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Episode 271
:
Sean Frank - Ridge

How to Win in 2024 with Sean Frank of Ridge

Sean Frank is a true legend in the DTC space.

He's the CEO of Ridge, a thriving 9-figure DTC brand. They started by selling wallets and have since successfully launched a premium travel line and rings. 

Sean is arguably my favorite DTC follow on Twitter, and he's the co-host of a new podcast called The Operators. He co-hosts with other 9-figure Ecomm CEOs, Jason Panzer (Hexclad), Mike Bertulli (Lomi & Pela Case), and Mike Beckham (Simple Modern).

I wanted to get Sean's take on his expectations for Ecomm in 2024 and what it will take to win. As always, he did not disappoint.

Here's a look at what we discuss:

  • Why MER is the magic number for measuring your Ecomm growth.
  • How AOV is likely where you need to focus to improve MER. You can only do so much with conversion rates, and ad costs will increase over time.
  • He expects 2024 to be a normalized year for growth for eComm.
  • What to focus on if you're under $10M in annual sales as a brand.
  • What channels can you start to focus on when you're over $10M in annual sales?
  • How he thinks about selling more new stuff to new people in new places
  • How to take advantage of his advice to "be lucky."

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Chapters: 

(00:00) Introduction 

(01:18) The Operators Podcast 

(06:30) Ridge’s Background

(09:38) What To Expect For DTC Brands In 2024

(16:08) What Does It Take To Win In 2024

(25:13) What Channels Is Sean Most Excited For In 2024

(30:15) How To Grow Profitably 

(38:52) Expanding Your Product Line

(43:44) Outro

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Show Notes: 

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Connect With Brett: 

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Past guests on eCommerce Evolution include Ezra Firestone, Steve Chou, Drew Sanocki, Jacques Spitzer, Jeremy Horowitz, Ryan Moran, Sean Frank, Andrew Youderian, Ryan McKenzie, Joseph Wilkins, Cody Wittick, Miki Agrawal, Justin Brooke, Nish Samantray, Kurt Elster, John Parkes, Chris Mercer, Rabah Rahil, Bear Handlon, Trevor Crump, Frederick Vallaeys, Preston Rutherford, Anthony Mink, Bill D’Allessandro, and more. 

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Other episodes you might enjoy: 

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Transcript:

Sean:

LTV doesn't matter if you go out of business. You're thinking about future harvest when you could starve this winter.

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 I have the man, the myth, the legend, Sean Frank. He's the CEO of Ridge. And listen, if you are in the D2C space, if you pay attention, if you care at all about this industry, then you're probably on Twitter. And if you're on D2C Twitter, then you know who Sean Frank is because this guy just owns it on the D2C Twitter sphere. And so he's one of my favorite follows of all time. Got to know this dude several years ago talking influencer marketing and Ridge was very successful then. And now it's just Upper Stratosphere, which is awesome. And one thing I didn't realize until recently, he's also the co-host of the Operators podcast, and I hear this is just news on the street. He's the most handsome member of that four person podcast, the Operators podcast. So with that, Sean Frank, welcome to the show. How's it going man?

Sean:

It's going good, man. I'm sorry I had a bribe you to say that, but it's very funny

Brett:

And truth be told. So you got the best beard of the bunch for sure. But in all honesty, that's not a bad looking group of dudes, right? So break down for folks that haven't heard of the Operators podcast, who are your other co-hosts?

Sean:

Yeah, nobody worth mentioning. No, I'm just joking.

Brett:

It's Sean Frank and some kind of wannabes that are trying to be like Sean Frank riding on his coattails.

Sean:

Yeah, so you have Jason from Hexclade, and if you dunno, Hexclade they are probably the most premier cooking company out there right now.

Brett:

So Good

Sean:

Ridge is doing good. Hexclade is doing three or four times as good as Ridge. Those guys are just fucking crushing it. I mean, they have eight figure days, they're just on top of the world. It's insanity. So there's Hexclade, there's Matt, he has two companies. So he has Pela Case, which is Tech Accessories, and he has Lomi, which is like, I don't know how you would describe it, but I call it like a new age composter. It is a dirt making machine, basically you buy and put it in your house. So he's on the Green Tech front. And then you have Mike from Simple Modern, who is by unit sold the most popular water bottle on Earth. So he's crushing it. So it's just all of us chopping it

Brett:

Up. And I love each of those brands and Simple Modern, so cool. Actually, they're going to be on the podcast, spoiler alert here in a few weeks, but really a brand that launched on Amazon, but it's a real brand. It's not just a product that people are hawking on Amazon. It's like a real brand and they're doing it. And yeah, Hexclade, what a story. And then, yeah, I got to meet him when Pela was young in its infancy and it's doing so well. And then of course our mutual friend, I hate to give him any airtime, but Ryan McKenzie told me about the appliance business that TUI has and sounds like that's doing some good work and it's really taken off. So yeah.

Sean:

Yeah, it's a good mix because you have a retail focused brand, like Simple Modern, very big. And Target, Walmart, whatever else, you have a subscription business, which is Matt and Lomi, right? So it's Hard Tech with subscription tied to it. You have a rocket ship in Hex Cloud and then you have Ridge, which is the greatest e-commerce brand of all time. So good combo guys. Dude,

Brett:

I love it. I love it. It's hard to argue that for sure. And so yeah, check it out. And really before we dive in, there's so many things I want to pick your brain on related to e-comm and the growth that Ridge has experienced. But you guys decide to do this podcast, and by the way, it's crushing. I'm watching your viewership on YouTube and other places. People are loving the pod, but why do it?

Sean:

Well, I used to do a newsletter and the newsletter would just be like me on Sundays just typing whatever thoughts, and it took about an hour and I'm like, oh, well the podcasts will take an hour. So I just stopped doing the newsletter, started doing the podcast, and it is more three dimensional, not just me sitting alone with whatever I want to talk about. I get feedback, I got to learn from people who are smarter than me. And being a CEO is like, I mean, it's obviously a prestigious jobs. Lots of people want it. It's incredibly lonely. It

Brett:

Is for sure.

Sean:

You have problems that nobody cares or wants to hear about,

Brett:

Right? Can't tell your family. Probably can't tell a lot of your closer friends. They wouldn't understand and they don't care. I mean they care, but not really. Yeah,

Sean:

I'm from a blue collar background, same. My best friend's from high school, one works in a warehouse, one does, if there's disasters, he cleans up. If there's a suicide, he'll clean up the houses or whatever, just like the gnarliest job ever. And then one of 'em installs garage doors. So they have real problems, wife, kids working hard. And I have to be like, well, my ROAS is down this week and I'm pretty upset

Brett:

About it. What's wrong with you?

Sean:

They're like, shut the fuck up, get some real problems. So it's just good to have other people who I can bounce off issues, even if things, I mean, this is what everyone talks about, how great their brand's doing all the time. Anybody ever raising money tells you how they're changing the world and everything's going great, dude. The reality in every brand is I got two things that are going good and I got 50 things that are breaking any point. So it's hundred,

Brett:

It

Sean:

Have people to synthesize with

Brett:

Skeletons in everybody's closets. There are issues in every business. And if you say they're not, then they're probably bigger issues than in other businesses. Yeah, man, really great insight there. So for those that don't know Ridge, give us a 62nd version of what is Ridge and what's, what's your background? You got kind of this unique trajectory to get in becoming the CEO of Ridge?

Sean:

Yeah, so we are a modern men's accessories brand. We're trying just to be a modern accessories brand, drop the men's part of it. But we mostly sell, we have a travel line that's doing really well. We have a men's wedding band and engagement line that's doing really well. And think about the products that a Tomi would make or a coach would make. And we're making the updated modern premium version of those. So the men's accessories business is probably like a 25 billion a year tam. The wallet business is a 10 billion a year tam. We have over 1% of the global wallet market and we're growing really fast. So our biggest competitors are whatever your parents got you when you were 18, whatever wallet from Walmart or LVMH. We're just trying to be the new age accessories brand. How did I get here? I had an ad agency. One of my clients, the only client that was actually crushing it was a company called Ridge Father-son, best friend started it. They didn't want to run it anymore, they just wanted to do product. They didn't want to do marketing or customer service or ops or logistics or whatever. So we merged, me and my CMO Connor took a big chunk of the business and we've been running it ever since. And we started working together in 2016 and it's 2024. So a big part of the company history. It's been us working together,

Brett:

It's so awesome. And Connor's the man love talking marketing with that dude as well. So yeah, the wallet is primo. You guys, I dunno if you invented the category, but you certainly dominate the category if you don't have the George Costanza fat wallet, right? The reference from the nineties or a money clip or something else. You need a rich, right? So the RFID wallet basically indestructible. Did you guys invent the category or just the ones that dominated it?

Sean:

So we have a lot of patents and technology around our particular wallet. And I would say we definitely invented our style of wallet, but wallets have been trending minimalists for 10 years or whatever billfolds that the old classic dad wallet has been losing market shares like card holders. We've made an updated card holder that can fit as many cards as you need, as much cash as you need. So it's the expandability of the storage capacity of a billfold, but in the profile of a card holder. And I'll tell you, we invented it, but people have been buying wallet for a long time. It's a big stale category. Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. Hats off to you guys for so much success there. I want to get into travel and rings in a little bit. We'll circle back to that here as we go, but want to get your take as we're still in the early stages of 2024. What are your expectations for this year and what do you think it's going to take to win for a D two C brand in 2024?

Sean:

Okay, so first my expectations, I think it's going to be the best year for e-comm since 2019. Nice. So everyone had at least one good year in 20 20, 20 21 or 2022, depending on your category, depending on your supply chain. You had at least one really good year, but then you had one okay year and one really bad year. So it just depends on your business and your profile. And if you zoom out and look at that, the collection of three or four years as a cohort, it's a pretty blended flat line. But when you zoom in, you see these spikes, you see these troughs. So this is going to be the first year of 2019 levels of normal like normalcy. And the number I always point to is E-commerce penetration. So e-commerce penetration since 2010 has been a straight steady line up until 2020 when it spikes. But then there's a pullback because people are traveling and shopping in person or whatever. And at the end of 2022, we were in a worse place than if the trend has continued. So if the trend has continued the whole time covid never happened, we would have more higher e-commerce penetration. So there's some charts we could post 'em either in show notes or maybe right here on screen. I don't know how much editing we're going to do, but

Brett:

Show notes for sure. Let's see what Nick is up for if you want to throw some graphics in there. Nice. And part of that too is what really made that difficult. I love the way you frame that, right? In that three-year period, you probably had a great year, you probably had a year, and then you probably had a bad year. And we saw that with our clients or companies we invested in or people we talked to. But the issue with 2022, especially in 2021 potentially, is we all thought we were going to ride that rocket ship forever and we were staffing up and we were buying inventory, we were doing all kinds of stuff, and then things pulled back maybe even below trendline. And so that compounded issues for sure.

Sean:

Yeah. Yeah. So we talk about the global economy, or specifically the US economy did not have a recession, but there was an e-commerce recession for sure. Right? E-commerce growth wasn't existent in some of those quarters depending on the category. So this is the first year where I think we're back to where the trend would be if covid never happened. So we have solid steady e-commerce penetration growth. That trend isn't going anywhere and the world is kind of normalized VC dollars civil out. So there's, people aren't just dumping money into Facebook ads, there's more ad space. And I think by the end of the year, temu stops being a thing in America or it stops being a big spender. So

Brett:

I think interesting. You mean because of regulation or why is Temu exiting?

Sean:

Well, this has to do with the Chinese stock market, but I think is, so Temu is owned by a very large worth, hundreds of billions of dollars, big Chinese conglomerate. And I think the entire thing is actually a fraud and

Brett:

Interesting.

Sean:

It wouldn't be the first time, but there's been a massive fraud on the, I mean, go to their website and go to their investor relations. I think their company's PDD check out their investor relations. It looks like an Enron style scam. So that's my,

Brett:

But consumers want their $9 trendy hoodies or other gear that we might want for our midlife crisis or something. But yeah, it's taken off for sure. Timo has taken off, but watch out. It may be on the decline. Oh

Sean:

Man, I don't know how much time we have to talk about this, but without going full tinfoil hat. So every day Amazon does, I think it's like 4 billion in GMV across the Amazon's total ecosystem. And teos goal this year is like 15 billion in GMV. So it's like a week's worth of Amazon sales is what team is shooting for all year. And TikTok shop's like 10 billion. So they're literally just drops in the bucket of what Amazon is doing on a day by day basis. And then the other thing is they're paying for all this customer acquisition in a time when you can't do that, right? The arbitrage is gone. Amazon gives you all this value, it gives you not only movies and TV shows, not only music and audio books, it gives you all of these things. And they acquired those customers back in 2008, 2010, 2012. So DMU has none of the premium features. It is literally just like buy shit for cheap, the lowest common denominator.

Brett:

Yes, that's exactly what it's,

Sean:

And they're dumping money into it and all of that is propped up by this large conglomerate who's down to lose money. But the Chinese stock market in the past two weeks, they've restricted short selling. They know that there's a big correction coming. So

Brett:

Interesting. Well tune in. You heard it here first, folks. Sean calls that this is not going to be a good year for stay tuned. Yeah.

Sean:

But anyway, what was the question? Oh

Brett:

Yeah, so what else are you expecting? So in 2024, we're going to get back to normal style, normal pace growth for e-commerce. What else are you expecting for this year and or what is it going to take to win? Yeah,

Sean:

Okay. I think it's going to be a very, it's going to be the first normalized year for a long time. We're going to see m and a come back. So we've already started to see, I've started gotten a lot more emails from PE groups who basically shut down in 2023.

Brett:

Yeah, we're seeing that tick up as well in the agency space.

Sean:

Yeah, I think most of the bankruptcies have worked their way through their system. Obviously razzi will be in the big one, but I mean two days ago there's another Amazon aggregator that just went bankrupt. So I think those will be out of the system by the end of Q1 and we'll be back to an m and a and potentially an IPO and merger mark. So I think we're going to see that come back up. That always breathes life and excitement into the industry. That's kind of been dead for a little bit. Brett just asked me, Hey, what events are you going to, what talks are you going to? And dude, there hasn't been any good ones. Most of

Brett:

2023. It's so true. It's so

Sean:

True. People have just been in hibernation mode, right? Nobody feels good. No one wants to brag, no one wants to talk. I think a lot of that kind of just starts to reverse towards the second half of 2024 and what does it take to win? This kind of ties into the marketing conversation. So if we're ready to have that conversation, let's

Brett:

Do it.

Sean:

I talk about MERA lot. I think MER is the gold standard you should be measuring your business on, and that is for how much dollars are going into sales and marketing and how much revenue is generated and there's a ratio there. So you want a three XMER for every dollar in sales and marketing, I get $3 in total revenue.

Brett:

So not to say, just to clarify, and all our marketing junkies out there are totally tracking, but this isn't in platform ROAS per se, or what you're seeing in Google or Facebook, anything else. This is total money in and total money out. So I'm investing every dollar I invest in ads, my total revenue, total enterprise revenue should be $3 as an example.

Sean:

And I think that's best in class. So if a lot of small e-commerce brands listening to this, they're like, no, well, I need an eight XMER. I want to spend $1 on Facebook and get a total revenue of $8. They are living in 2015. Well, I don't know how they got a time machine, but that's where they're living

Brett:

Not happening. And that time's not coming back. It's not coming back

Sean:

Ever. Yeah, there's nothing the indication that the next time will come back. So the cost of marketing will go up forever because Facebook's a publicly traded company who needs to show revenue growth. Google's a publicly traded company needs to show revenue growth. They're not adding any more users. Facebook is adding more ad space, which is very interesting that they're able to do that. But outside of ad load increasing, which is the percentage of posts that are ads on a platform, where would they generate more impressions to lower CPMs? So the cost of advertising will go forever. Now going back to MER, another way to say MER is a OV over cac. Right? Now I'm leaving out the LTV part of this equation, right? Because there's no CAC associated with return of customer revenue. But what I'm really saying is CACs will increase over time. So one way to increase MER is to increase a OV. So a big focus, and this is just something people should think about. Clicks are going to cost what they're going to cost. So if your CPCs used to be 50 cents, now they're a dollar, they're always going to be a dollar or above. There's nothing and there's nothing you can really do.

Brett:

It's a new floor not going to change it.

Sean:

There's nothing you can really do to lower the cost per click. We've all seen in Facebook, you have an amazing click-through rate. Well, for some reason that ad has a higher CPM and you have a horrible click-through rate. Well, that ad gets a lower CCP M, and it's because Facebook wants to make a certain amount of revenue for everyone leaving their platform. That's what I think another tinfoil hat theory you're going to be hit. But all of that to say is if your business needs to operate on a, you have a $50 A OV, what happens if clicks go to $3, people are going to convert the exact same that they're always going to convert at your business that was soluble. And making money is now insoluble and losing. So the only way to combat that on a business level is to get higher. So you have to increase prices or launch new products with higher AOVs to that can thrive in this new ecosystem. Going back to, I'm going to tie everything together. Okay,

Brett:

Love it, man. Love it. I'm totally tracking. This is awesome.

Sean:

So what to expect in 2024, how to win in 2024? I think it's going to be the best year for e-commerce. So we avoided a recession back. So you have tailwinds going out of your business, but inflation did happen. So the cost to operate is going to be higher and the cost per clicks is going to be higher. So why did Ridge launch rings and why did ridge launch travel? It's because both of those categories have higher AOVs. So rings have high margins. So the perfect business, you could sell something for a thousand dollars that costs $1 to make. So you could put as much dollars into marketing as possible. That is gambling apps and that is who you're competing against. You're competing with Sports King and Draft Bookie and ESPN just bought all these different, because

Brett:

Driving up to CPMs, right? They're driving up to CPMs on these ad platforms,

Sean:

Insurance companies, gambling companies, and VPNs can spend as much money as possible to acquire customers because they're selling vaporware. You're selling a widget, so you don't have that headwind. So you have to look for higher, a higher AOVs with higher margins. So you can just put more money into ad dollars to get the same level of performance. That pressure is coming regardless if you do this or not. And if you do nothing, you eventually go out of business. So you have to be looking at higher A OB categories and higher margin categories. So that's rings for us, that's travel for us. So we have a travel line, we're going to sell $600 travel kits, the wallets cost 150 bucks. So I immediately can Forex an A OV on this new product line and assuming the same margin profile, I can have a CAC that is Forex higher. So that is what we're doing to survive and win in this environment.

Brett:

That's amazing, man. And that's exactly the right way to think about it. We of course, we're looking to optimize all of our ad channels, better copy, better structure, let's get increased click-through rates and increased view rates because there are some rewards there, but costs aren't coming down. You can make little improvements, little adjustments, and they do make a difference, but over time, costs are going to keep going up. And so really the only way you win is if you can sell customers more stuff. And ideally, and when you're looking at customer acquisition costs, what can you sell them immediately? And LTV is a thing. I know it's a little bit different for when you guys were primarily just wallets. LTV is pretty different there, but now it definitely has expanded. But yeah, how can you sell them more on that first purchase? Because that totally changes the game.

And I love the, I believe this is old Dan Kennedy wisdom, but he said the company that can afford to spend the most to acquire a customer, they win because all things being equal, ad costs are just going to go up. There's an upper limit, like you said, to conversion rate. You can only get so many people per hundred to convert. You're going to hit a ceiling. And so what are you doing to be able to afford higher CACs? And one of those is more expensive items, but then better margins. Love that. And so as you guys launched rings and travel, that's primarily for new customer acquisition and changing the math there, or was that also a play to say, Hey, we've got all of these wallet customers, what else do they want to buy? Let's sell them these things too.

Sean:

Yeah, the first point on L-T-V-L-T-V doesn't matter if you go out of business. So you're plotting out, it's true,

Brett:

A 12, you could die waiting for that LTV to kick in, right?

Sean:

Yeah, it is. You're thinking about future harvest when you could starve this winter. So let's just make sure this harvest goes great. Let's make sure your first customer acquisition is profitable and paying for everything. And if they happen to come back in the future, fantastic. I would love to have them back. And so what happens when we launch rings? Well, we launch rings, we email it to 5 million customers on our database and we sell some rings without a doubt, we're going to sell rings. Same thing with luggage. We sold out a luggage in like 45 days. We sell it into this big customer base. Awesome. That is not repeatable. You launch a new thing into your customer base one time and then I'm going to acquire customers, I'll have upsells, I'll have, I'll have all that stuff. No, you're looking for new product lines to acquire new types of business.

Got it. What we've seen is that there's some amount of people who need to buy luggage today. So we now have luggage and we can acquire a new customer who has a new need and a new pain point we've never been able to serve before because the amount of people who need a wallet today is zero. But if somebody's traveling in two weeks, they don't have luggage, they need it. So it's a brand new customer, it's a new entry point to the brand, and that person is very likely to buy a wallet from us in the future. So that is the real unlock is that we have these new flagship product lines that bring people in and then at some point we'll sell 'em a wallet or we'll sell 'em a ring or we'll sell 'em a luggage or whatever.

Brett:

But that's a secondary aim. That's a secondary benefit. The real benefit is this is a product that it's going to allow me, it's going to change the economics for me to go out and get more new customers. Love that. Love that a lot. So I want to talk in a minute about profitability and how you do all of this because I know you're a master at how do we maintain ebitda and while we're still innovating, launching process. So I want to get to that in a minute, but since we're talking marketing, what channels are you most excited about for this year and beyond? So as you guys are growing, speak specifically to Ridge, then also talk to the general D two C brand as well.

Sean:

So if I was a sub $10 million brand, I'd be very excited about TikTok shops, YouTube shopping meta shops, that's like the current white space. All three of those things. YouTube shopping isn't fully live yet. I think it's still a beta program you have to get accepted into, but it has more potential than TikTok shops does, right? It's

Brett:

Coming. Yeah, it's coming. It's big.

Sean:

And then meta shops, 10% of our sales in Q4 came through Metas shops. So I mean they're putting billions of dollars of volume through that. They're learning purchase conversion behavior and tying it to people. And I think that could be a massive, massive driver of business. So if you're sub 10 million, those are the three areas that'd be focused on and really unlocking those Amazon's harder than it's ever been. People talk about wholesale, don't go into wholesale until you're ready. But if you're a bigger brand, if you're doing above 10 million a year, the fastest growing lines of our business and our strategy year sums up in it through things. We're going to make more stuff. We're going to sell it to more people, we're going to sell it more places. So that is as simple as the company can get. We're making new stuff for new people and we're going to sell it in new places. So the fastest growing lines of our business are the new product categories because last year was the first year we had rings, it did eight figures. So that's pretty fast growing. It's insane. The second biggest product line for us, or the product expansion for us is actually going into wholesale. And I talk a lot of shit about going into wholesale, but we just got an eight figure PO from Best Buy.

Brett:

Dang, dude.

Sean:

Yeah, so wholesale is growing hundreds of percent year over year for us. So that is a big unlock for us. So if you're ready, if you can bite off and deal with payment terms and chargebacks and get displays wholesale, there's a lot of value to be unlocked there. The third one's international. The UK is in a recession, so it's a harder market, but Australia is an underserved e-commerce market. There's 27 million people basically in California just sitting down there and they love to buy stuff online. It's a big ass country, but it has pretty good infrastructure. So international has been a big unlock for us. So that's where we're currently winning.

Brett:

Nice. And so wholesale that, how recently has that become a focus for you guys? Because playing well into that nine figure space as a brand, when did you start really considering a wholesale? Yeah,

Sean:

It depends on category if get in earlier, but we got into wholesale in 2019 with Nordstrom's. That was our first big one. And then Shields, but it's always been single percentage points of our business, two percentage points of our business. It really didn't start to be more than that until 2023. So our wholesale engine took four or five years to really turn on. So in 2023 it was probably 7% of our business was in wholesale, and I think this year it'll be 10, something like that. So

Brett:

That is nice. I mean that's material and that also when you've got the wholesale component that does allow some of the marketing efforts that they multiply at least to a certain degree, a group of people that still really want to touch, hold, feel a product before they buy it. And we talked a little bit about e-commerce penetration numbers, and I believe the latest stat is like, it's like 15, 15.6%, something like that of total retail is e-comm, right? So I leaves 85%. I know, and there's different ways to dissect the numbers. Are you including auto and gas and some of those things or restaurants or not? So different ways to measure it, but is that the number you kind of work with as well? About 15% is,

Sean:

Yeah, I think this year it's 16 and a half. But like you said, do you include cars or not? That's the big one, right? Auto is a huge part of it, but what I'll say is wholesale is mostly demand capture. You build all this awareness on these great platforms, these big megaphones that are YouTube and Facebook and everything else. And then Christmas Eve we did seven figures in Best Buy because people are walking in looking for gifts and it's like, it's insane. They see the Facebook ad, they know it's in Best Buy, they walk in to capture it. So it's demand capture, but it's demand capture you can't get anywhere else. I'm not going to have stores, I'm not going to have 600 stores. Best Buy is

Brett:

Yeah, super, super cool. Love it man. So then as you look at, you're doing all these things and I know recently on the operator's pod, they talked about inventory management. You guys talked just all the big things that you got to manage to make sure you're growing profitably. But how do you approach this? So you're launching new products in new categories, you're launching in new places like wholesale and some of these other things. You are actively investing in new customer acquisition through all the meaningful channels. How do you do that and protect EBITDA at the same time? Well,

Sean:

We're very lucky. So our brands listening should try to be lucky, I guess

Brett:

If you can do anything, be lucky. Yeah,

Sean:

So we have never raised money, so no investors tell me to do anything. There's no debt on the business. So no, I don't have any loan payments or anything. I got to pay back. And everyone who is on the cap table at Ridge was super fucking broke at some point. So a father son, best friend who started it, he was a special ed teacher for like 35 years. So that's awesome. We talking about people who had no money. I mean me and Connor, when we started our agency business, I didn't own a car. So we would take Connor's 1997 Honda Civic with no paint, the paint was chipping off and we would drive back to client meetings, try to sell 'em. We lived in a one bedroom apartment.

Brett:

Dude, quick funny story. When I started my first agency, I had a 2002 Honda Civic and I would go into meetings and I would park a few blocks away because I wanted to not be seen in that thing. And what's also funny is that hit a certain age where I started getting pulled over more where it looked suspect dude's driving that he's probably up to no good, right? I was fine. But anyway, just interesting. Yeah, humble beginnings for short.

Sean:

So why does that matter? Us being broke? Well, because we can have a business that pays everybody decent salaries and distributions every once in a while and nobody's breathing down anybody's neck being like, I need a Lamborghini, I need this, I need this. Right? It's awesome. It's awesome. A lot of people who have a business, and this is my big

Brett:

Problem, it gives you optionality, right? You've got options now when you don't have to pay for the Lambo or for your 12th house or something like that.

Sean:

And this is one of my biggest problems with e-comm operators is that they have a $10 million business, so they think they're worth 10 million bucks. And it's like, dude, a 10 million business means you probably can make a salary of $500,000 a year. And it's like people hate hearing that You're better off working as a Facebook project manager, you'll make more money than owning your 10 million e-com business. So obviously there's enterprise value, but you're not fucking tapping into that dude. It could all go away tomorrow. So it's a huge disconnect in perceived net worth and income of e-comm operators and what's actually feasible living in the moment. So anyway, just throwing that out there, it's like, guys, it is really fucking hard to run these businesses, but so we bought a factory in Arizona this year. We bought two JVs for Chinese suppliers to get stuff made better, cheaper, faster, whatever. So we're investing all this money in this business so we can actually improve it over time and that's how we can do stuff, launch all these new product categories.

Brett:

And so I want to actually double click on something really quickly because this is important. You said be lucky if you can do anything, be lucky. But there's actually this concept that I heard from Jim Collins, which I love as they studied great companies and then comparison companies that weren't as great, but they had a lot of similarities. They found that there wasn't a difference in luck. One, the successful companies didn't have more good luck and less bad luck and the meh companies didn't have more bad luck and less good luck. There was a difference in return on luck. And so this is where you are setting yourself up to succeed, to ride the wave and capture opportunities, but you're also setting yourself up that if stuff gets bad, you are okay and you can weather the storm. You don't have a sixth house mortgage to pay for and that sort of thing. So I think that's really what you guys have done is you are set up to get a great return on luck. So hopefully this, and I would agree with you, I think this year is going to be a little more consistent, a little more normal in terms of growth. You are ready for that. If things get bad though, you're probably ready for that too. So you got this return on luck.

Sean:

Yeah, there was a two month period. Nobody ever wants to fucking talk about this in March of 2020 when the world felt like it was going to implode. It did.

Brett:

It did.

Sean:

I remember being, I was living in Santa Monica or Venice at the time, going to the Ralph's and just seeing people buy everything off the shelves except for medicine. I remember being like, I'm in the medicine aisle, I think people are getting sick. We buy halls or something, but they were buying bread, whatever. Nobody was thinking I should go on Amazon and type in ridge wallet and buy a ridge wallet right now. No doubt. So we watched sales fucking fall off a cliff. Obviously everything we're covered and we're sitting here today and it's awesome. But the first thing we did was every owner made zero money. We just took our salaries to zero because we're like, we got a business to support.

Brett:

You had the option to do that.

Sean:

And nobody DMed me like, Hey dude, I got a gambling debt, I got to pay off or something. It did not work like that. It helps a lot of people in our business at the ownership or executive level are some of the cheapest people I've ever met in my entire life.

Brett:

That's so awesome.

Sean:

We had a big ridge retreat in Vegas last year and that's when we fly everybody in and two of the guys who are on the cap table just assumed that they would be sharing a bedroom, just sharing a hotel room.

Brett:

We'll bunk together. Yeah, we'll take the room with bunk beds.

Sean:

Yeah, we give 'em separate keys. They're like, no, but the room has two beds. We could be saved at a hundred bucks right now. So that's really helped. That's part of our

Brett:

DNAI love that mindset and really once you have it, it never fully goes away. And I remember Moise Ali from native, good friend of mine, we helped native in the early days and still do, but he talked about how even when they were growing like crazy and making millions a month and stuff, he was still looking at the p and l and he's like, Hey, why are we paying $7 a month for this tool and stuff? He wasn't spending all his time doing that, but he was looking at it, right? Just like we can cut that $7 out. And I think part of that is, yeah, you saved seven bucks, that's great. Or you saved a hundred bucks on the hotel room, that's great. But I think the bigger thing is the mindset, right? We're not just going to waste money because we can. We're going to preserve it. I love that. That's awesome guys. You said built a warehouse or you built a factory?

Sean:

I bought a factory in Arizona.

Brett:

Nice, nice. And Matt, what has that done? Has that helped lower cost and speed up production? What does that meant for the business? Well,

Sean:

It, it's still in production, so I'll let you know in 35 or 40 days when we've actually fucking finished the thing. But the goal is to make wallets here. It adds consistency to the supply chain, helps us start buying already. China is essentially just an assembly factory. We're getting carbon fiber from Japan, we're getting titanium from, who knows, right? It's already all these raw parts. So we're mostly looking at changing the supply chain to be final assembly in America. We can start sourcing the parts from wherever makes the best. Whoever makes the best deal, we'll buy that. Whoever makes the best screws, we'll buy that. So it builds redundancy in the supply chain, builds resiliency in the supply chain and it's not that much more expensive. Like labor in China is getting pretty expensive. A lot of it's robots, fuck it. Anyway, so for the same price I can make stuff here, might as well do it. So that's what we're

Brett:

Doing. It's amazing. It's amazing. So really want to hear, and so we're coming up against time just a little bit, but you guys have successfully moved into rings. You had an eight figure launch there. You successfully moved into luggage. That's not that common. I talked to other brands that they have successful launches, but there's usually some misses in there. They launch a product and it's like that built flat on its face, thought everybody wanted it. Turns out none of our customers did. Or we launched a product and it just wasn't good. Our core product is great, everybody loves it. New product, it's getting bad reviews. What do you think the key is as you're launching new products and as you're innovating, how do you create products that both delight customers, so there's some customer satisfaction there and they sell well and they just work to grow the business? Yeah,

Sean:

What I'll say is it's not like we fucking only hit home runs. People are always shocked when they hear about a product expansion. People are like rings. That doesn't make any sense for your business. I have suggested every single product category to our product and occasionally I get one past the goalie. So I mean I was like, yeah, we need to do beef jerky. I literally have a deck written out where I'm like, yeah, we got to sell beef jerky. It's consumable. That's what we got to do. So I've suggested every single product category. Occasionally we make stuff that sucks, we launch watches and we make a great watch. Nobody wants watches. That is the reality. It's a

Brett:

Horrible category. It's a very tough

Sean:

Category. It's a horrible category to be in. So we didn't sell very many watches. I think we ordered 10,000. I sold the story maybe on the operator's, but I think we ordered 10,000. I'm like, we're going to sell out day one. No, it took us a year and a half to sell out those 10,000. Then we launched a second version and it's way more just like a gift for our customers. There's more value in that wash than any watch you're going to buy in the market. But it's a category that sucks. But I'm like, okay, cool. Take my lumps, move on. I did the same thing with deodorant. We did the same thing with T-shirts. We did the same thing with socks. We did razors. It's like you keep launching stuff until you find something that works and then you go back and tell the story that like, no, it actually was a success the whole time.

And I point to Bick as the best example, I brought this up in the last week's episode, but B makes the number one pen in the world, the number one razor in the world and the number one lighter in the world. Those things have nothing in common with each other. Now they have tattoo products. These things have nothing in common with each other except they made out of plastic. So what happened was a guy had a plastic factory in France and he is like, well, what else can I make? And he just made whatever the fuck he wanted until it worked. And now we talk about how it's a great business. There's billions of dollars a year in revenue, so don't be pressured with your product expansion. Try stuff, it's going to fail. Just make sure you buy in small enough quantities, it doesn't bankrupt you. And Ridge is a big enough paycheck or has a big enough checkbook that I can do things like waste 300 grand on watches and try 500 grand on luggage or whatever else I'm going to do.

Brett:

Yeah, it's a really great example. Bick. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah, it's not like you buy the razor and then you're like, man, I really wish I could just get a pin from this company too. Or dang, I wish I had a matching lighter. Not that they even match, but yeah, so there's some relationship and manufacturing, but not in anything else. And so I really love that and also love that. And I've noticed this trend and I get to fortunate enough to hang out with lots of successful entrepreneurs and just good quarterbacks or great athletes. You've got a short memory on the mistakes. Of course you take lessons from mistakes, but hey, we launched deodorant, it didn't work well, we better just take a little time away from launching products. Not good at it, apparently. Let's sit and stew on this for a little while now. You learn from it and you launch the next thing and you launch the next thing and you're going to be able to double, triple, quadruple down on the winners. And so yeah, how do you bake that ethos into your company? Or is it just kind of happening where you're like, Hey, we're going to try the next thing and we're going to be thinking ahead and we're not going to fear a failure on the next thing we launch?

Sean:

Yeah, really great companies, this is something we all have in common, create space for failure, and this is, it typically falls in the executive or the co-founder or something like that. What I always say is, I'm the CEO O, so I have to be reckless. I'm the only person who can be a rebel. I'm the only person who can't get fired. So I have to be pushing the boundaries of this business because I can't task a junior marketing person to do that. I can't task a junior product person to do that because they don't want to lose their job. So they're going to play inside the lines. And it is your job to be pushing the company forward and trying new things and failing because you're the only person who can do that. I go back to the ownership team and I'm like, yep, I tried all this shit, but I'm trying new stuff and I hope it works. And there's a high tolerance for me to do that because they trust me and they know that I'm not going to fuck anybody over or I'm doing things in the best interest of the business. But the first thing you do when a junior employee loses money is you're like, well, I got to fire. Like yeah, it's not creating space for failure

Brett:

And they know that. And so they're going to be risk averse. They're, it's just human nature. They're going to protect themselves. And so you've got to be the one taking the risk and being willing to make those mistakes and those losses really, really good. Man, this has been fantastic. I could talk to you for another hour or two at least, but what else should we be watching for? I mean, I recommend everybody go to ridge.com, get on the email list, go to twitter slash x, follow Sean, which by the way, what is your Twitter handle? It's

Sean:

Sean eCom.

Brett:

Sean eCom, so check that out. But what's coming down the pike for Ridge, or what should we be watching for here in 2024?

Sean:

We have a really big announcement in the next 30 days, so I can't spoil it. I'm under NDA, but it'll be the coolest thing we've ever done as the business. So that's be, if you aren't following me on Twitter in 30 days, you're going to get something really fucking cool coming across your timeline. So be on look after for

Brett:

That. That's awesome. And then, yeah, what's next for the Operators podcast? I just feel like you guys, you're in your groove. Everybody's cranking. Sounds like that's just beginning to take off and it's doing very well,

Sean:

Dude. I appreciate you saying that. I'm just trying to get 10 episodes in a row where everybody shows up on time, audio works, and we have all four of us there, so

Brett:

Everybody's so busy running nine figure businesses and stuff. So I'm sure that is a nightmare to try to get everybody there. So keep with the good work. I'm going to keep tuning in there as well. So Sean, thanks for your time, brother. Super fun as always.

Sean:

Thank you Brett. Talk to you

Brett:

Later. Alright man, and thank you for tuning in. We really appreciate it. Hey, let us know what you'd like to hear more of on the pod and if you've not done it, we'd love to get that review on iTunes, helps other people discover the show. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 270
:
Matt Slaymaker - OMG Commerce

Grow on Google Like Never Before in 2024 (Trends, Tips and New Stuff)

If Google isn’t within your top 2 channels for new customer acquisition - 2024 should be the year you change that.

In this episode, I interview Matt Slaymaker on the latest and greatest from Google.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • What are the best brands doing on Google that others aren’t?
  • What are the keys to a better, more productive relationship with your agency?
  • How has PMax evolved, and how can you fully leverage it?
  • What about Demand Gen - Google’s newest campaign type? Spoiler alert: it’s not great... yet. But we see potential. 
  • How should we think about AI with Google ads?

Transcript

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO OMG Commerce, and today we are laying the groundwork to have a very successful 2024 with Google Ads. Now, I'm a believer if Google Ads and the Google Ads ecosystem is not a top driver of new customers for your brand and profitable growth at that, then something is wrong. We still know a lot of D2C brands that get most of their new customers from Meta and Instagram, but we're also seeing a lot of brands that this combination of Google plus YouTube equals that or exceeds that. If that's not you, then you have work to do. Now, what are some of the trends happening on Google? Well, Google is competing on a lot of different fronts, right? They're competing with chat GPT on the generative AI side of things.

They're competing with meta on the best ad solutions. And how do we make it easier for advertisers to attract new customers at a profitable rate? They're competing with Amazon, right? So how can we get e-commerce search and e-commerce activity to start with, or at least touch Google at some point in that process? So we're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about Performance Max and how it's evolved over the last couple of years and what to expect this year. We're going to talk about Demand Gen, the newest campaign type on Google. We're going to talk about Google and AI and what you need to know there. I've got on the show again for the fourth or fifth time, Matt Slaymaker, senior Google strategist and specialists here at OMG Commerce. We're going to break it down for you, talk about what the best brands do that the rest don't, and talk about the latest and greatest to help you crush it in 2024. So please enjoy my chat on Google Ads with Matt Slaymaker.

So I've got Matt Slaymaker here, AKA Slaymaker, the Playmaker, talking about Google Ads and what we can expect this year. How do we get the most from this channel, or better said this collection of channels that is the Google Ads ecosystem. It's likely your number two source of new customers or your number one source of new customers, but our belief is wherever it falls, it can be better, and that's what we're going to talk about. And so Matt, to kick things off, let's look, I want your perspective on what do the best brands do as it pertains to the Google Ads ecosystem that other brands do not do?

Matt:

Yeah, I work with a lot of brands, as you know, and I love all the brands that I work with, but some are definitely more successful than others, and it's a lot of times it's because of the things that they have control over themselves. So the things that come to mind for me, let's start with the brand owner and the marketing manager themselves. So first of all, as a brand owner, you have to have a very clear understanding of what your goals need to be and what you're telling your marketing agency that those goals should be. So that needs to come from things like your profit margin and also what's your goal in terms of profitability, is it more about scale? All that kind of stuff feeds into what we need to know. They also need to be great communicators of what those goals are, and they also need to very early on establish what their source of truth is going to be.

Very often we get to a point where we're three months down the road and the client will tell us, Hey, we don't trust Google Ads data when it comes to reporting. Facebook's telling me I made a million dollars. Google's telling me I made a million dollars, but I only made 1.2 million in total. So having some sort of source of truth so that we can know are we hitting goals or not? Are we successful or not? That kind of stuff is super important. The other thing I've also noticed is a lot of times brand owners are super busy. You're focusing on supply chain, branding, website stuff, marketing. That's a lot. The best brands that we work with oftentimes have a dedicated marketing point person that can handle that whole relationship and everything marketing related. And to me, some of the elements that make for a really successful marketing manager are people who are really willing to try and test new things.

They're not stagnant. They want to learn and they want to break things and figure out what's going to work well. And so there's that willingness to test and take a little bit of a risk, but at the same time, they're not micromanagers and they're also not completely disconnected. So if you're as a marketing manager telling your Google Ads person, pause that campaign, we need to scale up this campaign. At that point, we're not doing much. We're just pushing the buttons at that point. But at the same time, being completely disconnected and not checking in, not asking, Hey, what do you need to be more successful? That is also a problem. So those are the kinds of things I think of from a personality and client perspective. What are your thoughts on some of that?

Brett:

Yeah, really well said Matt. And it's kind of difficult to strike the balance of how can I be engaged either as a marketing manager, marketing director on the brand side, or how can I be really engaged and effective as a brand CEO or brand owner, but also allow my team, allow my agencies to do what they're best at? And so a couple of thoughts there, and you're right there. You can either be, and these are the tendencies, either I'm too engage and so then I'm just embarking out orders, and now the whole team is just an order taker and their skills and talents and creative ideas aren't coming to the surface, or you're so hands off that nobody really knows what they should be doing. And so there's a couple of concepts that I really like. I like this idea of commander's intent. It's a military term, but it's where a commander comes in and says, Hey, we need to have control of this hill by this date.

That's very clear. That's my commander's intent, this hill by this date. I'm not telling you how to do it. I'm telling you I need this hill by this date. I'm also saying, Hey, the way we're going to measure the standards of measuring, if we have that hill, and this is our standard, we all agree on this is how we're measuring, this is how we're communicating. We're using the same language. We're not confusing each other by communicating with different language. And so that kind of creates that unified source of truth like you talked about. And then the marketing managers, I think one of their job is to protect the core. So the core of the brand, how do we protect existing customers? How do we protect the brand message, how to protect the integrity of the brand, but how do we also stimulate progress? How are we also looking at some of the new things and what are we testing? What are we trying, what am I allowing and empowering my agency to bring ideas to me that will allow us to really grow our agency? And so it's not easy. I think once you learn kind of how to do it, it becomes a lot more fun and a lot more effective and a lot more productive, but it's really easy to get in either micromanage or to be laissez-faire and hands-off and not paying attention. And really that middle ground is where you need to be.

Matt:

One of the brands we work with that I think does this really well, what we do, we meet with them biweekly, but we also have a monthly agency Roundtable where we meet with their Facebook ads agency and every month he gives us a status report. Here's how we did this month and here's what our goals are for next month and the quarter as a whole. And he is very specific in terms of this is what our CPA needs to be, and for new customers, here's the number of new customers we need to see. And we're measuring this using a third party tool called North Beam. So that's our source of truth that checks every box. We have a dedicated marketing person who's, like you said, take that hill giving us very specific orders, and at that point they allow us to be the specialist and go get it done,

Brett:

Which is perfect. And you kind of need that update from the brand because there's pieces that your agencies don't see potentially unless you give them access to everything. And so you got to say, here's how we did globally, here's how we did retail and everything all combined, and here's where we need to go really, really effective. I mean, when you do that, then you've got everybody rowing in the right direction, everybody using their strengths to the to full capacity. And Matt, you and I are both sports fans, and so here comes

Matt:

The sports analogy. Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. Sports analogy. You knew it was coming at some point, right? But you could take a quarterback, let's say, and you take someone like Patrick Mahomes, I think he's going to be great no matter where he plays. He's just going to be great. But there's something special about when he is in that system with Andy Reed. And I would even argue before when he had his old offensive coordinator, Eric Pmy, things were really shiny. It was just like perfect. Everything was perfect This year, get a new offensive coordinator, it's maybe not quite the same. Patrick Mahomes is still awesome, but there's some things that are not fully clicking. And so it's just a reminder that we need the right structure. And I think that's your role as a brand owner, marketing manager, brand manager, is assembling the right team and giving them the right structure and the right information and the right kind of framework to be successful. And then let them do their thing, and you'll likely be very pleased with the results. Yeah, well put. So love that. Super, super great. Matt, any closing thoughts on that piece?

Matt:

No, I mean, the only other thing I would say is what makes for a great client relationship as well is their ability to take our feedback and input. So if we are telling them, Hey, everything on the targeting side of things, bidding side, everything's looking good on our end, but we really need new creative. We really need new landing pages. The willingness to invest in that kind of stuff is huge because those are the next big elements in terms of what's going to drive success for you and being willing to make that investment. It does cost money and time to develop that kind of stuff, but makes a huge difference as well.

Brett:

And so we're about to move into some new things that we're seeing on Google. We're talking about performance max and demand gen and AI and a number of other really cool things. But one of the things we're talking about a lot at OMG is a little bit higher level. What is our approach to Google ads and to growing e-commerce brand in general? And so we talk about brand demand amplifier and how do we create consistent growing demand for your brand? And so this is where I think we're moving away from the era of just where I've got little hacks and little tricks, and I'm deploying this little tactic here and that little tactic there and just kind of seeing what happens. Those days I think are over now we look at this brand demand amplifier approach. It's really got three parts. One is strategy. So this is where we're finding the right balance of demand capture, capturing existing demand, people that are actively searching either for a problem you solve or they're searching for a product in your category.

So how are we capturing that existing demand? How are we generating new demand? So how are we effectively running campaigns that are attracting ideal customers, but maybe they're not shopping yet? And you can get wildly inefficient there if you're not careful, but you need some element of demand generation. And then how are we just using all the pieces and all the channels strategically that we have at our disposal? So there's a strategy piece. Then you've got the creative piece. What are we saying? What story are we telling? How are we telling this story? Is it resonating? Is it landing? And are we telling it in lots of different ways because some people consume better by reading or some people need an image and then a landing page. Some people need a short form video, some people need a long form video, but how are we telling the story in a compelling way and from lots of different angles?

So how are we nailing that creative side of things? And while AI is really helping to kind of fuel growth and speed things up from a creative testing standpoint, we still need that creativity. And that usually comes from the brand or from a great agency, but you got to have creative and then execution. So then what's the campaign structure? What are our bids and budgets and all the mechanics that then can just multiply everything else. So write strategy, write creative, write execution, that's what allows things to take off. And so it is more than just little hacks and tactics, and it always will be more. And even as AI develops, you still need those pieces. And so that's what we're seeing on this end. Let's talk a little bit, Matt, about performance max or P max as they like to say in the biz. How has that shifted, changed, evolved here over the last year or so?

Matt:

So for those who don't know exactly what PAX is or have heard it around the grapevine, what Max is, it was developed about two years ago in Google ads. And the goal of it is to create a consolidated AI driven campaign type that essentially houses every ad type available to us in Google ads. So performance max ads can show as a search ad can show as a shopping ad. They were actually an upgraded version of what was previously called smart shopping. So people typically think that it's going to show mostly as a shopping ad, but it can also show as a display ad, YouTube ad, that kind of stuff. When it was first released, we were apprehensive in a lot of ways. I think the biggest concerns when it came to Performance Max were the issues that we had in terms of a lack of control in terms of campaign structures, lack of transparency, reporting, all that kind of stuff, made it difficult not only to structure these campaigns, but also to learn even if we are seeing success from Performance Max, why is that?

What is truly driving that success? So Google has actually made some really good updates on the Performance Max side, especially in the way of reporting that has allowed us to see that and think about how we should structure these campaigns. So in the past how performance max campaigns are structured as you have a campaign and then within that you have asset groups. And previously we weren't able to see performance at the asset group level. So if you were trying to test in different asset groups, different audience signals or creative, you could test all that stuff, but you're not going to know which one's doing better than others. You'd have

Brett:

Limited data points. You could see like, hey, this asset is good or above average, this asset is performing poor. But if you had a thousand conversions in a campaign, you couldn't see where those thousand conversions were coming from very

Matt:

Clearly. And in the early stages, the only metric that it would give you is saying that this asset is good or best or low. It didn't give you actual numbers to go along with that. So now we do get data at the asset level that's not just best good low, it's also conversion numbers, click-through rates, stuff like that. So now in the past when we were testing this kind of stuff, we had to think maybe every element that we're going to test has to be its own campaign. So different audience signals for bottom of funnel top, it was a mess, but at this point, we're at a point where we can now consolidate that into singular performance max campaigns and learn a lot better. So that stuff is also great. We also used to have to submit all negative keywords. So the stuff we don't want to show for in performance Max to your Google rep who would then submit that on the backend.

And that's a lot of work. Now you can in some ways add some negative keywords in the form of brand list. So if you don't want to show up for your competitor terms or for your own brand name, that kind of stuff you can do in platform. And another huge one that I think is worth mentioning is in the past you weren't able to see not only the search terms that P Max was showing for, but you couldn't see any historical search terms. So I had a client come through recently where last year, last September, their performance Max was crushing it. They were doing really, really well and this year it wasn't doing as well. And they were wondering what happened, why was it doing so well last year, but not this year. And because historical data wasn't available for last year, it's really hard to analyze that and say what happened and what led to that decrease in performance. But now starting in March, 2023, Google has made that historical data available all the way back to that date, March, 2023. So from a reporting perspective, transparency, a little bit greater control, it's gotten a lot better in a lot of ways, and they're continuing to make good strides in that direction.

Brett:

And we're kind of at a point now where if Performance Max isn't a top campaign for you in terms of driving new customer acquisition while hitting your goal, whether that's a CAC goal, cac, CPA, or it's a ROAS goal, if it's not performing at that level, then there's probably some work you need to do. Either it's a restructuring or a reconfiguration of the campaigns, or it has to do with your creatives and what you've deployed and way that's set up, or it could be audience targeting and all those things. But we're big believers in P max. Obviously we've created courses. Matt, you and I did a full course, you and I in Savannah with Smart Marketer, and we got a Max Blueprint that I did. And so we are big believers in P max. I think it also really underscores, and this is something we were talking about when it first came out, like, hey, this is the future of Google Ads. How does Max inform, or what else have we just seen in terms of how is Google ads shifting in 2024?

Matt:

In general, Google Ads is shifting more towards AI and a more consolidated approach where rather than getting so granular where you have a campaign for every different type of ad where you really have to understand every single one of those campaigns and what those ads are used for, max and demand gen campaigns, which we'll probably talk about here shortly, are all focused about just give us your assets, tell us what your goal is and we'll get you there. There's things to know about that. Obviously you really need to do a good job of guiding it. So for your max campaigns, for example, if you want it to be going after non-branded searches and you only want it pursuing new customers, then you need to tell it that you need to apply all that stuff in the form of those brand exclusions, not new customer bidding, that kind of stuff.

If you don't, then it's usually going to start with the easiest conversions possible to get. So Brett, one thing you were mentioning I think earlier was how does it play with shopping, for example? What we've actually seen honestly is that there's more overlap with search campaigns than there is with shopping. And the reason for that is because when you launch a PAX campaign, like I said, it's going to go after those easy to get conversions, which are typically branded searches. So that's where it first starts to play, and then it works its way up from there. Then it gets to those non-branded search and shopping searches, remarketing top of funnel. But if you want it to start at top of funnel, there's ways you can do that. You just have to know how to structure it.

Brett:

And that's where I think it really bleeds back or really it goes back to the strategy, creative and execution. And now on the execution piece, it's less about pulling small levers and doing little tweaks and changes and kind of worried about every minute detail, but it's more about how do we structure this to fan the flame that the campaign structure the campaign has, and how do we feed the ai, the right data and the right information? How are we allowing the AI to succeed and how are we getting the right combination of campaigns to really take us to next level? And so it's certainly not hands off, it's just maybe a little higher level now than it used to be, which is super interesting. So Matt, did you have a thought on that? I

Matt:

Was just going to say, in talking about the way to work with AI in general, I think a lot of people are apprehensive about AI and the role that it can play in advertising. What AI is really, really good at is finding new customers and bidding appropriately for those new customers.

Brett:

That part it is absolutely nailed. Yeah,

Matt:

There was a point I would say even as shortly three, four years ago where we heavily used manual bidding strategies where we were trying to outsmart the computers and outsmart all of our competitors. Let's set a specific bid. I'm going to pay $1 for this keyword, but if they're a female, I'm going to pay 25% more. If they're in the top 20% incomes on their desktop, I'm going to pay 50% more and really try to get super granular with it. That is not only super time consuming and a bad use of your time, but even if you spend all your time doing that and you're making all the right decisions, you're probably still not going to do as well of a job at that as the computers going to do totally. So instead of using your time on stuff that the computers can take care of and do better than you anyway, spend your time on things like creative developing messaging. That's kind of stuff that AI is working on and trying to get better about, develop messaging, ideas, things like that, but it's still not there. So in terms of how we can work together with ai, let AI find new customers, bid for those new customers, and you speak to those new customers in the form of creative landing pages and messaging.

Brett:

So good. So good. Let's talk then. You mentioned demand generation campaigns or demand gen campaigns. So what are those? Those are the newest campaign, that is the newest campaign type that Google offers, but what is it? Why is it there and what do we need to know about it?

Matt:

So demand Gen campaigns are formerly called discovery campaigns. So discovery campaigns in the past, these are image ads that could show on Google feed placements. So YouTube feed, if you're scrolling on the YouTube homepage and you see an image ad up there at the top, that was a discovery ad gmail, the Google Discover feed, which if you're on the Google app, you scroll down, you see some image ads there as well. So those were discovery ads, demand gen ads are showing in all the same placements, but now a video ad placement is also available. So in addition to just image ads that were only available through discovery, now, you can run some video through there. So I kind of think of it like Performance Max in the sense of it's a more consolidated approach, but for those demand generation focused ad types. So it's chopping out things like search shopping that's more focused on middle of funnel, capturing search and search demand that's already there. This is all about generating that demand. So that's the biggest change in terms of how it's evolving from discovery. What I will say is this started rolling out in September where people could start beta testing it in the early stages. It was definitely not ready for prime time. It had a lot of bugs, which is

Brett:

Usually the case, right? Google is really good at let's launch something while it's incomplete and imperfect and we're going to get lots of data and lots of testing and lots of feedback, and it's going to become something pretty great or we'll shutter it, but hopefully it'll become something.

Matt:

So at this point though, you're getting upgraded. I like when they say it's upgraded. It's a more positive way of saying being forcibly transitioned to demand gen campaigns from January to March of this year. So if you've got discovery campaigns rolling right now, those will get automatically transitioned into Demand Gen. You'll notice some differences, but if you're just using image ads for your discovery campaigns, those will continue to run as is essentially you'll just be at a point where you can add new creatives into there, such as video ads.

Brett:

Yeah, it's super interesting and I think the way, and you talked about this, I'll riff on it just a little bit. The way to compare P max and Demand Gen and the way these fit together, performance Max is really great at finding new customers, new to brand customers. It is full funnel in that you can run video ads inside a performance max. It will lean into search. And like Matt, like you said, for a lot of clients, a lot of campaigns, it may lean into search in the very beginning, it still kind of has as a centerpiece this shopping component. And depending on the way your brand is oriented, maybe Performance Max is going to lean mostly into Google shopping or the shopping placements, but it's designed to be full funnel, new customer acquisition, but in general it does lean mid funnel and thereabouts. We've been able to creatively based on the nature of a product and the right creatives, we did this with Lawn Care and we did this with a supplement brand and a few others where you can get Max to actually lean into YouTube and lean into some of those demand gen type channels.

But it's designed to be more full funnel where demand gen is really just like the name implies. This is more the demand generation channels that are available on Google. And so more of product discovery awareness, things like that, it can all be tied back to trying to hit performance goals and drive a certain CAC or ROAS goal, but more on the demand gen side. So ideally, once demand gen gets a little bit better and Google improves it, it could provide a pretty powerful combination max and demand gen.

Matt:

Yeah. Brett, I have a question for you. Yeah, please. We've been talking about the shift in terms of just the Google Ads landscape and with all these different campaign types, are we shifting more towards Performance Max? What's working, what's not? Let's see how plugged in you are. Let Google Ads and OMG clients in 2022. What was the top spending channel for OMG clients?

Brett:

20 22, 20 22, 2

Matt:

Years ago,

Brett:

Almost certainly it was Google Shopping.

Matt:

It was actually Google search, which made up 44% of overall ads spend 44% shopping was actually at 11%. Interesting, that obviously smart

Brett:

Shopping, I wonder if you check out branded search what that would do, but that's a pretty big gap. Okay.

Matt:

Interesting. Search, huge part. And then in 2023, what do you think was the top spending channel? Well,

Brett:

I mean I think that the right answer should be Performance Max, but based on those percentages, maybe P max and search kind of there pretty close.

Matt:

Yeah, yeah, exactly right. What do you thinks first?

Brett:

I'm going to go P max.

Matt:

P max at 35%. So year over year from 2022 to 2023 p max went from 19% of overall ad spend to 35%. Wow. So that just kind goes to show all the different things that Max can do. And then search went from 44% to 32%. So it's still huge. And that's where one thing that I'll say for people, because there's a lot of things that are changing in Google ads, and if you've been seeing success with YouTube and search and shopping, one thing I'll say is if you've been seeing success with that, you'll probably continue to see success with that. Just because there's new things coming along doesn't mean that search is going away or that it's not going to work for you anymore. If anything, you just have more options available to you in order to hit your goals and ways of approaching it. That might be easier for some brands to accomplish than others. If you don't know the proper way to segment and structure a search campaign, a Performance Max campaign can accomplish all that for you.

Brett:

Yeah, really well said. Where really, we still run a lot of individual just search campaigns. If you're going to scale on YouTube, we run specific YouTube campaigns. We don't just allow YouTube to live inside a Performance Max or Demand Gen, although it can do that and there can be new opportunities that are there. Being very specific with specific campaigns is still important. And now that you said you talked about 2022 and 2023, makes sense. 2022 p max was huge at that time. Shopping probably would've been the biggest platform back in 21 or something, or 2020, somewhere in that neighborhood really, if you look at 2022, you said 19%, 19% p max, and 11% shopping. So you kind of combine those two together. But anyway, super, super interesting. And yeah, I think it's just one of those scenarios where I think the way Google Ads is going is if you want to be really hands-off and you don't really want to do much and maybe you don't have huge aspirations with the platform, there's going to be some tools where you can be pretty hands off and it's just going to work.

Okay. If you've got big goals and you really want to grow and you really want to expand, then that's where you're going to need to have either hire some real Google expertise, work with an agency with real Google expertise and get the full benefit, the full horsepower. Totally agree that the Google provides. And so really cool. You kind of talked about Max, you talked about AI and how it powers Google ads. Anything else that we should be aware of with ai? I know it is nailing all of the targeting, bidding some of those things. There's some though help that we're getting, and we're starting to see this with the generative AI experience inside of Google Ads. And we want to talk about Bard in just a second very briefly, but any other thoughts how AI is helping on the generative AI side of things?

Matt:

Yeah, I mean it's getting better in terms coming up with ideas for you based on the messaging that you've been testing in Google ads and in addition to what it sees on the website, what it sees just out in the ether of the Google Ads landing state, what are your competitors saying on their ads and supplying those as ideas, at least for headlines and descriptions as you're writing them. So those are getting better and better, and I appreciate that. I enjoyed those. But in general, the things that I touched on earlier, finding new customers and bidding for those new customers is still what AI does the best. And you could set it up, talk about Bard and the generative AI experience in Google search and what that looks like.

Brett:

And so before we into that, I want just highlight one thing. We talk about this a lot where AI plus smart humans, that's the present, that's the future. People that understand marketing and understand data and understand how things work paired with ai, that's where it's headed. And that's actually where it is right now. And I think you can make parallels or comparisons. I remember hearing about when Google was first launching search or in the early days, they had mountains and mountains of data, but it was so early. And they'd go to big ad agencies and big ad agencies would be like, we know advertising, you don't know advertising Google. And they're like, well, we got millions and millions of search touchpoints, and we know the ads people click on and we know the ads people don't click on. And so the interesting thing about that is actually if there was this way to marry both of those worlds, which did happen where you got all the click data and the insights from Google plus people that understand human psychology and how to write creatively and effectively and things like that, you combine that, that's really powerful.

I think that's what's happening now too, where there's data behind like, Hey, why did this image outperformed that image? This headline outperformed that headline. And so now AI is going to riff on that and give you suggestions. You're still probably going to need to polish it. You're still going to need to touch it and make it human and make it good and understand that, hey, this does line up with who we're trying to be as a brand, or this doesn't line up who we're trying to be as a brand, but you combine those two things and man, you really got something powerful that you can harness. And so then related to that is kind of the AI experience of Bard, and this is kind of Google's solution or counter to chat GPT. I've got some podcasts I listen to that are not Google base, they're just tech type podcasts. Some of them are saying Bard is way better than chat GPT. I know more people using chat GPT than Bard. Bard's going to have a really integrated search component. So Matt, I know you've played around with it a little bit and probably not a ton of takeaways at this stage, it's very early, but any insights as you've used Bard or used the AI search experience that Google offers?

Matt:

Yeah, I really like chat, GPT and Bard. I think what it does a really good job of is giving some ideas and inspiration. That's chat, GBT in particular, what I think Bard does well is giving a more concise view for the user of the information that they're searching for. So as opposed to needing to into individual articles and dig around for that information, Bard gives you a quicker answer. And then the ability to ask follow-ups there. So to drive in a little bit deeper and what it's doing is not just looking at one article, it's looking across all the content that's available on Google search, for example, and then compiling that into the answer that it provides. So I think from a user perspective, it's a really cool step in innovation and moving us into the future. So I think it's really cool. I don't think necessarily it's going to fundamentally change the way people search.

I still do think people are going to engage more just with regular Google search than they will with the chatbot. But that said, I was looking before this, just chat GBT, how popular is it? Is it still as popular as it was a couple months ago? And it is, there's still a lot of search interest and people visiting chat, GBT, especially with some of the updates that they've been making to it. So I do think it's here to stay, but I am not convinced that it's going to fundamentally change the way that Google search engines are structured.

Brett:

Yeah, I'm really, really curious and really interested to see how Google further integrates and develops it. And I've heard some people talk about this is going to completely upend Google's revenue model. Google is 80% of their revenue is from ads and a lot of that driven by search. And so, hey, this new AI experience is going to totally upend that. I don't actually think that's true. So I would totally agree with what you just said. Especially right now, if I'm looking for a product, if I'm looking for a new jacket or a new pair of gloves or new shoes or whatever, a new tool, new gadget, I'm going to regularly Google search. I want to see all the listings, I want to see ads and other things. Maybe I ask the AI experience, Hey, what's the best gloves for working outside and subzero temperatures or whatever, which I try not to do if I'm outside in Sub-Zero temperatures, it's I'm sledding or walking from my truck to the house or whatever.

But maybe I ask that specific of a question. But here's the thing. I believe Google's going to figure it out to be able to, if you do ask a very specific question, you're more like having this conversation with the AI about a product that you want to buy or about a problem you're trying to solve. I think they're going to be able to surface ads in that. I think they're going to be able to say, Hey, the best experience probably for you based on the question you had based on your shopping behavior, is you need to see a product listing ad or Google Shopping ad, or you need to see a search ad because you like to read or you need to see a video because of the way you like to interact with things. And so they're showing that, and I think that's going to happen.

And one of the trends that I see happening in the future and we're already kind of prepping for and discussing here at OMG is there's going to be this kind of blending probably of paid ads and organic type efforts and not like organic SEO. And we did SEO way back in the game, and I know you're very familiar with SE O2, Matt, where we were writing tons of articles and trying to get back links and doing other stuff. Not that per se, but more like do we have clean data? Can Google really make sense of what is on our product detail page? What are reviews? What are the prices? What is this about? What are the reviews about? Are the reviews about this pair of gloves? Are they more for working? Are they more for skiing? Are they more for other things? Google being able to make sense of that and then to provide the recommendations.

And so I think it's going to be kind of the understanding how to use these new campaign types as they come out, but also having really clean data and a really clean structure and then really clear messaging and some of these things. And so I'm excited about it. I'm optimistic. I'm pretty bullish on Google being able to figure this out, and I'm not too concerned about chat GPT running away with the show and leaving Google in the dust because I think Google's working on it. Google also has, they have access to more data than anyone else does, and they've just proven, they usually are able to figure things

Matt:

Out well, and they just have a natural headstart when more people are visiting Google than chat GPT. And when you visit Google, the very first thing you see is a Let's Chat option. There's naturally going to become a point where more people are using that than chat GBT. And like you said about the advertising being blended into there, it has to be, why would Google want to invest shifting people towards this chatbot if it means ads aren't going to be sprinkled in there? Yeah,

Brett:

It's going to have to be

Matt:

Right. So it's going to have to be, the question you just asked though is what's that going to look like? And you gave a few examples what I think it's definitely going to look like. There's going to be search ads in there, there's going to be shopping ads, some YouTube ads as well. I don't know how they're going to put display and discovery ads in there. I think that'll be a little more interesting. Maybe you make it kind of a feed that you scroll through and some of 'em are ads. But yeah, it'll be really interesting.

Brett:

It'll be very interesting. And I think we just, all we have to do is really look at the Google experience now and are people searching more on Google now or less than they did five or 10 years ago, way more than they did before. Are there now more ads shown on Google searches or less? There's actually more ads. And so as Google becomes better at rewarding advertisers for creating great ads, as Google becomes better, or as they have become better of the recent history of just providing really relevant ads, it's a great experience for users. I get my question answered through an ad. I solve problem through an ad. I find the product I'm looking for through an ad all delivered based on a search. And so yeah, I'm excited about seeing where this goes and seeing how it develops. But Matt, if you were to give some advice to a brand as they get into 2024, how should I be thinking about Google Ads and maybe how should I know if there's a problem inside of Google Ads? Any practical advice or takeaways you'd leave people with?

Matt:

Yeah, the main things I would say is from the very beginning, make sure measurement is locked in. And that what we were talking about at the very beginning was having some form of a source of truth. If you have that source of truth, whether it's Google Ads or North Beam, if your performance isn't there, it'll tell you that it's not there. And your backend numbers will also verify that we're not growing or we're bleeding money that will be obvious to you. So from there, we could have a whole conversation and encourage you to check out our course on Smart Marketer about how to troubleshoot your Google Ads if it's not working. But there's so many metrics to look at. The main two though, if I were to say there's only two metrics that you should pay attention to all the time would be conversion rate and CPC, because those are the two numbers.

And then I'd throw in one more, which is a OV. Those three metrics together are what's going to determine what your CPA is going to be and what your ROAS is going to be. If you can find any sort of ways to improve your conversion rate, which is typically going to be by improving your creative testing, new audiences, testing new landing pages, that's going to be the most impactful thing you can do in Google Ads to see better performance. If you can find ways to reduce that CPC by delivering higher quality scores, which are a score rating for keywords and Google search that can pull down your CPCs. And then what are some ways you can increase your A OV? Is it something on the website, some popups, some bundling or cross-selling that's going to boost your roas? So those would be at a very high level, the three metrics I'd say to really focus on with conversion rate being the one you really have a lot of control over.

Brett:

Yeah, really good, Matt. And a couple things I would say is if you're a brand owner and you're trying to evaluate, do I need to do something different with my Google ad strategy? And again, when I'm talking Google ads, I'm talking about the whole ecosystem. So display, search, shopping, YouTube, and all of it. I would say if it's not growing and if it's not growing at a healthy clip, if it's not growing at about the same pace as your other channels, then there's probably a problem. We still know a lot of D two C brands that meta is their number one source of new customers, but if Google is not a close second, or if it's not beginning to rival meta, then there's potentially an issue that needs to be looked at. And hey, we're running into now and we work with D two C brands where this Google YouTube combination is as big or bigger than meta.

And so a couple of things you can look at there to understand, Hey, do I need a different strategy? Do I need a different approach here to make this work? And with that shameless plug, we would love to chat with you. If you're spending over a hundred thousand a month on ads then, and you're a D two C brand that's growing, might be a good time to talk to OMG commerce because you could end up working with somebody like Matt Slaymaker driving the ship on Google Ads and helping you make more money and generate consistent demand for your brand. So if you want to chat, go to mg commerce.com, click on the Let's Talk button, you can request a strategy session. We'd love to chat with you. And with that, I think that does it slaymaker, any parting thoughts? Any new things? If you've got any more Google thoughts out there, if not any goals or specific things you're trying to do in this new-ish year? We're a little ways in now, I guess, but that you're trying to do to better yourself or to grow this year?

Matt:

Oh gosh. One last Google thing I'll throw out there is I'll say Google is improving privacy standards across the board. One of the biggest things happening in 2024 is the deprecation of third party cookies on Google Chrome. It sounds scary. I wouldn't panic too much. Google is putting out solutions to mitigate the impacts of this. But biggest piece of advice I'd give you for that is make sure you're collecting first party data. So email list, customer list, that's going to be stuff that you own that you can continue to use into the future in terms.

Brett:

So good. I don't want to just key in on that, Matt. Yeah, a couple things to that. I know the privacy changes that that's a big fear that people have. A couple things to think about there. Third party cookies have been deprecated for a long time on Safari and Firefox and every other browser that's not Chrome. Chrome does have the biggest market share, but yeah, we believe this shift is not going to be as big as it may sounds or as potentially detrimental as it sounds. Google's been working on solutions and they were not going to make a move until they were confident in their solutions. But this is where you need to have enhanced conversions set up. You need to have the first party data, and if you have those things going, you'll still be able to make sense. You'll still be able to engage in remarketing and you'll still be able to grow.

Things will go well for you. And if you look at Google, Google can still target based on interest and based on search data, based on behavior and stuff like that because it's third party trackings go away, not first party. And if you think about as you're conducting a search on Google, that's first party data you're giving directly to Google. If you're watching videos on YouTube, that's first party data that YouTube has now because it's you interacting with their platform. And so there's still going to be a lot of data at our disposal. We are not suddenly going to go back to the early two thousands or anything like that. But you do need first party data. You do need to understand the changes so you can really make the most of it. Yeah. And then on the personal side, Matt, what do you got?

Matt:

So I'll give you two. One a more vanity. One Avis of mine is anytime I go to a gas station to get gas, I always go inside and get a sugary drink or some snack, gardetto or Takis, whatever. I am giving that up. And if anything, I'll go outside and get a water and cut out all the sodium that I get from Gardetto's and

Brett:

Those shit. Love it. Love it. So that little tweak and man, it's so interesting as you look at, we can even tie this back to ads if you want to, right? This is just finding little areas of waste where, okay, you make this cut, does it make a big difference today? Maybe not a huge difference today, although you probably feel better if you don't eat a full bag of goos. But over time, over the course of the year, think about how less sodium and garbage and stuff you're putting into your body. And the same is true with ads. We make these little cuts of waste over the course of the year that really adds up. So good on you for that. Snacking less at the gas station. What else?

Matt:

The other one is just to be bold, and I think this was something that was huge for me in 2022 and 2023, honestly, where in the past growing up, I was always very shy and I was afraid to do things that I know I would enjoy. If someone invited you to an event, oftentimes I would say no because I was too shy or I love to play basketball, but I was always too shy to go to the court and actually play with people. And I got to a point in the last year and a half where I was like, if I am 40, 50, 60 years old and I can no longer play basketball at a high level, I'm going to look back on my twenties and regret that I didn't put myself out there more. And it's the same with all sorts of different situations, whether it's work related or in your personal life. Just be bold, live life to the fullest and try to make the most of ever experience.

Brett:

Dude, it's so good, so good. Yeah, you'll always remember positively the times you were bold, even if something crashed and burned, you'll remember with fond memories, mostly times you were bold. You'll probably always regret the times you pulled back or were too afraid to do something right. I do believe the biggest regrets we'll have in life will be the things we didn't do, not the things we did do. And I do want to push back a little bit, Matt, as someone who just turned 44, we can still play basketball in our forties. You'll still be able, if you do the right things, give up the guards and soda. You'll be playing basketball at age 40 as well. And for me, as far as that goes, I'm like, dude, I'm not slowing down. So I'm hitting the gym in a little bit different way and try to do some strength training. Not try to bulk up majorly, but I want to be able to move things around. I want to be able to have energy and to be able to continue to go, and so love that. But it takes bold action, man, and to be successful in business, the D two C world and life, it takes bold action. I'm really glad you mentioned that. What's your

Matt:

Resolution for this year?

Brett:

So I don't really do resolutions per se. I look at how do I set goals and intentions for the year, where do I want to go? Almost thinking about that commander's intent to a certain degree, and then what are the habits I need to build to get me there? And so then it's more like looking at my life in buckets from a relational family standpoint, what are some of the habits that need to be tweaked or adjusted there? And so one little thing there that my wife and I are doing, we have eight kids who we're very, very busy and they're involved in sports and all kinds of stuff. We're doing a weekly date night, and so we've got a great relationship, good marriage, we really like each other and stuff, but we're going to do a weekly date night, so that's on the Google calendar.

It's scheduled, it's there, right. That's great. Yeah. On the personal side, I've got some different diet things I'm doing. I do not believe in really strict diets or fad diets. I think all that's unsustainable, but there's some little things that I'm doing there to make things easier. My breakfast is consistent. Lunch is usually just a handful of things that I choose from, and then I'm hitting the gym four days a week, minimum four days a week, sometimes five, just doing that. I'm trying to regulate sleep a little bit, although I'm a really high energy guy, and so sometimes I don't sleep well, but try to regulate that as well. I know there's big benefits, mental health, physical health and stuff right now, but I'll into the future. So I'm more thinking about overall direction of goals and what are the habits that need to help me get there.

Matt:

Yeah. Love it, man.

Brett:

Awesome. Matt Slaymaker, ladies and gentlemen, Matt, this was awesome. We'll have to make this a little more regular in the new year talking Google ads with you. So thank you so much. Thank you for your bold actions as it pertains to Google and OMG and our clients and keep with the good work.

Matt:

Yes, sir. Thank you. And happy birthday.

Brett:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yes, the recording on my birthday, fun times. But 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 if you have not done so? We'd love that review on iTunes or wherever you consume this podcast. That helps other people discover the podcast as well. If you found this valuable, share it with somebody that you think would enjoy it. And with that, until next time, thank you for this.

Episode 269
:
Trenton Bodenbach - OMG Commerce

Winning on Amazon in 2024: Better Ads, Better Branding, Better Strategy

So much has changed on Amazon since we started helping sellers on the platform in 2016 (I can’t believe we’ve been in the Amazon game for 8 years).

In this episode, I chat with Trenton Bodenbach, OMG Amazon Strategist. 

We discuss some new potential game-changers on Amazon for 2024, strategy, and who’s winning and who’s not on the platform.

Here’s a quick look at a few of our topics:

  • Vertical Video for Sponsored Brand Video. Sponsored Brand Video is one of our favorite Amazon ad types. It’s usually in the top 2-3 most effective ad types for the brands we work with. Now, it supports vertical video. Likely, you have more vertical video than anything else. Now, you can use it on Amazon. 
  • Shop on Facebook. Amazon controls this for now, but likely there’s more to come. This will allow shoppers on Facebook to buy products directly from Amazon without leaving the Facebook app. 
  • Amazon’s continued growth and dominance and what it means.
  • Amazon storefronts, posts, and other tools for branding. We believe that building your BRAND on Amazon is the ultimate key to success. Not just selling stuff. And Amazon has more tools than ever to help you build your brand.

Show Notes:

Transcript:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the e-Commerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and on this episode, we're breaking down the trends and what to expect in 2024 from Amazon and how to set your brand up for success. My guest is Trenton Bodenbach. He's a longtime OMG or Amazon strategist, and we talk about what are the components of success, what has shifted, what is shifting and what to do this year on Amazon. We talked about the fact that it really all comes down to brand building. Yes, there's merchandising, and yes, there's ad strategies, and yes, we're looking at SEO, but really all of this is to facilitate brand building and more specifically brand demand. I think Amazon recognizes that top brands recognize that. We'll talk about some good case studies and the way to look at that. Let's talk about a couple new things that are here or coming for the Amazon ecosystem.

One is vertical video ads for sponsor brand video. We actually believe that's kind of a big deal. We'll unpack that, walk through that with you. We'll also look at a new integration between Amazon and Facebook that allows shoppers to buy something on Amazon without leaving Facebook. This is not the first time Facebook has kind of tried something like this, but it is the first time Facebook and Amazon have come together. So we'll talk about what that could mean and what to expect and what to look at there. We also talk about some fun stuff like, hey, running 36 miles to the woods and ice baths and how that ties to growth on Amazon. And so we want to gear you up and set you up for success. Please enjoy my interview with Trenton Boden bch and helping you succeed on Amazon.

I've got Trenton Bodenbach with me here, Amazon strategist, longtime, OMG. Going to talk about trends and what to expect on Amazon this year and how do we set ourselves up to really maximize opportunities on Amazon. Trent, how's it going? It's going well. I just got a haircut. I feel fresh. Dude, you did get a haircut. So you always live as a wild man. You go on these long runs. In fact, I think people will be interested in this. The most recent run that you and Bill Coover did, what was the distance? What was the location? What was that like? So we did the 36 miles on the Buffalo River Trail through the Buffalo River National Forest in northwest Arkansas, northwest Arkansas, close to the home of Walmart and whatnot in that area, about an hour and a half from Bentonville ish, somewhere in there.

And so 36 miles, how long does it take to run 36 miles through the rivers and forests the longer than it should have? Well, I feel we've done it before, so is we try to do it once a year. I was not as prepared this year as I should be. We had unexpected twins that came and my running is not as where it should be, but it took us, what time did we start? Right, about 12 hours to finish the whole thing. So 12 hours of basically constant running. Maybe you're taking a few breaks to walk or whatnot, but you're running essentially for 12 hours. Yeah, yeah. That's a good run. That's insane. I do think there's some interesting parallels there though. If you, and this wasn't planned, but I think it just worked out. If you're going to grow on Amazon, it's a bit of a marathon, not a sprint, and it's not one of those marathons just on clearly paved roads and everything is smooth and yeah, we got to find our way.

Yeah, you got to find your way stuff's broken. You're going to twist an ankle or break something, and so it gets a little bit gnarly and to really set the stage that you're a glutton for punishment. You and I are also doing, so I did not participate in any 36 mile runs at all. I think two, three miles as far as I want to go, but we're both doing something else. It's a little bit challenging, a little bit painful, but with a purpose. So talk about your cold plunge routine. I haven't talked to you about this. I recorded this yesterday. I don't record cold plunges. I don't like to talk about cold plunges because I feel like everyone, everyone is talking about cold plunges. So we'll keep this brief, but it's so fun. But it was negative seven degrees on Monday and I did the coldest cold plunge I have ever done and I got out and my feet froze to the ground and I went to open the back door to get back in and my hand, I couldn't open it, and so I'm banging on the door screaming for my wife to open the door, and so she finally did and I had to yank my feet from it.

So it's been fun. That's amazing. I've enjoyed it. It's amazing. And we won't go into all the benefits. You can easily Google that or you've heard it on the interwebs or whatnot, but I did not cold plunge yesterday, but I did over the weekend. It was like 16 degrees outside, water was 34. Took me a while to break through the ice, honestly. But it felt amazing, but also very, very cold. I've got this cold plunge though that kind of the sides are more of a rubber. It's a pretty small cold plunge. Whole thing's frozen right now. Yeah, it's been like negatives overnight. The whole thing is, I went to break it yesterday and I was, I don't think I can actually do this. And so we need to get into the upper thirties. We can get in this again. So anyway, hey, there are tons of rewards from being on Amazon.

We love the platform. We don't believe it's slowing down. We believe the opportunities are just as good now as they were before, but it could be a little bit dicey. You maybe need to have a little bit inside of you or inside of your team of like, Hey, we're going to do whatever it takes. We're going to trudge through this and make this work. So this isn't necessarily a predictions episode, this is more of a what to expect and how to succeed this year episode. But let's talk about some trends. What are the trends you're excited about? And actually, let's frame it this way. I think some people are like, oh, maybe I missed the boat on Amazon. Maybe I should do something else with Amazon. Is it too late? What kind of growth are you seeing as an Amazon strategist on the Amazon platform?

Yeah, we've seen a lot of people come in who are either new sellers and we're trying to figure out and navigate what it's like to be newly on Amazon. And they're excited, but they're also nervous that they have gotten on too late. And so I will say it is harder now to launch on Amazon, and that's just the truth of at one point, I feel like it was kind of, we called it the gold rush the other day we were talking is where you could just launch and everything would sell and it was kind of like you couldn't lose. And so I would say you have to be way more strategic with how you're positioning yourself, what you're selling and thinking through when you're first getting on Amazon and adding new products onto Amazon. But I will say what we are seeing a lot more, and the proof is in the pudding on Amazon, is that it's all about brands and it's about creating opportunities not just to sell a single off product, one product, but to create a cohesive amount of products that can sell under a brand.

And so I think through Amazon, they've released a lot of tools over the last three to four years where traditionally they didn't really care about brands, they just cared about selling stuff, selling products, but they realized that for them, the long game is about creating opportunities for sellers. And so they've been investing heavily in the ability to push brands. And so we're seeing that a lot more. And if you just look at the growth of Amazon, right? Amazon is still at a size that's kind of hard to wrap our minds around. They are so far ahead of anybody else in terms of online sales. It's scary and they continue to grow at a breakneck pace. So we're just looking Q3 of last year, Q4 data's not out yet, but Q3 was up 12 point a 5% year over year at $143 billion and then total 12 months trailing at the end of Q3, $554 billion, 10% increase year over year.

And that's even as we consider the covid wave and how e-commerce took off over that time period. Also, some interesting things about Amazon, if you look at the way they count revenue, they now sell more products to their third party marketplace, which is where OMG really comes in. As we're working with brands and sellers that have their products on Amazon, it's mostly through the third party marketplace. What's interesting is the way Amazon has to count that revenue according to Gap, the generally accepted accounting principles, they can only count their take of that revenue. So if I sell a hundred dollars widget on Amazon through the marketplace, Amazon's take is say 10%, they count $10 of that towards their total sales. The other 90 does not get counted towards Amazon sales, but that's still a hundred dollars sale that no other retailer got. Amazon. Got it.

So that's one of those interesting things where the numbers and Amazon's something like 50, 60% third party marketplace, those numbers are an order of magnitude bigger than what they look like because of those accounting principles. I'm going to be honest, I didn't know that. Yeah, yeah, it's interesting. It's pretty crazy. So Amazon continues to grow, so the opportunities are there more tools like Trent said, it's just that you got to be better right now, right? You've got to move into that area where you are thinking a brand like a merchandiser, like the old school product developers like your p and gs and stuff. Even on a small scale, how do we build this brand experience even though we're going to leverage retailers, we got to think like a brand. And so really nothing is slowing down for Amazon. Also, it's kind of talking about some of the new online retailers that are popping up, some of the Chinese retailers like Shein and Temu, anybody using Shein and Temu, you hear people talking about that.

My wife has dabbled. You have younger kids not buying stuff online necessarily. Our stocking stuffers were kind of sponsored by Tbu this year, if I'm very honest. It was our first purchase from there and we did one and we haven't done anything since then. But we got a lot of modeling, clay modeling clay. Kids love art supplies, and we got a lot of art supplies. So we're on sort of different ends of the spectrum, but also overlapping. So you've got five kids now, which is insane. All under the age of oldest just turned seven. Wow. Five kids under the age of seven, so that's insane. My wife and I have eight from a pretty broad range, seven to 21. So our older kids are teenagers. They like to shop on Shein, right? I've never been on Shein cheap prices and interesting, a lot of fashion related stuff.

Temu is also a lot of fashion. Co-founder Chris Brewer is buying some stuff on Temu and showing it's just for fun. And what's interesting though, and I saw an expert talk about this recently, they're not so much concerned about, those brands probably aren't eating into Amazon's market share. They're probably eating more into market share of other apparel focused retailers. So maybe even some of the traditional brick and mortar retailers that continue to struggle or other online retailers, but likely they're not eating into Amazon's market share too much. Or if they are, it is imperceivable, you can't see it in the data, which is interesting. My take on not Temu is their shipping is interesting because it all comes just shoved in a bag and half of it's kind of damaged. It takes a while too. It takes a while a little longer. And so I think there will always be more growth in Amazon in the sense of the quality control is there that actually, I mean we were looking at the numbers earlier and was it Amazon is now bigger by parcel number than FedEx and US, PSPS and UPS.

Yeah. So I mean they deliver more packages than the delivery companies, which is crazy. So that gives them a real edge moving forward as well. And then just anecdotally, this holiday season, we host a small group at our church, and so I was just talking to a lot of younger couples and we were just talking to 'em about, Hey, what's your shopping pattern? I have a hard time turning off the marketer in me, and so I'm always doing market research. Yeah, I dunno. So I'm like, Hey, did you buy online or in store? Most everybody bought online and there were so many people, even younger couples in their twenties that said, I just bought everything on Amazon. I didn't ask them. They just made a point of saying that I bought everything on Amazon. That's where my parents work. A lot of people, they just shop.

Everything's on Amazon. Yeah, I think, well one, did you actually buy your gifts or did you have someone buy your gifts for Yeah, I outsourced that. Actually, no, my wife Brittany, she loves to buy gifts and so I just buy for her and I did not buy for her from Amazon. I bought from the retailers knight, from Nike and from Birkenstock and a couple other things. But yeah, I did not actually, you know what? All our kids' gifts came from Amazon and I would say I think we did one, my son got a electric dirt bike that came from Walmart, but mine for my wife all came also. I did not all from actually the stores. Interesting. We did some pans. Shout out to Caraway. Caraway. Dude, that is an awesome brand. They're doing some amazing things. We did some caraway pans and then also a jacket for her and those came from directly from the D two C.

Super interesting. And so kind of last point on all of this is just you need to be thinking thoughtfully, thinking thoughtfully. You need to be thoughtful about your approach to Amazon in that if you're doing really well from a branding standpoint and you're selling products D two C, someone is going to be profiting off your brand on Amazon and that should be you. But other people are going to be popping up. We saw this with Boom by Cindy Joseph. Someone's either going to buy your actual products and try to sell it on Amazon, even if you try to squash that it's going to happen some or they're going to build a knockoff and try to cap and bid on your brand name and stuff like that on Amazon, they're going to try to capitalize on that. So you got to have an Amazon strategy of some sort.

And I would also say some people think just because the same strategy doesn't have to be applied to your TTC to Amazon. And so what we see is a lot of companies will come in and they just put every product they have from their store on their Amazon store and they're like, eh. And for me, like, okay, you know what? You want to focus on D two C, that's fine, but there's a lot of branded search on Amazon. Okay, let's capture it with, let's get some of your bestsellers on there. We're not going to capitalize on everything you have from your D two C, but let's make sure that your customers who are going to be searching for you on Amazon are able to find your product and it's going towards you and not one of your competitors. Yeah, I love that. And so having that merchandising strategy, and that's ultimately what it comes down to is success on Amazon is part advertised.

We're going to talk about that in a second. You really can't grow on Amazon in any meaningful way without some advertising strategy. If you think about the way the search engine results pages look in Amazon, a lot of those are 30, 40, 50% ads. Those placements are ads. So really got to pay to play as far as that goes. It is merchandising. So how is my product showing up on the shelf from product photography to can I make sense of this product to the actual product detail page and understanding who it's for, what it does, why I should want it. And then it's also, it's part branding and storytelling that goes into that product detail page as well. And some on ads, which we'll talk about some formats that lend themselves well to storytelling. And then it's a little bit SEO, we're doing some things to try to get our products to show up to the right people at the right time.

I would say a lot of SEO, it's a lot of SEO. Yeah. And that all that work can be done in the fourth. Usually that work is done when you're building those brands out and you're building those product detail pages out. But I think a lot of people, they get excited about launching products and the work in the back backend of making sure you even go into your storefront or your a plus content, taking those keywords, putting those on the backend of the images just so that relevancy score for Amazon gets connected to those products. I think again, some of it's not as sexy as getting in and advertising. I'm talking about how advertising is. My wife would be like, what are you talking about? For us, advertising is fun, is sexy, but the SEO is so important, especially because Amazon is trying to really connect that product to the right customer.

They want to make a sale, they make more money. And really, to clarify my point of view on that, SEO is extremely important. Cool thing is some of those other pieces all feed into it. So the right ad strategy increases the volume and that can help with SEO, the right merchandising and storytelling that's going to increase your conversion rate, which feeds into SEO, but you have to think about it all strategically and you got to execute on all of it or you're going to be hitting some snags. And really, let's actually pivot to advertising real quick and we'll talk more about branding potentially in a minute. So some new things coming out, there's a vertical video on sponsored brand video that's coming out right now. And so for those that don't know what sponsored brand video is, it used to be called video in search ads because as you perform a search on Amazon, whether it's on a mobile device or desktop, you're going to see ads that are video based.

Usually they've got a listing next to it, under it, beside it, whatever, and a video with the sound off. Great experience for customers. I see this a lot in the pet space, but now it's really prolific across all categories, good shopping experience. It's one of those ways to like, hey, this would be kind of cool if I was in a store, if I was looking at these products, can I see this one in action? Can I see a demonstration here? But those have historically been more wide screen or whatever, or 16 by nine or whatever. If you had a vertical video, which for me, I've always was conditioned, never take a vertical video, but now everything's viewed on a phone, so vertical videos are not bad. Historically you'd have to take it and reformat it and you would have pillars on the right and left side.

It just didn't look as clean. But now what they're doing is they've kind of stacked it in such a way where your vertical video shows on the left and then you have the option to put one or two products on the right. So it looks very clean. And for me, what I'm really excited about is a lot of what you get from your users, so your user generated content is going to be vertical video. They pull out their iPhone, they shoot their little video, say, Hey, this product's great, I just got it in. Or they do their unboxing. You can now use that content really easy. Totally. And yeah, vertical video, I would argue most brands have more vertical video content than anything else. If you look at, we're trying to scale on tiktoks to a certain degree, but also Instagram reels and YouTube shorts.

And so vertical video is kind of the flavor of the day. It is funny though, I noticed this the other day too, just a little side note, I was shooting video. When we do family get togethers and stuff, I take pictures, a lot of video. I took photography in high school. I always been kind of passionate about photography, amateur level stuff, but I would always shoot video in landscape mode. Always. Yeah, always. And I remember hearing my sister-in-law was like, you don't ever do vertical videos, do you? And I was like, well, why should, that's wrong, isn't it? I didn't actually think about that out loud, but that's just the way I've been conditioned. That's the way you shoot video. But yeah, it's, we all have vertical video and it's the flavor of the day. And so now we can put that to use in sponsor brand video.

And what's cool is that if we look at what ads work the best on Amazon sponsored product ads, those are the listing ads. The ads, the normal shopper doesn't even know their ads. I talk to people when people ask me what I do and stuff I show them, I dunno if it still makes sense or not, but a lot of times you see the sponsored product ads in the search results, you don't even know it's an ad. So those are the most effective, but a really close second in a lot of cases, a sponsored brand video, those ads just crush it. They're often good at attracting new customers to your brand. They're a disruptor, they're a disruptor. You get in and you're looking through, say we're searching for, I dunno shoes, and you're looking through all these listings and all of a sudden there's something that, there's movement to it, there's sound.

It just captures a client's customer's attention. Just way easier than a historical gist sponsored. Yeah, if I know what I'm looking for, I know exactly what I'm looking for. I may not need the video. If I know the brand, I know the style, that's what I'm looking for, then kind of get out of my way. Let me find it. But if I'm kind of browsing, I want a moccasin or I want this type of button up shirt, whatever, and I don't really know what I want. Those videos, they're really helpful and that's why they're good new to brand. But what are we seeing with, or what are we hearing through our reps and through some connections vertical videos, how are they working? Well, honestly, I haven't seen one in the wild yet. Yeah, I was looking really hard for, I was looking too. I want to see these in action.

It's a limited use case, but our prediction is we're going to see a lot more of these this year. You're going to see a lot. And so I mean we're talking within the last, I think 30 days that these became available. And so I reached out to our Amazon specialist and said, Hey, have we seen any or have we implemented them? And so we've had two clients who have content that we are starting to implement, but we have not got to the point where they're actually live. But what they're claiming on Amazon, and again, everything's taken with a grain of salt. We're seeing about a 9% increase in click-through rate on average for these videos. And again, that's probably through their beta testing. So if you're at a one and then just to translate that, if you're at a 1% click-through rate, that's make you a 1.09, which is not insignificant, no, that can really help, especially if it's a high volume product, a lot of search volume there, then that can make a real difference.

And tie this back into the brand building again, this is another opportunity for someone to either land on your storefront, you can, if they click on a product, going to take to the product detail page just like your classic brand video or sponsor brand ad, but also it can lead to your storefront if they just click on the general ad itself. And so all of these opportunities are to send people to your storefront, which we can spend a day talking about the importance of a storefront because it's the only place that on Amazon that you're going to have where you're not competing against other people for ad space, there's no other competitors showing on your storefront. So you get somebody there and you have the ability to show them your whole catalog. And that's where that brand is really important. You have other products you can cross promote, you can show them what you have.

You can put a video content in there, you can talk about who you are, why you're selling. So it's super important that you're disrupting that list of just generic Amazon. You get that video, people click on it and hopefully they're going to be able to see and discover your brand as a whole. Yeah, and that's, again, you're kind of thinking about this from a, what was this, back in the old days when we were just shopping in store only and that experience by looking at the shelf, this allows you to bring some of that to life and allows you to really differentiate who you are. And as we look at storefront, and so you have to have an Amazon storefront. I have to be brand registered to use this, but one thing that, one of the myths we like to bust as we're looking at, hey, you need an Amazon strategy, is a lot of people say, Hey, when you saw an Amazon, it's not your customer, Amazon's customer.

And while there's a degree of truth to that scenario, I go to Best Buy some not that much, but I like to browse it. I like tech, I like gadgets, I like to walk around and stuff. I don't know the last time I've been to Best Buy, really? Yeah, it's been a long time. So if I go into the Apple store within a store, the Apple experience inside of Best Buy, whose customer am I at that point? If I buy some Apple stuff, my Apple's customer or my Best Buy's customer, the real answer is both, right? I, I'm buying from both, but I specifically want to buy Apple because of what Apple has done with their branding and the experience and I've got all Apple products. And so I'm an Apple customer, I bought it at Best Buy, but I'm an Apple customer. The same can be true inside of Amazon.

We were talking about a couple brands earlier that have done this really, really well. Anchor A-N-K-E-R really launched on Amazon. So if you need a charger, you need some of those peripheral things to help charge all your devices. They're certified, they're safe, they're really, really good. So I always tell people, Hey, if you're going to buy a replacement charger, either buy Apple Brand or buy Anchor, but anchors really, they're built on Amazon, largely a simple, modern is another one, Tumblrs and different drinkware and some of it's sports related and stuff. Awesome, awesome brand here in the Midwest, based in Oklahoma City, basically launched on Amazon. But they've got a real brand as you look at it. That's something you want to tell people, Hey, this is a simple modern mug, or Hey, I buy Anchor products. And I think one of the differences, you know, have a real brand when someone says, Hey, I buy Anchor, just buy Anchor when you don't have a brand is when someone's like, I bought this thing.

It's on Amazon. You go on Amazon, where Amazon is more important than the brand, that's when you know really don't have a brand. You're just selling on Amazon for sure. And so sponsor brand video, vertical video plays into this allows you to leverage all those video assets that you have and really lead into what we believe is that the overarching trend over the last several years. And it's going to continue. Those that win those really succeed are building brands on Amazon. This is going to help you do that. Now, this next thing I'm really geeking out about, we'll see, we'll see what happens is very early, we can't even test this yet, but Trenton talk about the shop in Facebook, and I don't even know actually what the real name is there. We saw our buddy Jeffrey Cohen from Amazon talking this, where now there's the integration between Facebook and Amazon.

But what does this allow Trenton? Well, I'll say this. When I first started working on the Amazon platform, their main goal was to never let anybody ever leave Amazon or do anything connected to any data, nothing, just all self-contained within Amazon. What walled Garden to the extreme. Yeah. But over the years we've seen more and more like Buy With Prime is being used on D two C sites. And so what this is is it's the ability to stay within either Facebook or Instagram and you can buy utilizing, you connect your Amazon account to your social media platform. And so if I'm scrolling on Instagram and I see that anchor or simple model bottom, that Tumblr that I really, I was like, ah, thinking about it, I can purchase that Tumblr straight through Instagram by just clicking on it and it'll give you your basic information.

It gives you price, it gives you your relative shipping date. I think there's some information that they're trying to figure out there. It's still very early in beta, but I can literally just click on it, buy it, and never leave the Instagram app, which is for me mind blowing that they're doing this because I never thought that was going to be the case. But this is going to hopefully, again, we're very early in on this, it's going to enable a lot of our client or a lot of our clients to be able to, one, to utilize and Instagram utilize meta to be able to push their products into such a new way into new customers. Well, new customers in the sense of they have maybe a following on Instagram that not connecting to their Amazon account, but you know what? They see 'em discover and they never have to leave that app to make that purchase.

So you're just taking that barrier down. So it's pretty exciting. And Facebook and some of the platforms, similar to what you just said about Amazon, they don't want you to leave either. They want you to stay within that platform, spend more time on Facebook and Instagram. And so this is going to lower friction and make it really easy just to buy stuff as you discover it, as you see it on the social platforms and connect it to Amazon. What's really interesting about this is what are the modes we like to shop in? Well, if I know either exactly the product I'm looking for, so I know that I need to buy, it's super cold here right now. I was looking at gloves, swimming on a ski trip and some other things. So I'm looking for gloves. If I know what I'm looking for or I know the problem I'm trying to solve, I'm probably searching, right?

I'm searching on Amazon, I'm searching on Google, I'm searching and trying to find it if I don't really know, but I'm kind of like I'm itching to buy some new clothes or whatever. I'm more like in this exploration type mode. And that's when Amazon or other social platform, I'm sorry, Facebook or other social platforms, they know like, Hey, I'm going to start showing you stuff and start suggesting stuff. And so if I can discover it and buy it right away on Facebook through Amazon where I trust Amazon, I trust the return policy, all of that is established. It's going to be a game changer. Now, whether this iteration actually works or not is TBD, but it seems like a lot of things are in the right place because this whole buy on social, social shopping is not new. Facebook tried to do something similar to this a few years ago where you could just buy and check out on Facebook, but it wasn't with Amazon.

And so I think this will be really interesting to see how this plays out. Yeah, it's going to be, I think, well, one, we don't have access to this yet. We don't sure how it's going to work, but it's something to continue to watch for because I do think as soon as this is available, testing just straight off for our clients will be super interesting. And those data points will be for me, and I don't know how they're going to report on it yet or anything like that, but I'm interested to see how well it does. And right now it's all one P, meaning it's all products that Amazon has purchased wholesale and they're selling directly. So sold by Amazon, not third party marketplace products. But you got to believe, and I say this with a pretty high degree of confidence, even though I didn't hear this, is that if it goes well, this is going to be opened up to a broader audience.

They want to make more sales. Yeah, absolutely. They're going to open that up for sure. Facebook wants the ad revenue. Amazon wants to make sales. So what are a couple of the other trends here as we're kind of running out of time trend, but what are a few of the other trends you're excited about on Amazon or excited to see released or really gained steam this year? Yeah, I think we come back again to that brand building experience. And what they're doing is more and more self-serve ads are being released on Seller Central. And so for me, sponsored TV ads historically, what was it, 30 grand? I think Amazon, when they first released sponsored TV ads, you had a minimum of 15 KA month was what we'd always heard. But for a certain number of months, that's what you had to spend to even test it.

And we had clients testing that and was, they never had a great experience. It's not bad. That's a chunk. You're trying something new. You're like, I don't really know how this is going to report. I don't really know how this is going to play out, but I got to spend a minimum of say, 30 to 45 grand. That's a lot. Yeah. So the commitment barrier is down. You can literally get on seller central now you can pick your, it's all CPM, your bids for CPM. And so the ability, what I'm seeing on Amazon is saying, Hey, do you know what? We can push this brand and we can push it through at higher levels. And so get people more in that discovery phase and bring them, because Amazon, again, it was always just, you went to Amazon, you were ready to buy. Yep, yep. You weren't necessarily, I know what I'm looking for, I'm searching, I'm getting ready to search.

Yep. Amazon's in a tremendous product search engine. You might have a couple options that you're thinking through, but you know what you're buying. And now we have the ability to say, you know what? We can reach customers before they even know what our product is and start pushing this at a higher level. And so really excited for the opportunities to come in the next couple of years of not necessarily just the demand side, but let's grow our brand. It's awareness through the opportunities, because historically we've to do that through YouTube, and then we'd have to do that also through Google to Amazon. But then again, that was always just kind of, it works, but again, those always don't jive. And so the ability not a direct connection. And those are still two areas like Google and Amazon, and a couple interesting things there. One, Amazon is Google's biggest advertiser, and nobody spends more money on pay-per-click than Amazon.

And Google is Amazon's number one source of traffic, but they don't like to share data with each. It's a catch each. It's a catch between two frenemies. Sure, frenemies. But yeah, it's so well put, right? The tried and true with Amazon is all demand capture where we're dependent on some other external factors driving demand for our product or demand for our category. And then we're just capturing that demand where really I think the brands as they grow and move into the future, and what Amazon certainly wants is some demand generation. Now there's a limit there. There's a point where demand generation can get wildly inefficient and wildly unproductive. And so that is one mindset you got to bring to this. If I'm doing sponsored TV ads or if I'm doing Amazon DSP or I'm trying to grow, go a little bit higher in the funnel to more that awareness stage.

You got to be careful. You got to experiment. You got to test with small budgets small enough to not be worried about losses not as easy, it's not like sponsored product ads, but Amazon is motivated to do this. You as a branch be motivated to do this. How can we get the right mix of demand generation and demand capture? That's where we're going to build this constantly growing demand for our brand and this flywheel that's going to really propel us into the future. It's definitely a balancing act. And so I think also for looking at that, for me also understanding Amazon posts. And so they've invested, I mean when posts first came out, what is an Amazon post for those? No, no. So it's like a brand, think of Instagram, it's like a brand feed. So you go there, you can make a post, connect your products to it.

It has an image, but also just a caption. And so you go there and you can discover it. It's more about the social side of your products and you can go to the storefront and the last option on that storefront usually is post, you click on it and you'll go to that brand feed. But when they first released this, it was really limited data, little more information. I was like, this isn't going to last. But over the last two years, they've released more information, they've released more options. And so what we're seeing is like, okay, the posts are not going away. They're still free. At some point they'll probably be some paid aspect of posts, but we were also ability to push video on post now or have the ability to really utilize these in such a way to grow a brand. And so utilizing that sponsor TV post, making sure your a plus content is connected to your brand in a cohesive way where again, we're not selling just a single off product, but we're really building a brand following here.

Yeah, yeah. It's so good. And so looking at all this, we'll kind of wrap a bow on this, but I think that the larger trend is Amazon is coming up with more tools, more ways to increase the amount of products that people are willing to buy, but they're also seeing that they're really supporting and helping good brands is how they succeed. And one analogy to maybe think about, we go to trade shows, some in our industry and we display and put up a booth and stuff like that. It's one thing to kind of have a booth at a trade show because there's demand and there's traffic there that the trade show has generated, but there's so much more you can do than just have a booth. And I think that's the way a lot of people are on Amazon. They have a product listing, so they've got a booth, but they need to be doing other things.

So what we try to do or what we see other people do successfully is like, okay, we got our booth. We're sending people out to talk and mingle. So we got people out to bring 'em in, reps and other people to bring people in. We're putting stuff in trade show bags, we're putting up displays and banners and we're showing videos. We're doing all kinds of stuff to find the right person who's there to come in and become interested in our services. And so I think there's going to be more ways to do that all contained within Amazon. So more tools to attract people to our products within Amazon. And we got to go beyond that some as well. And that's where we look at things like Google to Amazon and YouTube to Amazon and Facebook to Amazon. All of that is going to be getting better and there's going to be some new developments there as well.

So going to be exciting year. Amazon not slowing down anytime soon. Any parting words of wisdom? Trenton? I have a very, very important parting word. Awesome. And it's Happy Birthday. Oh, happy. A little birdie told me that it might be Brett Curry's birthday. That's true. On the day of recording, it is my birthday. 72. Yeah, my kids did these balloons for me. And the kids always like to exaggerate like you're 5,127 years old today, which is a fun number. So that was really cool. But I'm actually 44 today. So 44 today. Alright, feeling great man. Feeling great. Feeling full of energy. 44 and thriving. Thanks dude. And so I hope you enjoyed this. Hey, if you do need help with Amazon, you're looking at like, Hey, my strategy on Amazon is probably not what it should be, but you do have some traction, you have a brand and you're doing multiple seven figures. We would love to talk to you at OMG Commerce and if you're looking at that Amazon strategy, it's probably going to be this guy helping you map that out and at least talk through that. So with that, Trenton, thanks for coming on, man. We'll have to do this a little more consistently, but excited about Amazon this year. I'm excited. Awesome. Thanks man. Looking forward to next time

I.

Episode 268
:
Rabah Rahil - FERMAT Commerce

A Better Framework for Using AI + Leveling Up the Customer Journey

I love this episode. 

Not just because my guest, Rabah Rahil, is a super smart dude with an eye for fashion.

I love it because we tackle two of the biggest issues facing brands, agencies, and developers in the DTC space:

  • How to think about and utilize AI for better results (especially if you’ve resisted it a bit).
  • How to evolve the customer shopping experience to wow customers and drive better conversion rates.

If you’ve been somewhat bearish on AI or maybe just slow to experiment with it, perhaps you need a better framework.

Rabah lays out his framework by comparing AI to oil companies and how oil companies find land, drill for oil, and refine it for profit-producing products. 

It might not be clear right now, but this is a pretty accurate analogy for getting the most from AI.

We also talk about the social dilemmas of using AI in our daily lives. 

For example, if I use AI to write my wife a poem, does that count, or is it cheating? If I use AI to help me craft answers for a job interview, is that a sign I shouldn’t be hired or that I know how to utilize tools? Or does it depend? 

We also talk about a few of his favorite tools:

  • Gong(.io): A tool that Fermat now uses to analyze sales performance and run sales meetings. It’s a game changer in taking data from your CRM and delivering actionable insights and talking points. 
  • Riverside: The podcast recording tool that now has AI features that are awesome (and getting better all the time). 

Plus, we discuss some AI features masquerading as businesses. These will undoubtedly come crashing back to reality. 

On the customer journey side, we talk about how creating a cohesive experience that’s also customized at scale is the future of the DTC industry.

3 things have to be in alignment:

  1. The ad
  2. The post-click experience
  3. The offer

We talk about when and how this goes wrong and what to do.

And we throw in some fun 80s/90s references. 

Super fun. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording.

Show Notes:

Transcript:

Rabah:

I realized the way that AI fits into my life and I think into most people's life in its current iteration is that it's a multiplicative function. And so people think it's just going to build houses by itself. That's not how it works. But a way, if you find the data, so either you find the land or you have access to that land and you can put the right drill and analysis and framework over that land and then have a refinement mechanism to then generate value for the business, it is it all systems go

Brett:

Well. Hello and welcome to another edition of the e-Commerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today we've got a returning guest. This man is a legend in the DTC space. He knows data, he knows brands, he knows good fashion, he knows how to wear a killer ball cap, killer hat. I want to talk to him about his hat game in just a minute for those that are watching the video. And so we're going to talk about a couple of really big topics and I'm super excited about, we're going to talk about customer journey and where things are broken in the D two C industry and some thoughts, maybe a thesis you should adopt on how to improve the customer journey. We're also going to talk about AI because hey, everybody's talking about ai, right? But the reason we're going to talk about AI is because there's maybe a new or maybe some clarity we can bring to you that Robba can bring to you on that topic. And so my guest is we go way back. Love this guy. He is now the CMO of Vermont, which is a customer journey optimization platform that transforms clicks into conversions, which is a killer line. And I bet Robba had something to do with that. So my man, Robba, how you doing? Welcome to the show,

Rabah:

Brett. Thank you so much. And what a man, I need you to walk around with me all the time for those kinds of intros. I'm all pumped up, man.

Brett:

I think in another time, if I was a medieval Times guy, I could be a Harold. I think that's what they were called. They just walk around and talk like just here's Rob Ray Hill and he's the man. Anyway, I think I could do that. I can

Rabah:

Could totally definitely pull off the fit for sure, man. So great. Obviously a big fan of the show second time. So Achievement unlocked M just one of my favorite humans to jam with.

Brett:

Sweet. And so I teed it up so we can't leave people hanging. You're wearing a killer hat. I think I've seen another, maybe I saw saw Shaq, Nick Shaq wearing that hat too, but carte blanche on the hat. Tell me the scoop one. It's like an orange. It's got a real good vibe going

Rabah:

Here. This is my orange heater. I have another one back there. I just shout out Shaq. He put me onto the brand and I've just really loved what they've done. They're a little bit of a drop kind of vibe where they'll do drops and stuff like that. So there's a little bit of a scarcity vector and just Adam and Louis have been building, it's kind of one of those old jokes of 10 years in the making of an overnight success type of thing. They've been grinding, grinding, grinding, and now they're really seeing a lot of awesomeness from just great product, great branding, great customer experience. Yeah, so I actually just now, what was that? Yeah, black Friday, cyber Monday made the first actual apparel perch, so they, they're dipping into apparel now as well. So yeah, super, super fun. Super fun brand, great vibe, great experience.

Brett:

Carte blanche, and I'm saying that right? I've heard French, so check that out. Not a sponsor for the show, but doing cool things. And man, I tip my hat, no real pun intended there to anybody that's on it, anyone can work in the apparel space. The hats be like, it's just so hard. It's so hard to nail fashion and to get people to wear your stuff. And so they're doing it and that is pretty cool. So we're going to talk about customer journey in a minute. Really excited to dive into that. I'm a big fan of the way people shop and why they shop and how do we influence that and make that better. Let's talk AI a little bit because obviously this is not a new topic, but I think the real key is how are we going to use it and how do we make sense of this and how does this practically apply to our lives and to our businesses?

I think still everybody's still figuring it out, even those that really know, it's still figuring it out. And so I know for you, you kind told me before we hit record, you're not anti AI by any means, but just trying to figure it out and you feel like you had a pretty good working thesis. I was definitely in the same boat always watching and interested, but how much am I using it? I feel like I'm a little bit behind the curve there, but talk us through just a little bit of your AI perspective and then how you landed on this thesis.

Rabah:

So we actually got to do a little company hackathon, which is super awesome, I highly recommend, and there's a tweet on my feed in how we structured it. I think it can probably go sideways pretty quickly, but ours went really well. And so this hackathon, the whole point was to figure out ways to leverage chat GPT in the business. This got me to thinking, okay, how am I thinking of ai? Because like you said, I wasn't necessarily bearish on it, I just haven't figured, I hadn't figured out where it landed in the toolkit, what type of tool it was, et cetera. And so where I kind of ended up after pontificating a little bit landed on was almost like an analogy to an oil company. So the first thing you need is the data. And so the data being the land, so you need to find the land that's rich in resources or the ocean spot that's rich in resources.

And then the second stage is the actual analysis or framework. And that's again analogous to whether you're using a little drill, whether you're using fracking deep sea, how are you going to extract that value from the actual land? And then the third phase for me is kind of this refinement, okay, now that I have this crude value and resource, how do I refine it into actual gasoline or petrol to put it in the engine in my business to make impact? And yeah, what was really interesting is it kind of lines up as well if you think of that as well in terms of a value chain, right? So do I own the land? What is the frameworks or analysis or the drills that I can put on this land? And then do I have the ability to refine it to make business impact? And if you think back in, so I'm old, but back in the day when they found all this oil in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia just had the land.

They didn't have the actual way to get the oil out of the land, out of the ground, and they didn't have the ability to refine that oil. And so you can think of yourself as kind of if you're a company, you're sitting on all this data, but how do I extract it? And so what I've been really interested in is I think a lot of the AI hype was actually a head fake and pretty deteriorative to a lot of company's value because it just didn't, people were just shiny object syndrome, I need to have ai, I need to have ai. However. And so with that, I think there's a lot of, I don't mean this in a derogatory way, just in is where I think there's just a lot of features masquerading as businesses right now. So I think one of two things are going to happen.

One, those people are going to get rolled up into, so HubSpot just bought Clearbit. I think you're going to see kind of a rolling up of these features masquerading as businesses or you're going to see the businesses that have the land and the extraction tools actually use AI as the refinement mechanism. And so a perfect example of this for people that don't know, there's a really awesome, it's very expensive but super awesome called Gong, and basically your sales team is taking calls, blah, blah, blah. And Gong is internalizing all this data and using AI to surface either win rates or how much did one person talk then the other, it's almost grading calls. And so our VP of sales is actually now running our pipeline meetings from Gong, not Salesforce, not to say Salesforce will ever get abstracted away. Salesforce is kind of that the VCs love the term of system of record, super, super important, super valuable, but Gong is actually abstracting away Salesforce in that sense of we don't have to be in Salesforce anymore.

Our VP of sales is running the whole thing from Gong, which I find is absolutely incredible. Another one which we're actually using right now, Riverside, where Riverside has all this data because you're recording in it and now you get AI notes, you get chapter notes, you get AI clips, you get all these things that now it's becoming not only this refinement mechanism, well it's not only extracting the data from me, but now it's refining it. So now I can have all these little magic clips, I can edit the podcast in ways that is just super easy. And so the too long didn't read for me was I realized the way that AI fits into my life and I think into most people's life in its current iteration is that it's a multiplicative function. And so people think it's just going to build houses by itself.

That's not how it works. But a way, if you find the data, so either you find the land or you have access to that land and you can put the right drill and analysis and framework over that land and then have a refinement mechanism to then generate value for the business. It is, it's all systems go. And I've just been, when you find those prompts and those things, it can be a religious experience where you're like, holy crap, that is absolutely insane. But I don't think it replaces people. The person that's going to get replaced is going to get replaced by somebody that uses ai, not by ai.

Brett:

I really like that. And well said, I love that analogy of drilling for oil. And I think a lot of times we start with what can AI do for me? And that's not a bad place to start. Then you can work backwards. But then I think we don't work backwards sometimes. And so thinking about each of those steps, I would really love for AI to do this or what can AI do for me? But then we got to understand, okay, well where do I have data and what do I need to analyze and things like that. And so yeah, really powerful. And for me, I've just been experimenting with it more and finding even simple things. I love that gong example. I'm going to check that out. That's pretty crazy. But I think even just looking like I'm leading our sales group through the book Pitch Anything by Orrin KCL and really great book.

And so even looking at, instead I took good notes on the book, but just querying Chad GPT, I'm like, Hey, what were the points on this? Or what were the two chemicals in the brain that he talks about that are triggered that need to be triggered in a good sales process? And it's like it knows it and it spits back out and it's like, okay, cool. It's like my assistant right now is I'm working on these notes and of course is my ideas in terms of where I want it to go. And it's Warren klas you book, but chat GPT is kind of pulling things together, which is pretty sweet. So

Rabah:

Super spot on.

Brett:

Any insights from the hackathon? What came out of that and how did that work? So when I hear Hackathon, I think the movie, the Social Network where you're doing shots and staying up until 4:00 AM or all night,

Rabah:

Not that you got to remember, I'm old now, maybe my younger years. But yeah, so ultimately we had a few people or a few hubs. So we had San Francisco where we're headquartered people came to Austin, we had an Austin hub, we had an LA hub, we had a East coast hub in New York. And then we had a India hub where we have a lot of, so our VP of engineering and product is in the states and we have a few core engineers, but we're building out a pretty big engineering team in India. And then everybody would basically pitch their idea what's going to be the business impact, what's going to be the thesis, how did it work, show it off, and then what are the next steps for it? And so we originally, because this was where the thesis came from where it's like we have all of our clients in a Slack channel and then we have all of our sales calls and gong, how could we extract this data and then run whether it's a sentiment analysis stuff of, and so we ran into some headwinds in terms of some data extraction and stuff like that.

So then we ended up pivoting into an ad coherent score. And so what you can do is we built something and we can drop it actually in the show notes, it's on the chat GPT store, but ultimately you just upload a screenshot of the ad and then you upload a screenshot of the post-click experience, and then it'll just analyze the coherence score just based on six or seven different factors. It'll give you a coherence score on top of, it'll tell you a few things to improve here or there and something like that. So that's kind of where we landed, where it was actually pretty awesome. And again, when using the AI in a way that's very direct and meaningful, it becomes again that multiplicative function where it was like, man, this is actually a really awesome deliverable that you could take to either a client or a prospect saying, Hey, I looked at a few of your ads. The coherent score isn't really high that could be hurting your performance if this isn't on purpose, et cetera, et cetera. And so one of the ads actually we did was a favorite. So Sean Frank over at Ridge, huge, huge fans of the Ridge guys,

Brett:

Shout out. Shout out to Sean Frank and the crew. He is like my favorite follow on Twitter also about to record an episode with him. So legend,

Rabah:

I'm so jealous. He's a legend. He's in Austin, he won't ever hang out with me, Sean, if you were this hang out with me. He actually just launched luggage too. He's the consummate entrepreneur, man, doubt. He really gets it doubt. But they had a really beautiful Twitter ad with the Miami Dolphins Ridge, so they did an NFL collection, but when you click on it, it goes to the whole NFL collection, which is a gorgeous page, don't get me wrong, beautiful. There's no notes on the page. But my thesis was if that wasn't on purpose, there's definitely a reason. Maybe you have this showcase team and oh, you have NFL wallets and then I go and I have it, but I wonder how much better it would convert if you went from a Miami Dolphins ad to an actual Miami Dolphins homepage where it has the wallet front and center, maybe some upsells around that wallet that are peripherally related to the Miami Dolphins, et cetera.

And so that was kind of the thesis around the coherent score. We think of the customer journey essentially in three parts where you have the content or the creative or the ad, you have the post-click experience and you have the offer. And those are kind of the three pieces of anatomy, if you will, of the customer journey. And sometimes you can have an incredible ad, but it just doesn't get a ton of support from the post-click experience because it's a PDP maybe or you're sending 'em to the homepage. And so there can be either a disjointed experience or you just don't have the continuation in the storytelling and at best, the augmentation of the said storytelling where you got somebody to the party, but now there's nickelback playing, the beer is flat, the people aren't as attractive as you were hoping, and it becomes this very mismatched expectation to reality.

Brett:

Love that Nick is your landing page the equivalent of a party playing Nickelback. By the way, this is a quick side that we won't dwell here along, but why is Nickelback so hated? I don't actually know many Nickelback songs, but it's one of those things where you hear a couple rifts and you're like, I mean that's not that terrible man. Everybody loves to hate on Nickelback. So any idea, where did this vitriol towards Nickelback come from? It

Rabah:

Bubbled up in the zeitgeist. They just kind of became a bit of a cliche and they almost hit the pop music too on the nose where you're just like, I don't like it because you're a musician. I like it because you're using these psychological and biological kind of rhythms. So

Brett:

Maybe they're drifting away from the art and the passion. They're just falling a formula or something. It's a

Rabah:

Perfect almost analog to what we're talking about with the AI where it just didn't feel like they had character or passion or they weren't an artist. It was like a Milli Vanilli, but they actually made their music. The kids won't get that reference.

Brett:

It's so good. Milli Vanilli, man, I was a kid, but I was around in the Milli Vanilli age. They had some bangers when it came to light, man, they had some bangers. Yeah, blame it on the rain. Come on, look that up on YouTube. That still speaks. But they didn't sing it, they just, somebody else did.

Rabah:

I think that for me is where, especially in music, when you have insincere artists, it feels it's hard to get behind them. Dude,

Brett:

That's such a good example. And I honestly didn't know, I didn't know enough or care enough to research it, but I was like, why does everybody hate Nickelback? It's just funny to hate on Nickelback, but that totally

Rabah:

Makes sense. I think that definitely did happen. The impetus was I think the in sincerity and then they just became a mean, very similar to greed when you have a little bit of the cringe of the lead singers and stuff like that. But

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. Okay, cool. Which leads us to some interesting side notes on ai. And we were talking about this before we hit record. If we're going to lean into AI a little bit more, there almost has to be some renewed social contracts, so to speak. There's some agreements we make if we know that now AI is powering some of the things we do. So you want to kind of lay that out, what your thoughts are there and then lay out that specific scenario.

Rabah:

Yeah, so this is one I haven't yet landed on. I've landed on the problem space, but I have yet to suss it out because I can make compelling arguments on both sides. So ultimately the too long didn't read is one of the use cases I was thinking of. So I went to school for economics. In economics there's a term called utility. You can just think of it like positive outcome of the thing, which is a catchall phrase. And so if you were writing a poem to your partner, and the goal of that poem was to incite as much happiness and joy and love and excitement from these words, but you suck at writing poems, but you put a bunch of effort into it, but it still sucks. And you give it to your partner, your partner's like, oh, awesome, this is really bumbly, blah, blah, blah, blah, but you put a bunch of effort into it.

Thank you so much for doing this. However, you could put the same amount of effort. So again, economists love to say all things being equal. So all things being equal, you put the same amount of effort into that because you know exactly what your partner likes when you first met your anniversary, their heritage, their favorite song, and you feed all these really meaningful data points that you have collected using effort and thought and things of that nature into chat, GPT and then chat. GPT writes you this absolutely just tear jerking emotional meltdown style poem that you then give to your partner and they love you, they hug you, they kiss you, blah, blah, blah. But then you tell them that that was written or augmented by chat GBT, that would instantly take away from that feeling. And so I think there's just some things that need to happen in terms of the renegotiation of, again, those social contracts.

Because the two ways I see it, one, you don't pay people for, or the top paid people don't get paid for essentially output. They essentially get paid for the things they know that can generate set output. And so you don't compensate people at the highest level for time. You compensate them for output, and that output could take them a minute, you know what I mean? Because they have all this previous knowledge, whereas people that are on the lower end of the skillset or at a different part of their career, you're going to compensate them on time. And so that's the dichotomy where at what point, there's also a really good Greek mythology fable of thesis' ship. And so at what point is it not that ship anymore, but it is in thought but not in actual resources and stuff. And so that's where I'm landing where I don't know, because at the same time, if you even flip it to a business context, if you came to me and you're like, Hey, I have Brett Curry's awesome store and we sell these incredible gummies, Raba, I want you to create an annual plan for me.

I want you to do all this stuff, and I use chat GPT to create this incredible annual plan. I'm putting the nuance in it, I'm doing this, and then I give it to you and you're paying me $20,000 for it. And I'm like, oh, but I actually, I created it in AI and you would instantly be pissed off, even though that

Brett:

Was, I'm totally pissed. I want to refund it at some point,

Rabah:

Even though agnostic of the outcome, which is bananas because you should be indexed on the outcome, not necessarily the way you get there. And so it feels a bit like magic. I don't know if anybody's ever, any of your listeners ever done magic, but the worst thing you can do is reveal the trick.

Brett:

Absolutely. That's it. Then you feel that's

Rabah:

All. Then you

Brett:

Feel gypped. Yeah, then it's no longer fun. Such a good example.

Rabah:

So I don't know where it lands, but you said something really interesting as well where it's almost that almost every person that's written a book has an editor. So at what point does the editor take ownership of, does that make sense? Totally makes

Brett:

Sense.

Rabah:

Yeah. If there's more than 51% of edits, does that editor now become the author? And so it just gets into these very interesting quagmires intellectually that candidly, I don't have the answer to, but I find very invigorating to talk about because they are so complex but simple. It's

Brett:

Super interesting and it's something we're going to have to figure out as we go. But I love that example of the poem for your significant other because what's more emotional or what has strikes that chord? And there may be some people that are like, Hey, you put in a ton of effort to this, and yes, you get a little help from Chad g pt, so I'm thrilled you remembered our anniversary and you remember where we met and you remember all these details. That's enough for me. Other people are going to be like, Ew, ai. Should I fall in love with chat GPT now? Should I be going on a date with them? Or it reminds me of the movie, I dunno if you ever saw it, but it's called Roxanne with Steve Martin. It's like an eighties movie.

Rabah:

Oh, I love Steve Martin. No, it's so good.

Brett:

So it's a great movie. So Steve Martin, he's this character with, he's got a giant nose, and so he's not super attractive, but he's in love with Darryl H, but he's super good with words. And then there's this guy who plays slider, I think in the movie Top Guns, like real buff rip guy or whatever. And so Steve Martin's giving slider, whatever his character's name is in Roxane, he's given him all the words to say, giving him poems and stuff. So he's reciting that to Darryl, Hannah's character, and she falls in love with him, but then she realize it's Steve Martin and then they fall anyway, but it's like, okay, yeah, there's some elements of that maybe I don't want you as either a spouse or an employee, maybe I just want you at gpt. Anyway, I noticed this too. We were talking about this, but we hire a Google specialists and Amazon specialists, and one of the steps in the hiring process is we give them an exercise where we say, Hey, this is a fake brand. These are some fake problems and opportunities for this brand. What would you do? And two came through my desk in pretty rapid extinction. I was like, this is chat GPT, right?

You look at the answers to those questions and it's like every answer was three paragraphs. Every answer was like, first paragraph was firstly this, secondly, thirdly, and using words, we'd have to rectify this. I'm like, there's no way. There's no way this person wrote that. And so then I didn't want to read the rest of it. I was angry. But if someone had put their own personality into it and they needed help with a specific sentence or a specific thing that I'm okay with, I even had someone on our team who was like, I'm having trouble articulating this thing. So I had chat GBT help me, and I didn't want to read it. I was like, was this you? Is this the machine? Anyway, so it definitely creates some conundrums for sure.

Rabah:

Yeah, it's so interesting because I feel like it gets to such a core part of the human experience where we say we care about outcomes and we index on outcomes rightfully, but there's also a certain aspect of the paths you take to get to that outcome really matter. And so it is just such a fascinating for me because candidly, I don't know the answer. If delight in making my partner super happy is really what I'm indexed on, then why wouldn't I? For example, I did 30 days in Europe, a big vision quest in Europe, and I used 90%, 90 to 95% of chat GPT to plan that whole trip for me where I said, Hey, I am leaving, leaving from Austin, Texas on X date. I want to be back on Y date. I care about history, I care about culture, food, nice hotels, et cetera.

You put in all your parameters and stuff, and I want you to make me the easiest, most efficient pathway. And it basically made me this beautiful loop across Europe that would've taken me forever. And then you can also have these knock on effects of like, okay, cool. And then by city, I was like, what are the best hotels? What's the best areas? What are the best restaurants? What are photographic spots? I should go see? What are points of interest, blah, blah, blah. And you get all this and it's man, it's incredibly, incredibly compelling. And so I think the only big worry I have is there is a huge opportunity for manipulative arbitrage. And I think that is something that is a little bit societally scary for me, where you can get people that have usually needed to acquire X or Y or Z skills that have been previously constrained by time, where it's like you just had to put in the time to get these skills and now you can get to a matrix level where now I know iris junk boxing and jiujitsu and stuff.

So that's the only thing that, but at the end of the day, I don't know, the only thing you can do is be a good person and hopefully you can put the good karma in the balance of beating out the bad karma. But that is one thing that worries me a little bit, where you're seeing some crazy scamming stuff, especially with kind of older people where they're able to kind of spoof the voices of their, that's terrible, man. Still old people, people and stuff. It's horrible. But again, technology more or less is agnostic where it's amoral totally. You can take a PR hammer and build a house or you can hurt somebody with it.

Brett:

And I do think we'll figure it out. And maybe a quick takeaway that just came out this discussion is use ai, but don't be nickelback with ai, right? Use AI to be authentic, to bring out your authentic self, to just enhance your work, multiply to make your work better. Don't use AI just to do the work for you because then you're going to be the nickelback in your industry and nobody wants that. And so because I think this works, if you use physical products, would my wife want me to go make her a purse or go make her a ring or just wants me to buy one? She's want me to buy one, right? I'm actually good with words. I like words, and so I would want to write her something, but if she found out that, man, I was stuck with this thing and so I had AI kind of help me, she'd probably be okay with it. So it's like, we'll figure this out as we go, but if we're just using AI to multiply and bring out our authentic self, then I think we're moving on the right path. So interesting stuff. Appreciate you bringing your perspective, love talking about ai. Any final thoughts on that? Otherwise I want to transfer to the shopper journey.

Rabah:

No, I will just say though, again, not to beat a dead horse, but the people that are not embracing AI and finding ways to integrate it into their workflows will get replaced by people that do. Because what you're finding is really smart, people can use ai. So for example, going back to that consulting analogy, creating that annual plan used to be a huge lift, monumental. And now if you're a charismatic, awesome person, and you can deploy this, you can sit across three to five clients, especially if there's not even any executional work. And it's not like you're misrepresenting anything because like you said, if you're just having this multiplicative function and now I can build out this whole annual plan, nuance it to the client, yada, yada, yada, now you're really, again, augmenting your output in ways that it's pretty transformative. Because Brett, I also fancy myself a little bit of a wordsmith, and every time I put it into ai, it is better. It never goes zero to one. I can't ever say, write me this article and it is better than what I wrote, but I can take a 90 to 95% done essay and put it into ai, and every time it's beat me, it's better, it's

Brett:

Better. It's a little

Rabah:

Scary. It's a little scary.

Brett:

It is. But that's a really good way to put it. Awesome. So I totally agree. You got to be using ai, experiment with it. You'll get better over time. You'll figure it out over time. So you just got to dive in. Let's talk about customer journey. This is something that we're both passionate about. I'm more on the ad side. You're kind of on the customer experience side, but where do you think as an industry, the D two C world is missing the boat? Where are we failing our customers and our shoppers with the shopper journey? I know you kind of laid out three things, the ad, the post-click experience and the offer, but any specifics there on where are we failing?

Rabah:

Yeah, I wouldn't say necessarily failing, but I think as stores get larger, you want to become more sophisticated in your offerings. And so being able to offer that, again, create a more cohesive customer journey, I think net is just going to be a better experience and generate more, not only value for the consumer, but also business impact, whether that be revenue, more retention, et cetera, et cetera. And so I think it's almost like corduroy, right? What's old is new again. And so you're seeing that, I don't want to use the P word like personalization. I'm not super into the quote personalization. I like to use the C word more of customization of, okay, we can use these data sets to then make a more customized journey that's going to allow for people to not only surface the products they want, but by doing that, by merchandising better, by putting the messaging in a way that's meaningful to them at their part, at their specific place.

In that journey, you're just going to get better results. And so I think what you're going to see, or at least that's the thesis at format and personally my thesis is you're going to see these bigger stores abstract away, kind of the main Shopify site. And so the way I've been explaining it to people is almost like a solar system where you have earth, earth being your Shopify store, your sales commerce store, what have you have a ton of returning revenue, you have a ton of brand equity, you don't want to mess with any of that. And now you can build these constellation sites around earth when people want to go explore. Because what we were talking about where I kind of bifurcate the customers into connoisseurs and explorers and a connoisseurs, I know my local pub, I know what the drink I like, I know the seat I, I know where the jukebox is and the music on the jukebox just get out of my way and let me give you money, which is great. But then you also have this explorer mindset, which is more of the growth and retention teams re-engagement teams. And this is more of like a tourist or traveler, I just landed in Vienna or Budapest,

Brett:

Prague, tell me about the neighborhood. Tell me about the bar. Tell me about this drink. Tell me what should I listen to on the jukebox guide me. I want the experience. Yeah,

Rabah:

Precisely. And so for the most part, these bigger stores are essentially handcuffed to either a PDP, A lander that takes forever to get built or a homepage. And I think you're going to see some unshackling of that where there's going to be some more sophistication, especially again when you overlay AI where one of the things that we're really interested in for kind of like a Q3 Q4 launch is being able to ingest, whether it's Klaviyo data or what have you, and be able to not send everybody to the same page where you can actually get almost like an Amazon homepage experience where everybody's Amazon homepage is different or the Facebook feed, like everybody's Facebook feed is totally customized to them. And so I think that's where it can get really interesting where you can start to ingest all this data, then you refine it, this customer, we want to either get more LTV out of this customer or a OV out of this customer, or we want them to get down this certain product path. How can we get them down that path? And you can have this more, I guess, set a different way. I think we're going to transition from broad soar to scalpel, and you're still going to have your broad soars, don't get me wrong, but totally

Brett:

Useful tool. Never get away from it.

Rabah:

Yeah, exactly. It's heavy to swing and it's very crude, right? You're just taking these big hacks where this scalpel, I can start to have these really precise surgeries to then unlock this customer value that I can then materialize in the business.

Brett:

Love that. And the analogy of the regular at the pub versus the tourist is such a good mental picture, but we have that all the time with new shoppers versus returning shoppers to our stores. And so Vermont's helping solve that. Can you give some use cases, some examples that, I know we can't talk about specific brands and things like that because we want to keep a close guard on what they're doing, but walk us through a couple of use cases that will bring this to life a little bit.

Rabah:

Yeah, definitely. So a few of 'em, one are kind of the high skew set, but also high segmentation kind of stores. So think of ball caps or a big clothing retail that have men, women, kids, things of that nature. And so being able to segment and filter that merchandising and that SKU set to the actual people, so you don't get the kind of department store vibe. You get more of this concierge feel of like, oh, Brett, I know you're this size. I know you like these colors and I know you like these cuts. Here's the merchandise that we can show for you. So almost that concierge curation shop that look kind of style. We also have really cool, we have a bunch of beauty brands that are really heavily leveraging quizzes, which isn't anything super, super new, but it's just really nice to again, have that filtration function where you can start to have that self merchandising in a way.

And then a lot of subscription. So being able to do things to push first order subscriptions, which is super holy grail. I don't even buy first order subscriptions. And so that's something where being able to give that testing velocity, we not only have the experiences, but we have experiments as well where you can test these different experiences against whether it's an advertorial, a quiz, a video shop, a hero shop, things of that nature. And so we've seen a ton of just really awesome stuff and really in supplements and apparel have been our biggest really home run hitting vectors. And then we're starting to expand out into other areas like, geez, not health and beauty, UPSs, health and beauty apparel, and I'm spacing on the other categories that we're penetrating. But yeah, so I mean ultimately either high SKU set or the ability to unshackle your growth team from the actual main Shopify site are really the big value vectors that we are currently pounding down. And then obviously the experimentation vector where being able to test whether it's shipping thresholds offers, et cetera, et cetera, at not only low lift in terms of expense to the company, but also the high velocity as well

Brett:

And protecting the core

Rabah:

Side of a hundred percent. Yeah, that's the main thing. You don't want to touch any of the brand equity or returning revenue for

Brett:

Sure. So I love that concierge angle and kind of that picture there. So in that environment, so it's a high skew count apparel brand. So I come in, I land on one of these satellite sites rather than on the core Shopify or BigCommerce or whatever site. So then I'm kind of led through a quiz where they find out my size and my preferences and things like that. And then now it's a curated shopping experience. Is that sort of how that goes?

Rabah:

Exactly. So that's one pathway. The other thing is being able to use your past purchases to then generate that shop or whether it's a Klaviyo, SMS, what have you, so almost like merge tags on steroids, but instead of merge tags, you're actually using the MER to identify different types of merchandising. That's going to be ideal for almost like dynamic product ads in a way where how they merchandise that ad inventory for you. That's what we're trying to do on the backend for a lot of these, especially again, that high skew count. And then there's also just the self kind of selection where the media buyer has X or Y or Z in the actual creative, and then being able to show those products on the post click experience. And then the tertiary thing is influencers. So you have the influencer ad and then the influencer now has this dedicated lander with their face, their recommendations, et cetera.

Again, you see the macro concept of coherence where I see this influencer, but then I don't see 'em on the page. What? That's weird. Or I see this product and purse on the page or handbag on the page, but now I'm on the homepage and all this is showing me is jackets or something. And so that disjointed journey I think is going to go away as people get more and more sophisticated. Because before it was just hard. You either had to either spin up a landing page, which again, if you're a smaller store, it's not a big deal. But as you get these bigger stores, again, nobody's allowed to touch the Shopify site or it takes two or three weeks because you're on Salesforce commerce or something. Nothing against Salesforce commerce. Tons of big people on there, but it's not configurable by any stretch of the imagination. You're submitting a sprint ticket or something like, can you change this color or this headline like it's 2024. You can't have your growth teams operating in a way that is, your website almost has hours type of thing.

Brett:

Super interesting. Yeah, I'm excited to continue to see use cases and see this work because it sounds like this is great for the first time shopper to really help give them a customized experience. It's great for different ad experiences and influencer. So there is that cohesion. And when I click on this ad and I land on the page, I feel like I'm in the right place. Exactly.

Rabah:

It

Brett:

Makes sense. I feel like, hey, this was designed for me, so that's great. But then it also sounds like then you can, returning customers could be like the pub visitor that's like, Hey, get out of my way. I know where I'm going, so I'll just use the main site. Or you could configure something custom for them too where it's like, Hey, I'm clicking on this Klaviyo link and now I'm going to my little shop. Almost. That's built for me, configured for me. Which would

Rabah:

Cool. Exactly. So that's the big thesis. That was the pitch that got me to come where we want to be that connected tissue between the content and the commerce. And then what gets really exciting is because right now we're really upmarket, but the kind of expansion plans for the TAM is essentially going down market where we can almost play in that ClickFunnels area where you're selling an info product or something where you just don't need can to kill a mosquito. I don't need this huge website. I just want landers that I can send people to. I hook up my Stripe account, blah, blah, blah. And so now we have this nice kind of barbell effect where we're eating the market from both sides.

Brett:

It's really cool, man. Really cool. Excited to watch the journey and the progress unfold. So people are listening to this, they're like, I got to check this out. I got to find out more. Where can they go to learn more? Yeah,

Rabah:

Just firm@commerce.com, F-E-R-M-A-T commerce.com. And then book a demo on there or just ping me on the Twitters if you have any questions. Me, Rashab Andress. I'm the two co-founders, super, super active on social. So you'll see us out in the streets

Brett:

And I'll link to your Twitter profile in the show notes, but for those that are listener on the go, they just want to check it out. What's your handle? Yeah, it's

Rabah:

Just my first and last name. So at Robert Rayhill. R-A-B-A-H-R-A-H-I-L. Yeah, just hit me up at me. Send me a dmm. If you feel like writing the lightning, chances of you getting a response are very, very low. But I try and respond. Let me rephrase that. The chances of you getting a timely response are very low, but I try and I'm actually going through right now a batch reply, so I appreciate all the love. I just, you're

Brett:

A popular guy, man. People are hitting you up on the social,

Rabah:

It's a jungle. My dms and dms and emails not my strong seat. I need some ai. There

Brett:

Got to be something there. So check him out on the socials, reach out on the website for the demo. But Rob, super fun, man. I think you've earned round three whenever that is.

Rabah:

Let's go

Brett:

Whenever that makes sense.

Rabah:

And then I got to do the shameless plug. We just started Equation of excellence. So you have to come on now. This is the arm

Brett:

Twisting a new pod and it's equation of excellence. Yes.

Rabah:

So everything will be kind of math puns because of the company was named after a super famous mathematician. So you know how I like my puns.

Brett:

I'm not sure that super famous and mathematician go together. Super famous in the math world. But anyway, I actually love math too. So equation of excellence. I'm there, man. Just let me know when. But yeah, brother, appreciate it. You killed it and can't wait to see what's next for you.

Rabah:

You're the best, Brett. You are just not only one of the best humans but incredible hosts. And I need to work on my sultry radio voice. I feel. Dude, you good voice. Whatever you're doing over there. I need the secrets, man. You sounding good. N NPR R voice over there, killing

Brett:

It. NPR. Hopefully not putting people to sleep, but yeah, it's good. So hey man, we covered a wide range of topics from AI to Nickelback to eighties pop culture movies and stuff. This was super good. So

Rabah:

Even snuck in a Milli Vanilli reference. Milli

Brett:

Vanil man, that was the first on the show and I'm so excited. So awesome, Rob. Thanks man. Looking forward to next time. You're the

Rabah:

Best, Brett. Thanks so much, brother.

Brett:

Absolutely. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We love to hear your feedback on the show. Love that review on iTunes or wherever you listen. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

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.
View all episodes
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] ...

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
Episode 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.