do for Search, is because you do see a lot of that qualifier information. Prices, reviews. And then what does the product look like before you ever even click on it? Because Search ads and Shopping ads as well, they are going on a pay-per-click basis. So you only get charged when somebody actually clicks on the ad. If that price point is a deterrent for a lot of people, then they're not even going to click on the ad, which saves you some money there.

Matt Slaymaker:

If you only have a certain number of reviews and they only want to shop for somebody who has a 100 five-star reviews, then they're not even going to click on your ad. So for those reasons, I typically see... People who come through on those non-branded searches for shopping, convert at higher rates than Search. Because with Search, they might still see those differentiators, and we can give them an idea of pricing with things like price extensions and other extensions that we can talk about some other time. But for the most part, I think Shopping is really powerful in giving a lot of those important information details to ...

Brett Curry:

Shopping is really the workhorse for eCommerce. Google Shopping is the number one comparison shopping engine outside of Amazon. So seeing that image, the price, the title, the brand, reviews, hopefully a good picture. Seeing all of that is pretty compelling. So yeah, you're a 100% right. The leads that come through Google Shopping are more likely to convert than almost any other click, other than branded search. So we've found... Some of our clients, we have auto parts clients and others, where Shopping's 60% of the total Google budget because it just converts and there's a lot of search volume there. So it's pretty powerful.

Matt Slaymaker:

Another quick note there, just imagine from your own user behavior, whenever you do any search out there, looking for barbecue rubs for sale, anything like that. And you see a search ad up at the top of Google and then you see that same company shopping ads scattered out there as well. That is such a big credibility boost and it's such a great way to establish yourself as the name for that product. So, I think they can boost each other just by running alongside.

Brett Curry:

Totally. There have been studies done there, when you have a Search ad and a Shopping ad together, it boosts your overall clickthrough, just like you were talking about before with organic and paid. Same happens. And think about the ultimate trifecta. You've got the search ad, you've got hopefully an organic listing, and you've got a Shopping ad. You are now super credible and people want to click. And maybe even someone just understands the way the search universe works and they click on your organic listing anyway. But having those ads there help to drive that organic click, which is pretty powerful. Now, a couple of quick notes that we'll talk about, and I'll mention these and then chime in with anything you have, Matt. You've probably heard people talk about Smart Shopping. So Smart Shopping is a newer thing in the last several years.

Brett Curry:

We admittedly were not fans when... At least I was not a fan of Smart Shopping when it first launched. But in recent years it has gotten way better. Google really emphasizes Smart Shopping. I'll have you chime in on our approach in a minute map. But one thing to think about Smart Shopping is, Google has opened up more inventory. So not only do your ads show up in the search results like you talked about, your ads can show up on YouTube. That's why, if you've ever been on YouTube watching a video about how to fix your lawn mower and you see lawn mower ads or lawn mower parts ads. And those shopping ads that's part of the reason why Google's open that up with Smart Shopping. It also has a component of remarketing built in and a few other things, but pretty powerful. How do we like to approach it though, Matt? Because people are always asking us, hey, smart versus standard shopping, which do you prefer? How do we usually approach that?

Matt Slaymaker:

I think you've got to run them together, because while Smart Shopping has a lot of advantages in the sense that, like Brett mentioned that expanded inventory that isn't fully present with standard shopping. It does have a downside. And the one critical downside to me for Smart Shopping campaigns is that there's really a lack of visibility. You can't see any search terms at all. So if your campaign has a 3X ROAS, you make $3 for every $1 you spent, you don't really know what led to that. Was it all branded searches, was it all non-branded searches? You can't fully know.

Matt Slaymaker:

And that's where standard shopping running alongside of that can help clarify a lot of that stuff. Because with standard shopping, you do still have the ability to see those search terms. It also enables you to get an idea of, are the non-branded searches that are coming through actually relevant to us? We had a client recently where we took over and their Smart Shopping was doing okay. But then we launched standard shopping along with it, and we saw that the search terms that were coming through were completely irrelevant. There were some good ones, but a lot of irrelevant search terms. So that gave us the idea to go back to that feed-

Brett Curry:

Was this the one, Matt, that was... It's health related, so like supplements. And one of the cures was like a boot or something like this.

Matt Slaymaker:

The example was they make health tests and gut tests, where you can test your microbiome and gut health, stuff like that. And what was coming through were pregnancy tests or COVID tests. And things like that, where they're converting really well for the relevant stuff that comes through. But all that irrelevant stuff, that's just a waste of money. So, I think you do have to run them alongside each other. And then within your standard shopping campaigns, have a system of AB testing where you do make some changes to your feed item, the product title, the description, stuff like that. And AB test it and see, how does that affect the searches that are actually coming through? Ideally you can try to run them alongside. And then once you do feel like you're at a point where the shopping feed is really well optimized, you can phase out one and give more budgets to the one that's doing best.

Brett Curry:

It really is owning that digital shelf. If we think about this like a physical shelf in a retail store, how does a product stand out and why do you pay attention to one product versus another? Some of it is price, some of it is packaging. So the way we work on merchandising through Google Shopping is through the feed. And just like Matt talked about, title, image, maybe we're playing with price in a few different areas. But you've got to work on that test set. A lot of times people just say, "Here's my feed, Google go nuts." And then they never look at it again. Where you've got to think merchandising here to optimize that and really own more real estate. Because what's cool is, the more people click on your ads, the more Google will reward you by showing your ad more. If Google determines, hey, for these keywords, people love these products and they click on them. They're going to show your ad more, and then you're going to get cheaper CPCs and likely more conversions. So optimizing that is super important.

Matt Slaymaker:

What Brett is referring to is a component of what's called quality score, and quality score... And this is especially important when it comes to your search campaigns. Looks at three main things, your ad relevance. So does the ad talk about the keyword that just got searched for? The landing page relevance, does the page that you're sending them to talk about what somebody just searched for? And then your historical expected clickthrough rate. That's exactly what Brett just talked about. If your ads are getting clicked on more than other people's ads, Google's going to reward that.

Brett Curry:

It was a brilliant innovation, quality score, that I really think it was the magic ingredient that helped Google become what it is today. Because it incentivized advertisers to make great ads. And it incentivized them by charging them lower rates. If they had a good quality score that just led to... It led to advertisers getting smarter and then it led to users getting what they want. Then it led to Google making bazillions of dollars ... So everyone's happy, I think. Awesome. We've got Search, we've got Shopping. Let's talk remarketing now. So, we're building the foundation of our full funnel growth. I'm watching the clock, Matt, we've been getting excited and I'm going to blame myself for being long-winded. We're not going to leave ourselves very much time for top of funnel. That's okay. We can always circle back to top of funnel and go deeper later, we will touch on it. So we've got Search and Shopping, those are foundational. Let's talk remarketing now as well. What channels do we recommend for remarketing? What are some of your top remarketing tips?

Matt Slaymaker:

That's going to be a tough one to be brief on, because I love remarketing. This is my favorite ... of advertising, honestly. First, just want to break down what's different about each of these channels. So Display Network, what is that? That's about 90% of the websites out there and it also covers mobile apps. You've probably seen Display ads there. Discovery ads, they look just like Display ads, you have a little bit more characters to work with, but these show exclusively on YouTube, Gmail and the Discover Network, which is like a personalized feed through Google. And then YouTube is YouTube. You get your YouTube ads in feed or in the YouTube home page as well.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome. Why do you love remarketing so much, Matt?

Matt Slaymaker:

I love remarketing so much, because I look at the funnel... I related this recently as like pouring water into a cup. And without remarketing, it's as if you have holes at the bottom of the cup. Where you're pouring all this top of funnel traffic and this non-branded traffic in, but so much water is just leaking out through the bottom and you're not actually retaining anything. I look at remarketing as a way to patch up those holes and make sure you're keeping more of the water that you're pulling in. Without remarketing, I think there's a lot of waste out there. And this is our opportunity to follow up with people who have initially made contact with our business, or have already purchased from our business. And we know that they know us and they love us. And to get more out of those users.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome.

Matt Slaymaker:

...

Brett Curry:

Love it. We can all think of scenarios where we've seen a cool ad, we've clicked on it. We visited the site, we think, "Oh, that's really neat, I might try to check that out." Then we get distracted or we don't want to spend the money right then. And then we forget about it. We need those reminders, we need that remarketing ad to get us back. So, let's talk audiences really quickly here. What audiences are we typically building to be able to effectively remarket?

Matt Slaymaker:

There's a lot that you can do. My absolute favorite is starting with your purchasers. These are the people, like I said earlier, we know that they like us because they've already purchased from us before. Especially if we can find a way to target repeat purchasers. So within purchasers, three main categories. There's the opportunity to cross-sell users. These are people who bought product A, but they have not yet bought product B. Maybe that's, they bought barbecue rubs from your company, but not the sauces. And we know those would pair really great together. Then the other option would be an upsell opportunity. So they bought product A, but they didn't buy the bundle. Maybe they bought a single barbecue rub, but we have a combo pack of eight different barbecue rubs that we know you would like. So, getting in front of them with something like that.

Matt Slaymaker:

And then the last one within purchasers is replenishment/reordering. People who bought product A, but haven't done so recently. And getting back in front of them with that, because we know they know and love it. And just getting them to try it again. After that... That's just the purchaser component of it. From there you could... And this is what most people think of when they think of remarketing, is targeting all of the visitors who've come to your website at all. That's by far going to be your highest volume remarketing list, but it might see the lower ROAS, because this is simply all visitors, regardless of their level of engagement. A step below that in terms of them showing a little bit more engagement, would be product page viewers or service page viewers. People who visited a particular product on your page and have expressed a particular interest. From there, another one of my favorite ones is called car abandoners. This one typically will see the best efficiency on it.

Matt Slaymaker:

You'd be surprised, about 80% of people actually abandon their cart. Maybe it's more like 70%, but it's a really high rate of people that adds something to their cart and end up not purchasing. But if we get back in front of them, almost always, I see cart abandoners see the highest efficiency in terms of ROAS and really low CPAs. The reason somebody abandons their cart can vary. Most of the time, they just forgot. They were that close, now we just get back in front of them and have them finish their purchase. And the last one that I think you would love to talk about a little bit more are viewed video audiences. This is where those top of funnel efforts that you're doing on YouTube really come full circle. Maybe they never visited your website before, but we have made that initial impression on them from these YouTube ads that we're running for top funnel. So, getting back in front of them with the Display, Discovery or even YouTube ad, just from them viewing the video is also really powerful.

Brett Curry:

Really I believe any eCommerce brand needs to consider what we just talked about, Search, Shopping, remarketing. I think it's a must for everybody for the reasons you mentioned. To get more repeat purchases, to close more of the purchases that you almost got. And what's really interesting, Matt, is we audited a lot of Google Ads accounts. And we audited a lot of Google Ads accounts of people that are spending 3, 4, 5, 6, 700,000 a month on ads across Facebook and other channels. Some more than a million. And you'd be surprised... We're not anymore, but you'd probably be surprised how weak the remarketing structure is. It's like one remarketing campaign, all visitors, where we're looking at breaking it down. PDP viewers and cart abandoners and different recency windows and replenishment and cross-sell and upsell. And you bought this, but you didn't buy that. So you build that out. And now, you can be more aggressive with your top of funnel Facebook and your top of funnel YouTube.

Brett Curry:

Because you're closing more of the people that you get to check out your site and check out your products. I don't disagree with you about remarketing, because it is really valuable and super fun. But man, I like the juice of top of funnel. So, let's talk top of funnel really quickly. And we're going to have to do this a grave disservice. We're going to talk about top of funnel here for a few minutes, and then... I know what you did, Matt, you're trying to get part two. You're trying to get round two. You want to be on the podcast again, you're like, "Let me just drag this out a little bit and then Brett will invite me on for round two." Okay, fine. You got what you want. So let's talk top of funnel marketing now. Now, what are our opportunities... And this will actually be... Tie this in a little bit to remarketing too. But what are the channels for top of funnel? And you mention them for bottom of funnel as well. But why is it important to consider all the channels, basically?

Matt Slaymaker:

The channels are the same three ones that we just mentioned, so there's Display, there's Discovery and then there's YouTube. Every channel has its advantages and their disadvantages. What I really love about YouTube and Discovery in particular is that, really only one ad is showing at a time. So when it comes to YouTube ads, that's your moment in the spotlight. There's nobody else there. Somebody's watching their video, you get in front of them with an ad and it's just you there. And Discovery actually works a lot the same way, say, you're scrolling-

Brett Curry:

And what are Discovery ads, for those that don't know?

Matt Slaymaker:

Again, it looks exactly like a Display ad. It's an image based ad with some headlines and descriptions, but it shows up on Gmail, shows up on YouTube. So if you ever see an image ad on YouTube, that's a Discovery ad.

Brett Curry:

And the Google app supposedly, but I don't ever see them there. I only see them on Gmail and on YouTube. But really great placements.

Matt Slaymaker:

And each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Frankly, Discovery and YouTube see the best conversion rates in terms of... And it depends on your creative. If you have really strong YouTube creative, and maybe more weak images, then YouTube might be your very best top of funnel platform. And then vice versa, if you have really weak YouTube creative, but really strong images, then Discovery might be your best. But usually... The other flip side component of this, there's the direct performance aspect of it, which we measure by conversion rates, ROAS and CPA.

Matt Slaymaker:

But then there's the awareness side of it. How many people can we reach with $1 with $2, a $100. And that's where Display is really powerful. Display almost always will see CPMs, which is cost per 1000 impressions of, two to $4. Discovery, it's more like eight to $10. YouTube, it can be more like 15 to $30. And it corresponds with what you see with conversion rates. Where conversion rates are a little bit stronger, the cost per impression is a little bit higher. So, I would say test out every single one of them based on the creative and the images that you do have available to you. And then just see what works the best, given your goal of driving awareness and direct conversions.

Brett Curry:

100% agree. I tend to lean towards YouTube just because I love it, I've always loved video marketing and I started in TV a long time ago. Love YouTube. But it does depend on what you're selling. If you're selling something that's really straightforward and simple. I'm a Chiefs fan, I see your Tony Romo Jersey in the background there, Matt, but I'm going to one up you here. I'm a Chiefs fan, Patrick Mahomes. If I'm selling Patrick Mahomes jerseys, I don't need a lot of explanation. I don't need a full video to tell you what a Patrick Mahomes' Jersey is. If you see the Jersey and you see NFL logo, you know what it is. So Discovery, display, perfect for that.

Brett Curry:

If there's a cool offer, I'm going to click, I might buy. If it's something more complex. So, it's a new protein shake that doesn't taste like chalk, or this is a unique tool to fix your car. Something that I need to see explained, video's going to be better for that. And the more you can tell and explain and show, if it needs to be demonstrated, then obviously nothing beats video for that. Let's talk about audiences really quickly. These audiences can be the same across channel, across YouTube, Discovery, Display. But what are the best audiences that we usually start with, Matt, when we're going top of funnel?

Matt Slaymaker:

I have a bit of a power ranking system, and the power rankings have changed a little bit in the last year. But number one is still undefeated, for me personally, and that's custom intent audiences. What custom intent audiences are, if you're familiar with in-market audiences, they are very similar to that in the sense that these are people who are actively in the market for something. They're actively searching for something. But with custom intent, we can tell Google exactly what we want to be those inputs. So instead of in-market, which are predefined, maybe we loosely fit into one category, but not really all that much. Custom intent allows us to drill into it a lot, on a more detailed level. So, that still is my favorite audience. I recommend testing that out first. From there, I would say number two of my power rankings are demo only audiences, actually.

Matt Slaymaker:

The reason demo only is good... What that means is just demographics only, so no audiences, no content, anything like that. It's just, what do you know about your target market in terms of their demographics? Maybe it's women in between 25 and 34 who are in the top 30% of incomes. And just target that. The reason demo only can do really well is because compared to any of these other audiences, it's going to have the lowest CPMs, CPCs and allow you to reach a wide variety of people at a relatively low cost. So if you can see good conversion rates from demo only, by having creative that resonates with that audience, then they typically work really well. A few other ones, but the only other one I'll mention is custom affinity audiences. Which are similar to custom intent audiences in the way that you set them up and everything. But it's more based on their long-term interest rather than necessarily what they're searching for in the moment.

Brett Curry:

Love it. The input's changed. So for custom intent, you're giving Google keywords and you're saying, "Hey, target for me people who have searched for these keywords on Google or on YouTube." And customer affinity is more, "Google check out these URLs or these videos or these things, and build an audience for me of people like those that visit these." So really powerful audiences. I like your power ranking there, I think that's just pretty awesome.

Matt Slaymaker:

And each of those really just talk about the audience targeting side of it. That's one way that you can target on Google, is by targeting people based on what they have been doing, who they are, what demographics that they fit into. The other way that you can target on Google is by targeting the content of the video that they're watching. There's a few different ways to do that. There's what's called keywords, which allow you to target the actual video itself. So somebody's watching a video about female hair thinning, and you get in front of them with a product about hair replenishment. Then that could work really well. Placements is another option there, where you can target specific channels, specific videos. So there's two sides of the coin. There's the audience side of it, where you're targeting people and what they're interested in. And then the content side of it, where they are, what are they actively watching on YouTube?

Brett Curry:

Love it. Let's talk briefly about the creative aspect. And I will mention a couple of other episodes, I've done several now on creatives. But one recent episode, episode 184 with Joseph Wilkins from funnysalesvideos.com. Also did an episode with Andrew Eckblad, which I'm going to mention in a minute. But basically you want to really think about the creatives, because YouTube ads are different than Facebook ads, or even TV ads or other video ads. They're just different. We don't have much time to talk about this, Matt, but any tips or suggestions or things you've noticed about videos that work well as YouTube ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

Like you said, it'll be a disservice to try to cram it all in about a minute here, so I definitely recommend going and watching some of those other podcasts that Brett's done as well as some previous webinars as well. I think there's a few main components you can't miss out on when it comes to those creatives. You've got to hook them in those first five seconds. As we know with most YouTube ads, you have five seconds before that big skip ad button pops up. And most people are very eager to click that as soon as they possibly can. But if you manage to hook them in the first five seconds where they do want to keep watching, that is really powerful. So, that's the first part. Then you've got to lead with that strongest differentiator. Don't save your strongest bullet point, the strongest part of your business for the end of the video.

Brett Curry:

Don't bury the lead, to use a journalism quote.

Matt Slaymaker:

Exponentially people are dropping off on that video, so if you can lead with the strongest thing that you think is going to resonate with them, absolutely do that. And provide social proof. That's another big thing. I think a lot of times people think of social proof of, oh, I need a celebrity endorsement, I need to be mentioned in Forbes or NBC or something like that. It doesn't need to be like that. It can be as simple as user-generated testimonials. And a lot of times, that converts even better than a celebrity endorsement might ever. I was talking with some of our other specialists today and I talk to customers all the time. But a lot of times, the user testimonials relate more to them and are more powerful because they resonate, they can relate to that. That's me as a user-

Brett Curry:

And believable too. We need to be able to believe and trust what we're seeing and hearing. And the right type of user generated content really creates trust and believability.

Matt Slaymaker:

Then the last component there is just have a strong call to action. After they've watched that video, give them something to do. Don't just say it in a way that is, "Hey, click the link below." Create some sense of urgency, whether that's with an offer or just more unique messaging. Have a strong call to action there at the end, that gives them that next step.

Brett Curry:

Love it. So the other podcast to check out is with Andrew Eckblad, episode 70, that was the first interview I did with Andrew. Depending on when you're listening to this, I'm about to record another episode with Andrew. He's brilliant with video marketing, and that's E-C-K-B-L-A-D, Eckblad. So search for that Ecommerce Evolution and Eckblad. Check that out. But Matt Slaymaker, this has been fantastic, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Slaymaker:

Awesome.

Brett Curry:

A couple of the resources I'll mention, if you want to learn and really dig deep into Google Ads and YouTube ads go to omgcommerce.com. Under resources, we have some guides that are designed to really help you level up here. There's a Google Shopping guide. I just refreshed that, it's also published with Shopify, so you can find that at Shopify as well. There's the top YouTube ad examples guide, that really shows some of our favorite and most successful YouTube ads. You can learn from some of the best there, that's all free. Then there's also a guide on creating authentic customer testimonials. So, how do you collect those? How do you get those? How do you identify a winner? We map that out in that free guide as well. Matt, any final words of wisdom, anything you want to say as we wrap up? Then finish part one of your episodes here.

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll go ahead and plug myself a little bit as well.

Brett Curry:

Please.

Matt Slaymaker:

If you guys are wondering anything about how iOS updates impacted Google Ads in 2021, go to omgcommerce.com, check out our blogs. Recently wrote an article there talking about what are some of the big things that changed. Also, if you're curious about what's the difference between dynamic remarketing and standard remarketing, maybe you've never heard of those at all. Go check that out on the OMG Blog as well. Currently, our featured blog at the moment might not be for long, so go check that out when you get the chance.

Brett Curry:

Matt-

Matt Slaymaker:

Brett, assuming I dragged this out long enough, I'll see you for part two.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Check it out. Matt is in the spotlight all over the place, his blog is featured. Killer episode here, Matt. Awesome job, man. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Matt Slaymaker:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What would you like to hear more of on the show? Do you have feedback for us? Leave that review on iTunes if you've not done so, that would mean the world to me. Give Matt some love online as well. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.






Episode 197
:
Justin Brooke - Ad Skills

Why GDN is Better than Facebook Ads with Justin Brooke of Ad Skills

Misconceptions about GDN are rampant in the eComm world. It’s too hard. It’s too expensive. The targeting isn’t as good as Facebook. It doesn’t work. Justin Brooke knows better.
Justin is an ad veteran who knows just about every ad platform out there. He’s partnered with and trained media buyers for Russell Brunson, Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy and more. He also worked for Agora Publishing. He KNOWS his stuff. And he believes GDN ads are better than Facebook?
Why?

  • You can still get $.40 and $.80 clicks.
  • GDN offers targeting that you can’t match on Facebook.
  • GDN creates the impression that your brand is “everywhere”.

Here are some tips we cover:

  • His unique approach to GDN for eCommerce.
  • His landing page must-have elements.
  • How quality is in the quantity when it comes to GDN headlines and copy.
  • Testing 3 angles for every idea - toward pleasure, away from pain, and something controversial.
  • Utilizing the overnight celebrity strategy with testimonial GDN ads.
  • How deadlines and testimonials work together.
  • How to work hand-in-hand with the algorithm for amazing results.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Justin Brooke

   - LinkedIn

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


AdSkills

   - Website

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


Traffic Tips for Busy People

Russell Brunson

Frank Kern

Dan Kennedy

Ezra Firestone

Semrush


Transcript:

Brett:

Today we're looking at why the Google Display network is better than Facebook ads. What, you might say, Google Display network better than Facebook? Heresy.

Brett:

Well, no, not heresy, but it is the opinion of my guest today, Justin Brooke. Justin is the founder of AdSkills. He's also one of the smartest marketers that I've ever met, and more about Justin in a minute. But what we're going to unpack in this episode is, one, Justin's formula for using the Google Display network to grow your e-commerce brand. We'll talk about must have elements for your landing pages. We'll dive into his overnight celebrity strategy, which is one of my favorite ad strategies. It could be the key to unlocking the Google Display network for you. We talk about misconceptions and why people fail with the Google Display network. And really, I think we're just going to make your brain explode. We might make your brain hurt just a little bit, but Justin's going to deliver amazing value. So lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Justin Brooke.

Brett:

The Spicy Curry podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify pages, and Payability. Well, this is an episode that I can confidently say has been years in the making. I've been looking forward to this. I've been planning this, I've been dreaming about this day and it's finally here. And so I get to interview mister Justin Brooke. Our paths have crossed numerous times throughout the years, even dating back to like 2008, 2009. We were both actually partnering with Russell Brunson on separate projects. And I remember being in Russell's office and being like, "Hey, there's Justin Brooke, that guy's famous." And so then we've crossed paths in a few other ways.

Brett:

We're talking today about the Google Display network, a topic that I love, and I believe there's nobody out there better than Justin. And so I can't wait to tap into his mind and allow him to share with you and me his best insights on GDM, but just a couple of quick things for you to know. So Justin founded AdSkills in 2016, they've trained over 13,000 media buyers. They have 300 plus certified media buyers. He's worked with and trained media buyers for Frank Curran, Dan Kennedy, Russell Brunson. If you've been around direct marketing, you know all of those names.

Brett:

He also has a really well-read newsletter. In fact, some of the smartest people I know referenced Justin's email newsletter, Traffic Tips for Busy People. And so you should check that out as well. But with that intro, Justin, welcome to the show. How you doing, man?

Justin:

Thanks for having me, man. I'm so glad and hardly famous, man. Nobody gives me a second look at the grocery store, man, but I appreciate the accolades and everything.

Brett:

Yeah. So it's famous. You're famous in my mind, but it is funny. There's the Dan Kennedy always used to call him famous people that nobody knows, right? So you're not airport famous, not grocery store famous, but like you get into a room of marketers and you're like, whoa, holy cow, it's Justin Brooke. You got to get tap into this guy's mind a little bit.

Brett:

So let's dive right into this topic, because I think it's one that, and I encounter hundreds of eCommerce brands every year, we're auditing dozens and dozens of accounts. I know almost nobody doing Google Display network well. We run into people all the time that are spending mid to high six figures a year, a couple million dollars a year on Facebook. Most people are spending nothing or close to nothing on the Google Display network, but let's maybe start with what are some misconceptions about the Google Display network? What do you hear people saying about it that just drives you crazy?

Justin:

Yeah. So this is why you don't see a whole lot of people is really it's the misconceptions. So when you think of Google, we are still all stung by the Google slap years ago. We still think of, oh the cost per clicks are really high. They terminated all of our accounts. That stigma is still very much in the air in our industry. It's almost like a branding now, Google Ads is expensive. You know? That's like what immediately what we think. It's expensive. It's hard. And they're going to shut down my accounts. A lot of that has gone away. I'm not saying it's not expensive anymore. There are certainly some crazy expensive niches West Palm, cosmetic dentistry, just stay away from it. Just stay away.

Brett:

Avoid that, yeah.

Justin:

But they've really a far way. They got in a lot of trouble from their stockholders and stuff. When their stockholders were like, wait a minute, you're just like shutting down accounts? Is that the way you guys make money? And that's the way our stocks go. Could you not do that anymore? So yeah, they got a lot of trouble and I'm super paraphrasing it, but there was an event years ago. They're super helpful now. I mean, you can get on the phone with reps. I'm almost a little annoyed sometimes how much the reps are reaching out to me. It's like, okay, yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Reps are reaching out, wanting to schedule meetings, wanting to get time on your calendar, wanting to meet with you. Absolutely. And some of them are super helpful. Some of them not, but some of them are super helpful.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's really a different situation. So a lot of that stuff has gone away. And I would say, so if you've heard that about Google Ads, I would say it's different. I would say it's still the same in the first two weeks of an account, they're very strict in the first two weeks of an account, that's usually where-

Brett:

Manual reviews. A human is reviewing everything at that point, basically.

Justin:

Even machines. So it's like if you're landing page, your ads, anything smells bad in the first two weeks, there's going to be a high shutdown rate. And that's just because there's trying to stop the churn and burn guys and they have to be very strong because that's where those guys live. They're just creating new accounts all the time. And so it in the first two weeks play it cool. Just advertise your blog a little bit, just be very, I guess, kosher. I don't know the right word, but just play it cool for the two weeks. And then you can start stepping up your direct response and whatever. So that's the biggest misconception. Also, they think Google Ads, they think expensive. Google Display is much different. It's very common for me to get-

Brett:

Display can be very cheap.

Justin:

Yeah, you can get 40 cent clicks. Are you getting 40 cent clicks on Facebook? Not today. You got to be really good at Facebook to be getting those click rates anymore. But it's very common for me to get 40 cent, 80 cents, 60 cent and lower. I've gotten 8 cent, 18 cent, 20 cents clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

So, and you're talking even in the last, for the last year, last six months, you've been getting CPCs.

Justin:

Last couple weeks, absolutely. So when you think Google Ads and they think expensive, that's usually search, and search legitimately can be expensive. I would say that's also very profitable. That's a whole nother podcast, but Google Display is not part of that. You can get very cheap clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. So you touched on this just a little bit, but I remember seeing a post on Facebook that you made and you were like, "GDN is better than Facebook," and man, those were fighting words to some people because the comments were lightening up and on fire and, "Blasphemy, heresy,", Justin Brooke. But anyways, it's a fascinating statement. So why do you believe, and in what ways do you believe GDN is better than even Facebook at times?

Justin:

Yeah. If you do, if anybody wants, if you got like 20 minutes and you're absolutely bored out of your mind and you want to go search my wall of posts, but if you go search through there, the guys who are actually using GDN all came to my defense and like, "He's absolutely right, this is true." And it was all the other Facebookers who were telling me I was crazy. So the thing is, is Facebook didn't invent interest targeting. They like to claim that they invented interest targeting. The branding is like Google invented PPC, Facebook invented interest based targeting. That's what most people think about or know. It's completely false. Facebook borrowed everything from Google and continues to this day trying to build Google Ads. They are the mighty billion dollar advertising company in every way that you can measure a company, Google wins.

Brett:

The number one online advertising platform bar none, Google's number one and likely will be for some time.

Justin:

The only place that's even argued is in our little like Facebook world. Outside of that, Google is by far the gorilla. So there's that. But then also when it comes to ... there's so many different levels, and I don't want to go too far on this, but okay. So with interest targeting, you have levels of interest targeting, where on Facebook there's just interest targeting.

Justin:

We have keywords, a keyword is an interest it's like, I'm interested in this topic. And so that's a keyword. Then you have topic based. And so keyword essentially, it doesn't exactly work like this without going super scientific, essentially. If I said tennis shoes or tennis, right. That's an interest, but it's also a keyword. And my ads would show up on any pages about tennis, but then there's topics. So we could go sports and now I'm interested in sports and now I'm going to show up on all the pages related to sports and then there's affinities.

Justin:

And so that would be like sports junkies. And so they're going to show up on fantasy league pages, news pages, sports pages, all kinds of different things. And so there's levels of interest. And then the other thing that I would say that separate it's them is really the big thing. And what I keep trying to shake the cage about is it doesn't change. So like Facebook is a newsfeed and so you need constant, fresh, creative. Otherwise, that person is seeing the same ad over and over and over again. And there's only so many time-

Brett:

Ad fatigue is a very real thing on Facebook.

Justin:

Yes, absolutely. Ad fatigue is turning and burning. And so you have to feed this monster, lots of ad creative. Google Display doesn't work like that because it's, the only time you're going to a best tennis shoes article is the time when you're searching for best tennis shoes. It's a very rare person who's going to go visit these same pages over and over again. Sometimes it happens in the precious metals industry, copper price, silver price, gold price, you know? And so you're going to that same page over and over again every day. And so you might start seeing the same ads, but it just doesn't happen in a lot of different industries. Mostly what happens is you're interested-

Brett:

There's audience refresh on GDN.

Justin:

Yeah. You're interested in something. So go to Google, you type in whatever. And then you see an article and you click into that article. And then on that article is ads that are relevant to the thing you just searched. So you're getting search traffic, but at a super bargain of it and in a much more relative space. So that's the other reason why I think it's so much ... you can put a Google and it could run ... my record was two years, but I mean, it's common for one created to run for months on end.

Brett:

Yeah. And we see the same thing on YouTube as well. My industry does a lot of YouTube, ad management and in creative work as well. Sometimes we see ads, the winning ad on YouTube lasts for a year. Because the audience is turning over. You're on that audience when you're interested in something and about to buy something. And then you get off that audience after you made a purchase or whatnot. Yeah, so super smart.

Brett:

So let's break down, let's get tactical for a little bit. Let's look at ... because you've got a unique approach to GDN for eCommerce. And again, I believe nobody does it better than you and your team. So, what does that approach look like running GDN to grow an eCommerce brand? So break that down for us and then I'll have several follow up questions.

Justin:

Yeah. So I think e-com has come a long way in their landing pages. I hat tip to Ezra Firestone. I think he's helped create a lot of best practices in e-com landing pages, but like before there was no reviews, testimonials. There wasn't these big credibility, believability things on an e-commerce page. And so it's come a long way, but it's not quite there yet. I don't love sending page traffic to e-com pages, especially Google Display, which can be-

Brett:

When you say you've got pages, a typical product detail page that's not where you typically want to send cold traffic.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah. I don't like to say it. I would have a landing page that would send to that page, you know? And so that's what we do is I just say, hey, what's your best product? Everybody knows what their top selling product is, their best product. So then we take that product and we'll build out a page specifically for that one that when they click by goes right to cart, and so they're almost like a digital sales page. Very similar, you'd sell basically anything else. You got a sales page, it goes right to the cart.

Justin:

Whereas in e-com, it's like you go to a product topic page or product category page, and then you go into the product page and then you go into a checkout and then you go to cart, and so we just bypass a little bit of that. And then what we do is once we acquire the customer with a normal sale page checkout or sales page cart. And then once we've acquired the customer, we bring them back to the store. So now they can buy additional things and we get our revenue per user earnings average order value off of that. But we get our lower cost per acquisition using a dedicated funnel for their best or top three products.

Brett:

Got it. This is always a little bit difficult on a podcast, because we're just talking through things, but what are some of the elements that you really want on that page? So you're bypassing the traditional product detail page. You're sending cold traffic from a GDN ad, which we'll talk about the ad in a minute. You're sending them from a GDN ad to a specific landing page you built, what are some of the elements that you want on that page?

Justin:

Number one thing, when it comes to eCommerce is product demonstration. They want to see the knife cut through a tomato, you know? They want to see the, let's see, Tre has got that butter scraper thing. Makes your butter easier to spread. It's a weird product, but that's the thing is you can't just show me a picture of this weird looking butter knife that has a couple of circles on the end of it and expect me to understand that's going to revolution a eyes butter for me, but all of a sudden you have a quick 15 second video showing that those little circles create little shavings of butter and now immediately, oh, it melts the butter faster, because it's taking these little shavings off there. That's why it spreads though my toast better. And that's what I'm talking about when it comes to product demonstrations.

Justin:

When it comes to Ecom, demonstrate the product and I don't think pictures are enough. Most people these days have good enough internet and you don't need a long video. Don't have a long video. Short, almost like animated images, gif images, show me how product works. That's going to go a long way. And then reviews, reviews are huge. Believable reviews. Don't only have five star reviews on there. That's going to reduce your credibility. Have a couple of ... you don't have to have your worst review on there either but make it real, make it believable, be genuine about it. Those two things are really going to help a lot.

Justin:

And then the other thing is on a lot of eCommerce sites there is a frequently asked questions section. We like to bring some of that onto the page. And so what we've learned is everybody thinks ... when you're creating a sales page, you're trying to convince the person from top to bottom, from your headline all the way through, you're doing everything you can, how can I muster up? What words do I have to say? What images do I have to say to get this person to click the button? But when the visitor lands on the page, they're doing the opposite. They're thinking of why should I not buy this?

Brett:

Why should I bail? Give me some reasons to say no, right now.

Justin:

Why is my wife go to yell at me for buying this product later on? And so, you need to think about that. Don't think like us when you're making your page think like them, because we're making the page for them. We're not making the page for us. So we need to think about they're looking for gotchas. And oh, this is why I shouldn't buy it, or that. So you want to have good, not long copy, but good copy blocks. Almost not even a-

Brett:

Into chunks, right?

Justin:

I dare not say I'm not a fan of bullet points. I'm not saying that, copywriters. Don't kill me. Okay? But I'm saying is I almost like lots of copy nuggets, better than bullet point.

Justin:

Old school, long bullet point list is a little ugly, a little tedious. I like just these little squares, you can rotate them, left align, right align, little images. And that's giving you all the different like, and this reason and that reason and this reason and this objection, we counter it here. And this objection, we counter it here.

Justin:

It's not like in person where you have the opportunity to read body language and tonalities, so you got to answer all of them there. You got this person one time, you need to think of every objection they possibly could have and put all that on the page. But in a way doesn't intimidate them. So short blocks of texts, small sentences, lots of images. Think children's book. Not because consumers are dumb. They're just busy. The baby's crying in the background. They're trying to shop while they're at work and their boss might turn the corner any minute. A life is happening to this person, and so we need these little nuggets of stuff.

Brett:

Yeah. And one of the things that I hear people say all the time is, oh, nobody will read all that copy. And the answer to that question is, yeah, you're probably right. But what people will do is they will scan it. They're scanning it, looking for answers to their specific question.

Brett:

Sometimes someone's going to scan the page. They find one or two of those nuggets, either bullet point or a little chunk of copy. And they're like, "Oh, okay, well, if that's true, then this is okay." And then they may go back and read more. So I think understanding how people consume a page, and you're right, you got to have every possible objection covered in that page or else people will bail.

Justin:

Yeah. A great example on that is right now I'm getting into, or at least I think I'm getting into Japanese woodworking. It's kind of ...in my brain lately.

Brett:

Wait a minute, you're doing Japanese style woodworking or you're just buying it?

Justin:

I'm getting into it, like chisels all saws and joints and things like that. And so I'm looking at the different chisels and specifically looking for a certain type of steel that the chisels are made out of because it affects the sharpening and how long it can hold an edge. None of the pages that I'm going to talk about. It's the biggest thing. When you talk to other people that are in this, they're like, "Oh yeah, you want to make sure your chisels are made out of A2 steel because of this, that and the other.

Justin:

So it's a normal conversation that the woodworkers would have. But when I go to the sales pages, nobody's addressing this conversation. The biggest thing you want out of a chisel is, how do I sharpen it? How long does it stay sharp? ... And that number one question is not being answered on the page. And that's a great example of, make sure your product is talking about that thing that everybody's talking about.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Let's talk about the ad side for just a minute. So, what are you thinking about, how are you crafting those cold traffic ads? So the first ad someone sees that then sends them to this page we were just talking about, how are you crafting and how are you creating those initial ads for cold traffic?

Justin:

I'm glad you asked me this question and this one hurts me. I have like the world's hardest to show off tattoo because it wraps around my arm. But basically it's an ink quill, it's a Quill with an ink jar and cash. I'm a die hard copywriter. I am a copywriter. First, I sell traffic, that's the shingle I hung, but I live and breathe as a copywriter. So I promise you, it hurts me more than anybody else to say this, copy today isn't what it used to be.

Justin:

I would say for the last hundred plus years, in all the books that we read. They're trying to get you to write the best ads. It's like you're going to write this one ad, like you're going to put all your energy. You're going to do all this research, the whole process, everything we've learned and done over the last 100 years in terms of copy is a little bit almost out the window. Not all the way out the window because today we're not really writing for consumers as much as we're writing for algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence.

Justin:

And so the best way to create an ad today is to understand the fundamentals of copying. But I just made a Google ad the other day. My ad rep says, you need at least 15 headlines. What? 15 headlines? For most people that would blow their mind away. What do you mean I got to write 15 headlines?

Brett:

I have three good ones in me. The other 12 are going to be, yeah.

Justin:

Right. And that's us because we're in the industry, die hard's, been doing this forever. The average person, one headline is hard for them. So you need 15 headlines, 3 descriptions, and at least 2 images, but one's got to be square. And then the other one's got to be 16 by 9, you know?

Justin:

And so like, we're really writing ... it's ultimately to the end consumer, but it's first to the algorithm because they're going to go and put all these pieces together. And so that's really where you need to be at. I would say today, less deep dive into copy, more breadth of like, how do you write a headline? How do you write a good ... it's like social media copy. How do you write good sentence? A good post? How do you write a good Twitter post? That's what you need because that's what's working these days. And a lot of the ad networks are going that direction.

Justin:

So when it comes to creating a good ad today, you need to know that it's about creating a volume. I don't know if I'm inventing this. I just don't know what else to call it. I'm calling it modular copy. And so you want to put together, you want to have a folder or even a spreadsheet of a bunch of headlines, a bunch of descriptions, a bunch of images, bios. These are the pieces that we need for social media, for blogs, for podcast interviews. You needed a profile picture and a bio and websites need these social networks. The ads need these. So that's what we need today to make a good ad. And then you need to understand the basics of copy so that your headlines, descriptions, bios, logos, they can't suck. But today the guy who I ... call him the John Belcher, good friend of mine, he is the-

Brett:

He's a legend.

Justin:

He's amazing. He's the modern media buyer and he's not a creative. And I'm not making fun of him or anything. He would say the same thing. He just understands the machines and the new way of doing things so much better. And he can out copy a copywriter who's been doing 15, 20 years experience because he's going to run 753 variations while you've spent two weeks coming up with one, so.

Brett:

Yeah. And it's interesting, because the algorithm is really like the gatekeeper in some respects, it's what's connecting advertiser to potential shopper and really it is a volume play to a certain degree. The machine up front wants a combination of things or this modular copy. I love that phrase, because the machine wants to test. It knows if it can test, it can find the right combinations.

Brett:

So really goes back to an old concept. I can't remember where I first heard this, but sometimes the quality is in the quantity. You got to test quantity and then you just find things that you're like, "Whoa, I never thought that headline could have been the winner, but it was and Google found it," you know? Yeah. And so, yeah. Super duper interesting.

Brett:

So where are you finding inspiration then for headlines and for copy blocks and things like that? Are you pulling from search ads that have performed well, are you pulling from the website copy? How are you going from, okay, back in the old days we spent weeks and weeks on a few headlines. Now we just got to have mass quantities. How are you getting there?

Justin:

You know what I like to do? I used to, for many years I taught use a spy tool, an Adbeat, Semrush, whatever. There's tons of spy tools out there, and you can do a lot of-

Brett:

Spy on your competitors and see what else is in the space. Right?

Justin:

Right. But what you end up doing, there's almost no way to not become a me-too version of the copy. You're essentially saying, even if you spin it into your own words, you're essentially saying the same message as other people. So what I actually like to do is I like to go to a different industry.

Justin:

If I'm selling knives, I'm going to go to fishing and I'm going to go look at what are the top and that's going to help me get good copy and then bring that over to my industry. So go look at what the best people are doing in an industry. Don't go ... like if you're in fishing, go to sewing or things like-

Brett:

Knives and fishing, that's connected. That's often the same buyer, but it's a different products that opens your mind a little bit, but still so on point.

Justin:

No, yeah. Do still use the spy tools and stuff, but try to broaden a little bit, go a little bit outside of your industry, see what's working, same customer, different products and bring some of that goodness back into yours, which will help you make sure you have good copy, but it's going to be a different message a little bit. And at the end of the day, we all know free works, best works, top works, must have. I mean, you can't really say that any other way. So, but that's what I like to do is look up other industries.

Brett:

And sometimes you run into people that just want to be creative. And they're like, "I don't want my ad to look like everybody else's. I don't want use the word top or best or must have." And you're like, well, okay, do you want to get clicks and conversions? Do you want to be original, or do you want to be effective? And so there's some things you just got to test.

Justin:

Well, a couple other things I'd like to add ... absolutely everything you just said. I also like to test different ... so a good story is when I was back early days in the website flipping, I thought everybody wanted to make more money with website flipping. So like all my copy, all my sales pages were like how to make $15,000 with your next website flip, or how to flip a big site, but that's not what they wanted. So I split tested, I didn't even think it was going to work. I split tested how to flip a website this weekend and that just, that blew up. So it's not always bigger. Sometimes it's faster. Sometimes it's cheaper. Sometimes it's-

Brett:

Fast and easy, like you can do it this weekend. It's just check this out. You'd sell a website this weekend. That's interesting.

Justin:

So test those different angles. And then also I like to test towards pleasure, away from pain and then something controversial. So if I'm trying to write three, like, okay, I got to write three different headlines. How am I going to say the same thing, three different ways? And so like, one way I'm going to say is, here's how you could make $10,000 this month. And the other one I could say is, here's how you could save $500 next week.

Justin:

So one's towards pleasure. One's away from pain. And then I'm going to say, you'll never believe how this woman made $500. So something controversial or shocking. So there you go, you're saying this same thing, selling the same product, but you were able to say it three different ways that might appeal. And you want to know if your market is a towards pleasure market, a shocking market, or if they are away from pain market.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. And that really does make it easy. Again, if we're having to write all these descriptions and headlines, you have one concept, you can spin that concept three different ways, towards pleasure away from pain, and then a controversial spin. I like that a lot. That's fantastic.

Brett:

So I remember back in the old days, and I'm an old ad guy, did TV and radio back in the day to some radio and TV production. And I just remember there was always these old school grandfathers of advertising saying like, "Hey, people need to see an ad six or seven times before they purchase." And I think some of that was just like, hey, we got to sell more air time. And we got to sell more ads in our publication, in our magazine or whatever. But I also think there's a lot of truth there. We see this in Google analytics and other reporting platforms where some people got to see an multiple times. I have to visit your site multiple times.

Brett:

So let's talk a little bit about remarketing, because I know you've got a unique approach to remarketing as well. So what does that remarketing funnel look like? So we talked about the landing page. It's a separate page for your top product. We've got some ads now, we've got some different angles we're writing for that cold traffic ad. How are you setting up remarketing? And what does that look like?

Justin:

Okay. So remarketing and retargeting, just in case anybody ... they're the same thing.

Brett:

Yeah. You define those real quick.

Justin:

Yeah. So retargeting, remarketing is the same thing. We're taking somebody who's already seen your page at some level, and we can talk about all the different levels there, but they've basically, they've been here before and now we're remarketing. We're retargeting that same person to bring them back. And sometimes, I mean, we may want to bring them back somewhere different. Like one of my best strategies is I like to advertise blog posts because they get high CTR. They're like a Trojan horse. They don't even know they're like-

Brett:

Low CPCs, right?

Justin:

They think they found me, but I targeted them with the blog post. And what I do is I'll target them with the blog posts, give them a nice wow experience. And then remarket them to my sales page using testimonial ads. And we can break all that down. That's my favorite like one, two punch combo in advertising. But essentially remarketing, retargeting is the same thing. Remarketing is what Google calls it. Retargeting is like what everybody else calls it. Essentially you take somebody who's been there and talking about your seven touches thing. I think just life is going on. I think there is truth to it. I think there's less truth to it than they want us to believe.

Justin:

But I think it's just somebody hears a radio ad and the reason why they need to see it again is they were in the car. They couldn't buy, they were driving down the road, they were listening to the radio while on a jog. And so when they saw the magazine ad that pushed them over to the internet or to Google search and then that pushed, you know? And so that's why the different touches.

Justin:

So it's legitimate. You do need to have these different touches in different areas. Remarketing is absolutely... you should have it because our consumers are busy, like I said, the baby's crying. The boss is just about to come in, they're watching TV whatever. So they're just busy and they need to see these things. And that's really where remarketing comes in is maybe they didn't have their wallet on them. They were downstairs and they left their wallet upstairs because they just took a shower or whatever. And so they see the ad again, later on now they got their wallet on them and think remarketing was the thing. But it was the whole picture. It's the whole picture that made it work. So how far do you want to get into this?

Brett:

Yeah. So perfect setup. I love that. Let's let's think about like, what are some of the specific campaigns you create? Because what we often look at when we're doing remarketing is, hey, these are people that have been to this presale page. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have been to a blog post, but nowhere else. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have taken the introductory offer, but not the next offer. So you got like bot X not Y. So can you map out you at least, what are some of the campaign? What is that remarketing, retargeting funnel look like for you?

Justin:

Yeah. So essentially you have two different things. All right. You have your basic recycler, I call them like brand retargeting. And so like they're just seeing you somewhere and you're bringing them back somewhere. That's your most basic thing. And then you have like the more clever retargeting of funnel retargeting. And so I'm trying to get people who've seen my lead gen to see my front end, and people who've seen my front end product to see my upsell or people like, for example, for a long time, AdSkills, our model was we sold a book, Retargeting Recipes about retargeting. So we'd sell a book, so every one of those customers, we would then want them to see the big back end that we were selling. That was like our whole model right there.

Justin:

So there's essentially those two ways of doing it. It's just a recycler and then there's a funnel advancement. And then there's just umpteenth ways of splitting those two up into different things. And so the traffic recycler, just the bare bones, basic remarketing is they've come to your sales page, but they didn't buy yet. And so you're going to show them more ads back to the sales page. That's it. That's the simplest way. And it could be your blog. It could be your sales page, your webinar page, whatever it is. Then you can make that a little bit more advanced. Okay. So they came to your page, but now when you bring them back, you're going to bring them back with a discount. Grant Cardone does this a lot.

Justin:

You go to his $200 whatever video course. And then you go off on a Facebook to go ask your buddies in your Facebook group. You know, what do you think about this? Should I buy it? And all of a sudden you see get that course for $35 or whatever. There's usually some big discount. And then bam, you go and buy it. You don't have to discount that steep. Often as little as like 10% can really be the thing. They were right about to buy. That's why they went to your page. They went to your page because they liked something about it, but they just didn't ... this wasn't enough to get me to jump off the fence and take action.

Justin:

But this 10% off this weekend only, now I'm going to go take action. So that's the recycler with a discount and then you can do, you can do recycle, right? So like my sales page, bring them back to my sales page. You can run that one. You can have these things set up on like automation rules. I don't know how geeky you want me to get, but there are automation rules. And so you can say like, okay, show that to them for seven days, if after seven days now show them this ad. So now you're going to show them the discount after seven days.

Justin:

And then after seven more days, maybe there's a new discount. So you can do a month long steps. And then finally like the last week, try it free and pay nothing down and only pay if you keep it for 30 ... So you can really get super slick and advanced with these things. But don't at first. Okay. Just try the simple things.

Brett:

Yeah, just the simple remarketing out is a great place to start, but I'm assuming the way you're building that is you're building audiences like a seven day audience, a 14 day audience, a 30 day audience and then you're targeting and excluding throughout there. Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

Because one of the ways we like to look at it and again, I think more in terms of YouTube, because I know YouTube really well and I don't know GDN as well. Although, we do a lot of GDN remarketing at least, is sometimes you got to look at why did someone not buy? So they clicked on that first ad, so there was interest. They visit at that sales page that there was more interest, but they didn't buy. Why is that? Well, you mentioned it earlier, sometimes it's life happens.

Brett:

So sometimes they just need to be reminded and sometimes they need to be convinced. Right. And sometimes it's a little bit of both. So that's where I really like that. Yeah. Week one is just like, hey reminder, hey, this is cool. You really want these benefits. You want these cool things. Then okay, well they didn't say yes yet so now they need more convincing. We might do something on the video side where we're showing more testimonials or more demonstrations and whatnot, but then yeah, maybe you need to up the ante on the offer, on the discount at that point, which I think makes a lot of sense.

Justin:

I'm a big fan of the ... we call it the overnight celebrity campaign. Whereas you use your whatever traffic, could be your social media, your email, whatever advertising to bring them to your sales page, your page. And then what you do is use Google, especially Google, because that's going to show all over the web. You can do it also in Facebook, but you want testimonial ads. Okay. So different testimonials. How do you make a testimonial lead? You put the person, just like you'd make a testimony on your page, right? You're going to have a picture of the person's face. And then the words as your headlines and description and all of a sudden there's going to be testimonials all over the web.

Justin:

So like they learned about you in some form and then the next thing they know they're visiting US Weekly or whatever. And there's testimonials for this product all over, everywhere they go. There's all of a sudden these people are talking good about this. That one, two punch is really, really good. The other thing that you mentioned is ... the only thing I'd add to what you said about the reminded, convinced is deadline. People need a deadline.

Brett:

Push them over the edge. Yeah.

Justin:

Yeah. I'm not a fan of fake deadlines, but there's tons of ways to create real deadlines. It could be a bonus. You get this bonus by Monday, if you join. Or you're the pink one is only available until midnight tonight or there's a 10% coupon today only. There's a lot of different ways to create real urgency, real deadlines. That more than anything, it's testimonials and deadlines. Those are my two tricks that I use over and over again.

Brett:

Love it. And it does speak to your original point, right? Where we're looking at a product and we're thinking of all the reasons, all the ways we're going to get in trouble if we say yes to buying this, right. My wife's going to yell at me. I'm going to have buyers remorse. I'm going to feel bad, whatever. Or just we're naturally, we're safe. And we take, we're inert. And so having that deadline pushes someone off the fence and gets them to take action. So that's brilliant. Awesome.

Brett:

Okay. So we're running tight on time, but I got more questions. We're going to maybe go a little rapid fire through a few other things. What is your take on smart bidding? So this may be a little bit nerdy, but stick with me. If you're not into the nerdy side of this, there's going to be some good stuff that's broadly applicable in a minute, but I think everybody still needs to know this and know your perspective. How do you feel about smart bidding versus manual versus however you like to do it?

Justin:

Buckle up. I don't think there's going to be a choice soon. I think it's everything we're going to be doing is going to be smart bidding. This is the way it's all moving. Google has already started ... it used to be, there was smart display campaigns and display campaigns. Now it's smart bidding inside display campaigns. And so we're going to see even more of that. This is going to permeate through all ad networks. It's just the way advertising is going to go. It's just more algorithms. More machine learning, learn what it is.

Justin:

Basically it's giving them lots of different options and then allowing their algorithms to ... you give it the confines like, hey, don't make this cost more than $40 per unit. Don't spend more than $3,000 per month. Don't target these different audiences, but other than that, you paint the picture of the fence. And then within the fence, the algorithm is allowed to go nuts in the ... what's really happening is a live auction that's happening at the speed of electricity. And so you just let the algorithm go and the algorithms are getting really, really good. I wasn't a fan a couple of years ago. Today, you're getting hard pressed to beat them as a human anymore.

Brett:

Yeah. 100% agree. And then we were the same way, right? Smart bidding, targetized bidding, smart campaigns, like smart shopping and stuff. In the early days, we're like, "Come on now." And we tested it and some of them were pretty cruddy, but now, dude, you can't beat the machine. You can't eat the algorithm. It's learning and getting better and picking up momentum. And it's just getting better all the time, so totally agree there.

Brett:

With that, then this is a follow up question. What do you view as the role of a media buyer? So what is an advertiser's role? What does a media buyer's role? If the algorithm is taking care of finding the right person up and bending down on all these things, what do we do?

Justin:

Yep. I definitely see us being replaced one day. And if you want, we could talk about that on another one. I got a whole vision for it, but I definitely think we still have another 5 to 10 years. And really what our job is today is to stop learning all the ... learn a little bit of the old ways, because there's a lot to pick up from history, but we really need to be disciplined enough to stop being lazy.

Justin:

I know, it's hard to go learn what smart bidding is. It's hard to go learn what a neural network is, machine learning algorithms, how do they actually work? You have to. If you want to be a good media buyer today and five years from now. If you're climbing up and you want to be the best, that's it, that's your homework. You have to learn how these machines ... that's our new job. Our new job is to know how smart bidding works. One, how to do it on the screen and the interface, but then also knowing the underlying functionality of how it works so that we can be better at working on the interface level of it. That's where we are. Going forward is we need to learn how to ride the tyrannosaurus, not try to avoid the tyrannosaurus.

Brett:

Just one minute. I'm updating my resume. I'm actually pretty good at manual labor. So I think it's a future for me as the agency world winds down, I can load trucks or something. No, I totally agree. And I think there's going to be more and more of the activities that we do that we do as an agency. I run a 50 plus person agency. There's things we do that we won't have to do in three or four or five years.

Brett:

I think there's always going to be an element though, where you need good strategists, right? And you need someone, even if it's just guiding and creating the fence, I like the way you talked about that for the algorithm, right? Here's what you need to start with. And then here's how I can manage you along the way, things like that. And thinking strategically and holistically about business growth and business goals and things like that. But it's going to be wild times, man. It's going to be interesting watching how this industry evolves.

Justin:

So just real quick that, I believe today we are the human interface that sits between the electrical interface. And so our client verbally tells us. We get on a phone call and they tell us what they want. And then we go and we type that into the machine. I don't think it's going to be ... I think 10 years from now, the client is just going to be able to talk directly to the network. And they're going to verbally say, this is what I want. They're going to verbally say set the parameters. And then the machines are going to be able to go out and they're going to use the spy tools to look up the headlines and they're going to test 7,750 different headlines and all these different audiences. And so that's where I think things are going, but I believe we got a good 5, 10 years of us still being the human interface.

Brett:

Yeah, really cool. Really cool. I'll keep the resume on file then. I won't get it out there just yet. This has been fantastic, Justin. So there's lots more that I want to talk about. So we'll definitely have to schedule part two to this conversation and lots more we can dig into, but what I want to do though, I know people are listening and thinking, "Man, I want to learn more from Justin Brooke," or, "I want to send my team through some of what Justin has to offer." So talk to me a little bit about AdSkills. What is it, what do you guys offer? How can people tap into your marketing brain more?

Justin:

Yeah, so we used to be almost exclusively for the ad agency. We used to charge $5,000 and help them get clients. And that was great. We built a very successful company off of the back of that, but I wanted to go bigger and I just realized our run rate, our team, we were just working so hard to keep things going. And so we flipped it. We are now more of like a Netflix model. We're $8.99 a month. And you get everything. Except for the certification. There's like an upgrade if you want to go onto that. But if you just want to learn how to do this stuff for yourself, it's $8.99 a month, you get a nine week course that gives you like the fundamentals, like go through this and you'll learn a to Z.

Justin:

Then we have the short tutorials, how to set up your Facebook campaign, how to set up your TikTok campaign, how to set up your Google campaign. And then if you want to like specialize or you want to master in something, we have their classes from all kinds of experts out there on YouTube ads or TikTok ads or Facebook ads or e-commerce. So all of that is all in there for just $8.99 a month.

Brett:

It's insane. I remember when you posted that model on Facebook, it was like, dude, this is either going to be really amazing or I don't know of what it's going to be, but it's crazy. And it's a great deal. So go out, everybody should buy this, right. $8.99.

Justin:

There's talk of flipping the price up to like $12.99. So if you're watching this like six months from now, it may be a couple dollars higher, but.

Brett:

It doesn't matter. Yeah. It's like $12.50, $30. Well, it's all the same. It's totally worth it. You got to check it out. You got to do it. So what's the URL for that one more time?

Justin:

It's just AdSkills.com, AdSkills.com.

Brett:

Awesome. And then, Justin, how can people follow you? How can they find you on the socials? Because you are one of my favorite follows on Facebook. You mix good business, marketing tips. You also talk about your faith, which you and I have the same faith, which I really appreciate that aspect as well, but there's plenty of business stuff if that's all you're into, but what are ways people can connect with you on the socials?

Justin:

Facebook and YouTube. We have a blog. Again, if you just go to AdSkills.com you're going to see all of our stuff, you're going to be able to get onto our newsletters. I'm spending a lot more time on our newsletters. We have a Wednesday one that goes out where I get into the meat of things. And then we have the traffic tips for busy people, which is a curated, like instead of reading all the stuff out there, here's seven things I really think you should read this week. So you'll find those on AdSkills.com. And then if you just search AdSkills or Justin Brooke on YouTube or Facebook, that's where you're going to find our free stuff. And we're actually uploading whole courses to YouTube now because we just believe that's the future, so.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. And that's B-R-O-O-K-E, Justin Brooke. And so check out Justin. Justin, brother, this was amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be. It was fantastic. Now, I'm thinking about round two. So we got to plan that soon.

Justin:

Awesome, man. Can't wait.

Brett:

Thanks, man. Really, really appreciate it. And thank you for tuning in. Hey, if you enjoyed this, like it, review it, share it with somebody that needs to know this information and do leave that review. Because it helps other people find this show and we're trying to reach as many people and help as many marketers and e-commerce entrepreneurs as possible.