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Accelerate your eCommerce Growth

An eCommerce Podcast Hosted by Brett Curry

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

Ezra Firestone’s Top 7 eCommerce Growth Strategies for 2022

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

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

Mentioned in this Episode:

Ezra Firestone

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram

   - Twitter

   - Facebook


BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

oVertone

Zipify Pages

Smart Marketer

Blue Ribbon Mastermind

Klaviyo

Postscript

Attentive

Dan Kennedy

Jay Abraham

Native Deodorant

Northbeam

John Grimshaw

Molly Pittman

Train My Traffic Person

Transcript:

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

... Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

100%.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Exactly.

Ezra Firestone:

Selling them stuff is also serving them.

Brett Curry:

Because people want to buy stuff, right?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Why did I buy this?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

(singing)

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Which is amazing. Amazing.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Big time.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Is that right? Oh, look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

Wait.

Brett Curry:

Look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Email. Email.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

It's crazy.

Ezra Firestone:

And nobody-

Brett Curry:

Email touches 36% of all purchases through Boom.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

What's that?

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

That creates your product roadmap.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

It's hard to do, yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Boomstick.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Not worth it. Not worth the effort.

Ezra Firestone:

Just spend your energy acquiring more customers.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

People get pretty hot on-

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

They do. People like it.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

You've missed the point here.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Immediately. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

...

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

Nightmare.

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

I do. I need ...

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

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

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

It's awesome, dude.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

Thank y'all.

Brett Curry:

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

Ezra Firestone:

Talk soon.




Disruptive Innovation in Marketing with Miki Agrawal
2
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Miki Agrawal

Disruptive Innovation in Marketing with Miki Agrawal

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.

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

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

She’s also warm and kind and FUN. 

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

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

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

Here’s a look at what we cover:

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

Mentioned in This Episode:

Miki Agrawal

   - Website

   - Instagram

   - Link Tree to Resources


TUSHY

   - Website

   - Instagram


Thinx

   - Website

   - Instagram


Wild

   - Website

   - Instagram


“Do Cool Sh*t” by Miki Agrawal


“Disrupt-Her” by Miki Agrawal


“Zero To $100 Million” on Mindvalley

Cap Con 5
Ryan Daniel Moran

Toto

“Funeral for a Tree” by TUSHY video on YouTube

Butt Con by TUSHY




Transcript:

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

I love it.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Irish triplets.

Brett:

Okay.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's insane.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

By "their vibes".

Brett:

That's awesome.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

That is crazy and amazing.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Unfathomable, yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yes, so true.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Amazing. And it's called WILD, correct?

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah. Nobody wants healthy pizza. That sounds cardboard.

Miki:

Exactly.

Brett:

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

Miki:

AB testing, literally like email, subject heading.

Brett:

I love that.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Fascinating.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It doesn't matter, yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yes.

Miki:

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

Brett:

You're like, this is amazing.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

None of that.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Patent pending.

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

They take up the whole fridge, exactly.

Miki:

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

Miki:

Hi, Stan.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

For sure.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Like the Bellagio fountains?

Miki:

Bellagio fountain.

Brett:

I got to see that, then.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's a curiosity play, yeah.

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's a healthy tension.

Miki:

A healthy tension, yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Nice. Royal flushes.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

They're so engaged.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Not yet.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

You get an insane press on it.

Miki:

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

Brett:

They said, "What are you doing?"

Miki:

What are you doing here?

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Yay. I was happy to be here.

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned in This Episode:

Nick Shackelford

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

Geek Out
   - Website

   - Events


Konstant Kreative

Structured Agency

Design Pickle

No Limit Creatives

Penji

Video Husky

Chubbies

Facebook Dynamic Creative

Josh Durham

Groove Life

Aligned Growth Management

Necklet

Monkey Learn Word Cloud

Luca + Danni

Northbeam

Triple Whale

James Van Elswyk



Transcript:

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

It was. It was Colorado.

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

[inaudible 00:09:22].

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

Okay.

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

Okay.

Brett:

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

Nick:

Oh, Konstant Kreatives. Sorry.

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Yeah.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Got it.

Nick:

Four and five might be skewed.

Brett:

Right.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Interesting.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Both fantastic tools.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

Yes.

Brett:

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

Nick:

Yes.

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Yeah.

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

Yeah. Totally.

Nick:

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

Brett:

Nice.

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Nick:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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




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

Crafting Irresistible Offers & Building Acquisition Funnels with Molly Pittman

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

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

Here's what we cover:

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


Mentioned in This Episode:

Molly Pittman

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram


Smart Marketer

Smart Marketer Podcast

Ezra Firestone

Traffic & Conversion Summit

John Grimshaw

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

“5 Makeup Tips For Older Women”

“The State Of Paid Ads In 2022”

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“Turning the Flywheel” by Jim Collins



Transcript:

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

What's up? What's up?

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

A decent amount of work.

Molly:

I'm kidding.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

He really is.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

"What do you need? I got it."

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Have more fun, y'all.

Brett:

And have more fun.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Well no, I just know your story.

Brett:

It's all good.

Molly:

You have seniority.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

As a business, exactly.

Brett:

Yep.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

Yeah, totally, totally makes sense.

Molly:

Then we pick-

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

What was the name of that book again?

Molly:

"Big Magic".

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

Right, there's nothing else.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

Totally. Totally, yeah.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Exactly.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

So, test small and then go big.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

They are. They are. No doubt.

Molly:

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

Brett:

Yeah, it is.

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

And give way more value first.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

No doubt. No doubt.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Just emphasize.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

No doubt.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

And who-

Brett:

Yeah, please add to that.

Molly:

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

Brett:

Exactly.

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

Nothing better.

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

That's crazy, yeah.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

One more quick thing, Brett.

Brett:

What's your handle again on Instagram?

Molly:

@MollyPittmanDigital.

Brett:

@MollyPittmanDigital.

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Molly:

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

Molly:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

With that, until next time, stay spicy.



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Episode 193
:
Miki Agrawal - Tushy

Disruptive Marketing and Building Edgy, On-Brand and Fridge-Worthy Ads with Miki Agrawal of Tushy

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.


She’s incredibly creative. No really. She once hosted a “funeral for a tree” at an old cathedral in NYC hosted by comedians and actors. It drew a crowd of thousands, generated millions in free press, and helped shed light on the toilet paper waste that her company TUSHY can help solve.
She understands trends in marketing. She knows how to grab attention. So much so that she was banned by the NY transit authority from running subway ads. Which led to a PR fight that she won…and in the end, got more press and attention than if they hadn’t been banned.


She’s also warm and kind and FUN.


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


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


In this episode we unpack Miki’s wacky, impossible-to-forget and wildly successful marketing strategies and tactics.
Here’s a look at what we cover:

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

Mentioned in this Episode:

Miki Agrawal

   - Website

   - Instagram

   - Link Tree to Resources


TUSHY

   - Website

   - Instagram


Thinx

   - Website

   - Instagram


Wild

   - Website

   - Instagram


“Do Cool Sh*t” by Miki Agrawal


“Disrupt-Her” by Miki Agrawal


“Zero To $100 Million” on Mindvalley


Cap Con 5


Ryan Daniel Moran


Toto


“Funeral for a Tree” by TUSHY video on YouTube


Butt Con by TUSHY


Transcript:

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

I love it.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Irish triplets.

Brett:

Okay.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's insane.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

By "their vibes".

Brett:

That's awesome.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

That is crazy and amazing.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Unfathomable, yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yes, so true.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Amazing. And it's called WILD, correct?

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah. Nobody wants healthy pizza. That sounds cardboard.

Miki:

Exactly.

Brett:

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

Miki:

AB testing, literally like email, subject heading.

Brett:

I love that.

Miki:

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

Brett:

Fascinating.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It doesn't matter, yeah.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yes.

Miki:

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

Brett:

You're like, this is amazing.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

None of that.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Patent pending.

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Brett:

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Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

They take up the whole fridge, exactly.

Miki:

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

Miki:

Hi, Stan.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

For sure.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Like the Bellagio fountains?

Miki:

Bellagio fountain.

Brett:

I got to see that, then.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's a curiosity play, yeah.

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense.

Miki:

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

Brett:

It's a healthy tension.

Miki:

A healthy tension, yeah.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

Nice. Royal flushes.

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

They're so engaged.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Not yet.

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

You get an insane press on it.

Miki:

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

Brett:

They said, "What are you doing?"

Miki:

What are you doing here?

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

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

Brett:

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

Miki:

Yay. I was happy to be here.

Brett:

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

Brett:

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

Episode 192
:
Drew Sanocki and Michael Epstein

How Direct Mail Can Deliver Higher ROI than Facebook or Email Marketing

My guests today are two legends in the eCommerce space. Drew and Michael most recently ran and successfully exited Auto Anything.

Today we’re going Old School. We’re not talking email. We’re not talking TikTok, Facebook or even YouTube. 

We’re talking Snail. Mail. The gold old USPS. Physical mailboxes. 

Why? 

Because this is an untapped opportunity for DTC brands.

My guests today are two legends in the eCommerce space - Drew Sanocki and Michael Epstein. Drew and Michael most recently ran and successfully exited Auto Anything a multi nine figure eCommerce brand. Now they are helping DTC brands grow through direct mail marketing. And while that might not sound sexy, it’s incredibly effective. 

Why postcard and direct mail marketing? 20-50% of your customers don't have a good email address on file. And email open rates are only 20-30% at best. So you’re missing a lot of your current and past buyers if you’re just relying on email and SMS.

Here’s a look at what we cover in this episode:

  • How should brands use direct mail?
  • How to build a great postcard
  • What postcard campaigns to start with
  • How Ezra Firestone turned $1,400 into $4,000 using a simple postcard
  • How to make direct mail part of your email and SMS flows

Mentioned in This Episode :

Drew Sanocki

   - eMail: Drew@PostPilot.com

   - LinkedIn


Michael Epstein

   - LinkedIn


PostPilot

PostPilot GFO (Godfather Offer)
Axle Group Holdings

AutoAnything

Karmaloop

Teamwork

Odeo

Chris Tyler

Klaviyo

“How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp (Audio)

Shopify

Ezra Firestone

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Petalura

Allan Shiffrin

Handwrite

Austin Brawner

Overlander

Bulletproof



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today is going to be fun. It's going to be informative and it's going to be old school with a very modern twist to it. We're talking direct mail. Now, if you know anything about my background, I got my start in traditional media, TV, radio, a little bit of print. I used to do a little bit of direct mail. I actually love direct mail. But here's the interesting thing. It is an untapped, unleveraged opportunity for eCommerce brands. And so we're talking about that today. And so my guests on the show today are really two eCommerce pros, eCommerce veterans, guys that you need to know if you don't already know. And so I'm going to intro them and then bring them on here.

Brett:

But the first is Michael Epstein. Now, Michael was the CMO of Axle Holdings, so AutoAnything, and a number of other big brands. He ran marketing for that group. Had a majorly successful exit. Also has worked in SaaS. And just a really, really smart guy. I've had the privilege of being on several calls with Michael. I always learn something when I'm chatting with Michael. So Michael, welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time, man.

Michael:

Always great to be here, Brett. Thanks.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. And then the next guest is truly a legend, truly a legend.

Drew:

To go along with the old theme.

Brett:

I wasn't sure how to play that off. I wasn't sure, really lean into OG or not lean into OG. I don't know. I do feel good, Drew, that you have more gray than I do because my beard's really starting to go gray. But super excited to have Drew Sanocki on the call. And I met Drew through a mutual friend, Ezra Firestone. I got to hang out with Drew at multiple events. He's always one of those speakers that when he shows up in an event, people are like, "Oh man, we get to learn from Drew Sanocki." And so Drew was the CEO of Axle Holdings and ran AutoAnything, also ran Karmaloop. Was a CMO for Teamwork. There's even a story, and I don't know that we'll get to it, but in his previous, his first e-commerce business, I think it was your first one, Drew, you guys shared office space with Twitter, right, back when Twitter was a baby?

Drew:

Everybody loves that story. Yeah, they were across the hall. They were a podcasting company called Odeo. And Twitter was across the hall. Airbnb was upstairs. And then we were there selling furniture in the middle of all that, thinking we were the most successful out of all those companies.

Brett:

They're like, man, we can teach these guys so much. Twitter? What's that...? Airbnb? Yeah, whatever. That's so cool. And actually, Drew and I got to work on a few projects together. And I remember after one particular project, Drew, you were working with one of our team members, one of the Chrises, we have lots of Chrises on our team. But one of them was like, "Dude, I want to be like Drew Sanocki when I grow up." That was his feedback after.

Drew:

I don't remember which Chris that was or why.

Brett:

It was Chris Tyler. But he was just like, "Man. Drew Sanocki is so smart."

Drew:

I'm not sure why.

Brett:

Anyway. So fellas, we're going to get into some serious education. We're going to talk about why to consider direct mail, how to consider, how to use it, all that type of stuff. But talk to me, you guys are now behind a really cool company called PostPilot. And so, can you guys describe what that is and why you're involved? And then we'll get into the education.

Drew:

Yeah, it's probably why Michael and I are both on this call together. So we've worked together for about 10 years. We've been in e-commerce each for about 20. And so we were at this previous company together, which was an e-commerce roll up in the automotive category. And one thing we've always sort of done is use direct mail at all the retailers we've run. And we were sort of interested in the category, that we acquired the software company about three years ago, called PostPilot. PostPilot's direct mail for e-commerce. If you think of Klaviyo for postcards, that's essentially what the software app does. And we were, at first, kind of curious, running it as a side project, and then it got a full head of steam. And now having exited the automotive roll up, we are all in on running PostPilot. So what PostPilot does is plug into your e-commerce store, pull your customer data. And the goal is to make direct mail as easy as email.

Brett:

That's awesome. Really excited to dig into this. And like I mentioned, my business partner, Chris Brewer, actually used to have a direct mail company. So he's all over direct mail. I actually used to do lumpy mail back in the day. When I was first starting another agency, we did direct mail. So I'm a big believer in direct mail. I've got some thoughts here too. But why is direct mail so powerful for e-commerce? And I'll let either one of you take that. Epstein, you want to take that first? Why is direct mail so powerful for e-com?

Michael:

Sure. So in this day of kind of digital overload where people are getting bombarded in their email inbox, they're ignoring or deleting most of what's in there, and the age of iOS impacting people's Facebook performance, there's just an appetite to look for unsaturated channels that allow you to cost effectively reach and convert more of your customers. And so, direct mail has become one of these kind of must haves now for eCommerce brands that are looking to kind of fight back against 20% email open rates and iOS updates impacting your ad performance. So this is a great way to get in front of those customers and drive incremental revenue and profit.

Brett:

Awesome. And you know, one thing that I've noticed too. There was a time, so when I was first getting into marketing in a major way, and when I started my first agency, it was in 2002. And at that time, there was an abundance of direct mail. There were times you open the mailbox and it's jam packed full. And most of it is marketing mail, which is the nice way of just saying junk mail. But it was full of marketing messages. That's not the case anymore. I don't get that much direct mail sent my way. And when I do, if it's interesting, it's occupying a different head space than when I'm checking my inbox.

Brett:

And obviously, email is super important. We're all fans of email on this call, for sure, and SMS. But direct mail's a little bit different head space. You're usually reading that at a different time, in a different location. Maybe you're in the kitchen, maybe you're in the bedroom, whatever. It's a different time. Anything you would add to that, Drew, on why direct mail is such a hot opportunity for e-com?

Drew:

I think just because it works. If you said to me, "Hey, there's this untapped channel where there's not a lot of competitors."

Brett:

Your competitors aren't using it, almost certainly.

Drew:

Your competitors aren't using it. It's a way for you to talk directly to your customer. And your competitors won't see you doing it. It's not like they'll see your ads or they can sign up for your list. I would be interested. And I think, when I talk to retailers and I say, "Who's your most attractive segment?" And broadly speaking, it's always your previous buyers. You're going to do better marketing to your previous buyers than you will to prospects. So we all agree that previous buyers are the best audience. But then it's sort of this dirty little secret that you can't actually market to all your previous buyers. And the reasons, I've read something like, under 50% of your actual customers are subscribed to your list. I mean, it's going to be different by the retailer, but on average. And then on any one email send, maybe 20% of those open an email, right. And that is an e-commerce average.

Drew:

So you put those two together and it's a very small percentage of your best target audience that actually can hear from you and reads your messaging. It leaves a wide swath that you can target via direct mail, which is really the only thing that can fill that gap and go out and communicate with that group of customers. So that's why I find it really compelling. It's sort of been a secret weapon I've used for 20 years. Predates me. I mean, it went back to the '50s, and the growth of catalog retailers. But it works. The cost is capped because postage is capped. Competitors aren't using it.

Drew:

And as you said, Brett, there's a lot of neurological studies and psychological studies as to how people perceive mail. And they perceive snail mail as sort of a gift. They like it. It's tangible. It's a tangible way to sort of present your brand. And people interact with it differently than they interact with an ad or with an email. So all those put together, I think it just makes it a compelling channel.

Brett:

Totally agree. And we love remarketing, as a Google and YouTube agency. We use previous customer lists to run display ads and discovery ads and YouTube ads. And those work. And running repurchase campaigns or loyalty campaigns. But you're right. You're still not reaching everybody. You're just not. There's going to be a lot of people on your list that you are missing if you're just running email and just running remarketing campaigns. And therefore, that's where direct mail can come in and fill the gap. So that's kind of the why. What about the how? How should we be using direct mail as an e-com brand?

Drew:

Well, I think you hit the nail on the head there where you do a lot of remarketing. And I think when we say direct mail to people, people automatically think prospecting. That's certainly one part of it, just plastering a zip code with flyers. But really, the highest ROI, just like in most marketing, is remarketing and retargeting to existing customers, existing buyers. So I think starting there, and kind of working up the funnel is a great way to sort of test the waters. You start with your win backs, abandoned cart campaigns, second purchase campaigns, anything that happens after the initial purchase, and you're going to find a strong return on those types of campaigns.

Michael:

And it's an incremental return because you're targeting a lot of folks that just have not engaged with your digital channels. So you're leaving profits on the table. If you've built all these great campaigns, you've figured out the right audiences. And then again, you look at open rates or you look at your reach and you're just not reaching all of them. So there's incremental LTV and revenue to be had when you can find an effective way to reach those customers.

Brett:

Got it. So you got win back campaigns. Maybe it's a product someone should purchase every three to six months, and someone hasn't purchased for nine months, so you're sending them a postcard. Or someone who's added a cart and has not purchased, you're sending them a postcard. How are you fitting that into the flow? Because you mentioned, and I love this positioning, Drew, that this is like Klaviyo, but for postcards. So are you just making one of those follow up steps in the process a postcard, you're kind of working that in? So maybe the first couple touch points in either win back campaign or abandoned cart campaign are email or SMS, and then postcard comes next? How does that flow work?

Drew:

I think you could do a number of things. Where we've seen people get paralyzed is, number one, where should I start in terms of the campaigns? And then number two, how should I design the actual postcard? And regarding the former, I would just say, open up Klaviyo, open up your email software, look at the campaigns that are highest ROI and just clone them to postcards. If it's a discount ladder that goes out over 90 days with an increase of discount, then let's just take that same cadence and that same offer and flip it into postcards.

Brett:

So then it's running in tandem with emails? You're running the email and you're running the postcard, basically same message, same people, different mediums.

Drew:

Yes. And we get that question a lot. How should I de-conflict the two? And there's a lot of data that says you don't have to bother de-conflicting. If the same customer sees the same messaging through email, a Facebook ad and through a postcard, then AOVs, average order sizes, typically go up and conversion rates go up.

Brett:

And conversion rates go up.

Drew:

Right. And there's some theory behind that. This guy, Byron Sharp, wrote a book called How Brands Grow. And it's all about the salience of your messaging. The more messaging you have in front of a customer from your brand, the better.

Brett:

Often, the more messaging from multiple types of media, right? So not just the same thing over and over again. Multiple touch points.

Drew:

Exactly. So it's one of those, if you can afford, I would do all three. If you can't, then you certainly could do things like send email for a month. And if the customer has not responded to email, then you move into your print campaigns. We see that with a lot of abandoned cart campaigns where companies like to hit the abandoning customer a couple of times via email almost immediately. And then a week later, send the postcard if the customer hasn't replied.

Michael:

And you can segment customers the same way you do in your email service provider like Klaviyo based on what they purchased, how long it's been, average order value, all those things. Or you could even integrate directly with Klaviyo and use the same list and segments you've built in your email platform to target your postcard campaigns.

Brett:

So you could use almost the same audiences, same flows almost. But copy that over to postcards.

Michael:

Yeah.

Brett:

Do you do the same thing then as soon as a purchase happens, if it is a win back campaign or abandoned cart campaign, then that cancels the rest of the flow so that that's all built in as well?

Michael:

Yeah.

Brett:

Nice.

Drew:

Yeah. We've actually got a native integration with Shopify and with Klaviyo. So you can just pull in your Klaviyo campaigns right into PostPilots so they will sync.

Brett:

Got it. Cool. What are some of your favorite direct mail success stories for e-com?

Michael:

There's a bunch. I'd say, the one that comes to mind, you brought up Esra Firestone earlier. And he ran a postcard campaign for Boom, the cosmetics brand, and had a ton of success with it. Spent something like $1,500 and generated $40,000 in revenue from that campaign by-

Brett:

And that was a win back campaign, is that is what that was?

Michael:

That was a win back campaign. Yeah. So it was basically like, you've got customers buying makeup. You expect that customer to rebuy within a certain period of time. That's how long the product's supposed to last. You've been hitting them with email campaigns. And if they go longer than the expected timeframe without repurchasing, then you hit them with a postcard campaign and you get just extraordinary conversion rate and revenue off of that.

Michael:

And this is super profitable because, again, you didn't pay to reacquire that customer. You got a customer that has bought from you to buy a second or third time. And there's so much more margin in that. And you get them back into their kind of routine of buying again. So it extends to subsequent purchases after that, and they get more orders coming in because you've got them back on track.

Brett:

Yeah. So that ROI that you talked about, that was off that initial purchase. But the beauty of this is, if you sell a consumable or you have repeat purchases, then this reactivation of a customer can be extremely profitable because of all those future purchases as well.

Drew:

I've got two favorites.

Brett:

All right. Yeah.

Drew:

And I would say one is a PostPilot win. And the other one is one that is on our roadmap, but is just a more of a direct mail win that I like. And PostPilot, what I see a lot of customers doing are abandoned carts where you put the QR code on the postcard. And because of the Shopify integration, we can get that sort of direct link back to the cart.

Brett:

Nice.

Drew:

I see a lot of customers, you get an abandoned cart, it triggers maybe an immediate email, an email a couple days later. And then if the customer still hasn't replied or if they're not on your list, they get the postcard three, four days later with the QR code that sends them right back into the cart where the product is.

Brett:

It's their QR code?

Drew:

Yeah.

Brett:

That's fantastic.

Drew:

So I think that's kind of cool from a usability point of view, just like an experience point of view.

Brett:

And one interesting side note. This is one of those kind of unexpected benefits or shifts, digital benefits from the pandemic. It's shifted so much of our digital behavior. But QR codes, man. I remember when everyone was like, "Yeah, QR codes are dead. No one's using them. Those are long gone." But now that we had to use them at restaurants or other places, QR codes are very much alive. I'm seeing them everywhere. And actually pretty easy because you just use your camera app on your phone. And so that's really, really useful. So QR codes sending you right back to your cart. That's super cool.

Drew:

Yeah. And then you could put tracking and UTMs in the QR code too so the postcard campaign shows up in Google analytics now. So I just like that as a usability thing. And then I really like this brand Petalura, Allan Shiffrin's the CEO.

Brett:

What's the name of it one more time, Drew?

Drew:

Petalura. He's a colleague. I met him a while ago. His background's in cataloging. So, ran a printer. And he's just been able to grow, I mean, I'm not at license to say how big his brand is, but let's just say mid eight figures brand or eight figure brand, I would say almost 90% off a catalog. Isn't that crazy, in this day and age, that you could grow an e-commerce business that big off of catalog prospecting? Get the right list and then send that list a catalog. And he's just wash, rinse, repeat. And he's done it profitably. It's not like he's bleeding money as he acquires these customers.

Drew:

So just my conversations with Allan have been really inspiring and have got us thinking through how we're going to roll out prospecting at PostPilot because that, I think, is the next big win this year, is starting to get into prospecting, but doing it right, not just doing it off zip code. Putting some more thought behind how we can get prospecting audiences and look alike audiences and just some really cool stuff off a customer behavior on your website.

Brett:

Yeah, I think that will be an amazing innovation, because just doing blanket zip code targeting. That's really never worked very well. But if it's a very targeted list, and if you could somehow build that lookalike audience or behavioral audience and pull that into email or direct mail, rather, that would be pretty powerful for sure. So let's talk a little about the creative aspect behind a postcard. I think most of us understand what it takes to build a good display ad, or a good email. Email's all about subject line and opening line of the copy and have an offer, an image and stuff like that. What does it take to build a great postcard, a postcard that people want to read and want to respond to? What are some elements there?

Michael:

Sure. So I think we talked about QR codes. You can do dynamic personalization, meaning, you can insert fields like their name or other attributes about them dynamically onto the card so they're one to one personalized. That's great for engagement. You want to think about it similar to ad copy or ad creative, where it's engaging, it reflects your brand so that it's easy to spot when somebody opens their mailbox. And you want to include an incentive typically, get them, create some urgency, put a deadline on it, give them an incentive to come back and act on that with a strong call to action.

Michael:

But I think we also rolled out done for you creative services. Because we realized that, this was kind of a pivotal moment for us at PostPilot, no matter how big the brand was, eight, nine figure brands that you think have this creative team. And I'm sure you've seen some of this on the ad copy side and ad creative side, Brett. You say, I'm just going to send it over to the creative department and wait for something to come back and it can kind of get stalled. Everybody's got a lot on their plate. So we actually brought in designers in house, and we have a professional design team that will help create your campaign using best practices that we know because we've seen millions of cards and thousands of campaigns go out, and we'll just make sure that we implement a great best practice design that we're very confident is going to get you a great return.

Brett:

Yeah. And I love that because what we run into is, we work with some larger brands. And a lot of them do have a creative department. But as a kind of a comparison, we do a lot with YouTube. So we create YouTube ads. Most of the time, even larger brands don't have anybody that's a YouTube expert or YouTube person. I guarantee you, most of these brands, they've got designers, but they don't have a postcard person, like, assign this to the postcard expert. We don't have one of those. So makes total sense. Anything you would add to that, Drew? Anything you would want to point out as far as headline goes or other personalization tips? Anything you would say that makes a postcard really work?

Drew:

Yeah. I mean, I think you mentioned a couple things. I think about it more as an ad. Think more of an ad than as an email. So it's a visual medium. So all the ad principles would apply here. And then a best practice is, when you design it, think ad. But when you implement it, think email. The campaigns, the automation, the personalization, a lot of that stuff should be more analogous to how you use email.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. So design it, use design principles of an ad, but then think about your flows and your campaign more like email. Any specific tips? It's been a while since I've done postcards, but I did run postcard campaigns back in the day. But you know, sometimes you look at rules for headlines that sometimes 7 to 10 words is ideal, and things like that. You want to have enough copy, but not too much, and some of those things. And any specific guidelines there, or does that just vary?

Drew:

Yeah. I don't know about rules of thumb there. I mean just, white space and images are all great. I think it comes down to, if you're going to put a coupon code on, we like to recommend single use coupon codes as opposed to a generic coupon, unless you want it to go all over the internet. I mean, there may be a case where you need that. Automation and triggering is something that I'm not sure people realize you can do with direct mail. But define that audience. Take a VIP, for example. If you want something special to go out to one of your top customers that spends X dollars, then you can set a tripwire that kicks in when any customer spends over that amount. And then design an evergreen card that constantly is sending out when customers reach that threshold. So that's pretty compelling, as a marketer, to be able to set it and forget it.

Brett:

Really compelling. And I know you talk about this a lot, Drew. You did some presentations back in the day, I think for Andrew Youderian and also for Ezra. We talk about whales. So not just good customers, but the best customers, the whales, like they talk about at casinos, the high rollers and stuff. So what would be some ideas there? So once someone reaches a certain threshold of spend, now we're sending them a postcard that kind of thanks them and recognizes them and gives them an offer? Or what does that often look like?

Drew:

Yeah, you can do a lot with that. I mean, the general idea is, you've got these whale customers who drive your business. And usually, if you lay out all your customers in a spreadsheet and sort them by their spend, you'll see that it's the 80/20 rule. You've got 20% of your customers are going to drive 80% of your revenue. So once you realize that as a marketer, you should be thinking of those whales all the time. Like, how do I get more of them? To extend the analogy, how do I turn minnows into whales?

Drew:

And one of the ways is just a simple VIP campaign that thanks them. There's a lot of data that shows if you just reach out and thank the whale customers, they are more likely to come back and order again. So at ROIs, whether you put a coupon in that email or not, or in that postcard or not. We acquired a business last year called Handwrite, Handwrite.io. It's robotic handwriting. So you can have an email from the CEO, if you're an influencer driven brand or from a salesperson, that's like, "Hey, just want to thank you for spending $2,000 with our store."

Brett:

Yeah. This would be a postcard or something that would go out?

Drew:

Yeah. It could be a postcard or could just be a handwritten note. You could then say, here's a special offer for you. Or if you don't want a discount or give a coupon, that's fine too. Just the thank you should ROI for you. It should have that customer come back. One thing we did at AutoAnything is, the VIP's got a custom invite to sort of premium service. So, "Hey, here's your own sales rep, with his or her phone number direct line. And even though you might send that ultimately to your whole customer support team, but it's nice to kind of have the VIP think that they're getting premium service. And it's a good way to kind of conserve your customer service spend. Do you have to answer the phone for every customer? Probably not. But you'd want to answer it for your VIPs. So give them a special number. It's a great way to sort of treat them.

Michael:

We actually did a test.

Brett:

It's super smart.

Michael:

We did a test with one of the AutoAnything brands too, where we carved out a segment of VIPs and sent them a thank you note once they hit a certain number of orders or a spend threshold, and then measured the performance of that cohort versus the control group that didn't receive that thank you note, and actually saw over a 10 times better increase in revenue over the next 90 days for the group that received the card versus the ones that did not. So really just an effective way to drive brand loyalty and get those repeat customers really engaged with your brand.

Brett:

So just to make sure I'm understanding the test. So you took two groups of whales or VIPs. One of them, you did not send a thank you to, but they're still VIPs. The other, you did send a thank you to. And the group that you did send that thank you to, their spend was 10X the control group?

Michael:

Yes. And these were customers that were getting the regular email campaigns. They were both getting the same email campaigns. They were both exposed to potentially the same Facebook ads. The one difference was that one received that card and the others didn't. And we just saw much higher engagement from that group.

Brett:

Yeah. Sometimes we just want to be seen and recognized, right? We start to feel it internally if we're spending a lot of money with a particular company. And it's nice to be like, "Hey, is anybody noticing this? Does anyone see that I'm forking out these kind of dollars for this company?? And so even just being recognized is pretty powerful.

Michael:

Absolutely. You've got a lot of choices on where you could buy from. And so, how do you create these different surprise and delight and memorable experiences that keep you top of mind and make sure that you're the default choice next time a customer's in the market for a particular product? Drew talked about salience and Byron Sharp. That surprise and delight type experience is almost like a cheat code to increase mind share, and make you more memorable for when you're in the market for a product in the future.

Brett:

Are you recommending? And it almost seems like, if you're going to recognize that VIP or that whale, that maybe a handwritten note would be better than a postcard? Are you guys recommending? And do you guys do either of those, by the way?

Michael:

We do both. And so, there's a bit higher cost to the handwritten card. So it kind of depends on what type of business you are. Jewelry businesses and other businesses that have really high LTV and want a super memorable, premium experience for their customers. And it's easy to justify spending two bucks to target your highest value customer, and keep that customer loyal and coming back and potentially spreading word of mouth about your brand, because they got this handwritten note in the mail, and it was just super delightful to them. And then other brands, you can certainly do it with just a postcard too. Because you can still personalize it. You can still say, thank you. You can still include a loyalty reward or incentive for them. And those work great as well, and super low cost.

Brett:

Very cool. So kind of walk through, and I'm sure there are all kinds of opportunities here. But what does it cost to do this? So what does it cost to send postcards to a win back audience? Or what does it cost to send a handwritten note to a VIP? You mentioned two bucks or whatever there, Michael. But, can you give some examples, some ideas there?

Michael:

Sure. So postcards start at 49 cents. And that's an all in price. So that includes postage, printing everything. So typically, less than the cost of a click these days. And then, as Drew mentioned earlier, the nice thing about it is that price is capped. So it doesn't matter if you're targeting that customer during peak periods like Mother's Day or Black Friday, you're not going to pay more because it's a certain time of the year.

Michael:

You're not going to pay more because you're targeting a very coveted audience type that has a ton of competition from not just direct competitors, but people in other industries that still are targeting the same audience as you. So that's a really nice aspect of direct mail is that the price is fixed. And then we have our handwritten cards, which start at under two bucks. And that, again, includes everything. First class stamp, handwritten envelope, handwritten card on custom printed stationary. So it's a pretty cost effective tool now.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. And I totally see that where, if you get a really high AOV and high LTV, high lifetime value customer, then the handwritten note is a no-brainer. For most others, the postcard is probably okay too. On the handwritten note. And I've seen, and I don't know if this is the technology you guys purchased or for something else. But is that where you write something and then it tries to mimic your handwriting? Or is it just, it looks like handwriting?

Michael:

Well, you can either select from a variety of styles that we have. And they'll have all the nuance of human handwriting with the letters looking different and the angles and spacing and all of that stuff. Or you could actually digitize your own handwriting as well. And it can copy your handwriting or your signature.

Brett:

Yeah. I was just curious about that. Because I know for me, my handwriting is absolutely terrible. I probably should have been a doctor. I've definitely written notes and not been able to read them myself. So while it would be cool and novel to put my handwriting there, it'd be better if it was somebody else's handwriting for sure.

Michael:

We've got a couple chicken scratch options for those folks who are like, "This is way too neat. Nobody would ever believe me."

Brett:

Yeah. Okay. That's that's awesome. Fantastic. How do you encourage folks to look at this as they're kind of laying out their media mix? Any thoughts on that? I love what you said, Drew about, start with bottom of funnel. Start with existing customers and abandoned carts and win backs and things like that. Any advice you would give to how you structure this in the media mix and into your overall planning?

Drew:

I think it's just, as we've seen last year with iOS 14, attribution just got killed for Facebook and even email, because I think email clients got hit later in the year.

Brett:

Yeah. And iOS 15 just killed it. We don't have open rates now. So that's a real loss of important, meaningful data there.

Drew:

Yeah. So you've got to put the dollars somewhere. I would start running tests with simple retention campaigns. Win backs, abandoned carts come to mind as probably the best. You choose, every business is different, but on average, maybe it's customers who haven't purchased in 60 days. They should get a postcard and it should say, it could either be a cross sell type postcard, "Hey, you bought the toy, here's the batteries. Come back and buy the batteries." Or it can be a discount to buy from another category on your site. So I'd probably start there, because that's the most likely to get the win for you. And test that, automate it, have us do it. As Michael mentioned, we've got a program where we'll do it for most retailers out there of a certain size.

Drew:

And then we lock that in and then you could start moving up the funnel and put those dollars towards more of abandoned carts and even some cold prospecting lists and things like that. But when I'm putting together my marketing, our marketing budget at AutoAnything, Mike put it together, it was always, what's going to ROI really over the next quarter, if not the next 30 days? That's just kind of the business that we ran. So the retention stuff was kind of a no-brainer. And you realize when you build that net around retention, every dollar you go and spend on acquisitions is going to be more profitable because you've got that stuff backstopping you.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And that's where guys like me and agencies like OMG, we can spend more on YouTube because now every customer is worth more. And that's good for the brand because now we can be more aggressive at top of funnel because we're making each customer more valuable.

Brett:

Do you ever use postcards? Just thinking about email flows, I know our mutual friend, Austin Brawner, talks about indoctrination campaigns. So you sign up your initial sign up to get that first coupon or whatever. That's the indoctrination sequence that would talk about the brand and the products and why you should buy from us and why we're amazing, or I've heard them called acquisition campaigns. Do you ever use postcards in that sequence? And if so, how?

Michael:

Yeah. We have a number of customers that use it for welcome sequence. So whether it's a postcard or a handwritten card. Again, depending on kind of the product and the price point, and what type of experience they're trying to deliver. But certainly, a lot of brands to send that thank you card with, again, typically an incentive to come back, because these are customers that are really warm. They've just recently engaged with their brand. They're probably the most engaged that they're going to be right after they make a purchase with your brand. It's crucial to get that second purchase as quickly as possible because, we talked about it earlier, that's where the profits are coming from. That initial acquisition cost is so high now that you've got to be able to figure out how to get that second purchase. And that's what's going to allow you to be competitive when you go out and look to acquire more customers.

Brett:

Awesome. And that makes sense. And then what about before? And I've been out of the direct mail game a long time so this may not be available. But is there a way, if you get someone's name and email, there's not a way to look up their address pre-purchase, is there? Like, if they sign up for that initial list, there's not really a way to send them a postcard. Is there?

Michael:

There will be.

Drew:

He's teeing you up, Epstein.

Michael:

Yep.

Drew:

He threw that ball up above the rim.

Brett:

And we didn't even practice this.

Drew:

Epstein's going to jump up there and he is going to dunk it right now.

Brett:

Dude. Yeah.

Michael:

Yeah, stay tuned.

Drew:

There's no possible way to do that. Is there, Michael?

Michael:

Not until now, Drew.

Brett:

We didn't rehearse that. We didn't practice that. I didn't ask about that offline. But that was what I was thinking, because that's another piece, again, thinking about I'm a top of funnel guy, right. But I know that new customers, that's only one way to grow a business. You also got average order value increasing, and increasing the number of repeat purchases. Those are the ways to grow business as well. But if you can drive traffic through top of funnel, YouTube, Facebook, whatever the case may be, get an email opt in. Now you increase your odds of closing them. But if you could throw a postcard at those people, that's pretty exciting. So it sounds like that's coming soon. TBD, to be determined type of thing.

Michael:

Yeah. Glad to hear you're as enthusiastic as we are about it, because we think it could be a really killer capability for-

Brett:

Yeah. Because I think that's, as you talk about going upper funnel with postcards. That's the first step in upper funnel. Because that could be a pretty big audience. And so, you tackle that and then you can start going beyond that.

Michael:

Exactly. These are people that have at least raised their hand. And so they're a lot more engaged and likely to buy. And that's where you start, again, versus going totally cold and just blasting people in a particular area or particular demographic group.

Brett:

Very cool. Anything else you guys are really excited about as it pertains to direct mail for e-commerce that we haven't talked about yet?

Drew:

The thing that's on our mind right now is prospecting coming later this year. The other exciting thing to me is just that it's sort of untapped. It's been around for hundreds of years actually. And e-commerce has just been hesitant. It's like a bit of a blue ocean. Most retailers I know haven't tested it. So that's kind of exciting to me. It's like this old channel that is relevant again.

Brett:

Yeah. It's old. It's proven. And that's why I kind teed it up in the beginning as, it's old school for sure, but with enough digital twists to make it really, really interesting. What about you, Epstein? Any interesting things that you're really excited about that we did not talk about yet?

Michael:

Oh, I think we covered a lot. Drew touched on some of the prospecting and other capabilities that we're working on. But in general, I think it's exactly what you said. E-com and direct to consumer is in our DNA. So we built the product that we know makes sense to direct to consumer marketer, gives them the tools and capabilities that they're accustomed to, makes it as easy as sending an email campaign. And I think we just are consistently finding new ways to continue to further that experience within the platform and just make it that much easier, continue to deliver stuff that we know matters to e-com specifically.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, fellas, and if someone's listening and they're like, okay, I'm sold. I'm in. I want to give postcard and direct mail a shot for my D2C brand. How can they learn more about PostPilot? Should they just call Drew on his cell phone, I would assume?

Drew:

Yeah, you can do that. Send me a piece of mail.

Brett:

Should they write to you, just send a letter?

Drew:

Yeah, write to me.

Brett:

No, what's the best way to find out?

Drew:

It is drew@postpilot.com. I'll reply.

Brett:

Great. Okay.

Drew:

I would say, go to the website, PostPilot.com. We've got a great offer if you want to start out where we essentially do anything for you. The customers we've acquired and that use the platform that don't stick. They have really high lifetime value. And what that allows us to do is do almost everything for a new customer. As long as you're doing over a certain amount of revenue, we can build you a campaign, design it for you and send it out on our dime and show you the results. So that's at PostPilot.com/gfo. Godfather offer.

Michael:

Godfather offer.

Drew:

Yeah, I should have said. GFO is the godfather offer.

Brett:

What is that? So godfather offer. I like it. Very cool. So PostPilot.com/gfo. Check it out. There's a cool little video there from you, Drew, which is awesome. And there's an offer you can't refuse here from the godfather himself. So I love that. I love that. Cool. Any other resources or things people should check out? I see you got some nice examples on the site from Boom and Overlander and Bulletproof. So I think it looks like there's some really good opportunities. If you just want ideas. And I know for most people, the way they get ideas for their next email campaign or video campaign is sometimes to see examples. And so you've got lots of examples of successful postcard campaigns on the site as well.

Michael:

Yep. We're going to continue to add more of those. But case studies are great ways to get inspired.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, fellas, this has been fantastic. It was a little bit nostalgic. It was motivational. It was inspirational for me to talk direct mail with you guys and to see this in action. Any closing thoughts, remarks, closing asks for the audience?

Drew:

I got nothing.

Michael:

If you haven't looked at it.

Drew:

Thanks for listening.

Michael:

Yeah. Thanks for the time. And if it's not something that you've explored before, give it a look and let us help figure out what we know is going to work for you.

Brett:

Direct mail, just do it. Just check out the godfather offer as well. So we'll link to everything in the show notes, of course, or just Google it and check out what Drew and Michael have built. Fellas, thank you so much for the time. It's been a lot of fun chatting with you, and informative as well. So I really appreciate it.

Drew:

Thanks, Brett.

Michael:

Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Awesome. So as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear feedback from you. What did you think about this show? If you haven't already, we'd love that review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.















Episode 191
:
Josh Chin - Chronos Agency

The Future of Email, SMS, and Push Marketing with Josh Chin of Chronos Agency

Josh Chin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chronos Agency, an email marketing agency with a team of 100 strong.

Josh Chin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chronos Agency, an email marketing agency with a team of 100 strong. Josh has been a featured speaker at top industry events including Geek Out, Affiliate World, Ecommerce World, and others.


In this episode we discuss top email and SMS mistakes Ecommerce store owners make, what strategies are working now, and what the future holds for these channels.


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • The top 3 automations you need to build right now.
  • How relying on templates could be dragging down performance.
  • What to do now that open rate isn’t a thing anymore.
  • Utilizing push notifications and tap cart - what you need to know.
  • Top email strategies - what’s changing and what isn’t.
  • Real World email examples.
  • Plus more! 

Mentioned in This Episode:

Josh Chin

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

   - Instagram


Chronos Agency

Ecommerce Profits Podcast

Industry Report “Future-Proof Your eComm Business in 2022 Report"

Tapcart

Nick Shackelford

GeekOut (GeekUp)

Josh Chin’s Podcast with Brett

Ezra Firestone

Gorgias

Really Good Emails

Klaviyo

CD Baby

Google Analytics

Postscript



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, I am absolutely thrilled to welcome to the show, josh Chin. He is the co-founder and CEO of the Chronos Agency, and more about Josh in a minute. I'm excited about this topic because today we're going deep on email marketing, SMS, and a little known thing called TapCart. And we're going to be talking about what's working right now, what you're likely missing and how to really optimize these channels this year and beyond. And if we've learned anything in the last year or two, with iOS updates and attribution issues and rising CPAs on Facebook and Google and other places is that email, email is still a breadwinner for e-commerce. It's absolutely critical. It's not going anywhere, and so we're going to dive in.

Brett:

So let me tell you just a little bit about Josh. You're going to love hearing from him, learning from him. We actually both spoke at the same event, so we hung out in LA a few months ago. Our buddy Nick Shackelford, shout out to Shack, called Geek Out. Spoiler alert, that event is changing to Geek Up in the future, which is cool. But we were both speaking at this event. We get to hang out. We were like, wow, we're having a lot of fun chatting about... you know, we're geeking out about marketing stuff. I was on Josh's podcast. Now, Josh is coming on my podcast, but he runs a team of 100 and... almost 100. And they run email marketing, SMS campaigns, tap commerce, really doing some amazing things in the industry. He has a great reputation, so does the company. He's spoken at places like Geek Out, just talked about that, Affiliate World, Ecom World and others. With that, Josh, welcome to the show and thanks for coming on, man. How you doing?

Josh:

Brett, I'm super excited. Thank you so much for having me and I'm thrilled. You know what? eCommerce Evolution is one of the podcasts that I listen to and have been following from a long time back. I started the agency about four and a half years ago, and it's been a wild ride, incredible journey. And one of the things I love about the industry is that people are so open to sharing their so-called 'trade secrets' and insights that they've gathered. It's very unlike any other industries that I've come across. And that's one of the big reasons why I love talking about the stuff that we're doing, what's working, what doesn't work, and it ultimately benefits the community at large. And it puts me in a better position to succeed as well.

Brett:

Well, first of all, thank you for the shout out on the podcast. Glad you enjoy it. Glad you're a listener and glad you're here today. And I totally agree. One of the things I love about this industry is, in general, there's a lot of really cool people who are willing to share their secrets and ideas and tips and tricks. Whereas, I got my start in TV and radio way back in the day.

Josh:

Wow.

Brett:

And in traditional business, there's a lot of closed-lip, "Hey, this is my secret, my tricks, my tips, and no way I'm letting it out there, because then competitor will grab it or whatnot." And so I like going to things like Geek Out, or Ezra Firestone's events, or other events where people are just pretty open, people share ideas and it's super fun. So that's what we want to do on this podcast as well. So let's dive right in, Josh. Let's talk about email marketing and let's look at, what are some of the biggest mistake you see e-commerce companies making when it comes to email marketing?

Josh:

Ah, okay, I'm I'm going to answer this question in layers. The first-

Brett:

Layers. I like it.

Josh:

... mistake, layer one is not having the right foundations. And that often comes from a point of view of email is such a massive channel. There's so many things to do. I have absolutely no time to get things done. And that often happens when a business is approaching the one mill to crossing the one mill in revenue mark. And people often think about email as, "All right, I'll get to it when I have time." But the truth is you need email to get profitable and to scale successfully and profitably, especially at the beginning. When you think about channels that we traditionally rely on in the digital space with Facebook, Instagram, Google, it's getting increasingly expensive. So it's increasingly more important for us to build a strong relationship with customers that you're bringing through the door from day one. And the only way you can do that is to provide a coherent, consistent and good experience post opt-in and post purchase.

Josh:

So if you had to simplify email down to just its core essence, it's three automations that you need to build before anything else. And it really doesn't take that much time with the templates that are available and tools like Klayvio and the guides are available on our website, at Chronos. You really have no excuse to not do it. So it's a welcome series. That's what welcomes your new subscribers, along with a popup or an opt-in-

Brett:

So this is pre-purchase. So this is you sign up, you see a YouTube ad, Facebook ad, Instagram ad, Google ad, whatever, you land on the page, you don't buy.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

But you opt in because of a popup or something that grabs you. Now, you get a welcome series.

Josh:

Correct.

Brett:

Okay. Got it.

Josh:

A welcome series. We call it a customer acquisition series, because that's the core focus of that flow. Then we have a cart recovery flow. Some people call it the cart abandonment flow. That's critical because that's often a key point in the customer's journey, where they're kind of indecisive or making a decision. They're distracted or they have some questions about your products that are unanswered. And that's why they're not making a decision, but it's critical because that's where interest and intent is at its peak.

Josh:

The last piece is in post-purchase. Post-purchase is incredibly important. It's one of the highest revenue generating activities and flows that you can have in your email system over the long run. Without your post-purchase flow and automation, you will not have a good experience for customers coming into your store. So if you have to break the two things up like between cart abandonment and post-purchase, a lot of people rely on just templates and prebuilt stuff. What I would strongly recommend everyone listening here to do is to customize your emails, to make it your own. Don't rely on templates that you can pull off the Internet. It's not you, it's not your brand. You got to make sure that it's on brand, it speaks to your audience, and only you know how that's done.

Josh:

The reason you want to have these two flows done up right from the get go, is that you're setting yourself up for success in your future campaigns and future communication. You're setting a good first impression for new customers that are just getting to know your brand, who you are, what you sell, what are the products you have. It's super important to have that foundation laid out.

Brett:

Yeah, so really, really good stuff here. So one of the issues is, especially as you're kind of smaller and you're growing, you're like, "Hey, I don't have time to email and fulfilling orders and doing all these things." So it's more of an afterthought. It's there, but it's not optimized. Then, let's kind of look at those layers. I definitely like the idea of don't just grab a template off the Internet and plug that in. You want your brand to shine. You want your personality to shine emails that are fun or emails funny, or emails that just have your personality shining through, are so much more effective than boilerplate templated emails. But let's maybe break that down just a little bit. So I love those three main automations: welcome series or customer acquisition series, cart recovery series, and then post-purchase. What are some of the mistakes at each step. What are some of the mistakes you see? Let's just start with that first one, the welcome series. Where do people get that series wrong? I'm guessing one of the ways they get it wrong is they don't do it at all, but-

Josh:

Yep. That's one way.

Brett:

... what are some of the mistakes they make there?

Josh:

Now, the most typical offer that people often have on their business is a discount code, a 10% discount code, or something that takes some amount off the price, which is fine. But what people often forget is two things. Number one, you don't just stop at one email. Stopping at just one email limits your ability to reach a wide enough audience. Now to give you a sense of the magnitude of the problem, we send approximately... as a globe, globally, about 26 trillion emails are being sent every single day.

Brett:

Wow.

Josh:

That's a lot of emails for very few people have access to the Internet. To stand out, it's incredibly important for you to have frequency of your messages, as well as the personality and personalization of your messages. These two things come hand in hand. So the easiest gap to fill here is the frequency of your messages. If done right, on average, each email is going to generate about a 30% open rate. Your welcome series are typically going to be higher at 60%, 70%, 80%, because they're expecting an offer. But what you often find is that even with 60%, 70%, 80% open rate, your click rates are going to be significantly lower at maybe 16% or 17% on average. You still have a huge chunk of your people who have seen your message, but hasn't converted yet. So have multiple followups.

Josh:

One of the easiest forms of a followup is a text-based email that links up with your customer support team. Because often you'll find that your biggest objections coming from your customers are things that are recurring, things that you can deal with, either through your customer support team, or through an FAQ of some sort. So if it's a common question that you're getting, you can have a simple FAQ type of... series of information in your emails, or you can redirect people into your custom support team, then they can handle that. We use a tool, an amazing tool called GORGIAS. We sync that up on the backend.

Brett:

GORGIAS is great.

Josh:

Amazing tool. They turn your customer support team, essentially to a profit center, which is amazing. And that process eliminates the likelihood of people seeing a message, but not converting as much as possible. So you're opening up the top end of your funnel significantly more.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And this is one of the reasons why I love email so much. Obviously it's a huge driver of revenue and when and you mentioned earlier, "Hey, email is driving 20% of my revenue," I know some businesses that email is like 40% of the store's revenue, or at least email is a part of 40% of revenue. It's super significant. That's huge. But also, I'm a huge YouTube fan. As an agency, we do a lot of top of funnel YouTube. And so that's often the first touch. But whether you're doing Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, if you can drive more signups and then you have a really polished, welcome flow, and then you have a great abandoned cart flow and you start to convert more, then guess what? You can spend more at the top of the funnel to really grow the business and accelerate that growth.

Brett:

So when it comes to the welcome series, how many touches are you typically looking for? Because you mentioned frequency being something to consider. How many emails are you looking for there? And any other tips. Is that going to be a combination of... Sounds like a combination of email and text. What does that look like from frequency standpoint?

Josh:

So when I talk about text, I'm looking at two forms of so-called text. You have text-based emails and SMSs, and we'll touch on SMS in a little bit, that's super exciting. But when we think about frequency, the number of emails that we have in a welcome series, it really depends on how long the conversion cycle looks like for a customer. For instance, if you're selling a mattress, an amazing mattress client that we worked with, they sell relatively inexpensive mattresses. But even then, the amount of time that people take to make a purchase from initial impression to conversion, is on average, a couple of weeks long. It's not immediate. It's not like a low ticket item, where people make an impulse purchase.

Josh:

For that reason, that's kind of an extreme. Or furniture, that's another really great example where people take a relatively longer time to consider. On the flip side, you have products that are really cheap, things that are a lot more impulsive by nature and your products are probably going to fall between that spectrum, somewhere in the middle. So understanding that cycle, how long when people take to consider a purchase is important for you to create emails that answer and address key problems and key issues that people have in making that purchase, whether that be comparing your product against someone else's products, your brand against your competitor's brand, the opening experience, the unboxing experience of your product, what that looks like, the post-sale support, if that applies, what does that look like?

Josh:

All these questions can be answered pre-purchase within that welcome series, and that's what you want to think about. So it can be as short as three emails to as long as 10, 30 emails, until someone converts. A good rule of thumb to kind of visualize this is as you add more emails, your engagement is going to fall significantly over time. Between open rates and click rates, it's going to fall over time. And once you see a steep decline in attention, that's when you know you've probably hit your... close to the maximum of number of emails that you should be having in your welcome series.

Brett:

Nice. Okay. And then, any tips on what you prioritize there? You talked about showing unboxing, or showing what the post purchase is like, or showing how you use it. Any tips or I ideas to kind of guide the building of that?

Josh:

That's a really good question, and it's a difficult one to answer because it comes from a lot of testing and a lot of data. That information can only be applied to your brand specifically. The starting point for that conversation, I would strongly recommend looking at reallygoodemails.com as a source of inspiration.

Brett:

Reallygoodemails.com?

Josh:

Reallygoodemails.com.

Brett:

Just a collection of great emails?

Josh:

Collection of amazing emails run by great buddy of mine, Matt. And they curate the best emails that they've seen in the marketplace based on categories, industries.

Brett:

Nice. I had no idea this existed. This is great.

Josh:

Exactly. Amazing, right? Amazing stuff. And you can look at what some of the biggest, most successful brands are doing. Because you have probably already invested quite a bit of time, resources, and data into split testing what works for your welcome email, and start from the categories that fit your industry the best and take inspiration from the structure of those emails, and create an email that fits your brand's personality. That's one way of looking at it. The framework and the structure, I would look at competing brands. The copy is where it's really unique to your brand, and you got to align that to what's happening on your website, your ad copy, and all that stuff. You don't want any dissonance between different channels and how you speak to consumers.

Josh:

The last piece of the graphics... Now, I would strongly recommend that if you're just starting out, just keep it simple, as simple as possible. Tools like Klayvio make it super easy for you to create an email with just drag and drop, no code, no HTML. So keep it simple. Make sure that you're keeping the structure easy to edit in the future, because you want to be creating multiple variations of that email, ultimately along the way. So that's... Yeah. What else? That's basically it.

Brett:

Yeah. No, it's super helpful. Let's go on to the cart recovery process. So for that cart recovery flow, what are some tips... what are some strategies to keep in mind there?

Josh:

All right, cart recovery, here's what people often get wrong. Cart recovery is, as most brands would understand, it's one of the highest revenue generating, highest ROI, email series that you can have in any email system. And that's true for most brands. So why aren't we optimizing this series even further? We end up seeing... when we do a lot of audits, we audit... I think hundreds of brands every single year, and one of the most common mistakes that we find is that the cart abandonment series has been in place since the beginning of the email program's inception. Nothing has been changed, no split tests, no optimization, which severely limits the growth potential of the brand, because that's where most of the conversions can potentially happen.

Josh:

Some of the benchmarks that you want to be looking at, cart recovery flow should be converting about 20% of all of your email subscribers coming through that flow. So if you're having 1000 cart abandonment emails sent out, you should be converting up to 200 of those people into customers. That's a lot. 20%. If you're using a typical plug-in cart recovery app plugin, you're probably going to be converting at maybe 7%, 8% to 10%. But if you customize your experience, make it unique to your brand and you can draw inspiration from other brands and what they're doing. You'll find that your conversion rate goes significantly higher up.

Josh:

A tactic that I can share here is to split test email number one with just a pure text email. We've been doing this for a long time. We have a really nicely designed HTML based email, versus a text-based, just pure text, no images, just one link back to the cart. And we kind of compare the results based on these very, very different looking emails with the same subject line, everything else remains same.

Josh:

We often find that the text-based email performs a little bit better, and this may change in the future. I attribute that success to the way that the algorithm is set up with Gmail specifically, where Gmail is by far the market leader in email. Gmail looks at text-based emails and they tend to categorize those as conversations, and conversations are not marketing emails. So because of that, it's typically prioritized in the key inboxes that matter the most, the primary tab, the updates, the things that people actually check out for. So you see your open rates go up, engagement go up and click rates go up significantly more. Obviously, this is not something I can do for every single email that you send. It's something to be used sparingly and in a way that makes sense for your customers.

Brett:

Yeah. Very cool. And then what about that final post-purchase flow? What are some tips or strategies you'd recommend there?

Josh:

All right, a couple of things. On a high level, post-purchase is where you're building the relationships that matter most to your brand. This is where your customers have... these are your customers, people who have converted, they have trusted you, they gave you their credit card information. They've made that leap. Now you got to ride that wave, continue on that excitement. Post-purchase is typically the moment where people have the highest sense of excitement, attention and anticipation. So think of different ways to build on that emotion, whether it be showing your personality a little bit more. A really good at example is CD Baby's post-purchase email. If you're not familiar with what that is, definitely go Google that.

Brett:

You said CD Baby?

Josh:

Yep. CD Baby, run by... started by this man called Derek Sivers, and he wrote a book about it and it's incredible. He turned a typical transactional post-purchase confirmation, order confirmation email, into something that's unique to their brand. Fascinating. It created a lot of loyal customers for them, and it's something that really changes the way that consumers relate to you as a brand of their choice. So personality, think about how you're building anticipation and excitement.

Josh:

On a tactical level, what you can test out is what I recently tweeted, actually, on my Twitter page. Include an upsell within your email. In fact, the first email that goes out, would you like to add A, B, C product? Something that makes sense to their order, into your cart at no shipping cost at all. We'll just tag it on to your existing order. What that does is this essentially creates a second purchase opportunity, where they have to confirm that purchase, click on your link, complete that auto form and all that stuff, which reduces the friction to a third purchase. A second purchase typically happens at maybe 20%, 30% of the time, if you're doing really well. But the third purchase happens at 60% to 70% of the time, so 60% to 70% of your people-

Brett:

Yeah, if someone makes that second purchase, once someone's bought twice, they're very likely to buy a third time.

Josh:

A lot more. Way more. So you're reducing the barrier to the third purchase, so that's what I would test. I would strongly recommend that. It's one of the tests that we're running right now. So, yeah.

Brett:

Very cool. Very cool. We'll talk about a couple of the things that I know are really, really important and pressing issues, given the current state of attribution and privacy and tracking and all that, but post iOS 15, what should we be measuring? Because now we can't see open rates on iOS devices, what should we be measuring? And what workarounds do you have so that you have enough data to optimize what you're doing with email marketing?

Josh:

Look, it's terrible. Brett, it's terrible. Open rates are not a thing anymore. We have to look at metrics that make sense in this current landscape. So that's click rates, that's other forms of engagement. We're using the UTM parameters a lot more. We're looking at how people are acting on the website and extracting that behavior and information onto email. So in a nutshell-

Brett:

Quick question, Josh. Why are you guys using UTM parameters more?

Josh:

That's just... It just comes down to click rates. We won't be able to measure the impact of opens anymore. So as a proxy, we got to look at the secondary metric that happens right after, which is the clicks. And we need to understand where the clicks are coming from, what campaigns are driving those clicks and all that stuff. And we wanted a unified place to visualize all that information and that's Google Analytics. We're still learning and growing in that aspect, but it's been wonderful. And it's so important to have... when we talk about attribution, one of the problems with attribution is that every channel has its own methodology and way of attributing success and conversions. So the only way we can agree and have agreement across all channels is to rely on the single source of truth, and in our case, the easiest, lowest hanging fruit is, well, UTM parameters and using Google.

Josh:

So with iOS 15, one of the biggest shifts that we have seen is that something we've been advocating for a long time. With Klayvio and SMS and all these fun tools, it's all about building a strong relationship with your customers, but what that kind of translates to is information. That's first party information and zero party information. So when we talk about zero party and first party data, zero party data, that's information that your customers are giving you through surveys, or inputting information manually to you and giving you information directly. First party data are things like site behavior, what they have clicked, what they have purchased, what they have seen, how long they've lingered on a certain page, and all that stuff paints a picture of who this consumer is, what they prefer, what they like, what they dislike and what they're going to do next. That gives you the information that you wouldn't otherwise have to create journeys and automations that are uniquely personalized to each consumer.

Josh:

That's where the power of email and SMS is shifting towards and where the most money's going to be made, versus just here's a template, here's the framework for email, slap it on, click send and the end. That's... biggest mistake number two that I see. So we talked a little bit about this before hitting record. We have seen a lot of brands, and I personally come across a lot of brands that have gone from like 30%, 40%, 20% of revenue generated with emails doing really well to 8%, 5% over the course of three months, and it's like a gradual decline. So it's not a sudden reduction in revenue, but a gradual one.

Josh:

So you'd be able to see the warning signs along the way, reduced click rates, reduced conversions, reduced click throughs, people not engaging with your emails anymore, the number of replies, if you're tracking that, that's all going to paint a picture of how well you're doing in your email program. And those are warning signs to keep a lookout for, as you continue monitoring and building your email program. People often set it up one time and forget about it and not optimize the system, and that's where it leads to its gradual decline.

Brett:

Yeah, it makes sense. And so, really now that open rates are kind of not a thing anymore, we're primarily then looking at click through rate, conversion rate, reply rate, those things. There's really no proxies or no workaround to tell what emails are getting open more than others. I guess we can still tell this subject line versus that subject line. If the click through rate is better, we can guess the open rate was probably better too. Any other tips there, or proxies, or workarounds?

Josh:

Start looking at alternative channels, I would say. I mean, even before I was 15, the average open rate that you're going to be seeing on any individual campaign on your email is going to be 20%, 30%, if you're doing really well, if you're segmenting your list really well. That still leaves 70%, 80% of your audience untapped. You got to be looking at alternative channels that can address that 70%, 80% of people that you're not touching with emails and that's SMS, that's mobile apps with TapCart, which we have been diving really deep into.

Josh:

TapCart's an amazing partner. They build mobile apps for Shopify stores that ultimately acts as a dedicated app, that is a standalone sales channel for the business, which is fascinating because then you live on your consumer's mobile phones, you get to send out push notifications for free any time of the day. Obviously, don't overdo it. With SMS, you have a really intimate channel. And we talked a little bit about this as well. With the level one of SMS being a communication channel, the second level being a marketing channel, that relies on the same pool of data and information that email has, and the final level tree evolution of SMS is a conversational tool.

Josh:

And it's moving into a much more intimate space of conversation and relationship building with a brand. It's something that we are really looking into and how that might pan out is going to be really interesting, because we'll be coming into two really key bottlenecks. Number one, to create authentic conversations one on one. It's really expensive because it takes a lot of people and it's really unscalable. Number two, the alternative to have a pure AI play is incredible inefficient and ineffective, because it doesn't understand context. At least-

Brett:

It doesn't lead to good outcomes. That's where the user becomes frustrated. They can tell they're communicating with a bot.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

And they get frustrated. They leave. It leaves a bad taste in their mouth towards your brand.

Josh:

And it just takes one detractor to make the whole thing not worthwhile. And so the current solution and the current optimized solution sits between the two extremes of using AI enablement and support with a human support behind the scenes. So knowing where to include human interactions in that conversation is incredibly important. But having the FAQs, the frequently asked questions, the things that you know can be answered very quickly, like, where's my order? Can I get an update? Stuff like that can be answered by AI, but anything that's more complicated than the frequently asked questions, that's where you got to include a human in it. And ultimately, be authentic, be real. If you're using a bot, say that you're using a bot. People need to know that that's what they're dealing with. Often businesses-

Brett:

"Hi, I'm the CBD Baby bot."

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

"And I can help you with these things." And so you're like, all right, now I know I'm communicating with a bot. Now, my expectations are in the right place. And so then they go for it and yeah. Makes sense. Okay, so then how do you... let's just talk SMS and email first, the blending of those two, then we'll touch briefly on TapCart in a minute, and then close out here in a few. So how are you blending the email and SMS? I love the fact that you point out, even though we can lament, we don't have open rates. We knew even in the good old days when we did that, hey, it's only 30%. If you're doing really well with email marketing, only 30% are opening. So 70% of the people on that list, not even opening. So we can connect with them, ideally through SMS. How do those two, how do those blend? So you've got... maybe we go back to some of these flows. Where does SMS fit in alongside email?

Josh:

The number one thing, the number one opportunity here is to use SMS as a reminder tool to your email offers. With a tool at Klayvio, and Klayvio does email and SMS all in one platform, which makes it super were easy. We use Postscript as well, as well Klayvio. When you're thinking about using email SMS, they have to speak to one another. So if this, then that, kind of built out of automations, play a huge part in the success of email and SMS. So using Klayvio, as an example, if someone has clicked on your offer in your welcome email number one, what do you do next? Do you send a followup email, or do you send an SMS followup with that same offer? The easiest way to answer that question is through a split test. You can create two... basically two splits and two flows that happen as... basically, two scenarios. You can then compare the click rates between the two of them and conversion rates that occur based in those two scenarios and make the best decision they can.

Josh:

So that's one way of looking at SMS. Another way of building SMS as a channel that drives revenue is using SMS as an exclusive platform. So what I mean by that is using SMS for offers that are uniquely SMS. So things like pre-sale launch. You're dropping a new product, and it's only available on SMS. So people have to sign up to your SMS list to get notified ASAP. The reason for that is with SMS, you're seeing an open rate of what, 80%, 90% and more. It's really incredibly annoying to have that red little notification on your SMS app unopened.

Brett:

You got to get rid of it.

Josh:

You got to get rid of it. So people are going to look at your messages and super easy to read. It's much shorter. It's much more concise and you're delivering messages at a higher frequency. So for all those reasons, SMS is an incredibly powerful platform to use for launches, like sales launches, product launches. Using SMS as a lead in for that, and then email as a tag along for more information. For example, if I'm launching a new series of backpacks, I know that these segment of consumers are travelers. They're work travelers. They're digital nomads. I'm going to send them a text message that speaks to them, tell them about this new product that's designed specifically for them. And if they don't convert, send an email that outlines the features of the backpack, what to expect, photos, images, gifs, and all that fun stuff within that email, and then follow that up with another SMS with the offer. So building that out as an experience is way more powerful than just relying on email, email, email alone, where you're only tackling like 20%, 30% of people all the time.

Brett:

Got it. Yeah. Makes sense. So testing layering in SMS with email, love it. I know when I get a marketing text message, I read 100% of them. Doesn't mean I like them. Doesn't mean that I want to get them all the time. Doesn't mean that I don't opt out, because sometimes I do, but I open them for sure. So speak about that a little bit. How do we keep people engaged and enjoying our SMS messages, versus being annoyed and potentially opting out of SMS for us?

Josh:

I love that. That's such a good question. When we build SMS as a program, we often think about what is the identity and the brand's personality. We typically have a persona for the brand and we often give that persona a name. Say Kate, Kate from CD Baby. How does Kate from CD Baby text her friends? That's the question that we ask and we extrapolate that into our marketing messages, using the tone of voice. And one of the biggest things is that people often get caught up with grammar and punctuations and all that, all the minute details in text. But you realize that text, in text, when you're texting a friend that often goes out the window.

Brett:

Totally.

Josh:

You're trying to sound human, not like a textbook. That's the biggest thing that people often not realize with text, especially in the marketing space. You want to be able to relate to consumers, not bombard them with messages and information. So when you think about that from a conversational perspective, it becomes super easy, because we all text. We all text our friends and you know exactly what it feels like to receive a good text in a marketing message.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Speak the way your customer wants to hear, speak like they're talking to a friend. And then I'm guessing there's also some frequency considerations there too, right? We're going to want to text less frequently than we email?

Josh:

Yes. 100%. It's a matter of testing, but in general, we look at maybe one to two texts, SMSs per week. In some cases we text a lot more, especially during product launches or sales launches, especially when the consumer has explicitly opted in for more messages. So that's how we think about it. But it really depends on how-

Brett:

So one to two texts per week? How many emails per week are you typically sending?

Josh:

We're looking at-

Brett:

And I'm sure it varies.

Josh:

Yeah. It really varies. And it really depends on how much content you have to offer. It's not about, hey, we got a discount on this product, 20% off, 10% off all the time. It's really boring and you'll see engagement go down really quickly. But we're looking at anywhere between two emails per week on a low end, sometimes one, if the list is really small, to as high as five emails a week, or even daily emails, if it really applies to the brand. It depends on what the context is. If you have just one product that you're selling, that's killing it, or two products. There's only so much content that you can send about the product, so you got to start looking at other forms of information and content. What problems are your consumers trying to solve and how can you provide value around that problem, is how we think about creating content.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. Super cool. Okay, so we just have a few minutes left, but I definitely want to hear about TapCart. So push notifications and mobile apps for Shopify stores. So explain to those that are not familiar with what TapCart is, what is it, and then why are you so stoked about it?

Josh:

Absolutely. TapCart.com is a site, it's currently for Shopify only. They've been talking about mobile e-commerce, mobile commerce for a long time now. And what exactly does that mean? When we think about an experience that's purely on mobile, we often think about the mobile version of a website, and that's often limiting because it's still a browser. It's not native to a mobile phone. It's not as fast. It still relies on the load speed of a website, the connectivity of the site and all that stuff. But when you have a mobile app that's built for your brand, you own the entire interaction and the experience that people have on your website. And that allows you to create opportunities of communication that you 100% own.

Josh:

Push notifications are channels that are 100% in your hands, that you own that is not relying upon Google, corporations or platforms. There are no platform risks except for maybe TapCart, but still you own the app. So that's what I'm interested in. One of the key problems that we are facing right now with TapCart is that downloading an application is a high commitment activity.

Brett:

It is.

Josh:

It's often really difficult to get people to download an app. So what they're building up next-

Brett:

Because I've heard we all use like seven or so apps on a very frequent basis.

Josh:

Exactly. '.

Brett:

And beyond that, it's hard to get any real frequent adoption of your app.

Josh:

So adoption and app downloads, app installs is incredibly difficult, especially if I was 14, app install, ads are going to be even more difficult now. So the shift that we're seeing right now is creating an experience first for a consumer through email, SMS, and then lead in with TapCart for an elevated experience for the next level of your top 10% of your customers. That's how I think about it right now, but what's coming up next with TapCart is app clips, which allows for the app experience to be delivered via a QR code and iMessage, a text, or anything, without having to download the application itself.

Josh:

So you get to go to the site, experience the app, go through the checkout process, even make a purchase without even downloading the app. And then if you choose to, you like what you have experienced, with a tap of a button, you get to download the app for free. So that's bridging the gap. Then you got to think about all right, now that we have a really good tactic tool to make that happen, what's the reason for people to come on to the app in the first place? I get to go on the site. I get to use my mobile phone. The mobile sites working. Takes little bit longer-

Brett:

Yeah, Shopify does fine on mobile. Check out on Shopify, it's fine on mobile. So why... yeah.

Josh:

Yeah, it's totally okay. Yeah, what's the point, right? Then you got to create opportunities through your brand to have people come to your app. Some of the really interesting ways and strategies that we've seen, private launches through your mobile app only. A lot of businesses are reliant on drops, especially in the fashion space. New drops, new releases. What if you released a collection of products that's only available on your app for the first 24 to 72 hours? And people-

Brett:

It's the true VIP experience.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

That's where the most loyal customer hangs.

Josh:

Correct.

Brett:

Or may likely use your app.

Josh:

The top 10%, 20% of your customers. And you're then opening it up, that option up to everybody who's interested. And you're expanding that VIP segment a little bit further and creating an experience that's really, really mobile first and super intuitive to your consumers.

Brett:

Really cool. Well... So just really quickly, because we're about out of time here, but once you have TapCart, once you have that mobile app, now you can send messages to those app users whenever through push notifications. That opens up a whole new world of notifications. Any additional insights there?

Josh:

Exactly. And it's instant. It's instant delivery, even SMS gets throttled a little bit over... you go sending batches sometimes with email. It takes a bit of time. With push notifications, it's instant. It's super quick. It's multimedia as well. I got a ton of push notifications right now on my phone from Skype, Google and all that stuff. There is no way to miss it. One of the pitfalls that we've seen with push notifications is that it can get annoying very quickly if your messages are repetitive. So think about the experience from a consumer's point of view and whether that really adds value to their lives or not. Is it important that they know that there is a 10% discount off this specific product on your site right now? Probably not. But is it important that they know that the product that they've added to their wishlist has just come back to stock? That's important.

Brett:

They'd be eager to see that. They want that notice. They don't want you spamming them with coupons all the time.

Josh:

Exactly. So that's how we think about TapCart and push notifications.

Brett:

Cool. I love it. I love, it. Well, more we can unpack there I'm sure. Sadly, we're up against time. So Josh, what resources do you have and how can people get in touch with you if they think, "Man, I'd love to talk to Josh and his team about my email marketing and SMS marketing?" Or going with something like TapCart and a mobile app. How can they get in touch with you and what resources do you have?

Josh:

Absolutely. The best way to get in touch with my team is Chronos.agency. That's At C-H-R-O-N-O-S.agency. You can connect with me on social. I'm getting pretty active on Twitter as well. It's @JoshuaChronos.

Brett:

...

Josh:

That's right. It's @Joshua C-H-R-O-N-O-S. And resources, we have a ton of ebooks, case studies and guides available on our resources page. We recently put together an amazing massive industry report. We call it the Futureproof: Your E-Commerce Business in 2022 Report. We've gotten a bunch of partners that we work with very closely from Klayvio, Postscript, TapCart, and all these fun people with a lot of information in there. I will... I guess I'll send you the link to add in your show notes or something along those lines?

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, send me the link. We'll drop in the show notes. We'll also link your Twitter account, but check out the site, get some free resources. Any final words, any final bits of advice, any final asks for the audience, Josh?

Josh:

Yeah. If you haven't set up email, SMS and TapCart yet, now is definitely a time. If you're hesitant and if you're confused, feel free to schedule time with my team. We'll be happy to run you through what your options are and all the best. Crush it out there in 2022 and beyond.

Brett:

Love it. Josh, thanks so much, man.

Josh:

Brett, thank you.

Brett:

You brought the fire and super, super good. Amazing. So thank you, Josh. And thank you for tuning in, as always couldn't do this without you. It would be pointless to do the show without you, our loyal and faithful listeners. And so we'd love to hear from you. If you have not done it yet, leave that review on iTunes. That helps other people discover the show, makes my day as well. And also, we'd love to hear what topics would you like us to cover this year? Any feedback on things you'd like to hear or things you're sick of hearing. And so with that until next time, thank you for listening.








Episode 190
:
Josh Durham

Lessons from the Trenches - $10 Million in Sustained Growth

Josh Durham has achieved some amazing success online. He’s also a survivor of an eCommerce crash and burn story that’s truly spectacular.

Josh Durham has achieved some amazing success online. He’s also a survivor of an eCommerce crash and burn story that’s truly spectacular. He built an amazing brand from $0 to $10 million in just 3 short years and then lost it all in a matter of months. 

After the dusting off the debris Josh joined my buddy Peter Goodwin as the head of growth for Groove Life and helped add $10million in top line sales (with good margin) in about a year and a half.

In this episode we dive into valuable lessons from rapid growth and rapid failure. Here’s a look at what we cover.

  • Law of Quarters - and how it should help you think about margins, product pricing, and operations.
  • How failing to introduce successful 2nd, 3rd, and 4th products can spell death to a brand.
  • How to structure a successful Ambassador program that will become a new content engine for you.
  • Tips for building a real community around your brand.
  • Knowing your numbers and your MER (Media Efficiency Ratio).
  • How to generate an unending supply of amazing User Generated Content. 
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Josh Durham

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter


Aligned Growth Management

Aligned Growth Management Newsletter

Weighting Comforts

Groove Life

Peter Goodwin

“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss

“Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

QALO

Enso

Athletic Greens

Mossy Oak

Realtree Camo

Enquire Post Purchase Survey Shopify App

Triple Whale Shopify App

Northbeam

Pura Vida Bracelets

MVMT Watches

Gymshark

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, I'm absolutely thrilled to be talking to Josh Durham today. And this is going to be a how I did it, how I'm doing it story. Merchant success story. Also agency success story. And this was really, really fascinating because Josh has just a very unique experience in a pretty short period of time. But he was the founder and CEO of Weighted Comforts, a weighted blanket company that he's really started from zero and built to $6 million a year in revenue and then it imploded. So we're going to hear that story. Lots of lessons from the good and the bad of that. He was then also the head of growth at Groove Life. Working with our mutual buddy, Peter Goodwin at Groove Life. Shout out to Peter. And so Josh helped Groove Life add 10 million to the top line in growth as he was the head of growth, which was an awesome experience. So we're going to unpack that a little bit. And then now he's running an agency called Aligned Growth Management. And we're going to unpack that just a little bit as well. So lots of good stuff to talk about. Can't wait. With that intro, Josh, welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time, man.

Josh:

Absolutely Brett. Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yeah. So where are you hailing from? Where do you call home?

Josh:

I am from Nashville, Tennessee.

Brett:

One of my favorite cities, man. And it's a city that's just absolutely exploding. A lot of tech and eCommerce energy It seems in Nashville. So that's a pretty hot place to be right now.

Josh:

Absolutely. Always a fun new restaurant to be visiting. I also feel like I'm living in a war zone because there's just construction constantly around me. Like the house across the street from my house actually just got torn down and they're going to build three houses its place, but it's definitely a fun place to be for sure.

Brett:

It's crazy. Maybe not at the level of Austin. I just got back from a trip to Austin recently and all kinds of construction and mayhem going on there, but Nashville's really growing at a fast clip too, which is super interesting.

Brett:

Yeah man. So let's dive right in. So Weighted Comforts. Weighted blanket company. You grew it from nothing to six million, to implosion. Tell us a little bit about the ... What was the genesis of that? Why weighted blankets? Which by the way, there's probably not a worse thing to ship other than maybe gallons and gallons of water or something. But how did you get into the weighted blanket business?

Josh:

Yeah. Great question. I was going to say on the shipping side, one of my biggest accomplishments was we got it down to $12 per unit, even though the average blanket was 20 pounds. So that was quite the accomplishment.

Brett:

I guess they're not super bulky, but they are extremely heavy.

Josh:

So heavy. I know. That was probably one of the worst parts too is when you're getting started and you're shipping product yourself, you're going to throw out a disc in your back with all these blankets.

Brett:

Yeah. My wife uses the weighted blanket. I personally don't like them. But as I just try to move it, I always forget how heavy it is. I try to move it, I'm like, "Holy cow. What is this thing?" It's just always shocking how heavy it is.

Josh:

Yeah. You're like, "Someone's on top of me," when you're sleeping in the middle of the night. But yeah. So how I got into it was actually my mom. She was a marriage and family therapist and she was actually using these blankets for her most anxious clients. And so as soon as they would use this heavy blanket during a therapy session they would calm down immediately. And so she was like, "Oh, there must be something to this." And she was telling me about it. And of course I feel like if you're an entrepreneur, you've probably either read one of two books. You either read The Four Hour Work Week or you read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And for me it was The Four Hour Work Week.

Josh:

And so I'd been looking for a product with high margins, high revenue per product, that kind of thing, and just thought that it was an amazing product. And so we started selling it on Facebook Marketplace. Touting the benefits of reducing anxiety, improving sleep. And one of the first posts that we put on this Facebook group we sold over $1,000 off of just one organic post. And so I just knew something was there. And so for that first year we just made everything custom and actually met customers at Jo-Ann's Fabric. Had them pick out their own fabric, their own custom weight, all those kind of things.

Brett:

Wait a minute. So you were generating leads. You would then schedule an appointment, go meet me at Jo-Ann's Fabric, and then you were making them custom for each person.

Josh:

Yep. Exactly. That's exactly how it started.

Brett:

Wow.

Josh:

Yeah.

Brett:

And then you realized that's probably pretty miserable or scalable at least.

Josh:

Yeah. Totally. So then I started to dink around with Shopify. Built out a Shopify store and just started trying to figure it out. And so something that we realized early on in that market was most of the brands were catering to children with autism or some kind of disorder. A sensory processing disorder, for example. And so we really saw that there was room in the market for adults with just general sleep ... Like a general sleep disorder or just general anxiety. And so we catered the brand. And so we started making the weight of each blanket a standard weight and a standard size instead of having it all custom. And that really enabled us to go into eCommerce and to scale quickly. And so for a while we were doing about $10,000 a month online once we started rolling. But it wasn't until I really figured out how to run Facebook ads, which I hired a coach in 2016, where we went immediately from 10K a month to about $50,000 a month.

Brett:

Facebook ads, that was the channel, that was the vehicle that really allowed you guys to hit scale.

Josh:

Yeah.

Brett:

Well, that combined with you've got standardized sizes and stuff where you're not making stuff at Joy-Ann's fabric. Yeah.

Josh:

Totally. Yeah. So that was actually ... Yeah. Facebook. That was really when Facebook video ads were just absolutely crushing. Like more of a long form type video. And so we were just getting super cheap cost per views, cost per clicks. But really a big part of that business too was employing the refugee community in Nashville. And so we actually discovered that through a program called Sew For Hope, which basically would teach refugee women how to sew to have a source of income for their family. But when they would graduate that program, they didn't have anywhere to go to. And so we started hiring all of their graduates out of that program and basically were able to-

Brett:

Large refugee population in Nashville?

Josh:

Yeah. Actually an extremely large population here. And so part of the benefit that we had with them was giving them a consistent source of income but also eventually when we got into our own physical space, we started doing paid English classes on site so that it would help them integrate culturally.

Brett:

That's amazing. I think that is a ... One, it's a noble to do. It's also a good business practice. I'm sure some of the ladies you hired were amazing workers and it worked out well. I know that led to some issues too. We'll talk about management of cogs and some of those things here as we go. But let's first talk about what were some of the things you guys just absolutely got right, right out of the gate? And then we'll talk about some of the failures in a minute.

Josh:

Yeah. For sure. The things that we got right I think were, like I said, honestly, standardizing the weight of each blanket. So standardizing the product. But also the demographic that we were going after. The brand was really for moms. Moms were the buyers. Whether they were buying for themselves or for other members of their family, that was our target market. And so we were really in the vein of Magnolia Farms, Joanna Gaines type looking brand with really natural light and photos and stuff like that that really had more of an aesthetic than if you were buying a blanket from another brand that might have minions on the fabric.

Josh:

It wasn't gimmicky like that. It was more for adults. More florals and pastels on the fabrics. And so I think that's the thing that we got right as well as just the channel. And so just going deeper and deeper into Facebook where eventually we were spending close to a quarter million a month on advertising fairly profitably. And so I think those were some of the big ones. But I think that ... Well, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think some of the things that we didn't get right was really evolving the product into what the brand should have become. It's like a product 2.0.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. But you did understand your target market pretty well. You nailed that product. And then you're really good at marketing, right? You dove deep into Facebook, you got great results there. So yeah. So let's talk about then what did you not do well? So product 2.0, talk about that. So you built this amazing hero product and you weren't able to extend the line or do kind of that next gen product.

Josh:

Yeah. One of the difficult parts about the weighted blanket was for one, most people only needed one blanket.

Brett:

Yeah.

Josh:

Right. So they're kind of one and done. So the repeat purchase rate was so low. I think it was almost at only nine or 10% repeat customer rate.

Brett:

So you're not thinking about LTV at that point. Return on ad spend for getting that first sale.

Josh:

Yeah. There's no LTV. It's just they spend $200 then they're gone.

Brett:

Just AOV. AOV is all that matters. That is-

Josh:

Yeah. Exactly right. And so the product that really helped drive sales primarily was our ... We had a weighted blanket that was made with Coolmax fabric. And so the benefit of that was that it was a heavy blanket but it wasn't hot because the fabric would wick away sweat and the fabric would breathe. But after that there was no secondary product. There was no pillows. We didn't really get into any kind of essential oil diffusers or sheets, that kind of thing. It was kind of a difficult business to be in. Are we a health and wellness company or are we more of a home goods company? Because really the main benefit that we were driving with the blanket was reducing your anxiety, improving your level of sleep. And so I think that's where we got caught is where we were really scaling one single product but we didn't add on to those lines to where it would make it easier to have a stronger structure of revenue coming in from other products.

Brett:

So you kind of struggled with, are we more of a bedding company? Do we need to have pillows and other betting related things or are we really an anxiety reduction, a stress reduction company? So why do you think you got hung up there? Was it just running in too many different directions or why were you not able to nail that identity?

Josh:

Yeah. Honestly, I think one of the things that I got caught up in for sure was just wanting to continue to scale without having to evolve the product. I was just a money hungry marketer that wanted to ... I'm all about keeping things super simple and just trying to go deeper in a few things and just continue to scale that core product because it was working. And we were-

Brett:

And you cracked the code on Facebook. Facebook ads were really working and that was the golden era of Facebook. And I think that is one thing that I'm curious if you agree. That is one thing that I think some startups don't really understand is that even if you nail that first product, customer acquisition costs are always going to go up. It's the nature of platforms. It's the nature of business. It's just your CAC costs, customer acquisition costs, are going to go up. So what are you doing to increase LTV, increase your average order value? How are you addressing those things? And it sounds like you maybe waited a little too long. You were loving the action on Facebook and just trying to press that lever rather than thinking about expanding.

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. I was putting my foot on the gas. And that was the golden year of Facebook ads for sure. I think we hit the perfect timing for that product as well.

Brett:

Yeah. Which is awesome. We'll talk about Groove Life in a minute, but they're a really shiny example of product extension. Peter's always wanted to be more of an adventure company. So silicone wedding rings. I forgot to wear mine today. But silicone wedding rings. But then as they pivoted and they've successfully ... Or not pivoted, but they've added to their product line belts. And I've got on my Groove Life belt right now.

Josh:

The Groove Belt.

Brett:

The best belt I've ever worn. It's kind of magnetic the way it clasps on the buckle and it flexes a little bit with you.

Josh:

Very addicting.

Brett:

Yeah. And that's their number two product and it's a huge part of their business, but it fits. It's accessories. It's for people that are active and engage in adventure and then they've added some other things as well. Wallets and some other stuff. It's been cool. So they nailed it. So I think that is something ... Any thoughts or advice you would give to a merchant? Like here's how you would approach product line extension now knowing what you know from successes and failures?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of it is around just revenue growth. So I think that having that core product, getting that up to a half a million a year to a million dollars a year, I think that's a great threshold of that's where I would start thinking about your product 2.0. Of how you can add to that. Because you really need that core funnel or that core product to go sell on its own. And then adding on those secondary products of like, okay, what are these customers also going to purchase?

Josh:

Even the things that I learned at Groove Life was ... For example, the Apple watch bands. A lot of the customers that were buying the Apple watch bands weren't the same customers that were buying the silicone wedding rings. They were actually two very different customers.

Brett:

Interesting.

Josh:

The Apple watch band market from what we could tell was a lot more urban and maybe more concerned with health and fitness than the typical person that was wearing a silicone wedding ring. Because really Groove Life started out of this more blue collar outdoorsman market versus an urban health and wellness market. But once we added in the Groove Belt ... Everyone bought the Groove Belt from our customer list when we launched the Groove Belt. Whereas when we launched Apple watch bands, it really came onto like ... I don't know how you say that. Cold use? Not cold use but-

Brett:

New users, new shoppers, new ... Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah. It didn't take off inside our email list, but it would do decently well on cold traffic. And so I think that's just something that you have to keep in mind too is how different products will connect with the type of customer that you're already trying to attract. And so, who's going to buy it after that core product and what kind of person is going to also buy from you versus Amazon? And so I think it's a lot more easier said than done, but it's definitely something that you have to figure out as a brand owner.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. So let's talk about some of the key takeaways from the weighted blanket experience. So you talked with me as we were prepping a couple weeks ago. You were talking about how there's such a need to get granular with your costs and to know your numbers inside and out. What advice would you give to people and what kind of key takeaways do you have from that experience related to understanding the numbers in your business?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. One of my favorite sayings is top line revenue is vanity, bottom line profit is sanity. And that's-

Brett:

It's fun to brag about those top line numbers when you're at events and masterminds and marketing conferences and stuff like that but does top line really matter?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. I'm an EBIDTA man. I just think that it really matters about your bottom line profits in terms of how healthy your lifestyle is going to be for sure and if you're going to be able to sleep at night. But yeah, there's this framework that I like to use for most eCommerce brands whenever I'm analyzing a potential client to kind of look at ... Looking at their numbers. And it's what we just call the law of quarters. And so this was actually developed by Taylor Holiday largely and I gave him a lot of credit. I've learned a lot from him. But basically it's just you have four main costs in an eCommerce business. So let's say that your cost of goods sold is at 25%. So that would be one quarter of your cost in an eCommerce brand.

Josh:

And then another 25% of your cost in a total eCommerce brand would be your marketing cost. So that would be ... Say you're running at a four X ROAS. That would be 25% spend to revenue ratio so that would be another 25%. And then the third 25% would basically be your operational expenses. So that's your overhead, rent, maybe you also include shipping in that cost. And basically through that framework you're basically going to be ending up with 25% net profit at the end of the day. And so if any of those numbers are different for your business you can actually allocate a different percentage to each different bucket so that you can still end up with 25% net margin. So maybe you're actually able to cut back on your op ex expense and maybe you're able to allocate more budget to profit or maybe you have to allocate more budget to your marketing expense. Whereas that's probably the case for most brands. But that helps me and in some way be able to go into any eCommerce business and get a basic understanding of how the numbers play out for each brand.

Brett:

Yeah. I really like that. So quick recap, the law of quarters states 25% to cogs or cost of goods, 25% operation, 25% marketing, 25% net profit. Obviously it's going to flex or change a little bit depending on your business. But I think it is a great way to look at it and say, "Oh wow, my cogs are actually 55%. Whoa." That's a rough space to be in eCommerce because now you got no money for market. Either you're going to have to be bare bones on operations or you're going to have very little money for marketing and it's just not going to work. So if it moves a little bit, a few points in one of those categories, then you've got to be able to justify that adjustment to other categories as well.

Brett:

And one thing I'll point out here too is that when you're looking at 25% dedicated or allocated to marketing, it's not necessarily that it's a four X ROAS in platform. You're looking at more of a four X as far as MER. Media efficiency ratio. So total sales and total marketing dollars, you're looking at a four X there. Rather than sometimes your new customer acquisition cost is going to be higher than that. But looking at that total media efficiency ratio, four X in this case. So yeah. So were you not able to get to the law of quarters with your weighted blanket business?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. So the thing that happened with that business was ... So in December, 2018, basically, we hadn't hit our sales goals like we had hoped. We actually hit ... In November we hit 800K that month. In December we also hit another 800K. But we had forecasted closer to 1.2 for each month. And that year we had actually tried going from two million to 10 million in one year.

Brett:

Five X to grow in a year. It's a lot.

Josh:

That's just a huge jump. Especially operationally. When you're bootstrapped, that makes it extremely, extremely difficult on cash flows. And your team in general. Especially as you're making that jump, you're probably going from a cash basis, accounting to accrual in that. So it just creates a lot of different confusion when you're making that jump. But anyways, we really over invested into inventory and then very quickly in 2019, we really started to see ROAS drop as more competitors came into the space. We went from tracking four competitors to over 30. And Target came out with their own weighted blanket and their cost was closer to $70 when ours was closer to 200. And so very quickly the numbers no longer made sense. Our op ex was probably 30% of revenue. All of a sudden our ROAS on Facebook was at ... It was at probably at like a three X blended. And so just the margin was starting to shrink very quickly. And so it just made things extremely, extremely difficult.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally makes sense. And so lots more we can unpack there, but in an interest of time, I want to transition to Groove Life. And we may circle back to weighted blankets as we go here a little bit. But let's talk about Groove Life. So you were the head of growth. You guys grew by $10 million in top line while you were there. I know the bottom line was healthy too. Talk about some of the key things you did to help Groove grow as the head of growth.

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. Obviously it wasn't all on me. Peter's a great marketer-

Brett:

Super smart.

Josh:

Himself to Groove Life. And Bryant was there.

Brett:

Yeah. Bryant Garvin, shout out.

Josh:

As well as the CMO. But yeah, one of the big things that really helped Groove grow ... I think outside of just marketing, I think we can talk about YouTube. I think that we can talk about a lot of the fun stuff that we were doing on TikTok and Facebook ads. But I think that one of the things that really helped Groove grow is what we were already talking about was just adding in these new product lines. Because really that was kind of like the new revenue growth. Because I think that we had really saturated the silicone ring market of people who were probably going to buy a silicone ring regardless. And I think that we were capturing a lot of the attention of that market already. And we had quickly taken over a large market share from KLO and Enzo as well was one of our other competitors. But really adding in the belt and really increasing the revenue share into the Apple watch bands, that was actually kind of a huge component that enabled us to grow.

Josh:

So that's how I like to think of things is really your marketing strategy starts from your product development. I think that's one thing that Peter's really great at is thinking from a marketing perspective when he's designing each and every single product. What are the benefits? What are the calls to action that we can make inside an ad that's going to make this click worthy, inside the timeline? Right?

Brett:

Yeah. It's kind of the way Amazon does it, just to give a quick insight there. They start with the customer and work backwards. When they're doing a new initiative or a new product designer rollout, they think about what would we put in the press release? That's what they think about from the very beginning, because that forces them to think one, what is worth talking about here and what will people want and who would want this? And so it sounds like that's something Peter's really good at is thinking about, "Okay, if we're going to build this belt, what are the points of differentiation going to be? What are we going to be able to say in our ads and why will people fall in love with this?" And that's key because sometimes I think people are just like, "Hey, this market's hot. Let's just make a belt. We can sell it." But really thinking about marketing from the beginning is really smart.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the other things that was really cool that we were able to do was ... I don't know. Have you ever seen ... Have you gotten the ads from Athletic Greens where they're running all the different ads from different influencer pages? Also, it feels like Athletic Greens has just been absolutely destroying everyone on ads recently in the last couple months.

Brett:

I heard of Athletic Greens through the Tim Ferris podcast. I don't see their ads much. I'm not sure why they're not targeting me specifically. But yeah, I'm very familiar with them, but just not their ads.

Josh:

Oh, that's funny. I've been talking with a lot of people on Twitter about everyone seems like they're getting the Athletic Greens ads.

Brett:

I'll visit their site and then I'll see what their remarketing game is like.

Josh:

There you go. Yeah. Check it out. But anyways, my main point was just around their influencer strategy of white labeling influencers. Just the added trust that you get from influencer marketing. And so we leveraged a lot of that for the Groove Life account to where inside Facebook, I was actually running 20 different ad accounts on behalf of Groove from different influencer accounts. And also even some of our licensing partnerships, like Mossy Oak Camo, Realtree Camo, all those guys. We were actually running ads from those accounts and being able to leverage their remarketing audiences.

Brett:

Yeah. So super smart. So you were basically ... You had access to their Facebook manager account. Mossy Oak and/or some of the influencers. You were running ads with their content, pointing people back to Groove Life, but you were doing all the spend. How did you position that? Because it's a real win-win for you and for the influencer, for you and the partner brand. How did you position that as a win-win?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. It's definitely a case by case basis. Sometimes in the licensing contract it might come with that as part of the deal to where we get access to their ad account and can run ads through their pages. In the case of a smaller influencer, sometimes they got a 5% rev share through any revenue attributed through the Facebook account. Other ones were just a one time fee for the year. So we would sign an MMA athlete or we would sign a bull riding athlete. And so that would just be a part of the added fee for the year. But yeah, we'd set all those up basically for them and really leverage all the creative and start to do some fun remarketing campaigns where at seven days this person would see this on a site visit or then they would see this next page. And it just seems like you're omnipresent once you go through the remarketing funnel, of everyone's talking about you.

Brett:

Yeah. It kind of feels like you're everywhere and that everybody ... Especially if someone happens to be following multiple influencers which does happen in a given space. Then you turn around and you're like, "Whoa, everybody that I trust and know is talking about Groove Life. This is huge. They're everywhere." Omnipresent.

Josh:

Right. Yeah. Some people, I think, think white labeling is a silver bullet. Which I don't know that it really is you're just going to do white labeling and it's automatically going to get you a huge ROAS. But what I do think that it can enable you to do is to get into new markets. And so if you sign someone in bull riding or if you sign someone that's more of a fitness athlete, it lets you leverage that person's audience and that person's likeness into a new market that you maybe never had access to before where just running ads from your brand page would kind of be offsetting or it might not make a lot of sense. But this gives you a stepping stone into a new market and gives you new volume that you hadn't had before.

Brett:

I love it. I love it. I want to talk ambassador programs in a minute and then talk about what your agency is doing. But before we do that, I know one of the things we talked about ... And I talked to Peter about this too. He and I hung out at an event in October so we were talking about this. But going beyond attributed ROAS. So going beyond the ROAS, return on ads spend, that you can see in platform. Can you talk about that a little bit? How are you guys thinking about that? Because I know you're still running Facebook ads for some clients and you're still very plugged into that as you're doing ambassador stuff, but how are you going beyond attributed ROAS?

Josh:

Yeah, that's a great question. So what we like to do is we looked at just your blended ROAS overall on the whole store. But you obviously have to pay attention to some level of in platform reporting. And so, one of the things that we've been doing has been A, well, we like to use a tool called Triple Whale, which I've shared with you previously.

Brett:

Yeah. I've met with those guys. Yeah. They're great.

Josh:

Yeah. Those guys are awesome. Max and AJ have done a great job building out the platform. But basically being able to see ... Basically with Triple Whale you're able to see your in platform reporting from Facebook, in platform reporting from Google, it brings in your Shopify revenue, Collegio revenue, all those fun things and gives you your site wide media efficiency ratio and your site wide ROAS. And so we love to look at that first and foremost. But another thing that we're doing-

Brett:

That's the real number right? You got to know how each platform and each campaign is performing. But there's going to be some cloudiness there and multi-touch attribution still isn't perfect. And you've got iOS 14.5 and later issues. But knowing that blended or MER number of total ROAS, that's the key number.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. That is the key number. And I think that a lot of people get caught up in the end platform reporting so they're not able to scale. And so one of the things I did last this last year in October was I took on a brand that was on a more of a profit share deal. And basically I installed a post-purchase survey where it was asking where'd you hear from us? It was actually from Inquire. Inquire Post-Purchase survey. It's an app on Shopify.

Brett:

Nice.

Josh:

It's really awesome. Check it out. But basically I installed that app and started getting almost 50% or 70% of people that were answering it were answering Facebook and Instagram. But really inside Facebook and Instagram, inside as manager I was getting a 1.0 ROAS. Maybe 1.2.

Brett:

... in platform, right?

Josh:

Yeah. I was getting really cheap cost per outbound clicks. And that was the cool thing is I was getting these really cheap clicks and so I doubled the budget immediately and all of a sudden my revenue doubled as well at a four or five X blended ROAS. And of course it was still-

Brett:

So your total ROAS was great. It's just the in platform it didn't look so rosy.

Josh:

Exactly. And so, we ended up quadrupling that store's revenue within three months, just because of that one change. And in platform, it looked like it sucked, but overall it was doing a four to five X ROAS after email marketing and all that fun stuff. And so I think that's definitely something to look at. Just kind of getting ... You have to have different touchpoints and understanding the whole marketing funnel, not just inside Facebook or inside Google.

Brett:

Yeah. And that's such good advice. And yeah, We hear really great things about Triple Whale. And I know Max so shout out to Max. They built a great tool. We also love Northbeam. Tool that we recommend to clients where it fits. But yeah, looking at how all of the platforms work together and then measuring your total ROAS is super important because ... We've seen this YouTube too. And we're more of a YouTube agency and we actually ... Our paths almost crossed. We helped Peter launch on YouTube and then ... Which the goal there is always we would launch it and then you guys would take it over and you did and did great.

Brett:

But we're seeing the same thing on YouTube as well where in platform you maybe seeing a 0.75 or a one ROAS, but you also notice that, yeah, but when we turn YouTube on Amazon sales go up and branded search and shopping go way up. They grow 300% in some cases. And so yeah, that's where you've got to look at the translation of what in platform numbers translate to the proper MER. That's the key. Not getting hung up on, I got to hit a four in platform, but I've got to hit a four total. What number in platform translates to that total number that I need to hit? So that's the real key. Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:

Absolutely.

Brett:

So talk about ambassador programs for just a little bit. What are you doing there now in your agency and maybe talk what you did at Groove as well. But what do those ambassador programs look like? Is that what you were just talking about where you take over people's ad accounts?

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I'm really stoked about ambassador programs mainly because last year, I think a lot of brand owners, when iOS 14, iOS 15 started to hit, really, they saw that drop in their in platform ROAS. Everyone was like, "Okay, what are the other ways I can make money on my eCom store without spending money on ads?" The answer for a lot of people was, "I want to start a community." But I haven't really seen anyone build out a community well for eCommerce brands. There's very few. You can kind of look at maybe PureVita or you can maybe look at MVMT watches or maybe Gymshark. More of these huge legacy ... Now legacy eCom unicorns.

Josh:

But I really want to set out to really build communities for eCom brands to do one of three things. The first is really driving organic traffic in sales through influencers. Just through influencers. And so that way you're getting the benefit of the organic audience, getting that organic traffic, which a lot of brands struggle with. But then number two is maybe the most important, which is getting the creative from those influencers and being able to leverage that across channels. And so by building an ambassador program, you're actually building out a well of creative to where it's getting refreshed every single month and you can refresh your ad account instead of running your same old static image ads that you're running from your product pages. You're getting something fresh and you're getting some more EGC style creative. And so my thesis is basically, what's going to perform better? The ad that two white guys thought of in a studio together trying to shoot on a backdrop or giving creators your product to help build a new piece of creative?

Brett:

Yeah. It's so good. Yeah. Do the best ideas or the best ads come from sitting around the boardroom so to speak and white boarding ideas and stuff? Maybe, but probably not. Probably your next breakthrough ad is going to come from an actual user, an actual customer, an actual influencer. And so we love this. And I know on the Facebook and Instagram side, you've got to be generating new content. It's very content hungry and that monthly refresh or even more often in some cases. We see the same thing on YouTube where we want to be testing regularly. We also find that creatives last a little longer on YouTube. So maybe it's more like a quarterly refresh, but you still want new, fresh creatives and you don't want to have to be the one racking your brain and coming up with new hooks and new product demos and new appeals to get someone to take action. Let your users, let influencers do that. So that's what you're doing here. So any tips or suggestions? How does one go about building an ambassador program? Other than calling Josh, which I would recommend doing that too. But how can you build an ambassador program? What does that look like?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. So what I always like to say is your best ambassadors are the people who have already bought from you. And so I always love to start ... I always like to launch an ambassador program to your existing customers. And so that's what we do with each brand. We actually go to their current customer list and we launch. We'll use a piece of software. There's a bunch of different softwares that you can use for this. Our preferred one is Dovetail. It's a great piece of tech. It's also very affordable. It's not going to charge you $2,000 a month like most influencer softwares are. And you can actually have them apply to your program. And maybe you give them a 10% commission on confirmed sales from the organic following, but really the benefit is A, they already have your product so most likely you're not going to have to ship out more product to them if they already have it. Obviously very dependent on the category.

Josh:

But then you're actually enabling them to share about why they love your product so much. And so that is actually going to flood your applications to where you might get 80 new applications from your existing customers. And then from there, it's really on doing outreach to new ambassadors that make sense for your brand. And so what we like to do is really building out campaign briefs. Really asking for more of a testimonial style piece of creative. That seems to be the easiest way to shoot. Face the camera, displaying the product, talking about the three things they love about it and having a call to action.

Brett:

You're giving them that direction of, "Hey, you face the camera, have the product and just tell us the two or three things you love about it." Is that the instruction you're giving ambassadors?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. But also past that. The two biggest problems we normally see with ambassador programs is A, there's usually a lack of support. Just because usually it's a social media marketer in-house or a performance marketer in-house. They're trying to run this while doing a million other things. So that's one big thing. Then the second one is just poor tracking of ROI. So a lot of people, they either don't have any links that are tracking the sales or they're not leveraging it into pay to really see how you're monetizing the ads. But the third one is just treating every influencer the same. And that might be the first tier of having a testimonial style video. But what if you have an influencer that has 500,000 followers that's been around the block and can actually build out some really gnarly creative. Then you really want to have them in a different here of like your ambassador program so that they're getting a high touch treatment.

Josh:

So maybe you're hopping on a Zoom call with them once a month, talking to them about your promo calendar, showing them, "Hey, here's how I think we help you earn more money." And have a greater level of partnership. And really just developing that relationship so that maybe you eventually put them on a retainer. Because influencers, they really want a long term partnership and consistent income. Those are the two things they want the most. And so if you can paint that picture for them, then you're going to have a really successful program as long as you deliver on your end. And so, yeah, just out of that we're able to get tons of new creative every month from your ambassador program and just keeping them up to date on what your promo calendar looks like and inviting them to new campaigns. We like to build out new campaigns usually every six to eight weeks, so that it's staying top of mind and so that they can continue to earn commission.

Brett:

New campaigns to outreach to find new ambassadors or new campaigns running ambassador content, promoting the product and stuff?

Josh:

New campaigns to your existing ambassadors. So once you maybe sign a hundred ambassadors, just keeping your new campaigns internally for those ambassadors. To be posting about whether it's a new product, a new promotion, maybe you want to launch them all at the same time. All those kind of things can help grow your ambassador program.

Brett:

It's amazing. I love it. And yeah, I'm sure the 80/20 rule, or maybe it's the 90/10 or 95/5, where 80% of your results are coming from 20% of your ambassadors or maybe it's again 90% coming from 10%. But you've got to focus in on those influencers that are really making a big impact and make sure they have everything they need and make sure they stay motivated and make sure they're incentivized and all those things. That totally, totally makes sense.

Brett:

Well, let's do this Josh because we've only got couple minutes left. Tell me a little bit about your agency and what you do specifically. And then I know you've got some really cool resources to help people get started with ambassador marketing. So let's talk about that.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. So our agency's called it alignedgrowthmanagement.com and we help eCommerce brands scale to multi seven figures, multi eight figure brands. And yeah, right now we're really focusing on helping scale ambassador programs and doing your paid social as well as a part of that. But yeah, we just actually put together this really cool Google Drive of creative from seven figure, eight figure and actually one nine figure brand in there that we took their top UGC that has done over six or seven figures in sales. And so you can actually come and see what that creative is at alignedgrowthmanagement.com/newsletter. And we're actually going to give you a quick breakdown of 10 different brands and then links to each video so that you can actually duplicate that and take those principles and apply that to your own creative. And hopefully that'll see your cost per clicks decrease and your conversion rate increase.

Brett:

Awesome. So again, that's alignedgrowthmanagement.com/newsletter. Did I get that right?

Josh:

Yep.

Brett:

Awesome. So check that out. I think one of the best ways to learn is by looking at other successful ... Even if it's UGC, where you're not the one actually creating this. Your influencers or your customers are going to be creating it. When you see UGC that's done well, that really strikes that emotional chord and is motivating and convincing and compelling and all that, it can help you understand how do I coach my people to do that? And then also, how do I identify when I get some of this UGC back from my brand? How do I identify which ones I want to run and which ones I don't? And so highly recommend you check that out. And then, Josh, you guys are also for hire as well right? So if someone's like, "Hey, I want to build an ambassador program." And I know you guys are full and probably got a backlog, but you guys are for hire for that as well, correct?

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. Just come to our site and book a call and happy to chat to see if we can help.

Brett:

Awesome. Sounds good, man. Well, this has been a ton of fun. I'm actually a little disappointed that we're out of time because I have more questions about Groove Life and about ambassador programs and about all of it but we'll have to consider round two at some point. So Josh, this has been fantastic, man. Thank you so much for the time. Any other parting words of wisdom, any asks of the audience? Anything you want to wrap up with?

Josh:

No, I don't think I have anything else. If you want to really connect with me, I'm pretty active on Twitter, @JoshJDurham. And I'm always chatting about D2C growth, how I hate oat milk, and lots of other things on Twitter. So I would love to connect with you there.

Brett:

Continue that conversation. Share you your hatred for oat milk as well. Follow at ... You said it's @JoshJDurham?

Josh:

Yes, sir.

Brett:

Awesome. I'll link to that in the show notes as well so you guys can find that. But Josh, thanks man. Been a ton of fun.

Josh:

Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for tuning in. We love your trust and your support of this podcast and hey, if you haven't subscribed, if you haven't liked ... Actually liked is not a thing. If you haven't given a review or if you haven't shared this podcast, do that. We love that. It helps other people find this podcast of course. And helps us impact and reach more people. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.