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.
Ezra Firestone’s Top 7 eCommerce Growth Strategies for 2022
Episode 1
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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.



How to Measure, Master, and Scale YouTube Ads with Brett Curry
Episode #5
:
Brett Curry

How to Measure, Master, and Scale YouTube Ads with Brett Curry

Tracking is harder than ever. Competition is fierce. But YouTube still offers the largest reach of any social media platform. It’s the most visited site on the planet behind Google. It also provides incredible opportunities to zero in on your ideal audience.

In this episode (taken from a recent talk given at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego) I break down two eCommerce case studies of companies who grew from $0 to over $1Million in profitable ad spend on YouTube. We’ll show you how you can do the same or better.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Brett Curry

   - LinkedIn

OMG Commerce

Native Deodorant

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Live Bearded

Grammarly

TrueView Ads

Flex Seal

Groove Rings

Purple Mattress

The Harmon Brothers

Tru Earth

Ryan McKenzie

DevaCurl

Wicked Reports

Northbeam

Enhanced Conversions

Social Media Examiner



Transcript:

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 some of the spiciest perspectives on what it takes to grow your business online. Hey, I'm Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today's episode is unique. You get a double dose, a triple dose, a quadruple dose of me. This is also unique because I'm sharing the recording from a live event I did recently in San Diego, California at Social Media Marketing World. And I talk about how to measure, master and scale with YouTube ads. I still believe, and I've been talking about YouTube ads since 2017, that this is still one of the biggest untapped opportunities for e-commerce companies. So, I'm going to lay out what's working now, how to approach your creative strategy, your audience strategy, and more. So, please enjoy my talk on how to scale with YouTube ads. The Spicy Curry Podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, One Click Upsell, Zipify Pages and Payability.

Brett Curry:

What's up, Social Media Marketing World? How has day one been? But just by a rowdy show of applause, has day one been awesome? Yes. Okay. Fantastic. Well, I'm super excited to be here. And I'm so glad, one, that you came to this session. And I love this topic, YouTube ads, because everywhere I go, and I've been speaking on YouTube ads since like 2016, which in internet years is like a couple of decades. And what's always been interesting to me is that audiences either are just getting started with YouTube ads, or they're not running YouTube ads at all, or it's not going as well as they had hoped.

Brett Curry:

So quick show of hands. How many of you are not currently running YouTube ads at all? Look around. That is most of the room. Things have not improved. I guess I've not been doing my job since 2016. I haven't inspired enough audiences. How many of you have dabbled in it, but it's not going as well as you had hoped? Few of you? And it's okay to brag, bragging is fine, anybody crushing it on YouTube right now? Yes. These are the people you may want to talk to. And I want to talk to you guys after this as well. So I want to make this very practical, very actionable, also fun. Hopefully this will be fun, engaging and high energy. I've got videos to show you. I've got examples. And hopefully this will be an enjoyable time.

Brett Curry:

So I've had the privilege of working with some really cool brands, Native Deodorant, we run all their Google and YouTube ads. I used to work with the founder, Moiz Ali. And now we work with P&G, and they're growing and going strong. And that's an awesome relationship. Anybody heard of Boom by Cindy Joseph and Ezra Firestone? Yeah. Shout out. So great brand. About a $50 million a year eCommerce brand. So we took them from zero on YouTube, to now YouTube is their number two acquisition source, right behind Facebook ads. Live Beard, I'll show you some examples there in a little bit, and a few other awesome brands. Got a great team as well. So we got a team of about 50. We're in the top 1% of Google agencies. And for agencies our size, we're one of the top spenders on YouTube ads. So I only say that because what I'm about to show you is all based on actual campaigns, actual tests. It's not theory. It's kind of proven in the trenches. And so I want to bring you some real value there.

Brett Curry:

Brian mentioned eight kids. I do have eight kids. I'm not Amish, but I do get asked that a lot, Amish Catholic, do I know how birth control works? And things like that. But this is my crew. So I have six daughters and two sons and a dog. And the dog is actually not that well behaved. The dog is very cute. His name's Rusty. He's a handful. In fact, on my way here, my wife and I were texting about how much do we need to spend to get this dog trained? But right there, Rusty looks like an angel. I mean, he looks like a perfect dog. He's not. My kids look like angels. They're not either, actually. I'm just kidding. They're fantastic. But people often ask, how do you keep up with the chaos that is digital marketing? How do you handle things always changing, and algorithm updates and tracking things changing? I'm like, "Dude, I have eight kids at home. And so, digital marketing is a calm place compared to home."

Brett Curry:

Do I have any Buccaneers fans in the audience? I'm actually disappointed that there are some hands up. No, it's totally okay. Root for your team. I'm a Chiefs fan. Go Patrick Mahomes. But we saw Tom Brady unretired recently. I did see a meme yesterday, it was great. It had a picture of Tom with his family and it said, "Tom realized that staying home with three small kids is harder than being chased by a 300 pound lineman." And I don't know, but it's probably true. So here we go.

Brett Curry:

Anyway, let's dive into YouTube. So as we look at, how do we scale? So how do we measure, how do we master, how do we scale with YouTube ads? It really comes down to three things, creative strategy, audience strategy, and campaign strategy. So we're going to spend most of the time on the creative piece because creative was what really matters most with YouTube. Talk a little bit about audience. And then on the campaign side, there's all kinds of ways we could go there, but mainly I want to talk measurement because it's really difficult to measure YouTube now. It's always been difficult, even pre iOS 14, it was difficult. It's even harder now. So we'll break down how you should measure it because you've got someone to report to, whether you're an agency and you're reporting to a client, whether you're a marketing manager, you're reporting to the higher ups or to the owners, you've got to show results. So I want to help you with that.

Brett Curry:

All of this is going to be fueled by data, backed by data. And so, that's really what matters. So right now we have to make sure we're running ads that connect, that engage with our audience, that makes our audience say, man, you get me. Like, you understand where I am. You're speaking directly to me with your ad. So it's got to connect and it's got to move them to take action. So, is someone inspired and motivated? And is there enough emotional charge to get them to actually take action? Because really, the days are gone. Actually, I'll talk about that in a second. But this is a stat directly from Google, and I believe this, where success on YouTube is probably 35% or less who you target and how you run your campaigns. All the nerdy behind the scenes stuff, which I really like, probably only about 35% of your success. The rest of it is what you say and how you say it. So the creative.

Brett Curry:

And is anybody else seeing that on Facebook too, where creative is not all that matters, but almost all that matters? That's what we're seeing on YouTube as well. So that's why I'm going to focus mostly on creative. And we audit hundreds of Google Ads and YouTube ad accounts every year. There was a time we would see ads and we would think, that's a pretty crappy ad. It's okay, but it's not great. But it was still working, to a certain degree, because the algorithm was filling in the gaps, and the algorithm was making it work. Those days are largely gone. Can you now get by with a meh creative and have it work? And we all know the answer is no. You've got to nail it. You got to nail the message and get the right audience.

Brett Curry:

So YouTube ads are different. How many of you guys here are Facebook first, like Facebook is your jam, Facebook is what you know? Awesome. Anybody here at TikTok? You're actually not in the TikTok session, which is going on right now. So I would explain why you're not in it. That makes sense. So YouTube is different than Facebook. Everything's different from TikTok, right? But YouTube is quite different from Facebook. It's got really a different structure, which I'm going to break down in a second. It is actually most like TV. In fact, we've had several bigger brands come to us that run short form infomercials, like two, three minute TV infomercials. Those, with a little tweaking, can actually work great on YouTube. So YouTube is a little more like TV than it is like Facebook ads. So just as a frame of reference.

Brett Curry:

But with this type of ad, we can't just grab attention, right? That's not enough. You do need to do that. We can't just grab attention. Really, the video has to do all the heavy lifting because, unlike Facebook where I know some of my Facebook friends, they're running 15 second, 20 second ads, but there's a block of copy above the video and you get the call to action button around it. And so, the videos there are mainly just to grab attention, the copy explains it and drives the click, right? That doesn't exist on YouTube, the video has to do all the work. And it's really a different pace.

Brett Curry:

And so, another analogy that I really like is movie trailers. Think about movie trailers. And I want you to kind of picture the typical story arc. So actually, I'll show two here. So on the left, this is the traditional story arc, where there's a lead in, there's a buildup. Maybe it's a quiet, suburban neighborhood and someone's out on their lawn and the birds are chirping. It's like a real slow buildup. And then there's a climax, something happens, product is revealed, problem is revealed, whatever. And then it tapers off and there's an offer. Okay. That's not usually how movie trailers work now. Usually, a movie trailer now starts with an explosion, James Bond's jumping out of a plane. He's ramping his motorcycle over the train tracks. He's rolling, he's shooting. And then it backs up and tells a little story. And then there's more explosions and action. And then there's more content. And then it hits you hard at the end. And you're like, whoa, I got to see that movie. I got to go see that movie on opening weekend.

Brett Curry:

Now, that's not the perfect analogy, because you don't need explosions and you don't need CGI, and you don't need James Bond. But you need to keep that pace in mind. Pace has got to be fast. You got to start strong and on a high note, and then keep it interesting as you go as well. And I'll give you examples here in just a minute. And you have to say enough, you have to say enough to get someone to click. And so, here's what we've found. Really, the sweet spot, if you're running YouTube ads, to get a conversion, how many of you guys have like a specific CPA goal or specific CAC goal that you're going after? You're not just going for awareness, you've got like a CPA goal? Okay. That's most of you.

Brett Curry:

So if you're trying to drive conversions, whether that's a sign up, whether that's a purchase. We're mostly e-com, so that's what we do. But what I'm going to show you apply whether you're lead gen or service based or whatever. But if you're trying to get an action, longer videos work. YouTube did just release that if your video's over three minutes, they're going to tax you for that, it's going to be a higher cost. We actually have not seen that play out. Boom, which I showed you earlier, they've got some four and five minute videos that are still working very well. But I think still, as a rule of thumb, minute and a half to three minutes. I've had some videos in the automotive space that are about 45 seconds that really do well. But where we've seen a taper off is like, if you go 30 seconds or less, your view rate will go up. Your conversion rate will go way down, almost every time. So this is kind of the sweet spot.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. What you say and how you say it is way more important than production value. So story is more important than production value. You don't have to spend a lot to get a YouTube ad that works. And compelling is more than impressive. So just to kind of hedge the example of a TV ad, because I know, as soon as I say TV ad, you think super bowl commercial or something like that, where it's really funny and engaging, but we don't know what the product is for. So your goal here is not to make someone say, "Oh man, that was a great ad." You want to make them say, "I got to have that product." Or, "I got to try that service." Or, "I got to have that free resource." Or, "I've got to take this step." So, impressed with the product or service, not so much with the ad itself.

Brett Curry:

Okay. Let's break down six must have elements of any YouTube ad, and then I'm going to show you some examples, and then we'll talk about measurement. So here we go. Number one, we like to call this the golden thread. So what is the golden thread behind your video? What's the one thing, if your audience could only remember and really grab ahold of one thing, what is that one thing? And then that one thing needs to be weaved throughout the video. So a couple of examples, Boom by Cindy Joseph, they sell cosmetics primarily to women over at the age of 50. Their one thing is they're pro-age cosmetics. So their messaging is not anti-age or look like you did when you were 20 or that type of thing. They're saying, "Hey, you are you beautiful where you are. You're at a more powerful stage you've ever been in your life. So embrace who you are now. Look your best, for sure." But some of their models, and you can see there that their hair is gray. They're not coloring it. And so, the whole message is around pro-age, not anti-age, but pro-age.

Brett Curry:

Another example, Grammarly, not a client, but I admire what they're doing. They're actually one of the top spenders on YouTube ads. So their one thing is, spelling and grammar errors will sabotage your success. Whether you're a student or a business owner or getting started in your career, if you send messages that have grammar and spelling errors, you're hosed. And so, we fix it as you go. That's the whole message behind Grammarly. That's their one thing. So have that one thing in mind, everything is built around that one thing.

Brett Curry:

But then you got to hook the audience. So the hook is super, super important. So we'll kind of break this down just a little bit. Anybody know what product this is for? Poo-Pourri. It's an old one. I haven't seen this ad in years and years, and you probably haven't either, but you still remember it. So this is the toilet spray to make things not so smelly. This can be a really gross ad. And it's borderline. This could be a gross topic, but they chose to open the ad with this British girl. She had a beautiful British accent. She's wearing a dress, and she's sitting on a public toilet. That's not what you expect from an ad. And then she even starts, and I don't want to gross anybody out, but she says, "You would not believe the mother load I just dropped." So it's like, are you kidding me? So this is like shock and awe and humor. But then it tells the story, it's beautiful, it's hilarious. It keeps you going. So you'll have like education, then humor, then education, then humor. And then you close. And you're like, I got to buy this. Even if I don't want it, I got to buy it at this point.

Brett Curry:

So this probably isn't the way you'll start your video, but it could be. You could go shock and awe. You could go humor, because that does work. Here's an interesting thing to keep in mind as you're creating your hook. You actually want to hook the right audience and repel the wrong audience. So this doesn't have to be mass appeal. Usually, it's not. Typically, I want to speak directly to a specific person. And I want the other people to actually skip my ad. And here's one of the reasons why, if someone skips, you actually don't pay for that. So those of you that have played around with this, you experienced that. It's called true view ads. So you only pay if someone engages by watching or by clicking through to your ad, clicking through to your lander.

Brett Curry:

So I'm okay repelling some people and getting them to move on. So you want just the right people to stay there. Because we've all had that experience, we're watching a YouTube video. We go to YouTube to learn or to watch a music video or something. And the ad pops up and you're like, "Curse you, YouTube. Curse you, advertiser." You got your finger over your track pad. You're ready to press it. But then maybe it hooks you, maybe you watch. Some of the videos we run have 30%, 40%, 50% view rates. So up to half the people don't skip. But they all want to. You know they want to, in the first five seconds, but then we get them to stick around. And so the hook is super important. Spend most of your time on the hook because that is what matters.

Brett Curry:

But here's some things you can do. So you may not want to do the shock and awe, humor thing. Maybe you want to lead with your biggest benefit. So this was an ad that we ran for like a bronzer type of product. And so, it opened with, do you want gorgeous, sexy legs in a matter of seconds? So it was like a real direct benefit. And then it talked about how the product worked, it's just a spray on thing. And then it talked about how it doesn't stain, and it's waterproof and all these things. But just led with the strongest benefit, made that super clear right out of the gate. Maybe you lead with the biggest problem that you help overcome.

Brett Curry:

So this is a quick shot of Flex Seal. Who here has seen the Flex Seal infomercials? The dude from New Jersey, and he's spraying everything with the black goo, the Flex Seal. So he says, "This repair will cost thousands of dollars, but you can spray it with the Flex Seal. So I encourage you to watch the video. It's actually really great. It's like a lesson in salesmanship. But he's starting with a problem. This is the problem we help you overcome. And then he shows how you do that.

Brett Curry:

Anybody have a percussive therapy device, like a theragun or something like that? Dude, they're miracle workers. Love them, absolutely love them. So we had a client. And what we found as we were talking to people, and I was a customer so I had some insight, was that people usually have two questions when they're looking at this. One, does it work? And two, do I need to pay 600 bucks? Because that's what some of the brands cost. So we created this video that opened just like this. It had like all the percussive therapy devices on a table and it said, "Hey, have you ever seen devices like this and wondered do they work? And if they work, do you really have to pay 600 bucks?" And then we went into, "No, you don't. And here's how ours works. And here's the price, and all that stuff." And so maybe you start with the biggest question that's in the mind of your prospect. That's a great hook. That's a great place to start your video.

Brett Curry:

But you don't just want to have the one thing, and you don't just want to have a great hook. You also need to think about the supporting cast. What's going to help bring this to life? What's going to really push someone over the edge? Because we all have sales resistance. What's going to push us over the edge to say yes? So what are some other benefits that kind of compliment your one thing? Anybody recognize these sunglasses? Anybody know what that brand is? They need to run more YouTube ads. Got it. Okay. So these are some friends of mine, I helped them launch on YouTube. William Painter is the brand. So these are titanium sunglasses. So you can step on them, you can drop them, you can run over them with a car. Well, maybe you can't do that. I'm not sure. But you can do a lot of stuff to these and they don't break. So that's the real selling point. They look cool. They're indestructible.

Brett Curry:

But then they added this thing called the hook, and the hook is actually a bottle opener. So in the video, the spokesperson is popping open a bottle of beer and he is drinking and he is like, "Hey, you can also pop bottles and look like a model." And that's not the reason you buy it, but what happens if you're attempted to buy a $300 pair of sunglasses? You're like, "Well, I don't really need that. Who am I going to have to explain this to?" But if you're like, but I could show it off, or, it's practical. I can open bottles with this. So it's like a justification to say yes to this expensive pair of sunglasses. But there are other things you could do too that makes your product irresistible. What are those things? What is the supporting cast for your video?

Brett Curry:

Number four, objection busters. So this is where you're thinking about, what is the natural resistance that your prospects are feeling? What are the parts of your message that they're not readily accepting? And then, how do you overcome those objections? So people are saying, "Eh, I've seen this before. I've tried this type of product. I've done this before. I've been let down. It doesn't work." So people are naturally skeptical. And so, you can say things like, "Hey, you may be thinking this, but let me show you why that's not true."

Brett Curry:

So here's this buddy of mine, Peter, from Groove Rings, I'm actually wearing a Groove Ring right now, silicone wedding ring. They're awesome. Super comfortable. But they're made of silicone. And there's still a lot of people that have metal wedding bands. And so, they're afraid that these might break. So am I going to pay for this, then it's going to break? What's going to happen? So they have a 94 year warranty, which sounds cooler than lifetime. And basically, if you break it, you lose it, something happens, just ... out, we'll replace it. No questions asked. So that big objection standing in people's way, they overcome that in the video. So, what are the objections you have that people are thinking when they're watching your video? How do you overcome those?

Brett Curry:

All right. Next one. The proof. So this is good. I'm from Missouri, which is the show me state. Our state animal is the mule, which is really promising. So I guess we don't believe anything unless you show us. So you need to keep Missouri in mind when you're making these videos because people want proof. They want proof that what you're saying is true, and that it's actually going to work. And so this is where you're throwing credentials, throwing testimonials. Ideally, video testimonials. I like both, showing reviews, we do a lot of product stuff. I like showing reviews, like Native, one time it was 15,000 5 star reviews. Now it's like 100,000 or something. But, this many five star reviews. And then we show actual video testimonials. That's really, really powerful. Show credentials or reviews or other things as well can help.

Brett Curry:

Also, make sure you keep this fun. This is an area where we could start to get a little bit boring if we're not careful. So this should be fun. Anybody know what video this is? Purple Mattress. So shout out to the Harmon brothers, both this and Poo-pourri were made by the Harmon brothers. I know the guys there. They're great. Really, really talented. And so, they were showing how the Purple Mattress, it's such a supportive mattress. You put raw eggs on top of it, drop this 300 pound sheet of glass, and the mattress will support it and the eggs won't break. That's a really fun science experiment. Science can be boring, but this is fun and it's engaging and you want to watch it. So make the proof fun. This isn't a term paper. This isn't high school debate. Make it fun and engaging while you're giving your proof.

Brett Curry:

And then the sixth step is the offer. So we need some kind of offer to close out the video. Now, this could be something like a bundle or a discount. We do a lot in the supplement space and consumable space. And so, a lot of times what we're doing there is, "Hey, try our five best flavors. Try our five best fragrances free. All you pay is shipping and handling." We got upsells on the back end. And those convert really, really well. So you can do that. Or you could do like a bundled starter kit. We got some hair care products that do this $150 value starter kit, and get it for 50 bucks today type of thing.

Brett Curry:

But you don't have to do that. Boom by Cindy Joseph, they do almost no discounting ever. They do a Black Friday sale and that's basically it. So with Boom, we're laying out the benefit of the product, doing all the things we just talked about. And then we're saying, "Hey, click here for our five makeup tips for older women. See how you can really maximize your makeup over the age of 50. Click here and find that out." So it could be a learn more, see it in action, try it for yourself, that type of thing. But you need some kind of call to action, even if it's simple. Because if you leave out that call to action, people won't take action. People will just watch the next video, because that's why they were in YouTube in the first place. They didn't go to YouTube to watch your video. They went to watch a Justin Bieber video, which is why my kids go, which is really disappointing. Or they went to learn something, or whatever. So unless you tell them to click and to go do something, they won't. So you need to ask.

Brett Curry:

So those are the quick six musts of a YouTube video. Let's talk about what's working now, and let me give you some examples. I've kind of alluded to this, but this is a question we get asked all the time. Usually it's, one, how long is the YouTube video? How long should it be? And two, how much do I need to spend? So, do I need to start with a $20,000 production ad? And the answer is no. In fact, the answer is, you shouldn't. Don't start there, please. Because it probably won't work. Your first attempt is probably not going to work, even if you spend a lot of money on it. So typically, don't start here, start with something simple and then iterate, and then go big. So let me give you an example. Anybody heard of True Earth? Laundry detergent strips. Yeah. A couple of people. All right, awesome. So I'm going to play part of this ad, and then I'm going to show you what we did with this ad. So just listen in. I won't play the whole thing, because that'll be too long. But just take a listen here.

Speaker 2:

Stop. Before you buy more laundry detergent, say no to wasteful plastic laundry jugs. Why? In North America alone, over 700 million laundry jugs per year find their way into landfills. Yes. Laundry jugs may be recyclable, but only one in five actually get recycled as intended. It's time to meet the new zero waste laundry detergent upgrade. True Earth laundry strips are a revolution.

Brett Curry:

Boom. So that's good. So we started there. How much do you think that video cost to produce? That's too much. So the guess was 5,000. That's too high. 500. Yeah, I don't even know. So here's the true answer. The voiceover was the owner, my buddy, Ryan Mackenzie, shout out to Ryan, if you ever listen to this. He wrote the script. It's like clip art, or just stock photography. He just grabbed it, he put it together on his Mac. I think he used the microphone on his Mac. I don't think he had like a Yeti. I think it was just the microphone on his MacBook. And that was it.

Brett Curry:

That video has, last time I looked, and this has been months ago. So like 12 million paid views and very, very profitable. So this was driving conversions like crazy. Now, once that worked and once we knew kind of audience and things like that, a few of the hooks, then he went big. So this is a high production value video. I'm going to play the first part of it. Actually, I'll show you how you can get a link to this if you want to watch the full thing, but I'll play a little bit of it. So this was going big.

Speaker 3:

Things you should never mix with water, mascara, home electronics, sodium metal, witches.

Speaker 4:

I'm melting.

Speaker 3:

But do you know what really shouldn't have water added to it? Laundry detergent. Why? Laundry detergents like these contain up to 80% water, which is why they're so heavy. And this, this is how much waste the average family creates in a lifetime just from buying laundry detergent. Look at that. It's more plastic than an episode of Real Housewives. And while technically-

Brett Curry:

So there you go. So it's a pretty funny ad. It hooks you because it's like a pattern interrupt, where you're not expecting someone to be dowsed in water. You're not expecting the witch thing and all that. It pretty quickly ties it into laundry detergent right thereafter. So this is in the first year. Now they're maybe two and a half years into YouTube, something like that. But first year we spent about a million dollars on YouTube. A lot of that was with that first, cheesy video. And then we got these videos.

Brett Curry:

And I think these videos now, there's like a series of them with that lead character. They have over a hundred million views now across YouTube and Facebook. And so it worked really, really well. We had 25 million views that first year, which was awesome. We went from zero to 54,000 a month in ad spend in just three months. And I'll show you what that did in a minute. Now, they've got a CPA goal. CPA goal or CAC goal, customer acquisition cost, whichever acronym you prefer. And we were able to get really, really close to that. But I'm going to show you, in the measurement part in a minute, the full impact of YouTube in just a second. And now they're still hitting their CPA targets.

Brett Curry:

So here's where we're doing a lot, with a lot of clients. I'm going to show you a couple more examples. We like to have kind of a hero video. And you could execute on a hero video and not spend a ton. You wouldn't have to go full production, like what we just showed you. But hero plus lower production value. I'm going to show you a couple more examples here. Anybody here use Live Beard? I'm looking for beards in the crab. We got a couple. You got nice hair, actually, man. Do you use product on your beard? What do you use on your hair, actually? Just curious. Whatever? Okay, awesome.

Brett Curry:

There's this kid. My daughter's cheer. And the quarterback for our team, he's got great hair, man. It's like long and flowing. And so, one time I was like, "Hey, what do you put in your hair, Parker? And I really thought he would just say something like that. Like, oh, I don't know. Just whatever. He's like, "DevaCurl" Like DevaCurl? That's not what you want to admit so that all your football buddies know you use DevaCurl. Anyway. So, beard products, very popular now for those that have beards. This is a video they created. So this is one of the founders, Spencer. This video, I'm just going to play a minute or so of it.

Spencer:

I'm beard man. And I'm here to show you how to become the bearded beast you were born to be. I'm not talking about some barbaric caveman from the past. And I'm sure as hell not talking about some selfie snapping soy boy. I'm talking about the kind of man who stands up for what's right, holds the door for strangers and always gets the girl. Are you plagued by patches or slow growth, tired of the homeless comments or being told to shave, or maybe you wish your beard looked better.

Brett Curry:

That guy used to work for me, actually.

Spencer:

Well, my friend-

Brett Curry:

So anyway, that's a good example. So it just kind of shows. And then actually, they wrote the script, they got a local production company to do it. So they paid some money for it, but it was not crazy. It was not that expensive. So it was more about pacing. And I think it was all guys that worked for them or did work for them, or one of the guys actually used to work for us. And so, it was pretty easy to execute. But then they also, that video is doing great. It's doing really, really well. But this video, to some audiences, is doing better. So check out this video, just the first few seconds.

Speaker 6:

Without products. With products.

Speaker 7:

Before products. After products.

Speaker 8:

My beard without products. My beard with products.

Speaker 9:

Without products. With products.

Speaker 10:

Without products. With product.

Speaker 8:

If you're considering trying the beard.

Brett Curry:

So you kind of get an idea. So super easy to produce, right? Before, after. With product, without product. And then there's another one that's kind of like it here that I'm not going to play. But that combo, and we test both of those to cold audiences, to warm audiences, to remarketing, and they both work. So having that combination of slightly higher production value with something lower production value can work really, really well. Feels authentic. So this is Native. I'm going to play the first few seconds of this ad as well. This is stop motion. We've actually created some really high end stuff for Native too. And so have a few other agencies. But we still run this ad. It's like three or four years old. So I'll play the first few seconds.

Speaker 11:

Let's talk about your pits. Most antiperspirants have ingredients you can't even pronounce, but it's hard to find a natural deodorant that works. Hello B.O, let's talk about Native. Native is an aluminum free deodorant that gets the job done.

Brett Curry:

So you kind of get the idea, right? It's stop motion. It hits on some of the high points. Natural deodorant, does it even work? And some of the ingredients you can't pronounce. And so Native, it's aluminum free, and it works. And so, really simple ad. And it just crushes. And it's been working, like I said, for several years, which is pretty remarkable.

Brett Curry:

So let's talk about measurement, because this is the part we get hung up on. This is the part that's hard to unpack. It was hard pre iOS 14. It's really hard now. So let's talk about how we do this. So what do we do in a post iOS 14 world, other than cry and lament and curse Tim Cook. What else can we do? Well, we're going to look at a few things. One, we're looking at brand lift. We're going to look at brand lift. I'm going to talk about that in a second. We're going to understand that there's a lag. It's very rare that you see a TV commercial for a new car and then go do a test drive that day, and purchase it that day. It doesn't happen. Usually with YouTube, someone's going to see the ad multiple times, got to think about it, got to click around, got to check things out before they buy. So there's lag. And you got to think about lifetime value as well.

Brett Curry:

Also, how many of you guys measure MER? Is MER a word you use, and is that something you measure for your group? Yeah, so a couple. So basically, all that means it's media efficiency ratio. And what that means is total money in, so total sales, and total money out for ads. So think like return on ad spend, but total. So these are all my sales for a given day, and this is my total ad spend across YouTube, Facebook, Google Ads, TikTok, everything. So that's your MER. So you want to optimize for this, because those numbers don't lie. You know what you spent in media, you know what sales are coming in. We got to get to the campaign level and stuff too. But this is like our true north to make sure we're not screwing something up. If the MER is way out of whack, then something's off.

Brett Curry:

Okay. Right now I recommend you consider a third party attribution tool. These are a few that I recommend. These are kind of more enterprise level. But a few of them are still fairly affordable. These work great for eCommerce. If you're not eCommerce, and I think things like Wicked Reports or Hyros, some of those are okay too. I really like Northbeam. So I get nothing for plugging them. I just really like their tool. Basically it works on a first party pixel. So they put a first party pixel on your site. So it's your data, never expires, never goes away. You have it forever. They connect that then to all the ad platforms and to your backend system, whether that's Shopify, BigCommerce, whatever. So they're able to get a really true picture of what's happening.

Brett Curry:

There's also a free tool you can use, Enhanced Conversions. Anybody here using Enhanced Conversions with Google Ads? Almost none of you. Okay, this is free. You should do this. So reach out to your agency, reach out to a Google rep, if you have one. Basically same concept here, where Google will give you a first party pixel, so that it's now your data. Then it will be hashed and sent back to Google. So basically, just to skip the nerdiness, it just allows Google to see more conversions. So once this is implemented, you'll see a lift of 7% to 25% increase in conversions. Not that more conversions are happening. It's just that you're able to see the conversions that already were happening, because of the iOS 14 issues, primarily.

Brett Curry:

And then if you have a tool kind of like Northbeam, and I'll just show this one slide and then we'll kind of move on. What it will do is it'll break down a given day and say, hey, the return on ad spend or the media efficiency ratio for today, X percent of that was based on one day activities, so today's activities. A certain other percentage was based on things that happened three days ago. And then some of it was based on LTV, stuff that happened three or four or five months ago. And so these are really helpful numbers to know. And you really can't get that without some kind of a tool at this point.

Brett Curry:

So I talked to you about overall brand lift. Let's talk about True Earth brand lift real quick. Once we got to 50,000 in monthly spend, we saw direct conversions. We saw people did click from YouTube, and they did buy right away. But that was only part of the story. The bigger impact was here, their branded campaigns. So branded search campaigns went up 60%. Their search and shopping went up 366%. Their overall Google Ads account, excluding YouTube, went up 80%. So you have all these people that saw a YouTube ad and converted then elsewhere, through branded search or through a shopping ad or something like that, that YouTube didn't get credit for, but that YouTube helped drive.

Brett Curry:

So this is what we need to look at, too. It's overall growth. Because we found a lot, once people shut off YouTube, things really slowed down. We even seen this, we have a big hair care brand that sells on Amazon too. And we had to shut off YouTube for a couple months around iOS 14. And Amazon sales really dropped. We weren't even sending traffic to Amazon, we were sending traffic to their store. But when YouTube was shut off, Amazon went down big time. This is kind of the averages. You could always expect about a 30% lift once you start getting to a meaningful spend on YouTube.

Brett Curry:

So let's talk about this really quickly. We'll kind of wrap up here. We got about 10 minutes, a little bit less. I'll be available for questions too, after this. We may not get to Q&A here, but I'll hang out, I got time, to answer any questions. So let's think about what levers can we pull to create greater growth? So this is the real part of campaign optimization that matters. So based on the data we're seeing, what can I do next? So let's talk about a few things. Let's talk about conversion rate first. So what if, for every hundred people that click, oftentimes you only get like one of those people to convert. That's typical e-commerce. One out of a hundred clicks and they buy something. If you're doing opt-ins or whatever, usually that percentage is higher. But what if we could take that to two or three people instead of one? That can completely change a campaign, allow you to spend more, allow you to be more aggressive, things like that.

Brett Curry:

And so, what does it take then to get better conversion rates? Well, it's really these three things, landers, offers or better quality traffic. But typically, it's the first two. So often, if you're not getting a high enough conversion rate, you need to tweak the landing page, you need to tweak your offer. And so, if YouTube's not working, maybe you shouldn't scrap YouTube. Maybe you need to look at the lander and look at the offer. And then if those are great, then it's probably the quality of the traffic. You need to switch up your audiences or something like that.

Brett Curry:

Next. Click through rate. Now this is an interesting one. So click through rate really just means the percentage of people that see the ad that click the ad. You're not actually paying for clicks, but we see this kind of thing all the time. So it's not uncommon to have a YouTube ad where, for every thousand people that see it, only 15 click. That's not very good, but that may be what's happening with your video. So for every thousand people that see it, only 15% click. This really isn't impacting your cost, you're paying about the same amount for 15 people to click or for 50 or 100, because you're paying for views with YouTube.

Brett Curry:

But what if you could increase that from 15 to 50 or 100? So now you're going from a 0.15 click through rate to a 1, and that's where we see a lot. And so you can do that. So then you have to ask, well, what keeps someone from clicking? If they see the ad, if they watch the ad and they don't click, what's keeping them from clicking? And usually, it's a few things. So yeah, what we're trying to do here is just more selling opportunities for the same cost. So what keeps people from clicking on an ad? Usually it's the call to action. Sometimes it's the product demo. Maybe you did enough to hook them, but not enough to overcome their objections or to really see the product working or the service working, or to see themselves benefiting from what you're offering. Or maybe there's not enough emotion. You should create an emotional reaction in your audience when they see your ad. If you're not, then they're likely not going to click.

Brett Curry:

Then there's also view through rates. So view through rate is the percentage of people that are served the ad that actually watch the ad. And this is not a given, we got the skip ad button. And so what we're looking at here, and if your view rate's really low, then what do you need to change? Usually it's the hook. You want to increase the hook. And here's what's cool, if you have more people watching your ad, so a lower skip rate, basically, YouTube loves that. And they actually are like, people love this ad. I'm going to keep showing this ad. You'll pay a lower cost for that ad because Google makes more money when people watch it, and it'll show more. So thinking about how to make the hook better actually drives your costs down over time. So it's really a powerful benefit of getting a good hook. So better hooks, more relevance to your audience. That's kind of how you solve that.

Brett Curry:

So what are some things you should test? Well, I like to launch with two to three different hooks. So let's say you've got the same video, but I'd want to test two or three hooks in the very beginning. I'd want to test a couple of different product demonstrations, and then test a couple of offers as well. And then you're looking for the right combo, right combo of hook, offer, demo. That's what you're really looking for. And demo could be just like the education on your product as well. So you're looking for the right combo there.

Brett Curry:

And then, as we're going through this then, I'll talk about audiences really quickly. And then what do we have? We have five minutes left on time. Okay. So maybe we'll sneak in a couple questions because this takes like 30 seconds. So two audiences I recommend for YouTube, these are kind of unique to YouTube and the way YouTube functions. One is called custom intent, the other is called a keyword campaign. So custom intent, this is where you can build an audience based on what people are searching for on Google and on YouTube. So Google has amazing search data. It's also first party data, so they can use it however they want. So you can build an audience of people based on what they're searching for on Google or on YouTube, or you can target people based on what they're watching.

Brett Curry:

And so, a keyword campaign is actually contextual. So it puts your ad next to content related to whatever keyword you give it. So we have clients that sell supplements, or the beard company, we'll use keywords like beard routine, beard maintenance, beard care. How do I grow a beard? Things like that. And so those are people watching videos about that topic. Now we can run our ad right there. Okay. So getting the audience right is important, but nailing the creative, that's really what matters. So a quick free resource. I put together this guide that's like top YouTube ad examples. So this is free. This has links to a lot of the videos that I just showed you. And there's actually a QR code. If you hit that, then you can go to the page to download that. So that's an awesome guide. I highly, highly recommend it.

Brett Curry:

Should we attempt questions, Brian? It's up to you. Let's do it. So go to one of the microphones. We got time for maybe two. And if I don't get to you all, I'll hang out afterwards as well. So go ahead. Yeah. Oh, there's actually not a microphone in that aisle. Oh, denied. Okay. Get there. You got time. You got time, I'll wait for you. Yes, sir.

Speaker 12:

Hi, Brett. Thanks very much. Have you seen performance max campaigns?

Brett Curry:

Mm. Yeah. Great question. So performance max, who here has heard of performance max? Okay. Little known fact, performance max is actually going to replace smart shopping sometime this year, probably in the summer. So if you're running smart shopping, that's only e-commerce. But if you're running smart shopping, performance max will replace that, which is interesting. Basically, Google's goal is for you just to give them ads. So like, here's our images, here's our videos, here's our website. And Google, you do the rest. Like, here's our return, you just do the rest. We've tested performance max now with several clients. It's been mainly hit or miss. We have one client that's killing it with performance max. The rest are like, eh. I'm not really ready to press the gas on them at all. I would consider testing it, especially if you're running smart shopping, you got to start testing performance max now, because that's where your campaigns will become soon.

Speaker 12:

But are you using video ads in the ...?

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Speaker 12:

As well. So is it affecting your video campaigns?

Brett Curry:

Performance max?

Speaker 12:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

Is performance max affecting video campaigns?

Speaker 12:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

So far it has not been pulling away any volume from video campaigns.

Speaker 12:

Okay. Thank you.

Brett Curry:

And a little secret too, sometimes we like to launch performance max in a separate account. You can do that. You can have multiple Google Ads accounts. It's okay, Google doesn't mind. That often works better. So then, get performance max and something separate, sometimes can work. Yes, ma'am.

Speaker 13:

Hi.

Brett Curry:

Hello.

Speaker 13:

Do you have any experience with very low budgets or very small companies? And do YouTube ads work?

Brett Curry:

Yeah. So most of my experience has been when we got a little budget behind it, we can kind of push the spend. So we're maybe spending 10,000 to 30,000 a month. That's where you can see results quickly. But you don't have to do that. We do have one, I showed a landing page a minute ago. One of my clients is actually a friend too. They sell like a derma roller. And they're like, hey, we want to spend like a hundred bucks a day. That's it. And so, it actually worked. We got it dialed in on the ad front, and then also on the landing page.

Brett Curry:

If you go low budget and you're still trying to get conversions, I recommend you go with what's called maximize conversions, that's the bid strategy. Because if you go target CPA, and I apologize for this getting a little nerdy. But if you go target CPA, you have to have a bid to budget ratio of like 10X. So if you're trying to get like a $50 conversion, then Google wants 500 bucks a day for that campaign. If you go max conversions, you can fudge that. You can just say, I'll spend 50 bucks on this today. And so, really the testing window may just become longer if you spend less, but you can still start with a lower budget. Yeah.

Speaker 13:

Thank you.

Brett Curry:

Awesome.


























Why GDN is Better than Facebook Ads with Justin Brooke of Ad Skills
Episode 6
:
Justin Brooke

Why GDN is Better than Facebook Ads with Justin Brooke of Ad Skills

Misconceptions about GDN are rampant in the eComm world.

Misconceptions about GDN are rampant in the eComm world. It’s too hard. It’s too expensive. The targeting isn’t as good as Facebook. It doesn’t work. Justin Brooke knows better.
Justin is an ad veteran who knows just about every ad platform out there. He’s partnered with and trained media buyers for Russell Brunson, Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy and more. He also worked for Agora Publishing. He KNOWS his stuff. And he believes GDN ads are better than Facebook?
Why?

  • You can still get $.40 and $.80 clicks.
  • GDN offers targeting that you can’t match on Facebook.
  • GDN creates the impression that your brand is “everywhere”.

Here are some tips we cover:

  • His unique approach to GDN for eCommerce.
  • His landing page must-have elements.
  • How quality is in the quantity when it comes to GDN headlines and copy.
  • Testing 3 angles for every idea - toward pleasure, away from pain, and something controversial.
  • Utilizing the overnight celebrity strategy with testimonial GDN ads.
  • How deadlines and testimonials work together.
  • How to work hand-in-hand with the algorithm for amazing results.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Justin Brooke

   - LinkedIn

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


AdSkills

   - Website

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


Traffic Tips for Busy People

Russell Brunson

Frank Kern

Dan Kennedy

Ezra Firestone

Semrush


Transcript:

Brett:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry podcast where we explore hot takes on 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. And today's guest brings a very spicy perspective. We're looking at why the Google Display network is better than Facebook ads. What, you might say, Google Display network better than Facebook? Heresy.

Brett:

Well, no, not heresy, but it is the opinion of my guest today, Justin Brooke. Justin is the founder of AdSkills. He's also one of the smartest marketers that I've ever met, and more about Justin in a minute. But what we're going to unpack in this episode is, one, Justin's formula for using the Google Display network to grow your e-commerce brand. We'll talk about must have elements for your landing pages. We'll dive into his overnight celebrity strategy, which is one of my favorite ad strategies. It could be the key to unlocking the Google Display network for you. We talk about misconceptions and why people fail with the Google Display network. And really, I think we're just going to make your brain explode. We might make your brain hurt just a little bit, but Justin's going to deliver amazing value. So lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Justin Brooke.

Brett:

The Spicy Curry podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify pages, and Payability. Well, this is an episode that I can confidently say has been years in the making. I've been looking forward to this. I've been planning this, I've been dreaming about this day and it's finally here. And so I get to interview mister Justin Brooke. Our paths have crossed numerous times throughout the years, even dating back to like 2008, 2009. We were both actually partnering with Russell Brunson on separate projects. And I remember being in Russell's office and being like, "Hey, there's Justin Brooke, that guy's famous." And so then we've crossed paths in a few other ways.

Brett:

We're talking today about the Google Display network, a topic that I love, and I believe there's nobody out there better than Justin. And so I can't wait to tap into his mind and allow him to share with you and me his best insights on GDM, but just a couple of quick things for you to know. So Justin founded AdSkills in 2016, they've trained over 13,000 media buyers. They have 300 plus certified media buyers. He's worked with and trained media buyers for Frank Curran, Dan Kennedy, Russell Brunson. If you've been around direct marketing, you know all of those names.

Brett:

He also has a really well-read newsletter. In fact, some of the smartest people I know referenced Justin's email newsletter, Traffic Tips for Busy People. And so you should check that out as well. But with that intro, Justin, welcome to the show. How you doing, man?

Justin:

Thanks for having me, man. I'm so glad and hardly famous, man. Nobody gives me a second look at the grocery store, man, but I appreciate the accolades and everything.

Brett:

Yeah. So it's famous. You're famous in my mind, but it is funny. There's the Dan Kennedy always used to call him famous people that nobody knows, right? So you're not airport famous, not grocery store famous, but like you get into a room of marketers and you're like, whoa, holy cow, it's Justin Brooke. You got to get tap into this guy's mind a little bit.

Brett:

So let's dive right into this topic, because I think it's one that, and I encounter hundreds of eCommerce brands every year, we're auditing dozens and dozens of accounts. I know almost nobody doing Google Display network well. We run into people all the time that are spending mid to high six figures a year, a couple million dollars a year on Facebook. Most people are spending nothing or close to nothing on the Google Display network, but let's maybe start with what are some misconceptions about the Google Display network? What do you hear people saying about it that just drives you crazy?

Justin:

Yeah. So this is why you don't see a whole lot of people is really it's the misconceptions. So when you think of Google, we are still all stung by the Google slap years ago. We still think of, oh the cost per clicks are really high. They terminated all of our accounts. That stigma is still very much in the air in our industry. It's almost like a branding now, Google Ads is expensive. You know? That's like what immediately what we think. It's expensive. It's hard. And they're going to shut down my accounts. A lot of that has gone away. I'm not saying it's not expensive anymore. There are certainly some crazy expensive niches West Palm, cosmetic dentistry, just stay away from it. Just stay away.

Brett:

Avoid that, yeah.

Justin:

But they've really a far way. They got in a lot of trouble from their stockholders and stuff. When their stockholders were like, wait a minute, you're just like shutting down accounts? Is that the way you guys make money? And that's the way our stocks go. Could you not do that anymore? So yeah, they got a lot of trouble and I'm super paraphrasing it, but there was an event years ago. They're super helpful now. I mean, you can get on the phone with reps. I'm almost a little annoyed sometimes how much the reps are reaching out to me. It's like, okay, yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Reps are reaching out, wanting to schedule meetings, wanting to get time on your calendar, wanting to meet with you. Absolutely. And some of them are super helpful. Some of them not, but some of them are super helpful.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's really a different situation. So a lot of that stuff has gone away. And I would say, so if you've heard that about Google Ads, I would say it's different. I would say it's still the same in the first two weeks of an account, they're very strict in the first two weeks of an account, that's usually where-

Brett:

Manual reviews. A human is reviewing everything at that point, basically.

Justin:

Even machines. So it's like if you're landing page, your ads, anything smells bad in the first two weeks, there's going to be a high shutdown rate. And that's just because there's trying to stop the churn and burn guys and they have to be very strong because that's where those guys live. They're just creating new accounts all the time. And so it in the first two weeks play it cool. Just advertise your blog a little bit, just be very, I guess, kosher. I don't know the right word, but just play it cool for the two weeks. And then you can start stepping up your direct response and whatever. So that's the biggest misconception. Also, they think Google Ads, they think expensive. Google Display is much different. It's very common for me to get-

Brett:

Display can be very cheap.

Justin:

Yeah, you can get 40 cent clicks. Are you getting 40 cent clicks on Facebook? Not today. You got to be really good at Facebook to be getting those click rates anymore. But it's very common for me to get 40 cent, 80 cents, 60 cent and lower. I've gotten 8 cent, 18 cent, 20 cents clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

So, and you're talking even in the last, for the last year, last six months, you've been getting CPCs.

Justin:

Last couple weeks, absolutely. So when you think Google Ads and they think expensive, that's usually search, and search legitimately can be expensive. I would say that's also very profitable. That's a whole nother podcast, but Google Display is not part of that. You can get very cheap clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. So you touched on this just a little bit, but I remember seeing a post on Facebook that you made and you were like, "GDN is better than Facebook," and man, those were fighting words to some people because the comments were lightening up and on fire and, "Blasphemy, heresy,", Justin Brooke. But anyways, it's a fascinating statement. So why do you believe, and in what ways do you believe GDN is better than even Facebook at times?

Justin:

Yeah. If you do, if anybody wants, if you got like 20 minutes and you're absolutely bored out of your mind and you want to go search my wall of posts, but if you go search through there, the guys who are actually using GDN all came to my defense and like, "He's absolutely right, this is true." And it was all the other Facebookers who were telling me I was crazy. So the thing is, is Facebook didn't invent interest targeting. They like to claim that they invented interest targeting. The branding is like Google invented PPC, Facebook invented interest based targeting. That's what most people think about or know. It's completely false. Facebook borrowed everything from Google and continues to this day trying to build Google Ads. They are the mighty billion dollar advertising company in every way that you can measure a company, Google wins.

Brett:

The number one online advertising platform bar none, Google's number one and likely will be for some time.

Justin:

The only place that's even argued is in our little like Facebook world. Outside of that, Google is by far the gorilla. So there's that. But then also when it comes to ... there's so many different levels, and I don't want to go too far on this, but okay. So with interest targeting, you have levels of interest targeting, where on Facebook there's just interest targeting.

Justin:

We have keywords, a keyword is an interest it's like, I'm interested in this topic. And so that's a keyword. Then you have topic based. And so keyword essentially, it doesn't exactly work like this without going super scientific, essentially. If I said tennis shoes or tennis, right. That's an interest, but it's also a keyword. And my ads would show up on any pages about tennis, but then there's topics. So we could go sports and now I'm interested in sports and now I'm going to show up on all the pages related to sports and then there's affinities.

Justin:

And so that would be like sports junkies. And so they're going to show up on fantasy league pages, news pages, sports pages, all kinds of different things. And so there's levels of interest. And then the other thing that I would say that separate it's them is really the big thing. And what I keep trying to shake the cage about is it doesn't change. So like Facebook is a newsfeed and so you need constant, fresh, creative. Otherwise, that person is seeing the same ad over and over and over again. And there's only so many time-

Brett:

Ad fatigue is a very real thing on Facebook.

Justin:

Yes, absolutely. Ad fatigue is turning and burning. And so you have to feed this monster, lots of ad creative. Google Display doesn't work like that because it's, the only time you're going to a best tennis shoes article is the time when you're searching for best tennis shoes. It's a very rare person who's going to go visit these same pages over and over again. Sometimes it happens in the precious metals industry, copper price, silver price, gold price, you know? And so you're going to that same page over and over again every day. And so you might start seeing the same ads, but it just doesn't happen in a lot of different industries. Mostly what happens is you're interested-

Brett:

There's audience refresh on GDN.

Justin:

Yeah. You're interested in something. So go to Google, you type in whatever. And then you see an article and you click into that article. And then on that article is ads that are relevant to the thing you just searched. So you're getting search traffic, but at a super bargain of it and in a much more relative space. So that's the other reason why I think it's so much ... you can put a Google and it could run ... my record was two years, but I mean, it's common for one created to run for months on end.

Brett:

Yeah. And we see the same thing on YouTube as well. My industry does a lot of YouTube, ad management and in creative work as well. Sometimes we see ads, the winning ad on YouTube lasts for a year. Because the audience is turning over. You're on that audience when you're interested in something and about to buy something. And then you get off that audience after you made a purchase or whatnot. Yeah, so super smart.

Brett:

So let's break down, let's get tactical for a little bit. Let's look at ... because you've got a unique approach to GDN for eCommerce. And again, I believe nobody does it better than you and your team. So, what does that approach look like running GDN to grow an eCommerce brand? So break that down for us and then I'll have several follow up questions.

Justin:

Yeah. So I think e-com has come a long way in their landing pages. I hat tip to Ezra Firestone. I think he's helped create a lot of best practices in e-com landing pages, but like before there was no reviews, testimonials. There wasn't these big credibility, believability things on an e-commerce page. And so it's come a long way, but it's not quite there yet. I don't love sending page traffic to e-com pages, especially Google Display, which can be-

Brett:

When you say you've got pages, a typical product detail page that's not where you typically want to send cold traffic.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah. I don't like to say it. I would have a landing page that would send to that page, you know? And so that's what we do is I just say, hey, what's your best product? Everybody knows what their top selling product is, their best product. So then we take that product and we'll build out a page specifically for that one that when they click by goes right to cart, and so they're almost like a digital sales page. Very similar, you'd sell basically anything else. You got a sales page, it goes right to the cart.

Justin:

Whereas in e-com, it's like you go to a product topic page or product category page, and then you go into the product page and then you go into a checkout and then you go to cart, and so we just bypass a little bit of that. And then what we do is once we acquire the customer with a normal sale page checkout or sales page cart. And then once we've acquired the customer, we bring them back to the store. So now they can buy additional things and we get our revenue per user earnings average order value off of that. But we get our lower cost per acquisition using a dedicated funnel for their best or top three products.

Brett:

Got it. This is always a little bit difficult on a podcast, because we're just talking through things, but what are some of the elements that you really want on that page? So you're bypassing the traditional product detail page. You're sending cold traffic from a GDN ad, which we'll talk about the ad in a minute. You're sending them from a GDN ad to a specific landing page you built, what are some of the elements that you want on that page?

Justin:

Number one thing, when it comes to eCommerce is product demonstration. They want to see the knife cut through a tomato, you know? They want to see the, let's see, Tre has got that butter scraper thing. Makes your butter easier to spread. It's a weird product, but that's the thing is you can't just show me a picture of this weird looking butter knife that has a couple of circles on the end of it and expect me to understand that's going to revolution a eyes butter for me, but all of a sudden you have a quick 15 second video showing that those little circles create little shavings of butter and now immediately, oh, it melts the butter faster, because it's taking these little shavings off there. That's why it spreads though my toast better. And that's what I'm talking about when it comes to product demonstrations.

Justin:

When it comes to Ecom, demonstrate the product and I don't think pictures are enough. Most people these days have good enough internet and you don't need a long video. Don't have a long video. Short, almost like animated images, gif images, show me how product works. That's going to go a long way. And then reviews, reviews are huge. Believable reviews. Don't only have five star reviews on there. That's going to reduce your credibility. Have a couple of ... you don't have to have your worst review on there either but make it real, make it believable, be genuine about it. Those two things are really going to help a lot.

Justin:

And then the other thing is on a lot of eCommerce sites there is a frequently asked questions section. We like to bring some of that onto the page. And so what we've learned is everybody thinks ... when you're creating a sales page, you're trying to convince the person from top to bottom, from your headline all the way through, you're doing everything you can, how can I muster up? What words do I have to say? What images do I have to say to get this person to click the button? But when the visitor lands on the page, they're doing the opposite. They're thinking of why should I not buy this?

Brett:

Why should I bail? Give me some reasons to say no, right now.

Justin:

Why is my wife go to yell at me for buying this product later on? And so, you need to think about that. Don't think like us when you're making your page think like them, because we're making the page for them. We're not making the page for us. So we need to think about they're looking for gotchas. And oh, this is why I shouldn't buy it, or that. So you want to have good, not long copy, but good copy blocks. Almost not even a-

Brett:

Into chunks, right?

Justin:

I dare not say I'm not a fan of bullet points. I'm not saying that, copywriters. Don't kill me. Okay? But I'm saying is I almost like lots of copy nuggets, better than bullet point.

Justin:

Old school, long bullet point list is a little ugly, a little tedious. I like just these little squares, you can rotate them, left align, right align, little images. And that's giving you all the different like, and this reason and that reason and this reason and this objection, we counter it here. And this objection, we counter it here.

Justin:

It's not like in person where you have the opportunity to read body language and tonalities, so you got to answer all of them there. You got this person one time, you need to think of every objection they possibly could have and put all that on the page. But in a way doesn't intimidate them. So short blocks of texts, small sentences, lots of images. Think children's book. Not because consumers are dumb. They're just busy. The baby's crying in the background. They're trying to shop while they're at work and their boss might turn the corner any minute. A life is happening to this person, and so we need these little nuggets of stuff.

Brett:

Yeah. And one of the things that I hear people say all the time is, oh, nobody will read all that copy. And the answer to that question is, yeah, you're probably right. But what people will do is they will scan it. They're scanning it, looking for answers to their specific question.

Brett:

Sometimes someone's going to scan the page. They find one or two of those nuggets, either bullet point or a little chunk of copy. And they're like, "Oh, okay, well, if that's true, then this is okay." And then they may go back and read more. So I think understanding how people consume a page, and you're right, you got to have every possible objection covered in that page or else people will bail.

Justin:

Yeah. A great example on that is right now I'm getting into, or at least I think I'm getting into Japanese woodworking. It's kind of ...in my brain lately.

Brett:

Wait a minute, you're doing Japanese style woodworking or you're just buying it?

Justin:

I'm getting into it, like chisels all saws and joints and things like that. And so I'm looking at the different chisels and specifically looking for a certain type of steel that the chisels are made out of because it affects the sharpening and how long it can hold an edge. None of the pages that I'm going to talk about. It's the biggest thing. When you talk to other people that are in this, they're like, "Oh yeah, you want to make sure your chisels are made out of A2 steel because of this, that and the other.

Justin:

So it's a normal conversation that the woodworkers would have. But when I go to the sales pages, nobody's addressing this conversation. The biggest thing you want out of a chisel is, how do I sharpen it? How long does it stay sharp? ... And that number one question is not being answered on the page. And that's a great example of, make sure your product is talking about that thing that everybody's talking about.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Let's talk about the ad side for just a minute. So, what are you thinking about, how are you crafting those cold traffic ads? So the first ad someone sees that then sends them to this page we were just talking about, how are you crafting and how are you creating those initial ads for cold traffic?

Justin:

I'm glad you asked me this question and this one hurts me. I have like the world's hardest to show off tattoo because it wraps around my arm. But basically it's an ink quill, it's a Quill with an ink jar and cash. I'm a die hard copywriter. I am a copywriter. First, I sell traffic, that's the shingle I hung, but I live and breathe as a copywriter. So I promise you, it hurts me more than anybody else to say this, copy today isn't what it used to be.

Justin:

I would say for the last hundred plus years, in all the books that we read. They're trying to get you to write the best ads. It's like you're going to write this one ad, like you're going to put all your energy. You're going to do all this research, the whole process, everything we've learned and done over the last 100 years in terms of copy is a little bit almost out the window. Not all the way out the window because today we're not really writing for consumers as much as we're writing for algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence.

Justin:

And so the best way to create an ad today is to understand the fundamentals of copying. But I just made a Google ad the other day. My ad rep says, you need at least 15 headlines. What? 15 headlines? For most people that would blow their mind away. What do you mean I got to write 15 headlines?

Brett:

I have three good ones in me. The other 12 are going to be, yeah.

Justin:

Right. And that's us because we're in the industry, die hard's, been doing this forever. The average person, one headline is hard for them. So you need 15 headlines, 3 descriptions, and at least 2 images, but one's got to be square. And then the other one's got to be 16 by 9, you know?

Justin:

And so like, we're really writing ... it's ultimately to the end consumer, but it's first to the algorithm because they're going to go and put all these pieces together. And so that's really where you need to be at. I would say today, less deep dive into copy, more breadth of like, how do you write a headline? How do you write a good ... it's like social media copy. How do you write good sentence? A good post? How do you write a good Twitter post? That's what you need because that's what's working these days. And a lot of the ad networks are going that direction.

Justin:

So when it comes to creating a good ad today, you need to know that it's about creating a volume. I don't know if I'm inventing this. I just don't know what else to call it. I'm calling it modular copy. And so you want to put together, you want to have a folder or even a spreadsheet of a bunch of headlines, a bunch of descriptions, a bunch of images, bios. These are the pieces that we need for social media, for blogs, for podcast interviews. You needed a profile picture and a bio and websites need these social networks. The ads need these. So that's what we need today to make a good ad. And then you need to understand the basics of copy so that your headlines, descriptions, bios, logos, they can't suck. But today the guy who I ... call him the John Belcher, good friend of mine, he is the-

Brett:

He's a legend.

Justin:

He's amazing. He's the modern media buyer and he's not a creative. And I'm not making fun of him or anything. He would say the same thing. He just understands the machines and the new way of doing things so much better. And he can out copy a copywriter who's been doing 15, 20 years experience because he's going to run 753 variations while you've spent two weeks coming up with one, so.

Brett:

Yeah. And it's interesting, because the algorithm is really like the gatekeeper in some respects, it's what's connecting advertiser to potential shopper and really it is a volume play to a certain degree. The machine up front wants a combination of things or this modular copy. I love that phrase, because the machine wants to test. It knows if it can test, it can find the right combinations.

Brett:

So really goes back to an old concept. I can't remember where I first heard this, but sometimes the quality is in the quantity. You got to test quantity and then you just find things that you're like, "Whoa, I never thought that headline could have been the winner, but it was and Google found it," you know? Yeah. And so, yeah. Super duper interesting.

Brett:

So where are you finding inspiration then for headlines and for copy blocks and things like that? Are you pulling from search ads that have performed well, are you pulling from the website copy? How are you going from, okay, back in the old days we spent weeks and weeks on a few headlines. Now we just got to have mass quantities. How are you getting there?

Justin:

You know what I like to do? I used to, for many years I taught use a spy tool, an Adbeat, Semrush, whatever. There's tons of spy tools out there, and you can do a lot of-

Brett:

Spy on your competitors and see what else is in the space. Right?

Justin:

Right. But what you end up doing, there's almost no way to not become a me-too version of the copy. You're essentially saying, even if you spin it into your own words, you're essentially saying the same message as other people. So what I actually like to do is I like to go to a different industry.

Justin:

If I'm selling knives, I'm going to go to fishing and I'm going to go look at what are the top and that's going to help me get good copy and then bring that over to my industry. So go look at what the best people are doing in an industry. Don't go ... like if you're in fishing, go to sewing or things like-

Brett:

Knives and fishing, that's connected. That's often the same buyer, but it's a different products that opens your mind a little bit, but still so on point.

Justin:

No, yeah. Do still use the spy tools and stuff, but try to broaden a little bit, go a little bit outside of your industry, see what's working, same customer, different products and bring some of that goodness back into yours, which will help you make sure you have good copy, but it's going to be a different message a little bit. And at the end of the day, we all know free works, best works, top works, must have. I mean, you can't really say that any other way. So, but that's what I like to do is look up other industries.

Brett:

And sometimes you run into people that just want to be creative. And they're like, "I don't want my ad to look like everybody else's. I don't want use the word top or best or must have." And you're like, well, okay, do you want to get clicks and conversions? Do you want to be original, or do you want to be effective? And so there's some things you just got to test.

Justin:

Well, a couple other things I'd like to add ... absolutely everything you just said. I also like to test different ... so a good story is when I was back early days in the website flipping, I thought everybody wanted to make more money with website flipping. So like all my copy, all my sales pages were like how to make $15,000 with your next website flip, or how to flip a big site, but that's not what they wanted. So I split tested, I didn't even think it was going to work. I split tested how to flip a website this weekend and that just, that blew up. So it's not always bigger. Sometimes it's faster. Sometimes it's cheaper. Sometimes it's-

Brett:

Fast and easy, like you can do it this weekend. It's just check this out. You'd sell a website this weekend. That's interesting.

Justin:

So test those different angles. And then also I like to test towards pleasure, away from pain and then something controversial. So if I'm trying to write three, like, okay, I got to write three different headlines. How am I going to say the same thing, three different ways? And so like, one way I'm going to say is, here's how you could make $10,000 this month. And the other one I could say is, here's how you could save $500 next week.

Justin:

So one's towards pleasure. One's away from pain. And then I'm going to say, you'll never believe how this woman made $500. So something controversial or shocking. So there you go, you're saying this same thing, selling the same product, but you were able to say it three different ways that might appeal. And you want to know if your market is a towards pleasure market, a shocking market, or if they are away from pain market.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. And that really does make it easy. Again, if we're having to write all these descriptions and headlines, you have one concept, you can spin that concept three different ways, towards pleasure away from pain, and then a controversial spin. I like that a lot. That's fantastic.

Brett:

So I remember back in the old days, and I'm an old ad guy, did TV and radio back in the day to some radio and TV production. And I just remember there was always these old school grandfathers of advertising saying like, "Hey, people need to see an ad six or seven times before they purchase." And I think some of that was just like, hey, we got to sell more air time. And we got to sell more ads in our publication, in our magazine or whatever. But I also think there's a lot of truth there. We see this in Google analytics and other reporting platforms where some people got to see an multiple times. I have to visit your site multiple times.

Brett:

So let's talk a little bit about remarketing, because I know you've got a unique approach to remarketing as well. So what does that remarketing funnel look like? So we talked about the landing page. It's a separate page for your top product. We've got some ads now, we've got some different angles we're writing for that cold traffic ad. How are you setting up remarketing? And what does that look like?

Justin:

Okay. So remarketing and retargeting, just in case anybody ... they're the same thing.

Brett:

Yeah. You define those real quick.

Justin:

Yeah. So retargeting, remarketing is the same thing. We're taking somebody who's already seen your page at some level, and we can talk about all the different levels there, but they've basically, they've been here before and now we're remarketing. We're retargeting that same person to bring them back. And sometimes, I mean, we may want to bring them back somewhere different. Like one of my best strategies is I like to advertise blog posts because they get high CTR. They're like a Trojan horse. They don't even know they're like-

Brett:

Low CPCs, right?

Justin:

They think they found me, but I targeted them with the blog post. And what I do is I'll target them with the blog posts, give them a nice wow experience. And then remarket them to my sales page using testimonial ads. And we can break all that down. That's my favorite like one, two punch combo in advertising. But essentially remarketing, retargeting is the same thing. Remarketing is what Google calls it. Retargeting is like what everybody else calls it. Essentially you take somebody who's been there and talking about your seven touches thing. I think just life is going on. I think there is truth to it. I think there's less truth to it than they want us to believe.

Justin:

But I think it's just somebody hears a radio ad and the reason why they need to see it again is they were in the car. They couldn't buy, they were driving down the road, they were listening to the radio while on a jog. And so when they saw the magazine ad that pushed them over to the internet or to Google search and then that pushed, you know? And so that's why the different touches.

Justin:

So it's legitimate. You do need to have these different touches in different areas. Remarketing is absolutely... you should have it because our consumers are busy, like I said, the baby's crying. The boss is just about to come in, they're watching TV whatever. So they're just busy and they need to see these things. And that's really where remarketing comes in is maybe they didn't have their wallet on them. They were downstairs and they left their wallet upstairs because they just took a shower or whatever. And so they see the ad again, later on now they got their wallet on them and think remarketing was the thing. But it was the whole picture. It's the whole picture that made it work. So how far do you want to get into this?

Brett:

Yeah. So perfect setup. I love that. Let's let's think about like, what are some of the specific campaigns you create? Because what we often look at when we're doing remarketing is, hey, these are people that have been to this presale page. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have been to a blog post, but nowhere else. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have taken the introductory offer, but not the next offer. So you got like bot X not Y. So can you map out you at least, what are some of the campaign? What is that remarketing, retargeting funnel look like for you?

Justin:

Yeah. So essentially you have two different things. All right. You have your basic recycler, I call them like brand retargeting. And so like they're just seeing you somewhere and you're bringing them back somewhere. That's your most basic thing. And then you have like the more clever retargeting of funnel retargeting. And so I'm trying to get people who've seen my lead gen to see my front end, and people who've seen my front end product to see my upsell or people like, for example, for a long time, AdSkills, our model was we sold a book, Retargeting Recipes about retargeting. So we'd sell a book, so every one of those customers, we would then want them to see the big back end that we were selling. That was like our whole model right there.

Justin:

So there's essentially those two ways of doing it. It's just a recycler and then there's a funnel advancement. And then there's just umpteenth ways of splitting those two up into different things. And so the traffic recycler, just the bare bones, basic remarketing is they've come to your sales page, but they didn't buy yet. And so you're going to show them more ads back to the sales page. That's it. That's the simplest way. And it could be your blog. It could be your sales page, your webinar page, whatever it is. Then you can make that a little bit more advanced. Okay. So they came to your page, but now when you bring them back, you're going to bring them back with a discount. Grant Cardone does this a lot.

Justin:

You go to his $200 whatever video course. And then you go off on a Facebook to go ask your buddies in your Facebook group. You know, what do you think about this? Should I buy it? And all of a sudden you see get that course for $35 or whatever. There's usually some big discount. And then bam, you go and buy it. You don't have to discount that steep. Often as little as like 10% can really be the thing. They were right about to buy. That's why they went to your page. They went to your page because they liked something about it, but they just didn't ... this wasn't enough to get me to jump off the fence and take action.

Justin:

But this 10% off this weekend only, now I'm going to go take action. So that's the recycler with a discount and then you can do, you can do recycle, right? So like my sales page, bring them back to my sales page. You can run that one. You can have these things set up on like automation rules. I don't know how geeky you want me to get, but there are automation rules. And so you can say like, okay, show that to them for seven days, if after seven days now show them this ad. So now you're going to show them the discount after seven days.

Justin:

And then after seven more days, maybe there's a new discount. So you can do a month long steps. And then finally like the last week, try it free and pay nothing down and only pay if you keep it for 30 ... So you can really get super slick and advanced with these things. But don't at first. Okay. Just try the simple things.

Brett:

Yeah, just the simple remarketing out is a great place to start, but I'm assuming the way you're building that is you're building audiences like a seven day audience, a 14 day audience, a 30 day audience and then you're targeting and excluding throughout there. Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

Because one of the ways we like to look at it and again, I think more in terms of YouTube, because I know YouTube really well and I don't know GDN as well. Although, we do a lot of GDN remarketing at least, is sometimes you got to look at why did someone not buy? So they clicked on that first ad, so there was interest. They visit at that sales page that there was more interest, but they didn't buy. Why is that? Well, you mentioned it earlier, sometimes it's life happens.

Brett:

So sometimes they just need to be reminded and sometimes they need to be convinced. Right. And sometimes it's a little bit of both. So that's where I really like that. Yeah. Week one is just like, hey reminder, hey, this is cool. You really want these benefits. You want these cool things. Then okay, well they didn't say yes yet so now they need more convincing. We might do something on the video side where we're showing more testimonials or more demonstrations and whatnot, but then yeah, maybe you need to up the ante on the offer, on the discount at that point, which I think makes a lot of sense.

Justin:

I'm a big fan of the ... we call it the overnight celebrity campaign. Whereas you use your whatever traffic, could be your social media, your email, whatever advertising to bring them to your sales page, your page. And then what you do is use Google, especially Google, because that's going to show all over the web. You can do it also in Facebook, but you want testimonial ads. Okay. So different testimonials. How do you make a testimonial lead? You put the person, just like you'd make a testimony on your page, right? You're going to have a picture of the person's face. And then the words as your headlines and description and all of a sudden there's going to be testimonials all over the web.

Justin:

So like they learned about you in some form and then the next thing they know they're visiting US Weekly or whatever. And there's testimonials for this product all over, everywhere they go. There's all of a sudden these people are talking good about this. That one, two punch is really, really good. The other thing that you mentioned is ... the only thing I'd add to what you said about the reminded, convinced is deadline. People need a deadline.

Brett:

Push them over the edge. Yeah.

Justin:

Yeah. I'm not a fan of fake deadlines, but there's tons of ways to create real deadlines. It could be a bonus. You get this bonus by Monday, if you join. Or you're the pink one is only available until midnight tonight or there's a 10% coupon today only. There's a lot of different ways to create real urgency, real deadlines. That more than anything, it's testimonials and deadlines. Those are my two tricks that I use over and over again.

Brett:

Love it. And it does speak to your original point, right? Where we're looking at a product and we're thinking of all the reasons, all the ways we're going to get in trouble if we say yes to buying this, right. My wife's going to yell at me. I'm going to have buyers remorse. I'm going to feel bad, whatever. Or just we're naturally, we're safe. And we take, we're inert. And so having that deadline pushes someone off the fence and gets them to take action. So that's brilliant. Awesome.

Brett:

Okay. So we're running tight on time, but I got more questions. We're going to maybe go a little rapid fire through a few other things. What is your take on smart bidding? So this may be a little bit nerdy, but stick with me. If you're not into the nerdy side of this, there's going to be some good stuff that's broadly applicable in a minute, but I think everybody still needs to know this and know your perspective. How do you feel about smart bidding versus manual versus however you like to do it?

Justin:

Buckle up. I don't think there's going to be a choice soon. I think it's everything we're going to be doing is going to be smart bidding. This is the way it's all moving. Google has already started ... it used to be, there was smart display campaigns and display campaigns. Now it's smart bidding inside display campaigns. And so we're going to see even more of that. This is going to permeate through all ad networks. It's just the way advertising is going to go. It's just more algorithms. More machine learning, learn what it is.

Justin:

Basically it's giving them lots of different options and then allowing their algorithms to ... you give it the confines like, hey, don't make this cost more than $40 per unit. Don't spend more than $3,000 per month. Don't target these different audiences, but other than that, you paint the picture of the fence. And then within the fence, the algorithm is allowed to go nuts in the ... what's really happening is a live auction that's happening at the speed of electricity. And so you just let the algorithm go and the algorithms are getting really, really good. I wasn't a fan a couple of years ago. Today, you're getting hard pressed to beat them as a human anymore.

Brett:

Yeah. 100% agree. And then we were the same way, right? Smart bidding, targetized bidding, smart campaigns, like smart shopping and stuff. In the early days, we're like, "Come on now." And we tested it and some of them were pretty cruddy, but now, dude, you can't beat the machine. You can't eat the algorithm. It's learning and getting better and picking up momentum. And it's just getting better all the time, so totally agree there.

Brett:

With that, then this is a follow up question. What do you view as the role of a media buyer? So what is an advertiser's role? What does a media buyer's role? If the algorithm is taking care of finding the right person up and bending down on all these things, what do we do?

Justin:

Yep. I definitely see us being replaced one day. And if you want, we could talk about that on another one. I got a whole vision for it, but I definitely think we still have another 5 to 10 years. And really what our job is today is to stop learning all the ... learn a little bit of the old ways, because there's a lot to pick up from history, but we really need to be disciplined enough to stop being lazy.

Justin:

I know, it's hard to go learn what smart bidding is. It's hard to go learn what a neural network is, machine learning algorithms, how do they actually work? You have to. If you want to be a good media buyer today and five years from now. If you're climbing up and you want to be the best, that's it, that's your homework. You have to learn how these machines ... that's our new job. Our new job is to know how smart bidding works. One, how to do it on the screen and the interface, but then also knowing the underlying functionality of how it works so that we can be better at working on the interface level of it. That's where we are. Going forward is we need to learn how to ride the tyrannosaurus, not try to avoid the tyrannosaurus.

Brett:

Just one minute. I'm updating my resume. I'm actually pretty good at manual labor. So I think it's a future for me as the agency world winds down, I can load trucks or something. No, I totally agree. And I think there's going to be more and more of the activities that we do that we do as an agency. I run a 50 plus person agency. There's things we do that we won't have to do in three or four or five years.

Brett:

I think there's always going to be an element though, where you need good strategists, right? And you need someone, even if it's just guiding and creating the fence, I like the way you talked about that for the algorithm, right? Here's what you need to start with. And then here's how I can manage you along the way, things like that. And thinking strategically and holistically about business growth and business goals and things like that. But it's going to be wild times, man. It's going to be interesting watching how this industry evolves.

Justin:

So just real quick that, I believe today we are the human interface that sits between the electrical interface. And so our client verbally tells us. We get on a phone call and they tell us what they want. And then we go and we type that into the machine. I don't think it's going to be ... I think 10 years from now, the client is just going to be able to talk directly to the network. And they're going to verbally say, this is what I want. They're going to verbally say set the parameters. And then the machines are going to be able to go out and they're going to use the spy tools to look up the headlines and they're going to test 7,750 different headlines and all these different audiences. And so that's where I think things are going, but I believe we got a good 5, 10 years of us still being the human interface.

Brett:

Yeah, really cool. Really cool. I'll keep the resume on file then. I won't get it out there just yet. This has been fantastic, Justin. So there's lots more that I want to talk about. So we'll definitely have to schedule part two to this conversation and lots more we can dig into, but what I want to do though, I know people are listening and thinking, "Man, I want to learn more from Justin Brooke," or, "I want to send my team through some of what Justin has to offer." So talk to me a little bit about AdSkills. What is it, what do you guys offer? How can people tap into your marketing brain more?

Justin:

Yeah, so we used to be almost exclusively for the ad agency. We used to charge $5,000 and help them get clients. And that was great. We built a very successful company off of the back of that, but I wanted to go bigger and I just realized our run rate, our team, we were just working so hard to keep things going. And so we flipped it. We are now more of like a Netflix model. We're $8.99 a month. And you get everything. Except for the certification. There's like an upgrade if you want to go onto that. But if you just want to learn how to do this stuff for yourself, it's $8.99 a month, you get a nine week course that gives you like the fundamentals, like go through this and you'll learn a to Z.

Justin:

Then we have the short tutorials, how to set up your Facebook campaign, how to set up your TikTok campaign, how to set up your Google campaign. And then if you want to like specialize or you want to master in something, we have their classes from all kinds of experts out there on YouTube ads or TikTok ads or Facebook ads or e-commerce. So all of that is all in there for just $8.99 a month.

Brett:

It's insane. I remember when you posted that model on Facebook, it was like, dude, this is either going to be really amazing or I don't know of what it's going to be, but it's crazy. And it's a great deal. So go out, everybody should buy this, right. $8.99.

Justin:

There's talk of flipping the price up to like $12.99. So if you're watching this like six months from now, it may be a couple dollars higher, but.

Brett:

It doesn't matter. Yeah. It's like $12.50, $30. Well, it's all the same. It's totally worth it. You got to check it out. You got to do it. So what's the URL for that one more time?

Justin:

It's just AdSkills.com, AdSkills.com.

Brett:

Awesome. And then, Justin, how can people follow you? How can they find you on the socials? Because you are one of my favorite follows on Facebook. You mix good business, marketing tips. You also talk about your faith, which you and I have the same faith, which I really appreciate that aspect as well, but there's plenty of business stuff if that's all you're into, but what are ways people can connect with you on the socials?

Justin:

Facebook and YouTube. We have a blog. Again, if you just go to AdSkills.com you're going to see all of our stuff, you're going to be able to get onto our newsletters. I'm spending a lot more time on our newsletters. We have a Wednesday one that goes out where I get into the meat of things. And then we have the traffic tips for busy people, which is a curated, like instead of reading all the stuff out there, here's seven things I really think you should read this week. So you'll find those on AdSkills.com. And then if you just search AdSkills or Justin Brooke on YouTube or Facebook, that's where you're going to find our free stuff. And we're actually uploading whole courses to YouTube now because we just believe that's the future, so.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. And that's B-R-O-O-K-E, Justin Brooke. And so check out Justin. Justin, brother, this was amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be. It was fantastic. Now, I'm thinking about round two. So we got to plan that soon.

Justin:

Awesome, man. Can't wait.

Brett:

Thanks, man. Really, really appreciate it. And thank you for tuning in. Hey, if you enjoyed this, like it, review it, share it with somebody that needs to know this information and do leave that review. Because it helps other people find this show and we're trying to reach as many people and help as many marketers and e-commerce entrepreneurs as possible. And so with that, until next time, stay spicy.

















Product Lessons from Bootstrapping $36 Million in eCommerce Sales with Cathryn Lavery
Episode 7
:
Cathryn Lavery

Product Lessons from Bootstrapping $36 Million in eCommerce Sales with Cathryn Lavery

Everything is easier when your product is awesome.

Everything is easier when your product is awesome. Messaging is easier. Email marketing is easier. Getting repeat purchasing is easier. But, here’s the thing, the key to having a great product is NOT having a product focus. The key is to be a problem-first business rather than a product-first business. It’s more important to fall in love with your customer rather than falling in love with your product.

Cathryn Lavery understands great product design. Her first product, the Better Self Journal, raised $322,000 on Kickstarter and won her the Build a Business Contest from Shopify. Her success (learned partially from failures) in expanding her product line and her business won her the, Build a Bigger Business Contest from Shopify, which is an amazing feat.In this episode we breakdown some really important approaches to designing your next product and understanding how to think about your product mix.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Cathryn Lavery

   - LinkedIn


BestSelf.Co

Ezra Firestone

Blue Ribbon Mastermind

Ryan Daniel Moran

Cap Con 2021

Tony Robbins

Peter Goodwin

Groove Life

Allbirds

Four Sigmatic

Tobias Lütke

Tim Ferriss

Miki Agrawal

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 some of the spiciest perspectives on what it takes to grow your business. Season one of this podcast is all about the old business adage that what it really takes to succeed is three keys. One, have something good to say, two, say it well. And three, say it often. My guest in this episode is Cathryn Lavery, founder of BestSelf Co. And we're talking about how to have something good to say by making sure your products are awesome.

Brett:

And each additional product launch you have, and as you extend your product line, how to make sure each one is awesome and really resonates with your customer. And so we're talking about product lessons from bootstrapping $36 million in e-commerce sales. So lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Cathryn Lavery. The Spicy Curry Podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify pages and Payability. All right, Cathryn Lavery is my guest. I am absolutely thrilled to be getting into this content. And so Cathryn, welcome to the show and how's it going?

Cathryn Lavery:

It's great. Great to be here, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah, really excited that we connected and that you agreed to do this. We met at Ezra Firestone's event, Blue Ribbon Mastermind in Denver recently. And I heard your presentation and two guys from my team, Greg and Bill, also my son, Nate was there and they were all like, wow, that presentation blew our minds. And so we're going to be digging into the way you guys look at product development and product expansion. And the official title of the podcast is product lessons from bootstrapping $36 million in sales. And so really love your approach. I love some of the mistakes that your company learned from in the beginning and now really what you've gotten right. And just so much to unpack here. And so I want to start with, tell us a bit of the story, how did you launch your flagship initial product? Where did the idea come from and how did that launch go?

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So the first product that we created was called the Self Journal and it was a 13 week based goal guided journal that I just wanted to exist. So I didn't think it was going to become a big business. I just was like, I want to have this to use myself, turns out it's really expensive to make just a couple of books. So I had done a couple of Kickstarters from a past business before, so I knew generally how it worked and each time I did it, I got a little better. And so I didn't have the money to just fund a bunch of journals. I knew that crowdfunding is a great way to both validate an idea and basically you're selling pre-orders, you're not selling equity. You don't have to raise money. You're basically selling the thing and funding your whole company from that.

Cathryn Lavery:

So our public goal for that was 15,000. So that was the minimum amount that we needed in order to make this thing happen. And my internal ... This is my real goal, but I'm not going to tell anyone because anyone I did was like, it's never going to happen was 200,000. So I had basically broken down what that goal looked like, how many email subscribers we would need. I basically used the journal, which is all about goal setting to create the goal for the Kickstarter, which is ...

Brett:

So you used the journal to sell the journal. That's crazy. That's good.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So we ended up getting funded to that 15,000 in 28 hours or something.

Brett:

Wow.

Cathryn Lavery:

And then by the end of the campaign which was 34 days, we hit 322,000. So that was enough to basically pre-sell 10,000 units. So we pre-sold just over 10,000 units and then we were able with that money to order 30,000 units from our manufacturer. And so then we had the Kickstarter people and then we had what is actually going to launch the business. Because the last thing you want to do, and I try to tell people is you don't want to have to always go back to Kickstarter. So making sure that you are funding enough for inventory, for both the backers and then also for your store so that you don't have to continually be on this hamster wheel.

Brett:

Nice. So even though it was more like, hey, I want this journal myself, you recognize there could be a business here. And so you structured it in such a way that if it worked, you'd also fund a pre-order to fill up your inventory to sell beyond the initial backers from Kickstarter.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. And it was only after the Kickstarter ended that I was like, oh, this could actually be something. I had other things going on at the same time and nothing had done as well as this had. And this was a passion project that I'd started. So then I'm thinking, okay, maybe this is the thing that I do instead of all this other stuff. I'd always expected to have it be more of a grind of something that I didn't like to do, if that makes sense. I'm like, I actually really enjoy this but this got to be the thing that makes me money, that would be insane.

Brett:

Right. It can't be something that I enjoy and that I'm passionate about that also makes me money. It almost feels wrong even though I think it actually aligns perfectly. So that's awesome. So you realized once this thing blew up, $322,000 raised, all right, we've got a real offer here. When did you start to think, okay, we need to go beyond this product? Because you could have just said, hey, let's just sell the journal forever, and be happy with that potentially.

Cathryn Lavery:

It's not like the product line came right after. So what happened is we finished the Kickstarter, we launched the store, we're selling a lot of journals. Then word got out that we're selling a lot of journals and you see more competition come into this space. Not everyone... Has a journal. And so what we were doing-

Brett:

It's not really something you can necessarily trademark precisely. I mean, someone could copy or knock off the journal in a lot of ways if they wanted to.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah, we've had a ton of ... There's so many 13 week journals out there now that ... Ours is the first one and it's like, oh, you can sell four of these a year. And so they go at it for more of a business idea, not the framework that we started with. But it's difficult to be like, you start with one flagship product and how do you go to the next thing? So we had things like a leather cover and accessories to the product. And then when you just almost become like a journal company and every ... If you have a hammer, everything's a nail. If you're a journal company, everything's a journal. And so when we were chasing this revenue of, okay, what's the next product? We run into this ... Mistake that I think a lot of people make is you start chasing the revenue and not what people actually want.

Cathryn Lavery:

So for us, we're like, oh, we sell a gold journal which you use at work. So now let's try to own the office space and let's get into a mouse pad and a monitor stand and a T-shirt and hoodie. So all this just stuff. And because we're bootstrapped, we don't have a ton of money that we can just throw into these products that are not going to sell. And so we went down that road for a bit until I realized that it was a huge mistake. And even though that we put in a ton of time and energy, I was just thinking like, I started this self journal because I wanted this product to exist. And I'm looking at this potential product line and some that we already made like hoodies and things like that. And I'm looking at this potential product line, I'm like, would I buy this?

Brett:

Yeah. Do I even want this to exist?

Cathryn Lavery:

Do I want this? And when I said, honestly I thought ...

Brett:

Who buys mouse pads? Actually, there are still some people that buy mouse pads. There's one person on my team who still likes a mouse pad and he will go nameless. He's actually a rockstar, but he still likes the mouse pads. Mouse pads are dying but anyway, yeah.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah, exactly. So it was only then when I'm like, I wouldn't buy this, so why am I trying to sell it to my customers? And I think when you are pushing things like that, your customers are going to get tired and they're going to see what you're doing. Why did you start with this and then suddenly you're way over here with what I cal me too products? Or just products that you're making that are like everything else, but are not going to drive anyone to your store or to you as a brand. Your super fans might buy it but what happens is if you don't create another really great product that solves a problem, you're not going to have any super fans because you're not actually creating anything of real value.

Brett:

Right. I love it so much. And I'm thinking of some other examples too that we'll mix in here as we go. But one of the things you talked about in Denver and you map this out, it was what you call your tiered approach to going from one to many products successfully. So there's a lot of brands that don't do it successfully, but you guys have done it very, very well. And I think that the model that you teach is really a model that will be instructed for any e-commerce brand. So what is that tiered approach and how did you land on that?

Cathryn Lavery:

So whenever I went back and I was just seeing like, why are we going down this path? I'm looking at, what we were trying to do is we're trying to just create products. We're becoming this product first company and not a problem first company. So when we started with the first product, we're trying to solve this problem around productivity and getting things done. And now we were just creating stuff. We were just adding to this consumer stuff without actually solving a problem. So from there, I realized that the couple of products that we had come out with that had done well were all based around solving a problem or basically creating a framework that helped other people do something better. And so the tiered system that I came up with was this tier A, B and C.

Cathryn Lavery:

So tier A products are your flagship products. They solve problems, they're the things that people will come and find you for. And you don't need to drive as much traffic because people actually seek you out. And then tier B are upgrades to tier a. So this could be some thing that makes a tier A product better, but they're not ... It's how to boost your AOV, but they're not going to come just for that. So that could be like some of our customers buy leather covers that are more expensive than the journal, but they just love them. But they're not buying a cover if they don't first have the journal. And then you have tier C products, which these are another thing that boost your AOV. These are for your super funds, these are swag. These are things you can sell to, again, boost your AOV but they're not things that are going to drive people to you.

Cathryn Lavery:

So when you look at your time, where are you spending it? So are you spending 80% of your time working on tier C products? Because you're never going to get that time back and it's never going to drive the revenue that you need in order to succeed. So for us, that was where we were spending time, because it's easy to create me too tier C products because everyone's doing it. And oftentimes we're chasing revenue, we want some sort of progress. It's much harder to sit down and figure out a new unique product that is solving a problem in your own way, which is why we often try to just do these easy wins, but actually are not going to drive revenue. And if you're bootstrapped like we were, you're just throwing money into this pit of money that might not ever come back.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. And it feels natural. It feels like, hey, okay, we can own the office space because we're a productivity journal. We can add all these other office accessories, but then you're not really solving a problem. You're just adding to the noise and creating maybe slightly better versions of things that already exist and no one's going to seek you out for that. So yeah, that's a great point. Were you about to add something to that?

Cathryn Lavery:

I was also going to say, if you've become less of a product first company and more of a problem first, then not everything needs to be a product. Sometimes you can solve a problem with content, with a video, with something that you're not trying to sell. And then other times it makes sense for it to be a product. But one thing that I've been teaching the team is, let's not try to sell everything. Let's try to solve problems without asking for money because then they'll trust us more to buy a product when it actually needs to be a product. Not because we were trying to drive every dollar out of them.

Brett:

I love that. So I want to dive into this just a little bit. So becoming a problem first company instead of a product first company. And one thing that I've heard Ryan Daniel Moran say ... And I know you and I were both at Capcom 2, which we'd now just realized before he hit record here. ...

Cathryn Lavery:

Ryan's ...

Brett:

Yeah, he's a great guy. I love working with Ryan. But he says, "Hey, fall in love with your customer, don't fall in love with your product." And I think those are similar. This is more of a customer focus. And so can you talk through how that evolved for BestSelf Co., how you started realizing, okay, who is our customer and what are the problems we're supposed to solve or that we should be solving?

Cathryn Lavery:

Well, actually one of the people that I learned from with that is Tony Robbins talks about this idea of falling in love with your customer, because then you can keep serving them the best. And when you compare people like Blockbuster fell in love with their product. They fell in love with the idea that people would want to go to their local blockbuster and pick out a movie and that was their ritual. They didn't fall in love with the idea of just entertaining people in whatever way that was. ...

Brett:

... to riff on that for just a second. What's interesting is if at the time, if you ask people, "Hey, do you like going to the movie store?" They'd say, "Yeah, love it." Grab some popcorn and I want to watch a movie, but really people said they loved it because they didn't know there was another way. And what they really loved was watching movies. And so then as soon as something easier and more frictionless came out, of course they abandoned the movie store. So that's one of those things. Yeah, they were in love with their model and then they were doing research to self reinforce their perspective, which was off.

Cathryn Lavery:

And they actually had a chance to buy Netflix for 50 million and they said, no. And then by ...

Brett:

...funny enough.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. And by the time they realized they were behind, they tried to create their own platform. But by that point, Netflix had already come in and .. they couldn't catch up. So that was just an example of falling in love ... It's the same with Kodak, they fell in love with the ... They actually invented digital cameras but they fell in love with the idea of printing your photos. And so they just locked it in a box and we all know what happened to them.

Brett:

And what's interesting about that too is they were ... And I did a little research on this and it was in a book or something that I read, but they were so passionate about good photography that in the beginning they said, film is so much better. No one is going to want to take a digital picture because film is so much better. So we don't want to water to down the art of photography. They were purists. When they didn't really think through, digital photography's going to get better. And this is enabling a mom and dad who don't know photography to become a photographer. And so short sided and again, thinking inside their own little box.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So I think reading books around that idea and then realizing people don't want to carry around a journal for their day. They want to be intentional with their time, they want to make sure they're achieving the right things and they're hitting their goals, but that has nothing to do with our product. We're just a vehicle for them to get there. And so that's when I started thinking of, okay, how do we not fall in love with the idea that everything needs to be a journal and that things should be a framework that can change, but as long as they help people get to their goal.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. And I think there are multiple ways to do that but I think, well, your framework and the way you look at is beautiful. I'll brag on, a friend to mine, Peter Goodwin of Groove Life, silicone wedding ring, so I'm wearing one right now. I'm also wearing one of his belts, which I won't show you because that would be awkward. But they're really geared towards adventurous people that do CrossFit or hike or get out and about, not the stuffy old school type thing. And so they were one of the fastest growing silicone wedding ring companies on the planet and they could have just stopped there. And they could have said, well, maybe we just create other rings and stuff, which they've been doing. They got all kinds of rings now, but then they started branching out and they started thinking about, okay, what is this active customer need?

Brett:

And what are some pain points? So their belt is actually really great because ... And just to riff on belts for a minute. I know for me, I'm a pretty large guy about 6'3, 225. And I was always between notches on a belt. I could never find a belt to work. Or the slider kinds were just crappy, they'd break. And so they invented this new belt to solve a real problem. And now the belt is actually the biggest part of their business. And so it's one of those things though where, hey, clear picture of my customer. Falling in love with the customer and then solving real problems. That's it, that's the way it works. And what a cool revelation for you to realize this is really about self betterment, not just about the office. And so then where did you go from there? Because some of your new products are just amazing, so thoughtful and so powerful. Walk through what that looked like.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So I think it's funny ... My team has a joke that as the business is changing, it's changing with whatever I'm going through my life as far as products. And so when I first started BestSelf, ...

Brett:

But if you are your consumer, that's not a bad thing.

Cathryn Lavery:

I joke, I'm like, yeah but I'm growing with our customers. So we're solving different problems. But at the time when I started BestSelf, it was very much type a productivity, hit your goals, high achievement. That is what makes you your best self. And as the business was doing really well and we won the Shopify contest, we were hitting all these external goals ... At the time I was going through a divorce, it was an amicable thing but I'm thinking like, wow, how can I be so successful in this business? And then not as successful in these other things like my relationships, weren't where they needed to be. And so all of these things that I'm like, this is not your best self, is these external business money goals. And so that's when I started rethinking the idea of, okay, we call the company BestSelf, but we've been so focused on productivity and achievement instead of all the other areas.

Brett:

The work stuff.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. And so that's when we started looking at what other ideas could we be thinking about and your relationships to your health. And it's funny how we came up with what became a huge product line for us. So I got a lot out of just journaling thoughts and reflection and things like that. And we talked about it to our customers and our customers were like, yeah, but when I open up .. I just don't know what to write. Or they start going in circles and they're not actually figuring stuff out because their mind is stuck on one thing. And so we came out with just a blank journal. So the one we had ... The self journal is all guided with a framework inside. The scribe that we called it, it's just plain.

Cathryn Lavery:

And everyone was like, well, I don't know what to write. And so I was like, well ... The team were thinking, oh, we could come up with a prompts inside of the journal so that they know what to write every day but I'm like, yeah but then sometimes ... What if you open the next page and it's a prompt, you don't really feel like writing about that day. And then you don't want to skip a day because you're a type A like me.

Brett:

That feels really weird to have 30 blank pages between your two posts or something. It doesn't doesn't work, doesn't feel right.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So I was thinking okay, well since ... And then at that point, everything's a journal. So again, the hammer nail thing... prompt journal and I don't think that's ... It's falling in love with the product. And so from there we thought, oh, well, what if we came up with a prompt deck? So it's prompts asking you different questions to enable you to journal. So we were trying to sell more of our ...

Brett:

But if you don't like the prompt that you draw ... It's like a deck of cards in this cool little box here...It literally is a deck of cards. That's all it was. We printed them in the US. They were expensive. We only did a thousand for the first run because we were like, we don't know if this is going to work. We're just trying to ask sell this other product. And what we realized is people loved it. Even though the quality wasn't up to the standard I liked, there was a lot of things that I would've wanted differently, but again, we were just testing it. And then as soon as we realized, oh, actually we're onto something, we took it to our regular manufacturer, we upgraded everything.

Cathryn Lavery:

We added more prompts. The packaging looks like a real product .. that I'm proud of. And my architecture background, I'm like 3D modeling the box because I will go in on this stuff ... And then we had this beautiful product that was cheaper to make, we could raise the price on and that ended up becoming a big thing. So the first product was called the Wordsmith Deck and that was just prompts around journaling. And then one time in a product meeting, we are just selling so many of these decks and we're just like, ah, you know what people do more than journal, is they have conversations with each other. And I'd been ..Because I love this and you guys come with so many good ideas through this process and I know that any process for ideation and product design, there's going to be a scrappy, probably terrible ideas too. But any tips or insights for how you structure those meetings and who from your team is on the meetings? Is it company wise, just a select group of people, any insights there?

Cathryn Lavery:

So for a while we'd have product meetings, but then every week we do a product marketing meeting and the product team would update the marketing team on where they were at. And I ended up stopping that because what I find was if you have a weekly meeting, how are you creating anything unique or different that they can sell in a week? And what I find was we were actually .... What I said earlier where we were trying to solve these easy problems so that we would have something to talk about in the marketing so that we don't feel like losers. That we're like, guys, we actually are working but it's not a linear ... Product design is not a linear process where you're like, I'm going to sit down at 2:00 PM today.

Cathryn Lavery:

I'm going to come up with a product. And then by 4:00 PM, it's going to be ready to go. That's not how it works, nor should it work like that because then I feel like you're only hitting surface level problems and not really going deep on what the problem actually is. And so at the beginning, when we used to do that, I saw what was happening as far as, oh, we're just trying to solve easy problems to be able to report something back. And then I stopped that. We still do a joint meeting, but it's more of what's going on with current products and marketing things we're doing. And then product brainstorming is a completely separate thing where it's only the product team and we come in with problems. So we start with, okay, what's the problem that we're solving? And we also have ... It's just a Google spreadsheet where throughout the day as something annoys me, I will put it in there. Or I don't do it this as much as when I started but-

Brett:

It's your annoyance journal that you keep track of to see, hey, is there a problem here we can solve?

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. And again, sometimes that's for BestSelf, sometimes that's just like, oh, I should write a blog post about this once I figure it all or it's something else. But it's a place where again, if you're thinking problem first instead of product first, that could lead to something, you just don't know where it's going to lead. So in our product brainstorming meetings, we start with, okay, what's the problem? And I didn't talk about this in Denver but we also write a product story before we create anything, which is what the product is actually supposed to do. What's the problem with solving, who do we think would actually buy it? And things like that, before we go into any design work.

Brett:

I love that so much. And that's what Amazon does before they launch a new initiative or something is their S team or their senior team is working on new ideas. Part of what they do ... One, they don't do PowerPoint decks. They just do what they call six pagers, these reports that are written in narrative form to pitch an idea internally. But the other thing they do is they write a press release. So they write a press release as if this new initiative, this new digital product or new feature, whatever was launched. And so they have to think through how would this be talked about? Who would use it? Why is it a big deal? What are the main selling points? What is this all about? And so I love that. I love thinking in a narrative form, thinking in stories, what's the story of this product, even before you get into design. That's fantastic. So very, very cool.

Cathryn Lavery:

Once we do that ... It's funny, whenever I was putting the presentation together for Blue Ribbon, it was actually another blue ribbon member that gave me the idea for this talk ... I actually changed it last minute. Ezra was like, "Send me your slides." I'm like, "They're not ready." So this product map of how we did it, it was only when I was putting this presentation together was I able to look back. Because everything in the moment is messy and you stumble upon stuff and you might take a wrong turn then you go back. And then eventually it will lead to something. And then it's only looking back that I was able to draw the line ... Steve Jobs, it only makes sense looking back, connecting the dots.

Brett:

Totally.

Cathryn Lavery:

That's how it was with this. So don't expect in the moment for you to know exactly what you're doing, but I think as long as you are focused on really understanding the problem and then solving it and not feeling like you have to just push something out for Q4 because it has to be done. Because what you will realize is you'll put something out that's not actually there and it just won't make the impact that you want.

Brett:

Yep. It could potentially do more harm than good, could damage the brand trust that your customers have in you. And so putting out a product just to reach a deadline ... And I do like having deadlines because that can force creativity and things. But putting out something just to meet holiday demand or just to meet a deadline really is faulty. It's a faulty approach that you'll likely be disappointed with the results. So this has been fantastic. Just recap a little bit and then there's more that I want to get into here. But we're looking at this tiered system. So A, B and C products. A are your flagship products. Those are the ones that people seek you out for. So in Apple's world, this is iPhone and iPad, really an iPhone first company, everything else now comes later but still MacBook and stuff could be flagship.

Cathryn Lavery:

AirPods.

Brett:

Yeah, AirPods. How would you classify-

Cathryn Lavery:

They started as a tier B product and then they became tier A. Neither bigger than ... They're doing more revenue than Spotify and all these other companies just with these.

Brett:

Isn't that crazy? So it's really just designed to support because that's what tier B is. It supports your flagship, but now AirPods are just massive and they do work amazingly well.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah.

Brett:

And then you got your tier C, which is just the more for super fans but it's swag. And it can be me too products there where someone's just like, oh, I got to buy this thing, I may as well buy it from you instead of someone else. So we've got these tiers that we look at. We've talked through your process of how you develop and how you find new winners that you can promote and stuff. Let's talk about product experience. And I love this topic, but you talk about three steps in this product experience cycle. And you also mentioned something in the talk that I think is extremely valuable and you're a physical product company, but experience is greater than things. And so thinking through that, any thoughts on that in general? And then walk us through those three steps.

Cathryn Lavery:

So one of the things I talk about is Apple has an experience. I talk about this idea of ... Every time I talk to people, I'm like okay, how many of you have an Apple box of any product, speaking of AirPods in your house? And it's like, yeah, why would I throw this out? And what I realized is these certain companies will create an experience around everything. So from Allbirds unboxing experience to Apple to even Harry's razors and Starbucks, for example. Is Starbucks the best coffee product on the market? No. But they took what could have been a commodity ... So you have coffee beans as a commodity, you have a bag of coffee is the product, a service is serving the coffee. And then the experience of Starbucks, they created this idea of having a third place outside of your house where there's internet, there's co-working space.

Cathryn Lavery:

And so now they created this whole other place for you to go. And they also changed the way they describe their coffee. So they didn't have a drip coffee, it's an Americano coffee. So somehow the way they describe it is different. And so you do not equate a Starbucks Americano with a drip from Dunkin Donuts. And because of that, they can charge more for that. And you also feel better when you're like, yeah, I'll get ... Americano feels better because you are now saying, I am a person that would drink this fancy coffee and that is who I am. And so the three parts of product experience-

Brett:

Just a quick side note on the Starbucks thing. So I'm a bit of a coffee purist. If I have the choice, I prefer local roaster over Starbucks. But if we're traveling or if Starbucks is easy, I'm totally drinking Starbucks. I do enjoy it a lot. So this year for Halloween, my 11 year old daughter, Maggie, she's super cute, she had the idea to go as a Starbucks cup. And so she had white hoodie, white sweatpants, we wrapped a brown paper bag around her midsection and then just stapled it in the back and then glued the Starbucks logo on the brown paper bag. And I have a lot of kids ... I've got eight kids. I can't remember if I told you that. Yeah, I did tell you that. I've got eight kids, so there's lots of cuteness around. We had more people commenting, yelling from across the road, "Oh look, she's Starbucks." Everybody loved the Starbucks cup idea. And I think it just shows the power of that brand. It was one of the most simple costumes that we had, but people love Starbucks.

Cathryn Lavery:

To come up with eight costumes every year, it's a lot.

Brett:

We do try to reuse. And so we need more simple ideas like the cups. So anyway, three step product experience.

Cathryn Lavery:

Okay. So when you're thinking of product, there's two that you think of, form and function. So the form is the visceral first reaction. So that's like the color, the form, the texture....The unboxing, the packaging, all of that.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. Which is what you'd first think of. And then there's the middle point, which is the behavioral, which is when I get this product, do I know what to do right after? Is it easy to use? Do I know what success looks like? It's a little bit more difficult but if you can get that part right, showing people what success looks like. And then you have the end, which is the reflective part. So it's like the memory of the experience, the emotional part of the experience and how your product relates to their self identity. So for the self journal, for example ... And this is a much more woo woo part, but it's very important to get those three parts right. And so for that, when someone posts your really nice self journal, boxed product ... They open it, it has a really great on-boxing experience. We have all this content around how to find success with it.

Cathryn Lavery:

Here's different people with different goals and what they've done. And then when they post that to their Instagram story, they're both marketing it to you. But they're also saying, I am a person that works on my goals and I am working to achieve things. And so every product that we create, it's like, what is this having on my coffee tables say about me? And so if you can have your product become part of someone's identity that they want to share, then that is the third piece, which is the reflective piece.

Brett:

That's amazing. So let's map that out a little bit and maybe dive into a few more examples as we go. You've already given some. But the beginning, that's the visceral, the visual, the touch, feel, see, all that. In the middle is the behavioral, and that's where you're really trying to get client success. I'm using the journal and it's impacting my attitude and my mood and my direction of my behavior, or I'm using my iPhone and I'm more productive or more whatever. And then the end is the reflective. What is this product saying about me and what are the memories and things associated with this product? Can you walk through some other examples or maybe some things you should think about at each step?

Cathryn Lavery:

So I think what you name your product might be one. So for us, we called it the self journal, a 13 week framework to achieve your goals instead of a day planner. Because we're thinking people are going to invest more in their goals than they are with planning their day. There's nothing exciting about planning your day.

Brett:

A day planner is supper boring and it's been around forever and day planners are like the '90s.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. And the thing about taking the time to create this experience is you can actually charge more when you do this. Same with the way Apple can charge more for their products, same way Starbucks can somehow charge $6 and look at you with a straight face for a coffee, that is because they're creating an experience with ... So I always tell people, if you can focus a little more in just taking some time with each area of this, you can charge more and that will far make up for the time you're putting in. So for example, with our discovery decks which we first started, they looked like a card deck, we charge 17.99 for them even though they cost us more than the upgraded decks. I personally knew the experience wasn't there. And when you get something and it feels like it's fun to open and it feels real, you are probably going to enjoy using it.

Cathryn Lavery:

Which means if you enjoy using it, you will use it. And it only works if you use it. So that was another thing around when you create products. If you create a product ... It's cheaper to do it this way, but it feels a little scratchy on you where it's not totally comfortable. You might be saving a little money, but people are not going to enjoy using your product. And so they will not use it nor will they recommend it. And whenever you create this experience, what people do is they talk to their friends about you. They share it on social media and it's just another piece of your marketing that you might not be considering, but it will really separate you from your competitors if they're not doing this.

Brett:

Yeah. And you mentioned Allbirds as an example, and I know mutual buddy, Ezra Firestone's a big Allbirds fan. And I don't own any Allbirds, but I have some friends that do and people save those boxes. People show other people those boxes because they're so unique and so cool as you open them and people post them on social media about the boxes. So are those boxes more expensive than a normal shoebox? Yeah, they are. But have they more than paid for themselves both in terms of the experience and just the joy they bring their customer? But then in terms of free media exposure and free word of mouth that has now increased substantially. So it's one of those things where we can think about, this doesn't matter, throw away the box. Well, not necessarily. Not if you do it the right way. So yeah, super powerful.

Cathryn Lavery:

There's a great blog post about conference T-shirts from someone with the same idea of if you could create a really comfortable, good looking T-shirt that people want to wear, then they won't throw it out after your conference. They won't ever wear it again, because it's not comfortable. They will constantly wear it because it's comfortable and it looks good on them. And so how much money are conference organizers leaving on the table by going for the cheapest option that people will leave in their little sling bags and never put on because they don't look good and they're not comfortable.

Brett:

Yeah. So I want to talk about two of the concepts here as we look at the reflective or the end stage of this three step customer experience. You talk about community challenges and I think this is something you specifically did with the BestSelf journal. Can you talk about community challenges and what those are and how you use them?

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. So we actually stumbled on this by accident. I was trying to ... How do we incentivize people to create a habit around doing this product? I think a lot of times we sell a product one time, but how do we teach people to consume it so they need it again? And so we created this ... We called it a graduate challenge. I don't know why we came up with that name. I don't think it's very good, but that's what it was. And we basically were like, okay, every day if you complete your journal, you take a picture of it. You either share it in our private Facebook group or you put it on social. And if you do this for 30 days, we will give you a $10 gift card, which is really just a incentive for them to use. Where they're like, yeah, I get $10 for using the product I bought, it's amazing.

Cathryn Lavery:

And so what happened was people got into a habit of using it, they found success with it. And then a byproduct, which turned into a huge thing was that we had a ton of customer generated content, which was not what we started with but well, we realized we could pay a photographer and a handwriting specialist a bunch of money and they would take all these pretty pictures that look gorgeous. But did not convert at the same level as someone's shitty iPhone with the coffee halfway in the way and their journal's there. That did so much better on Facebook ads because people on Facebook are there to see their friends. They're not all marketers like us and so-

Brett:

People have that BS radar. It feels like something's been staged if it's been staged.

Cathryn Lavery:

Right. And then also what we realized is one of the objections that we had from customers was like, oh, this product is so nice, I feel bad writing it with my terrible handwriting. And so what we realized was we're showing them all these picture perfect pictures of people filling in their journal. And what they actually wanted to see was, hey, this journal is only for you and it can be as messy as you wanted to. So we actually took a bunch of the customer generated content of messy writing and it's...including mine. And just was like, hey, doesn't matter what it looks like, just matters that you use it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that so much. So what's really cool about this community challenge you created is one, I do like the fact that you gave everyone a reward. Because I think there's some people who will participate if it's a drawing or a sweepstakes or something like that. And certainly those can work. I have lots of friends that run sweepstakes. I hate sweepstakes. I don't ever do sweepstakes. I think there's a large percentage of people that are like, I'm never going to win that. One out of a million, whatever. So you had it set up where everyone gets something if they complete this and you also knew-

Cathryn Lavery:

An it's not a ton either. Not everyone will do it 30 days in a row. And the ones that do, it's a gift card to your own store.

Brett:

They're going to buy again and you're going to benefit if they buy more and more journals. And so I think it's just a brilliant idea. I know lots of people that do reward people or try to incentivize people if you post a picture of you with the product or selfie or whatever, then you get this ... Actually you get into this draw. And I think it's brilliant especially for you understanding this client success piece. And I think this actually ties into both, the middle and the end. It's the client's success and it's a reflective piece of, hey, get into the product, just do it, build that habit and then share it. And it's going to be a beautiful combination there.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah, because it was helping us be successful by making sure that they were successful. So our incentives were aligned. It's the whole Charlie Munger show me the incentives, I'll show you the results. If you can align your incentives with your customers, that they are getting the best results, then that will come back to you.

Brett:

Love it. So I do want to ask you a little bit about the Shopify contest. Because I think there's something there, something interesting beyond just the cool story of meeting Tim Ferris and stuff like that. So I want to hear about that in just a second. But before we do, you'd listed some questions. And so this may be totally coming top of your mind or off your cuff a little bit, but what are some of the questions that you should ask or that product teams should ask when thinking about how to design a great customer experience?

Cathryn Lavery:

So again, I think you should split it up into the three parts. If you are ascending a physical product, what's something or some way you can build anticipation before your product arrives. So is it other people who've had success with your product, cool ways you could use the product. Here's 10 ways that you never thought that this would work, whatever. So basically building up anticipation before your product arrives so that when it gets there, they know exactly what to do. And then how do you want people to feel when they're buying it or opening it? Something that I think is very cool, Four Sigmatic, I noticed they did ... They used this mental model called Need to Complete, which is we need to tick stuff off. And so in their box, they have a three ... It's like a 1, 2, 3, and number one is open the box and it's already ticked off. And so a human brand just wants to complete things. And so if you can ..

Brett:

Especially once it started. If it's not started at all, it's not nearly as enticing as if it's already started a little bit. Now I want to go ahead and complete it.

Cathryn Lavery:

Exactly. That's why on forums on the internet, the start of the forum always goes way quicker. Because they're like, you've been doing this for three minutes but you're already 80% through. And you're like, okay, I'll finish it. So really thinking about that experience. And then can you tell a story through the packaging, through your emails, even things like ... It doesn't always have to be the product, it's how you make people feel. So I've seen really cool brands that add gifs to their emails because having gifs in your emails ... And just fun things like that will make your customers like you more or at least add some personality that isn't just like, hey, your stuff's in the mail.

Cathryn Lavery:

What does success look like? So what does the first 10 minutes, 10 hours with your product look like? Are there any questions that you could answer beforehand and get ahead of it? And then what are some fun ways you could drive engagement with using it? So whether it's having people take a photo with it, whether it's just what we did with the challenge and then the identity piece. So what does this product say about this person? And if this person is going to post it on social media, or if they are going to want to post it on social media, why would they post it? What would that say about them? Those are some ideas.

Brett:

So good. And I'll list those questions in the show notes. So if anybody's driving or running or on the treadmill and you didn't get that, I'll list those questions so you can copy those. But this has been fantastic. So I know we're just about out of time, but I'm curious, Cathryn, what was your experience like? Because you won not just one Shopify contest, you won two Shopify contests. The build a better business and Build a Bigger Business, was that ...?

Cathryn Lavery:

No. It's Build a Business and Build a Bigger Business. It was insane. I wish I could say I had the playbook on how you could do it too ... Actually one interesting thing that you might not know is how they came up with the idea for the Build a Business, which is exactly what we've been talking about. So Toby who started Shopify, he used to run a snowboarding shop and he just wanted to find an easier way to sell stuff online, which is how Shopify came about. So again, problem first. When he created Shopify, one of the early seed investors I believe or they were friends was Tim Ferris. And they were trying to come up with an idea of, okay, everyone's like, oh, I want to start a company or I want to start a business but they don't have the incentive to do so.

Cathryn Lavery:

And so they created the Build a Business competition, which involves all these prizes that you would never ... It's not like a money prize, it's like, hey, you're going to go ring the New York Stock Exchange bell and meet Tim Ferris and all these other people and do all this cool stuff. And to be honest, I remember in 2013 I think, my first Shopify store, I saw this contest and I was like, I would love to do this. Of course I entered, didn't get anywhere close to getting through to it.

Cathryn Lavery:

But it was just one of those, oh, that would be amazing goal. And it's funny because the day our Kickstarter ended, the next day, Shopify announced this new competition. So I was like, well, this is a sign. And what was funny is the two winners from the year before, which was Pavlock and Trunkster ... I'd actually backed both of those projects. And Trunkster had arrived the same day as the ... I was like, well, this is all just a sign that I should enter.

Brett:

I got to do it. I got to go for it.

Cathryn Lavery:

And so I took the promotional stuff, I'm like, okay, BestSelf's going to win and broke down what would a goal be that we could hit this? And from there ... I didn't actually think we would win but I was thinking, okay, well even if we don't win, if I do everything I can to build a successful business, that's also fine. And so we in the first year got selected for people's choice award, which there's basically four categories. And then the people's choice is one of the top sales, and then they have to get voted on. So there was four of us. Actually TUSHY was in there and Tecovas was in there.

Brett:

Shout out to Miki Agrawal, friend of mine. She's awesome.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. Who actually came for one of the days at the child flight contest. We got to hang but then that became the thing. And so we end up winning, we got to ring the New York Stock Exchange bell. And it's funny because my parents are still in Belfast. So they barely know what I do. They just ... I work on the internet. And so whenever I'm ringing the Wall Street bell, they're like, well, whatever it is seems to be working.

Brett:

It's working, proud of you but understand it.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. Tony Robbins, that was the first year he was involved and he invited all the winners to Business Mastery. And so when we went to Business Mastery, the Shopify group were there and they told us, "Oh, we're actually announcing the Build a Bigger Business. So basically you have to be over a million dollars a year and you have to show us that you've scaled, what's the multiples over the year. That's basically how it worked. So you had to be in business more than a year and you had to have certain revenue goals. And of course I entered it but that was one where it was ... I'd never even really considered that I was going to win it. And then whatever I get calls from Canada, it's always a good thing. I always answer, I never answer ... because ... It's Harley. Hey, you won and it's like, oh my God, this is amazing.

Cathryn Lavery:

So for that one, we got to do this once in a lifetime experience twice, which we rang the Wall Street bell again. And then we got to go to Fiji with Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris and Marie Forleo. And what was interesting about the two years back to back is when we were in the Gatsby Island or the Gatsby mansion along Long Island, it's so close to the city that people could come in and leave. And so the mentors would come in, they would be there for half the day or longer, and then they would leave again. And when we were in Fiji, they would ... Basically we're stuck on an island together.

Brett:

Captive audience, they're stuck on the island. Exactly.

Cathryn Lavery:

So we're all stuck there together. And so there's more of a peer system where you're just talking to people instead of it being so structured of like, this is your mentor time, this is the time you can talk to them sort of thing. So yeah, it was awesome. I love Shopify.

Brett:

Just amazing. Congrats to you, two once in a lifetime awards for the same company, same person in a really tight window. And so I think some really cool takeaways there is ... And you nailed it. And I think this was the right approach as you entered this is, hey, even if I don't win, I'm going to be doing the things that I need to do to be successful. I'm going to build a better business in the process, let's do it. It's also really interesting to me that this contest ties in to what you talked about with the three step product experience. It really hits on both the customer success ... The middle and the end, the reflective piece as well which is really cool. And just very curious, what was it like hanging out with Tim Ferris and Anthony Robbins? Was it as cool as people would imagine it to be, or what was that like?

Cathryn Lavery:

Oh, it was cool. Tim was writing his first book the first time we met. So he was I think a little stressed out with that. And then when we hung out with Fiji, he was way more chill and low key. So when we sat down with him, he was just like, you need to read this book and this book and this book and recommending all these books. And it's funny, there's a picture of us floating around on Google, that if you Google Tim Ferris's girlfriend, mine and his picture came up. My friend, out of the clear blue texted me that one day. I'm like, first of all, why are you Googling that? And then-

Brett:

Why are you Googling Tim Ferris's girlfriend? Weirdo.

Cathryn Lavery:

Tony Robbins is just in a league of his own as far as presence.

Brett:

He's a force of nature, that guy. It's great.

Cathryn Lavery:

First of all, he is huge.

Brett:

Massive.

Cathryn Lavery:

I'm small and his hand is probably the size of my head, if not bigger. So I've been to a bunch of his events. He's very, almost larger than life where it's a little intimidating because you're like, well, he's dealing with way bigger stuff than this. But he was really the one that got us thinking ... Because we hadn't at that point ... this whole product expansion but it was really like falling in love with your customer and not the product. And so took us on a whole other path of what we should be thinking about in more of a strategic thinking, not just like, okay, these products but really thinking, okay, what should you be doing to get to the next level?

Brett:

Love it. Cathryn, this has been amazing. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks for doing this. If someone's listening and I hope you're listening and/or watching and you're thinking, man, I need to get some of these products if for no other reason than to just see what the product packaging is like and what the emails are like and what the experience is like to buy either the journal or the card deck or how to have better relationships, the conversation starters, things like that. Where can people go to buy some of your stuff, Cathryn?

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah. You can go to BestSelf B-E-S-T S-E-L-F.C-O So bestself.co. We have a bunch of stuff there, make great gifts. And you can just study the experience, just order every single product...exactly-

Brett:

Order two of all of it.

Cathryn Lavery:

Yeah.

Brett:

Exactly. That's awesome. Cathryn Lavery, ladies and gentlemen. Cathryn, thank you so much. This has wonderful. Thank you for the time and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Cathryn Lavery:

Awesome. Thanks Brett.

Brett:

Awesome. And thank you for tuning in. We couldn't do this without you. And so we'd love to hear from you, what'd you think of this episode? Give us some feedback. Also smash that subscribe button, if you're enjoying what you're listening to and also give us a review on iTunes. One, it would make my day. Also, if you leave a comment, I will start looking at some of those comments and calling them out on shows. And if you share this show with others, I'll also start calling some of that out on the show as well. So with that, until next time, thank you for listening.























How to Create Funny Video Ads that SELL - Without Hiring and Expert with Joseph Wilkins
Episode 8
:
Joseph Wilkins

How to Create Funny Video Ads that SELL - Without Hiring and Expert with Joseph Wilkins

The holy grail right now for online video ads is to be both funny and persuasive. To be relevant and engaging. Funny videos that sell are rare. Mostly because most people don’t know how to create them. In this episode Joseph walks us through his 8-step process for creating funny videos that sell without hiring an expert.

Joseph Wilkins has a rich background in creating videos that convert. He launched his career in the infomercial business while working on the launch of Little Giant Ladder. That infomercial went on to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ladders.


I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Joseph on a mutual client - Tru Earth. Joseph and his team created videos for Tru Earth that have now racked up over 100 million views! More than that, though, they are driving new customer acquisition.


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • Why having a crystal clear picture of your customer in your head is a must before you do anything else. You wouldn’t write a letter without knowing who you’re writing it to, would you?
  • How Joseph assembles a team of people to write scripts and why this is more important than fancy editing skills.
  • How to find talent for videos.
  • Why you should probably forget about going viral.
  • Getting your pace right and testing before you go live with a video.
  • How and when to add humor to your ads.
  • How to think about production quality.

Mentioned in This Episode

Joseph Wilkins

   - LinkedIn


FunnySalesVideos.com

How To Make A Video Go Viral Podcast

Tru Earth

Ryan McKenzie

eE 164 Ryan McKenzie - Tru Earth

eE 125 Ryan McKenzie - Tru Earth

Little Giant Ladders

David Ogilvy

Dave Thomas

Dollar Shave Club

Squatty Potty Commercial

SurveyMonkey

B. J. Novak

Fiverr

Upwork

Freelance.com


Transcript:


Brett:
Yeah, really excited to be digging into this topic. For those that are watching the video, they can already tell, your studio is legit. We see screens, and we see speakers, and we see this beautiful condenser microphone with a screen, so you've got a killer setup. Are we actually looking at the studio where you film a lot of your commercials?
Joseph:
Yeah, yeah. Just through that door is a big, 3,000 square foot studio, with big, high ceilings. But it's kind of interesting. We don't use it as much anymore. As you've seen in our videos, we love to go out on location. But yes, we're in the studio today.
Brett:
Awesome. We're going to be talking about today, eight steps anyone can follow to make a funny sales video, so we're going to be walking through that, going to be very actionable, very practical. But before we get into that, Joseph, would love to hear your background, because how does one stumble into becoming the funny sales video guy and funny sales video team? I hear you did a little bit of TV in a previous life?
Joseph:
Yeah, so not to get too far into my background, but I grew up in London, as you might be able to hear. I sound a little bit different. My dad was in the advertising agency industry. He was a photographer, did a lot of the big campaigns, for big companies back in the day, worked for Vogue Magazine, did the Queen of England's personal portraits. That's pretty-
Brett:
Wow. That is-
Joseph:
That was probably the highlight of his career.
Brett:
That's a unique calling card right there. Very few people can say that.
Joseph:
Yeah, so I grew up kind of with it in my blood, so when I finished college, I started graphic design, and I started working in marketing, and it was when the internet was getting to the point where it could support video, and my boss said, "Hey, we need to learn some video stuff. Let's send the graphic designer on a course." That was really the beginning. So I started freelancing on the side, and then my very first client as a freelancer was Little Giant Ladders. They're hearing me talk-
Brett:
Little Giant Ladders? Okay, wow.
Joseph:
Yeah. So I was part of a three-company production, producing that infomercial, that did over $200 million in sales, just... I mean, talk about starting with a big hit in your pocket. And I really milked that for all it was worth, and approached other companies, and said, "You know, let's do some infomercials," and the first 15 years, that's really what we did, was long-form and short-form, direct response television commercials, and then a bunch of web videos on the side. But the problem is, I don't know about you, Brett, I literally cannot remember the last time I turned on a television.
Brett:
Yeah, just to watch like a major network.
Joseph:
Yeah.
Brett:
Other than maybe a sporting event for some people. I mean, that's usually-
Joseph:
Sports or news.
Brett:
... if I'm tuning into major networks, yeah, sports, yeah.
Joseph:
Yeah, but you certainly don't flip through the channels, which is how we used to get you with our infomercials. So as you can imagine, our clients started saying, "We can't keep spending the same amount of money on production and getting lower and lower results, because nobody's watching TV." So it was about 15 years ago... And the funny thing is, before that, when a client would call us and say, "Hey, we saw this really funny video online. We want to do something like that," we would say, "Sorry, we don't do funny. Go find someone else." Because the worst thing you can do is try to be funny when you're not. And we didn't have the team around that-
Brett:
Then that's just sad, right? That's just sad, it's just embarrassing. When you try to be funny and you're not, it's like, "Oh. Nice." Yeah.
Joseph:
I mean, it's cultural egg on your face.
Brett:
Totally.
Joseph:
It wasn't until about four or five years ago that we really said, "Okay, we've got to pivot. We've got to figure out where are these viewers watching, how are they watching, and how do we create videos that get the results that we used to get on TV?" We really started to look at my hero, the Harmon Brothers, and other-
Brett:
Yeah, yeah, worthy hero too. That group, those guys are just fantastic.
Joseph:
Yeah, absolutely geniuses, and kind of put the flag in the ground for what really good content, that not only engages but converts to sales, looks like. And this was before they launched their Harmon Brothers University. It was about a year before they launched it, and we said, "Okay, we need to assemble a team of really good writers." We knew how to shoot and edit, but we didn't have the skills to script it. To give you a compare and contrast, before this, our biggest video that we'd ever got in 15 years online had 100,000 views. We thought that was pretty good.
Brett:
Sure.
Joseph:
Our very first campaign that we launched after we started Funny Sales Videos, with this team of new, really good writers, and I can talk later about how we assembled that team, and how your listeners can do the same-
Brett:
Would love to hear about that, for sure.
Joseph:
Yeah, so our very first campaign was for a super, super, niche of a niche client. We didn't know if it was going to be successful or not. We did three videos for them, and between them, we did seven million views. So compare those two, 100,000 views versus seven million views, and more importantly, views don't mean too much unless they translate to sales, this very small company did over $500,000 in sales from those three videos. So we knew we were onto something, and then we can talk more, but fast-forward to today, as you know, our biggest campaign today, between three or four videos, we're about to hit 90 million views. That's Tru Earth.
Brett:
It's just crazy, yeah for Tru Earth.
Joseph:
Yeah, nutty.
Brett:
Yeah. At OMG, we're running the YouTube side of that, so we get to see that firsthand. We got court side seats, as we're running these videos, and they're just doing a fantastic job. Not only are they racking up the views, and these videos are three-and-a-half minutes long, but the engagement rate is crazy, and the conversion rate is great as well. CPAs, cost per acquisition, or CAC, customer acquisition cost, is all fantastic. These videos are really, really working. So, a couple things I want to point-
Joseph:
And I'll just say-
Brett:
Go ahead.
Joseph:
... I have one more thing.
Brett:
Yeah, please.
Joseph:
We didn't want to just be a me-too agency, right?
Brett:
Yeah.
Joseph:
There's a lot of companies out there that are trying to do the same thing that the Harmon Brothers did. We kind of put our flag in the ground and said we want to be the agency for the company that doesn't have the kinds of budgets that bigger agencies are charging. I mean, when you watch these videos, you can tell they take months to produce. They're very expensive, and they're still not cheap, but we like to say, you know, we're the guys to call when you can't afford to call the guys who really do it right.
Brett:
I love that. But yeah, some of the videos you're watching and some of the Harmon Brothers productions are half a million dollars, a million dollars, or more, so they're big-time productions. A couple interesting things I want to point out. One, I love that you started with infomercials, because I think that is just the best place to start, to learn how to sell with video. I've shared on the podcast before, but one of my earliest memories of when I thought, "Hmm, making ads would be interesting. That'd be interesting as a career," was when I watched the Ginsu knife commercials, and I was just enthralled with it. I watched the whole thing, and I was a kid. I wasn't going to buy knives, but I was like, "This is so cool. It's cutting the Pepsi can, then it's cutting the tomato," and it was just blowing my mind.
Brett:
But then after that, as I got into advertising, I used to watch infomercials, and would just watch the cadence, and the pace, and the speed, and how they're tackling objections and things like that. It's just the best way, I think, to watch sale on video. I think it goes back also to a David Oglevee principle, which I'm a big David Oglevee fan. He always said that it isn't creative if it doesn't sell, right? It's not creative if it doesn't sell, so you guys then have mastered...
Brett:
And I also like the idea, because there was this time when people didn't do funny. In fact, another, to kind of back to one of the classics, Claude Hopkins would say, "Funny doesn't sell," right? Don't be a clown in your ads, but that was like a more serious time, right? Now, we're finding that funny does sell, if you do it the right way. And the Harmon Brothers did kind of pave the way with that.
Joseph:
Yeah.
Brett:
But before we get into these eight steps, I want to talk about kind of mistakes that people make. What do you see, as you're evaluating videos that clients already have, or you're watching other advertisers, what are some of the mistakes you see people make, either in approach, or ideation, or execution? What are some of the common things you see?
Joseph:
Well, I mean, I'll be honest, I'm a bit of a snob, so I-
Brett:
And you should be. You should be a snob, yeah.
Joseph:
I see videos all the time that make critical mistakes, and you would think, being a production guy, I started out behind the camera, stressing out on the details, and you would think I would say, "Oh, people are trying to film it themselves." That's actually not the biggest mistake I'm seeing.
Brett:
Totally.
Joseph:
I mean, literally, for those that are watching, I'm holding my iPhone in my hand. This would have cost $50,000 when I started this company, to get a camera... In fact, a camera didn't exist when I started this company 20 years ago, that does what your iPhone does today.
Brett:
It's insane.
Joseph:
It creates beautiful pictures. Now, that doesn't mean that you're going to go create a masterpiece unless you know how to use it, but the picture quality isn't the issue anymore. In fact, I would say sound is way more important than picture if you're going to film with an iPhone, because I iPhone will give you great picture. It won't give you great sound.
Brett:
Correct, yeah.
Joseph:
So there's just a first tip, is if you're going to film something, figure out how to get really good sound. You know, get another microphone, just like you can see the two of us are sitting in front of great microphones. People will forgive a bad image quicker than they'll forgive bad sound. There's one tip, but really, there's eight steps that we take every project through, and the two that I would say you cannot try to do yourself, or you shouldn't try to do yourself, are the scripting, so the writing, and the acting.
Brett:
Yeah.
Joseph:
Everything else, I think is forgivable. Everything else, I think is accomplishable on a much smaller scale, but those two things, you really can't fake, really good writing and really good acting.
Brett:
Yeah. Totally agree with that. I think there are some, especially if you're doing this type of video, right? If you're trying to be funny, you're creating a funny sales video, likely, it's not going to be you in the video, or if it is, you may not be writing the script or putting it all together. I think there is a place-
Joseph:
Totally.
Brett:
... for the owner to be on camera, speaking about the product, and that video can be useful. You know, I go back to the Wendy's campaign from days gone by, of Dave Thompson, I believe was the founder, and they did studies, like him on camera, talking about why Wendy's burgers are great. They just outperformed everything else. He's since passed, but... So there's a time and place for that, but I agree.
Joseph:
Yeah, Dollar Shave Club is another example. That's an exception. What a lot of people don't understand was that guy was actually an improv-
Brett:
Stand-up comedian.
Joseph:
... comedian in his college days, so he had the skills. If you have those skills, by all means, you can be your best actor, but unless you're a trained actor, don't try and do one of these kinds of videos. But just like you said, marketing is like a salad. You should have all sorts of kinds of videos. For this kind of video, I just don't see it unless you are one of those characters that are really good in front of the camera.
Brett:
Yeah, totally agree. I like having kind of a founder's story video, and that should feature the founder, but then like these hero videos, these funny videos, these are going to be kind of a different feel. So, great stuff. Let's actually dive into the eight steps. Let's take it away. What's step number one, and go in whatever order you want to go?
Joseph:
Sure. Step number one is, it's really marketing 101, doing your research. Imagine if you're writing a letter to somebody. Would you write a letter to them and then decide who you're going to address it to? I mean, that's madness, but yet people sit down and start to write scripts, or sales emails, or-
Brett:
You can start with a very personal opening of, "To whom it may concern." I always love letters that start like that. You're like, "Oh, this is personal. Thank you." Yeah.
Joseph:
Yeah, or underscore F Name. That's always my favorite. But anyway, you've got to understand who is it that's going to watch this video. Who do you want this video? What are their big problems? I'm not talking about high-level surface problems. I'm talking about deep underlying needs that they have, and the best way that you can do that, and you'd be amazed how many CEOs I work with, and they tell me, "Here are the top three selling points," and then we'll go away and do our research, and go through the steps I'm about to talk about, and we'll come back and say, "You need to completely change your marketing. You're singing the wrong song. You're drinking your own Kool-Aid. Stop, and go ask your customers why do they buy."
Joseph:
The best way to do that, and I learned this in one of the Harmon Brothers University courses, is to read a ton of reviews. The number one comment that we got on that first Tru Earth video was, "That actress is me. That actress is just like me," or, "I want to be friends with her," or, "I just feel a connection....
Brett:
She's kind of become like a mini celebrity since this ...
Joseph:
Yeah, she absolutely did, and guess why. It's because we literally lifted lines from customer comments and put those in the script. So the things that she was saying were the things that the customers were saying. So the more detailed, the more granular you can get in building your customer avatar before you ever put pen to paper, the more you're going to hit that target. That's the first thing, and there's five steps in my eBook. I can't take the time to go through each one, but really understand who your customer is. We had a client, Pela Case. I don't know if you know those guys.
Brett:
No.
Joseph:
They're up in Canada. They do a similar space to Ryan. They're an eco-conscious phone case that is compostable. When they sent me their customer avatar document, it was so detailed, down to, "Here's her name. Here's what she orders at Starbucks. Here are the radio stations she listens to." I mean, with data like that, it's so much easier to be able to write, to connect with that person. So think about that in all of your marketing. How do you get down to that level?
Brett:
Yeah, and really that response that you guys heard from that first Tru Earth video of, "I want to be like her, I want to be friends with her, she is me," that is the goal. That's what you're trying to accomplish. One of my favorite quotes when it comes to marketing, and I can't remember who I heard this from, but it's, "You should enter the conversation taking place in your customer's head," right? There's fears, concerns, problems, issues that people are trying to solve, and are bouncing around in their head, and really, your job is just to enter that conversation. And what better way to do that than with lines extracted from customer reviews, and customer comments, and customer feedback? Yeah, just fantastic, and really, there's nothing worse than an ad that just falls flat and is totally irrelevant, right? That doesn't speak to the customer at all, and I think that's the issue that some executives can get into if they're too removed from their customer, or too removed from their audience, so okay awesome, fantastic place to start.
Joseph:
And it also, that information, Brett, is going to give agencies like yours way more detail to be able to say, "Okay, where are these people spending their time online? What platforms are we even building this video for?"
Brett:
Yeah, what channels do we target? What audiences do we build? How do we structure these campaigns? Yeah, really without that, we have to do a lot of experimentation and guesswork, but with that information, we can really get off to a great start, with proper audience testing. That's fantastic. All right, that's step number one. What's step number two?
Joseph:
Okay, step two is the fun one, brainstorming. Now, a lot of people, that word terrifies them, because it literally means start with a blank sheet. And what we do-
Brett:
That is scary for a lot of people, for sure.
Joseph:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's still scary for us sometimes, but what we tell people is start out with zero judgment. Start out with zero expectation, and we do an exercise where we basically say, "Okay, here's a blank sheet. We're not leaving this room until there are 50 concepts on the page." Now, a concept is just two things. Who is the hero of this video? So, in Tru Earth's case, it was a mother who has two kids and cares about the planet, but isn't an extremist, right? So she's just a regular, real mom. And the second thing is what is their problem, and how do we make that fun? Right?
Joseph:
Before you worry about fun, though, just throw out 50 concepts with those two things. Who's our hero? What's their problem? The more story you can add, the better. We will literally get out a piece of paper, and we'll just start throwing it out, throwing it out. Nobody's judging the ideas. Nobody even cares if they're good or bad. In fact, a lot of the time, the worse the idea is, the better, because it'll give somebody else the chance to think, and say, "Well, okay, what if we did it slightly differently?" And you can get tangential ideas that are better than if you had never thrown out that bad idea.
Brett:
Yeah. Too often in a brainstorming session, and even in other scenarios or other situations too, we're too... We have too tight of a filter, right? We want to make sure like, "Well, I don't want to share this unless it's really polished, or unless it's a really good idea, or unless it's totally going to work." But you don't know that. That's not the point. Like, brainstorming's just to get any idea out there, because who knows what that salad of ideas is going to lead to?
Joseph:
Right. I mean, think about that brainstorm room where the Harmon Brothers said, "Okay, we're trying to sell Squatty Potty. What if we did an English prince and a pooping unicorn?"
Brett:
Yeah.
Joseph:
I mean, who's going to say yes to that idea? But the most successful viral video of all time, I think, still, if not-
Brett:
I think you're right, yeah.
Joseph:
... one of them.
Brett:
Yeah. The pooping unicorn.
Joseph:
Don't filter your ideas.
Brett:
Right.
Joseph:
But at some point, you have to say, "Okay, now we've filled the page with 50 ideas." And as an agency, typically what I'm doing is I'm bringing my top five to the client. You don't want to overwhelm them, and you also don't want to give them the option to pick terrible ideas, which sometimes clients will do if you give them the chance. But, we'll come back to the client and we'll say, "Okay, here are our top five ideas," and we'll get some feedback before we tell them which one we think is right, because we want to involve them in the process. But eventually, you want to go with the idea that just resonates.
Joseph:
Now, how do we pick that? I really can't tell you that. It just feels right. Now, the one thing I can tell you, and step seven, I'm skipping ahead, step seven is testing, at every single level. What you really want to do, ideally, you want to have a small group of sample clients or customers, right? Some of my customers, we'll send out an email to the best customers and say, "We'll give you a free voucher for our stuff if you participate in this process, which is simply we're going to send you four or five emails, and you're going to give us your opinion." You want to send a sample in person ideally, or just send out a SurveyMonkey to a few customers, not too many, 10's probably the most I would do, and just get feedback on every level.
Joseph:
No one customer is going to give you the answer. It's the wisdom of the crowd that you're looking for. Who generally likes it? Now, as a marketer, you have an informed opinion as well. You want to guide it in the way that you think it should go, but ultimately, I've had my mind changed when I listened to these customers. Oh, that actually wasn't the best concept. This is the one that they're resonating with.
Brett:
Yeah.
Joseph:
So that's basically the step two, is pick your number one concept, and again, you're not... All you're picking is who's our hero character, what's their problem?
Brett:
And then what's their problem? One thing that I'll chime in on, when it comes to what resonates, I heard this interview with BJ Novak, who was one of the writers for The Office.
Joseph:
Oh yeah.
Brett:
Brilliant guy, and he talked about humor causes a physical reaction. If you're pitching a joke, and he did a lot of stand-up comedy, if you're telling a joke, you're watching for that physical reaction, right? People can't help it. If something's funny, they move, they lean in, they laugh, they tear up, all kinds of physical reactions, so I think you have to watch for that. And I've done this before with our team, when I'm showing a client video, especially if I've seen the video a few times. I won't watch the video. I'll watch the room, and I'll see like, is there a spot when people move, or laugh, or is there a spot when they check their phone, or start to look out the window, or have this far-off look in their eyes? Because we're losing them, right? So what is the physical reaction, and do you... When you watch it, are there points in the video where you're feeling emotional, or where you're hearing this and you're like, "Oh, this is great," or, "Oh man, I want that"? Like, is it causing an emotional reaction? That's key.
Joseph:
I love that. We actually used to do that in infomercials. I remember, with the Little Giant Ladder, we literally hired a focus group company to fill a room with 20 people, and we were behind a one-way mirror. They had a dial, and it could only be on "I like it" or "I don't like it," and they would constantly switch it back and forth, and that gave us clues in the edit, where to cut, where to expand. And we can talk about this in the editing step, five, but you've got to edit your video to take out anything that would cause them to change the channel, proverbially.
Brett:
Yeah, anything that will slow them down, anything that doesn't get to that solution of this problem, anything that causes their eye to glaze over, even a little bit, is deadly. Okay, we have-
Joseph:
Yeah, so step three-
Brett:
Step three.
Joseph:
... scripting. You've got your concept, but it's only those two details. You've now got to create... Most of our videos are around three, three-and-a-half, maybe four minutes long, and a lot of people say, "Well, that's too long for the internet." People don't stop watching videos because they're too long. They watch Netflix for two hours. They stop watching because they get bored. They stop watching because it's irrelevant. They stop watching because it's just has no value to them. So your job is to create a script that is packed full, from the very first second to the last, and obviously, there's going to be an attrition rate. You're never going to get a video... I think the Harmon Brothers have said publicly, even their videos get like a 5% watch-through rate, so 95% leave the video before the end, but if you've got a video that's getting tens of millions of views, 5% of that is huge.
Brett:
Yeah, and often, even the person that watches to two minutes, so if it's a three-and-a-half minute video, the person that watches to one-and-a-half minutes or two-and-a-half minutes, they're going to be way more sold than someone who only watched a 30-second video. And we've tested this a lot. 30-second version of a video versus like a minute-and-a-half version of a video, and the minute-and-a-half version usually has 10X the conversion rate of that shorter video. So it kind of depends on what you want to do. Do you just want to rack up views or do you want to get conversions? And the cool thing is, if you do it the way you're talking about, you're going to rack up a lot of views too, while you're driving conversions.
Joseph:
Right.
Brett:
So on the script-writing piece, and please feel free to dig into any other details there that you want to, and I want to point people to your eBook in just a minute, but I'm also very curious how you assembled your team, because I would totally agree with you. I even know people that have been in advertising their whole adult lives, and they suck at writing scripts. Writing scripts is so hard, so any tips you want to give there? And then I would love to hear how you assembled your team.
Joseph:
Again, the wisdom of the crowd. If you go to FunnySalesVideos.com, watch some of those videos, there's not a script there that wasn't touched by at least eight writers.
Brett:
Wow. Wow.
Joseph:
We actually go through three phases of scripting. Phase one is the marketing copy points, which was pretty much done in step one. When you're doing your customer review exercise, you're picking out what are the five key points that you have to deliver for people to buy this product? Point number one is going to get mentioned way more than point number five, but in about three minutes, you can get to about five selling points. So you've got to create a marketing flow of we got to say this, we got to say this. If there are objections you need to overcome, you've got to address them. An unresolved concern will never lead to a sale.
Brett:
Totally. Totally.
Joseph:
And also a confused mind will never lead to a sale, so you've got to clearly clarify exactly what the benefit is that your customer's going to get by clicking below, what the offer is, and again, if your price is too high, and if you're going to mention your price in the video, which is a whole nother subject, you've got to address why it's high. Your competitor might be half the price, but breaks four times as many times, so you only have to buy one as opposed to four. You've got to figure out, if in that reviewing of your customers, there's a key theme that comes up over and over again, you've got to address it.
Brett:
Yeah. Yeah, and I love that. I don't want to get on too much of a tangent, because I think we can make a podcast all about price and the psychology of price, but yeah, there's ways to do it, like you make a... If maybe you're more expensive than your competitors, make an indirect comparison, right? "Sleeping on our mattress is way cheaper than going to the chiropractor three times a month," right? Or whatever. You make an indirect comparison, or you do kind of what the Harmon Brothers did with Purple Mattress and talk about... They kind of did this value stacking thing, and they also talked about, "Hey, you know, really expensive mattresses are five or $10,000, but these aren't even $4,000," so they're comparing it to the high end of the market. There's lots of things you can do with psychology of price, and sometimes, you don't even mention it. Sometimes, you want to mention that on the lander, but again, that's kind of a whole nother topic, so-
Joseph:
Exactly.
Brett:
Yeah.
Joseph:
Once you've got your marketing framework, then you bring in somebody with a different set of skills, which is a storyteller, a creative writer, a script writer. However you want to frame it, and just to let you know, I don't have any full-time writers on staff. I use 100% freelancers. You can go onto sites like Fiverr, and Upwork, and freelancer.com, and you can find really talented, really good writers, that maybe are full-time writers at big companies, that they're just looking for extra income on the side, and you can ask them to give you a quote to help with your script. Now, after four or five years of doing this, we've gone through a lot of bad writers to get to the good, but even a bad writer will add to the process, and hopefully, on every video, and this is something that makes us different. We're very small. I personally am the creative director on every video.
Brett:
That's awesome.
Joseph:
Now, that doesn't mean I do any one thing. I just oversee the whole process. You have to have somebody, maybe that's you or maybe that's somebody that you hire. You've got to have someone that's going to protect the story from beginning to end, because a great comedian could come in and write a joke that's going to make you pee your pants, but if it doesn't further the sale, it has to go. You need somebody that's protecting the brand, protecting the project from beginning to end, so multiple people need to be contributing on this. But ultimately, the second kind of writing is the creative writing, that takes the character, the problem, or the marketing points and puts a story together.
Joseph:
Now, it's not funny yet, but it's creative. It's fun. I'm still not going to show it to the client. Personally, I don't like doing that until it's ready to be shown. That's step three. I will bring in at least five trained comedy writers, so these are typically people who do improv comedy in their spare time, or full-time comedians. I have a couple of people that work on cruise ships. That's their full-time gig, so guess-
Brett:
Interesting.
Joseph:
... what they're doing during the day? They're sitting on the beach in Saint Johns, writing for me. They're filling their time, or they're traveling from one city to the next to do stand-up in a club, and on the plane, they're writing for me. You guys can do the exact same thing. Just reach out to them. You'd be amazed. They're kind of a starving artist, so they love it when businesses say, "Hey, let me give you money for time." But again, no one comedian is going to be able to write a funny sales video. You want multiple comedy writers on each project, and one person collating it, because we do it virtually, so we use Dropbox Paper, and everyone gets to see everyone else's notes, and the best stuff makes it onto the sheet, but the best stuff isn't necessarily the funniest. It's the most relevant-
Brett:
The most relevant, yeah.
Joseph:
... that advances the story.
Brett:
Because if something is really, really funny, but it diverts... You know, something can be so funny, and too different from the story, or out of place in the story, and it may cause a belly laugh or may cause you to pee your pants, but if it distracts you, then you want to avoid that, right? That's where that person that oversees all of it, that creative director, is so key, because you have to stay on point. I would rather be a little less funny, but relevant, than to be super funny and irrelevant. ...
Joseph:
And last point on comedy, it has to hit the avatar. Imagine-
Brett:
It has to be funny to them.
Joseph:
... we've done videos. Yeah-
Brett:
Doesn't matter if it's funny to you.
Joseph:
... exactly, exactly. We've done videos for CXO, SaaS companies that are targeting CXOs. They're not going to think that the same humor is funny as a video targeting teenagers with an acne cream. Two completely different senses of humor, so you got to test it. Again, back to creating that customer avatar brain share that you can email out and say, you know... Ideally, I love your comment earlier, ideally, I like to sit people down and just watch them as they read the jokes. You can't always do that, but you've got to test at every step of the process, or else again, you're writing a letter to somebody that you don't know who it is. So step four is adding the comedy. Those are kind of two... Yeah.
Joseph:
Step five is production. This is where the rubber meets the road, and I want to say do not proceed to step four until you've done all of the steps before, and have a script that you're 100% happy with. Now, it's never going to be perfect, right? Version one is better than version none. If perfection was the goal, we would have a stack of scripts and no videos online. But, you don't want to waste money producing a script that really isn't working, so that's the longest part of our process.
Joseph:
Typically a video, in Funny Sales Videos, if you were to call us and say, "Let's do a video," minimum it's going to be four months. Two of those months are just working on the script, so it's definitely the longest step in the process, but you can't rush it. You can't try to go to production and say, "Oh, maybe this'll be funnier once we actually see it, and the actor delivers it." No, you've got to be laughing at the script before you think you're going to be laughing at the actor. Yes.
Joseph:
You would think I would say the most important part of production is a great camera, and great lights, and beautiful sound. It's not. It's casting. It's picking the right actor. A lot of businesses don't understand that auditioning actors, even very professional actors, is free. Does not cost a penny. We are very picky with the actors that we choose. It's something that we take a lot of thought and time with. We will typically audition about 50 actors for each key role.
Joseph:
Now, what does that look like? In the world of post, hopefully, COVID, it's way easier, because what you do is you send out an email to your local top two, or three, four acting agencies, you give them a portion of the script, don't give them the whole script. Pick out maybe three or four paragraphs that are the most challenging, that you want to make sure this person can nail, and say... You want to give them the rate that you're willing to pay, because you don't want to waste their time if you're thinking, "Oh, I'm going to pay this much," and they're thinking, "I'm going to get hired at this much." So you want to be transparent. You also want to let them know roughly when you're going to be filming, because actors are booked up, and they're a one commodity, their time.
Joseph:
When you send it out, you'll get video auditions that'll come back to you. Watch through those, and I typically pick my top four or five, and then I'll set up a callback. Either they'll come here physically into the studio, and my clients, if they're local, will be here, or we'll get them on Zoom to watch, and we'll not only go over those paragraphs that we've just done in a virtual audition, but I'll throw other stuff at them, and I'll see, "Can you do that faster? Can you do it a little bit slower? Can you put the emphasis on this word? Can you deliver this joke a little bit differently?"
Joseph:
What you're looking for is are they coachable? Are they directable? You're also looking for, and this is why I love working with actors that have experience with improv, comedy. I'm looking for what are they bringing that I didn't write? Your scripts should never follow the same format as the finished video. It should always be better. During the production process, you don't want to be so focused on getting it exactly the way that it's scripted that you don't allow your actors to play. A lot of the time... Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, and picking actors that have experience, they should give you things during the filming, that you're just like, "Well, I never would have thought about that."
Joseph:
Anyway, that, step five, is the production. Now, if you're a small business, you're trying to do this yourself, I already mentioned, make sure you have good sound, or go out and hire a relatively low cost local production company. Yeah. Right. And it's about visually being disruptive. The most important part of your video is the first five to 10 seconds, because nobody's going to watch anything past that if you don't visually disrupt them, and the better you can do with your visuals, both from a what am I actually showing, but also how good does it look, how different does it look to the next video that they're scrolling past?
Joseph:
If everyone is showing videos that were filmed on their iPhone, your video's going to look just the same. If you go out and hire professionals, that's where they earn their money. They're going to make it look different, and therefore disruptive compared to the other videos, and obviously, any of these Harmon Brothers videos that you've seen, there's details in every single shot, that you just won't get if you try to do it yourself. But, version one is better than version none, so if that's all that you can afford, by all means, go out and do it yourself.
Joseph:
Step six is the editing. That's where the rubber really hits the road, because if you've done all the previous steps right, you'll have a great video, but you can make it a great video better with good editing. The same line delivered by an actor feels completely different if you put the cut here as opposed to the cut here. After they deliver their line, do we go straight into another line, or do we let that line breathe? I can't tell you how to do that. A good editor just feels it. Comedy is about timing.
Joseph:
As you know, Brett, we also edit our videos a whole bunch of different ways. We'll do a long version, a short version. We'll format them for square, widescreen for YouTube, square for mobile, so back to production, you've got to make sure that you have your guides on your monitor, so that you're not filming something where the critical detail is on the outside edges of the frame, because that's going to get chopped off when you version your square video for mobile.
Joseph:
Editing is key, because you can speed things up, and cut out pauses, and overlap dialog, and anything to keep this feeling exciting, engaging, nothing that's going to get borning and nothing that gets confusing. Again, you want to test different versions of your edit with your sample audience, or with people... Like, literally here at the studio, when the delivery man comes, I'll say, "Can you watch this for a second? Give me some feedback," or clients will come, and I'm always looking for feedback on the editing, so test out what works, what doesn't, and a great editor's really going to help.
Joseph:
Totally. Yeah, it's just like a music track. If it was just (singing) the whole time. You've got to have the bridge, and let things slow down and then speed up. That's how you keep people's attention. Now, I mentioned this earlier. We also edit different versions with different content, so typically, we'll do three different opening hooks. That's the first five to 10 seconds. The rest of the video is exactly the same, but the opening hook is completely different, and we test it to see which gets the bigger watch-through rate, which gets the better click-through rate. With some of our clients, we do the same thing with the offer. One of the offers could be... Same video, just a different offer. One could be buy one, get one free. One could be get 25% off. One could be click for a free eBook, or whatever it is. You want to test as many different combinations to get to the ultimate, highest-converting version. You can do that with good editing.
Joseph:
Step seven, we've already spoken about, testing. You can speaking about that on multiple podcast episodes, but have somebody... And we don't do this. Have somebody on your team, whether it's an agency or an employee who really knows how, to take all of these multiple versions of your video, and find out, without spending too much money, and that's the key, how to find out which version of this video you want to start funneling, and opening the floodgates, and really getting out there. You don't want to waste your money on a version that isn't the highest-converting version. You also want to test your squeeze page, and all the copy on your squeeze page, and different upsells and cross-sales. That's where a really good marketing agency will take a great video, which is really only 50% of the process, right? My job is to get you to watch this video to the end and then click through, but that doesn't market client the money. The money really comes on the backend, where you take that click and you don't waste it. You put it in a well-oiled funnel. Yeah.
Joseph:
Yeah. Yeah, and one thing that we worked on together, that previous to doing these kinds of videos, I wasn't aware of, is the retention curve, understanding that you can still make edits after you've launched a small test, with the data that you get from that retention curve, which is basically showing you how the majority of people, where are we losing them? Where are they dropping off? You can literally say, "Okay, at one minute and 30 seconds, there's this big drop in viewers. People are bouncing." Now, that's normal to some degree, when you introduce the product, because really, what these videos are are sketch comedy pieces, or ads disguised as sketch comedy pieces, so whenever somebody finally realizes, "Oh, this is actually an ad," it's only natural that you're going to see a lot of people bouncing.
Joseph:
But, if there are other places where it's not when you're introducing the product, and you're seeing a big drop, you can go back into the video and say, "Okay, I need to cut this section out," or, "I've got to speed this up," or, "I've got to reorder this video so that we're not losing people," and with a really good marketer that can get into that data and tell you, working together with an editor, it's not video delivered and here it is. It's a work in progress, to refine and tweak that until it's the best version, and then again, you open up the floodgates and spend a bunch of money promoting it.
Joseph:
Okay. Yeah, so step eight, real quick, real simple. Forget going viral. It's all about creating a conversion video. It's about, when clients come to us and say, "We want to hire you," when we swap out the creative that they're doing with ours, they see a high increase on return on ad spend. Don't think that going through all these steps is going to get you a video that when you put it on YouTube, it's going to get you a million views. That's not what it's about. It's about the whole way, saying, "Okay, this is a business. We're not going to plan on a flash-in-the-pan lightning strikes, and one time, we get a big viral boost." No, it's about repeatability, consistency, and something that you can plan and forecast based on. So forget viral. Reprogram your mind that this video is going to be a conversion video, that when you spend X amount of dollars, you're going to bring X amount of dollars back in return. Those are my eight steps.
Joseph:
That's why we're on video seven for Tru Earth. Yeah, just go to FunnySalesVideos.com. It's just a simple page that shows... You can see some of our videos. You can see some more case studies. Then scroll down to the bottom, and you'll see a big icon that basically just shows how you can download the free eBook. Yeah. Yeah, so we started it about six months ago, and really, what we do on the podcast is we interview people that have had a video quote-unquote "Go viral." We always laugh that the title is kind of clickbaity, How to Make a Video Go Viral. Yeah, you do. That's a hook. That's our opening grabber.
Joseph:
That's right, yeah. We've interviewed Ryan on the show. We've interviewed four or five other of our clients, and then we've also reached out to other companies, that we didn't work with, but we want to learn what it was like? How did you do it? We basically just interview anyone that has marketing videos that have over a million views, and have been profitable, and go into much more detail on the things that we've talked about today. On all the regular podcast, or you can just go to howtomakeavideogoviral.com. Sure. Yeah, sure. It's been a blast.